What To Expect From Tomorrow’s Apple Event

By now, you probably know about Apple’s live event tomorrow. But after September’s double punch of the Apple Watch and iPhone 6 (and Plus), how will the Cupertino company attempt to wow audiences this time?

Loads of Hardware Updates

The focus of tomorrow’s Apple event is widely speculated to be hardware updates: from new iPads to an updated Mac Mini, everything seems ripe for an annual update just in time for the holiday season. Still, the suspense remains on just how “drastic” the updates will be. For instance, everybody knows that the new iPads are going to be thinner, lighter and faster—but will they come with NFC and Touch ID to make it Apple Pay-ready?

Public Release of Yosemite And Apple Pay

The much-anticipated public release for OS Yosemite and Apple Pay is all-but-confirmed at this point. The scope of Apple Pay’s roll-out, though, will be one interesting thing that we will hopefully find out.

Possible Update of Apple HomeKit

Finally, rumor has it that Apple will update its long-ignored HomeKit by integrating Siri and turning Apple TV into a central hub for smart home appliances. Though least likely to happen, this update would no doubt fit with the “it’s been way too long” tagline on Apple’s event invite.

As usual, we’ll be live-tweeting the event. Check back with us tomorrow to find out what Apple is up to this time.

Facebook Launches Messager App On iPad

After launching a separate app for messaging all your Facebook friends on smartphones several months back, Facebook is finally bringing the update to iPad, with all functionality in tact. As the social media conglomerate continues to solidify its presence in the fast-growing market of mobile messaging apps, it seems fit to disintegrate its messaging app from its flagship social media app, as its number of active users keeps declining. It is also a smart move for Facebook to start establishing itself on the tablet devices, since there’s no official iPad version of WhatsApp, another messaging app that Facebook owns, currently available for iPad. The bottom line is, Facebook is taking messaging apps seriously, and they are implementing it across all mobile platforms.

Square & Whole Foods Partner

Square and Whole Foods announced a deal that will see Square handle payment and checkout at “food venues” within select Whole Foods locations. That would include sandwich counters, juice or coffee bars, pizzerias, or any other type of food establishment within the store. Each of the in-store venues will have an iPad and Square stand where you can swipe your card for immediate checkout. Thus Square users can skip the long checkout lines; indeed those with Square Wallets will be able to pay even more conveniently via mobile. The partnership is Square’s first with a national grocer and represents a big step forward in Square’s trajectory: if it can get into the consciousness of the average shopper, it’s got a very good chance of making itself the mobile payments solution of choice for the foreseeable future. 

Apple Patents Anticipatory Home Automation Technology

Geo-fencing is a hot technology, especially in the home, and Apple’s new patent indicates that it has no intentions of ignoring the trend. The patent describes a home automation system powered by location data fed from Apple’s mobile devices, as well as additional integrated peripherals like credit cards and RFID badges.  With this many sensors contributing, it becomes possible to create extremely detailed inferences of not only where a person is at any time, but what they’re doing, or even who they’re with.  With this powerful information, Apple’s system goes beyond home automation, and incorporates another hot trend: anticipatory computing.  Should the system be easily implemented (which is usually a strong suit of Apple products), it could be a boon for both trend areas, and inspire further innovations for each.

Apple’s iPad Announcement Comes Amid Meager Sales

Apple’s event tomorrow couldn’t come at a better time for its sales, according to new data released. The notion that Apple had entirely transitioned into “the iPad Company,” whose tablets would be the sole driving sales force, turned out to be strikingly incorrect. In the June quarter of this year, iPad sales figures dropped 14% year over year, to under 15 million units. In the midst of a tablet market that is becoming increasingly saturated, and is expected to grow by 50% this year alone, these numbers are cause for alarm in Apple’s camp. Part of the problem is that last June, the retina iPad debuted and triggered a large sales bump. In addition, Apple’s premium pricing, in comparison to competitors’ lower prices, is turning people away from Apple’s products. So it will be interesting to see how Apple prices the products it releases tomorrow, in addition to the usual gawking over the specs of the technology itself. 

Revel Uses iPad Point-Of-Sale System At ASU

Revel, the iPad-based point-of-sale marketer, completed its largest single deployment to date by outfitting the entire Alabama State University stadium with POS equipment. All 30 concession stands feature iPads, and sales can be tracked in real time by managers. A big benefit of installing stadium-specific pieces is that they don’t require wifi to function; this has already proven worthwhile as Revel-based equipment continued to function and make sales during a power outage. What’s more, the company claims that its technology is about 14% faster than other POS devices, increasing the capacity for moving customers more quickly. Using iPads for sales is a concept that’s spread quickly, and companies like Revel are looking to cash in on this upswing, complete with branding and advertising opportunities built in. 

Disney Debuts Second Screen Movie-Theater Experience

Disney wants to coerce people to bring iPads into the movie theater. Whether or not this sounds like a good idea, given accepted theater manners, is up for debate. Nonetheless, for this month’s re-screening of The Little Mermaid, Disney has announced something called “Second Screen Live,” in which viewers, through their iPads, can play games, discover treasure, and interact with the film through the device. It should be noted, though, that as of yet it only syncs with the movie in theaters, and that it won’t work with previously-owned copies of The Little Mermaid. For more details, have a look at the trailer:


WatchESPN Updates Live Toolbar

One of the original streaming apps, WatchESPN, vastly improved its service today, through an update that includes a major face lift and real-time stats, scores, and on-demand clips via a live toolbar. The app provides access to live streams from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, and ESPN Goal Line/Buzzer Beater, and now the toolbar gives access to clips across all of these channels, without the user having to navigate away from the live stream they’re watching. This means that users can turn the second screen – the iPad or other streaming device – entirely into the first stream for most sports entertainment. 

FitStar Launches Customized Fitness App

Exercise apps and other ways of quantifying the self are appearing left and right, but today sees a newcomer with a slightly different approach enter the fray. FitStar blends fitness training videos with quantifiable methods of measurement into one app platform. It creates a customized workout routine on the iPad, pieced together from 80 different exercises that are guided by all-star tight end Tony Gonzalez. By voluntarily entering fitness level data, the program offers a brief assessment and thereafter algorithmically tailors the mostly body-weight exercises to your level. It gets harder as you get stronger, and is also looking to incorporate weight-lifting videos into the app in the near future. And every time the app launches, a new routine is created to keep the user from getting bored with one set of workouts. It also sees partnerships with other apps like FitBit, which will more seamlessly integrate fitness data like heart-rate and cardiovascular health into the algorithm, which will further tailor the increasing permutations of videos to the individual. 

Google Now Comes to iOS

iOS Users: Welcome to the predictive search future.  Google has integrated its Google Now product, previously only found in Android’s post-Jelly Bean releases, into its Google Search iOS app.  Google Now is designed to present you with information before you ask for it, tracking packages, flights, traffic, weather, sports, concerts, and dozens of other pieces of information.  One limitation of the iOS release is that it is still app-based and does not carry the advantage of being baked-in as it is with Android.  This upgrade to the iOS app could be the first in a series of moves to make predictive search ubiquitous on mobile devices.