Apple Store App Updated With iOS 11 Enhancements and Support for iPhone Purchases Without Carrier Pre-Activation

Apple today updated its Apple Store app to version 4.4, introducing iOS 11 enhancements and a new scanner feature for quickly adding your credit card information at checkout.

According to the release notes, the app update also allows customers to bypass pre-authorization and activate later on full price purchases of iPhones, a purchasing option that has been available for the iPhone X on the Apple Store website since November.
What's New in Version 4.4
- iOS 11 enhancements
- Scanner now available to easily add your credit card information at checkout
- Customers now have the option to bypass pre-authorization and activate later on full price purchases of iPhones on AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint
The Apple Store app is Apple's iOS storefront, allowing customers to find and purchase a range of Apple products and accessories. It can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Lifeprint Launches Larger WiFi-Equipped AR Photo Printer That’s Available Exclusively From Apple

Lifeprint, known for its photo printers that come equipped with augmented reality technology, today announced the launch of its latest printer, which is larger than the original version to let iPhone users print bigger pictures.


The new Lifeprint photo printer can print images that are 3 by 4.5 inches, up from 2 by 3 inches. WiFi is new to this version of the printer, which means you can print to a Lifeprint printer from anywhere in the world and send photos to printers owned by friends and family. Bluetooth is also available for local printing.


With Lifeprint printers, you also can print a still of a video or a Live Photo and then use the Lifeprint app to see an augmented reality version of the video, essentially bringing your photos to life. It's a little bit gimmicky, but it can be a fun way to share videos with friends. It's also a neat way to print and share Live Photos.


Like many of the miniature iPhone printers on the market, Lifeprint printers use ZINK paper, which allows for color images without ink cartridges. ZINK also has a sticky back, so all of your printed photos double as stickers. On the downside, ZINK is expensive at over $1 per photo when using the Lifeprint-branded paper in the new size.


You can print photos, videos, Live Photos, GIFs, Snaps, and more with Lifeprint, and the Lifeprint app has built-in tools for editing your images and adding stickers, filters, and captions. There's also integration with Instagram and Facebook so you can print directly from your social network.
"For our second printer, we wanted to go bigger and broader. The larger film is classic instant camera size and really captures that retro look and feel. Perfect for decorating your walls. But more importantly the WiFi capability means you're always connected. This allows users to print to and from anywhere in the world. No matter where you are, you're connected and ready to print. And of course, the magical Harry Potter-like Hyperphotos still bring those videos to life in your hands. Super cool."
Lifeprint's new 3x4.5 printer is available exclusively from Apple.com and Apple retail stores for $149.99 starting today. Film is priced at $50 for a pack of 40 and $30 for a pack of 20.


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Apple Retail Stores Offering iPad Pro ‘Sketch Walks’ in Celebration of Urban Sketchers 10th Anniversary

Apple is offering a series of "sketch walks" hosted by well-known artists to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Urban Sketchers, a global community of artists that are dedicated to on-location drawing.

Many artists who are members of Urban Sketchers have adopted the iPad Pro as a drawing tool of choice, including Uma Kelkar from San Francisco, Rob Sketcherman from Hong Kong, Don Low from Singapore, and Omar Jamarillo from Berlin, all of whom will be teaching the sketching classes.

A member of Urban Sketchers for over four years, Rob has been creating artwork exclusively on iPad for just as long, and began drawing on iPad Pro in 2015 when it was introduced.

Rob says, "the flexibility [iPad Pro] offers fuels experimentation with line, texture and look, allowing any number of iterations. It's also very forgiving, expelling all fear of the dreaded blank page and of potentially 'ruining sketchbooks' in case an experiment goes awry."
All of the 10th anniversary sketch walks hosted by Urban Sketchers artists will take place on Thursday, November 30 at Apple retail locations around the world. Don Low will teach in Singapore, Rob Sketcherman will teach in Hong Kong, Uma Kelkar will teach in San Francisco, and Omar Jaramillo will teach in Berlin.

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Urban Sketchers with artist Uma Kelkar, and explore how to free yourself from the notion of art as an exact science. She'll demo her free-flowing process, which sets aside space, proportion, and even gravity to tell a complex story in unexpected ways. And you'll practice sketching overlapping vignettes to tell your own unique story with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.
Each class requires customers to bring an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, along with comfortable shoes. Walks range from 0.5km to 2km.

Apple also offers several other classes dedicated to drawing and sketching on Apple devices, all of which are part of its "Today" program. The Today program allows Apple retail stores to offer classes on a wide range of subjects, providing help and instruction for customers of all skill levels.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Reach Robotics’ ‘MekaMon’ AR Gaming Robot Available at Apple Stores for $299

Augmented reality gaming company Reach Robotics today announced that its MekaMon gaming robot is coming to Apple Stores throughout the US and UK starting on November 16.


Priced at $299.99, MekaMon is a real-life robot that melds real-world gameplay with augmented reality. MekaMon, a four-legged spider-shaped robot that measures in at 11.8in x 11.8in x 5.9in, is designed to let players battle their robots in both the physical and virtual worlds using iOS devices.


MekaMon is compatible with newer iOS devices and adopts the iPhone's camera and infrared sensors for what Reach Robotics calls "precision gameplay." MekaMon robots connect to one another using infrared signals as players' iPhones connect over Bluetooth, letting friends battle against each other or participate in arcade and cooperative gameplay.


With the built-in augmented reality support, gamers can choose to play with their MekaMon robots either in the real world or using augmented reality. Once a battle is engaged, MekaMon is able to move and use objects in the room like tables, chairs, and more to block attackers.

Each MekaMon robot can be customized by adding weapons or shields to make the robot more aggressive, defensive, or technically inclined, and the MekaMon robots are compatible with Swift Playgrounds, so users can control their robots using Swift code.


MekaMon can be used as a code learning tool with users able to implement "fundamental coding concepts" to control MekaMon's movements, reactions, and startup and shutdown features.
"We've created an entirely new video gaming platform," said Silas Adekunle, CEO of Reach Robotics. "MekaMon straddles both the real and virtual worlds while taking the gaming experience beyond a player's screen and turning their sitting room into a limitless robotic battle zone. MekaMon represents a quantum leap forward in the leveraging of augmented reality. Players can whip out their smartphone to battle their multi-functional, connected battlebots in the physical and virtual worlds at the same time."
MekaMon can be purchased from Apple.com or MekaMon.com for $299 starting today. It will be in Apple retail stores tomorrow.


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Apple’s Extended 2017 Holiday Return Policy Begins November 25

Apple's annual extended holiday return policy will begin November 25 in the United States, according to a senior Apple support advisor.


Most products and accessories purchased between November 25 and December 25 of this year will be eligible for return until January 8, 2018 in the United States, and the extended window likely applies to Australia, Canada, and select other countries as well. Last year, in most of Europe, the end date was January 20.

Apple products that can be returned include, among other things, the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. The few items that cannot be returned include Apple or iTunes gift cards. Apple products can be opened and used prior to the return date, but must be returned undamaged with the original packaging.

When making a purchase at an Apple retail store, we recommend that you ask for printed and emailed copies of your receipt. Both printed and emailed receipts will indicate the return date for each product purchased, while Apple also lists the cutoff date under the "Your Account" section on its website.

All purchases made before November 25 or after December 25 are subject to Apple's standard 14-day return policy in most countries.


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iPhone X Won’t Be Available to Walk-In Customers at Apple Stores in Belgium or France on Launch Day

Apple recently confirmed that the iPhone X will be available for walk-in customers to purchase at its retail stores when the device launches Friday, November 3, but that will not be the case in two European countries.


Due to anti-terrorism restrictions, Apple will not be selling the iPhone X to customers without a pre-order or pickup reservation in Belgium or France. The news was first reported by the Dutch-language blog One More Thing, and MacRumors has since received confirmation from a reliable source who asked not to be identified.

As best as we're aware, Apple is simply complying with local laws and regulations discouraging large gatherings and queues in popular tourist areas, due to recent terrorist attacks in cities with Apple retail stores like Brussels and Paris.

Belgian and French customers can still pre-order the iPhone X on Apple's website for in-store pickup or delivery, although shipping estimates have slipped to 5-6 weeks in both countries. Also, in Belgium at least, Apple will begin accepting reservations for in-store pickup on November 4 at 6:00 a.m. local time.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Belkin’s New iPhone X Screen Protectors Now Available

Belkin's new InvisiGlass Ultra and Anti-Glare screen protectors for iPhone X are now available to purchase.

Left to right: Anti-Glare, InvisiGlass Ultra, and EasyAlign sticker

InvisiGlass Ultra is made with 0.21mm ion-strengthened glass supplied by Corning, the same manufacturer of iPhone display glass. Belkin says the screen protector improves the iPhone X's scratch resistance by up to three to five times, with up to a 25 percent increase in protection against cracking and breakage from drops.

The anti-glare screen protector is said to reduce harsh reflections from both sunlight and artificial lighting, allowing you to view the screen comfortably in bright conditions. The ultra-thin screen protector has an anti-scratch coating.

Both screen protectors include a cleaning cloth and so-called EasyAlign sticker in the box for easier installation at home. The anti-glare version can also be professionally installed at an Apple Store with Apple's ScreenCare+ application system.

Belkin's InvisiGlass Ultra and Anti-Glare screen protectors are $39.95 and $19.95 respectively on Apple's online store in the United States. Both are currently estimated to ship in one business day.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Angela Ahrendts’ Makeover of Apple Retail Outlined in New Profile

A new profile of Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts has been posted today by BuzzFeed News, providing a look into Ahrendts' move from Burberry, the inspiration for her approach to retail from late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and her partnership with Apple design chief Jony Ive. Ahrendts has been in the spotlight lately following her presentation during the iPhone X keynote event in September, where she explained Apple's new retail initiative, Today at Apple, and provided a sneak peek into upcoming locations around the world.

Ahrendts said that her approach to the new retail strategy began with an inspiration from Steve Jobs, comparing the brick-and-mortar locations as the retail team's "hardware" and the inner workings of the store -- like Today at Apple programs -- as the "software."

Image captured by Hoss Ghertassi via BuzzFeed News
Ahrendts’s approach to retail harkens back to the late founder Steve Jobs’ insistence on building “the whole widget” — in other words, constructing the look and feel of a device, as well as making the operating system and the processor that runs it, in order to fully optimize — and control — the entire user experience.

“This is our hardware,” she said, pointing to the Indianapolis store’s glass doors and indoor ficuses. ”Then you say, ‘What’s the software of the store? How do we turn it on?’ Because this unto itself is magnificent, but it's not just what it is, it's what it does,” referring to the new Today at Apple program, under which locations host events like photography workshops and coding classes.
Ahrendts has tweaked parts of Apple's retail "software" by changing employee t-shirts to a softer material, and removing lanyards so employees "make a human connection" with customers. One former Apple Genius said that while removing lanyards made uniforms "cleaner," the high amount of customers visiting Apple every day is a "reality of retail" that made connecting with every customer difficult.

When she was creating her strategy, Ahrendts discussed the design and look of the new Apple locations with Jony Ive, who was said to have told Ahrendts, "Don't mess with the tables," referring to the iconic wooden tables that line every Apple store. Ive further described these tables as "sacred."
Before embarking on the redesign, Ahrendts consulted creative chief Ive, whom Steve Jobs once called his “spiritual partner.” “In one of those very early conversations,” Ahrendts recalled, Ive “said, ‘Don't mess with the tables. They're the same tables we used in our design studio and I love that it goes from the studio to the stores.’ He said, ‘They're sacred.’”
Ahrendts also recalled the company's expansion into China, where she asked all United States retail employees if they would be interested to move overseas and assist in running new stores in China. The executive said she was expecting 100 or 200 responses, but ended up with 2,000, half of which ended up moving overseas with plans to stay for between 1 and 5 years. Those who remain in the U.S. said that under Ahrendts' leadership, worker benefits have improved.

Image captured by Hoss Ghertassi via BuzzFeed News
All of the employees who spoke to BuzzFeed News agree that Ahrendts improved their benefits soon after she joined in May 2014. For example, Ahrendts introduced restricted stock units, or gifted Apple stock (which could previously be purchased at a discount), that vests every three years. She also extended school tuition reimbursement to part-time workers. Most said they were happy with their pay, which ranges from $17 to $20 an hour for non-Genius roles and up to $30 an hour for Geniuses.
Still, some employees have described their work as starting to feel "increasingly corporate" under Ahrendts. One technical specialist stated that Apple retail "now feels more like a Circuit City, a Best Buy" because of increased micromanagement, rising repair prices, a focus on moving customers in and out of the store as fast as possible, and an "emphasis" on attracting business accounts.

The rest of the profile on Ahrendts covers much of the same ground as BuzzFeed's iPhone 8 launch video about Apple's "war room," as well as an interview with CEO Tim Cook and Ahrendts posted yesterday. In that interview, Ahrendts said it was "fake news...silly" that she was being groomed as future Apple CEO. Cook then said, "I see my role as CEO to prepare as many people as I can to be CEO, and that’s what I’m doing."

Check out the full BuzzFeed News article on Angela Ahrendts here.


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Angela Ahrendts Says Apple Won’t Try to Upsell Customers to iPhone X

Apple Store employees won't try to upsell customers to the iPhone X, according to Apple's retail chief Angela Ahrendts.


Ahrendts, who is in Chicago today for the grand opening of Apple's new Michigan Avenue store, told CNBC that Apple recognizes each customer has different needs that may not require purchasing the most expensive iPhone model.
"Internally we said the tagline was 'an iPhone for everyone,'" she said. "I prefer that we ask you who you're buying it for. If they're 6 or 7 years old, what do they need? If it's someone who's leaning into something else, what do they need? We do that with Mac, we do that with iPad, why wouldn't we do that with [the] phone?"
iPhone X starts at $999 in the United States with 64GB of storage, while a 256GB model is available for $1,149. By comparison, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus start at $699 and $799 respectively.

Ming-Chi Kuo, a reputable Apple analyst at KGI Securities, recently said only 2-3 million iPhone X units will be available to purchase when the device launches. Pre-orders begin October 27 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time.

Related: iPhone X vs. iPhone 8 vs. iPhone 8 Plus

Related Roundup: iPhone X

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Angela Ahrendts Climbs to Thirteenth Spot in Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women’ List for 2017

Apple's senior vice president of retail stores, Angela Ahrendts, has climbed to grab the 13th spot on Fortune's "Most Powerful Women" list for 2017. In 2015 Ahrendts took the 16th spot, and in 2016 she rose to the 14th spot.

The top 5 women on the list this year are Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO, #5), Abigail Johnson (Fidelity Investments CEO, #4), Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin President and CEO, #3), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo CEO, #2), and Mary Barra (General Motors CEO, #1).


Fortune's list includes a brief summary of Ahrendts' latest accomplishments at Apple:
Since being persuaded by Tim Cook to join Apple in 2014 (she previously led British fashion brand Burberry), Ahrendts has been heads down on the tech behemoth’s largest store redesign in 15 years. In May the company launched its long-awaited “Today at Apple” initiative, which seeks to supplement public education through free courses on everything from coding to music production to photography. Apple’s highest-ranking woman, she oversees 60,000 retail employees and is responsible for the in-store experiences of a more than a million daily customers. Research firm eMarketer estimates that the combined revenue from in-store and online sales is nearly $50 billion. Ahrendts was the second executive after Cook—and the only woman—to take the stage at September’s keynote, where she spoke at length about Apple’s “town squares”—the new moniker for its retail stores.
Ahrendts joined Apple from Burberry in the spring of 2014, when she said she'd bring a personal touch to Apple's retail management. Three years later she has spearheaded the launch of Apple's next-generation retail store design and "Today at Apple" classes worldwide.

Last week, Ahrendts also appeared on stage during Apple's iPhone X keynote event, where she went into detail about new and upcoming Apple Town Square locations in Chicago, Paris, and Milan.

For more information on Fortune's ranking, the site has published a few articles today: explaining the list's continued importance, highlighting the newcomers, and pointing out those who have dropped off the list this year.


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