iPhone 6 Plus not so bendy, says Consumer Reports — US Consumer Reports says not very, and that smartphones from Apple’s competitors are actually easier to bend. The independent product testing company pitted both new iPhone 6 models against smartphones from Samsung LG, and HTC and found the competition flexed and deformed more easily, in contrast to online videos claiming to show an iPhone 6 Plus bending in someone’s hands. [From ‘Bendgate’ to ‘Bendbulls__t’.]
Recording Revolution app — If you like learning more about home audio recording, the Recording Revolution now has a free app. This gives you access to hundreds of video tutorials. You can pay USc$1.99 a month for the Ask Graham Q&A feature if you wish. [I learn from these videos.]
Apple & Colette plan Fashion Week event in Paris, may be Apple Watch-related — An invitation that appeared Monday morning on the website of famous Parisian concept store Colette suggests Apple may show off its new smart watch during Fashion Week in Paris at an event set to run between 11am and 7pm local time on Tuesday.
Apple Watch’s advanced AMOLED display far more costly than traditional screens — The flexible AMOLED display found in Apple’s new smart watch is believed to be among the most-costly mobile device displays available, according to a new report, with the 1.5-inch units thought to cost more than half as much as the 4.7-inch LCD in the new iPhone 6.
GoPro’s new iPhone-connected Hero4 wearable camera captures 4K video at 30fps — GoPro has announced its new 2014 lineup of wearable action cameras, including the flagship Hero4 Black, which is capable of recording not only 4K-resolution video at 30 frames per second, but also high-definition 1080p footage at 120 frames per second.
ProCamera 8: A solid app with new features and manual adjustments — One of the nice things iOS 8 brought to camera apps is the ability to manually adjust photos before you shoot, meaning that photographers get the kind of control normally associated with a DSLR. Things like ISO, shutter speed and exposure can be adjusted to create just the right mood in a photo. ProCamera 8 (US$3.99) includes all these manual adjustments and quite a bit more.
Lists galore — In the lead-up to an Apple announcement (there’s an ‘Event’ September 9th) all the Apple following sites tend to resort to lists. Macworld in particular – I’m not saying this is bad, they’re usually really interesting: best apps for preschoolers, uni students, best features of he forthcoming iOS 8 for businesses …
Los Angeles drops iPads for schools — Meanwhile, life goes on. In what must be a shock for Apple, Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy has suspended future use of a contract with Apple. This happened Monday 25th August. The deal was to provide iPads to all students in the the United States’ second-largest school system but scrutiny of the US$1-billion-plus effort had been mounting.
The contract had been approved just over a year ago. The terms meant Apple was expected to provide iPads with Pearson as the subcontractor. School board members were made to understand that the initial US$30-million contract was expected to expand to about US$500 million as the project rolled out over the following year. An additional US$500 million would be used to expand internet access and other infrastructure issues at schools.
The two main reasons Apple is now not in the pipeline is a deemed unsuitability of iPads in this environment (new electronic state tests were hard to read on iPad screens due to their size), but much more disturbingly, Deasy’s process looked, to critics, as if it had been skewed to favour Apple from the start. I’ll follow this with interest.
Californian kill switches — Meanwhile, California has passed a law mandating smartphone kill switches.
That means that smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen.
The demand is the result of a new law, signed into effect on Monday, that applies to all smartphones manufactured after July 1, 2015 sold in the state. The inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the US – and around the world.
Apple had, of course, already responded to this request by adding a feature called Activation Lock into its iOS 7 operating system. This already meets all requirements of California’s kill switch law except one: it doesn’t come enabled in new phones out of the box. That’s all that will have to change.
iOS 7 dominates iDevice users — With iOS 8 on the horizon, 91% of Apple users made the switch to iOS 7. This is very impressive, especially when you compare it to the Android world: there are currently five different versions of Android each holding 10% or higher shares of that market.
That means Google’s Android is more fragmented than ever, with three different versions of the platform representing two-thirds of all devices. This makes it hard for developers – which system to develop and test for? And it’s hard for consumers: which apps work on your particular system?
So on the one hand, Android users get the ‘freedom’ to play around with all these different system, while on the other, us iOS users are ‘trapped’ into a system most of us are using, which has a rock-solid testing and deployment process. I’m biased, of course, but it’s pretty obvious to me which one is preferable.
Windows 8 was no dragon slayer for Microsoft —Apple followers have been chortling over the almost constant reports for other tech analysts that Apple has messed up, about to die, missed the boat etc. Of course, all these things might be true, at least one day, but the style of reporting certainly shows a strong pattern. Some put Apple down by championing competitors in the strongest of terms as, finally, real ‘Apple beaters’.
An example is Zach Epstein. He postulated that Microsoft’s Windows 8 would be the Mac and iPad killer all rolled into one. In the Boy Genius Report in 2011, he wrote “Apple paved the way but Microsoft will get there first with Windows 8. A tablet that can be as fluid and user friendly as the iPad but as capable as a Windows laptop. A tablet that can boot in under 10 seconds and fire up a full-scale version of Adobe Dreamweaver a few moments later. A tablet that can be slipped into a dock to instantly become a fully capable touch-enabled laptop computer. This is Microsoft’s vision with Windows 8, and this is what it will deliver.”
Deliver? The same site’s Brad Reed now writes “Why did Windows 8 fail? … We know from well-connected Microsoft reporters and even directly from Microsoft employees that Microsoft knows it stumbled badly with Windows 8. Indeed, the Windows 8 brand has become so toxic that the company’s employees have reportedly dubbed it ‘the new Vista’.” Ouch.
HealthKit attracts medicos … and insurers — Meanwhile, it looks more and more like anything like a so-far imaginary Apple ‘iWatch’ will have a lot to do with medical and other sensory devices. And that’s the real impetus behind Apple’s June launch of HealthKit, which adds APIs and other services to a range of medical sensor makers and their related apps. Do you really want to monitor many aspects of your own body? I don’t – but I might one day. It certainly suits those trying to improve their fitness, but even more so, those with medical conditions … because conceivably this data could be shared with medical practitioners. They could get alerts when your heart rate of blood pressure go up, for example. They’ll call and say ‘Stop watching the rugby!’ Hah. Anyway, insurers seem to be getting into the concept too – these implications are discussed in a Mac Observer podcast.
China’s new OS — Finally, you may have heard that China has been deleting Apple devices from government agencies. Since Chinese tech companies haven’t developed their own operating systems that can compete with OS X, iOS, Windows, or Android, billions of dollars flow out of China, and Chinese security services feel like it exposes the country to espionage from the US National Security Agency (NSA).
So China is trying to develop it’s own OS based on Linux, which is ironic in itself. This is also discussed on the Mac Observer.
At the end of the day, I do recall that the Apple world remains an interesting hotbed of news, information and rumours.
Apple activates iPhone 5 battery replacement program, to swap out affected parts for free — Apple on Friday announced a free replacement program for iPhone 5 batteries after discovering certain units sold during a five-month period after the product’s launch in 2012 contain faulty components.
Apple Adds Humana, UnitedHealth to HealthKit Discussions — Apple is continuing to expand its circle of potential HealthKit partners with dialogs now happening with both Humana and UnitedHealth Group. Both companies are big-name health insurance providers, and the talks could mean Apple is hoping HealthKit will be part of the incentive programs carriers offer for subscribers who actively work to stay healthy.
Two free iOS writing and note apps — Vern Seward found his default writing app on iPad, WriteRoom, is no longer supported on that platform. So he went looking for other writing apps to fill that void.
Vine adds new editing tools and imported camera roll videos to iOS app — Vine for iOS has just received a massive new update the finally gives the video app equal footing with its rival Instagram. For the first time on Vine you can now create posts using video clips from your device’s camera roll, and then edit them to make your clip into the short film of your dreams.
Secret app to restrict photo uploads, block posts with real names in update — Anonymous social networking app Secret on Friday announced a number of changes to be introduced in its next update, including photo upload limitations and more aggressive restrictions on using real names in posts. The app has just been banned in Brazil over concerns of cyber-bullying. [It’s a digital anonymous confessional.]
Fudget uncomplicates money management — Fudget, currently free in the App Store and available for both the iPhone and the iPad running iOS 7.0 or later, is built for simplicity. This isn’t an app that’s loaded with features. It’s streamlined and focused on taking the complications out of managing your money.
While 91% of Apple users run iOS 7, five different versions of Android hold 10%+ share — The latest mobile operating system statistics show that Google’s Android is more fragmented than ever, with three different versions of the platform representing two-thirds of all devices, while Apple’s latest version of iOS runs on 91% of iPhones and iPads.
Max Gentlemen — The game Max Gentlemen has charted an odd, winding path to the App Store. Its creation was prompted by the subject line of a spam email before the game’s makers even had a proper studio formed, then took the form of a dating sim of sorts (that was put on hold), and was later turned into a hat-stacking game for a drinking-themed game jam, which led the game to be hosted in an arcade cabinet in a busy Chicago bar. It’s free and Universal.