The iPad Is Dying, The Modular Smartwatch Arrives, And More… [Tech News Digest]

Also, Yosemite is spying on you, Spotify Family plans, jail time for 3D-printed guns, and the wettest selfie of all time.

Apple iPads Are On The Decline

Apple has released its financial results for Q4 2014 (July to September). While most of the numbers are positive, one big negative stands out: iPad sales are on the slide. Sales of the iPod are also down, but that was always expected to be the case.

First, the good news. Revenue is up year-on-year, rising from $37.47 billion in Q4 2013, to $42.12 billion in the most recent quarter. Profit is also up, from $7.5 billion to $8.5 billion. The number of iPhones and Macs sold has also increased over the past 12 months, by 16.25 percent and 20.79 percent, respectively.

Now, the bad news. Sales of the iPod are down 24.57 percent, from 3.5 million to 2.64 million. Sales of the iPad are down 12.5 percent, from 14.08 million to 12.32 million. This is three quarters in a row that iPad sales have declined, suggesting a free-fall that will be difficult to halt. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook dismissed the decline in iPad sales as a “speed bump,” and nothing to be concerned about in the longterm.

The problem may be a deceptively simple one. The newly announced iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 aren’t significant upgrades over their predecessors, suggesting Apple no longer has a clear vision in mind for its line of tablets. And unless a product is improved, what justification is there for people to buy the newer model than the one they already own?

Blocks, The Modular Smartwatch

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With the modular smartphone taking shape at Motorola (as Project Ara), the company which first mooted the idea has moved onto smartwatches. Blocks is the name of a new smartwatch being developed by Phonebloks, and if it ever comes to market it would mean we could all build our own smartwatches using the components we actually want on such a device.

Blocks is a modular smartwatch comprising a set of curved blocks as chosen by the owner. So, one person could choose a rectangular e-ink face while someone else opts for a circular touchscreen. The strap on both would be formed by the battery, camera, heart rate monitor, sim card, or whatever the individual buyer chose to include.

Having finalized the design of the hardware, Phonebloks is focusing on the software side. The operating system will likely be based on Tizen OS, with support for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Blocks will likely be the subject of crowdfunding early next year, with hopes to ship it before the end of 2015.

OS X Yosemite Is Snooping On You

If you have upgraded your Mac to OS X Yosemite, you should be aware that Apple’s operating system is now snooping on you by default. As explained in depth by Wired, Spotlight, the new OS X desktop search tool, automatically uploads your search terms to Apple’s servers, and then shares them with Bing, Microsoft’s search engine.

Thankfully, this setting can be turned off rather easily. Simply go into the Mac OS X Yosemite System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results and deselect ‘Spotlight Suggestions‘, ‘Bookmarks and History‘, and ‘Bing Web Searches‘. Solved.

Spotify Announces New Family Plans

Spotify has announced Spotify Family, a subscription plan for families of up to five people. Using Spotify Family means the next four additional premium accounts paid for on top of the original one enjoy a 50% discount. So, in the U.S., the first subscriber would pay the usual $9.99-per-month, but everyone else in the family would pay just $5 each for all the same benefits. Which is a bonus.

Jail Time For 3D-Printed Guns

Yoshitomo Imura, a 28-year-old man who was previously employed at the Shonan Institute of Technology, has been sentenced to two years in prison for possessing illegal weapons. His crime was making guns using a 3D printer at his home on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan.

This is the first case involving 3D-printed firearms in Japan, and the jail time could set a precedent for future cases. And there will be future cases, as 3D printing isn’t going anywhere, which creates a problem in countries with strict gun laws.

The Wettest Selfie Of All Time

And finally, this video may just show the wettest attempt at taking a selfie ever captured on film. The origins of the recording are unclear, but it shows a reporter interviewing someone on the quayside when an unfortunate man falls into the sea while preparing to take a photo.

We assume he is physically fine, but his pride may be mortally wounded thanks to him being humiliated on live television. And now the Internet. Oops.

Your Views On Today’s Tech News

Why do you think sales of the Apple iPad are in decline? Do you have any interest in a modular smartwatch? Should the 3D-printing of guns lead to jail time?

Let us know your thoughts on the tech news of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Image Credit: Amir Kurbanov via Flickr

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