Roundtable: What we think Apple has planned for its September 10th event

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With the rumored September 10th Apple keynote just weeks away, the rumor mill is in high gear and, as per usual, expectations will be soaring higher than ever as the date nears. For some products, a refresh or introduction is all but confirmed. For others, there only exists speculation or mere wishful thinking for even a mention at the keynote. Below you’ll find the opinions of some 9to5Mac staffers. Read more

2013: The year of the personalized, colorful, mid-tier smartphone

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Choosing a phone is pretty simple if you’re the kind of person who wants the latest & greatest handset and has the budget to pay for it. Even if you’re not sure what platform you want, you’re essentially choosing between a handful of flagship products and are currently likely to walk away with an iPhone 5Samsung S4 or HTC One.

There isn’t too much head-scratching at the bottom end of the market either: buyers there don’t care about the handset, and take whatever freebie their carrier pushes at them.

But the mid-market is where life gets complicated. You care enough about your handset to want something decent, both in specs and design, but you don’t want to take out a mortgage to buy it. It’s this market that is going to get incredibly colorful this fall …  Read more

Does iWork for iCloud mean native iWork Mac and iOS apps will become free services?

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Apple presents itself as a company that ships hardware, software, and services that integrate together elegantly. While Apple makes the majority of its money from its hardware, Apple makes use of its free, popular internet services and software to sell their hardware. For example, the iLife suite of Mac apps that are included for free with new Mac purchases is a common reason that people choose to buy a Mac. On the iOS side, Apple offers free services like iCloud, iBooks, iMessage, Game Center, and later this year, iTunes Radio.

But on both the Mac and iOS Device side, one particular Apple service has stuck out as being a paid offering: Apple’s iWork suite that includes the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet maker, and Keynote presentation creator. For years, Apple has sold iWork for Mac as a bundled suite, but with the Mac App Store, the company split the three programs into separate $19.99 downloads. On the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch side, the three apps are distinct $9.99 downloads. Apple, thus far, has kept iWork as a premium priced suite, but this fall, the company will introduce a free tier: iWork for iCloud…

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The era of unshackled Apple executives [Opinion]

"Can't innovate anymore, my ass."

“Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.”

Over the past few months, it feels as if Apple is on a media and publicity roadshow. Tim Cook has appeared on Rock Centertestified at the Senate’s corporate tax hearing, and was interviewed at All Things D’s D11 conference. In addition, as was mentioned during today’s Happy Hour podcast, the Apple executives took many opportunities during the WWDC keynote to speak directly to recent criticisms about their design decisions and abilities to innovate in the tech industry.

This is, quite simply, the era of unshackled and vocal Apple executives.  Read more

Review: JBL’s portable speaker line (OnBeat Micro, Flip, Charge) begs the question: Lightning dock or Bluetooth speaker?

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JBL’s $99 Flip, $99 OnBeat Lightning Dock and $149 Charge

When we did our Best Bluetooth speaker mega-review (TL;DR: Overall WinnerBest ValueBest SoundBest Portable/SoundApps/Updatesmore) a few weeks ago, we neglected to test JBL’s very capable ($99 Flip) and $149 Charge; something our commenters immediately questioned. Not even a day after the review went up, JBL sent us a box full of their new speakers to test against our recommendations (sometimes this is a great job!). JBL also sent us the $100 OnBeat Micro Lightning Dock to compare against so it might also be worth asking the question: Should you get a Bluetooth speaker or a Lightning dock speaker? Read more

Review: Currency, a streamlined conversion app for your iPhone that may be a tad too simple

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Conversion apps feel like a design playground, with so much potential for uniqueness and variety in their interfaces. The trend has been towards multifunction, multi-purpose Swiss-army knife apps that attempt to cover a whole range of disparate measurements. In my experience, as a result of racing to add one more ratio to their feature list, the simplicity of these apps suffer.

Currency sidesteps this battleground entirely and, as the name implies, focuses solely on converting amounts of money. The app touts support for over 160 currencies from around the world, which was more than enough to satisfy my needs. The app surfaces a handful of common currencies at first launch, each accompanied with a beautiful representation of its respective country’s flag.

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