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Opening Indian Apple Stores has been high up Tim Cook’s to-do list since at least 2024, and after a huge number of challenges, setbacks, and delays, it looks like we will now finally see at least two major stores open this quarter. Hiring of retail staff is underway, with some applicants already announcing their successful appointments.

The step is a hugely important one for Apple, as it seeks to grow its business in a country whose population now rivals that of China, and which has a rapidly growing middle class …

Why India matters

Depending on which source you consult, the population of India is either just below that of China, or has actually overtaken it to become the most populous country in the world.

For a long time, that didn’t much matter: the vast majority of India’s population was never going to be in a position to afford an iPhone. But, as with China before it, a rapidly growing middle-class population means that India has become an important market for Apple.

The most recent estimates by market intelligence company Counterpoint Research suggest that the iPhone 13 became the best-selling smartphone in the country in the final quarter of last year – the first time a premium phone has ever topped the sales lists.

While that’s of course still not Apple’s latest flagship, it’s a massive change over the course of just one year: the top sellers in Q4 2023 were budget models from Realme, Oppo, and Redmi, whose prices maxed out at around $200.

The long and painful journey toward Indian Apple Stores

The Indian government has never been afraid to apply protectionist measures, and it has effectively blackmailed both Apple and India by imposing strict conditions on the opening of single-brand stores.

In order to be allowed to open retail stores, the government originally said that iPhones not only had to be assembled within the country, but that a full 30% of the products sold in the stores had to be made in India. For a company like Apple, which relies heavily on a massive supply chain inside China, that was a virtually impossible goal to hit.

This left Apple dependent on authorized resellers, such as the deal with consumer electronics retail chain Croma to build Best Buy-style stores-within-a-store, with an Apple Store look and some Apple-trained specialist employees.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been personally lobbying Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi since at least 2024, trying to negotiate a relaxation of the rules. There were numerous stumbling blocks and false starts along the way, before agreement was finally reached in 2023.

This allowed Apple to launch its online store first, to great success, with the first retail store originally set to open in 2023. The pandemic then put a halt to that, initially pushing the date back to 2023, and later to 2023.

Hiring now underway

The Financial Times reports that the hiring of Apple Store staff in the country is now finally underway, with some applicants already announcing their appointments.

On Friday, Apple’s career page listed openings for 12 different job functions it seeks to fill in “various locations within India,” including technical specialist, business expert, senior manager, store leader and “genius”.

Many of the job descriptions refer directly to flagship retail operations. “The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences,” says one.

The 12 listings imply hundreds of job openings, as a typical Apple Store has at least 100 employees and flagship locations can have up to 1,000 workers.

Some applicants have been celebrating their success by announcing their new positions on their LinkedIn profiles. This appears to have been authorized by Apple, as the company’s head of recruitment in India, Renu Sevanthi, linked to several of them.

Counterpoint Research analyst Neil Shah said that an upward spiral was already being seen in the country, where iPhone sales are rapidly increasing, and that in turn boosts demand for other Apple products.

It’s expected that a Mumbai store will open by March, and another in New Delhi shortly afterward.

Photo of Mumbai Airport: Vaishag Menon/Unsplash

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10 Years Later, I Haven’t Found A Better Replacement For Pushbullet

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

As a journalist writing about some of the best Android smartphones, I usually have one or a dozen phones at any given point. Some have personal accounts logged in, others have work accounts, while yet others might be used for very specific use cases. Sounds fun? Not quite.

Making sure you don’t miss out on notifications or text messages is a problem you have to deal with daily if you’re toting multiple Android phones like me. I’ve been using Pushbullet to manage that chore. However, the notification mirroring service goes far beyond plain and simple, well, notification mirroring. I’ve got it plugged into servers, I use it for file sharing, and much more. There have been several Pushbullet alternatives and competitors over the years, but ten years later, here’s why the OG is still my go-to.

Do you still use Pushbullet?

5989 votes

One-stop notification hub

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

I don’t know about you, but I often keep my phone silent when focusing and chasing a deadline. However, this usually means missing important text messages or notifications. Being a Mac user, my options are a bit limited with ways to fire away notifications from my phone to my computer unless I use an iPhone.

Pushbullet comes in clutch for Mac users to enable deeper integration with Android phones.

With the Pushbullet extension installed on my browser, notifications from all my phones sync conveniently both within the browser and to my Mac’s notification hub. Pushbullet lets me interact with those notifications to send quick responses in supported apps like WhatsApp. So when I get a text message from a friend or family member, I can reply or ignore it right there from the comfort of my computer without breaking my flow. For my use case, I prefer to glance at notifications and respond directly via my phone, but the functionality is there if you need it.

It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

For all its simplicity and seamless usability, Pushbullet isn’t quite perfect. For one, I’d like to see local LAN based syncing for devices connected to the same network. This would make the lightning-fast service even quicker. Moreover, the company pulled its iOS app a few years ago and has made no effort to bring it back. For a service that initially started as a way to unify all your devices, the lack of iOS support is disheartening, and I miss the ability to have the same notifications accessible on my iPad. Couple that with a glacial pace of feature development, and you might be led to believe that Pushbullet is abandonware, even if it is not.

Despite the glacial pace of feature development, Pushbullet is a de facto install for me on any new phone.

In almost a decade of use, there are very few services, and apps that have stayed with me and become de facto installs on any new phone. Pushbullet is one of those. Despite its limitations and misses, the utility it adds is critical for power users like me, and I don’t see myself switching to another app anytime soon.

Find Apple Pay Supported Stores In Your Local Area

The growth of Apple Pay is hardly surprising as the combination of convenience and speed becomes more mainstream. How many times have you left your house and gone halfway to your destination before realizing you left your wallet at home? Thanks to the explosive growth of Apple Pay, that continues to be a problem of the past. Still, the real question is not a matter of whether or not you want to use Apple Pay but where? How do you know who accepts this awesome service? Let’s take a look at one of the easiest ways to find out which retailers accept Apple Pay before you ever step foot outside.

Finding Apple Pay Locations on iOS

Assuming you are using iOS 13, all you need to do is open the Maps app on your iOS device. The same process works on both iPhone and iPad, but since you are more likely to pay with the iPhone, focus on that device. The Maps app has gone through several updates over the years and is now a more capable app than before.

Once you open the Maps app, find any retail, restaurant or store you want to enter as your destination.

Next, tap on the location you wish to visit. All you have to do now is swipe up until you see a section labeled “Useful to Know” and see if “Accepts Apple Pay” is checked. When Apple Pay is accepted, you will also see two icons to the right of the “Useful to Know” wording. The first symbol that most commonly looks like the Wi-Fi signal on its side is for NFC devices. If this icon is darkened, you can scan your iPhone to pay. If the Apple Pay logo is darkened, you can pay with the Wallet App and any credit card tied to the app.

Finding Apple Pay Locations in Maps on Mac

Similar to iOS, you can also search and identify locations (business, restaurant, gas station, etc.) that accept Apple Pay on the Maps app right on your Mac. This process works on just about any Mac computer that is running the Maps application.

Wait, What about Apple Card?

Apple knows that shoppers are not quite at the point of completely giving up “plastic,” so they found a happy medium. Enter Apple Card. This credit card combines the best of Apple Pay with the best of traditional credit cards. So how does Apple achieve that? Try two percent cash back on all Apple Pay purchases using the Apple Card that is loaded into the Wallet app on your iPhone.

When you want to leave your wallet at home or accidentally forgot to take it with you, your iPhone (with Apple Pay) can be a real lifesaver.

David Joz

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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Taking A Second Look At Apple Xserve

With the success of iTunes and iPods, not to mention MacBook, you’d think Apple wouldn’t be that interested in the Xserve — an item that contributes a relatively minuscule amount to the company coffers. In fact, it hasn’t been covered in a Snapshot for a couple of years.

Yet Apple has been working hard on its server platform. In the past year or so, it updated its server OS and has added Intel Nehalem processors to Xserve. In addition, it has made its Mac Pro desktop hardware available as a tower server. Finally, the company has continued to invest in improved storage systems for its user base.

At the end of 2006, Apple introduced the first Intel Xeon processor-based Xserve model. Since that time, it has continued to add the latest and greatest from Intel. The newest Xserve, for example, comes with Xeon 5500 series processors.

“Our most recent release has a lot of new technology which provides a big boost in performance and more memory bandwidth,” said Doug Brooks, the Xserve product manager at Apple. “Customers include education, science, research, federal government and creative customers in printing, graphics, media, video and post production.”

Apple positions this 1U machine as a complete package — everything you need in one box. The company web site pushes two basic versions:

A server with one 2.26 GHz quad-core Nehalem processor with 3 GB of memory, one 160 GB 7200 rpm SATA drive, Mac OS X server software and unlimited client licenses for $2,999; or one with the same basic specs except for two 2.26 GHz Nehalems for a price of $3,599.

The current operating system in the Xserve is known as Leopard, version 10.5 of the Apple server software. It took over from the Tiger OS (10.4). Compared to its predecessor, Leopard provides a streamlined interface that makes it easier for those who lack server administration experience to set up the server. Further, it comes with lots of collaboration software (such as a Wiki server), and a media processing engine to automate the capture of content and its publication.

Apple has also been working hard on storage support. On the Xserve side, the company released a 128 GB solid state drive (SSD) option. As it comes on an internal RAID card, it doesn’t take up a hard drive bay. This SSD, though, isn’t intended for primary storage. Rather, it operates as a fast, low-power boot drive with the OS loaded onto it. It costs $500.

“The SSD gives 100 MB a second-read performance, and random access performance is up to 20 times faster than a SAS drive,” said Brooks.

Additionally, the company has updated its SAN file system with the release of Xsan 2. This is clustered file system software that helps to create shared storage environments used in IT and video editing. XSan 2 requires a Fibre Channel (FC) SAN network and a metadata controller that typically runs on Xserve.

As well as the Xserve, Apple has one other server hardware offering. It’s Mac Pro desktop is now being offered as a server (i.e. it comes loaded with the Mac OS X Server software). According to Brooks, this has been available for some time but the company is now putting more of a spotlight on it. Mac Pro pricing starts at $2,499.

“Xserve is a rack-mounted product, and some SMBs prefer a tower model,” said Brooks. “We support our server software on the Mac Pro and the Mac Mini. The Mac Pro has all of the horsepower of the Xserve and most of its features except a redundant power supply and lights out management.”

Product Name Base Configuration Base Pricing

Xserve Choice of Quad-Core (2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” Processor) with 3GB RAM or 8-Core (Two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processors) with 3GB RAM, 160GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA drive module and Mac OS X Server v10.5 Unlimited-Client Edition Starting at $2,999

Mac Pro Choice of Quad-Core (One 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processor) with 3GB RAM or 8-Core (Two 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processors) with 6GB RAM, 640GB HD, 18x double-layer SuperDrive and NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB video card Starting at $2,499

Article courtesy of Server Watch.

Apple Watch Handwashing Detection Was Years In Development; May Be More To Come

One of the more timely WWDC announcements was Apple Watch handwashing detection. The coronavirus crisis means everyone is being encouraged to wash their hands more frequently, and to ensure that we’re doing so thoroughly.

But the handwashing detection feature wasn’t developed hastily in response, says Apple, but was rather years in development …

WHO and CDC guidelines recommend handwashing for at least 20 seconds, and watchOS 7 aims to automatically detect when you’re washing your hands, and to start a 20-second countdown timer with a cute animation. If it detects that you have stopped washing your hands before the time is up, it politely prompts you to keep going.

Washing hands properly for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of illness. In a first-of-its-kind innovation for a wearable, Apple Watch uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing motions and sounds. It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer, and if the user finishes early, they will be prompted to keep washing. Apple Watch can also conveniently remind the user to wash their hands when they return home.

The Health app on iPhone will show frequency and duration of the user’s handwashing, as well as information on the importance of handwashing, as it relates to overall health. Sounds used to detect handwashing are not automatically recorded or saved by the Health app or Apple Watch.

Once automatically detected, handwashing will begin a 20-second timer.

A TechCrunch report says that it took literally years of work.

Handwashing for the Apple Watch happily slotted alongside face masks for Memojis in the list of COVID-19-related features the company introduced at last week’s WWDC keynote […]

Unlike other rush initiatives undertaken by the company once the virus hit, however, the forthcoming Apple Watch handwashing app wasn’t built overnight. The feature was the result of ‘years of work,’ VP of technology Kevin Lynch told TechCrunch. In typical Apple fashion, the product was a result of years of trial and error, according to the executive.

The Apple Watch handwashing feature relies on three cues.

The accelerometer is the key piece of hardware here, waiting for the specific handwashing pattern — which apparently adopts a number of different methods, depending on who’s actually doing the scrubbing.

Along with motion, the app listens for the sound of running water. Even that’s not enough, though — after all, eco sinks have become increasingly popular, meaning that there’s often less water sound to be listening for.

The sound of squishing soap takes care of that last bit. It’s got a unique enough audio signature so as to confirm that handwashing is taking place.

All the same, early usage doesn’t seem to reflect years of work: 9to5Mac testing has found detection to be rather unreliable. An alternative is to have your Watch prompt you to wash your hands hourly.

Could the Apple Watch go further, and help diagnose COVID-19? Apple says it is not doing any of its own research in this area, but is supporting those who are.

On the Watch front specifically, it has opened remote usage for doctors looking to monitor patients’ ECG readings without risking exposure to the virus for either party. Apple currently makes no claims about the Watch’s potential for helping to diagnose the virus, however. ‘While we haven’t studied specifically how Apple Watch can track COVID, we’re happy to support the research the medical community is doing. We really support their initiatives by enabling our colleagues in the space, and we’re excited to see what they learn,’ Apple’s VP of Health, Sumbul Ahmad Desai, tells TechCrunch.

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Opinion: Has Apple Finally Promoted Icloud From A Hobby To A Serious Service?

I wrote a piece last month arguing that it was time for Apple to up its iCloud game, showing that the company is serious about cloud storage by focusing more on fast, reliable syncing, and by matching the functionality, storage capacities, and pricing of Google Drive.

In the WWDC keynote, Apple did exactly that. MobileMe may not, in Steve Jobs’ words, have been Apple’s finest hour, but it did at least include iDisk – an online drive we could access directly to store anything we liked – not just documents created in Apple’s own apps. It’s been a long time coming, but iDisk is finally back in the form of iCloud Drive.

The new iCloud pricing, too, looks set to be exactly what I asked for – comparable to Google Drive… 

Apple previously gave us 5GB free, then 15GB for $20/year, 25GB for $40/year and maxed-out at a paltry 55GB for $100/year. I pointed out that Google Drive, in contrast, gave us 15GB free, 100GB for $24/year and 1TB for $120/year.

What Apple has so far announced is this:

We still only get 5GB free, but 200GB for $48/year is exactly in line with Google’s 100GB for $24/year. That suggests the 1TB tier will also be comparable.

Apple maxes out at 1TB in contrast with Google’s 30TB, but to be honest, 1TB is likely to be enough for any individual or one-person business – and it’s of course possible to have one account per person in larger businesses. I’m happy enough with that.

I also complained about the lag you sometimes got in syncing via iCloud, and the less-than-seamless handoff when working on the same document on multiple devices. The proof will be in the pudding, but the Handoff feature in Yosemite appears to be promising instantaneous syncing between the same document on OS X and iOS devices – and Apple is touting this as just one of a number of “continuity features.”

There’s one other thing Apple has to get right to make iCloud a true replacement for all other cloud storage services: app support.

Dropbox has succeeded in making itself the default cloud storage option for any data that an app needs to sync or transfer between devices. There are a vast number of apps out there with Dropbox support baked right into them. It’s the reason I still have a (free) Dropbox account in addition to my Google Drive.

Fortunately, it looks like Apple is on track with that too: third parties can hook right into the iCloud Drive APIs. So if developers support iCloud Drive, that automatically creates support for third-party services that hook into it – which Dropbox will surely do.

It may even be that iCloud Drive kills Dropbox. Dropbox gives even less space than Apple for free – just 2GB (though referrals can take that up to 16GB), and then charges $199/year for 200GB (vs $48 on Apple’s new iCloud pricing) and an absurd $499/year for 500GB (vs $120 for twice as much on Google Drive). If it doesn’t fix that, it may not be around for too much longer.

So has Apple finally given me what I wanted, and turned iCloud into a serious product that will allow me to stop messing around with an untidy mish-mash of iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive? Time will tell, but from what I’ve seen so far, I’m optimistic.

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