Tim Cook Talks iPhone Sales, Apple TV, Campus 2, and More at Employee Town Hall Meeting

Following Apple’s first quarter earnings report, Apple executives hosted a Town Hall meeting with Apple employees to answer questions and to divulge a few details about the company’s future plans. 9to5Mac has shared highlights of what was covered at the event. While much of what was said was reiterating information that was shared during the earnings call, there are a few tidbits worth noting.

When it comes to the iPhone and the rumor that Apple has perhaps reached „peak iPhone,“ Cook said the device is the „greatest business of the future“ with growth potential in key emerging markets like India and China. He said Apple does not need to launch a less expensive device with pared-down features to entice buyers in these markets, as research suggests people will spend more for a better experience. These comments relate directly to the upcoming „iPhone 5se,“ which some rumors have suggested will be positioned as a less powerful, lower-end device, though not a cheap one by general smartphone standards.

On the Apple TV and tvOS, Cook said the two products point towards a „bright“ future for Apple, but he didn’t mention how Apple might expand its presence in the living room going forward. tvOS is Apple’s way of giving content providers the tools to offer streaming television solutions to customers after having failed to launch its own streaming service due to difficulties with negotiations. The most recent TV-related rumors suggest Apple is exploring the possibility of original content, following in the footsteps of Netflix and Amazon.

Cook also reportedly expressed excitement over future products coming from the company’s software, services, and hardware divisions. In the next few months, Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5se, the iPad Air 3, new bands for the Apple Watch, and perhaps new Retina MacBooks and Retina MacBook Pros. Later in the year, Apple is also expected to introduce the highly-anticipated iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

He also teased „far off“ hardware products coming beyond 2016, perhaps hinting at the company’s work on the Apple Car or its exploration of virtual and augmented reality. Recent rumors suggest Apple is prototyping virtual reality headsets similar to the Oculus Rift.

The last bit of interesting information was on Apple Campus 2, the company’s second „spaceship“ campus that’s under development in Cupertino. Construction appears to be on track to be finished at the end of 2016, as Cook says the first employees will move into the campus by the end of January 2017. He also said the new underground auditorium will allow Apple to hold events on its grounds instead of at venues in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area.

The meeting also included more mundane information on upcoming time-off benefits for Apple employees, flagging iPad sales, new solutions for retaining employee talent, and Apple’s supply chain, which can be read at 9to5Mac.

Tag: Tim Cook
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Review: Stylish Danny P. Leather Wallet Holds iPhone 6/6s Plus, Cards and Cash

Accessory maker Danny P. seeks to give iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus users some dual usability with its new Leather Wallet with iPhone 6 Plus Case, which includes seven credit/debit card slots, a rear folder for cash, and a sleeve for the larger-sized iPhone. The case, which is available through Apple’s own online store, is sized at 6.81 inches tall with a width of about 4.13 inches and is aimed to remain slim and unobtrusive even when stocked with an iPhone and various credit cards.

After a week of use, I’ve found that Danny P.’s Leather Wallet Case adheres to the company’s bullet point list of promises describing the case on its website, most notably in the satisfying quality of materials used to craft the iPhone accessory. Anyone with the pocket or bag real estate to house its vertically spacious design will easily find a lot to love in the case, especially those seeking an all-in-one housing solution for both monetary and iPhone protection needs.

Design

The left portion of the bifold holding the seven credit card slots on the inside of the Leather Wallet Case has an opening on the upper and right sides to hold a few dollars in cash, or any other slim pieces of paper or notes. The slot that actually holds the iPhone is a full sleeve, preventing access to the smartphone’s screen and inputs with the sole exception of the home button and Touch ID (if you slide it in upside down).

Like most sleeve cases, the inside of Danny P.’s product has a soft suede finish to make it easier to slide the iPhone in and out of the pocket, and prevent it from getting any scratches while housed there. The company’s logo is also admirably discreet on both the face of the wallet and at the bottom of the iPhone sleeve, although this is somewhat depending on the finish of the Italian leather used on each version of the case. Danny P. sent me the all-black option, and it’s perfect for anyone looking for an inconspicuous accessory.

When fully packed with seven credit, debit, and rewards cards, some cash, and the iPhone, the case’s thickness measured just under an inch for me on a day-to-day basis, which I found to be impressively non-bulky given the amount of content I placed inside. Danny P. also encourages the iPhone to be placed upside down as previously mentioned to access both the headphone jack and Touch ID for quick Apple Pay payments.

Size

As someone who uses a traditional bifold wallet, the Leather Wallet Case was a bit daunting initially in comparison to the smaller-sized wallets I’m used to. After using it for a few days, though, it surprised me how easily I became acclimated to the case’s size.

Of course, a lot of factors will change how much use I get out of it moving forward. For one, the Leather Wallet Case is mostly marketed to business-type people on-the-go, who have large breast pockets or bags at the ready on a daily basis. I’m not the target market there, but a few of my winter jackets and hoodies have helped the case go largely unnoticed.

Alternatively, trying to fit Danny P.’s case within the confines of jean pockets is more of a hassle. I was able to manage it, but that’s not what the enterprise-focused case is meant for, and it’s especially not recommended to have the nearly-seven-inch tall case protruding from the back pocket of your pants. I can see its size becoming a problem for me the closer I get to the warmer months, with the fewer jackets and overcoats I need to wear providing room for the case.

Leather Finish

As a company that not only trades in third-party tech products, but traditional clothing accessories as well, the Leather Wallet Case’s quality of material was easily my favorite part about using it each day. I’m normally a fan of color (the Brown/Blue version of the same case is definitely my favorite), but even the uniform black of the case sent for review won me over fairly quickly.

The leather is smooth and satisfying to touch, but tactile and grippy enough to make removing and adding credit cards a cinch. As Danny P. mentions on its FAQ page, the leather is a „living“ material that stretches out over time. So while the card slots were a bit tight at first, both the card slots and the iPhone sleeve were much easier to work with after just a week’s worth of breaking in. In regards to the space for cards, seven slots might not be enough for some, but it was actually the perfect number for me.

Those card slots feel nicely secure, but the open envelope section for cash wasn’t as reliable. A few times when I re-opened the wallet to check my phone or grab some cash, it would spill out onto the iPhone side of the case. Shoving money farther into the corner of the fold helps, but it also makes the cash harder to retrieve quickly.

iPhone Protection

The Danny P. case also provided dependable protection for my iPhone 6s Plus, even if it is overall somewhat rudimentary in execution. The sleeve housing the iPhone is expectedly tight to keep things secure, so don’t expect to fit the iPhone inside with a case on (I tried with Apple’s Leather Case and couldn’t make it past the camera).

As a result, the Leather Wallet Case provides no protection once you take the iPhone out of the sleeve, a feature I didn’t particularly love when checking my iPhone while out of the house. But as a simple sleeve, the biggest deal breaker for some might be the lack of immediate access to the iPhone’s screen while still inside the wallet.

Admittedly, this would be the the main reason for me ultimately switching back to a separate wallet and phone case solution as well, although anyone with an Apple Watch should have much of that required screen-checking alleviated. I tested notifications without my Apple Watch on and found the case does little to stifle the iPhone’s normal alert volume, but the same somewhat burdensome process of removing your iPhone just to see who is calling or texting still applies.

In terms of being a music companion, the design of the case allows access to the iPhone’s headphone jack, but anyone who prefers quick access to music controls outside of the inline music remote on Apple’s EarPods or other headphones will probably be more frustrated than not while using the Leather Wallet Case.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay worked essentially just as Danny P. promised it would on its site. With the Touch ID button exposed at the top of the Leather Wallet Case, all users have to do is double tap the home button with their Touch ID-approved finger and tap the case to an NFC terminal.

I tested the case out at my local GameStop, and only ran into one issue: the first time I didn’t double tap the Home button fast enough to bring up Apple Pay, and my iPhone unlocked. I had to take the iPhone out of the case, lock it, then put it back in for a second try, but when I was finally quick enough, Apple Pay registered my iPhone through Danny P.’s case like a charm. Without quick access to the screen and lock buttons, Touch ID’s blazing fast response on the iPhone 6s Plus is the Leather Wallet Case’s only potential hurdle to surpass in regards to Apple Pay.

Bottom Line

The three colors available for Danny P.’s Leather Wallet with iPhone 6 Plus Case – Brown, Brown/Blue, and Black – should provide enough of an aesthetic variety for anyone interested in the accessory. And since it’s a product that is far more publicly present than traditional wallets given its size, the smooth edges and fine leather finish easily make the case a universally sleek daily companion.

The caveat of course is that it still won’t win over anyone who simply doesn’t have the pocket or bag space for its size, which was built to accommodate the 5.5-inch screen of the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus. It might be a niche market, but if you have a large-screened iPhone, are looking for a quality wallet case, and use a bag or jacket with sizable pockets on a daily basis, Danny P.’s accessory should be high on your purchase list.

Pros

Stylish design

High-quality leather

Minimal construction helps reduce bulk

Easily accessible credit/debit card slots

Apple Pay support

Secure iPhone sleeve

Cons

Sleeve prevents immediate access to iPhone screen

Fold for cash can result in disorganized spills

Opens bare iPhone to potential vulnerability when taken out of sleeve

Pricey

How to Buy

Danny P.’s Leather Wallet with iPhone 6 Plus Case can be purchased from both the company’s official website and on Apple’s online storefront for $129.95. Currently, users can only purchase the Black color option on Danny P.’s site, and the Brown version on Apple.com, while the color-blocked Blue/Brown version is available on both websites. Those interested in Danny P.’s style but without an iPhone 6/6s Plus should check out similar cases for the iPhone 6/6s, iPhone 5/5s, and a few MacBook Air and iPad sleeves sold by the company.

Tag: Danny P
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How to play Crossy Road on Apple TV with your iPhone

Once Apple brought games to the Apple TV, it was a no-brainer that we’d all want to play them together on the couch in our living room. Apple requires developers to support the new Siri Remote, but they can also allow third-party game controllers to move stuff around on the screen, too. Crossy Road, the […]

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


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Review: The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit Features Smart HomeKit-Enabled Light Bulbs With a Unique Look

Nanoleaf, a company that specializes in energy efficient LED-based lighting, got its start on Kickstarter in 2012 with a unique set of light bulbs that looked more like art than traditional lighting with individual LEDs mounted on origami-folded printed circuit boards.

Nanoleaf has since expanded from simple lightbulbs to home automation with the introduction of its Nanoleaf Home Smarter Kit. Consisting of two of its signature dimmable bulbs and a geometric hub, the Nanoleaf Home Smarter Kit integrates with Apple’s HomeKit home automation platform, allowing users to control their lights both through Siri and through an accompanying Nanoleaf app.

Design

When it comes to the hardware, the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is undeniably attractive. The two Ivy bulbs it ships with are some of the nicest looking bulbs you can find, suitable for use in both closed and open-style lamps and light fixtures. The hub, which connects the bulbs to the Internet, is stylish enough to sit out on a shelf or an entertainment unit without looking like an eyesore. It’s without a doubt the most visually appealing HomeKit product I’ve tested so far.

Because the bulbs that the Smarter Kit ships with are black, you’ll need to take that into account with any lights where the bulbs are visible. The distinctive design is nice, but it’s also not going to match with every decor. Keep in mind the hub is going to need to be plugged into the router via ethernet because this is a Zigbee setup.

For the record, the Ivy bulbs are standard bulbs that are going to fit in any E26 or E27 lamp and they function like any normal bulb, with one small exception. There’s a neat built-in feature that lets the bulbs be dimmed physically through the light switch (even one that doesn’t support traditional dimming) rather than through an app or voice command. Flipping the light switch on and off a couple of times activates the dimming, and another couple of flips sets it. It’s a handy feature if you don’t have a smartphone nearby.

The Ivy bulbs the Smarter Kit ships with are 800 lumens, equivalent to 60 watts, which isn’t particularly bright. Two of these lights in my living room didn’t provide enough ambient light, so I’d count on needing to buy additional bulbs depending on how bright you prefer a room to be. Compared to a standard 60 watt bulb, I’d say these live up to their 60 watt claim. The light output was similar. The bulbs are 3000K, so they put off a soft yellow or „warm“ light rather than a more blue light.

Though not super bright, these 7.5 W bulbs are marketed as eco friendly and energy efficient, so they have the potential to save you some money on your monthly energy bill if you’re not already using energy efficient lighting. The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is $99 for two bulbs and additional bulbs are priced at $24.99, so it could take awhile to see those savings. A single Nanoleaf Smarter Hub can have 32 bulbs connected to it, enough to outfit an entire house.

Setup

Setup of the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit should be a simple process theoretically, but in my experience, few HomeKit products work seamlessly out of the box. With the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, you’re supposed to be able to plug in the hub, connect it to the iPhone using the HomeKit code, and then add the lights automatically.

I ran into problems right away. Out of the box, my iPhone and the Nanoleaf app refused to recognize the Nanoleaf Hub, and despite following all of the available troubleshooting tips, I still couldn’t get it to connect. As it turned out, the ethernet cable my Smarter Kit shipped with was faulty, something I only found out after I was put in contact with the Nanoleaf tech team, who suggested I try a different cable.

Once I swapped out the ethernet cables, my iPhone was able to see the Nanoleaf Hub, but I ran into a permissions issue. It turned out at some point during this setup process, HomeKit decided I was not the owner of my HomeKit home. I had one home that I had set up with no other users (Juli’s Home) and in my HomeKit settings, that somehow became a shared home (shared by myself, no less) and I no longer had admin privileges.

That was a HomeKit error that likely wasn’t the fault of the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, but it was a sensational hassle. There are a lot of HomeKit products in my home and no longer owning my own HomeKit setup meant that I had to delete everything and start from scratch. If your HomeKit setup is corrupted and you need to start over for some reason, you have to manually reset every single product. Have a paperclip on hand, because with most products, you need to hit a tiny reset switch for a specified time and then redo the entire pairing process.

After re-pairing every HomeKit device in my house (including a bunch of Hue bulbs by serial number) I finally got my phone to successfully recognize the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit and add it to HomeKit. Problems solved, right? Nope. The Hub didn’t recognize the bulbs (presumably because they paired to the Hub when it had the faulty cable plugged in) so I had to reset those too – flip the switch on and off eight times and then hit the pairing button on the hub.

It took me two days and several conversations with the Nanoleaf team, but I finally got everything in working order.

I don’t think most people are going to run into these problems setting up the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit or another HomeKit product, but I think it’s important to cover some of the incredibly frustrating issues that can come up when working with the HomeKit system.

HomeKit support for most products is inadequate because things are just supposed to work, and when they don’t, it’s a frustrating experience trying to figure out what’s wrong with absolutely no way to diagnose a problem across multiple HomeKit devices from one central location. I hope most Nanoleaf setup processes go smoother, but as can be seen from my setup experience, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Nanoleaf App and Siri

Once I got the Nanoleaf Hub and bulbs successfully connected, things went much more smoothly. Along with the physical dimming controls I explained earlier, the bulbs’ dimming feature is controlled with the Nanoleaf app and through Siri. Dimming is about all these bulbs can do – there are no colors, but you can set them from 100 percent light to one percent light and turn them off and on.

The Nanoleaf app is simple and straight forward. It’s used to pair new bulbs to the hub, to control those bulbs, and to set up lighting scenes. When a bulb is added via the Nanoleaf app, it’s added to a Room in the house and it’s given a specific name. These are all cues that facilitate different Siri commands. You’re going to want to give each bulb a name for individual controls and assign it to a room to control an entire room of bulbs at once.

Bulbs can be turned off and dimmed through the „Rooms“ tab of the Nanoleaf app, which lists all of the light bulbs in each room. The Nanoleaf app will also recognize other HomeKit bulbs from similar lighting systems, including Philips Hue (as long as those bulbs are paired to their separate hub). It was able to see all of my Hue bulbs, but with the Nanoleaf app, I could only turn my Hue bulbs on or off or dim them – there are no color controls because the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit bulbs are single color.

By the way, when I say it recognizes Hue bulbs, I don’t mean that the Nanoleaf Hub is able to pair with Hue bulbs or vice versa. It’s simply seeing them as additional HomeKit devices and pulling them into the app.

The Nanoleaf app can only „see“ and control lights – it’s not going to incorporate other HomeKit devices like thermostats, smart plugs, or room monitors. For that reason, if you have a lot of HomeKit products, the Nanoleaf probably isn’t going to be your go-to app. I continue to wish Apple would create a central HomeKit app because the HomeKit experience is so disjointed without one, but until that happens, there are a few third-party solutions, including Home and MyTouchHome. I also like the free Elgato Eve app because it can recognize and control all of the available HomeKit products.

The Elgato Eve app

As with most HomeKit apps, the Nanoleaf app includes a section for setting up Scenes. Using Scenes, which are activated with Siri or through the app, you can set up different lighting recipes for things like going to bed (turning off all the lights) or getting home from work (turning on all the lights). You can use any combination of lights in any room when creating a Scene. There are some pre-defined Scenes to help users understand what they’re used for, and it’s possible to create your own.

Scene names, Room names, and bulb names are all used for Siri, and Siri supports a wide range of commands. A handful of sample commands is below.

Turn on the lights

Turn off the lights

Set the lights to 50% brightness

Dim the lights (automatically dims them by a percentage, usually around 25%)

Set the lights to max brightness

Set the Good Night scene

Are the lights on?

Turn on the lights in the Living Room

Turn off Living Room Bulb 1

Which of the lights are on?

In my experience, Siri commands with the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit worked perfectly. My commands were recognized right away and went through without delay, which is one of the benefits to a hub. I’ve seen forum comments on HomeKit posts that eschew hubs because there are devices that can connect directly to Wi-Fi, but the HomeKit products that use a hub work much better than those that do not.

With the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit and the Philips Hue HomeKit products, I haven’t had connection issues and haven’t had to reset them due to a lost Wi-Fi connection, something I can’t say for the HomeKit products I’ve tested that connect directly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The same goes for remote access – I’ve never struggled accessing a hub-based HomeKit product remotely, and that includes the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit.

HomeKit and HomeKit products may improve enough in the future that hubless Wi-Fi devices perform as well as those that are connected to a hub, but based on the HomeKit products I’ve used so far, we’re not there yet.

Bottom Line

Even with the setup problems I had with the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, it’s still one of the more reliable HomeKit products on the market. Once I had it connected to my iPhone, I had no connection problems or trouble with Siri queries.

For someone looking for a first HomeKit product, the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is a solid choice, but it is more limited than some of the other HomeKit lighting options on the market, like the Philips Hue. With the Hue, lights can be changed to any color and dimmed, while with the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit, white is the only option.

Comparatively, the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is one of the most affordable HomeKit lighting solutions available right now. At $99 and $25 for extra bulbs, it’s cheaper than the Philips Hue, which is $199 for three bulbs and upwards of $20 for additional bulbs. If you can afford it, the Hue setup is the first HomeKit lighting solution I’d recommend, but Nanoleaf is the second. And for people who simply don’t need colored lights, it should be a top choice.

The Nanoleaf app isn’t the most comprehensive, but that’s not going to be a problem unless you’ve got multiple HomeKit products. It adequately controls the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit – it’s just not going to be satisfactory for other accessories. For home setups with better manual controls and integration between HomeKit products, the more expensive and more complicated Lutron Caseta lighting kit is worth checking out.

If the Nanoleaf Smarter Kit meets your home lighting and decorating needs, it’s worth picking up. It’s a good looking set of hardware and it works reliably through the app and through Siri.

How to Buy

The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is available from the Nanoleaf website or from Amazon.com for $99.99.

Note: MacRumors received no compensation for this review.

Tags: HomeKit, review, Nanoleaf, Nanoleaf Smarter Kit
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Apple TV 4 Orders Begin Shipping for October 30 Delivery

Roughly 24 hours after orders for the new Apple TV began shifting to „Preparing for Shipment“ status, Apple has begun notifying customers that their orders have shipped. Early reports so far all appear to be from Australia where it is currently the afternoon of October 29, and deliveries are scheduled for Friday, October 30. Shipment notifications for customers in other countries should begin rolling out in the coming hours as the clocks roll around into business hours on Thursday.

Apple began taking orders for the Apple TV on Monday, with the earliest deliveries being quoted Friday, October 30 arrival dates. Apple’s own retail stores are also expected to begin carrying the new Apple TV on Friday, with other retailers such as Best Buy apparently not seeing availability until next week.

Press reviews of the new Apple TV landed just a few hours ago, with the new set-top box generally receiving a positive response for its evolutionary advances, although it does not yet completely remake the television experience as many have been hoping for Apple to do for a number of years. One key feature of the new Apple TV is the tvOS App Store, however, and we’ve yet to really see how developers will embrace the new platform that opens up apps to the living room.

(Thanks, Rogan!)

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Apple TV vs. Roku 4: Which box will hold your attention?

Those on the lookout for a new streaming box this fall will have a tough decision to make when the fourth-generation models of both Apple TV and Roku hit the market. And while they both have some solid features, which one you end up buying depends a lot on what you already own. Here’s how […]

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


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HoloLens will transforms your living room into a robot battle ground

Microsoft gave fans a glimpse of the future of gaming on HoloLens today with a demo of a new game under development called Project X Ray that lets you fight alien robots in your living room. It’s kind of like the X-Men’s Danger Room, projecting holographic bad guys all over your walls, couch, and ceiling […]

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


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