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Apple Software

Apple Announces New Software Updates With Pandemic In Mind

Apple held their annual developer presentation this week and brought a slew of new products to make users’ lives much easier while they’re stuck at home. Overall the company announced a brand new set of wearable devices, a new iOS software interface, new Mac software and so many more updates for the devices we find ourselves using even more now that most of us are still enduring statewide lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

This event is one of the few major keynote presentations that comes from the company every year. Typically these events happen in person, but for obvious reasons this year it was purely digital. The spring developer conference that took place this week normally debuts a wide range of internal updates, which for fellow tech nerds like myself is just as exciting as a new iPhone launch, which typically occurs during Apples fall keynote conference. 

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This developer conference was no different, as one of the biggest upgrades that Apple announced was the ability to use multiple products at once with the least amount of lag or technical difficulties. The goal was to make using every device within your home as smooth of an experience as possible, especially considering the world will continue to be staying home indefinitely until this pandemic is over. 

According to Gizmodo Magazine, “the big push here was the ease with which you can use multiple products with the least amount of trouble. Apple says it has open-sourced HomeKit/the Home app to prioritize privacy and ease of use, so that when you add a smart device and set it up through the iOS 14 Home app, it’ll automatically suggest various automation options.”

If you’re a smart home fan you may already own smart bulbs that connect to your phone/Bluetooth devices, and now, Apple is rolling out a new feature with iOS 14 known as “adaptive lighting.” This will allow users that own smart bulbs to change the colors you see in specific rooms automatically based on user preference. 

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In terms of home security Apple is also stepping up their game and releasing a brand new system that will allow users to specifically designate zones of their property that they want to closely monitor while excluding all other areas. This way users will be notified right away of any activity that’s taking place in those specific areas of the home. Users can also use facial recognition features for close contacts that have been tagged in photos to allow your security system to recognize when certain family or friends arrive at your house. 

If you own an Apple HomePod, it will be able to notify you with who’s at the door, while your Apple TV can then display a video overlay of the security camera located at the door to show you a live feed. 

Apple TV in general is getting a few software updates as well which will support multi-user functionality for Apple Arcade. Apple TV will also begin supporting Xbox controllers for Apple Arcade and will provide picture-in-picture support for multi-player gaming. 

Besides that all new Apple device announcements are still projected to be made in the beginning of September as usual, but users will be able to have access to a majority of the upgrades mentioned above within the coming two months. 

What Apple Fans Are Expecting For The Next iPad Pro

Apple recently announced the launch of the next generation for the iPad Pro in March, however, Apple fanatics are already predicting what they’re expecting from the next revision. Apple is fairly cyclical when it comes to their device releases. Depending on the device they typically have a soft update of everything in the winter/beginning of spring months of the year; “soft update” meaning more internalized upgrades that help the device run better. 

Apple’s September Keynote event is when the larger upgraded devices are announced, normally,  hence why fans are already anticipating the next iPad launch, as that upgrade is likely to be a lot more extensive. 

The iPad Pro upgrade in March gave the device a brand new camera system that is similar to that on the iPhone, and a new Magic Keyboard, which is compatible with some older iPad models as well. As previously stated, the main updates to the device were internal, the Pro now has an A12Z Bionic processor and 6GB of RAM.

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One of the biggest changes that will be expected of the next generation iPad will be an improvement in the screen quality. Fans are expecting Apple to upgrade the way they use mini LED’s in the screen in order to improve the display quality and give the device a longer battery life (as it will have to work less to display more quality images). 

Right now all iPads use one large black-light screen that engulfs the entire device. Mini LED displays would be made up of smaller “dimming zones” that can be turned on and off individually depending on what’s being displayed on the screen; in terms of color and image resolution. Mini LED’s would also allow Apple to reach a wider color gradient, which is fairly impressive considering they already have such an advanced spectrum of colors for their displays. 

For the next generation of iPad Pro’s, fans are expecting that Apple will finally give 5G connectivity to the tablets. The newest generations of iPhone are expected to also adopt 5G technology, so it’s likely that Apple will implement it into all of its mobile devices at the same time. 

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On the internal side, the next iPad Pro will likely contain an A14 processor chip, which is still in its early stages of manufacturing in general. The chip, like the 5G connectivity, will also be implemented into the next generations of iPhone; as you can tell, Apple is very much a “two birds one stone” company, and it’s the reason they’ve remained so successful for so long, as they always wait to release new internal upgrades unless multiple devices can also contain those upgrades. 

As of right now it’s fairly unclear how much the next generation of iPad’s will cost, however, the addition of features such as 5G and mini-LED lights, along with an extended battery life and more powerful processor will likely increase the price. The current iPad Pro models start at $799 but can cost up to $1100 depending on the model. 

Normally, as mentioned, Apple saves its bigger launches for their September Keynote, however, thanks to Covid-19 it’s unclear as to when any sort of keynote event will be able to occur again. Fans are predicting that Apple will delay the launch of all these new upgrades, along with their other devices until the beginning of 2021, so for now, only time will tell when we’ll see all these updates actually put into fruition. 

Woman on her Smartphone

How To Make Your Smartphone Run Faster And Live Longer

All smartphone users can relate to the experience of having your phone slow down or just stop working completely after you hit the two year mark with the device. iPhone/Android users especially know the pain of having your device crack under the pressure of storing all your photos and apps, leading to a reduced battery life, and less than enjoyable experience everyday. 

We need our phones for just about everything, so if you’re a smartphone user who’s noticed that your device has become much more slow/dies a lot easier than it used too, there are a few manual changes you can make that could help extend your phone’s life and avoid making another $500+ investment. 

The most basic fix that we’ve all tried is simply restarting your device. It may seem silly, but more times than not restarting any of your smart devices can help fix any bugs/issues you may be having. Simply quit every application and clear every notification from your phone and turn it off for at least 30 seconds; this gives your phone enough time to properly shut down every application. If you have a phone that’s lacking in storage when compared to other models, doing a weekly restart of your device has been proven to help your device’s performance and battery life. 

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Another simple solution is to check if your phone is due for any sort of software/app updates. A lot of smartphones have the option to automatically update your apps every time a new version is released. This is a smart function to have turned on, because when you have to update every app manually, you can forget to do it after a while and the more those updates build up, the slower your phone will become. 

The same can be said for software updates. One of the major benefits to any sort of system update on your devices is that every update is supposed to be designed to help your phone run smoother, and with less issues. Again, depending on your settings your phone may not notify you when a software update is available, so make sure you check that and update your device frequently. 

We use our phone’s everyday, and within those phone’s we all have a solid 5-10 applications that we all cycle through daily. Other than that we have a myriad of random games we downloaded on a whim one time, a few apps for specific doctors/services we use maybe once or twice a year so we can’t get ourselves to delete the app itself, and much more. Unused applications/old text messages are the two main killers of phone storage; besides photos, obviously. 

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The settings in your phone should tell you how often you use certain applications, and how much storage each one is taking up, so make some sacrifices and delete all the apps that you haven’t touched in more than a month. You can also change your settings to automatically delete your text messages if you haven’t gone back to a specific thread of messages for a certain amount of time. For example, you can set it so that your phone will delete any texting conversation if you or the other person hasn’t contacted the other within a week, two weeks, month, etc. 

As previously stated, besides messages and applications, photos take up the most amount of storage on a phone and they do it fairly fast. When your storage is full, your phone is likely to run a lot slower and run out of battery a lot quicker. It would be beneficial to you to own some sort of external hard drive or SD card to put all your photos on once you reach a high enough number. 

Obviously you can also upload all of your cell phones pictures to your computer as well, but an external hard drive will give you that additional layer of security. Services like Google Photos also offer free unlimited storage for photos if you have a google account. The Google Photos app automatically uploads every picture you take/save onto your device and makes it accessible for you anywhere you go where you have access to the internet/ability to sign into your Google account. 

So no matter what solution you try, make sure you do the research and truly exhaust all your options before biting the bullet and buying a new phone. More times than not, the solutions are indeed as simple as they sound and will work.

iPhone SE

Apple Releases ‘Low-Price’ iPhone SE To Combat Coronavirus Demands

In China, Apple recently announced that they would be discounting pricing on all iPhone 11 models, and now with the release of their new low-price iPhone SE models as well, Apple is hoping they’re putting themselves in a better business position to recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic. 

China accounts for about 15% of Apple’s annual revenue, it’s also where a majority of their manufacturing takes place. Apple is waiting to see how their second-quarter reports look before implementing these discounts, especially considering the United States and Europe have closed down all retail business locations in general amid Covid-19 concerns. China will be the only country that will be able to reopen parts of their market to sell these products, as they’ve begun easing out of their lockdown policies.

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“Apple is better positioned than most to experience a rapid recovery in a post COVID world. We see demand as pushed out, not canceled,” analyst Amit Daryanani said.

As Daryanani stated, while consumer spending in general has slowed down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple is relatively prepared and equipped to recover. As the second-most valuable tech company in the world, experts from Apple aren’t necessarily worried, but by launching the $400 iPhone SE model, they’re definitely taking some precautionary measures. 

Apple analysts predict that they’ll see a 6% decrease in revenue from this past quarter, and an 11% decrease in general net income. To prepare for this decrease, several online Chinese retailers have discounted their iPhone 11 pricing as much as 18% off of the original price. 

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This isn’t the first time Apple has offered random and obscure online sales for their products as a means of increasing demand in times of economic distress. During the 2008 recession, Apple discounted their Macbook pricing as a means of increasing demand, which ended up increasing Apple’s revenue for that year exponentially.  

As previously mentioned, Apple announced the low-priced iPhone SE model this week, and social media has remained relatively quiet about it. The company, however, is hopeful that momentum will begin to pick up in the coming weeks, as individuals looking to purchase a new iPhone will likely want the cheapest and easiest option for acquiring it during a pandemic. 

“The cheaper iPhone SE could tempt iPhone owners to opt for a newer device, something they might have otherwise delayed in a weak economy. People want to avoid uncertainty in a downturn. Having a brand like Apple that can showcase quality and make people less worried about breakdowns or after-sales service can bring in buyers,”  said Nicole Peng, who tracks the smartphone sector at research firm Canalys.

Initial data has already proved that China’s smartphone market is recovering when compared to what it looked like when this pandemic began. Reports showed that iPhone sales in China increased by 21% last month when compared to sales from this time last year. While experts are still predicting a decrease in net income, this immediate increase in smartphone sales before the pandemic is even over is a good sign for the world’s many businesses/companies, and their economic futures after this quarantine is over.

Apple Watch on Wrist

The Apps You Need On Your Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has officially been on the market for five years now, and while the device itself was originally advertised as an “iPhone for your wrist,” the Apple Watch has truly made a name for itself as one of the best wearable fitness tracking devices out there. When the Watch first launched back in 2015, it had about 3,000 compatible applications available to download. Now, there’s over 20,000 apps, 21 of which are pre-downloaded onto the device itself.

“The watch is really about convenience. You’re not going to spend so much screen time on your watch. So I think the secret of building a good Apple Watch app is to think of it as an accessory in addition to something. Very few people use it as a standalone unless it’s for fitness or health, or some kind of monitoring.” said Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research.

So what are some of the best applications for the Apple Watch that have been able to withstand the test of time/multiple generations of Watch upgrades?

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Noise: This application is available for anyone with an Apple Watch Series 4 or later and allows users to measure the ambient sound in your surrounding environment. This application is especially useful for those with hyper-sensitive hearing, or any other type of hearing impairment. If the decibel level in your environment has risen to a point where your hearing itself may be impaired, the app can notify you. 

Cycle Tracking: No not bicycle tracking, menstrual tracking. With this application, individuals who experience menstruation are able to log details about their cycle; including flow information, and what symptoms they normally experience. Using that data the app is able to alert users when it predicts your next cycle to begin, and allows them to track where they’re at every month. 

ECG: As previously stated, the Apple Watch has really made a name for itself as one of the best wearable fitness tracking devices on the market currently. If you have a Series 4 or later, there’s an electrical heart rate sensor built into your watch that works in sync with the ECG app. This app works like a traditional heart monitoring app and tracks your heart-rate as you do various activities throughout the day. 

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Breathe: The breathe app is a reminder to stop for a few moments every day and take a breath. This is an especially great tool to use during this time of constant uncertainty and panic. You can set breath reminders everyday, or just open the app itself when you feel like you need a break. You’ll see a calming animation that encourages you to sync up your breathing with its movements for 5 minutes. During this time, you can also use the app to check your heart rate. 

Remote: If you have an Apple TV, you can use your watch as a second remote using the remote application. If you already have an iPhone or iPad, you may be familiar with this application as it’s available for both those devices as well. 

Walkie-Talkie: The Walkie-Talkie app is definitely one of the most popular Apple Watch apps that has been around since the very beginning. This app allows you to use your watch like a real walkie-talkie for you and any other individual who also has the app. You simply press and hold the button to speak, and then you can listen to it back before sending it on its way, it’s basically like sending voice messages, but you’ll feel much more like James Bond. 

Voice Memos: Speaking of voice messages and memos, this application is perfect for the individual on the go who’s constantly being inspired by the outside world. Instead of taking out your phone and opening up a note to quickly jot down, simply record your memo into your Apple Watch, and it will save the recording across all of your iCloud devices.

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Apple Will Begin Placing Covid-19 Testing Facility Locations On Maps

All around the United States, coronavirus testing facilities have been opening up to give citizens access to safe testing. However, the biggest complaint so far has been that no one can find them, and even if you do know where one is, you first need to find out if you’re eligible for testing, which is posing just as much of a challenge. 

Now, Apple is distributing a smart-phone application to any lab, business, or facility that’s offering covid-19 testing. The app requires these places to register their information with Apple Maps so that users can simply open the Maps app on their phone and see a little icon wherever there’s a testing facility; much like how there’s a little gas pump on the map wherever there’s a gas station. 

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Beyond just giving this app to the facilities, Apple has also made the official template for submission available online for anyone to use and submit. You simply download the template, input the information regarding your local covid-19 testing location, and then send it back using a business email address. After, Apple will then review the application to ensure that a testing site is actually where the application says it to be. Once approved, these locations should begin to appear on Apple Maps represented by a “red medicinal icon.”

Once uploaded, on the actual digital map itself each location should specify whether the testing center is accessible via drive-through, parking lot, or inside an actual building. Each specific facility will also be able to note if they were already an existing lab, or converted into one for covid-19 testing. 

As previously mentioned, so far the largest issue with these testing facilities stems from the fact that no one knows how to find them/access them. Even if you know where one is, the procedural details regarding what one should do once at the facility is even more confusing. Most states throughout the US don’t even offer testing unless you’ve called your state’s health department and received approval for being symptomatic enough to get tested; even though many cases are also asymptomatic. 

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The demand for more testing facilities has also been an ongoing struggle, as many find themselves waiting for hours upon hours for a simple nose swab test, or not able to even find a facility to begin with. So even when individuals feel like they’re exhibiting all of the symptoms for covid-19, they still could be unable to be tested. Apple is also asking these locations to specify whether patients need a doctors approval to get tested so people don’t show up to certain places only to get turned away.

So far, no testing facilities have appeared on Apple Maps, however, it’s just one initiative out of a list of many coming from the company in an attempt to combat this virus. For example, recently Apple and Google partnered up to build a “cross-platform coronavirus-tracking tool” that allows users with either an iOS or Android phone to see if they’ve potentially come in contact with someone who has the virus. 

Luckily, more drive-through testing facilities are also beginning to appear throughout the country, as promised by president Trump weeks ago, however, it’s just not happening quickly enough. Walgreens opened 15 drive-through testing centers throughout seven states last week; CVS currently has three and Walmart has two, but all of those facilities are by appointment only. 20 testing facilities that are being “provided” to the public by some of the largest corporations in America is simply not enough to protect 300 million+ Americans. Citizens are doing their part by social distancing, and remaining as hygienic and clean as possible, so it’s time for our healthcare industry and government bodies to show us the same level of dedication and protection.

SpaceX

Elon Musk Will Reopen New York Tesla Factory For Ventilator Production

Elon Musk is known as the billionaire tech entrepreneur who owns electric car company Tesla as well as SpaceX, an outer space satellite-internet providing business.

Medical Masks

Tim Cook Says Apple Will Donate ‘Millions Of Masks’ To Healthcare Organizations

Tim Cook, the CEO of major tech company Apple, recently tweeted that the corporation will be donating millions of masks to healthcare professionals in the United States and Europe within the following weeks. This effort is a part of the overall initiative to slow the spread of this virus and keep it as contained as possible. 

Vice President Mike Pence also confirmed the collaboration with Apple, along with other multi-billion dollar corporations, that would provide healthcare materials to the brave men and women working in our hospitals everyday to combat this disease. 

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“The president and I literally heard directly from Apple that they’re donating 2 million industrial masks to this effort around the country and working with our administration to distribute those,” Pence said at a White House press briefing.

“Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19. We’re donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you,” Tim Cook tweeted

It’s unclear where the 2 million masks will be coming from and why that number was arrived at specifically, but we do know that the demand for supplies like masks has never been higher worldwide. However, the inventory of supplies does not nearly match the level of demand for them, which is why billion dollar companies such as Apple need to be using their vast amount of resources to benefit the general public. 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote a release that he sent to all of his employees this past weekend in which he stated that “masks remain in short supply globally, but the company has placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home, but very few of those orders have been filled.”

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The specific masks that are being distributed most frequently are the N95 respirators, as they are disposable, close-fitting, and are advertised to keep any trace amounts of virus-laden droplets away from the wearers mouth or nose. However, it’s important to note that masks are not the most effective way to prevent the spreading of this virus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even have claimed that the mask’s effectiveness is dependent on the way it fits the wearer. 

Vice President Pence announced that the Department of Health and Human Services has placed an order for hundreds of millions of N95 masks through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, however, as previously stated, it’s still unclear as to where the masks will be coming from and when they would be available to healthcare providers/the general public. 

Mask shortages, however, is a major issue for doctors, nurses, and anyone else working within a healthcare profession. Some are being forced to use less-effective homemade masks when treating patients, while others are opting not to use one at all. While certain government agencies have claimed that medical professionals will be given access to fresh medical supplies soon, the uncertainty of it all is more than unsettling during times of a pandemic. 

While certain companies and private investors, such as Tesla owner Elon Musk, have personally donated as many supplies as they could, the public shouldn’t have to rely on the likes of big businesses and the world’s richest billionaires to provide basic supplies during a time where human rights and healthcare need to be at top priority; as they always should.

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6: What We Know So Far

Like most of the products in Apple’s massive line of personal smart devices, the smartwatch has gotten its fair share of annual upgrades since its initial launch back in 2015. This year, tech experts everywhere are expecting no different, and their setting their expectations high for some new features that they’ve been begging for since the initial release of the smartwatch five years ago. 

According to some early 2019 rumor reports from Bloomberg, an online publication, the sixth generation of Apple smartwatches will implement sleep-tracking technology. Mark Girman is the journalist who covered the initial whispers coming from his tech sources regarding the sleep-tracking feature for the Apple Watch Series 6; which is also the predicted name for the next generation. His report states that Apple was already testing this feature when the Series 5 was released last year, but they wanted to make sure it was able to compete with the likes of FitBit and Samsung’s wearable smart technology; both of which have had sleep-tracking capabilities for quite some time. 

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According to one of Strategy Analytics annual reports, Apple alone accounted for almost 50% of the smartwatch market by the end of 2019, Samsung accounting for 14%, and Fitbit 11%. While Apple already is at the number one spot, they continue to desire dominance in the market; hence the annual upgrades. 

Typically, Apple debuts their newest Apple Watch versions with their annual September Keynote Conference; which is more so known for when the new iPhone’s are announced as well. It’s expected that this year will be no different, meaning fans waiting for all the new features to come will have to wait at least a few months.

Apple introduced water-resistant technology to their watches with the second generation, so it’s a guarantee that the same will stand for the sixth version. However, it’s likely that Apple will increase the strength of said technology, as they’ve done that with the past two iPhone upgrades as well. An increase in water-resistance likely means that the watch itself will just be able to stay fully engulfed underwater for more extended periods of time and at a potentially greater depth. 

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Going along with the theme of new features that are basically guaranteed for the Series 6 versions of the Apple Watch, it’s likely an updated processor will be implemented into the internal side of things.

It would not be surprising if so-called Apple Watch Series 6 models feature a faster Apple-designed S chip, as the only known differences with the S5 chip in Series 5 models compared to the S4 chip in Series 4 models is a built-in compass and a new always-on display driver, so a performance bump will be due next year,” according to Ming-Chi Kuo, a data analyst who often accurately predicts Apple product upgrades on the popular forum, MacRumors

Apple software upgrades often take the spotlight at any Apple event within a given year. Updates to the internal aspects of how all of our devices run occur annually, and are normally already implemented within the newest devices once they finally ship out. 

Like how we can always expect the announcement of a new iPhone at Apple’s September Keynote Conference, tech experts know that Apple normally announces many of their operating system updates at their Worldwide Developers Conference in June. In fact, every year since the Apple Watch was first released, Apple has announced key software updates at this specific conference, so this year will likely be no different. 

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a much anticipated upgrade to an already successful wearable technology. Now it’s just a matter of time before the public is allowed insight into what features we can truly expect in the coming update.

Apple Watch and Iphone Activity

Apple Partners With Gyms to Offer Perks for Working Out

If you own an Apple Watch, you may already be motivated to go to the gym thanks to the watch’s various fitness features, including heart rate monitoring and automatic exercise detection. However, Apple is planning to incentivize owners of the Apple Watch even further by partnering with gyms to offer perks like discounted membership fees and even gift cards for frequent visitors of the gym. Apple’s plan is called “Apple Watch Connected,” and in order for a gym to partner with Apple under this plan, they need to meet a set of standards set by the technology company. In order for a gym to be granted Apple Watch Connected branding, it’ll need to offer four things: an iPhone and Apple Watch app that presents information like class times; Apple Pay support; perks like membership discounts for Apple Watch users; and equipment that supports GymKit, a system Apple uses to sync Apple Watch data with machines like treadmills and ellipticals.

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The partnership should improve the gym-going experience for Apple Watch users, who already enjoy the benefits of continuous heart rate tracking and tracking of other statistics while working out. By using a treadmill that supports GymKit, for instance, gym members can record exact data about their distance and speed while walking or running. The partnership should also encourage more gyms to develop their own apps, which should improve the workout experience for technology fans. In theory, the partnership should benefit Apple as it should expand the number of gyms that support its products, but also the gyms themselves, as the partnership could help them attract and keep customers. 

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As of today, four gyms have already announced their participation in the Apple Watch Connected program, which are YMCA, Crunch Fitness, Basecamp Fitness, and Orange Theory. Initially, the program will only apple to select locations, but Apple hopes to expand its network of participating partners as time goes on. The perks that are offered to Apple Watch customers varies by gym; Crunch Fitness offers membership discounts to regular visitors; Orange Theory is offering gift cards; and the YMCA will donate classes to kids. Apple recognizes that one of the primary appeals of the Apple Watch to consumers is its ability to function as a fitness device, and seeks to capitalize on this demand by giving its customers as many reasons to visit the gym as possible.