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Apple Replaces Problematic 'Discoveryd' Process With mDNSresponder in 10.10.4 Beta 4

In today's fourth OS X 10.10.4 beta, Apple made a significant behind-the-scenes change that could result in improved networking performance for some users -- the removal of the "discoveryd" process. As noted by MacRumors forum members and 9to5Mac, in OS X 10.10.4 beta 4, the discoveryd process has been replaced by mDNSresponder.

Since OS X Yosemite debuted in October, there have been ongoing complaints about discoveryd consuming CPU resources, draining battery life, and causing issues with Wi-Fi. These problems have lingered for several months, even after multiple bug fixes and performance improvements included in OS X 10.10.1, 10.10.2, and 10.10.3.

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Discoveryd was introduced with OS X Yosemite, replacing mDNSResponder for managing Mac networking tasks, but it's led to a host of problems like those listed above along with issues like slow wake from sleep, failures to resolve DNS names, duplicate machine names, and more, as detailed in a post earlier this year by Ars Technica. Several developers have also complained about discoveryd in Yosemite, including Instapaper's Marco Arment and Iconfactory's Craig Hockenberry.
It's no secret in the tech community that discoveryd is the root cause of so many problems. There are even crazy workarounds. With so many issues, you'd expect some information from Apple explaining ways to mitigate the problems.
The removal of the unstable discoveryd process in OS X 10.10.4 beta 4 may improve network stability problems for many users who have been experiencing continual issues. With the removal of discoveryd, Apple has reverted back to using the earlier mDNSresponder process that was used before discoveryd was implemented with OS X Yosemite.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite , Tag: OS X 10.10.4

iOS 9's Upcoming Transit Addition to Maps May Be Limited in Scope at Launch

Apple Maps iOS 8Apple has been working on adding mass transit routing information to its Maps application for several years, and while the feature appears to be ready to debut as part of iOS 9, it could be limited in scope at launch. The transit service may initially be available only in a small number of cities across the United States, Canada, Europe, and China when iOS 9 is released to the public, according to sources that spoke to 9to5Mac.

San Francisco and New York are said to be two of the locations in the United States where transit directions will be available. Both major cities are known for their public transportation options. In Canada, Toronto will likely gain transit routing options in the Maps app, as will London, Paris, and Berlin in Europe. Cities in China will also be included in the initial launch.

Apple is planning to expand access to transit information to additional cities following the fall launch of iOS 9, and cities that the company is hoping to add support for in the near future include Boston, Massachusetts and Tokyo, Japan, among others. Apple will likely work quickly to expand the feature even further across the rest of 2015 and into 2016.

Mass transit routing options have been missing from Maps since 2012, when Apple's native mapping system first replaced Google Maps in iOS 6. Transit directions were initially expected as part of iOS 8, and hints of transit options were indeed found in iOS 8 documentation, but organizational issues and staff shortages allegedly delayed the feature's release.

Apple's acquired many mapping-related companies since it introduced its Maps app, including transit apps HopStop and Embark, and in recent years, the company has also been expanding its in-house routing team as it furthers its work on the transit feature.

iOS 9, with the new Maps transit feature, is expected to be introduced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 8.

Related roundup: iOS 9 , Tag: Apple Maps

Apple Seeds Fourth OS X 10.10.4 Yosemite Beta to Developers, Public Beta Testers

os_x_yosemite_round_iconApple today seeded the fourth beta of OS X 10.10.4 to developers, just over two weeks after releasing the third OS X 10.10.4 beta and a month after releasing the first OS X 10.10.4 beta. OS X 10.10.4 has been in testing since mid April, following the early April release of OS X 10.10.3 with the new Photos for OS X app.

The new beta, build 14E26a, can be downloaded through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store or through the Mac Developer Center.

OS X 10.10.3 brought several consumer-facing changes including the new Photos for OS X app, a redesigned emoji picker, and diversified emoji, but OS X 10.10.4 appears to be an under-the-hood update that brings performance enhancements and bug fixes. Thus far, OS X 10.10.4 betas have not included outward facing design changes or feature additions.

The first two updates to OS X Yosemite, OS X 10.10.1 and OS X 10.10.2, were also minor behind-the-scenes updates that improved performance through bug fixes and enhancements.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite , Tag: OS X 10.10.4

iOS 9 to Feature Force Touch With Haptic Feedback, New Keyboard and Group Read Receipts

Following a recent report suggesting that iOS 9 could feature "Rootless" security, "Trusted Wi-Fi" and support for legacy A5-based devices, today 9to5Mac followed up on a few smaller-scale improvements to Apple's next major software version that could have a big impact on the overall experience for iPhone and iPad users.

The next-generation iPhone will feature some form of Force Touch as one of the biggest new additions to the hardware, a rumor that has been circulating since the beginning of the year and only gaining forward momentum. The report today, however, specifically mentions that Apple has designed iOS 9 "to be Force Touch-ready" and is already hard at work with developers to integrate the technology into various apps.

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Since Apple's work on Force Touch runs the gamut of iOS devices, there's also a possibility of updated Force Touch displays on new iPad models sometime this year. All iOS versions of Force Touch are also expected to provide the real-time haptic feedback buzz similar to that of the Apple Watch to provide users a physical response when their deep presses have been noticed. As 9to5Mac points out, however, since any new Force Touch on iOS announcement automatically requires the confirmation of new hardware, any iPhone and iPad support for the feature is unlikely to happen at WWDC.

Next, Apple is rumored to be working on a new keyboard experience for iOS 9, with the company experimenting on multiple designs, like one that is "slightly longer than the current keyboard" and provides users with a more robust suite of editing options while in portrait mode. Also in the works is a more accessible way to access the QuickType keyboard and a redesign to the unpopular Shift Key to provide an easier visual understanding of when shift or caps lock is engaged.

Today's report also falls in line with previous rumors reporting that Canada will be the first country outside of the United States to support Apple Pay, with the report claiming that iOS 9's Passbook app includes a "necessary foundation" to support various banks, credit and debit cards, and credit unions within the country. Although Canada is well-prepared for such a service, with many retailers and businesses across the country equipped with the contactless payment terminals needed for Apple Pay, such an expansion outside of the United States has proved difficult for Apple, especially in places like China, so a WWDC announcement yet again seems unlikely.

The final minor update to iOS 9 reported today includes the addition of read receipts to both group chats in iMessage as well as on a per-contact basis. Users will be able to turn on the read receipt functionality for specific recipients while leaving the read status of a message in the dark for other contacts. The company also seems to be considering removing the little-used Game Center app altogether in iOS 9, and minor data points suggest a few additions and updates to the new Health app, as well.

Related roundup: iOS 9

Microsoft Announces Cortana For iPhone Available Later This Year

Microsoft today announced that its Cortana personal digital assistant will be available for iPhone and Android smartphones later this year, after multiple rumors hinting at cross-platform expansion of the service over the past year. Windows 10 will also feature a new "Phone Companion" app as a central place for PC users to install Cortana and other Windows-related apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.


Microsoft unveiled Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1 last April as the company's answer to Siri and Google Now, and the company is also bringing the personal digital assistant to the desktop as part of Windows 10 this summer. Cortana's features include contextually-aware reminders, routing and mapping, current weather and traffic conditions, sports scores, biographies and more.

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Some of Cortana's features on Windows Phone won't initially be available on iPhone and Android smartphones, including toggling settings, opening apps or "Hey Cortana" hands-free invoking of the personal digital assistant. Microsoft will also release an updated version of its Xbox Music app for iOS with free streaming playback of your music files and playlists from OneDrive in late June or July.

Jony Ive Named Chief Design Officer at Apple, Alan Dye and Richard Howarth Take Over Day-to-Day Design Management

Apple today announced the appointment of Jony Ive to a newly created position of Chief Design Officer, allowing him to continue overseeing design aspects of numerous projects within the company while turning over the day-to-day management of the design teams to Richard Howarth and Alan Dye, who have both been elevated to vice president positions. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the changes today in a company-wide email.

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Alan Dye, Jony Ive, and Richard Howarth (Gabriela Hasbun for The Telegraph)
Team,

I have exciting news to share with you today. I am happy to announce that Jony Ive is being promoted to the newly created position of Chief Design Officer at Apple.

Jony is one of the most talented and accomplished designers of his generation, with an astonishing 5000 design and utility patents to his name. His new role is a reflection of the scope of work he has been doing at Apple for some time. Jony’s design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.

Design is one of the most important ways we communicate with our customers, and our reputation for world-class design differentiates Apple from every other company in the world. As Chief Design Officer, Jony will remain responsible for all of our design, focusing entirely on current design projects, new ideas and future initiatives. On July 1, he will hand off his day-to-day managerial responsibilities of ID and UI to Richard Howarth, our new vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, our new vice president of User Interface Design.

Richard, Alan and Jony have been working together as colleagues and friends for many years. Richard has been a member of the Design team for two decades, and in that time he has been a key contributor to the design of each generation of iPhone, Mac, and practically every other Apple product. Alan started at Apple nine years ago on the Marcom team, and helped Jony build the UI team which collaborated with ID, Software Engineering and countless other groups on groundbreaking projects like iOS 7, iOS 8 and Apple Watch.

Please join me in congratulating these three exceptionally talented designers on their new roles at Apple.

Tim
Alongside the announcement, Stephen Fry has published an exclusive interview with Cook and Ive at The Telegraph that addresses the legacy of Steve Jobs at Apple and Ive's continually expanding role with the company, among other topics. That expansion of Ive's duties, which has seen him add user interface design and increase emphasis on retail store and Campus 2 design leadership to his previous position as head of industrial design over the last several years, has led to today's restructuring that will free up some of Ive's time.

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Stephen Fry, Tim Cook, and Jony Ive at Apple Campus 2 (Gabriela Hasbun for The Telegraph)
When I catch up with Ive alone, I ask him why he has seemingly relinquished the two departments that had been so successfully under his control. “Well, I’m still in charge of both,” he says, “I am called Chief Design Officer. Having Alan and Richard in place frees me up from some of the administrative and management work which isn’t … which isn’t …”

“Which isn’t what you were put on this planet to do?”

“Exactly. Those two are as good as it gets.
Apple's design team is a small, tight-knit group, many of whom have been working at Apple for many years. Last October, it was revealed Ive's close friend Marc Newson had been officially hired part-time for the design team at Apple, but Newson is not publicly taking on any expanded role in the latest shuffling of responsibilities.

Selfie, Bacon, and Avocado Among Emoji Proposed for Inclusion in 2016's Unicode 9

The Unicode Consortium today released a list of 38 emoji characters that are candidates for inclusion in Unicode 9.0, which is set to be released in the middle of 2016. These represent emoji that could be available on iOS and Mac devices in the future.

Candidates include a range of different character emoji, from "face with cowboy hat to "drooling face" and "lying face." "Selfie," an emoji represented by a hand holding a camera, is also on the list, as is "shrug," and "handshake." As for food, emoji proposals include croissant, avocado, cucumber, bacon, potato, and carrot. There are also several proposed animal additions: fox face, eagle, duck, bat, shark, and owl.

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According to the Unicode Consortium, these emoji have been chosen for several reasons. Some are proposed based on expected high frequency of use or due to requests from online communities. Others on the list fill in gaps in existing emoji sets or are compatible with emoji characters in existing systems.

Emoji candidates are not finalized so it's possible that some of the characters on the list could be removed before Unicode 9 is released in 2016, and it's also possible that additional characters could be added to the list.

The emoji proposed for inclusion in Unicode 9 are separate from the emoji that will be included in Unicode 8. Unicode 8, which includes specifications for the emoji modifiers that Apple introduced with iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3, is set to be released in mid-2015 and is currently in beta testing.

Emoji additions proposed for Unicode 8 include zipper-mouth face, nerd face, thinking face, robot face, hugging face, hot dog, burrito, taco, cheese wedge, popcorn, and unicorn face, among others.

It is not known if and when Apple will adopt the Unicode 8 and Unicode 9 emoji as it still has not added the Unicode 7 emoji that were finalized in June of 2014.

New Book Explores How the iPhone Contributed to BlackBerry's Downfall

Over the past several years, BlackBerry has gone from one of the top smartphone manufacturers to a company that's struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market. BlackBerry is hemorrhaging subscribers and losing revenue quarter after quarter as it attempts to turn the tide by focusing on marketing secure devices and software to its enterprise customers.

An upcoming book by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, Losing the Signal, explores the events that led to the rise and fall of BlackBerry, and an interesting excerpt was shared by The Wall Street Journal today, covering the iPhone's contributions towards BlackBerry's (then known as RIM) failure.

As we've previously learned from Google execs, the launch of the iPhone, which stood apart from all other smartphones on the market at the time, took everyone by surprise. Not only was the iPhone incredibly different from its competitors, it also had features that carriers had previously denied other manufacturers like a full web browser and later, an App Store that had no carrier ties.

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Image via CIO

One of RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis' first comments was "These guys are really, really good," but despite that fact, RIM failed to see the iPhone as a threat due to its lack of security and the fact that it had no keyboard, features RIM execs thought would make it unappealing to RIM's core consumers.
If the iPhone gained traction, RIM's senior executives believed, it would be with consumers who cared more about YouTube and other Internet escapes than efficiency and security. RIM's core business customers valued BlackBerry's secure and efficient communication systems. Offering mobile access to broader Internet content, says Mr. Conlee, "was not a space where we parked our business."
RIM executives did not understand the iPhone and were "incredulous" that people were purchasing it, realizing too late that form had become as important as function in the eyes of consumers. In an effort to combat the threat of the iPhone, RIM teamed up with Verizon to create a competing touch-based phone -- the Storm.

Verizon pressured RIM into speeding up development on the phone, resulting in a product that was riddled with bugs and issues when it launched in 2008. Despite the flaws, the product was heavily marketed and RIM sold 1 million in two months, leading to a lot of unhappy customers who wanted to return or exchange their devices.

The Storm was a spectacular failure that impacted RIM's relationship with Verizon, ruined its reputation, and cost upwards of $100 million. After the failure, the company was demoralized and at a crossroads, unsure of where to take the company going forward and how to compete with the iPhone and other smartphones in a landscape that was radically different from what the company knew.

RIM was unable to fully recover from failure of the Storm and find its footing, eventually leading to the path that it's on today. "The Storm failure made it clear we were not the dominant smartphone company anymore, said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsille. "We're grappling with who we are because we can't be who we used to be anymore, which sucked...It's not clear what the hell to do."

The full excerpt from the book is worth a read and can be found over at The Wall Street Journal. The book itself is coming out on May 26 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon for $21.

Tags: BlackBerry, RIM

Apple Begins Shipping Gold Edition Watches to Early Pre-Order Customers

Starting on Monday of this week, Apple began preparing to ship out the first batch of gold Apple Watch Editions to customers who pre-ordered in April. MacRumors readers have begun seeing credit card charges for the devices and have received shipping notifications and courier information from Apple. Some of the first Apple Watch Edition orders will begin arriving tomorrow.

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Image via MacRumors reader Calvin

The Apple Watch Edition is available in yellow gold or rose gold and is priced between $10,000 and $17,000. Given its high price tag, the Apple Watch Edition delivery process is somewhat different than the delivery process of Apple's less expensive watches, with customers receiving emails asking them to set up a delivery time.

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iFixit's Kyle Wiens ordered a 38mm Apple Watch Edition with a Black Sport Band and shared his tracking information and courier emails with MacRumors. His order was initially placed on April 10 and shipped out on Thursday, May 21. His delivery date was originally set for Sunday, May 24, but was moved up to Saturday, May 23.

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Wiens tells MacRumors that while he initially ordered the Apple Watch Edition to do one of iFixit's traditional teardowns, he had second thoughts and ultimately decided iFixit couldn't afford to do the teardown. Wiens will be returning the Apple Watch Edition to Apple, but if an iFixit enthusiast has an Apple Watch Edition they wouldn't mind loaning out, he can do a non-destructive metallurgical analysis on the device.

Thus far the Apple Watch Edition has only been available in small quantities in some of the luxury fashion boutiques that have featured the Apple Watch, and it's also been seen on the wrist of several celebrities and designers including Katy Perry, Beyonce, Jay Z, Karl Lagerfeld, Pharell Williams, and more. With shipments going out over the next few weeks, we may be seeing more Apple Watch Edition models in the wild.

Related roundup: Apple Watch

Some Apple Watch Users Experiencing Issues With Inconsistent Heart Rate Data Following Update

Following the release of Watch OS 1.0.1 on Tuesday, Apple Watch users have been noticing a problem concerning the frequency with which the Apple Watch sends heart rate data to the iPhone. Prior to the update, the Apple Watch sent heart rate information to the iPhone's Health app every 10 minutes, but now some users are seeing inconsistent update times.

As highlighted by everythingiCafe on Wednesday, Apple Watch owners on the MacRumors forums and Apple's Support Communities have been complaining that their Apple Watches are sending data sporadically, with gaps up to eight hours in some cases.

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Before update on left, after update on right. Image via MacRumors forum member twisted-pixel.

Many of the users are still seeing occasional updates to the Health app, but at unpredictable intervals that are not as frequent as the previous 10 minute update intervals, and some are also seeing duplicate readings. This bug is not affecting all users, as some people are still reporting regular data transfers, but for the users experiencing issues, unreported heart rate data seems to be irretrievable.
I also noticed that my heart rate data in the health app for about a week period is gone and my heart rate data is now updating into the app intermittently. I spoke with Apple customer service this morning, but data could not be restored and their advice was to restart both the iPhone and the Watch, clean the sensor back, and keep an eye on it. That, unfortunately, has not fixed anything and I think there might be a bigger problem on our, er, hands (or wrists).
For those unaware, the heart rate information collected by the Apple Watch's sensors is aggregated in the Health app on the iPhone, giving users a picture of their overall heart health throughout the day. With consistent 10 minute readings, the iPhone is able to provide clear and consistent data that wearers can share with doctors and use to make health evaluations.

Data that is sent sporadically is less useful for these purposes, causing this bug to significantly impact the health tracking abilities of the Apple Watch for users who are affected.

Some individuals experiencing issues have said that restarting their devices temporarily solves the problem, but the sporadic measurement times return shortly after. On the Apple Support Communities, one affected user who spoke with Apple suggested that his Apple Watch stopped sending heart rate measurements when he was actively moving.

Apple is collecting information from users who call in with the issue, and some have been told that the company is working on a fix.

Related roundup: Apple Watch , Tag: Watch OS 1.0.1

OS X 10.11 Could Feature Control Center, 'Rootless' Security and More, iOS 9 to Support A5-Based Devices

os_x_yosemite_round_iconWhile OS X Yosemite introduced several new high-profile features, such as Handoff, iCloud Drive and Instant Hotspot, the focus of OS X 10.11 will be on improved stability and performance, new security features and system-wide interface tweaks, according to a lengthy report by 9to5Mac.

OS X 10.11 is still expected to gain a handful of noteworthy features, including a systemwide change to Apple Watch font San Francisco and a new Control Center menu similar to iPhone and iPad. Control Center was originally found in early betas of OS X Yosemite, but was not included in the final release.
"Control Center moves many of the controls from the Mac’s Menu Bar to a pane that slides out from the left side of the Mac’s display, adding on-screen music controls and other iOS-influenced features," the report claims. "However, Control Center reportedly has been in flux during development, and could be pushed back again."
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A possible first look at Control Center for Mac on OS X from 2014

Apple is also reportedly working on a major new kernel-level security system called "Rootless" for OS X and iOS that will help curb malware and protect sensitive data by prohibiting users from accessing certain protected files on Mac and iOS devices. "Rootless" appears to be a permanent feature of iOS, much to the chagrin of the jailbreaking community, but can likely be disabled on OS X.

Apple plans to enhance security one step further by converting many of its core IMAP-based applications on OS X and iOS, such as Notes, Reminders, and Calendar, to have an iCloud Drive backend. Apple expects there to be increased iCloud usage after the transition, so the company is reportedly upgrading its iCloud Drive and CloudKit servers to handle the additional load.
"With iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, Apple plans to transition this sync process to iCloud Drive, which offers better end-to-end encryption and faster syncing than traditional IMAP servers. As an example of how this will work, when a user launches Notes in either of the new Apple operating systems, a splash page offering to move content from the IMAP server over to iCloud Drive will appear, making the transition easy for users."
The company is also testing a new "Trusted Wi-Fi" feature that would enable Macs and iOS devices to connect to trusted wireless routers with no additional security measures, while non-trusted routers would have a heavily encrypted wireless connection. Apple could release the feature later this year or hold off until next year's OS X and iOS releases, according to the report.

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iOS 9 will reportedly support A5-based devices such as the iPhone 4s and iPad mini

Apple is also said to be optimizing iOS 9 to better support older hardware, with the report claiming that even legacy A5-based devices including the iPhone 4s and original iPad mini will be compatible with the upcoming software update. The four-year-old iPad 2 and three-year-old fifth-generation iPod touch, released in March 2011 and October 2012 respectively, are also powered by Apple A5 chips.
"Apple is now building a core version of iOS 9 that runs efficiently on older A5 devices, then enabling each properly performing feature one-by-one. Thanks to this new approach, an entire generation (or two) of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches will be iOS 9-compatible rather than reaching the end of the iOS line."
Last, Apple is said to be preparing a major upgrade to its Swift programming language with “Application Binary Interface (ABI)" stability. Swift applications updated for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 will have preinstalled code binaries that require less space and use less cellular data. The report claims that Apple plans to convert its own apps to Swift in 2016 as part of iOS 10 and OS X 10.12.

Apple Watch Orders Estimated to Average 30,000 Per Day in U.S. After Initial Surge

An estimated 2.5 million Apple Watch orders have been processed in the United States in the first five weeks of availability, according to Slice Intelligence (via Quartz). Extrapolating from the e-receipts of about 14,000 online shoppers who use Slice's services, more than half of the orders placed so far came on April 10, the first day of pre-orders, with the Apple Watch averaging 30,000 orders per day since.

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Daily Apple Watch order estimates in U.S. (first-day orders of nearly 1.5 million omitted)

As Quartz points out, the Apple Watch saw a notable rise in order interest on April 24, the day most initial Apple Watch pre-orders that weren't high in demand, like the Leather Loop or Black Sport band, began arriving to customers. Social media posts and word of mouth that day no doubt helped Apple receieve a few extra orders, and it reaches back up to around 40,000 on a few days in April and May, but otherwise Apple's new wearable has seen a steady decline in order numbers since its launch date, according to the e-commerce shopping firm.

Even with the steep decline following the start of pre-orders, Apple Watch sales are easily outpacing early sales of the iPod and iPhone, and slightly topping those of the iPad, although Apple's continually increasing user base since the debut of those devices gives the company momentum for each subsequent product family launch.

Slice Intelligence's Apple Watch update today comes a few weeks after providing a break down of initial pre-orders for the wearable, which pegged 62 percent of customers as having pre-ordered the Apple Watch Sport and an unexpected popularity of the Space Gray case and Black Sport band. As with that data, a few factors should be taken into account when looking at Slice Intelligence's order estimates, including its data being limited to the United States and the relatively small pool of customer receipts examined.

Today's report also falls in line with KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's prediction of the Apple Watch order demand beginning to slow down following a high launch period. Although Apple has yet to announced any sales numbers for the Apple Watch and doesn't plan to break the device out into its own reporting segment in financial results, the Apple Watch's entry into the company's upcoming brick-and-mortar retail locations in June could help boost the wearable's sales figures.

Related roundup: Apple Watch