In addition to leaked photos of molds and casings for the iPhone 6, we're now starting to see images of cases created for the device by Asian manufacturers. Of course, sometimes they make cases based on rumored specs that turn out to be wrong. Images of cases posted on AppleInsider show that the sleep/wake button, which until now has been on the top of the iPhone, has been moved to the right side of the phone opposite volume-up button. This detail was also recently relayed by securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has solid inside information and is usually accurate in his predictions. The move is apparently intended to make one-handed operation easier, though the AppleInsider post suggests it could also be indicative of a new feature that would require more frequent use of this button.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said we'd be seeing new categories of products this year, and it looks like CarPlay is one of them. Initially it seemed as if it would only be available in new cars. But then a rumor emerged that Apine Electronics would come out with an after-market CarPlay console this fall. And now Pioneer, a leader in sound systems, has announced they'll be offering CarPlay in their dashboard receivers beginning early this summer. CarPlay will be available as a firmware update to Pioneer's five 2014 NEX in-dash multimedia receivers. The price of these receivers, which have have large, in-dash LCD displays, ranges from $700 to $1,400. They can be installed in most existing vehicles.
When I wrote about Apple's new CarPlay earlier, the post generated a number of comments from car owners wishing their late-model vehicle could be retrofitted with CarPlay. Today's good news, via Nikkei Asian Review, is that Alpine Electronics will release a CarPlay console this fall in the US and Europe in a price range of $500–700. You won't have to buy a new Ferrari, Mercedes, or Volvo to take advantage of Apple's new offering. CarPlay lets you use various iPhone functions in your car while minimizing distraction—you control CarPlay just by speaking. You can make calls, receive calls, listen to voicemail, use the Maps app, listen to music, and send and receive text messages. Siri even reads your incoming messages to you and lets you dictate responses.
So we seem to be entering the phase of the rumor cycle in which we start to get leaked photos. In this case, the photos aren't of the iPhone 6 itself but of the mold that's said to be used to create the back casing.
T-Mobile wants your tablet business. Already they offer the best deal on data: 200MB per month for free, forever. Now, starting this weekend, they'll sell you an LTE iPad for the same price as a WiFi-only iPad, saving you $130. Plus, if you're a T-Mobile voice customer, you can add their 1GB monthly plan for your iPad for FREE through the rest of 2014.
On Wednesday MacRumors published a roadmap of Apple's forthcoming product releases—and what a lineup it is: New iWatch, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, and MacBooks. The information comes from securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, whose 2013 Apple roadmap was very nearly perfect in predicting last year's releases from Apple. On the iOS side, Kuo says that things will start happening in the third quarter (probably September), with the release of a new iPad Air and iPad mini. That will be followed by the rumored iWatch and a 4.7-inch iPhone 6. Then he says that early in the fourth quarter (probably October), we'll see a new version of the Apple TV. Then he sees a 5.5-inch iPhone coming late in the fourth quarter. Not only does Kuo offer a roadmap, but also gives detail on each of the products.
The tech news this week has been dominated by the so-called Heartbleed security issue that could have serious consequences for many Internet users, exposing their data and passwords. In a nutshell, many companies use OpenSSL, an open-source technology, as the basis for the security of their websites. It turns out that a programmer made a simple error several years ago that left the code vulnerable to exploitation.
Last fall Apple began making their popular iWork suite available for free on new iOS devices and Macs. Also, it's available for free to anyone in iCloud. If you have an older device, the iWork suite costs $10 per app. It includes Pages for word processing and page layout, Numbers for spreadsheet work, and Keynote for presentations. When I got my new iPad Air, I downloaded pages and was impressed with how intuitive the interface is while having good functionality. Last week Apple released a major update to the suite on all platforms: iOS, iCloud, and Mac. You can find extensive detail on the new features and improvements on Apple's website. One focus of improvement was compatibility with Microsoft Office documents. Pages and Numbers are now more compatible with Office 2013 files. In addition, various facets of importing and exporting Office documents have been improved.
Apple has said to expect new product categories this year, and many people think the most likely candidate will be an iWatch. Rumors out of China on Tuesday, reported on AppleInsider, say that the iWatch will be coming the third quarter of 2014, with Taiwan's Quanta Computer expected to make 65 million units in the first year. That's a huge number.
As expected, new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the release of Microsoft Office for the iPad at a press event Thursday. Available are Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps. You can download the apps for FREE, but the free version limits you to viewing documents created in those programs. If you want to create and/or edit documents, you'll need to subscribe to Microsoft's Office 365 service. Office 365 Home Premium is currently the lowest-cost option, at $9.99/month or $99.99 per year. It lets you install Office on up to 5 Macs or PCs and up to 5 mobile devices. In addition, a subscription comes with 20GB of OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) cloud storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls per month. Microsoft also recently announced Office 365 Personal, which will let you install Office on a PC or Mac and on one tablet. The price will be $69.99 per year, or $6.99 per month when it becomes available.