While pundits continue to look for a new Apple TV box that lets users break with their cable companies, perhaps Apple's approach is to slowly offer cord-cutting features with the existing Apple TV and iOS devices. Each new feature takes a step in the right direction. Instead of cutting the cord with a Samurai sword, we have the equivalent of death by a thousand paper cuts. Case in point, ABC now lets users watch full-length episodes on the Apple TV or iOS device, even if they don't have a cable subscription.
We love our iPhones, and use them so much that we often run out of power. What to do? Carry a spare battery pack. These are some of my favorites. TYLT makes some attractive accessories and one that deserves a spot in your gadget bag is the TYLT Energi Travel Charger. It replaces the USB wall charger that comes with your iPad or iPhone, but what sets it apart is it includes a battery. You need to carry a wall charger anyway, so why not carry one that incudes a battery. You can double the life of your iPhone battery while on the go.
Other manufacturers must find it difficult competing with Apple, a fact that's clearly in evidence in a new survey showing that Apple is the top brand in wearables — even though the Apple Watch isn't out yet. The survey, by Ipsos, asked the over 2,000 respondents which brands they would consider purchasing in the wearables category. Apple led the way, with 62%, followed by Google (44%), which has Google Glass, and Samsung (43%), which has the Galaxy Gear watch. According to Ipsos, this is because the dominant consideration when consumers purchase a wearable is integration across devices, and Apple has long led the way in this regard. Consumers want to be able to easily integrate their wearable device with their smartphone, computer, and tablet. Other important factors are brand confidence and reliability. The survey found that 70% will only choose a brand they trust.
People always ask me what to get the person who has everything. My response? Something to keep it in. Or in the case of an iPhone, iPad or MacBook, something to dock it in. My favorite docks come from HengeDocks. I've used their MacBook docks for years as they make it easy to reconnect keyboard, monitors, and other peripherals on demand. You have to make sure you get the right model for your particular MacBook, but it is one of the first things I look for when I get a new MacBook!
The Apple Watch isn't shipping until early next year, but it's already having an impact. Existing smartwatches are dropping in price and trying to carve out a niche before the $349 version from Apple ships. Case in point, Pebble, the one that arguably started it all. The $10 million Kickstarter-backed project offered a smartwatch for the masses, at $100 for backers (including myself) and eventually retailed for $150. The higher-end Steel model sold for $250. Now the original Pebble is back to $100 (and $80 at some outlets) and the Steel is a more reasonable $200 (and only $150 at some outlets.) I appreciate the long battery life, magnetic charging, and waterproof capabilities of my Pebble, but I also like my Martian Watch which offers Voice Command via a Siri button. That watch was $300 but can now be picked up for as little as $230 at Staples. They also have a cheaper Notifier product line that doesn't include the speakerphone and voice capabilities but still provides notifications.
Many traditional watch makers sat on the sideline while smartwatches from Pebble, Motorola, Samsung, LG, and others were released. But now that Apple is about to release their Apple Watch, with heavy emphasis on fashion and the high-end market, those luxury watch makers no longer have the luxury of waiting. With the Apple Watch starting at $350, and rumored to stretch to $5,000 or more for the gold models, this is a shot across the bow for Rolex and others.
Mini Motor Racing ($0.99), the miniature racing game, garnered an App store award in 2012 with it's primo graphics, twisty tracks, and bouncy physics. It reminds me of a graphically enhanced version of the Windows Mobile classic, K-Rally (though K-rally also featured weapons which was so fun it was crazy). If you missed the original game, you can still grab it, or you can get the freemium, enhanced WRT version when it's released later this week! I give the two games a bit of a comparison in this mini-review.
This is part two of my Holiday Gift Guide. Part one covered headphones and today's topic is Wireless Speakers. For the low-end "Good" selection, I like the Boombotix REX. The sound is good and it comes from a compact yet robust package. It's durable and water resistant, with all ports sealed by rubber flaps. There's a strong belt clip so you can take the Boombotix with you and not worry about the weather.
Every year, around this time, people ask me what they should get as a gift for some tech lover in their life. So I put together a presentation entitled Todd's Holiday Gift Guide: Good/Better/Best. This way, purchasers can decide what their budget is and pick out an appropriate gift! The categories I addressed include Headphones, Wireless Speakers, Stylus, Chargers, Docks, Smart Home Devices, and Smart Watches.
Apple's holiday ad last year, titled "Misunderstood," won an Emmy for "Most Outstanding Commercial." It featured a boy playing with his iPhone over the course of a holiday family gathering, seemingly on the periphery, and keeping to himself. But all the while he was shooting and editing a video of the family's activities, which he then played for everyone — and touched their hearts. This year's ad, titled "The Song," is equally moving.
Do you ever stop and wonder how your favorite rugged waterproof iPhone case is designed and produced? I recently had the opportunity to chat with the owners and creative forces behind Catalyst, the manufacturer of my own favorite waterproof case; and from the sound of it, it's no simple matter. The conversation we had really shines a light on just how much energy, attention, and commitment to the highest standards are poured into their exceptional line of extreme duty cases.
If you missed out on Black Friday deals, there are still some good prices to be had. And that will likely continue through the holiday season. Most recently Walmart has lopped $50 off their already discounted regular price for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. An iPhone 6 (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint) with 16 GB memory is $129, and the 6 Plus is $229, according to a report on Bloomberg. This is with a two-year contract. The discount is also available for the 64 GB iPhone 6 model. This may be in-store only, since I can only find their prepaid phones on their website.
Ever since I started using computer back in 1982, with my first Apple ][ Bell & Howell Edition, I have needed to wear glasses. Staring for hours at tiny screens didn't help matters and I've worn prescription lenses ever since. It's just a necessary evil, with my job requiring so much computer interaction. However, Scientific American tells us about future phones that could do the vision correction on their own, allowing users to view the screen without glasses.
United Airlines is purchasing 23,000 iPhone 6 Plus phones for their flight attendants. I thought my family had a lot of iPhones but that's ridiculous! Seriously, each flight attendant will get the large iPhone for official use.
The Apple Watch is supposed to arrive "in early 2015" and some have even tried to nail down the date as February 14. While that would make for an excellent Valentine's Day gift for my wife to get me (hint hint) it would require a massive production operation in January. And that appears to be exactly what is happening, according to reports from observers of manufacturers in China.
The "official" Steve Jobs movie, based on his approved biography by Walt Isaacson, has had its share of turmoil. The Ashton Kutcher movie was rushed out, whereas this version has stumbled a bit. It has changed movie studios and lead actors. Now it looks like one of the supporting roles has been cast, with Jeff Daniels, star of critically-acclaimed projects like The Newsroom, may take on the role of John Sculley. They share similarities in appearance, so that's a good casting choice. But what I can't get over is Daniels is still in theaters in Dumb and Dumber To. I don't know if they are sending a message, but pushing Steve Jobs out of Apple was a dumb move.
The Apple Watch is more than just a new product category for Apple: it's a new direction into fashion. There was a fascinating discussion on Quora speculating that Apple didn't name it iWatch because it's not just another gadget being added to a family of gadgets. Instead, the Apple Watch is being positioned as a fashion accessory. And if there were any doubt about its positioning, a report on 9T05Mac says that Apple is currently hiring fashion/luxury experts for their retail stores in preparation for the Apple Watch going on sale next year. According to a document obtained by the website, Apple is recruiting people with a "fashion or luxury background." Add to this the fact that Apple's new head of retail is Angela Ahrendts, who left her job as CEO Burberry, a British luxury fashion company whose line includes fashion accessories. In 2013 Apple also hired Paul Deneve, the former CEO of the Yves Saint Laurent luxury brand. Plus, there's the 18-karat gold Apple Watch that is clearly meant to be a fashion statement. Finally, there was the photoshoot in the November issue of Vogue China that featured model Liu Wen sporting various Apple Watches.
Apple's Best of 2014 Awards have been posted. This annual event helps guide you to the best apps, podcasts, ebooks, music, movies, TV shows, and more. You can view the lists by using the iTunes software on your computer or by using the App Store, iTunes Store, and Podcasts apps on your device. Apple has selected Elevate - Brain Training (free) as app of the year, and Hyperlapse from Instagram (free) as runner-up. Elevate uses mini-games to help you improve your memory, focus, and other cognitive skills. Hyperlapse is a tool for creating time-lapse videos. Game of the year is Threes ($2.99), a number puzzler. Runner up is Leo's Fortune ($4.99), a platform adventure game. In addition to these winners, Apple also gives a list of the 25 best apps and 25 best games of 2014. The listing of apps includes a number of long-time favorites, such as Star Walk ($2.99) and Camera+ ($2.99), but there are also many other titles that are new to me. Definitely worth checking out.
Did you miss out on a great iPad deal during the Cyber Monday madness? Have no fear, Best Buy is here, and the savings are from $50 to $100 on the new iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2. The more expensive the device, the better the savings, so Apple's newest, most powerful tablets cost about as much as last year's models. For example, a 128 GB iPad mini 3 costs about $500, which is the same as a 128 GB iPad mini 2. Going big is a no-brainer.
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