Apple Loop: iPhone 6 Screens, Microsoft Office for iPad, iBeacons For MLB, Secret Scottish Apple Stores

Mar 28 2014, 7:34pm CDT | by

Apple Loop: iPhone 6 Screens, Microsoft Office for iPad, iBeacons For MLB, Secret Scottish Apple Stores
Photo Credit: Forbes Apple

The iPhone 6 screen size is debated online, Microsoft Office arrives on the iPad, staff are being sought for the iWatch, Mavericks reaches 40%, what is happening with the sapphire production, diversity in emojis, iBeacons at MLB parks, and the secret Scottish Apple store plans are a little less secret. Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many things that happened around Apple over the last seven days.

Now Every Snowball Has A Chance…

I don’t think there’s much doubt about the big news this week. Microsoft’s release of Office for the iPad (with iOS versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel now available) opens up a world of possibilities for personal users, but this is going to be bigger news for Enterprise users. Because an Office 365 subscription is required, there will be countless iPad-equipped workers who have just had their productivity options increased because their workplace already has an Enterprise 365 subscription.

Apple is still taking the 30% cut for any Office 365 subscriptions sold through the app, but subscriptions outside the app do not seem to be affected by the App Store arrangement. While Cupertino did welcome the app with a bit more publicity than other software releases, the PR team did take the chance to remind people of the other tools available, including their own (free) suite of office apps.

How Big Will The iPhone 6 Screen Be?

One week after Apple tweaked the iPhone 5C range, the online discussion turns to the iPhone 6. Discussion once more is turning to the screen size of the next-generation iPhone with 4.7 inch screens being discusses as likely, and a 5.5 inch ‘phablet’ model as being considered but being delayed.

As always with Apple rumors, assume that my variation on Taniyama-Shiumra is in effect. Personally I feel that Apple is looking at larger screen sizes, but if the historical trend of reducing the SKU and preserving as much application compatibility as possible, I still consider a 4.9 inch screen to be the most likely candidate.

Apple Looking To Build Up Human Resources For The Smartwatch Project

More indications that the Apple iWatch project is more than a rumor, as Swatch CEO Nick discusses approaches made by “…all players in smart wearables up until today… However, we see no reason why we should enter into any partnership agreement” (reports the FT, via MacRumors). furthermore Hubolt’s Jean-Claude Biver discusses approaches by Apple to key members of his staff.

It’s still unclear what direction Apple will take with their smartwatch project (my money is a focus on health and the quantified self), but the competition from Google has shown its hand with Android Wear this week. Android is focusing on a ‘you are here, this is what you need to know’ mode of operation, existing platforms such as Pebble are helping with alerts and social media updates, so Apple’s choice is to have a better solution that addresses these areas, or move into a new third area.

If ‘Threes’ Is A Crowd, ’2048′ Is A Riot

Sirvo LLC, the team behind the iOS game ‘Threes’, has written about the proliferation of clone games and ‘inspired by’ apps of the puzzle game, including a veritable fleet of ’2048′ titles:

Next, came 2048 about ten days later. A game system identical to 1024 [and Threes] with one tweak, it removed the stones. Since, the game has grown in popularity after a posting on Hacker News on March 10th. It’s freely available and open source, allows swipes so it can be played on the phone and has spawned many variants since, including our personal favorite: Numberwang 2048.

It’s all in good fun, at least we’d like to think so, but try as our logical brains might, we still got the same “cloning feeling”. Especially when people called Threes, a game we poured over for nearly a year and a half, a clone of 2048. Others rifled off that they thought 2048 was a better game than Threes. That all stung pretty bad. We know Threes is a better game, we spent over a year on it. And obviously, Threes is the reason 2048 exists.

It’s another interesting view on the flooding of titles in the iTunes App Store and how proactive the curates need to be. It certainly feels like the current state of play is not favorable to original IP creators.

OSX Mavericks Adoption Reaches 40%

Online advertising firm Chitika’s regular surveys in the mobile world have been useful at spotting trends with browsers and operating systems. They’ve turned their eye to OSX version distribution this week. Five months after its release, Mavericks is generating 40% of the web traffic by OSX devices. Leopard currently sits on 21%, Snow Leopard and Lion are both on 18%.

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To quantify initial OS X Mavericks adoption, Chitika Insights sampled tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian Mac OS X-based online ad impressions running through the Chitika Ad Network. The data used within the analysis were drawn from impressions catalogued between March 17 through March 23, 2014.

Sapphire And Glass Have Been Assigned

Forbes contributor Nigam Arora takes a look at some recently announced patents by the USPTO that cover techniques for using Sapphire in the construction of smartphone and tablet screens which would be far stronger and resistant to scratches and impact damage. Arora believes that a layer of sapphire will be sandwiched between two glass layers, allowing Apple to mix their traditional techniques and coating with the advantages of the sapphire layer.

Getting Ready To Diversify the Emoji?

Apple has taken a close look at the Emoji character set, following an online petition to look at the lack of racial diversity in the Unicode based Emoji character set implemented by the company. Apple VP Katie Cotton agrees: “There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard,” she told MTV Act.

 Apple’s On Deck With iBeacon For Opening Weekend

As the 2014 Major League Baseball starts across North America this weekend (following the Australian based opening games), two-thirds of the MLB Ballparks are now equipped with Apple’s iBeacon hardware to provide incredibly accurate location data over BlueTooth to compatible handsets. SF Giants’ Bill Schlough talked through the possibilities with Engadget.

Part of the experience will leverage MLB’s ‘At Bat’ mobile application to provide push notifications and special offers to fans, although the MLB offices will be managing the initial use of the system to prevent spamming of hardball fans in the stadiums.

The Scottish Secret Store Is Rumbled

The hardcore Apple fan in Scotland is pretty sure that there’s an Apple Store coming to the capital (probably because they’ve read the architectural plans), but the cat is out the bag now, thanks to a delightfully direct delivery sign. “Motel One Deliveries West Register Street  – Apple Store Deliveries West Register Street North”. Unless there’s about to be a rush on healthy eating, it looks like Scotland is getting their second Store as Apple continue a program of slow but steady retail expansion.

That’s it for this week on the Apple Loop, have a great weekend, and see you here next week! Forbes’ previous Apple Loop column can be found here.

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