Do you like spending money on Apple gadgets? Well, you’re in luck, because it looks like there’s going to be three new things you can buy in March - the iPhone 5SE, the iPad Air 3 and a new version of the Apple Watch.
Some rumours are so specific, that the date for the new devices is March 15th, so if you like watching glitchy livefeeds of Apple events, you should mark the date in your diary. Or not. No-one’s forcing you. Of course, it might just be an announcement, rather than Apple showing off their new wares, so don’t get your hopes up.
The new phone is rumoured to be the iPhone 5SE, the 6C, or a 7 Mini, depending on who you’re listening to, and it’ll be a new entry level phone, to replace the 5C. You can assume it’ll be lighter, faster, have a better camera, and all the usual things you’d expect from an updated handset.
It should act as a teaser for the iPhone 7, which is due to hit the shelves some time in September of this year.
As for the iPad Air 3, quite a few people thought that we’d see that just before Christmas. Again, it’ll be an updated version of a previous model, and will be lighter, thinner, and will have improved speakers – possibly something tied in with Beats.
The new Apple Watch won’t be a huge change from previous models, apart from some new software and no doubt, a load of new straps you can buy for it. There’s talk of a FaceTime-camera being built into the smartwatch.
Obviously, these are all just unconfirmed mutterings, which will be met with a mixture of excitement from Apple fans, jaded sighs from people who think Apple isn’t as good as it used to be, and outright anger from people who don’t like Apple at all. It wouldn’t be Apple if it wasn’t for all three.
Those crazy swine at Apple are up to something, and it involves your emotional state. Seems like the phone vendor would like to be able to read your emotions through your devices. How? Well, they’ve bought a company that uses facial-recognition technology to read your feelings.
If you’re sad, or amused, or thoroughly jaded, your Apple Watch might be able to understand it.
Apple has acquired Emotient, which is an American start-up which is able to detect the slightest changes in your expressions, which aims to determine what your emotions are. The company refers to itself as “the leader in emotion detection and sentiment analysis based on facial expressions”.
Seems a bit creepy.
We’re not sure how you make money from this, but we can assume Apple have seen a goldmine in something to do with advertising, as that’s where the cash is. Maybe they’d sell user information on how happy, disgusted or whatever, a user’s response is to commercials and product placements. Who knows?
Just last year, Emotient said that they were planning to develop software for Google Glass, which would let people who work in shops see how customers respond to them. You can assume that means bosses could see if the assistants were making people happy or not, rather than the assistant themselves, not being able to trust their own eyes.
Apple confirmed the deal, saying that they “buy smaller technology companies from time to time”, and left it at that. Like we said – Apple – they’re up to summat.
The camera would trigger an alarm if a driver falls asleep or uses their mobile at the wheel, and according to a scientist at Britain’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), this technology is ‘a big deal’ when it comes to saving lives.
European Commission officials are looking at new safety proposals for car manufacturers could be looking at making these things mandatory, in what has been described as the most important advancement in safety since the introduction of airbags.
Richard Cuerden, TRL’s chief scientist, told the Times: “We are quite excited about it — we think this is a big deal. If we want to keep seeing road casualties reduced and if we don’t want to see the horrendous stories we see happen … we have got to put it in every vehicle.”
Similar gadgets have been around for a while, and in the TRL report, they concluded that there’s “clear evidence” of the effectiveness of similar systems. The Department for Transport’s figures say that there’s been a 41% increase in accidents relating to drivers using their mobiles (from 349 in 2010 to 492 in 2014). As for fatigue, there were 2,046 accidents last year, which is up 16%.
Volvo and Ford have similar systems, which evaluate how alert a driver is, but there will be privacy concerns from some motorists, who simply don’t like the idea of a camera being installed in their car. We expect a fair amount of resistance on this idea.
A spokesperson for the commission said: “Technologies are becoming available on the market now and we will have to assess their technical capabilities.”
Women – do you find it hard to make your mind up? Do you wonder where men get all their music from? Do you wish someone could help you and that little brain of yours? You might be thinking “Shut up, you patronising swine – I can cope perfectly well without you patting me on the head, thank you very much! Cheeky shit.”
This chat is all thanks to Jimmy Iovine, who works for Apple since they bought Beats Music, who was on television being asked about streaming music. He said: “Streaming’s a technology… what this is is a music streaming service. What is does is… sort of gives you 30 million songs, and it serves them up to you and makes it easy to find music.”
“So I always knew that women find it very difficult at times – some women – to find music. And this helps makes it easier with playlists, curated by real people. They’re not made by algorithms alone – they’re made by algorithms but with a human touch.”
There’s a new advert, aimed at women, and Iovine was asked about his concept for it: “I just thought of a problem: girls are sitting around talking about boys, right? Or complaining about boys! When they’re heartbroken or whatever… they need music for that, right? It’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has, you know, the right list… or knows a DJ.”
Of course, in the scheme of things, Iovine’s comments are fantastically unimportant, but really, you’d think that somewhere in his brain, he’d perhaps consider that women are every bit as nerdy about music as men are. Likewise, there’s men and women who couldn’t give two hoots about music at all.
Either way, this is the latest bad press that Apple have got in the past 12 months – something they can’t seem to avoid lately. They’ve been sued over the WiFi Assistant, had issues with everything crashing after an update, confessed that some of their phones are worse than others, annoyed loads of people with Apple Music’s auto-renewal, and of course, made a man go on a hilarious rant. The response from Apple customers on social media has been, shall we say, on the venomous side.
He’s since apologised about his remarks, but Apple need to get shipshape and, while they’re at it, stop executive patronising their customers.
Sky are looking at taking on Netflix, Apple and Amazon, as they release a new set-top box and “best of the web” streaming service called SkyQ. The broadcaster reckon this is biggest product innovation since the Sky+ box. Big talk.
The service will kick off next year, and will let you watch shows on up to five different screens and, it’ll also have five times the amount of storage capacity than their current box. And what’s this ‘best of the web’ nonsense about? Well, you can get YouTube, Vevo, Facebook and stuff from Condé Nast (who are the publishers behind Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Wired).
In addition to all that, this new thing will also have new remote control with a touchpad, which sounds pretty fancy. It’ll allow you to swipe and scroll, just like the Apple TV thing and you’ll be able save recordings from your set-top box onto a tablet, so you’ll be able to watch them anywhere you like.
“Think of Sky Q as something that is beyond a box,” said Stephen van Rooyen, from Sky. “It is an eco-system of products. The important thing is it allows you to consume programmes in and out of the home across more screens than ever before. It is about more than just TV content, we are bringing the best of the web to the big screen.”
There’s no news on price as yet, you’ll be finding that out in early 2016.
Samsung are bringing out a new Galaxy tablet and it has a whopping 18.4in screen. That’s bloody massive. Ace for watching films on, we guess. Not so great for, y’know, being discrete when you’re looking at dirty pictures in a coffee shop. It is called the Galaxy View.
Anyway, there’s a host of new things that may interest you (they might not, but then, that’s your own stupid fault for continuing to read this particular piece).
For a start, there’s no home button on this thing, which is not like Samsung. There’s a useful kickstand on it, which folds into the back in a rather nifty way. It also has its own carry handle, so you can waddle around with it like a fancy Dan.
The View has a full HD front-facing lens, for the selfie-takers among you and… well… you get the idea. The whole point of this particular tablet is that it is bloody massive.
If you’re interesting in the spec and all that, click here.
So what’s the deal? Well, the new plug-and-play Vodafone routers will preside over 22 million homes across Britain, and promises to bring unlimited data at quite the lick. You’ll need to install a Vodafone Connect mobile app in your smartphone.
Through the app, Vodafone reckon you’ll be able to fine tune your WiFi signals to favour a particular device, or you’ll be able to use Beamforming technology, which apparently makes WiFi signals get to every compatible gadget in your house.
And then there’s the one free year of Netflix thrown in with the offer, too.
There’s a bunch of packages to choose from. You can have 17 Mbps Broadband ASDL to 38Mbps Superfast Fibre Broadband and the fastest 76 Mbps Superfast Fibre+ Broadband.
Obviously, this deal will favour those who are existing Vodafone mobile customers, who will get £5 off every month on the standard price for the duration of your contract. If you’re not, the Easy Switching service aims to make you a Vodafone customer in a much slicker, simpler way. If you hate Vodafone, this will all be making you irritable. Don’t worry. No-one is forcing you.
If this sounds like your bag, then you can sign up online here, or go to one of the Vodafone shops. If you’re a Vodafone customer and would rather ring someone, dial 191.
The iMakers have recently patented an ‘iRing’, which could take photographs, send messages and show you the time. It all sounds a bit like Russian spies, taking photos with a ring, doesn’t it? Again, we’re not talking about your hole. Stop it now.
Apple’s device would allow you to dictate notes into it, and would have a tiny little touchscreen. Like most modern devices, it’ll track your heart-rate and all that, with biometric sensors.
The patent says: “The use of touch-sensitive surfaces as input devices for computers and other devices has increased significantly in recent years. A user controls an external electronic device with a finger ring-mounted touchscreen that includes a computer processor, wireless transceiver, and rechargeable power source.”
“The ring is worn on a first finger and receives an input from a second finger.”
So there you have it. Of course, Apple aren’t the first on all of this - Mota have already shown off their ring at a conference last year. And yes, you can watch a video all about it.
Not all iPhones are the same. In fact, some are crappier than the rest, and Apple have confessed this is the case, which is why some iPhone 6S models have a shorter battery life than others. Why? Well, it is something to do with processors being made by two different chip makers.
Apple said that handsets using TSMC-built 16nm A9 processors will have a longer battery life than those powered by Samsung-built 14nm A9 CPUs. One good thing, according to Apple themselves, is that the difference is smaller than suggested.
If you’re really bothered about the difference between 2nm units, then there’s a tool you can use to see if you have a TSMC or a Samsung-built chip in your phone. Get at it here.
“Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, varies within just 2-3 per cent of each other,” said an Apple spokesperson.
However, while Apple are playing it down, independent tests have shown that the difference between the two could be as big as 7%. You’d notice that, even if it does seem small. That said, Apple are still palming it off, saying that the tests undertaken by others aren’t relevant.
“Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state,” said Apple. ”It’s a misleading way to measure real-world battery life.”
Shout out to the conspiracy theorists who read this and thought that Samsung are messing around with one of their rivals, trying to make their phones less good.
Obviously, that means there was an original Stagefright bug, so this is a new and improved security threat. The vulnerability allows hackers to take over an Android phone by sending it an MMS message, and it works by exploiting holes via an MP3 or MP4 video.
Mark James, a security specialist at ESET said: “Visiting a website and previewing an infected song or video file could enable the attacker to gain access to your mobile device and run remote code, in theory allowing them full access to your device enabling them to do whatever they wish … including installing other malware, or just harvesting your data for use in identity theft.”
All very typical thus far. Now, for some more techie stuff.
“The first vulnerability (in libutils) impacts almost every Android device since version 1.0 released in 2008. We found methods to trigger that vulnerability in devices running version 5.0 and up using the second vulnerability (in libstagefright),” said Zimperium, the company that first disclosed the original Stagefright bug.”
“The security holes lie within the media processing systems of Android, which can be broken, potentially allowing access to the the rest of the smartphone using specially crafted MP3 audio files or MP4 videos – both common formats for songs and videos.”
Okay? Good. Now, back to Mark James – seeing as very few people have got to this bit of the article because they’re bored and would rather be looking at cats on Reddit, he’s got the job of finish the tale to no-one.
“The first version of Stagefright required some information, namely your mobile number to be able to send the text message to your device,” says James. This new version does not even need to know any of your information to be successful. This, in theory, enables a much wider audience and indeed could enable access to over 1bn android devices.”
Google have been notified and are going to be patched some time this month. As a further bit of security, here are the best apps you can download to protect your phone from malware and the like. Stay safe, children.
Amazon are being weird babies again, this time, they’re going to stop selling media-streaming gadgets from Apple and Google. Why? Well, they don’t want to sell things that aren’t easily compatible with their own video service. Honest.
Amazon sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers, which said that it will be stopping selling Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast, because those gadgets don’t “interact well” with Prime Video. Keep in mind that Christmas is just around the corner, and a lot of people will be wanting to buy Google and Apple products, you almost have to admire the brass balls on Amazon.
Also keep in mind that, if you’re not the sort of person who can root things, Amazon’s tablets don’t run on the proper Android OS, which means if you get a Fire HDX or whatever, you won’t be able to download Google apps like YouTube, the Google Play store and the like. You can’t get the BT Sport app either. So it looks like Amazon are fencing themselves in, and trying to only flog their own stuff, which is a risky move.
This isn’t the first time Amazon have tried this. They got in a row with the Hachette Book Group, over the sales of print and digital books. Basically, Amazon blocked pre-orders for some of Hachette’s books, and a load of authors got angry and said the whole thing was anti-competitive.
Now, with that, you could argue that not selling Google and Apple stuff could fall under anti-trust rules, which means this could get very messy for Amazon. Even if it doesn’t raise these concerns, it is unusual for a company to send a load of potential customers elsewhere, if they want premium or popular products.
Either way, if you want Apple TV or Chromecast, you won’t be finding it at Amazon – mercifully, loads of other retailers are available.
Google have been busy bees, which has resulted in the release of a bunch of new stuff – notably, two new Nexus smartphones and two new Chromecast devices.
First off – the phones. Google showed off the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, which will both run on Android’s latest OS, Marshmallow. Google reckon the phones both have improved batteries, and the 5X will have a 5.7″ ultra HD screen, and it’ll have an all-metal body, which is fancy.
The 6P meanwhile, has a 12.3-megapixel Sony sensor, which Google reckon is the best ever camera on a smartphone. It’ll also have a fingerprint scanner too.
Google have also put out the new Pixel C tablet, which is basically a larger version of the two new phones, melded together. It’ll come with a full size keyboard as well. The 5X will start at £339 while the 6P will start at £449, with pre-orders beginning on Tuesday.
In addition to these, there’s also some new Chromecasts to check out – an updated version of the existing Chromecast, and Chromecast Audio.
The new version of Chromecast will still cost £30, and will have better connectivity, thanks to an upgraded antenna system and a WiFi chip that chooses the best connection. Google have updated the app (for everyone, regardless of which dongle you’re using) so it’ll feel more like a remote, rather than doing everything through your screen.
The completely new Chromecast Audio is pretty interesting too – basically, it is a dongle where you can stream audio. It isn’t the same as Google Cast for Audio, which links up Chromecast with your speakers, but rather, it works with any phone, tablet, or laptop that is connected to your network.
It has a ‘guest mode’ too, which will let friends play music to your speakers, even if they don’t have your WiFi password. Good for those of you who like having people over to your house and all that.
Obviously, Chromecast Audio links up with Spotify and all that too. It will cost £30 as well.
Companies like making little jokes when they’re talking at the public. Apple are no different. On the Apple Watch site, they’ve included a sly little meme for everyone, but blink and you’ll miss it.
You can see if you can spot it on this page. Or, if not, you can look at this image which we stole from it, and see if you can spot what’s going on. It is quite subtle. This is from the Digital Touch section.
Have a look at the image before scrolling down to the text below it.
As you can see on the Apple Watch, there’s the initials of your pals, circling the central icon. However, if you read them properly, you’ll see it spells something out.
On the thing that tells you how to use ‘Digital Touch’, which is the feature that allows you to send your pals messages by vibrating their Apple Watch, you will note that Apple have RickRolled everyone.
If you don’t know what a RickRoll is, firstly, have you been living up a tree for the past few years? Secondly, it is when someone surreptitiously makes you listen to or read Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ hit. There’s other ways of RickRolling, but they always feature our Rick.
Fair play Apple.
Most people charge their mobiles overnight, because you can get it revved up and ready to go while you’re asleep, which is the only time you’re not using it. However, some people have said that overcharging your phone is bad for it.
Is that true?
Well, according to one tech writer, it isn’t. In fact, overcharging any modern device won’t affect them in the slightest.
Answering a question on Quora, tech writer Jesse Hollington said: “You simply can’t overcharge an iPhone, or any other modern electronic device, for that matter. When your iPhone is plugged in and reaches 100%, it switches to external power and simply runs from that.”
Basically, his explanation shows that any device that uses a Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer battery has to incorporate a charging circuit that cuts off charging power when it reaches 100%.
Hollington added that, if you charge your battery before it is fully depleted, that is actually the preferable way of doing things, regardless of what the bloke down the pub told you. This is something to do with ‘charge cycles’. He said: “Every time you charge your iPhone up from 90%, you’re using 10% of a complete charge cycle. This means you could charge your iPhone up from 90%-100% 5,000 times before you’d have to worry about running out of charge cycles.”
“However, if you deliberately drain your battery to zero and then recharge it, you’re needlessly using up a complete charge cycle. Obviously if you’re using your iPhone until the battery goes dead, that’s fair, but there’s no need to deliberately drain it before recharging it, and you’ll actually shorten your battery life if you do so.”
That’s if you can even use your iPhone. That said, if you have been stung by the iOS 9 update, here’s some things to try out before throwing your phone out of the window.