CES wouldn't be the Consumer Electronics Show without a little Copycat, Emulate & Steal. This year's event showed off some of the tech industry's best ideas on how to make products that look as much as possible like Apple's as they attempt to transition from selling cheap commodity products to premium hardware that struggles to look designed in Cupertino.
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Even though Apple's first major hardware launches for 2016 are probably still months away, rumors of the company's roadmap are already widespread, including some potential shakeups for products like the iPhone.
In 2015, Apple dramatically enhanced its ability to make money, and at the same time incrementally dismantled the profit engines of its competitors, leaving them even weaker for their next match in 2016. But Apple has several weaknesses related to the core strength of its existing ecosystems that it needs to address over the coming year if it wants to retain and enhance its brand of excellence that drives sales of its premium, profitable hardware.
With Christmas Eve just one week away, AppleInsider's Price Guide partners have set firm deadlines for when online shoppers can order and still expect their gifts to arrive on time for friends and family. Here's a quick guide to shipping cutoffs and last-minute shipping upgrades.
Deals: 15" MacBook Pro (2.5GHz 16GB 512GB M370X) for $2,099, Space Gray 12" MacBook for $1,129, 27" iMac 5K with Fusion Drive for $1,749
All of our exclusive year-end offers have been upgraded with Free 2 Day Air Shipping, including Apple's 15" MacBook Pro (2.5GHz 16GB 512GB M370X) for $2,099 ($400 off), Space Gray 12" MacBook for $1,129 ($170 off), and Late 2015 27" iMac 5K with Fusion Drive for $1,749 ($250 off).
When Apple first unveiled iPad Pro, it noted that its custom designed A9X chip would be faster than 80 percent of the PCs that shipped this year. Benchmarks indicate that it's not just faster than low end generic PCs, but also faster -- and less expensive -- than Microsoft's Surface Pro 4.
Microsoft's latest efforts to shove Windows PCs back into relevance in the Post PC era have found willing volunteers among some PC bloggers ready to exchange their credibility for enthusiastic reviews of Surface Book and Pro 4, apparently under the premise that Windows can be reanimated back into a viable monopoly via hybrid Tablet PC-style convergence. But that's delusionally wrong, here's why.
Killer Deal: Fully-loaded 11" MacBook Air for $999 (or $1,089 with AppleCare plus 2 free accessories)
This week AI-readers can grab a fully-loaded 11" MacBook Air (1.70GHz/8GB/512GB) for $999 ($650 off), or purchase the same MacBook Air with AppleCare for $1,089 ($809 off), plus get a free Microsoft comfort mouse and LG super drive thrown in for free. Also, 27" and 34" displays from $479 to $720.
Apple updates iWork for iOS and OS X El Capitan with support for multitasking, 3D Touch, VoiceOver, more
Apple on Thursday updated its iWork suite of apps for both iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan, bringing new hardware support for iPhone 6s and iPad, including 3D Touch, tablet multitasking options, keyboard shortcuts for wireless accessories and more.
Last year's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus introduced a larger, slimmer form factor housing higher resolution Retina HD screens and improvements in processors, cameras and wireless. While Apple's latest 6s and 6s Plus models look virtually identical, the company has significantly improved nearly every key feature, from a stronger glass and metal exterior outside to high-performance components inside, including a new pressure sensitive 3D Touch display.
VMware on Tuesday launched Fusion 8, an updated version of its virtualization tool for Mac users who want to run Windows -- or other operating systems -- without having to boot into the other OS.
Deals: $100 off 12" MacBooks, Free Apple TVs with 13" MacBook Airs, early-2015 13" MacBook Pro for $1,099
To kick off the week, Apple resellers initiated limited time, $80-$100 discounts on 12" MacBook Airs. Meanwhile, AI has teamed up with Adorama to give away free Apple TVs and instant discounts of $119-$245 on all 13" MacBook Airs with Apple Care. Plus $200 off the new 13" MacBook Pro and Apple's high-end mid-2014 15" MacBook Pro with two Free Accessories for $1,929.00
Deals: $999 loaded 11" MacBook Air, $1,785 15" MacBook Pro (2015), $300 off 13" MacBook Pro with AppleCare, 27" Dell Ultra HD 4K display for $499.99
This week, we've brought back some of last month's most popular offers while extending several others, such as a fully-loaded 11" MacBook Air for $999 ($650 off), the new 15" MacBook Pro for $1,785 ($214 off), a near fully-loaded, early 2015 13" MacBook Pro with AppleCare for $2,148.00 ($300 off) and Dell's Ultra HD 4K display for $499.99 ($200 off).
Apple announced through a Support Pages document published Wednesday that the latest version of Boot Camp, which is currently rolling out to OS X Yosemite users as a system update, now comes with support for 64-bit versions of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system.
It was learned in May that IBM plans to deploy some 50,000 MacBooks to employees by the end of 2015, but a newly leaked video suggests the company could see adoption numbers between 150,000 to 200,000 units.
There's less than 24 hours left on deals that offer Free AppleCare on all of Apple's standard early-2015 13" MacBook Pros, and up to $200 on select custom configurations without AppleCare. These deals expire for good on July 31st at 11:59 p.m. ET
Early reviews of Microsoft's latest operating system -- released on Wednesday -- have been generally positive, suggesting that it solves problems with Windows 8 while advancing the Windows platform towards the future.
Final 36 Hours: Free AppleCare with all standard 2015 13" MacBook Pros, $300-$400 off all 15" MacBook Pros with AppleCare
For just 36 hours more, readers can get 3 years of AppleCare free on all of Apple's standard early-2015 13" MacBook Pros, or save up to $200 on select custom configurations with exclusive coupon codes. These deals expire July 31st. Also, $300-$400 off all 15" MacBook Pro + AppleCare bundles and a loaded 11" MacBook Air with AppleCare for $1,089.
Before Apple reveals official numbers for its third fiscal quarter of 2015, a report from well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimates the company's iPhone and Mac lineups put in strong performances, tempered somewhat by sluggish iPad and Apple Watch sales. Upcoming hardware like yellow and rose gold Apple Watch Sport models and buffed iMacs could spur sales, however.
Deals: $180-$225 off new 15" MacBook Pros, $500 off 2014 15" MacBook Pros, $999 fully-loaded 11" MacBook Air, Dell 27" Ultra HD 4K for $499.99
Apple's new 15" MacBook Pros are seeing their deepest discounts yet (between $180 and $225) this week. Meanwhile, two of the most brawny 2014 15" models are now marked down by $500. Also, a few days remain to take advantage of $50 rebates and grab a fully loaded 11" MacBook Air for $999 with free accessories. Most deals expire July 10th.
Deals: $500 off 15" MacBook Pro; $480 off 128GB iPad Air LTE, $245-$360 off all new 15" MacBook Pros w/ AppleCare; more
For the next 72 hours, readers can grab Apple's high-end 15" MacBook Pro (mid-2014) for $1,899 ($600 off), unlocked 128GB iPad Air WiFi+ LTE models for $449 ($480 off), $245-$360 discounts on all mid-2015 15" MacBook Pros with AppleCare, a completely maxed out 11" MacBook Air with AppleCare & free accessories for $1,089.
Save $809: Apple's 11" MacBook Air (1.7GHz, 8GB, 512GB) for $1,089 with free AppleCare, Microsoft Sculpt Mouse & LG CD/DVD drive
For just a few more days, readers can save $809 on Apple's completely maxed out 11" MacBook Air (1.7GHz, 8GB, 512GB), which is up for grabs at $1,089 with free AppleCare and plus your choice of two free or heavily discounted accessories.
Apple is looking beyond its new Force Touch pressure-sensitive input method, and may in the future allow users to perform gestures by pointing or moving their hands in front of a device, without even touching it, new patents reveal.
The lion's share of the week's Apple news occurred during Monday's WWDC 2015 keynote, when the company unveiled OS X El Capitan, iOS 9, watchOS 2, and Apple Music. The rest of the week was not uneventful however, with word of antitrust investigations and the real story behind Apple's mapping vans.
Apple is gearing up for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, set to kick off with a keynote presentation next Monday where the company is expected to announce a number of new products, including the next generations of its iOS and OS X platforms, as well as an all-new Apple TV set-top box.