Currency Converter HD is available for free January 15 & 16. This popular app claims to be the most powerful currency converter in the App Store. It covers over 150 currencies and offers real-time currency conversion with up-to-the-minute exchange rates. The app has three different views: calculator, chart and list view. It also has an offline mode using saved rates, so that you can find the exchange rate when traveling abroad even if you don't have an Internet connection.
I recently realized why it took me over a year to start making real use of Siri. The reason is a bit embarrassing. It's just that Siri seemed so much like a person. I didn't consciously realize that, though. Let me give you a couple examples. I recall one time wanting to show a friend how Siri worked, so I held down the home button. Siri responded, "What can I help you with?" But my friend was slow to catch on that I was giving him an opportunity to interact with Siri. There sat my iPad on the table, with Siri waiting. And my friend wasn't saying anything. Subconsciously I was thinking, "Hurry up, ask her something. She's waiting."
In a previous post I mentioned a rumor that the iPhone 6 will continue to have an 8-megapixel camera, but that it would come with optical image stabilization. Now yet another rumor has appeared that supports the claim that Apple is working on optical stabilization technology. Last Thursday the US patent office published an Apple patent that describes in detail how optical image stabilization and improved autofocus will work in the iPhone camera. Images from the patent application and a description were posted Friday by UnwiredView.com. According to the post, the patent indicates that Apple has been working on this technology since at least early 2012, so it could well be that it's ready for the iPhone 6. A quote from the patent describes Apple's approach to autofocus (AF) and optical image stabilization (OIS):
Apple's reach just keeps increasing, with the iPad Air and iPad mini with retina display becoming available on the shelves at Staples stores this past week. In the past, Staples had only sold the devices online, beginning last September. The prices are the same as Apple's and other outlets, but their trade-in price is may be of interest: they're paying as much as $300 for your old iPad. Plus, you get 5 percent back in rewards credits. Staples also sells the iPod and a wide range of accessories. But no iPhone yet.
Yet another rumor is suggesting, based on checks with Apple suppliers, that Apple will introduce two new iPhones later this year, one with a display of 4.7 inches and one at 5.5 inches. According to StreetInsider.com, citing analyst Brian White, it's likely that Apple will continue to sell a 4-inch model, giving consumers a choice among three different sizes. White also says that it's likely Apple will introduce the larger phones at different times, first launching the 4.7-inch model on the regular iPhone cycle, and then subsequently having a separate event for the larger device. His rationale is that the larger device would fall into the "phablet" category and be different enough that Apple would have a separate event to introduce it.
In their commercials, Apple likes to show off all the things an iPad can do. Their latest commercial, as usual, is filled with stunning vignettes from around the world showing the iPad being used for a diverse array of purposes. Titled "Your Verse Anthem," the commercial has an unusual audio track: an extended quote from Walt Whitman. The reading of the quote is taken from the movie Dead Poets Society, in which Robin Williams, playing an English teacher, stirs the creative passions of his students.
The forthcoming iRing from IK Multimedia will let you control two of their music apps via hand gestures. But according to a report on CNET, they're encouraging developers to use this technology in games, health and fitness software, and other mobile apps. The iRing interacts with your FaceTime camera, and controls your device when you move your hand up and down, left and right, or twist it.
Hopefully we're at the stage of the rumor cycle in which we begin to get photos, though it's quite early for that. Apple itself may not yet have decided what their next device will be. In any case, 9To5Mac has posted photos that appeared on the Chinese site CTech that purport to show the frame of the iPhone 6. In keeping with the rumors we've been hearing, the frame shows that the phone will be much larger than the current iPhone, and thinner. But as 9To5Mac notes, there's little to go on here, and there's no verification that these photos are authentic.
I like news apps, and Yahoo has just recently released Yahoo News Digest (free), which is one I'm definitely going to be using. There's already a plethora of news apps, but this one has two distinguishing characteristics. First, there are just two daily editions, one in the morning and one in the evening—unlike other news apps that tend to be updated throughout the day with random bits of news. The advantage of just having two editions is that it's a true summary of the most important news, not simply the latest news across the wire. A second distinguishing characteristic is that the news is curated. An algorithm helps assemble the news, but the news summary is also curated by hand. I like that. One reason I still enjoy newspapers and magazines is that they present curated content: I feel confidant my time will be used more efficiently, since someone has organized the content beforehand. It's not as frenetic as the stream of news items that come across a typical web-based news service.
All the rumors are now starting to refer to the forthcoming phone as iPhone 6. And the latest rumor, courtesy of Forbes, is that it will be just 6 mm thick.