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Apple TV Remote Control to Get a Refresh

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The Apple TV is due for a refresh and signs point to a June announcement, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. The box might not be the only element to get an upgrade, as reports suggest the remote control that ships with the Apple TV, and is sold separately to control Macs, could get a touchpad. I was just setting up a current version of the Apple TV at a friend's house today and it was a pain trying to use the arrow keys to enter an email and password. Usually I use the Apple Remote iPad or iPhone app which adds touchscreen control and a virtual keyboard. It will be a nice addition if the next generation of the Apple TV includes an improved remote control.



Celebrate Star Wars Day With Some Inspired Gear

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May 4 ought to be a national holiday. That day is known as Star Wars Day, as in "May the Fourth be with you!" Fortunately, there are a ton of accessories that can get you in the spirit of Star Wars. A year ago, I reviewed the SMS Audio Boba Fett headphones and I still use them, so I can report that they have held up well. It was nice to learn that SMS has expanded their Star Wars-themed offerings to include Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Tie Fighter, and R2-D2 versions. They are adorable and each one has a unique design that will be appreciated by any Star Wars fan. The headphones are packaged in a gift-worthy box that includes a carrying case, poster, sticker, cleaning cloth, and certificate of authenticity that extend the Star Wars theme. These new headphones are available for pre-order, and early adopters will receive a free t-shirt as well.



Apple Watch Has Hidden Port That Accessory Makers Have Figured Out How to Use

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Some months ago is was discovered that the Apple Watch has a port that lies between the casing and the band, and isn't visible when the band is connected. No one is quite sure what its purpose is. Some speculated that it was there so that Apple could run diagnostics on the watch, though now that the watch is available, Apple employees use an iPhone to do the diagnostics. Now an accessory maker has figured out how to use the port to provide power to the Apple Watch. They're planning to sell a band that will let you charge your Apple Watch while you're on the go. The company, called Reserve Strap, was originally designing a band that would wirelessly supplement your Apple Watch's battery. But then they discovered that the six-pin port could be used instead. 



iPad Pro Could Use Stylus, Force Touch and More

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If the rumors are true, the upcoming iPad Pro could incorporate a stylus and Force Touch, like the new MacBook and Apple Watch. Both Force Touch and a stylus would make it possible to create more artistic content thanks to pressure sensitivity. Fifty Three is one third party that released a Bluetooth stylus dubbed the Pencil which works with their Paper by Fifty Three app for the iPad. The combination allows for pressure sensitive drawing where the harder you press, the thicker the lines are. The Pencil uses Bluetooth, whereas an Apple offering could rely on Force Touch or Apple's version of Near Field Communication or some combination of those technologies.



In Praise of the App Store

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As an app developer, I have to be thankful for the App Store. It's the only legitimate way to get custom apps on iOS devices. Mac developers have a choice, and I know there are Mac App developers who prefer to sell their software in more traditional methods. Some offer their apps both on the Mac App Store and via download. Today, I had two different reasons to feel discouraged from using such apps.



Flyover Adds 20 New Locations, Including Arches National Park and Teotihuacán, Mexico

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I really enjoy the Flyover feature of Apple's Maps app, which lets you see "select major metro areas from the air with photo-realistic, interactive 3D views. Explore cities in high resolution as you zoom, pan, tilt, and rotate around the city and its landmarks." There are currently 141 landmarks and cities that have the Flyover feature, including 20 new ones that Apple recently added. (Note that it can take time for to roll out these new locations so that they're available in everyone's app.) The new locations include:



Video Compares Mockup of Rumored iPad Pro to iPad Air

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It's long been rumored that Apple will be coming out with a 12.9-inch iPad called the iPad Pro. And alleged specs for the new device have even been leaked. Plus, apparently manufacturers are already making cases for the larger iPad. The legendary Sonny Dickson, who's come up with some big scoops in the past, has obtained some of these cases, and a video uploaded by Unbox Therapy compares the cases with the iPad Air. The video gives a very clear picture of how big the rumored iPad Pro would be.



Strong Evidence That New Apple TV Will Be Announced in June

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There have long been rumors that Apple will be coming out with a new Apple TV to replace the aging device that hasn't been updated for several years. The first clue that it might happen soon was when Apple recently lowered the price of the current Apple TV to $69, suggesting that the company might be trying to clear out inventory. And now Apple's website shows that the current Apple TV is no longer in stock and gives a ship time of one to two weeks. This sort of thing usually happens in advance of an updated device from Apple. It now seems likely that Apple will announce a new Apple TV at the Worldwide Developers Conference scheduled for June 8–12. Rumors for the past 18 months have suggested that Apple would open up the Apple TV to developers, and now it may be happening.



Apple Watch Heartrate Monitor On Par With Human Expert

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I gave blood today. No need to thank me, I did it for the free snacks and t-shirt. But seriously, it was an opportunity to get my heart rate measured by an expert and compare it to my Apple Watch. The good news? Both the watch and the American Red Cross nurse said my heart rate was fine. The nurse measured me at 68 Beats Per Minute and my Apple Watch measured 67 BPM, which is well within the margin of error. So I've got that going for me!



Apple Watch Unboxing Animation

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Instead of a traditional unboxing video, I thought I'd compile some photos I took last Friday when I received my Apple Watch and turn them into an animated GIF. I did the same with the screenshots from the Apple Watch App installation process. Enjoy!



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