Apple Announces New ResearchKit Studies for Autism, Epilepsy and Melanoma

Apple today announced that researchers from Duke University, Johns Hopkins and Oregon Health & Science University are launching three new ResearchKit studies on autism, epilepsy and melanoma.

“We’re honored to work with world-class medical institutions and provide them with tools to better understand diseases and ultimately help people lead healthier lives,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “In just six months, ResearchKit apps studying everything from asthma and diabetes to Parkinson’s disease, are already providing insights to scientists around the world and more than 100,000 participants are choosing to contribute their data to advance science and medical research.”

ResearchKit is an open source framework, launched in early 2014, that enables developers to create their own iPhone apps for research purposes, with studies available for asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and more. More than 50 developers and researchers have already contributed new research modules to the open source framework.

ResearchKit apps can access data from the Health app with permission, and use iPhone sensors such as the accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone and GPS to track a user’s activity levels, motor impairments, memory and more. The research apps, available on the App Store in the United States, are compatible with the iPhone 5 or later and fifth-generation iPod touch or later.



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Vacation vicariously with these must-see summer travel films

Vacation films used to be something to fear. The blurry Super 8 home movie from the lake or the two-hour slide show of the neighbor’s trip to the Badlands would quickly put us to sleep (although we might have preferred death). But these days, anyone can shoot and edit their vacation films with cinematic flair […]

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Apple Rumored to Build High-Speed Network for Faster Cloud Services

Apple is building a high-speed network and plans to upgrade its data centers with more of its own equipment in an effort to better compete with Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other cloud service providers, according to Bloomberg. The improved infrastructure will enable Apple to provide faster delivery of cloud-based content and services such as iCloud, iTunes and Siri.

The high-speed network may be a prerequisite for Apple’s much-rumored streaming music and TV services, the first of which is expected to be announced at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference today in San Francisco. Efficient content delivery will be important for both services, especially if the company plans to fulfill its ambitious goal of signing up 100 million subscribers for Apple Music.

The foundation of Apple’s high-speed data network will reportedly be long-haul pipes connecting the company’s data centers in California, Nevada, North Carolina and Oregon. Apple has also been planning ways to send data via fiber lines at hundreds of gigabits per second, as opposed to solely using off-the-shelf technology rented from third-party vendors, according to the report.

“Apple wants to own pipes linking its four large U.S. data centers and Internet hubs in certain cities to ensure fast, reliable delivery of content and services. By adding capacity and increasing efficiency, it seeks to handle more traffic on its own, without renting as much server space from cloud providers such as Amazon and Microsoft, said people with knowledge of the plan, who asked not to be identified because Apple isn’t discussing the moves publicly. They declined to name the cities involved.”

Apple will not move away from using Hewlett-Packard servers, Cisco ethernet switches and other off-the-shelf technology entirely, but the iPhone maker has been in talks with companies that could help design its own equipment that would be produced by third-party manufacturers. The new gear would mainly be used in Apple’s future data centers in Arizona, Ireland, Denmark and elsewhere.

Apple was the seventh-largest cloud infrastructure spender in 2014, investing $1 billion towards its data centers around the world last year according to research firm Analysys, matching the billions of dollars spent by Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other rivals in the cloud storage and services race. iCloud was introduced in October 2011 and is available on Mac, iPad, iPhone and other Apple products.





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Apple Planning Major Expansion of Oregon Data Center [Mac Blog]

Apple is planning a large-scale expansion of its Prineville, Oregon data center, according to The Oregonian. The report claims Apple is likely to expand upon its current 338,000-square-foot data center with a matching facility and massive solar array this year, after Oregon governor Kate Brown signed a tax bill last week that will exempt Apple and other tech companies from facing millions of dollars in additional property taxes.

Apple’s data center in Prineville, Oregon (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)
Apple is now planning to move forward with its data center plans, according to Judge Mike McCabe, Crook County’s top administrator, although exact details surrounding the project are said to remain under negotiation. „They’re planning on a major, major expansion,“ said McCabe. „They haven’t shared it with us,“ he said, „and we haven’t seen the plans.“

Apple began construction on the first phase of its Oregon data center in October 2012.




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Starbucks Launches ‘Mobile Order & Pay’ for iPhone in Portland, National Rollout Coming in 2015 [iOS Blog]

Starbucks today launched its „Mobile Order & Pay“ feature in Portland, Oregon, which allows customers to place an order on their iPhones with the Starbucks app and schedule it for a pick up, reports WIRED. The feature requires that users accept a one-time Location Services prompt in order to identify the nearest location accepting Mobile Order & Pay, and uses a customer’s connected Starbucks card to pay for purchases.

1. Click on the “Order” option at the top right of the screen
2. Select the food and beverage items to order: Just as in-stores, beverages are customizable, including the option to modify size, number of espresso shots, dairy selections and more.
3. Select the participating store for pick up: Approximate wait times will be viewable on the customer’s phone prior to selecting store location. Directions will also be available if needed.
4. Confirm by clicking “order:” At the time of order, payment is made from the customer’s registered Starbucks Card.
5. Proceed to the selected Starbucks® store to pick up food and beverages: Orders are immediately sent to the selected store where Starbucks partners (baristas) will begin preparing the items.

Starbucks plans to roll out the feature to more cities in the coming months and expects to complete a national rollout next year. The move could end up being a significant one for the company, as CEO Howard Schultz recently announced that 7 million of its 47 million weekly transactions are made with phones. Starbucks also notes that Mobile Order & Pay will be rolled out to its Android app next year.

Mobile Order & Pay is available now on the latest version of the Starbucks app for iPhone for customers in Portland, Oregon. [Direct Link]




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iPhone Shortages Not Helping RadioShack as Consumer Sales Plummet

As a longtime key retail partner for Apple, RadioShack is once again offering the iPhone this holiday season, but finding the phone on the retailer’s shelves may be difficult, reports Mitch Nolen for Seeking Alpha. According to Nolen, RadioShack stores nationwide are reporting massive shortages in iPhone units with most models not available in stores during the important holiday shopping season.

RadioShack currently advertises the iPhone on its website with no ability to purchase the phone online. Users instead are directed to find a RadioShack store to purchase a unit, but many stores do not stock the iPhone, offering only a „Ship To Store“ option that takes several days to fulfill. This method of inventory is markedly different from competitors like Best Buy, which sell the iPhone online, in-store and via an in-store pickup option.

RadioShack franchise owner Gary Mahan claims his sales have plummeted 30 percent year-over-year due to declining stock, with a major lost opportunity this Black Friday.

Mahan believes that if he had received the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, his one store on the Oregon coast could have made an extra $1,000 in profit over the Black Friday weekend, which would have been a happy holiday gift for him, he says. He couldn’t speculate how that $1,000 in lost profit opportunity might extrapolate to other stores in RadioShack’s chain of 5,387 corporate-owned and franchised locations.

The reasons for low inventories aren’t clear, as Apple and other partners have managed to maintain some store supplies even amid high demand, but RadioShack’s shortages may be due to the retailer’s tenuous financial position. The company is close to being delisted from the New York Stock exchange and may be forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect it from its creditors.

RadioShack’s cash on hand at the end of last quarter had fallen to just $30 million, down from $440 million a year earlier and leaving the company unable to afford shutdown costs involved in a planned closure of 1,000 stores.

To minimize risk as its cash dwindles, the retailer may be reducing standing inventory and changing to an on-demand model that supplies devices when customers order them in store. Apple also may be withholding inventory, opting to ship its popular iPhone models to retailers with higher-volume sales.




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