As a follow-up to my article on Apple changing the wording from "Free" to "Get," I noticed that the word hasn't changed everywhere. While iTunes and the App Store display "Get" for apps that don't have an initial price, the App Store preview pages, which are displayed when web sites link to an app, still show "Free" for such apps. Eventually, Apple may get around to fixing this, but it is a glaring inconsistency from a manufacturer that usually takes their entire web store down to make changes.
It's fun to see so many more details of the Apple Watch emerging as a result of Apple's releasing their WatchKit to developers who are creating apps. I summarized many of these details in a previous post, including the pixel dimensions of both sizes of the Apple Watch. An interesting article on The Verge also has a good summary, including some details that I missed. In particular, an interesting feature of the Apple Watch is that it will distinguish between "Short Look" and "Long Look" notifications. If it senses that you're just glancing at your watch, you'll get a single message, such as that your plane is boarding now. But if you keep looking at the notification, more information appears. In this case, the flight number, boarding time, and gate number.
Like Walmart, Best Buy is already beginning to offer Black Friday deals, notably $80-$85 off the WiFi iPad Air for the 16, 32, 64, and 128 GB models. That means you're paying $320 for the 16 GB iPad Air, which isn't quite as good as Walmart's offer of a $100 gift card with the purchase of the $397 16 GB iPad Air.
Many people are waiting until the great deals available on Black Friday to make their purchase of an Apple product. And if Walmart's deals on the iPhone and iPad interest you, you won't have long to wait. According to AppleInsider, Walmart is kicking of their Black Friday deals on Friday, November 21. As I noted in an earlier post, those deals include a 16 GB iPhone 6 for $179 plus a $75 gift card, meaning that your final price is effectively $104 (with a two-year contract). They'll also have the new 16 GB iPad Air 2 for $489 with a $100 gift card. You'll be able to get an iPhone 5s for $79, with a $75 gift card. Also, if you're an AT&T Next or Verizon Edge customer, you can get the iPhone 6 or iPhone 5s for $0 down.
What a difference a word makes. The European Union objected to Apple's use of the word "Free" for apps that have In-App Purchases and ordered them to change it. Yesterday, they did. But Apple changed the "Free" button to "Get" for all no charge apps, even those that don't have In-App Purchases. I would have preferred that they left such apps as "Free," but at least they have text, in gray, below apps that say "In-App Purchases" if applicable. The headlines still read "Top Free Apps" so they haven't eliminated the word free entirely. The change in verbiage may not do much to stop users from downloading such apps, and eventually making purchases. After all, the top grossing apps tend to be "Freemium" apps with In-App Purchases.
The first Steve Jobs movie, released shortly after his passing, didn't pass muster with a lot of Apple followers, including Steve Wozniak. Admittedly, it wasn't based on the official biography by Walter Isaacson, and the making of it seemed rushed. It also didn't cover modern day Apple, just ending upon Steve's triumphant return to the company he founded, after being kicked out, much like Moses in the wilderness. The "official" movie, based on the "official" book was expected to get the full Hollywood treatment. Christian Bale, fresh off success as Batman and coming soon as Moses, appropriately, was slated to play Jobs. He has the build, face, and occasional beard, not to mention temper, to pull it off. Seth Rogan would take on the role of Wozniak. I loved that the guy who played Batman was going to team up with the guy who played the Green Hornet, since those superheroes teamed up occasionally.
It was long rumored that Apple was looking to use sapphire to replace Corning's Gorilla Glass for the iPhone 6. That didn't happen, and Apple's partner in sapphire production went bankrupt. Corning is taking advantage of the situation and promoting their next-generation product, Gorrilla Glass 4. While sapphire is still used by Apple, for camera lens covers and potentially the Apple Watch, the advantage is how difficult sapphire is to scratch.
As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard noted in this earlier post, Apple has now released WatchKit to developers, enabling them to develop apps for the forthcoming Apple Watch. This is of interest even if you're not a developer because it has revealed details about the watch that Apple hadn't yet announced. According to AppleInsider, the larger 42 mm watch will be 312 x 390 pixels and the smaller model 272 x 340 pixels. However, AppleInsider notes that the dimensions refer to the case rather than the display size, so the pixel density is unknown.
It's a given that if Apple has a good feature, it will find its way into Android and vice versa. "Good artists copy, great artists steal" is the line Steve Jobs stole from Picasso, so we don't need to argue over who stole what. It happens. So I am hopeful that Android's new Smart Lock features (enhanced in Android 5.0 Lollipop) will end up in iOS in one form or another. This feature lets you determine when your smartphone should remain unlocked by more than just a time setting. Trusted Devices allows for unlocking via a nearby device, like a smartwatch.
Apple is encouraging developers to get ready for early spring when the Apple Watch is expected to ship. To maximize the number, and quality, of apps available on that date, Apple released their new WatchKit, along with a beta version of Xcode and iOS 8.2. This release is available only to developers, but interested parties can view a new video from Apple with more details. In the meantime, here's what Apple had to say on the subject:
When Steve Jobs lured John Sculley to run Apple, he asked the CEO of Pepsi if he really wanted to sell "sugared water" for the rest of his life, or change the world at Apple. We all know how that went, but ironically, in January 2015, Coca Cola will be releasing an update to their Freestyle app and dispensers that will allow users to customize their beverage, with 3 combinations of 100 different choices plus their choice of percentages, to create a unique mix. Living up to the Freestyle name, users can experiment with different flavors and find the perfect combination to soothe their tastebuds. The experimentation is likely to result in extra revenue given how many tries a user might have to attempt to get their personal favorite. They can then share that concoction with friends.
I had the opportunity to interview Sumit Mehra, CTO of Y Media Labs, whose clients include PayPal, Salesforce, and Sesame Street. Y Media Labs helps businesses with their mobile roadmap, artwork, programming, cloud services, testing, and maintainence. As a large digital agency, they keep a close eye on emerging technologies and markets. The Apple Watch is just such a device worth considering, so I asked him about it.
Apple has released the iOS 8.1.1 update, which is now available for download. It fixes some minor bugs, but more important, it improves the performance of iOS 8 on older devices, such as the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4s. Many users of older devices regretted upgrading to iOS 8, especially those with an iPhone 4S. Hopefully iOS 8.1.1 will take care of the performance problems people had been experiencing.
I have a good job. I get to review apps and accessories, often before they hit the market. But today that good job is a great job, as I had the opportunity to interview Jon Taffer, host of two of my favorite shows, Spike TV's Bar Rescue and Hungry Investors. Unlike most "reality" TV shows, Taffer's programs are truly real (although condensed for practical purposes) examples of bars and restaurants that need help, and get it, from one of the industry's most renown experts. Jon walked me through how the unscripted shows are produced, without his meeting any of the players in advance. The one thing we don't see is his crew of more than fifty working in parallel to rebuild each bar from the inside out, in less than five days. But this interview wasn't just about his TV shows.
There's a line from The Social Network where Justin Timberlake's character says "a million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A BILLION dollars." Apple could say the same thing to the makers of Pebble, the watch I wear, and the first to raise $10 million on Kickstarter. According to analysts, Apple should sell 20 million Apple Watches and earn $10 billion from those sales. That doesn't even count the inevitable apps that will be formatted and sold for the small screen. If you do the math (as I did) this requires an average sale of about $500, which assumes customers may choose more expensive bands, extra chargers, and of course, the $5,000 gold model. Plus, I've heard other analysts predicting 30 million sold, so this could be a conservative estimate.
I spend way too much money on electronics, which explains why I have achieved "Elite Plus" status at Best Buy. But today that's a good thing, as Elite customers get early access to Black Friday style deals, from the comfort of their own homes. The brand new iPad mini 3 can be picked up for $75 off, without waiting until Thanksgiving and worrying about stock and crowds. In addition to the deal on the iPad mini 2, a 40-inch TV can be purchased for $180
More Black Friday deals are coming to light, most recently from Staples, as reported by iDownloadBlog. The deals include the 16 GB WiFi iPad Air for $319, 16 GB iPad mini 2 (retina display) for $239, and the 16 GB iPad 4 (the model prior to the iPad Air) for $279. These prices represent discounts in the range of $30–40. Staples is also offering the Apple TV for $79. And they're giving you 15 percent off on any iTunes gift card worth $50 or more. And finally, they're offering a 10 percent discount on all Beats headphones.
There's a security alert going around about "Masque" attacks, which poses a potential threat to iOS users but, according to Apple, has not resulted in any problems so far. Masque takes advantage of Apple's iOS Enterprise Developer program which bypasses the official App Store to let businesses install apps on their employees' iOS devices.
According to the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, which has fairly good sources but isn't always reliable, production of the custom-designed chip for the forthcoming Apple Watch is about to begin. This is a good sign, suggesting that this new accessory from Apple is on track for an early 2015 release. Some recent rumors have slated it for February 14, though an internal company video suggested it would arrive in the spring.
Apple is scaling their product line, both bigger and smaller. Apple simultaneously introduced a bigger 4.7-inch iPhone and an even bigger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus and the 1.5 to 1.65-inch Apple Watch. While that Apple Watch won't ship until early Spring, there have been rumors of a larger iPad, potentially dubbed the iPad Pro, with a 12.9-inch screen. Apple did indeed introduce new iPads a month after the iPhone and Apple Watch, but they kept the same screen sizes.
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