MacRumors reports that Apple has just updated the System Status page to show that its online store will be undergoing maintenance tomorrow, between midnight and 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time. This has led to speculation that Apple could be about to launch new products, as has been rumoured recently, particularly as the maintenance occurs at a time when Apple always traditionally issues press releases. Could it be that when the store comes back online tomorrow, we’ll have some new products to order?

While we won’t know for sure until tomorrow, it’s certainly sounding very likely that we will. MacRumors says that it was told by a well-known research firm last week that it expects Apple to release new products this week. The firm in question did not give specific information about which products it believes Apple will announce this week, but it’s thought that the company will be launching as many as three new iPad models, as well as possibly a new 128GB iPhone SE model. However, there have also been several recent rumours that the 10.5-inch iPad Pro has been delayed and won’t be announced this week but at a special event in April.

Source: Apple Online Store Going Down for 'Maintenance' Tomorrow Morning Ahead of Rumored Product Updates

Philips has today announced its new Hue E14 candle/chandelier bulb, writes AppleInsider. With the launch of the new 40-watt equivalent, 470 lumen at 4,000 kelvin bulb, Philips now supports more than 80% of household light fittings for Hue.

The new E14 bulbs are available in multi-color and white ambiance versions, and, as with other Hue bulbs, are compatible with the iOS HomeKit smart home platform. They can also be used with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Next, and Samsung SmartThings. The open Hue platforms means that the bulbs can work with over 600 apps, devices, and platforms.

The new E14 bulbs are set to launch in Europe by the end of April, costing €34.95 for the ambient white version. They will also be available in North America later in the year, pricing as yet to be determined. No pricing details have been revealed yet for the multi-colour versions.

Source: Philips expands iOS-connected Hue smart bulbs with chandelier E14 light socket sizes

MacRumors reports today that Netflix has announced that it is to replace its familiar star viewer ratings with simple thumbs up and thumbs down ratings.

In the original source report, Variety said that while the star ratings previously given to content on Netflix will still be used on viewers’ personal Netflix profiles, being able to give content a star rating out of 5 will no longer be possible, and instead viewers will only be able to mark the content thumbs up or thumbs down.

Netflix VP of Product Todd Yellin told journalists at a press conference at Netflix’s offices in Los Gatos, California, that the company had trialed the thumbs up and thumbs down ratings system with hundreds of thousands of members last year. “We are addicted to the methodology of A/B testing,” he told the journalists, adding that the thumbs up and thumbs down system got 200% more ratings than the old star system. “We made ratings less important because the implicit signal of your behavior is more important.”

Expect the new ratings system to roll out worldwide over the next month.

Sources: Netflix to Replace Star Ratings With Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Netflix Replacing Star Ratings With Thumbs Ups and Thumbs Downs

9to5 Mac reports today on yet more iPad Pro release rumours, with news from MacOtakara that Apple is about to announce a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro 2 as soon as next week, making it the first Apple product announcement of 2017.

According to MacOtakara’s source, the second version of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be a very minor update without any design changes, but with the new A10X chip to ensure improved CPU and graphics performance.

The fact that this is a small enough product upgrade to only warrant an announcement from Apple via press release rather than a full-scale event could actually clear up some of the confusion surrounding recent rumours, with some saying Apple will be announcing next week, and some saying later. It may well be that this minor announcement of a 9.7-inch iPad Pro 2 will be happening next week via press release, and the other new iPad Pro models will be announced at a special event in April.

Source: New 9.7-inch iPad Pro 2 reported to be minor upgrade over current model, feature A10X chip

Recode writes that Apple has recruited renowned forensic security and mobile phone hacking expert Jonathan Zdziarski, with Zdziarski himself announcing today that he has accepted Apple’s offer to join its Security Engineering and Architecture team.

While Zdziarski did not discuss the specifics of his new role, he explained that his dedication to privacy was the main motivating factor behind his decision to accept Apple’s offer, saying that he was “very excited to be working with a group of like-minded individuals so passionate about protecting the security and privacy of others.”

“This decision marks the conclusion of what I feel has been a matter of conscience for me over time. Privacy is sacred; our digital lives can reveal so much about us - our interests, our deepest thoughts, and even who we love.”

Jonathan Zdziarski is known as NerveGas in the hacker community; he was a technical advisor to Apple during its dispute with the FBI last year when the FBI wanted Apple’s help with cracking the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone. Zdziarski is said to have dismantled certain facets of the FBI’s case. Earlier, in 2014, Zdziarski discovered a backdoor in iOS devices.

Zdziarski used to be a very active and popular Twitter user, but since joining Apple it looks as though he has deleted his Twitter account.

Source: Apple hired respected iPhone security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski

According to a new report on DigiTimes, via MacRumors, Apple is set to launch a 10.5-inch iPad Pro at a special event that will be held in early April to “mark the inauguration” of the new Apple Park campus. The campus is definitely due to open in April, but it’s not known whether or not the Steve Jobs Theater will be open by then.

Although DigiTimes previously said that the 10.5-inch iPad Pro would not be on sale until May or June, DigiTimes’s sources in Apple’s supply chain now say that Apple has “moved ahead the production” of the tablet in question.

Of course there have been several conflicting rumours over recent weeks about what iPads Apple is about to announce, and when. Other recent rumours have speculated that Apple would be holding a special event to announce the new iPads sometime in March, but that is now looking less and less likely to happen as we get further and further into the month.

Source: Apple Rumored to Unveil 10.5-Inch iPad Pro at Early April Event


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