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New plastic iPhone available in multiple colors

As usual, the tech world is buzzing with rumors about the next iPhone. It seemed the moment the 4s was released we were already buzzing about the iPhone 5, and now that it’s old news, we’re all speculating on the possible features on the 5s. But this time around, Apple might be changing the game a little and releasing not one, but at least two new versions of their popular smartphone in order to compete with their rivals, Samsung.

Apparently, Apple is considering two different sized versions of the iPhone 5s – one with the current screen size and one even larger – as well as a cheaper model that will come in a variety of different colorful plastic casings to differentiate from the standard model dubbed the iPhone 5c.

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While Apple CEO Steve Jobs had called their signature 3.5 inch screen “the perfect size for consumers,” after his passing the next iPhone had a slightly larger display. Current CEO Tim Cook has also recently hinted at other changes to screen sizes and the company has apparently been looking into offering iPhones with 4.7 inch and even 5.7 inch screens sizes, to compete with popular Android smartphones and “phablets,” those bigger than a smartphone, not quite a tablet devices like the Samsung Note II.

But what’s even bigger news than the changing screen sizes is the rumor that Apple will be producing an even cheaper phone. It will reportedly cost $99.00 and come in five or six different colors, according to supply chain sources. The story is that suppliers have been approached with plans for the new budget iPhones, but that the final product is still unknown. Of course Apple changes specifications right up until the last possible moment, so it’s difficult to say with any certainty what the phones will actually look like and feature by the time they’re released. Still, it’s rumored that trial production for the cheaper iPhone model is currently underway.

Even trials and production of the cheaper iPhone is now subject to rumors, as it’s been stated by those in the know that mixing of colors is taking longer than expected, due to Apple’s high and idealistic standards. If true, it’s great to know that they’re applying that much effort to even their lesser models.

The latest buzz from industry insiders is that 20 million plastic iPhones are expected to ship from the manufacturer between October and December, but the final price for the cheaper smartphone is still yet to be confirmed.

One thing, however, is for certain. Given the constant speculation about the budget-priced iPhones and the larger models due out at the same time, it shows that Apple is feeling – and responding to – pressure to compete with Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Note. Apple products are still immensely popular around the globe, with consumers lining up overnight to be among the first with the latest “iGadget.” But despite that, the company’s revenue growth has decelerated in recent years, and Samsung has overtaken Apple recently in market share. Perhaps offering a wider range of options in size, features and pricing for the iPhone, similar to what’s been done with the iPad and iPad Mini, is just what Apple needs to gain their market share back.

New iOS 7 to include AirDrop

It’s good to share, and with the new iOS 7, Apple is making doing so even easier. With the upcoming release of the new mobile operating system, the company has built in an iPhone and iPad friendly version of Airdrop, their popular file-sharing platform. Long available on Mac computers, having an Airdrop feature on mobile devices has the potential to greatly impact user behavior and will leverage the significant strengths of Apple’s unified ecosystem.

Through Airdrop, users can swap photos, videos, web pages, contacts, social media content and even free versions of apps – essentially anything with a “share” button. Unlike other file-sharing services, everyone on an Apple device will have the same user experience. Airdrop is fully wireless, requiring a direct Wi-Fi connection to move shared content through the cloud. While Android devices and older iPhone apps require “bumping” phones together to instantly share content, it simply needs the sender and receiver to be physically near one another. The service is more limited in this regard, however, compared to similar options like Dropbox or Google Drive, which allow content sharing regardless of location.

So just what can you use Airdrop on iOS for? Ideas are as varied as sharing meeting notes in the office, playing multi-player mobile games with strangers during your morning commute or having retailers Airdrop coupons into your PassBook app. Developers can use it to offer in-app freebies to customers who download from them, and friends can even Airdrop trial versions of apps to one another’s iPhones.

With all the tremendous capabilities that Airdrop for iOS 7 has, there are a few concerns as well. Critics cite safety as being their primary issue, as Airdrop could potentially alert strangers to your location and result in you receiving unwanted information. Furthermore, some technology experts believe Airdrop will leave users open to greater risk of having their files hacked. In response, Apple has stated that consumers have a choice of privacy settings, with the ability to accept data through Airdrop from anyone with a compatible device, from only their contacts or even from no one at all. The company has also stated that files within Airdrop are fully encrypted.

Other critics have questioned the usefulness on Airdrop for iOS 7, considering other private file sharing services do exist. But Airdrop can really set itself apart if businesses and developers maximize its potential by sharing trials, coupons and other perks with customers. That alone would make it different, and in many ways more useful, than other services.

In order to utilize the new Airdrop for iOS, Apple fans must have an iOS 7 compatible device, namely an iPhone 5, iPad Mini, fourth generation iPad or fifth generation iPod Touch. It’s also necessary to have an iCloud account.

The chief benefit of Airdrop for iOS 7 is the improved ability to simply and easy share a wide range of content with others. So could you see yourself using it? Or are you more likely to stick with services like Dropbox that have long offered iOS apps, even though they may not have quite the same capabilities?

App Store celebrates 5th Anniversary

The App Store has just celebrated its fifth anniversary. Can you believe it? In some ways, downloading apps has become so commonplace it’s hard to think back to the days before Angry Birds and FourSquare. Yet at the same time, it doesn’t feel like it should be that old.

The App Store was launched on July 10, 2008 and proffered a mere 500 apps. A few of the most notable initial offerings were eBay, Travelocity, Facebook, Yelp, Shazam, Super Monkey Ball and MLB.com.

Five years later, there are probably Mac users who have that many apps on their iPhone 5s! The App Store was immediately popular, with 10 million apps downloaded in just four days. By April 4, 2009, 1 billion had been downloaded and by June 7, 2010, a whopping 5 billion downloads had been completed through the App Store. As on May 16, 2013 there had been more than 50 billion downloads!

Today, there are more than 900,000 apps available; a far cry from those 500 we started off with. With nearly 1 million apps on the market, there’s something for nearly anything you can think of. There are apps to monitor your sleeping patterns, apps that let you simulate making toast, there is even an app that claims it can help you determine whether a watermelon is ripe or not.

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the App Store, Apple has created a special page in the iTunes Store highlighting popular apps and milestones. It’s also offering a selection of popular paid apps for free for the week. They’re good ones, too! For those who want to take advantage of the offer, the gaming apps are Badland, Infinity Blade 2, Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery, Tiny Wings and Where’s My Water? The other apps are Traktor DJ, Over (a photography app), How to Cook Everything, Day One (a journaling app) and Barefoot World Atlas.

It’s incredible to think how quickly technology has developed since Apple released the original iPhone in 2007. In just five short years we’ve gone from the revolutionary first iPhone, which had Safari, html email, YouTube and threaded text messaging to more choices of stunning and useful apps than we can possibly imagine.

In that short period time we’ve upgraded through several versions of the iPhone and also witnessed the initial creation and several generations of the iPad, the iPad Mini and the iPhone 5 with retina display. Accordingly, as mobile technology has developed, apps have too. Today there are versions of apps created specifically for iPads and new Apple devices with retina display.

With rumors swirling about the impending release of an innovative new iPhone and the possibility of Apple “phablets,” what might we see developers release in the App Store between now and 2018? Considering just how quickly mobile technology has developed in the last five years, it’s anyone’s guess. But regardless of what currently unfathomable device Apple releases in the next few years, there is one thing we can be guaranteed of. There (will be) an app for that!

Apple I auction fails to break 500K

Anyone who has bought an Apple computer knows they aren’t exactly budget-priced. While they’re an excellent product for quality and reliability, they do tend to run higher in price than other computers. But Apple has a following – consumers who are loyal to the brand and see it as a pop culture icon and way of life, not just a computer company.

A prime example of the popularity of everything Apple, and a reminder of where it all started from, is the original Apple I computer. Originally sold for $666.66, it was the first pre-made computer to come with 8K of RAM (524,000 times less memory than what you’d get today) and without a monitor or other components.

There were approximately 200 made by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak which were sold out of Jobs’ garage and would become the frontrunner to today’s iMac, MacBook, iPad and iPhone. To date, only 30 to 50 are known to still exist, and those who want them are willing to pay for the privilege of owning such an iconic machine.

In 2010 it was reported that one was due to sell at Christie’s auction house in London for approximately $200,000. The then-35 year old computer came with the actual unit, box, manuals and a letter from Steve Jobs himself.

In 2012, Sotheby’s auction house had another on offer and at that time was expecting to start bids for it at approximately $140,000 to $180,000. With it came the motherboard, cassette and original BASIC manual.

Then, in May of this year, one sold in Germany for $671,400 and in America, Christie’s auction house is currently accepting bids on another along with other various Apple antiquities in an exclusive online auction.

The most recent Apple I was acquired in 1976 by a Californian school psychologist. He exchanged other computer parts for the Apple I and used it to program interactive lessons for special needs school children. The prized computer was signed by Steve Wozniak and bears the serial number 01-0025, making it one of the first 25 ever created. However, it’s spent the last few years in storage and its owner has decided it’s time to pass it on.

Bids for the rare machine started at $300,000 and was expected to bring in around $500,000. However, by the time the auction had closed on July 9th it had only reached $387,750 falling short of its mark. Other Apple treasures up for grabs in the auction include floppy discs containing one of Apple’s first spreadsheet programs and a prototype portable computer reportedly several times thicker than the current generation of MacBooks.

These gems of Apple history remind us of just how far technology has progressed in the last 30 years. And original machines like the Apple I have become especially sought-after since the death of the company’s iconic CEO, Steve Jobs, in 2011. For those who love Mac and can afford to shell out the money, the chance to collect such a rare artifact is a thrill too good to pass up.