Editorial

Why all the fuss about the potential end of iPhone subsidies?

With AT&T reporting its financial results this week the media is buzzing about comments they (and others) have made to the effect that smartphone subsidies may eventually come to an end. The theory being floated is that future mobile phone buyers will be aware of exactly how much how much their smartphone costs. This new financial awareness will somehow prompt fewer people to pony up for an expensive iPhone.

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On the eve of iPhone 6 carriers once again using the media to push back on 'subsidies'

Imagine a boss at a company with a really great salesperson who lands all the best, highest valued customers for the company. Now imagine that boss hates having to pay that salesperson their really high commission, even though it's the salesperson who's closing all those deals and ensuring all that money comes to the company. The boss can't afford to lose that salesperson but they're desperate to find anyway they can to cut that salesperson's commissions. Likewise, the salesperson knows their value and insists on being richly compensated for the deals they close. That's the relationship between the carriers and the iPhone, and between the price carriers pay Apple for the revenue the iPhone generates. It's also why the carriers hate Apple and the iPhone, and why when a new iPhone — like the iPhone 6 — is on the horizon, we get articles like this: "As Phone Subsidies Fade, Apple Could Be Hurt".

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The Mac mini: the best game console in the house

I just heard something: A tectonic eruption of eye-rolling from PC gamers. Look, if you've got a custom rig with Nvidia Titan hardware and 4K displays to run Crysis 3 in ridiculous mode, move along. There's nothing for you here. If, on the other hand, you already have a Mac mini, or if you've been thinking about getting one but think it's underpowered for gaming, what I have to say may surprise you.

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Dynamic affordance: Can the iOS 8 interface be made smarter?

Depending on who you are and how you feel, iOS 7 either took the training wheels off to fully embrace digital design, or it removed so much interface as to crush usability. Both are true. iOS is used by a wide range of people, from the digital and mobile immigrant — those who grew up reading newspapers or using PCs — to the digital and mobile native — those who were born to iPhone and iPad. One, single, static default choice can never properly meet the needs of everyone across that range. But what if iOS 8 could make affordance and accessibility dynamic?

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Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint swiper can also be faked out, but here's the difference with Touch ID...

As expected, the fingerprint swiper in the new Samsung Galaxy S5 is just as susceptible to spoofing by a fake fingerprint, just like Apple's Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, and pretty much every similar fingerprint sensor on the market. But it also looks like there are few things Apple did right that Samsung might want to look into incorporating in the future.

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How Apple could release a really expensive iWatch and prime the market for the wearable revolution

Just as they were late getting into the smartphone game, Apple has not rushed into the wrist race with iWatch. Check out Smartwatch Fans and you'll find no less than 14 smartwatches that are either available now or will be early this year. Some are from major companies like Samsung, Sony and Qualcomm. Others are from startups like Pebble and Neptune that are hoping to compete wrist to wrist with the big boys and win. So how could Apple capture not only the mind share, but make the market?

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Interested in a flatter OS X interface? Look to iCloud for clues

Based on what I posted last week, it's clear that many of you — like me — want Apple to adopt a more uniform user experience between iOS 7 and OS X — a flatter interface for OS X 10.10. Rumors have abounded since January that Apple is working on just that by creating a "flatter" interface for OS X 10.10 (code-named Syrah) that makes icons and other interface elements more consistent with their iOS 7 counterparts. We don't have to work too hard to imagine what it'll look like: Just open iCloud in a web browser.

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A tale of two bigger iPhones

One of the more popular rumors making the rounds right now is that Apple will release not one but two new, bigger iPhones this year. The first would be the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the second, a 5.5-inch Apple "phablet". These rumors aren't coming from overly sensational, overly outlandish sources, but from mainstream news outlets and some of the more reserved financial analysts. Even so, information gleaned from supply chain sources, many of whom are working on a wide array of products and prototypes from a range of vendors, this far in advance, is likely only slightly more reliable than a roll of the polyhedral dice. But beyond the rumors, what could all this mean?

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Why Apple Maps lead me to a meltdown in Central London

There are rumors that iOS 8 will be addressing a lot of lingering concerns over the reliability and usefulness of Apple's Maps. I very much hope so. Because I bring to you this Monday a tale of woe. A tale of using Apple Maps navigation, Central London and lots and lots of swearing. This is the tale of how using Apple Maps to navigate through the British capital – right through the middle – lead me to a meltdown.

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OS X 10.10 is coming: What do you want it to do?

The feature list for OS X 10.10 Syrah has already been decided. I don't have any special insight to what it has, but I know what I'd like it to have — I made the case for a flatter interface, borrowing from iOS 7, and many of you agreed with me.

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