Apple's reach just keeps increasing, with the iPad Air and iPad mini with retina display becoming available on the shelves at Staples stores this past week. In the past, Staples had only sold the devices online, beginning last September. The prices are the same as Apple's and other outlets, but their trade-in price is may be of interest: they're paying as much as $300 for your old iPad. Plus, you get 5 percent back in rewards credits. Staples also sells the iPod and a wide range of accessories. But no iPhone yet.
Yet another rumor is suggesting, based on checks with Apple suppliers, that Apple will introduce two new iPhones later this year, one with a display of 4.7 inches and one at 5.5 inches. According to StreetInsider.com, citing analyst Brian White, it's likely that Apple will continue to sell a 4-inch model, giving consumers a choice among three different sizes. White also says that it's likely Apple will introduce the larger phones at different times, first launching the 4.7-inch model on the regular iPhone cycle, and then subsequently having a separate event for the larger device. His rationale is that the larger device would fall into the "phablet" category and be different enough that Apple would have a separate event to introduce it.
In their commercials, Apple likes to show off all the things an iPad can do. Their latest commercial, as usual, is filled with stunning vignettes from around the world showing the iPad being used for a diverse array of purposes. Titled "Your Verse Anthem," the commercial has an unusual audio track: an extended quote from Walt Whitman. The reading of the quote is taken from the movie Dead Poets Society, in which Robin Williams, playing an English teacher, stirs the creative passions of his students.
The forthcoming iRing from IK Multimedia will let you control two of their music apps via hand gestures. But according to a report on CNET, they're encouraging developers to use this technology in games, health and fitness software, and other mobile apps. The iRing interacts with your FaceTime camera, and controls your device when you move your hand up and down, left and right, or twist it.
Hopefully we're at the stage of the rumor cycle in which we begin to get photos, though it's quite early for that. Apple itself may not yet have decided what their next device will be. In any case, 9To5Mac has posted photos that appeared on the Chinese site CTech that purport to show the frame of the iPhone 6. In keeping with the rumors we've been hearing, the frame shows that the phone will be much larger than the current iPhone, and thinner. But as 9To5Mac notes, there's little to go on here, and there's no verification that these photos are authentic.
I like news apps, and Yahoo has just recently released Yahoo News Digest (free), which is one I'm definitely going to be using. There's already a plethora of news apps, but this one has two distinguishing characteristics. First, there are just two daily editions, one in the morning and one in the evening—unlike other news apps that tend to be updated throughout the day with random bits of news. The advantage of just having two editions is that it's a true summary of the most important news, not simply the latest news across the wire. A second distinguishing characteristic is that the news is curated. An algorithm helps assemble the news, but the news summary is also curated by hand. I like that. One reason I still enjoy newspapers and magazines is that they present curated content: I feel confidant my time will be used more efficiently, since someone has organized the content beforehand. It's not as frenetic as the stream of news items that come across a typical web-based news service.
All the rumors are now starting to refer to the forthcoming phone as iPhone 6. And the latest rumor, courtesy of Forbes, is that it will be just 6 mm thick.
Apple announced Tuesday that App Store sales exceeded $10 billion in 2013, including $1 billion in December alone. According to the press release, iOS developers have now earned over $15 billion. Apple also reported that there are now over 1 million iOS apps available, including over 500,000 designed specifically for the iPad. The press release highlights some of the surprise hits of 2013, such as Ellen DeGeneres’ Heads Up ($0.99, games), ProtoGeo’s Moves ($2.99, health & fitness), Simon Filip’s Afterlight ($0.99, photo & video), and Kevin Ng’s Impossible Road ($1.99, games). And it highlights some of the year’s most successful games that were created by international developers, including Candy Crush Saga (free), Puzzles & Dragons (free), Minecraft ($6.99), QuizUp (free), and Clumsy Ninja (free).
The iPhone 5s camera is already a wonder, and clearly Apple has plans to make it even better, as indicated by the news this past weekend that Apple had purchased both the SnappyCam app and the one-man company that developed it: SnappyLabs. The app had been quite popular because it allowed users to take a burst of high-quality photos, similar to the burst mode Apple eventually incorporated into the iPhone 5s. Apparently creating this feature was no small feat, and Apple must have been impressed by the achievement of the developer, John Papandriopoulos. Apple's intention is likely to incorporate some of the impressive technology of SnappyCam into the iPhone's Camera app. But Apple also purchases companies with the intention of not only acquiring their technology but also their personnel. And so Papandriopolous will now be contributing his expertise as an employee of Apple.
A post late last week on the website BGR, which cited a Chinese website, reported that Apple will be coming out with 4.7- and 5.7-inch iPhones this year — significantly larger than the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5 family. The source for the information is said to be Foxconn executives. While it's impossible to know what Apple will do, the repeated rumors of a larger iPhone clearly suggest that Apple is testing larger prototypes. Typically when we get incessant rumors such as this, there tends to be some credence to them. The post on BGR gives an overview of previous iterations of this rumor, which has been reported by respected media such as The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. A 5.7-inch display would put the iPhone in the same league as Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, which also has a 5.7-inch display. Phones of this size are often referred to as "phablets," an elision of "phone" and "tablet."