Apple’s Secret Virtual Reality Project: Everything We Know So Far

Apple is rumored to have a secret research unit with hundreds of employees working on augmented and virtual reality, exploring ways the emerging technologies could be used in future products. One product said to be under development is a virtual reality headset, and Apple has reportedly created several prototypes.

Read more about Apple’s AR/VR work in our full Virtual Reality Roundup.
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Review: Pad & Quill’s Lowry Cuff Is a Well-Made Apple Watch Band for Large Wrists

With its lineup of Apple Watch accessories launching since the device’s debut last year, Pad & Quill has been steadily expanding its roster of made-for-Apple products with new bands and docks. I’ve previously gotten my hands on the company’s Classic Watch Band and Timber Catchall and Timber Nightstand Apple Watch docks, and while some of them appealed to me more than others – the Timber Catchall was simply too large for me at the end of the day – the company’s quality was evident in everything I saw.

As a more masculine alternative to the Classic Watch Band, Pad & Quill has also started offering the $129.95 Lowry Leather Cuff for the Apple Watch, exclusively for the larger 42mm models. The design of the band extends slightly beyond the case of the Apple Watch itself, adding a stocky look to Apple’s already thick wearable device. The Lowry Cuff has a few minor quibbles that resurface on a daily basis (mainly centering around the accessory’s overall size), but they never overshadow Pad & Quill’s quality aesthetic, especially for anyone looking for a larger band like this.

Design

Pad & Quill entrusted the production of the Lowry Cuff to the Horween Leather Company, a tannery located in Chicago, Illinois. Similar to Pad & Quill’s other Apple Watch bands, the Cuff’s basic design and quality of leather is the accessory’s biggest selling point. Due to the rugged production process that produces „sturdy yet supple“ leather, the company also promises a 25-year leather warranty on the Lowry Cuff, a similar promise given to most of its leather-made goods.

But, as previously mentioned, and similar to other cuff-style watch bands, Pad & Quill’s accessory is decidedly for larger wrists. Sold only for the 42mm Apple Watch size, the accessory is listed as compatible with wrists 125–215mm in circumference, a broad range that encompasses a significant proportion of the population. But while the Cuff certainly could make its way onto thinner wrists, the larger size of the Cuff itself means it should find a better home on someone with bigger wrists.

Customers will be able to choose from American Tan, Chestnut, and Galloper Black color options for the leather finish. The company sent me Chestnut to take a look at over the past week and the Cuff’s design definitely mirrors the Classic Band’s sturdy outer layer of leather with a smoother and softer stitching on the inside to sit more comfortably on the wrist.

Pad & Quill promised that a cutout on the back of the Cuff would prevent obstruction of the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor, and I found that to be true. The real-time heart rate measuring in Glances performed as it normally would with other bands I’ve worn, and when checking the minute-to-minute list of my measurements throughout the day within the Health app, the days I wore the Cuff showed consistent readouts.

Daily Wear

Beyond the notable high-quality design of the Lowry Cuff, the actual daily use of the band initially felt cumbersome as a companion to the Apple Watch. Installing the Watch’s case onto the two prongs of the Cuff was easy, as was the removal thanks to that circular heart rate sensor cutout, but the biggest problem with Pad & Quill’s larger band is that it constantly reminds you that you’re wearing it. Unlike Pad & Quill’s other bands, or most of Apple’s band options, the Lowry Cuff doesn’t just blend into the actions you do every day, but peskily makes its presence known.

This is especially thanks to the clasping mechanism that attaches the band under the wrist, with two small leather straps that house the notched side of the band. While efficient in securely fastening the Apple Watch, this method ultimately creates about five layers of leather stacked on top of one another, which is both a bit unsightly and awkward as it tends to catch easily against clothes. Also, for those who sit at desks most of the day, it makes for a fairly uncomfortable resting position for your wrist that never knows whether to tilt left or right on the wobbly axis of the clasp.

Perhaps more imperative is the front design of the Lowry Cuff, impressions of which will greatly vary by personal tastes, but aesthetically looked too large for me. After a week and a half of wear, the Cuff’s size became more natural but I still never entirely came around to the feel and look of it, as I eventually did with the Classic Band. It feels like more of a statement than most of Apple’s own bands, which may be in line for what some people want from an Apple Watch accessory, but I never felt entirely comfortable wearing it.

It’s also odd that I wore the Lowry Cuff on the second-to-last notch size, meaning that feasibly Pad & Quill thinks that I have the second-to-largest wrist size out there. For a one-size-fits-all product that should fit wrists up to 215mm, this sizing feels off, especially considering the Cuff’s niche as a product geared towards men. For example, I have 177mm sized wrists and, wearing the M/L Apple Watch Sport Band, the peg sits two notches away from the smallest notch possible. This makes sense given the M/L Sport Band’s size range of 160-210mm.

Comparatively, my 177mm wrist needing to be just one notch away from the 215mm upper cutoff for the Cuff feels strange, and misrepresentative of the sizes of wrists the accessory is supposedly designed to fit. At the end of the day, the sizing range feels less geared toward the Cuff’s intended market and more towards accessibility for people with smaller wrists, who may not be a fan of the oversized Cuff style in the first place.

Bottom Line

Anyone looking for a more substantial presence for the Apple Watch on his or her wrist could come to look past the potential negatives of Pad & Quill’s Lowry Cuff. It’s a great quality band that provides a unique look for Apple’s wearable that few other bands have.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely to be a feasible alternative for most others. The Cuff’s combination of an awkward clasp mechanism and overly large design constantly reminds you of it presence on your wrist. The $129.95 price tag is certainly reflective of the time and effort put into the Cuff’s manufacturing, but given the drawbacks I experienced in day-to-day wear, it’s a bit steep for something I might wear only occasionally. Apple’s $150 bands like the Milanese or Leather Loop are only a few dollars more and much more suited for everyday wear.

Pros

Pad & Quill’s well-crafted materials

Solid option for those okay with its size

Easy to take on and off from Apple Watch casing

Doesn’t obstruct Apple Watch sensors

Cons

Oversized form factor not for everyone

Thick clasping mechanism

Inconvenient daily wear

Peculiar sizing

How to Buy

Pad & Quill’s Lowry Leather Cuff is available for $129.95 on the company’s official website.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2
Tag: Pad & Quill
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Jon Favreau gets a little squirrelly in new iPhone 6s ad

In a brand-new iPhone 6s ad, director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) looks to Siri for help in his directorial duties. The spot, called “iPhone 6s – On the Set,” has the director trying to explain to some actors (presumably on his upcoming live action-ish adaptation of The Jungle Book) the finer points of playing flying […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Apple Promotes iPad in Classroom With New Education Profiles

Apple has shared a new Heart Anatomy education profile and a Philadelphia Performing Arts school profile that promote the iPad in the classroom.

The first profile shows how iPads allow Jodie Deinhammer, a science teacher at Coppell High School in Texas, to better educate her students about the complexity of the human heart using iTunes U, digital textbooks and apps including BioDigital Human, The Human Body Lite and MotiConnect.

“The heart unit is important because kids need to know how to take care of themselves and live a healthy life. Heart disease is a huge problem, and it’s something they don’t know a lot about. […]

With the heart unit, there are lots of great visualizations I could never provide before. Now students can just click on them on iPad, and it makes the learning more concrete, so it sticks with them.”

iBooks textbooks such as Life on Earth provide Deinhammer’s students with a closer look at heart anatomy and the complexities of blood flow through the heart muscle, while the iPad and other apps are also used in multiple lab activities for heart rate, histology, dissection and more.

“The iPad has afforded our students the opportunity to learn science at a deeper level. They’re able to make connections that weren’t really possible before the technology came into the classroom.”

The second profile provides a snapshot of how the Philadelphia Performing Arts, a String Theory Charter K-12 school, has used iPads to create custom learning materials and lesson plans for teachers. The school uses the iWork suite, iTunes U and other apps such as Elements 4D and Volcano 360º.

„You’ll never remember a test you took, but you will remember something you created. And you will remember the moment when a teacher says to you, ‘Wow, that’s really awesome.’ And those are the things our students get to take away with them.“ — Christine DiPaulo, Director of Innovation and Instructional Technology

Apple has shared over a dozen educational profiles on its website to date.

Related Roundup: iPad Air 2
Tag: education
Buyer’s Guide: iPad Air (Don’t Buy)
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Apple Promotes iPad in Classroom With New Education Profiles

Apple has shared a new Heart Anatomy education profile and a Philadelphia Performing Arts school profile that promote the iPad in the classroom.

The first profile shows how iPads allow Jodie Deinhammer, a science teacher at Coppell High School in Texas, to better educate her students about the complexity of the human heart using iTunes U, digital textbooks and apps including BioDigital Human, The Human Body Lite and MotiConnect.

“The heart unit is important because kids need to know how to take care of themselves and live a healthy life. Heart disease is a huge problem, and it’s something they don’t know a lot about. […]

With the heart unit, there are lots of great visualizations I could never provide before. Now students can just click on them on iPad, and it makes the learning more concrete, so it sticks with them.”

iBooks textbooks such as Life on Earth provide Deinhammer’s students with a closer look at heart anatomy and the complexities of blood flow through the heart muscle, while the iPad and other apps are also used in multiple lab activities for heart rate, histology, dissection and more.

“The iPad has afforded our students the opportunity to learn science at a deeper level. They’re able to make connections that weren’t really possible before the technology came into the classroom.”

The second profile provides a snapshot of how the Philadelphia Performing Arts, a String Theory Charter K-12 school, has used iPads to create custom learning materials and lesson plans for teachers. The school uses the iWork suite, iTunes U and other apps such as Elements 4D and Volcano 360º.

„You’ll never remember a test you took, but you will remember something you created. And you will remember the moment when a teacher says to you, ‘Wow, that’s really awesome.’ And those are the things our students get to take away with them.“ — Christine DiPaulo, Director of Innovation and Instructional Technology

Apple has shared over a dozen educational profiles on its website to date.

Related Roundup: iPad Air 2
Tag: education
Buyer’s Guide: iPad Air (Don’t Buy)
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Former Apple Car Hire Johann Jungwirth Joins Volkswagen as Head of Digitalization Strategy

Johann Jungwirth has been appointed as the head of Volkswagen’s new Digitalization Strategy Department in the company’s Germany-based headquarters. In the past, Jungwirth worked for Mercedez-Benz and Apple, where he led the Mac Systems Engineering team.

More specifically, Jungwirth supported Apple’s Special Projects Group, a tie that has connected him in the past to Apple’s long-rumored Apple Car project. Although the German native could have left Apple solely for a job that brought him closer to home, it’s still unclear exactly why he decided to leave the Cupertino-based company – where he was allegedly working alongside the Apple Car team – for Volkswagen.

Jungwirth was named Director, Mac Systems Engineering at Apple in Cupertino, CA (USA), in 2014. He was responsible for innovation in design and engineering in product development as well as hiring, growing and leading a multicultural research & development team and supporting the Special Projects Group.

According to Volkswagen’s press release, Jungwirth will help the car manufacturer look towards the future with a focus on digitilization in the automotive industry. The hire comes on the heels of Volkswagen’s big diesel scandal that’s plagued the company for the past few weeks, in which it was discovered that it cheated on emissions tests in a number of its diesel cars.

Tag: Volkswagen
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