Opinion ▪ August 17

AAPL: 117.16

1.20
Stock Chart

tim-cook-apple-tv

Apple plans to hold one of its annual fall media events on Wednesday, September 9th to introduce the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus with Force Touch, and after many fits and starts, it appears that the long-awaited next-generation Apple TV will also be unveiled. We’ve been reporting on this upcoming model since 2014, as Apple has been planning to update its set-top-box with support for an App Store for quite some time.

Earlier this year, Apple had locked in a June WWDC debut for both the new Apple TV hardware and software upgrades, but the company ultimately decided to delay the introduction until the fall. While some had speculated that the announcement was pushed back due to a lack of content deals, we are told that the delay was internally attributed to a concern over compromising iOS 9 engineering resources, as the latest OS release is focused at least as much on polish as on new features.

Why would the new Apple TV potentially take away resources from iOS 9? According to sources, this new Apple TV model, codenamed J34, will be the first model to run a full-blown iOS core. Specifically, the new Apple TV operating system will be a TV-optimized version of iOS 9. In addition to the new hardware inside, running iOS 9 will give the new Apple TV a series of benefits over the current model. Below, we explore what users can expect from Apple’s next-generation living room product.

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Opinion ▪ August 14

AAPL: 115.96

0.81
Stock Chart

Less than a month from now, Apple is expected to officially unveil its new A9 chip. This will be the ninth A-Series processor including the original A4, which powered the first iPad, iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, and second-generation Apple TV. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the A-series chips to Apple’s devices, as they’ve helped the company to achieve everything from major processing leaps to impressive power efficiency and — often taken for granted — guaranteed UI smoothness for every year’s newly-launched devices.

With the iPhone 6S just around the corner, we’ve started to receive tips purporting to reveal how much better the A9 will perform than the A8 processors found in the latest iPhones, iPad Air 2, and iPod touch. While we wouldn’t characterize the numbers we’ve seen as reliable, they led us to look back at the history of A-series chips, and consider what can reasonably be expected from the A9. Read on for our thoughts…

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Opinion ▪ August 11

AAPL: 119.72

4.20
Stock Chart

Every time Apple is expected to release an S-series iPhone — the 3GS, the 4S, the 5s, and now the 6S — pundits rush to discount the value of each anticipated new feature, claiming that it won’t be enough to boost iPhone sales. Yet historically, every prediction of iPhone sales peaks or declines has been wrong: each iPhone, whether a big “tick” or small “tock” on Apple’s upgrade schedule, has outsold its predecessors. Even without form factor or screen changes, speed sold the iPhone 3GS, Siri boosted the 4S, and Touch ID and camera improvements helped the 5s. (In S years, improved distribution, new color options, and price and capacity tweaks have made a big difference, too.)

This week, analysts and pundits have co-opted my colleague Mark Gurman’s scoop that Force Touch on the iPhone 6S will be used for shortcuts across iOS, suggesting that Force Touch isn’t going to be exciting enough to make people upgrade. That’s true, but also so obvious as to be ridiculous: Apple certainly won’t pitch a pressure-sensitive screen as the iPhone 6S’s marquee new feature. Force Touch debuted in the Apple Watch, but it’s not even mentioned on the first Apple Watch page on Apple.com, instead showing up in the fifth paragraph of the “Technology” page. It’s similarly found only paragraphs down on the page of the 12″ MacBook where it made its Mac debut.

With the notable exception of the iPad mini 3, Apple never releases new devices with only one new feature to hook customers. Even a month before it’s announced, it’s a virtual certainty that the iPhone 6S will arrive with camera improvements and faster processors, most likely a new color option, and Force Touch as one of many small but nice additions. So long as Apple gets distribution and international pricing right, the iPhone 6S is going to do just fine…

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I love the Apple ecosystem. It’s not perfect, and the gap between it and the Google alternative isn’t as great as it used to be, but to my mind it’s still by far the best solution for anyone looking to have all their data and content available across both desktop and mobile devices.

But there’s one notable gap in my own use of the Apple system: books. Despite the fact that my iPad is my primary ebook reader, I still use the Kindle app and buy my books from Amazon rather than Apple …  expand full story

Opinion ▪ August 10

AAPL: 115.52

0.39
Stock Chart

iphone-6-vs.-iphone-6-plus-4

The iPhone 6 was the iPhone many had long been waiting for, offering a larger screen size and NFC support for Apple Pay. Unsurprisingly, it opened to record sales, and has continued to break sales records ever since.

But Apple’s ‘tick tock’ strategy –a major new iPhone one year and an updated model based on the same form factor the following year – means that the company has to work much harder to sell its S models. With little visual difference (and the average mass-market customer oblivious to processor upgrades), Apple has to rely on a headline new feature to persuade people that it’s worth the upgrade.

For the last couple of S models, Apple has offered pretty convincing reasons to buy: the 4S gave us Siri, and the 5s introduced Touch ID – both appealing features that were easy for non-tech customers to understand. But if the rumors are correct that Force Touch is the headline new feature of the iPhone 6S, this is one of five reasons I think the company’s rumored ambition to make 90M units by the end of the year could be a tough number to turn into sales …  expand full story

Opinion ▪ August 3

AAPL: 118.44

-2.86
Stock Chart

I was genuinely excited when my colleague Mark Gurman revealed iOS 9’s Proactive — Apple’s competitor to the Android assistant Google Now — because it sounded like something that would radically improve my daily iPhone use. “Like Google Now,” Mark said, “Proactive will automatically provide timely information based on the user’s data and device usage patterns,” details Apple confirmed when it officially announced Proactive at WWDC. Google Now’s success made an Apple response inevitable: who wouldn’t want an iPhone that correctly anticipated your needs, reducing your time spent manually hunting for information?

But unlike Google, which Apple CEO Tim Cook has portrayed as a miner of personal data for “God-knows-what advertising purpose,” Apple has positioned itself as a champion of user privacy. As such, Proactive apparently doesn’t use cloud servers to process your personal data, which Google has done to great effect. Instead, iOS processes data directly on your device, so its scope — whatever your device is holding — and utility are a lot more limited. Consequently, the iOS 9 beta version of Proactive doesn’t do much; its features could have appeared on the annual WWDC slide that flashes 50 new iOS additions on screen for less than a minute before disappearing.

Readers, I’d like to ask you a question. We’ve seen what Google and third-party developers are currently doing with Google Now cards, and it’s pretty awesome — everything from helping you manage commutes (like Proactive) and trips (way beyond Proactive) to finding TV shows, scheduling return taxi rides, and sending birthday greetings. My question: would you rather see Apple slowly iterate on Proactive as it sorts through each new feature’s privacy implications, or tackle Google Now with a bolder and more powerful Proactive, privacy be (mostly) damned? A poll is below…

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