Predictions for Apple’s March Event

Yes, you read that correctly.

If my research is correct, Apple hasn’t had a spring event since 2012 (when they unveiled the 3rd generation iPad, in case you were wondering).  However, Apple is all set to have their latest press event on March 9.  If if we weren’t already sure that this event would showcase the Apple Watch in full detail, the title of the event, “Spring Forward,” certainly confirmed it.

So what exactly is going to happen at this event?  There are lots of rumors swirling around, but I’m guessing that we’ll see at least two if not three new things.

Apple Watch
First and foremost is, obviously, the Apple Watch.  This was unveiled at an Apple event last September, but we there’s still a ton of stuff we don’t know about the Apple Watch.  The most notable detail is pricing.  Apple told us last September that the Apple Watch would start at $349.  However, that doesn’t clear things up as much as you might think.  Let me explain how complicated the Apple Watch Product line is.  There are three main models.  The flagship one is simply called the Apple Watch.  This is the mid-range model, available in silver or black stainless steel.  My guess is that this model will be somewhere around $500 – $700.  The second model, the Apple Watch Sport, is the cheaper one.  Also available in silver or black, this model is aluminum and has a rubber watch band.  The aluminum and rubber mean that this watch is the more durable one, living up to its “Sport” name.  This, for sure will be the one that starts at $349.  However, I’ve neglected to mention that there are also two sizes to the Apple Watch.  These could be differently priced (like the iPad), or they could be the same, since it seems one is geared towards women and the other towards men.  So, as you can see, Apple Watch pricing is far from definitive.  But I haven’t even talked about the last model.  The Apple Watch Edition is 18-karat yellow or rose gold.  This model is Apple’s attempt to enter the fashion industry.  All bets are off as to what the price of this model will be, but I think it’ll be $10,000 – $20,000.  This sounds absurd, I know, but Apple is shooting for the super high end market.  Think Rolex here.  The Apple Watch Edition isn’t just aiming for the high end consumer market, it’s aiming for the people who have so much money to just throw away that they buy the most expensive watch they can find just to show off.  I’ve given prices for each model here, but they’re really just educated guesses.  You can bet that a good majority of my post next week will be devoted to Apple Watch pricing.

MacBook Air
There was a story a few months ago in 9to5Mac which contained supposedly leaked information regarding the latest edition of Apple’s MacBook Air (the low end of their laptop line).  People have been clamoring for a retina display-equipped Air for years now, and it seems like they may finally get it.  If 9to5Mac’s sources are correct, the new model is 12″ across, but it reduces the size of the bezel to keep the screen size of the current 13″ model.  However, the most revolutionary part of this rumored model is the fact that it only has 2 ports: a headphone jack and a USB-C connector.  What is USB-C?  It’s a new type of USB technology which can not only connect peripheral devices but also deliver power to the laptop.  This of course opens lots of questions.  How do you (or can you) charge your laptop and sync your iPhone?  Is there an adapter to buy?  I don’t know for sure if we’ll see this device next week, but I’m guessing we will.

iPad Pro
The last device we may see next week is a 12″ iPad Pro.  Larger than the current 10″ iPad Air line, this model would include a stylus and cater towards creative professionals.  Apple has historically pooh-poohed styluses, and because the iPad’s screen isn’t designed for the increased precision of styluses, third-party styluses just don’t perform as well as, say the Surface‘s stylus.  I see a lot of people take notes on Windows Tablets at SPSU, so I know that this is a feature people are interested in.  I’m less inclined to believe that we’ll see this device next week (I’m guessing it’ll come in the fall), but it is possible.

So long story short, this week is going to be an exciting week for Apple.  I’ll be back next week with a recap of what happened, which will most definitely include lots of details about the Apple Watch.  Stay tuned!  ••

August App Review: Aviary

♦ This post is one of the Best of 2014


App: Aviary Photo Editor
Developer: Aviary Inc.
Price: Free
Platform: iOS, Android

Photos are becoming a larger and larger part of the web.  Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – we love to take and share photos.  Photo editing used to just be for photographers, but with the rise of services like Instagram (famous for its filters), people have discovered how much fun it is to be creative with their photos.  Aviary delivers traditional editing tools (brightness, contrast, and so on) as well as some fun new ones (yes, including filters).

Open the Aviary app and you’re greeted with a grid of all the photos on your device.  Tap a photo and you’re taken immediately to the editor, where you’ll see the photo front and center, with all the tools at the bottom.  The Adjust tool give you the “traditional” tools I mentioned earlier, and the Effects tool gives you filters.  But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  There are tools for rotating and cropping the photo, as well as a blur tool.  There’s also a draw tool and a text tool for making annotations and captions, and there’s tools for fixing red eye and for whitening areas of the photo.  There are several other tools as well (see images 1 and 2).

The one tool I really want to talk about is the Splash tool (see image 5).  This tool is a ton of fun.  Basically, it makes the photo black and white, then allows you to “draw” the color back in to certain parts of the photo.  There’s even a “Smart Color” tool that gives you the accuracy you lose from a touch screen.  For example, if there’s a blue object next to a red object, the Smart Color tool lets you color the edge of the blue object without coloring the red object.  This tool is really enjoyable to play around with, and you can get some stunning results from it.

When you’re done making edits, you can save the photo to your device, and share the photo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.  There’s even a button to order prints of the photo at Walgreens.

There’s one more feature about Aviary that I want to talk about, and that is their API (Application Programming Interface).  Basically, Aviary has made their entire app available to be embedded into other apps or websites.  For example, when using the PicStich App (a collage making app), you can double tap a photo you’re using and get a full-featured Aviary editor right inside PicStich (see images 8 and 9).  This is really nice that Aviary has allowed other developers to use their software to make apps better.

So get creative!  I’d love to see what kinds of cool photos you guys can make using this app.  Feel free to post a comment with an Instagram or other photo link.  Happy editing!  ••

June App Review: Waterlogue

App: Waterlogue
Developer: Tinrocket
Price: $2.99
Platform: iOS

Just to start off, I want to say something.  I really don’t like paying for software.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t pirate it.  But most of the time, a nice program also has a decent, free alternative.  That being said, I heard about this app on the MacWorld Podcast (which I highly recommend, by the way), and I got really excited about it.  Upon visiting the App Store, however, I discovered that it cost money.  I was disappointed, but my curiosity finally got the better of me.  I’m so glad I spent the $3 for this app. Basically, Waterlogue takes a photo and creates a watercolor painting out of it.  I’m sure people have used computers for this before, but Waterlogue’s images are just gorgeous.  Not only that, but there’s lots of different settings to play around with to tweak the image, and the finished products make great wallpapers.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time writing about Waterlogue and instead let the pictures do the talking.  I will however, outline the basic settings.  There are twelve different color presets in Waterlogue.  Some of these involve changes to standard photo attributes such as contrast, but many settings just change the look of the painting in an Instagram-filter sort of way.  The next setting is the “size” of the watercolor.  Basically this is a detail setting.  Think of it this way: the larger the “canvas,” the more detail in the painting.  There’s also a brightness setting, and a border toggle, which gives the photo a 70s-print border with rounded corners (see photo 3), complete with a little paint that “accidentally” bled into the border.  After choosing your settings and a photo, the app goes to work.  It takes a little while for the painting to complete, but Waterlogue adds a nice touch to this process.  First it shows a paint-by-numbers style outline of the photo’s details.  Then the colors slowly fill in, with really nice animation too (in case you didn’t know, I’m a sucker for software eye candy).  Not happy with the results?  Tweak the settings a bit and try again.  Then just export the painting to the photo library or social media.

Like I said, I don’t like paying for apps, but this app got me excited.  I found myself digging through old pictures in order to find photos that would look good in the app.  In order to get you started, here’s my favorite group of settings: Natural, Large, Darker, No Border.  Have fun!  ••