Recode Reports iWatch Likely Not Shipping Until 2015

29 August 2014

Re/code:

So that new wearable device Apple is introducing on September 9? It’s going to be a while before anyone is actually wearing it. Sources in position to know tell me it won’t arrive at market for a few months. “It’s not shipping anytime soon,” said one. So when does Apple plan to ship its eagerly anticipated wearable? That’s not clear, but my understanding is that we’re unlikely to see it at retail until after the holiday season — think early 2015. Disappointing news for anyone hoping to put the device in a stocking come Christmas, but not unprecedented. Remember, Apple didn’t ship the first iPhone until six months after its January unveiling. Which is not to say that the gap between announcement and ship date will be that long, just that it would be unwise to expect preorders for the device to begin on the Friday following its unveiling. Apple declined to comment.

My ‘sneak peek’ theory just got a lot more weight behind it. I was modelling for a late November launch, in limited quantities, however. ‘Early 2015’ sounds more like January. This sort of breaches Tim Cook’s famous proclamation, but it’s definitely ambiguous enough for Apple to claim they still met their self-imposed deadline.1

1 By conflating an announcement with a release.

iWatch Likely To Be Shown Off On September 9th

28 August 2014

Re/code:

Remember back in June when I said Apple hoped to schedule a special event in October to show off a new wearable device? Remember how I also said this: “Could things change between now and fall? That’s certainly possible.” Turns out that was a prescient hedge, because things have changed. Apple now plans to unveil a new wearable alongside the two next-generation iPhones we told you the company will debut on September 9th.

There is no way this watch/band/thing is being released in September, although that’s not what is surprising. If you look at history, the iPad was announced in January and released in April. The iPhone was announced in January and released in June.

What’s surprising is the announcement in September, alongside the new (big deal) iPhones. Apple has no clear motivation to rush an announcement — they could easily wait until October (just like their original plan that Packzwoski reported on a few weeks ago).

You could argue that coupling the products at the event is a sign that the iPhone and iWatch are meant to go together, like the iWatch is some ‘minor’ accessory. I just can’t get behind that, though. The whole community has been hyping this product for a long time now. If expectations were inflated, I think Apple’s PR team would have got the word out by now. They haven’t. This product is a big deal.

So, here is my guess, the iWatch is demoed in September but only briefly. The star of the show will be the phones. Needless to say, release information for the watch will also not be available. (Think how the Mac Pro was a sneak peek at WWDC). Then, in October, Apple can finalise details and really get the marketing train pushing for the watch’s public debut — I’m guessing late November. This gives people a taste of Apple’s trump card1, but September is still firmly cemented as iPhone month.

1 Announcing early does not affect Apple financially. There is nothing to cannibalise.

Nintendo Announces DLC For Mario Kart 8

27 August 2014

Nintendo:

Includes 3 characters; Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach and Link. 4 vehicles including the Blue Falcon kart representing the F-Zero franchise. 8 course packs including classics like Wario’s Gold Mine from Mario Kart Wii,as well as the world of The Legend of Zelda.

Is this a sign of Nintendo modernising with the times?

USA Today App Release Notes It Will Soon Support CarPlay

27 August 2014

9to5Mac:

USA Today has revealed that it will soon be added to Apple’s list of supported third party apps with support for CarPlay. The mention slipped into the release notes of the USA Today’s latest iPhone app update mentioning that the app would no longer feature audio versions of articles as it prepares to add integration with CarPlay.

What’s funny is that any app can integrate with the CarPlay API’s in their code today. Everything’s fully documented.1 However, Apple must then add the app to its golden whitelist for it to actually show up in the CarPlay UI.

1 The API is also abstract enough such that it could apply to any type of external media controller — when I first saw this with iOS 7.1, my first thought was iWatch.

Mario Kart 8 Update Coming 27th August

25 August 2014

Eurogamer:

Mario Kart 8 will now save your most-recent kart settings between play sessions – so there’s no more setting up your racer every time you load the game.

The menu options for “Next Race” and “Watch Highlight Reel” will be switched – a much-requested change by fans – and you’ll be able to alter options for other user’s highlight reels to watch different characters or events.

Thank the lord. It felt like Mario Kart’s menu designer was the same person who made iOS 7’s Shift key.

IKEA Uses 3D Rendering, Not Photography, For Its Brochure Pictures

23 August 2014

CGSociety:

The most expensive and complicated things we have to create and shoot are kitchens. From both an environmental and time point of view, we don’t want to have to ship in all those white-goods from everywhere, shoot them and then ship them all back again. And unfortunately, kitchens are one of those rooms that differ very much depending on where you are in the world. A kitchen in the US will look very different to a kitchen in Japan, for example, or in Germany. So you need lots of different layouts in order to localise the kitchen area in brochures. Very early on we created around 200 CG exchanges versions for 50 photographed kitchens in 2008, with the products we had – and I think everyone began to understand the real possibilities.

IKEA trained its photographers in 3D modelling and its 3D artists in photography. This was something I didn’t expect from a flatpack furniture company.

Reuters On iPhone 6 Production Issues

22 August 2014

Reuters:

Two supply chain sources said display panel production suffered a setback after the backlight that helps illuminate the screen had to be revised, putting screen assembly on hold for part of June and July. One said Apple, aiming for the thinnest phone possible, initially wanted to cut back to a single layer of backlight film, instead of the standard two layers, for the 4.7-inch screen, which went into mass production ahead of the 5.5-inch version.

Every year, it is reported that Apple is facing production problems with new products. With Apple’s relentless push to adopt new technologies at immense scales, like the single-layer backlight mentioned in this case, it’s not really that surprising that they frequently have issues. However, as long as Apple is equipped to deal with such problems (that they must expect), there isn’t really a “problem” at all. Given the iPhone’s consistent release cycle, I think you can say that it is true.

Best Buy Listing Suggests Moto 360 Will Cost $250

17 August 2014

Droid Life:

According to a listing on Best Buy’s site for the Moto 360, we could end up paying $249. The device is also listed as having a 1.5-inch backlit LCD touch screen, with a 320×290 resolution, 205ppi, and Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. Matching up to what we learned from a leak a week ago, we are also seeing mentions of a heart rate monitor, water resistance (up to 3.3 feet for up to 30 minutes), and an ambient light sensor. On a specs tab, the listing suggests that there is 512MB of RAM, Wireless N connectivity, and a Texas Instruments processor inside.

Just because this article prompted me to think about it, if you asked me today to guess how much the iWatch will cost1 I would say $299. $350 at most.

1 Assuming it is as ‘smart’ as most people expect it to be, including a touchscreen and such.

New Doctor Who Title Sequence Created By YouTube Fan

15 August 2014

The Guardian:

That’s exactly what’s happened to Billy Hanshaw, a motion graphics specialist from Leeds. He created his own title sequence for the new series of Doctor Who, complete with Peter Capaldi, a spinning Tardis, intergalactic vistas, and an eye-catching swoop through the gears of a clock. It became a viral hit on YouTube, notching over 700,000 views.

Now Moffat has acknowledged it as inspiring the actual opening credits sequence in the finished series. “Hanshaw created this title sequence, put it up on YouTube. I happened to cross it, and it was the only new title idea I’d seen since 1963,” he told a New York fan event. “We got in touch with him, and said, OK, we’re going to do that one.”

That’s pretty cool. You can find Hanshaw’s original on Vimeo. The finished version (which will air on the 23rd August) is similar in concept, although some of the rough edges (like the cheesy Capaldi-in-timepiece shot) have been removed.

Thailand Approval Reveals New iPhone Model Numbers

14 August 2014

9to5Mac:

Ahead of Apple’s new iPhone event on September 9th, Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (that nation’s version of what we know in the U.S. as the FCC) has approved two new iPhone models for sale in the country. The approval was confirmed on Twitter by the country’s Secretary General for these matters, and a local report indicates the model numbers for two new devices: A1524 & A1586.

The model identifiers are puzzling. The current 5s and 5c goes up to A1533 and A1532. It would make sense for the the device labelled ‘A1586’ to be somehow next-generation (as it is significantly beyond the 5s and 5c identifiers). The specification of the A1524 model number is much less obvious. Painting by numbers, as it were, the A1524 should closely resemble an iPhone 5c.

Gurman speculates that the model number could represent variants of the iPhone 5s and 5c, such as antenna tweaks, which probably makes the most sense.

Two-Thirds Of Windows Laptop Sold In The US Have 15 Inch Displays

11 August 2014

The Verge:

In the first six months of 2014, 15-inch laptops accounted for 69 percent of consumer Windows laptop sales in the US, according to NPD data provided to The Verge. (17-inch laptops take another 12 percent of sales.) Forty-eight percent of those 15-inch laptops were priced between $300 and $500, right in the sweet spot (or just above) where the best Chromebooks are already priced.

Comparatively, MacBook sales are predominantly 13 inch notebooks, the 13 inch MacBook Air and the entry-level Retina MacBook Pro. I suppose a lot of this disparity can be explained by the difference in product variety between OS X and Windows machines1, but it’s an interesting comparison nonetheless.

1 As in, Windows manufacturers have acquiesced towards using fifteen-inch panels, so consumers’ wallets follow suit.

Apple And Samsung Abandon All Lawsuits Outside The US

6 August 2014

Bloomberg:

“Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” the companies said in the statement. “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.”

A bit random timing for this to come about, but I suppose it is a good thing for all this to end. It’s slightly strange to me how the two companies continue to fight in the US though. Assumedly, the US is the market with the highest number of affected devices, making it worthwhile to continue chasing royalties and such.

Let’s hope this doesn’t flare up again in two months, when Samsung and Apple inevitably steal from each other for their wearable products. From what I can see, this agreement doesn’t preclude that from happening.

Hotel Fines Guests $500 If They Post A Negative Review Online

4 August 2014

Union Street Guest House:

If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review. (Please NOTE we will not charge this fee &/or will refund this fee once the review is taken down). Also, please note that we only request this of wedding parties and for the reasons explained above.

Not a joke.

Apple Dramatically Expanding Capacity Of Its CDN Network

1 August 2014

Dan Rayburn:

From ISPs I have spoken with, they tell me Apple has put a massive amount of capacity in place, with many saying that Apple has more than 10x the capacity they are using today, all ready to go.

Based on my calculations, Apple has already put in place multiple terabits per second of capacity and by the end of this year, will have invested well more than $100M in their CDN build out.

I don’t believe Apple expands capacity by an order of magnitude merely for future-proofing reasons. Adjustments to user growth happen gradually, not in one burst. My guess would be that this is for video content tied in with some new Apple TV (or iTunes Movies) initiative. Bitrates for high-definition video content are high enough to explain such increases in CDN bandwidth potential.

Jared Sinclair Discusses Unread's Earnings

28 July 2014

Jared Sinclair:

Unread for iPhone has earned a total of $32K in App Store sales. Unread for iPad has earned $10K. After subtracting 40 percent in self-employment taxes and $350/month for health care premiums (times 12 months), the actual take-home pay from the combined sales of both apps is $21,000, or $1,750/month.

Considering the enormous amount of effort I have put into these apps over the past year, that’s a depressing figure. I try not to think about the salary I could earn if I worked for another company, with my skills and qualifications. It’s also a solid piece of evidence that shows that paid-up-front app sales are not a sustainable way to make money on the App Store.

You have to be efficient with your time to make good ROI’s on the App Store. I think that is a much more important than what app pricing model you choose.1 Betting on apps of incredibly large scale means you bear proportionately more risk, with the possibility of no return whatsoever. If you want to maximise your profitability, make small apps that do a few things well. The amount of effort you put into an app has very little to do with how much of the market will buy it. This means that making big apps exposes you to substantially more risk, which is not fairly counterbalanced by significantly higher earnings potential.2

In my opinion, you make money on the App Store by selling small things — it’s very nature is a bitesize marketplace. This is how you maximise your effective hourly wage. This doesn’t mean you have to turn around crap. You can still output quality pieces of software. Pour your heart into something for a short while (a month, maybe three), then ship it. Make your easy money (the first couple of weeks of sales). Iterate until interest dies away. Work on something else. Repeat. If something becomes a smash hit, then by all means develop it.

Unread is the complete opposite of this, it’s a beast of an app. It took Sinclair a year of development time. As a result, Unread faced massive risks when it finally shipped. Recouping months of development time is a lot more painful than recouping weeks of work. Sometimes you will get lucky, often you won’t.

I made Writing Aid in under a month, on and off. Thankfully, it sold well and produced a fantastic sales to hours ratio. Imagine a scenario where it didn’t do that well. I would have essentially wasted a month of work … but that is a hell of a lot better than wasting a year of work. You hedge your bets by moving fast and moving on.

1 To date, every app I have shipped to the store for myself costs money up front. I am yet to resort to In-App Purchase.

2 Sinclair is annoyed that he formed a band and made a (well received) album that doesn’t earn enough for him to live a life as a rock star. I think indie devs should make songs, not albums.

Apple Acquired Book Analysis Company Earlier In The Year

26 July 2014

TechCrunch:

TechCrunch has learned that Apple has made another acquisition, one that it is using to boost its e-books effort and “beat Amazon at its own game.” It has bought BookLamp, a startup based out of Boise, Idaho, that developed big data-style book analytics services.

I’m not quite sure what ‘beating Amazon at its own game’ entails, but from the outside, iBooks has always seemed like a runt in the litter.1 Apple pays as much attention to books as they do podcasts, yet they push iBooks as a mainstream operating system feature. Crucially, books costs money. Users expect more from stuff that they pay for and today Apple doesn’t really deliver.

1 Up until about September 2009, the iPad wasn’t even going to ship with an iBooks app. It became a focus very late in the cycle.

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