According to an interesting post on 9To5Mac, only 20 percent of iOS users are even aware of the free Apple Store app. Apple wants to change that and will be releasing a new version next Tuesday that will include temporary free downloads as a way to get more people to use the app. Apparently the offerings will include apps, music, and books. This will encourage users to buy more content from Apple and also bring more attention to the Apple Store app itself. And according to 9To5Mac, Apple hopes this will help achieve its recently stated goal of selling more iPhones through its Apple Stores. Currently, 20 percent of all iPhones sold are purchased from Apple Stores, and according to rumor, CEO Tim Cook wants to raise that figure to 50 percent. He views the iPhone as a gateway product—a way of introducing new customers to Apple's full line of products. If people purchase their phone at an Apple Store, they get more exposure to Apple's iPads, iMacs, MacBook Airs, etc.
The rumors contradict one another, but eventually they merge. And often there are no big surprises on the day of Apple's announcement. Yesterday, I was convinced we'd see a low-cost iPhone first and then the iPhone 5S later this year. Now the latest rumors suggest that the "iPhone lite" is indeed in production and will come in two different flavors. However, today's rumors also say the iPhone 5S is still on track, with leaked photos and details about the specs. And if that's not enough, various posts are suggesting that no, there won't be a delay on an iPad mini with retina display and that we can expect it this fall.
In this stage of the rumor cycle, we typically see leaked photos and parts of the forthcoming iPhone. And while we've been seeing them for the low-cost iPhone with a polycarbonate case in multiple colors, we've seen much less related to the supposed iPhone 5S. All we've heard it it's rumored to be nearly the same as the iPhone 5, but with changes "under the hood." This is a bit fishy. And this fact lends credibility to a rumor reported yesterday by Bloomberg that at this late stage Apple has decided to go with a 4.3-inch display on the iPhone 5S. Citing the Taiwanese newspaper The Commercial Times, Bloomberg said this change could delay the introduction of the iPhone 5S until the end of the year. According to The Commercial Times, Apple had originally planned to launch the new model in October.
Google has now released Google Maps 2.0 (free), with new features as well as a native version for the iPad. Finally! This remains a very popular alternative to the built-in Maps app from Apple, and its new features in version 2.0 such as live traffic updates and Explore make it even better. It also includes five-star ratings from users and from Zagat as well as indoor walking directions for malls, transit stations, airports, etc. Plus, unlike the previous version, you can now cache data so your maps info is available even if you don't have a live Internet connection.
The devil is in the details, and I'm having a bit of a hard time understanding these. But the bottom line is this: T-Mobile and AT&T have announced new plans whereby customers will be able to upgrade their devices every year (even twice a year for T-Mobile), which will entail trading in their old phones or tablets without having to pay an early termination fee. Plus, rumors are saying Verizon will be announcing a similar plan. [Update: Verizon has announced Edge. See below.] These new offerings make it easier—if you're addicted to these gadgets—to always have the latest and greatest. AT&T just announced its new option today, called AT&T Next, with CNET having a somewhat clearer description of the details than the Reuters report.
I love my iPad mini, and the big question for enthusiasts these days is whether Apple will introduce a model with a retina display this year. The rumors have been on both sides, with some saying it's coming and others saying it will take a while to work out the technical challenges. Now the latest rumor says we will indeed be seeing a refashioned iPad mini this fall, but no, it won't have a retina display. According to the not-always-reliable website DigiTimes, this fall we'll see a new thinner and lighter iPad with improved specs.
I've watched two videos from Apple recently that give insight into why the tech giant has done so well. People simply love its products, and Apple's bottom line is evidence of that customer loyalty. This is all the more remarkable considering Apple always takes the long view, unlike most companies whose focus is short-term profits.
The first video is a simple animation with text explaining Apple's philosophy in a minute and a half.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our satisfaction survey, and congratulations to Tim (undisclosed last name) for winning the iPad mini! The response was fantastic, and it was so rewarding to get everyone's feedback on our magazine and website. You are the best customers in the world, and the survey proved it. While we still have a lot of information to go through, we wanted to share a few tidbits with everyone, just for fun.
Earlier this week, federal judge Denise Cote found Apple guilty of conspiring to fix eBook prices, though Apple continues to deny having done anything wrong and has vowed to appeal the decision. The US Department of Justice had not only sued Apple but also five of the six major publishers who it said had conspired with Apple. All five of those publishers settled with the government. But Apple was resolute, convinced that its actions helped foster competition in the eBook industry rather than undermine it.
What did Apple do? When it came out with the original iPad, it wanted eBooks to be a major selling point. Amazon was dominant, and Apple needed to be able to compete with them. At the time, Amazon was acting as a retailer for the publishers, just as with print books. That meant Amazon was free to set whatever price it wanted. And that price was low: typically $10 for a New York Times bestseller. Amazon was willing to set prices so low, it may have even been losing money because it saw these eBooks as "loss leaders"—the age-old trick of selling an item below cost in order to get customers in the door.
If you've been thinking of buying a Wi-Fi iPad, then head on over to Target. As part of their "Bonus Black Friday" promotion, they're offering gift cards with purchases of variety items, including a range of iPad Wi-Fi models. Buy an iPad mini, and you'll get a $40 Target gift card. Buy a 4th-generation iPad with retina display or an iPad 2, and you'll get a $50 gift card. They're also giving $10 gift cards with a purchase of an Apple TV. The deals are available through July 13 both in-store and online.
Of course, the question always is, should I buy now or wait for the next model? Even a $50 discount might not be enough to persuade you if you're hoping Apple will come out with a thinner, lighter iPad with retina display or an iPad mini with a higher-resolution display this fall.
It seems ever more certain Apple will introduce a low-cost iPhone in the next few months and that the phone will have a polycarbonate case in multiple colors. Leaked parts and photos of parts have earlier suggested brightly colored phones. The most recent photos to appear online show more muted colors. Also, these photos show a blue phone for the first time.
Google unveiled a new version of its Maps app for Android, and in the announcement it detailed new features and said an iPhone/iPad version is coming "soon." I'm thinking it will likely be available within hours or days. Perhaps the most important feature is the apps offline features, letting you cache data for accessing the app while out of range of Wi-Fi or data. In a previous post, I noted how useful this feature in Apple Maps was during a recent trip to Germany. Also available in the new version will be automatic traffic rerouting based on congestion, accidents, etc.
iOS 7 is coming this fall, and I'm definitely looking forward to the new features and new look. But there may also be exciting features Apple hasn't yet announced—with hints of these features in the beta currently in the hands of developers. According to CNET, the forthcoming "iOS in the Car" feature will apparently include AirPlay. Your device will communicate with your car via Wi-Fi, rather than having to make a physical connection.
The big question is not if, but when. That is, when will we see new iPhones and iPads from Apple? There are mixed reports out today, with the International Business Times saying Apple will release all the devices at one big event in September, and the Taiwanese site DigiTimes saying the new 9.7-inch iPad will arrive in September but that a new version of the iPad mini may be postponed. IBT says we'll see a slimmer, lighter iPad with narrower bezels, an iPad mini with a higher-resolution display, an iPhone 6 (an updated version of the iPhone 5), and an iPhone 5S (the low-cost iPhone everyone is expecting). I don't find this report completely credible, with the biggest question mark being the iPad mini.
Tech website Techdy claims to have obtained the front and back panels of the forthcoming polycarbonate low-cost iPhone and has posted high-resolution photos and a video of the hardware. Mostly, the findings are line with previous rumors: it's similar in form factor to the current iPhone and comes in multiple colors. But there's one interesting difference. Renderings posted online in recent months of the new phone based on schematics from case manufacturers have assumed the multiple colors would extend to the front panel. But according to Techdy, the edges of the front panel will be black for all the various-colored phones. Only the color of the back panel will change. According to MacRumors, the colors will likely be blue, pink, yellow, green, and white.
As more leaked photos, the more likely rumors of a forthcoming low-cost iPhone in a plastic casing become. A few days ago, the website Nowhereelse.fr posted a photo that purportedly shows the back casing of the phone—in three different colors. So far it's not clear how much the phone will cost, but Apple's apparent goal is to make a phone using less-expensive parts that they'll sell in countries where the top-of-the-line iPhone costs more than most people can afford. Early on, the rumors even said Apple may not sell the phone in the United States, but I haven't seem any mention of that lately. I'm guessing that if we see this phone, it will be available in the U.S. as well.
Case manufacturers are already making cases for the rumored low-cost iPhone, now dubbed "iPhone Light," based on schematics they've received that appear to be legitimate. And given that the shape and dimensions are known, plus the evidence that the iPhone Light will come in multiple colors, AppleInsider has posted a rendering of what the new phone may look like. If all this is accurate, the iPhone Light will have a 4-inch screen, like the iPhone 5, but will be slightly thicker and taller than the forthcoming iPhone 5S, and the back edges will be rounded. In other respects, it resembles the iPhone 5, though is rumored to have plastic casing. The evidence suggests that the iPhone Light will have a single LED flash compared to the rumored dual LED flash of the iPhone 5S.
Initially Apple's FaceTime, the built-in app that allows you to video conference with other iOS device users, only worked over WiFi. Then with the release of iOS 6 last fall, Apple made it possible to use FaceTime via the cellular data network. However, it was up to the specific carrier to enable this capability on its network. And AT&T held back, limiting it to users who were on a specific plan. But, according to AppleInsider, multiple reports say FaceTime is being enabled in particular areas, strongly suggesting that AT&T is now rolling out this capability nationwide, including on both LTE and HSPA+ networks.
The popularity of social networking sites and smart mobile devices are growing side by side, and 91 percent of mobile Internet usage now involves social media activities. Apple knows the importance of social media and has made it extremely easy for users to access and share to Facebook and Twitter directly from their iPhones, iPads, or iPods. With iOS 6, users can manage their social media accounts right from the settings menu.
Apple is keenly aware of the social sharing habits of its users, and with iOS 7, Vimeo and Flickr will get special treatment generally reserved for Facebook and Twitter. Twitter was the first to find a place in the heart of Apple's operating system—integrated with iOS 5—whereas Facebook had to wait for iOS 6. Mainly for users with Chinese settings, Apple also has integrated Sina Weibo. These features are immensely popular with Apple mobile users and the rumors that Apple may integrate other social media websites in future seem plausible.
New apps are arriving in the App Store at such a rapid pace it can be a real challenge to find the stellar entries. This week we'll take a look at a handful of newly released, noteworthy apps worthy of special mention.
1. The Loop (Free)
This new subscription-based magazine is the brainchild of longtime Apple journalist and reporter Jim Dalrymple. He will publish The Loop magazine twice a month, and it will cost $1.99 per month. The Loop magazine app is not just a spin-off of the Loop’s website online. This stand-alone app will feature articles written by some of the great authors in the field of Apple journalism, with all if the articles being written exclusively for the magazine.
While Dalrymple doesn't officially work for Apple, it's safe to say he has his finger on the pulse of the company.
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