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Apple Reveals New 14″ and 16″ MacBooks, AirPods, And Music Streaming Plan

On Monday, Apple held their “Unleashed” virtual event, and unveiled a number of new and updated products. The belle of the ball was the new MacBook Pro laptops that use M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which the company couldn’t help but fluster over.

According to Apple, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips help by providing more CPU and GPU cores, faster graphic processing, increased memory bandwidth and unified memory, and are a major step up from Apple chips.

The MacBooks will come in two screen sizes – 14-inch, which will retail for about $1,999; and 16-inch, which will retail for a hefty $2,499. Those are incredible jumps up from previous versions, such as the MacBook Pro 13″ ($1,299) and the MacBook Air ($999).

The MacBooks see increases in features such as battery life (21 hours, which is disappointingly only up one hour from the MacBook Pro 13″) and graphics. They will also have denser screens, an HDMI port, and an SD card slot – which many are happy to see return. The MacBooks will also utilize a MagSafe magnetic connecter.

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Apple also made several additions to the keyboard. TouchID has a ring that allows for easier unlocking, and the power button will have a fingerprint sensor. Webcam capabilities have also been dialed up a notch, with an 1080p FaceTime camera, far superior to the 13″‘s 720p scopes.

However, those who are prone to drops, beware: the laptops will be heavier than previous versions, with the 14-inch coming in at 3.5 pounds and the 16-inch weighing 4.7 pounds.

Apple’s third-generation AirPods will go for around $179 – $50 more than their second-generation AirPods, but still $70 less than the AirPod Pros. The AirPods (which also utilize MagSafe along with the case) are sweat and water resistant, have greater battery life than prior versions, and possess “spatial audio.”

As NBC News notes, Apple’s add-ons, such as the AirPods, have since become some of the tech titan’s biggest holiday sellers – which could be a solid reason for Apple junkies to pre-order them now in order to avoid any potential shortages.

The AirPods, like the MacBooks, are now available to pre-order and will be made available in-store starting on Oct. 26.

Apple also announced a $4.99 monthly subscription for Apple Music titled “Voice Plan.” That makes it $5 less than either Apple’s regular music subscription plan or Spotify’s subscription cost. However, as with anything cheaper, there are limitations. CNBC reported that users can only access the “Voice Plan” through Siri, and that it doesn’t have spatial audio.

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According to Digital Music News, in a survey that was conducted in Jan. 2021, the most popular streaming platform among all U.S. adult age demographics was YouTube, with Spotify decently behind in second (the only category that possessed a close margin between YouTube and Spotify was adults 18-34).

Meanwhile, Apple Music sat in fifth place among all demographics, while not standing out in any particular bracket, either. Perhaps the lower-cost plan could help them make up some ground in the music streaming industry.

Apple’s $99 HomePod Mini speaker (An Alexa-style device), which was unveiled around this time last year, will now come in new colors – orange, blue, and yellow. The new editions will be made available sometime in November.

Previously, the only colors the HomePod Mini speaker came in were white and dark grey. This continues Apple’s age-old tactic of re-releasing older products in newer colors.

Last year, Apple obliterated Wall Street estimates for their holiday 2020 quarter. They fetched a record total of $111.4 billion, well above the projections of $103.3 billion. That was also up 21% from the same quarter in 2019. Suffice to say, it’s not unreasonable to expect Apple to once again break the bank.

Apple Store

What To Expect From Apple’s Virtual Event And How To Watch

The day is finally here, after weeks of production delays brought on by the pandemic, Apple is projected to release their new line of iPhone’s along with a whole slew of other products today, October 13th, during a virtual event that will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific Time

In terms of the iPhone 12 and other predictions for what’s to be revealed today, it’s important to note that so far these are all just predictions, however, many of them are based on professional tech blogs and workers who have made correct predictions in the past about the iPhone’s we’ve already seen on the market. 

The iPhone 12 is likely to be the first major revamp of the phone’s physical design since 2017, when Apple revealed the iPhone X which no longer had a home button and used facial recognition technology to unlock the device. Analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note to investors that this event will be a “once in a decade” moment for the tech giant. 

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“We believe iPhone 12 represents the most significant product cycle for Apple since iPhone 6 in 2014, and it will be another defining chapter in the Apple growth story looking ahead despite a softer consumer spending environment.”

The theme of this year’s event is “speed,” which could mean a variety of things, however, the biggest prediction based on the theme itself is that the next iPhone will have 5G capabilities, a faster chipset, faster display refresh rate, and more! Some individuals also believe that the new line of iPhones will have fingerprint unlocking capabilities through the power or volume buttons, for those who opt not to use the facial recognition feature.

Specifically, Apple is projected to launch the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. The Mini is expected to have a 5.4 inch display and will be available in the standard 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB models. 

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The standard iPhone 12 will feature a 6.1 inch display and have the same storage capacity options as the mini. The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max will have a 6.2 inch display and their storage configuration will likely begin at 128 GB based on past Pro Max iPhone models. The iPhone 12 series is set to begin pricing at $699 with the Mini and will likely go up to $1099 for the Pro models. 

The iPhone 12 series isn’t the only thing fans are looking forward to being announced this afternoon. It’s predicted that Apple will also be releasing over-ear wireless headphones called Airpods Studio, as well as a potential upgrade to HomePod speakers as well. 

Apple might also finally give consumers AirTags, which is something they’ve been teasing for quite some time now. Airtags would work as a GPS tracking service for things like your keys, phone, laptop, or anything else you find yourself consistently using. With the help of Bluetooth technology, one can just log onto any of their devices and track down whatever object they’re looking for that they’ve tagged. 

The Apple event is online-only today due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this also means anyone can watch it. Normally, patrons would have to wait until after the event to see all the products launched, but now, customers can simply go onto Apple’s Website at 10 a.m. PT, which is 1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST and 4 a.m. AEDT on Oct. 14.

Cyber Monday

Top 5 Best Cyber Monday Deals for 2019

In recent years, Cyber Monday has eclipsed Black Friday as one of the best days of the year for deals on all manner of products. The number of items on sale across the Internet is surely in the thousands, and it can be difficult to find the best deals. As such, this article details some of the best deals on some of the most popular products this holiday season.

1) Apple Airpods

Wireless earbuds are all the rage as of late, and for iPhone users, there’s perhaps no better option than Apple’s own Airpods. Normally $159, they can be purchased for $144 today only from Walmart. While this is not the best deal on this list, Airpods are an extremely popular gift this holiday season, and the wireless earphones are, as of this writing, currently sold out on Amazon and other retailers. Apple products rarely go on sale, so if you’re planning on giving Airpods as a gift this year, it’s a good idea to buy them today before the deal ends or they’re sold out.

2) Apple iPad

An even better deal can be found for the newest versions of Apple’s iPad, which can be purchased for up to $100 off today. The new iPad can be bought at a discount from various retailers, including Target, Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy today. On Target’s website, the 10.2 inch 32 GB iPad is $229.99, $100 less than its usual price. If you want to buy the tablet in other colors, however, you’ll have to spend $249.99, which is still a substantial discount. Apple’s latest version of its popular tablet is its best yet, and thanks to software updates and a wide range of accessories, the iPad is a powerful mobile computer which can be had for an excellent price.

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3) Xbox One X

Video game consoles are often a great holiday gift for children and teenagers, and the most recent gaming consoles are as affordable as they’ve ever been. The Xbox One X, Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s Playstation 4 and Nintendo’s Switch, can be purchased at a $200 discount for $299 from B&H today only. The Xbox One X is an update to the Xbox One, and supports 4K and HDR output. As such, the console makes a great gift for fans of video games who want to enjoy some of the best graphics console gaming has to offer, as long as they have a TV compatible with the console’s advanced visual features.

4) Amazon Fire TV Stick

Another great entertainment option is Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, which plugs into the HDMI port on a TV and grants access to a wide variety of streaming video services, including Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and Amazon Prime Video. The Fire TV Stick is offered for $19.99, half of its usual price, on Amazon, Target, and Best Buy. The Fire TV Stick transforms any HDTV into a Smart TV, and its easy-to-use interface is ideal for accessing movies and TV shows. The device’s remote even offers a voice input feature through Alexa. For just under $20, the Fire TV Stick is a great option for streamlining one’s TV-watching experience.

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5) Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

While the Apple Watch is likely the best available smartwatch for iPhone users, people who have Android phones have a plethora of options for compatible devices. Probably the best smartwatch for Android users is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, which is currently $50 off on Amazon. Both the 40mm and 44 mm sizes are on sale today, and can be purchased for $229 and $249 respectively. Though it was released just months after Samsung’s other Active smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, this watch offers a number of improvements over its predecessor, including more accurate heart-rate sensors and a 2-day battery life. The watch works especially well with Samsung smartphones, making the watch an excellent gift for someone who has a Galaxy or Note phone.

As always, time is of the essence when shopping for deals on Cyber Monday, as the products listed here as well as countless others are likely to be sold out by the end of the day. It’s a good idea to take advantage of these deals while they last and complete your holiday shopping when you can save the most money.

iPhone

2019 Holiday Tech Gift Guide

With the holiday’s right around the corner, it’s high time that we all need to start thinking about the gifts that we will be getting our friends and family, and with the next decade also coming up, it just feels fitting to get people some technology to add into their collections of smart devices. Tech gifts are often well received because of how much we all incorporate digital devices into our everyday life. It makes navigating throughout the world and it’s everyday stresses a lot more manageable, so this year, get your loved ones something that will help them manage their life a little more easily. 

A standard for tech gift giving is a good speaker system. Music and entertainment is how most of us enjoy unwinding, and more times than not is always playing the backgrounds of our day to day lives, so why not get a quality speaker to enjoy those moments to the best of their ability. One of the most popular brands for speakers on the market today is Sonos. Sonos has a myriad of options for anybody to enjoy. These speakers are bluetooth and battery powered, making them completely portable and easy to manage. If you purchase multiple Sonos speakers, you can connect to them all on the official Sonos app on your mobile device. This means you’ll have complete control over your entire home speaker system, all from your phone. So you can play one song in the living room while guests sit by the fire, and another in the kitchen while you cook your holiday turkey. Sonos speakers are available on the official Sonos website, as well as Amazon. They range in price, and do tend to lean more towards the pricier size, however, these speakers are the epitome of “you get what you pay for” in terms of advanced speaker technology. 

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Amazon also has it’s now iconic line of Alexa-powered Echo systems. There’s a vast range of Echo products, all of which range in prices, so if you want to spend a little less, you can buy an echo dot for your niece, and spend no more than $50, and the more interactive Echo Show, which has a tablet like presence, but will only cost you $80.  What’s great about the Alexa systems is that you can connect them to any smart products that you buy from Amazon, which includes plugs, light-bulbs, doorbell cameras, and more! This way, you’re able to turn off the lights upstairs and set a timer for 30 minutes, all without having to leave the couch. Browse through the many options, which also now include an Echo Glow speaker, perfect for any younger child in the family, and find the next best Smart home device for your loved ones. 

Speaking of smart homes and lighting, Philips has been a powerhouse for home lighting for years, and now, they’re dipping their toe into the Smart Home world with their brand “Philips Hue” the popular light-bulb brand that you control from your phone. Hue light-bulbs are typically much more pricier, due to the advanced technology, but also make a great gift. The newest release from Philips Hue, however, is a vintage style light-bulb that you can control either via app, or voice control, for the price of $25 per bulb. Hue also has starter kits from their original collection that is priced at $200 for a total of four bulbs and base outlet station. These light-bulbs are great for setting the mood for any occasion, whether it be a fun birthday party, or romantic dinner for two. With your hands full you can simply say “lights on blue” and you’re transported to an underwater paradise, right in your living room.

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Apple is no stranger to being one of the world’s top developers for smart technology, and this holiday season they have a whole bunch of products that would be great for any member of the family. They just released their next generation of smart watches and wristbands. As one of the original wearable tech experts, Apple’s smart watches are the perfect gift if you know anyone who’s constantly moving, to the point that even checking their phones becomes busy work. This way, they can just look at their wrist and quickly go through any emails, texts, or reminders that their phone is notifying them for. Additionally, one of the more popular Christmas gifts every year is Apple’s AirPods, and now Apple has released AirPods Pro, with noise cancelling technology, perfect for any commuters you know who dread the sound of buzzing cities and mass public transit. 

Apple also just released their next generation of iPhone, and while you may be thinking of a new phone is a pretty expensive gift, there’s a lot of parents out there who view Christmas as the perfect opportunity to upgrade their family lines. Apple also is now offering a bunch of trade in programs, which means you can get up to $300 off a new iPhone when you trade in your old one! Definitely worth it for anyone who’s constantly wanting to get the next best thing. 

Regardless of the smart gift, there’s plenty of options set at a variety of prices, making tech gift giving one of the easiest and smartest ways to get your holiday shopping done this season. 

Apple Store

Apple Is Thriving And It’s Not Just Because Of The New iPhone’s

Apple is one of the world’s biggest personal device companies and with good reason. Every year Apple releases the next generation of innovation within their slew of sleek devices, and smooth software systems. However, throughout the past few years Apple has been criticized by tech experts everywhere, claiming that they rely to much on their yearly iPhone upgrades to get them through sale periods. The claims have substantial evidence to back them, as the iPhone accounts for over half of Apple’s annual sales, according to CNN

The criticisms also came as a response to Apple’s overall sales taking a decline in the past, however, in the past few years the brand has been introducing more and more innovations to the tech world in an attempt to rebuild its image as more than just “the iPhone company,” and they’ve been successful. Air-pods are widely accepted as the new normal for headphone technology, so much so that companies such as Google, Amazon, Beats, etc. have all released their own wireless earbuds. Additionally, Apple has released a total of three generations of Airpods, all which have done amazingly sales wise. 

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Apple has also revolutionized the way people pay for things with their creation of Apple Pay. The app on everyone’s phone that allows you to attach your debit and credit cards digitally to your wallet account, so when you go to to pay at any retailer you can simply hold your phone over where you would normally insert your card and boom! You just bought a new shirt. 

Services such as Apple Pay are a huge part of the reason that Apple’s seen an increase in revenue. Apple Care for all Apple devices offers the best protection over any of your devices and ensures that if you have any sort of damage, internally or externally, done to your device you’ll be able to get it fixed at the cheapest price possible. Apple Music has also totally replaced iTunes and the iTunes Store. With this new subscription service, that’s reaching the same popularity level as other streaming services such as Spotify, Apple device users are able to access any and all music at any time from any device. According to CNN, quarterly sales from Apple’s services grew 18%, and their service division as a whole is now worth about $50 billion, not bad for a company only known for selling their phones. 

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Apple has also been one of the first major companies to take advantage of “wearable technology.” They revolutionized the smartwatch market with their Apple Watches. As previously stated, their Airpods are also one of the most popular wireless headphones on the market. CNN reported that all of Apple’s wearable technology has seen an increase in sales of 54%, growing their wearable division to the same size as their Mac division. 

Apple has also seen a major comeback in their iPad income. Tablets have seemed to take a backseat in the world of technology, as most companies, including Apple, have just been focusing on cell phones, or tech accessories like the Apple Watch. iPad sales reportedly have increased 17% this quarter (CNN). This most likely has to do with Apple releasing many different versions of the iPad, such as the mini and pro, all built with different software’s to ensure that anyone in the market for a new tablet can find the one best fit for them. 

A spokesperson for Apple recently discussed with CNN that while the company may be known to the greater public mainly for their iPhones, that doesn’t mean that every other aspect of their company isn’t thriving just as much. Additionally, their still beating out the competition. 

“Yes, there’s only so much Apple can do to improve the iPhone, and saturation of smartphones means Apple can no longer rely on iPhone sales to grow every quarter. But the big takeaway from Apple’s most recent quarter is all that talk about how Apple can’t innovate is a bunch of bologna.”

Amazon

Amazon Echo Buds and AirPods Pro Join the Crowded Wireless Earbud Market

Last month, Amazon hosted an event during which they announced a collection of new hardware products, which includes smart glasses, security systems, and smart rings, all of which integrate with the company’s Alexa virtual assistant. The first of these products to reach consumers is the Amazon Echo Buds, which are available for purchase starting tomorrow, October 30th. Reviews for Amazon’s take on the truly-wireless earbud trend are out as of today, and they show that the premium devices offer excellent sound quality as well as cutting-edge features. The Buds’ $129 price tag positions them as a viable alternative to products like the similarly-priced Samsung Galaxy Buds, Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro, and the upcoming Google Pixel Buds and Microsoft Surface Buds.

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Manufacturers each have their own take on the aesthetic presentation of their wireless earbuds, and Amazon is no different. The Echo Buds are arguably more stylish than their competitors; whereas some complain that AirPods resemble Q-tips and the Samsung Galaxy Buds appear too utilitarian, the Echo Buds feature a sleek, cylindrical plastic design which looks more understated and fashionable, a relevant consideration with wearable technology. Regrettably, the Echo Buds are available only in black, whereas the Galaxy Buds come in white, black, and yellow, and while the AirPods are only available in white, the upcoming AirPods Pro will be offered in a range of colors. Like their competitors, the Echo Buds are designed to be stored in a charging case when not in use, which provides up to 20 hours of playback time per charge.

What sets the Echo Buds apart from their competition is their inclusion of active noise reduction technology from Bose, a first in the truly-wireless-earbuds space. While not as powerful as the active noise cancellation technology featured on some over-ear headphones, the technology present in the Echo Buds can mitigate annoying hums or other ambient noises for a clearer listening experience. Like many of its competitors, the Echo Buds also feature pass-through ambient audio, allowing you to remain engaged in your surroundings if you so choose. The sound quality of the earbuds has been well-received, offering crisp audio and deep bass. Unfortunately, the Echo Buds’ case does not support wireless charging and instead relies upon the outdated Micro USC charging cable.

Yesterday’s announcement of the AirPods Pro was uncharacteristically unceremonial, perhaps indicating a lack of confidence in the viability of the product on Apple’s part.

Also releasing tomorrow is Apple’s premium take on the wireless earbuds concept, the AirPods Pro. Though they release on the same day as the Echo Buds, their hefty $249 price tag puts the AirPods Pro in a class all of its own. For that additional price, the AirPods Pro offer a number of significant upgrades over their cheaper predecessor. Unlike the standard AirPods, the AirPods Pro feature an in-ear design with rubber tips, allowing for better sound quality, and offer noise cancellation in addition to the ambient-audio passthrough feature of its predecessor. Though the AirPods Pro technically work with Android devices, they are optimized for iOS, as pairing the AirPods with an iOS device unlocks features like Ear Tip Fit Test, which measures how well the rubber ear tips fit in the user’s ear. Like most Apple products, the case for the AirPods Pro charges using a Lightning cable, though the product also supports wireless charging which should work with generic accessories.

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For most people, especially people without iPhones, the AirPods Pro will be a tough sell, as several competitors offer alternatives with similar features at a lower price. Yesterday’s announcement of the AirPods Pro was uncharacteristically unceremonial, perhaps indicating a lack of confidence in the viability of the product on Apple’s part. The Echo Buds, however, with their compatibility with both Google Assistant and Siri as well as high sound quality, seem like a good option for somebody who is in the market for a new pair of truly wireless earbuds, as long as you don’t mind the lack of USB-C and wireless charging.

 

Samsung Galaxy Buds

Samsung Galaxy Buds: A Worthy Alternative to Airpods?

Over the past several years, true wireless earphones – ones that operate as two independent wireless devices that connect via Bluetooth to one’s smartphone – have exploded in popularity. The development of this trend can be traced back to Apple’s Airpods, which were released at the end of 2016 but really gained traction over a year later. Though sales were initially relatively slow, and some critics commented that the earphones resembled Q-Tips, consumers began to appreciate the product’s unique form factor and convenience. Airpods soon became a status symbol, and owing in part to the earphones’ unique feature set and ease of use, turned into a common sight in public places like the grocery store and the office.

For all their popularity and convenience, however, there are some notable drawbacks associated with the product, particularly for people who have Android phones. While Airpods will connect via bluetooth to both iOS and Android devices, the product’s featureset is much more limited when used with the latter operating system. Because Airpods are designed by Apple to work with iPhones, they can take advantage of custom software to optimize audio quality, automatically connect with different Apple devices and seamlessly transition between them, and offer features like Live Listen Audio, which allows users to use their earphones as a hearing aid. On the other hand, Android recognizes Airpods as generic bluetooth audio devices, allowing only for limited audio quality and the bare minimum featureset. For this reason and given the number of other options available, Android users would be foolish to purchase Apple’s wireless earphone solution.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, which were released earlier this year, are a direct competitor to Apple’s Airpods, and offer similar bespoke functionality when paired with a Samsung Galaxy device. While the two products aim to occupy a similar consumer niche, there actually exist significant differences between them, the most immediate being their respective prices; Samsung’s offering can be purchased for $99 online, making them effectively half the price of their main competitor. When paired with a compatible device, the Galaxy Buds offer superior audio quality compared to Airpods, as their in-ear design enables deeper bass and enhanced clarity. Like the Airpods, the Galaxy Buds offer an Ambient Aware mode, letting sounds from the environment play over music or other audio and permitting greater awareness of one’s surroundings during use. And also like the newest generation of Airpods, the Galaxy Buds come with a case that charges wirelessly, enabling convenience and making the product truly wireless in every sense of the word. (Although the Galaxy Buds do work with iPhones, the Ambient Aware and automatic sync features will be disabled.)

The Galaxy Buds are likely to be the best wireless earphone solution for the foreseeable future.

Reviews comparing the two products generally favor Samsung’s offering for a number of reasons. Consumer Reports, for instance, conducted sound testing that clearly favored the audio quality of the Galaxy Buds, and found the battery life in Samsung’s product to be superior as well. Business Insider had similar findings, and praised the Galaxy Buds for being offered in a number of colors, whereas Airpods come only in white. And CNet preferred the appearance, customizability, and sound quality of the Buds, while noting that the Airpods were slightly more comfortable and offered better call quality. 

If you’re in the market for wireless earbuds, however, it may pay off it wait a little while longer. This is because Amazon is rumored to be entering the wireless earphone space as well, and their upcoming product is thought to offer fitness tracking capabilities, including a potential heart-rate monitor and Alexa integration. That being said, if you’re not interested in fitness tracking or Alexa functionality and own an Android phone, the Galaxy Buds are likely to be the best wireless earphone solution for the foreseeable future.