KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, issued a note to investors today that offers eleven predictions for the next-generation iPhone in 2015. Kuo expects the new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones to enter mass production in mid-to-late August, and does not believe that a new 4-inch iPhone model will be released in 2015.
The main selling point of the so-called "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" will be Force Touch, the pressure-sensitive display technology built into Apple Watch and new MacBook trackpads. Other predicted features for Apple's next iPhone, many of which have already been rumored, include an A9 processor with 2GB of RAM, improved 12-megapixel camera, a new Rose Gold color option, possible sapphire cover lenses and more.
(1) Force Touch will be the biggest upgraded selling point, but also one of the main bottlenecks of the supply chain. Force Touch can enhance user experience due to more input methods and support of handwritten signatures, which is beneficial for expanding in the commercial market;
(2) Screen will remain at 4.7 and 5.5 inches, with resolution the same as existing models. There will be no new 4-inch model;
(3) There will be an additional casing color, rose gold, matching the rose gold Apple Watch Edition;
(4) The camera will have a pixel upgrade, likely to 12 MP;
(5) One microphone will be added near the speaker to enhance voice quality;
(6) The A9 processor with upgraded 2GB LPDDR4 will be adopted;
(7) The bending issue will be improved by using different casing materials and internal mechanical design changes;
(8) If drop test issues can be resolved, the 5.5-inch model will have a limited number of units with sapphire cover lens;
(9) The recognition rate of Touch ID will be improved further in a bid to promote Apple Pay;
(10) Gesture control support; and
(11) It’s expected that mass production will start in mid-to-late August. Total shipments will be 80-90mn in 2015, with a 2:1 ratio of 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models.
Kuo expects total shipments of between 80-90 million iPhones in 2015.
While Apple CEO Tim Cook recently confirmed that there are over 3,500 apps available for the Apple Watch, several reviewers and early adopters have complained that many fail to provide useful functionality on the wrist. Despite strict approval guidelines, the App Store for Apple Watch is cluttered with basic or poorly designed apps for the wrist-worn device, likely due in significant part to the apps having been developed before the Apple Watch was available.
To help users discover some high quality watch-based experiences, MacRumors reached out to its forum community and skimmed through the App Store to handpick five Apple Watch apps that we've found particularly useful. Some of the useful Apple Watch apps worth mentioning include Workflow, Philips Hue, Things, Calcbot and Clear.
Workflow is an automation tool that enables you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create custom workflows for completing various tasks. You can, for example, use the app to get directions to nearby coffee shops within a preset radius directly on your Apple Watch. Workflows are created using a paired iPhone and automatically appear on the Apple Watch for one-tap use.
Workflow features over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote and iCloud Documents. The app, created by DeskConnect co-founders Ari Weinstein, Nick Frey and Conrad Kramer, is currently $2.99 on the App Store for iPhone and Apple Watch as part of a limited time 40% off sale.
Philips Hue for Apple Watch displays up to 10 different lighting configurations for Hue lights that can be activated by pressing a circular button -- there's one button per screen, and you swipe between them. One minor inconvenience is that Hue has no Glance, so you have to actually open the app to turn on your lights, although it's a simple issue that could easily be addressed in a future update.
You choose your desired scenes in the Hue for iPhone app in settings, where available scenes to choose from are listed under Widget & Apple Watch. Scenes you pick will be available on the Apple Watch and in Notification Center on iPhone if you have the widget turned on. The scenes will be the same in both places -- you can't pick different ones for the iOS widget and for the Apple Watch.
If you don't have a Hue Tap, quick selecting scenes on the Apple Watch is easily the fastest way to control your lights since the device is right on your wrist. With 10 scenes, there are a lot of options for controlling lighting all over the house. You can get more scenes by creating them on the iPhone or downloading them from the Meet Hue website.
Philips Hue for Apple Watch is free on the App Store.
Things is one of several to-do apps available for the Apple Watch, displaying a list of day-to-day tasks and long-term goals on your wrist that can be assigned to categories, marked as completed or added to larger projects related to, for example, planning a vacation, preparing for a presentation or filing taxes.
To-dos can be added directly from the Apple Watch using Siri dictation, and categorized under Inbox or Today with a single tap. Things for Apple Watch can also provide notifications to remind you about scheduled to-dos for a specified date so that you don't forget, and all tasks automatically sync to a paired iPhone.
Things for Apple Watch is $9.99 on the App Store.
Calcbot by Tapbots makes up for the lack of a stock calculator app on the Apple Watch, enabling you to perform basic calculations and conversions, calculate tips and split bills right on your wrist. The regular calculator mode features a basic numeric keypad, and a firm press using Force Touch brings up a menu with add, subtract, multiply and divide options.
The conversion mode brings up a similar looking number pad with options to convert US dollars to euros, pounds to kilograms, miles to kilometers and Fahrenheit to Celsius using Force Touch. Calcbot Pro, $2.29, enables users to customize the four conversion options using the Calcbot app for iPhone, with over 500 units across 22 different categories to choose from.
Perhaps the most useful functionality of Calcbot for Apple Watch is the tip calculator, which allows you to enter the total cost of your bill, calculate a 10% to 30% tip and divide the amount between up to 10 people if necessary. Apple Pay and Calcbot combined make the Apple Watch a more convenient option than fumbling with your iPhone and wallet when the check comes.
Calcbot for Apple Watch is free on the App Store.
The Apple Watch's small screen size is ideal for displaying bite-sized information, making Clear a perfect match for the wrist-worn device. Clear for Apple Watch brings tasks, reminders and to-do lists to your wrist, featuring a Glance that shows you how many items are on your list and displays upcoming reminders. Adding new tasks can be done using Siri dictation.
Tapping on the Glance brings you to the full Clear app, where you can view all of your lists on the Apple Watch. If you create your own list, such as a grocery list or task list, you can check off items directly on the watch. If you press firmly on a list using Force Touch, you can sort the list, add new tasks or mark all tasks completed.
Clear for Apple Watch is $4.99 on the App Store.
These are by no means the only useful Apple Watch apps available so far, and we encourage readers to share some of their other favorites in the discussion thread associated with this post. It is clear, however, that many developers have struggled to find the right balance and user experience for the new platform.
With the Apple Watch now available and users and developers able to figure out the best way for apps on the wrist to fit into their daily lives, there will no doubt be improvements to the user experience and we'll continue to watch for interesting and novel apps making their way to the Apple Watch.
Following a lull in rumors and news circulating Apple's so-called "iPad Pro", most likely due to the launch of the Apple Watch and reported delays in Apple's internal production timeline, a newly shared industrial rendering (via nowhereelse.fr) [Google Translate] of the device once again provides some claims of dimensions for the large-screened iPad.
The industrial rendering, dated December 2014, points to a 12.9-inch screen iPad Pro with dimensions measuring exactly 305.70mm x 222.60mm x 7.20mm, or 12 inches x 8.7 inches x 0.28 inches. These numbers line up closely with those seen in a previously purported design drawings for the device, although they are slightly larger than the earlier ones.
The latest rumor also supports the majority of sources so far pointing to a 12.9-inch display for the iPad Pro. A few sources have suggested it could carry a smaller 12.2-inch display, but they are a small minority at this point.
Beyond dimensions, the industrial rendering does appear to support the four top- and bottom-based speakers mentioned in previous rumors, as well as the typical locations for the power button, headphone jack, Lightning port, and volume buttons. As with the iPad Air 2, this iPad Pro design appear to omit a mute switch in favor of a tiny microphone hole near the volume buttons.
Notably, the rendering does not include a port or other feature around the center of the left edge as has been seen in some previous case and mockup leaks. The exact identity of that feature is not clear, with suggestions it could be a SIM tray for cellular models, a second Lightning port for docking accessories in landscape orientation, or even a USB-C port.
Cases for the iPad Pro have begun increasing in quality recently, going from simple plastic molds to complex trifold designs with higher-quality materials, perhaps suggesting more confidence from manufacturers in these rumored designs and schematics.
Regarding its specs, the most recent rumors state the iPad Pro could have a triple-core A8X processor, 2 GB of RAM, and Touch ID, and possibly ship alongside a first-partystylus accessory of some sort. The latest rumblings suggest a production build-up in September with a launch perhaps coming in October alongside Apple's usual iPad lineup refresh.
Update 8:17 AM: Unbox Therapy has shared a new video highlighting cases designed around the rumored iPad Pro design.
During its Wednesday earnings call, Apple rival Samsung Electronics reported net profit of 4.63 trillion won ($4.35 billion) for the January to March quarter, a 39% drop from its net profit of 7.49 trillion won in the year ago quarter. A sizable portion of the lost profit came from Samsung's mobile division, which brought in 2.74 trillion won ($2.5 billion) in the first quarter of 2015, vs. 6.43 trillion won in the first quarter of 2014.
Despite the year over year profit loss, Samsung's earnings release highlighted its quarter over quarter improvement and pointed towards increased sales of middle-end smartphones including the Galaxy A series. Samsung doesn't divulge its smartphone sales, but analysts believe the company sold 83.2 million smartphones during the quarter, compared to Apple's 61.2 million.
The high number of sales let Samsung regain its title of the worlds largest smartphone maker, but many of those sales were for lower-priced phones and not flagship devices, causing it to lose profit year over year. Much of Samsung's profit loss can be attributed to the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, letting Apple devices compete with Samsung devices on screen size for the first time.
Ahead of the launch of the two larger-screened iPhones, big screens were a feature that set Samsung devices apart from iPhones and drew customers for the South Korean company, but with the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus, Samsung has lost some of its grasp on customers seeking devices with bigger displays.
Samsung expects its profits to increase during the second quarter following the global launch of the company's new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and on the strength of its semiconductor business. According to Samsung, demand for its curved S6 Edge has been high, but limited supplies have restricted sales.
Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines to reflect an Apple Watch rule that it's been enforcing over the past several weeks, which prevents developers from creating Apple Watch apps that display the time. According to the newly added 10.7 rule under "User interface," Watch Apps that have a "primary function" of telling the time will be rejected.
Though this rule, noticed first by 9to5Mac, was not previously listed in the App Store Review Guidelines or in the Apple Watch Human Interface Guidelines until today, Apple has previously been using this guideline to turn down Apple Watch apps, and its enforcement of this rule appears particularly strict based on some of the apps that have been rejected.
MacRumors recently spoke to one developer who had his app rejected from the App Store due to the time telling rule, but offering the time was not the main function of the app. Instead, it was an app that used a clock-like face to display sunset/sunrise times along with the position of the sun and the moon.
The developer was told by Apple that Apple Watch apps containing a clock face, the likeness of a clock, or time-telling functionality would be rejected, and the Apple employee he spoke with mentioned that quite a few developers had been rejected due to the policy.
Given Apple's aim to position the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory, it's no surprise that the company is maintaining strict control over what's arguably the most important core function of the Apple Watch -- telling the time. In interviews, Apple executives have explained that hundreds of hours of work went into developing the watch faces that are available for the Apple Watch, with an obsessive amount of detail put into each one for the best possible time-telling experience.
Apple's also advertised the Apple Watch as an "incredibly accurate" timepiece, a claim that it might not be able to guarantee if a third-party time-telling app is allowed to display the time. Watch faces are one aspect of the Apple Watch that Apple is not allowing users or developers to touch. While watch faces can be customized with Apple's options, users cannot select their own backgrounds as they can do on the iPhone or iPad and developers cannot develop their own Apple Watch face experiences.
Apple often has strict rules when a product launches, but the rules can and do relax over time, as we've seen with iOS 8 and the return of the once-forbidden Launcher app. It's possible that Apple will open up watch faces to developers in the future, or become less strict with apps that include time-telling functionality, but for now those types of apps will not make it into the App Store.
Today's App Store Review Guidelines update also included a new bit about HealthKit. Rule 27.10 says that apps conducting health-related human subject research must secure approval from an independent ethics review board.
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