Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Apple gives the iPhone SE a storage bump with 32GB* and 128GB* of storage

Apple today introduced an iPhone SE with larger storage capacities of 32GB and 128GB of storage, doubling the capacity of the 16GB and 64GB models that have been available since the SE was released one year ago today. The prices remain the same at $399 and $499 unlocked. Both go on sale this Friday, March 24th.

Other than a bump in built-in storage, the iPhone SE’s other features remain identical: it’s still largely an iPhone 5S with most of the internal hardware specs from the iPhone 6S. For many owners, the most appealing thing about the iPhone SE remains its manageable size and ideal form factor for one-handed use. It’s also powerful (with Apple’s A9 processor) and has a still-impressive 12-megapixel camera that originally debuted in the 6S.

Downsides compared to the flagship iPhone 7 include no water resistance, a lower-quality selfie camera, and a less impressive display that lacks 3D Touch. But for anyone who insists on a small phone, the iPhone SE still adds up to a pretty appealing package — now with more sensible storage options.

Apple removes the iPad Air 2 with an upgraded and inexpensive 9.7 inch "iPad"

Apple has refreshed its iPad lineup, dropping the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and replacing it with a device simply called the iPad. The specs of the tablet remain largely the same as that of the Air 2, but with the old A8X chip replaced with the 64-bit A9, first seen in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The price of the iPad has also been dropped in comparison to its predecessor, with a 32GB Wi-Fi model starting at $329, and 32GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model going for $459.

The new iPad appeared on Apple’s store this morning, along with a couple other minor updates. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now available in a red aluminum finish, and the iPhone SE now has storage options of 32GB and 128GB — double its previous specs.

The new 9.7-inch iPad does have some limitations though. For a start, you can’t buy it in Rose Gold — that color option is only available for iPad Pro models. And its case is slightly larger than that of the iPad Air 2. Instead, it’s reverting to the dimensions of the original iPad Air. So, 7.5mm thick instead of 6.1mm thick, and 469 grams (Wi-Fi only) instead of 437 grams. The height and width remain the same.

In a press statement, Apple exec Phil Schiller said that customers would welcome the new “even more affordable” 9.7-inch iPad. “New customers and anyone looking to upgrade will love this new iPad for use at home, in school, and for work, with its gorgeous Retina display, our powerful A9 chip, and access to the more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for it,” said Schiller.

The new price point is certainly aggressive, and it’s no doubt Apple’s attempt to buoy up falling tablet sales and revenue. The hardware on the new 9.7-inch iPad may be relatively old, but $329 will certainly get people’s attention. And as well as killing off the iPad Air, the company has dropped the iPad mini 2 from its site. (The mini 4, meanwhile, starts at $399 for 128GB — more than the cheapest 9.7-inch iPad.) We’ve also seen rumors that the company is planning three new iPad Pro devices this year, so expect more iPad changes in 2017.

Apple introduces a red iPhone 7 and 7 plus

Apple is introducing a new color option for its iPhone 7 lineup today: red. While the iPhone maker has offered special product red cases for the iPhone previously, this is the first time the actual handset is available in red itself. The new Product (RED) iPhone features a red aluminum finish, and is launching as part of Apple's partnership with (RED).

“The introduction of this special edition iPhone in a gorgeous red finish is our biggest (PRODUCT)RED offering to date in celebration of our partnership with (RED), and we can’t wait to get it into customers’ hands," says Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple's partnership with (RED) involves highlighting the AIDS fundraising campaign with red-themed designs for products and apps. Apple recently turned its App Store and associated top apps the color red for the world AIDS day.

Apple’s last color change to its iPhone lineup involved a new glossy jet black finish for the iPhone 7, and before that the company also introduced the rose gold option with the iPhone 6S. Today’s red option is perhaps the most striking of all the colors available for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and it will be available on Friday, March 24th in 128GB and 256GB models starting at $749.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Apple extends AppleCare+ eligibility from 60 days to 1 year for iPhone purchases

Apple quietly pushed an update to its AppleCare+ smartphone insurance program today that extends the purchase window for iPhones from 60 days to one year. The change, reported first by MacRumors and confirmed with a support rep, is not yet showing up on Apple’s official product page for AppleCare+. But if you go to Apple’s eligibility tool and input your serial number from the iPhone’s settings panel, you should be able to see a new purchase option so long as you purchased the device within the last year.

This now means iPhone insurance through Apple has the same purchase window as Macs and the Apple TV, but the Apple Watch and iPad are still restricted to 60 days after purchase. Considering Apple lowered the price of screen repairs through AppleCare+ from $99 to $29 last September, now is probably a good time to shell out for a little extra insurance in the event something goes wrong. Just be aware: you can’t go and crack your screen and then purchase AppleCare+ thanks to this new purchase window. Apple requires a physical inspection to buy the service in-store and a remote diagnostic test if you do so online.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spider-Man's nemesis, Venom, is getting his own stand alone movie coming October 2018

Spider-Man villain Venom is getting his own standalone movie. Sony has announced that the drooling alien symbiote — a longtime thorn in Spider-Man’s side — will be coming to theaters on October 5th next year. It’s not yet clear who will be portraying the gooey-bodied anti-hero, but Scott Rosenberg (who worked on Jumanji) and Jeff Pinkner (who is handling Stephen King’s The Dark Tower adaptation) will be writing the script.

The October 2018 release date puts a year between the Venom movie and the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, due for release this July. Homecoming reboots Spider-Man for the third time since 2002, handing the iconic red-and-blue suit to young actor Tom Holland, and handling his interactions with the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe. Holland’s already made one appearance in the MCU, stepping in on Tony Stark’s side during the Avengers’ own Civil War.

We’ve also seen Venom on the big screen before. Topher Grace joined forces with the symbiotic suit for 2007’s Spider-Man 3, and Sony announced plans for a standalone movie based on the character in 2013, planned as part of a trio of projects that included a third Amazing Spider-Man, and a movie focusing on Marvel supervillains the Sinister Six. Those plans were altered, however, when Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed to light up the box office, leading the company to take the character in a different direction, and casting the fate of the villain-centric projects into doubt.