According to the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, which has fairly good sources but isn't always reliable, production of the custom-designed chip for the forthcoming Apple Watch is about to begin. This is a good sign, suggesting that this new accessory from Apple is on track for an early 2015 release. Some recent rumors have slated it for February 14, though an internal company video suggested it would arrive in the spring.
There has never been a better time for fans of smart watches and fitness bands. The Apple Watch validates the market, yet has enough shortcomings that it leaves room for competitors. I've worn a Pebble since they were available and I appreciate many of the features it offers, but it's getting a little long in the tooth. It doesn't offer any of the health sensors that are so popular these days.
It's unlikely that Apple had much role in designing the new Beats headphones that were released today, given the product design lifecycle, but they are the first Beats products announced since Apple acquired the firm for $3 billion this summer. The Solo2 Wireless headphones operate via Bluetooth and offer 12 hours of battery life. A RemoteTalk cable can be used to turn the wireless headphones into wired ones, complete with an inline microphone. This is useful if the battery dies runs out, or for Airplane Mode use.
I'd been wanting to start smartening up my home, so when I received an email offering a free sample of smart light bulbs from Connected By TCP, I jumped at the opportunity. And I couldn't be more pleased with them. During these dark winter months, it can be pretty dreary arriving home in the evening after dark. In the past I'd sometimes turn on my porch light when I left home in the afternoon, knowing that I'd be arriving home in the dark and could avoid fumbling to get the key in the door. But it always seemed a waste to have the light on for hours.
Amazon may have stumbled with the Kindle Fire Phone, due to pricing missteps and other issues, but they're not done innovating and working on integrating their technology into our daily lives. Today, Amazon preannounced the Echo, an unassuming speaker that does a lot more than play music. The cylindrical device sits in your home and is always listening for verbal commands. Similar to Siri, you can ask Echo for weather reports, to play music, etc. The gadget has omni-directional speakers and microphones that can listen to commands even if they come from far away.
Unlike the usual rumor cycle for a forthcoming iPhone, in which the details are unknown, the Apple Watch rumor cycle is different, since we know many of the details and exactly how it will look. What's unknown is when it will arrive and how much the various models will cost. So let the Apple Watch rumor cycle begin, with blog posts on Tuesday repeating information from a French website about cost and arrival date. According to a post on AppleInsider, the website iGen (which had accurately reported the dimensions for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus before their release) has reported that the 18-karat gold Apple Watch will sell for between $4,000 and $5,000. The steel model will come in at $500, and the Sport model will be the one that will start at $349 — the price Apple gave during their announcement. In addition, the website reported that Apple is targeting February 14 for the release date.
I get pitched a lot of Kickstarter projects for "the slimmest portable charger ever," but I'm hesitant to recommend Kickstarter projects that might never see the light of day. Fortunately, today at Stan Lee's Comikaze, I was able to try the Slimz by MobileJuice.com. This is a credit card size charger with a twist. Many such chargers offer a USB port and expect you to add a Lightning or microUSB cable. The Slimz includes a pull out microUSB cable and a tiny converter that turns the microUSB port into a Lightning port.
As an avid cyclist, I have ridden countless miles and used many different devices to mount/carry/protect my phone. The good people at Wahoo Fitness sent me the PROTKT Bike Mount and Case ($49.99)for my iPhone 5s to review and I have to say, I am impressed. Let's take a look at this bad boy.
It's that time of year again. Right after a new iPhone comes out there is the inevitable deluge of great cases to protect your new investment. This happens with every iPhone release, but perhaps never more markedly than with the introduction of the completely new form factors of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. If ever an iPhone called for a protective case it is these large and larger models, with their increased real estate, slick, rounded edges and extra heft. Rather than clump an assortment of different cases together, I'll be focusing on one great case each week over the course of the coming months. In a break from the norm, this week we are featuring two cases that are currently still in the funding stage at Indegogo; the LUNATIK TAKTIK 360° ($99) and their AQUATIK ($79.99) waterproof protective cases.
The iPhone 6 is beautiful, but you probably want to protect it without adding too much bulk. The Crusta case from Amzer ($45) might be the solution. Thanks to a robust set of color choices, you can have a unique design combination, 42 combinations in all. Plus, you can still show off that gold iPhone 6, thanks to the tempered glass back. They also have a tempered glass screen protector as an option. The effect makes the Crusta look and feel like just a bumper, but it provides all around coverage with six-foot drop protection and dust proof connections.
I need a Lightning cable in my car, as well as a microUSB cable. My iPhone might be in a battery case that uses microUSB to charge, and I also have some Android devices. I keep a cheap no-contract phone in my car, for emergencies, just to dial 911 if needed. So I like to have Lightning and microUSB options.
As I prepare for a week of travel, I'm trying to pack as light as possible. I know I'll need a Lightning cable or two, for my iPhone and iPad, so one of those cables will be the Kero Nomad ($24.99). It's a tiny little thing, at about three inches long. There's a removable cap that can fit on a keyring. I was worried that the cap might come off, and I'd lose the cable, but the cap connection is quite sturdy, so that concern was alleviated. There are other cables that are about as small, but they are usually quite stiff. This makes it hard to connect an iPhone to a wall plug, and you have to prop up the phone to make a good connection. Fortunately, the Kero Nomad is flexible and that concern also goes away.
It's hard to find one case that meets all your needs, but the ibattz mojo REFUEL ARMOR S Removable Battery Case comes close. First off, it is a rugged, splash-resistant case. It accommodates the Touch ID fingerprint reader on the iPhone 5s through a rubberized flap that normally covers the home button but pulls down to reveal the sensor. There's a screen protector built in as well.
When Apple announced the Apple Watch, they said it would be available in early 2015 — but didn't say anything more specific than that. And they still haven't. However, in an internal video memo, a transcript of which was leaked to 9To5Mac, Angela Ahrendts said in passing that the Apple Watch will be coming out in the "spring." In addition, she said that it would be coming after the Chinese New Year, which is February 19.
As I was preparing for an article on the future of iOS gaming (for the current issue of iPhone Life magazine), I had the pleasure of interviewing Tino Soelberg, Chief Technology Officer of gaming peripheral manufacturer SteelSeries.
It's that time of year again. Right after a new iPhone comes out there is the inevitable deluge of great cases to protect your new investment. This happens with every iPhone release, but perhaps never more markedly than with the introduction of the completely new form factors of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. If ever an iPhone needed a case it is these large and larger models, with their increased real estate, slick, rounded edges, and extra weight. Rather than clump a bunch of individual cases together I'll be focusing on one great case each week over the course of the coming months. This week's featured case is the stylish Access Italian leather case by Nodus, which is currently available at a special discounted pre-order price for a limited time.
I don't like to recommend Kickstarter projects too much, because I've been burned and I hate to let others down. But once in a while a project comes along, like the Pebble watch I backed on Kickstarter, that makes it worth it. That was an example of an existing smartwatch firm, with a good design, and experience, and enough money already raised to make the product a reality (eventually.) There's another project, the Pronto power pack, from a group who has experience in the field, the backing of Shark Tank's Mark Cuban, and way more than the $50,000 they sought already raised. So the signs are good.
While all the attention in the smartwatch arena was on Apple, Microsoft snuck in a wearable that looks more like a fitness band, but offers some smart tricks. Most notably, while the Microsoft Band works (best) with Windows Phone, it also works with Android and iOS. When you're in third place, you have to acknowledge the leaders, and Microsoft made sure their wearable worked with the top two platforms. However, Cortana, Microsoft's answer (and some might say a superior one) to Siri is the only voice command option. This could be a Trojan horse to get people to try the band and then migrate to a Windows Phone to take full advantage. But the Apple Watch should be out soon enough.
When Apple preannounced their Apple Watch, some naysayers complained that the watch doesn't work as a standalone device. It requires an iPhone to be fully functional. But those critics should be careful what they wish for. There are competing smartwatches that can accept a SIM card and access the Internet directly via a cellular carrier, but those wearables may require a data contract, and that can cost as much as a phone or tablet would cost.
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal at their WSJD Live event and discussed the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, with a brief mention of Apple TV. He approved of HBO's plans to unbundle HBO GO from a cable subscription, allowing new customers to get HBO without requiring cable, similar to Netflix.
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