I'm a big fan of the MacTech Conferences, and iPhone Life Magazine is a media sponsor. The events bring together some of the brightest independent minds in the Mac and iOS universe, both as speakers and attendees. The once-a-year event in California has so many topics and speaker sessions worth attending that I wish I could clone myself to attend them all! An easier solution might be to attend a local MacTech Pro event. It costs less, especially if you live near one of the nine locations and is a single-track, hotel-based seminar, specifically geared to serve the needs of professional consultants, IT Pros and techs who support others on OS X and iOS. The first MacTech Pro will take place on March 4, 2015 in Seattle.
The iPad introduced a new way to interface with our computers. Before tablets, our computers could rest on a desk, table, or lap. As iPads became thinner and thinner, they still put a strain on your hands when held for prolonged periods. This has caused an array of accessory makers to develop innovate stands for tablets and smartphones. This year, at the Consumer Electronics Show, there were several notable stands on display.
The Apple Watch is Apple's next big (or little) thing and new details are starting to leak out. According to 9to5mac, the battery life could be as low as 2.5 to 4 hours for active application use and up to 19 hours of combined active and passive use. Standby mode could last for two to three days, but it's hard to expect early adopters will shell out $349 to $1000 to leave their watch in standby mode. To make the battery last longer, don't expect it to constantly display the time. Like many Android devices, it will blank the screen to save power and turn on when the sensors detect you're glancing at your watch.
It's a sad day, as a longtime (since 1984) Mac user. We lost MacWorld magazine last year (and the MacWorld tradeshow) and now MacUser has logged off for the last time. In fact, www.MacUser.com redirects to www.MacWorld.com, which is still around as an online publication. Both magazines were helpful when I, along with the rest of the PC counterculture rebelled to make sure "1984 won't be like 1984!" It was a great way to keep in touch with Apple news and learn about programs and accessories. I also looked forward to the different editorials and columns from like-minded (and not-so-like-minded) writers.
CES is over but the products that were presented are just hitting the markets or in some cases, aren't available yet. One of my perennial favorite product categories at CES is headphones and there were some distinctive sets introduced. Anyone can make headphones and make them loud, but Kidz Gear takes a different approach. Instead of trying to make them loud, they make them safe for kids' sensitive ears. After all, damage to the ear canal can be bad enough for old rockers like Pete Townshend, but for kids with their whole future ahead of them, it's an even bigger deal.
It's not a surprise that Samsung might be copying another feature from the Apple iPhone, especially since that feature, Touch ID, is over a year old. Samsung has already had a fingerprint reader, but it was the old fashioned kind that required the user to swipe their finger at just the right speed and angle to be recognized.
Every year, Apple updates their "A" series of chips that power the iPhone and iPad, prompting speculation that such a chip might find its way into the Mac product line. There are a lot of compelling reasons why that could happen, but there are usually more compelling reasons against it. Which is probably why it hasn't happened yet. However, the buzz is growing around an A-series chip in Apple's next low-end MacBook Air. Apple could control their destiny, using their own chip instead of relying on (and paying) Intel.
It's hardly shocking when Samsung copies features from Apple (or when Apple copies Samsung and Android) but it is noteworthy that the recent revelations from Samsung, at CES, indicate that their next Galaxy S6 smartphone borrows heavily from Apple's design choices. Specifically, Samsung's next phone should have a metal back, like Apple, which is a good thing. But Samsung may be copying some of the features even loyal Apple fans don't appreciate. The next Samsung phone will have a non-removable battery and non-expandable memory. Instead of leveraging their advantage over Apple, with removable batteries and expandable microSD storage, Samsung is eliminating that distinction.
After a long week at the Consumer Electronics Show, it's time to reflect on what we just experienced. CES isn't really just a show anymore; it's a show of shows, each with its own theme. When I get back each year, my friends and family ask me what was "The Big Thing?" Because the show is so big, I've decided to break down the "theme" into multiple themes. This year, the different "big things" were as follows:
Too many iPhone cases, especially the rugged kind, obstruct the Lightning port and make it impossible to simply dock your phone. STM has gotten around this with their Harbour case in a clever way. First, the case has a wider opening around the Lightning dock than most cases do. I was able to dock my iPhone 6 in the STM Harbour case in several different docks that usually give me trouble with other cases.