‘iPad mini’ event announced

Apple have invited members of the press and development community to a media event on Tuesday 23rd October, where the company is widely expected to announce a smaller version of the iPad in time for the lucrative Christmas market.

The tagline of the colourful invite – “We’ve got a little more to show you” – seems to suggest a smaller version of something, and that something will of course be their current tablet offering.

Although Apple have typically not responded quickly and directly to demand in the past, many customers are starting to buy smaller tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7 – and the company’s hold on the market is at real risk. If it acts decisively now, it can stop the rot; the more it waits, the much less chance it’ll have of introducing new customers (and retaining old ones) into the whole ecosystem.

The ‘iPad mini’ is reported to have a 7.85 inch screen, with the same 1024 x 768 non-Retina display found in the iPad 2, simply scaled down. This would mean that apps wouldn’t need to be rewritten for the new device. There’s debate about whether the ‘iPad mini’ will have cellular data access – it’s possible Apple will leave it out on purpose, to force users to spend more money on an iPhone or iPad for this functionality.

There are also rumours that the current 9.7 inch iPad will be updated with a Lightning connector and 4G, although I don’t expect to see this until next March as Apple stores will be busy enough over the coming months.

The event starts at 6PM UK time and I’ll be updating the blog with all the important announcements as soon as it’s finished.

Apple announces media event

At last!

Apple has finally announced a media event in San Francisco at 6PM UK time on the 12th September, where the next generation iPhone is likely to be revealed.

As always, Apple likes to tease people with event invites, and today’s is no different. At first glance, it’s easy to miss – but if you look closely, you’ll see that the shadow that the ’12’ makes is actually a ‘5’. This could mean that the new device is called the ‘iPhone 5’, rather than following the lead of the iPad and being called the ‘new iPhone’ instead.

Much of what we may expect to see next week has already been covered on this blog, including a taller display, a new dock connector and an all new case design. However, there could still be other new features such as NFC for small payments and 4G support for UK phone networks, such as the one Everything Everywhere is launching a day before Apple’s event.

It’s possible there’ll be a new iPod Touch announcement in time for Christmas, and it’s also rumoured that the iPod Nano will be receiving an update too. However, I’m not expecting a ‘mini iPad’ to be announced – in fact I’d be surprised if one were to be announced at all, considering that the iPhone’s screen size is being increased.

The countdown has begun!

Apple WWDC keynote announcements

Today’s keynote presentation at the WWDC in San Francisco has brought a huge number of announcements, addressing both Apple’s hardware and software range.

As expected, iOS 6 was launched at the event, with several new innovations.

Apple has a whole new Maps app, with a new 3D flyover feature for large cities – providing far greater detail than a satellite image. The new Maps app also supports ‘turn by turn’ navigation, as seen on traditional satellite navigation devices. Whether Google Maps will be downloadable from the App Store will be very interesting to see.

FaceTime will now be permitted over mobile networks – video calling is something that 3G networks were originally marketed for, before the explosion of the mobile web.

Siri has been greatly expanded in iOS 6, and is now being introduced to the new iPad for the first time. It’s now possible to tweet and post Facebook updates and launch applications directly with the tool.

Shared Photo Streams allow users to share photos easily from the Photos app. If the other user is using iCloud, they are delivered automatically.

A new Passbook app allows barcodes and coupons to be stored safely in one place, rather than having to locate them amongst several hundred emails at the ticket barrier, or having to print them out unnecessarily. This could be really useful for theme parks such as Thorpe Park, which uses a bar code system to grant access to the attraction. The app uses geolocation to determine when the user is close, and can pop up a notification on the home screen.

The Phone app, which has been almost untouched since the first release of the iPhone, is now being updated in iOS 6. There’s a new ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature, allowing users to schedule a ‘Quiet Hours’ period where all notifications are suppressed. Anyone who has been woken by a call or text in the middle of the night (almost everyone) will welcome this feature. It’s possible to define a ‘Favourites’ list who are allowed to call during this period.

Support for the original iPad has been dropped with this release, although the older 3GS will be offered the upgrade. This is because Apple is still selling the 3GS in its stores, while the first iPad has been discontinued. iOS 6 will be released this autumn, almost certainly around the time of a new iPhone.

On the hardware side, the MacBook Air is being updated with faster Intel processors and a new 512GB solid state drive option. It’ll now come with USB3 ports, in addition to Thunderbolt.

There’s an all-new MacBook Pro with a 15″ 2880×1800 Retina class display, while the current generation has been granted faster processors and graphics. Interestingly, there’s no optical drive in the new version. It appears Apple isn’t interested in supporting Blu ray on the Mac, though that’s understandable (if not excusable) as they’d rather customers purchase HD content through iTunes instead.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion will be made available next month in the App Store for just £13.99, and free for any customers who purchase a new Mac from today. Siri’s voice recognition feature will be included, though it won’t be able to process any requests such as creating calendar events. The other features, such as Notification Center have already previously been announced.

It’s interesting to take a step back and examine just how wide Apple’s portfolio is now. We’re in for a great year of new releases – now we’re just waiting on solid news of the new iPhone.

Apple WWDC keynote preview

The annual Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference kicks off today with a keynote by Tim Cook at 6pm UK time.

There’s plenty of rumours surrounding the event, but it seems almost certain that Apple will be announcing a new version of iOS at the event. A few days ago, workmen were seen hanging an iOS 6 banner at the conference in San Francisco:

Other rumours include the removal of Google Maps in favour of Apple’s own solution, Siri to appear on the third generation iPad, and perhaps even a new Macbook with a Retina display.

It looks likely to be feature packed event – come back later for a round up of all the announcements.

Apple media event: new iPad, iOS 5.1 and updated Apple TV

Just as expected, Apple have today released a new version of their tablet PC offering, simply marketed as the ‘new iPad’.

The device has a new 2048 x 1536 pixel display, doubling the resolution of the iPad 2’s 1024 x 768 pixel screen in both directions. This simple scaling means that applications won’t need any layout adjustments, although they will of course need to be updated with higher resolution imagery.

In order to run all those pixels, the new iPad features a new quad-core A5X processor. Image capture will also be improved with the new 5MP camera with auto-exposure and auto-focus, which can record in 1080p.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the iPad will now support 4G LTE mobile networks. Many commentators had suggested, quite sensibly, that as LTE coverage is extremely limited (indeed, there are no commercial providers currently in the UK), that Apple would wait for another day before adding this feature. However, when taken in the context that the company is aggressively marketing a “post-PC” world, creating the demand for these networks which will allow us to much more easily move away from fixed Internet links makes sense. Perhaps most excitingly, technology introduced on the iPad often makes a progression to the iPhone later in the same year, and it’d be nice to think it sets a precedent for a LTE iPhone in 2012.

The new iPad is slightly thicker and slightly heavier than the previous model, although the battery life remains the same. Pricing will also remain the same, starting at £399 for the 16GB, WiFi version up to £649 for the 64GB, 4G and WiFi version.

Apple have announced the availbility of iOS 5.1 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, which should be downloadable from today. I’ll be covering the new features in this release in a separate post.

Finally, Apple also announced an updated Apple TV which now supports 1080p output with a new interface. It’ll be available from the 16th March for £99.

Today’s media event brings an updated iPad with tangible new features, and as a result it’s likely that the new device will be a commercial success.

Apple announces iPad 3 media event

Apple have today announced a media event in San Francisco on the 7th March, where the next generation iPad will almost certainly be launched.

The invite appears to show a higher resolution display, which is the most anticipated feature for the new device. The text also alludes to this upgrade. Interestingly, there is no home button – though this could be simply that the iPad in the photograph is being used in landscape mode. There aren’t any clues about whether the new tablet will have a faster processor, longer battery life, or increased memory and storage.

The event begins at 6pm GMT and I’ll be covering the announcements here as soon as it finishes.

iPhone 4S announced

At today’s “Let’s talk iPhone” event, Apple has announced the iPhone 4S – an upgrade to the iPhone 4’s hardware which retains most of the original design. The phone will be released on the 14th October in the US and UK, and continuing the tradition of software updates, iOS 5 will be downloadable a couple of days earlier on the 12th.

The key features of the new phone are:

  • Dual core A5 chip
  • New 8 megapixel camera which supports 1080p video recording
  • Siri, a digital personal assistant

Considering the wealth of rumours surrounding an all-new iPhone, the new device is somewhat of a disappointment. It’s still my belief that Apple is very close to releasing an all-new generation phone, but for some reason decided that they would focus on improving the specifications of the iPhone 4 before the year was out.

Focusing on the upgrade itself, the new chip was fairly expected, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the phone to see if it feels any faster. The 8 megapixel camera is very welcome, and I’m pleased that Apple is finally understanding that 1080p is ‘proper’ HD. I was worried they were stuck on 720p, which is barely an improvement on SD.

Siri sounds an interesting concept, although there are caveats: you’ll need a data connection for it to work, which could prove expensive now unlimited plans are getting rare. Also, you’ll need to speak for it to work – which could look awkward if you’re effectively talking to yourself on the train, for example. Siri only achieves tasks which can be done manually anyway, so it’s not a ‘killer’ feature. I can’t recall ever using the Voice Control on my 3GS to do anything other than show people ‘look at my cool phone’.

And that takes us neatly onto the final point. Whether the new device is enough to tempt iPhone 3GS and 4 owners to upgrade remains to be seen. I expect a high demand, although I don’t expect anywhere near the level of interest which surrounded the iPhone 4.

Let’s talk iPhone

Apple has announced a press conference on the 4th of October entitled ‘Let’s talk iPhone’.

At the conference, we’ll almost certainly see a new iPhone being announced, finally putting an end to the recent rumours. It’ll be interesting to see whether the phone is an all new design, which many are expecting given the extended development time, or a simple boost in the iPhone 4’s specifications. At the very least, I’m expecting the Apple A5 processor to appear on the device and also for it to sport a better camera. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a new antenna design and a 64GB memory offering too.

The countdown begins…