As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard discussed in this post, there was a report out Monday from The Financial Times saying that Apple will be announcing a new Smart Home platform during next Monday's keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Apple has been working on an integrated home system for at least several years, with a number of patent applications indicating what they have in mind. In this post from January of 2012, for example, I pointed to a patent application that described a single device that would automatically detect appliances available for it to control. This would include TV, video disk player, stereo, computer, and home device controls, such as security, lighting, thermostat, and a wide range of other devices that are now Internet connected, such as the intelligent thermostat from Nest and smart light bulbs from Hue.
Apple has switched processors before. Apple switched Macs from the original Motorola 68000 series of CPUs (Central Processing Unit) to the PowerPC RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) chip codeveloped by IBM and Motorola, and later to the Intel x86 family made popular by Windows PCs. But it was not without controversy, and they had compelling reasons to do so, such as performance and availability. As if by clockwork, there is another rumor that Apple might do it again, this time with the ARM chip used in their iOS product line. Apparently, according to Apple Insider, Apple is testing a MacBook Air type device running with an ARM chipset.
Lately I've been writing a lot about the rumored acquisition of Beats by Apple. In fact, I'm one of the few pundits who has focused specifically on the nature of Apple possibly joining forces with Dr. Dre. If Apple expected anything other than controversy from the good Doctor then I can only suggest that perhaps they did not fully vet their candidate for their executive board. In any case, Apple executives are said to be hot under the collar about Dr. Dre's release of a celebratory video in which he and actor Tyrese are toasting to the Apple acquisition and Dre's status as hip hop's first billionaire. This flies blatantly in the face of Apple's notoriously tight-lipped, and understandably controlling policies on disclosure. Now the same Internet that was all abuzz just days ago about the impending buyout, is all abuzz with rumors that the delay in an official announcement could signal that the deal (or at least Dre's part in it) is in serious jeopardy.
Apple's WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) is less than a week away, and while most of the anticipation is around the rumored Beats acquisition, Apple may have "one more thing" to surprise us with. Apple TV is due for an update; and rather than focus just on entertainment, according to the Financial Times via MacRumors, it looks like Apple is working on a Smart Home platform, and the Apple TV could be one component of that. TV-based competitors like Time Warner offer "Intelligent Home" that lets customers control smart devices such as lights, thermostats, and webcams from apps. Apple already has a section on its online store labeled "Connected Home."
Verizon's LTE network was already pretty speedy, and now the company has rolled out XLTE in 250 cities in 44 states, which delivers faster peak data speeds and a minimum of double the bandwidth. Wow, this is what I like to hear.
Apple just dropped the $50 minimum to earn free shipping at their online store. This coincides with a Father's Day marketing campaign. (Do my kids read this blog? hint, hint...) Since the average kid isn't likely to drop $50 or more on their dad, this might be the extra incentive needed to shop at Apple.com.
Apple is an American success story. And 'merica is all about freedom. Free Speech. Free Press. Freedom of Religion. Even Freedom Fries. Lately, that includes the freedom to smoke marijuana in a few states. Mind you, drugs have never been for me, nor are games that glorify drug dealing, but they exist and give people a (vicarious?) glimpse into the underworld that is the illegal narcotics business. Breaking Bad made a ton of legitimate money off illegitimate activities. Likewise for The Sopranos or The Godfather. I love those movies and TV shows, and would hate to have had some censor decide not to let me watch them.
As big as Apple's proposed "spaceship" campus in Cupertino is going to be, apparently Tim Cook observed "We're gonna need a bigger ship" to paraphrase Roy Scheider in Jaws. Neighboring Sunnyvale (one of the places I lived when I worked for Sun Microsystems in the 1980s and 1990s) is getting the Apple treatment. According to the San Jose Mercury, basically the official newspaper of the Silicon Valley, Apple is looking to occupy 290,000 square feet of office space, in seven buildings.
On Wednesday Apple posted the schedule for the Worldwide Developers Conference, and it shows, as expected, that the keynote address will be on the first day, June 2, at 10 a.m. Pacific. Apple is expected to announce iOS 8 and give a demo.
As much as I love Apple, I like what Microsoft is trying to do. But, heaven help me, I can't stand their commercials. "Honestly" starts each actor's fake testimonial. As if it wasn't obvious that these are primarily actors (except Seattle Seahawks player Russell Wilson) reading someone else's lines, by using the same words and format, Microsoft is being phony from the beginning in commercials that start and end with the word "Honestly." It insults the intelligence of the audience. Not to mention the valid charges of sexism. Interestingly, when searching using Yahoo (powered by Microsoft's Bing) none of the negative articles about the commercials show up, but under Google, they do. Whose search engine is being honest, now?
At iPhone Life, and around the web, there has been a groundswell of articles in favor of Apple's purchase of Beats. The longer it takes for Dr. Dre to officially become the first billionaire rapper, the more analysts have time to digest the rumor. At first, many observers were confused, but not the iPhone Life team. Now comes word from Steve Jobs' official biographer, Walt Isaacson, that lends credence to the rumored decision.
Here's an interesting little video. Posted by tech reporter Dom Esposito, it shows iOS running on a 4.7-inch screen and gives us a pretty good idea what our operating system will look like on a larger sized phone's display, like the one the new iPhone is expected to have.
I like Siri, but Google Search (free) is definitely an alternative worth considering. Last week Google released version 4.0 which now lets you have a "smarter conversation with Google." For example, you can ask, "What's the weather like?" and Google will return information about the current weather. But then you can ask a follow-up question that depends on the earlier question for context. You can say, "How about this weekend?" and the app will understand that you're asking what the weather will be like this weekend. The ability of Google Search to use previous questions as context for understanding is an impressive step in adding intelligence to these handy voice-controlled assistants. A review on ZDNet says that the capabilities of Google Search "embarrass Siri," which the reviewer now finds to be "woefully inadequate."
Not with a bang, but with a whimper. That's how the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States ended and how the ongoing litigation between Apple (and NeXTstep) and Google's Motorola Mobility unit appears to have ended. The longstanding suits and countersuits stem from claims of each party infringing on the other's patents. This goes back to when Steve Jobs threatened "thermonuclear war" after Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, who sat on Apple's board, allegedly leveraged that insider position to create what is now Android. (Full disclosure, I worked at Sun Microsystems from 1988 to 1993, when Schmidt was Sun's Chief Technology Officer.) Alas, Steve is gone, and the more practical Tim Cook may have decided enough is enough. To Microsoft's credit, unlike Google, they did license Apple technology and Windows Phone is indeed quite different from iOS.
When Apple announced CarPlay, their new technology for automobiles, the big question was whether it would only be available on new cars, or if older cars could also take advantage of it. Then to the relief of many, two different companies announced forthcoming aftermarket CarPlay systems, with the one from Pioneer to be the first to hit the market. As noted by AppleInsider, Pioneer has been offering hands-on demonstrations of its NEX car infotainment system to the media this week, including CNBC, Macworld, and Digital Trends, which has a very detailed hands-on review of the system. Pioneer's CarPlay system offers Phone, Music, Maps, and Messages. See an earlier post for a bit more detail.
If you somehow managed to miss out on one of the largest App Store sensations this year before it was pulled by its developer, you're in luck. Flappy Bird is set to return to the App Store with some new features that'll make a seemingly overnight success an even bigger deal than it was before.
At this late stage in the development of the iPhone 6, I'm not sure Apple would still be testing various display resolutions, but that's what the latest report on 9To5Mac is saying. According to the in-depth article, which cites sources familiar with at least one model being tested, Apple is considering a display resolution of 1704 x 960 pixels, which would give a pixel density of 416 ppi and an aspect ratio of 16:9. This compares to a resolution of 1136 x 640 on the iPhone 5s, with a pixel density of 326 ppi and the same aspect ratio of 16:9. The article explains in detail why this rumored resolution would be proportionately larger, making it easier for developers to scale up to the larger size.
Some enterprising students may have done what others have yet to do, namely eliminate the barriers between Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The project is called Cider, and through some clever porting of iOS frameworks to Android, native iOS apps can run, although slowly, as native apps on Android. App developers don't have to do anything special (although not all frameworks and features work, such as hardware-specific features) but for a college project, it's quite impressive.
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