I have been talking about Apple a lot lately. I am going to start this post out with a few things not relating to Apple and then close it out with a few more Apple tidbits I have found since the release of the MacBook Pros on Thursday.
Amazon Prime Customers to get free streaming service
This week, Amazon announced that they would be providing a free streaming service to all Amazon Prime customers. As a Hulu Plus user and Amazon Prime member who is considering also signing up for NetFlix this will definitely stop me from making to move to NetFlix. I have had the chance over the last couple weeks to use my girlfriends NetFlix account and if there is one thing that I don’t like it is the organization of older television episodes. They organize them based on the DVD sets not based on the season in which they were originally aired. That along might make me stick with Hulu Plus now that I can get a good number of movies on Amazon using my Prime membership.
Free Kindles this November?
John Gruber dug up a nice article from The Technium that talks about how the Kindle has not remained the same price from year-to-year as most products do but rather it has been declining in price each year. The article also suggested that Amazon Prime customers would be getting a free Kindle as soon as this November. Right now, the service provides free video streaming and 2-day shipping. The addition of a free Kindle would make a lot of sense and it would help Amazon to sell the Prime service more. The one question I have in response to this is would I get a new one every year?
Google CR-48 about to get a desktop model?
Back in December, Google showed off their Chrome OS and the CR-48 laptop. The CR-48 laptop is a laptop that has no build in storage for data. Everything on it is done through the web browser and saved to the internet. The idea seems intriguing for someone who does not save a lot of documents and shares all of their pictures on Flicker and/or Facebook. Now, according to an article from ReadWriteWeb Acer is working on a touchscreen Crome OS based desktop computer. This desktop would look like an iMac but would not have any spinning or optical drives inside of it and would be useless if you don’t have internet access. While I do not think that consumers are going to be switching over to Chrome OS anytime soon, I can see a day where businesses provide their employees with a Chrome OS based desktop or laptop for doing their work. It makes complete sense when you think about it. Most businesses use web based software solutions and as long as those solutions are able to run with no problems in Google Chrome, businesses should be able to make the jump to the cloud for everything and save money on IT Departments and upkeep of their computer network. OF course this is coming from a person who works in IT but I say this because I am growing more and more annoyed with all of the job postings that are looking for someone who has “General IT” knowlege I am looking to program Websites and Web Applications. If you are hiring me full-time to do that I obviously have “General IT” knowledge. Please elaborate on what you mean by “General IT” knowledge people.
Get Ready for the Facebook Phone
When asked late last sumer, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zukerberg said, Facebook was not developing a phone. Nope, they are not developing A PHONE… they are developing MULTIPLE phones. Let me clarify though because they are not actually trying to market phones as Apple did a few years ago with the iPhone. Nope. They are trying to heavily integrate Facebook software in all phones. Remember right around when Zuckerberg made those comments he had just visited Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ house for dinner and the rumor was that Jobs made Zuck an offer to buy Facebook. I would not doubt those rumors are true. The thing is that obviously did not happen. I would not be surprised though if Facebook is very deeply integrated in the next version of iOS.
There are also rumors out there saying that there are going to be multiple devices that get a modified version of Android that has Facebook very tightly integrated into it. This would not surprise me either. But I would bet that these will not come until at least three to six months after the release of iOS 5 so that Apple gets some exclusivity on the social features.
Google Me aka Google +1 is coming
For months we have been hearing rumors of Google getting ready to launch a new social product. First, back in June Kevin Rose quoting a “reliable source” said that Google was about to launch a new social product called Google Me. Then in November we began seeing a number of reports from other sources that Google was going to release a product called +1. Even as we got into 2011, these rumors appeared to be just that, rumors. That all changed last week though, when Google changed the toolbar that improved consistency of the bar across the top of their site for the majority of their products. The design of the bar is the same as the one that was shown in leaked images a few months back of Google Me/+1. So far though, there has been no major announcement in the social space from Google since the launch of this new bar. We will have to wait and see what happens but my guess is that Google Buzz launched in February 2010 is probably going to be as close to Facebook as Google will ever get with any of its products.
Facebook Chat comes to Hotmail
Earlier this week, Facebook and Microsoft teamed up to bring Facebook chat to Hotmail. This should not have come as a surprise, as it did to ReadWriteWeb, because Microsoft owns 1.6% of Facebook and all of the advertisements on Facebook are provided by Microsoft. So in all seriousness this was bound to happen eventually.
MacBook Air or iPad
I will a more entire post on this topic after the iPad two has been released. But right now, I have had an iPad for about 8 months and earlier this month I was able to get my paws on a high-end 11′ MacBook Air. After purchasing my iPad over the summer and before purchasing my MacBook Air earlier this month, I was able to get through a given day spending only two to three hours on average at my computer. Of course, I probably could still get through a day doing the same. Here is the thing. Why am I going to carry a bluetooth keyboard with me to use for typing emails and blog posts, like this one, when I can do a lot more on a MacBook Air. If you are looking to buy a productivity tool get the MacBook Air and an iPhone (if you don’t already have one).
Truth be told, even before I had my MacBook Air earlier this month I was carrying my five pound MacBook with me when I went most places because even though I could have simply carried the iPad and bluetooth keyboard with me and left my laptop in the dust using that set up to write an email or blog post required a table where my MacBook didn’t. Thats the difference between getting work done on the train or bus and losing that time.
NetFlix fires back at Amazon
Following Amazon’s announcement that they would be offering free streaming of some movies and tv shows to Prime users NetFlix announced that they had signed a deal with CBS to stream their shows. This should come as no surprise as it has been in the works for a few months but it does give NetFlix a leg up on both Hulu and Amazon because they now have contracts with all four major U.S. networks: CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX. Earlier I said that Amazon’s Announcement would probably keep me from signing up for NetFlix. For now, I am going to say that that is likely still the case. That said, it could change shortly if I feel the need to have access to the Mail-rental option. We will have to just wait and see.
NHL and NBA coming to YouTube
There has been a lot of talk in the last couple of years about this idea of “Cutting the Cord” and I will be writing a more detailed post about this later on but for now I will say that the one reason I can not see myself cutting the cord in the near future is because of live sporting events. I want my sports, mainly baseball, but also basketball and hockey. There have been rumors circulating for a while about different sports leagues streaming their games on YouTube but this week the rumors seemed to get more serious than ever. I like the idea so long as there are no blackouts but until MLB games are available online with no blackouts I do not see myself cutting the cord.
More from Apple
FaceTime for Mac is out of beta… and it cost 99 cents. My initial response to this was Apple is just getting greedy now. But after thinking about it for a bit, I realized something. Apple is charing for the Mac version of FaceTime because in the end, they could do some crafty accounting that allows them to donate that money to cancer research or some other good cause. I am not saying that is what is going to happen… I am simply saying that is what COULD happen. We will have to wait and see.
A hot rumor the last couple of days has been that Apple is going to release iOS 4.3 next week when they announce the second generation iPad. I have to say that I believe this rumor because it was originally expected sometime in February and that would just miss the cut for a February release. It simply makes sense when you think about it because leading up to now any time Apple has released a new iOS device they have had a new version of the OS to go along with it.
There are a number of rumors circulating about OS X Lion right now too. First, Lion is apparently going to kill the disc. I do not see this happening, but, again, we will see. John Gruber reported a couple days ago that Lion is going to have support for high resolution ‘retina’ monitors. I would have to say that I believe this because I think that the next generation MacBook airs are going to have touch screens that slide down to cover the keyboard. Finally, Gizmodo and Engadget are reporting that Lion is going to have much better support for solid state hard drives.
Since the new MacBook Pro line was released on Thursday the rumor mill has gotten really hot about Thunderbolt ports on the next iPad and iPhone. Why, you ask? For faster charging, syncing, and backups. In the case of the iPad though the connection will also be able to be used, most likely in conjunction with an App, to turn your iPad into a secondary display. Overall, I think it makes a lot of sense but this is not yet the end of the 30-pin iPod connector. Apple will provide both ports on the 2011, 2012, and, probably even, 2013 models of both devices because they have to wait until Thunderbolt is in wide use.
Could we see an LTE based Apple product as soon as March the 2nd. Verizon’s CEO seems to think so based on a report from Engadget. He does not specifically say when he thinks Apple will adopt 4G technologies but I think that is only because he is under NDA not to say that the next generation devices will have it. Also, thanks to Mashable, we have our best clue yet that the iPhone 5 will have a 4.3-inch screen.
MobileMe has been removed from the Online Apple Store. Apple has also discontinued the retail boxes and started offering a 60-day free trial as opposed to the previous 15-day trial. This only gives credence to all of the rumors that Apple is about to make the product completely free.
Finally, there has been a lot of talk for the last eight to ten months that Apple is going to be be releasing a cloud based iTunes streaming service. As I have said in the last few days, I do think this is going to happen. With a catch though. The catch, users will still have to purchase (or rent in the case of video) EVERYTHING that they stream. In other words, their purchase early last year of streaming music service LaLa was not only for insurance but also for the talent.