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Apple updates support article confirming Apple Watch tattoo issue

Apple has quietly updated its support article on the Apple Watch heart rate feature, confirming the issue that was reported earlier this week by users with wrist tattoos having problems getting accurate readings. 

Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance. The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings.

Apple had previously noted possible limitations with the sensor, indicating that a “small percentage of users” might not be able to get the heart monitor to work at all due to “various factors.” While it’s unclear whether Apple was specifically referring to tattoo-related problems is unclear, however a number of users have reported not only issues with getting the heart rate sensor to work, but also situations where the Apple Watch wrist detection security feature is triggered when placed on top of a black tattoo, requiring the user to enter a password each time the watch is awoken from sleep, and rendering Apple Pay unusable. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple reportedly hires four more producers from BBC Radio 1

Apple has been poaching more radio producers from BBC, according to a new report from Music Business Worldwide. On the heels of the recent move of BBC Radio 1 personality Zane Low to Apple in March, the report notes that four other producers from BBC Radio 1 have been hired by Apple, including Lowe’s former producer, James Bursey, who apparently is already headed to Los Angeles to work with Lowe. Three other BBC producers are expected to join Apple at the end of the month to work from the company’s London office, rumored to possibly include Natasha Lynch and Kirean Yeates, star producers responsible for the Huw Stephens show and BBC Introducing, respectively.

While MBW suggests that all of these recent hires, including Zane, are geared directly toward Apple’s upcoming Beats-based streaming service, it’s notable that earlier reports suggested that Zane, at least, was hired to play a role in redesigning iTunes Radio to “bear some resemblance to a traditional radio station,” suggesting that the addition of other talent from BBC Radio may also be directed toward the same project.

Limited Apple Watch supplies due to faulty taptic engine?

The limited availability of the Apple Watch at launch is the result of supply constraints related to the taptic feedback sensors, the Wall Street Journal reports. The component, which provides the wrist-based vibration feedback, was being manufactured by two suppliers, one of which was found to be producing faulty components. The problem apparently remained undiscovered until mass production began in February, only revealing itself through reliability testing on finished units coming off the assembly line. Some completed watches were apparently scrapped entirely as a result, and Apple was forced to move all of its production to a single supplier, which has not been able to scale up production as quickly as needed to meet the demand for the new wearable device. While it’s unclear how much the taptic engine component problems altered Apple’s retail availability plans overall, several other component suppliers have reported that they have been told to slow down production until June, in line with prior retail availability announcements and shipping estimates that have been coming out of Apple.

Twitter CEO hints at larger Spotlight integration

During yesterday’s quarterly earnings call, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said his company is working on injecting more tweets into the Spotlight feature on iOS and OS X. Spotlight already displays information from Twitter when users search for specific Twitter handles or certain hashtags, but how the search prioritizes hashtags is unclear. A search for hashtags including terms already occurring in a user’s stored messages can return no Twitter results at all, and even when a hashtag search produces results from Twitter, the results don’t match up with the same search in the iOS Twitter app. Costolo said Twitter is “working with Apple to surface great Twitter content and accounts directly in Spotlight Search on iOS and OS X, that also makes it easier and quicker to find great things on Twitter.” No timeline for the added integration or information about how it will function within Spotlight was offered. [via 9to5Mac]

Problem with iPad app grounds American Airlines flights

Multiple American Airlines flights were grounded Tuesday night over an issue with an iPad app used by pilots, The Verge reports. “Some flights are experiencing an issue with a software application on pilot iPads,” American Airlines spokesperson Andrea Huguely said. “In some cases, the flight has had to return to the gate to access a Wi-Fi connection to fix the issue.”

American Airlines has been using the iPad to replace bulky flight manuals since 2012, but the widespread outage of the company’s app Tuesday left the iPad screens of pilots and copilots on a few dozen flights completely blank, according to passenger Bill Jacaruso. American Airlines claims to have identified and solved the problem.

Apple rejects Apple Watch apps that just tell time, requires independent approval for certain health apps

In a series of updates to its App Store guidelines, Apple has spelled out some boundaries for which apps will be allowed on the Apple Watch. Watch apps built primarily to tell time will be rejected, reflecting the time Apple has spent in its own exhaustive efforts to create intricate faces for the watch. Apple also clarified that apps used for health-related research on human subjects will need to be approved by an independent ethics review board. [via 9to5Mac]

Users with arm tattoos report problems with Apple Watch sensors

Some people with tattoos are reportedly having trouble with sensors in the Apple Watch, as noted in a recent Reddit thread. Apple had previously noted that the watch’s wrist sensors — which rely on green LED and infrared lights being reflected into light-sensitive photodiodes — may not work properly for everyone, and it seems that large patches of dark ink over the area of skin where the watch makes contact with a user’s wrist is causing problems. One commenter said putting the watch on over his black tattoo caused it to lock every time the screen went dark, prompting him for his password and not delivering notifications. When the user held the watch over a patch of non-tattooed skin on his hand, the watch stayed unlocked and functioned as expected. Disabling wrist detection allowed messages to be delivered to the watch instead of the user’s iPhone, but left him unable to use Apple Pay from the watch. The user informed an Applecare specialist of the issue, which was referred to Apple engineers. [via 9to5Mac]

China outpaces U.S. in iPhone sales for first time

Apple sold more iPhones in China than the U.S. for the first time in Q2, Reuters reports. Apple’s revenue in the country was up 71 percent to $16.8 billion over the quarter, fueled by gift buying around Chinese New Year. Apple sold 61.2 million iPhones overall in the quarter, up 40 percent from last year’s Q2, but down from the previous record-breaking holiday quarter. The larger-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have proven popular with customers worldwide, helping Apple overtake Samsung in global smartphone sales last quarter.

Notes from Apple’s Q2 2015 earnings call

Kicking off Apple’s conference call announcing its record-breaking numbers for Q2 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that the company had its strongest March quarter ever, with 27 percent revenue growth overall, and 55 percent year-over-year growth in iPhone revenue. Cook also noted that Apple has seen a higher rate of user switching to the iPhone than in previous iPhone cycles. He cited strong success of the iPhone in emerging markets with 63 percent year-over-year growth, and noted that the App Store had its best quarter ever with a record number of customers making purchases, driving a new record for App Store revenue.

Cook also touched on Apple’s successes in other areas, noting that Apple Pay has had great momentum, with the number of merchants accepting Apple Pay having tripled. More than 60,000 iPhone users enrolled in ResearchKit in only the first few weeks of its availability, and thousands of researchers have contacted Apple expressing interest in the technology for their own studies. Naturally, Cook also spoke on the Apple Watch debut, noting that the response to the Apple Watch has been positive and that more than 3,500 apps that are already available have added to “the surprise and delight” of Apple Watch. Cook expressed his thanks to third-party developers, customers, and Apple employees in making the Apple Watch launch a success.

Apple Q2 2015: Record $58B revenue, 61.1M iPhones, 12.6M iPads

Apple reported its second quarter 2015 financial results today, selling 61.1 million iPhones and 12.6 million iPads. The company posted quarterly revenue of $58 billion and quarterly net profit of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share. In Q2 2014, Apple had revenue of $45.6 billion and net profit of $10.2 billion, or $1.66 per diluted share. Gross margin was 40.8 percent compared to 39.3 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 69 percent of this quarter’s revenue.

For Q2 2015, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $46 billion and $48 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.

Apple releases second iOS 8.4 beta to developers

Apple has released its second beta of iOS 8.4 to developers, a release that continues to focus on Apple’s new Music app introduced in the original iOS 8.4 beta. Featuring a build number of 12H4086d, the release is also accompanied by a new Xcode 6.4 beta to support the new APIs and development environment. The release notes for this latest beta indicate both improvements and limitations in App Extensions, CarPlay, App Store, iTunes Store, MFi GPS accessories, Videos, and WatchKit, as well as with the new Music app. Notably, the list of limitations in the Music app remains the same as in the first beta, suggesting that the development process may be proceeding more slowly than expected.

Major hospital links HealthKit data to patient records

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has turned on access to HeathKit data for more than 80,000 patients, the largest integration yet for Apple’s move into the health industry, Bloomberg reports. Patients can now allow Cedars-Sinai’s My CS-Link app to access HealthKit’s monitoring of weight, blood pressure, glucose levels, steps taken and many other kinds of data, passing that information along to the patient’s doctors. How that information will be used in diagnosis and treatment is still up for debate, Darren Dworkin, chief information officer at Cedars-Sinai, said in an interview. “This is just another set of data that we’re confident our physicians will take into account as they make clinical and medical judgments,” Dworkin said. “We don’t really, fully know and understand how patients will want to use this and we’re going to basically stand ready to learn by what will happen.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook touted the company’s high hopes for use of HealthKit data by doctors during a conference in February, but was careful to point out that all sharing of HealthKit data would be at the patient’s discretion. My CS-Link users will have to manually select which HealthKit data is reported to the hospital, a process detailed on Cedars-Sinai’s instruction page for use of wearable devices. While HealthKit collects a massive amount of information about users, only the data that users specifically select will be reported automatically to the hospital. Aside from setting up the configuration for HealthKit to let My CS-Link to access specific data, the hospital won’t require any added patient consent beyond the general My CS-Link sign-up process. “Rather than turn it on as sort of an opt-in, we’ve basically enabled it for all of our patients,” Dworkin told Bloomberg. “The opt-out is just don’t use it.”

Apple Pay adds Discover cards

Apple’s last holdout among the major American credit card companies will be joining Apple Pay this fall, Discover announced. Discover members adding their card to Apple Pay will be assigned a unique Device Account Number to avoid storing their actual card number on the device, but cardholders using Apple Pay will still receive all of the usual benefits of using their card, including Cashback Bonus and the Freeze It security tool for stopping transactions on lost cards. Discover Network will also enable Apple Pay for Discover Debit cards issued by “eligible financial institutions,” but didn’t specify what makes an issuing financial institution eligible. “As the mobile payments landscape matures, Discover remains committed to giving card members secure options for using their cards and mobile devices,” Discover’s President of Payment Services Diane Offereins said in the release. “Discover’s focus on simplicity and value for our card members aligns well with the way Apple Pay makes purchases easy and convenient.”

Apple enables iTunes donations for Nepal earthquake

Apple is accepting Red Cross donations via iTunes to help survivors of the Nepal earthquake that claimed more than 3,000 lives last week. The link is featured prominently on the iTunes home screen, leading users to a simple page soliciting donations of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or $200. Apple assures users that 100 percent of the money raised will go to the American Red Cross, but since Apple is keeping the donations anonymous, users won’t get any communication from the Red Cross confirming the donation. The transaction will show up on credit card statements as an iTunes transaction, making it impossible to claim as a tax deduction.

Apple’s third-generation Siri built on Mesos platform

Apple has turned to the open-source Mesos platform to run the third generation of its Siri app, the Mesosphere blog reports. Apple engineers said the company’s first move away from traditional infrastructure has made Siri more scalable, reduced latency and made it easier for engineers to deploy services that the app uses to answer questions from millions of iPhone and iPad users each day. The new Siri consists of around 100 different services organized in a Mesos cluster spanning thousands of nodes, making it one of the largest Mesos clusters in existence. Apple announced the change last week during a meeting at its Cupertino, California headquarters, adding that they’re calling Siri’s new Mesos scheduler Just A Rather Very Intelligent Scheduler, a nod to Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. computerized assistant in Marvel’s Iron Man movies. An attendee posted photos of the presentation, one of which shows a simplified description of the Mesos layout. [via 9to5Mac]

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Apple Watch unboxing gallery posted

iLounge has posted an unboxing gallery for the Apple Watch. In a full photo gallery, we take a closer look at the device, along with some comparison photos between the 38mm and 42mm Sport models.

We’ll be putting the device through the paces throughout the weekend, so be sure to check back for our full review on Monday.

FoneFox posts Apple Watch waterproof testing video

Australian site FoneFox has posted a YouTube video demonstrating the water resistance capabilities of the Apple Watch Sport. The video begins by showing general splash tests — which the Apple Watch unsurprisingly survives — and then moves on to taking the Apple Watch through a two-minute shower, dunking it in a bucket of water, and then swimming with it in a pool for 15 minutes. While the Apple Watch was not usable while underwater due to the capacitive touchscreen, the device survived the experience and was able to be used normally when emerging from the pool.

Apple has stated that the Apple Watch is IPX7 certified, meaning that it is certified as withstanding submersion in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Apple’s Watch page describes the device as “splash and water resistant but not waterproof,” suggesting that the water resistance is suitable for exercise, use in the rain, and while washing hands, but that submerging the Apple Watch is “not recommended.” Apple also notes that the leather bands are not water resistant.

iFixit posts Apple Watch teardown

iFixit has already begun its expected teardown of Apple Watch, this time posting the results in real-time as the site proceeds through each step. While the teardown is still ongoing, iFixit has already made some interesting observations by examining the innards of Apple’s new wearable device, including the nature of the device’s construction, how tightly integrated and packed in the circuitry is, and the likely proprietary nature of the inductive charging system. Notably, iFixit also reports that the heart rate monitor in the device is “actually a plethysmograph,” suggesting that it can be used as a pulse oximeter, despite Apple not advertising this feature; the report speculates that this may be due to FDA regulations on health monitoring devices. After finishing up with the Sport Edition, iFixit has now begun tearing down the Stainless Steel model, and is promising to report back later with more details on that one.

Apple posts Apple Watch User Guide

Apple has posted the Apple Watch User Guide online in an advance of tomorrow’s public release of the new device. Designed as an interactive web guide, the site provides instructions on how to use the features and built-in apps on the Apple Watch, ranging from the basics of getting started and telling the time to using the wearable device as a remote control for an Apple TV or iPhone camera. The guide provides some insight into the details of many of the features on the Apple Watch.

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