One of the developers who had a chance to visit Apple's WatchKit lab and get hands-on time with the Apple Watch shared his testing experience with MacRumors and gave us some of his thoughts on the device after spending all day using it.
Apple maintained strict control over the Apple Watches that developers were allowed to use for testing. Security guards were on hand, and developers were not allowed into the room until receiving a badge, which had to be worn at all times. Entering into the lab was done through two doorways, each of which was locked and could only be opened via an electronic keycard.
Developers had to cover their cameras and leave their bags on shelves, and they were not allowed to pair the Apple Watch with their own iPhones. No one was allowed to go to the bathroom or run out for coffee until they let Apple's security see their wrists to prove they weren't leaving with a watch.
Apple has used similar tight security when bringing the Apple Watch on location to be featured in magazines as well, and it's clear they're making sure none of these devices leak out ahead of April 24.
In the lab, there were 5 rows of long tables, and approximately 10 developers could fit at each table. Apple had five engineers on hand to help developers put the finishing touches on their apps, and all of the engineers in the room were described as helpful and insightful. It's still not clear what criteria Apple used to decide which developers to invite to Sunnyvale, but a lot of major app developers were there, as were teams from various startups and bigger companies.
Developers were given 42mm Apple Watch Sport models to test their apps with, and 38mm models were only supplied upon request. The developer we spoke to thought the Sport models were "extremely light" and did not look tacky or cheesy. He also thought that the 42mm Apple Watch was the ideal size, neither too big nor too small. The extra 4mm of screen size made a big difference when it came to reading text on the device, and he thought that people who used the Apple Watch for long periods of time might better appreciate the larger screen.
The design and the feel of the watch were described as "absolutely amazing" and software was described as "fluid" and not like other smart watches available on the market. "Animations on the Apple Watch are really what separate it from its competitors," he said. Handoff works very well, letting users transfer tasks from the Apple Watch to the iPhone with ease, and Siri's functionality was described as "absolutely phenomenal."
He also shared a bit of information about battery life. Wearing the watch all day, he used it regularly to send messages and test his app, and he said the watch battery lasted all day with some to spare. He was really impressed and said, "When Apple says all day battery life, they mean it."
Overall, the developer that we spoke with thought his time at the Apple WatchKit lab was an "inspirational experience" and in his opinion, Apple is on the right track with the Apple Watch.
Apple has heavily guarded the Apple Watch thus far, but two weeks from today, the general public will be able to see the device in person and test it out after Apple begins its in-store try-on period. The company will let people schedule 15 minute appointments beginning on April 10, which is also the day that Apple Watch pre-orders will begin.
The Apple Watch will officially launch on April 24, but pre-orders are recommended because supplies may be constrained.
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We've got quite a few Mac-oriented Apple accessories available at a discount this week, including a backup battery pack and SD card storage. We've even got deals on Apple Watch accessories -- Casetify is offering discounts on its custom Apple Watch band pre-orders.
iPad Air 2
Best Buy is still offering the lowest prices we've seen on a few select iPad Air 2 models. The 16GB Cellular iPad Air 2 in silver is available for $499.99, $130 off its regular price. The 64GB Cellular iPad Air 2 in silver is available for $599.99, $130 off. The 128GB Cellular iPad Air 2 in silver is priced at $699.99, also a $130 discount.
B&H Photo is offering a discount on all of its iPad Air 2 models, dropping prices by $30 to $50. With the discount, the 16GB WiFi only iPad Air 2 is priced at $459 and the 64GB model is priced at $569.
Best Buy is also discounting cellular versions of its iPad Air stock, dropping the price on the 16GB Verizon Space Gray model to $379.99 and the price of the 32GB Verizon Space Gray model to $429.99, two of the lowest prices we've seen on those tablets.
Both Best Buy and B&H Photo have deep discounts on their remaining stock of now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad Air models, as listed below.
- iPad Air Wi-Fi Silver 64GB - $449
- iPad Air Wi-Fi Silver 128GB - $529
- iPad Air Wi-Fi Space Gray 128GB - $529
- iPad Air Cellular Silver 128GB (AT&T) - $549.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 128GB (AT&T) - $549.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 64GB (AT&T) - $499
- iPad Air Cellular Silver 64GB (Verizon) - $566.99
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 64GB (Verizon) - $629
- iPad Air Cellular Silver 128GB (Verizon) - $599
- iPad Air Cellular Space Gray 128GB (Verizon) - $599
Best Buy has a sale on its original iPad mini stock, discounting the 16GB tablet by $50, which drops the price to $199.99. It's available in Silver and Space Gray.
iPad mini 2
Amazon has a few iPad mini 2 models available at discounted prices. The 16GB Cellular Verizon iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $329. The 16GB Cellular Verizon iPad mini 2 in Space Gray is available for $335. The 32GB Cellular Verizon iPad mini 2 in Space Gray is available for $399.99.
Best Buy and Amazon also have remaining stock of now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad mini 2 models, which are a good deal if you're looking for an iPad mini. Compared to the iPad mini 3, the iPad mini 2 only lacks Touch ID.
- iPad mini Cellular Silver 128GB (AT&T) - $449
- iPad mini Cellular Space Gray 128GB (AT&T) - $435
- iPad mini Cellular Space Gray 64GB (AT&T) - $399.99
- iPad mini Cellular Silver 128GB (Verizon) - $449
- iPad mini Cellular Space Gray 128GB (Verizon) - $534.99
- iPad mini Cellular Silver 64GB (Verizon) - $396.99
- iPad mini Cellular Space Gray 64GB (Verizon) - $414.99
iPad mini 3
Best Buy has discounts on a single iPad mini 3, the 128GB Cellular iPad model in gold. The price is $579.99, a discount of $150.
- 21.5-inch 1.4GHz/8GB/500GB (Best Buy) - $999.99, $100 off
- 21.5-inch 2.7GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,189, $110 off
- 21.5-inch 2.9GHz/8GB/1TB (B&H Photo) - $1,369, $130 off
- 27-inch 3.2GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,689, $110 off
- 27-inch 3.4GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) - $1,794, $205 off
- 27-inch 3.5Ghz/8GB/1TB Retina iMac (B&H Photo) (MacMall) - $2,349, $150 off
- 1.4GHz/4GB/500GB (Amazon) (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $464.99, $34 off
- 2.6GHz/8GB/1TB (Best Buy) - $649.99, $49 off
- 2.8GHz/8GB/1TB (MacMall) - $934.99, $64 off
- 2015 11-inch 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB - (B&H Photo) $849.99, $50 off
- 2015 13-inch 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo)- $949.99, $50 off
- 2014 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB - (Amazon) (Adorama) (B&H Photo) (MacMall)$789, $109 off
- 2014 11-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (Amazon) (B&H Photo) - $919, $180 off
- 2014 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (Amazon) (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $819, $180 off
- 2014 13-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (Amazon) (B&H Photo) - $1029, $179 off
Retina MacBook Pro
- 2014 15-inch 2.2GHz/16GB/256GB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo) (MacMall) - $1,799, $200 off
- 2014 15-inch 2.5GHz/16GB/512GB (B&H Photo) -$2,249, $250 off
- 2014 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB (B&H Photo) (MacMall) - $1,098, $201 off
- 2014 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB (B&H Photo) - $1,249, $239 off
- 2014 13-inch 2.8GHz/8GB/512GB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) - $1,588.99, $210 off
There are quite a few apps that are on sale at discounted prices or available for free for a limited time. We'll highlight a few here, but make sure to check out our sister site AppShopper for a complete list.
Puzzle game MUJO is available for free, down from $1.99. Call of Duty: Strike Team is available for $1.99, down from $6.99. Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is available for $2.99, down from $4.99. Fantastical 2 for iPad is available for $6.99, down from $9.99. Fantastical 2 for iPhone is available for $2.99, down from $4.99.
XCOM: Enemy Within is available for $4.99, down from $12.99. BioShock is available for $2.99, down from $10.99. Civilization Revolution 2 is available for $4.99, down from $14.99.
Tangent was named Apple's app of the week this week, and it will be available to download for free for the next six days.
Groupon is selling the Otterbox Defender case for the iPhone 6 for $37.99, down from its regular price of $49.95. Groupon has the Incase Hard-Shell Case for the 11 or 13-inch MacBook Air for $9.99, down from $49.95. The site is also selling the Griffin Survivor Case and Stand for the iPad mini for $29.99, down from $59.99. LivingSocial has Apple EarPods for $13.99, down from $29.99.
Groupon has the Beats by Dre Pill speaker for $159.99, down from $199.95. The Lifeproof nuud Case for iPad 2/3/4 is available from Groupon for $34.99, down from $129.99. Groupon is also selling the 3.3ft Apple Lightning to USB cable for $10.99, $9 off its regular price, or $18.99 for a pack of 2.
StackSocial has the Nifty MiniDrive for MacBook Air or MacBook Pro at a slight discount of $32.99, down from $39.99. StackSocial also has the ChugPlug Portable MacBook Power Pack for $84.99, down from $129.99. The Timbuk2 Slide Laptop Backpack for the 15-inch MacBook Pro is available for $24.99 from Newegg with coupon code EMCAPNV56.
The DC Superhero Clip Case for the iPhone 5/5s is available for $7.99 from Groupon, down from $29.99. There's also a Nintendo version for $8.99. The Bobine flexible iPhone cable/dock is available from StackSocial for $24.99, down from $35. Just Mobile's AluPen Twist stylus is available from DailySteals for $19, down from $40. Speck is offering 25% off select iPhone 5/5s/5c cases for a limited time.
Casetify is offering a 15 percent discount plus free shipping on its custom Apple Watch bands with the code WATCH15. The deal will last until 3/30.
MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.
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When Nintendo announced last week that it will collaborate with DeNA to release iPhone and iPad games, gamers split into two camps: people intrigued by the promise of brand new Nintendo titles designed for mobile devices, and others — including myself — who expect Nintendo to release shallow mobile minigames, mostly to promote console titles. Nintendo hasn’t actually committed to bringing the Super Mario games people love into the App Store; instead, it’s saying only that its characters will appear in new titles that won’t require complex controls. The implication is that only Nintendo consoles are capable of playing Nintendo’s console games.
I disagree with that. For years, Macs and PCs have been able to run thousands of classic console and arcade games, including Nintendo’s best-known titles, using emulators. These free programs let discontinued, often HDTV-incompatible games play on computers — in many cases, with noticeably better graphics than you remember. Freed from the fuzzy, low-contrast televisions people used to own, classic games can look pixel-sharp on Retina displays, and some emulators actually improve the edges and textures of 3-D objects. Nintendo may not want you to play its prior console games on your favorite Apple device’s screen, but thanks to emulators, it’s possible today. The picture above? That’s Super Mario Galaxy, running on a Retina MacBook Pro…
Although an incredible amount of hard work went into developing emulators, the basic concept is simple: the emulator converts old game “ROMs” (cartridges/chips) or “ISOs” (discs) into apps that run on another, newer machine. Think of the emulator as being a realtime translator of Spanish into English, constantly translating the old game’s language into the new machine’s language, and you’ll get a sense of how much opportunity there is for show-stopping misinterpretations (game crashes). Yet emulators work: the faster the new machine is, and the better the emulator’s written, the smoother old games run.
The best-known classic game emulator is MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, which has been available (and evolving) since 1997. Thanks to 18 years of development, MAME is now capable of emulating thousands of different games across dozens of different arcade platforms — equivalent to translating classic books from the world’s most popular languages into English. Developers have released versions of MAME for Macs, PCs, and even iOS devices, and as computer chips have continued to improve every year, games that were once sluggish have become easier to emulate quickly. MAME’s developers also continue to remove bugs, so everything from simple 2-D arcade classics like Pac-Man to thrilling 3-D racing games like Daytona USA (above) can run equally well.
But there’s a legality problem: you need to own a game if you’re going to emulate it legally, and very few people actually own the games they want to play. (Collecting console games can take up a fair amount of space, but arcade collections are in an entirely different league.) That’s the key reason Apple has rejected MAME and other game emulators whenever developers try to sneak them into the App Store. In 2013, MAME was hidden inside an iOS game called Gridlee, surviving for a month before Apple yanked it. Late last year, “Floppy Cloud,” an iOS emulator of Nintendo NES and SNES games (shown playing Super Street Fighter II, above), snuck into the App Store for two days before getting bounced out by Apple.
For those of us who own classic games that will only play on aging consoles (and out-of-date TVs), emulators are a godsend. They keep abandonware (such as the still-fantastic futuristic racing game F-Zero GX for Nintendo’s GameCube) alive without forcing customers to pay a second (third, or fourth) time to run the same game on new consoles. Nintendo has made a small fortune by releasing the same exact game in incompatible formats for different consoles, charging fans separately for each machine they want to play it on. Like the App Store, which lets you run games and apps on past, present, and future iOS devices, emulators cut through that nonsense. Nintendo may or may not be heading in the same direction, itself.
The big change over the last five years has been a radical increase in the amount of power found in new Apple devices. For instance, Apple says that the iPad Air 2’s A8X CPU is 12 times faster than the A4 inside 2010’s original iPad, with graphics processing that’s 180 times faster. Even though Macs haven’t jumped as dramatically in performance, I was astonished to learn how well emulators are running these days on even low-end and midrange Macs. Equipped with only Intel HD Graphics chips, two-year-old MacBook Pros and Mac minis are capable of running Nintendo GameCube and Wii games at full speed under emulation. In fact, many GameCube games can run on these older machines at 3 times their original resolution — enough to fill a 1080p HDTV with razor-sharp pixels. It’s worth pointing out that Nintendo’s own Wii U can’t do that with prior-generation games, unless Nintendo individually reprograms them (and sells them for $50 a pop).
Two screenshots above illustrate how the free GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin (currently version 4.0) handles games on the Mac. Shot 1 shows Dolphin perfectly emulating F-Zero GX as it looks on older TV sets and monitors. But shot 2 shows Dolphin running the same game in widescreen mode at 3 times its original resolution, where it still looks better than any futuristic racer Nintendo has released in the subsequent dozen years. Virtually any Mac with an HDMI cable can display these console games on a TV. And if you pair Dolphin with a $30 Sony DualShock 3 or $50 DualShock 4 wireless controller, you can enjoy console-quality controls on your Mac, as well. A one-time setup process lets you map the GameCube’s joypad, analog joysticks, and buttons to a PlayStation controller, which you can use wirelessly with Bluetooth, or with any USB charging cable. Wii controls — notably including the IR sensor — can be mapped to DualShocks as well.
Why does emulation matter? Because it gives lie to the oft-circulated claim that console games are only playable on consoles, a fiction Nintendo tacitly encourages because the reality — that its consoles are merely computers controlled by joypads — is inconvenient, and a threat to its finances. Its competitors Sony and Microsoft haven’t shied away from acknowledging their machines’ computer roots; Sony’s PlayStation division is officially named Sony Computer Entertainment, and previously supported Linux; Microsoft’s Xbox consoles have openly run pared-down versions of Windows for years.
It’s no surprise that there are very good emulators for the PlayStation (PCSXR) and PlayStation 2 (PCSX2-CE) at this point, each capable of running hundreds of the Sony consoles’ best games. While original PlayStation games (Wipeout XL, above) are low-resolution and limited in color, PlayStation 2 games (Wipeout Fusion, below) have more detail and better shading. Unlike Dolphin’s emulation of Nintendo games, however, the PlayStation emulators can’t (yet) magically upgrade the 3-D artwork in older games, but they can run games in a forced widescreen mode that looks better on modern TV sets. It goes without saying that DualShock 3 and DualShock 4 wireless controllers work with old PlayStation games, too.
To be clear, I’m not in any way advocating that you go online and start grabbing games you haven’t already purchased. But as a longtime Mac user and even longer-time console gamer (with a physical game collection that was at one point too large to manage), it’s clear to me that emulation is a better way to go. Twenty or thirty years worth of games can now fit on a single hard drive. Today’s computers and mobile devices are capable of running more old games than ever before. And Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft don’t have the resources to individually remaster all of their old titles — it takes a team 6-12 months per game, and as we’ve seen with Microsoft’s Halo: Master Chief Collection debacle, there’s no guarantee everything will work right.
I don’t believe that what Nintendo’s currently doing with old games is sustainable. In late January, Nintendo started selling a $10 “Wii U” copy of the boxing game Punch-Out!! that was just the original Wii game in downloadable form. It doesn’t look as good as the exact same game playing on Dolphin (above), and I had to buy $40 worth of special controllers just to play it on the Wii U. Only the hardest-core Nintendo fans will keep shelling out again and again to play the same titles. Thanks to ever-improving Macs and great emulators such as Dolphin, they may not have to do so for much longer. The only better solution would be a Nintendo-made game emulator for iOS, with plenty of games and a Nintendo-developed controller, all at reasonable prices.
Filed under: General, Mac, Opinion Tagged: Dolphin, DualShock, emulation, GameCube, Mac, Nintendo, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Sony, Wii, Wii U
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Earlier rumors about the streaming television service suggested NBC's absence from the upcoming package was due to a falling out between Apple and Comcast, but on Thursday, Comcast said that wasn't true in a letter that it sent to the Federal Communications Commission. Comcast's letter was a response to a filing from Stop Mega Comcast, a group that's opposed to a Comcast-Time Warner merging, and in it, Comcast said Apple had not even approached NBC for a content deal.
Stop Mega Comcast's note, filed on Wednesday, said, "Comcast may be withholding affiliated NBCUniversal ("NBCU") content in an effort to thwart the entry of potential new video competitors." The note cited a recent Wall Street Journal report that said Apple wasn't talking to NBCUniversal because of a "falling-out between Apple and NBCUniversal parent company Comcast."It is not clear why Apple has not approached NBC about a possible content deal for its most recent streaming television efforts, but Apple and Comcast have attempted to negotiate a deal in the past, which didn't pan out. The Wall Street Journal has suggested that earlier talks failed to establish a deal due to Comcast's focus on its own X1 web streaming platform.
That's a bit right but mostly wrong, Comcast attorney Francis Buono wrote to the FCC: "Not only has NBCUniversal not 'withheld' programming from Apple's new venture, Apple has not even approached NBCUniversal with such a request." I've asked Apple for comment.
As noted by Re/code, Apple could initiate talks with NBC in the future or potentially take advantage of a clause in the contract that was established when Comcast and NBC merged several years back, which would force NBC to license its content to Apple if Apple were able to establish deals with the company's competitors.
Apple may be planning to debut its streaming television service at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Many of the details about the service remain unknown, including the channel lineup Apple is aiming for, but the company is said to be in talks with ABC, CBS, Fox, Disney, ESPN, Discovery, and Viacom, which would give Apple access to channels like Animal Planet, TLC, MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon.
The streaming television service may be accompanied by a revamped set-top box, rumored to include an A8 processor, expanded storage, an App Store, and Siri support.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook on Twitter today shared Apple’s opposition to a controversial new law in Indiana while calling on the governor of Arkansas to veto legislation before it becomes law. Both laws relate to religious freedom protection but have been criticized as enabling LGBT discrimination.
Apple joined a crowd of companies publicly opposing similar legislation passed by the state congress in Arizona last year before its governor decided to veto the bill rather than signing it into law.
Apple has championed diversity and equality through participation in initiatives like the annual Pride parade in San Francisco while promoting the message of inclusion at the company.
Tim Cook, who became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company last year after penning an essay on the subject, has frequently called on the United States Congress to pass LGBT protection legislationthat would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees from being fired because of sexual orientation. Cook last year made a sizable personal donation to an LGBT initiative that operate in Arkansas.
Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple, Arizona, Arkansas, Human Rights Campaign, Indiana, LGBT, Tim Cook http://feeds.wordpre...ess.com/371844/ http://feeds.wordpre...ess.com/371844/ http://feeds.wordpre...ess.com/371844/ http://feeds.wordpre...ess.com/371844/ http://feeds.wordpre...ess.com/371844/ http://feeds.wordpre...ess.com/371844/ http://feeds.wordpre...ess.com/371844/
Around the world, we strive to treat every customer the same — regardless of where they come from, how they worship or who they love.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 27, 2015
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