Apple unveils new iPhones, larger iPad and new version of Apple TV

September 9 was the date etched in the mind of Apple enthusiasts the world over as the unveiling of the latest batch of Apple products, and once again the company has come up with the goods.

At yesterday’s event in San Francisco Tim Cook announced two new iPhones, a supersized iPad, and a new version of Apple TV.

iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

iPhone 6sWhile the latest incarnations of the iPhone don’t differ hugely from their predecessors, there are several notable upgrades. The most significant new feature is 3D touch, a new pressure sensitive screen, which can distinguish between gentle and firm touches, allowing users to switch between apps more easily.

The new handsets also feature new iSight cameras with 12 megapixels (50% more than before) that can film 4K video, and a 5 megapixel front camera for high quality selfies and FaceTime calls.

There’s also a new Rose Gold version to add to the collection.

iPad Pro

After a decline in iPad sales, which can perhaps be attributed to arrival of larger phones such as the iPhone 6 Plus, which isn’t much smaller than the iPad Mini, Apple has decided to create a larger, more powerful tablet, called the iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro has a 12.9 inch screen, and its width is the same as the height of the iPad Air. It is 6.9mm thick, weighs 1.57lb and its screen is 2732×2048 pixels. It has an A9X chip, which makes it 1.8 times faster than the iPad Air 2, with a processing power similar to the majority of portable PCs on the market.

To accompany the iPad Pro, the company also unveiled a stylus, called the Apple Pencil, which has sensors that make it feel like using a real pencil on paper. They also announced a magnetically connected keyboard cover, similar to that for the Microsoft Surface tablet.

apple pencil and smart keyboard

Apple TV 

The company also announced a new improved version of Apple TV with a new operating system and its own app store. Siri has also been incorporated into the new set-up and there is a remote control with microphone, which allows users to ask the virtual assistant to execute different functions. The remote also has a touch sensitive panel for ease of operation.

Apple Music has been added to Apple TV, and there will be an increasing number of console games added to the OS in the coming months.

The Magic Candy Factory lets you 3D print your own sweets!

3D printed sweetHaribo, Percy Pigs, Gummy Bears… who doesn’t love a gummy sweet?! And while there may already be a massive variety to choose from, it’s now possible to design and make your very own using a 3D printer!

German confectionary company, Katjes has installed a 3D printer for gummy sweets, called the Magic Candy Factory at the Café Grün-Ohr in Berlin, which it claims is the first 3D printer for food available to the public.

Customers can currently choose from a range of different animal shapes or lettering, and can tailor their design using a combination of ten different flavours and seven colours. However, the company plans to introduce even more shapes and flavours in the near future.

3D printed sweetOnce the individual has entered their specifications using an iPad based user interface, the machine sets about printing their bespoke creation using heated candy, which cools and hardens as additional layers are added. Each 10g sweet takes around 5 minutes to print and costs 5 euros (£3.70). It may seem like a lot for a sweet, but it definitely gets you a whole lot of novelty value!

While the exact ingredients are confidential, the sweets are predominantly made from pectin, sugar and fruit extracts, reportedly containing almost no allergens whatsoever. They are also lactose, gluten and gelatin free, making them suitable for vegans.

What do you think of the Magic Candy Factory? Would you eat a 3D printed sweet?


BT to return to mobile phone market with low cost SIM only 4G plans

It’s been ten years since BT sold off its shares in Cellnet (now O2) and pulled out of the mobile phone market, but today the communications giant has confirmed that it will be returning with a range of SIM only 4G plans for UK customers. BT 4G sim

The company has already announced its intentions to acquire EE, for which it’s currently awaiting regulatory approval, but in the meantime it has been able to tap into EE’s network thanks to an agreement drawn up in 2013.

Initially BT is to release three SIM only 4G plans from as little as £5 per month for existing BT customers. The entry tariff, which will cost £10 per month for non-BT customers, will include 500MB of 4G data, 200 minutes of calls and unlimited texts.

£17 per month (£12 per month for existing BT customers) will get you 2GB of 4G data, 500 minutes of calls and unlimited texts, while £25 per month (£20 for existing BT customers) will get you a massive 20GB of 4G data plus unlimited calls and texts.

In addition, all of the plans include free access to BT Sport and the company’s five million Wi-Fi hotspots.

The £5 per month plan easily undercuts the lowest plans by its competitors, which should help to bring prices down across the board, making 4G more accessible to all.

You can see all BT’s 4G SIM Only plans here.

Ikea to release range of wireless charging furniture

idea-wireless-charging-furniture1.siSwedish furniture giant Ikea is to release a range of furniture with inbuilt wireless charging spots that will recharge any compatible device by simply placing it on the area.

Unveiled at this year’s Mobile World Congress, which is currently taking place in Barcelona, Ikea’s Home Smart range includes lamps, bedside tables and a coffee table, as well as stand alone charging pads that can be placed on any surface in the home.

The furniture uses the QI wireless charging standard, which is now built into an increasing number of smartphones, including the newly announced Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

Ikea Home Smart rangeAlthough there are currently over 80 QI-compatible handsets on the market, the system will not work for all devices, which is something Ikea has addressed by producing charging covers for incompatible iPhone and Samsung handsets.

There are still many issues with wireless charging that need to be ironed out before it becomes a perfect solution to messy cable overload, but with the Home Smart range, Ikea has certainly taken a step in the right direction.

The Home Smart range goes on sale in the UK and North America in April 2015, with prices starting from £30.

What do you think of Ikea’s wireless charging furniture?

Tactus Phorm iPad case makes physical keys appear from nowhere on your screen with the flick of a switch

Tactus Phorm iPad caseIf you love your iPad but miss a physical keyboard, the new Tactus Phorm case for iPad Mini could be just the product for you.

At a first glance Phorm looks just like any other iPad case, but a switch on the back unlocks its magic. When you slide the switch on it activates ‘microfluids’ in the transparent screen cover that form bumps over the virtual keypad, making it easier to type. Slide the switch back and the bumps disappear allowing you to use the touchscreen as normal.

It’s easy to assume that such technology would lead to a bulky case that detracts from the sleekness of the iPad but reviews report that the screen cover is paper thin, much like a standard screen protector, and the outside case is no thicker than any other durable cover.

The only downside is that the tactile keys only work in portrait mode for now, although the company intends to extend it to landscape mode for certain models.

Initially the cases will only available for the iPad Mini but Tactus are working on other versions, including cases for the iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPad Air and eventually Android handsets too.

The Phorm case for iPad Mini is currently available for pre-order at $99 (£64) but will retail at $149 (£97) when it goes on general sale later this year.

What do you think of the Tactus Phorm cases?