Oh, this is gonna be big
Apple is a company of patterns. If you look at the release schedule of every major release of nearly every product line, things go off like clockwork. The Calendar strikes June; it’s time to announce the latest operating systems, while September has traditionally brought us new iPhones (and, as of last year, the Apple Watch), and October brings along new Macs and iPads. Take a break for the Christmas season, rinse, repeat.
And yet, if the rumors hold up, this year will go just a tiny bit different – instead of having two separate September and October events, Apple appears to be combining aspects of both into one mega event where they are set to introduce both iPhones and iPads, and even Apple Watch accessories. This “mega-event,” as I’m calling it, is currently scheduled for September 9th – Next Wednesday – and could very well shape up to be one of the most important days in the history of Modern Apple.
But a large event brings about a large amount of FUD, so it’s more important than ever to set expectations well, especially if you’re in the market for some new tech. So to that end, let’s make some sense of the madness and figure out what you can realistically expect.
1) A new iPhone has made its introduction every September since the iPhone 4S in 2011, and all signs are pointing to this year being no different. Apple has been on a tick-tock cycle with their iPhone lineup for years now, a tick being major design changes and a tock being major internal changes, and this year we’re scheduled for a tock release – something that most people have, for good reason, taken to calling the iPhone 6s.
So, what’s that entail? First, like the iPhone 6 last year, the iPhone 6s will not be one phone, instead actually being two phones of two radically different sizes. It’s safe to expect that both of these phones will come in the same sizes as last year’s phones – the 4.7 inch iPhone 6s, and the 5.5 inch iPhone 6s Plus (or whatever they decide to call it). Both of these phones will likely share incredibly similar, or exactly the same, internals with screen size and resolution being the primary differentiator. Last year’s iPhone 6 Plus did have a slightly better camera than the smaller iPhone 6 due to the inclusion of OIS (optical image stabilization), but it’s unclear if the iPhone 6s lineup will follow suit.
Since the iPhone 6s family is expected to share the same design as the iPhone 6 family, Apple has other tricks up its sleeves to help differentiate this year’s iPhone from last year’s. The most outwardly apparent change will likely come from a new color option – Rose Gold. Though we haven’t seen any parts leak from the supply chain with this color, a Rose Gold iPhone does make sense for two pretty simple reasons. Apple’s M.O. has been to keep their iOS device color options in relative sync, and since Apple this year introduced a Rose Gold Apple Watch, it would make sense to bring this color option to the rest of the lineup. Secondly, Apple used the iPhone 5s to introduce two new color options to help differentiate it from the prior year’s iPhone 5 – Space Gray and Gold. It stands to reason Apple would do the same this year.
But if upgraded internals and new color options are all you’re expecting, you’re underprepared. Apple is heavily rumored to be introducing one of the biggest changes to the iOS paradigm since the original iPhone in 2007 – Force Touch.
Every iPhone since the original 2007 model has had two primary touch methods: taps, and long taps. A long tap on a button may do one thing, such as open an application, while a long tap on an application will initiate the shaky-mode that lets you delete applications. With Force Touch on the iPhone 6s, you’ll be able to actually touch and apply pressure on a button to initiate a third function, whatever that may be.
Rumors on how iOS 9 will make use of Force Touch have been sparse, but I think the best guess may be that a Force Touch will bring up a context menu of sorts, similar to how Force Touch works on the Apple Watch. Force Touching on the Phone app on the home screen, for example, may bring up a menu that lets you immediately call a favorite contact, saving you valuable time by not even requiring you to open the application and navigate the UX to initiate a call. I could see Force Touch on the iPhone being the ultimate implementation of the feature, far surpassing its use case on either the Apple Watch or the Mac – done right, it could someday soon feel as fundamental to the core iPhone experience as third party applications do today.
Quick aside – you may notice that I’ve made no mention of the mythical iPhone 6c, a much rumored third model with iPhone 6 or 6s internals but a 4.0-inch display. It seems likely that the iPhone 6c did exist in some capacity at some point, but it also seems likely that it’s dead, Jim.
2) Again, it certainly seems that Apple is preparing to break from tradition and introduce not just the iPhone 6s, but also the new iPad lineup on Wednesday. My theory for this is thus – smartphones are boring. Last year, Apple used the iPhone 6 event to introduce the Apple Watch, an admission that the iPhone on its own is no longer a big enough deal to warrant its own event. With no major revision to the core Apple Watch hardware on the docket for this year, Apple is likewise using the iPad to pad out the iPhone 6s event this year.
While the iPad line has been faltering lately, Apple is going to give it a much needed kick in the ass with the first major shakeup to the iPad line since the original iPad mini in 2012 – the introduction of the oft rumored iPad Pro. While the iPad has always been accused of being a consumption device, with the iPad Pro Apple is looking to flip that stereotype on its head by making the iPad Pro a content creator’s dream.
As for how it’s going to do that, well, I have one word – one dirty word that Steve Jobs would have cringed at, laughed at, mocked, but this isn’t Steve Jobs’s Apple anymore and life goes on – a stylus. Yup, all signs have been pointing to the iPad Pro making extensive use of a presumably bundled “Apple Stylus” for quite some time now, in a move that has already been and will continue to draw parallels to Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of tablets. Of course, styli for iOS devices are nothing new, and many-a premium styli have existed for quite some time now. The defining feature of Apple’s contribution will be, of course, extensive integration into the core of iOS 9 itself. Expect most of Apple’s bundled application to make use of the stylus in some way, from pressure sensitivity to handwriting recognition, and more.
The iPad Pro will supposedly have numerous other benefits/changes from Apple’s existing iPad line. For one, the iPad Pro will be big – likely around 13-inches, up from the little under 10-inches that the iPad Air 2 sits at. A larger screen, of course, will require a larger resolution, and code found tucked away in current beta versions of iOS 9 point to a 2732 x 2048 resolution with a 265 ppi being a likely candidate. Given the supposed focus on productivity, I would also expect significant updates to all of Apple’s “iLife” and “iWork” apps for the iPad, including iMovie and Garageband. If all of this works out, I could also easily see Apple bringing Final Cut Pro X and Logic X to the iPad Pro.
Aside from the iPad Pro, Apple will likely look to upgrade the most neglected part of their iPad lineup, the iPad mini. A fourth-generation iPad mini will likely be announced, bringing it in line with the iPad Air 2 spec wise with the A8 processor, more RAM, and full multitasking support on iOS 9.
On top of the internal changes, supply chain leaks have indicated that the iPad mini 4 will also have a slightly thinner, redesigned aluminum shell. Still, this will be relatively minor and will mostly just ape what Apple introduced alongside the iPad Air 2 last year. All in all, don’t expect anything huge – the iPad mini 4 will, essentially, be what the totally lackluster iPad mini 3 should have been last year.
3) While the iPad mini is certainly one of the most neglected products on Apple’s lineup, absolutely nothing can rival the level of neglect that the Apple TV has gotten since its introduction in 2007. We’re nearing a decade since the release of that original version, and the Apple TV we all know and kind-of-tolerate-at-best is only the third major revision in the entire history of the product line – and honestly really only the second, considering how minor an upgrade the 3rd Generation was.
All of that is about to change. Apple has often dubbed the Apple TV a “hobby,” but come next Wednesday it will officially be a hobby no longer. The Apple TV is due for a massive upgrade, both internally and externally, and will mark a complete change in the way that Apple views the television.
According to rumor, Apple has completely rethought the very underpinnings of the device, bringing it in line with Apple’s modern iOS devices. And as a modern iOS device, the Apple TV will be transformed into a full blown platform – complete with a software development kit. While Apple had provided partners with a private, extremely limited SDK for the existing Apple TV, developers were hand picked by Apple and were extremely limited in what their applications could do and how they could look. No more: if you believe the little birdies’ chirps, we’re talking a full blown SDK that will make developing complex applications and highly advanced games a real possibility.
That’s right – I said games. While Apple isn’t focusing on rivaling the Xbox and the PlayStation any time soon (sorry, Cult of Mac), rumors suggest that Apple will be incorporating complex gaming support into the core of the Apple TV, taking advantage of the latest version of Metal (roughly equivalent to DirectX on Windows) found on iOS 9. Developers should be able to take full advantage of the Apple TV’s new remote, which will feature a small trackpad, two dedicated buttons, and motion control support, enabling games that could capture the hearts and minds of the “softcore” gaming crowd in the same way that the Nintendo Wii did back in 2006, and that the iPhone and iPad have today.
One of the best features of the Amazon Fire TV has to be the built in microphone support, and Apple will apparently be “borrowing” this fantastic idea for use in the next generation Apple TV. If reports are to be believed, Siri is about to get a huge boost in the form of extensive knowledge about movie, television, and game content. Simply activate Siri on the Apple TV, say “I want to watch Boy Meets Girl” (because who wouldn’t want to watch Boy Meets Girl?), and Apple TV will automagically figure out where you can watch – whether that be on the iTunes Store, Netflix, Disney, whatever.
It’s hard to overstate how fundamental this change is. Back when there were only a handful of television channels on the air it was a lot easier to keep track of what station was home to what programming. But in today’s world with literally hundreds to thousands of sources of quality entertainment, the old “channel” model – which the current generation Apple TV so heavily relies on – is completely broken.
For example, I’ve watched “Mr. Robot” weekly since the show (which is fantastic, by the way) started earlier this summer, but not once have I paid any mind as to what channel that show is actually on. Why would I? To me, Mr. Robot is a show that I can play on Xfinity On Demand. To watch Mr. Robot on the Apple TV today, I would need to go find what channel Mr. Robot actually plays on (USA Network, apparently), find the USA Network app on the home screen if there even is one, and if not wade through the other Apple TV apps to figure out if it may be anywhere else. All of that will soon be solved with a simple “Hey Siri, watch Mr. Robot.”
In the eyes of the modern television viewer, the “channel” has been relegated to the technological dustbin of the twenty-first century, and Siri on the Apple TV will make this all the more obvious.
4) Don’t worry Apple Watch, we didn’t forget about you! Even though the Apple Watch is by far the freshest mobile product in Apple’s lineup, it too will get just a little bit of love next week in the form of some new configurations and accessories. Trustworthy little birdies suggest that Apple will be releasing a new Apple Watch Sport model featuring the Watch’s signature 7000 series aluminum anodized gold, just like the iPhone and the iPad (not to be confused with the 17-carot gold found in the $10,000+ Apple Watch Edition).
Coming along for the ride will also likely include new color options for the Sport Bands, which are said to be deeper and richer in color than the current neon offerings, including a Product (RED) Sport Band. While this will be welcome news to many, this won’t be the first time we’ve seen such bands – Apple showed off new sport band color options during a private event earlier this year. Also in the cards – a price cut, likely to jumpstart Apple Watch sales heading into the Christmas season.
5) This may be a given, but new iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch devices and configurations all suggest that new software is right around the corner. I would highly suspect that Apple will be releasing iOS 9 around the same time that they release the iPhone 6s, with watchOS 2 also making its official final debut that day as well. We know pretty much all there is to know about iOS 9 and watchOS 2 given their prominence at WWDC 2015, but if you need a refresher on that, I wrote some detail hands on impressions of the beta versions of both iOS 9 and watchOS 2 throughout the summer over on DotUnderscore.
A valid Windows 10 product key is required
Windows 10 has been unleashed upon the world, and you know what that means – it’s upgrade season. Windows users around the world are plodding on their keyboards as we speak, praying to the old gods and the new that their upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10 goes off without a hitch. I would know, I was one of them. But on Friday I hit a hitch – my trusty Windows Embedded 8.1 virtual machine, used countless times for classes, just refused to upgrade to Windows 10, giving me the now infamous “Something happened” error message.
Windows Embedded 8.1 is a specialized version of Windows 8.1 meant for embedded systems, like ATMs. But Microsoft also gives away this fully functional version of Windows to people like me – students, through their Microsoft DreamSpark program. Perhaps predictably, Windows 10 will out of the box refuse to upgrade from Embedded 8.1. Luckily, tricking the system into performing an in-place install is not only incredibly easy, but appears to work without issue.
So, how’s it done? Fair warning, however. Windows Embedded 8.1 is not eligible for Microsoft’s free Windows 10 promotion, so you will need a valid Windows 10 product key to activate Windows. Functionally, you can use Windows 10 without successfully activating, but you’ll be missing out on quite a few important features.
This guide come with absolutely no warranty whatsoever. It may totally destroy your Windows installation, rendering your computer completely unusable. That said, I don’t think that will happen – these are the exact steps that worked for me.
1) First, you’ll need to download Microsoft’s new Media Creation tool by heading here – you’ll probably want the 64-bit version.
2) Open up the MediaCreationToolx64.exe we just downloaded. A Windows 10 Setup screen will start. Select the “Create installation media for another PC” option, and click next.
3) Select your language. Under “Edition”, select whatever edition of Windows 10 you purchases / have otherwise obtained. In my case, I selected “Windows 10 Pro”. Under architecture, select “64-bit (x64).” Hit next.
4) Select “ISO file”. Hit next. For convenience, save the ISO file on the desktop. Windows 10 will begin downloading.
5) Now for the fun part – we need to essentially trick Windows 10 into thinking that we’re running Windows 8.1, and not Windows Embedded 8.1. To do this, click the Start Button on the taskbar and type “regedit” (without the quotes). Press enter.
(If you’ve never used the Registry Editor before, be sure to follow these instructions exactly as written. The Windows Registry is extremely important to the general health of your PC. I’m not responsible for anything that happens to your PC from here on out, even if it becomes sentient, sets your house on fire, kidnaps your cat, and runs away with your significant other.)
6) In the Registry Editor, expand the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” directory. Expand the “SOFTWARE” directory. Expand the “Microsoft” directory. Expand the “Windows NT” director. Single click the “CurrentVersion” directory.
7) The keys found on the right side of the Registry Editor in the “CurrentVersion” directory are responsible for telling applications, including the Windows 10 installer, what version of Windows you’re running for compatibility reasons. We’ll need to change a couple of these in order to “trick” Windows 10 into performing an in-place upgrade.
8) Double click the “EditionID” key. Under “Value data”, type in “Core” if you’re installing Windows 10 Home, or “Professional” if you’re installing Windows 10 Pro. (Without the quotes.)
9) Double click the “ProductName” key. Under “Value data”, type in “Windows 8.1 Core” if you’re installing Windows 10 Home, or “Windows 8.1 Pro” if you’re installing Windows 10 Pro. (Without the quotes.)
10) Double click the “BuildLab” key. Under “Value data”, type in (or copy and paste, let’s be honest here) “9600.winblue_rtm.130821-1623″. (Without the quotes.)
11) Double click the “BuildLabEx” key. Under “Value data”, paste “9600.16384.amd64fre.winblue_rtm.130821-1623″ if you have are running 64-bit, or “9600.16384.x86fre.winblue_rtm.130821-1623″ if you are running 32-bit. (Without the quotes.) Close Regedit. (hooray!)
12) If you’ve got a halfway decent internet connection, the copy of Windows 10 we started downloading the Media Creation Tool should be just about finished. If so, head to the Desktop and double click the ISO we downloaded earlier – likely called something like “Windows10.iso”
13) From here, go through the Windows 10 Setup prompts as you would – Windows should now allow you to upgrade your copy of Windows Embedded 8.1 to Windows 10. Remember, Setup will require a valid Windows 10 Product Key. As Windows installs, your computer will install a couple of times.
14) Open up a cold bottle of water, you deserve it.
Phones, Macs, and Watches - oh my
I’m a procrastinator. I have a tendency to wait until the very last minute to do anything, including publish these sort of What to Realistically Expect stories. Finally, my infliction has paid off – if I had written this even just last week, I would have jotted down new Apple TV hardware and software as a stone cold sure thing. Yet according to the ever reliable Brian X. Chen, Apple threw away plans to announce new Apple TV hardware and a cohesive developer ecosystem at WWDC at the very last minute because “the product was not ready for prime time”.
Given that I’m an avid user of the current iteration of Apple TV (I stream all my nightly television from there), I’m bummed to see this cut. I was hoping this would be when the Apple TV truly grew up and became a major player in the Apple line-up. Alas.
Time is short and things run behind schedule, and so it goes. There’s always September.
And in the spirit of that, we’re still on the verge of an entire week’s worth of new Apple products, platforms, and goodies. The Apple TV may not be there, but there’s still plenty left to cover. Here’s what you can realistically expect at WWDC 2015, starting tomorrow, June 8th.
"It's Barack. Really!"
Have you ever wanted to whisper some kind – or, well, otherwise – words directly into the ear of the President of the United States? Well now you can – at least virtually, through Twitter! The White House and President Obama has today officially signed up for Twitter, and has begun tweeting using the sanctioned account @POTUS – as in, President of the United States. At the moment, it appears that all tweets will be personally composed by President Barack Obama himself.
The real question is what happens to the account following next year’s Presidential Election – will Barack Obama retain control over @POTUS (likely with a username change), or will it move onto our next commander and chief? The anticipation is killing me!
Source: @POTUS (Twitter)
New software, new hardware, new SDKs
While Apple famously remains mum on the future of most of their products, popular Apple rumor site 9to5Mac has today apparently spilled the beans on the near future of two of Apple’s most exciting products – the Apple Watch and the Apple TV. According to the new report, which cites a “proven source”, Apple is hard at work on both new software and hardware for the two product lines as well as at least one new service which will tie into both.
On the Apple Watch side, Apple is said to be busy adding in some low hanging fruit on the software side. Apple’s incredibly useful “Find My…” suite of services will expand to a new “Find My Apple Watch” function, which will allow you to locate the Watch’s general location and allow you to lock it or wipe it if lost. Given the Apple Watch features very few connectivity functionality of its own, Apple will apparently be basing this on a new service called “Smart Leashing”, which will allow the Watch to more accurately determine how far away the Watch is from your phone using services such as wi-fi and Bluetooth. This will supposedly also allow the Watch to warn a wearer with a few taps if it’s getting too far away from its connected iPhone.
Apple is also said to be working on the third party app ecosystem for the Apple Watch. First, the Apple may be working on improving the functionality of the current WatchKit SDK, the platform that Apple currently uses to wirelessly transmit app projects from iPhone apps to the Apple Watch display. Apple is said to be expanding this to allow developers to create their own Complications, widgets that live on the Watch’s watch face to provide nuggets of information. Complications are currently limited to Apple’s built in applications, such as showing the current weather information from the built in Weather app. 3rd party Complications would open up a new world of possibilities – for example, replacing Apple’s built in Weather complication with a preferred third party alternative. On top of the improvements to the current WatchKit, Apple is supposedly also hard at work at the successor to WatchKit – native Apple Watch applications that natively live on the Apple Watch hardware that don’t directly rely on the user’s iPhone. This next-generation Apple Watch SDK will enable much more powerful, functional, and sophisticated applications and will remove a majority of limitations that have frustrated many day one Apple Watch developers.
On the Apple TV side, 9to5Mac seemingly confirms that Apple is on the verge of releasing a next-generation Apple TV box alongside its first major software update in years. The new Apple TV is said to be much more powerful than the previous generation while also managing to become much slimmer than the current device. Apple will also introduce a third party application ecosystem for the new Apple TV OS, allowing developers to create their own apps – such as games, video streaming, music streaming, news, and more – for the Apple TV for the first time. Apple is said to be bundling in a more advanced remote control for the Apple TV, which may or may not include a Force Touch trackpad. Apple will also supposedly promote the Apple Watch’s Remote app to the primary remote for the Apple TV for Apple Watch owners. Apple is also apparently busy readying their new Live TV replacement service for the Apple TV, which will allow you – get ready for this – to watch live content a la cable, streaming directly to your Apple TV. This service is said to be slightly behind the new hardware and software initiatives.
What is left more ambiguous in 9to5Mac’s report is the timing of all the above. It would stand to reason that Apple is incredibly interested in pushing as much of this as possible at the company’s upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference, which is slated for June 8th – particularly the developer initiatives. Apple may also reveal their new version of their smartphone and Mac operating systems, iOS 9 and OS 10.11, alongside the new Apple Watch OS and Apple TV.
Some good news and some bad news
In the never ending patent battle between Apple and Samsung, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has handed down some good news and some bad news for both sides. According to the folks in high places, Samsung is indeed guilty of infringing certain, specific design patents in a previous (remember, this case is a couple of years old, now) version of Apple’s iPhone – a win for Apple. However, those same folks also decreed that Samsung wasn’t wholly copying the overall look and feel of the iPhone, instead creating an overwhelmingly original design.
This means exactly what it sounds like – Samsung will still owe Apple some money for those infringing design patents, but it’ll owe less – and likely considerably less – than before. Truthfully, this seems like a decent compromise. Apple’s claim that Samsung copied the overall look and feel of the iPhone years ago, an accusation which many claimed ridiculous. Many opponents to Apple’s accusation claim that Apple doesn’t own the concept of a rounded rectangle with a big screen in the middle of it, and today’s decision validates those doubts.
Source: The Verge
Let’s, just this once, take some wild guesses.
Given the imminent release of the Apple Watch – come on, that can’t be a spoiler at this point – it’s all too appropriate to compare Apple to the clock. Like the clock we all live by day in and day out, Apple observes a fairly strict set of cycles and patterns. Springtime is quiet time, with all the cooks busy in the kitchen preparing the second half of the year’s goodies. With June comes WWDC, Apple’s first big event, alongside Mac notebook hardware and new major versions of iOS and OS X. Then September – iPhone time – and finally late October, the iPad.
This year had to be different. When Apple announced the Apple Watch at last September’s media event, it was also announcing its first new product category since the iPad in 2010. It was announcing a product unlike one ever to come out of Apple; intimately customizable, from watch face to watch band to watch price. Are you in the market for the potentially five figure Apple Watch Edition, by any chance?
The Apple Watch makes predicting Monday’s event impossible. Traditionally, anybody who knew how to read Apple’s product release cycle and what type of product they traditionally released could make fairly accurate predictions on what to expect – it’s why we’ve been correct in all but one of our nearly twenty predictions thus far. This time, the only thing we can know for sure is that the Apple Watch is coming. Everything else?
Let’s, just this once, take some wild guesses.
What to realistically expect…” is a series of posts which we use to temper expectations concerning upcoming industry events. This Monday’s event promises to be one of the largest Apple events in recent memory, making this one of the most difficult – and interesting – events to predict. Read more to hear what we think.
Sprint to create new
As had been rumored heavily reported earlier this week, we can confirm that RadioShack has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Today’s announcement brought an internal memo written by company CEO Joseph C. Magnacca, who outlined the “lengthy” bankruptcy process confirming key details of the announcement, including the sale of “between 1,500 and 2,400″ company owned stories to Radio Shack affiliate Standard General and plans for new “dedicated mobility ‘store within a store’ retail” in 1,750 of those acquired stores.
Click through after the break to read the full corporate memo, as delivered to RadioShack stores this evening.
I’m sure we’ve all done stupid things when we were younger that have negatively affected our credit scores, or perhaps we’re just getting our start as an adult and have no credit score to speak of. According to T-Mobile CEO John Legere, anyone who fits that description can’t get the deals that carriers advertise and instead either pay much more or leave with nothing.
In addition, Legere also stated the following as to why they’re doing this:
Ultimately, this initiative will lower the barrier for millions more Americans to get a smartphone – the most transformational technology in our lifetime. At a time when mobile connectivity is sweeping the globe, the United States ranks a miserable 13th in the world in terms of smartphone penetration − behind a dozen countries including Australia, Ireland, Israel and Saudi Arabia among others. There are more than 100 million American adults who don’t have a smartphone according to data from Pew Research and the US Census Bureau. That’s 100 million too many.
In today’s world, the smartphone is anything but a luxury. It’s a lifeline. It’s your source of news and information, your compass and your map. It’s how you stay safe and stay connected to family and friends. It’s how you do your banking and how you find a job. In other words, it’s an absolute necessity. The smartphone has become critical to plugging in to economic opportunity and participating in the global conversation.
Starting next week, any and every T-Mobile customer who has paid their bills on time for just one year is eligible for their best prices on phones and tablets. This also includes zero down, no interest and no credit check.
No, you're not getting Windows 10
Remember Microsoft’s Surface RT? It was Microsoft’s own tablet that ran full Windows on an ARM chip, right down to the confusing Metro/Desktop switch. It had Office pre-loaded, but you couldn’t use any other desktop apps with it unless you jailbroke it. And with relatively few quality Metro apps in the store, there was really no incentive to buy a Surface RT over a comparable x86-based tablet.
If you were at or watched Microsoft’s Windows 10 conference yesterday, you may have noticed that not a single utterance of “Windows RT” was heard anywhere. In fact, according to C|NET, Microsoft “devoted only a few seconds to Windows RT, saying during a Q&A with reporters that it is ‘working on an update for Windows RT as well.'” Companies like Asus and Dell who both introduced Windows RT tablets have already gone and killed their products with the remaining holdouts being the Surface RT and the Lumia 2520.
While the Surface Pro lineup will naturally be getting the Windows 10 update, Microsoft only said that there would be a future update that brings some of Windows 10’s functionality to Windows RT. This statement feels eerily similar to how Microsoft mis-handled the Windows 7.5 upgrade path, where Windows Phone 7 handsets would never see an update to Windows Phone 8 but would instead be updated to have some of the same functionality as Windows Phone 8. We’ll be waiting to see what Microsoft has to say later on about Windows RT but for now, it certainly sounds like this is the end.
Yours for only $200
We’ve been waiting for several months now, but it’s finally here. Announced at today’s Nintendo Direct presentation, the New 3DS is finally coming over to North America as well as a couple of exclusive New 3DS titles.
For those unfamiliar with the New 3DS, it features more processing power and RAM, two more shoulder buttons, a C-stick and NFC to take advantage of Nintendo’s Amiibo figures. There is a port of Xenoblade Chronicles coming specifically designed to take advantage of the extra processing power and Super Smash Bros. 4 will be picking up with the Amiibos. There’s also a new Fire Emblem game coming, but we can’t quite yet tell if it will be a New 3DS exclusive. And for the Zelda fans, a remake of Majora’s Mask is coming and there’s even a limited-edition Majora’s Mask version of the console coming.
In Japan, there’s both a New 3DS and a New 3DS XL (or more accurately, LL). The major difference between the two other than the size is that the smaller of the two allows for removable and customization faceplates; the New 3DS XL allows for no such customization. In today’s presentation, Nintendo announced only the New 3DS XL will be coming to North American shelves which leaves people who prefer small hardware like myself out in the dust.
The New 3DS will come in red and black colors unlike Japan which offers white and blue. Curiously, it will ship without an AC adapter with Nintendo opting to let you continue to use your DSi or 3DS charger. If all of this floats your boat, you can pick one up on February 13th for $200.
An extension of Blu-ray makes it all happen
4K televisions (or Ultra HD, if that’s your thing) are amazing, with picture quality that often goes far beyond anything you can even remotely hope to find on now standard 1080p sets. The big problem, however, is that up until now, there just hasn’t been much to actually watch with these new, expensive, beautiful televisions. Netflix has helped fill the gap with a small library of shows streaming in 4K, but the selection is next to nil and support is limited to only select, Netflix sanctioned smart televisions. That’s all about the change however as The Blu-ray Disc Association has just announced at CES that they’re working on a new version of the existing Blu-ray technology that will bring 4K movies to your next home theater system, in convenient disc format.
The new discs, which will be branded as Ultra HD Blu-ray and will essentially be Blu-rays manufactured with a new process that allows up to 33GB per layer (up from 25GB), meaning that a single disc will allow for as much as 99GB. This is absolutely necessary given that 4K movies require an obscene amount of available space, way more than the average 1080p Blu-ray movie.
Manufacturer Panasonic is proving the concept with a prototype Ultra HD player, seen above. Sure enough, it works as you’d expect – this is just your average Blu-ray player with the added bonus of beautiful 4K video playback. According to Engadget, the new Ultra HD Blu-ray specification – which has yet to be finalized – will likely call for HVEC encoding, a next-generation encoder that allows for incredibly highly compressed file without losing quality.
These new Ultra HD Blu-rays are expected to hit market by the end of 2015, however a delay into early 2016 is still possible. While all this technology is cool and it’s fantastic that 4K will finally have an opportunity to invade the average living room, the real question is whether or not Americans are ready to invest in a next generation optical disc format. It seems like just yesterday that the industry tried to get us to ditch our old and busted DVDs for high definition Blu-rays. Can that same strategy be successful only a couple of years later?