I have a love-hate relationship with In-App Purchases (IAPs.) As a developer, Apple has been encouraging me to adopt IAPs. In theory, IAPs seem like a way to make a living off apps while giving users a free taste. As a user, I don't like them. I think when you download an app, you should own it and all the promised features. So in the PRO versions of my apps, there are no IAPs. And in the past, my free apps had advertisements with the only "upsell" being a link to the PRO version for unlimited features without ads. But Apple representatives told me personally at the Worldwide Developers Conference and at their Tech Talk Tours that I really should be using IAPs. When Apple talks, I listen. So some of my apps now have such purchase options. But on the IAP selling page, I rebel against the machine and tell users that the best deal is to buy the PRO version!
When I tried to download the iOS 7.1 update for my iPad Air in the evening, it took three hours. This morning when I downloaded it for my iPad mini, it took five minutes. Lesson: always download updates as early in the morning as possible. Blogger Todd Bernhard and I have outlined some of the changes in iOS 7.1 in previous posts. In this post I want to highlight several useful new features. One important new feature is ability to have HDR mode be automatically available on the iPhone 5s. It's previously been available, but you had to turn it on when you wanted to take advantage of it. HDR stands for high dynamic range, and I'm guessing many people, especially those who aren't camera buffs, don't really know what this is. So I think it's a good thing that you can now have it turned on by default. HDR can have a dramatic effect on the quality of certain photos.
iOS 7 was a major departure from the previous generations, offering a fresh new take on what Apple thinks a mobile operating system should look like. But that doesn't mean it can't be tweaked further. The first significant update, iOS 7.1, was just released and it takes the O.S. further down the road.
One of the big changes with the arrival of iOS 7 is the way Siri works. In the past, you'd hold the Home button, wait until Siri responded with "What can I help you with?", release the button, and then speak. Siri would automatically detect when you stopped speaking, and respond. The problem was that sometimes Siri would respond because you'd made a slight inadvertent pause in your speech, even though you weren't done talking. Now with iOS 7, you hold have the option of manually letting Siri know when you're done talking by holding down the Home button while you talk. Siri keeps listening until you release the button. In addition, Siri also has new, more natural-sounding male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese.
With the launch of Apple's new CarPlay last week at the automobile trade show in Geneva, many were left wondering if you had to buy a new Ferrari or Mercedes or Volvo in order to get it. Apparently, the answer is no. 9To5Mac has reported that at least some automakers will be offering aftermarket CarPlay installation for older models. They've confirmed that Mercedes will be doing this, and expect others to do so as well. This is good news, and it will be really interesting to see how it develops. Apple has made a fortune giving us better interfaces for our technology: first personal computers, then MP3 players, then smartphones, then tablets—and now the automobile.
Recent rumors have suggested that the iPhone 6, expected in September or earlier, will have a new A8 chip designed by Apple and manufactured by chipmaker TSMC rather than Samsung, which makes the A7 used in the latest iOS devices. Then this last week a rumor passed along by Laptop and other websites said that the A8 will be a quad-core chip with quad core graphics. By comparison, the A7 has a dual-core CPU. Combine quad core with the 64-bit architecture Apple switched to in the A7 chip, and you get blazing speed.
Times have changed. In the Steve Jobs era, prices for Apple products always seemed to be uniform. Today if you're in the market for an Apple product, it behooves you to look around for the best deal. The ongoing discounts seem unprecedented. Most recently Walmart has slashed the price of the 16GB iPhone 5s to $119 with a two-year contract. And the iPhone 5c? It's down to $29 for the 16GB model with a two-year contract. According to CNN Money, Walmart announced these price cuts on Wednesday, but I couldn't quickly find them online. In addition to the lowered price on the iPhone, Walmart also lets you trade in your old gadgets for a gift card. So you could effectively lower your price even further.
The rumor mills pegged iOS 7.1 coming out any day now, to support an updated iTunes Festival app (free). However, that app update was released and did not require a new version of iOS after all. The app lets iOS users stream live video from the SXSW (South by Southwest) conference in Austin, Texas, as well as other Apple events.
UPDATE: Apple already released iTunes Festival as an app/button for those of us with Apple TV! This is a great way to enjoy the concerts at SXSW this week!
Apple is reportedly working on making Siri available to third-party apps, allowing you to use Siri for things such as booking flights or making hotel reservations. Currently Siri is limited to Apple's apps, and to interfacing with Apple partners such as Open Table for making restaurant reservations. It's likely, though, that if this is true, Apple would exert a fair amount of control over which apps Siri worked with, according to iMore. A post on AppleInsider says that this move toward compatibility with third-party apps is tied closely to Apple's rumored iWatch. The iWatch would be sensitive to context, and Siri would offer apps that the iWatch senses you need at the moment, depending on what you're doing. AppleInsider cites an example that appeared in a report on Monday in The Information, which said:
If you're in the market for a new iPad that can access the cellular data network, Best Buy has a fantastic sale going on through Saturday, March 8. If you buy a 3G or 4G iPad, you'll receive a $30 discount, PLUS another $100 discount at checkout if you activate the iPad and data plan in the store. In addition, the $35 activation fee is waived. PLUS, if you activate a plan with Verizon or AT&T, you'll receive a $100 credit toward your data plan. So altogether that amounts to a savings of $265!
As rumors of the next iPhone swirl (do they ever stop?) it's fitting to look back at what happens to older iPhones. I've found great success in selling older iPhone's via services like SellYourMac.com, as long as I keep my iPhone in good condition. So I was intrigued by some just released research from ProtectCell.
Anticipation has been mounting for an update to iOS 7 for several reasons. There are still some outstanding bugs that cause Safari or the iOS device to crash, and betas have been available since November. The latest rumors indicate iOS 7.1 will ship any day now because a certain app from Apple will require it.
On Monday our blogger Todd Bernhard posted a helpful overview of Apple's new CarPlay, which is getting a lot of attention this week because of the automobile trade show taking place in Geneva. A number of the carmakers are featuring CarPlay, and Volvo has posted a great video demo showing it in action, giving you a good idea how it works.
Not to be outdone by Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon, the executives at Adobe decided to contribute software to the President's ConnectED initiative. Here's the official press release from Adobe. The ConnectED program is designed to bring computers and Internet connectivity to those in need, particularly in rural America. Now, Adobe will add $300 million worth of software such as Photoshop Elements and Captivate, as well as teacher training to the equation.
An article today in the Wall Street Journal says that Apple is hiring hundreds of engineers and managers in China and Taiwan with the goal of speeding up product development and launching a wider range of products more frequently. This is just what Apple fanboys want to hear. We love Apple's products, and the biggest complaint is that there ain't enough of 'em. We want more gadgets, and we want them now. And that pretty much sums up the attitude of investors. If this is true, it certainly signals a shift for Apple, which has always taken its sweet time, and has always kept it's product line focused. Apple is expected to launch two new phones this fall, a new Apple TV, and possibly an iWatch. Plus, we'll likely see updated versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini. So already Apple is juggling a wider range of products than in the past.
Apple's "iOS in the Car" was first discussed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June of 2013, but at this week's Geneva Motor Show, it was formally introduced and rebranded as "CarPlay." The system lets Apple compete with Microsoft, BlackBerry, and Livio Radio and bring the Apple experience inside the car, fresh from the factory.
Rumors were swirling on Friday that a new Apple TV device was imminent. The reason for the rumors? Apple began offering a $25 iTunes Store gift card with the purchase of each Apple TV. Analysts and enthusiasts concluded that Apple was clearing out inventory to make room for a new device, especially as it's been over two years since Apple has released a new version of the hardware. And then Jim Darlymple dashed all hopes with a single word: "Nope." He apparently has contacts inside Apple, because he's always been right when he says there's no truth to a rumor. So while the gift card offer may not herald a new device, it's an appealing offer in its own right.
“Hi there," began the e-mail. Even for a devoted Apple fan, this moment was still exciting—an e-mail for Google Glass. I, Jake Underwood, high school senior, had been included in the chosen group. I had been offered a chance to buy Google Glass for $1500 plus tax. Can I borrow some cash?
Yesterday I wrote a SCAM ALERT warning about telemarketers attacking Windows users. Today, I received an email offering to market my apps. I'm always interested in increasing sales of my apps, as most developers are (except for the guy who created, and pulled, Flappy Bird!) I had to download a PDF for the details, so I did, after verifying it was safe to do so.
StreetInsider.com reported Wednesday that a securities analyst who has contacts in Apple's supply chain says production of the iPhone 6 appears to be ramping up earlier than one would expect for a September launch, meaning that it could appear as early as July. It seems doubtful, and the bulk of the recent rumors have been suggesting September. On the other hand, analysts have been saying Apple needs to come out with a larger iPhone ASAP in order to stay competitive in a market that's rapidly moving toward larger devices. So perhaps Apple has indeed decided to try to speed things up. The analyst also says that his checks confirm that Apple's next generation of phones will have larger displays. His supply chain checks also indicate that Apple appears to be gearing up for a launch of an Apple TV set-top device and an iWatch, both no earlier than the second half of 2014.
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