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Original Apple Watch Health Features Were Dropped Due to Consistency Issues

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Before Apple unveiled the Apple Watch last September, reports indicated the device would come with 10 sensors to track health and fitness data, leading some healthcare professionals to find the unveiled Apple Watch's health features disappointing. In a new reportThe Wall Street Journal offers a look at the original Apple Watch health features that were dropped due to consistency problems. 

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Apple began developing the watch about four years ago, with a focus on health and fitness. It’s not unusual for Apple to experiment with many technologies or shift focus during product development, but the watch was especially challenging, people familiar with the matter said. Internally, the project became known as a “black hole” sucking in resources, one of these people said.

The Apple Watch originally featured sensors that measured the conductivity of skin, allowing the device to detect stress levels and heart-rate monitoring similar to an electrocardiogram, also known as an EKG. Apple also experimented with ways to detect blood pressure or how much oxygen is in a user's blood. However, a mix of consistency problems and potential oversight caused Apple to switch the focus of the device from health-related to a more general do-everything product. 

The skin conductivity features didn't perform well with people who had hairy arms or dry skin, while results varied depending on how tight an Apple Watch was worn on users' wrists. Additionally, if Apple decided to use the health data to provide "health or behavioral advice", the Cupertino company would have to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulators. 

While these features were dropped for the first version of the Apple Watch, sources tell the WSJ that they could appear in future versions of the device, echoing a Reuters reportfrom September. 

Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company's objective with Apple Watch is to "change the way people live their lives" and that people would be surprised by the breadth of what the device can do, which includes activity monitoring, reminding users to stand up after a certain time period, and non-verbal communication with friends. Apple is currently asking developers to have their Apple Watch apps ready by mid-February, with some developers traveling to Apple's Cupertino headquarters for help

Cook has confirmed the Apple Watch will launch in April. The Wall Street Journal reportsthat Apple will make five to six million units for the first quarter, with half of those units being the entry Apple Watch Sport and one-third being the mid-tier stainless-steel Apple Watch.

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Microsoft Office for iOS Updated With iCloud Drive Support

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Microsoft today released an update for its suite of Office apps on Apple's iPhone and iPad App Store for users running iOS 8. The 1.6 updates bring, along with the usual bug fixes and performance enhancements, full support for saving and syncing documents via Apple's iCloud Drive service (via The Verge). 

Microsoft says users of its most popular software like WordExcel, and PowerPoint can now open, edit, and save their work to iCloud as a storage option in the "Places" section of each iOS app. 

Microsoft Word
The additional storage method doesn't require users to have an Office 365 subscription and comes as an alternative to Microsoft's own cloud storage option, OneDrive. As pointed out by The Verge, light restrictions on a few file types may hinder iCloud's usage on Microsoft's iOS apps, however.

There’s also restrictions on filetypes, so while you can see a thumbnail preview of text in a document created with TextEdit on a Mac (stored on iCloud), you can’t access the document or edit it. Overall, it’s a fairly basic feature addition, but one that will please (and possibly frustrate) those who use iCloud on a regular basis.

Microsoft most recently added a similar feature to flesh out its iOS offerings with apartnership with Dropbox that let users open, edit, and save their documents using the popular document-saving cloud app. The WordExcel, and PowerPoint apps launched on the iPhone in early November, bringing free document creation and basic editing to the service. 

Microsoft Word [Direct Link], Microsoft Excel [Direct Link], and Microsoft PowerPoint[Direct Link] can all be downloaded from the App Store for free.

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Apple Two-Step Verification Now Available for iMessage and FaceTime [Updated]

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Apple's two-step verification system now covers FaceTime and iMessage, reports The Guardian. Signing into an iMessage or FaceTime account protected by two-step verification will ask users to input an app specific password, which can only be obtained by logging in to an Apple ID account on the web with an authentication code, thereby preventing any unauthorized login attempts. 

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Two-factor verification is an opt-in system that was first introduced in March of 2013 to increase the security of Apple ID accounts. Prior to today, a verification code was only required for making changes to an account, signing into iCloud, or making iTunes/App Store purchases from a new device. 

Two-factor authentication for iCloud is a recent addition that was implemented in September following the breach of several celebrity iCloud accounts, leading to a slew of leaked photos. The hacking incident led Apple to improve the security of iCloud and it also prompted the company to send out security emails when a device is restored, iCloud is accessed, or a password change is attempted. 

Last month, a Medium post highlighting some of the remaining shortcomings of two-factor authentication was shared by several technology sites, which may have inspired Apple to update the service to protect iMessage and FaceTime accounts. The post pointed out that it was still possible to log into iMessage, FaceTime, iTunes, the App Store, and into the website using an account with two-factor authentication enabled without being asked for a verification code. 

It seems two-factor authentication for iMessage and FaceTime may still be rolling out to users, as MacRumors was able to log into iMessage and FaceTime accounts with two-factor authentication enabled without a code. 

Update: Two-factor authentication for iMessage and FaceTime seems to be more widely available now, and it appears that logging into an account requires an app specific password rather than a code to prevent unauthorized entry attempts.

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Apple Rejecting Violent App Screenshots for Infringing Long-Standing Policy

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Apple has been rejecting a number of apps with screenshots that depict violence or guns from being released or updated on the App Store, as reported by Pocket Gamer. As a result, developers have been forced to modify their app screenshots to either completely remove or blur any violent materials in order to get through the approval process. 

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Tempo [Direct Link] screenshot with a blurred gun to adhere to Apple's guidelines


Apple has long required developers to ensure all front-facing App Store materials are appropriate for children, although it has been more aggressively enforcing its stance against violent screenshots in recent weeks. Earlier today, Instapaper developer Marco Arment pointed towards language in the App Store Review Guidelines that clearly spells out Apple's kid-friendly requirements.

"The App Store has parental controls and requires all apps to bear age-appropriate content ratings. While violence, etc. has always been permitted in apps, Apple has always required that all app metadata — title, description, icon, and screenshots — be kid-proof with the lowest rating. [...] It’s right there in the rules: 3.6 Apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected"

Despite cracking down on violent imagery, Apple told The Loop that it is being more liberal as of late in terms of what images and screenshots it permits to be shown on the App Store.

"I spoke with Apple about this today and they told me the company is being more liberal lately with what it allows in the App Store for images and screenshots. I don’t know the specifics of individual games, but overall, Apple is being more lenient of late."

Modern Combat
Nevertheless, it is clear that Apple has been quite inconsistent with enforcing its App Store review guidelines over the years. Look no further than Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour [Direct Link], which heavily features violence in its promotional images. Developers have expressed frustration over strict guidelines since the App Store launched in 2008, but Apple remains committed to exercising fine-tuned control over the storefront to ensure the best experience possible for all users.

"We're really trying our best to create the best platform in the world for you to express your talents and make a living too. If it sounds like we're control freaks, well, maybe it's because we're so committed to our users and making sure they have a quality experience with our products. Just like almost all of you are, too."

The tighter enforcement comes on the heels of Apple increasing the maximum app sizefrom 2GB to 4GB. Developers that have apps rejected for sensitive content are permitted to resubmit for approval after making the necessary changes.

 

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iOS 8.4 in Development With Possible Support for New Music Service

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Along with iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3, both of which have been seeded to developers in beta form, Apple is also said to be working on an iOS 8.4 update. According to 9to5Mac, the beta is codenamed "Copper," and set to be released later this year at some point after the Apple Watch becomes available for purchase in April. 

Given the release timing after iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3, it's possible that iOS 8.4 will be the update that introduces Apple's new streaming music service. Recent rumors have suggested that Apple's existing Beats music service will be rebranded, revamped with alower price tag, and integrated into iOS and OS X. A timeline is unclear, but Apple could be aiming for a June launch, sometime around its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. 

iOS 8.4 began appearing in MacRumors site logs towards the end of January, with usage spiking up at the beginning of February. The number of visits from devices running iOS 8.4 from both Apple IPs and non-Apple IPs remains relatively low, however, suggesting that development on iOS 8.4 is in the very early stages. 

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Visitors to MacRumors.com via Apple's networks from devices running iOS 8.4



ios_8_4_all

Overall visitors to MacRumors.com from devices running iOS 8.4


iOS 8.2 has been in developer testing since November, and iOS 8.3, with wireless CarPlay support, a new emoji picker, and Apple Pay for China was just seeded to developers this morning. Along with its iOS 8 projects, Apple is also working on iOS 9, an update that may heavily focus on stability and optimization.

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