While Apple is set to unveil its new iPhone and smartwatch next week, it looks like the company is getting for more new hardware in the spring, too. Reports say Apple is about to start production on an iPad with a 12.9-inch screen. iPad sales have been dropping recently as more customers are content to use smartphones with bigger screens instead of tablets. With Apple expected to launch iPhones with screens as big as 5.5 inches, iPad sales would be cut into even further. A bigger iPad would go against the grain of recent tablet trends. Most recent tablet growth has come from low-end models with smaller screens, like Google’s Nexus 7. A much larger iPad would open up a new world of possibilities for businesses, though, as the devices could do far more than a traditional laptop. Consider this just a rumor for now, but if you want a new iPad and you were hoping for one with a bigger screen, it might be worth waiting a few months to see.
Amazon recently announced that it was acquiring video game streaming site Twitch.tv for $970 million. For months, it looked like it was a done deal for Google to buy Twitch for about $1 billion. So what happened? Reports suggest Google was concerned about antitrust issues, because Google already owns YouTube, which competes directly with Twitch for live video game streams. Google’s loss is Amazon’s gain, however, as Twitch’s popularity has exploded over the past year. Both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 include the option to broadcast any game you’re playing with a single tap of a button, helping Twitch reach 50 million video game fans around the world each month. Amazon’s acquisition proves the company is serious about its new focus on gaming. Amazon created an in-house video game studio two years ago and has made a couple of other high-profile acquisitions and hires to bolster its video game staff. The move is also great for Twitch and its users, as Amazon’s infrastructure will be far more able to handle Twitch’s explosive growth.
If you’re looking for a new, smarter version of home security, check out simplicam by Closeli. Recently launched, simplicam is the world’s only home monitoring Wi-Fi solution that also includes face detection. That means you’ll only get alerts when someone’s in your home — and not when your cat tears through your living room and knocks over a lamp. Simplicam also lets you view live or recorded video from any connected device – smartphone, tablet or computer – and includes sound notifications through its free companion apps as well as access to cloud recording, easy editing and sharing options. The system lets you schedule times to record, or remotely turn on and turn off the monitoring system from your phone. Simplicam’s home monitoring system is available today for $149 at Amazon or Simplicam.com. To store recorded footage a little bit longer, you can pay an extra monthly fee to keep recordings for one day, a week and a half or three weeks. If you want to learn more about Simplicam head over to www.Simplicam.com.
If you’re looking to upgrade your filmmaking arsenal, Instagram just gave you a brand new toy to play with. Instagram recently unveiled Hyperlapse, a brand new app that easily creates fast, time-lapse videos. Only available on iOS right now – with an Android version coming someday down the line – Hyperlapse is built around an algorithm that stabilizes the traditional shakiness of videos you shoot on your phone. Designed to make use of your iPhone’s gyroscope, Hyperlapse brings the processing power of a $15,000 desktop rig to the palm of your hand. The app is incredibly straightforward and simple to use. The first screen only has a record button, which is where you capture the video you want to make a time-lapse of. Once you’ve got your footage, the next step is to set the playback speed – anywhere from 1x to 12x – then decide whether you want to upload it to Facebook or Instagram. With Hyperlapse, Instagram has given you the tools to turn yourself into an amateur Martin Scorsese.
If you’re waiting for the next round of Apple hardware, your wait is almost over. Apple recently confirmed that it will announce its newest products on September 9. What should you expect from the event? Apple plays everything close to the vest, so it didn’t detail the products it would be unveiling, but it is expected to show off the iPhone 6 as well as a smartwatch. The iPhone 6 should be the company’s largest phone yet, with rumors of a 4.7-inch or even 5.5-inch model in the works. The new iPhones will be thinner and more powerful than ever before, and should include an energy-efficient A8 processor. The phones may also include a Sapphire Glass screen, making them more durable and scratch-resistant than ever before. The other major new device will be the iWatch – or whatever Apple decides to name its smartwatch. There haven’t been many concrete leaks about that device, but with LG, Motorola and ASUS all launching new devices in early September, Apple’s version will have some stiff competition.
Whether you’re the type of person who always needs the latest and greatest smartphone or you’re content to wait two years to upgrade, chances are good you probably have some old smartphones kicking around in a closet or junk drawer somewhere. Before you go and sell an old Android device, though, there are a few steps you should safety measures you should take first. First things first, encrypt your data. Just performing a factory reset will wipe out your data to the average user, but a motivated hacker will still be able to recover some of your data. Encrypting your data will lock it down, so head into Settings and Security and being the encryption. This may take more than an hour, but the added security is well worth the extra time. Once that’s done, perform a factory reset on your device. This will restore your phone to the way it was when it came out of the box, and make sure all your private data is inaccessible to any future owners.
Got some extra space in your garage and need some extra cash? Check out Roost. Essentially Airbnb for storage, Roost is a new service that lets you rent out the extra space in your house to other people so they can store their stuff. If you’re shopping for storage, Roost’s website lets you search by location and access level. Need 24/7 access to your things? Filter by places that let you have a key. A little less demanding? Find a place that asks for 48 hours advance notice. You can also sort your search by total available size, so you’ll be able to know right away if your spare twin bed can fit. Roost performs background checks on hosts and storage locations have public ratings and reviews, so you’ll be able to feel completely safe leaving your prized possessions with a complete stranger. The service even includes an insurance policy to cover any damage or loss. Roost is only available in San Francisco for now, but hopes to expand to other major markets soon.
Learning a new instrument can immensely frustrating. A new iPad app called Wolfie looks to make life easier for people learning to play the piano. Wolfie, which features a score-tracking cursor, digital score playback and more, aims to improve music reading proficiency and reward practice. With more than 750 musical scores spanning all difficulty levels, Wolfie has something to teach every level of piano player. Wolfie is the latest app in the Tonara Prodigy Series, which wants to shake up the way we practice and study music and can accomplish that goal through a couple of cool tools. Wolfie’s “Magic” score tracking keeps track of your place as you play, even if you mess up or change tempo, to help you improve your music reading ability. The app also lets you record your practices and send them to your piano teacher for feedback, and even tracks and trends how long you practiced. To learn more about Wolfie, head to www.WolfiePiano.com or check out the app in the iOS App Store today.
If you’re looking for more bang for your buck from your wireless provider, T-Mobile and Sprint are bending over backwards to gain your affection – and business. In a race to outdo each other and become the clear number three wireless provider in the U.S., T-Mobile and Sprint recently rolled out enticing new offers. T-Mobile is offering up a year of free unlimited LTE service to you and any friends you convince to switch over to its network. If you’re a T-Mobile customer that already has unlimited LTE and you bring a friend over, you’ll get a $10 credit on your account each month for a year. Sprint, meanwhile, is looking to undercut T-Mobile – as well as AT&T and Verizon – on price. New and existing Sprint customers who buy their phone outright or bring over a Sprint-compatible device are eligible for unlimited talk, text and data for $60 a month. Verizon and AT&T no longer offer unlimited data plans for smartphones, and the $60 price point is $20 less per month than T-Mobile’s cost.
No matter which wireless carrier you choose, chances are good that you’re probably going to have a pretty high monthly data bill. But thanks to Google Chrome’s mobile browser, you can use less data each month and maybe even save a few bucks. Google has a couple features in its browsers for Android and iOS that reduce your data consumption by up to 50 percent. Powered by Google’s servers, one feature optimizes and transcodes the images you see on websites to the WebP format, which requires fewer bytes than other, more popular photo formats, like JPEG. To enable this feature, head into the settings menu of Chrome, then select “Bandwidth.” You’ll see an option that reads “Reduce data usage.” Turn that “on” and you’re ready to go! Also in “Bandwidth” is an option for preloading webpages. Chrome lets you choose always, never, or only on Wi-Fi. To save on data, set it to either option that isn’t “Always.” Happy browsing!