Opinion: Should Apple improve iPhone battery life, or just battery cases?

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As this photo of the original Mophie Juice Pack and Tylt’s Energi for iPhone 6 shows, iPhone battery cases haven’t changed much over the years. They’ve existed for almost as long as iPhones, and remained ubiquitous due to Apple’s continued focus on thinness over longevity. That hasn’t been great for consumers: as 9to5’s Seth Weintraub put it, people are more impacted by their phones’ battery life than an extra 2mm of thinness.

It took until 2014 for Apple to offer one iPhone model — the iPhone 6 Plus — with all-day battery life, though you have to be willing to accept a much larger footprint to get that. By comparison, the smaller and reportedly more popular iPhone 6 improved only around 7% upon the iPhone 5s in run time, so the typical iPhone user isn’t seeing much of an improvement over prior models.

With a variety of alternatives at Apple’s disposal, including some major chip improvements that are just around the corner, we wanted to pose two questions to our readership. Should Apple take a break from slimming down iPhones to focus on improving battery life? Or should it instead focus its efforts on making battery cases better? Read on for our thoughts, and share yours in the comments section below…

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Opinion: Five reasons why Apple Car is happening, and five big issues to consider

Apple Car The Onion

Unless you’re Seth Weintraub, the idea that Apple would more likely develop a car than a search engine would have been controversial — as shown above, even The Onion-level comical — two weeks ago. That’s changed. Following public sightings of Apple-leased vans that looked a lot like street view mappers, numerous reports have substantially confirmed that Apple’s working on an electric car, quite possibly a self-driving car. Blessed with great insight (and sources), Seth already highlighted some of the big picture reasons Apple would get into the automotive industry before most people had accepted it as reality.

Now that the dust has settled, and even non-believers are acknowledging that an Apple Car could be coming in the not-too-distant future, it’s time to look at the big picture for Apple and the automotive industry. Below, you’ll find five big reasons the Apple Car is happening, as well as five big potential issues worth considering. Read more

Opinion: Could Apple’s Pinterest profile be an early step toward properly-curated apps?

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iOS and Android are completely different worlds when it comes to apps. Android is pretty much the wild west, with little control over quality or even safety (malware is commonplace). iOS, on a non-jailbroken device, is a walled garden, where Apple decides what apps can and can’t do, and which ones get approved for sale.

Yet despite that carefully-controlled approach, the App Store can still feel like a bit of a jungle. Which is why I wonder whether the Pinterest tie-in announced yesterday may offer hope for the future.

But let’s start with the problem I think needs to be solved, and that problem begins with search. Results may vary by country, and you can try the searches for yourself to compare your results with mine, but here’s what I get for a few obvious app searches …  Read more

Opinion: Why the iPhone 6 bends and why it wouldn’t be an issue if Apple addressed it properly

Last week, #BendGate took the Internet by storm. I’m sure you’re all familiar with it by now, but if not, BendGate was created from an alleged bending issue with Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. There’s a specific weak point on the inside of the chassis right beneath the volume buttons that allows it to bend very easily with pressure added in the right place. To most, it may seem like a non-issue, but a single video sparked one of the biggest viral moments this year in tech… Read more

Opinion: Beats Music is actually so good that I’m worried about Apple ruining it (à la LaLa)

Beats Music for iPhone

My first reaction to yesterday’s news that Apple is nearing the close of a $3.2 billion deal to purchase Beats Electronics was one of worry, but not for the reasons that I saw in much of the commentary from others. I’m less concerned with what Apple could have planned for the headphones business or that the price tag is so high; after all, it’s exciting to think that Apple could make a major acquisition (its largest yet) after somewhat of a quiet period. What worries me is what Apple has planned for the not-so-popular-yet subscription streaming service Beats Music… Read more

Opinion: With all of the new Apple data centers, is it time for iCloud to get serious about storage?

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The Apple ecosystem is a large part of why I stick to an all-Apple line-up for my laptops, tablet and phone. iCloud is key to that, of course, providing seamless backup and syncing between devices.

Whether it’s my calendar, contacts, reminders, notes, ebooks or Safari bookmarks, all are available on all devices within a minute or two of me updating any of them. Documents I create in Pages, Numbers or Keynote are again available from any of my devices providing I choose to store them on iCloud. As I pay the extra for iTunes Match, I’m also able to stream any of my music from any device.

In some respects, Apple clearly takes the cloud seriously. It has invested massively in expanding its network of data centers, including a $1B investment in Reno, expansion in Maiden and new data centers as far afield as Hong Kong and the Netherlands. Yet, central as it is to the ecosystem, iCloud still feels a bit like it deserves the tag Steve Jobs famously applied to Apple TV: a hobby

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Opinion: Can Apple maintain its $100 tier flash storage pricing for iPhones & iPads indefinitely?

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There’s a certain marketing genius to Apple’s tiered pricing for flash storage on its iPhones and iPads. Since customers can’t add storage via a microSD card later, they have to decide in advance how much storage they need, and many of us are going to err on the side of safety, bumping our purchase up to a higher price-band.

Adding $100 or $200 to the price of an iDevice for maybe $5-10 worth of flash storage/controller capacity is an important source of income for Apple, and one of the reasons its margins are so high. Whatever the company makes on a 16GB device, if it can upsell you to a 32GB or 64GB (or even 128GB, in the case of the iPad), almost all of the premium charged on those beefier models is pure profit.

It’s not money Apple would give up lightly, but I do wonder whether it’s sustainable …  Read more

Opinion: Five years from now, will we have given up all control of our technology?

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I know, it seems an odd question. But a few different things over the last couple of days got me thinking …

Years ago, before either Google or Apple ecosystems were really deserving of the term, I managed all my device synchronisation manually: I decided what content got synced on what devices. My music too: iTunes was allowed to play it, but not to manage it – I took care of the folder structures and meta-data myself. And the miscellaneous notes I kept were in a folder full of text files, the format deliberately chosen to be compatible with anything, not sitting inside Apple’s Notes app.

My view was that it should be me, not some piece of software or online service, that made the decisions about how things got done. Fast-forward to today, however, and things are quite different around here …  Read more

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: Is Apple headed toward eventual convergence of OS X and iOS?

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Concept image: ajambrosino.com

Think back to 2006. Computers were, for most people, large plastic boxes that lived under desks with monitors and keyboards plugged into them. It’s hard to imagine now, but those of us using laptops were in the minority back then.

Smartphones existed, but the fact that you used one marked you out as a bit of a tech-head. Tablets were obscure devices that were used by, basically, no-one.

Today’s world is very different. Almost everyone has a smartphone, and tablet sales will soon dwarf  laptops. When non-techy friends ask your advice about what laptop to buy, the chances are that, after asking a few questions about what they want to do with it, you’ve advised at least half of them to buy an iPad instead.

In the face of this changing world, will it continue to make sense for Apple to have two different platforms for Macs and iDevices, or will they eventually merge into a single operating system for all device types?  Read more

Opinion: Will Apple return to a single MacBook range next year?

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Photo: anandtech.com

I guess you could call me something of a fanboy where Apple laptops are concerned. I bought the very first one, the Macintosh Portable, in 1989 (and actually still have it tucked away in a cupboard even now). This was followed by a series of PowerBooks before the MacBooks came along, and I currently have both a MacBook Pro 17 and MacBook Air 11.

The split between the Air and Pro ranges made sense for a whole bunch of reasons up to now. The Air has performed two important roles for Apple. First, the cachet of producing the world’s slimmest notebook further boosted Apple’s style credentials. Even today, after it lost the slimmest notebook crown and has seen the wedge design copied by others, it remains a style icon, getting admiring glances every time you pull it out in a coffee shop …  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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