Tuesday, 30 July 2013

iOS 7 Beta 4 Almost Confirms Fingerprint sensor in Next-Gen iPhone

With the release of the 4th Beta of iOS 7 this morning, root files in the  'Accessibility' area of the system points to a 'biometric' kit. Lines of code in the kit display text such as "Photo of a person holding an iPhone with their left hand while touching the Home button with their thumb " and "A fingerprint that changes colour during the setup process.". This almost certainly confirms that a fingerprint sensor will be present in the next generation device. Judging from the text, the sensor may be on the home screen button, and act primarily as a security and/or accessibility feature. 

(Photo: MacRumours)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Singapore Airlines Launches Cash + Miles for bookings

Singapore Airlines today announced the introduction of its cash and miles offer when making flight bookings. Guests can now make Singapore Airlines or SilkAir bookings by adjusting the ratio of miles to cash. A minimum of 5,000 miles must be used, and the more miles used, the less cash to pay. Some other airlines already have this feature, and it is a very prominent feature when with airlines and frequent flyer stores. 
The new system opens up a huge number of more affordable seats. SIA's  previous system of award flights severely limited availability of flights being booked with KrisFlyer miles. Next year, KrisFlyer members will also be able to use miles to pay for airport, carrier and fuel surcharges/ taxes. A feature that several other airlines already use. Saver flights are now available in all classes on all aircraft. This includes the new Business and First class onboard the new 77-300ERs, and the A380 Suites. Suddenly, flying at the front of the plane on a world class airline like SIA has become a whole lot more affordable. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Qantas increases A380 capacity

Qantas has increased the seating capacity on its A380 fleet by boosting Economy and Premium economy numbers, whilst reducing the number of Business class seats. This brings the total capacity up from 450 to 485 (a 34 seat increase). Previously the airline had 332 Economy seats, and the increase sees 371 Economy seats. Only 3 extra Premium Economy seats have been added (one extra centre row at the rear of the cabin). But all this comes at the cost of removing 8 Business class seats, self-service snack bars, and the new issue with lavatories onboard. The 8 Business seats have been removed to push forward the size of the Economy/Premium cabin on the  upper deck. Previously, only Premium Economy and Business was seen upstairs, but the aircraft are now equipped with 3 classes on the upper deck alone, whilst the main deck stays in the same 2 class configuration. Qantas used to have several self service snack bars in all classes except First. By removing a few in Business class, the airline managed to increase capacity and revenue.
The conversions have been in progress over that past years, and currently all A380s in their fleet follow this configuration. Qantas has several more A380s on offer, some for deliver in 2018 and beyond. The airline is not sure whether the configuration in these aircraft will remain the same.

(Photo: Qantas)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Singapore Airlines Unveils Next Generation Cabins

On July 9 Singapore Airlines held a special event for the media to launch their next generation Economy, Business and First Class as well as their new KrisFlyer entertainment system. The new products will be deployed in September onboard brand new Boeing 777-300ER (77W) aircraft. The cabins will in future be delivered with new 77Ws as well as the A350s and 787-10Xs. The Business and First class seats have had the largest overhaul.

First Class
The new First Class seats have been design by BMW Design Group USA. The seats are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration. In the 777-300ER, the cabin features 8 seats.

The new 'mini suite' boasts a 35 inch wide seat, which can be converted to a 82 inch long bed. The previous seat held a 80 inch long bed. The bed is deployed in the same way as the previous Business seat, in that the seat back folds down to provide a larger, more comfortable bed. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

The new seat contains a 24-inch widescreen, HD entertainment screen, up from the previous 23 inch screen. The mini suite provides a much larger degree of privacy than the previous seat. The walls next to the seat and next to the entertainment screen provide the privacy, whilst the entry gap provides a feeling of space. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

More storage, space and utilities are available in the seat, and are still fully accessible when the large bed is deployed. The colour scheme has changed very much. Instead of the deep brown and tan colours, there are now lighter beiges, metallics, and off greys, used in the linen and suite itself. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

The seat itself is handcrafted in plush leather, coloured in a deep maroon. The contrasting orange stitching and headrest provides added style. SIA will continue to use the Givenchy tableware to serve meals. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Business Class
The new Business seat was design by JPA (James Park Associates). It is also in a 1-2-1 configuration. Several other airlines continue to use pre-designed Business class seats. For example, the SIA medium-hail business follows a pre-designed seat that is widely used by other airlines. American Airlines' new Business Class follows the exact same design (aside from colours) as Cathay Pacific's new Business Class. Airlines using these default seats lack individuality and innovation. However, as Mak Swee Wah (EVP Commercial) said at the Boeing 747 Farewell in April 2012, "The spirit of innovation lives on at SIA...". The new Business seat follows a completely individual, patented design that will not be used by other airlines. 

It is easily visible that the new Business seat rivals most other airlines' First Class cabins. The seat follows the same concept and design and SIA's new First. The new storage area on the side provides room for headphones, amenities and other items, as well as a dedicated laptop stowage area. The new seats provide 28 inches in width and 78 inches in bed length. 
(Photo: Singapore Airlines)

The previous seat reclined up to 128 degrees (but is flipped over to be flat), whilst the new seat can recline further, up to 132 degrees (also being flipped over for a flat bed). It features the new KrisWorld system on an 18 inch (up from 15.4 inches) HD screen. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

In a bed format, the seat uses similar coloured linen to the new First Class. There is now more space on the sides of the bed, as well as easier access to storage when in the flat position. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

SIA continues to use Givenchy linen. The new pillow designs are visible, and are very different from the current plain blue. The idea of patterns and textures are visible throughout the new cabins. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

The seats feature a cocktail tray on the front seat back, as well as a vanity mirror. Other accessories, including the ICT panel is located near the seat. The dining table is larger and fully height adjustable. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Economy Class
The new Economy Class features a complete redesign of the visual aspect. It is presented in a 3-3-3 format in the 77W. Whilst other Star Alliance airlines are adopting the 'Star Plus' Economy seat design (put in place to provide a uniform travel experience across the Star Alliance network), SIA has gone for their own, individual design.

The 3-3-3 configuration provides much more space and comfort compared to some airlines that use the 2-5-2 configuration in 777 Economy Class. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

The new seat features a brand new colour scheme. The alternating brown and blue seats follow the same concept as the previous Economy seat. The new stitching adds to the theme of texture and pattern carried through the new products. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

1 more inch of recline has been added to the seat. As well as this, there is slightly more legroom. New seat cushions provide more comfort and ergonomic support. The headrest has been specially designed to add to comfort through the extended availability of positions. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

An 11.1 inch (increased from 10.4 inch) HD screen has been added, and features the new KrisWorld. It keeps the in-screen reading light, allowing Economy passengers to have further control over lighting (being able to change brightness from the screen light as well as turn on the overhead lamp). (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

The new KrisWorld entertainment system boasts the new Panasonic eX3 system. An upgrade from the eX2 system currently used. The new system features larger screens across all classes with much higher resolutions. The software has been completely redesigned and moves away from the blue coloured theme. All seats have access to power, HDMI ports and USB ports. The IFE (In Flight Entertainment) screen provides a document suite for the editing and creation of word processing and spreadsheet documents, without the use of a laptop. The eXport port is added (it is available on the A330 and A340 currently) to connect iPod/iPhone/iPad to the IFE for viewing photos and videos. The new aircraft will feature wireless connectivity. Passengers will be able to connect their devices to Wi-Fi, as well as use mobile phones onboard, when connected to the onboard network. The IFE screens themselves are networked, and passengers have the ability to Tweet or Facebook their location through the screen itself. The new system will have a large array of other software features, which will be discovered when the aircraft enter service. The new system will be far more responsive than the previous generation. They also feature touch screen capabilities, a feature enjoyed by many passengers. The remote for the IFE is the most innovative feature of the system. It is a touchscreen monitor itself with a high definition display. It is a secondary display that can be used to select entertainment options, control playback, act as a game controller and more. It still features some physical buttons on the front face. 

The new cabins are a major leap in air travel. SIA currently does not have plans to retrofit current aircraft with the new seats, but it is an available option for the future. The new cabins will be deployed on the 777-300ER in September on the Singapore-London route. Currently, the iconic A380 Suites will remain onboard the A380 as 'A Class Beyond First'. If SIA does decide to retrofit the A380 with the new cabins, it is not clear whether the Suites will be removed for the new First class, if the Suites will see a major update, or if the Suites will remain onboard the A380s for years to come. 

All photos in this post are owned by Singapore Airlines Ltd. 
Information gathered from Singapore Airlines Ltd.; Previous Knowledge; Australian Business Traveller