Apple promised iOS 8.1 would be out this week and it is. The update uses only 126 MB but adds features like Apple Pay for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as iCloud Photo Library and integrated SMS messaging for iPad and Mac computers. Those are the new features, but of course there are bug fixes and reliability enhancements.
Apple didn't release a smart home device this year, but instead unleashed HomeKit, an SDK to help third parties do what they do best... make home automation equipment that, now, can be based on Apple's standards. Several vendors have stepped up to the plate, which is good because it's hard to find one vendor that has everything a smart home owner would need.
The enhancements to the iPad Air and iPad mini were expected and appreciated, but they still come with Apple's premium price. Apple has managed to make the iPad family the top selling tablet, but it's still priced higher than typical Android devices. If you have embraced the Apple ecosystem of apps, music, contacts, ebooks and more, those Android units just don't fit the bill.
When speculating about the iPhone 6, I postulated that Apple could do something revolutionary and make a single LTE model that worked with multiple carriers. It didn't happen, but when I purchased my (second) iPhone 6 from Radio Shack, the clerk and I discussed how the technology is already there with LTE and SIM cards, and it would make inventory so much easier. Instead of stocking AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint models, stores could just stock the single SKU. It didn't happen with the iPhone 6, but today Apple did it with the iPad Air 2!
If you're like me, if Apple announced it, you gotta have it. In my case, it's for professional reasons. As an app developer, and writer for iPhone Life, I need to have access to the latest gear. But I also enjoy technology and don't like waiting! So, starting October 17, you can try to pre-order the items just announced today, but even that isn't a guarantee. I was online at 3 a.m. the day the iPhone 6 was supposed to be orderable, but it took a half hour to finally buy one.
The iPad Air 2 was announced today, and many of its features were expected, but it wasn't clear quite how thin it would be. At 6.1mm, you could stack two of them on top of each other and it would be as thick as the original iPad. This makes the iPad Air 2 the thinnest tablet on the market. Apple claims the iPad Air 2 is the only one with an Anti-Reflective Coating.
Last month, and even before that at the WWDC event in June, Apple showed off a technology called Continuity. This promised to allow seamless integration between multiple iOS devices but also with Mac OS computers. A Keynote presentation could be started on an iPhone, continued on an iPad, and finished on a Mac.
Apple Pay was preannounced last month, but today Apple let us know when we can start using it. As of Monday, October 20, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners will be able to use the phone's Near Field Communication features to pay.
I love my iPhone 6, but this iPhone 5 battery case from LifeCharge makes me miss my iPhone 5s. There are a lot of battery cases out there, and there's only so many ways to differentiate themselves, but LifeCharge found two ways that I appreciate. First, it recharges wirelessly, using the included charging pad. Just place the iPhone, in the LifeCharge case, on top of the slim, silver pad, and it starts charging. It's like magic! Since Apple is unlikely to adopt Qi or PowerMat's charging standards, this may be the closest we come to induction charging.
Even as Apple ramps up for another product announcement, it's still hard to get your hands on the last set of products they announced. The new iPad Air is expected to be in short supply, and the iPhone 6, especially the Plus-sized model is also playing hard to get. Given all the sizes (6 and 6 Plus), colors (silver, gold, and space gray), carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc.) and memory combinations (16GB, 64GB, 128GB) it's remarkable if you can find the exact model you want, in stock, without settling for something else.