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ExtraBITS for 2 May 2016

In this week’s ExtraBITS, Apple has redesigned its support Web site, there’s a battle brewing over emoji, and the iPhone Upgrade Program is now available online.

Apple Redesigns Support Site — You probably don’t visit it every day, but the next time you’re looking for help from Apple, you’ll find a redesigned Apple Support site. The new site features a prominent search field at the top before breaking the page into blocks for browsing by product, popular topics, Apple Support Communities, warranty and repair information, contacting Apple support, getting help via Twitter, signing up for in-store workshops, and listing exchange and repair extension programs. The site degrades nicely on small-screen devices, but the main page requires so much scrolling that we worry people will get lost or confused before they find the right section.

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Inside “Emojigeddon” at the Unicode Consortium — If you’ve noticed the ever-growing collection of emoji characters available on your Apple devices, the people to thank are the members of the venerable Unicode Consortium, a non-profit group that has been working to standardize the character sets for all the world’s languages and writing systems since 1991. The recent work on emojis is not without cost, however: a number of Unicode Consortium members think that the emoji characters are distracting the group from more important work. The chronicles of “Emojigeddon” make for fascinating reading, even if you don’t know a PUNCTUS FLEXUS MARK from a CAT FACE WITH TEARS OF JOY.

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iPhone Upgrade Program Now Available Online — Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, which lets you pay a monthly fee for an iPhone with AppleCare+, was originally available only if you walked into an Apple Store. However, Apple is now offering it as an option if you buy a phone online, with no store visit required if you’re an eligible AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon customer. Frankly, this should have been available from the start.

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