So now we know for a fact that the next iPhone is being introduced on September 12. But what about the people who claimed it was going to be called the "New iPhone" rather than the iPhone 5 ? Check out the shadow in the announcement graphic. Either they are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone, or else this is it: the iPhone 5.
On July 30 iMore.com came out with the scoop that Apple will be introducing a new iPhone ("iPhone 5" ? "New iPhone" ?) on September 12 and that the new phones would be available in stores on September 21. He also stated that the new rumored iPad mini would come out on the same day. The iPad mini is supposed to be a smaller model of the most successful tablet-computer in history, somewhere between 7 and 8 inches, with a non-retina screen and rumoured to have a base model priced anywhere between $199 and $299.
Knowing how Apple like to focus their product introductions on hot items and would not want any one category to cannibalize on the attention of another, the idea of introducing two important products such as these in one event sounded somewhat strange to me, but better informed people than me were writing those pieces and they seemed to know of what they spoke. Enter John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame who wrote this piece on August 23. He posited that with the iPhone alone being the "single most profitable product in the world today" (the iPhone business alone is bigger than all of Microsoft's businesses combined), why would Apple want to share the iPhone's spotlight with the announcement of another new product.
This was soon followed by what appeared to be a very brief, innocent comment by Jim Dalrymple of loopinsight.com. Except that when it comes to Mr Dalrymple, when he writes about Apple, his comments are rarely innocent. He has proven to be very much in the know of the secret goings-on at Apple in the past and the tech-media always pay extra special attention to his apparently off-the cuff remarks.
And finally word came down from what is considered the most reliable source about Apple these days: John Paczkowski of AllThingsD.com. In a piece dated August 25 he "confirms" there will be two events: one introducing the iPhone on September 12 and another event in October for the iPad mini. As he says in his article:
"With a new iPhone and a new, diminutive iPad in the pipeline, Apple has two opportunities to commandeer the tech news cycle ahead of the annual holiday shopping binge, and it's going to take them both."
You will notice that the headline of his piece states "Confirmed", however the last line of the piece states clearly "Apple declined to comment on its plans". And yet the tech world accepts that if AllThingsD says it is so, it will be so. That only leaves one more little item in question. What about the new rumored iPod nano ? We have heard anything from a WiFi enabled nano, to rumours of a nano that would work with an iPhone as a wristwatch or other wearable "satellite" for your phone. When will that be introduced ?
Personally I believe that if the nano is being repositioned as something that extends your iPhone's functionality, it makes sense to introduce it the same day the new iPhone comes out. In the meantime all we can do is wait and speculate some more.
Ever since the sad last chapter was written in the Sparrow saga, another exciting contender appeared on the surface. The brainchild of a designer by the name of Tobias van Schneider, .Mail (dot Mail app) has excited a lot of people who still consider email one of their primary means of communication, but have been looking for a new client that better suits their needs in these days of "Inbox Overload". While he has only been working on the project for a couple of weeks, he just came in with an exciting update and it would seem we are only weeks away from beta testing this little beauty. To keep up with news my suggestion would be to follow on Twitter. Stay tuned as I am certain I will be writing about this soon enough.
This is probably a little bit too geeky for most, but one of the things I enjoy doing almost as much as installing a new operating system on my Mac, is reading John Siracusa's exhaustive review of the new OSX on ars technica. Just finished reading his Mountain Lion review, and, as always, it did not disappoint. Some people feel they need to prepare for the review, and they have (once again) created a video for this purpose (it seems John himself appears in the video this time around).
A couple of hours into using the new Apple operating system and I can already tell you a few things. The first impression you will have after the update is that nothing changed. Everything pretty much looks the same. You'd think you just spent $20 on nothing. And then you start noticing little things. Suddenly Mission Control and Launchpad, both functions I had previously removed from the Dock, are back again. When you try dragging them off, nothing happens. They're stuck. Thanks to Jason Snell of Macworld for letting me know that I should right-click on the items to remove them.
I dictated a few email messages in Mail. Worked flawlessly, although every once in a while the computer waits for the Apple servers to return the written sentence back (the process of transcribing your words to typed text does not happen on your computer).
So far no complaints yet about Notifications. I like seeing new email message notifications appear at the top right of my screen. I am a bit peeved that my everyday computer, a late 2010 MacBook Air, will not support Airplay Mirroring. My video production machine, a more recent MacBook Pro, does show the Airplay icon in the menu bar, but that one rarely moves from its spot these days.
Digital comics really came into their own with the advent of the iPad. Comixology is without a doubt the reigning king of these new publishers. The apps driven by these engines let you read the comics using a "guided view", tapping the screen to close up on a particular panel, and moving from panel to panel in a logical manner. There is however a new entrant in this field, a company, and product, by the name of Madefire. The company developed the Motion Book Tool and use words, pictures, motion and sound for the purpose of storytelling. Madefilre takes advantage of the iPad's gyroscope, accelerometer and touch screen to create different effects when you tilt or move the device in certain ways. The idea is to add depth to the story, to literally evolve the comic book medium to a next stage. Having tried it myself I have to admit that it is intriguing, and somewhat exciting.
Imagine attending an event with a few friends. All of you have iPhones. You all take them out and fire up a free app called Vyclone. You all start shooting video of the event from different angles. All the footage together is gathered into one clip that switches between the cameras, in sync. You can later remix anyone's clip and use the raw footage to your heart's content. Finally, you can share the final version. Minor piece of trivia: one of the founders of Vyclone happens to be Sting's son. Yes, THAT Sting.
Precisely one month ago I wrote about one of my favourite Mac and iOS apps: Sparrow, one of the most elegant email applications I have ever had the pleasure of using. Little did I know that, as I was writing these words, the company behind this little gem, based in Paris, were heavily in discussion with Google about being acquired. Well, it finally happened. In essence Google are buying the company, which is another way to say they hired the "talent" this small company represented. The company has already advised that they will halt development of Sparrow (and we had eagerly been awaiting the iPad version, which now will never see the light of day) as they are joining Google to work on in-house (most likely email related) projects. So, yes, there is a chance we might see Sparrow elements appear in future Google products for Mac or iOS, but it is clear it will never be the same as getting exciting and innovative updates to the cool, zen in its simplicity, fresh look at email program that is Sparrow.
Here is a little spoof quickly created by someone who feels pretty much the same way I do with this little piece of breaking news.
Some people have a hard time letting go of the "old ways". For those people there are solutions as well as far as accepting new tech. Here is one of them. A different way to take your iPhone calls. Can't say I agree with some of the casting and editing decisions for this video, but the product might attract some people.
I am very partial to Otter Box cases for the iPhone. So far the toughest case they built was the "Defender" model. I liked the fact that it even had a hard plastic screen cover that allowed clicking and swiping on the screen. This time they went further and created what might very well be THE ultimate iPhone case for anyone from extreme sports fanatics and all the way down to casual campers. The Armor Series for iPhone 4/4S even manages to look OK despite all the bulk. Chances are good that Otter Box will soon have to design an iPhone 5 model as well (unless of course Apple decide to call it the "New iPhone").
First we had mac.com. I liked that one. I still use it. Then came me.com. Also liked that one. It was simple, easy to convey over the phone, easy to remember. But this time they messed with a good thing. Who in their right mind would want an email address like email@example.com ? What were they thinking ? I understand that branding is important, but then learn from Microsoft: they still call their operating system "Windows". Did you see what Windows 8 looks like ? Any windows there ? There is such a thing as taking branding a tad too far. Seems I am not alone thinking this. I'm in good company. Here is a brief piece by Philip Elmer-Dewitt in Fortune magazine.
I am not yet sure why I did this, but the second I heard that Chrome was available on the iTunes App Store, I went for it. I am almost exclusively a Safari user, but for some reason I felt the need to add Google's browser to my machines. I'll let you know when I figure out why that was so important, but in the meantime I did feel that the little ad Google prepared for this intro was worth watching. Enjoy.
For the past year I have been using this little utility that has become indispensible. It is safe to say that Apple's iCal is probably their worst piece of software. OK, maybe that dubious achievement award belongs to iTunes. But iCal is a close second. Entering events or reminders into iCal is simply tedious. Enter Fantastical. Type in "Dentist appointment tomorrow at 1PM" and watch Fantastical parse it correctly and create your reminder in iCal effortlesly. This little video really says it all. Highly recommended.
In the past few days two products were introduced by Apple competitors that have made some noise: Samsung came out with the Galaxy S III, and Microsoft once again entered the hardware business with the Surface. While I will leave reviewing or giving opinions on these products to people who are much more adept at this sort of thing, there are two particular innovations I liked a lot, one for each of these products, that I wouldn't mind if Apple "adapted" into their product line. The obvious one is of course the Surface's Touch Cover. In essence this is equivalent to the iPad's Smart Cover, except it has a built-in keyboard. Clever little bit of engineering and something I would enjoy much more than typing on the iPad screen.
The Galaxy S III also has all sorts of cool techie bells and whistles, but one of the coolest innovations there are what they call TecTiles. These are little $3 stickers, embedded with circuits, that activate certain things on the phone whenever the phone is near one of them. Imagine sticking one in your car and having it turn your phone's Bluetooth on as soon as you sit in it. I could think of other location-specific actions I would have these stickers trigger on my phone throughout a regular day.
So, Apple, pay attention, and find a way to bring these sort of concepts into our iOS world. Call it something else if you want, we won't mind. So long as we get to take advantage of the tech, we don't care who came up with it first.