With iOS 8, we finally got the ability to customize the interface by adding widgets to Notification Center. Now when you swipe down from the top of the screen to see the Today view in Notification Center, you have the opportunity to see many new items in addition to the standard ones that had been available in the past. New widgets you can add include sports scores, news, travel guides, calculator, dictionary and thesaurus, package tracking, task management, photos, and much more.
Like Walmart, Best Buy is already beginning to offer Black Friday deals, notably $80-$85 off the WiFi iPad Air for the 16, 32, 64, and 128 GB models. That means you're paying $320 for the 16 GB iPad Air, which isn't quite as good as Walmart's offer of a $100 gift card with the purchase of the $397 16 GB iPad Air.
Many people are waiting until the great deals available on Black Friday to make their purchase of an Apple product. And if Walmart's deals on the iPhone and iPad interest you, you won't have long to wait. According to AppleInsider, Walmart is kicking of their Black Friday deals on Friday, November 21. As I noted in an earlier post, those deals include a 16 GB iPhone 6 for $179 plus a $75 gift card, meaning that your final price is effectively $104 (with a two-year contract). They'll also have the new 16 GB iPad Air 2 for $489 with a $100 gift card. You'll be able to get an iPhone 5s for $79, with a $75 gift card. Also, if you're an AT&T Next or Verizon Edge customer, you can get the iPhone 6 or iPhone 5s for $0 down.
One of the most-requested features for the iPhone and iPad was the ability to add third-party keyboards, and Apple responded to that request in iOS 8. Popular keyboards such as Swype ($0.99) and SwiftKey (free) add many features, and can speed up text entry.
As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard noted in this earlier post, Apple has now released WatchKit to developers, enabling them to develop apps for the forthcoming Apple Watch. This is of interest even if you're not a developer because it has revealed details about the watch that Apple hadn't yet announced. According to AppleInsider, the larger 42 mm watch will be 312 x 390 pixels and the smaller model 272 x 340 pixels. However, AppleInsider notes that the dimensions refer to the case rather than the display size, so the pixel density is unknown.
In a recent post I noted that iOS 8.1.1 is now available for download. This morning I added a sentence to that post reminding people to BACK UP FIRST. That's because it's not uncommon for something to go wrong when one updates. For example, when I updated to iOS 8, I encountered an error, and the only way to get my iPad out of it was to restore to factory settings. Doing so means that everything is lost. Fortunately, I had backed up first, so it wasn't a problem.
Apple has released the iOS 8.1.1 update, which is now available for download. It fixes some minor bugs, but more important, it improves the performance of iOS 8 on older devices, such as the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4s. Many users of older devices regretted upgrading to iOS 8, especially those with an iPhone 4S. Hopefully iOS 8.1.1 will take care of the performance problems people had been experiencing.
More Black Friday deals are coming to light, most recently from Staples, as reported by iDownloadBlog. The deals include the 16 GB WiFi iPad Air for $319, 16 GB iPad mini 2 (retina display) for $239, and the 16 GB iPad 4 (the model prior to the iPad Air) for $279. These prices represent discounts in the range of $30–40. Staples is also offering the Apple TV for $79. And they're giving you 15 percent off on any iTunes gift card worth $50 or more. And finally, they're offering a 10 percent discount on all Beats headphones.
According to the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes, which has fairly good sources but isn't always reliable, production of the custom-designed chip for the forthcoming Apple Watch is about to begin. This is a good sign, suggesting that this new accessory from Apple is on track for an early 2015 release. Some recent rumors have slated it for February 14, though an internal company video suggested it would arrive in the spring.