TIME Apple

Apple Watch Bands Could Show Up in Stores Later this Week

Options and availability will be limited, however

Not happy with the stainless steel Milanese loop band you picked out when you ordered your Apple Watch?

Well, fret no more, as Apple will start selling individual bands for the watch later this week, according to a memo sent to stores and obtained by Apple blog 9to5Mac. Most of the bands in stock will be the watch’s rubber-looking Sports Band, the message said.

When ordering an Apple Watch, customers can choose from six band styles, and some of them, like the Sport Band and Leather Loop, are available in multiple colors.

The stocks of spare bands will mostly be for customers who want to swap the band that came with their watch. Some of the stock will also go to replace worn-out bands from the store watches that customers try on when shopping. And lastly, a small portion of the inventory will be available for customers wishing to purchase an additional band to swap depending on their mood.

Magsafe chargers for the watch have been available in stores in the past few weeks. Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly told employees that stores would get more watches to “by June.” Since going on sale, they’ve been mostly available via delivery. The timing makes it more likely that watch bands would also appear in stores soon.

TIME Apple

How Apple Influenced the New ‘Star Wars’ Films

Lucasfilm/Disney

Galactic fashion features a dash of Cupertino

Apple seems to have had a hand in dressing the Galactic Empire—at least from a design perspective.

We’re not talking Levi 501s and black mock turtlenecks, as was the signature style of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Rather, Star Wars costume designer, Michael Kaplan, tells Vanity Fair in a Q&A that he channeled the tech giant’s minimalist taste in creating the uniforms worn by characters in the next installment of the blockbuster series.

Kaplan cites a number of inspirations ranging from the Third Reich to the sci-fi classic Blade Runner to Sam Spade, the fictional detective in The Maltese Falcon. But he also gives a nod to Apple. Here’s the relevant bit:

Q. Did you invent some kind of fashion back-story in your head to explain how the look of this galaxy might have evolved?

Maybe subconsciously, but with the stormtroopers it was more of a simplification, almost like, “What would Apple do?” J.J. wanted them to look like stormtroopers at a glance but also be different enough to kind of wow people and get them excited about the new design.

That’s right, stormtroopers.

Earlier this year, a New Yorker profile of Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive mentioned that he had some minor input on the look of a new lightsaber. “Ive once sat next to J. J. Abrams at a boozy dinner party in New York, and made what Abrams recalled as ‘very specific’ suggestions about the design of lightsabres,” journalist Ian Parker writes.

Later, Parker reports that Ive backed off from claiming he had any substantial impact—especially on the subject of the weapon’s contentious cross-guard, the part just above the handle for protecting the hand.

I asked Ive about his contribution. “It was just a conversation,” he said, then explained that, although he’d said nothing about cross guards, he had made a case for unevenness: “I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty.” A redesigned weapon could be “more analog and more primitive, and I think, in that way, somehow more ominous.”

It’s worth noting that the influences between Apple and Disney work both ways. One of the faces on the new Apple Watch features Mickey Mouse, after all.

It’s unclear what Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks about his company inspiring the stormtrooper uniforms. For more on the shared influences between Apple and Disney, read Fortune senior writer Michal Lev-Ram’s recent cover story in the magazine: “Disney CEO Bob Iger’s Empire of Tech”.

For everyone else, here’s a gif from Apple’s notorious 1984-style commercial that hints at the Empire’s boys in white.

Courtesy of YouTube.
TIME alibaba

Female Executives are Alibaba’s ‘Secret Sauce,’ Founder Jack Ma Says

Jack Ma, billionaire and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23, 2015.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Jack Ma, billionaire and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23, 2015.

The founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant is proud that women hold 34% of his company's leadership roles, which is much higher than Silicon Valley tech companies.

While Silicon Valley is still chasing its tail when it comes to hiring more women, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, thinks they’re his company’s “secret sauce.”

He made the comment during Alibaba’s first Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship in Hangzhou, China, where the company welcomed high-profile female speakers like the Queen of the Netherlands, actress Jessica Alba, and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington. Alibaba used the event to promote female entrepreneurship and showcase its own gender diversity, which puts most tech companies to shame. As of last summer, women made up almost 34% of Alibaba’s high-level managers, and a third of its founding partners. The company also says that more than 40% of its total workforce are women.

“I feel proud that more than 34% of senior management are women. They really make this company’s yin and yang balanced,” Ma said at the conference, according to The Huffington Post. “Women balance the logic and the instinct. I would say this is the ‘secret sauce’ of the company.”

In comparison, women made up only 31% of Facebook’s total workforce and 23% of its leadership; 30% of Google’s overall employees and 21% of its leadership; and 23% of Cisco’s total workforce and 19% of its leadership, according to reports released by the companies last year.

Ma further elaborated that it’s important for his company to have a balance of leadership and ideas to conduct business most effectively.

“Men think about themselves more; women think about others more,” Ma said. “Women think about taking care of their parents, their children.”

Despite the feminist sentiment, Ma’s choice of words can sometimes be a bit overly simplistic and stereotyping. He also seems to fall short when it comes to ageism. He recently raised eyebrows when he announced that Alibaba Group’s CEO, Jonathan Lu, would be replaced by the company’s younger COO, Daniel Zhang, as part of what he described as Alibaba’s desire to keep younger and fresher blood running its business.

TIME Apple

Here’s What Apple’s Next Big App Will Do

Craig Federighi
Jeff Chiu—Associated Press Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks about the Apple HomeKit app at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 2, 2014.

The new app may be released with iOS 9

Apple is reportedly developing a “Home” app which would help users control products that work with its connected home service, HomeKit.

HomeKit’s uses include controlling garage doors, smart thermostats and wireless door locks, among other home accessories. The Home app may be included with an upcoming iOS 9 update, 9to5Mac reported citing sources familiar with the project.

9to5Mac says the Home app will boast the following features:

  • Wirelessly discovering and setting up compatible HomeKit devices
  • Creating a virtual representation of rooms in the home to easily organize and connect HomeKit devices
  • Utilizing the Apple TV as a hub connecting all of the HomeKit devices
  • Offering a series of screens to help users find new HomeKit devices and apps

Apple is widely expected to unveil more details about HomeKit at its Worldwide Developers’ Conference early next month.

TIME Netflix

How You Use Netflix Is About to Change

US Online Streaming Giant Netflix : Illustration
Pascal Le Segretain—Getty Images In this photo illustration the Netflix logo is seen on September 19, 2014 in Paris, France.

Get ready for a new Netflix

There’s a change coming for those Netflix customers who stream their favorite flicks on the web.

The Netflix website is undergoing a design upgrade this June, TechCrunch reports. The change will bring its interface more in line with what you see when you use the service on a mobile device or gaming console. (It seems the company has been testing the upgrade with a number of customers already.)

The new design does away with Netflix’s scrolling carousel, the plodding selection tool that some users found bothersome enough to create a workaround for earlier this year. (See Netflix’s “god mode” hack.)

In terms of display, the update will show fewer titles and larger thumbnail images that can be expanded to show more information, rather than having to click a link that redirects to a different screen. Navigating Netflix’s hordes of content will presumably become quicker.

The update is Netflix’s first big desktop overhaul since 2011, TechCrunch notes. For those who stream their shows on, say, a Sony Playstation, Xbox 360, or Roku, there won’t be a meaningful variation. For those who watch Parks & Recreation or Daredevil on their web browsers, however, there will be a difference.

Earlier this year, Netflix also announced that it will begin encrypting all of its internet traffic over the course of the next couple of years. There’s speculation that the company is attempting to entering the market in China, too, possibly through a deal with a media company backed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma—a rumor that greatly boosted Netflix’s share price.

TIME Innovation

This Double Amuptee Can Control Robot Arms With His Mind

Watch the test run here

Mind-controlled robotic limbs are old news — four years old, to be precise — but who cares? Each new demonstration of the technology seems to be as mind blowing as the last one.

The latest mind-blower comes compliments of the New York Times, which captured striking footage of double amputee Les Baugh testing out a pair of prosthetic arms. Engineers at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab unveiled the robotic arms last December, declaring Baugh the first person in history to control two mechanical limbs simultaneously.

“Maybe for once I’ll be able to put change in the pop machine and get pop out of it,” Baugh said at the time.

For further proof that mind-controlled limbs are the stuff of the present. See this bionic leg, this bionic arm and this exoskeleton — and good luck believing any of it.

TIME cybersecurity

This Massive Healthcare Company Just Got Hacked

Insurer CEOs Head to White House to Discuss Obamacare Woes
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Chet Burrell, chief executive officer of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, waits to go through security near the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Health insurance executives including WellPoint Inc. Chief Executive Officer Joseph Swedish will meet with top White House officials today as President Barack Obama seeks to contain political damage over the rollout of online enrollment for his health-care expansion. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's the third Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurer targeted in recent years

Hackers have targeted yet another healthcare company.

CareFirst Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a healthcare insurer that provides service for residents in Maryland, Washington and parts of Virginia, said Wednesday that it’s suffered a cyberattacking compromising the records of 1.1 million customers. Modern Healthcare reported Wednesday that hackers compromised a company database last year and could have accessed member usernames, names, birth dates, e-mail addresses and identification numbers.

Social security numbers, financial records, passwords and credit card numbers were reportedly not accessed, CareFirst said in a statement.

The security firm Mandiant discovered the attack occurred in June of last year and was hired to examine the company after hackers targeted other healthcare insurers in recent days, including Premera Blue Cross and Anthem. According to the article, “CareFirst is the third Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurer to acknowledge a cyberattack this year, following record-breaking hacks at Premera and Anthem, which affected 11 million people and 80 million people, respectively.”

“We deeply regret the concern this attack may cause,” said CareFirst CEO Chet Burrell in a statement. “We are making sure those affected understand the extent of the attack—and what information was and was not affected.”

TIME twitter

Troll Uses Twitter Ads to Spread Transphobic Message

The Twitter logo displayed on a mobile device.
Bethany Clarke—Getty Images The Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile device.

Promoted tweet urging transgender people to kill themselves sparks outrage

Twitter has suspended a fake account following outrage about a promoted tweet encouraging transgender people to kill themselves.

An unidentified account holder impersonating an Australian feminist bought offensive promoted tweets from the social media company, which ran them despite internal policies that ban such messages. The account holder also tweeted similar anti-transgender messages using Twitter’s traditional news feed.

After receiving multiple reports about the abusive tweets, Twitter suspended the account on Tuesday and deleted the ads.

This isn’t the first time that the victim of the impersonation, Caitlin Roper, had been targeted with fake accounts. She’s also been attacked by men’s rights groups, including A Voice For Men, for her political and philosophical views. However, it is not clear whether any of them were behind Tuesday’s incident.

In December, Twitter announced improvements to the way users report abuse on the service after intense criticism that it did too little to delete abusive posts. Users can now flag inappropriate without jumping through as many hoops. Twitter also made it easier for users to report abuse of others and introduced new filters to help them block threatening content before it reaches their feeds.

Though the reporting system seems to have worked in this case, it’s still unclear how the promoted tweet slipped through Twitter’s advertising program.

When reached for comment, Twitter told The Guardian: “As soon as we were made aware we removed the ad and suspended the account.”

TIME Apple

Apple Is About to Change Something Very Basic About its Devices

New Product Announcements At The Apple Inc. Spring Forward Event
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during the Apple Inc. Spring Forward event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, March 9, 2015.

The writing's on the wall

Apple is expected to refresh the font used across its devices, 9to5Mac reported Wednesday.

Apple currently uses the new font, called San Francisco, in the Apple Watch. Now, it could make its way to iPhones, iPads, and Macs, replacing Helvetica Neue. San Francisco was developed for the Apple Watch to improve readability on the device’s small screen.

It’s unclear exactly when the font switchover might happen. However, it could be announced during Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference, set for early next month. While Apple’s annual WWDC events are geared towards software developers, the company often uses the occasion to announce new products, as well as new features for its existing offers.

Still, nothing’s a sure bet. As 9to5Mac notes, “Apple could ultimately choose to retain Helvetica Neue this year and push back or cancel its plans for San Francisco.”

TIME Video Games

Here’s Everything We Know About the Warcraft Movie So Far

After a decade, it's finally coming out

The upcoming Warcraft movie—an epic fantasy drawn from one of the most popular video game franchises in history—doesn’t have to be great. It just has to be better than the next biggest action-tastic blockbuster scheduled for June 10, 2016.

Think of it as a little like the two campers chased by a bear (the bear, in this case, symbolizing critical presumptions that any film based on a video game must by definition be dreadful): you don’t have to beat the bear, you just have to outrun the next guy. What do we know about the film so far, aside from the fact that its fellow runners-from-bear include an Angry Birds film, a Ratchet & Clank film and an Uncharted film? Here’s the breakdown:

It’s been in the offing for nearly a decade

That’s the nature of projects like these: sometimes they bounce all over creation before coming to fruition. Blizzard announced plans to develop a live-action Warcraft film back in May 2006. The film resurfaced intermittently, in various stages of development, for years after, but didn’t really move forward until 2013, when Blizzard announced it had brought esteemed filmmaker Duncan Jones onboard.

Its director’s last two films were solid

We can thank Warcraft director Duncan Jones for both 2009’s Moon and 2011’s Source Code, two totally different (one introspective, the other a little gonzo) science fiction films that had one thing in common: they didn’t suck. Jones seems a deft hand both behind the camera and in front of a word processor (he wrote the story for Moon, and co-wrote the screenplay for Warcraft).

Jones surfaced on the project after Blizzard parted ways with the film’s former director, Evil Dead‘s Sam Raimi. Blizzard’s properties couldn’t be less in his wheelhouse, tonally and historically speaking, but he’s a coup (for Blizzard) by any measure.

And Jones seems to understand a crucial tenet of contemporary filmmaking

“I hear this ‘CGI in film sucks,’ mantra again & again,” wrote Duncan a few months ago on Twitter, rejecting the blanket claim that computer generated imagery wrecks movies. “It doesn’t,” he continued, arguing that “It’s a tool like any other. It can be done well & it can be done shit. The best CGI has you forgetting its CGI, and accepting the visual as whatever it is supposed to be. Like props. No one has an issue with ‘props’ in film, do they?”

Blizzard’s own Chris Metzen wrote the story

Metzen is to Blizzard as George Lucas to the Star Wars saga: the world-builder responsible for Blizzard’s iconic Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft narrative universes. It’s his story vision that Jones and co-screenwriter Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond) distilled into the film’s script.

How excited should that make you? If you’re not a Warcraft wonk, it’s impossible to say. And if you are, ask yourself this: How excited have you been about the frame stories (not the gameplay) that Blizzard’s been telling in these games for the past two decades?

It’s about orcs fighting humans

Blizzard’s first Warcraft game was called Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. That pretty well sums up the film’s elevator pitch: humans versus orcs! (Or “the alliance” versus “the horde,” in Warcraft-speak.)

Okay, so with Jones attached, we’ll hopefully get a bit more storytelling subtlety than the games provide, ideally something more introspective and character-driven that capitalizes on Warcraft‘s basic two-sided racism trope.

It has a few female actors, but the cast is mostly guys

It looks like Paula Patton (Déjà Vu, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol) and Ruth Negga (Breakfast on Pluto, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) are the only two women of note. If you want to see a bunch of guys getting their Gladiator on, on the other hand, box presumably checked.

The guy who scored HBO’s Game of Thrones is doing the music

That would be Ramin Djawadi, also known (and respected) for his work on films like Blade: Trinity, Iron Man and Pacific Rim, as well as TV shows like Prison Break and Person of Interest.

It was originally due this December

We can thank Star Wars: The Force Awakens for Warcraft‘s bump to mid-2016 (not the film’s production—filming itself ended back in May 2014). Not even an estimated $100 million film based on a video gaming juggernaut (the highest grossing game of all time, with revenue eclipsing the highest grossing films of all time) could stand against Disney’s upcoming take on a galaxy far, far away.

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