The Tech News Blog

January 23, 2015

Report: Don’t Expect an Amazing Apple Watch Battery Life

Apple Watch

Even Apple hasn't cracked the smartwatch battery code: A new report suggests the upcoming Apple Watch will provide up to 3.5 hours of app use between charges.

That number drops to 2.5 hours if you're constantly checking social media, stock prices, or sports scores.

The Apple S1 chip and Retina-class display might result in hefty battery loss, according to 9to5Mac, which cited people with knowledge of the Apple Watch's development.

Leave the wearable in standby or low-power mode, and you may be able to squeeze two to three days out of it. Or, oddly enough, switch on the fitness-tracking software for nearly four hours of exercise tracking on a single charge, 9to5 Mac said.

Still, the Apple Watch is likely not intended for near-constant use. "That's why the Watch will be able to last the average user roughly a day on a single charge," 9to5Mac said. "We're told that Apple has been shooting for roughly 19 hours of mixed usage each day, but that the company may not hit that number in the first-generation version."

Early last year, Cupertino was rumored to be experimenting with wireless and solar charging efforts for its smartwatch—a far cry from the circular magnetic connector expected to ship this year.

Apple fans may get their wrists on the new wearable as early as March: Recent reports tip "extensive testing programs" at Apple retail stores next month, ahead of a March rollout.

Cupertino unveiled its long-awaited device is early September, showing off three variant with different bands: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.

Available in a 38mm or 42mm watch face, the wearable requires an iPhone connection (everything from the 5 to 6 Plus), and provides easy access to Siri, apps, photos, directions, and communication services.

January 11, 2015

Apple Hikes App Prices in Europe, Canada

App Store iPadThanks to adjustments in value-added tax rates and foreign exchange rates, Apple has boosted the minimum price of App Store apps in Canada, Norway, and most European Union countries.

Russia will also receive a price modification, but Apple wasn't clear as to what that might be—the recent instability of the Russian Ruble actually caused Apple to stop offering its products for purchase in the country for a short period. When they were made available once again, some products saw a price increase of up to 35 percent.

If you're an app developer in Iceland, however, you'll see a decrease for the minimum price for apps. Congrats?

Apple Insider published what Apple sent to developers on Wednesday informing them of the price changes. Apple noted that the changes would arrive within 36 hours of that email and, as part of the modifications, Apple would also update its Pricing Matrix found within iTunes Connect.

Now, apps will cost a minimum of $1.19 in Canada, 0.79 Euro, or 0.99 British pounds. The move—for Europe, at least—likely comes as a result of the European Union passing changes to its tax law that raised the price of digital items like apps, music, and ebooks by an average of around 6.5 percent starting Jan. 1.

Essentially, businesses were using a little loophole in EU tax law by setting up offices in countries with a small value-added tax and routing all digital purchases through there. Thus, customers would only have to pay the small VAT for the country where these purchases routed through, as opposed to their local VAT. With the latter now the new policy, that's raised the cost of digital items. And, as many expected, it's not the businesses that will be paying the extra; the amount is being passed on to the customers, hence Apple's minimum price raises.

This isn't the first time Apple has had to modify minimum app pricing as a result of changes to foreign exchange rates, so the move shouldn't come as a surprise to any developers—or potential app downloaders.

January 8, 2015

Apple’s App Store Starts 2015 With a $500M Bang

The 50 Best Free iPhone Apps

Apple had a pretty great 2014, as far as apps go, with a 50 percent year-over-year increase in billings and $10 billion in revenue for app developers, Cupertino said today.

And 2015 is off to a good start, too. New Year's Day was the largest day Apple has ever had for iOS sales. Within the first week of January, Apple device owners worldwide spent nearly half a billion dollars on apps and in-app purchases. That's a lot of Candy Crush.

"This year is off to a tremendous start after a record-breaking year for the App Store and our developer community," said Eddy Cue, Apple senior vice president, in a statement. "We're so proud of the creativity and innovation developers bring to the apps they create for iOS users and that the developer community has now earned over $25 billion."

Last year, Apple announced that customers spent over $10 billion on the App Store in 2013, so a 50 percent increase puts 2014's total around $15 billion. And since Apple takes a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases, it stands to reason that Apple netted around $4.5 billion. Ker-ching.

January 8, 2015

Report: Apple Watch to Ship in March

Apple Watch

Rumors about a spring launch for the Apple Watch might be true; the latest reports tip a March arrival.

Cupertino is reportedly planning to hold "extensive testing programs" between Feb. 9 and 16 to acquaint Apple Store employees with the new product category. Citing anonymous sources, 9to5Mac suggested that store representatives will be sent to Apple offices in Cupertino or Austin for hands-on experience, which they will then pass on to in-store employees.

Apple unveiled its long-awaited smartwatch in early September, showing off the device, which comes in three variants with different bands: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.

Available in a 38mm or 42mm watch face, the device requires it be connected to an iPhone (5, 5c, 5s, 6, or 6 Plus). To juice it up, attach the circular, magnetic charger onto the back of the face. Press the dial, or digital crown, to access Siri, and just raise your wrist to call on apps, look at photos, follow turn-by-turn directions, and communicate with friends and family.

By November, reports were tipping a springtime ship date—after the Chinese New Year, according to the leaked transcript of a voice message shared by retail chief Angela Ahrendts with retail employees.

January 6, 2015

Apple Now Selling Unlocked iPhone 6, 6 Plus

iPhone 6

Apple is now selling an unlocked version of its flagship phones in the U.S. The SIM-free iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are available for purchase online, starting at $649.

Those looking to shed a wireless contract commitment or carrier installment plan can activate and use an unlocked iPhone on AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. A second unlocked variant is also on sale via T-Mobile, which provides a nano-SIM.

The SIM-free option, however, comes with a heftier price tag: At full retail price, the phones sell for $649 for 16GB, $749 for 64GB, and $849 for 128GB.

With a two-year contract at AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus range from $199 to $399.

December 26, 2014

Rumor: Apple to Launch ‘iPhone 6s Mini’ for the Small-Handed

iPhone 6 Review

Got small hands? If so, Apple's new 4.7-inch iPhone 6 might be a bit too bulky for your tiny paws. And that 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus ? Fuggedaboutit.

Fret not, small-pawed folk. Apple understands, and might just have something special in store for you.

Rumor has it that Cupertino is bringing back the 4-inch form factor last seen on the iPhone 5s with a sparkly new device for 2015. In a note to investors this week, Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri said that Apple may be working on three versions of the iPhone for 2015 —a 4.7-inch iPhone 6s, a 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus, and a new 4-inch model, dubbed the iPhone 6s mini.

"We believe specs [for the 6s mini] will be close to iPhone 5s, but with curved screen edges like the iPhone 6 and may include some purpose-built low cost components," Arcuri said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the rumored device.

December 23, 2014

Apple Pushes First Automated Security Update for Mac

Apple logo Mac users this week received Apple's first automated security update, which was released to defend against newly identified bugs that could allow hackers remote access.

According to Reuters, the tech giant launched the updated on Monday to fix "critical security vulnerabilities" in OS X's network time protocol (NTP), which is used for syncing computer clocks.

The flaws were revealed last week by the Department of Homeland Security and the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute—the latter of which identified a number of potentially affected vendors, including FreeBSD Project, NTP Project, OmniTI, and Watchguard Technologies, Inc.

A number of versions of the NTP Project "allow attackers to overflow several buffers in a way that may allow malicious code to be executed," the Carnegie Mellon/DHS security bulletin said.

Apple, AT&T, Alcatel, Belkin, and a handful of others are currently listed as "unknown." But Cupertino has applied an update, which an Apple spokesman told Reuters is "seamless," and "doesn't even require a restart."

December 21, 2014

Apple Patent Hints at More Uses for Touch ID Sensor

iPhone 6Apple has slowly expanded the utilization of the Touch ID sensor beyond its security-focused origins. And if a new patent is any indication of the company's ambitions, then the little touch button on the bottom of your brand-new iPhone might be able to do even more things in the future.

We're being vague, we realize, but that's the nature of patents. The existence of a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office doesn't necessarily mean that Apple is planning big changes for the iPhone 7 or other future devices.

But this particular patent spotted by AppleInsider is intriguing. It was submitted by Dale Setlak, who co-founded the company AuthenTec, acquired by Apple in mid-2012.

Said patent, which Setlak originally filed for in June of last year, is titled "Electronic Device Switchable to a User-Interface Unlocked Mode Based Upon a Pattern of Input Motions and Related Methods." To put that in common-speak, the patent describes various ways that the Touch ID sensor on a smartphone could be used to do a variety things.

One such example found within the patent involves a person twisting his or her finger around in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion to manipulate a digital lock on the smartphone's screen. In another example, a user drags a finger across the Touch ID sensor to complete a locking pattern on the iPhone itself. That would seemingly combine fingerprint verification with pattern identity.

The patent also teases the idea that perhaps Apple's Touch ID could serve as a super-precise sensor for when a person needs finer control over his or her finger movements. For example, if one is doing a bit of iPhone-based painting, perhaps running a finger over the Touch ID could be akin to lowering the DPI of one's mouse to more precisely manipulate the cursor.

Apple has already dabbled ever-so-slightly in Touch ID sensor recognition, though not a lot. Right now, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users can double-tap their Touch ID sensors—that's tap, not press—in order to temporairly shift the contents of their device downward. For those with tiny hands, but huge iPhones, it's a fun little trick for reaching the upper portions of the smartphone screen without having to shift a hand up and down.

December 15, 2014

Apple’s Holiday Ad Tugs at the Heartstrings (Again)

iPad mini 3 centered

Apple is flexing its marketing muscles again this season with a new holiday ad called "The Song."

The 90-second TV spot highlights Cupertino's top products—the iPhone, MacBook, and iPad—in action as a teenager gives her grandmother the gift of nostalgia.

While sifting through what is presumably a two-generation-old stack of records, the girl happens upon a voice-o-graph recording her grandmother, Valerie, made for her grandfather, Raymond, more than 60 years ago.

Once the needle hits the 45rpm vinyl, an amateur version of "Love Is Here to Stay" crackles through the speakers. It's clear the granddaughter has had a stroke of brilliance, because the next moment, she's already copying the original recording to her MacBook Air.

There is a quick glimpse of Garage Band before she starts jamming out to her own version of the song with a guitar, piano, and even a pair of chopsticks.

While on the go, the girl bobs her head in time with her grandmother's voice flowing through what is presumably an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

In the end, she surprises Valerie with an updated version of the 1930s jazz standard, accompanied by photos of her once-young grandparents, and, of course, tears.

"With a Mac, iPhone or iPad, you have the power to create thoughtful, emotional gifts and memories that transcend time," Apple's video description said. "It could be a movie, a homemade card or a song that brings generations closer together."

Only a month after launching its next-gen iPhones, Cupertino in October revealed the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3—available in silver, gray, or gold, and starting at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version. The updated slate comes with a Touch ID fingerprint scanner and support for the Apple Pay mobile payment system (though only within apps).

Apple offered up a similarly sentimental holiday ad last year.

Tagged as:

December 14, 2014

Apple’s Online Store Now Accepts PayPal

PayPal on

Apple and PayPal might not be the best of friends, but the two are working a little closer now with Apple's integration of PayPal as an online payment option.

As first reported by Re/code, Apple is now allowing shoppers to pay for goods with PayPal. Previously, buyers had to user a credit/debit card or an Apple gift card to complete a purchase.

The move might not sound like that big of a deal, but it's interesting, given that Apple Pay now makes Apple a bigger competitive threat to PayPal.

PayPal even felt the need to take out a full-page advertisement in three major newspapers, which criticized Apple over the naked celebrity photo hack issue, and suggested that PayPal was more secure than Apple Pay.