Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Get Ready for New Apples ("Wish We Could Say more")

As Fall rolls around, it is Apple season in Michigan.  That means, not only do we get a new batch of delicious fruit for our pantries (2014 is a bumper crop year - and the cider mills are always busy), but we also get a new set of electronics for our digital life (from Apple, Inc. of course).  In case you like Apple products, but aren't a big enough fan to follow all the rumor mills and blogs, here's a quick rundown of what's up:
  • Tuesday September 9 at 10:00 AM PST (1:00 PM EST), Apple is having a special media event - a.k.a. the iPhone announcements.
    • This event will be live broadcast on a special Apple Events channel on your Apple TV.
    • You should also be able to watch the live stream on Apple's web site.
  • Software Update to iOS 8 offers these major improvements, plus much more:
    •  Silence / Unjoin Group Chats in the Messages app
    • Instant access to Favorites and Recent contacts from anywhere on the phone with double-tap Home button
    • Instant record-and-send of selfies, voice messages, and videos from the Messages app
    • HomeKit allows developers to use standard Apple programming modules to develop their own apps to integrate with home automation devices (garage door openers, appliances, door locks, cameras, etc.)
    • Health app - Just like the Passbook where you store tickets and passes in one place on your device, you can now store personal health-related information in one place
    • HealthKit allows developers to use standard Apple programming modules to store and retrieve personal health data from your Health app, so health apps can better integrate with Health app
    • Extensions - Developers can now develop custom apps that not only provide you an app, but extend built-in functionality on your phone.  Custom keyboards, custom Photo app plug-ins, and more are now possible - but in typical Apple fashion, they have thought this through completely, with your data privacy and device security foremost.  This means that these extensions cannot in any way take over your device and perform malicious things.
    • Predictive Text - Again, in typical Apple fashion, they have re-invented predictive text typing.  All other devices, as you type a few letters, it guesses what you want to type based on the letters.  With Apple, you don't even have to type.  It learns from your history of typing, and even whether you are typing in the Messages app versus the Mail app, and to whom you address your messages, as well as word you have typed previously in the sentence - to accurately predict some follow-on word suggestions.  This gives you adaptive predictions for business versus personal conversations, in context of whether you are typing a short text message or an e-mail.
    • Continuity uses a set of features called Handoff that transfer your digital life between Apple mobile devices and your Mac computers.  You can start and pick up e-mail composition, document editing, phone calls, and more between your Apple devices (all supported by the new OS X Yosemite due for public release this fall).
  • Rumors have abounded, and many "news leaks" have abounded as well showing parts from the new device lineup, so many of these rumors are based on some basis in reality.
  • Apple should announce at least 1, if not 2 (or more) new iPhones with the iPhone 6 line.  The following features are expected:
    • Larger screen size options - it is probable the same iPhone 5 size will continue, but also at least one larger option.
    • Apple has signed partnerships recently with American Express and Visa/Mastercard, and so mobile payments via Near Field Communication (NFC) are expected to be included in the phones.
    • Better battery life is pretty much a given, as they constantly improve year over year.
    • More RAM (as you know, in computers your working memory size gives you your speed, so more is better) - this is not your flash storage, but how much memory the phone has to work with while booted.
  • Although this has been a tightly held secret, for years now analysts have expected Apple to enter the so-called "wearables" market (although they already are in it with the iPod Nanos), with a much-rumored iWatch.
    • The iWatch is speculated to be considered at the $400 price point.
    • It is rumored to show you notifications from your phone, like incoming messages, phone calls, etc. and may also have health monitors to integrate to the Health app (pulse, blood pressure, pulseox, etc.)
  • Persistent rumors throughout the years that Apple will release a new line of Televisions are probably false, as there seems to be no basis in reality that they are ramping up production.

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