The so-called "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" will reportedly adopt Force Touch, a feature that debuted on the Apple Watch in September, according to sources for AppleInsider. The next-generation iPhones are expected to retain the same physical design as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, including 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models. The report adds that the return of a 4-inch model appears unlikely for this refresh.
Force Touch uses tiny electrodes to distinguish between a light tap or deep press on the screen, prompting the software to perform a different action depending on how much pressure is exerted on the display. Apple would likely have to use a flexible OLED display on a future iPhone model in order for Force Touch to be possible on the smartphone. Apple calls Force Touch its most significant new sensing capability since Multi-Touch on its Apple Watch microsite.
"In addition to recognizing touch, Apple Watch senses force, adding a new dimension to the user interface. Force Touch uses tiny electrodes around the flexible Retina display to distinguish between a light tap and a deep press, and trigger instant access to a range of contextually specific controls — such as an action menu in Messages, or a mode that allows you to select different watch faces — whenever you want. It’s the most significant new sensing capability since Multi‑Touch."
Apple reportedly experimented with adding Force Touch to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last year, although calibration issues resulted in removal of the feature prior to the smartphones being released. The issues appear to have been resolved at this point, however, and Force Touch is now on Apple's upcoming roadmap. The so-called "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" will presumably be announced next September.
The report also dismisses the rumor about next-generation iPhones gaining a DSLR-like dual-lens camera system, as implementing this feature would require redesigning the iPhone and moving away from the current chassis found on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Last month, it was reported that the iPhone 6s will retain an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera sensor, although that does not limit other improvements from being made.
Sunday March 1, 2015 10:00 AM PST by Mitchel Broussard
This week at mobile-focused technology show Mobile World Congress, SanDisk plans to announce a several updates to its line of iXpand Flash Drives and companion app, mainly focused on expanding storage space and enabling quicker and more secure data decryption with the help of Touch ID.
The iXpand flash drive includes both USB and Lightning connectors to allow users the ability to easily transfer files, photos, and videos from an iOS device to a desktop or notebook with a traditional USB port. Currently available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB sizes, the company will be announcing its first addition to the iXpand line with the introduction of a 128GB model for even more file storage.
SanDisk also promises new iOS 8-inspired updates to the iXpand Sync app, notably implementing Touch ID to let users encrypt and decrypt their most sensitive files while transferring data to and from the drive. The company also notes that the update will allow users to interact and open files from the iXpand drive with various other "popular apps", as well as save content inside of the third-party apps directly onto the drive.
No official pricing has been given for the 128GB drive yet, but seeing as the current highest capacity version of the iXpand flash drive at 64GB retails for $109.99, those interested in the new high-end model can expect to pay a substantial premium over that for double the storage.
The company says the extensive update to the iXpand app will be going live this week during Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona from March 2-5. The SanDisk iXpand Sync app is a free download from the App Store. [Direct Link]
Update: SanDisk has issued a press release regarding the announcement, noting that the new 128GB iXpand drive will be priced at $149.99
The worldwide magazine debut of the Apple Watch continues this week on the cover of fashion magazine Style in the United Kingdom. The cover of the Big Spring Issue for March features model Guinevere Van Seenus wearing an Apple Watch and is accompanied by a two-page spread inside the magazine that provides further details about the wrist-worn device, including an interesting hint about the pricing of space gray models.
A caption in the magazine spotted below model Guinevere Van Seenus claims that the "Apple Watch Sport with 38mm Space Grey aluminum case and black band" will cost $349. The price is notable given that Apple pundit John Gruber of Daring Fireball previously speculated that Apple may charge more for the space gray Apple Watch Sport and space black stainless steel Apple Watch.
"Note that the silver Apple Watch Sport only has four band color choices: white, blue, green, and pink," wrote Gruber. "The space gray Sport edition has only one band: black. I think Apple might charge more for both the space gray Sport model and the space black stainless steel model."
Gruber may still be correct given that the magazine may simply be referencing the $349 starting price that Apple CEO Tim Cook announced during a media event last September. While the Apple Watch Sport will start at $349, the stainless steel Apple Watch has been speculated to cost at least $500 and the luxurious Apple Watch Edition is predicted to cost up to $20,000 depending on the band.
Friday February 27, 2015 10:43 AM PST by Juli Clover
As we head into March, deals are beginning to pick up a little bit. The iPad Air 2 is still available at discounted prices from B&H Photo, and Best Buy is offering discounts on its stock of original iPad Air tablets.
There are also deals to be had on the iMac, the MacBook Air, and the Retina MacBook Pro, plus, as always, we have a nice selection of Apple accessories that have been discounted this week.
There are quite a few apps that are on sale at discounted prices or available for free for a limited time. We'll highlight a few here, but make sure to check out our sister site AppShopper for a complete list.
Toca Hair Salon, a popular game for children, is available for free this week, down from $2.99. NFL Quarterback 15 is available for free, down from $0.99. Duet Display is half off this week, priced at $7.99 instead of $15.99.
The Bolt battery and wall charger is available for $44.99 from StackSocial, a $15 discount off its regular price. The Griffin PowerJolt car charger is available for $24.99 from Groupon, $10 off its normal price. Groupon is also selling the Mophie Powerstation 4,000mAh battery charger for $29.99, down from its original price of $79.95.
The second-generation Jawbone UP fitness tracker is available for $49.99 from LivingSocial, down from its original price of $129.99. The Ion iCade Arcade Bluetooth cabinet is available for $59.99from Amazon, $70 off its regular price of $129.99. PayPal Digital Gifts on eBay is offering a $100 iTunes gift card for $80.
The JBL OnBeat Mini Speaker Dock for iPhone 5/5s/6/6 Plus and iPad is available for $39.99 from Groupon, an 80 percent discount off its regular price.LivingSocial is selling the Speck CandyShell Grip case for iPad mini for $14.99, down from $44.95.
Speck is offering 50 percent off site wide, discounting its entire stock of iPhone cases and accessories. The discount will be available until Saturday and is applied at checkout.
SkinIt, a site that makes custom skins for a wide range of devices from the iPhone to the MacBook, is offering a special deal buy one get one 50 percent off deal for MacRumors readers. With the code MACRUMORS, you can get 50% off a second skin after purchasing one skin.
MacRumors is an affiliate partner of some of these vendors.
Friday February 27, 2015 7:55 AM PST by Mitchel Broussard
Following Apple's unveiling of a March 9 media event that will most likely focus on the pricing and launch date for the Apple Watch, Swiss watchmakers Swatch, Frédérique Constant and Alpina have recently released more details regarding products that will be residing in the same smart wearable space as the Apple Watch (via Watch Insider).
Swatch yesterday announced the Swatch Touch Zero One, a new smartwatch with a dedicated touch screen and a focus on durability and outdoor activity. The sports-heavy focus comes thanks to the company's partnership with the Beach Major Company, which specializes in organizing and putting on Beach Volleyball competitions.
Besides volleyball specific functions like counting "power hits" and "power claps", the Touch Zero One will apparently compete most directly with the Apple Watch Sport, thanks to its enhanced durability, lightweight frame, and sweat-proof band.
"Beach Volleyball is a wonderful sport, a thrill for the players and very exciting for the fans," said Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek. "We’ve had great fun in the past and now we want to push it further with the new Major Series in collaboration with the FIVB. With the players we share a passion for this great, young sport and look forward to the upcoming tournaments.”
Lacking from the Touch Zero One, however, is any mention of non-fitness related content such as phone, text, and e-mail notifications, even though the company confirmed the device will sync with a smartphone app. Swatch says the Swatch Touch Zero One will be "available this beach volleyball summer season" and cost those interested around $159.
Watch Insider also reported on the partnership between Swiss luxury watchmakers Alpina and Frédérique Constant, who have taken a different approach to the smartwatch business and introduced "smart" components into otherwise traditional timepieces instead of crafting an entirely new smartwatch line.
The created platform, called Manufacture Modules Technologies (MMT), powers the new line of Swiss Horological Smartwatches and allows for a device that tracks sleep and activity in real time. It also syncs automatically with a smartphone app, allowing users to break down the information curated by the device into daily, weekly, or monthly categories. No confirmation was given but the price of the device was suggested to start at around $500 and go to over $1,000, with a planned May launch date.
“The Swiss Horological Smartwatch is the synthesis of high-tech innovation and traditional Swiss watch craftsmanship; it is the link (no pun intended) between modern and classic, and the bridge between Silicon Valley and Switzerland," said co-founder and CEO of the Frédérique Constant group Peter Stas. "There is no digital screen on our Swiss Horological Smartwatch. Instead, the beautiful laser cut hands on the watch dial display information in analog form.”
A few companies who have been in the watch business for a while have reversed course - including Swatch itself - on dismissing the trend of smartwatches, announcing new products to be released around the launch window of the Apple Watch or sometime later in the year. More and more companies are announcing their own product additions to the smart wearable trend almost every week in preparation for the Apple Watch, which new rumors suggest could launch within the first week of April.
Related roundup: Apple Watch , Tags: Swatch, Swatch Touch Zero One, Alpina, Frederique Constant, Swiss Horological Smartwatch
Friday February 27, 2015 6:20 AM PST by Mitchel Broussard
Mobile printing app Printer Pro, by developer Readdle, has been named by Apple as this week's App of the Week. Known for their knack at developing productivity-based apps, Readdle says Printer Pro will allow users to "print just about anything" from an iPhone or iPad.
Normally priced at $6.99, the app gives users the ability to print a wide array of documents - from pictures in the Photos app to documents found in iCloud or Mail - to any Wi-Fi or USB-enabled printer. Readdle also provides a free-to-download desktop utility for the service that helps users with USB printers through an initial set-up and allows everyone using it to "print more document types and with better quality."
The company notes that to print a Safari page, users can change "http" to "phttp" in the address bar and hit go, immediately bringing up the desired web page within the Printer Pro app. Most other apps, like Dropbox, Mail, and Readdle's own PDF Expert, allow for a more streamlined process of accessing the app from a third-party app's "Open In" list.
Once installed, Printer Pro appears in the "Open In..." list on your device. This lets you print documents from Mail, PDF Expert and many other applications on your iPad that supports this function.
Using "Open In..." approach you can print files from many popular online storages: Dropbox and Google Drive. It just a matter of several taps to download your file via free Dropbox or Google Drive application and send it to printer.
The app has garnered a 4 star rating on the App Store, with one review calling it "indispensable" and many others praising its ease-of-use and high quality. Relied on by "over 2 million people", according to Readdle, Printer Pro [Direct Link] will remain free as the App of the Week for the next week.
Thursday February 26, 2015 10:01 AM PST by Juli Clover
Avatron, the company behind popular secondary display app Air Display 2 today launched an updated version of the software, Air Display 3. Like Air Display 2, Air Display 3 allows users to turn their iPads, iPhones, or iPod touches into secondary displays for their computers, but Air Display 3 has an important new feature -- an option to connect an iOS device to a computer over USB.
Previous iterations of AirDisplay have been forced to work over WiFi (which made using AirDisplay laggy and unreliable) because for a long time, Apple rejected apps that used a USB connection. Apple relaxed its policies on apps accessing USB earlier this year when it approved Duet Display, paving the way for apps like AirDisplay to incorporate the same technology for more solid connections that cut down on lag.
In our limited testing, AirDisplay 3 used over USB worked well, with little lag, and its performance was comparable to Duet Display. There's still an option to connect over WiFi if USB is not available, but using WiFi was considerably more unreliable with a lot more of a delay when attempting to perform tasks.
In addition to USB support, Air Display 3 has also gained features from Avatron's Air Stylus app, which is being retired. Air Stylus was designed to allow people to use their iPads as pressure sensitive wireless drawing tablets in conjunction with Mac or PC-based computers, and that capability has been added to Air Display 3.
We're retiring our Air Stylus iOS app and we've rolled all of its awesome features into Air Display 3. Now you can draw with your favorite pressure-sensitive stylus directly into a Mac app like Photoshop or Motion. In Air Display 3, we've added support for all of the latest styluses. And on iOS 8, you don't even need a stylus: just tilt your finger to simulate pressure changes.
Air Display 3 also gains support for pinch and zoom gestures, and according to the release notes, its WiFi features have been sped up as well. Older features like multiple monitor support (for up to four iPads), a keyboard, HiDPI options, and touch gestures are also available.
Air Display 3, which is a new app and not an upgrade from AirDisplay 2, can be downloaded from the iOS App Store for $14.99. [Direct Link]
Users will also need to download a free Mac app from the Avatron website to connect their iOS devices to their Macs. For the time being, Air Display 3 is only compatible with Macs running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and above, but Avatron has plans to add Windows support in the future.
Thursday February 26, 2015 7:24 AM PST by Joe Rossignol
The latest numbers from Strategy Analytics reveal that Apple continued to dominate in global smartphone profit during the fourth quarter of 2014, capturing a record-high 88.7% share of profit during the three-month period ending December. Apple earned quarterly operating profit of $18.8 billion on iPhone sales, up from $11.4 billion during the fourth quarter of 2013.
"Global smartphone operating profit grew 31 percent annually from US$16.2 billion in Q4 2013 to US$21.2 billion in Q4 2014. Android hardware vendors combined took a record-low 11 percent global smartphone profit share, down from 29 percent one year ago. In contrast, Apple iOS captured a record-high 89 percent profit share, up from 71 percent in Q4 2013."
Overshadowed by the success of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Android suffered a sharp decline in smartphone profit compared to its 29.5% share in the year-ago quarter. Android accounted for a record-low 11.3% share of global profit during the fourth quarter based on $2.4 billion in operating profit. Android had operating profit of $4.8 billion in the year-ago quarter. BlackBerry, Windows Phone and other mobile platforms recorded zero operating profit during the quarter.
These numbers reiterate that the smartphone industry is largely a two-horse race between Apple and Google, whether it be overall platform market share, enterprise market share or smartphone profit share. But if smartphone makers such as Samsung are unable to make decent profits based on the Android ecosystem, Strategy Analytics suggests that vendors may give more attention to alternatives such as Windows, Tizen or Firefox in the future.
Thursday February 26, 2015 5:00 AM PST by Joe Rossignol
The latest Mobility Index Report from Good Technology reveals that iOS increased its lead over Android in the enterprise market during the fourth quarter on the strength of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. iOS accounted for 73% of total activations during the three-month period ending December, up from 69% in the previous quarter and equal to the year-ago quarter.
Specifically, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus made up 30% of all activations during the fourth quarter, with the iPhone 6 to iPhone 6 Plus split being 77% and 23% respectively. Android activations dropped from 29% during the third quarter to 25% in the fourth quarter, while both Windows Phone and all other mobile platforms each represented a 1% share of activations.
"Device adoption varies significantly between industries, with iOS devices outpacing Android in regulated industries such as legal (95 percent), public sector (82 percent) and financial services (81 percent). Android was more widely adopted in industries with fewer regulatory compliance restrictions, such as high tech (45 percent), manufacturing (39 percent) and transportation (35 percent)."
iOS and Android activations in the enterprise were led by smaller devices during the fourth quarter, with the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S4 Mini outpacing the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5 respectively. The report adds that secure browser activations nearly tripled quarter-over-quarter and secure instant message activations grew 900% in 2014.
BlackBerry is not reflected in this report due to its reliance on BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
Wednesday February 25, 2015 3:04 PM PST by Juli Clover
Google today announced an update to its Google Play Music service, expanding the amount of available storage. Users can now store 50,000 songs in the cloud at no cost, up from 20,000.
Content stored within Google Play Music can be played on computers via Google's Music Manager app, on iPhones and iPads via the recently redesigned Google Play Music app, through a Chrome extension, through Chromecast, and on Android devices.
Google's Google Play Music storage does not require a subscription to Google Play Music to use it, making it free for all users.
Those interested in using Google's free music storage can access it by going to the Google Play Music website, skipping the subscription offer, and going straight to the music interface where there's an option to upload music. Content can be uploaded directly from an iTunes library or from any folder.
Google, of course, hopes users will opt-in to its $9.99 per month subscription music service when signing up for free music storage, which offers on-demand access to millions of songs much like Spotify or Beats Music.
With the boost in free storage space, Google Play Music gains a bit of a competitive advantage over Apple's iTunes Match service. iTunes Match costs $25 per year and allows users to store up to 25,000 songs in iCloud, but it gives users the benefit of accessing 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality music for any uploaded song that's also available in the iTunes Store.
For those in the Apple ecosystem, it's arguably easier to access songs on any device through iCloud using iTunes Match, but Google Play Music is a viable alternative as the company now has apps for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad available.
Wednesday February 25, 2015 8:04 AM PST by Joe Rossignol
The continued rise of smartphone and tablet adoption and the addition of Podcasts as a stock app on iOS 8 has resulted in significant growth for podcasts in the United States, reports Ad Age. Overall consumption of podcasts experienced 18% growth in the U.S. between Spring and Fall 2014 as Americans now listen to approximately 21.1 million hours of podcasts per day, according to Edison Research.
The resurgence of podcasts arrives around a decade after the audio format became established for iPod and iTunes, and the sudden rise in popularity has some podcast makers excited. "Creatively, we are entering a new golden age," said Matthew Lieber, co-founder of the podcasting startup Gimlet Media. "In terms of the golden age of the business," he added, "we're just getting started."
A direct beneficiary of the so-called "podcast renaissance" is Serial, a spin-off of This American Life that has amassed close to 72 million downloads since it started being aired last fall. Serial is based upon a Baltimore murder case in 1999, in which detectives arrest the ex-boyfriend of a high school senior that disappears after school one day. All twelve episodes are available through iTunes and on the Serial website for free.
While we may be entering the "golden age" of podcasts, the report finds that brand advertisers are still spending significantly less dollars on the medium than more traditional forms of media such as broadcast television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Advertising agency ZenithOptimedia reported last year that podcast ad spending growth would remain flat through at least the next two years.
Podcasting has been an advertising backwater. A ZenithOptimedia report from June 2014 -- before "Serial" debuted -- said podcast ad spending would remain at $34 million annually through 2016. That's a small fraction of what marketers earmark for other media. Ad buyers and media executives say about 80% of the ads played during podcasts are direct-response, prompting listeners to visit a website or call a 1-800 number. Only 20% represents brand advertisers.
The rise in popularity of podcasts is attributed to several other factors, including the wider availability of connected cars that make in-car listening to podcasts much easier for daily commuters. New York Magazine noted last October that the renaissance of podcasting goes hand-in-hand with the improved quality of podcasts, as more content makers turn to the platform as a cheaper alternative over hosting a TV show or radio show.
Podcasts emerged around 2005 as episodic audio series that can span anywhere from a few minutes to several hours in length. Apple users with an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac or other device to listen with can subscribe to podcasts through iTunes to receive the latest podcasts. A wide range of podcasts are available in iTunes based on genres such as news, technology, fashion, food and restaurants, general talk shows, education and more.
Tuesday February 24, 2015 8:43 PM PST by Husain Sumra
Last week, it was announced that the February 25 episode of Emmy-winning sitcom "Modern Family" would take place solely on a MacBook screen and only be shot with cameras from iPhones and iPads. BuzzFeed News got in touch with the episode's director and series co-creator Steven Levitan to find out how they shot the episode.
In a video originally provided to BuzzFeed News, and now available for download on iTunes [Direct Link], Levitan explains that all of the iPhones were kept in holsters held by cameramen. To avoid making the shot look like it was being filmed by a floating device, the actors were told to hold their arm near the cameramen's arm.
Initially, Levitan and the crew wanted the actors to hold the phone throughout film, but they found it wasn't as east to control and that actors would misplace the devices as well as shoot off-set.
The episode took over three months to complete, with a lot of time dedicated to post production as the special effects team had to rebuild OS X Yosemite from the ground up, mimicking its animations and art style while also taking artistic license to make certain things better suited for the story they wanted to tell.
While the episode's format isn't the same as the standard "Modern Family" format, Levitan says there have been other instances during the show's six year run where they've used iPhones to shoot certain scenes. For instance, instead of staging a basketball game for a scene where a character dresses as a mascot, Levitan shot his son's basketball game on his iPhone and used special effects to splice the character into that basketball game.
The episode, which is called "Connection Lost" airs Wednesday, February 25 on ABC.
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