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Tuesday, Apple Wants to Show You New Stuff

*update #2* – We won’t know until Apple actually tells us, but several outlets are reporting that the iPad Mini will come in as many as 16 different variations (black or white, internal storage and wifi/cellular) and could start as low as $250.

Sources also report that Apple is likely to show off updates of current products like iMac, Mac Mini, a new 13″ MacBook Pro w/ retina display and even an already updated iPad with the new Lightening connector introduced on the iPhone5.

*update* this event is now official.  Invites were received this week for the Oct 23rd date.

AllThingsD is reporting that the long rumored iPadMini will be revealed at an invite-only event on Oct 23rd.

The smaller tablet by all speculation will feature a 7.85″ display – whether or not it is a retina display has been divided.  Most speculate it will be the same resolution and not retina like the iPad2, just a smaller screen size.  A good argument has been made that this device could mirror the aspect ratio of the new iPhone5 which is a true 16:9.  It should be thinner and use the new Lightning connector.  There is a lot of discussion if this mini will have any sort of connectivity other than wi-fi and will likely have the A5 processor.

Pricing?  Considering the recent releases of new Kindle Fires and Nooks in the $200 range and the new iPod touch selling for $300 and the iPad2 at $400, it seems there is little room for a iPad Mini, but this may be the single most important element in how many of these things Apple sells.

If, in fact, this product actually does happen it will be a fantastic turnaround from what Steve Jobs publicly stated about the idea of the smaller tablet format.

These are among the reasons we think the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA, dead on arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the 7-inch bandwagon with an orphan product. Sounds like lots of fun ahead.

*update* – since first writing this I’ve been told there is a lot of evidence that Jobs would actually approve of this model because his complaints above are about a device that would upsize phone apps, rather than the expected Mini’s running of iPad apps by downsizing them.  Now, I’ve not been able to find any documentation proving this, but Rene Ritchie of iMore.com is rather insistent that Jobs would have approved.

Meet Boxfish: An App With a Smart Idea

Boxfish is a new iPad application that will make your head hurt.  There are a growing number of “2nd screen applications”, but most distract you from TV, Boxfish pushes you to watch more.  Sorting thru the closed captioning feeds of every channel you can think of, Boxfish then presents that information in the form of trending topics and gives you the ability to search a name/topic/issue and find out where on your television it is being discussed.

So, if you want to know who is talking about the Mars Rover, you type in that keyword and Boxfish will present you with all of the channels on your service provider that is talking about the Mars Rover.  Talk show, documentary, John Stewart, etc.  It is pretty amazing.  Additionally, if your cable/sat/tv  DirecTV box is hooked up to your home’s wifi network, Boxfish will also give you the ability to tune directly to the channel showing the topic you are looking for.

But if you want to keep tabs on what is really trending on TV at that moment, Boxfish is your trick.  While I haven’t yet been able to use it during a “breaking news” situation, I think Boxfish will be a great tool to quickly dig up who’s on top of a story at the beginning of the news timeline.

The app will also alert you to when your search topics are suddenly on a channel, or scheduled later to appear.  If you have an interest in Megan Fox, you save that as a search term and Boxfish will not only tell you when she is the topic of a gossip show, but also when a movie she appears in will air on a certain channel.

The app is free and currently limited to the iPad.  Don’t worry if you don’t have an iPad, there is a web version that you can see for yourself at boxfish.com that is 90% of what the app can do.  Boxfish claims that Android, Windows and iPhone versions are due soon.

 

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Microsoft Makes Its Move, Debuts Surface

Microsoft remains a wealthy and powerful company.  It no longer is the king of computing hill but it still is a tremendous force to be reckoned with and I have thought for a while that it simply had too much money and resources to sit and allow Apple and Google to leave it behind.

So for the last several months Microsoft has been doing two things, continuously building up the successful user base of their XBOX360 console into more than just gamers, rather a total entertainment hub – and the previewing of Windows 8.  The new OS promises to be far more like the others and less like what you think when you consider a Windows OS.  It also holds the promise that what you get from the platform will be consistent from device to device.  Desktop to tablet to smartphone, Windows 8 wants to you know what to expect.

Yesterday Microsoft held what seemed to be a hastily organized conference in Los Angeles and the general prediction was that an e-reader was in the wings, some sort of relationship with Barnes and Noble. What I don’t think anyone expected was Microsoft’s attempt at the proverbial ‘left-hook’ squarely at the jaw of it competitors.

Microsoft’s Surface is their tablet, but it’s actually two different products in the same way the iPad is different from the MacBook Air.  Both hold the tablet form, but one has the guts and power of an ultra book.  Both have a 10.6 screen with proper 16:9 aspect ratio are really thin and reportedly have a “ruggedness” and “high quality feel” to them due to a magnesium case and a kickstand that pops out to hold it at the perfect 22 degrees needed of viewing and video chatting.  The display is called “Clear Type” and certainly shoots at Retina Display quality and falls just short of that in the pixel density department (264ppi v 208ppi).

The brand “Surface” had been attached to a large coffee table sized device topped with a piece of glass (now renamed PixelSense) that allowed for touch interaction and control that led many to think that was the direction Microsoft was headed with their OS and touchscreen.  But that has been recycled here with a non-Pro version that would run of the RT version of Windows 8 and has the same type of processing as other handheld devices (ARM), and then there is this Pro version that knocked everyone out with the news that it would run the full desktop version of Windows 8 and be powered by an Ivy Bridge Core i5, USB 3.0 and other specs that take the device from tablet to a new place of admiration in tech circles.  Here, Microsoft appears to actually built something really neat-o.  In other words, if Apple had released this device, Twitter would have crashed and Walt Mossberg may have had a heart attack from the excitement.

Topping off the cool new tricks is a cover, much like the one Apple added with the iPad2, that clicks onto the Surface, but when opened reveals a full keyboard and trackpad.  The versions shown to the press yesterday were not operable, so no one knows how it feels to work with, or how well it actually works… but it looks beautiful and awesome.

There is way better coverage to be read by people that have actually seen the devices and in some cases held one.

A couple of things to note:  We don’t know how much either of these will cost.  And that will be a giant consideration as the Pro version will probably come in at the $1000 mark which would give anyone pause to consider versus the options in that price range (Mac Book Air), and Windows 8 is going to have to be awesome to really make that deal work.  The RT (non-pro version) has the almost Herculean task of competing in the ring with the iPad – a device so completely in control of that market segment one wonders how anyone (Android or Microsoft) is ever going to best it.  Its price is going to have to be really competitive, below the $499 intro point for an iPad.  Microsoft’s biggest challenge here are the apps.  Apple has such a lead in the department that Android, already with several really nice tablets of their own, can’t grab a real number of developers to spend the time and money to make apps for them.  So, how Microsoft plans on successfully jumping that hurdle has yet to be seen.

It should be noted that Microsoft designed and is building these in-house.  No Dells, Lenovos or HPs.  This is Microsoft’s baby.  We also aren’t sure when these will arrive.  What we know is that the RT version will arrive along side Windows 8, and, confusingly, the version that actually runs on Windows 8 “90 days after that” – an early sign that Microsoft already has some better decision making to do.

Here’s the whole presentation via The Verge:

 

Apple Giveth & Taketh Away

This week Apple had a tremendously successful WWDC despite the fact there was no new iPhone, iPad or the mysterious ‘AppleTVBrainAbsorber’ that surely will be revealed sometime this year.

What in part made the presentation successful was the release of a new laptop so extreme in its design and specifications that even the most skeptical looked at it and at least raised an eyebrow of admiration.  Although it didn’t take more than 48 hours for someone to tear one apart and find out that Apple had basically welded the thing together so that not only can you not upgrade the new “Super” MBP, even self repairing the thing is about impossible.  This led to cries of conspiracy and finger pointing of evidence that Apple simply makes products that will only continue to make them more money – even after you’ve bought it.

Then there was the preview of iOS6, and what iPhones and iPads will be capable of in the coming Fall.  But not all.  iPhone4 and below won’t get it, and neither will the original iPad.  While the knee-jerk reaction is to call out Apple for device fragmentation and falling into the trap of what Android is so very guilty of, the reality is that what Apple really is doing is planned obsolescence – the phasing out of products as their capabilities fail to meet modern day demands. For better or worse, right or wrong it has powered Apple as a company for years.  Even from the start, desktop computing has dealt with for a very long time, it was just the variations of the x86 occurred over long periods of time, not the year or two we see in today’s handheld devices.

Today not only is the first two generations of iPhones not supported by the current iOS5, the 3rd gen – the 3Gs – will now find a similar fate.  The 5th anniversary of the original iPhone comes on the 29th of this month.  Yes, the oldest version of the iPhone is only five years old – and you will struggle to find anyone still using one.

If you look at Apple track of products, this is a repetitive thing, only accelerating with each new type of product.  It began with the single bodied desktops from the 512k to the SE, SE30 over the course of about five years.  The iMac has seen drastic iterations since its introduction in 1998 and even the more traditional tower, the Power Mac, has rolled out newer and newer models thru the years.  But even those changes never really felt like you were having to decide quickly to upgrade like you do with today’s handheld devices.  Buy an iPhone4s today, and it will likely be 18 months away from being two generations old – think about it.

This is something long time fans of Apple have known.  They joke about it, but as the products have become the mainstream less people find it funny, and more find it annoying.  iOS6 really kicks that into gear with outdating the original iPad, a device people still are using in mass quantities and consider ‘new, cool things’.  But the fact that its processing power and memory are mere fractions of its two newer siblings, meaning the two year old wonder-device is wandering into its “golden years”.  Even hard core Apple fans gulped when they heard that news.

Everyone’s heard of dog-years, one dog year is seven human years.  So maybe iPad-years are one for every 30 human?  ouch.

This isn’t exclusive to Apple.  Today there’s a better, bigger TV each year.  A new king of the Android hill every few months.  Good grief, is Nike ever not going to make a “new-best-ever” running shoe that’s lighter and faster than the one you just bought?

Apple’s devices are premium priced.  There probably should be an expectation that when you pay $x for it, it should last for a very long time.  But that isn’t the reality of today’s gizmo world.  Every iPhone has far outsold its predecessor and that will continue  to happen as long as what Apple turns out each time lives up to its promises (something in certain areas has slipped of late).

But with all of that on the table, Apple still had a really fantastic show and tell of new stuff this week.  They continue to find ways to improve their products, sometimes off the backs of other existing products, and generate excitement.  There are tons of hints of what is to come with the iPhone5 in what was previewed with iOS6.  And the introduction of Retina Display into the laptop is really a big deal, especially as we now should expect that to find its way into iMacs, and probably whatever this Apple-display-TV thing we heard rumored about for so long.

Whatever it is just expect that something better will replace it in short order.

 

 

 

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What Gadgetry Did You Get?

Now is the time you share what cool gadgets you got for Christmas (or whatever gift exchange holiday you celebrated in the last week).  I love to hear what gizmos, widgets and doodads you got to open and are now playing with.  Also, any reviews of these items?  I’d love to hear from those of you that might have gotten a Kindle Fire, Nook, a new smartphone, computer and especially any toy – a real toy (lego, RC, ya know, toy). Come on, share below in the comments section!!

Myself?  I really am not all that concerned about my weight.  I’ve been blessed with a pretty humming metabolism and have been 180-190lbs all my life, but I do love a gadget.  Particularly one that communicates wirelessly, graphs information and has an associated app.  So, my wife’s gift to me this year of a Withings Body Scale pretty much checks off all my boxes.  This thing measures your weight, fat percentage and calculates your Body Mass Index and then via your WiFi, sends the info back to a website where you can access and track all of it via a browser or application (iOS and Android).  Setup was a breeze and the app even will send you a push reminder at a set time each day to weigh yourself.  Yes, it’s an expensive scale – but for me that wasn’t the point… It’s the gadget…  sad, I know.

For my wife, who works from home, I got her the gift of improved audio quality.  She has suffered from listening to the saddest pair of computer speakers you’d ever listen to.  She loves to turn on Spotify or our iTunes collection and rock out at her desk, but with what she was using it was more like ‘paper cup and a string’ level of audio quality than “rocking out”.  So, I bought her what I think are the best self-powered speakers for the money you can find.  The AudioEngine A2 are as wonderful a pair of speakers as your going to find for $200 and take up such a small footprint.  Audioengine is a great American speaker company that isn’t using drivers off the shelf, nope, these are all custom made for them.  Audioengine makes larger powered (A5) and passive speakers (A4), wireless connections and even a subwoofer.  I’m really picky about speakers, and until my personal favorite, Gallo Acoustics makes a self powered version of their Nucleus Micro, the A2’s are the way to go… totally #peterapproved

But maybe the best gift was the Belkin iPad Kitchen Cabinet Mount I got the wife.  She loves to cook and has taken to using her iPad for recipes and stuff.  But with limited counter space, its always in the way and in danger of getting goop spilled on it.  So this setup allows her to temporarily hang it from a cabinet and out of the way.  It’s well made and a pretty smart design.  It will hold different tablets than just iPad, and it will even adjust down small enough to hold an iPhone or other smartphone.

 

 

 

 

 

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#peterapproved: Charlie Brown Christmas for Tablets

If you follow me on Twitter (@peet2), you know that I will pass on things that I really like and think you should too, via the hashtag, #peterapproved.

Today I came across this new app for iPad and Android that takes the classic Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon and makes it an interactive experience on the tablet platform.  This is a great example of the potential of the tablet and how older stuff can be expanded with new digital extensions and experiences.

Thanks to Mike Orren for the head’s up

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Grand Theft Auto V Announced

If you go to the official website you’re greeted only with a logo and the tease of a trailer on Nov 2nd, 2011

Don’t really know much else, but have heard that the game will be centered around a city based on Hollywood, they are unlikely to use anyone famous as voice actors and that there will be an iPad version of the game when it is released.

 

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