Recent rumors have suggested that the iPhone 6, expected in September or earlier, will have a new A8 chip designed by Apple and manufactured by chipmaker TSMC rather than Samsung, which makes the A7 used in the latest iOS devices. Then this last week a rumor passed along by Laptop and other websites said that the A8 will be a quad-core chip with quad core graphics. By comparison, the A7 has a dual-core CPU. Combine quad core with the 64-bit architecture Apple switched to in the A7 chip, and you get blazing speed.
Times have changed. In the Steve Jobs era, prices for Apple products always seemed to be uniform. Today if you're in the market for an Apple product, it behooves you to look around for the best deal. The ongoing discounts seem unprecedented. Most recently Walmart has slashed the price of the 16GB iPhone 5s to $119 with a two-year contract. And the iPhone 5c? It's down to $29 for the 16GB model with a two-year contract. According to CNN Money, Walmart announced these price cuts on Wednesday, but I couldn't quickly find them online. In addition to the lowered price on the iPhone, Walmart also lets you trade in your old gadgets for a gift card. So you could effectively lower your price even further.
Apple is reportedly working on making Siri available to third-party apps, allowing you to use Siri for things such as booking flights or making hotel reservations. Currently Siri is limited to Apple's apps, and to interfacing with Apple partners such as Open Table for making restaurant reservations. It's likely, though, that if this is true, Apple would exert a fair amount of control over which apps Siri worked with, according to iMore. A post on AppleInsider says that this move toward compatibility with third-party apps is tied closely to Apple's rumored iWatch. The iWatch would be sensitive to context, and Siri would offer apps that the iWatch senses you need at the moment, depending on what you're doing. AppleInsider cites an example that appeared in a report on Monday in The Information, which said:
If you're in the market for a new iPad that can access the cellular data network, Best Buy has a fantastic sale going on through Saturday, March 8. If you buy a 3G or 4G iPad, you'll receive a $30 discount, PLUS another $100 discount at checkout if you activate the iPad and data plan in the store. In addition, the $35 activation fee is waived. PLUS, if you activate a plan with Verizon or AT&T, you'll receive a $100 credit toward your data plan. So altogether that amounts to a savings of $265!
On Monday our blogger Todd Bernhard posted a helpful overview of Apple's new CarPlay, which is getting a lot of attention this week because of the automobile trade show taking place in Geneva. A number of the carmakers are featuring CarPlay, and Volvo has posted a great video demo showing it in action, giving you a good idea how it works.
An article today in the Wall Street Journal says that Apple is hiring hundreds of engineers and managers in China and Taiwan with the goal of speeding up product development and launching a wider range of products more frequently. This is just what Apple fanboys want to hear. We love Apple's products, and the biggest complaint is that there ain't enough of 'em. We want more gadgets, and we want them now. And that pretty much sums up the attitude of investors. If this is true, it certainly signals a shift for Apple, which has always taken its sweet time, and has always kept it's product line focused. Apple is expected to launch two new phones this fall, a new Apple TV, and possibly an iWatch. Plus, we'll likely see updated versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini. So already Apple is juggling a wider range of products than in the past.
Rumors were swirling on Friday that a new Apple TV device was imminent. The reason for the rumors? Apple began offering a $25 iTunes Store gift card with the purchase of each Apple TV. Analysts and enthusiasts concluded that Apple was clearing out inventory to make room for a new device, especially as it's been over two years since Apple has released a new version of the hardware. And then Jim Darlymple dashed all hopes with a single word: "Nope." He apparently has contacts inside Apple, because he's always been right when he says there's no truth to a rumor. So while the gift card offer may not herald a new device, it's an appealing offer in its own right.
StreetInsider.com reported Wednesday that a securities analyst who has contacts in Apple's supply chain says production of the iPhone 6 appears to be ramping up earlier than one would expect for a September launch, meaning that it could appear as early as July. It seems doubtful, and the bulk of the recent rumors have been suggesting September. On the other hand, analysts have been saying Apple needs to come out with a larger iPhone ASAP in order to stay competitive in a market that's rapidly moving toward larger devices. So perhaps Apple has indeed decided to try to speed things up. The analyst also says that his checks confirm that Apple's next generation of phones will have larger displays. His supply chain checks also indicate that Apple appears to be gearing up for a launch of an Apple TV set-top device and an iWatch, both no earlier than the second half of 2014.
The iPad Air took the top award for "Best Mobile Tablet" this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Well deserved. According to the judges, "The iPad Air packs class-leading performance in an attractive and svelte frame, while its ecosystem has an undisputed advantage in the number of format-optimized apps." That certainly makes it stand apart. Accompanying the judges' comments is a description, which reads:
If Apple pulls this off, it's doubtful that any other phone manufacturer will be able to match it anytime soon. Forbes reported today that the iPhone 6 will indeed come with a sapphire crystal coating on the display. This material is nearly indestructible, and would make it virtually impossible to scratch the display. That would really set the iPhone apart, and is just the sort of touch that Apple adds to their products to foster consumer love. Apple is already using sapphire crystal to cover the camera lens and Touch ID to avoid scratches.