Any rumors at this point are necessarily sketchy, and even more so the current iWatch rumor, given that the Korean site that originally posted it then removed it. That could be because they got further evidence that suggested it was wrong. Or that the information was correct and Apple asked them to take it down. Anyway, according to 9To5Mac, the Korean website DDaily posted an article saying that a forthcoming iWatch from Apple would have a 1.5-inch OLED display, and that it would launch this summer. Plus, 9To5Mac says that the use of OLED suggests that the iWatch would have a curved display. OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, a technology that some manufacturers are now using for curved displays. I think it's inevitable that Apple will jump into wearable computing. They've already taken so many steps in this direction, including patents and hiring personnel. I'm convinced we'll see an iWatch, and a summer launch would make sense because it leaves fall open for the iPhone and iPad launches.
When I’m not evaluating the latest iOS apps, or experimenting with the newest iPad or iPhone accessories, I spend my time helping organizations think about their future. The Consumer Electronics Show included plenty of announcements that will influence the strategic choices made at Apple for years to come.
I wrote a report, CES 2014: Implications for Apple, that outlines seven areas in which CES “trends” will help shape Apple’s future. Here is a brief summary.
Cloud-based document storage services are a wonderful boon, and I'm a big fan of Dropbox. Any document I'm working on, I put it in my Dropbox folder. As I make changes, the most recent version of the file is automatically uploaded to the web. And because the document is in the cloud, I can access it from my iPads or from any computer connected to the Internet. The Dropbox app on my iPads lets me view most document file types. Box is yet another popular cloud storage service, and whereas Dropbox offers 5GB of storage for free, Box announced on Wednesday that for the next 30 days they're offering 50GB of free storage for life if you download the new Box for iPhone and iPad 3.0 (free).
Recently, AT&T created headlines, raised suspicion, and set tongues wagging with its announcement that they are starting a new Sponsored Data program. This new plan will allow eligible 4G customers to access mobile content and apps without impacting their monthly wireless data plan. In simpler terms this would be like a toll-free service for wireless data where websites that sign up as sponsors will be free for AT&T wireless customers. As a result, no data will be deducted from a surfer’s monthly allotment of data. Data charges will be borne by the sponsoring company.
Let's face it, these days, you can't go anywhere without at least one smartphone being present. Especially if you're enjoying a night out on the town. It's getting so that your favorite happy hour might just feature one or two sad faces, upset that they can't get Wi-Fi access.
Google yesterday announced a new version of their free Chrome web browser that has some great features. Plus, they launched a new app that lets you view movies and TV shows that you've purchased in the Google Play store. An important new feature of Chrome is an option for compressing data, meaning that you use up to 50 percent less of your data allotment when browsing the web. If you turn on this feature, the app uses Google's servers to compress the web pages that you're accessing before they appear on your iPhone or iPad. This new feature also enables Safe Browsing, which protects you from malicious web pages so you don't inadvertently download spyware or viruses. When you open the Chrome browser, it automatically explains this new option and presents you with a screen to enable it. You can subsequently toggle it on and off in the settings panel for Chrome. Tap the settings icon at the top right in Chrome, then select Bandwidth, and then Reduce Data Usage. You'll see a screen that lets you turn the feature on and off and that shows your data savings. (See screenshot.)
Not many people yet appreciate the iBeacon feature built into their devices. But you will. iBeacon continues to gain momentum, and more and more people will begin to use it this year. A post on AppleInsider yesterday reported the first use of iBeacon for mobile payments. This is likely the future: You've selected your items for purchase and as you walk out the store you simply tap your iPhone to confirm the purchase, and you're on your way. According to AppleInsider, iMobile3 has developed a system called PassMarket that will store your payment information for a particular retailer. The system interacts with your iPhone via iBeacon, so that when you approach checkout, iBeacon will sense your location and automatically give you the option of paying via your phone. According to the article, iMobile3 envisions that this will be readily adopted by retailers because the technology basically integrates systems they're already using. And for reasons explained in the article, this system is more secure than the system that was recently breached at Target.
I've attended dozens of CES (and COMDEX) tradeshows and every time I return, people ask me "what was the big thing this year?" Usually it's something straightforward like larger televisions, 3DTV, Blu-Ray, tablets, or smartphones. But this year, the big thing was "THINGS" itself! The phrase "The Internet of Things" refers to the increasing connectivity and intelligence of ordinary tools and appliances. Thanks to technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy, ubiquitous Wi-Fi, and IPv6, we have reached a tipping point where everyday devices like light bulbs, door locks, and thermostats can be connected to each other and to the Internet.
In a previous post I mentioned a rumor that the iPhone 6 will continue to have an 8-megapixel camera, but that it would come with optical image stabilization. Now yet another rumor has appeared that supports the claim that Apple is working on optical stabilization technology. Last Thursday the US patent office published an Apple patent that describes in detail how optical image stabilization and improved autofocus will work in the iPhone camera. Images from the patent application and a description were posted Friday by UnwiredView.com. According to the post, the patent indicates that Apple has been working on this technology since at least early 2012, so it could well be that it's ready for the iPhone 6. A quote from the patent describes Apple's approach to autofocus (AF) and optical image stabilization (OIS):
Apple's reach just keeps increasing, with the iPad Air and iPad mini with retina display becoming available on the shelves at Staples stores this past week. In the past, Staples had only sold the devices online, beginning last September. The prices are the same as Apple's and other outlets, but their trade-in price is may be of interest: they're paying as much as $300 for your old iPad. Plus, you get 5 percent back in rewards credits. Staples also sells the iPod and a wide range of accessories. But no iPhone yet.
Ōlloclip makes some of my favorite tools for iPhone photography and this year at CES the company was there in force, showing off their impressive new array of iPhoneography gear.
Yet another rumor is suggesting, based on checks with Apple suppliers, that Apple will introduce two new iPhones later this year, one with a display of 4.7 inches and one at 5.5 inches. According to StreetInsider.com, citing analyst Brian White, it's likely that Apple will continue to sell a 4-inch model, giving consumers a choice among three different sizes. White also says that it's likely Apple will introduce the larger phones at different times, first launching the 4.7-inch model on the regular iPhone cycle, and then subsequently having a separate event for the larger device. His rationale is that the larger device would fall into the "phablet" category and be different enough that Apple would have a separate event to introduce it.
In their commercials, Apple likes to show off all the things an iPad can do. Their latest commercial, as usual, is filled with stunning vignettes from around the world showing the iPad being used for a diverse array of purposes. Titled "Your Verse Anthem," the commercial has an unusual audio track: an extended quote from Walt Whitman. The reading of the quote is taken from the movie Dead Poets Society, in which Robin Williams, playing an English teacher, stirs the creative passions of his students.
Lifeproof and Otterbox joined forces last year to form what I would consider one of the most formidable business partnerships in the protective case industry. This year at CES the two companies shared booth space and oh, what a booth it was. They put on quite a show and had what was perhaps the largest and most extravagant booth of any case maker at CES, with lots of demos. Otterbox sponsored NASCAR truck racer, Germán Quiroga, was even on hand to promote the products. Read on for more details on the latest and greatest from these two industry-leading companies...
Hopefully we're at the stage of the rumor cycle in which we begin to get photos, though it's quite early for that. Apple itself may not yet have decided what their next device will be. In any case, 9To5Mac has posted photos that appeared on the Chinese site CTech that purport to show the frame of the iPhone 6. In keeping with the rumors we've been hearing, the frame shows that the phone will be much larger than the current iPhone, and thinner. But as 9To5Mac notes, there's little to go on here, and there's no verification that these photos are authentic.
From headphones to smart locks, here's what iPhone Life's Bloggers found to love at CES 2014 yesterday:
Siva Om checked out House of Marley's Liberate line. The company gets Siva's vote for Most Eco-Friendly.
I like news apps, and Yahoo has just recently released Yahoo News Digest (free), which is one I'm definitely going to be using. There's already a plethora of news apps, but this one has two distinguishing characteristics. First, there are just two daily editions, one in the morning and one in the evening—unlike other news apps that tend to be updated throughout the day with random bits of news. The advantage of just having two editions is that it's a true summary of the most important news, not simply the latest news across the wire. A second distinguishing characteristic is that the news is curated. An algorithm helps assemble the news, but the news summary is also curated by hand. I like that. One reason I still enjoy newspapers and magazines is that they present curated content: I feel confidant my time will be used more efficiently, since someone has organized the content beforehand. It's not as frenetic as the stream of news items that come across a typical web-based news service.
All the rumors are now starting to refer to the forthcoming phone as iPhone 6. And the latest rumor, courtesy of Forbes, is that it will be just 6 mm thick.
Apple announced Tuesday that App Store sales exceeded $10 billion in 2013, including $1 billion in December alone. According to the press release, iOS developers have now earned over $15 billion. Apple also reported that there are now over 1 million iOS apps available, including over 500,000 designed specifically for the iPad. The press release highlights some of the surprise hits of 2013, such as Ellen DeGeneres’ Heads Up ($0.99, games), ProtoGeo’s Moves ($2.99, health & fitness), Simon Filip’s Afterlight ($0.99, photo & video), and Kevin Ng’s Impossible Road ($1.99, games). And it highlights some of the year’s most successful games that were created by international developers, including Candy Crush Saga (free), Puzzles & Dragons (free), Minecraft ($6.99), QuizUp (free), and Clumsy Ninja (free).
The iPhone 5s camera is already a wonder, and clearly Apple has plans to make it even better, as indicated by the news this past weekend that Apple had purchased both the SnappyCam app and the one-man company that developed it: SnappyLabs. The app had been quite popular because it allowed users to take a burst of high-quality photos, similar to the burst mode Apple eventually incorporated into the iPhone 5s. Apparently creating this feature was no small feat, and Apple must have been impressed by the achievement of the developer, John Papandriopoulos. Apple's intention is likely to incorporate some of the impressive technology of SnappyCam into the iPhone's Camera app. But Apple also purchases companies with the intention of not only acquiring their technology but also their personnel. And so Papandriopolous will now be contributing his expertise as an employee of Apple.
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