Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop covers the doubling of the memory for the iPhone 6S, the iOS 8 GMT bug, battery life on the Apple Watch, why a rumored stylus for the iPad Pro makes sense, Japanese market share, music analysis acquisition, iPhones falling to Earth from space, and the closing of Mac User.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read our weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
It looks like the next generation of iPhone handsets (presumptively the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus) will sport an increase in memory. Reports out of the Asian supply chain suggest the 2015 handsets will double the memory from the current 1 GB configurations to 2 GB of LP DDR4 based RAM. Apple rarely push the exact specifications of its handsets in public, but the increase in memory will be welcome for many reasons:
From a hardware perspective DDR4 provides 32Gbps (gigabits per second) of bandwidth, twice that of DDR3 RAM which is used in most premium smartphones including the Galaxy S5, Note 4 and Nexus 6. Quicker RAM allows apps to launch more quickly, particularly heavyweight apps and widgets and during extensive multitasking. By doubling the amount and speed of the RAM Apple could quadruple current iPhone memory performance.
There will be some issues, notably a rise in the bill of materials and an increase in demands on the battery. With iOS 9 currently showing up in public web logs, presumably Apple is testing configurations and calibrating settings to maximize the potential of the hardware.
Apple’s eighth major iteration of iOS continues to have some rather visible issues, and many of them are close to being showstoppers for many users. The latest to attract attention is ‘the GMT bug’. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly takes up the story:
Calendar events entered on one iOS device incorrectly sync changing their time and time zone. Primarily it is affecting Microsoft Exchange and Google calendars linked to the iOS calendar… For many of those affected switching calendar has proved the easiest answer with the excellent Sunrise app proving popular. Meanwhile Google will finally launch an official Calendar app for iOS in the next few weeks and it appears the timing couldn’t be better.
Third party apps are one answer, but the best answer would be for the bug to be fixed. Well, it can join a growing list of issues. As Kelly points out, iOS 8 is racking up the fixes.
To date there have been six versions of iOS 8 since September: iOS 8, iOS 8.0.1, iOS 8.0.2, iOS 8.1, iOS 8.1.1 and iOS 8.1.2. So perhaps for those hit by the GMT Bug, it will be seventh time lucky.
The Apple iWatch
Mark Gurman’s sources have been giving the 9to5 Mac writer details on one of the critical areas of the Apple Watch… its battery life:
Apple has also been stress-testing the Apple Watch’s battery life with pre-bundled and third-party applications. Our sources say that Apple is targeting 2.5 hours of “heavy” application use, such as processor-intensive gameplay, or 3.5 hours of standard app use. Interestingly, Apple expects to see better battery life when using the Watch’s fitness tracking software, which is targeted for nearly 4 hours of straight exercise tracking on a single charge.
If you’ve been following the world of smartwatches, you’ll realise that these numbers are similar to the life of the Android Wear devices. Apple’s S1 chip inside the watch reportedly has a similar performance level to the A5 CPU (or the SnapDragon 200). Couple this with a bright touchscreen and a battery of sensors, it’s clear that Apple hasn’t uncovered any major breakthroughs in the physics of energy storage. Expect lots of tricks in the hardware to preserve battery life, and some carefully worded claims on battery life whenever the product is launched.
Along with the Apple Watch, Tim Cook is expected to announce an iPad Pro at some point this year. This tablet is expected to have a screen in excess of twelve inches, and will support a stylus as a secondary input tool. Steve Jobs once said that if you saw a stylus the designers had failed… he also said nobody would watch videos on a small iPod screen and when the time was right, he revisited that statement.
Having spent some time with the Jot Script stylus, I’ve no doubt that Tim Cook is ready to revisit the stylus statement, because the time is right for a stylus on a larger iPad:
But the extra size of the iPad Pro screen is going to open up a lot more opportunities for artists and creatives. If you are trying to sell a larger tablet, then a stylus is going to be one area you can focus on. Cartoonists, sketchers, architects, surveyors… there are a lot of professions that will find a large-screened, stylus enabled tablet to be a good idea. Apple will be able to work the extra information into all of its first-party applications, and because of the low-level access will no doubt be able to provide an API for app developers to add enhanced stylus support to developers looking to exploit the iPad Pro.
Wireless Charging The iPhone 6 (image: Ewan Spence)
Counterpoint Research has taken a look at the strength of the iPhone in Japan, (reports Chuck Jones) and Apple will be pleased with the result. During November 2014, it reached a market share of 51%. Sony was in second place on 17%, with Fujitsu taking third place on 6%. Apple has also moved into second place in South Korea, with a 33% market share, behind Samsung’s lowered 46% share in its home territory.
In Japan, one of the most premium smartphone markets in the world, Apple captured more than half of the smartphone sales in October as well as November. Japan has been one of the strongest market for Apple and it is becoming increasingly difficult for competition to challenge Apple’s dominance in near- to mid-term. Apple will likely benefit from the upcoming Apple Watch with a growing and premium iPhone user-base in this highly advanced consumer market.
Sales will have been helped by the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, nevertheless these are strong numbers to be posting against an onslaught of Android devices.
Apple Grabs Music Data Analysis Company
Apple has purchased the British company Semetric (reports The Guardian). The company’s key product is Musicmetric, which allows the consumption of music to be measured.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plan,” said Apple in a statement provided to the Guardian, although Semetric declined to comment.
Musicmetric launched in 2008 as a way for music labels and other industry clients to track data on sales, BitTorrent downloads and social networking statistics for their artists, with its platform expanding to YouTube videos and audio streams over the next few years.
It is likely that Apple will use Semetric’s technology in a streaming music offering, leveraging the Beats music service that was acquired last year.
The iTunes Festival at SXSW 2014 (picture: Ewan Spence)
How do you tell the world you have a really strong iPhone case? How about you drop the iPhone to the ground… from space!
An iPhone 6 has been dropped 100,000ft from the edge of space – and survived.
The phone was sent up to the stratosphere while attached to a weather balloon as part of a demonstration by a phone case company. After being exposed to 70mph winds and temperatures as low as -56C, it then dropped back down to earth to show how strong its protective case was.
The phone shut down due to the extreme temperatures – but was fully functional after the test, according to California-based Urban Armor Gear, which made the case. On the company’s YouTube channel, a statement says: “Upon landing the flight rig broke apart, however the iPhone remained unscathed and in perfect working order.
Now, there are some age issues here; the definition of space for one – the FAI use the Kármán line at 62 miles, while the US Air Force will award astronaut wings at 50 miles, leading to this XKCD cartoon and mouseover text, and you don’t need that much height to reach the terminal velocity of an iPhone. But my hat is off to the PR team for getting the story out there.
Dennis publishing in the UK has announced that MacUser is to cease publication. It has been published continuously since 1985, but the rapid change the internet has brought to reporting on Apple has left finances in a precarious position. Ian Westwood, Group MD of Dennis Publishing:
MacUser has helped make Dennis Publishing the business it is today and has contributed to establishing us as the largest technology publisher in the UK. The decision to cease publication of MacUser was very tough and one that was not taken lightly. Unfortunately, due to challenging market conditions, the closure was unavoidable.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, and don’t forget Jay McGregor’s essential apps round-up, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, also available on Forbes.