Federico Viticci’s mammoth review of iPad Pro is now available on MacStories. Viticci has some great insights on using it as your primary device, so make sure you settle down before you start reading it.

The iPad Pro is positioned as a more productive take on the iPad for those who need to get work done on it. My recommendation couldn’t be more straightforward: if iOS is your main computing platform, or if you plan to turn an iPad into your primary computer, you’ll want an iPad Pro. Its powerful hardware, multitasking interface, and extensible nature are superior to every other iPad. I don’t see myself using a Mac as my primary computer ever again.

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Apple Stores in India May Be Possible Now

Just last week, I linked to an Economic Times report that claimed that the Indian Government was planning to relax Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) rules relating to compulsory local outsourcing. In case of Apple, the rules meant that they’d have to source at least 30% of the raw material from India for their products if they planned to invest in opening Apple Stores in the country.

Today, the Indian Government has issued a press release announcing FDI reforms across fifteen sectors, including some big changes related to Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT) and E-commerce companies.

The relaxed norms contain the following two notable points:

Presently, the FDI policy considers the date of receipt of the FDI for sourcing 30% of the value of goods. With the changes announced today, the period starting from the date of opening of the first store will instead be considered.

Secondly, and more importantly, the govt. has also considered making special exceptions. Section 8 (i) of the press note states that:

Further, it is seen that in certain high technology segments, it is not possible for retail entity to comply with the sourcing norms. To provide opportunity to such single brand entities, it has been decided that in case of ‘state-of-art’ and ‘cutting- edge technology’ sourcing norms can be relaxed subject to Government approval.

This means that for some companies (Hint: Apple), it is now possible to get an approval from the govt. without the fulfilling the sourcing requirement. Seeing company-operated Apple Stores in India doesn’t seem like a distant dream any more.

Ruchika Chitravanshi reporting for the Economic Times:

The government may consider relaxing compulsory local sourcing conditions for high-end, hi-tech, single-brand retailers. Such a move might help persuade Apple, which is seeking to widen market access in India, to establish wholly owned stores in the country.

The department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) is considering such a move to enable investments by foreign brands such as Apple, a senior government official told ET.

This is a big IF. The Govt. may consider this, and even if does end up happening, it’ll be years before we see a company-run Apple Store in India. I wouldn’t get my hopes high yet.

A Look at Video Streaming Services in India — Part I: Spuul

This is Part I of a multi-part series that takes a look at the various video streaming services available for India.

If you’re a savvy internet user like me, you know there are quite a few streaming services now available for the Indian audience, both for audio and video content. I have tried and/or extensively used quite a lot of these video streaming services over the last year or so, and while we’re still far from seeing Netflix or Hulu launch here in India, the services that we do have available are definitely showing some promise.

I’m starting off this series with a look at Spuul. Spuul is one of the first streaming services that I had come across, somewhere around 2013, a year after its public launch. Spuul currently focuses on offering a large catalogue of Indian movies and TV shows to a global audience and offers a Universal iOS app, an Android app, as well as the option to streaming movies in a broswer (Flash required).

Read more →

The Apple Watch is all set to officially launch in India on November 6th, 2015, just in time for Diwali. Although the pricing for it hasn’t been announced by Apple, the folks at Gadgets 360° have managed to get their hands onto the pricing information for India.

the Apple Watch Sport will start at Rs. 30,900 for the 38mm variant. The 42mm variant of the Apple Watch Sport will retail at Rs. 34,900. Both prices are MRP, inclusive of all taxes. It’s worth noting that the 38mm and 42mm models retail in the US at $349 (Rs. 22,700 approximately) and $399 (Rs. 25,900 approximately) respectively, before taxes.

I was actually expecting the pricing to start at around ₹32,900, so this is nice to hear. The article has the pricing info for other watch models and also the bands, so go ahead and check it out. There’s also this bit:

Apple is planning to launch the entire Watch lineup in India, with the most expensive model (Apple Watch Edition with Gold Case and Modern Buckle) costing a cool Rs. 14.2 lakhs, compared to its US price of $17,000 (Rs. 11 lakh approximately), before taxes.

You can’t help but chuckle at that. It’d be cheaper for someone to actually fly to the US and buy that Apple Watch Edition than pay a whopping 3 Lakh premium for it here.

Nice scoop by Kunal and his team.

Studio Neat’s Apple TV Remote Stand

Studio Neat's Apple TV Walnut Stand

The folks at Studio Neat, known for making some super stellar and nifty products, have just announced a new product for the new Apple TV that went up for pre-order earlier today.

The Apple TV Remote Stand is a beautiful stand milled from a piece of solid walnut. The bottom of the stand features a micro-suction pad so that the stand doesn’t slip and adheres to nearly any flat surface. You prop up your Apple TV remote upright, so it’s easy to grab when you want to use it. The stand is manufactured in Austin, Texas (USA) and is priced at just $12.

If you’re picking up an Apple TV, you should totally get this Apple TV Remote Stand. They also have a lovely product video for it.

The new Apple TV that Apple announced at an event in September is now up for pre-order on Apple’s online store. The 32GB model costs $149 whereas the 64GB model costs $199 and the earliest orders start shipping on October 30th.

The pre-orders new Apple TV was supposed to be available in 80 countries after launch, though it seems the pre-orders are only live for US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia and a few other countries. Apple hasn’t sent out a press release for this and the Apple TV page hasn’t been updated yet either.

I’ll update this post as soon as I hear about the India launch and pricing.

Matt Burns reporting for TechCrunch:

The deal values SanDisk at $86.50 a share, which is a 15% premium on the previous day’s closing price, giving the company a value of $15.4 billion. SanDisk is currently up 4.78% in pre-market trading.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know how much I love Western Digital’s products. On one hand, all my computer storage has been handled reliably by Western Digital while on the other hand, all my camera storage has been handled reliably by SanDisk. I’m excited to see both these companies come together.

Calling Out Some Rotten Apples in The Cupertino Company’s Lineup

This is a guest post by my buddy & ex-Apple enthusiast, Rohan Naravane. He’s previously written about the Apple TV here on Nuclear Bits.

Back in early 2013, a rumour of a mid-range $350 iPhone had picked up steam. We all know how that unfolded, when later in the year the iPhone 5c launched for an unapologetic $549. Ever since then, Apple has cautiously steered away from making any products that are deemed ‘value-for-money’. It is the company’s right to create products for markets they see fit. There’s no point cribbing about why Apple doesn’t make reasonably-priced products, the same way there’s no point cribbing about why BMW or Mercedes doesn’t make a reasonably-priced car. But there’s one misconception that I’ll attempt to clear out — every product that comes out of Apple’s stable is not gold. Meaning, every product lineup has multiple SKUs that vary in configuration. But despite these base models being more expensive than the competition, all of them necessarily aren’t as powerful as people will imagine them to be.

1. iMac

If you thought the iMac was a powerful desktop computer, you’re right, as long as you don’t consider the base 21.5 inch model. It’s powered by a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, which coincidentally is the same chip used in the MacBook Air. So although from the outside, the base iMac may look the same as the next model that has a meatier quad-core 2.8GHz chip, good luck trying to use that machine for anything more than web browsing, office productivity apps or consuming audio-visual content. People wanting to work on graphics or video editing might as well just forget about buying any 21.5-inch iMac altogether, as dedicated graphics are available only on the 27-inch models (even the 4K 21.5-inch iMac does not have one). Also, based on personal experience & the experience of many other Mac users, the biggest performance bottleneck for these machines will be their 5400rpm hard drives that aren’t user replaceable. Much like dedicated graphics chips, Fusion Drives (a combination of faster SSD storage & spinning hard drive) are available only on the two top-end 27-inch iMacs by default. Considering that a MacBook Air comes with a high-speed flash memory & the same processor, I wouldn’t be surprised if in day-to-day performance, the MacBook Air appears to be more swift than the base 21.5-inch iMac.

If you thought you spending Rs. 91,900 on the entry-level iMac was good enough for some serious work, think again.

2. MacBook Air

Talking about the MacBook Air, it is a good option for people wanting a really thin and light laptop with generally fast performance, great build quality and a really long battery life. The MacBook Air uses a speedy solid state storage (SSD) that helps improve responsiveness considerably, despite its low-voltage 1.6GHz Core i5 processor. But just like how the slow spinning hard drive is a bottleneck for the iMacs, the MacBook Air’s bottleneck lies in its non-upgradeable 4GB RAM. Speaking out of experience, if you want to use more than a couple of resource-intensive apps (like Google Chrome) at the same time, you’re going to need at least 8GB of RAM on your Mac. I’ve seen a few MacBook Air users complain about how their computer behaves sluggish when they use many apps at once. Although you can customise a MacBook Air with 8GB RAM in countries where the Apple Online Store is available, unfortunately, you’re stuck with 4GB here in India.

The MacBook Air is sold for dirt-cheap these days, with 13-inch models available for less than Rs. 60,000 on e-commerce stores. That’s a good price for a sexy product, provided you’re going to go easy on it.

3. MacBook Pro

The 13″ MacBook Pro is the last remaining model of the original Pro series, with the rest being replaced with their Retina-display-laden, thinner, lighter, faster successors. This model, like the MacBook Air, sells cheap for under Rs. 55,000 online. We’ve already seen how spinning hard drives and a mere 4GB of RAM are known to be performance bottlenecks on the base iMac and MacBook Air respectively. But with the base MacBook Pro 13-inch, you get the worst of both worlds. Don’t let that powerful-sounding 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 fool you, because it’s going to be saddled with two slowpokes — 4GB of RAM and 500GB of the traditional 5400 rpm hard drive.

All hope isn’t lost though — this almost-phased-out laptop is more traditional than other Macs, in the sense that both those culprit components are user-replaceable. Personally, I’ve upped the RAM from 4GB to 8GB in many MacBook Pros, and users have seen a noticeable speed bump. Similarly, replacing the hard drive with an SSD has also resulted in a MacBook Air-like performance! Lastly, the faint-hearted may look away, but you can even remove the DVD drive and put an SSD in its place, while keeping the hard drive intact. This will give you faster performance without losing out on storage space! (I have been using a 128GB SSD + 750GB Hard Disk on my 13″ MacBook Pro 13 for over a year now).

4. iPhone 6s & iPhone 6s Plus

The iPhone 6s has already gotten enough flak on the internet for being the overpriced premium smartphone many secretly won’t mind buying, if it was priced many, many thousand rupees cheaper. After using the phone for a few days, it’s certainly worthy of the attention it gets. But for a product as highly priced (Rs. 62,000 for the base model in India), the measly 16GB of fixed memory on the base model is like getting the boot space of a Honda Jazz in the base model of a BMW 7-series. Considering that the phone can now record 4K videos (that takes a third of a gigabyte every minute), considering that the phone has a bigger 12MP camera sensor that will take bigger size photos, considering that every ‘Live Photo’ you take is recording a 3 second video clip as well, 16GB is way too less.

And god forbid if you’re interested in buying the bigger iPhone 6s Plus, because you’ll be paying Rs. 10,000 extra for the bigger 5.5-inch screen, followed by another Rs. 10,000 for the a storage option bigger than 16GB (Rs. 82,000 or about $1265).

These, I think, are some of the Rotten Apples in the company’s product lineup. Bottom line — if you’re considering buying Apple products, please be clear about what your usage is going to be, and choose wisely.

Rohan Naravane rambles tech on Twitter @r0han every few hours. And in between that time, he manages Content and User Experience at Pricebaba also.

Richard Lawler writing for Engadget:

[…] Tim Cook revealed that yes, the new Apple TV will arrive this month as promised. The taller, more powerful fourth generation box is due to ship next week, bringing along its touchpad remote and access to the App Store with tvOS. There were no specifics about in-store purchases or online orders, so those waiting may not have to wait until next month after all.

I’m excited to pick up the 32GB Apple TV for myself, but it’ll be interesting to see what Apple prices it at. I’m also hoping India makes it in the first wave of launch countries.