I've used the Lowe's Iris home automation system for quite a while and though the technology is decent, the interface is lacking. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to try the Piper from Icontrol for an extended amount of time, and I really like it. It addresses many of the deficiencies in the Iris system. For starters, it's compact and integrated whereas there were a lot of pieces in the Iris system. Instead of a separate motion detector, environmental (temperature, humidity, light, and sound) sensor, hub, and camera, the Piper has that all in one sleek unit.
When Apple preannounced their Apple Watch, some naysayers complained that the watch doesn't work as a standalone device. It requires an iPhone to be fully functional. But those critics should be careful what they wish for. There are competing smartwatches that can accept a SIM card and access the Internet directly via a cellular carrier, but those wearables may require a data contract, and that can cost as much as a phone or tablet would cost.
Recently, I wrote about how some retailers like CVS and Rite-Aid are blocking Apple Pay, even though they already had the equipment in place to accept it. They are favoring their own digital payment system, CurrentC, developed by a consortium of retailers. Even though CurrentC is in beta and uses inferior technology (QR Codes vs NFC) and requires linking to your bank account or a gift card (causing customers to forgo credit card protection and benefits like points), these retailers are sticking to their guns. And CurrentC is getting hammered in App Store reviews. And it's already been hacked, leaving many users worried.
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal at their WSJD Live event and discussed the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, with a brief mention of Apple TV. He approved of HBO's plans to unbundle HBO GO from a cable subscription, allowing new customers to get HBO without requiring cable, similar to Netflix.
In a remarkable display of tone-deafness, a pair of pharmacies are not only choosing not to accept Apple Pay, but they are disabling their existing NFC (Near Field Communication) registers specifically to stop Apple Pay from working. CVS and Rite-Aid already had NFC terminals that accepted Google Wallet, and could also accept Apple Pay, but they have turned them off.
The good news that was buried in the iPad Air 2 (and iPad mini 3) announcement was that the cellular models would ship with a carrier-independent SIM card. This meant that users could decide which carrier to activate without being locked in. Unfortunately, the reality isn't quite as straightforward. As we wrote earlier, Verizon still requires their own SIM. But now we're learning that AT&T will "lock" the Apple SIM to AT&T's network the first time you activate it.
The recent blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy broke the mold for superhero movies. The characters, while part of Marvel's stable, were not traditional heroes like Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America, and the lead actor hadn't carried a film before. Even two of the lead actors, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, were just voices for a wisecracking raccoon and a tree with a limited vocabulary ("I am Groot!")
Recently, Apple expanded their beta programs for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, making it easier for non-developers to gain access (legitimately) to pre-release software. Now they're making it easier for developers to do the same with their apps. I've used Testflight before as a way to share unreleased and beta versions of apps with colleagues and customers, but you were limited to 100 devices and the process could be a pain.
The good news is Apple Pay makes it easier and safer to pay than ever before. That's a also the bad news. Now that Apple makes it so easy to pay for things, you'll be tempted to pick up the tab more often! So how does it work? First, you'll need iOS 8.1 and new hardware, such as the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or in early 2015, an Apple Watch. You can also pay using Apple Pay within apps on the iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3, but not in stores as those devices do not have the necessary NFC (Near Field Communication) hardware.
I just heard from MacTech folks that they're making special pricing available to our readers! The below link will get iPhone Life readers an EXTRA $100 off the registration price when they register. In other words, the pre-registration pricing ($1299) will end this weekend. The below link locks in the rate at $1199 during that time. Then it goes up by $200. http://www.mactech.com/conference/sponsored-discount?rid=iPhoneLife