Opinion: What might we expect from Apple in 2014?

Image: wallsfeed.com

Image: wallsfeed.com

Tech journalists don’t often have to battle our way across hostile terrain in sub-zero temperatures, fight crocodiles with our bare hands, or abseil from helicopters to rescue hostages (though that remains my cover story for the time I broke my elbow by tripping up in an airport).

We do, however, occasionally do something almost as dangerous: make predictions about the tech future, knowing full well that our words remain forever archived on the web for people to dust off a year from now and gleefully point out just how wrong we were.

This is never more risky than in the case of Apple, a company notoriously secretive about its activities, and where there are way more false rumors than reliable ones. But hey, what’s life without a little adventure? So here are my predictions on what I think we can expect from Apple next year …  Read more

Opinion: What are Apple’s plans for 4K displays?

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There was one notable omission from Apple’s recent flurry of new product announcements: a 4K display. It will launch one in time, of course – and I’ll come to that shortly. But in the meantime, there’s the question of how it demonstrates one of the key capabilities of the new Mac Pro.

Sure, they could hook it up to multiple Thunderbolt Displays, but that’s not the same: Apple made a point when launching the machine of pointing out that it could drive three simultaneous 4K displays. That’s a capability you’d imagine it would want to at least show off in-store, and perhaps even offer for sale …

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Is iPad photography finally gaining social acceptance?

It’s no secret that people love taking pictures with their iPad, but it has always been a somewhat out of the ordinary behavior publicly considering the sheer size of the tablet in general.

It’s also true that Apple has made great improvements to the camera system on the iPad, and its large, vibrant display makes for one heck of a view finder when capturing an image.

Based on anecdotal evidence, various scenes from Apple’s iPad event yesterday, and data collected by photos shared on Flickr, I think it’s finally time we accept iPad photography into our lives with open arms. Responsibly, of course.

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Opinion: What is really driving Apple’s new-found fondness for ‘free’?

Photo: abc.e

Photo: abc.e

Apple surprised many yesterday by making the update to OS X 10.9 Mavericks free, rather than the $20 it cost to upgrade to the previous release, Mountain Lion. The company also surprised some (though not us) by doing the same for its previously chargeable iWork apps.

There’s been a lot of commentary today about this being an attack on Microsoft, and I do indeed think there’s likely to have been a fair amount of sweating in the corner offices at Redmond as they watched yesterday’s keynote. But Microsoft execs aren’t the only ones I’d expect to see wearing worried expressions today: I suspect the same is true across at Mountain View.

Before we get to Google, let’s start with Microsoft …  Read more

Opinion: Is Thunderbolt doomed to be the new Firewire, or can the new Mac Pro save it?

thunderbolt

I’m a huge fan of Thunderbolt. A single wire carrying both DisplayPort and high-speed PCIe data is an incredibly elegant approach to minimising cable clutter even if you don’t need the blistering speed, especially when you can use an Apple Thunderbolt Display as a hub for your USB devices.

I also admire clever tech. The reason you can daisy-chain up to six separate devices is because Thunderbolt automatically multiplexes and de-multiplexes the signals as needed. Thunderbolt 2 takes this approach one step further, combining two 10Gbit/s channels into a single 20Gbit/s connection, with the the Thunderbolt controller again doing all the work. It’s impressive stuff.

A fast, clever technology developed by Intel and enthusiastically marketed by Apple ought to stand a fighting chance at mass-market adoption. Sadly, there’s so far not much sign of this happening. It’s all looking rather reminiscent of Firewire …  Read more

Opinion: Why I love the iPhone 5s, and why I’ll be sticking with my 4S

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 14.26.28

I like my gadgets, and generally consider myself an early adopter. When my friends are looking at buying a new piece of technology, I’m the one they ask as they know I’ll either own it or have tried it.

So you might be surprised to learn that my phone is an iPhone 4S and that after yesterday’s unveiling of the 5s (no, I don’t know why it suddenly became lower-case either), I’m planning to wait for the iPhone 6 before upgrading.

It’s not that the 5s isn’t impressive from a purely technological viewpoint. It is. A 64-bit phone? That’s a pretty incredible achievement. Delegating sensor functions to a separate chip to enable constant use without the usual battery-drain? Brilliant. A truly state-of-the-art fingerprint sensor? Fantastic. A larger phone sensor with lower pixel-density? Exactly the right approach, and I was delighted to see Apple refusing to join in the stupid megapixel race.

But I’m still not going to buy one, and the reason for that is two-fold. Before I get to that, one piece of context. In the U.S., upgrading can be a no-brainer as you end up on the same tariff either way. In the UK, it’s better value long-term to buy the phone outright at full retail (around $1120 for the 64Gb 5s), so you have to balance incremental benefit over other gadgets you could buy with the same money – like a new iPad. So, back to those two reasons … Read more