Updated: iPhone 6s revealed

Scoop maestro Mark Gurman from 9to5mac has an exclusive look (with photos) at the upcoming version of iPhone, widely expected to be released around September with the name iPhone 6s. As the name implies, this is an “incremental” upgrade to the iPhone, with most changes happening on the inside of the phone rather than the outside. However, contrary to previous rumors and aided by the leaked hardware photos that they have obtained, it would seem like it’s not as big a change as expected.

As per the article:

For fall 2015, Apple is preparing an “S” iPhone upgrade that superficially preserves the exterior designs of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but includes a collection of major internal changes. In May, we reported that this new “iPhone 6S” line would debut this fall with a Force Touch, pressure-sensitive display as one of its marquee features. Now, a proven source familiar with Apple’s supply chain has provided us with the most extensive look yet at Apple’s next iPhone, sharing the first photos of the iPhone 6S’s external metal casing, plus an in-depth look at the new iPhone’s internals. Today, we’re focusing on the exterior of the next iPhone, which appears to refute a number of potential changes that some have speculated were destined for this model.

Gurman notes that it does not seem likely that the final model will be noticeably thicker – which makes sense as it is an “S” upgrade year. As far as design quibbles that some folks, including myself, had with the camera ring and antenna lines, it is still possible they are integrated more seamlessly – but it doesn’t look too likely at this point. Also, no dual camera (really interesting read) set up this year. More likely a feature for the iPhone 7.

Update: 9to5Mac also has leaked some additional information about the broadband chip to be used on iPhone 6s. Looks like a speedy and more battery efficient update update is coming our way. 

Big scoop for the very talented Mr. Gurman.  He’s been on fire lately, more so than in the past. WWDC was basically a recap of all his scoops (minus the NEWS app which no one really saw coming) and it seems he’s set on repeating his hot streak. Great work. 

Looking forward to seeing what else he brings this week.  Lots more to come.

Apple Music FAQ via iMore

There’s a terrific FAQ on Apple Music over at iMore. Serenity Caldwell did a terrific job and offers a very thorough walk through on what this upcoming service is all about. I’m looking forward to trying it out for myself. Highly recommended and worth a read…here’s a taste:

On Tuesday, June 30, Apple plans to unleash Apple Music in all its glory — Beats 1 radio, a redesigned music app, and more custom playlists than you can shake a stick at. Here’s what Apple Music is, what it’s not, how it compares to other services, and what you’ll be able to find on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC.

The MacBook and the future of Macs

Note: This ones a bit old. I had started writing some thoughts about the new MacBook after reading an artical in the WSJ. Still worth a link for those who missed it. 

Joanna Stern writing for The Wall Street Journal:

At some point, I will stop being surprised at how thin and light gadgets continue to get. But not today. Picking it up the MacBook feels like lifting an iPad rather than a laptop. And when you look at the 13.1mm-thick machine from the side, it looks like a screen propped up by a metal stand. 
Of course, it’s thin because all the ports you know and love are in the trash. No more SD card slot, no more full-sized USB ports or Thunderbolt. All that’s left is a headphone jack and one—and only one—USB-Type C port. The latter charges the laptop, but also can be used to send video to monitors and connect and charge other devices.

We don’t need all those other ports, Apple says. We are living in a wireless world now, where we can connect most of our peripherals without cords.

What caught my eye about these Mac’s was how all “excess” has been shed. People will (and have already started to) moan and groan and complain that the computer eschews functionality for form – but they’re missing the point of Apple’s MacBook.

This isn’t a product to replace the Air. It’s called “MacBook” for a reason. It’s the rebirth of the MacBook family. Slowly, but surely, this MacBook will grow from this singular model into a new set of wireless mobile ready computers that are created in a world where iPad and iPhone are king. 

Again, this is just the first step. It’s not as powerful. It’s not as highly spec’d in any way. It’s just designed and engineered in a way that towers over much of the competition – including Apple’s other MacBook’s. Just like the MacBook Air before it was. 

As Apple reinvents the notebook, it will carry over this rebirth over to its other lines. We will see a day when all MacBook’s are designed with fewer (maybe none) ports and cater to the wirelessly networked world becoming commonplace. 

This is just the start of a much more wireless future. This Mac is the start of that future. There’s more yet to come. 

Next iPhone starts early production

Bloomberg reports:

Apple Inc. has started early production of new iPhone models with a feature called Force Touch, which senses how hard users are pressing down on a screen, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Its newest iPhones, in the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch versions as the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices, will have a similar exterior design, the people said. Volume manufacturing is scheduled to ramp up as soon as next month, they said.

Apple is bringing Force Touch, first unveiled for the Apple Watch and the newest MacBook model, to the iPhone at least two years after it started working with suppliers to perfect the pressure-sensitive displays.

Lines up with some of the previous reports on the new 2015 models of iPhone. All in all, it looks like a good year for upgrading to iPhone. I am looking forward to seeing how force touch and other rumored features are integrated into iOS. 

To Apple, Love Taylor

Updated: Apple (via some tweets and a follow up  with ReCode) has confirmed that they will pay artists for their music during the 3 month trial period. Taylor Swift and a lot of indie bands will also be releasing new music on Apple Music.

Earlier this morning, Taylor Swift wrote an open letter explaining her stance on Apple Music. She is troubled over the 3 month trial period, during which artists are not getting paid. From Taylor Swift via Tumblr:

To Apple, Love Taylor

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

Taylor

On the whole, it seems clear that she is not against Apple Music itself – just the time period in which people who worked hard on producing this content are not getting their due. I have to say, given their massive number of users Apple could easily bring a whole new crowd to music and songs that would not have come otherwise. Many artists might see a big uptick in their following. The 3 month trial period could bring on board millions who would otherwise buy a few songs here and there.  On the other hand, I do agree that these artist should get paid for their hard work. If nothing else, it is an interesting debate with good points by both sides.

Second gen Apple Watch Rumors 

Well folks, it has begun. Second generation Apple Watch rumors kicked off today from Mark Gurman over at 9to5Mac:

According to multiple sources familiar with Apple’s plans, the Apple Watch 2 is planned to gain a video camera, a new wireless system for greater iPhone independence, and new premium-priced models. Interestingly, it will also feature similar battery life to its predecessor…

So basically 3 big changes. FaceTime. Tether-less features. Possible New Models. 

FaceTime for Apple Watch:

Apple’s current considerations call for a video camera to be integrated into the top bezel of the Apple Watch 2, enabling users to make and receive FaceTime calls on the move via their wrists.

This would be insanely great. To take a quick FaceTime call right on your wrist would be amazing. 

Tether-less features:
Under an initiative internally called “tether-less,” Apple plans for the second-generation Watch to have more functionality when used independently from an iPhone. Currently, the Apple Watch’s activity tracking, mobile payment, and music playback functionality work substantially without a connected iPhone, but many other features that could normally function solely under a Wi-Fi connection do not function completely, including text messaging, emailing, and receiving updated weather data.

In order to make the next-generation Apple Watch more capable without a connected iPhone, Apple intends to integrate a new and more dynamic wireless chipset into the wearable. Although the Apple Watch 2 will likely continue to require an iPhone for heavy data transfers, including software upgrades and the synchronization of media files, basic communication tasks could be handled without iPhone assistance. The new Wi-Fi chip will also enable the Find my Watch feature we reported on earlier this year, as Apple will be able to track Apple Watches using Wi-Fi router triangulation technology instead of GPS.

This could be a great new feature – despite requiring an upgraded chipset. 

New Apple Watch models:

Apple is currently exploring a wider portfolio of Apple Watch models beyond today’s Sport, Steel, and Edition tiers. Interestingly, the company is said to be focusing on introducing new models that will sit between the highest-end stainless steel Apple Watch and the entry-level 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition. The company is looking at ways to attract customers at price points between $1,000 and $10,000, but it is unclear if this will result in lower-priced gold Apple Watch variations, higher-priced steel models with more advanced bands, or versions with new materials. It is possible that Apple could introduce Apple Watch 2 variations made with titanium, tungsten, palladium, or as has been previously suggested, platinum.

The report also adds that the battery life will stay around the same and that some of these features might be scaled back or delayed. 

These upgrades, while incremental in theory, seem to confirm that Apple will move fast to create a product line that takes people into the future. Apple did not become humongous overnight based on one iPhone or even two or three models – it was the yearly iterations that slowly, but surely, improved upon each incarnation. Their never-ending quest for perfection improves their products quicker than we can imagine. And once they are released it’s unimaginable as to how we ever lived without them. That’s how I see the Apple Watch of today. I look forward to feeling that way about the next generation of Apple Watch. 

Rumor: iPhone 6s to be slightly thicker, use series 7000 Aluminum

As originally reported by Macotakara, KGI securities is predicting that the next version of the iPhone will need to be marginally thicker and longer (.2mm thicker and .15mm longer) to accommodate new technologies inside of the iPhone’s slight frame. 

9to5Mac has a great breakdown and analysis of the news (in English):

The increase in thickness is likely to accommodate the addition of Force Touch, the new pressure sensitive touchscereen tech that makes Apple Watch’s display clickable. We reported last month that iOS 9 showed hints at Apple’s plans for bringing the tech to a next-generation iPhone and possibly using it to enhance iMessage, keyboard, and Apple Pay.

Although, a thicker iPhone could hint at other possibilities for the design of the new iPhones. While it will only be a slight increase according to today’s report, with a slimmer, upgraded camera module, Apple (combined with an upgraded camera) could potentially get rid of the unsightly camera bump that many complained about when the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were introduced. An earlier report from KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo detailed some of the expected spec bumps and Rose Gold color option for the new iPhone, including an upgraded camera likely increasing to 12MP alongside upgraded RAM and other new components.

I think this lines up with everything we have heard so far.  It is actually welcome news for me.  I appreciate the effort that Apple places on creating thin and sexy products – but I would gladly welcome a 7.1 mm thin iPhone 6s and a 7.3 mm thin iPhone 6s Plus with new technology and improved battery life.  

The Apple Watch has proven that Apple can do all day battery – it’s just a matter of figuring it out on devices that are larger and more power hungry.  Improved strength of the Aluminum will also free users of worrying about the “bend-gate” issue. Force touch and the increase in RAM are both going to be great upgrades, enabling power users to really take their iPhone to the next level.  

Battery life and the improvements they make to it will also be critical.  I expect the A9 to help out with the battery life, while boosting performance and efficiency (especially given the improvements to iOS in 9.0 and those yet to be introduced) of the software with the hardware.  I am also really excited about an upgraded camera. It’s going to be a great year for an iPhone upgrade, no matter which iPhone you are coming from.  I am definitely choosing the Plus model this year.