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Apple Posts New Website with Siri Tips

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It took me a while, maybe a yearm to become accustomed to using Siri. And now I use it all the time. I'm surprised when Siri sometimes responds with, "I'm sorry, Jim, I can't answer that for you." So it helps to have a sense for the ways in which Siri can be the most helpful. To that end, Apple last week posted a new, well-organized Siri website that teaches you all the different ways that Siri can help you. The site advises you to "Talk to Siri as you would to a friend and it can help you get things done — like sending messages, placing calls, or making dinner reservations."



Are You Ready for Ads on Your Apple Watch?

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Ads are one way for developers to make money, as app prices drop to $0.99 or free. And advertisers are always trying to find ways to get in front of people. Advertisers consider devices like the iPhone and iPad the "Second Screen," after television. It looks like smart watches will be the "Third Screen" and may become targets for ads. A new report suggests smartwatch advertising could be a $70 million business by 2019.



WWDC 2015 Announced

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As predicted, Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference will be held the week of June 8, 2015 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Tickets are $1599, not including hotel costs, which can be astronomical, and there are no guarantees of getting a ticket. Interested developers must first apply and then find out on April 20 if they were able to buy a ticket. The developer's credit card on file will be charged automatically. Last year, a developer would be notified that they "won" the raffle and then have a short time period to actually make the purchase. This new policy should cut down on people entering the raffle with multiple ID's or without definite plans to attend.



Apple Makes Apple TV More Affordable for Content Providers

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During Apple's Watch event in March, they dropped the price of the Apple TV from $99 to $69, and introduced HBO NOW, which lets cable customers cut the cord and still get HBO on their Apple devices. The HBO deal was significant because it is Apple exclusive, although just for three months, and users can get a 30 day trial for free. It turns out the deal may be even more significant because it foreshadowed that Apple is slashing the fee it takes from such content providers.



With the Apple Watch, Seeing, and Trying One On, Is Believing

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I was able to order an Apple Watch at 3:10 a.m., EST, Friday, and my watch is on the way. But I wanted to try one on to make sure I ordered the right size, etc. After I placed my order, I booked one of the first appointments for a try on. There was just a short line when I arrived at the Apple Store, and quite a few people were there for the new MacBook, not necessarily for the watch. The staff was getting a quick intro to the watch and the process, which includes custom drawers that can be unlocked only by a specially equipped iPhone.



What You Need to Know about iOS 8.3

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When it comes to operating system updates, a "dot-dot" release is usually reserved for bug fixes, and a "dot" release adds performance enhancements and some minor new functionality. With Apple, a full release, like 7.0 or 8.0 is a major update, often with 1,000-plus new features. True to form, Apple unleashed iOS 8.3 this week and there are just a few features worth mentioning. First, as I covered earlier, depending on your carrier (Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S., EE in the UK), you can now make phone calls using Wi-Fi, without consuming cellular minutes or requiring a cell tower nearby. That means you could make phone calls from overseas, for free, and still appear to be calling from your cellphone number.



An Apple Watch is on the Way

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I was up early, before 3 a.m. Eastern Time, to be sure to be able to order an Apple Watch. As I kept hitting refresh on my Mac's Safari browser, I also kept relaunching the Apple Store app on my iPhone. It was a good thing, too, as the app was ready to take orders several minutes before the website. I was able to place my order successfully by 3:10 a.m, even using Apple Pay and my fingerprint with Touch ID, long before the web site was ready. In fact, the last step in the app is to launch the Apple Store website to show my confirmation, but that part didn't work. Fortunately, I was able to check my order history and it went through.



Deals on Non-Apple Smartwatches

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The Apple Watch isn't the only game in town, and Apple has left quite an opening in the sub-$300 range. Competition is good, and several smart watch makers offer a lot more than just a lower price. Martian Watches offer a traditional analog clock face paired with a small strip of a digital display for Caller ID and text notifications. This saves battery life, and the analog clock uses its own battery which lasts as long as a year. Their higher-end models also add a Bluetooth Speakerphone with Siri voice control. Pebble offers waterproof watches, with e-paper display for a battery life of about a week.



Apple ][ Watch Discovered!

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Behold the Apple ][ Watch. No, this isn't the Apple Watch 2.0 but a "smart" watch based on the original Apple ][ which holds a fond place in my heart, as my first computer. The handiwork that went in to this design is incredible and deserves praise from Jony Ive. It may be "putty" in color and not "Aluminium" but it's a thing of beauty, to me at least; you never forget your first computer!



Make iPhone Calls Over Wi-Fi with iOS 8.3

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Apple just released iOS 8.3 with new emojis and other features, but the most important feature, for Sprint users at least, may be the ability to seamlessly use Wi-Fi to make phone calls. You need to edit some settings to make this magic work. Go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calls. T-Mobile customers have already been able to do this, and now Sprint users of the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 6, and 6 Plus can join in on the fun. And those calls do not count against your cellular minutes!



Apple Watch Packaging Leaked

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Perhaps it's because Apple is so secretive, or because the Apple Watch was preannounced long before its availability, but leaked photos of a watch "in the wild" with its packaging is being analyzed over and over. AppleInsider shows these photos from a now-private Instagram account.



With HBO NOW, Watch Game of Thrones on Your iPhone, or iPad or Apple TV

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During Apple's March 9th Apple Watch event, some stage time was offered to HBO as they introduced HBO NOW. The service allows streaming of all of HBO's content. The service is similar to HBO GO, but does not require an HBO Cable TV subscription.



Want an Apple Watch for Half Price? Apply for a Job!

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When the original Mac was introduced on January 24th, 1984, Apple offered a discounted deal just for students at certain colleges. Steve Jobs was asked how the general public could get such a deal. His one word response... "Enroll." I did, at Carnegie Mellon, one of those colleges, and bought my Mac the day I got to campus. I also applied to work at the school's computer store, and worked there for four years, becoming Apple's Student Representative on Campus!



Is the Apple Watch Kosher?

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It's Passover, so I thought I'd ponder the question "is the Apple Watch Kosher?" Believe it or not, "Kosher" is about more than food. Elevators, lights, and other devices can be consider Kosher or not depending on several factors. The concern is that we are supposed to take the Sabbath as a day of rest... no work. And our actions cannot cause a machine to work on our behalf. That's why "Kosher" elevators stop on every floor during the Sabbath, so you can get on or off, but the machine was operating either way. You didn't touch a button, turning a light on or summoning the elevator. Some folks might keep their lights on (or off) all Sabbath.



Apple Posts "Guided Tour" Videos of New Apple Watch

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Apple has begun posting Guided Tour videos of the forthcoming Apple Watch, with four videos currently available and at least seven more coming soon. A five-minute introductory video again refers to the Apple Watch as being intimate and personal and talks about the technologies it uses and the sorts of interactions it offers.



No 4K Apple TV, But How About an 8K iMac?

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The Apple TV is overdue for an upgrade and many new features are expected. One enhancement we may not get to enjoy is 4K resolution. While 4K content is coming online, at an extra cost from Netflix and others, Apple apparently doesn't think it's worth including in the upcoming Apple TV. Perhaps it could be a software upgrade, or Apple wants to leave room for a follow-on model.



Use Your Old Fashioned Watch for One More Thing

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If you still use an old-fashioned watch to set alarms, but plan to upgrade to an Apple Watch, you have one last alarm to set. At 12:01a.m. Pacific the morning of April 10, the Apple Watch will be available for preorders. I anticipated this, and had already set my iCal alarm for 3 a.m. EST, when the 10th was announced as the order date.



More Rumors that Next iPhone Will Include Force Touch

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One of the special features of the forthcoming Apple Watch is Force Touch: the device senses the level of pressure of your touch. It can distinguish between a light tap and a firmer press, with the latter triggering a contextual menu. This feature has also now been included in two of Apple's new laptops. And rumors are flying that it will also be in the forthcoming iPhones. 



Samsung Boots Management as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Gain

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Samsung had an advantage over Apple for years by offering larger phones or "phablets" while Apple stuck with 4-inch iPhones. That changed with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which offer a 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen, respectively. Korea-based Samsung is also getting squeezed at the low-end by cheaper Android phones from Xiomi and other Chinese manufacturers.



Apple Invites All Developers to Now Submit Apple Watch Apps

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Until Tuesday Apple had only allowed a select group of apps with Apple Watch compatibility to be available in the App Store. But the floodgates have been opened, and Apple has invited all 1.2 million iOS third-party developers to go ahead and submit for review their updates that include Apple Watch functionality. This is where it really gets interesting. The success of the Apple Watch will depend in large part on the response of developers — and how cool their apps are. All indications so far are that we'll be seeing a ton of great apps, including some real game changers. Keep in mind that for now, Apple Watch apps are simply extensions of the same app on one's iPhone. The app resides on the iPhone and pushes functionality to the Apple Watch.



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