So far, 2014 hasn't been the best year for my family health wise. Three days into the new year, my son broke his wrist while in a snowboarding lesson. Last week, I was hospitalized for two days because of a bad reaction to a new medication.
Through these two health emergencies, I noticed something in common with the different hospitals we visited; they both used iDevices as part of their care. While using iDevices is nothing new to the healthcare industry, I still found it interesting.
One of the great things about being an Apple-based environment is the lack of (or at least scarcity of) viruses and malware. So I found it intriguing today when I received not one but two phone calls from 000-000-0000 according to Caller ID, trying to sell me anti-malware software.
The first time they called, I explained I had a Mac and that ended the call. The second time, I played along.
The iPad Air took the top award for "Best Mobile Tablet" this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Well deserved. According to the judges, "The iPad Air packs class-leading performance in an attractive and svelte frame, while its ecosystem has an undisputed advantage in the number of format-optimized apps." That certainly makes it stand apart. Accompanying the judges' comments is a description, which reads:
If Apple pulls this off, it's doubtful that any other phone manufacturer will be able to match it anytime soon. Forbes reported today that the iPhone 6 will indeed come with a sapphire crystal coating on the display. This material is nearly indestructible, and would make it virtually impossible to scratch the display. That would really set the iPhone apart, and is just the sort of touch that Apple adds to their products to foster consumer love. Apple is already using sapphire crystal to cover the camera lens and Touch ID to avoid scratches.
Apple just made a major enhancement to their 'iTunes Connect' service which is where app developers download sales reports, among other things. Before, the service was a utilitarian, mundane web page, with basic sales data, but was weak on charting and analysis. This gap in functionality spawned a variety of service providers who would crunch your sales reports and create elegant graphs including revenue and rankings. I can't share my sales data or any proprietary screens, as it might be covered by Apple's non disclosure rules for developers, but here is a screenshot from Apple's official iTunes Connect documents on their public-facing website.
On Tuesday Disney released a new app, Disney Movies Anywhere (free), that lets you stream or download your movies from Disney, Pixar, and Marvell, as well as browse and purchase additional movies. Plus, just for creating an account, the app offers a free movie, Pixar's The Incredibles (regularly $19.95). The app also offers free exclusive Disney content, including original programming and never-before-seen videos. The idea behind the app is that it lets you keep your movies from these studios all in one place as well as buy new movies. This includes viewing movies that you purchased from the iTunes Store. You can watch your movies via streaming or download them and watch offline. Each purchase carries with it Disney Movie Rewards points.
The current Apple TV device turns two years old in March, and throughout those years, speculation about the development of a more robust Apple TV has been ongoing. The latest educated guesses predict a new Apple TV with Time Warner support by April, as detailed by my colleague Jim Karpen on February 13. Presumably, that box will replace your existing cable DVR box while making it easier to access content from iTunes and other Internet channels like Netflix. If anyone can make the cable guide more appealing, it's Apple. It would be ironic if the next iteration of Apple TV were to actually embrace cable and be sold or rented directly from your cable company, when so many people look to devices like the Apple TV or Roku to "cut the cord" and eliminate their cable bill altogether.
It might not be Apple news, but at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Samsung unleashed a ton of news that will certainly impact Apple. While Apple has yet to release an "iWatch" (if you don't count the 4th generation iPad nano, which I sometimes wear as a watch) Samsung is already on the second version of their Samsung Gear. One of the biggest complaints about the Gear was it only worked with one particular Samsung device, the Galaxy Note 3, and not other Android phones or the iPhone. Now, the Gear 2 works with more Samsung devices. Samsung also announced a lighter version without the camera, dubbed the Gear 2 Neo, as well as the Galaxy Fit, a sleeker model that focuses on health and fitness, and can work standalone or with your Samsung devices. In an about face, the Gear 2 watches no longer run Android but instead run Samsung's own Tizen operating system, and the Gear Fit uses an undisclosed O.S. to make the battery last even longer.
The big question for the iPhone 6 is what Apple will do to make it stand out from the competition. Just having a 4.7-inch display won't cut it, given that there's already a plethora of larger-display smartphones on the market. Certainly the rumored use of sapphire crystal would distinguish it from the crowd, since the display would be nearly indestructible. And if Apple goes with a bezel-free design, that would be a major innovation, giving you a larger display but keeping the overall size of the phone as small as possible. And now we have yet another rumor: according to an article on Forbes, there's a possibility that Apple will use Quantum Dot technology in the display — which would certainly be a major innovation. The virtue of this technology is that it can more accurately render colors.
I've never been a fan of memorializing the date of someone's death, especially if they left us too soon. A birthday is a much more positive day to celebrate, and today, February 24th, marks Steve Jobs' birthday. Apple CEO Tim Cook reminded us, not only of this fact, but of some of Steve's sayings, in a couple of tweets today.
Vote now in the iPhone Life iPhone Photography Contest! The deadline is Monday, March 3. Click HERE to choose your favorite images. The top 10 photos will be featured in an upcoming issue of iPhone Life magazine.
Don't worry if you can't choose just one; you can vote for as many photos as you like. You can only vote once per day for each image though, so make sure you vote every day from now until the contest closes at 11:59 p.m. on March 3!
Please update iOS on your iPhone or iPad as soon as possible, if you haven't done so already. On Friday, Apple released iOS 7.0.6 to fix a flaw that had been discovered. And according to this article on Wired, it's very serious. It's simply a typo in the code, an extra GoTo statement, that would allow hackers to bypass authentication procedures on your device and intercept email and other communications that should have been encrypted.
The popular Game Boy Advance emulator GBA4iOS has been updated to 2.0, bringing a host of new features and improvements. Unlike the previous release, GBA4iOS can be downloaded from the official website without the need for a jailbroken iPad or iPhone.
The latest update comes with a brand new design scheme for iOS 7, along with a built-in web browser for downloading games. Version 2.0 was designed “with the goal of making everything not only look better, but simpler to use.”
Samsung is really going after Apple in their commercials. I included their video making fun of the iPhone 5s in a recent post. They also have a video that parodies an iPad Air commercial and highlights the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is marginally thinner than the iPad Air. I suspect, though, that the thinness comes at the expense of battery life. As we saw in a previous post, the iPad Air battery actually lasts for 13 hours of video playback, which is higher than the advertised 10 hours — and 40 percent better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition. Apple's original video that Samsung is parodying shows a pencil on a table at eye level, and talks about a wonderful tool that can be used for so many different things. Then the camera pans up, and you see an iPad Air was hidden by the pencil and that the commercial was really speaking about the iPad Air — while highlighting its thinness by hiding it behind the pencil. In the parody, a pencil again obscures an iPad Air. But then hidden behind the iPad Air is the Galaxy Tab Pro.
As people across the world slept on Wednesday night, Microsoft subtly shifted the branding associated with SkyDrive, the company's Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive competitor. The now rebranded OneDrive, offers a basic storage capability across devices. The initial allocation is an interesting 7GB. To get you started, mobile users who choose to backup their photos to OneDrive will be rewarded with an additional 3GB, bringing the storage capacity for new users to 10GB. Like Dropbox before it, OneDrive now encourages its adherents to send out referrals. Each referral that takes up the offer returns 500MB in incremental storage, maxing at 5GB of extra free storage.
It's a fact that Apple is investing heavily in supplies of sapphire crystal, including building their own manufacturing facility in Arizona that's expected to come online this month. It's unknown, however, exactly what this material will be used for. Virtually indestructible, the material is currently used to protect the camera lens and the Touch ID from scratching in the iPhone 5s. So what else will Apple be using it for? According to comments made Wednesday by the CEO of a company called Canonical that had to scrap plans for making a smartphone, Apple has bought up the "entire three-year supply" of the same sapphire crystal display they had been planning to use for their 4.5-inch device. The comments, which were reported by GigaOm, diverge somewhat from the most recent rumor out of the Far East that Apple would use Corning's Gorilla Glass for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and sapphire crystal for an "experimental" 5.5-inch "phablet."
We have yet another report out of Taiwan saying that two new phones are coming from Apple with larger displays of 4.7 and 5.6 inches. This article, citing sources in Apple's supply chain, is from the Economic Daily News; you can see Google-translated report on Macotakara. A couple details stand out. The report labels the 5.6-inch phablet as "experimental" — and says that it won't be called an iPhone. A post on BGR says this detail is highly dubious, because the iPhone brand is so popular. Plus, they point out that none of the other rumors have indicated this. The Taiwan report also says that Apple's phablet will use sapphire crystal for the display. The iPhone 6 is said to have a display of 4.7 inches, and will continue to use Corning's Gorilla Glass. It will go into full production in July and will be out in September.
Image source, Distimo Report March 2013, "How The Most Successful Apps Monetize Their User Base"
Let me start by saying, not all freemium games are bad. There are some notable titles that don't intentionally extort dollars from gamers. Freemium games rely on what has been referred to as the "friction point," the point in which a game has limited your progress and you either have to wait for your energy to recharge, pay more money to continue, or proceed to grind away at a lower, less challenging level while scraping credits together to gain a more competitive edge. The challenge for many freemium game developers is walking that line between frustrating the gamer enough that they are willing to throw down real-world money to advance and not frustrating the gamer so much that they put the game down and don't come back. Distimo released an interesting report in March 2013 showing just how profitable it is for developers to walk this line.
The torrent of evidence for new products with a focus on health and fitness is astonishing, including a wide range of top experts Apple has hired. According to AppleInsider, a report last week in China's Electrical Engineering Times said that Apple is considering using optoelectronics in their rumored iWatch to monitor pulse and blood oxygen levels. This technology measures the changes in light reflected by the body. Light from small LEDs is projected onto one's finger, for example, and then the sensors measure the amount and color of the light reflected. From this it can determine how fast your heart is beating and how much oxygen saturation there is in your blood. Adding to the credibility of this report is the fact that Apple has hired experts in this area in recent weeks. Whether this technology is slated for an iWatch or other wearable device is unclear, but it appears likely that Apple is developing a product that will use it.
The iPad Air blasted the competition in recent tests of battery life conducted by the website Which Tech Daily. In fact, the testing found that it did even better than the advertised 10 hours, offering an impressive 13 hours of video playback. It beat out the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, the second generation Nexus 7, the Tesco Hudl, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (2013 version), and the 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. The Air had a 40 percent longer battery life than the Galaxy Note 10.1, the lone tablet in the 10-inch range besides the Air. The iPad 2 and iPad mini with retina display didn't perform as well in video playback, scoring about in the middle of the pack. However, all three of the iPads tested performed better than all the other tablets in a test of Internet use, with the iPad Air again having the longest battery life, clocking 11 hours. The best an Android tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1, was able to do was 8 hours. By comparison, the iPad mini with retina display lasted 10.23 hours and the iPad 2 lasted 9.8 hours.
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