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Site changes this weekend

7 hours 34 min ago

Just a heads-up to Apple World Today readers. This weekend, we're enabling end to end SSL encryption on the website. This should not affect anything...but just in case, I thought it would be a good idea to let everyone know what's going on. 

Why are we setting up SSL encryption for our site? Well, two main reasons: 

1) Google has stated that it will soon reduce site search rankings for websites that are not running encryption, and

2) The Google Chrome browser will begin displaying a red "X" in the address bar for sites that aren't secured via SSL.

Encryption requires changes in our domain name server settings that might result in the site being "hard to find" or not appearing when you point the browser to If this happens, please note that it will only be a temporary issue. 

New hardware introduced this week: Aluminum Monitor Stand, Bluetooth speaker, more

15 hours 20 min ago

Several hardware items for your OS X and iOS devices were introduced this week. Here’s a summary of some goodies that were announced …

Satechi has added the Aluminum Monitor Stand to its Metallic Line, which already consists of the Type-C Hub, Aluminum Wireless Headphones, and an Aluminum Headset Stand.

All the products in the line are available in three metallic shades, gold, space grey, and silver. The Aluminum Monitor Stand raises larger computer monitors (up to 31 pounds) or laptops for a more comfortable viewing angle that reduces eye and neck strain by promoting good posture. 

The monitor stand also improves ventilation and creates free workspace, by adding an additional platform to organize a tablet, laptop, charging station, smartphone, office supplies, printers and more. The Aluminum Monitor Stand, available in space gray, gold or silver, is available now for $39.99.

Fluance has unveiled its Fi70 Bluetooth speaker (, which, according to the company, is the world’s first wireless speaker to house dual 8”-inch. It also packs 5-inch woven glass fiber midrange drivers and 1-inch neodymium tweeters.

The Fi70’s 280 watt built-in amplifier boasts big performance and delivers bass response starting as low as 30Hz. Its aptX streaming capabilities are designed to improve the quality of Bluetooth audio. 

Additional features include auxiliary input, touch controls to adjust a variety of settings, digital AM/FM radio, LED display and a USB port to simultaneously charge USB-powered devices while soaking in the sound. The Fi70 is available in Black Ash, Lucky Bamboo and Natural Walnut for $499.

KickShark, Inc., has announced the addition of the Roadie 6 port USB-C travel hub to its HydraDock brand of USB Type C connectivity products. The Roadie is the size of a credit card and provides the four most needed on-the-go ports: HDMI (w HDCP), gigabit Ethernet, and two USB 3.1 ports, as well as a USB-C port for a MacBook (or other) USB-C power adapter, and a USB-C male cable for connecting to the MacBook (or other USB-C device).

The Roadie’s two USB 3.1 ports are fully USB 3.1 compliant, supporting 5Gb per second data and delivering 900mW of power. The Roadie is completed and waiting to see the total number of pre-orders received before going to mass production in mid-February. All pre-orders received by then will be shipped on Feb. 29. has released a new USB-C to HDMI Adapter, which is available in black and white versions. This product extends the current product line of USB-C adapters to include HDMI, enabling users to connect their USB-C equipped laptops (such as the 12-inch MacBook) that support DisplayPort to HDMI monitors, projectors or TVs.

The $39.99 USB-C to HDMI Adapter is available at CDW,,, PC Connection, and Insight and will be distributed by Ingram Micro, SYNNEX, Tech Data, D&H and ASI.

Control4 Corp. is shipping its EA Series, a new line of entertainment and automation controllers for smart homes. There are three separate models powered by the Control4 Operating System. 

They have the ability to stream personal music from any iOS device to different rooms in the home, along with native support for popular music services including: Deezer, Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, TIDAL, and TuneIn. The Control4 EA-1 Bundle with Control4 SR-260 remote ($600), Control4 EA-3 ($1000), and Control4 EA-5 ($2,000) are compatible with iOS mobile devices including the Apple Watch.

IHS predicts that wireless charging is coming in the iPhone 7

15 hours 50 min ago

Ever since Samsung launched dual-mode wireless charging on their Galaxy S6 and S6 edge phones last year, all eyes have been on Apple to see whether they would also add wireless charging to the iPhone. The rumor is that this is indeed in the works.

Wireless charging is proving very popular with those who have used the technology, in fact over 90 percent of respondents in a 2015 IHS customer survey said they would choose wireless charging technology on their next handset. The market tripled in size last year compared to 2014, with more than 160 million wireless charging receivers shipped across all markets.

Just two weeks ago, IHS predicted that Apple would introduce some form of wireless charging on the iPhone 7, which is expected to launch in September, especially since they introduced an inductive, proprietary solution on the Apple Watch. 

“We still expect this to be the case, but this latest rumor suggests a longer term look at much greater spatial freedom – claiming to take away the charging pad altogether,” says David Green, research manager, wireless power and smart utilities infrastructure at IHS Technology. “There are already many companies out there looking at this type of technology where alignment on a charging pad wouldn’t be required.”

One approach is to use “loosely coupled” solutions like the AirFuel Alliance’s Rezence-specification, which allows charging over several centimeters, at any angle – for example in a charging bowl, or through a desk. Then there’s uncoupled technology, where “power like Wi-Fi” is the aim, sending low levels of power (typically less than 1 watt) across a room – Ossia, Energous and uBeam all made headlines at CES with this type of technology.  

“It remains to be seen which option Apple could be looking at for the iPhone, regardless of whether they will go for industry-standard certified or a proprietary solution,” says Green.

Loosely coupled solutions – and the Rezence-specification in particular – are expected to launch into commercial availability this year, possibly as early as the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February; however, uncoupled technology is likely to take longer to reach the mass market.  At least one original equipment manufacturer partnership with an uncoupled technology specialist is expected announce this year, but commercial availability by September 2017 would definitely be the earliest expected commercial launch, says Green.

The iPhone 7 mock-ups accompanying this article are courtesy of and .

AWT News Update: January 29, 2016

Fri, 2016-01-29 15:45

For this last podcast of the month of January we have a few little news tidbits to make your afternoon:

  • Apple and London Mayor Boris Johnson show up in the news again
  • The UK's Guardian newspaper apparently had issues finding anything good to say about Apple, so they interviewed people who didn't work there
  • Have a 12-inch MacBook? A new flash drive from Sony will catch your interest
  • Google delivers a dedicated AdWords app for iOS

Text is below, or you can watch a video version here.

Subscribe to the Podcast Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for January 29, 2016. Our sponsor this week is [younity], a powerful cross-platform personal cloud solution for Mac, PC and iOS. Check it out on the AWT website today, or click the link found in today’s show notes.

Last week we had a short note about how London mayor Boris Johnson was supporting Apple’s position in the European Commission’s tax inquiry. Now Johnson and Apple are connected in another way, as it was disclosed in The Architect’s Journal that the mayor flew to San Francisco in February 2013 to pitch Apple on sponsoring the Garden Bridge, a proposed pedestrian walkway over the River Thames. The trip was reportedly financed by taxpayers, which is being considered a bit of a scandal considering that the bridge procurement process hadn’t been completed. Apple doesn’t usually sponsor buildings and landmarks, and the company says that it has no involvement in the project at this time. Perhaps Apple’s billions of dollars in cash reserves seemed like a good funding idea to Johnson.

A ridiculous report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper that said that Apple’s corporate culture is hindering recruitment and talent retention has been widely panned today, mainly due to the fact that the most of the sources interviewed by the paper have either never worked at the company or even applied for jobs there. A freelance developer whose company develops iOS apps described Apple’s work environment as “hostile” with long work hours and pressure from upper management, although he never applied at the company. Another negative cited in the article was Apple’s culture of secrecy, with one recruiter stating that since Apple employees can’t talk about what they’re working on, it hinders their social status. And finally, the company’s failure to provide free lunch and phones like other Silicon Valley was seen by the author as more proof that the company doesn’t seem to understand what it takes to hire smart new talent.

Users of the 12-inch MacBook who are searching for a flash drive that works with the device’s USB-C port can look forward to a new product from Sony that will come out sometime in February. The USM-CA1 features both USB-A and USB-C connectors making it simple for the flash drive to be used to move files from an older computer to the small MacBook. The series will come in 16, 32 and 64GB configurations, supporting read speeds up to 130MB/second. There’s no word on pricing of the Sony flash drive.

Do you work for a company that uses Google AdWords for advertising? If so, you’ll be glad to know that Google has just launched a dedicated AdWords app for iOS. The free app gives advertisers a summary of clicks and impressions over time, lets users start or stop ad campaigns, adjust daily budgets, and control bids for ad groups or keywords. This should be helpful for any advertiser who doesn’t want to be tied to a computer just to keep online advertising campaigns up and running.

I’ll be back on Monday with another edition of the AWT News Update.

Notable apps and app updates for January 29, 2016

Fri, 2016-01-29 14:00

On a regular basis, Apple World Today posts a list of notable new apps or app updates that have been released. They may not necessarily be new, but they're popular and deserve mention. Here are today's picks for iOS and Mac OS X:

iOS Apps/Updates

Some people send or receive a lot of packages, so it's nice to know where they are and when to expect them to arrive. Deliveries ($1.99)is a popular package tracking app for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch that supports services like UPS, FedEx, the US Postal Service, DHL, TNT, Canada Post, Royal Mail, and more. The newly updated version 7.0 adds peek, pop and Quick Actions for the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, the ability to use Slide Over and Split View on an iPad, and about a thousand more changes! Definitely one to get if you don't already own it.

Lately we've seen a number of cool design apps for iPhone and iPad, and the latest is LetterGlow ($2.99), a way to do surprisingly sophisticated graphic design and photo editing on an iPhone. It's useful for creating social media graphics, promotional images, cards and invitations, blog images, and watermarked photos just to name a few ideas. 

Sure, you may not think you need another weather app, but when you take a look at Wild Weather ($1.99) you'll think twice. The app takes accurate current weather and forecasts and then applies an appropriate hand-drawn illustration to give your peek at the weather some excitement. It's universal for iPad and iPhone, and features dozens of those cool hand-drawn pictures. 

OS X Apps/Updates

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's probably a good time to start thinking about doing your taxes. Probably the easiest way is to use TurboTax (free with in-app purchases). Those in-app purchases can be a little bit pricy -- $109.99 for Home & Business Federal and State returns, for example -- but from personal experience I can tell you that's much less expensive than what you'll pay an accountant to do the returns for you. 


Since it's a Friday, you might want to sit down at your Mac and immerse yourself in a good game. One of the latest for OS X is SOMA 2015 ($29.99), described as "an unsettling story about identity, consciousness and what it means to be human." It all takes place in an underwater facility called PATHOS-II and you need to find a way to deal with "corrupted humans, twisted creatures, insane robots, and even an inscrutable omnipresent A.I.". Sounds like fun!

And another rumor: Apple already has hundreds working on virtual and augmented reality

Fri, 2016-01-29 12:30

DODOCASE P2 Virtual Reality Pop-Up viewer. Photo©2016, Steven Sande

During the Tuesday Apple earnings call, Piper Jaffray analyst and Apple pundit Gene Munster asked Tim Cook if the company had any plans for virtual reality products, to which Cook answered "it's really cool and has some interesting applications". Well, the Financial Times today reported that Apple has "assembled a large team of experts in virtual and augmented reality and built prototypes of headsets...". 

The article (behind a paywall) notes that the research team has "hundreds of staff" that have been assembled from acquisitions and poaching employees from companies in the space such as Microsoft and Lytro. One of the acquisitions is Flyby Media, a company that worked with Google on a 3D positioning technology. Apparently the team has also been building VR/AR headset prototypes for several months.

The Financial Times says that for Apple, the "skills and technologies it has assembled in imaging and positioning might also be useful for its secret car project" although the VR/AR project is a separate unit. Apple had first looked at the virtual/augmented reality market in the mid-2000s, but abandoned the idea due to immature technology. Now the company would be facing competition from Facebook's Oculus Rift, Microsoft's Hololens, Samsung's Gear VR, and even Google Cardboard.

If Jony Ive has anything to say about VR, the company won't be looking at a headset. Last year, Ive told the New Yorker magazine that the face was the "wrong place" to put technology. But building augmented reality into baked-in apps (the Maps app, for example) or figuring out a better way to use an iPhone as a VR viewer than Google Cardboard could very well be something the company is pursuing.

Rumor: Apple wants to produce original content for a planned TV streaming service

Fri, 2016-01-29 08:15

According to TheStreet, Apple is looking to product original content for its upcoming TV streaming service a la Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. 

The Cupertino, California-based company began sounding out Hollywood's creative community late last year, but has yet to sign any agreements, the article says, quoting two unnamed people with knowledge of the overtures.” One plan is to have deals in place so Apple can announce exclusive content as part of a cable-like offering in September, when it is expected to unveil its iPhone 7.

What do we know about Apple's rumored TV service, which I call Apple Web TV? The Wall Street Times says that Apple has talked — to no avail, so far — with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks that will be available on Apple gadgets such as the Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone. Apple purportedly wants the service to offer about 25 channels for US$30 and $40 per month. Apple’s Web TV offering will reportedly be anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox, but won’t include smaller channels typically included in a standard cable TV package.

The rumor mill says the original plan was for Apple Web TV to launch aside the fourth gen Apple TV. That didn’t happen, apparently because the company couldn’t hammer out deals with various TV networks and companies.

Apple looking to open its third retail store in Istanbul, Turkey

Fri, 2016-01-29 07:22

Apple is preparing to open another retail store in Istanbul, Turkey, according to MacReports, quoting an unnamed “source familiar with the matter.” This will be Apple’s third store in the country and will reportedly be in the Emaar Square Mall.

The first one opened in Istanbul in the Zorlu Mall in April 2014. The second store opened in the Akasya Mall in October 2014 . This new store will open in 2016.

The company has 481 retail stores in 18 countries and an online store available in 39 countries.

iTunes Radio channels have been folded into Apple Music

Fri, 2016-01-29 07:14

As previously announced, Apple has discontinued its free, ad-supported iTunes Radio channels, which have been folded into Apple Music. However, Apple's Beats 1 radio channel remains available to iTunes users as a free listening option. 

Apple Music costs US$9.99 per month or $14.99 per month for up to six people in a household. There’s a three-month trial period so you can give it a try.

Apple bought the steaming music service Beats Music, and Beats Electronics — which makes the  Beats headphones, speakers and audio software — in 2014. Apple acquired the two companies for a total of $3 billion, consisting of a purchase price of approximately $2.6 billion and approximately $400 million that will vest over time.

Rumor: Apple may introduce wireless charging technology for iOS devices in 2017

Fri, 2016-01-29 07:07

Apple is working with partners in the U.S. and Asia to develop new wireless charging technology that could be deployed on its mobile devices as soon as 2017, Bloomberg reports, quoting unnamed “people familiar with the plans.”

The article says that the technologies being investigated would allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from further away than the charging mats used with current smartphones, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are private. Apple is looking to overcome technical barriers including loss of power over distance with a decision on implementing the technology still being assessed, according to Bloomberg.

Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,086,864) that would give an iMac the ability to charge Apple accessories by resonant charging. The patent, “Wireless Power Utilization in a Local Computing Environment,” shows an iMac-like device with a NFMR (Near Field Magnetic Resonance) power supply that charges nearby gadgets wirelessly.

And we might even have Macs that on day run on wireless power. In 2014 ComputerWorld predicted that wireless charging would soon come to personal computers., It hasn't happened yet, but its likely that Macs will run via wireless power sooner rather than later.

ComputerWorld’s vision: “Place a laptop on a table, and it'll automatically start charging. No wires needed, no need to carry a power brick. That's how Intel views wireless charging for laptops, which could become a reality next year. Intel wants to make wireless chargers as easy to find as a Wi-Fi signal, and wants to bring the technology to cafes, restaurants, airports and other public places so laptops can be recharged without power adapters. The first laptops with wireless charging could come out next year, and Intel has shown a few prototypes laptop being recharged on a table.”

Here’s why I think we’ll see a Mac OS X tablet within two years

Fri, 2016-01-29 06:00

Apple says it’s not going to happen, but I think we’ll see a tablet running Mac OS X within two years. Why? The decline in annual tablet shipments reached double digits for the first time on record in 2015, according to TrendForce. A Mac tablet (the MacPad?) could re-invigorate sales for Apple. 

The global market research firm’s latest tablet shipment report shows a total of 168.5 million tablets shipped last year, representing a 12.2% drop from 2014. The gradual contraction of the global tablet market has become a more pronounced trend.

“The saturation of the tablet market, the long life cycles of tablets themselves and the abundance of substitute devices were major factors that contributed to the large shipment decline,” says Anita Wang, notebook analyst for TrendForce. “Tablets were challenged by many large and small devices during 2015, from smartphones sized 5 inches and above to 2-in-1 PCs. Their demand diminished as a result.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook has described the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement. While Steve, my AWT compadre, agrees, Yours Truly doesn’t and many others — such as Bob “Dr. Mac” Levitus --  feel the same. 

The problem isn’t the hardware. The iPad Pro’s A9X chip is beefy enough. The problem is that iOS simply isn’t nearly as good at multitasking as OS X. For example, it doesn’t support overlapping, movable, resizable windows from multiple apps.

In a Techpions article, Jan Dawson, founder and chief analyst at Jackdaw, a technology research and consulting firm, agrees the iPad Pro is hampered by its reliance on the traditional iOS and suggests a special, modified version of the operating system for the super-sized iPad. His idea is that the “podOS” would be targeted more toward multi-tasking and wouldn’t be a “touch-first” operating system.

If that’s the case, why not simply release a tablet with OS X that’s been updated with touchscreen support? This would offer the best of both worlds (OS X and a touch screen) on a Mac tablet that could easily double as a laptop by attaching a future generation version of the Smart Keyboard.

The MacPad could replace the iPad Pro if Apple wanted to keep its product line a bit simpler. iOS would still be the mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPod touch with its variants, watchOS and tvOS, running on Apple Watches and Apple TVs.

The mock-ups in this article are courtesy of, and .

This app makes your Mac’s speaker go Boom

Fri, 2016-01-29 05:30

If you've ever found yourself dealing with low audio output on a Mac (more common on laptops with their small speakers than desktops such as the iMac), Global Delight's Boom 2 will boost the audio volume. Significantly — as in up to 400%.

Once installed, a Boom 2 icon appears in the Mac OS X menu bar. You can use it to adjust the volume via a slider and tweak the tool’s settings (more on that in a moment).

For better or worse, Boom 2 boosts the audio output of the entire system rather than focusing on a few applications. This means you can now enhance the volume of media-playing applications like iTunes and QuickTime. You can also boost the volume of online videos like YouTube and Hulu playing on a web browser.

Voice applications like FaceTime and Skype can also use Boom 2 to enhance their audio experience. On the other hand, if you want an app that lets you personalize volume settings for different apps, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Boom doesn't just make your Mac's audio louder however; it provides a simplified equalizer with custom presets to further tweak the audio experience at the system level. Presets include Flat, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Soft, Loud, Music, Vocals and Movies. Fiddle with the settings, and you'll certainly notice a difference. Personally, I found the Loud setting did little except distort the audio slightly, so I'd skip it.

Even iPad/iPhone/iPod touch users will find Boom 2 useful. The app provides the ability to also boost the audio files residing in the iTunes library or from the disk. It then transfers the boosted files to your iOS device through iTunes. 

Boom 2 isn't a greedy app. When it's idle (you make the volume boost/presets off), the app doesn't consume any CPU/memory.

The latest version (version 1.3) adds Spatial, Night Mode, and Pitch audio effects. Pitch is for use when you're performing karaoke (something I never do). Night Mode comes in handy during movies where the audio track keeps swinging between loud explosions and inaudible dialogues. Spatial “transports users into the center of their audio, making them feel like they’re a part of it.” That’s a bit of hype, but it is an interesting effect. The effects are priced at $1.99 each and $4.99 for the pack containing all three.

Another significant addition to version 1.3 is full compatibility with OS X’s assistive VoiceOver technology. This enables the visually impaired to more easily navigate around the app.

Boom 2 will certainly amp up and improve the audio of your Mac's speakers. It made a major difference in the sound output of my wife's 13-inch MacBook Pro and a bit of improvement on my 27-inch iMac. The software won't replace a dedicated set of speakers -- and, in fact, doesn't work with external speakers, only those built into your Mac. But if you don't have standalone speakers for your Mac, Boom 2 is a fine investment.

Boom 2 runs on Mac OS X Yosemite or El Capitan. It can be purchased for $14.99 from the Global Delight webstore and for $19.99 on the Mac App Store. The Mac App Store version includes the three new in-app purchases. Students are eligible to purchase Boom 2 at a special discounted price of $9.99 while existing Boom 1.x users (Webstore and MAS) are eligible for 50% discount on the Global Delight store. A free seven-day trial and more can be experienced at the Global Delight website.

Patent report: loudspeaker system, docking station with audio output, more

Fri, 2016-01-29 05:00

Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product, so here are this week’s patent highlights … 

Two Apple patents relate to audio. Patent number 20160029143 for an “acoustic beacon for broadcasting the orientation of adevice.” Though it’s highly unlikely that the company will enter the loudspeaker market, the invention is for aa method for the orientation of a loudspeaker relative to a listening device is described with the goal of equalizing the sound in a room. 

In the patent, Apple notes that audio output devices (loudspeakers) may include two or more transducers for cooperatively producing sound. Although sound engineers may intend for the audio output devices to be oriented in a particular fashion relative to the listener, this orientation is not always achieved. For example, a listener may be seated off center relative to a linear loudspeaker array. In another example, a circular loudspeaker array may be placed at various angles relative to the listener. By being in a non-ideal position, sounds produced by audio output devices may achieve unintended and poor results. Apple thinks it can do better.

Also involving audio, Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,244,492) for a “docking station with audio output” that would work with iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. It would be a combination charging station, speaker system, and clock. The docking station would support a connection to a portable computing device in either one or two orientations. It would almost certainly use a Lightning connector.

You may one day be able to wake your iPhone or iPad simply by speaking to it. Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,245,527) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “speech recognition of a handheld portable device.” This would work via an “auxiliary processor” that monitors your speech to detect a wake-up command.

Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,244,253) for a “small form factor high resolution camera.” The goal is to provide high-resolution capture in an even smaller form factor for cameras in iPhones and iPads.

Finally, Apple has applied for yet another patent (number 20160025993) involving in-air gesture recognition that could involve Kinect-like features for the Mac or Apple TV. The invention relates generally to optical projection, and particularly to integrated optical projectors. An image capture assembly captures an image of the pattern that is projected onto the object, and a processor processes the image so as to reconstruct a three-dimensional (3D) map of the object. 

Apple Pay may be coming to ATMs from Bank of America, Wells Fargo

Thu, 2016-01-28 16:36

Bank Of America and Wells Fargo are working on integrating Apple Pay into their ATMs, according to TechCrunch, quoting an unnamed “source familiar with the teams on the projects.”

Wells Fargo’s head of ATMs Jonathan Velline told TechCrunch’s Josh Constine that, “We’ve been working on the technology that allows us to hook to digital wallets, leveraging NFC on mobile phones to replace the card at the transaction at the ATM. Right now the wallet that we support is Android Pay … we’re also looking at lots of different mobile wallets and evaluating which ones are going to be appropriate for our customers.”

When asked about whether its ATMs would work with Apple Pay, Bank Of America’s Consumer Banking Products press representative Betty Riess said “We already have number of mobile wallet programs.” This implied that Apple Pay could join them, says Constine.

Apple announced Apple Pay in September 2014, describing it as “a new category of service designed to transform mobile payments with an easy, secure and private way to pay.” In stores, Apple Pay works with iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. When paying within apps, Apple Pay is compatible with the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro.

AWT News Update: January 28, 2016

Thu, 2016-01-28 16:15

Speculation is running rampant about this year's crop of iPhones, and there are some interesting statements that have come out of various sources that are giving us an idea of what may happen...or lead us totally down the wrong path:

  • Cirrus Logic CEO talks in circles about Lightning-based headphones and manufacturing costs
  • Facebook adds live video for iPhone users in the USA
  • Nikkei says that the 4-inch iPhone (6c or 5se, your choice) is already in production
  • Apple's going to have to step up sales in emerging markets to increase or maintain global market share

Text version of the podcast is below, video is here

Subscribe to the Podcast Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for January 28, 2016. Our sponsor this week is younity, a powerful cross-platform personal cloud solution for Mac, PC and iOS. Check it out on the AWT website today, or click the link found in today’s show notes.

Remember just a few weeks ago… or maybe it was just last week… when everyone was panicking about the iPhone 7 possibly coming without a headphone jack, using the Lightning port instead? Well, during an earnings call with Cirrus Logic, which supplies the audio components for Apple products, CEO Jason Rhode commented on what could be coming in the future. Rumors had said that Apple would build noise-canceling headphone technology in the next-generation iPhone, and Rhode noted during the call that “There are definitely people considering putting it in box… any time somebody talks about adding content inside a box, inside the box it ships with the phone, you can imagine the agonizing that goes into any additional micro-penny that gets added to the box.” Rhode also mentioned Lightning-based headphones, saying “The amount that we can talk about that outside of other folks who are Made For iPhone partners is relatively limited, but yeah, there’s things that are up and running via the MFi program that people can take and design with today.” This fall’s introduction of the next iPhone could be really interesting from the audio standpoint from both the Lightning headphone rumor a and rumored wireless earbud solution from Beats.

Those of you who watch our Periscope broadcast of the News Update podcast know that it’s kind of interesting to watch the news rather than just listen to it. Well, Facebook seems to have caught the live broadcast fever, turning on live video broadcasting from the Facebook app for all iPhone users in the United States today. Both Meerkat and Periscope pioneered this space last year, and it’s fascinating to see how Facebook worked it into the app. You just Update Status, then select Live Video. You can write a quick description of what’s going to happen, then select the audience that you want to share it with. Don’t worry, though, we won’t be switching our daily Periscope over to Facebook because the Live Video feature doesn’t work with pages like the one we have set up for Apple World Today. But we may look into it if and when the feature does expand to other countries and to Facebook pages.

According to the Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei, the 4-inch iPhone 6c or iPhone 5se — whatever you want to call it — has been in production for a while. The company has apparently decided to release the new model this spring primarily for sales in emerging markets like India, Thailand, and China. Those are the markets where less expensive models pulled in a lot of market share during the past year or so.

And I’ll end today’s podcast with some research figures from Strategy Analytics. Global smartphone shipments grew 12 percent annually in 2015 up to 1.4 billion units. Unsurprisingly, Samsung captured 22 percent of global smartphone marketshare as the first place supplier. Linda Sui of Strategy Analytics noted that shipments of smartphones slowed to the smartphone industry’s slowest growth rate of all time in the last calendar quarter of 2015. She said that “Smartphone growth is slowing due to increasing penetration maturity in major markets like China and consumer worries about the future of the world economy.” Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, was even more direct in his concern about Apple’s iPhone, saying “Samsung is widely rumored to be launching its new Galaxy S7 flagship model in the coming weeks and this should enable Samsung to consolidate its smartphone leadership. Apple shipped 74.8 million smartphones worldwide and captured 18 percent marketshare in Q4 2015, barely changed from a year earlier when it delivered 74.5 million units in Q4 2014. Apple's iPhone growth is peaking. Apple will have to expand into new markets like India or Nigeria if it wants to reignite iPhone growth in 2016.”

I’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of the AWT News Update.

Apple buys LearnSprout, an education-tech startup

Thu, 2016-01-28 13:01

Apple has acquired education technology startup LearnSprout, which creates software for schools and teachers to track students’ performance, reports Bloomberg. More than 2,500 school districts in 42 U.S. states use LearnSprout’s software, according to the company’s website. 

LearnSprout is describe as “the first and only solution that makes big data analytics possible for non-technical educators.” The company’s mission statement is “to help K-12 educators use data to analyze the past, understand the present, and anticipate the future.”

LearnSprout is an online data insights service that uses live data directly from a district’s student information system. It combines assessment results, course grades, and attendance to provide actionable insights into student and school performance. 

Apple hasn’t said what it wants with LearnSprout. But the smart money is that it’s related to efforts to get more iPads into classrooms.

Notable apps and app updates for January 28, 2016

Thu, 2016-01-28 12:00

On a regular basis, Apple World Today posts a list of notable new apps or app updates that have been released. They may not necessarily be new, but they're popular and deserve mention. Here are today's picks for iOS, watchOS and Mac OS X:

iOS Apps/Updates

Only one pick for iOS today, and it's something that a lot of people have probably been looking for -- a free flexible database and organizer for iPhone and iPad. Airtable is an incredibly powerful database application with collaborative tools that syncs across your devices. Version 3.0 was released last week and includes full compatibility with iOS 9 and the iPad Pro. Rich fields can be connected to just about any cloud storage service (like Dropbox or Google Drive), and it's a fully relational database that's driving Airtable, so related data can be linked with a tap. On Mac or PC, you can see, create, and edit your databases from any web browser. AMAZING!


We don't often highlight watchOS apps here, but iDownloadBlog featured a couple earlier this week that caught our attention. First, Note Tapper ($0.99) is a wonderful little app for all of you who have wanted to take notes on your Apple Watch but find dictation -- and the need to use Siri and an iPhone connection -- to be less than perfect. Note Tapper provides a scrolling built-in keypad that lets you write and store notes on your Apple Watch. To ensure that your tap has actually landed on a key, you get audio and haptic feedback from your watch. There's no syncing with your Mac or even your iPhone, but it's still cool. 

The other note-taking Watch app highlighted by iDownloadBlog is WatchNotes ($0.99), which provides a way for you to take a quick note and then display it in a complication either in the Modular or Utility watch faces. The notes can be entered on the iPhone along with a scheduled time, and once displayed on the Watch, the Time Travel function can be used to see what's scheduled in the future. Notes can also be dictated, although as most Watch users are aware, dictation can sometimes be inaccurate.

OS X Apps/Updates

My OS X Twitter client of choice is Tweetbot ($9.99), which today received an update to bring the app in line with recent changes made by Twitter. Those changes change "Favorites" to "Likes" and Stars are now Hearts. Tapbots has also made a number of fixes and enhancements in version 2.3.2, available now in the App Store.

Our next pick is an app that has a limited audience, but if you're a pro video editor and want a new tool that can do non-linear editing and color correction, DaVinci Resolve Studio ($499.99) from Blackmagic Design is amazing. As one of the reviewers states, DaVinci "is not for the faint of heart" but "with all of its amazing color grading tools Resolve is a great place to send your Final Cut Pro X projects for finishing." 

The Apple rumor mill is working at top speed this week: iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se, and more

Thu, 2016-01-28 11:00

There's nothing better with which to raise the spirits of Apple fans than a good rumor, and the rumors have reached a fever pitch in the few days since the sobering financial news on Tuesday. Those rumors come from none other than 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman, who has a surprisingly good track record at finding "sources" who know what's going on. So what should we expect in the next couple of months? According to Gurman, an "iPad Air 3", a new 4-inch iPhone called the "iPhone 5se", and new Apple Watch models

The iPad Air 2 is getting a bit long in the tooth, having been introduced in October 2014. Gurman points to a schematic for a new iPad Air that showed speaker grills in all four corners -- similar to the iPad Pro -- and possibly a rear-facing LED flash for those people who find it necessary to use their iPads as super-sized cameras. "Sources" say that Apple is even testing versions of the 9.7-inch iPad screen that could be used with the Apple Pencil. Considering that the Pencil is still in short supply with delivery times stretching to 2-3 weeks, it doesn't make sense to me that Apple would want to disappoint an even larger number of customers by making a second Pencil-friendly tablet. 

Not to be outdone, the often-wrong DigiTimes reports that the next round of iPad Air will have a 4K resolution touch panel, up to 4GB of RAM, and even better battery life. MacRumors brings some reality to that rumor, saying that the 4K could just refer to the same screen technology (oxide thin film transistor) used in the 5K Retina iMac and iPad Pro. DigiTimes also says that Apple will be increasing production of products equipped with 3D Touch, even though it's unlikely that 3D Touch will make it to the new iPad Air.

The rumored 4-inch iPhone 5se will supposedly have an A9 processor and M9 chip supporting always-on Siri, more storage, better cameras and the ability to take Live Photos, and the NFC chip required for Apple Pay. As for the Apple Watch, Gurman expects nothing more than watchband updates, although the headline says "new Apple Watch models revealed" -- new colors for the rubber sport bands and Hermes bands, a black Milanese Loop band, and "an additional band line made out of a new material". Whooopeeee!

When will this all happen? Gurman's crystal ball says that "Apple is currently planning to hold its keynote during the week of March 14th, but the final date is still in flux, according to sources."

Have you installed your Snow Leopard update today?

Thu, 2016-01-28 10:00

If you're one of the relatively small group of Mac owners still running OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, you may have been surprised yesterday when an update appeared in the Mac App Store and on Apple's support website. Those of you who are new to the world of Macs might not know about Snow Leopard, which originally shipped in 2009 and introduced the Mac App Store in version 10.6.6. 

OS X 10.6.8 is not officially supported, but the update "ensures future compatibility of the Mac App Store included with OS X Snow Leopard, and is recommended for all Snow Leopard users." Only about four percent of active Mac users currently run Snow Leopard, making up as many as 3.6 million users worldwide. 

Apple would probably prefer that you update to a newer Mac that can run the most recent versions of OS X like 10.11 El Capitan and 10.10 Yosemite, but for those who are trying to stretch the life of old hardware out as long as possible and are still running Snow Leopard, it's worth running the update so that you can continue to use the Mac App Store. Believe it or not, you can still buy Snow Leopard from the online Apple Store for those really old machines you picked up at a garage sale...

Apple predicted to sell another 20 million Macs this year

Thu, 2016-01-28 09:28

Apple's Mac shipments are expected to remain at a level similar to that of 2015 at around 20 million units in 2016, while new MacBook and iMacs are expected to boost the company's overall product ASPs [average selling prices], reports DigiTimes, quoting unnamed “sources from the supply chain.”

Twenty million is the most Macs ever sold in a year. The previous record was 18.91 million in 2014.

These sources say that makers in the supply chain will start producing new 12- and 13.3-inch MacBooks at the end of the first quarter or in early second quarter, and 15-inch models in the third quarter. The article doesn’t clarify if that means laptops based on the 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display, MacBook Airs, or MacBook Pros, but I’m guessing it means all three.

Apple shipped 5.312 million laptops in the fourth quarter of 2015. That’s down 7% from the previous quarter and 4% from a year earlier. For all of 2015, Mac shipments were up 4.03% to 20.38 million units, and Mac revenues increased 2.61% to $25.273 billion, according to the company. Shipments of iMac products totaled about five million units in 2015, according to DigiTimes.