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.
Black Friday deals are coming soon, and websites are beginning to post the details. AppleInsider has all the info on Walmart's deals, which include an iPhone 6 for $179 plus a $75 gift card, meaning that your final price is effectively $104. They also have iPad deals, such as the first-generation 16 GB iPad Air for $397 with a $100 gift card.
I'd been wanting to start smartening up my home, so when I received an email offering a free sample of smart light bulbs from Connected By TCP, I jumped at the opportunity. And I couldn't be more pleased with them. During these dark winter months, it can be pretty dreary arriving home in the evening after dark. In the past I'd sometimes turn on my porch light when I left home in the afternoon, knowing that I'd be arriving home in the dark and could avoid fumbling to get the key in the door. But it always seemed a waste to have the light on for hours.
There are many new features available to you in iOS 8 in the Photos and Camera apps. When you're viewing an individual photo, one nice new feature is the ability to designate it as a favorite. Then those photos that you've identified as favorites are automatically collected into an album titled Favorites.
One of the great features of iOS 8 is the opportunity to use third-party keyboards instead of Apple's onscreen keyboard. Swype (free until 11/14/14) had long been extremely popular in the Android world, and many users rejoiced when it became available on the iPhone and iPad. It greatly speeds text entry. Instead of tapping individual characters, you simply make a continuous swipe around the keyboard. In addition, the more you use it, the more it becomes familiar with the words you use — and anticipates the words you're entering. Whether you swipe or type, your text entry will likely be faster.