Apple’s “Spring Forward” event is scheduled for Monday, March 9th and we’re already getting prepared to bring you live coverage and last minute leaks leading up to the event. What can you expect at the event? Below we’ve put together our list of likely announcements including some unannounced Apple Watch features and possible surprises…
Watch Pricing & Availability |
Get your credit cards ready, Apple will likely give us more on pricing and availability for the Apple Watch and could even give details on preorders.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind: How much will the 18k gold Apple Watch Edition cost? We know the Apple Watch lineup will start at $349, and most expect that represents pricing for the Sport model, but otherwise we’ve yet to get anything official on pricing beyond that.
A poll of 9to5Mac readersshowed nearly 80% of people think Apple’s 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition will cost under $4500, while only 16% expect it to cost between $5000-$10,000, and 3.8% expect a price tag over $10,000. The jewelry experts are expecting a price tag slightly higher than the $4500 mark.
Apple might also give us some info on changes it’s making to the retail experience for Apple Watch and how customers will be able to try on the device in stores and purchase online. It’s possible some models might be harder to find than others and there have been rumors that the gold model could have its own special sales/buying experience.New Watch features |
There are a lot of Apple Watch features, both software and hardware, that Apple hasn’t yet highlighted in detail. We just told you about a few of them: Power Reserve mode, storage capacity, Heart Rate Glance, and more.
You can expect Apple to talk about some of these features with Power Reserve features likely a given due to worries of poor battery life for the device. We’d also hope to get more on final hardware specs and a look at apps from partners. Apple just started asking developers to not share their app announcements, so it’s likely Apple has some time allotted for showing off third-party apps.Watch Accessories |
We reported that Apple plans to sell its own straps separately alongside the Apple Watch, so it’s more than possible Apple will give some stage time for Watch accessory announcements.
We don’t know if Apple plans anything for third-party accessories or anything beyond just basic straps, but its event Monday will certainly be a good place to show off anything it might have planned for launch. There has been speculation regarding the possibility of a smart straps platform similar to what Pebble just announced with its new wearable.iOS 8.2 |
We’ll likely hear a mention of iOS 8.2, the software update to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, as it’s on track to be released next week after several beta builds.
The Apple Watch requires an iPhone 5 or higher, and iOS 8.2 adds support to the iPhone for pairing and communicating with the Apple Watch. iOS 8.2 also introduces WatchKit, the framework used to add Apple Watch apps to existing iPhone apps.
Because the Apple Watch will require the iPhone to have this software version, Apple will likely want to distribute the update without any issues well before the Apple Watch goes on sale.
In addition enhancing the built-in Health app on iOS 8, we may see a couple of new apps show up next week.
As we reported earlier this year, a Companion app on the iPhone that we previously revealed is used to manage many of the settings on the Apple Watch. The Companion app features controls for accessibility options and different Watch behaviors, and an unannounced monogram feature allows you to create a customized watch face with your initials.
While Apple has not yet shown off the Companion app that we highlighted, it did reveal another iPhone app when it first demoed the Apple Watch. A new app called Fitness will interface with the Apple Watch’s own Fitness app and functionality to provide an overview of your activity and workout routines.Apple Pay |
Apple Pay officially launched in October and has steadily expanded in the US, but with the feature a perfect way of highlighting the convenience of Apple Watch, it won’t be surprising if Apple gives us an update on the payments service. Apple just updated its Apple Pay website to further highlight Apple Watch integration.
Tim Cook said Apple Watch would be available outside of the US in April, so an expansion of Apple Pay would also make a lot of sense. We reported back in January that Canadian partners were prepping for an Apple Pay launch that could happen as early as March and other reports said Apple was targeting a similar timeframe to launch in the UK and other countries.
At the very least Tim Cook has a lot of Apple Pay growth to mention if he runs over his usual company stats: As of this month the company is now at over 100 banks and credit unions in the US and growing.MacBook |
Rumors of early 2015 updates to the MacBook Air have persisted for months, and based on a seemingly authentic spec leak for an updated 13″ model, it’s quite possible that Apple will update the Air with improved Intel Broadwell CPUs, graphics, and battery life either during or shortly after the Monday event. An as-of-yet-unconfirmed report from Japan has suggested that Apple may also update the 13″ MacBook Pro with Broadwell CPUs at the same time.
Similarly, reports have differed on whether Apple will debut the radically thinner 12″ MacBook Air exclusively profiled by 9to5Mac during this event. The Wall Street Journal suggests that it could be announced as early as Monday, but the announcement could take place closer to the middle of 2015.A Muse performance?
Word around the Muse fan blog world is a possible performance at Apple’s event on Monday, which wouldn’t be a huge shocker given Apple often hosts big name rock bands at its event. U2 was a big hit with everyone last time around.
The rumor seems to originate with the image tweet pictured above from Muse frontman Matt Bellamy. It could just be a nice send off for BBC DJ Zane Lowe, who just accepted a new gig at Apple. But some think the hint at meeting with Jimmy Iovine could mean Muse is on their way to the Apple event in California.Check out the latest 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast to hear more on our predictions for Monday’s event.
Filed under: AAPL Company, Apple Watch, iOS, iOS Devices, Mac Tagged: Accessories, Apple pay, Apple watch, availability, livestream, March 9, Muse, pricing, Spring forward
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Update: Here’s the full letter, which we received following the original report and confirmed is legit. It appears to be an email sent out to Apple’s education partners:
In iPad one-to-one environments, schools are seeing more engaged students, better attendance, and higher test results. You can see this happening in districts and schools like Prince George’s County, and Essa Academy.
We understand that some schools are not able to give every student an iPad and are sharing devices across classes and students. We want to make learning with a shared iPad a great experience for these students as well as their teachers and administrators. We are already at work on significant changes to App distribution, Apple ID, and Apple Deployment Programs that we are planning to deliver next year to make using iPad in the classroom even better.
To simplify large deployments, including one-to-one and shared use, we want to make app distribution even easier. Today, Apple IDs are required in order to deliver apps and books to students. We are working to change this in the fall by allowing schools to assign and distribute apps to a device without an Apple ID. As currently planned, this will greatly reduce the number of steps needed to setup a device.
This change should eliminate the need to create generic Apple IDs solely for the purposes of getting content onto iPad. Schools will also have the option to prevent students from making personal purchases without approval.
We realize the complexity of obtaining parental consent for Apple ID for students under 13 can be a challenge, especially in large districts. We are working to change the Apple ID for Students program in 2016 – during the upcoming school year. With these planned changes schools will have the ability to create and manage Apple IDs on behalf of students that can be configured to access iCloud. It will also allow system administrators to reset student passwords. And, the new approach will still meet COPPA requirements.
We are improving the Apple Deployment Programs by unifying individual services into one program, simplifying the administrator experience. This will make it far easier to enroll, manage, and support a large deployment—and reduce many of the steps schools have to go through to get setup.
Today iPad is engaging students in their learning in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Alongside inspiring leaders, innovative teachers and engaged communities, we believe iPad is the best device for any student, grade and level. We will work to make it easy to get iPads into the hands of all students and teachers. The feedback we receive helps guide what we need to do to get there.
Apple is reportedly planning to improve the process of loading apps onto iPads for its education customers by allowing students to install software without using an Apple ID, according to MacRumors.
Below is a snippet of an email allegedly sent by Apple:
To simplify large deployments, including one-to-one and shared use, we want to make app distribution even easier. Today, Apple IDs are required in order to deliver apps and books to students. We are working to change this in the fall by allowing schools to assign and distribute apps to a device without an Apple ID. As currently planned, this will greatly reduce the number of steps needed to setup a device. This change should eliminate the need to create generic Apple IDs solely for the purposes of getting content onto iPad. Schools will also have the option to prevent students from making personal purchases without approval.
Other changes on the way for education customers according to the report: Apple will allow educators to create Apple IDs for students to allow access to iCloud and as well as unify parts of the program to improve the experience.
In the past, Apple has attempted to improve its iPad for Education programby allowing special Apple IDs for students under 13-years-old and adding remote configuration options for IT administrators.
Apple also participates in the ConnectED education program offering a combination of Macs, iPads, and Apple TVs to over 100 schools across the United States.
Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices Tagged: iPad, iPad in education
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Just ahead of the finalized Apple Watch’s presentation at Apple’s March 9th “Spring Forward” event, sources with hands-on Apple Watch experience have revealed a collection of new details about the device’s features to 9to5Mac. Our sources have offered new information on the Watch’s real-world battery life, health and fitness features, apps, and experiences using Apple’s next-generation touchscreen hardware…
Power Reserve Mode and Battery Life
The Apple Watch’s battery life has concerned many prospective customers, as Apple said only that the Watch will need to be charged nightly. Earlier this year, we reported that Apple’s development targets for Apple Watch battery life were 2.5-4 hours for heavy app usage, versus 19 hours per day of combined usage between light app access, notifications, and Glances. Sources who have handled the Apple Watch tell us that Apple has improved the device’s battery life, noting that the final Apple Watch should be able to handle 5 hours of fairly heavy application usage, and it and won’t run out of battery during a typical day of mixed active and passive use. However, the source says that the device will still need to be charged nightly, as it will definitely not last through a second full day.
As The New York Times reported, Apple will address battery life concerns with a new “Power Reserve Mode” that cuts optional services to preserve as much of the Apple Watch’s core functionality as possible. Our sources have shared several new details about the feature. First, Power Reserve Mode can be activated via a Battery Glance that’s accessible at any time, or via the Apple Watch’s Settings application. The Battery Glance will show the percentage of battery life remaining, the amount of time since the last full charge, and a large button to activate Power Reserve Mode.
Power Reserve Mode can even be accessed when the Watch has a full 100% charge, and it is not solely activated when the Watch’s battery life is low. The mode noticeably dims the display, slows down communication with the iPhone to an on-demand level, and puts the display to sleep after roughly two seconds of inactivity. One unit tested allowed access to all Apple Watch functions while in Power Reserve mode, while another unit was limited to the Clock face.
Unlike the iPhone, when battery life is low on the Apple Watch, the device does not show a modal popup window indicating the battery life percentage remaining. Instead, with 20% battery life remaining, the Battery Life glance turns an orange/amber color as a subtle alert to the user. At 10%, the glance turns from orange/amber to a red color. On the iPhone side, our sources say that they did not see any “meaningful” change to the iPhone’s battery while using the Apple Watch.
Heart Rate Glance
One notable yet-to-be-announced Apple Watch feature is the Heart Rate Glance. Thanks to the device’s heart rate monitor, the Heart Rate Glance will allow the user to see their Beats Per Minute at any time. When accessing the Glance, an outline of a heart will appear, similar to the heart in the image above. After a button is tapped to start measurement, the screen will show the constantly updating BPM reading. Our sources say that the process of reading the heart rate was almost instant and the readings were “seemingly accurate.” Previously, Apple has only stated that the Heart Rate sensor will be used to send other users their heart beat via the communication features and to measure intensity for calorie reading in the fitness app. Of course, heart rate readings could be transferred to the Health application on the accompanying iPhone.
Notification Center and Glances
Our sources indicate that the following Glances are installed on the Apple Watch by default, in addition to Heart Rate and Battery Life: Fitness Stats, Activity, Clock, Weather, Music, Quick Settings, Calendar and Maps. As discussed on one of our recent Happy Hour podcasts, sources also indicate that the Apple Watch will have a full Notification Center like the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac. To access Notification Center, a user can swipe down from the top of the display in any screen. The list of notifications will show each app name as well as truncated descriptions of the alerts, akin to an iPhone. Developers will be able to customize which notifications can show up in Notification Center as well as the Apple Watch app icon specific to this view.
Onboard Storage and Music
As Apple has announced, the Apple Watch will be able to store music that can be played while unlinked to an iPhone. Prototype Apple Watches within Apple are said to include 8GB of storage; it is yet to be seen whether the shipping versions will all include 8GB. As we noted yesterday, the internal units also include Lightning connectors, which won’t be on the shipping models. Users will be able to specify individual songs, albums, and playlists to be loaded to their Apple Watches via a panel in the Companion app for iPhone. Users will also be able to stream music from the Apple Watch to external speakers or headphones over Bluetooth.
iPhone Companion App
As we extensively reported earlier this year, the settings for individual Apple Watch applications will be controlled by a Companion application on the iPhone. The Companion app has a dark black user interface with a glyph of the Apple Watch as the app icon. In addition to controlling various settings and music storage, the Companion app allows users to re-arrange the icons on the Apple Watch’s Home screen. This can be done from the Watch itself as well via a long press, just like on the iPhone and iPad. When a user downloads an iPhone application from the App Store with a WatchKit component, the Watch app is automatically installed on the Watch. Users can remove the WatchKit applications through the Companion app without deleting the app from the iPhone. Interestingly, if the iPhone is not connected to the Watch, the application icon will remain on the device’s Home screen, and the applications will still work for a period of time with cached data.
Force Touch, Digital Crown + Voice Control
Sources have praised the Watch’s next-generation force-sensing touchscreen interface, saying that “the screen feels like a giant button than you just want to press in the manner needed for Force Touch.” A source added that the feature “feels natural” on the small screen. Also, the Digital Crown input device is required to use the Apple Watch, as the Watch differs from the sixth-generation iPod nano in lacking pinch to zoom capabilities: it registers touches and movements up, down, left, and right. There is no keyboard at all on the device; all forms of input are handled with pre-populated options and voice dictation. Speaking of dictation, the menus within the Apple Watch label all voice control features as “Voice Control,” rather than as Siri. As we reported earlier, this initial version of the Watch OS does not support replying to emails, even by voice. Users will need to access the Mail app via Handoff on their iPhone to conduct replies.
Speed, Display, and Sport Band
People who have used the Apple Watch say that the device feels very fast overall, which is line with our report that the S1 chip is comparable with the current iPod touch’s A5 chip. But there are limits. One source said that an Apple Watch with over 200 WatchKit applications became noticeably sluggish on the Home screen. It is unlikely that the majority of users will ever install 200 WatchKit applications, so this should not be a typical concern.
A designer familiar with the quality of mobile device screens who has used the Apple Watch says that the “screen is the best [smartwatch] screen I have ever seen,” noting that “it’s like vibrant digital paper, and does not look rendered,” with especially “great” black levels. The source thinks that the smaller, 38mm version is “tiny,” but of course this will differ between users of different sizes. Apple’s Sport Band, the default on the $349 aluminum Apple Watch, is said to “take time” to get used to as it is somewhat difficult to put on at first due to the pin-based closure system.
Powering Off, Force Quitting and Settings
Some users have wondered how the Apple Watch will be powered off without a dedicated power button. Our sources say that it’s turned off by long pressing the large “communication button” on the right side of the Watch. When this is pressed, a confirmation slider akin to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is shown, letting a swipe finish the shut down. Users can also Force Quit an unstable application by accessing the shut down screen and then quickly pressing the button on the right side. The Apple Watch also includes a Settings application that includes various toggles including Bluetooth and Airplane Mode. There is not a dedicated Wi-Fi settings panel, which instead will likely be controlled by the accompanying iPhone.
Apple will officially announce Apple Watch pricing and availability on Monday, March 9, starting at 10:00AM Pacific/1:00PM Eastern Time. 9to5Mac will offer coverage of the event in the hours leading up the keynote, during the presentation, and afterwards, so please join us for more news and commentary then.
Filed under: Apple Watch, iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: 8GB, Activity, Apple watch, Bluetooth, fitness, Glances, hands-on, heart rate, Music, Notification Center, Power Reserve Mode, settings, wifi
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Apple has asked developers who attended secretive Apple Watch app development workshops in Cupertino across January and February to hold off on announcing their applications, according to multiple high-profile developers. These people say that Apple has asked developers to not provide in-depth details, revealing screenshots and videos, or launch information about their applications until after the event at the very least. In some cases, Apple has even asked developers to wait until late March or early April to announce their applications.
Apple asking developers to hold off on their announcements represents another move from a company keen on controlling the complete message for their product introductions. On Monday, March 9th, Apple will expose several upcoming WatchKit applications, and it strongly appears that Apple wants to direct the apps message instead of letting its developers do the marketing. Another developer source who attended the workshops in Cupertino says that Apple asked developers for a copy of any code or design materials to “prepare material for their keynote and press media to show a healthy [Apple Watch apps] ecosystem at launch.”
Filed under: Apple Watch Tagged: app, Apple watch, developers, event, Hard Drives, Marketing Materials, Spring forward
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Reuters reports that Japan Display Inc, an Apple parts supplier, just announced plans to build a new $1.4 billion LCD plant that will reportedly help it become a primary supplier of smartphone displays to Apple.
The report also claims that Apple has invested in the plant, but didn’t disclose any financial details related to the investment:
The company did not name Apple, in line with its policy of not identifying clients. A person familiar with the matter said Apple would also invest an unspecified amount in the plant, which would further the Japanese screen maker’s aim of becoming the primary supplier of high-tech screens for iPhones.
The news follows reports last month that Apple was considering such an investment in the new factory somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.7 billion.
The new plant will reportedly start production in 2016 and increase Japan Display’s LCD capacity by 20 percent.
Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices Tagged: Display, display suppliers, iPhone, japan display, Reuters, suppliers
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Considering that the iPad Mini 3 was only a slight refresh on its predecessor, packing the same processing speed and power and essentially adding only Touch ID and a gold color option into the mix, many have hoped the fourth generation version of the device would be a more substantial update than last year's. Mac Otakara's report states that the update would replace the iPad Mini 3's current A7 processor and 802.11n Wi-Fi with an A8 CPU and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Mac Otakara tells MacRumors, however, that there is some uncertainty with this rumor, and Mac Otakara is not convinced it is accurate.
A short product cycle for an iPad would not be unprecedented, as the 9.7-inch iPad saw a seven-month interval in its third-generation, with the fourth-generation model shifting the iPad update cycle from the early part of the year to the late part and allowing Apple to quickly make the transition to the Lightning connector across its iOS device lineup.
Timing on a potential mid-cycle refresh for the iPad mini is not entirely clear, but the obvious candidate in the near-term is Apple's "Spring Forward" event this coming Monday, March 9. Mac Otakara also says Apple has been pushing out iPad and notebook shipping estimates for resellers to 2-3 weeks, perhaps hinting at some imminent lineup changes.
Apple reportedly has a MacBook Air refresh in the works and shipping estimates for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro have also slipped today, fueling rumors of updates at Monday's event. The company will, however, most likely dedicate much of the show to details on the Apple Watch, so it is unclear how many other updates Apple will want to include in the event.
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HooToo TripMate Wireless N Travel Router w/ USB port: $15 Prime shipped (Reg. $20)
Apple iPad deals: iPad Air 32GB $380 (Reg. $449), iPad mini w/ free $50 gift card $239 ($299 value), moreApple iPad mini 2 WiFi: 16GB $250/32GB $300 w/ free shipping ($50 off)
iTunes Free App of the Week – Temple Run: Oz ($1.99 value)
LAST CHANCE! Small States Review – Bolt Briefcase from WaterField Designs is an ideal work and travel companion, $249 giveawayMore new gear from today:
Headphones: JBL J55 on-ears (multiple colors) $20 (Reg. $43), Sennheiser HD 518 over-ears $65 (Reg. up to $130)
- New! Daily Deals: JBL Lightning Docks from $23, Mophie Juice Pack refurb $25, more
- New! Samsung 850 EVO 500GB Internal Solid-State Drive $190 shipped (Reg. $245+)
- New! Monoprice 15% off sitewide: MHD Action Camera $150 (Reg. $177), more
- New! Games/Apps: BioShock Infinite + all DLC 75% off, iOS freebies, more
- New! SAS Handbook The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere $3 eBook download (Reg. $16)
iPhone 6 ultimate party case includes a bottle opener and flameless lighter for $10
- Download a free copy of the Transformers movie
- PreSonus Speakers + Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones from $229
- Media: Man of Steel Collectors Edition $10 (Reg. $40), more
- Download The Hobbit eBook on Google Play for $3 (Reg. $14)
- Home: Philips AirFryer $150, Thermos Vacuum Stainless Steel Bottle $29, more
- PNY Turbo 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive: $70 shipped (Orig. $130)
- Mac App Store sale: BioShock, LEGO, Metro, Transistor, more $10 each (Reg. up to $45)
- Receive up to $100 off or Amazon credit w/ select Bose & HEOS by Denon products
- HDTVs: Samsung 48″ 1080p $545 (Reg. $670), 55″ LG 4K UHDTV $1,300 (Reg. $1,799)
- Download more than 300 hits from the 1960’s for $4
- Apple MacBook Air 13.3″ Laptop (previous gen) 1.3GHz/4GB/128GB $830 (orig. $1,099)
- Free download: Transparent soundtrack featuring Bob Dylan, Neil Young, more
- Incase Maki Canvas Jacket for iPad 2/3/4 case $10 shipped (Reg. $40)
- Google Play’s Birthday Sale includes $0.99 albums, $3 movies, discounted apps, more
- Amazon Spring Break Fashion Sale: Reef Sandal $32, Oakley Sunglasses $72+, more
- Pioneer’s SPH-DA120 adds Apple CarPlay to your car for $445 (Reg. $600)
- Dr. Seuss Birthday Sale: up to 80% off more than 60 iOS book apps/collections
- Mood-Light Your Home From Your Phone, Was $50 now $34
Rock Band 4 slated for a 2015 return w/ song collections transferring + all new hardware
- The second gen Divoom Bluetune Bean speaker comes equipped with a remote selfie button
- Kitchen Tech: Using Nitrous Oxide to make fresh whipped cream, airy waffles, more
- SanDisk’s new microSD card will stuff an extra 200GB in your MacBook, GoPro, more
- Aether’s Cone wireless speaker gains a couple new tricks, still looks beautiful
- Treat yourself to sharper, better kitchen knives from Henckels and Wusthof for $20+
- Sony’s new BSP60 voice-controlled smart Bluetooth speaker is a virtual assistant on wheels
- Panasonic’s new Bluetooth smart air conditioner does more than just keep you cool
- Best Buy cuts Gamers Club Unlocked to $30, 20% off new games and amiibo
- ADATA found an ingenious home for a microSD card on its new microReader
- senseFly’s eXom drone flies autonomously using sensors or iPad controls
- Pansonic’s Nubo weatherproof, 4G-equipped monitoring camera is poised to slay Dropcam
- NeatherRealm announces Mortal Kombat X hybrid card-battler for iOS and Android
- Mad Catz brings console style controllers to Android devices with the L.Y.N.X.3
Filed under: Tips and Tricks Tagged: 9to5Toys, Amazon, app deals, Best Buy, Daily Deals, free apps, Gold Box, HooToo TripMate, ipad air, Travel Router, video games, Wireless N
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Apple Watch pricing, availability, surprises & more, here’s what to expect at Apple’s event
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Apple planning iPad in education improvements, removing Apple ID requirement for apps & books
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Sources offer hands-on Apple Watch details: battery life, unannounced features, and more
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Apple asks some Apple Watch developers to hold announcements until after event
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Apple reportedly invests in new $1.4 billion Japan Display LCD plant
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