ExtraBITS for 12 September 2016
In ExtraBITS this week, Apple is having a spectacular one-day sale on iTunes Movies, Google Photos now works with Live Photos, Apple has tweaked the iPad lineup, and you can read a thorough explanation for why Apple removed the iPhone headphone jack.
September 12th Only: 10-Movie iTunes Bundles for $10 — To celebrate 10 years of iTunes Movies, Apple is offering six 10-movie bundles that you can buy for $10 each. The sale runs for just one day: 12 September 2016, so act fast. Even if a bundle contains only a few films that pique your interest, the price makes taking a chance on the rest worthwhile. (Thanks to Zac Cichy for alerting us to this sale.)
Google Photos Now Improves Live Photos — The Google Photos app for iOS can now apply effects to Apple’s proprietary Harry Potter-like Live Photos and export them as videos or animated GIFs that others can play on any platform. You can also use Google Photos to smooth out shaky video in Live Photos or to create cinematic pans. Other tweaks in the Google Photos app include better album sorting options and the capability to choose a new thumbnail for faces in the People album. Live Photos can be taken only with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and with the soon-to-be-released
iPhone 7 models.
Apple Tweaks iPad Configs and Pricing — Even while focusing on the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2, Apple found time to tweak the iPad lineup’s configuration and pricing. The standard iPads — the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad mini 2 — just became better deals. Prices remain the same, but for each price point, Apple doubled the base storage. You can now buy the iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4 with either 32 GB ($399 for Wi-Fi or $529 for Wi-Fi plus cellular) or 128 GB ($499/$629), and the iPad mini 2 in just a 32 GB configuration
($269/$399). On the iPad Pro front, the storage options are unchanged for both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch models, but the 128 GB configurations dropped in price by $50, and the 256 GB configurations are now $100 cheaper. Our question is if this minor adjustment will be the only change to the iPad lineup that we’ll see for the rest of the year, or if Apple has new models up its sleeve.
Why Apple Removed the iPhone Headphone Jack — Many people were angered by Apple removing the standard 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7, assuming that it was an intentional plan to increase wireless headphone sales for Apple subsidiary Beats. That fact may have played a role in the decision, but BuzzFeed’s John Paczkowski offers a thorough and compelling narrative behind Apple’s decision: the company just ran out of space for it.
“We’ve got this 50-year-old connector — just a hole filled with air — and it’s just sitting there taking up space, really valuable space,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering. “It was holding us back from a number of things we wanted to put into the iPhone. It was fighting for space with camera technologies and processors and battery life.”
The camera systems in the iPhone 7 models are much larger than in previous models, and Apple engineers found that the easiest way to cram all the parts in was to remove the headphone jack. Removing it also helped with water resistance and allowed for larger batteries. Ultimately, it wasn’t Apple that killed the headphone jack, but simple math, and we’re willing to bet that most other smartphone manufacturers eventually follow suit.