Where is Apple’s 5K Thunderbolt Display?

It is approaching five years since Apple began shipping the Thunderbolt Display in September 2011, leading many to wonder when the monitor will receive a long-anticipated update, if ever.

Apple could have refreshed the Thunderbolt Display with USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2 and a tapered iMac-style design as early as 2013, but it has chosen not to do that. The company continues to sell the 2011 27″ model with USB 2.0 and first-generation Thunderbolt ports for $999.

So, what has been the holdup? The answer likely lies in supply chain considerations and connectivity.

4K Thunderbolt Display

Many have been long hoping that Apple would release a 4K Thunderbolt Display, considering that the latest Macs, and most models refreshed since late 2013, can be used with at least one 4K display.

But, typically, standalone Apple displays have shared the same screens as iMacs. Since Apple skipped over a 4K 27″ iMac, Apple would have to source a separate screen to release a 4K Thunderbolt Display, and the product may be too niche for that to be worthwhile.

Meanwhile, with Thunderbolt 3 rolling out this year, it seems unlikely that Apple will bother with a refreshed non-4K Thunderbolt Display in the interim. So, as time goes on, the more likely possibility is that Apple will eventually release a much improved 5K Thunderbolt Display.

5K Thunderbolt Display

5K displays have an incredible 14.7 million pixels, resulting in sharper and crisper images, but they remain expensive. 5K models from Dell and HP retail for between $1,649 and $1,999, while Apple’s all-in-one 5K iMac starts at $1,799, but cannot be used in target display mode.

Apple already sells a 27″ Retina 5K iMac, and its screen could be the basis for a corresponding 5K Thunderbolt Display. The display could share the same 5,120×2,880 resolution, USB Type-C ports for connecting Thunderbolt 3 peripherals and possibly an ultra-thin design like the newest iMacs. But no current Macs could drive such a 5K display over a single cable.

Apple won’t release the first Macs with Intel’s new Skylake chips and Thunderbolt 3 support until later in 2016, and only those models will be able to drive a 5K display at 60Hz over one cable. While that makes a 5K Thunderbolt Display a possibility in 2016, Apple has good reason to wait until at least 2017.

Intel’s Skylake processors, launching in early 2016, and Kaby Lake processors, expected to launch in the first half of 2017, will not be able to drive a 5K Thunderbolt Display over Single-Stream Transport (SST). The underlying issue is that both processor lineups lack support for DisplayPort 1.3. Instead, the display would sync two channels over Multi-Stream Transport (MST), which can cause some performance issues. That means Apple may wait until at least Cannon Lake chipset (which promise SST 5K support) in the second half of 2017, before releasing a 5K Thunderbolt Display.

Because external displays are a relatively small market for Apple, it’s possible Apple never plans to introduce an updated Thunderbolt Display. If a new model is in the company’s plans, Apple will likely wait to introduce a 5K display until 2017 when most Macs can easily support it in order to maximize supply chain efficiency.

If you are interested in exploring third-party 4K displays, read our 4K and 5K Display Buyer’s Guide for Macs.

Related Roundup: Thunderbolt Display
Tag: Thunderbolt Display
Buyer’s Guide: Displays (Don’t Buy)
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Twitter Launches Live-Streaming iOS App ‘Periscope’ [iOS Blog]

After acquiring live-streaming video service Periscope back in January, Twitter today officially launched the Periscope app, which aims to compete with newly popular apps like Meerkat in allowing users to instantly live-stream right from an iPhone (via The Verge).

In development for over a year, once a user syncs their Twitter account with Periscope, they can view a list of curated live feeds on the app’s homepage and even replay streams that have since ended. Streams can be replayed up to 24 hours after ending, and broadcasters can opt-out of allowing users to view their stream after it’s over.

That replay feature could be Periscope’s killer feature over Meerkat, as The Verge points out, with the ability to browse old feeds and dig through current live streams resulting in „an app that can actually be browsed.“ Though working in tandem with one another after being installed, the Twitter and Periscope experiences will stay separate from one another, according to Periscope co-founder Kayvon Beykpour.

You won’t be able to launch Periscope directly from the Twitter app, at least not for a while. „We don’t think we need to start there,“ Beykpour says. „We think this deserves to be a separate experience indefinitely.“ Still, there’s a reason Twitter scooped up Periscope: Twitter is a mostly live experience, and so is its new broadcasting app. „We always thought that what we were building, if successful, could be a real-time visual pulse of what’s happening around the world,“ Beykpour says. The vision for Twitter is much the same.

Periscope also includes a few unique social aspects to live-streaming, including the ability for viewers to tap on the stream to send hearts to the broadcaster, showing up as tiny floating emoticons on the stream’s lower-right corner for everyone watching the broadcast to see.

The more hearts on a video, the higher the stream climbs on the app’s „Most Loved“ list found on the front-end menu. This becomes a good measure for the crowd opinion on a current stream, according to Beykpour, who hopes the accessibility of the service propels it to be used by a vast audience and not just as „a tool for very few people.“

Although largely in favor of Periscope, The Verge mentions that the push notifications become „out of control“ for the live-streaming service, comparing the experience to „getting a push notification each time every single person you follow on Twitter tweeted.“

Those interested in Periscope [Direct Link] can download the app for free from the App Store.




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iCloud Photo Library: What You Need to Know [Mac Blog]

With today’s launch of the public beta of OS X 10.10.3 and the new Photos app for Mac, a number of users are now getting their first tastes of Apple’s replacement for iPhoto and Aperture. The release will also complete the rollout of Apple’s cross-platform iCloud Photo Library service, offering users an easy way to keep all of their photos stored in the cloud and synced across their devices. Various pieces of the service have been in beta since iOS 8.0 was made available to developers last June.

What Is iCloud Photo Library?

While Apple has offered some iCloud photo services such as Photo Streams for some time, iCloud Photo Library is a new service still in beta that moves the user’s entire photo and video library into the cloud. The service is part of Apple’s push to make it as easy as possible for users to switch among Mac and iOS devices throughout the day, making the user’s photos are available on all of their devices and ensuring any changes get quickly synced across devices.

Initially planned to launch as part of iOS 8.0, Apple pushed the service back to beta ahead of the public release as the company continued to refine the service and work on cross-platform capabilities. The Mac portion was also not ready for the public release of OS X Yosemite last October, but with the new Photos app for Mac ready for launch, all of the pieces are falling into place for iCloud Photo Library.

Turning on iCloud Photo Library

iOS 8.1 or later: Open the Settings app and head to the iCloud section. Make sure you’re logged in, and access the Photos section, where you’ll find a toggle for iCloud Photo Library. This option can also be accessed through the Photos & Camera section of Settings.

OS X 10.10.3: Open System Preferences and head to the iCloud pane. If you’re logged in, you’ll see a list of the various iCloud services. Hit the „Options…“ button next to Photos, and you’ll see a window where you can turn on iCloud Photo Library. You can also manage settings within the Preferences section of the new Photos app directly.

iCloud.com: Photos stored in iCloud Photo Library are also accessible through Apple’s web-based iCloud.com service. Through the web interface, users can upload or download photos, browse via Moments and Albums view, print or email photos, and mark individual photos as favorites.

iCloud Photo Library Settings

The new Photos app for Mac that arrives with OS X 10.10.3 is built to work with iCloud Photo Library, although users can opt to use local photo libraries on their machines if they prefer. Users opting for iCloud Photo Library have the option of storing the original photos on their Mac, which is ideal for offline access, or a more flexible optimized arrangement that stores originals locally if you have enough storage space but uses lower-resolution versions if local storage is tight and only downloads the full-resolution versions from iCloud as needed.

iCloud settings in Photos for Mac preferences
Similar settings are available on iOS, where users can choose between storing full-resolution photos right on their devices or saving some space by storing lower-resolution versions onboard and keeping the full-resolution version in iCloud.

On iOS and OS X, users will also continue to see an option for My Photo Stream, which is Apple’s existing service that allowed users to automatically sync their last 1,000 photos between devices. On devices where iCloud Photo Library is active, there will no longer be a separate My Photo Stream album, as all photos are now included in the main library stored in iCloud.

The My Photo Stream setting does, however, offer some level of integration between devices where iCloud Photo Library is enabled and those where it is disabled. Turning on My Photo Stream on a device with iCloud Photo Library is enabled allows the device to import Photo Stream photos from other non-iCloud devices and also send new photos out to My Photo Stream for display on those devices.

Using iCloud Photo Library

Once you understand that iCloud Photo Library stores and syncs photos across devices, usage is very straightforward and it behaves very much like a local photo library stored on the user’s machine. Users can freely manage, edit, and save their photos as they have always done, with the added bonus of that work automatically appearing wherever they have iCloud Photo Library enabled. The original photos always remain stored in iCloud, making it easy to revert any edits made on a device.

As with a local photo library, users can include photos from any source, making iCloud Photo Library more than the familiar Photo Streams of images taken on their devices. Photos and videos of a wide range of types from any source can be added to the user’s library on one device, and they will sync to all other devices.

One important consideration when deciding whether or not to use iCloud Photo Library is that it is an all-or-none proposition on a given device unless the user chooses to use multiple photo libraries on OS X. With a single photo library, there is no option to sync only some photos while the remainder remain stored only locally, so for example, users can not opt to have only their iOS device photos synced to their Mac via iCloud Photo Library but not have their full library of photos in the Photos app for Mac synced to iCloud and the user’s other devices unless they want to manage multiple libraries.

Pricing

iCloud Photo Library taps into a user’s iCloud account storage, which is also used for iCloud Drive document storage, device backups, and more. iCloud users receive 5 GB of storage for free, but users who wish to back up their devices to iCloud frequently find they need more than that, and iCloud Photo Library will only increase the need for additional storage.

Apple offers several paid storage tiers for iCloud, priced on a monthly basis and ranging from 20 GB to 1 TB. The lowest paid plan at 20 GB costs $0.99/month in the U.S., with Apple also offering a 200 GB plan for $3.99/month, a 500 GB plan for $9.99/month, and a 1 TB plan for $19.99/month. Even the high-end 1 TB plan may not be enough for some users who have a lot of photos, requiring them to either archive some photos outside of the service or simply opt to not use iCloud Photo Library at all.

If you fill up your iCloud storage allotment, new photos and videos will no longer be uploaded to iCloud, and libraries will no longer be synced across devices. In order to restore iCloud Photo Library functionality, users will need to either upgrade to a larger storage plan or reduce storage usage by manually deleting certain photos or other files from iCloud.

Turning Off iCloud Photo Library

So what if you’ve turned on iCloud Photo Library and later decide you don’t want to use it anymore, either for a specific device or across all devices? On a specific device, iCloud Photo Library can be disabled the same it was turned on, through the iCloud portion of the Settings app on iOS device or System Preferences or Photos preferences on a Mac. If you are currently storing optimized versions of your photos, your system will give you the opportunity to download the full-resolution photos from iCloud, at which point you will have a complete local photo library on your device.

If you prefer to turn off iCloud Photo Library entirely, you can head to the Manage Storage section of iCloud settings either in the Settings app on an iOS device or System Preferences on a Mac. In that section, you can choose to Disable and Delete iCloud Photo Library, after which point you will have 30 days to download your library to at least one device before it is removed entirely.

Wrap-up

iCloud Photo Library represents one of Apple’s latest efforts to streamline the experience of using multiple devices, many of which have been bundled under the „Continuity“ umbrella. While remaining separate, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite integrate the user experience with features such as Handoff, which allows users to pick up right where they left off on composing an email, browsing the Internet, and more when switching devices; Instant Hotspot, which lets users easily tap into their iPhone’s cellular connection to provide an Internet connection for an iPad or Mac with no configuration needed; and convenient features for answering phone calls and carrying on SMS conversations right from a Mac or iPad.

Many of these Continuity features tap into iCloud as a method for linking various devices, and iCloud Photo Library takes that one step further to ensure the users’ photos are available regardless of which device they are currently on. After an extended beta testing period as Apple has put together the various pieces for iOS, OS X, and the web, iCloud Photo Library is nearly ready for its full public release.




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How to Watch Super Bowl XLIX on Your iPad or Computer [iOS Blog]

Super Bowl XLIX is airing this Sunday, with the New England Patriots facing off against the Seattle Seahawks. If you don’t have a cable subscription, you might be worried about missing the game – but rest easy, there are several ways to watch if you have an iPad, computer, or Verizon iPhone.

We’ve outlined all of the ways you can catch the Super Bowl in the video below, and we’ve also got a walkthrough complete with links in this post.

iPad and iPod touch

NBC is running a promotion called „Super Stream Sunday“ that will let all U.S.-based users watch 11 continuous hours of NBC content through the NBC Sports Live Extra app on the iPad or iPod touch.

The app normally requires a cable subscription and authentication to log in, but beginning at noon Eastern Time on February 1, the login requirements will be eliminated. NBC’s Super Stream Sunday will include the full game, the halftime show with Katy Perry, and pre- and post-game shows.

Apple TV users can use AirPlay mirroring to watch content from their iPads on their televisions.

The NBC Sports Live Extra app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Mac/PC

Super Stream Sunday also extends to Macs and PCs, which can be used to watch the Super Bowl by visiting the NBCSports.com website. As with the app, streaming content from the NBC website will include the game itself, plus all of the add-ons.

Mac users can use AirPlay with an Apple TV to stream content to their television sets.

iPhone

NBC does not have the rights to stream Super Bowl content to iPhone users, so the NBC Sports Live Extra app will not work for streaming the game on the iPhone. Verizon has an exclusive content deal with the NFL, which means that if you don’t have a Verizon phone, you’ll need to find an alternate way to watch the Super Bowl.

If you are a Verizon subscriber with a MORE Everything plan, you can stream the Super Bowl on your iPhone through the Verizon NFL Mobile app.

NFL Mobile can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

International

If you’re not in the United States but want to watch Super Bowl XLIX, you can purchase an NFL Game Pass that gives access to a live stream of the Super Bowl for $9.99. NFL Game Pass lets you stream NFL games on your computer or iPad.




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NBC to Stream Super Bowl XLIX on iPad and Mac for Free, No Cable Subscription Required

NBCUniversal today announced that it’s debuting a new „Super Stream Sunday“ promotion, which will allow all U.S.-based users to watch 11 continuous hours of NBC content through the NBCSports.com website and through the NBC Sports Live Extra app on the iPad/iPod touch without the need for a cable subscription.

Super Stream Sunday, which starts on February 1 at noon Eastern Time, will include Super Bowl XLIX, the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show with Katy Perry, and the Super Bowl XLIX pre- and post-game shows. It will also feature an episode of The Blacklist.

Accessing NBC content through NBC.com or within the NBC Sports Live Extra app typically requires a cable subscription and authentication through logging into the service, but for the Super Stream Sunday period, no logins will be required, allowing everyone to watch the Super Bowl for free. NBC is running the promotion in an effort to make people aware of its TV Everywhere offerings, which offer television content on a range of devices with a cable subscription.

While iPad and iPod touch users can watch the Super Bowl using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, NBC is not able to stream content to the iPhone as it does not have NFL live-streaming rights for smartphones due to an exclusive deal the NFL has with Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Wireless and the NFL plan to introduce a Super Bowl Stadium app that will offer „exclusive in-stadium video content“ that includes commercials and replays shown from four camera angles. Users not in the United States or Mexico can access the Super Bowl through the NFL’s Game Rewind service.

NBC Sports Live Extra can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]




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