Apple's online store recently began selling factory-refurbished iPad Airs, with the 16GB starting at $419 and the 32GB starting at $509. That's $80 or $90 off the price of a new iPad Air and comes with a one-year warranty, a new battery, a new outer shell, manuals and accessories, and new packaging. I'm not sure what they mean by an outer shell, but it sounds like you can expect the iPad to be in new condition cosmetically. They also have a ton of other refurbished iPad models, including iPad minis and fourth-generation iPads. 9To5Mac points out that WalMart actually has a lower price on refurbished iPad Airs, with the 16GB model starting at $399. But they only offer a three-month warranty and are refurbished by a third party. However, the customer reviews are quite positive, with at least one saying that he actually received a new iPad Air.
The Peterson Birds app, which regularly sells for $9.99, is currently available in the App Store for $0.99. This is a great deal on a great app. Having a bird app on your device is so much more convenient than schlepping a book, especially since you typically have your device with you. Plus, unlike books, birding apps also have recordings of their songs. You simply tap on the illustration to hear the song. The Peterson Birds app includes information from eight different Peterson Field Guide Books, such as the very popular Peterson Field Guide to North America, giving you details on over 800 species of North American birds. The app offers illustrations, range maps, bird songs, and nest photos, and claims to give you more detail than any other bird app. It also claims to be the only one that lets you compare similar species by sight, song, and range from one screen. The QuickFind index lets you go to information on a particular bird with a single tap—letting you avoid having to type in the bird's name.
Microsoft's stock jumped 5 percent Tuesday on the rumor that Office for iPad will be arriving March 27. There had been rumors that the suite was ready, and that it would be coming this month. Given that new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will be hosting a media event scheduled for March 27, many are expecting him to introduce Office for iPad. Both The Verge and ZDNet have reported that their inside sources have confirmed that Office will be arriving this month. According to rumors, the suite for the iPad will include the ability to create and edit documents in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. How much will it cost? It's a free download, but you'll need a subscription to Office 365. For example, Office 365 Home Premium costs $99.99 per year. It lets you install Office on up to 5 Macs or PCs and on up to 5 mobile devices. In addition, a subscription comes with 20GB of OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) cloud storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls per month. According to a separate article on ZDNet, Microsoft also recently announced Office 365 Personal, which will let you install Office on a PC or Mac and on one tablet. The price will be $69.99 per year, or $6.99 per month. I believe that in every case Microsoft offers a free trial subscription.
9To5Mac has yet another scoop: details and images of the forthcoming Healthbook app that will be part of iOS 8. They say the information and images come from individuals working directly on the project. This confirms the rumors that Apple is taking a major step toward integrating mobile healthcare and fitness into its iOS line. The screenshots show that Healthbook will let you track blood work, heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, physical activity, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and weight. According to 9To5Mac, the Fitness feature will be similar to other fitness-tracking apps that record information such as how far you've walked and how many calories you burned. The Weight feature will let you track body mass index and body fat percentage. The Nutrition feature lets you record the food you eat and helps you maintain a diet.
According to the website TechnoBuffalo, some recent posts via Twitter may have revealed more specs for the iPhone 6, which most people are expecting to arrive in September or October. The posts come from Sonny Dickson, who was the first to post bona fide leaked photos of the iPhone 5s and 5c last year. He says the forthcoming phone will be .22 inches thick, compared to .3 inches for the iPhone 5s. That's a significant difference. In addition, he says the phone will have an "Ultra Retina" display, at 389 pixels per inch compared to the current 326 for the iPhone 5s. That's full HD resolution. The A8 processor will be clocked at 2.6ghz, meaning that the iPhone 6 will see a speed bump even beyond that of the speedy 64-bit A7 processor in Apple's latest iOS devices.
It's that time of year again, when basketball fans work themselves into a frenzy over the NCAA basketball tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. The action begins March 18, and you'll want to be sure to have these free apps on your iPhone or iPad.
For months we've been getting rumors about iPhone 6, and now we're starting to get some rumors about iOS 8. It's fun to see what's coming down the pike. 9To5Mac has posted screenshots of iOS 8 that reveal the icons for several new apps from Apple that will be part of this new version of iOS, expected to be available along with the new iPhone, likely in September. The apps appear to confirm earlier rumors that iOS 8 will have a greater focus on health monitoring and will include a new Healthbook app. In addition, there are icons for a Preview app, which has long been a Macintosh app for viewing and editing image files, and TextEdit, which has long been a Macintosh app used as a simple text editor. 9To5Mac says that it has confirmed that the leaked screenshots are legitimate.
When I tried to download the iOS 7.1 update for my iPad Air in the evening, it took three hours. This morning when I downloaded it for my iPad mini, it took five minutes. Lesson: always download updates as early in the morning as possible. Blogger Todd Bernhard and I have outlined some of the changes in iOS 7.1 in previous posts. In this post I want to highlight several useful new features. One important new feature is ability to have HDR mode be automatically available on the iPhone 5s. It's previously been available, but you had to turn it on when you wanted to take advantage of it. HDR stands for high dynamic range, and I'm guessing many people, especially those who aren't camera buffs, don't really know what this is. So I think it's a good thing that you can now have it turned on by default. HDR can have a dramatic effect on the quality of certain photos.
One of the big changes with the arrival of iOS 7 is the way Siri works. In the past, you'd hold the Home button, wait until Siri responded with "What can I help you with?", release the button, and then speak. Siri would automatically detect when you stopped speaking, and respond. The problem was that sometimes Siri would respond because you'd made a slight inadvertent pause in your speech, even though you weren't done talking. Now with iOS 7, you hold have the option of manually letting Siri know when you're done talking by holding down the Home button while you talk. Siri keeps listening until you release the button. In addition, Siri also has new, more natural-sounding male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese.
With the launch of Apple's new CarPlay last week at the automobile trade show in Geneva, many were left wondering if you had to buy a new Ferrari or Mercedes or Volvo in order to get it. Apparently, the answer is no. 9To5Mac has reported that at least some automakers will be offering aftermarket CarPlay installation for older models. They've confirmed that Mercedes will be doing this, and expect others to do so as well. This is good news, and it will be really interesting to see how it develops. Apple has made a fortune giving us better interfaces for our technology: first personal computers, then MP3 players, then smartphones, then tablets—and now the automobile.