When iSensei said, in a recent post, that Apple had “a little more to show” us, he couldn’t have been more wrong. They had A TON of new stuff to show us. And, in a big turnaround from all the leaks that sprouted prior to the release of iPhone 5, many of these announcements today were pretty much complete surprises. And and, it was as much Mac news as iPad. Let’s run them down, shall we? We’ll also note how surprised we were to see them.
- iPad mini – (not surprised)
Gorgeous little sucker. 7.9″ diagonal screen. 1024 x 768 resolution. That’s the same as the pre-Retina display iPad 2, but at the smaller size, looks amazing. Light and easy to hold. As expected, the new smaller Lightning connector. Available in Wifi and WiFi/LTE. 16, 32 and 64 GB storage. Starts at $329. As usual for Apple, not cheap, but it feels and performs like the premium product it is. Pre-order starting October 26. WiFi models available Nov. 2, WiFi+Cellular mid-November.
- iPad 4 - (trés surprised)
Yes, they’ve already phased out “the New iPad” (3) with a similar but upgraded model! After only 8 months the iPad 3 is – poof – gone! New one has same price structure (starts at $499), more carriers (Sprint, finally), LTE+Cellular. Lightning connector, much faster chip/processor, advanced WiFi. (Not sure when this comes out. Unclear on Apple.com) It’s nice but no need to upgrade if you have the 3rd generation, we say. Oh, but get this: the iPad 2 is still available! From $399 and up.
- Mac mini - (a little surprised. thought they forgot they made this)
Not exactly the Black Sheep of the family. We just don’t see a lot of these around. It’s basically a Mac without the monitor, squeezed into a little box. Nice upgrade tho: Double the speed, Thunderbolt and USB 3 connectors. (You’re going to see USB 3 in all Macs going forward. USB 3 is VERY snappy. Uses same plug as USB 2 so older stuff will work just fine. Goes for $599. Actually, that and an inexpensive monitor of most any brand gives you the cheapest possible Mac desktop setup. Available today.
- MacBook Pro 13″ - (not too surprised)
It was inevitable. The little brother to the spectacular 15″ MacBook Pro that debuted in June. This new one also has that amazing Retina screen. It’s now the thinnest, lightest and most powerful laptop on the planet. (The Air is thinner but not as powerful, y’see? This is the best combination of all those attributes) Nicely done, with an HDMI port, 2 USB 3 ports, 2 Thunderbolts and an SD card slot. Starts at $1699. Actually, the 13″ is only a little more than 1/2 lb heavier than the same size MacBook Air! (How thin are all these things going to be in 5 years?!) Interestingly, you can still buy the previous generation MacBook Pro, at a much cheaper price ($1199), non-Retina, heavier 13″ & 15″ models.
- iMac - (gotta say, didn’t see this coming. there were rumors but…)
Suh-weet! as the kids used to say. I think. Damn, this sucker is beautiful. Super thin! Less than half the volume of the previous model. 5mm at the edges, swells slightly towards the center of the back. The front and back of this are bonded together molecularly! Soon as it was shown, iSensei shouts: “No more Optical Drive!” Not out of joy, just that it explained how it could be so mad-thin. (Separate USB Superdrives are available for $79 if you really need one.) Uses half as much energy as the previous when idling. Yes, faster as all heck. The coolest thing is the new Fusion Drive concept. It mixes the speed of a solid state drive with the capacity of a traditional hard drive, while delivering speeds almost as fast if it was all solid state. Very impressive. 21.5″ model starts at only $1299, available in November. Monster 27″ starts at $1799, out in December. iSensei’s gonna have to have a long talk with Santa soon.
So, all in all, a very jam-packed presentation. Apple has revamped virtually its entire line of products in the last year. They are NOT slowing down. If anything, with the sooner-than-expected release of the iPad 4, it shows they intend to leave no breathing room for the competition. Macs sales have exceeded growth vs PCs for the last six years. The iPhone 5 is the fast-selling electronic consumer device ever. And, get this, 91% of ALL mobile web traffic is done on an Apple mobile device. As Apple’s delightful Head of Marketing Phil Schiller says: “They’re no longer even in our rear view mirror.” Apple stays strong, Steve. You’d be proud.
Today’s the day, O Faithful. The release of iOS 6 (the new ‘iDevice’ Operating System) is here, which is built to take full advantage of the new iPhone 5, but also adds significant functionality and coolness to existing iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. (See list at bottom for what models can work with it).
I’m going to rely on a new (to iSensei, at least) Apple site, AppleGazette.com for their excellent step-by-step suggestions of how to best prepare for the iOS 6 installation. We’d like to thank one of iSensei’s favorite Apple sites, MacDailyNews.com for alerting us to this site/post. We’re reposting it here verbatim, with additional comments, in italic, from iSensei. Here’s the direct link to the article on AppleGazette, which I recommend visiting anyway for all their other useful information. OK, let’s get on with it.
(Soon after 1 PM EST, Sept 19, Apple dropped the 6th version of iOS on iPhones, iPods, and iPads everywhere.) Before you download that upgrade, here are five important things you should seriously consider doing first.
1. Back up your device(s).
If you don’t sync your iPhone, iPod, or iPad to your Mac via iCloud, then you should consider this one a requirement — particularly if you have a lot of personal files on your device (like music, movies, pictures, etc.). Connect your device to your computer with your connector cord, fire up iTunes, and right-click on your device’s name in the left-hand column. A new box will appear, and near the bottom, you’ll see “Backup.” Click it, and let iTunes back up all of the contents of your iDevice. This ensures you won’t lose anything if there should be any problem with the iOS 6 upgrade process.
iSensei here. Personally, the All-Knowing One would recommend upgrading to iTunes 10.7 first, inverting Steps 1 and 2, but it’s likely no big deal. iSensei’s going through these steps as he writes to see what happens first hand. He is willing to risk all so that YOU don’t have to!
The other thing you might question is whether you should backup iCloud or your Mac. Either is fine unless you only have the 5 GB of storage space that comes free with iCloud, which may not be insufficient, depending on what else is being stored there. If space is tight you might as well just backup to your Mac.
2. Upgrade to iTunes 10.7.
Right after the big Apple event last week, an upgrade for the Mac version of iTunes was made available. This isn’t the major overhaul that was shown off at the event; that’s iTunes 11 and it won’t arrive until late October. The current version is an incremental step up from 10.6 to 10.7, and what it brings is compatibility with iOS 6. So once your iPad, iPod, or iPhone is updated to the new version of iOS, you’ll want your computer’s iTunes to be able to connect to it without any issues. Upgrade here.
3. Update your apps.
It’s always a good idea to install the latest updates for your device’s apps as soon as they become available, regardless. But it’s an especially good idea to make sure you’re up-to-date across the board right now, because most of the app updates going out at the moment provide compatibility with the new features of iOS 6. Kind of a no-brainer, ain’t it?
This touches on one of iSensei’s most deeply held beliefs - update frequently - which, in his book, is every time the little UPDATES app icon – as seen above – has a number in it. You never know what benefit or fix you’ll be gaining from doing so and it’s fast and free.
4. Get ready for Passbook.
Passbook is a new built-in app that comes with iOS 6. It collects all of your customer loyalty cards, coupons, and memberships (such as the frequent-flyer account with your airline of choice, or your Starbucks member account) in a single place. It’s really pretty nifty how it works, because it’s tied in with your device’s GPS. Say you’ve got a Target gift card saved in Passbook; your device will remind you about your gift card right on the lock screen when you walk inside the store. It’s even better for airline ticketing, because not only will it store your boarding pass, it will give you updates in real time should your boarding gate change, or if your flight is delayed, and so on.
To use Passbook, you’ll need to scan or type in your personal account numbers and whatnot, so rather than wait, why not gather those materials now? After downloading and installing iOS 6, everything you need will be in one place and ready to go.
iSensei: since we haven’t used Passbook yet, we don’t know exactly what’s going to be required. This suggestion is practical though not essential. You can input this info at any later time.
5. Grab Google’s YouTube app.
Due mainly to Apple’s ongoing cold war with Android, Apple is doing away with the YouTube app that has always come with iOS. The good news: Google knew this was coming, and they’re ready with a proprietary YouTube app of their own. You can download it for free right here. The bad news: it’s not made for iPad yet. An iPad-friendly update is coming, but for now, it’s only for iPhone and iPod Touch.
A few last tips…
- Podcasts have been removed from the iOS 6 iTunes app and now have their very own app (called Podcasts amazingly). If you subscribe to any podcasts and plan to listen to or watch them on your iDevice, you should grab the new Podcasts app.
- It wouldn’t hurt to delete old apps from your device that you no longer use. Remember, you can always download them again from iTunes, anytime you want. (iSensei concurs. If nothing else it makes it harder to find the one tree you’re looking for in an overcrowded forest.)
- Like the YouTube app, the built-in Google Maps app is going away with iOS 6, in favor of the new, Apple-made Maps app. Apple’s app looks great, but it doesn’t have satellite maps or Street View. Google is working on a Google Maps app of their own for iOS, which should be released in the near future, but it’s not ready yet. So if for any reason you depend on those soon-to-be-missing features, you may want to put off upgrading to iOS 6 until Google’s new app is released.
As promised, here’s what hardware will work with iOS 6:
- iPhone 3GS and later
- iPad 2nd Generation (2011) and later
- iPod touch 4th Gen and later
Best luck to all with the preparation and installation all across the nation. And thanks again to AppleGazette.com for this timely and helpful advice. Ciao!
Alrighty, now. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty (and that can hurt!), assessing what made the final cut for iOS 6, which will be available on Wed, Sept 19th for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. As for which iOS devices will run what:
- iPhone 3GS and later
- iPad 2nd Generation (2011) and later
- iPod touch 4th Gen and later
As we’ve discussed previously, it would be grand if all devices, no matter how old, could run every new system update, but it’s just not practical or productive. Older hardware was the best and most powerful possible at the time of its release but as we all know, technology is a hungry beast and soon eats its young… no, wait… that’s not right. Technology constantly works to improve its capabilities and range. Otherwise it wouldn’t be called technology, right? So, moving right along (hurry up!) if you wrote the software limiting it to what the oldest device could do, we’d all be pretty unhappy, bored consumers right now. And who wants that? The Quakers? Maybe, yeah.
Let’s run down the projections from iSensei’s post from Sept 10 and see where the surprises are. I’m leaving up the old posting rather than repeat all the specifics therein, focusing now on the core functionalities and anything new gleaned from the Sept 12 presentation. Which is now available as an HD video stream on the Apple site. Go Phil Schiller!
Passbook - Like I said then, this is a pretty cool thing. It lets your iPhone and iPod touches store and act as ever-current tickets, boarding passes, loyalty programs, coupons and the like. They also provide status updates on how much you have left on your prepaid Starbucks card or if a flight has changed gates. This technology is open to other vendors to take advantage of and you can bet they will, especially given the millions and millions of devices that can run this.
One of the things iSensei alluded to in his earlier post was that Apple chose this path rather than NFC or, as it’s affectionately known, ‘Near Field Communication’. When a NFC chip is placed in a smartphone or similar device, it enables one to check out at the counter in a store, which uses specially equipped cash registers that detect the NFC-embedded thing in your hand and completes the transaction wirelessly. No messy removing the credit card from the wallet. Eww.
Not a bad idea, necessarily, BUT, it requires new equipment on the vendor’s side plus the possibility of someone standing close by (real close) capturing the signal. Not so easy to do but… Passbook, on the other hand, works with existing barcode scanners, which are everywhere. You just pass your Apple device over the scanner. Period (as far as iSensei knows). Advantages: no additional equipment purchase, setup or training required and established as very secure. Needless to say, Google’s pushing NFC with it’s Android partners. Let’s see how all this shakes out over time.
New 3D Mapping System – Now that Apple has dumped Google Maps for its own built in-house mapping and directional system, we’re going to see a much more sophisticated graphics approach. Rather than blownup bitmaps, which may or may not have a good photo to represent the locales (Google maps has a rotten shot of our house, hidden in back of a giant earth digger that was parked in front that day, 5+ years ago.) Apple’s approach is to construst all-new vector-based 3D buildings, streets, landmarks, etc for a faster, cleaner look. You can smoothly move around a scene from any angle, while it always remains fully rendered, because now you’re calling up mathematical constructions rather than large photo images over the cellular network or WiFi, which makes a big diff.
Turn-by-turn directions, a lovely guidance system, live traffic reports with suggested alternate routes and a bunch of other useful features should make this a joy to use. Particularly sweet if you have a passenger with an iPad!
Facebook integration - Yes, it will be integrated with your Contacts, Calendar, Maps location, etc. Pretty much everywhere. If you like to post to FB, you’ll be in obsessive communication heaven.
Do Not Disturb - Well, we guess so. There was no mention of it in the presentation nor on the Apple site, but iSensei is pretty sure we’ll see this little helper that’ll get the damn iPhone to leave us alone for a while.
Shared Photo Streams - The following is all true: you’ll be able to select certain pictures in your Photo Stream to share with specific friends, family, acolytes, etc. which will be viewable via iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, iPhoto or Aperture on a Mac, or on the web and of course, Apple TV. People using iOS devices or Macs running Mountain Lion can get them right on those devices. Anyone bereft of those options can simply go to a website and voila! (damn, I can’t use that more that once in a post! How about ‘Viola!’ Hmm?)
3G FaceTime - Yup, you can use either a cellular connection or WiFi to FaceTime it with your, ahem, homeys (or is it homies?). As previously reported, someone calls you from their iPhone, you can answer on your iPad or your Mac. Maybe, someday, we’ll all be comfy making video phone calls. Maybe…
Siri -Oh, yeah, you can post to FB with Siri. Lucky you! Your office mates will LOVE to listen to those one-sided exchanges. Whatever. Siri offers restaurant recommendations, dinner reservations; movie times, reviews and locales; oh and don’t forget the sports scores and game schedules! Plus, if you speak a foreign language, Siri’s likely to understand it. Or at least do a terrible imitation of its accent!
Actually, Siri’s pretty cool once you get used to using it (her?). It can decipher straightforward commands like: “tell my wife I’m running 15 minutes late”. I mean, now you have someone who doesn’t mind lying for you. Sweet!
Seriously though, the one function I believe people foolishly underuse is the ability to dictate speech. iSensei totally groks this. Rather than typing on the little iPhone faux-keyboard, he just taps a button, speaks clearly, taps the button again and voila! It’s all typed out, likely faster and better than his stubby little hands could have done. iSensei demands all his acolytes try this right now and see the joy and happiness awaiting you. Just say: “What can you do for me?” for some examples. You’ll be glad you did.
OK, what didn’t come up last time? Well, mainly tweaks to existing apps, but that’s OK too. Let’s hit them quickly.
Safari - iCloud tabs is new and nice. You open a tab or three on your iPhone, then when you go to Safari on your Mac, there they are! Big help for improved workflow and keeping up with your favorite Cat sites (yuck). If you want to post a photo or video on a particular site (eBay, whatever) you can choose from your existing iPhoto library OR capture the image right there and then, within Safari. Smooth.
Mail - VIP list (choose whose special in your life) and yadda yadda. (You can tell iSensei is running out of steam here, much like you.)
Phone - (Wait, this thing has a phone??) Nice touches introduced. When you get a call and can’t (or don’t WANT to) take it, you have more options now than just sending them straight to voice mail hell. With a single button you can reply with a canned (pre-defined) message, such as “I’ll call you back” or “I’m on my way” or even “Why the hell are you calling ME?!” (but that would be rude). You can also select the option (which is very desirable, we think) to remind one later to call that poor soul back (because we always forget and that’s awkward.)
So, in conclusion, we knew what we knew and we didn’t what we didn’t. And the world is a better place for it. Watch for upcoming reviews of life with an actual iPhone 5 (whatya think, the black? My 4S was white and that was nice but…)
What We Know That We Were Already Pretty Sure Of
(And what we didn’t)
Well, the Big Day has come and gone and what have we learned? For one thing, we learned iSensei is a pretty good judge of impending iPhones. Let’s take his posting from the other day and see what, if anything, he missed. (Unlikely, being so wise and all but…)
- Larger 4″ (diagonal) screen - Yup. (but that was easy) In terms of specifics: 1136×640 pixel resolution (iPhone 4S was 960×640) and an improved screen ratio of 16:9, same as HDTV/film proportions. Now the movies won’t get cropped off at the sides. Sweet. Whatever content is still in 4:3 ratio will just float on a black background. 44% better color saturation. Not 43 or 45. Exactly 44. Also, thinner cover over the actual screen, which will reduce glare. Good.
- Larger case - See first entry. But, get this, even with the taller configuration (in portrait mode) the whole thing is 18% thinner and 20% lighter! Same width as the 4S. 7.66 mm thin, thinnest phone out there. Less than ⅓ of an inch. (Watch for paper-thin iPhone 6, coming in 2013!) Heck, the new iPod touch (more on that later) is less than ¼ of an inch thick!!
- Metal back - “Slate Black” and “Silver Aluminum” finish. OK, close enough.
- New smaller dock connector - Tagged that one. Called Lightning (uh, ok… better than “9-pin Connector” we presume). Now, we can all admit that having to buy new chargers and such (or at least Apple’s converters) is no fun. I can accept though, after almost 10 years (a millennia in computer years) of the fairly large 30-pin connector that to make these devices smaller, lighter and capable of more, you’re be foolish NOT to introduce a smaller, faster and better version. Best part, it’s reversible, so there’s no wrong way to insert it. Adapters are at a premium price ($29/just adapter & $39/full cable), which is not the iSensei way. It’s like they WANT to make money! Sheesh. The iMan would have given them away.
- Headphone jack on the bottom - Yeah. I guess it is. I hope the new 9-pin adapters will accommodate the headphone jack at the bottom, given how most iOS devices sit, bottom down, in speakers, chargers and the like.
- New iOS (operating system) – But of course - version 6.0. I’ll be covering the details of this, as there are many, in a separate iOS 6 posting. The release date for this new iOS is Wed, Sept 19th. See this post for what iOS devices can run it.
- More Siri - Yup, again. More speakable access to data. Plus, thank Jobs, you can launch apps verbally! More on this in iOS 6 report.
- Improved earbuds, nay, Earpods! - Totally! These things look very nice. Completely redesigned for the ear, with better noise reduction and a more comfortable fit. Additional speaker for midrange. Still the trademark Apple white. Shipping today for $29.
- 4G/LTE - Exactly. All U.S. carriers will broadcast on this soon, if they don’t already. The major ones do now. Meaning? Considerably faster cellular connection.
- 3D - Nope. Stereo speakers - Didn’t think so. NFC - It won’t, so don’t even bother to ask what the hell that is.
BOOM! 100% for the iSensei!! The NFC (Near Field Communication) was what many people expected. Instead, we got a whole different approach with PASSBOOK, which we’ll discuss more in the iOS report.
OK, that’s the rundown from iSensei’s 9/10 post. Let’s see what else was added that wasn’t even on our radar…
- New A6 Processor. Twice as fast as the A5 that was in last year’s iPhone 4S. They did some demos using games, which always tax the system the most, and Wow. This thing looks and responds as well as a full console unit. Zoom!
- Faster, better Bluetooth connection (v.4), which is good, because there’s a lot of BT speakers, headphones, mice, etc out there and iSensei finds BT too wonky too much of the time.
- WiFi improved - A very good thing, given how much we’re all relying on it and more all the time. We could throw some tech specs at ya: 802.11n 2.4 & 5 gHz, up to 150 mbps, so there!
- Battery life boosted - Despite what this more ambitious system consumes, you’ll get 10 of WiFi, 8 hours LTE/4G talk, 10 hours video, 40 hrs music and 225 hours standby time. (But seriously, who ever goes 10 days without using their iPhone? More like 10 minutes for the Worldly Wise One.)
- Groovier Front-Facing (iSight) Camera - iPhone has had a great camera, certainly since the 4S. Here they tweaked all the 4S specs to get more out of them. Still has 8 megapixel lens, creating images 3264×2448 pixels. Has a sapphire lens cover for protection (and don’t you just LOVE sapphire?!) Better noise reduction, especially in low light. 40% faster at snapping shots. Very good. And, built-in Panorama functionality. Not a new concept, as the iPhone has had 3rd party apps to do this and many other (otherwise inferior!) smartphones already had it. It’s a sweet trick: the camera guides you along on how to move it to capture shots that exceed the width of the normal lens and stitches them together to create one great big panoramic image. Awesome on trips and vacations. Oh, and it can now take still shots while capturing video! Slick trick.
- Improved Back-facing (FaceTime) Camera - Now you can use FaceTime over 3G at 720p HD video. You’ve never looked better!
- Upgraded Audio - Better (tiny) speakers with noise canceling for speakerphone. Built-in earpiece also has noise canceling. It captures a broader sampling of sound coming into phone, should make caller sound fuller, less tinny.
Same prices as last year’s 4S for much more of a phone. Without contract? You don’t want to know. If you have to ask…
What We Think We Know But Aren’t Sure
(Always a Fool’s Mission)
OK, with only a few days to go (anxious!), iSensei is going to stick his neck out and GUESS what he thinks the iPhone 5 will have, now that we’re pretty sure (but not certain) that it will be called the iPhone 5. Let’s get to it:
- Larger 4″ screen - Yeah, hard to be wrong on that. Too much circumstantial evidence plus it makes sense given how competitor’s phones screens have grown. Will likely accommodate another row of icons/apps on the home screen and a wider picture/video experience, which’ll be nice. Oh, and definitely keeping the Retina Display. It’s so sweet.
- Larger case to accommodate new screen – About as wide, a little thinner (cool) but a millimeter or two taller. Should keep it from becoming one of those awkward “mini-tablets” some of the new Android phones are.
- Metal back - Probably. More durable than glass or plastic, though probably plastic on the top and bottom of the back for improved antenna range. These things are filled with antennas.
- New smaller dock connector - Makes sense. Old 30-pin version you use for syncing and charging now has been around quite a while and they can free up a fair amount of space inside by miniaturizing the plugs. Apple will sell adapters for about $10 a pop. iSensei would prefer free but that’s just not going to happen. We’ll all adjust. Trust me.
- Headphone jack on the bottom - Yeah? Really? Why? Though, the way iSensei puts his phone in his pocket (bottom side up) may be the way many others use it so, easier on the headphone jacks. We’ll see.
- New iOS (operating system) – Most definitely – version 6.0. They always release a new one to take advantage of the new hardware. Will likely also run on iPhone 4 and 4S (and iPad 3) offering them some additional benefits, but not everything the 5 will be able to do. Maybe not earlier models than those. Forces the software to be too weak to accommodate the slower, less powerful hardware.
- More Siri - Yup. Definitely lots more data on sports and movies, the two most highly requested categories of info. Beyond that, hopefully a more robust upgrade, moving it out of “beta”. Siri’s a great idea but needs muscle. Too skinny now.
- Improved earbuds - Sounds possible. It’s amazing Apple’s never upgraded the funky white ‘buds that have come with every iPod/iPhone since 500 A.D.
- 4G/LTE - That faster phone/network connection that the iPad 3 got in the Spring. Very welcome, if so. Likely.
- 3D - Nope. Stereo speakers - Don’t think so. NFC - It won’t, so don’t even bother to ask what the hell that is.
Alright, well, enough speculatin’ for now. The real deal will be on display this coming Wednesday the 12th so be sure to check back later in the day for iSensei to brag “I told you so!” (except iSensei wouldn’t use the pronoun “I”, so there. Not unless he’s had too much of his ‘Special Sauce’ at least…)
Thanks to techradar.com for the iPhone image but not the snappy comment.
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