Author Archives: Mike Beasley

Apple revamps Apple Watch Bands website to make selecting bands easier

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 1.49.46 PM

Apple has updated the watch bands page on its website to provide an easier selection process for potential buyers. The page now lists each individual band under its own section with a brief description and price. Shoppers will then be able to select an appropriately-sized band for their watch.

Previously the site looked like any other collection on the store with a grid view that featured little more than a photo. The new design gives users a closer look at the clasp of the band without the watch hardware present.

The old bands page

The old bands page

For watch bands that are available in multiple colors, like the Sport, Leather Loop, and Modern Buckle, users can use a color selector below the image to change the design. In the old design, color selection was only possible from the individual item pages after selecting a style.

Unfortunately changing the color on the new page doesn’t transfer the selection over the store, so even after comparing the styles on the first page, you’ll need to select the color again on the next one.

The Apple Watch launched worldwide today in a handful of small stores.

Thanks Orfeas!


Filed under: Apple Watch Tagged: Apple watch, bands

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Los Angeles boutique and Japanese camera stores get day one Apple Watches

Customers wait in line outside Maxfield in Los Angeles (via CNET)

Customers wait in line outside Maxfield in Los Angeles (via CNET)

Despite the fact that Apple’s own retail stores won’t be carrying the Apple Watch on launch day, a handful of boutiques across the world will get a few models to sell starting tomorrow. Customers have already started lining up outside these locations in the hopes of getting their hands on one of the few launch-day watches available to the public.

The image above comes from outside Maxfield in Los Angeles, where it will still be several hours before doors open and the Apple Watch goes on sale. Other images are already hitting social media from electronics stores in Japan:

Shoppers at Bic Camera have posted a photo of the store’s model availability chart:

A similar chart went up at Yodobashi Camera:

Both shops only received a limited number of some models, however. Both will carry three colors of the Sport model in both 38mm and 42mm. The mid-range steel model is also available with the sport band or classic buckle in both display sizes. Customers will also be able to get steel watch with the Milanese Loop in 38mm only.

We’ll update this post with additional photos as the night goes on. You can submit your own photos to tips@9to5mac.com.


Filed under: Apple Watch Tagged: Apple watch, Bic Camera, maxfield, Yodobashi Camera

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iMovie for Mac updated with improved YouTube compatibility, fix for possible crash

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 5.48.22 PM

Apple released iMovie 10.0.8 today for Mac users, bringing a fix for a potential crash when the app is in the process of opening.

The update also sports improved compatibility with YouTube when using the built-in export option to upload videos to the site. That change seems to be strictly under-the-hood, as the YouTube sharing interface remains the same.

Users who already own iMovie 10 can get the latest version for free in the Updates tab of the Mac App Store. Those who don’t yet own it can buy the app for $14.99.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: IMovie, Mac, YouTube

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Soft launch: Why the Apple Watch isn’t getting the ‘blockbuster’ debut it deserves

apple-watch-sport

It’s no secret that Apple’s launch plan for the Apple Watch hasn’t gone as well as the original iPhone and iPad launches.

Extremely limited supplies have led to long wait times for pre-orders. The lineup of choices is so complex that the company needed to give people weeks to try them on in stores before they were supposed to be available. And the confusing online-only purchase process advertised in Apple’s retail stores didn’t initially disclose that stores won’t have any units in stock on launch day. No part of the process has thrilled potential customers.

Yesterday, Apple’s SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts sent an internal video memo to employees about the Apple Watch rollout in an attempt to help answer questions and assuage concerns about the many issues plaguing the launch, not the least of which is the lack of a “blockbuster launch” at retail outlets that customers and employees alike have come to expect from Apple. Some people took the video as an admission of guilt by Ahrendts. But although she may share responsibility for some of Apple’s missteps, she isn’t solely or even largely responsible for the issues.

Here’s where I believe things fell apart during this launch…

The Retail-Free Retail Experience

As I mentioned above, Ahrendts does share some of the blame in this situation, but not the bulk of it. She had no control over problems such as supply shortages, and it seems that she has done her best to make lemonade of the lemons she was given.

The two-week try-on period in Apple Retail Stores starting on April 10th gave customers a chance to figure out exactly which models they wanted to buy before placing pre-orders. This has never been done by Apple before, and seemed like a good idea at first. However, the process may only have served to confuse many customers about how they would be able to buy the Apple Watch.

Think about it: customers go into an Apple Store to test out a product. There are devices in the store to try on. On April 24th—the launch date advertised by in-store banners—many of them would naturally show up to get the first units, only to learn that there are none available for purchase.

Of course, it falls to individual retail employees to explain to customers that they cannot buy the device in retail stores during the try-on appointments, but there would certainly be a significant number of people who didn’t get the memo, whether it’s because they tuned out while the Specialist was talking or because their Specialist simply forgot to mention it.

So while Ahrendts may have made some poor choices in how the retail side of the process would work in order to accommodate limited supply, the real problems originated elsewhere.

Misleading Marketing Materials

Those retail banners trumpeting the April 24th release date mentioned above didn’t create themselves. Apple reportedly spent $38 million between its March event and the beginning of April on TV spots, print ads, and other publicity that proclaimed the Apple Watch’s April 24th street date… and very little else.

Were any of those dollars were spent educating interested customers on how to buy one? Did a single ad mention that you wouldn’t be able to purchase your watch at the Apple Store? Was even one line of fine print dedicated to informing customers that they’d need to pre-order online two weeks early if they actually wanted a snowball’s chance of getting a launch day model… or even getting their hands on one before June?

The answer to those questions is a resounding “no,” and it’s this lack of information in marketing materials that is partially to blame for customer confusion surrounding the device’s launch.

Apple’s marketing team should have made sure that ads were clear about the fact that people would need to buy their watches online: “try at our stores, buy with your iPhone.” After all, the whole purpose of marketing is to get people to buy a product. Confounding customers with an opaque sales process doesn’t help achieve that goal.

In what amounted to a tacit admission of this point, Apple quietly removed marketing references to April 24th from its website on April 15th, but by then the damage was done. TV commercials and physical signs were still hyping buyers up for a day of disappointment.

Weak Link in the (Supply) Chain

The supply chain has an especially critical role during a high-profile launch in a brand new product category. When launching the iPhone 6, Apple faced big setbacks in sapphire crystal production that prevented the manufacturing of displays for the smartphone. Even so, the company managed to both fill a large number of pre-orders and have stock available in stores on launch day.

In March, reports started to surface that Apple had cut its 3 million-unit watch order in half due to bottlenecks with LG’s display panel supplies. At the time, many people (myself included) had hoped that Apple was simply planning to rely on other suppliers to round out that order, but as we close in on launch day it has become evident that this was not the case.

KGI estimates that Apple sold 2.3 million watches during the pre-order phase. Had LG been able to fill the initial order of 3 million units, it seems likely that Apple would have been able to comfortably keep up with pre-order demand. However, most models sold out within just hours of going on sale, and some shoppers will now be stuck waiting until June or later to get their April pre-orders.

In order to ensure that as many app developers as possible are able to get their devices on time, Apple has had to resort to offering a special lottery that gives some randomly selected software makers a chance to get an expedited base model. This shouldn’t have been necessary.

Apple has an operations team dedicated to managing the supply chain and attempting to ensure that a situation like this doesn’t occur, but it seems that team was unable to predict or properly adapt to LG’s failure to meet demand.

Top Dog

It can be argued that Tim Cook, as CEO, may take credit for every Apple success and must take blame for every Apple failure. In this case, however, I don’t think Cook should take the blame just because he’s “in charge.”

Before he became Chief Executive, Cook served under Steve Jobs as Chief Operating Officer. He has been hailed as an “operations whiz,” a “genius,” and a “business-operations maestro” by Fortune. He “excelled” at logistics, according to Bloomberg. He is credited with single-handedly reforming Apple’s supply chain in 1998. He was hired away from Compaq exactly for that purpose.

So how on earth did the man who has been praised as a master of the supply chain for his entire career allow such a massive supply chain failure to take place?

We’ll likely never get a straight answer to that question. Unless he changes tact, Cook will read dutifully from his script when investors ask how things could have gone so sideways during next Monday’s earnings call, assuring everyone listening in that previous products have met with some delays as well, and everything will return to normal soon.

It’s true that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus faced supply constraints and shipping delays at launch, but it’s also true that a far greater number of people were waiting to get their midnight pre-orders in for the phone. Apple announced that a record 10 million iPhone units were pre-ordered during the device’s opening weekend. Compare that to the aforementioned 2.3 million Apple Watch pre-orders estimated by KGI, with roughly 85% expected to be the low-end Sport model.

This is the first new product category that Apple has entered since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in 2010, and arguably the most important moment of Cook’s career thus far. Yet what should be a triumphant moment for the world’s most valuable company has instead left it playing defense as a series of embarrassing failures on all fronts culminate in the most lackluster launch Apple has faced in years.

Who Got It Right?

Obviously there’s a lot of blame to go around for how things are playing out with this launch, but it’s important to remember that there are also a lot of people who had nothing to do with these decisions and who are trying their hardest to make the best of the situation.

It could be argued that Apple’s Communications team is also to blame for sending out press releases that contained the April 24th date, but a look at the company’s April 9th press release shows that the PR department was one of the few groups to come close to fully explaining the release process. A March 9th release goes into a bit more detail (emphasis added):

Beginning April 10 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US, Apple Watch will be available for preview, try-on by appointment at Apple’s retail stores, and available for pre-order through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com). On April 24, Apple Watch will be available online or by reservation in Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers in China and Japan.

Perhaps the sentence about “Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers in China and Japan” could have clarified that the entire statement applied solely to China and Japan, not just the “Authorized Resellers” part, but this is still the closest thing we’ve seen to a full statement on availability.

The people managing the technical side of the Apple Online Store also deserve a reprieve. They were able to get it back up on time for pre-orders (versus an hour late with the iPhone 6), and kept it online for the entire night (though the lighter load may have helped a bit). Even though there wasn’t enough stock to go around, the online store team managed to make the pre-order process as smooth as possible for those who took part.

There’s another group that will likely catch a lot of the backlash for these problems: Apple Store employees. The Specialists and Geniuses at the Apple Store are often the only real exposure customers have to Apple as a company. Those employees were likely just as confused as you regarding in-store stock on launch day and other questions, if Angela Ahrendts’ video is any indication. Cut them some slack; there’s a good chance that they, like you, will still be waiting for their Apple Watches to arrive.


Filed under: Apple Watch, Opinion Tagged: Angela Ahrendts, Apple watch, Opinion, Tim Cook

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Apple Retail SVP Ahrendts tackles Apple Watch/MacBook launch questions in new 5 minute employee video

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 4.42.50 PM

In a new video message to employees published by Mac4Ever, Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts clarified some of the details of the Apple Watch and MacBook rollouts that are starting this week. The executive confirmed that for the time being, watch orders will only be available online due to extremely limited supply.

Regarding the new products, Ahrendts says customer feedback is “overwhelmingly positive” and says the call to limit orders to online-only for the time being was “not an easy decision.” She also confirms that the first pre-order units will begin being delivered this Friday for customers who had 24-hour shipping times on their purchase.

The restrictions are explained as being the result of launching “two amazing new products at the same time,” though Ahrendts is careful to note that these limitations will not last forever. “We love our iconic blockbuster launches that we in do the stores,” she assures workers, “And have absolutely no fear: you will see those. This is just a unique situation.”

On the MacBook front, the video highlights the fact that the new laptop features only a single USB-C port, which changes the process for transferring data from an old Mac to a new one. She urges employees to review training materials on the new procedure to prepare for customers needing help.

Ahrendts says that she will continue to send out video messages each week to employees to keep them updated on the situation for both the Apple Watch and the MacBook launches. You can watch the full video below.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Angela Ahrendts, Apple watch, MacBook

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Apple updates Keynote for iOS with support for Watch-based remote app, pushes fixes for other apps

Image via Karan Pandya

Image via Karan Pandya

Apple today released an update to its mobile presentation software that enables support for an Apple Watch-based remote application. The Keynote Remote app, which will allow users to control their slides from their wrists, was first mentioned during Apple’s October 2014 event.

The Cupertino company also pushed out updates to several of its other mobile apps, fixing bugs and improving stability. The updated apps include Pages, Numbers, Remote, and Beats Music. The Mac iWork apps were also updated with bug fixes.

Microsoft earlier today pushed out an update to PowerPoint for iPhone that enabled a similar Apple Watch app for controlling presentations made in that software.

Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Remote, Beats Music, and PowerPoint are all available for free on the iOS App Store. The Pages, Keynote, and Numbers updates for Mac are free for existing users and $19.99 for first-time buyers.

Keynote Remote Apple Watch Keynote Remote Apple Watch
Filed under: Apple Watch, Apps Tagged: Apple watch, Beats Music, keynote, Numbers, Pages, PowerPoint, remote

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All aboard the hyperbole train: Manhattan district attorney says iPhone security helps terrorists

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Van

We’ve heard some pretty outrageous ramblings from the government regarding Apple’s use of encryption in its mobile devices in the past—including a claim from the Department of Justice that some day it will result in the death of a child—but Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. might have just dethroned the DOJ as king of hyperbole.

Yesterday morning during a radio interview, Vance claimed that Apple’s encrypted software will make the iPhone the communication tool of choice for terrorists:

“Apple has created a phone that is dark, that cannot be accessed by law enforcement even when a court has authorized us to look at its contents,” Vance warned on “The Cats Roundtable” show on WNYM/970 AM.

“That’s going to be the terrorists’ communication device of choice.”

Vance has a history of anti-encryption fear-mongering, though his previous statements haven’t been quite as inflammatory as yesterday’s.

It’s not a big secret that the government would like every opportunity possible to snoop into your email and text messages. From the revelation that “Big Brother” had backdoor access to mobile devices through its PRISM program to attempts by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director James Comey to convince (or use legal leverage to force) Apple and other tech companies to decrypt their mobile devices.

The issue isn’t constrained to the United States government, either. British prime minister David Cameron has previously voiced support for banning encrypted communication altogether—a sentiment with which the White House later said it agreed.

Apple first started encrypting all data on its iPhones with the release of iOS 7. Google followed suit with the announcement of full-disk encryption on its Android Lollipop operating system, though a later change allowed some phones to ignore that default setting.


Filed under: iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: Cyrus Vance, david cameron, Encryption, eric holder, James Comey, PRISM

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