Big changes to Messages in iOS 8. You can now reply to SMS messages within the lock screen or within an app.
Apple's vision is stunning. A new feature being demoed right now is Continuity. You can make a call on your phone and then as you sit at your Mac, you can continue the phone via your Mac.
Apple's stock continues to jump up, and there's a tremendous amount of enthusiasm as everyone looks ahead to Apple's keynote on Monday at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Stock analysts and fanboys have been wondering if Apple still has its mojo in the post-Steve-Jobs era, and CEO Tim Cook has continued to promise that new product categories are coming. Everyone seems to be anticipating we will indeed get something new on Monday—if not hardware, then almost certainly a new platform or two. Let's take a look at what we know is coming, what seems likely, and what's rumored.
As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard discussed in this post, there was a report out Monday from The Financial Times saying that Apple will be announcing a new Smart Home platform during next Monday's keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Apple has been working on an integrated home system for at least several years, with a number of patent applications indicating what they have in mind. In this post from January of 2012, for example, I pointed to a patent application that described a single device that would automatically detect appliances available for it to control. This would include TV, video disk player, stereo, computer, and home device controls, such as security, lighting, thermostat, and a wide range of other devices that are now Internet connected, such as the intelligent thermostat from Nest and smart light bulbs from Hue.
Verizon's LTE network was already pretty speedy, and now the company has rolled out XLTE in 250 cities in 44 states, which delivers faster peak data speeds and a minimum of double the bandwidth. Wow, this is what I like to hear.
On Wednesday Apple posted the schedule for the Worldwide Developers Conference, and it shows, as expected, that the keynote address will be on the first day, June 2, at 10 a.m. Pacific. Apple is expected to announce iOS 8 and give a demo.
I like Siri, but Google Search (free) is definitely an alternative worth considering. Last week Google released version 4.0 which now lets you have a "smarter conversation with Google." For example, you can ask, "What's the weather like?" and Google will return information about the current weather. But then you can ask a follow-up question that depends on the earlier question for context. You can say, "How about this weekend?" and the app will understand that you're asking what the weather will be like this weekend. The ability of Google Search to use previous questions as context for understanding is an impressive step in adding intelligence to these handy voice-controlled assistants. A review on ZDNet says that the capabilities of Google Search "embarrass Siri," which the reviewer now finds to be "woefully inadequate."
When Apple announced CarPlay, their new technology for automobiles, the big question was whether it would only be available on new cars, or if older cars could also take advantage of it. Then to the relief of many, two different companies announced forthcoming aftermarket CarPlay systems, with the one from Pioneer to be the first to hit the market. As noted by AppleInsider, Pioneer has been offering hands-on demonstrations of its NEX car infotainment system to the media this week, including CNBC, Macworld, and Digital Trends, which has a very detailed hands-on review of the system. Pioneer's CarPlay system offers Phone, Music, Maps, and Messages. See an earlier post for a bit more detail.
At this late stage in the development of the iPhone 6, I'm not sure Apple would still be testing various display resolutions, but that's what the latest report on 9To5Mac is saying. According to the in-depth article, which cites sources familiar with at least one model being tested, Apple is considering a display resolution of 1704 x 960 pixels, which would give a pixel density of 416 ppi and an aspect ratio of 16:9. This compares to a resolution of 1136 x 640 on the iPhone 5s, with a pixel density of 326 ppi and the same aspect ratio of 16:9. The article explains in detail why this rumored resolution would be proportionately larger, making it easier for developers to scale up to the larger size.
Brightwire, a global investment newswire, reported last week that the iPhone 6 will likely include a Near Field Communcation (NFC) chip, a chief purpose of which is using one's phone to complete point-of-sale transactions. You simply tap the NFC terminal at the checkout counter to make a purchase. According to the report, which is based on "a source close to the matter," the impetus for this move appears to be a deal Apple has made with China UnionPay, which Brightwire describes as "the only domestic bank card organization and interbank network in China." In short, if you want to sell lots of iPhones in China, and if the only bank card company wants NFC, then Apple does NFC. The two companies are also reportedly working together on a mobile payment system for use in Apple Stores in China.