How the mighty have fallen. Sapphire manufacturer GT was lauded as the next great investment based on their arrangement with Apple. The speculation was that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus would have sapphire screens, sourced from GT, and would result in payments of $578 million from Apple, in installments. Alas, the new iPhones still use glass screens, and while some of the Apple Watches will have sapphire screens, the expectations were too high. GT has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and their stock has plummeted 90 percent to around $1.
Can Apple read your mind? With iOS 8, it looks like it! Apple has caught up with Android and other platforms that offer a form of predictive Text called QuickType. This means, when composing text, your iOS device will suggest words that it thinks you want to use. While AutoCorrect guessed at a word, based on the letters you type, QuickType predicts what word you might type next based on the context of your message or document.
Buyers remorse. We've all been there. On Black Friday, I wanted an iPad mini with Retina display, but the deal on the iPad Air, with the same specs but a larger screen, made it the best buy (at BestBuy, naturally.) But I knew from my previous ownership of iPad minis and earlier iPads, that I was going to prefer the smaller form factor. Not only is the iPad mini $100 less (normally, except on that Black Friday!) but it's easier to transport. You can throw it in just about any bag or purse, even if it's in a case, whereas an iPad means I need a Man Purse, messenger bag, or backpack. I've dealt with my decision for almost a year, and I was okay with it. Until the Knomad mini arrived.
I don't envy the life of a case manufacturer. On the plus side, when Apple redesigns their gear, millions of customers have to upgrade their cases. But when the old iPhone looks just like the new iPhone, such as the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5s, there isn't much need to get a new case. But now that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are out, with dramatically new form factors, new cases are a must.
You can never have enough chargers or Lightning cables. Inevitably, when you need one, you can't find one. Thinium has released a remarkably compact charging unit for Lightning devices that collapses into the size of a couple of credit cards. Through Transformer-like technology, the unit expands to reveal two prongs to plug into a wall outlet, as well as a Lightning connector, and a stand which can support the weight of an iPhone.
Ah the dilemma of an early adopter... We get the latest gear, but when Apple introduces an entirely new form factor, as with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, we lose out on some of our favorite cases. So I was very happy to see a new package from Alto Collective ($35-$45). They make beautiful etched-wood cases, by hand, in Canada. I've tried other wooden cases, but while they look and feel great, they don't have the protection and precision that Alto does. Alto combines a custom wood back with a rubberized, textured border. This provides grip and protection and it should last better than other wooden cases.
Apple's new iOS 8 is great, and one of those great new features is Continuity. With Continuity, users of multiple Apple products can take a phone call on one device and switch to another on the fly. I typically leave my iPhone docked at the entrance to my house and then I work upstairs on my MacBook. When the phone rings, I have to make a mad dash to answer it. Now I can take the call on my iPad. And soon, with Mac OS X Yosemite, I can answer the phone call on my MacBook!
There are a lot of tip calculators and bill-splitting apps, but many restaurants frown upon patrons pulling out their smartphones. And now that iPhones are getting larger and larger, I long for the days of a truly pocketable phone. The folks behind Tip 'n Split have come up with a handy, dedicated device that makes dining out a little easier, especially for seniors. This rugged little unit includes a 2.5X magnifying glass, which makes reading menus and bills easier. There's even a flashlight button to light things up. Of course, the main point of Tip 'n Split is to make it easier to figure out the tip, and to split the bill among multiple diners.
There are several trends in the consumer electronics industry. Smart home accessories are a big thing now. Bluetooth speakers are big. And convergence is big. So it was nice to see the convergence of both a Bluetooth speaker and an app-enabled lighting unit, all in one cool looking gadget from Yantouch.
I recently had the opportunity to try the Pencil stylus from FiftyyThree along with Paper by FiftyThree (free). Just as Apple is able to provide a seamless integration of hardware and software, FiftyThree has done the same with their elegant stylus and equally elegant sketching app.