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.
Recently, I wrote about how some retailers like CVS and Rite-Aid are blocking Apple Pay, even though they already had the equipment in place to accept it. They are favoring their own digital payment system, CurrentC, developed by a consortium of retailers. Even though CurrentC is in beta and uses inferior technology (QR Codes vs NFC) and requires linking to your bank account or a gift card (causing customers to forgo credit card protection and benefits like points), these retailers are sticking to their guns. And CurrentC is getting hammered in App Store reviews. And it's already been hacked, leaving many users worried.
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.
In a remarkable display of tone-deafness, a pair of pharmacies are not only choosing not to accept Apple Pay, but they are disabling their existing NFC (Near Field Communication) registers specifically to stop Apple Pay from working. CVS and Rite-Aid already had NFC terminals that accepted Google Wallet, and could also accept Apple Pay, but they have turned them off.
Do you know what #GamerGate is? It's a term that's received a great deal of publicity lately. If you are a someone who plays a lot of video games and keeps up with current events then you are likely quite familiar with GamerGate. Whatever your gaming platform of choice happens to be, whether it's a console, a tablet, or a smartphone, if you are more than a casual gamer then the issues that are swirling around the hashtag #GamerGate have to do with you. GamerGate is about the sometimes controversial content of video games, the people that play them, and the press that covers them, and from a broader perspective, GamerGate is about lingering stereotypes and prejudices that play out in video game land.
Recently, Apple expanded their beta programs for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, making it easier for non-developers to gain access (legitimately) to pre-release software. Now they're making it easier for developers to do the same with their apps. I've used Testflight before as a way to share unreleased and beta versions of apps with colleagues and customers, but you were limited to 100 devices and the process could be a pain.
"Today I'm going to test what you all ask yourself."
Really, Marvin from Germany? Do we all ask ourselves if our brand spankin' new, shiny, expensive electronics will bend? Personally, I think #BendGate has gotten a little out of hand. Check out the video below:
The good news is Apple Pay makes it easier and safer to pay than ever before. That's a also the bad news. Now that Apple makes it so easy to pay for things, you'll be tempted to pick up the tab more often! So how does it work? First, you'll need iOS 8.1 and new hardware, such as the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or in early 2015, an Apple Watch. You can also pay using Apple Pay within apps on the iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3, but not in stores as those devices do not have the necessary NFC (Near Field Communication) hardware.
Just outside of Redmond, WA, center of the Microsoft universe, lies a little city we like to call Seattle. Seattle is the home to OmniGroup, a company dedicated to writing some of the best, and more enduring, Macintosh software around, along with complementary iOS apps to facilitate the increasingly mobile lifestyles of their customers.
I just heard from MacTech folks that they're making special pricing available to our readers! The below link will get iPhone Life readers an EXTRA $100 off the registration price when they register. In other words, the pre-registration pricing ($1299) will end this weekend. The below link locks in the rate at $1199 during that time. Then it goes up by $200. http://www.mactech.com/conference/sponsored-discount?rid=iPhoneLife
Apple promised iOS 8.1 would be out this week and it is. The update uses only 126 MB but adds features like Apple Pay for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as iCloud Photo Library and integrated SMS messaging for iPad and Mac computers. Those are the new features, but of course there are bug fixes and reliability enhancements.
Apple didn't release a smart home device this year, but instead unleashed HomeKit, an SDK to help third parties do what they do best... make home automation equipment that, now, can be based on Apple's standards. Several vendors have stepped up to the plate, which is good because it's hard to find one vendor that has everything a smart home owner would need.
I just read a touching and uplifting story about an autistic boy befriending Siri. I am a huge Siri fan and have written about her more than once in this blog, but I have a new found admiration for the programmers who developed Siri.
If you like and use the SoundHound music app (free), which can guess melodies like a musical savant, then you might want to add TouchTunes (free). SoundHound recently announced a team up with TouchTunes: an in-venue entertainment and music platform that provides service at over 60,000 locations. With SoundHound and TouchTunes together, you can now get your online music choices queued up when visiting any TouchTunes supported location!
The enhancements to the iPad Air and iPad mini were expected and appreciated, but they still come with Apple's premium price. Apple has managed to make the iPad family the top selling tablet, but it's still priced higher than typical Android devices. If you have embraced the Apple ecosystem of apps, music, contacts, ebooks and more, those Android units just don't fit the bill.
Apple didn't announce anything earth-shatteringly out of this world today. What they announced was more of the same steady excellence that marks all their product releases. More wireless integration and excellent cloud service synchronicity across their product line that will make it all but impossible to want or need to stay connected to the PC realm. If you are a PC, your world became a little bleaker today.
Today's event showcasing two new iPads (alongside an iMac and Mac Mini) came and went without many unexpected revelations. This was in part due to the constant leaks and incessant rumors that seem to be everywhere prior to Apple's press events.
Nothing Apple introduced today was truly unexpected, yet it still managed to impress in a big way. Here's a rundown of what excited us most at today's keynote.
App developers heard some great news today when Tim Cook announced that WatchKit, the software development kit for building apps for the upcoming Apple Watch will be released next month (November)!
As I discussed previously in my Developing Next-Generation Apps for the Apple Watch post, this provides a great opportunity for app developers to get in the ground floor of a new technology and get noticed.
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