TIME Apple

Here’s Great News if You Have an Old iPhone

Apple Announces New iPhone At Developers Conference
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images The new iPhone 4 is displayed at the 2010 Apple World Wide Developers conference June 7, 2010 in San Francisco, California.

iPhone 4S owners, rejoice

The newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system is reportedly being optimized to run well on devices as old as the iPhone 4S and iPad Mini, company insiders told 9to5Mac.

Rather than saddle older, underpowered phones with increasingly powerful features, Apple has reportedly built a stripped-down “core” version of its new mobile operating system for older devices. Meanwhile, newer phones, like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, will get access to iOS 9’s more powerful, processor-intensive new features.

The move may surprise Apple users who have seen performance steadily decline on outdated devices, raising theories that Apple was deliberately pushing users to buy the latest model.

Apple is expected to unveil the latest version of iOS 9 at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Read more at 9to5Mac.

TIME Apple

Why Apple’s New TV Service May Be Delayed

Tim Cook
Eric Risberg—AP Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks in San Francisco on March 9, 2015

Another setback in Apple's quest to deliver your TV shows.

Apple’s long quest to get a slice of the television business may have just gotten a bit longer.

According to a report in Re/code, Apple’s rumored TV service–which would bundle TV shows people would normally get through a cable provider–will not be unveiled this fall, “as it had told programmers it would like to do.”

The reason? Apple is hoping to differentiate itself from competitors like Dish’s Sling TV by offering local television content. This however, will be a time-consuming process, as most local television content is owned by local affiliates, rather than parent networks like CBS or ABC. According to Re/code:

Clearing the rights to show local programs and commercials takes some time — ABC, for instance, spent two years getting the rights to show live programming via its Watch ABC app, and its livestreams remain limited to viewers in eight cities. Also, some executives say that providing digital feeds of the programming from dozens of affiliates will also require the broadcasters to build new streaming infrastructure.

TIME Tech

This Swiss Company Just Totally Burned the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Consumer Reports
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg Customers look at Apple Watches on display at an Apple Store in Palo Alto, Calif., on April 10, 2015.

The company says its products are timeless

Swiss watchmaker Montblanc is the latest company to pick a fight with Apple over its newly created smartwatch. The luxury watchmaker really wants consumers to know that its new smart wristband, which attaches to Swiss watches, is timeless by comparison.

A new electronic watchband was developed by the company and comes with a pedometer, email capabilities and helps takes selfies, according to Bloomberg. Alexander Schmiedt, Montblanc’s managing director for watches, told Bloomberg in an interview that electronics makers, like Apple, don’t focus on making items that last. “Our products should have very long life cycles,” he said. “That is not to say the Apple Watch is not a great product. I predict it will do very well, but I don’t think that customers are going to be ecstatic to throw away watches in one to two years when the technology is obsolete.”

The Montblanc device costs $349 for a basic version and up to $17,000 for a high-end version, which are price points similar to the Apple Watch. “The pricing is reasonable,” said analyst Patrik Schwendimann of Zuercher Kantonalbank to Bloomberg. “If it turns out to be just a fad, at least the consumer still has a nice, normal watch they can continue to wear.”

Per the article, Montblanc’s product does the following:

When connected to a smartphone, Montblanc’s device can select songs and jump through playlists. It has an activity tracker that allows users to set targets for calories burned and steps taken. The e-Strap can also trigger the phone’s camera, facilitating easier ‘selfie’ shots and group photos.

The product is compatible with Samsung and Apple phones, among others.

MONEY stocks

Carl Icahn Was Way Off on His Apple TV Set Projections

150521_EM_AppleTVIcahn
Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg via Getty Images Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn

The activist investor predicted that an Apple-designed TV could bring in $37.5 billion

It’s time to call it. The mythical Apple APPLE INC. AAPL 0.88% TV set is dead. Well, it’s dead to the extent that it was ever alive to begin with. While Apple has never officially acknowledged that it was interested in jumping into the hyper competitive TV market (how often does Apple tell you directly that it’s working on something?), there has been plenty of evidence over the years that the Mac maker seriously considered it.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company has abandoned its plans to build a high-definition TV set. To be clear, Apple did think long and hard about making such a product, reportedly researching the idea for almost 10 years. Technically, the project wasn’t killed, but let’s be realistic. Apple isn’t making a TV.

R.I.P. Apple TV set. We hardly knew thee.
When Apple enters a market to disrupt the status quo, it needs a breakthrough innovation that differentiates itself while giving it stronger pricing power than incumbents. These innovations typically come in the form of interface paradigm shifts, like the iPhone’s capacitive touchscreen.

However, the TV market is notorious for slim margins and rapid commoditization since TVs are inherently little more than large displays. There’s simply not a lot of room to innovate or differentiate on the platform level. TV user interfaces absolutely have room for improvement, but there are some unavoidable limitations with trying to create a truly revolutionary TV interface.

Apple supposedly researched a wide range of display technologies that could potentially allow it to stand apart, and the company also considered adding FaceTime capabilities to the product. But video calling on a TV isn’t a “killer app.” It’s not like people rush out to buy Microsoft’s Xbox One primarily so they can Skype with friends and family.

Lacking any powerful differentiators and considering the high level of risk, Apple shelved the plans over a year ago, so says the WSJ.

Carl Icahn sees 85% upside
Incidentally, the report came out just hours after activist investor Carl Icahn published his latest open letter to Apple. Every few months, Icahn pens a letter to Tim Cook to applaud Apple’s ongoing aggressive capital returns and to continue to speculate about Apple entering new markets. In February, Icahn believed that Apple could build a $37.5 billion TV business in just 2 years.

Icahn now believes that Apple will enter not one, but two new markets in the coming years: the TV market and the car market. For the latter, Icahn thinks the Apple Car will be launched by 2020, in line with prior rumors. For this reason, he does not include any estimates in his model, which only goes through fiscal 2017. For what it’s worth, Icahn now pegs Apple’s valuation at $240 per share.

 

Saying “no” is one of Apple’s greatest strengths
Apple has said numerous times that TV remains an “area of intense interest” and that it feels that it can contribute to the space. But the thing is that Apple can accomplish those strategic goals and reap the benefits without getting too deeply into the hardware side. Consumers are now willing to buy set-top boxes beyond the ones that cable operators provide, a stark contrast to how the market was just five years ago as Steve Jobs observed.

That increased propensity opens up the door for opportunities to innovate, and that’s precisely what Apple is doing. The company is expected to release a new Apple TV set-top box next month at WWDC and is reportedly putting together its own slimmed-down subscription TV package. Who needs an Apple TV set?

TIME Apple

Apple’s About to Completely Change the Way You Use an iPad

Inside A SoftBank Store As Apple Inc. New iPads Go On Sale
Yuriko Nakao—Bloomberg/Getty Images Apple Inc.'s new iPad Air 2 tablet is displayed at a SoftBank Corp. store in the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.

Get ready for some serious multitasking

Apple is reportedly working on a drastic redesign for the iPad, enlarging the screen to 12 inches and introducing a new split-screen mode that could display two apps at once.

The split-screen feature was reportedly developed to take advantage of the larger, 12-inch screens on two new iPads, codenamed “J98″ and “J99,” sources within the company tell 9to5Mac.

While Apple has not officially announced the super-sized iPads, the company is reportedly considering a debut of the split-screen feature at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference this June. The feature will reportedly divide the screen down the middle or in thirds, enabling users to multitask across apps, so that they no longer have to toggle between a web browser or email. The splitscreen effect is similar to a feature offered on some Android-powered tablets.

The redesigns come amid a slump in iPad sales, as consumers shift purchases toward large screen smartphones, or “phablets.”

TIME Apple

The Worst Thing About the iPhone Is About to Be Fixed

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

It's huge for public transportation users

Your iPhone is about to get way more useful for navigating around big cities.

Apple’s upcoming iOS 9 update will add public transportation data to the default Maps app, according to 9to5Mac. The company will reportedly unveil bus, subway and train directions within the app at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

This is the first time Apple’s Maps app will include public transit data since the company stopped using Google’s mapping data in 2012. Apple was reportedly planning on including the new features in iOS 8, but pulled them at the last minute because of personnel and data issues.

Sources also told 9to5Mac that Apple is making progress with an indoor mapping project to help users find their way inside large buildings and landmarks. However, it’s unclear when that will be released.

TIME Apple

Apple Watch Bands Could Show Up in Stores Later this Week

Options and availability will be limited, however

Not happy with the stainless steel Milanese loop band you picked out when you ordered your Apple Watch?

Well, fret no more, as Apple will start selling individual bands for the watch later this week, according to a memo sent to stores and obtained by Apple blog 9to5Mac. Most of the bands in stock will be the watch’s rubber-looking Sports Band, the message said.

When ordering an Apple Watch, customers can choose from six band styles, and some of them, like the Sport Band and Leather Loop, are available in multiple colors.

The stocks of spare bands will mostly be for customers who want to swap the band that came with their watch. Some of the stock will also go to replace worn-out bands from the store watches that customers try on when shopping. And lastly, a small portion of the inventory will be available for customers wishing to purchase an additional band to swap depending on their mood.

Magsafe chargers for the watch have been available in stores in the past few weeks. Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly told employees that stores would get more watches to “by June.” Since going on sale, they’ve been mostly available via delivery. The timing makes it more likely that watch bands would also appear in stores soon.

TIME Apple

How Apple Influenced the New ‘Star Wars’ Films

Lucasfilm/Disney

Galactic fashion features a dash of Cupertino

Apple seems to have had a hand in dressing the Galactic Empire—at least from a design perspective.

We’re not talking Levi 501s and black mock turtlenecks, as was the signature style of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Rather, Star Wars costume designer, Michael Kaplan, tells Vanity Fair in a Q&A that he channeled the tech giant’s minimalist taste in creating the uniforms worn by characters in the next installment of the blockbuster series.

Kaplan cites a number of inspirations ranging from the Third Reich to the sci-fi classic Blade Runner to Sam Spade, the fictional detective in The Maltese Falcon. But he also gives a nod to Apple. Here’s the relevant bit:

Q. Did you invent some kind of fashion back-story in your head to explain how the look of this galaxy might have evolved?

Maybe subconsciously, but with the stormtroopers it was more of a simplification, almost like, “What would Apple do?” J.J. wanted them to look like stormtroopers at a glance but also be different enough to kind of wow people and get them excited about the new design.

That’s right, stormtroopers.

Earlier this year, a New Yorker profile of Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive mentioned that he had some minor input on the look of a new lightsaber. “Ive once sat next to J. J. Abrams at a boozy dinner party in New York, and made what Abrams recalled as ‘very specific’ suggestions about the design of lightsabres,” journalist Ian Parker writes.

Later, Parker reports that Ive backed off from claiming he had any substantial impact—especially on the subject of the weapon’s contentious cross-guard, the part just above the handle for protecting the hand.

I asked Ive about his contribution. “It was just a conversation,” he said, then explained that, although he’d said nothing about cross guards, he had made a case for unevenness: “I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty.” A redesigned weapon could be “more analog and more primitive, and I think, in that way, somehow more ominous.”

It’s worth noting that the influences between Apple and Disney work both ways. One of the faces on the new Apple Watch features Mickey Mouse, after all.

It’s unclear what Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks about his company inspiring the stormtrooper uniforms. For more on the shared influences between Apple and Disney, read Fortune senior writer Michal Lev-Ram’s recent cover story in the magazine: “Disney CEO Bob Iger’s Empire of Tech”.

For everyone else, here’s a gif from Apple’s notorious 1984-style commercial that hints at the Empire’s boys in white.

Courtesy of YouTube.
TIME Apple

Here’s What Apple’s Next Big App Will Do

Craig Federighi
Jeff Chiu—Associated Press Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks about the Apple HomeKit app at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 2, 2014.

The new app may be released with iOS 9

Apple is reportedly developing a “Home” app which would help users control products that work with its connected home service, HomeKit.

HomeKit’s uses include controlling garage doors, smart thermostats and wireless door locks, among other home accessories. The Home app may be included with an upcoming iOS 9 update, 9to5Mac reported citing sources familiar with the project.

9to5Mac says the Home app will boast the following features:

  • Wirelessly discovering and setting up compatible HomeKit devices
  • Creating a virtual representation of rooms in the home to easily organize and connect HomeKit devices
  • Utilizing the Apple TV as a hub connecting all of the HomeKit devices
  • Offering a series of screens to help users find new HomeKit devices and apps

Apple is widely expected to unveil more details about HomeKit at its Worldwide Developers’ Conference early next month.

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