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iPhone Life Blogger's Choice Awards: Best Apps of 2014

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We know you've come to rely on the bloggers at iPhoneLife.com for helpful reviews of all the best offerings in the App Store. With over 1 million apps for your iPhone and over 475,000 apps for your iPad, deciding which apps to download can be overwhelming. That's why we asked all of our bloggers to vote for their favorite apps released or updated in 2014. Here are their top two apps in each of six categories!



Rumor: Apple to Bring Out New 4-Inch iPhone in 2015

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A rumor keeps popping up that Apple may be developing a new 4-inch iPhone that it will launch next year alongside its larger brethren. According to a post on AppleInsider, which cites a market analyst with sources in Apple's supply chain, the phone may be called the iPhone 6s mini and have the same styling as the current iPhone 6 models, such as curved screen edges. It would take its place of the low end of Apple's offerings, replacing the iPhone 5c. And I'm guessing also the iPhone 5s. It's also rumored that Apple will use low-cost components from Qualcomm to keep the costs down.



Seven Percent of iPhone Users Planning to Buy Apple Watch

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According to AppleInsider, which cites a survey by the investment firm Piper Jaffray, some 7 percent of iPhone users say they're planning to buy an Apple Watch. That doesn't sound like a lot, except that over the past 3 years Apple has sold over 450 million iPhones worldwide. So 7 percent of that figure is 31 million. That's a significant number, and some analysts are predicting that Apple will sell that many Apple Watches in 2015. Interestingly, that figure of 7 percent is a slight decline from the 8 percent who said after the September Apple Watch announcement that they were planning to buy. AppleInsider suggests that consumers have a wait-and-see attitude toward the Apple Watch: they're waiting until they have more information before making a decision.



Holiday Crunch Time: Last Minute Deals

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Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those days are in the past. It is now the week of Christmas and any hopes of getting a gift in time require either spending a fortune in shipping, buying a virtual gift online, or, my preference, buying local. If I needed a reminder of this, all I had to do was look at my inbox this morning. While it's normally full of app review requests, today I saw a ton of "Last Chance" emails!



iPhone Life Blogger's Choice Awards: Best Games of 2014

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We know you've come to rely on the bloggers at iPhoneLife.com for helpful reviews of all the best offerings in the App Store. With over 1 million apps for your iPhone and over 475,000 apps for your iPad, deciding which apps to download can be overwhelming. That's why we asked all of our bloggers to vote for their favorite apps released or updated in 2014. Here are their top two apps in each of six categories!



Apple Pay Off to Strong Start, Has More Active New Users Than PayPal

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All indications are that iPhone 6 users love Apple Pay, finding it both convenient and secure. In fact, new users of Apple Pay use the service approximately three times more frequently than new PayPal users, according to a report by ITG Investment Research. Their analysis found that "60 percent of new Apple Pay customers used Apple Pay on multiple days through November, suggesting strong customer engagement. In comparison, New PayPal customers used the service on multiple days during the same time period just 20 percent of the time." The top five locations where people used Apple Pay in the first six weeks of its availability were Whole Foods, Walgreens, McDonalds, Panera Bread, and Subway.



Holiday Gift Guide: A Stylus for Your iOS Device

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Every iOS user can use a stylus once in a while, no matter what Steve Jobs said. Some games are easier to play if your finger (and hand) don't obstruct the view. Sometimes you might need to draw or sign a signature. Here are some styluses that work well:



ABC and Apple Offer More TV Choices

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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.



Holiday Gift Guide: Chargers

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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.



Survey Finds Apple Is Top Brand in Wearables — Despite Fact Apple Watch Not Yet Available

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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.



Holiday Gift Guide: Docks

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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!



Apple Watch Is Already Having an Impact

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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.



TAG Heuer Answers Apple Watch Wakeup Call

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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 WRT - Free to Play Sequel to hit App stores this week!

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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.



Holiday Gift Guide: Wireless Speakers

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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.



Holiday Gift Guide: Good, Better, Best

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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 Again Airs Touching Holiday Ad

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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. 



An Interview with Catalyst on Designing the Perfect Waterproof iPhone Case

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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 matterThe 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.



Walmart Drops Price on iPhone 6/6 Plus; Best Buy Offering iPad Discounts

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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.



An iPhone with Prescription Glass?

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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.



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