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Everything is awesome about these homemade Apple Watch st...

Yesterday, 10:51 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
Now that you’ve dropped a few hundred bucks on your shiny new Apple Watch, you may be tempted to give it someplace to live while you charge it. But you don’t have to shell out even more cash to providemf.gif


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Apple CEO Tim Cook Speaks on Importance of Privacy, Encry...

Yesterday, 10:18 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
Apple CEO Tim Cook was honored at the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champions of Freedom event in Washington yesterday, where he took the opportunity to give a speech covering Apple's stance on privacy, the importance of guarding customer information, and the company's views on encryption.

TechCrunch has shared details on both the event and Cook's speech, calling him "characteristically passionate" about the topics he spoke on.
"Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security," Cook opened. "We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demands it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it."
Cook highlighted Apple's commitment to customer privacy while also lambasting other Silicon Valley companies like Google and Facebook for collecting customer data. "They're gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it," Cook said. "We think that's wrong. And it's not the kind of company that Apple wants to be."

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As he has done multiple times in past privacy-centric speeches, Cook reiterated Apple's position as a company that gets its money from selling products and services, not the personal data of its companies. He also made a subtle jab at Google's new Photos app, which offers free, unlimited photo storage.
"We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don't think they're worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is."
On encryption, Cook said he believes it's "incredibly dangerous" that some government agencies advocate for unfettered access to consumer data and devices, an issue that's come to light following encryption changes that Apple introduced with iOS 8. As of iOS 8, Apple no longer stores device encryption keys, making it impossible for the company to bypass a passcode and provide consumer data at the government's request.

According to Cook, weakening encryption with a "master key" for the government has a "chilling effect on our First Amendment rights and undermines our country's founding principles." He says Apple will continue moving forward with encryption and will focus on building products "that keep people's information safe."

More of what Cook had to say during yesterday's speech can be found over at TechCrunch. The Verge has also shared details on the speech.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.mf.gif


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Tim Cook talks privacy & encryption, criticizes Googl...

Yesterday, 10:02 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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While speaking at the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) Champions of Freedom Awards Dinner yesterday night, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a speech during which he addressed the ongoing issues that surround privacy in the technology space. Cook, who was not physically in Washington D.C. for the event but rather spoke remotely, commented on both the steps Apple takes at ensuring customer privacy and how other companies are failing at the same task (via TechCrunch).

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Cook first pointed out that there is no reason users should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security and that it is Apple’s job to provide both in equal measure. He also took stabs at other “prominent” Silicon Valley tech companies and pointed out that many have built their businesses by collecting personal information from users.

Regarding the behavior of some of Apple’s competitors in comparison to its own, Cook had the following to say:

“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

Cook then stated that Apple believes the customer should be in control of their own information. Just because a service is free doesn’t make the privacy risks worth it, he claimed. Cook sideswiped Google’s new Photos services, which is free of charge and stated, “You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose.”

After addressing privacy concerns, Cook went on to talk about encryption and the steps Apple takes to ensure that the data of all users is protected. Cook stated that he sees the efforts of some members of the government as “incredibly dangerous” in their quest to access the private data of citizens. The Apple CEO said that the company has always offered encryption tools in its products and will continue to do so. Regarding the supposed back door access that many companies have given to the government, Cook pointed out that if you give a key to the government, a burglar can find it too.

“We’ve been offering encryption tools in our products for years, and we’re going to stay on that path. We think it’s a critical feature for our customers who want to keep their data secure. For years we’ve offered encryption services like iMessage and FaceTime because we believe the contents of your text messages and your video chats is none of our business. If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it too. Criminals are using every technology tool at their disposal to hack into people’s accounts. If they know there’s a key hidden somewhere, they won’t stop until they find it.”

Tim Cook has been very open in addressing Apple’s security policies over the recent years. Apple launched a new security page on its website last year, which was accompanied by an open-letter from Cook himself regarding Apple’s policies. Cook spoke about cybersecurity at the White House Summit earlier this year, as well, and also during a German interview.


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How-To: Build a $150-$300 iTunes video + music...

Yesterday, 08:50 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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In May 2005, iTunes evolved from a music player into a video library manager, paving the way for video iPods (October 2005), Apple TV (March 2007), and AirPlay video streaming (September 2010). Since then, iTunes libraries have become bigger and more central in homes, as users now stream iTunes content to Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches.

Apple has resisted calls to release a standalone, inexpensive iTunes home media server for years: 2008’s release of Time Capsule came tantalizingly close, but couldn’t act as a standalone streamer. So when my video library became too large to keep on my iMac, I bit the bullet and bought a used Mac mini to serve as an iTunes server. It works well, but it’s a full-fledged $700 computer — overkill for streaming videos to the Apple devices in my home.

Today, I’m going to help you build a much less expensive iTunes media server. Depending on the size of your iTunes library, it could cost as little as $150, or as much as $300, in either case much less expensive than a Mac mini. The key is a tiny computer based on Intel’s new Compute Stick technology, a full-fledged Windows PC that can plug into your TV, run iTunes, and stream videos across your network. For around $150, you can now get an iView-branded Compute Stick with a CPU similar to the 12″ Retina MacBook, bundled with a wireless keyboard and trackpad. Although there are some important caveats you should understand up front, the Compute Stick can become an iTunes server using a $20-$80 microSD card, or a near-silent $90 to $130 hard drive with 2TB-5TB of capacity

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iview-12.jpg?w=655&h=437The Apple Option: A Mac mini ($500 and up)

When my iTunes library outgrew my iMac, there was only one Apple-built option that made sense to me: a 1TB Mac mini. Devoting a screen-laden iMac solely to sitting around as a file server for iTunes struck me as a huge waste of both components and electricity. An energy-efficient Mac mini, even a previous-generation model, would save a lot of cash up front and hopefully over time, as well.

You can get an entry-level, current-generation Mac mini now for $465, including a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and 500GB hard drive. It has an HDMI port on the back and can be connected to any HDTV in your house with a $5 HDMI cable. If you want to step up to a faster version with a 1TB hard drive, you can get one for $664 through this link.

To set up the Mac mini and occasionally use it for OS X updates or managing files, you can either use a $22 dedicated Bluetooth track pad and keyboard combination, whatever spare USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse you already have on hand, or Apple’s official Magic Trackpad and Wireless Keyboard. (More choices are in my Best Mac Accessories article here.) So the total cost of a Mac mini-based iTunes server solution starts at $500 and goes up from there.

There are several major advantages of using a Mac mini as a media server. Apple’s hardware runs near-silently, has great long-term reliability, and is typically trouble-free when it comes to running OS X and iTunes. You shouldn’t expect the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to just stop working, your iTunes library to disappear from the network, or the computer to just not turn on after a few years of active use. Moreover, depending on the Mac mini you buy, it may be able to do lots of other things on an as-needed basis. Even if you go with a cheap Mac mini, it will still be a problem-free iTunes server.

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The DIY Option: A Compute Stick Plus Additional Storage ($150-$300)

Thanks to Intel’s release of the Compute Stick, you don’t need to spend $500 or more to get a basic, quiet-running iTunes media server — so long as you’re willing to accept an extremely basic computer that won’t reliably do anything else. You can get an Intel-branded Compute Stick for $170 through this link or faster for $199 through this link, adding the Bluetooth keyboard and track pad yourself. Or you can buy iView’s Cyber PC bundle, which includes a Compute Stick and wireless keyboard/track pad combo. It sells for $130 at Walmart$150 at Newegg, or $174 via Amazon; as of this moment, it’s in stock at Amazon and Newegg but on backorder at Walmart.

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The major advantages of the Compute Stick are its size, low power consumption, and extremely low price. Roughly the same size as a candy bar, the Compute Sick has a quad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Bay Trail processor, is pre-installed with Windows 8.1, and connects directly to a TV’s HDMI port — no extra HDMI cable is required, but an extender is included for tight-ported HDTVs. Power is supplied via an included micro-USB wall adapter. It has Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi built-in, 32GB of storage space, and 2GB of RAM. You can easily expand the storage space using microSD 32GB to 128GB cards, doubling or quadrupling the capacity, for $80 or less.

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Whether that’s enough for your needs depends on how you plan to use your iTunes media server. Of the built-in 32GB storage space, 18GB is usable, which means that a 32GB card will give you 50GB of total space, with up to 146GB total if a 128GB microSD card is installed. If you just want to stream a music collection and relatively small number of videos throughout your house, that may be enough space for you.iview-5.jpg?w=655&h=437

If you’re planning to share your entire video library over your network, you’ll want a bigger external drive, and that’s where the Compute Stick’s USB port comes in. For $90 to $130, you can get a 2TB, 3TB, 4TB or 5TB Seagate Expansion USB 3.0 hard drive (shown below), which has earned a lot of positive reviews (4.4/5 stars from 178 Amazon users) for operating whisper-quietly, waking very quickly from sleep, and delivering incredible storage capacity for the price.

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There are pricier options with longer warranties and greater long-term reliability in my best external hard drive guide, but they’ll push the total Compute Stick price up from under $300 to around $400. At that point, you may want to consider the Mac mini instead, as you’ll get a more powerful machine (albeit with less storage space) for the price.

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Setting Up The Compute Stick

Unlike the Mac, which will arrive with OS X ready to go after a really quick Wi-Fi and Bluetooth setup process, the iView Compute Stick will take a little work. The hardware part is fairly easy: once it’s unpacked, you can just plug it directly into an HDMI port on your TV, and then into the wall with its wall adapter. Some TVs may require you to connect it to the port labelled HDMI 1, while others will not.iview-3.jpg?w=655&h=437

After the Compute Stick is connected to your TV and wall, you’ll need to plug its combination keyboard and trackpad in using an included mini-USB cable. This is necessary to charge the remote’s integrated lithium ion battery, as well as to set it up as a wireless device within Windows. Once it’s charged and wirelessly paired, you won’t have to do this again; an included USB wireless dongle will let it operate independently, while an included micro-USB to USB adapter can be used to connect a USB hard drive. (You may want to keep the remote’s charging cable connected to a separate USB charger in case the remote’s battery runs out.)

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Setting up the Compute Stick will require jumping through standard Windows hoops, including the aforementioned pairing process, joining your home’s Wi-Fi network, and installing updated drivers. The keyboard is small, but surprisingly capable, and the trackpad is similarly tiny but entirely functional for occasionally navigating the Windows 8/iTunes environment. Once the computer’s all set up, you’ll want to grab the latest version of iTunes from here for free and install it.

Although PC-to-PC iTunes library transfers are fairly easy, the single biggest pain point for Mac users will be moving the content of a complete iTunes library from a Mac to the Compute Stick’s PC hard drive. Reformatting the external hard drive as exFAT will make it easier to access the drive on either a Mac or PC. Apple provides an iTunes library moving guide here, but it’s mostly intended for Mac-to-Mac or PC-to-Mac transfers. Preserving a larger iTunes library’s structure when transferring from Mac to PC will require additional guidance beyond the scope of this articleiview-9.jpg?w=655&h=437

If you’re using a microSD card instead of a hard drive, the process is less painful. You can put that card into an SD Card adapter, plug the adapter into your Mac’s card slot, and drag-and-drop individual files to transfer them between platforms. Alternately, you can set up Home Sharing on the Compute Stick’s copy of iTunes and iTunes on your Mac, then drag and drop files from the Mac’s library to the PC. The transfer over Wi-Fi will probably take a lot longer than using a card or hard drive for the transfer, but you won’t have to do it more than once.

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In any case, you’ll need to have Home Sharing turned on to see the Compute Stick’s (or Mac mini’s) iTunes library on your network. So long as iTunes and the Compute Stick are on, your library will be visible and ready to stream to Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, and other iTunes computers in your home. Rebooting the Compute Stick and iTunes can help your iOS device or Apple TV to see an upgraded iTunes library that isn’t appearing in their “Shared” library list/tab (generally found within the Videos app).

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Possible Issues

Three potential issues you should be prepared for with the Compute Stick are non-iTunes performance, wireless stability, and Windows 10. While reviews of the Compute Stick have been fine when it’s used for media streaming and web browsing, it’s not capable of more powerful computing, and unlike the Mac mini can’t replace a desktop PC for gaming or other tasks.

Some reviews have noted that its Bluetooth wireless performance is spotty, particularly when its wireless chip is simultaneously being used for Wi-Fi connectivity. Driver updates may well help with this, but there could be other underlying engineering issues that only get improved in later versions. The iView version of Compute Stick works around this by including a separate wireless dongle.

Last but not least, Compute Stick is intended to be compatible with the upcoming release of Windows 10 in late July of this year. It’s unclear whether Windows 10 will improve or reduce its overall performance as an iTunes server, so you might want to hold off on performing a Windows 8.1 to 10 upgrade until its reliability is established.

Those issues aside, a Compute Stick can serve as a nice (and inexpensive) iTunes media server for your home. It runs quiet, consumes little power, and works just like a much larger PC when used to stream audio and video files. If you don’t want to spend the cash on a Mac mini, it may well be your next best option.

Learn More

Check out more of my How-To guides and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users. Don’t forget to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the page to see everything!


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Tim Cook: ‘Morality demands’ security with privacy

Yesterday, 11:33 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
In a speech to nonprofit research firm Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) at its annual “Champions of Freedom” awards dinner last night, Apple head Tim Cook had some strong words about online security, government monitoring, and corporate data mining. Cookmf.gif


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Review: The Twelve South HiRise is an Ideal Stand for App...

Yesterday, 08:53 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
Twelve South is an accessory company that's known for its high-quality stands for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, so it's no surprise that it was one of the first to announce a dock for the Apple Watch.

The Twelve South HiRise for Apple Watch follows in the footsteps of the company's other HiRise docks, offering an Apple Watch storage and charging solution that's attractive, well-designed, and suitable for use in a wide range of locations, from a desk in an office to a nightstand in a bedroom.

I've been using the HiRise for Apple Watch for over a week now, as have a few of my colleagues both at MacRumors and TouchArcade, and the universal consensus is that it's a great stand, albeit with a premium price tag.

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HiRise for Apple Watch is made from brushed metal and is available in black or silver to match the finishes of the Apple Watch Sport and standard Apple Watch. It also matches the company's HiRise products for other devices, if you happen to own any of those.

There's a circular cutout for the Apple Watch charger (you will need to supply your own) and a rectangular cutout for the band, allowing it to work with all Apple Watch bands, from the open Sport-style to the closed-loop Milanese. Cutouts are lined in soft silicone, so at no point does the Apple Watch come in contact with metal.

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As I've learned first hand, the Apple Watch in stainless steel is extremely prone to scratching. When looking for a dock for the Apple Watch, it's advisable to make sure all surfaces on the dock that touch the watch are covered with something that doesn't have the potential to cause damage.

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The HiRise's base measures in at 3.9 inches by 4.76 inches, giving it enough surface area to sit on a desk or table without wobbling or shifting when an Apple Watch is placed on it. The bottom of the base is also coated in rubber for additional grip.

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Twelve South ships the HiRise for Apple Watch in several pieces, so some assembly is required. There's the base, the portion of the stand that holds the Apple Watch, and a cable cover, coated in leather. Twelve South calls the cable cover a "landing pad," with the leather in place to prevent the buckle of a band from being scratched should it come in contact with the base of the dock.

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The stand fits into the base and is then held in place with the cable cover. Twelve South includes a screw in the package to secure the stand to the base, and while the instructions suggest this is optional, I'd recommend using it (even though installing it is a bit frustrating). Without the screw in place, the stand can be pushed backwards when a small amount of force is supplied, making the setup feel unstable. If you plan to travel with the dock, you may not want to use the screw, as it prevents it from being easily disassembled.

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An Apple Watch charger fits into the circular cutout at the top of the HiRise, while the cord is routed down the back and under the cable cover, where it can then be plugged into the adapter for charging. The charger fits perfectly into the cutout and is held in place by the aforementioned silicone.

I never had an issue with the magnetic charging plate coming loose from the stand, but if it does get knocked out of place, it can be re-secured by pushing it back in. If you need to remove the Apple Watch Charging Cable from the HiRise, it takes only seconds to pop it out and release the cord.

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Because of the cutout for the band, the Apple Watch can be placed on the HiRise with the band fastened or unfastened. Some bands, like the Milanese Loop, are closed-band designs, while others, like the Sport, are open designs. An open-band Apple Watch can charge with the band flat and open or with it closed, and in either orientation, the Apple Watch stays firmly in place.

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Most of us probably don't use our Apple Watches while they're charging, but the HiRise puts the Apple Watch at a tilted angle that makes it easy to check the time during the night or snooze an alarm in the morning.

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Bottom Line
Overall, I had no complaints about the Apple Watch HiRise from Twelve South. It does everything I'd expect an Apple Watch dock to do, which consists of looking nice on my desk, holding my watch and making it easy to place the watch on the charger.

It is a superior solution to a bare charging cable that requires the watch to be placed flat on a desk, as it keeps the Apple Watch elevated and out of harms way. It's also quicker to stick the Apple Watch on the HiRise than it is to fiddle with picking up a cable and making sure it's aligned properly.

No one who purchases the HiRise for Apple Watch is going to be disappointed with how it performs, but it is worth noting that $50 is a lot to pay for an accessory that does little more than give you an attractive place to put your watch.

Our previous Apple Watch stand reviews:

- Mophie Watch Dock
- Duet Two-in-One Apple Watch Stand

How to Buy
HiRise for Apple Watch can be purchased from the Twelve South website for $49.99.mf.gif


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Size matters: How to increase text size on Apple Watch

Yesterday, 10:37 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
As I get older, I find myself having to get a little closer to my iPhone and Apple Watch to see what it says. It’s a trade-off for still being alive at my advanced age. If you’re having a hardmf.gif


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Apple’s iconic company store is closing its doors next we...

Yesterday, 06:18 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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Apple will be closing its official Company Store at its 1 Infinite Loop campus later this month and plans to relaunch a modernized version of it this fall, according to sources familiar with the plans.

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Notices on Apple’s campus confirming the upcoming renovations read: “Architectural and Site Approval to allow facade improvements of approximately 102 linear feet of an existing office building.” But Apple has much more planned than just a fresh coat of paint, according to sources.

The company store, pictured above, has long been the only place to purchase Apple-branded clothing and other items, but it never sold Macs or most products the company sells through its retail stores. The company store was, however, open to the public for visitors to the campus in addition to Apple employees.

So how does Apple plan to revamp the store? We’re told that part of the plan will be to modernize the space and possibly include historical items from the company. Historical items could turn the store into a half-museum of sorts and make the store an even more popular stop for visitors to the campus.

We’ve also heard that Apple might do away with merchandise bearing the Apple logo for the new store as part of these changes. So you’ll want to hit up the store before it closes as they clear out current stock if you want an Apple t-shirt or hat. 

Whether or not the new store might be part of Jony Ive’s new plans to take on retail in his new position as Chief Design Officer is unclear, but not unlikely.

Apple plans to shut down the company store on June 12 as WWDC wraps up in nearby San Francisco and reopen later this year in the fall.


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Voltus is a slick USB hub for Mac that also packs power

Yesterday, 09:49 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
The new Macbook might be the most gorgeous laptop ever made, but killer looks come with a severe case of ports-deficiency. MacBook owners can solve the problem by carrying around a backpack full of dongles, or you could try amf.gif


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Apple begins preparing Moscone Center for WWDC as first b...

Yesterday, 08:11 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
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via MacStories

With WWDC coming up next week, Apple has started preparing for the big day. Following the launch of the Apple TV channel for the keynote stream yesterday, the company has started decorating Moscone West with Apple logos and banners.

As spotted by MacStories, the first bits of a large Apple logo on one side of the building have already been put up. There’s not much more to see at the moment, but many more banners are expected to go up in the coming days. As in previous years, some of them will likely be covered to prevent news about upcoming announcements from getting out early.

Apple is expected to announce the next versions of its iOS and OS X software during the event.

If you’re in the San Francisco area and snag some photos of the banners as they go up, send them to tips@9to5mac.com.


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