Apple has now made available its 2013 12 Days of Gifts app for free download in the App Store. In the past Apple has offered this app in other countries, but for the first time this year it's also available for download in the US. From December 26 to January 6, you'll be able to download a free gift each day: songs, apps, books, movies, and more. Each gift will only be available for 24 hours, so you'll want to check the app every day to see what's available.
We have many months to go before a new iPhone launches, and already there are rumors aplenty, a number of which I've reported here. Minyanville has helpfully collected the rumors to date in a single post. The most frequent rumor may be that the iPhone 6 will have a larger screen, with sources saying that Apple is testing iPhones with 4.7-, 4.9-, and 5.5-inch displays. I think it's likely we'll see a larger iPhone next year. All the other rumors seem to have less credibility but aren't without substance. It's been rumored that the iPhone will have a curved display, perhaps similar to the picture of the Samsung Galaxy Round that accompanies this post. See my earlier post for more detail on why such a display may be useful.
A number of days ago, Apple quietly began making a new option available for those interested in purchasing an iPhone 5s. You can now buy an unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 5s. As you likely know, this entails paying the whole price of the phone up front, but you avoid having to commit to a two-year contract. Note though, they're only offering GSM, which limits the phone to being used on AT&T's or T-Mobile's networks. You'll need to get your SIM card directly from one of those carriers. The price is $649 for the 16GB iPhone 5s, $749 for 32GB, and $849 for 64GB.
Today, November 29, only, Apple is offering a $75 gift card if you purchase an iPad Air and a $50 gift card if you purchase an iPad 2 or the first-generation iPad mini. There's no gift card available for the purchase of the iPad mini with Retina display or an iPhone. It's great to see this offer, but one can't help but wish these were discounts rather than gift cards. And one can't help but observe that you'll get a better deal at Target, which is offering a $100 gift card on the purchase of an iPad Air, plus a price of $479 for the 16GB WiFi model, effectively bringing down the price to $379.
If Australia's Black Friday offerings from Apple are any indication, and most people are assuming they are, then it looks like tomorrow Apple will be offering a $70 gift card on the purchase of an iPad Air. But you'll be paying the regular price. Apparently there won't be any gift cards for the iPhone or the iPad mini with retina display, but there will be gift cards for the first-generation mini and the iPad 2 (probably about $45). So it looks like you'll get a better deal at the big-box retailers such as Target and WalMart.
You already have a ton of options when it comes to cloud-based music, including iTunes Radio, Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Amazon Cloud Player, and more. Yet you might want to consider Google Play Music, since it offers a combination of features not otherwise available. As you know, services like Pandora and iTunes Radio let you listen to songs similar to what you like, but you're unable to request specific songs. And subscription services such as Spotify and Rdio let you request a particular song and typically charge a monthly fee of around $10, but they don't store your personal collection in the cloud. Then there are services like iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player that let you upload your collection to the cloud and stream music that you already own. Google Play Music combines the ability to request specific songs (like Spotify and Rdio) with the ability to upload your music collection (like iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player).
Apple has posted a Black Friday page on their website alerting people to special sales coming up. But they give no detail. They'll be hard pressed to match the great deals being offered by big-box retailers such as Target and Walmart.
DigiTimes, which has connections in Apple's supply chain and which is frequently a source of rumors, reported today that the Taiwan-based company Quanta has been tapped by Apple to manufacture the rumored 12.9-inch iPad, which some are calling the iPad pro. The report says the larger iPad will be targeted toward the education and enterprise markets. And it notes that Quanta is facing some serious design challenges with the larger iPad that could limit its availability. The report says the new iPad is expected to launch in the second half of next year. Interest in larger tablets seems to be increasing, so it wouldn't be a surprise if Apple jumped into this arena.
If you're in the market for a new iPhone or iPad, Black Friday (Nov. 29) is the day to take the plunge. Actually, many of the great deals start as early as Nov. 28 and continue through the weekend. In a previous post I mentioned two websites tracking Black Friday deals and summarized the best deals. I wanted to also point you to the continuously updated comprehensive roundup posted on MacRumors. Plus, they summarize the best deals in a chart at the top of the page. Some remarkable deals are to be had: iPad Air for $379 at Target, iPad mini (first generation) for $199 at Walmart, iPad 2 for $299 at Target, and iPhone 5s for $114 and iPhone 5c for $0 at Walmart. MacRumors also offers shopping tips, such as which online retailers charge local sales tax in which states.
Apple posted a new page on its website this past week titled Life on iPad that shows the amazing range of uses for this device. It offers a two-minute overview video (embedded below) that shows snippets of people using an iPad for maintaining wind turbines, harvesting crops, assessing athletic performance, tracking inventory, accessing recipes, navigating in vehicles, driving race cars, doing surgery, playing games, drawing, performing music, accessing augmented reality, climbing mountains, and more.