I haven't paid much attention to Apple's newest price-gouging tactics. But it's after Midnight here on the West Coast and preorders are now underway for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. So I decided to take a progress peak. A year ago, I rushed to get the 6. This upgrade cycle, my interest is zero.
I am not mooning over 3D Touch, although I would gladly moon Apple for such nonsense. Synchronization was the connected device age's first killer app. Touch was second. But the finger is an anachronism compared to voice. Touchless is the next big thing. While Apple brew hoos about smarter Siri, touch gets greater emphasis for this release cycle. I can't blame Apple in a way. Siri still sucks.
Please take my money, Google. Tap the vein right here if blood is the currency you need. I am ready, willing, and over-excited. If you disappoint, I understand, though. My city is a brick wall when it comes to new commerce. It's regulation central. So good luck to you.
This afternoon I received email from the Google Fiber team that stopped my heart: "We wanted you to be among the first to hear the news. Today we announced we're exploring bringing Fiber to San Diego". Hell, yeah, baby. Sign me up. Which up-for-reelection-politician needs me and other native and transplanted San Diegans to be thorns in the butt? Give us more speed than we possibly need for prices we probably can't afford.
This just arrived in my inbox from Apple: Offer to download what could be the final build before Apple certifies OS X 10.11 as golden: "Thank you for participating in the Apple Beta Software Program. Your feedback and usage of the OS X El Capitan public beta has helped us make this release great. We are pleased to give you access to the OS X El Capitan GM Candidate".
Promises. Promises. "If you are currently testing OS X El Capitan, please back up your Mac and do the following to install the GM Candidate. Go to your Purchased tab in the Mac App Store and click the Download button next to OS X El Capitan GM Candidate. When your download finishes, the installer will automatically launch. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete installation".
Apple's decision to start iPhone 6s and 6s Plus preorders on Saturday September 12 surprises me. Friday is typical, which lets the company tabulate an extra day into the weekend when reporting the number of preorders the following week. So you have to wonder why the change. I asked Apple PR, but there is yet no response to my query.
In 2014, Apple announced iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also on September 9th, a Tuesday. Preorders began on Friday the 12th and sales one week later. In 2013, there was no preorder option for iPhone 5s, just straight sales starting Friday September 20th; announced the 10th. In 2012: Friday September 14th for preorders; the 21st for sales. In 2011: again Friday, October 7th preorders and October 14th sales.
Yesterday, I joined the 61 percent. The figure represents the people who, in a MusicWatch survey of 5,000, had turned off auto-renew on their free Apple Music trial, which for all ends September 30. Unless something really big comes out of this week's media event, where new iPhones could debut and iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan receive release dates, I will listen elsewhere. For now, I will stream higher-fidelity tracks from Tidal, and expand my musical horizons at services like SoundCloud.
Strange thing: I don't dislike Apple Music. Curated playlists are "frak me" good. Family pricing, $14.99 per month, is very reasonable. The library is voluminous; if I want to listen to it, Apple Music likely has it. Then there is the benefit of easy access to my own library of about 14,000 tracks alongside juicy fruit picked from the orchard.
What the frak? Is it because of the presumed, imminent launch of Apple's successor to iPhone 6 or 6 Plus? Are rumors about Google launching new Nexus devices near month's end true -- and it's better to clear out excess inventory now? Or is Amazon being Labor Day weekend Amazon?
Motorola-made, Google-branded Nexus 6 is on big sale today from the retailer's U.S. store. Last night, I oogled at the phablet for $499.99, which already was a hefty discount. This morning I rolled out of bed to see $349.99. Both prices are for the 32GB model. Double the memory and pay $399.99. Yesterday: $549.99. Surely the price and supply can't last. That's helluva good deal -- and for both colors: Cloud White and Midnight Blue.
Today, at IFA in Berlin, Acer unveiled its first convertible Chromebook and updated the Windows counterpart, which gets 6th-generation Intel Core processors and USB 3.1 Type-C port. The two computers join a surprising assortment of new gear, including gaming notebooks and tablets and smartphones.
The Chromebook R 11 Convertible comes in consumer and commercial models. Base specs: 11-6.-inch display (1366 x 768 resolution); 1.6GHz Intel N3150 or N3050 Celeron processor; 2GB or 4GB RAM, 16GB or 32GB SSD; Intel HD graphics; webcam; USB 3; WiFi N; and Chrome OS. Weighs 1.25kg (2.76 pounds). There are four modes of operation, depending on positioning: display, laptop, pad, and tent.
It's IFA Berlin, and Acer means business about play, unveiling new desktops, laptops, monitors, and tablets in its gaming series. The Predator G3 and G6 PCs get 6th-generation Intel Core processors and new thermal systems. The Predator 15 and 17 notebooks get 6th-gen processors and updated fan designs.
New monitors are available in 27, 28, or 35 inches. The new 8-inch tablet features FHD display and Intel Atom x7 processor.
On September 9, Apple will hold a media event, where, presumably, the next-generation iPhone(s) will be unveiled. The company announced new handsets the same date last year, the 10th in 2013, and the 12th in 2012. But as the big reveal approaches, shadows rise over iPhone's future: China's slowing economy; smartphone saturation in core markets; lower selling prices in growth geographies; the end of cellular carrier subsidies in the United States, and, most serious of all, the "good enough problem".
iPhone rode a perfect storm of success, raising Apple's fortunes like a tsunami crashing down on competitors. This fact cannot be emphasized enough to illustrate how the bitten fruit logo company's fortunes could fall as quickly, and as dramatically, as they rose. All the while, Android grows from swell to monsoon.
I must apologize to Art Alexakis, lead singer for Everclear. In a personal post last night observing his role as a tattoo artist in movie "Wild", his name is misspelled. Funny thing, so to get it right, I copied and pasted from the web into the WordPress editor. Yet somehow when published, and I missed, his name appeared as Alexis. My thanks goes to Scott Bell, who pointed out the error in a Google+ comment.
It's strange how tech meant to be beneficial gets in the way. More mistakes appear in my stories because of autocorrect than I make myself. The pattern is consistent: I will write, nix autocorrect's changed misspelling, but later edit something else in the sentence. Word changes! As a long-time writer and editor, I revise constantly until publishing—and afterwards, too. The spelling errors I miss most often typically are the ones made for me during spot edits.
I am not a fan of overly-large laptops, but if I were to buy one, Acer's 15.6-inch monster would be among my top choices. The Chromebook packs in lots of value, which first and foremost is 1080p resolution to match the large screen, a benefit that is atypical for the price and size class. Screen brightness is no match for the Toshiba Chromebook 2, but the matte finish compensates for dimness by dramatically reducing glare. Meanwhile, the IPS display gives great viewing angles.
The point: Acer doesn't just offer bigger, but better, among the overall Chromebook category, where dim TN screens are standard fare. That also can be said of competing Windows laptops, where with same size screen in the price range, or even more costly, resolution typically tops out at 1366 x 768. Chromebook 15 is 1920 x 1080. By more than size, the display is a big benefit.
The strangest, and largely overlooked news, coming out of the tech sector this week is Dell's Microsoft betrayal. This isn't the first time that the PC maker strayed. Linux joined the product stable long ago, and last year an educational Chromebook debuted. But this newer and larger model, which will be available September 17, raises question: WTF?
Dell's core PC market is business—small, large, and everything between. Windows, and that smattering of Linux, is core, and longstanding loyalty to Microsoft's application stack. But the Chromebook 13 announcement, as positioned by the OEM and Google, is all about the competing cloud app stack. Interestingly, selling prices rival Windows laptops, which is another head scratcher: $399 to $899, depending on configuration.
Measured as sales through the U.S. consumer retail channel, Macs reached rather shocking milestone during first half 2015, according to data that NPD provided to me today. Yes, you can consider this a first, and from lower volume shipments. By operating system: OS X, 49.7 percent; Windows, 48.3 percent; Chrome OS, 1.9 percent. That compares to the same time period in 2014: OS X, 44.8 percent; Windows, 53.1 percent; Chrome OS, 2.1 percent. So there is no confusion, the data is for U.S. consumer laptops.
While data junkie journalists or analysts often focus on unit shipments, revenues, and subsequently profits, matter much more. Looked at another way, Mac laptop revenues rose by 10.9 percent during the first six months of 2015, year over year, while Windows PCs fell by 9 percent, and Chromebooks contracted by 9.5 percent.
I predict that the innovation of the year will go, not to a tech product, but to Google's creation of a new company: Alphabet. The search and information giant that disrupts so many other companies on and off the Internet essentially disrupts itself. By doing so—divesting the core, established business from future research and inventions—cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin unshackle weights dragging growth.
To recap: Page announced the dramatic change after the market closed yesterday. Google becomes secondary to Alphabet, which will hold a collection of related entities. Page hands over Google chief executive reigns to Sundar Pichai, while becoming CEO of the new entity. Brin is president. Can we call him letterhead instead of figurehead? :)
Sometime within the next few weeks, Apple should announce successors to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and my review of the latter device is long overdue. Let's get to it finally and present the key finding first: If size matters, as in you want a phone with larger screen but that doesn't feel humongous, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus is a worthy choice. By measures that matter most—benefits from apps, calling, camera, data, performance, screen, and storage—the phablet is best of class.
As expressed in my iPhone 6 review, I regretted not buying the larger device after handing it. The Plus is big, but not overly large for my tastes. Hell, I bought Motorola-made and Google-branded Nexus 6 in January 2015 to replace iPhone 6; the screen is even bigger than Plus, at whopping 6 inches. I gained great value using either of the larger handsets, but gave up one for the other.