Today Marks the 15th Anniversary of Apple's First Two Retail Stores

May 19, 2016 - 1:45 PM - by sparkyscott21

Steve Jobs introduces the Apple Store in Tysons Corner, Virginia

Today marks 15 years since the first two Apple retail stores opened on May 19, 2001 in Tysons Corner, Virginia and Glendale, California. The locations welcomed over 7,700 people and combined to sell $599,000 worth of merchandise during their first two-day weekend. Apple opened 25 more stores by year's end.

The retail initiative was spearheaded by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who recognized the need for a better customer experience than provided by third-party retailers such as Circuit City. Jobs was helped by a retail team led by former Target vice president of merchandising Ron Johnson and Gap CEO Millard Drexler.

While some critics believed that Apple retail stores would be a resounding failure, especially given the dot-com collapse, the concept proved to be highly profitable and successful. Apple Stores now attract over 1 million customers worldwide per day and often generate the highest sales-per-square-foot of any U.S. retailer.

The first Apple Store outside of the U.S. opened on November 30, 2003 in Tokyo, Japan, and the company now operates over 475 stores in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates.

Under the leadership of Angela Ahrendts, Apple has been aggressively expanding its retail footprint in China, its second largest market by revenue, while opening and renovating several stores in Brussels, Cupertino, Dubai, London, Memphis, and other cities with Jony Ive-inspired next-generation designs since 2015.


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Leaked screens show Siri in Apple's upcoming OS X 10.12 with always-on 'Hey Siri'

May 19, 2016 - 1:41 PM - by sparkyscott21

New images published on Wednesday appear to support rumors that Apple will finally bring Siri to the Mac in the next major version of OS X, premiering at WWDC 2016 in June.

A Dock icon shows the familiar Siri waveform, while a Menu Bar icon simply uses the word "Siri," according to MacRumors, which said it obtained the images from a reliable source on Apple's software plans. One or both icons could potentially be placeholders, changing before the next OS X upgrade releases in the fall, or even Apple's WWDC keynote.

The site added that Siri for the Mac will also support always-on commands via "Hey Siri." That option is allegedly turned off by default however, requiring people to go into the Preferences menu to toggle it.

Siri's absence on OS X has been conspicuous. The platform launched for iOS in 2011, and in fact arrived on the Apple TV last year via tvOS. Feature-wise, it's uncertain what might make the Mac incarnation unique.

Alongside iOS 10, the next big OS X upgrade should be a centerpiece of the WWDC keynote, scheduled for June 13. Apart from adding Siri support, Apple may also be planning to rename the platform back to "MacOS", in keeping with the names of its other operating systems.


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Apple opens Maps development center in Hyderabad, India

May 19, 2016 - 1:32 PM - by sparkyscott21

WaveRock facilities in Hyderabad, India

Hot on the heels of revealing plans for an iOS app design and development facility in Bengaluru, Apple on Thursday local time announced the opening of an office in Hyderabad tasked with accelerating development of Maps products for iOS, Mac and Apple Watch.

The new development center will create up to 4,000 jobs, with employees set to work on Maps updates and new features to be applied to iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch, the company said.

"Apple is focused on making the best products and services in the world and we are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations."

As detailed in a February report, Apple is taking up residence on the Waverock campus positioned in Hyderabad's tech corridor. At the time, reports claimed Apple was spending $25 million on the project, though the figure has not been confirmed.

As part of the announcement, Apple revealed that it supports more than 640,000 iOS app developer jobs and related positions in India.

On Tuesday, plans for an upcoming iOS design and development accelerator in Bengaluru were announced. When the facility opens in 2017, local developers will be able to hone their coding skills with the help of industry experts.

The pair of announcements come as Cook tours India, the second leg in a trip to Asia that began with a stop off in China. He is rumored to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this week.


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Apple quietly toughens rules forcing passcode unlocks of Touch ID devices

May 19, 2016 - 1:31 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple has silently added another condition under which an iPhone or iPad user has to unlock their device with a passcode, despite having Touch ID enabled, according to a report.

iOS will now ask for a passcode if it hasn't been unlocked that way for six days, and Touch ID hasn't been used in the last eight hours, MacWorld said. A quoted Apple spokesperson claimed the rule has been in place since iOS 9 was released in Sept. 2015, but MacWorld noted this is inconsistent with the iOS Security guide, which only mentioned the change starting May 12. Apple declined to offer an explanation.

The company has several such rules in place, the two most common forcing a passcode unlock if a device is rebooted or hasn't been unlocked for 48 hours. Others require a passcode after new fingers are added to Touch ID, a person tries five unsuccessful Touch ID logins, or someone issues a remote lock via Find My iPhone.

If the discovered rule is genuinely new, it's not clear how or when Apple might have made the change, since iOS 9.3.1 was released in March and 9.3.2 arrived earlier this week.

Regardless, the tactic is presumably a means of reinforcing the security of Apple devices. It could potentially have an impact on U.S. law enforcement, which has already begun seeking court orders compelling people to unlock iPhones with their fingerprints.


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Developers report trouble registering 9.7" iPad Pros for testing

May 19, 2016 - 1:26 PM - by sparkyscott21

Some developers are experiencing trouble registering 9.7-inch iPad Pros with their official Apple developer accounts, according to complaints on the company's forums.

Several developers noted in a support thread that their Pros won't register even though other iOS devices will. Another person said he was able to register a Pro for one of his teams, but not for others, and that the situation had been ongoing for over a week.

A few forum posters proposed that the issue might be connected to iOS 9.3.1, but the glitch appears to be affecting people using Monday's iOS 9.3.2 update as well.

Pro owners may in fact want to avoid 9.3.2, as the update has reportedly been "bricking" some units. Affected devices will ask to be plugged into iTunes, but can't successfully be restored, leaving owners to turn to Apple for troubleshooting or simply a replacement.

The 9.7-inch Pro was released in March, and condenses most of the features of the 12.9-inch model such as an A9X processor, Smart Connector, and Apple Pencil support into a smaller package, while adding new touches like a "True Tone" display and rear flash. It's also meant to replace the iPad Air 2, formerly Apple's flagship iPad, making developer support critical.


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iOS 9.3.2 update 'bricking' some Apple iPad Pros, complaints say

May 18, 2016 - 11:42 AM - by sparkyscott21

Trying to install Apple's iOS 9.3.2 update is causing some iPad Pros to become unusable, according to media reports and complaints on Apple's support forums.

Affected people will find their tablet asking to be plugged into iTunes, but unable to be restored, a number of support forum posters have said. Ireland's The Journal noted that this can be accompanied by an "Error 56" message, which Apple identifies as a generic hardware error.

While the issue appears to be restricted to iPad Pros, there also seems to be no immediate workaround other than taking a device to an Apple Store for help or a replacement. There are likewise no signs that an official fix is in development, though Apple is likely aware of the problem.

iOS 9.3.2, released on Tuesday, was itself intended to solve a variety of bugs. These included things like Bluetooth problems on the iPhone SE, failed dictionary lookups, and MDM servers being unable to install custom B2B apps.

Because the iPad Pro is a relatively new device even the 12.9-inch model only dates back to November every owner is still on Apple's default one-year warranty, and should be able to get free service for defects.


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