We're in day 2 of Apple's 12 Days of Gifts, a free app that offers you something for free each day for 12 days starting on Dec 26. Yesterday's inaugural freebie was a music download that included the four songs performed by Justin Timberlake at this year's iTunes Festival. Earlier today Apple's offering in the U.S. was the pilot episode of the TV series "Once Upon a Time," which I downloaded to my iPad Air.
Now is a good time to buy games for your iPhone or iPad. Electronic Arts, one of the top game developers, is having a limited-time sale on 40 of its games, which are currently available for $0.99. You can see a list on TUAW. That page also lists special holiday prices on scores of additional games from developers such as SNL Playmore, Subatomic Studio, Taito Corporation, Warner Bros, Gameloft, and many more. Around 200 games in all.
In an end-of-year memo to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, including some big plans that we think customers are going to love." That's not much to go on, but it's created a lot of buzz. And it lends support to the latest rumor that Apple will be releasing a larger iPhone in May and a 12.9-inch iPad in October. Both rumors of larger devices are gaining some traction, given that various sources in Apple's supply chain have indicated this. The most recent provenance is the Taiwan publication DigiTimes. Their source says that Apple has considered both a 12.9-inch and 13.3-inch display for the larger iPad, with the former now seeming more likely. The report doesn't say what size iPhone is expected in May, but past rumors have said that Apple has been testing a 4.9-inch model. One analyst has suggested that the phone will be between 4.5 and 5 inches, and that a model larger than 5 inches is unlikely.
It's been a great year for new devices from Apple, each of which was preceded by months of rumors—which I dutifully passed along. Many turned out to be true: a new iPad with a form factor like the iPad mini, an iPad mini with retina display, and a lower-cost iPhone. But some were off. There were many rumors of an HDTV from Apple that would arrive late this year. Many people are now doubting Apple will ever come out with one, even though they're known to have developed a variety of prototypes. We kept getting rumors of an iWatch, which have gotten more tangible over time. But still no watch.
Some of the top app developers have gotten together and created a website called App Santa where they are promoting special Christmas pricing on some of the most popular apps for the iPhone and iPad. Apps with hefty discounts include 1Password ($9.99, marked down from $17.99), Scanner Pro ($2.99, marked down from $6.99), Mileage Log+ ($4.99, marked down from $9.99), Printer Pro ($2.99, marked down from $6.99), Tweetbot ($1.99, marked down from $4.99), and 10 more. If any of these apps interest you, now would be a good time to download them.
Speculation about a smartwatch from Apple has been going on for some time now; but recently we've been starting to get some tangible hints it's coming, with the rumors saying it will arrive next October. First of all, we know for a fact Apple is very actively engaged in wearable computing, and it seems obvious that this will be the Next Big Thing. In addition, Apple has watch-related patents. Add to this two recent reports that say Apple's iWatch is coming. According to a post on MacRumors, a Chinese website with contacts in Apple's supply chain has reported that Apple will release the iWatch at the same time it introduces the next iPhone in October, 2014. Reportedly Apple hasn't yet decided on the specific screen size. In addition, the article says the watch will have wireless charging capability.
On Tuesday Apple began airing a touching holiday commercial that highlights the video capabilities of the iPhone 5s. The ad, called "Misunderstood," features a family Christmas gathering over several days and a teen with an iPhone who seems to be disconnected from what's going on and instead distracted by his iPhone.
Monday Apple posted their Best of 2013 lists, including Music, Movies, TV Shows, Apps, Books, and Podcasts. The free Duolingo - Learn Languages for Free, was named iPhone App of the Year. And it's well deserved. Not only can you use it to learn Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, and English, but the app makes it fun. It uses gaming techniques to help you learn. And, interestingly, the app also has a crowdsourcing function, such that in the process of learning and doing translations, you are helping translate the Web into other languages.
It's that time of year: when tech websites post their lists of best apps for the year. Here are some of the lists of best apps for 2013 that you may want to check out. It's a great way to quickly find those that best suit your needs.
Something's going on with Apple TV. After several quiescent years, Apple has been adding a lot of channels in 2013 — 18 so far. And there's evidence they may be preparing a software developers kit to open up development for the platform. On Wednesday Apple quietly added four more channels: Crackle, which offers free movies; Bloomberg TV, which offers a range of news reporting; Watch ABC, which requires that you already have cable TV service; and KORTV, a Korean channel offering paid movies and shows along with some free content (all in Korean). All of this activity suggests Apple is increasing its focus on Apple TV; and there are rumors that the company will be coming out with a new iteration of their Apple TV device in the first half of next year, or eventually even their own HDTV.