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Apple Raises Prices on Several Products in Many Countries Amid Strong U.S. Dollar

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While Apple discounted the Apple TV to $69 in the United States this afternoon, it also raised the prices on several products across many countries due to the strength of the U.S. dollar. A wide selection of Apple products, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display, are now more expensive in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Portugal and multiple other countries to reflect currency adjustments. 

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Apple now charges up to $3,049 for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro in Canada


A spot check of the Apple Online Store in Canada, for example, reveals that Apple has increased the price of the unlocked iPhone 6 from between $749-$969 to $839-$1,099, Thunderbolt Displays from $999 to $1,199, and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros from between $2,099-$2,699 to $2,449-$3,049. Apple also hiked the price on the 15-inch MacBook Pro in France, with the base model now starting at €2,249 up from €1,999, and the higher-spec model up to €2,799 from €2,499. 

Apple has made similar price adjustments in countries around the world today in order to ensure parity with United States pricing, following a period in which several Apple products were actually priced at a bargain compared to American prices. For instance, prior to the pricing adjustment, the Thunderbolt Display retailed for $999 in Canada, the same price as in the United States, which converts to around $799 in U.S. dollars based on the average conversion rate over the past month. 

The updated prices went into effect following the return of the Apple Online Store at the conclusion of Apple's "Spring Forward" media event in San Francisco this afternoon. Should the U.S. dollar weaken, as happened in July 2011, Apple will continue to make the necessary adjustments in order to ensure that its products and services are as consistently priced as possible throughout the world. In some cases, international prices will remain higher than U.S. prices due to taxes, import duties and to create a buffer against currency fluctuations.

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Apple Watch Hands-On: A First Look at Software, Apple Pay, Water Resistance, and More

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We got several hands-on first impressions of the Apple Watch following its September debut, but at that time, finished versions of the Apple Watch with fully functional software were not available. 

As of today, members of the press are getting their first look at Apple Watches running near-complete versions of Watch OS, and several sites have shared new tidbits and thoughts on the device, which we've rounded up below. 

TechnoBuffalo's Jon Rettinger tested the aluminum Apple Watch Sport, Apple's most affordable watch, giving a demo of the device's software. A hard press on the screen brings up different watch faces, each of which can be customized, as Tim Cook described during today's event. 


In a second video, TechnoBuffalo takes a look at the design of the Apple Watch Sport, giving a close up of the backside of the watch and what it looks like on the wrist. 


Mashable's Lance Ulanoff says all of the different Apple Watch versions "feel good to the touch" and that there's not much difference in the display between the Apple Watch Sport with Ion-X glass and the Apple Watch with sapphire crystal. He also has good information on the fit, which is comfortable despite its protruding back.

Apple Watch is not curved to your wrist. In fact, the back bulges out over so slightly to make sure the sensors touch the wrist. This didn't look like it would be comfortable, but it was -- completely. I also got to try a number of different bands. I think the rubbery sports bands are fine, but not my favorite -- they certainly make sense for the more active set. I like leather and metal options, most of which employ some sort of magnet to clasp and even adjust sizing.

TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington says that the Apple Watch system software is "expectedly intuitive." The Digital Crown takes a bit of time to adjust to, but ultimately, it "makes as much sense" navigation wise as the iPod's clickwheel. Touch input is "fast and responsive." 

The camera remote, which allows the Apple Watch to control the iPhone's camera, is described as "especially clever" because it gives photographers a way to capture group shots and timed shots. 


Re/code's Jason Del Rey has a detailed look at how Apple Pay will work on the Apple Watch. Apple Pay users will need an iPhone that links to the Apple Watch to share payment information from the iPhone. The Apple Watch does not store card or account information, using a placeholder code instead.

First, you need to own an iPhone -- a 6, 6 Plus or a 5, 5C or 5S to use Apple Pay with the Apple Watch. Watch owners have to open the Apple Watch app on their iPhone, which Apple is installing on phones as part of an iOS software update. Once the Apple Watch app is open, you tap the Passbook and Apple Pay option in the app to add a credit or debit card to be used for in-store payments using the Apple Watch.

A passcode is required for setting up Apple Pay with the Apple Watch, and it has to be re-entered every time the watch is put back on after being removed to unlock Apple Pay. A payment is made by tapping the side of the Apple Watch twice and holding it near a payment terminal. According to Re/code, it does not look like users must have their iPhones with them to make payments with the Apple watch after linking. 

Several small details on the Apple Watch have also been shared by Apple on its updated Apple Watch pages. The Apple Watch, for example, has a water resistance rating of IPX7 according to a footnote on the page, meaning its splash and water resistant but it is not waterproof. It can be worn during exercise, in the rain, and while washing your hands, but submerging it is not recommended. 

An Apple Watch apps page on Apple's site shows off a range of apps that were demoed during the event and some that weren't, giving a quick look at some of the things the Apple Watch will be able to do. With the SPG Hotel app, Starwood hotel visitors can use the Apple Watch to unlock their rooms, and with the American Airlines app, Apple Watch owners can get their boarding passes right on their wrists. 

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The Nike+ Running app displays distance, duration, and pace on the Apple Watch, while the Instagram app allows users to browse their feeds, like photos, and leave emoji comments. Shazam will identify songs, Dark Sky will let users know the chances of rain or snow, and the NYTimes Apple Watch app will offer headlines and breaking news. 

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iOS 8.2, released today, includes an Apple Watch companion app that has some information on Apple Watch setup. The Apple Watch will quickly connect to an iPhone using the camera. You just need to hold the Apple Watch up to the camera and align the watch display with the view finder. From there, the Apple Watch App Store is accessible, but it has yet to be populated with apps. It is not possible to delete the Apple Watch app from the iPhone in iOS 8.2. 

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Image via iPhone Hacks


The Apple Watch will be available for pre-order beginning on April 10. Apple will also begin allowing customers to test the device in its retail stores on that date.

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Apple Posts Full Video of Today's 'Spring Forward' Event, Plus Product Videos

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Now that Apple's "Spring Forward" media event has wrapped up, the company has posted a full video of the event on its website, which viewers can watch at their leisure. 

During the event, Apple shared several product videos, which it has now uploaded to YouTube. There are dedicated videos on the new MacBook, each of the Apple Watch models, the new West Lake, China Apple Store, and more. A full list of videos is below. 


The New MacBook - Design
The New MacBook - Reveal
Apple Watch + Christy Turlington Burns
Apple Watch - The Watch Reimagined
Apple Watch Sport -Aluminum
Apple Watch - Steel
Apple Watch Edition - Gold
ResearchKit - how iPhone is transforming medical research
West Lake, China - Apple Store Opening

Along with the videos, you can also check out our full list of media event highlights below, featuring all of MacRumors event coverage. 

Live Coverage of Apple's March 2015 'Spring Forward' Event
HBO and Apple Announce 'HBO Now' Exclusively for Apple TV, Apple Devices
Apple Lowers Price of Apple TV to $69
Apple Announces 'ResearchKit' Aimed at Medical Research
Apple Announces 12-Inch Retina MacBook With Revamped Trackpad, Starting at $1,299
MacBook Air and 13" Retina MacBook Pro Updated to Improve Speed and Battery Life
Apple to Release iOS 8.2 Today With Support for Upcoming Apple Watch
Apple Watch Sport to cost $349 (38mm) and $399 (42mm)
Stainless Steel Apple Watch Pricing: $549 to $1049 (38mm), $599 to $1099 (42mm)
Gold Apple Watch Edition Costs Between $10,000 to $17,000, Available in Limited Quantities
Apple Watch Launches April 24, Price Ranges From $349 to Over $10,000
Apple Watch Bands Range in Price from $49 for the Sport Band to $449 for the Link Bracelet
Apple Watch Battery Life: 18 Hours Mixed Usage, Up to 72 Hours on Power Reserve
USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter for New MacBook Includes HDMI and USB 3.1 Connectors

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Apple Delaying Production on Larger-Screened 'iPad Pro' Until September

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Apple has opted to delay production on the rumored larger-screened "iPad Pro" due to issues with display panel supply, reports Bloomberg. Manufacturing on the tablet will reportedly begin in September, rather than earlier in the year.

Production of the 12.9-inch-screen iPad is now scheduled to start around September because of delays involving the supply of display panels, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren't public. Apple had initially planned to begin making the larger version this quarter, people familiar those plans had said.

This isn't the first time that rumors have hinted at delays for the iPad Pro. Apple was said to be targeting an early 2015 release date for the tablet last year, but those plans were reportedly put on hold. Back in October, The Wall Street Journal said that Apple had opted to delay mass production on the iPad in order to focus on iPhone 6 Plus production, and in November, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said production could be delayed until Q2 2015 because of difficulties related to the production of display components. With production delayed until September, the tablet could see a release in late 2015. 

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Rendering of the iPad Pro by Martin Hajek


Apple is planning to use the "iPad Pro," as the media calls it, to boost its flagging iPad sales. The tablet is expected to measure in somewhere between 12.2 and 12.9 inches, dwarfing both the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and the 7.9-inch iPad mini 3. 

It may be targeted at the enterprise market, and rumors have suggested it could sport an"ultra" high-resolution display and stereo speakers at the top and bottom edges of the device for an improved audio experience. It may also ship with an optional stylusaccessory.

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Apple to overhaul Genius Bar, changing appointments and using phones as pagers

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Apple will soon make a significant change to retail store Genius Bar appointments to improve the customer experience, according to several sources briefed on the upcoming shift. During the week of March 9th, Apple’s United States stores will launch a new initiative called “Concierge” that replaces traditional walk-in Genius Bar appointments. Currently, a customer seeking Genius Bar assistance can walk into an Apple Retail Store, explain the issue to a check-in assistant, and get a specific time to return for an appointment…

 

This Concierge program, spearheaded by Retail Senior Vice President Angela Ahrendts, moves away from the classic appointment model. Instead, a customer describes the issue to an Apple Store employee, who inputs the issue into an updated iPad application. Using a special algorithm, the application provides the customer a wait time based on issue priorities. For example, a customer seeking an iPhone screen replacement will automatically be placed higher in the queue than a customer seeking help with a minor iCloud issue.

The customer then provides a phone number, which Apple uses to send three text messages with wait time updates:

  • 1) An initial text message confirming the Genius Bar request and providing the wait time
  • 2) A text message telling the customer to start heading back to the Apple Store
  • 3) A final text message telling the customer that their technician is ready to help and where they can be located in the store

Multiple Apple employees have called the Concierge program one of the most significant changes to Apple Store operations in several years, as it allows customers to request support on the spot, shop elsewhere inside of the mall, and then return when the store is ready to service them. This will likely reduce crowding in the Apple Store and possibly fatigue from waiting customers. Apple Stores will operate essentially like restaurants that provide diners with pagers and wait times instead of holding empty tables while people are waiting. However, with the SMS-based system, realtime feedback and interactivity will be provided without the need for additional hardware.

For the time being, Apple Store Genius Bar appointments that are booked online will remain mostly unchanged and will not gain the text message-based system that will replace walk-in appointments.

The new Concierge marks yet another significant retail experience change from Ahrendts, who has already introduced new employee attire, a new emphasis on China, and plans for selling and guarding the jewelry-like Apple Watch. Alongside design chief Jony Ive, Ahrendts is also working on a more substantial redesign of the Apple Retail Store. Ahrendts joined Apple in 2014 after being the long-time CEO of Burberry. In addition to enhancing Apple Store features, Ahrendts hasre-organized the Apple Retail management team and increased communication with retail employees in the field by way of weekly video messages.

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