Editorial

The true cost of free-to-play games

The App Store has become dominated by free-to-play or "freemium" games. I started discussing this with some smart people on Twitter earlier today, but wanted to expand on it here, because I think it's important. What we don't acknowledge we can't change, and it feels like the current direction of iOS gaming needs to change. While some of the free-to-play games are brilliantly balanced and realized, providing value for both the makers and the players, most are not. Most suck. And a lot of that is our fault.

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Privacy and security in the age of iPhone mics and cameras

iOS has experienced its fair share of privacy fiascos over the last few years. From user locations being tracked , to Address Book data being exposed, to full on malware in the App Store, privacy and security concerns over iOS are very much a reality. Two components often overlooked are your iPhone’s camera and microphone.

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Editor's desk: What's next

Winter is still here, I'm still buried in snow, but March is at last on the horizon. Unlike the last few years, however, I'm not sure exactly what that means, though I have some ideas. Here's what we have to look forward to -- or not, as the case may be -- for Apple, Mobile Nations, the iMore app, and iMore in general this spring.

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Why a less expensive iPhone might make more sense

If Apple sticks to their current pattern, there'll be an iPhone 5s later this year, and the iPhone 5 will drop to $100 on-contract, the iPhone 4S will drop to free on-contract, and the iPhone 4 will be retired. If Apple sticks to their current pattern, there'll be an iPhone 6 in 2014, and the iPhone 5s will drop to $100 on-contract, the iPhone 5 will drop to free on-contract, and the iPhone 4S will be retired.

But Apple doesn't always stick to their current patterns, and this year, rumor has it Apple might also introduce a less expensive iPhone. A less expensive iPhone very nicely addresses three key issues for Apple:

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iPhone 5 vs. HTC One vs. BlackBerry Z10: Judging phones by their form factors

Oh, internet. It seems like only last year the iPhone 5's design was decried as boring and lacking innovation, but fast forward to now, and the BlackBerry Z10 and HTC One (or at least a supposed render) stand accused of being too iPhone 5-like in their design. We just want to hate on everything, don't we?

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iWatch and the difference between Apple businesses and hobbies

There's been a lot of media attention focused on the idea of an Apple iWatch lately. Given the nature of the stories, and the prominence of the new outlets fueling them, it feels like something is leaking, intentionally or otherwise. That said, unless and until Apple shows something new off on stage, it's impossible to predict exactly what they're going to do, and how they're going to position it. Before Steve Jobs held up the original iPhone, after all, many expected nothing more than an iPod classic with a click wheel. The same will likely prove true with an iWatch -- difficult to predict yet seemingly obvious in hindsight.

Yet for all their secrecy, Apple is a fairly consistent company. They don't make crap, and they don't release products that aren't carefully targeted. Everyone from irrational Wall Street analysts and investors to ennui-ed tech journos might already be playing out the holy grail, part 2, in their heads:

"A tiny-screen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary smart watch. A breakthrough natural language communicator. An iPod, a watch, and a communicator. Are you getting it? This is one device...

"And we're calling it iWatch."

But what are the realities?

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Editor's desk: Happy year of the water snake!

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Gong Hey Faat Choi, 恭禧發財! Happy year of the water snake! I spent most of my early twenties surrounded by Chinese culture, and spent many a Chinese New Year in China Town (or China block as it's probably better referred to in Montreal), on stage, taking part in the festivities and demonstrations. I even got to spend one in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The people, the food, the fireworks, and lion dancing, all if it holds a special place in my heart and my memories.

This year I'm going to get some Dim Sum, give out some red envelopes (hey, the new iPod nano fits perfectly in those!), and pay lots of respect to those who came before and have taught and given me so much. Then I'll probably watch a bunch of martial hero movies and blog the day away. Meanwhile...

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Stuck between the Dropbox that was and the iCloud that isn't yet

iCloud promised ubiquitous access -- all our stuff, every where and every when we wanted it. Not sync, Apple very carefully, almost awkwardly explained it, but an idea that was and is just as simple. You create something, it gets stored on the iCloud, and pushed down to all of your iOS and OS X devices. Not a server-side truth store, and critically, not a file system either. Unlike Google, it didn't live in the browser, and unlike iDisk, which came before it, there were and are no folders or hierarchies to get lost in, no Finder or Explorer to trudge through. iCloud, as Apple positioned it, was and is something new and something potentially much, much better.

The problem is, it doesn't work yet.

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Using the iPad mini as a phone

Last week I left home and headed to the airport, on my way to Macworld|iWorld 2013. My flight was delayed thanks to freezing rain, so I sat at the airport in Montreal for a couple hours, finally made it to Toronto, and then got smacked with another 8 hour delay. With my iPhone 5 at 20% and dropping, thanks to the poor quality Rogers reception at Pearson, I reached for one of the several Lightning cables I'd packed for my trip... only to find not a single one. I'd left them all at home.

Of course, neither the iStore (airport electronics shop) nor the Best Buy vending machines had Lightning cables. I was stuck. I needed my iPhone for when I landed in San Francisco, so I had to conserve as much power as I could. But I also needed a phone to use while I was at the airport all day.

So I reached for my iPad mini.

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Editor's desk: Goodbye Macworld|iWorld, hello fitness month!

I'm sitting at San Francisco airport, staring out over runways and mountains untouched by the cold or snow that await me at home, remembering with fondness the sights and sounds, products and people of Macworld|iWorld 2013, and already looking forward to next year. We shot a ton of video, and you'll be seeing it go up all this week. Enjoy it, because Paul Kent and crew once again proved it's the people that make all the difference.

But now it's February and that means it's fitness month, Mobile Nations post-CES, iMore's post-Macworld-iWorld tradition. And it's all shades of kick-in-your-ass awesome.

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