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ExtraBITS for 20 April 2015

In our latest ExtraBITS roundup, Apple has released its ResearchKit framework to the open-source community, developer Marco Arment calls for thicker Apple devices, Apple is getting into forestry, iOS 8.3 blocks third-party file managers, and Josh Centers discusses spider robots on The Tech Night Owl.

Apple Releases ResearchKit — As promised, Apple has released ResearchKit to the open-source community. ResearchKit is a development framework that can be used to create medical research apps (see “The Promise (and Limitations) of Apple’s ResearchKit,” 13 March 2015). If you’re a developer interested in trying it out, grab the source code from GitHub.

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A Plea for Thicker Apple Devices — Every generation of Apple devices seems to get thinner. But developer Marco Arment wishes that Apple would consider thicker alternatives with better battery life. He imagines a beefier iPhone with up to 100 percent more battery life, full-size MacBook Pros with MacBook-class CPUs that could last up to 16 hours, and a 17-inch 4K Retina MacBook Pro.

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Apple Buying 36,000 Acres of Forest — Talk about vertical integration! Apple is buying two tracts of forest in Maine and North Carolina that will be sustainably harvested for Apple’s packaging. The 36,000 acres will be managed by The Conservation Fund, which will help turn the land into a “working forest” that will be preserved even as it provides raw material.

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iOS 8.3 Blocks File Managers and Transfer Utilities — If you rely on a third-party file manager with an iOS device, hold off on installing iOS 8.3, since new security settings disable many of these apps. Utilities such as iFunbox, iTools, and iExplorer are all affected. iFunBox and iExplorer have been updated to sidestep the new security settings, but with the limitation that they work only with apps that use iTunes File Sharing.

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Josh Centers Tackles Robot Spiders on The Tech Night Owl — Managing Editor Josh Centers once again joined host Gene Steinberg on The Tech Night Owl to discuss his Apple Watch pre-order plans, the new MacBook, rumors of a new Apple TV, and Intel’s demonstration of wristband-controlled robotic spiders. Is Tom Selleck the only hope for the human race? Find out in Josh’s most interesting Tech Night Owl appearance yet.

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