It's a new day at Microsoft. For the first time in decades, neither Bill Gates nor Steve Balmer are involved in running the company. While Gates left years ago to concentrate on his charitable foundation, Balmer stepped down as CEO six months ago, and this week he dropped off the Board of Directors. Instead of concentrating on charity, Balmer will use his trademark enthusiasm to cheer on his newest acquisition, the Los Angeles Clippers.
I’ve written before about Apple’s likelihood of introducing a 128 GB model of the iPhone, and possibly dropping the 16 GB configuration. I’ve also written about their reduction of the price difference to double the memory of a particular configuration, at least for the iPod touch. That was long overdue. For years, Apple charged $100 to go from 16 GB to 32 GB or from 32 GB to 64 GB, despite the decrease in memory costs over time. Combined with Apple's insistence on a closed design, with no expandable storage, those pricing decisions added insult to injury.
I just learned of (and backed) a Kickstarter campaign to learn Swift and iOS 8 programming. It's being run by a friend and colleague of mine, named Paul Solt. He's an award-winning app developer and a great instructor. I've had the opportunity to attend live training from him, and he's offered video training before, also via Kickstarter, with great success.
Game Centered features roundups and in-depth reviews of the best in iOS games and related gaming news. This week's Game Centered takes a look at a new company in the video game industry, one with truly great potential. Skillz brings the first, for-profit gaming arena to the mobile platform. With video gaming (otherwise known as eSports) bringing in massive international audiences, and equally large profits, the competition to be a top gamer is fierce, and with millions of dollars in prizes and sponsorships on the line, eSports have become a bonafide professional-level sport.
For the first time, photos of an assembled iPhone 6 chassis have appeared online, giving a glimpse of what the forthcoming 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will look like. As can be seen on MacRumors, the images purport to show the rear shell and front panel assembled, but not a working iPhone. Rumors have said the styling would have rounded edges similar to the current iPad models, and that's clearly visible in the images. They also give a good feeling for how thin the device will be. Other rumored details apparently confirmed by the images include pill-shaped volume buttons, redesigned speaker holes, a relocated power button, and an embedded Apple logo.
Cult of Mac is reporting on a post on the Chinese website Geek Bar that says the iPhone 6 will come with a new version of Qualcomm's LTE chip that will allow for data speeds up to 150Mbps, compared to 100Mbps on the iPhone 5s.
One of the newest Apple employees, Andre Young a.k.a. Dr. Dre, is the latest to accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Apple CEO Tim Cook and VP Phil Schiller also did it, and passed the challenge on to Dre. For the uninitiated, the challenge is to donate money to fight ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) or allow yourself to be doused by ice cold water. Of course, most challengees (especially the super wealthy and famous) are expected to do both. So far, quite a few celebrities have gotten into the act, including Bill Gates with a sophisticated contraption.
Apple is a big company, and it doesn't make haphazard decisions. It’s also fair to say that given its stature as one of the world’s top companies and leading brands, it recognizes that it wields a great deal of influence culturally, socially, and politically. So for the maker of the iPhone and iPad to put so much emphasis on matters such as employee diversity, environmentally sustainable business practices, and human rights and civil liberties, is no small matter. As Tim Cook recently said, "Inclusion and diversity have been a focus for me throughout my time at Apple, and they’re among my top priorities as CEO.”
BestBuy may have jumped the gun, but for now at least, their website shows the Moto 360 with pricing ($249.99) and specs, and states "Coming Soon" for availability. The page might come down, so here's a screengrab and the specifications. The pricing is actually pretty attractive (as is the watch) given that it is voice actived, waterproof, and manages to fit in a 1.5-inch round LCD touch screen.
Excitement is building toward September 9, when Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 6. Rumors continue to swirl in the blogosphere regarding details of the new device. According to a post on AppleInsider, a newly leaked document suggests the A8 chip will have 1 GB of RAM, the size that Apple has been using since 2012 and that's smaller than competing Android phones. The post explains the tradeoff: more RAM would be nice but it also reduces battery life. The downside of less RAM is that iOS closes background tasks and refreshes tabs in Safari. For its part, Apple never divulges how much RAM a device has. [Update: blogs are now saying that the leaked document that suggested 1GB was misinterpreted and actually was referring to a component other than the A8 processor.]
There is a good article over at CNET on how an iPhone 5s from Verizon could work on AT&T. I won't go into the details here, but suffice it to say, as carriers standardize on LTE, it is possible to make a phone that works on AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and other carriers. Indeed customers already could migrate between AT&T and T-Mobile, which use GSM SIM cards. In fact, I use an old AT&T iPhone on Consumer Cellular's service.
One of the biggest question marks surrounding the iPhone 6 is whether it will use a sapphire crystal display or a sapphire laminate. Thursday's Wall Street Journal reported that the material isn't quite ready and that if it's used, it will only be in high-end versions of both the 4.7- and 5.5-inch phones. Citing sources "familiar with the matter," the Journal says that it simply depends on whether enough sapphire can be manufactured.
It may be hard to believe, but Spike Lee's socially eloquent movie about race and gender relations in New york City is 25 years old. To celebrate and pay respect to this groundbreaking and critically acclaimed movie, Apple's subsidiary, Beats Inc. has produced a 22-minute tribute video, starring Spike Lee himself, along with actors and actresses from the original movie, including stars Danny Aiello and Rosie Perez.
It's now less than a month until the rumored September 9 announcement of the iPhone 6, and photos of parts have appeared online. Notably, the Taiwanese blog AppleClub has posted photos of the front screen assembly. We had already seen photos and videos of the front glass, but this is the first time photos have been posted of the glass mounted in its casing. The photos show both the outside and inside of this front assembly. There's no way to tell the exact size, but it's clearly larger than the iPhone 5s, and likely has the rumored 4.7-inch display.
On Wednesday, AT&T stores began a limited-time offer of a $200 discount on iPads if you buy an iPhone 5s or 5c on their installment plan and sign up for a two-year data contract for the iPad. Of course, you'll want to take into account that the iPhone 6 is expected to be announced next month. If you really want an iPad and will be happy with a current iPhone, then it seems like a good deal. AT&T is likely offering this deal to clear out inventory and to increase the number of iPad users subscribing to their data services. Note that this only applies to a purchase of a cellular data iPad, which costs an additional $130 over the WiFi model.
Carriers and mobile retailers have created their own dilemma by signing up users for two year contracts. This means that retailers won't get another shot at their next iPhone for 23 months or more. Given the rapid pace of innovation, many users are either left out or finding creative ways to upgrade. Personally, I leverage our Family Plan so I can get the latest iPhone each year and hand down my one year old model to a family member.
It's no secret (except to this guy) that the next iPhone will be built in China, but for years this has meant Foxconn, the mammoth independent manufacturing firm that has been plagued by reports of poor working conditions. Recently, Apple has decreased their dependence on Foxconn and farmed out more manufacturing work to Pegatron, a competitor to Foxconn.
Apple didn't introduce an iWatch or fitness band at their Worldwide Developers Conference, but they introduced technology to make it easier for others to do so. HealthKit is a framework for developers and gadget makers that can help them integrate fitness and wearable gear with iOS. And Apple isn't taking a backseat to see what happens. They are actively recruiting hospitals and healthcare firms to make the next generation of health products.
Apple is honoring the late Robin Williams with a short tribute on their website and a special section of the iTunes Store featuring his many movies and standup routines. The tribute reads, "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Robin Williams. He inspired us through his passion, his generosity, and the gift of laughter.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Apple's suppliers have now begun manufacturing the next iPad Air and iPad mini. Citing anonymous sources "with knowledge of the matter," the report says that the iPad Air could be announced as early as September, while the mini is expected to be available by the end of the year. In addition, Bloomberg says the new iPads will have an anti-reflection coating on the screen to make it easier to see in bright light.
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