Crowdfunding is not just for the independent inventor. Firms as big as Sony have joined the bandwagon and tested market acceptance of new products. Griffin, one of the leading vendors of accessories for Apple and other brands has launched an Indiegogo campaign for the Cove. The Cove is an elegant all-in-one charging station that charged up to five tablets or smartphones, but with a twist. About the size and appearance of a breadbox, the Cove tucks all the wires and devices inside a wood case. Martha Stewart would approve.
As predicted, Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference will be held the week of June 8, 2015 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Tickets are $1599, not including hotel costs, which can be astronomical, and there are no guarantees of getting a ticket. Interested developers must first apply and then find out on April 20 if they were able to buy a ticket. The developer's credit card on file will be charged automatically. Last year, a developer would be notified that they "won" the raffle and then have a short time period to actually make the purchase. This new policy should cut down on people entering the raffle with multiple ID's or without definite plans to attend.
During Apple's Watch event in March, they dropped the price of the Apple TV from $99 to $69, and introduced HBO NOW, which lets cable customers cut the cord and still get HBO on their Apple devices. The HBO deal was significant because it is Apple exclusive, although just for three months, and users can get a 30 day trial for free. It turns out the deal may be even more significant because it foreshadowed that Apple is slashing the fee it takes from such content providers.
I was able to order an Apple Watch at 3:10 a.m., EST, Friday, and my watch is on the way. But I wanted to try one on to make sure I ordered the right size, etc. After I placed my order, I booked one of the first appointments for a try on. There was just a short line when I arrived at the Apple Store, and quite a few people were there for the new MacBook, not necessarily for the watch. The staff was getting a quick intro to the watch and the process, which includes custom drawers that can be unlocked only by a specially equipped iPhone.
When it comes to operating system updates, a "dot-dot" release is usually reserved for bug fixes, and a "dot" release adds performance enhancements and some minor new functionality. With Apple, a full release, like 7.0 or 8.0 is a major update, often with 1,000-plus new features. True to form, Apple unleashed iOS 8.3 this week and there are just a few features worth mentioning. First, as I covered earlier, depending on your carrier (Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S., EE in the UK), you can now make phone calls using Wi-Fi, without consuming cellular minutes or requiring a cell tower nearby. That means you could make phone calls from overseas, for free, and still appear to be calling from your cellphone number.
I've been using an app called Hoozetending (free) from Hoozetending, Inc. The idea is to let potential customers and partygoers know which of their favorite bartenders is working where and when, and what deals their favorite establishments have to offer. Of course, users can discover new places and bartenders, too. It's a bit like Pinterest for nightlife.
I was up early, before 3 a.m. Eastern Time, to be sure to be able to order an Apple Watch. As I kept hitting refresh on my Mac's Safari browser, I also kept relaunching the Apple Store app on my iPhone. It was a good thing, too, as the app was ready to take orders several minutes before the website. I was able to place my order successfully by 3:10 a.m, even using Apple Pay and my fingerprint with Touch ID, long before the web site was ready. In fact, the last step in the app is to launch the Apple Store website to show my confirmation, but that part didn't work. Fortunately, I was able to check my order history and it went through.
The Apple Watch isn't the only game in town, and Apple has left quite an opening in the sub-$300 range. Competition is good, and several smart watch makers offer a lot more than just a lower price. Martian Watches offer a traditional analog clock face paired with a small strip of a digital display for Caller ID and text notifications. This saves battery life, and the analog clock uses its own battery which lasts as long as a year. Their higher-end models also add a Bluetooth Speakerphone with Siri voice control. Pebble offers waterproof watches, with e-paper display for a battery life of about a week.
Behold the Apple ][ Watch. No, this isn't the Apple Watch 2.0 but a "smart" watch based on the original Apple ][ which holds a fond place in my heart, as my first computer. The handiwork that went in to this design is incredible and deserves praise from Jony Ive. It may be "putty" in color and not "Aluminium" but it's a thing of beauty, to me at least; you never forget your first computer!
Apple just released iOS 8.3 with new emojis and other features, but the most important feature, for Sprint users at least, may be the ability to seamlessly use Wi-Fi to make phone calls. You need to edit some settings to make this magic work. Go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calls. T-Mobile customers have already been able to do this, and now Sprint users of the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 6, and 6 Plus can join in on the fun. And those calls do not count against your cellular minutes!