Straight to the Facts – Apple’s September Event


September in the world of the sieve formerly known as Apple has usually been reserved for their big music event with iPod updates. However, the iPhone release schedule became rather unconventional in the past few years, resulting in today instead being the announcement of the next iPhone, or rather, iPhones. Here’s my traditional bullet-point rundown with some analysis:

The typical facts-and-figures updates:

  • the 5th annual iTunes festival – 30 nights of music live streamed to over 100 countries
  • Stanford is getting a new, bigger Apple store
  • October 2013 will mark the 700,000,000th iOS device being shipped
  • iWork is apparently the best selling mobile productivity app on any platform. Quite an impressive claim.
  • Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, and iPhoto free on all new iOS devices
  • iPhone 5 was the best-selling iPhone ever

iOS 7 (free to download from September 18th) features:

  • Siri enhancements and a male voice for Siri
  • New ringtones
  • Photos taken on vacation/holiday are put in groups
  • Available for iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPad 2, The New iPad, iPad 4th generation, iPad Mini, 5th generation iPod touch.

The iPhone 5 will not be relegated to being the budget last-gen iPhone, instead, the new iPhone 5C fits that gap, available in white and rather neon green,  blue, pink, and yellow. On a table it’ll look like an iPhone 5 with a colorful bumper, and on the rear they’re rather reminiscent of the 5th generation iPod touch but constructed from seamless hard-coated polycarbonate (yes, plastic, but “feels dense”) instead. Features:

  • 4 inch Retina touch display
  • A6 chip
  • 8MP iSight camera and FaceTime HD camera with better low-light performance
  • many LTE bands supported, BlueTooth 4.0, and dual-band WiFi.
  • Available on a two year contract for $99 (16GB) and $199 (32GB). Pre-order from September 13th (yes, that’s a Friday). Available in stores on September 20th (US, UK, Aus., Can., Fr., Germany, Japan, China, and Singapore)

For a budget device, it’s got some really good specifications. I imagine the “$99 on contract for 16GB of storage” will result in a lot of sales. All the colors and case variations will be a hipster’s dream.

iPhone 5S – available in grey w/ black bars, gold w/ white bars, and silver w/ white bars. Derrick Avery will be pleased with that.

  • the new A7 chip, up to 2x faster than the iPhone 5, and 56 times faster than the 2008 iPhone. Here’s the best part – it’s 64-bit. All of Apple’s built-in apps have been re-engineered, and it’ll still run 32-bit iOS apps fine.
  • another chip – the M7. It measures motion data (accelerometer, gyroscope, compass) constantly.
  • Battery gives 10 hours for 3G talking , LTE browsing, WiFi browsing, or video playback,  40 hours of music playback, and 250 hours standby time.
  • The camera has a whole host of automatic new features to take great photos without you having to change settings. New ‘True Tone’ flash that has 1,000 unique variations for capturing color temperature. Burst mode (hold the shutter down) for up to 10 shots per second with the ‘best shot’ choice similar to on the HTC One series. Slo-Mo 720p video at 120fps (same resolution/fps as the GoPro). Seemingly no mention of the camera resolution.
  • Touch ID: Fingerprint sensor in the home button – rest your finger on it and it unlocks (no need to click). You can also use your finger for iTunes purchase authentication. For the paranoid out there, it doesn’t store your fingerprint data on iCloud
  • On a two year contract it’s $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB. $49 for a case. Available in stores September 20th (US, UK, Aus., Can., Fr., Germany, Japan, China, and Singapore)

The 8GB iPhone 4S is now free on contract.

The event closes with musical guest Elvis Costello, which I’m more than happy with.

Not really much of an event, to be honest. One musician and a brief mention of iTunes Radio, so clearly not a music event. Yes, the iPhone 5S was announced with arguably less improvement over the 5 than the 4S was over the 4 – depends on how developers take advantage of the A7. If you’re wondering why I called Apple a sieve, that’s because some technology journalists got their hands on the bodies of the 5S and 5C weeks ago, as well as the (still unconfirmed but now likely to be identical to leaks) iPad 5 and iPad mini 2. Overlooking the iPhone 4 prototype fiasco, leaks as concrete as these really didn’t happen in the past.

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The new YouTube app


As you may know, last month Apple stated that their license with Google to include the YouTube app pre-installed on iOS devices has ended. What does this mean for you? Well, if you have an iOS device, you can get the new YouTube app from the app store right now. After installing it, you’ll notice it’s slightly different to the Android app with the main feed – you can opt out of Google’s non-subscription based suggestions. That is, you can stick with just seeing uploads from people you subscribe to in your main stream, rather than also see what they comment on, what they rate, and what they add to playlists. Personally, I welcome  this for two reasons; one being that with YouTube preloading on Android bumps subscribed uploads off the list in preference for newer activity which is just someone commenting on a video, and secondly, the entire activity list resulted in browsing through a lengthy stream of potentially uninteresting material.

The animations also feel a bit slicker than the Android ones in that it bounces a bit rather than just sliding to the side, resulting in the new iOS app feeling more polished and thought-out than the Android one.

iPhone knows where you’ve been…


As probably everyone with a twitter account knows (from probably at least two of the people you follow), it has been discovered that the iPhone tracks and logs all locations it has been to. The map shown by the first person to write about this story shows dots over the map, but I would have thought they would be lines  unless the iPhone jumped from one location to another. Anyway, apparently it applies to devices running iOS 4 that have GPS of some sort in it, so that means the iPhone and the 3G iPad. All the data seems to just be stored on the phone and on backups, but this is still rather worrying.

White iPhone 4 seems imminent


After 10 months of the black iPhone 4, it looks like the white iPhone 4 is coming closer to existence. Given that we are all expecting the iPhone 5 (I’ve probably got the name wrong, maybe it’ll the the 4G or something…) announcement in June, just TWO months away, I’m guessing everyone had given up hope/forgotten about the white variant. There have been many people with different speculations as to why it’s delayed. We can all hope and wait, besides, Schiller tweeted: “…The white iPhone will be available this spring (and it is a beauty!)”. If you can’t wait, you can always have your black iPhone 4 turned white by iresq.com
It should be noted that Schiller said ‘iPhone’ and not ‘iPhone 4’

Also, Apple may be working on some projection thing, as they have filed for patents.

This Week In Apple – 17th January 2011


Steve Jobs takes a medical leave of absence – Once again, Steve Jobs has stepped away from running Apple day-to-day for a bit. Unfortunately, I guess this means no Jobs-esque iPad 2 unveiling etc., but hopefully his health improves soon.

 

Verizon gets the iPhone – At long last, the iPhone has been verified to be coming to Verizon. Now, I don’t fully understand the carrier situation in the US (in the UK, O2 got the iPhone exclusively, but then about 2 years later, other carriers were able to get the older models and eventually the later ones), but it seems to me that AT&T have been the O2 of the US, just for longer. So on that basis, I’m guessing this is good news.

 

Practicality


I went to Camp Bestival a few weekends ago (laugh it up now) and tested how good the iPod Touch/iPhone is in a real life situation. I took my third generation 64GB iPod Touch with me and it was rather hopeless. I originally intended on taking it so that I could listen to some old podcasts during the nights, but there was an official Camp Bestival app, so it was used mainly for that. The app cost £2.99, which is rather a large price considering that all it was was a wirse version of the website, but offline. The background colours of the app (a hill and the sky) did not go well against the titles of the ‘acts’, which were purple. It was even worse, as in an attempt to conserve the battery life, the backlight was turned down, so it was rather hard to see anything. The battery was fully charged when we left for the festival, but drained very quickly. During the Friday, the battery went down to about 55% (just from using the app) and then at the end of Saturday it had gone down to about 25%, and as you probably know, it switches itself off when it gets to 10% and doesn’t turn on again until you plug it in to charge. In another attempt to save the battery life until the end of Sunday, the iPod was turned off (or as Apple calls it, a ‘soft reset’) until we needed to quickly check some timings. Somehow, the iPod limped through Sunday and made it out barely alive at the end. If I had an iPhone 4, I would have filmed some of the acts to see how good the camera is (especially with the quick, bright flashing lights), but instead I filmed it with a budget video camera, and I will somehow be posting the video soon.

(the past tense may be a bit muddled above as I wrote it just after, but couldn’t post it until now)

Find iPhone app


Now, I don’t have a mobile me account (yet) so I can’t test it, but from what it would seem with Apple’s Find iPhone app that it helps you find your missing iPhone. The error (if I am correct) would be that if you have lost it, you can’t use an app on it to find it as you don’t know where it is. If it is a multitasking background app, than that’s not as mad, but it worked fine without it anyway. Does Apple think that people are so rich they have one iPhone that they lose and another that they use to find it? Seemingly pointless.

At last, skype’s multitasking update


Way back when Steve Jobs first showed off iOS 4 (or iPhone OS 4 as it was called then) the Skype people showed off how great multitasking could be in iOS 4, so that Skype could basically be your normal phone app. At long last, that multitasking update has arrived. Also, Zynga was rather slow getting FarmVille out (not sure about Pandora as that is US only). Odd that all the apps that had actually been made earlier took a long time to crawl to the app store, which is odd. But, at last, Skype has multitasking (the lack of it lost them a lot of credibility on the app store)

Problems, problems


Apparently (as I haven’t been home to check yet, but it looks like this is true) iTunes has been updated to iTunes 9.2.1. This ‘fantastic’ update takes the pitifully small amount of control the users had and gives them none. It now works better with iBooks 1.1.1 and will disable ‘older version of some incompatible third-party plug-ins’ and the issue of upgrading iOS 4 if they had encrypted backups. For most people, this update will seem to do nothing. For others, this will be a tough choice for them, as was upgrading the PS3’s firmware to play new games, but never again be able to run Linux on it.

Apple seems to have rushed the iPhone 4


As I keep reading news stories about Apple’s iPhone 4, I keep reading a recuring theme: “Apple fixes one iPhone bug as another appears”.

Firstly, there is the problem that calls are dropped if you hold the phone with your left hand. Now, this was fixed by Apple by giving everyone a free bumper thing.

Secondly, there is the problem where the signal monitor is wrong and it shows the wrong signal strength, and Apple claim to have fixed that.

Finally, after Apple fixing these problems people have been reported that their 3GS’s are now starting to drop calls, occursing to this recent BBC news report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10659123

Maybe all the problems will be solved at some point, but as far as I can see, Apple should have waited till all the problems are fixed.