Facebook announced a new app Thursday called Paper that will be available February 3. Rather than updating their old app, they simply created a new one from the ground up (though with similarities to an earlier app called Facebook Home). Like the hugely popular Flipboard (free), the new app completely reconceptualizes and designs your news feed so that it's attractively presented and fun to browse. But it does a lot more. Like Flipboard, it also gives you, in a magazine-like format, access to a wide variety of news categories, such as latest headlines, sports, tech, food, etc. According to a detailed post on Macworld, this news content is actually curated by Facebook editors from publications such as the New York Times and Huffington Post. Macworld describes the experience of Paper: "Like its namesake, Paper aims to be a tactile experience—flip through sections, tap a card to unfold stories, scroll through photos, and tilt your phone to see more details in an image." You can see a video demo after the break.
Rumors have been pointing to the launch of a major update to Apple TV software and possibly also a new version of the device itself. Apple has virtually confirmed that something is coming, as can be seen by changes they've made in the Apple Store this week.
Apple's brilliance is creating interfaces between humans and machines that people like to use: first the Macintosh, then the iPod, then the iPhone and iPad. Now Apple seems intent on creating a friendly, useable interface for the display in your car. They announced this initiative, called "iOS in the Car," last year, and have information about it and screen shots on their website (see the bottom of the page). It's expected to debut later this year. If you're curious how it will work, a video has now been posted by a developer who has discovered iOS in a Car features buried in iOS 7. What you're seeing in the video is the iOS Simulator that developers use to create apps.
Expectations are so high for Apple that even when the company reports record earnings, the stock declines. On Monday after the market closed, Apple reported their results for the December quarter. And by most measures, they were amazing:
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).