Apple Seeds Third Beta of iOS 9.3 to Developers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming iOS 9.3 update to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after seeding the second iOS 9.3 beta and two months after the public release of iOS 9.2. iOS 9.3 has been in testing since January 11.

The third iOS 9.3 beta is available as an over-the-air update and through the iOS section of the Apple Developer Center.

As a major .1 update to the iOS 9 operating system, iOS 9.3 introduces several new features. There’s a Night Shift mode to reduce the amount of blue light iOS users are exposed to in the evening by shifting the iPad or iPhone display to a warmer (yellower) color spectrum, and there are several features designed to improve the iPad for Education program, such as multi-user login.

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Multiple apps and features are also seeing updates in iOS 9.3. Apple News includes more personalized recommendations, faster updates, a landscape view on the iPhone, and support for in-line video, while Health includes a new Apple Watch-style „Activity“ view and Notes has an option to password protect individual entries.

Apple Music for CarPlay offers „New“ and „For You“ sections for better music discovery, and a Nearby Feature in CarPlay Maps offers more information about what’s close by. Paired with watchOS 2.2, an iPhone running iOS 9.3 is able to support multiple Apple Watches, and for iPhone 6s users, there are new Quick Actions for Weather, Settings, Compass, Health, App Store, and iTunes Store.

The second iOS 9.3 beta added a Control Center toggle for the Night Shift feature, and new additions in the third iOS 9.3 beta will be listed below.

What’s new in iOS 9.3 beta 3:

Verizon Wi-Fi calling – The third beta of iOS 9.3 adds Wi-Fi calling for Verizon users, allowing them to place calls over a wireless connection when cellular connectivity is poor.

T-Mobile bug fix – Today’s beta includes a carrier update for T-Mobile users, fixing a bug that prevented apps from loading over a cellular connection.

Related Roundup: iOS 9
Tag: iOS 9.3
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Apple Seeds Third Beta of iOS 9.3 to Developers

Pebble Update Introduces Custom Messages, Health Improvements

Pebble today announced multiple updates for its line of Pebble smart watches, introducing new messaging options and new health features for Pebble owners.

Pebble owners who use iOS devices are now able to reply to incoming text messages with custom messages instead of the standard canned responses. Custom text replies are available to all iOS users who have text replies enabled from a compatible carrier.

Pebble Health, the fitness tracking app Pebble introduced in December for Pebble Time watches, has a new API that lets Pebble Health stats be added to apps and watch faces. The health tracking feature is also more accurate and is able to show distance in kilometers or miles.

New Pebble Time Firmware 3.9 introduces incoming MMS messages with descriptive icons and text, and it introduces speed improvements for Pebble Time and Time Steel. There’s also an improved Watch-Only mode, which introduces better power saving options when the watch battery is critically low.

The update is available through the Pebble Time iOS app, available from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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Pebble Update Introduces Custom Messages, Health Improvements

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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Review: Pad & Quill’s Lowry Cuff Is a Well-Made Apple Watch Band for Large Wrists

Apple Introduces New ‘Night Shift’ Feature in iOS 9.3

Apple’s latest beta, iOS 9.3, brings quite a few changes to iOS 9, including a new „Night Shift“ feature. Night Shift is designed to cut down on the amount of blue light an iOS device is putting out during the evening hours, based on studies that have demonstrated that blue light can negatively impact sleep by altering the body’s circadian rhythm.

With Night Shift mode enabled, when the sun goes down, the iPhone’s screen will automatically change towards the warmer (yellower) colors in the spectrum, reducing blue light. In the morning, the display automatically turns to its normal temperature color, mimicking natural daylight.

Many people who use f.lux on the Mac are likely already familiar with the type of visual changes to expect with Night Shift mode. f.lux is an app that has been available for free on the Mac for several years, successfully cutting down on the amount of blue light that users see at night.

In fact, f.lux recently attempted to introduce an iOS app that featured the same functionality, but because it used private APIs, it skirted the App Store by asking users to side-load the app on their devices using Xcode, something Apple asked f.lux to put a stop to shortly after it was released.

At the time, Apple said that asking users to side-load an app violated the Developer Program Agreement, and f.lux was forced to stop providing the app to iOS users. F.lux appealed and asked Apple to allow the necessary APIs for a legitimate App Store app, but it appears Apple was working on its own in-house solution instead.

Night Shift is currently available to developers who have downloaded the iOS 9.3 beta. Today’s beta also includes several other important features, including the ability for an iPhone to connect with more than one Apple Watch and improvements to Apple News, Notes, Health, and CarPlay.

Update: The Night Shift feature appears to be limited to iOS devices that have a 64-bit processor. That includes the iPhone 5s and later, the iPad Air and later, and the iPad mini 2 and later.

Related Roundup: iOS 9
Tag: iOS 9.3
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Apple Introduces New ‘Night Shift’ Feature in iOS 9.3

Apple Seeds First Beta of iOS 9.3 to Developers

Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming iOS 9.3 update to developers for testing purposes.

The iOS 9.3 beta is available for download immediately from the Apple Developer Center, and a public beta is likely to be available in the near future. With iOS 9.3, developers can also download the update over-the-air using the new iOS 9.3 Configuration Profile.

There have been no hints about what might be included in iOS 9.3, but as a major .1 update, it’s likely to include new features and operating system tweaks that improve performance. As with all iOS updates, it will undoubtedly include a long list of bug fixes to address problems found since the release of iOS 9.2. We will update this post with any changes that are discovered in the beta.

What’s new in iOS 9.3:

Apple Watch – With iOS 9.3 and watchOS 2.2, the iPhone is able to pair with more than one Apple Watch. Both updates are required, with each watch running watchOS 2.2 and the iPhone running iOS 9.3. WatchOS 2.2 was seeded to developers alongside iOS 9.3.

Night Shift – iOS 9.3 includes a feature that reduces blue light at night, much like f.lux does on a Mac.

Notes – Notes is now password protected and there are new features for sorting by date created, date modified, or alphabetically.

Apple News – News algorithms have been improved to offer more tailored articles in the For You section. There’s also a new landscape mode and in-line video playback.

Health – Health has been updated with a new interface that makes it easier to see move, exercise, and stand data. There’s also a new menu in certain categories to help users discover apps that can be used to track health data.

CarPlay – CarPlay includes iOS 9 features like New and For You sections in Apple Music along with a Nearby feature in Maps for discovering the best local restaurants, coffee shops, and more.

Education – iOS 9.3 includes multiple Education-oriented features including shared iPads for students, a new Classroom app, and an Apple School Manager.

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Apple Seeds First Beta of iOS 9.3 to Developers

Apple Planning March 2016 Event to Unveil Next-Generation Apple Watch, iPhone 6c Possible Too

Apple may be planning to host an event in March of 2016 to unveil the next-generation Apple Watch, reports 9to5Mac citing sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans. The updated device could then ship a month later in April, marking one full year between Apple Watch releases. Apple released the first-generation Apple Watch on April 24, 2015.

Rumors about the second-generation Apple Watch started leaking out well before the original Apple Watch launched, as there were health-related features Apple was forced to shelve because of inconsistent performance. Apple experimented with sensors for measuring things like skin conductivity, blood pressure, and blood oxygen, and some of these could make their way into the next-generation device following a year or work on improving the technology.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said the company’s efforts in the health arena would be conservative, because it does not want to deal with the FDA. „We don’t want to put the watch through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process,“ he said.

Other features rumored for the next-generation Apple Watch include a front-facing FaceTime camera to allow Apple Watch users to make and receive FaceTime calls and a new Wi-Fi chip that may allow the Apple Watch to do more without a connection to an iPhone.

Today’s report on the Apple Watch also says the much-rumored iPhone 6c could also be unveiled at the event, in line with rumors that have pointed towards an early 2016 launch. The iPhone 6c is a next-generation lower-budget 4-inch phone designed to follow in the footsteps of the iPhone 5c. It’s rumored to include an aluminum shell, an upgraded A8 or A9 processor, Touch ID and Apple Pay support, and a curved edge cover glass like the iPhone 6.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, iPhone 6c (2016)
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Apple Planning March 2016 Event to Unveil Next-Generation Apple Watch, iPhone 6c Possible Too

Transform your regular desk into a healthier standing one with this sturdy add-on

Lust List: Sit-Stand Desktop Workstation by Ergotron I’ve got a love/hate relationship with standing desks. While I love the health benefits of standing, I seriously cannot stand at my desk all day every day. It needs to be easily adjustable. Also, not all of us have the space for yet another desk in our homes […]

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


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Transform your regular desk into a healthier standing one with this sturdy add-on

Withings Adds to Activity Tracker Lineup With New Activité Steel

Adding to its lineup of Activité-branded watch-style activity trackers, Withings today announced the Activité Steel. The Activité Steel is designed to fit in between the expensive original Activité and the more affordable Activité Pop.

Like the other Activité activity trackers, the Activité Steel is designed to look more like a traditional wrist watch than a fitness device. It features a stainless steel case, chrome hands, and a sub-dial that was inspired by a tachymeter. According to Withings, the Activité Steel was designed to have a „distinctive masculine feel.“

„While the tracker market is booming we see growing demand from health conscious people who are not willing to compromise their style,“ says Cédric Hutchings, CEO of Withings. „Steel is the perfect Christmas gift for those demanding trendsetters.“

The Activité Steel keeps track of steps taken, showing progress towards a daily goal on the small sub-dial on the watch face. It is also able to automatically detect several activities, including running and swimming, and at night, it’s able to monitor sleep length and quality.

There’s a standard watch battery inside so there’s no need to charge the Activité Steel, but the battery will need to be replaced approximately every eight months. As it does not charge, the Activité Steel is water-resistant up to 50 meters like the other two Activité watches.

All of the information gathered by the Activité Steel can be viewed in the accompanying Withings Health Mate application, which lets users insert activity goals, keep track of food consumed, and interact with friends to reach fitness goals.

The Activité Steel, initially available in classic black, can be ordered from the Withings website for $169.95.

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Withings Adds to Activity Tracker Lineup With New Activité Steel