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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.

Apple planning to release new iPod touch later this year?

Apple may be gearing up to release a new iPod touch model this year, according to a new report from Apple Insider. Citing “a source familiar with Apple’s future product plans” the report indicates that a new iPod touch would likely be a fall release, and may retain the same four-inch screen size as the current model, although that part of the information was less definitive. Based on the previous iPod touch release, it seems likely that a new iPod touch would feature specifications in line with older iPhones, rather than breaking new ground, although it’s unclear whether Apple would choose to align it with the 2013 iPhone 5s or the 2014 iPhone 6 in terms of design, features and capabilities.

While the first three iPod touch models saw annual updates, the fourth-generation iPod touch was released in 2010 alongside the iPhone 4 — and with the same A4 CPU — but received only the addition of a white model the following year when the iPhone 4S debuted. The fifth-generation iPod touch, originally released in 2012 at the same time as the iPhone 5, mimicked the general design and screen size of its iPhone counterpart but used the A5 processor from the prior year’s iPhone 4S. Apple made an unusual addition to the lineup in 2013 with a less-featured 16GB version, but then reversed course the following spring, releasing a new 16GB model that had feature parity with the larger capacity models, while dropping prices across the board. Throughout this, however, the basic specs of the fifth-generation iPod touch remained the same as when it first debuted, despite many hoping that a larger capacity model would appear, particularly in light of Apple’s elimination of the iPod classic and release of 128GB capacity iPhone models last fall.

Nokia shopping around its Maps division, courting Apple

As Nokia is looking to sell off its struggling maps business, Bloomberg reports that the company has been approaching Apple and several other big name technology firms on the matter. In addition to Apple, Nokia is said to have been in contact with Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, Sirius, Chinese search engine Baidu, a group of German carmakers, and some private-equity firms. Nokia is seeking more than 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) from a sale of the division, with first-round bids due at the end of next week. Nokia’s mapping assets, purchased in 2008 for $8.1 billion, have depreciated to about 2 billion euros according to last year’s financial reports from the company. Nokia’s highly-rated maps app, HERE, is again available on the App Store after being pulled in late 2013 due to changes in iOS 7.

Apple Watch pre-orders arriving tomorrow, Apple posts more Guided Tours

With the first pre-orders of the Apple Watch expected to arrive in customer hands tomorrow, Apple has posted more Guided Tours for the new device, covering topics such as Apple Pay, activity tracking, and workouts. Meanwhile, those customers who pre-ordered the Apple Watch immediately after it became available in the early hours of April 10 have begun receiving shipping confirmation emails suggesting that their devices will arrive tomorrow. Despite tomorrow being the “launch day” for the Apple Watch to become available to the public, the device will still not be sold directly in most stores, outside of a few “select destination fashion boutiques,” according to The New York Times.

Security flaw opens iOS devices to attack using fake WiFi hotspots

Researchers at Skycure have exposed an SSL certificate security flaw allowing them to create a ‘No iOS Zone’ where most apps on iPhones and iPads running iOS 8 will crash while connecting to the Internet, even crashing the devices themselves in some cases. While the exploit is normally triggered by users manually joining these rogue Wi-Fi networks, hackers can also take advantage of the WiFiGate vulnerability to create fake Wi-Fi networks with names that iOS devices on some carriers will automatically join — for example any iPhone on AT&T will join any nearby Wi-Fi network with the name “attwifi” without requiring any user interaction. Once the device is connected, either automatically or manually by the user, apps attempting to make a secure connection with a server will crash. Heavy use of the device while it is exposed to the fake Wi-Fi location can even cause the device’s OS to crash. In some instances that crash led to a repeatable boot cycle, rendering the device useless while within range of the fake Wi-Fi hotspot. Users can avoid the problem by disconnecting from the offending Wi-Fi network and generally avoiding connecting to suspicious free Wi-Fi networks, although in the case of carrier-defined Wi-Fi networks, the user may be required to move out of range of the Wi-Fi network entirely, as many of these carrier settings cannot be overridden. Skycure has reported the problem to Apple and speculates that iOS 8.3 may have fixed some of the underlying issues. [via 9to5Mac]

Security flaw leaves about 1,500 iOS apps vulnerable to attack

About 1,500 iOS apps have an HTTPS vulnerability leaving them open to attack, according to analytics service SourceDNA. The flaw stems from a weakness in version 2.5.1 of AFNetworking, an open-source code which provides networking capabilities for apps. Apps containing the code may not properly validate SSL certificates, leaving users of apps like Movies by Flixster with Rotten Tomatoes and Citrix OpenVoice Audio Conferencing vulnerable to spying over public Wi-Fi networks. AFNetworking has updated version 2.5.2 to fix the issue and companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Uber have already issued fixes for affected apps. The full list of vulnerable apps still using version 2.5.1 has been kept private, but SourceDNA provides a search tool allowing users to see which of their apps might be affected. [via Ars Technica]

YouTube app won’t work on older Apple TVs, versions of iOS starting in May

Google has announced that the YouTube app will cease to function starting in May for iOS devices running an OS older than iOS 7 — this likely refers to the older Apple-developed YouTube app that was discontinued in iOS 6. The change also impacts second-generation and older Apple TV units, which won’t be able to access YouTube starting in May unless Apple chooses to provide a software update for the older model. Users of the YouTube app on these older devices are already seeing a video notifying them of the change, but the app is still functional for now. In early May, users will only see the notification video, and will be unable to access any video content through the app. Google’s support page has directed users of older iOS versions to visit YouTube’s mobile site to view videos. Notably, Google’s official YouTube app for iOS remains listed as compatible with “iOS 6.0 or later”, so it’s unclear why iOS 6 users may be unable to access YouTube unless Google simply plans to drop iOS 6 support in the native iOS app.

Details of Apple Watch’s heart monitor, limitations released

An Apple support document shows how Apple Watch uses colored light to measure heart rate. By flashing green LED lights hundreds of times per second, the Apple Watch monitors how much blood is flowing through a users’ veins when paired with light-sensitive photodiodes. A different method using infrared light measures users’ heart rates every 10 minutes throughout the day, storing that information in the iOS 8 Health app. The watch will determine whether the infrared method is working properly for the regular updates and can switch to the green LED light system if it’s detecting problems. To get an accurate reading, the watch needs to be fitted tight enough to stay in place, but even under ideal conditions Apple admits the watch won’t be able to get accurate heart rate data all the time.

Strangely, Apple says a “small percentage of users” won’t be able to get the heart monitor to work at all due to “various factors.” People exercising in the cold may have trouble getting an accurate reading, as will users engaging in activity where movements are irregular, like tennis or boxing. Rhythmic activities like running or cycling fare far better for Apple Watch readings, and other sensors like the accelerometer also contribute to a more complete workout picture. For those having trouble getting a consistent heart reading, Apple suggests wirelessly connecting Apple Watch to external heart rate monitors, such as Bluetooth chest straps. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple releases its 2015 Environmental Responsibility Report

Apple has released its Environmental Responsibility Report for 2015, providing an update on the company’s progress toward becoming more eco-friendly during the 2014 fiscal year. The report emphasizes Apple’s use of clean energy sources like solar, wind, bio gas fuel cells and geothermal to power all of its U.S. data centers and 87 percent of those worldwide, but admits the company and its suppliers still emitted 34.2 metric tons of greenhouse gases last year, mostly from manufacturing processes. Apple is designing new buildings with more efficient lighting, air conditioning and plumbing to drive its carbon footprint lower, and is encouraging employees to cut pollution from their commute.

Apple’s new headquarters is being built with 95 percent recycled materials, and last week Apple announced a partnership with The Conservation Fund to conserve more than 36,000 acres of working forests in the hopes of producing packaging for all its products sustainably. The company is also running recycling programs in 99 percent of countries where Apple products are sold, diverting more than 508 million pounds of electronic waste from landfills since 2008. Apple stores accept any Apple product for recycling free of charge.

The report also discloses that Apple has removed toxins like PVC, brominated flame retardants, beryllium and phthalates from its products and has put pressure on suppliers to identify energy savings in their own facilities, which account for 72 percent of the carbon emissions related to Apple products. Once the devices leave the supplier, Apple says its focus on efficient charging, including power-efficient hardware and smarter power management software, is reducing consumers’ carbon footprint as well. Apple claims its devices far exceed Energy Star guidelines and estimates new Apple devices have reduced the greenhouse emissions directly related to Apple devices by 61 percent since 2008.

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The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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Apple Pay coming to Canada later this year?

Apple is currently in negotiations with Canada’s six major banks about a potential November Apple Pay launch, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. This would mark the beginning of the expansion of the service outside of the U.S., and would be expected to enable mobile payments for both iPhone and Apple Watch users, for both credit and debit cards, according to people familiar with the matter. The banks are reportedly open to an agreement, but are balking at Apple’s current fee proposals and are wary about the security vulnerabilities that U.S. banks experienced when the service was initially rolled out last year. The six major Canadian banks – RBC, TD Canada Trust, ScotiaBank, BMO, CIBC and National Bank of Canada — together account for more than 90 percent of retail bank accounts.

Most of these banks also comprise the primary stakeholders in the Interac Association — the organization responsible for debit cards and inter-bank transaction systems in Canada. Notably, since VISA and MasterCard only provide credit card services in Canada, a Canadian Apple Pay launch would need to expand to include support for Interac Flash contactless payment standards in order to be a viable debit card solution. The banks have reportedly formed a consortium in their dealings with Apple and hired a consultancy to “help develop a security protocol for Apple Pay.” Some of the report’s sources note that the Canadian banks may require Apple Pay to incorporate a “secondary authentication” system in addition to Touch ID, perhaps requiring customers to verify their cards with a PIN or log on to a mobile banking app before cards could be used with Apple Pay. The report was unclear, however, whether this would be a per-transaction point-of-sale authentication requirement, or whether it would simply provide extra security for initially adding a card into the Apple Pay system. Contactless payment card systems are already in very widespread use within Canada, so any implementation of Apple Pay would need to provide at least as seamless an experience as using a plastic card to be practical for consumers.

Report: Apple being uncooperative with antitrust monitor

Apple has “sharply declined” in cooperating with its court-appointed antitrust monitor, Reuters reports. Michael Bromwich was appointed to monitor Apple’s antitrust compliance policies after the company was found liable in conspiring to raise e-book prices. Bromwich reported this week that Apple has been objecting to providing information and is “inappropriately” attempting to limit his activities. Although Bromwich has had a strained relationship with Apple throughout the process, he reported to the court last fall that relations with the company had improved. His latest report, however, accuses Apple of taking a more “adversarial tone” in discussions, and in fact rejecting recent requests for interviews. Bromwich notes that despite this, he has interviewed Apple’s entire board and executive team, and credits the company with making progress in developing a “comprehensive and effective” compliance program.

While Apple’s appeal to the original e-book antitrust case remains ongoing, the company also filed a separate appeal earlier this year aiming to disqualify Bromwich, accusing the monitor of having been “overly aggressive” in seeking interviews with executives and holding private discussions with the Justice Department, as well as objecting to Bromwich’s fees.

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