Hands-On With the Apple Watch: A Developer’s Experience at Apple’s WatchKit Labs

Earlier this month, Apple began inviting a select number of developers to an Apple Watch development lab in Sunnyvale, California, located near the company’s main Cupertino campus. Developers were invited to reserve a testing appointment to test their Apple Watch apps on actual Apple Watch devices to get ready for the device’s April 24 launch.

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.

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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.

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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

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Buyer’s Guide: Deals on iPad Air 2, iMac, MacBook Air, and Apple Accessories

Deals continue to be good this week, with Best Buy offering deep discounts on a few iPad Air 2 models and iPad mini 2 models. B&H Photo is discounting some of the new MacBook Air models by $50, and there continue to be steep discounts on older MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models.

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.

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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.

iPad Air

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

iPad mini

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

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Apple Hasn’t Approached NBC Over Content Deal for Upcoming Streaming TV Service

Over the past couple of weeks, rumors have leaked pointing towards an Apple-branded streaming television service that could include 25 channels for $30 to $40 per month with partners like CBS, ABC, and Fox. NBC and parent company Comcast are not part of the negotiations, and according to a new report from Re/code, that’s because Apple has not approached Comcast about a partnership.

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.

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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.”

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.

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.

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 Speaks Out Against Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

Apple CEO Tim Cook today sent out a series of Tweets condemning Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s decision to sign a controversial “religious freedom” bill into law, saying Apple is “deeply disappointed” in the move and “open for everyone.”


The religious freedom legislation that was approved by Pence on Thursday could let businesses turn away gay and lesbian customers by citing “religious freedom.” The approval of the bill has earned Indiana national attention, and much of it has been negative, with organizations and companies throughout the United States vowing to stop supporting the state.

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Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it. It takes effect July 1.

Along with Apple’s condemnation, the NCAA has questioned the impact the legislation will have on future sporting events, Salesforce has vowed to halt expansion plans in the state, several conventions typically held in Indiana have said they will find other venues, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spoke out against the decision and barred all non-essential publicly funded City employee travel to the state.

In his tweets, Cook also called for Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto H.B.1228, a similar bill in that was recently passed by the Arkansas state senate, and he reiterated Apple’s own commitment to equality and its efforts to treat every customer the same, regardless of “how they worship or who they love.”


Cook came out as gay last October, but even before then, he’s had a long history of supporting equality and speaking out against discrimination. In 2013, he lectured on equality at his alma mater Auburn University, and during that same year, both he and Apple publicly supported the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

Under his direction, Apple released a statement in support of Supreme Court gay marriage rulings, and Cook also led Apple to march in support of the LGBT community during the 44th annual Pride parade in San Francisco.

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.

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Coppertino Announces LOOP Music Locker With Support for HD Audio Files, VOX Music Player for iOS

Coppertino, the company behind the popular VOX Music Player for Mac, has some major announcements to share exclusively with MacRumors readers today, including its upcoming expansion to iOS, an update to the VOX Mac app, and the launch of an all new music storage service, LOOP.

LOOP is a new cloud-based music locker service that will be built in to both the VOX Music Player for Mac and the upcoming VOX iOS app. Unlike most music lockers available, LOOP will support any type of music file, including FLAC, and it offers unlimited storage. Songs stored in LOOP can be streamed in full quality to any device with the VOX Mac and iOS apps, and music can also be cached for playing offline.

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Many of the popular music lockers like iTunes Match or Google Play Music limit the number of songs that can be uploaded and only support a few file types. iTunes, for example, only supports MP3 and AAC, while Google Play Music supports MP3, AAC OGG, and WMA. You can upload FLAC music files to Google Play Music, but they’ll be transcoded to MP3. LOOP can play them natively, but access to high quality music files comes at a cost — the service is priced at $49.99 per year or $4.99 per month, which is a bit more expensive than Google Play Music (free) and iTunes Match ($24.99/year).

Along with LOOP, Coppertino’s iOS app is big news, because it’s the first time the VOX Music Player has expanded beyond the Mac. Like the Mac app, the iOS app will play any type of music file and it’s deeply integrated with the LOOP music service, giving users access to all of their uploaded songs and albums. Like the VOX Music Player for Mac, the iOS app will be available for free — only the LOOP music storage service costs money.

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Coppertino’s new music service, its upcoming iOS app, and the updated Mac app are still in testing and aren’t quite ready for launch, but the company wants to get MacRumors readers involved in the beta testing process with early access to the apps and to LOOP music storage.

The first 700 MacRumors readers who are interested in checking out the LOOP music storage locker and the new VOX apps for Mac and iOS can sign up on Coppertino’s website. Those of you who are interested just need to enter an email on the Coppertino site and the company will send a link to download the apps and instructions on signing up for LOOP. Testers will need to install both the iPhone app and the Mac app to take part in the beta program.

During the beta testing period, MacRumors readers will get free access to the LOOP music locker to test it out and can opt for a longer free trial period after the service launches. MacRumors readers will also get an option to purchase access to the LOOP service at a discount, dropping the

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‘Wunderlist’ for Apple Watch Brings To-Do Lists, Agendas and Reminders to Your Wrist

Wunderlist has provided a closer look at its Apple Watch companion app, which appeared on the App Store on Thursday ahead of the device’s launch next month. The app is designed with a unique Home View that provides access to your most important items first, with four buttons that display a bird’s eye view of your to-do lists, agenda and reminders on your wrist.

Wunderlist on Apple Watch
Wunderlist for Apple Watch delivers a hand-free experience in situations where you might normally use your iPhone, such as while shopping at a supermarket and checking items off your grocery list, or when using smart voice input to add to-dos for an upcoming meeting. The combination of Glances and real-time notifications ensure that you will stay up to date with important things during your day, be it during your morning commute, at the office or at home.

“As you move through the day, you won’t even have to open Wunderlist on your Watch to get stuff done. Just take a look at our Glance during breakfast to review your most important to-dos for the day. Thanks to Wunderlist’s real-time notifications, a subtle tap on your wrist will let you know what your colleagues are working on during your morning commute, and remind you to pick up the milk on your way home from work.”

Wunderlist for Apple Watch features custom animations for interacting with the app, and its developers have carefully considered which font sizes, layouts and interactions would work best with limited screen real estate. The result is a design that was inspired by Wunderlist’s brand-new colorful sidebar icons, with the majority of the user interface consisting of white text on a black background.

Wunderlist Apple Watch Views
Ultimately, the developers behind Wunderlist for Apple Watch wanted to create software that gets out of your way, all the while providing multipurpose functionality for managing your day-to-day life. Apple Watch, and by extension the wrist, provides a more natural setting for to-do apps such as Wunderlist and Todoist, so it will be interesting to see how developers build upon these apps in the future.

Wunderlist [Direct Link] is free on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.


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‘Citymapper’ and ‘Transit App’ Offer In-Depth Looks at Transit Experiences on Apple Watch

As a few popular iPhone apps begin rolling out updates for their built-in Apple Watch apps ahead of the April 24 launch, a pair of transit-focused services have posted on Medium to share detailed looks into exactly what kind of experience users can expect from Citymapper and Transit App on the Apple Watch next month.

Sifting through the data gathered from its iPhone app, Citymapper learned that its users frequently turned their phone on and off throughout one trip, unlocking to reorient themselves and quickly locking the device again to save battery. That’s where its upcoming Apple Watch app comes in, Citymapper promising an experience tailor-made for the wrist-worn device.

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This is the nature of transit information when you move across the city. You need snippets of information. Different things at different times, depending on where you are along the way.

Transit info works well on a device that focuses attention on one thing at a time. And where the transaction cost (ie hassle) of getting additional information is low (raise your wrist and swipe). Using a wearable app may also be safer. City dwellers are generally walking too fast, crossing streets, using stairs, jostling through crowds.

Citymapper has a few cool things planned for its Watch app, with Glances showcasing “how messed up your city is”, pointing out stalled bus and train schedules around a user’s location. The app will even notify a user, with the much-touted wrist-tap feature, when to get off of a current bus or train route to continue along their way.

Citymapper on the Apple Watch will be available in every city Citymapper has already established itself, including places like New York City and Rome, and support English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, with more cities and languages “coming soon.”

Transit‘s Apple Watch app appears to be providing less of a notification-heavy experience and more of a straight-forward curated list of departure times and easy-to-follow directions, with a static “Take Me Home” button always on hand for when users get lost. The company aims to shave off as many precious seconds as possible with its wrist-worn experience.

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It’s not every day that developers get the chance to build something for a completely new platform. And we think that the Apple Watch might just be the ideal platform for us. Sure, it’s not so difficult to pull your phone out of your pocket. But it’s while we’re in transit that those seconds matter most.

With Transit App for Apple Watch, all of that friction is gone. No matter where you are, you will have instant access to departure times for nearby routes — on hand at all times. Sprinting for the bus? Need to know which route is leaving soonest? Don’t want to interrupt your game of Candy Crush? We’ve got your back.

Both Citymapper [Direct Link] and Transit App [Direct Link] promise to be available on day one of the Apple Watch’s April 24 launch.

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