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Apple News: Save the Date(s)?

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Every day brings us closer to the iPhone 6, and all signs point to September for the announcement and availability. In fact the specific dates may be narrowing, according to a Chinese source, as reported by Apple Insider. September 19 or 25 are being discussed as potential dates customers could get their hands on the 4.7" device. A 5.5" version is expected to be announced but possibly later this year. Now we are learning that the larger unit may be dubbed the iPhone Air. This is counterintuitive, as the MacBook Air represents the lighter, smaller MacBook compared to the Pro, but the iPad mini vs iPad Air may set a new precedent, with Air representing the handheld device with the largest screen. Perhaps the better naming convention would be to make the 4.7" model the iPhone Air and the 5.5" version the iPhone Pro while keeping the current iPhone 5s as the basic iPhone.



New Video Shows Alleged Front Panel of iPhone 6, Compares it to iPhone 5s

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A new video posted by the Chinese website ifanr gives perhaps the clearest look so far at how the size of the forthcoming iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch display compares to the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5s. The video claims to show an actual front panel of the iPhone 6, and puts it beside a front panel of an iPhone 5s. It also shows how the new phone will fit in one's hand compared to the 5s. See the embedded video below.



Apple News: Voice the Key to an iWatch?

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A recent interview by Apple's CEO Tim Cook suggests that voice may be more important to an iWatch than previously thought. I've used a number of smartwatches, from Pebble, Martian Watches and others. While the Pebble offers the best battery life, the Martian Watch offers the most promise precisely because of its Siri button. In addition to acting as a Bluetooth Speakerphone, there is a button that can be pressed to activate Siri. This is similar to CarPlay, where an audio-only interface is used to access Siri's functions, so there's no touchscreen to distract the driver.



Apple News: iOS 7.1.2 released

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With all of the hubbub around iOS 8, it's worth remembering that iOS 7 is still around and still being maintained by Apple. In fact, this week Apple rolled out an update, iOS 7.1.2, which offers bug fixes and security updates. Many of the fixes are related to barcode scanning and iBeacon. The 23.1 Megabyte update can be installed wirelessly, which helps contribute to Apple's record-setting adoption rates. I've been using Android devices a lot lately, and it's frustrating how out of date they get. Industry tracker Chitika Research reports that iOS 7 adoption rates are around 90 percent and that was three weeks ago.



Apple News: Back to School for Less

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As much as my kids and college professor wife would like to forget, it's almost Back-to-School time, and Apple is making it a little easier with their Back-to-School promotion. College-bound students (and their parents) as well as teachers can save year round with Educational pricing, but now Apple sweetens the pot. The annual promotion covers most Macs, iPads, and since 2013, iPhones.



Apple News: Glass or Sapphire to Grace Back of the iPhone 6?

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There is no shortage of rumors, mockups, spy shots, and speculation as we head into the last couple of months before the iPhone 6 is announced. Most of the alleged photos of the device show a metal back, but now rumors from France and Japan, via Apple Insider, suggest the metal strips at the top and bottom are only placeholders. That area will be covered in glass, similar to the current iPhone 5s, when the iPhone 6 ships.



You Can Now Upgrade iPod Storage for Less

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In a long overdue move, Apple dropped the prices on the iPod touch, particularly for the higher storage capacity versions. Now users can get the current generation of the iPod touch in a 16GB version for $199, and for just $50 more they can upgrade to 32GB and for $100 more to 64GB. That entry level 16GB model now includes a decent camera and is available in many colors. The older model can be snagged for $149 at Apple's clearance/refurbished store.



MacTech Promises to Be a Magical Developers Conference

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Perhaps you didn't attend Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, either by choice or you didn't win Apple's lottery to earn the privilege of paying for WWDC. Or maybe you were one of the lucky ones to make it to Apple's event. Either way, you will be interested in attending the independent MacTech Conference in Los Angeles, the first week in November.



Launch of iPhone 6 to Bolster Earnings of Component Makers

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The investment bank Pacific Crest Securities yesterday predicted in an opinion piece in Barron’s that the iPhone 6 will not only boost Apple Inc., it will also benefit component makers like InvenSense, NXP Semiconductors, and Synaptics.



Apple News: Professional Athletes Test Driving the iWatch?

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Armchair athletes may be fine with products from FitBit, Jawbone, and the like, but Apple appears to be going for top shelf athletes. This fall's announcement of an Apple iWatch is an all-but-foregone conclusion, but the difference may be that Apple is seeking the feedback from star athletes like Kobe Bryant. The Beats acquisition demonstrates Apple's attention to celebrity endorsements. While rappers and musicians care deeply about sound quality, professional athletes care deeply about their health!



Big Touch ID Improvements Coming this Fall?

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Apple's Touch ID may be getting more than just software enhancements this fall. The fingerprint sensor system is slated to expand beyond unlocking the iPhone 5s and making purchases in the App Store and iTunes. Apple announced at their WWDC event that Touch ID would be accessible to app developers for remembering passwords for authentication. Imagine paying via PayPal with your fingerprint!



Apple News: Watching for an iWatch

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All signs point to an Apple iWatch being released around October. Apple's boosting their Sapphire manufacturing, which could make iPhone screens more durable, but more importantly, it could make an iWatch that handles the bumps and grinds common to watches. Indeed Sapphire is commonly used already for traditional watch screens, and unlike iPhones, most people don't put their watch in a protective case!  



Apple Quietly Makes Some Macs More Affordable

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Apple didn't really make any hardware news during their Worldwide Developers Conference. Two weeks later they haven't released entirely new machines, but they have made some pricing moves. The iMac is now even more affordable, with the lower cost of entry starting at $1099 (and $50 less for Education customers.) Apple TV and the venerable Mac mini have also seen their price drop, overseas at least. Power users might scoff at the specs on these entry level systems, but for surfing the web, checking email, using iTunes, Netflix, etc., they could be ideal.



Kanye West Weighs in on Apple Beats Acquisition

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In a surprise appearance at the Cannes Lions International Creativity Festival, rap superstar and reality television celebrity Kanye West shared some of his thoughts on the recent acquisition of Beats Music by Apple. West compared Apple's buy-out of the company co-founded by Dr. Dre to Samsung's tapping the popularity and cultural influence of Jay-Z when they partnered with him last year to give away a million free copies of his latest album to Galaxy phone buyers. In fact, West suggests that the Apple Beats deal wouldn't have happened if not for the success Samsung saw from leveraging Jay-Z's popularity for promotion.



T-Mobile Wants You to Test Drive an iPhone 5s

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The always aggressive T-Mobile is adding more marketing programs to entice users to switch to their network. The latest campaign is a cheekily-named "7 Night Stand" that lets potential customers test drive a new iPhone 5s for a week. This should give wary users a decent chance to test the phone and the coverage where they live and work. I know Verizon and AT&T customers that regret their decision, based on coverage in their house or office. It's a neat idea that T-Mobile hopes will turn those one-week stands into at least starter marriages if not something longer!



Game Centered Special Edition: Introducing GodFire: Rise of Prometheus.

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Game Centered features roundups and in-depth reviews of the best in iOS games and related gaming news. Among the App Store’s myriad games, it’s all too easy to overlook some of the greats. Each installment of Game Centered will take a close look at a select few worthy of special recognition. Typically Game Centered features several different games, but this week we've got a summer blockbuster on our hands, so this edition is devoted entirely to the highly anticipated GodFire: Rise of Prometheus.

 



Apple News: Amazon Fire Phone Brings the Heat for Apple

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Competition is a good thing, and Amazon just raised the bar. Amazon's Jeff Bezos wasn't satisfied with just revolutionizing shopping for books, music, movies, or anything. Today he announced the Kindle Fire Phone, a 4.7-inch Android device that is more than just a phone. Like everything Amazon does, the Fire Phone is designed to make it easier to shop, for music, movies, TV shows, and physical products. Their integrated Firefly app recognizes over 100 million items, by image or audio. There's a dedicated button for Firefly. Amazon also has an SDK to allow third-party developers to integrate with this feature. [Full disclosure, I have developed an app called AllAccess.US that recognizes logos and launches that brand's info.]



Apple Releases Update to iOS 8 Beta

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WWDC was two weeks ago, and beta versions of Apple's new operating systems iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite and of Apple TV were made available at that time. Now, Apple has made updates to those betas, including an update for Apple TV that supports iCloud Family Sharing. The Apple TV can now access content from multiple iTunes accounts in a family. Apple requires that those accounts share the same credit card, which should help with piracy concerns. However, a lot of families that let kids use iPads, iPods, and iPhones don't want them to have a credit card on file. For those users, I always recommended an iTunes gift card with a finite value. That would put a limit on purchases, however it would make them ineligible for Family Sharing.



Apple Updates App Store Sales Tracking Tools

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Apple has created an entire growth industry, thanks to the App Store. But as a developer, it hasn't always been easy tracking sales, which is important for marketing, planning and pricing. In the past, I've used services such as AppViz from IdeaSwarm, AppFigures, Flurry, Distimo, and App Annie, in addition to Apple's iTunesconnect, of course. Recently, there has been a flurry (pun intended) of activity on this front.



Analysts Predict iWatch to Outsell iPad in First Year

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Stock analysts that cover Apple predict that the rumored iWatchwhich is expected to be announced in Octoberwill be a runaway hit and even sell more units in its first year of production than the iPad sold in its first year. That would make it Apple’s most successful product ever.



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