Apple's plans for moving to sapphire fell flat when their supplier GT Advanced Technologies filed for bankruptcy, but there may be an alternative on the horizon. Corning, the maker of Gorilla Glass, announced Project Phire this week. Apple hasn't confirmed that they use Gorilla Glass, but it's a poorly kept secret. While Corning has made improvements, Gorilla Glass still has a way to go. There has always been a tradeoff in drop protection and scratch resistance. Sapphire is extremely resistant to scratches, which is why it is used in many watches, as it is second to diamonds in hardness. However, sapphire can be brittle and crack in drop testing.
There is no excuse these days to have boring accessories thanks to companies like Lepow who are making elegant, colorful, minimalist gear to enhance the daily use of our phones and tablets. These gadgets have become an intimate part of our lives, so we need to keep them charged up and ready. Lepow understands this and makes chargers and other gear that fits right in with our fashion and travel needs.
I've tried vent clips before as a way to keep my phone in place in my car, but many of them have springs or plastic clips that don't do a good job or break. If that leads to a phone falling, that could be an expensive problem. So my phone usually ends up in a cup holder, which makes it harder to access for GPS navigation, music control, or phone calls. Of course, make sure you don't drive when distracted, or let yourself be distracted while driving!
Sprint is getting aggressive and trying to snag customers away from AT&T and Verizon. Their latest effort gives users both an iPhone 6 and an iPad mini 3, with no cash down and no activation fees. Users pay $100 per month, which includes 2 GB of shared data. This is part of their iPhone for Life and iPad for Life program, where users have to tattoo the Sprint logo on their chest. Just kidding. That's not what the program requires! Rather, a customer pays a monthly fee and gets a new iPhone or iPad every two years. Sprint also offers a 12-month plan to upgrade every year. This program reflects a $17 monthly service plan credit for bundling iPhone 6 and iPad Mini 3.
The iPad mini is perhaps the most powerful compact tablet available. You can leverage the thousands of full-size iPad apps yet still slip your iPad mini into just about any purse, bag, briefcase, or even coat pocket. That's why I traded in my original iPad Air for an iPad mini 3. I now leave my MacBook Pro at home and rely on the iPad mini when out of the office or out of town. The one thing that's missing is a mechanical keyboard.
At CES, several vendors offered "second screen" monitors either intended to be used as "accessory" screens to complement a larger monitor or to serve as a single purpose screen to keep tabs on specific content. It's a neat concept, with some neat designs, that is only possibly now because of lower costs, increased supply, and new technologies and concepts like the Internet of Things.
The latest news about the Apple Watch reveals unimpressive battery life, yet at the same time, AT&T and others are suggesting that a smart watch really needs to function as a cellphone, independent of a smartphone. This is a bit of a money grab by cell providers who want customers to pay yet another monthly fee for yet another smart device. But does it make sense for end users?
Android fans will tell you the fragmentation concern is a non-issue, and that most devices are up to date. But Motorola itself posted a note explaining why many of its customers cannot have the latest version of Android, Android 5.0 Lollipop, depending on their device and where they are. Eventually, the rollout may come to most of their premium phones, but that's not true for many second and third-tier manufacturers. Even HTC has their issues. Lower-cost Android phones are too often treated as disposable, taking the mantle from flip phones. Many of those customers don't even run third-party apps, relying instead on the built-in apps for email and texting. I own several such phones, so I can test my Android apps on a variety of devices, and I have no expectation that upgrades will become available.
Apple has set some incredible financial records recently, and with the Apple Watch shipping in April, the trend should continue. So it's no surprise that people will look to capitalize on that success. And our nation's capital is one of the first places where that's happening. Our representatives in Congress are proposing a bill to repatriate revenues from businesses that leverage the tax policies of foreign governments. Countries like Ireland make it attractive for companies like Apple to hold their profits in that country where the money is taxed less, if at all.
It's great that Apple makes operating system updates free for both iOS and Mac OS users. Even Microsoft is following suit, with Windows 10. And it's great that you can set up your Apple device to automatically download updates. But if you are close to running out of storage space, this can be a problem. A large update file could download without your knowledge and not have enough free space to extract and install the update. Then you end up with even less free space and the inability to update, at least until you delete old photos, videos, movies, and apps. This was exacerbated when Apple automatically downloaded U2's latest album to everyone without their knowledge or approval!