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.
Reuters reported today that the much-anticipated 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will be coming in August — a month earlier than everyone has been expecting. And the report said that the larger 5.5-inch device will make its appearance in September. This too diverges from earlier rumors, which have stated that it wouldn't arrive until the end of 2014. The source of the Reuters report was media reports in Taiwan, which were based on unidentified sources in Apple's supply chain.
With the free availability of Apple's iWork suite, and its robust collaboration tools, you may not need to use Google's suite. But if you're a user of Google Docs, you'll be happy to know that on Wednesday Google released Google Docs (free) for word processing and Google Sheets (free) for doing spreadsheets. Plus, they'll soon be releasing a free Google Slides app for creating presentations. Google Docs and Google Sheets let you create new documents and edit existing documents. They also let you work offline. Whether you're working online or offline, all your changes are immediately saved. In addition to collaboration and sharing features, you can also read and respond to comments from your collaborators. Google Sheets lets you format cells, enter/sort data, perform various sheet operations, and more.
Apple released iOS 7.1.1 last week, and you'd be well advised to download it to your devices. You can do so over the air by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Or you can connect your device to your computer and do the update via the iTunes software. The update fixes important security issues as well as bugs. Most importantly for iPhone 5s owners, it reportedly helps to make Touch ID faster and more accurate. According to a detailed explanation on Cult of Mac, accuracy would decay over time. Quoting a Reddit user, the post explains how the update improves Touch ID: "With iOS 7.1.1 Apple now takes multiple scans of each position you place finger at setup instead of a single one and uses algorithms to predict potential errors that could arise in the future." In the past, if you didn't get a good scan during setup, it would later cause problems. The increased accuracy of the update results in a faster response because the phone needs to make fewer calculations while unlocking the phone.
It's hard to beat free, and with FreedomPop, you get it all for free: 200 voice minutes, 500 text messages, and 500MB of data per month. If you want more, you can sign up for an inexpensive plan starting at $5 per month.
The rumblings began 10 days ago when Nike, as reported by CNET, laid off 70–80 percent of the employees working on their Nike FuelBand, one of the more popular fitness trackers. Plus, they acknowledged they would be stopping development of the hardware side of fitness tracking, though indicated they planned to continue selling the second-generation FuelBand SE. That move raised lots of eyebrows, and some even speculated that Apple's rumored iWatch was a factor. Then, last week GeekTime reported that Apple and Nike are gearing up for an announcement this fall of a "smart band." The website claims to have received this information from two sources in Cupertino, where Apple is located. According to the report, "Apple is looking to launch a smart band toward the end of this year whose collection of sensors will be able to be used not only to monitor the activity of the wearer, but also to operate other devices as a gestural controller."
Last week Apple posted a new ad on their YouTube channel showing the amazing range of things an iPhone 5s can be used for, from making music and videos to launching model rockets and controlling stage lighting. The ad is reminiscent of earlier iPad commercials. The background music is "Gigantic" by the Pixies. The tagline of the ad is "You're more powerful than you think." I always enjoy watching their ads.
on Wednesday, a report on AppleInsider citing a Japanese blog said that the iPhone 6 will have curved edges.: That is, both a curved casing and curved glass. The blog is known to have generally reliable sources, so this rumor may have credence. And to help visualize what the iPhone 6 would look like with curved edges and glass, you can see some great renderings by Martin Hajek on the French website Nowhereelse.fr. The renderings show rounded corners and the glass of the display wraps slightly around the edge. In addition to the curved edges, the report says the back of the iPhone 6 will differ from the 5 and 5s, in that it will no longer have the glass-covered antenna windows seen on those models.
Apple released their results for the March quarter yesterday after the market closed, and the news was all good, sending the stock up 7 percent in after-hours trading. Not only did Apple's quarterly results beat Wall Street's most optimistic estimates, Apple announced several stock-related moves that thrilled investors: an unusual 7-for-1 stock split, an increase in the quarterly dividend, and an increase in their stock buyback program. Apple's results set a record for a March quarter. Analysts were expecting Apple to report $43.5 billion in revenue, but Apple handily exceeded that, coming in at $45.6 billion. The iPhone led the way, with Apple selling 43.7 million iPhones, well above Wall Street's estimate of 38.5 million. Strong iPhone sales were attributed in part to strong demand in China and emerging markets—where there remains a lot of potential for growth.
I don't have cable TV, so I'm always excited when Apple adds more channels to Apple TV. And those added today are the sorts of channels I might like to watch: History, A&E, and Lifetime. In all three cases, some of the content is free, and other content requires you to log in with the username and password that you use with your cable provider. My impression after checking them out is that there's a ton of free content available—more than I'd ever have time to watch. In some cases, there are only one- to four-minute clips from the various episodes, with the clips always being free. Sometimes for a particular show, some episodes are free and others require a log-in.