Apple's plans for moving to sapphire fell flat when their supplier GT Advanced Technologies filed for bankruptcy, but there may be an alternative on the horizon. Corning, the maker of Gorilla Glass, announced Project Phire this week. Apple hasn't confirmed that they use Gorilla Glass, but it's a poorly kept secret. While Corning has made improvements, Gorilla Glass still has a way to go. There has always been a tradeoff in drop protection and scratch resistance. Sapphire is extremely resistant to scratches, which is why it is used in many watches, as it is second to diamonds in hardness. However, sapphire can be brittle and crack in drop testing.
I made a New Year’s resolution to, as much as possible, eliminate paper from my life. I can’t control all of what comes it, but I can control some of it. And I have complete control over what I keep, within the guidelines of U.S. tax law, of course.
Here is the list of steps I took in January to get My Year of Living Paperlessly off to the right start.
Sprint is getting aggressive and trying to snag customers away from AT&T and Verizon. Their latest effort gives users both an iPhone 6 and an iPad mini 3, with no cash down and no activation fees. Users pay $100 per month, which includes 2 GB of shared data. This is part of their iPhone for Life and iPad for Life program, where users have to tattoo the Sprint logo on their chest. Just kidding. That's not what the program requires! Rather, a customer pays a monthly fee and gets a new iPhone or iPad every two years. Sprint also offers a 12-month plan to upgrade every year. This program reflects a $17 monthly service plan credit for bundling iPhone 6 and iPad Mini 3.
The latest news about the Apple Watch reveals unimpressive battery life, yet at the same time, AT&T and others are suggesting that a smart watch really needs to function as a cellphone, independent of a smartphone. This is a bit of a money grab by cell providers who want customers to pay yet another monthly fee for yet another smart device. But does it make sense for end users?
Android fans will tell you the fragmentation concern is a non-issue, and that most devices are up to date. But Motorola itself posted a note explaining why many of its customers cannot have the latest version of Android, Android 5.0 Lollipop, depending on their device and where they are. Eventually, the rollout may come to most of their premium phones, but that's not true for many second and third-tier manufacturers. Even HTC has their issues. Lower-cost Android phones are too often treated as disposable, taking the mantle from flip phones. Many of those customers don't even run third-party apps, relying instead on the built-in apps for email and texting. I own several such phones, so I can test my Android apps on a variety of devices, and I have no expectation that upgrades will become available.
Apple has set some incredible financial records recently, and with the Apple Watch shipping in April, the trend should continue. So it's no surprise that people will look to capitalize on that success. And our nation's capital is one of the first places where that's happening. Our representatives in Congress are proposing a bill to repatriate revenues from businesses that leverage the tax policies of foreign governments. Countries like Ireland make it attractive for companies like Apple to hold their profits in that country where the money is taxed less, if at all.
On Wednesday Microsoft released their Microsoft Outlook app (free) for iPhone and iPad. The app offers you an integrated interface for email, calendar, contacts, and attachments. You can use it to access your iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and Outlook.com accounts, as well as Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Especially if you're a corporate user, this is a great way to integrate all your accounts in one app.
Apple's quarterly results yesterday smashed expectations and set a record for the highest quarterly profit by any publicly traded company in history. The company had revenue of $74.6 billion and a profit of $18 billion. No other company worldwide has had a quarterly profit as high as that. iPhone sales were the engine for this huge income. Whereas analysts had been optimistically predicting sales of between 65–69 million iPhones, Apple reported sales of 74.6 million. Just to put that in perspective, that amounts to 34,000 iPhones every hour every of the day, every day of the week for the entire quarter. iPhone sales in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan were a big factor in Apple's huge revenue, bringing in $16 billion, with the iPhone now being the highest-selling smartphone in China.
It's great that Apple makes operating system updates free for both iOS and Mac OS users. Even Microsoft is following suit, with Windows 10. And it's great that you can set up your Apple device to automatically download updates. But if you are close to running out of storage space, this can be a problem. A large update file could download without your knowledge and not have enough free space to extract and install the update. Then you end up with even less free space and the inability to update, at least until you delete old photos, videos, movies, and apps. This was exacerbated when Apple automatically downloaded U2's latest album to everyone without their knowledge or approval!
When the Apple Watch was announced, we were told it would ship in "Early 2015." At one point, signs pointed to a February 14 date, which would just barely make it for Valentine's Day gifts. It looks like my wife will have to find something else for me, as now not only will the Apple Watch not make its appearance in February, but it probably will skip March and wait until April. According to Tim Cook, the first four months of the year qualify as "early" and the next four are "mid" and the last four are "late."
On Tuesday, USA Technologies announced support for Apple Pay, bringing this mobile payment system to over 200,000 self-serve appliances throughout the U.S. USA Technologies is a leader of wireless, cashless payment solutions for small-ticket, self-serve retailing industries, according to their press release. Locations and services officially supporting Apple Pay now include owners and operators of coffee brewers, vending machines, kiosks, laundry equipment, parking pay stations, and other self-serve appliances.
Apple took its time releasing a phablet and there were several reasons for that delay. Steve Jobs felt that larger phones were unusable, and that users would appreciate being able to operate the iPhone with one hand. Tim Cook is in charge now and Apple figured out how to control basic functions with one hand using Reachability. This mode is activated by double tapping (not double clicking) the home button, and it can be disabled or enabled in Settings > General > Accessibility. With this mode enabled, apps and menus can be made to display in the lower half or two thirds of the screen, so everything is in reach of your thumb even if you're holding the iPhone in one hand.
Apple has launched a new section in the iTunes Store title "Free on iTunes" that gives you convenient access to free songs and free full-length TV episodes. The music section currently offers 16 songs from artists such as Rogue Wave, Purity Ring, Michelle Chamuel, and Machine Head — which, as you can see, are mostly unknown or up-and-coming artists. The 24 TV episodes available are from TV series such as 12 Monkeys, The Musketeers, K.C. Undercover, Backstrom, and Eye Candy, plus episodes from educational channels such as TLC and Animal Planet. This new section is available in the desktop iTiunes software and on your device.
Everyone knows that Samsung and Google "took" some features from iOS and the iPhone and Apple did the opposite as well. It happens all the time, in every industry. While Apple resorted to help from the courts at times, it appears that the company learned the real lesson. If you don't want your technology to end up in a competitor's product, buy the technology outright. That's what they did with their fingerprint sensor, which has been head and shoulders above the competition, so far.
Are you among the "Gold is Best" crowd? When Apple launched the gold iPhone 5s, did you scour the web and retailers in your area to find your own "golden ticket?" If you prefer gold but think the Apple version is too "champagne" for you and not gold enough, there is another option. As long as you don't mind spending $3,000 or more!
I think I'm Stan Lee's biggest fan, but my daughter might be beg to differ. Lee is responsible for so many of the superheroes I grew up with and that are in the movie theatres today! Without Stan Lee, there would be no Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Avengers, and countless more.
This should be the year of home automation, as Apple's HomeKit specification starts to take root, and CES had a number of products in that arena. The Ring Video Doorbell is a novel product that can replace a doorbell, using the existing wiring. It lets you see who is at the door and communicate with them thanks to a microphone and speaker, all via the free companion app running on an iOS device. This means you can be thousands of miles away and see when a visitor, delivery person, or intruder approaches your door. It's a great idea and at $199, it's reasonably priced. The Ring can also be operated by battery, so you can add a video doorbell to a gate or just about anywhere, as long as it's within range of your home's Wi-Fi.
The Digital Harbor Foundation wants to give you a 3D printer. Thanks to their new Perpetual Innovation Fund, they have set aside funds to give 3D printers to worthy schools and teachers who can make a case for it. In addition to 3D printing, the foundation teachers technical skills like electronics, and web and app programming in their after-school and camp classes.
Analysts are generally expecting Apple to have had a monster quarter for the three months that ended Dec. 31. And they've estimated that Apple will have sold a record 65 to 69 million iPhones in the quarter. That compares to Apple's previous record of 51 million in the December quarter a year earlier. We'll get all the details on Tuesday when Apple announces their results for the quarter after the market closes. Not only are iPhone projections stellar, sales of the Macintosh are also expected to have been high. The big question is the iPad. For three straight quarters, sales have dropped compared to the same quarter a year earlier. Apple always follows their announced results with a conference call with investors. And in an unusual move, the call this time will be webcast. The event will begin at 5 p.m., EST.
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