The pros and cons of a cellular Apple Watch

As summer wends on, so too do the rumors of upcoming Apple products. This time it’s the Apple Watch that has gotten the spotlight, with word that the next version of the wearable might include cellular connectivity.

That’s been held up as a missing piece of functionality by those competitors that do include LTE support in their own smartwatches, but it’s hardly been an unequivocal demand amongst current owners of the Apple Watch. Is this a natural evolution for the product, or a case of trying to find some additional features to drive sales?

The case for cellular

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The iPad's popularity is on the rise, and it's all thanks to cheaper prices

If you, like me, were wondering when the iPad’s sales free fall would come to an end, we may now have an answer. Earlier this week, Apple released its latest financial results, including the first quarter of sales growth for the company’s tablet in more than three years. 

Arresting the tablet’s decline, though, didn’t necessarily mean blockbuster sales. Apple moved 10.7 million iPads in the most recent quarter, but that’s still well below the company’s quarterly record sales of 18.6 million back in 2014. 

That said, an upswing is an upswing. Whether it continues is anybody’s guess—and boy, does Wall Street love to guess—but there are a number of potential factors that might have the iPad poised for a return to form. 

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Why Apple should make a cheaper, streamlined Apple TV

Apple is fond of talking about its four platforms: iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. But not all four get equal attention. At the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Tim Cook and friends said relatively little about the next version of tvOS—in fact, pretty much the only relevant announcement was that Amazon would be bringing its Prime Video app to the platform at some undisclosed time in the future. 

Those interested in the Apple TV have thus resorted to pulling meager information from the company’s tvOS 11 beta. And even what changes have been uncovered there have been pretty meager: home screen syncing, Night-Shift-esque automatic light/dark mode switching, and improvements to notifications. Meanwhile, even some of the major improvements promised by Apple during last year’s September event have yet to come to fruition: single sign-on, for example, continues to lack support from the major cable companies. 

As the fourth-generation Apple TV approaches the two-year mark, perhaps it’s time for Apple to take another look at its set-top box. 

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iOS

Waiting on Apple's podcast recording app—or for better GarageBand features

Hey, Apple, where’s the podcast creation app?

That’s what I found myself wondering recently after the company’s GarageBand audio-editing software got a significant revamp. There’s a new coat of paint that brings it into line with the company’s pro-level Logic suite, as well as a few new tricks—not all of which are positive—but what I found more surprising is what’s still missing. 

Apple clearly still intends GarageBand to be primarily aimed at musicians; that’s understandable, given the company’s deep roots in the music business. But I wish it would spend a little more time considering those of us who edit non-music audio, because there are some changes that would definitely improve our lives.

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3 features Apple’s HomePod needs in order to hit the smarthome sweet spot

A month out, it’s pretty clear that the HomePod was one of the star attractions of this year’s WWDC. For a product that had little in the way of actual stage time (and even less in terms of what was demonstrated to journalists) and won’t ship for several months yet, it certainly grabbed a lot of the airtime directly following the event. And in that, it follows in the merry tradition of products like the original iPhone and the iPad. 

But it’s hard to tell from the meager time devoted to it just how important Apple thinks the HomePod is. Its “kicker” placement at the end of the keynote would suggest that the company thinks the device is positioned to make a big splash, but the intense focus on music also seems to point to more of a niche utility for many. 

So, which is it? Is the HomePod a product on the same level of importance as the iPad or Apple TV, or is it simply a souped up version of the iPod Hi-Fi?

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With an impressive new lineup of Macs, it’s time to return to the desktop

The desktop is back.

Okay, sure, technically the desktop never left. But over the last decade, we’ve increasingly focused on mobile devices: tablets, smartphones, even laptop computers, which make up the bulk of Apple’s—and probably other PC makers—sales.

But this year, one message you could have easily taken away from Apple’s WWDC keynote is that there’s still plenty of love for not just the Mac platform, but the desktop computer specifically. Having just purchased a new iMac of my own, I can personally vouch for it: sometimes, there’s no replacement for a desktop. 

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After 10 years, where does the iPhone go next?

Ten years ago this week, the public first got its hands on the iPhone and began a revolution that has forever changed the way we use technology. We’ve gone from a society where a computer was something you had to sit down at a desk to use to one where it’s in your pocket all the time. We’ve ushered in an era of apps, selfies, emoji, and the answer to every question at our fingertips.

So, with all that under its belt, where the heck does the iPhone go next?

The unchanging iPhone

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