Apple's holiday ad last year, titled "Misunderstood," won an Emmy for "Most Outstanding Commercial." It featured a boy playing with his iPhone over the course of a holiday family gathering, seemingly on the periphery, and keeping to himself. But all the while he was shooting and editing a video of the family's activities, which he then played for everyone — and touched their hearts. This year's ad, titled "The Song," is equally moving.
Siri is wonderfully useful, giving you directions, current weather conditions, and stock market updates, setting appointments and reminders, and much more. But as you've likely discovered, Siri also has a fun personality—including telling you jokes and even telling you a bedtime story.
If you missed out on Black Friday deals, there are still some good prices to be had. And that will likely continue through the holiday season. Most recently Walmart has lopped $50 off their already discounted regular price for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. An iPhone 6 (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint) with 16 GB memory is $129, and the 6 Plus is $229, according to a report on Bloomberg. This is with a two-year contract. The discount is also available for the 64 GB iPhone 6 model. This may be in-store only, since I can only find their prepaid phones on their website.
The Apple Watch is more than just a new product category for Apple: it's a new direction into fashion. There was a fascinating discussion on Quora speculating that Apple didn't name it iWatch because it's not just another gadget being added to a family of gadgets. Instead, the Apple Watch is being positioned as a fashion accessory. And if there were any doubt about its positioning, a report on 9T05Mac says that Apple is currently hiring fashion/luxury experts for their retail stores in preparation for the Apple Watch going on sale next year. According to a document obtained by the website, Apple is recruiting people with a "fashion or luxury background." Add to this the fact that Apple's new head of retail is Angela Ahrendts, who left her job as CEO Burberry, a British luxury fashion company whose line includes fashion accessories. In 2013 Apple also hired Paul Deneve, the former CEO of the Yves Saint Laurent luxury brand. Plus, there's the 18-karat gold Apple Watch that is clearly meant to be a fashion statement. Finally, there was the photoshoot in the November issue of Vogue China that featured model Liu Wen sporting various Apple Watches.
Apple's Best of 2014 Awards have been posted. This annual event helps guide you to the best apps, podcasts, ebooks, music, movies, TV shows, and more. You can view the lists by using the iTunes software on your computer or by using the App Store, iTunes Store, and Podcasts apps on your device. Apple has selected Elevate - Brain Training (free) as app of the year, and Hyperlapse from Instagram (free) as runner-up. Elevate uses mini-games to help you improve your memory, focus, and other cognitive skills. Hyperlapse is a tool for creating time-lapse videos. Game of the year is Threes ($2.99), a number puzzler. Runner up is Leo's Fortune ($4.99), a platform adventure game. In addition to these winners, Apple also gives a list of the 25 best apps and 25 best games of 2014. The listing of apps includes a number of long-time favorites, such as Star Walk ($2.99) and Camera+ ($2.99), but there are also many other titles that are new to me. Definitely worth checking out.
In theory, it's a great idea: having patients use their iPhone or Apple Watch to track their health data and make it available to their physicians, who are then in a better position to treat them. And now it's clear that major medical providers are seeing the utility of this and are jumping on board. According to GovernmentHealthIT, Duke Medicine and Ochsner Health System are integrating their electronic health records system with HealthKit. They will be among the presenters at the mHealth Summit that's taking place this week in Washington, DC. Mobile health is becoming a hot topic, and doctors are finding that mobile devices can be a real boon.
If you're wanting to get into the spirit of the holidays, you now have a wide selection of Christmas-themed music in iTunes Radio. Early this month Apple added a number of curated stations for a total of 10 options: The Sounds of Christmas, Holiday Hits, Latin Holiday, Children's Christmas, Rockin' Holiday, Country Holiday, Souful Holiday, Holiday Classics, Classical Holiday, and Swingin' Holiday. Only a couple of these appear in the Featured Stations listing, so you'll want to add them to your list of My Stations.
Earlier I wrote a post about smart light bulbs from Connected By TCP. I'm really enjoying the ability to schedule the bulbs so that my porch and living room are lit up when I come home after dark on dreary winter evenings. The great utility of these bulbs is their flexibility in regard to scheduling. Plus, they're smart enough to know the time of dawn and dusk. Although I find the soft white LED light of the Connected by TCP bulbs appealing, I was eager to try one of the smart bulb options that offer color. Elgato was kind enough to send me their Avea bulb, and I've been having fun trying its different moods.
If you go on vacation or otherwise have some reason to set up an automated reply to incoming emails, you can do so via your iCloud account. It's not possible to do this via the Settings on your iPhone or iPad because turning on this feature is usually done at the server level. And there's a good reason for that: it's very easy for your email to get stuck in an infinite loop. For example, if you and a friend both set up an automated reply by creating a rule in your desktop email programs, you could end up sending thousands of emails to each other, with each person's computer responding to the repeated out-of-office replies with its own out-of-office replies.
Many rumors have now suggested Apple will be coming out with a larger iPad next year, with the most recent courtesy of the Japanese magazine Mac Fan, as reported by the website Macokatara. The magazine's January issue, which came out November 28, has published a schematic of a 12.2-inch iPad that it calls the "iPad Air Plus." The report says that it will ship sometime between April and June of next year. It will be powered by a new A9 processor and will have four speakers, one on each edge of the casing. The placing of the speakers will allow for stereo sound even if the iPad is rotated. The size is expected to be 305.31 x 220.8 x 7 mm.