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 iPad mini is perhaps the most powerful compact tablet available. You can leverage the thousands of full-size iPad apps yet still slip your iPad mini into just about any purse, bag, briefcase, or even coat pocket. That's why I traded in my original iPad Air for an iPad mini 3. I now leave my MacBook Pro at home and rely on the iPad mini when out of the office or out of town. The one thing that's missing is a mechanical keyboard.
At CES, several vendors offered "second screen" monitors either intended to be used as "accessory" screens to complement a larger monitor or to serve as a single purpose screen to keep tabs on specific content. It's a neat concept, with some neat designs, that is only possibly now because of lower costs, increased supply, and new technologies and concepts like the Internet of Things.
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.
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!
Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry, is now Apple's head of Retail and she's putting her stamp on things already. This February, instead of seeing gaggles of Apple employees in matching t-shirts, they may now be wearing matching polo shirts (and t-shirts.) Apple Insider has received an email with the new attire descriptions and photos. The changes are subtle, but intentional. Employees will still have choices like short sleeves or long sleeves, and if they want to wear a white long-sleeve shirt underneath, they can do so.
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."
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.