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Thursday, 8 September 2016

Apple Fall 2016 Event Roundup: iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2, AirPods, More

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It’s been a big day for Apple and fans of its hardware, and with new iPhones, new Apple Watches and a host of new features having received stage time, it’s easy to forget some of the news that we were bombarded with during the event. We’re still coming to terms with everything ourselves, so to make sure we’re all squared away and on the same page, let’s have a little rundown of what was announced today.
Because there was quite a bit.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Just as was expected and had been highly rumored for months, Apple today announced both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus smartphones. Iterating on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, these newly updated handsets look largely similar to the models they replace at the head of Apple’s iPhone lineup, but internally, they are quite different. Alongside the Apple A10 Fusion chip that will apparently allow the iPhone 7 and its larger brother to smoke all iPhones that came before them, Apple’s biggest change this time around is the significantly improved camera. Both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus feature improved shooters front and back, but it’s the iPhone 7 Plus that has the real headline maker – a dual-camera setup that allows for some impressive depth-of-field effects when taking portrait shots. It also has optical zoom!
The biggest addition beyond that camera is the new Home/Touch ID button. Gone is the click mechanical button we are used to, and in comes a Force Touch button that, similar to the trackpad on Apple’s MacBook Pro, doesn’t actually move.
Apple’s new iPhones come in Black, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold and a new Jet Black flavor, which is about as black as phones get. Apple says it might scratch easily, though, so bear that in mind when choosing a color. New storage capacities are in force here too, with 32GB, 128GB and 256GB options available, but that Jet Black iPhone is only available in 128GB and 256GB configurations.
The first revision for Apple’s wearable sees the Apple Watch become the Apple Watch Series 1, with a dual-core CPU and reduced price, while the new model is dubbed the Apple Watch Series 2. That second generation model brings a GPS chip, improved water resistance that now makes the wearable “swim proof,” and a redesigned CPU that now boasts two cores. There’s a new Nike+ version of the Apple Watch Series 2 as well, with typically gaudy colors to boot. Speaking of which, the high-end Apple Watch Series 2 now boast a ceramic white option, which looks really, really nice.
Now that Apple has announced that it has ditched the earphone jack, wireless earphones are going to be all the rage. To that end, Apple has announced new wireless AirPods and new Beats headphones. The Beats option will be recognizable to anyone who’s seen Beats Bluetooth earphones before, but Apple’s new AirPods are something completely different. Completely wireless and compatible with anything Apple makes, the earphones look like EarPods, but without the wires. Whether that means they’ll fall out easily remains to be seen, but if they do, then expect to lose them. A lot. And that’s a bummer considering the hefty $159 price tag.
iOS 10, macOS Sierra, tvOS 10, watchOS 3
As expected, Apple announced that iOS 10, tvOS 10 and watchOS 3 will be available September 13th while macOS Sierra will be available on September 20th, with new Golden Master betas available to developers as of today. We’ve covered all of those updates in length already so we won’t rehash it here, but all four are worth your time to download, especially iOS 10 and watchOS 3. Just download them all!

    Friday, 2 September 2016

    Google Scraps Project Ara Modular Smartphone, Discontinues Chromebook Pixel

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    It’s not been a good few days to be one of Google’s hardware projects, with not just one but two of them being canned for good. One of them was still in the early days of becoming a shipping product, whilst the other had received critical acclaim following its release in 2015.
    The first on the chopping block was the Chromebook Pixel. Originally released in February of 2015, the Chromebook Pixel was allowed to sell out, with inventory now exhausted both within Google and Best Buy stores.
    The Chromebook Pixel actually comprised of two different models – one for $999, which was discontinued in April, and another which sold for an additional $300, dubbed the Chromebook Pixel LS. Neither are now available, and it appears the Chromebook Pixel is no more. With the death of the Pixel, Google now no longer sells a laptop computing device.

    Google’s Project Ara today joined the Chromebook Pixel on Google’s high-tech scrapheap. After more than three years of promising development, Google’s Project Ara is now dead after what we all thought may prove to be one of the most interesting of Google’s projects failed to materialize.
    Project Ara was essentially a modular smartphone, allowing each individual aspect of the handset to be swapped out, with Google believing that allowed for extra flexibility and additional ease of repair. Always ambitious and perhaps never likely to turn into something we would be able to buy in stores, Project Ara was what makes Google so great, and it’s a shame to see it go. Having said that, however, if Project Ara’s demise allows Google to spend precious resources on something more likely to impact our lives, then we’re all for it!
    With so much always going on inside Google, we can only imagine what other things the company, and it’s super-clever employees are up to now that Project Ara and the Chromebook Pixel are no longer around.