I had the opportunity to try the Otterbox Defender and Symmetry Series ($39.95 - $59.95). OtterBox gave me a variety of cases to try, in assorted color combinations. They offer a dizzying array of choices and have come a long way since the old days of basic black cases with the rare yellow or white option.
This is the first Indie Project Corner post, a regular feature we will be undertaking to showcase noteworthy indie development efforts (mostly iPhone-related). It's not easy to get a crowdfunded product off the ground, as any who have done it will tell you, and iPhone Life wants to help by interviewing entrepreneurs and getting the skinny on what makes their products the best. In this first edition, we interview Gene Aikens of The Power Company, maker of the Smart Card, and the iPocket Drive. Gene sent us an early review sample of the iPocket Drive to check out. If you are looking for an alternative to network or cloud-connected storage, you will want an iPocket Drive! Gene shares some great insights in part one of this edition.
For well over a year rumors have been floating around that Apple would come out with a new Apple TV set-top box that would include Siri and an App Store. Now, according to BuzzFeed, it's finally going to happen. Citing "sources familiar with the company's plan," BuzzFeed says the new Apple TV will be introduced in June at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference and that it represents a major overhaul of the device. That overhaul not only includes a new interface but also the capability of controlling smart home devices. With the introduction of HomeKit at WWDC last year, many had expected the Apple TV to play a central role in controlling HomeKit-compatible devices. It looks like that may be happening.
Apple products have always kept their value pretty well and there is a healthy marketplace for used MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads. I don't mind the "Apple Tax" because I'm likely to get a good portion of that value back at trade-in time. My Pebble Watch, which sold a year ago for $150, is only worth $20 on trade but the $349 Apple Watch should do better. Cnet is reporting that Gazelle already has plans to take in, and sell, used Apple Watches.
Apple may have just updated a bunch of products and introduced some completely new ones, like the Apple Watch, but there are quite a few products on their price list that are overdue for a refresh. The iPod line hasn't been touched in almost two years. Considering they list for close to the price of an iPad mini, Apple may feel that customers can get a bigger device for the same price, or buy an iPhone or use a hand-me-down iPhone, without a cellular contract, as a de facto iPod touch. The Apple Watch could take the place of the iPod nano, but at a much higher price.
Attention, guitarists! IK Multimedia announced that the iRig 2 ($39.99)—the signal converting wonder that lets you rock out with a kaleidoscope of filters and patches using the iPad or iPhone—hit the streets today! We have reviewed the iRig and related audio gadgets in the past, but this new version garnered one of our Best of CES awards this year, and a full review will be forthcoming. You can read on for the technical details and first impressions from my brief experience at CES.
Every year, analysts predict the Apple TV will offer a la carte Cable TV channels, and every year they are wrong. Sure, some channels like HBO and ESPN have added "apps" or buttons to the Apple TV, and the HBO NOW announcement, during Apple's Watch event, help Apple inch along towards a set top box replacement. This year is no different, as the Wall Street Journal is getting a little more specific and stating Apple could add about 25 channels and could do so this fall.
I had the chance to try the Pronto Smart Remote ($49.99). It's a nice, affordable way to turn your iPhone into a universal remote control, and it will get better when the Apple Watch is available. The makers promise to make the app work with the Apple Watch, so you can control your TV and A/V equipment from your wrist! How cool is that? The Peel iPhone app also works as a TV guide, but it would be nice if it could leverage the full screen of an iPad. The app talks to the Pronto base station that sits within line of sight of your A/V equipment.
I saw Fugoo's speakers at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Recently, Fugoo gave me the opportunity to try its Sport Wireless Speakers ($199). Fugoo offers a wide variety of speakers, with different materials, textures, colors and capabilities, but they all have one thing in common. They are substantial both in weight and sound quality. And these speakers are waterproof, not just splash proof. At CES, Fugoo drenched their speakers in water and they kept on rocking!
The Apple Watch will be available in a wide variety of configurations, but there is one more way to personalize your Apple Watch that Apple didn't even mention. If you purchase the Sport version, and pick up a second Sport band in a different color, you could mix and match and have a band that is part green and part blue for example. You could use any combination of black, white, pink, blue, and green, perhaps to reflect your favorite sports team or college colors. (I can't do that for my college, since Carnegie Mellon's official "colors" were plaid!) I put together an animated GIF showing the possible color combinations.
Before the Apple Watch was announced, when we learned that Nike was abandoning its Fuel Band, there was speculation that the Apple offering might be more of a fitness band and less of a miniature iPhone. However, that didn't happen and the Apple Watch is indeed bulkier than most fitness bands. Potential customers looking for a smaller band may want to consider the Microsoft Band. Not only is the Microsoft Band smaller, but it's cheaper too, at $199.
With summer soon to arrive, we'll all be spending more and more time outdoors. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to tell when you've had enough sun besides noticing the sudden bright red coloring of your skin?
With Apple's recent unveiling of the next generation of MacBooks (among other things
), it's obvious that portability is becoming an even larger priority than before for both companies and consumers. Booq is staying with the times and its latest tech backpack, the Cobra squeeze ($195)
, aims to do more than just keep your tech with you.
Apple has given us so many choices when it comes to the Apple Watch. The case comes in three metals, each with different shades and a wide assortment of bands, and two sizes, 38 mm and 42 mm. The potential downside is known as paralysis of indecision, or analysis paralysis. I can't even decide what to call it, that's how tough it can be to make a decision!
At the Apple Watch announcement, Apple didn't spell out the differences between the 38 mm and 42 mm versions of the Apple Watch, but we are learning now that the larger device has a larger battery. It makes sense, from what we learned about the new MacBook. Apple loves to cram batteries into every nook and cranny. There is a precedent, as the iPhone 6 Plus has a larger battery than the iPhone 6 (but it also needs a larger battery to power the much bigger screen.)
I've been a big fan of the Apple TV for a while. In addition to Netflix and consumption of various forms of media, the AirPlay feature is a lot of fun. I can wirelessly project my iPhone or iPad's screen to a big screen using the Apple TV. There are even games that take advantage of AirPlay to project a different view to the public. Our family likes to use Party Doodle which works like Pictionary, and the iPad screen shows the clue while the Apple TV only shows the drawing in progress. Games like Real Racing let you use your iOS device as a controller and see a different view of the track, and fellow racers, on the big screen.
JVC gave me a set of Extreme Fitness HA-ETR40 earbuds ($39.95) to try. This sporty pair of earbuds with microphone should meet the needs of most athletes. It's waterproof and washable, so sweat won't be a concern. The customizable fit makes sure the earbuds will stay put during a workout.
Even with a protective case, there's still a chance you can damage your iPhone if dropped from a sufficient height. With the Kenu Highline ($29.95-$34.95)
, dropping your phone becomes a little safer. Just a little.
Bracketron gave me an EZCharge ($24.95) Dual High-Speed USB Charger to try. It could be the best car charger you can buy, and I say that because very often, such car chargers are free, as promotional items. But in this case, you get what you pay for. This car chargers offers a lot of features that make it worth paying for.
The Apple Watch is cool. It might be the next big thing in smartwatches, and it's certainly a step above the rest when comparing it to wearable fitness monitors.
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