It's a balancing act, reviewing the many rumors floating around and determining if they're worth reporting or dismissing. The latest rumors suggests competing iWatch sizes (anywhere from 1.3-inch to 1.6-inch to 1.8-inch) and designs will be shipped this fall. My impression is that it's more likely Apple is testing a variety of designs to see what makes sense, or different generations of the product are being tested.
Android may have a larger marketshare, but recent reports from Custora show that Apple fans are using their devices for online shopping at a monopolistic rate. As much as 80 percent of tablet-based shopping is done on an iPad. Considering iPads start at $300 and Android tablets can be purchased for as little as $50, this is remarkable.
According to AppleInsider, market analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who typically has pretty good inside information about forthcoming products and the timing of their release, issued a note to investors over the weekend saying that production issues facing the rumored 5.5-inch iPhone may cause it to be delayed—until 2015, or in a best-case scenario, late November.
Apple has the most exciting roster of new products set to release in 2014, according to Eddy Cue; but as 2014 is more than halfway done, does that mean all of the products will be announced at once? Not necessarily. Rumors and predictions indicate delays for some of the more difficult products, like a 5.5-inch iPhone and the long anticipated iWatch. Apple's new sapphire factories are doing their best, but this is brand new territory. Sapphire has been used for Apple's camera lenses and for traditional watches, but to make 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens is a new challenge.
As discovered by AppleInsider, Apple appears to be using an eBay storefront to help move inventory of factory-refurbished, unlocked, GSM iPhone 5 models with a one-year warranty. AppleInsider refers to it as a "secret" outlet, since there's no indication that it's an official Apple store.
Everyone seems to have an iPhone 6 front panel these days, and the latest sport is seeing if you can damage it. A recent video (embedded below) posted by a Hong Kong website tried burning it, breaking it, pounding a nail through it, and more. Nothing would mar the surface. Until they finally ran over it with a 1.6-ton car. Again, there's no way of knowing whether Apple is actually going to use sapphire crystal for the front panel of the iPhone 6. But if they do, it's going to be awesome. And the evidence continues to mount.
On Thursday 9To5Mac passed along a prognostication from market analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that the iWatch will be available in November. Kuo has been relatively accurate in the past, so his investor reports have credibility. He had originally predicted that it would appear in late September, but has pushed back the date, saying that this first-generation product requires complex hardware and software engineering. Kuo also said in his report that he expected the iWatch to feature a flexible AMOLED display, sapphire-coated display cover, higher waterproof standards, and new system-on-a-chip components.
If for some reason the iPhone 6 doesn't have a sapphire crystal front panel, there will be a lot of disappointment. The buildup of rumors has been tremendous. It's almost as if Apple's main competitor isn't other smartphones but rather the expectations that build up surrounding the rumors. In any case, whatever Apple announces, it's clear they're focusing on sapphire crystal in a big way, as evidenced by their increased procurement of the material and, most recently, by some patent applications that have been filed.
If the latest rumors are true, Apple is bulking up the vibration unit in the next iPhone to allow for more specific kinds of vibrations and in a greater variety of areas. Apple Insider is reporting that a new, more expensive motor could be part of the iPhone 6 and it will allow for "haptic feedback" which, depending on where the user touches the screen, can give physical feedback instead of just an audible click.
It's a known fact that Apple has invested heavily in sapphire crystal and plans to increasingly use it in their products. This material is virtually impossible to scratch. And for months there have been rumors that the front panel of the iPhone 6 will be made of sapphire crystal or will have a sapphire crystal laminate. And now Sonny Dickson, who in the past has been the first to score leaked parts for forthcoming iPhones and iPads, has allegedly gotten his hands on iPhone 6 front panels straight off the assembly line. Video blogger Marques Brownlee got a front panel from Dickson and has uploaded a video to YouTube showing just how indestructible sapphire crystal can be. He tries hard to scratch it with keys and a knife point. He stabs the panel. He puts his shoe on it and tries to break it. As the embedded video below shows, nothing he can do has the slightest effect. No marks whatsoever, other than fingerprints.
When it rains, it pours. And when the sun shines, particularly in North Carolina, it powers Apple's data centers. As Apple increasingly relies on such data centers for iCloud, Siri, and more, they are also increasingly relying on the sun to power those data centers. And now Apple has struck a deal with Claremont City Council in North Carolina to setup a 100-acre solar farm, and spend up to $55 million to build it. This is in addition to the other solar powered Apple data centers in Maiden, NC.
Blogs are reporting the news published by a Chinese technology website that the forthcoming iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch display will have a battery capacity between 1,800 and 1,900 mAh, compared to 1,570 for the current iPhone 5s. The larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 is expected to have a 2,500 mAh battery. Does this mean that the new phones will have a much longer battery life? Not necessarily. A larger capacity battery will be needed to power the larger screen of the forthcoming phones.
The first Apple devices were handmade by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and a few others in Jobs' family garage. They've come a long way since then. While most Apple devices are now made in China, via subcontractors like Foxconn, there are still a few devices made in America. The new version of the $3,000-plus Mac Pro is made in the U.S., where the higher price can offset any costs due to Americans demanding a living wage and not polluting the environment. Foxconn has had their own problems with worker suicides leading to the installation of netting around buildings. Yet workers still flock to Foxconn factories because the working conditions are often better than the alternatives.
Apple has made some interesting personnel moves lately, starting with Angela Ahrendts, previously CEO of Burberry. To leave the top job at a prestigious fashion firm for a non-CEO job might be puzzling, but it demonstrates Apple's own prestige. At Apple, Ahrendts has a chance to make an impact on the consumer electronics scene at one of the most well respected firms. And given the trend toward wearables, it could be nice to combine her fashion expertise with Apple's technology savvy.
After taking a plunge to number three last year on Barron's 'World's Most Respected Companies' list, Apple is now back at number one; this comeback is said to coincide with a revival in its shares, which Barron reported has gained more than 60 percent since the spring of 2013.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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