Rumour: all 2017 iPhone models to feature wireless charging

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

KGI reiterates what the firm has said before, in that Apple will debut three new iPhones in 2017: one major redesign (colloquially dubbed ‘iPhone 8’) and two iterative updates to the existing 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus… The report says that wireless charging will feature on all models, making the ‘less-exciting’ devices still very compelling for consumers.

This one gets rumoured every year, but this time I’m more convinced it could be true. As Apple makes each new iPhone more water resistant, wireless charging represents another step in that direction. The Lightning port is the last remaining opening on the body of the iPhone; wireless charging could eventually lead to the removal of that port too.

‘Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series’ announced, coming in 2017

Kevin Bruner, Co-Founder and CEO of Telltale Games:

In Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, players will take on multiple roles within the ragtag band of heroes, and take the pilot’s seat in directing their escapades around the universe. We are always honored to be working with the best creative partners and storytellers in entertainment, and working with Marvel on this series leaves us excited to share what we’ve been developing when it premieres in 2017.

Between Avengers Academy on iOS, Insomniac’s Spider-Man PS4, and now Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy series, I’m thrilled with what the Marvel Games team have been doing lately! I’m slightly ashamed to admit I’ve never played any of Telltale’s “series” games; Guardians seems like a good chance to correct that. Can’t wait to play this next year, and to see what else Marvel Games are cooking up – I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a AAA Avengers game somewhere down the line!

Apple reportedly wants to use drones to make Maps better

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said. The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added.

Apple Maps remains one of the most interesting parts of iOS in my opinion. I've been using Apple Maps instead of Google Maps since the iOS 10 beta this past summer, and the app and data have gotten much better recently. I've found roads, traffic, and business information to be much more accurate, and I was thrilled to discover that operating hours have been added for many businesses near me. Granted I live in a big city, so I'm sure Maps is better here than it is in smaller towns and rural areas.

Using drones to gather mapping data is a great idea, though with all the regulatory approvals required from each country in which Apple hopes to fly drones I can't imagine this program will expand beyond the United States very quickly. Still, after admitting earlier this year that they originally bit off more than they could chew with Maps, it's nice to see Apple looking for new ways to improve their mapping data faster. I still think they should be doing more with crowdsourced data and corrections, and I'm baffled as to why Apple haven't acquired a start-up like Yelp or Foursquare with established POI databases.

Fitbit reportedly acquiring Pebble for around $40 million

Jon Russell, TechCrunch:

The Information said that the deal will see Pebble and its products closed down over time, with Fitbit acquiring its assets, which include intellectual property and software… Our source said that Fitbit is now paying between $34 and $40 million for the company and is “barely covering their debts.”

The original Pebble was the first smartwatch I ever owned; I missed the Kickstarter but bought one when they launched to the public in 2013. At the time I hoped the Pebble would be the "open source" smartwatch, able to do things a future, tightly controlled Apple Watch would never do. Unfortunately that never came to pass.

The only real value for Fitbit in this acquisition is Pebble's operating system, so a more advanced Fitbit watch could be on the horizon.

Netflix finally enables offline downloads on iOS and Android

Eddy Wu, Netflix:

While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their Stranger Things binge while on airplanes and other places where Internet is expensive or limited. Just click the download button on the details page for a film or TV series and you can watch it later without an internet connection.

Not much to say besides, “It’s about time!” Netflix always said they would never enable offline downloads, so it’s nice to see them change their minds. Offline downloads not only makes Netflix more competitive to Amazon Prime Video and iTunes, it should also make their product more appealing in countries where internet access is limited or slow.

I took a quick look through the Netflix shows and movies that are available for offline download in Canada; there are a ton of options already. There are a lot of Netflix originals available, though some of my favourites – Gilmore Girls, the Marvel shows, and Grace & Frankie – aren’t there yet. I expect the offline catalogue to grow quickly over the coming weeks and months. Great timing from Netflix on this too, right before holiday travel time for many people.

Rumour: could the 12.9-inch iPad Pro also go bezel-free?

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

The much-rumored 10.9-inch model will also be marginally thicker at 7.5mm, the same depth as the original iPad Air. The current 9.7-inch iPad Pro measures 6.1mm thick. The next 12.9-inch model will also be 0.3mm thicker at 7.2mm, while a rumored 7.9-inch iPad Pro will allegedly likely have the same dimensions as the iPad mini 4.

These iPad rumours get more interesting by the day. If the 10.9-inch iPad Pro is thicker to accommodate less bezel, could the same be true for the 12.9-inch version? I’d love to see the 12.9-inch iPad Pro get the same “micro-bezel” treatment as the rumoured 10.9-inch model, even if it means the device itself gets slightly thicker. Smaller bezels would also lead to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro having a smaller overall footprint.

If previous rumours hold true, perhaps Apple will drop the “Pro” from the entry-level 9.7-inch iPad, add Pencil support to the iPad mini, and make micro-bezels the distinguishing hardware feature of the iPad Pro line?

Canopy Keyboard Case and iPad Stand by Studio Neat

Studio Neat:

Canopy is a case for your Apple Magic Keyboard that folds open to create a stand for your iPad or iPhone. Now you can use a full size, honest-to-god keyboard with your device.

Yaaasss. I need this case so bad. After a quick stint with the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard, I decided to buy Apple’s Bluetooth Magic Keyboard instead for a few reasons: it’s super thin and light, it has much better key travel, it has media keys, and it doesn’t add weight and bulk to my already-giant 12.9″ iPad Pro. Sure it’s an added accessory to carry around – mine currently lives in this cheap neoprene sleeve – but it’s a better overall keyboard.

The Canopy is the Magic Keyboard accessory I’ve been waiting for. It’s a super sleek way to carry around the Magic Keyboard, and it doubles as an iPad stand that appears to be much sturdier than the Smart Cover I’m currently using. Major props to the Studio Neat guys for coming up with this awesome idea. I can’t wait to try out the Canopy myself, and review it right here when I get my hands on one.

I tweeted this URL as a joke the other night, and my friend Todd decided to run with it. He went all in too: it's pulling availability info from Apple's website, so it should actually work.

I hope this helps a lot of impatient people like myself. 😜

The Verge reviews Bragi’s Headphone: wireless earbuds worth buying

Sean O'Kane, The Verge:

The Headphone is perhaps the idea Bragi should've gone with in the first place, because while the new earbuds certainly aren’t perfect, they’re miles better at performing their core task — audio streaming — than the Dash ever was. In fact, they're probably the best wireless earbuds I've used.

Two things are keeping me from buying the Bragi Headphone right now: the don't charge in their carrying case, and they don't turn off automatically when you remove them from your ears. Bragi's original Dash earbuds do both of those things, as do Apple's AirPods. Like the rest of the tech world, I'm eagerly and impatiently waiting for Apple to finally ship the AirPods (where they at, Phil?). If I decide I don't like the AirPods or if they don't fit me properly when I finally get them in my ears, I think I'll go for the Bragi Headphone instead, annoyances be damned.

KGI predicts bezel-free 5.2-inch OLED iPhone 8 for 2017, alongside iPhone 7 refresh

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

The report notes that the OLED iPhone will have an ‘active screen area’ of 5.1 to 5.2-inches but the panel itself may be up to 5.8-inches diagonally. This probably means the user-interactive touchscreen will be about 5.2 inches with the remaining area wrapping around the edge of the phone, as rumored…. A detailed description of the OLED iPhone changes was not given but it seems like it will feature a bezel-less front design with the Home Button somehow integrated into the display. The screen panel would extend around the sides of the phone for aesthetics similar to the Galaxy S7 Edge.

This is bonkers. Sounds like Apple are planning an iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, alongside a new flagship iPhone 8 with a radical new design for next year. Launching three new iPhone models at once will be a big break from form for Apple, and will really cement the radically redesigned iPhone 8 as "the 10th anniversary iPhone". I wonder if they planned this lineup from the start, or if the expected higher price and lower yield have stopped Apple from making the iPhone 8 the 2017 iPhone.

I'm jazzed for this. A 5.8-inch OLED display with an active area of 5.2-inches sounds to me like the display could wrap around the sides of the device in a very dramatic way, melting into a glass panel covering the back to accomplish the rumoured all-glass body. I'm imagining iMessage effects like balloons and fireworks that light up both the front and sides of your iPhone. How amazing would that be? I am still completely puzzled about where the Home button, TouchID, selfie camera, and earpiece will go on an iPhone with no front bezel, and how the volume buttons and sleep/wake button would work if the display covers the sides of the phone. If I knew how to solve those problems, I guess I would work at Apple.

The more we hear about Apple's 2017 iPhone plans, the more excited I get, especially since I skipped the iPhone 7 this year in anticipation. Ten months to go, but my body is already ready.