There were a couple reports Thursday related to Apple TV, suggesting that we'll see an update or a new device—or both—in the coming months. A report on iLounge said Apple will be adding games to their Apple TV device by March or even earlier in a major update to the platform. The information is said to come from "reliable industry sources." The games would be downloaded directly to the device (rather than using an iPhone or iPad as an intermediary), and the controller would be a Bluetooth device that Apple is currently working on. In addition, a report on 9To5Mac said that a new Apple TV device will likely be coming the first half of this year, and will include a new operating system based on iOS. As I understand it, the operating system is already based on iOS, so maybe they mean that the interface will be more like iOS. They also say that along with the new hardware Apple will introduce an App Store for the Apple TV.
Apple continues to promote the iPad Air with commercials using a narration of a verse by Walt Whitman taken from the movie Dead Poets Society. Similar to the longer 90-second commercial that Apple released earlier, these two 30-second spots again show the iPad being used in a wide variety of settings. As usual, the commercials are artfully done and fun to watch. The narration:
According to a post on AppleInsider, a Wall Street analyst is claiming that Apple has now finalized their design for the iPhone 6. And he says that according to his contacts in Apple's supply chain it will have a 4.8-inch display and will come with the new, faster Wi-Fi protocol called 802.11ac. He said that we can also expect major software innovations with the next version of iOS, including a mobile payments system that will take advantage of iBeacons, Passbook, and Touch ID. Plus, the faster 64-bit processor on the A7 chip being used in the latest iPhones and iPads along with Touch ID will enable new services. Finally, he also said to expect a 13-inch iPad late this year. These points square with what we've been hearing, and it seems likely the iPhone 6 will be larger. He didn't say anything about a phablet, but even that seems to confirm earlier rumors the two larger phones will launch at different times, with the smaller of the two coming first and an even larger iPhone coming later.
All the rumors continue to point to a larger iPhone. Plus, these rumors are increasingly suggesting not only will there be two different sizes, but also that the two phones will launch at different times. AppleInsider yesterday reported that according to a Chinese analyst, the iPhone 6 will launch in June at the WorldWide Developers Conference with a 4.7-inch screen. The post says the resolution will be 1136 x 640, which is the same as the current iPhone. As I noted in a previous post, that would be a logical step for Apple to take, because it would be easier for developers and because the pixel density, while less than the current iPhone, would still be on par with the iPad — and probably not noticeable. However, AppleInsider notes that other analysts expect Apple to increase the resolution for their 4.7-inch iPhone. Citing the Chinese analyst, AppleInsider also says that a 5.7-inch "phablet" will come later. It would be interesting if Apple would give it a different name, as they did with the iPad Air. They might call the 4.7-inch model the iPhone 6, and the larger one the iPhone Pro or something. But of course that's pure speculation.
Any rumors at this point are necessarily sketchy, and even more so the current iWatch rumor, given that the Korean site that originally posted it then removed it. That could be because they got further evidence that suggested it was wrong. Or that the information was correct and Apple asked them to take it down. Anyway, according to 9To5Mac, the Korean website DDaily posted an article saying that a forthcoming iWatch from Apple would have a 1.5-inch OLED display, and that it would launch this summer. Plus, 9To5Mac says that the use of OLED suggests that the iWatch would have a curved display. OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, a technology that some manufacturers are now using for curved displays. I think it's inevitable that Apple will jump into wearable computing. They've already taken so many steps in this direction, including patents and hiring personnel. I'm convinced we'll see an iWatch, and a summer launch would make sense because it leaves fall open for the iPhone and iPad launches.
Cloud-based document storage services are a wonderful boon, and I'm a big fan of Dropbox. Any document I'm working on, I put it in my Dropbox folder. As I make changes, the most recent version of the file is automatically uploaded to the web. And because the document is in the cloud, I can access it from my iPads or from any computer connected to the Internet. The Dropbox app on my iPads lets me view most document file types. Box is yet another popular cloud storage service, and whereas Dropbox offers 5GB of storage for free, Box announced on Wednesday that for the next 30 days they're offering 50GB of free storage for life if you download the new Box for iPhone and iPad 3.0 (free).
Google yesterday announced a new version of their free Chrome web browser that has some great features. Plus, they launched a new app that lets you view movies and TV shows that you've purchased in the Google Play store. An important new feature of Chrome is an option for compressing data, meaning that you use up to 50 percent less of your data allotment when browsing the web. If you turn on this feature, the app uses Google's servers to compress the web pages that you're accessing before they appear on your iPhone or iPad. This new feature also enables Safe Browsing, which protects you from malicious web pages so you don't inadvertently download spyware or viruses. When you open the Chrome browser, it automatically explains this new option and presents you with a screen to enable it. You can subsequently toggle it on and off in the settings panel for Chrome. Tap the settings icon at the top right in Chrome, then select Bandwidth, and then Reduce Data Usage. You'll see a screen that lets you turn the feature on and off and that shows your data savings. (See screenshot.)
I'm always up for learning how to get more out of my iPad Air and iPad mini, and so I read with interest a great post on BuzzFeed: "19 Mind-Blowing Tricks Every iPhone And iPad User Should Know." One that surprised me: if you turn on Airplane Mode, your iPhone will charge twice as fast. Another helpful tip is how to use Google Maps offline while you're traveling, in case you don't have an Internet connection. While you do have an Internet connection, load the map you want to save. Then type "ok maps" in the search bar to cache it for offline use. Another helpful tip is that you can take a photo or start video recording via your Apple or Apple-compatible earbuds. If you're in camera mode, press the volume + button to take a photo. In video mode, press the play/pause button. Another useful tip regarding earbuds: quickly press play/pause twice to go to the next track, and quickly press it three times to go to the previous track. (I had mixed success with this using my third-party earbuds, but it worked well enough to be useful.)
Not many people yet appreciate the iBeacon feature built into their devices. But you will. iBeacon continues to gain momentum, and more and more people will begin to use it this year. A post on AppleInsider yesterday reported the first use of iBeacon for mobile payments. This is likely the future: You've selected your items for purchase and as you walk out the store you simply tap your iPhone to confirm the purchase, and you're on your way. According to AppleInsider, iMobile3 has developed a system called PassMarket that will store your payment information for a particular retailer. The system interacts with your iPhone via iBeacon, so that when you approach checkout, iBeacon will sense your location and automatically give you the option of paying via your phone. According to the article, iMobile3 envisions that this will be readily adopted by retailers because the technology basically integrates systems they're already using. And for reasons explained in the article, this system is more secure than the system that was recently breached at Target.
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.