First Full Day of Spring – New Apple Goodies

It’s the first day of Spring, and Apple has sent released new products

Rumors of a March Apple event have been circulating for many, MANY weeks. With the end of March quickly approaching, continuing rumors changed March to April, and the rumors persisted.

I never thought there would be a Spring Apple event, regardless of the month. With Apple announcing WWDC dates in February, I never really thought that there would be any kind of streamed event prior to June. In my mind, all that a pre-June event would accomplish would be to lessen the impact of the introductions Apple had on the books at WWDC.

When Apple instead issued press releases on new products, everyone got what they wanted. The public got new goodies, and Apple didn’t ruin the impact of the June keynote with an event just a few months before they announce the 10th anniversary iPhone. With that, let’s take a quick look at everything that Apple announced yesterday.

Product RED iPhone
Apple released a 128GB and 256GB Product (RED) iPhone 7 and 7 Plus for $749/$849 and $869/$969. The anodized aluminum’s red color with white front bezels joins last year’s new matte black and jet black colors with the same set precautions – the finish could scratch and flake very easily.

Gold, Silver and Rose Gold anodization doesn’t seem to have the same set of issues that “colored” iDevices do. Those finishes don’t seem to have the tendency to flake and scratch like true colored anodized surfaces do. Users will need to take care with those devices. Some kind of clear case (otherwise, why get the (RED)..??) will need to be applied in order to keep the finish scratch and flake free.

PRODUCT(RED) is the brand that has been used for more than 10 years of partnership between Apple and (RED). Products with this special branding and color give customers a way to contribute to the Global AIDS Fund and “bring the world a step closer to an AIDS-free generation.”

PRODUCT (RED) iPhones will be available to order on Apple’s website, at Apple Stores, and at select authorized resellers and wireless carriers. The new model will begin shipping to customers by the end of March in the United States and will be available in more than 40 countries and regions around the world.

5th Generation iPad (iPad Air 3)
Apple today announced it is launching a new 9.7-inch iPad equipped with an A9 chip and a brighter Retina display. The new model is set to replace the discontinued iPad Air 2.

The tablet, which Apple is simply calling “iPad,” is Apple’s new entry-level model at the 9.7-inch size, starting at $329 for 32GB and $429 for 128GB.

The new device is similar in many ways to the iPad Air 2, which had an A8X chip and started at $399; but is slightly thicker and heavier. The new device has a faster A9 chip and a brighter Retina, but non-laminated or antireflective display.

The device’s tech specs also include a2,048‑by‑1,536 resolution and 264 PPI display, 8-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera, 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera, two speakers, Lightning connector, 3.5mm headphone jack, Touch ID with Apple Pay, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 4.2. In many ways, this device can be considered the iPad Air 3, though Apple has chosen not to give it that name

iPad mini 4 128GB
Apple today announced that its iPad mini 4 is now available with up to 128GB of internal storage. The Wi-Fi only version starts at $399. The previous, 32GB Wi-Fi only model has been discontinued. A cellular model with 128GB of storage is also available for $529.

The newly priced iPad mini 4 is available now on Apple.com in Silver, Gold, and Space Gray with next-day shipping.

Don’t expect much more out of the iPad mini line, such as a Pro model. The fact that the mini got an EARLY Spring update likely precludes it from getting the Professional treatment with any additional iPad updates that might come to the Pro line in June. Look for this line to be discontinued no later than this time next year.

iPhone SE 32GB & 128GB
iPhone SE is the four inch version of the very popular iPhone 6. It was released to satisfy those folks that just couldn’t use the iPhone 6/ 6s/ 7 or iPhone 6/ 6s/ 7 Plus without painful hand stretching.

Previously, the iPhone SE was available in 16GB and 64GB storage capacities for $399 and $449 respectively. The 64GB model was initially $499, but it received a price cut following the iPhone 7 launch. The new 32GB and 128GB models replace the 16GB and 64GB models and will remain available in Gold, Rose Gold, Silver, and Space Gray.

Storage was the only tech spec update this iDevice received. The new iPhone SE models will be available online and in stores starting on Friday, March 24.

Apple Watch Bands-o-Plenty
As widely anticipated, Apple today also debuted its new Spring 2017 lineup of Apple Watch bands. The new line introduces all-new options like Striped Woven Nylon bands, a set of sold-separately Nike Sport bands, and new colors for Hermès leather bands. Every band is available to order now on Apple.com.

Striped Woven Nylon bands now come in Berry, Tahoe Blue, Orange, Red, and Pollen. There’s also an all-new, solid Midnight Blue Woven Nylon band. The new Apple Sport bands are available in Pebble, Azure and Camellia. The Classic Buckle has gotten a small buckle redesign and now comes in Sapphire, Berry, and Taupe colors.

Users can also finally buy the Nike Sport Band separately in Anthracite and Black, Pure Platinum and White, and Volt and Black. The company is introducing new collections of Nike Bands as well, including a 38mm and 42mm Space Grey Aluminum Case with Anthracite and Black Sport Band and 38mm and 42mm Silver Aluminum Case with Pure Platinum and White Sport Band.

Apple Watch Hermès line is gaining new colors as well. Users can now choose from a 38mm Double Tour in Bleu Zephyr Epsom leather, a 38mm Double Buckle Cuff in Fauve Barenia leather, a 42mm Single Tour in Lime Epsom leather, and a 42mm Single Tour in Colvert Swift leather. One new addition to the Hermès collections and it includes the Apple Watch Series 2 with the 38mm Double Buckle Cuff in Fauve Barenia calfskin leather.

Bands are an easy and very affordable way (excluding the Hermes collection) to spice up your Apple Watch and bring it some exciting, new life. All of the new Apple Sport, Nylon and Nike Sport bands are available now for $50 bucks. All of the new Apple leather bands start at $149.99. The Hermes Bands start at $489 for the Double Tour, $339 for the Single Tour, and $680 for the Leather Cuff.

iTunes 12.6
One of the very few software announcements Apple made include the release of iTunes 12.6 for Mac. iTunes 12.6 introduces a “Rent once, watch anywhere” feature that lets iTunes users watch iTunes movie rentals across all devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

Prior to the 12.6 update, an iTunes movie was only available on a single device at a time. When a movie rented on a Mac was transferred to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod using USB, the movie became unavailable from an iTunes library until returned to the Mac. This limitation has been removed with this update, and rented movies can now be watched and transferred on any device running iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

This feature begs the release of both iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2, so it’s likely that these new operating system versions will be released in the coming days and weeks. Look for them on a compatible iDevice near you very, very soon.

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Desktop Replacements vs. Laptop Replacements

Some laptops were never meant to replace desktops. Others were. In an era where the desktop is disappearing, are tablets meant to replace laptops AND desktops?
Notebook-vs-PC
I’ve been a mobile computing advocate since 1992. I’ve been an expert really, since 2003. Mobile computing has become a way of organizing my life, a way of being more efficient at work as well as a way to entertain my family.  If it wasn’t for my son’s Nintendo DS-XL, some car trips would be unbearable. Dad likes a quiet car…

Desktop computers are being slowly phased out by the consumers that have historically purchased them because portable, more mobile replacements have been taking their place for a number of years. The trend can be taken back to Compaq’s luggable” portable computer that was introduced back in 1980 blah-blah-blah. People have wanted to take their computers with them since they were first introduced…

It was long thought that laptops and notebook computers would cause desktops to be phased out, but that didn’t quite happen.  You can credit that to the fact that they were really the same computer, at least on the inside. For the most part they used the same operating systems and the same applications. There was so much mobile form factor diversity, that the laptop PC almost insured that it wouldn’t phase out the desktop.  Tablets however, are a different story. There are basically only two form factors 7″-8″ and 10″ – or more aptly put – a mini and a normal sized tablet.

Apple’s new A7 processor appears in not only the iPhone 5S, but in the new iPad mini and the iPad Air. The A7 runs 100mHz faster in the tablet versions of Apple’s newest iDevices, and with some of the newer keyboard covers that are coming out for the devices, you have to ask yourself the question – will the iPad Air replace the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro as Apple’s mobile computing platform?  Should it?

The A7 runs 80% faster than the A6. It seems to, or appears to, have the chops to handle most of the computing tasks that most consumers would need – web surfing, email, moderate digital photography retouching. As I said before, all that most any casual consumer would need at that point would be the right kind of keyboard cover, and without a doubt, the iPad Air or new iPad mini could be their go-to computing device. Those that are more comfortable with a full featured PC, notebook or other computer can still get what they need today with either a Mac mini or MacBook Pro; or even a notebook or desktop PC.

Consumers want what ever device is going to provide the path of least resistance to their computing goal. The biggest problem with tablets as a primary computing device, in my opinion, has been their slate form factor and lack of keyboard and, even with their touch screens, a pointing device like a trackpad or mouse.

Devices like Surface Pro and Surface 2 Pro have the right idea – a portable slate device with a very usable keyboard and trackpad.  Now that third party accessory makers are providing usable, comfortable keyboard covers for the tablets in general, I think we ARE going to see more tablets with magnetic keyboards.  With processors that are providing notebook level computing power, I think that for the immediate computing future, say the next 3-5 years, notebooks and desktops won’t be completely replaced in the consumer market, but more users will likely be headed in that direction. It simply makes sense from a usability, portability, economic and ecosystem perspective.  Forget lean back and lean forward computing, tablets will be the devices we lean TOWARDS to get work done.

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7″ iPad Rumor Analysis – Part 2: Is the Customer Always Right?

There’s are reasons why Apple hasn’t released the rumored iPad Mini. In part 2 of this 2 part series, I break down the rumors…

Apple rumors are fun. Apple’s secretive culture often sparks and breeds the development of rumors and many people in the tech journalism industry love to speculate and see how right the mill is every time Apple releases new products. Last minute speculations aside, it’s difficult to crack the Apple rumor nut. However, after slowly and carefully finishing the Steve Jobs Biography, I think I have a decent understanding of where Steve was wanting things with Apple Product Development to go.

I’ve had a couple people come to me over the past couple of weeks and either ask me about or tell me about the rumored 7″ iPad, nicknamed the “iPad Mini,” that Apple is supposedly set to release “soon.” I’ve chuckled a bit at these folks and their immediate response was, “What..? You don’t think they’re going to release it?”

My response has been, “I don’t know.”

Trying to guess what Apple is going to do with their product road map is very much like trying to predict the weather – there’s gonna be some [weather]; and forecasters have a 50-50 chance of being right.

However, you never really know if it’s going to rain or not until you stick your head out the window. In part 2 of this 2 part series, going to concentrate on Tim Cook. It all comes down to who’s the captain of the ship.

Is the Customer Always Right?
Last week, I talked a bit about why the late Steve Jobs hated the idea of a 7″ iPad. Put succinctly, Jobs felt it confused customers by blurring the lines too much between the iPod Touch and the original, 9.7″ iPad. Customers interested in that device size might be better served with the (we’ll call it) 4″ iPod Touch or by taking the plunge and moving up to the full 9.7″ screen on the iPad.

In a Jobs run Apple, there would be no ‘7″ iPad Mini.’ The game totally changes in an Apple run by Tim Cook. Here’s why…

Tim Cook is Apple’s former Chief Operating Officer. As an operations guy, Tim Cook listens to, or is at least accustomed to listening to, the voice of the customer. Customers clearly like the idea of a 7″ iOS tablet. The idea of a lighter smaller iPad, with all of its power and capabilities, appeals to a great many people.

The product confusion issues between an (about) 4″ iPod Touch, 7″ iPad Mini, and the 9.7″ iPad still exist – Is the 7″ iOS device a iPod that’s too big, or an iPad that’s too small..? The question is valid, as the iPod Touch does very well, and the iPad is currently expected to be the king of the “tablet hill” until at least 2016.

Tim Cook is the unknown element here. His good friend and confidante, Steve Jobs was very clear on his 7″ tablet stance – No. However, Tim Cook’s operations background may move him to green light the project; but you have to ask how that will effect Apple’s bottom line (manufacturing and marketing costs vs. potential sales, for example) before you start drooling over the idea of an iPad that you can carry in a jacket pocket.

I’ve been wrong before, but at the end of the day, I still don’t think we’re going to get a 7″ iOS tablet; but not because of Jobs’ product aesthetics stance. I don’t think the device has enough legs to warrant the manufacturing line and component costs.

However, we’re really going to have to wait and see… I wouldn’t be the first Apple prognosticator to be wrong about what Apple actually decides to do if they did release a 7″ iPad.

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7″ iPad Rumor Analysis – Part 1: Why Jobs Hated the iPad Mini

There’s are reasons why Apple hasn’t released the rumored iPad Mini. Let’s break it down…

Apple rumors are fun. Apple’s secretive culture often sparks and breeds the development of rumors and many people in the tech journalism industry love to speculate and see how right the mill is every time Apple releases new products. Last minute speculations aside, it’s difficult to crack the Apple rumor nut. However, after slowly and carefully finishing the Steve Jobs Biography, I think I have a decent understanding of where Steve was wanting things with Apple Product Development to go.

I’ve had a couple people come to me over the past couple of weeks and either ask me about or tell me about the rumored 7″ iPad, nicknamed the “iPad Mini,” that Apple is supposedly set to release “soon.” I’ve chuckled a bit at these folks and their immediate response was, “What..? You don’t think they’re going to release it?”

My response has been, “I don’t know.”

Trying to guess what Apple is going to do with their product road map is very much like trying to predict the weather – there’s gonna be some [weather]; and forecasters have a 50-50 chance of being right.

However, you never really know if it’s going to rain or not until you stick your head out the window. In this 2 part series, I’m going to look at two deciding factors related to Apple’s “iPad Mini.” Part 1 will concentrate on Steve Jobs. Part 2 is going to concentrate on Tim Cook. It all comes down to who’s the captain of the ship.

Why Jobs Hated the iPad Mini

It’s a very well-known fact that Steve Jobs thought the iPad’s form-factor was perfect as is. In his estimation, around 10 inches was the right and ideal size for this size computing platform. Netbooks, which the iPad was originally thought to be when Apple was originally developing the iPad, fragment the computing landscape and muck with the ecosystem. As such, you really don’t see a lot of netbooks on the market today. That computing form has really died off. They’re too under powered, and too small to be of any real use.

At 7 inches, an iOS powered tablet sticks itself directly between the 3.7 (let’s call it 4 inches for the sake of argument) iPod Touch and the iPad. Jobs looked at this middle sized form factor and pronounced it a “piece of shit,” because it brought confusion, more than value, to iOS devices. Most people don’t understand why, and it took me to get through the Walter Isaacson biography to really get it myself.

I am almost positive that Apple put a 7″ iPad prototype together. I’m certain that there was likely more than one; and that they got passed around Jobs’ and Jony Ivy’s inner circles. Jobs killed it because it too closely blurred the lines between the 4″ iPod Touch and the 9.7″ iPad.

Ultimately, it would have cannibalized sales of both existing products, without adding any additional value or features. Jobs thought 7 inches was too small of a screen to accommodate a tablet and its use cases (games, movies, etc.) and too big to carry around as an iPod. (Face, it, you’re not going to go jogging with a 7″ device strapped to your arm.) When trying to determine which device to purchase, customers wouldn’t understand the differences between the iPod and the iPad (Mini) at that point, and from what I’ve read in Isaacson’s biography, that drove Steve bonkers.

Come back next time, and I’ll go into the other side of the coin – Tim Cook.

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