09 SEP

Apple Announces iPhone 6 Models and NFC-Based Electronic Payment System

by Marianne Schultz

iphone6-modelsApple’s event today was chock full of good stuff and the first announcement out of the gate was about the new iPhone 6 models. As rumored, the next generation of Apple’s game-changing mobile phone will come in two screen sizes: 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch. Both models are thinner than the iPhone 5s, featuring Retina HD displays that curve around the left and right sides of each device.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the biggest advancements in iPhone history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The iPhone is the most loved smartphone in the world with the highest customer satisfaction in the industry and we are making it much better in every way. Only Apple can combine the best hardware, software and services at this unprecedented level and we think customers are going to love it.”

Both devices feature Apple’s new A8 64-bit chip that offers a 20% boost in processing speed and a 50% increase in graphics processing. Apple’s motion processing M8 chip has also gotten an upgrade to estimate distance traveled and elevation changes with the addition of an internal barometer. The camera has a new sensor and a new feature called Focus Pixels that allows faster autofocusing and improved tone mapping and noise reduction. Panoramic photos will be up to 43 megapixels in size. Video capture capabilities have improved to 60 frames per second and up to 240 frames per second in slow motion.

The new iPhones feature new gestures to aid in one-handed use, including a new double-touch of the home button that slides everything down on the screen to allow easy access to the buttons at the top. Also, the sleep/wake button has been relocated to the right side. Despite the new chip and larger screen, both new iPhone models will have better battery life for most tasks compared to the iPhone 5s.

Both models also feature Near-Field Communications (NFC) and a dedicated chip dubbed “Secure Element” for secure electronic payments with credit and debit cards offered by Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to support Apple Pay, which was also announced today. Several major banks are on board, including Bank of America, Chase, and others. Major retailers have also signed on, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Subway, and Walgreens.

Apple Pay will be available only with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus starting next month and will require a free update to iOS 8. When it’s released in 2015, Apple Pay will also work with the Apple Watch.

The iPhone 6 will be available starting on September 19 with the 16GB model priced at $199, a 64GB model at $299, and a 128GB model at $399, all with a 2-year contract. The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for the 16GB model, $399 for the 64GB model, and $499 for the 128GB model, all with a 2-year contract. Pre-orders will be available starting September 12.

As with the Apple Watch, Jared Nelson from our sister site TouchArcade.com got some hands-on time with both iPhone 6 models, which you can check out in the video embedded below.

What iPhone 6 model will you get? From Jared’s video, the iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t look ridiculously large compared to the iPhone 5s. This combined with the new double-tap gesture on the home button to slide the app view down to make buttons at the top of the screen easier to access with one hand, could push me to the larger model. Which iPhone 6 model are you going to get?

09 SEP

Apple Watch Revealed with Early 2015 Release Timeframe and $349 Price Tag

by Marianne Schultz

iwatch+iphone6The heavily-rumored iWatch was announced today, debuting as the Apple Watch in the “one more thing” portion of the event. The Apple Watch will offer significantly more functionality than just time-telling, featuring several health tracking sensors and functions and substantial integration with a paired iPhone via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in terms of notifications and communication.

Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “And once again Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made.”

The Apple Watch features an innovative new interface. Instead of relying solely on a touch interface, the watch’s “digital crown” offers zoom, scrolling, and tap control to avoid obscuring the display with your fingers. It has a sapphire crystal display that senses touch and force via tiny electrodes built into it. The Apple Watch also has a “Taptic Engine” to provide discreet vibration feedback.

On the back, sapphire lenses detect heart rate and the internal gyroscope and accelerometer detect motion. Location information will come from the paired iPhone’s GPS receiver and Wi-Fi radio.

Three versions of the Apple Watch will be available: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition. The versions differ in casing material, from stainless steel to aluminum alloy on the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport versions, to 18-karat rose or yellow gold on the Apple Watch Edition. Additionally, there will be two watch face sizes of each version: 38 mm and 42 mm. A variety of bands will be available made from leather, elastomer, and stainless steel. All models will charge inductively using a MagSafe-like adapter that snaps onto the back.

A new API will be available to developers so that they can create apps for Apple Watch and enable richer notifications from a paired iPhone. To monitor fitness, Apple Watch includes two apps: Fitness and Workout. Fitness tracks daily activities and movement while Workout tracks exercise sessions.

An iPhone is required to use an Apple Watch and it will work with the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c and the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. Though details on battery life were not announced, Tim Cook described that charging will be easy with the magnetically-connected inductive charger “every night”. Apple Watch will be available in early 2015 and will start at $349.

You can see a film narrated by Jony Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, and find more information about Apple Watch on Apple’s site here: apple.com/watch/

UPDATE: Jared Nelson, Editor at our sister site TouchArcade.com, attended the event and got a little hands-on time with the Apple Watch today, which is now embedded below:

09 SEP

Apple to Release iOS 8 on September 17

by Marianne Schultz

desktop_ios8_icon At its press event today, Apple announced that the next version of its mobile operating system will be available starting September 17. iOS 8 was first unveiled at the keynote event for WWDC in June and it will offer several upgrades to Siri’s capabilities, notifications, keyboard enhancements and more.

We’re excited for hundreds of millions of users to begin experiencing iOS 8, with incredible features that offer new ways to use your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “iOS 8 also creates an extraordinary environment for developers, providing them the ability to create amazing new apps like never before.”

New APIs available to developers will allow them to share data across apps. Mac users will get even more integration and communication between their computers and iOS devices with iCloud Drive for centralized storage of documents and the ability start and continue text message conversations and even phone calls on a Mac running Yosemite, the next version of Apple’s Mac operating system due to be released this fall.

iOS 8 will be a free download and will work on the following devices: iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, fifth-generation iPod touch, iPad 2, 3, and 4, iPad Air, and all iPad mini models.

04 SEP

Apple to Live Stream September 9 iPhone Announcement Event

by Marianne Schultz

9-9-14 event screenshot

In case you hadn’t already heard, Apple will be holding a press event on September 9 where the company is expected to announce the next iPhone models and perhaps even unveil a new wearable device along with the release date of iOS 8. This afternoon, Apple announced that the event will be streamed live through its website and on a special channel on its Apple TV devices. The event will take place at 9:00 am PDT next Tuesday at the Flint Center at De Anza College in Cupertino and you can tune into www.apple.com/live to catch the juicy details as the event unfolds. Prior to the event, you’ll find a countdown timer and even a handy little shortcut to add the event to your calendar on that page.

So far, the rumors flying around indicate that Apple will announce two iPhone models with larger screens – one with a 4.7-inch screen and a second with a 5.5-inch screen. The announcement of a wearable device, dubbed the iWatch by the press, is also expected though reports state that this device won’t actually be available to purchase for several months. If you want an overview of all of these rumors, check out the iPhone 6 Roundup page and the iWatch Roundup page over at our sister site, MacRumors.com.

As an Apple fan, I am definitely looking forward to this event and I do plan to upgrade to whatever new iPhone Apple announces to appease the ever-hungry technology addict that lives within me. If both models have the same features, I’ll probably go for the 4.7-inch model since with small hands, the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5s is almost a stretch for me already and going much larger will negate its utility for me. I say that now but I make no promises since I could easily be seduced by the larger model. Which model iPhone do you think you’ll get? Tell us in the comments.

02 JUN

Apple Announces iOS 8 and Mac OS X ‘Yosemite’

by Marianne Schultz

desktop_ios8_iconAt the keynote event for its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference today, Apple announced and previewed the next versions of the operating systems for its mobile devices and Macintosh computers. Both iOS 8 and Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite will be released to the public this fall and will be free of charge.

iOS 8 gets several major upgrades in basic functionality with changes to Siri, Spotlight search, and notifications. Siri can be invoked hands-free with the phrase “Hey, Siri” and will be able to offer song recognition and make purchases from the iTunes store. Spotlight will be able to search the App Store and provide information at a glance from sources like Wikipedia.

Notifications will be more interactive with actions possible without leaving the current app. For example, the notification for a new text message can be dragged downward and replied to immediately without needing to go the Messages app.

Apple is also offering developers more features that will allow them to share data between apps, show data on the lock screen within widgets, and and they will be able to use TouchID to protect apps (to unlock an app like Intuit’s Mint, for example).

Yosemite for Mac will feature a more streamlined interface, updates to Safari, Finder, and Mail, and even greater integration with iOS with Handoff, which lets users pick up editing a document easily when switching between an iOS device and a Mac. Sending files between Macs and iOS devices with AirDrop will also be possible with Yosemite.

iCloud Drive will store files in the cloud and synchronize automatically with users able to access files via Macs and iOS devices.

There are many more changes and new features and you can check out Apple’s press releases for iOS 8 and Yosemite if you want more details and marketing speak. I’m very excited for iOS 8 and the upgrades to Siri and notifications. What are you looking forward to most?

02 APR

Fantastical 2 for iPad Now Available

by Marianne Schultz

fantastical-2-ipad-iconFlexibits has released a version of its gorgeous and highly functional calendar app for iPad. Fantastical 2 for iPad debuted in the App Store this morning and offers the same natural language event creation feature that debuted in the Mac version plus the ability to display a month, list, and “day ticker” view all at once on the tablet’s larger screen.

Compared to the iPad’s stock Calendar app, Fantastical lets you see so much more at once in portrait or landscape mode. It even offers Reminders integration so you can create and edit Reminders and and see Reminders with due dates in any of the available views.

Here’s a promo video showing Fantastical 2 for iPad in action:

As shown in the promo video, scrolling through any of the elements in the Dashboard advances the other views as well, so you can quickly get a snapshot of an entire week when you select a specific day or list item. To create events, you can simply type (or dictate, if you have a dictation-compatible iPad) something like “Lunch with mom on Saturday” and Fantastical will create an event titled “Lunch with mom” at noon on the upcoming Saturday.

The Mac version of Fantastical first debuted in 2011 and it quickly became my preferred way to create and view events on my Mac. The iPhone version was released in late 2012 and it prompted me to move the stock Calendar app to a folder buried on a seldom-visited home page on every iPhone I’ve owned since it became available. Since then, Fantastical for iPhone and Mac has only gotten better and I’m thrilled to have it on my iPad now. If you’re looking for a highly functional and easy-to-use app to manage your calendar and reminders on your iPad, I highly recommend Fantastical. It’s on sale now at a special introductory price of $9.99 and will go up to its regular price of $14.99 soon, so go get it now before the price goes up!

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    The award-winning, best-selling calendar app has been redesigned and reimagined for your iPad with iOS 7. With the convenient Fantastical Dashboard, you’ll add, view, and interact with your events...

28 MAR

Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for iPad Now Available

by Marianne Schultz

microsoft-word-ipadMicrosoft released its staple office applications – Word, PowerPoint, and Excel – in Apple’s App Store yesterday. The apps are free to download and use to view existing documents though document creation and editing require an Office 365 subscription, which costs $99 per year and allows use of the apps on up to five iPads.

Microsoft created this promo video to highlight the features of the new apps:

If you’ve been waiting for Microsoft Office to come to the iPad, this should make you one happy camper. I’m personally disappointed that a subscription is needed to create and edit documents and would much rather pay a one-time fee to get full use of the apps. However, Microsoft did make full use of the Office Mobile app for iPhone free with the release of the iPad apps, so that’s a bit of a consolation. You can download Microsoft Office Mobile for free and while you still need a free Microsoft account to use it, you won’t be spending any of your hard-earned cash to create and edit documents with it.

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    Microsoft Word for iPad

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    ** Read Word documents for free. To create and edit, an Office 365 subscription is needed. Office 365 also includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote on Macs or PCs. ** The real...

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    Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad

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    ** View and show PowerPoint presentations for free. To create and edit, an Office 365 subscription is needed. ** The real Microsoft PowerPoint app designed for iPad. Now your PowerPoint...

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    Microsoft Excel for iPad

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    ** View Excel spreadsheets for free. To create and edit, an Office 365 subscription is needed. ** The real Microsoft Excel app designed for iPad. Now your Excel spreadsheets look great on the iPad....

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    Microsoft Office Mobile

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    Microsoft Office Mobile is the official Office companion optimized for your iPhone. You can access, view and edit your Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint documents from...

27 FEB

Clear for iPhone and iPad Goes Free for 24 Hours

by Marianne Schultz

Clear for iOS 7 IconSince Apple doesn’t allow developers to charge additional money for app upgrades, their hands are tied when it comes to deciding how to handle significant changes to an app. Developers can either bite the bullet and just release an upgrade without earning any additional money from those who already purchased the app, or they can make it a completely new app such that even those who had purchased the old app now have to buy it again if they want it. Neither of these are great choices for developers who want to earn money for their time and effort and attempt to keep existing customers happy at the same time.


The original promo video for Clear

Realmac Software, one of the developers behind Clear, a gesture-driven list app released two years ago, ran up against this problem when updating Clear to add iPad support. At that time, Realmac released a new version, dubbed Clear+, so any existing users of the app had to buy it again to get iPad compatibility.

That decision didn’t sit well with those who had purchased the original version of Clear and Realmac is trying to make it right. As described in this letter, Realmac is making Clear free for two 24-hour periods. Realmac is going to return to a single, universal version of Clear and making it free allows those who purchased Clear+ to migrate to the original version, which will be the only one updated going forward, without paying again.

This the first 24-hour period when Clear will be free. It will go back up to $4.99 in the morning tomorrow, February 28, so click that Buy Now button below ASAP to get it for free.

Realmac will be offering Clear for free for 24 hours one more time in the near future, and we’ll let you know when that happens (you can also sign up to get notified via email directly from Realmac at the bottom of this page.)

Clear is still one of my most-used apps to hold my shopping and to do lists and it occupies a precious spot on the first home page of my iPhone. If you haven’t already tried it, now is an excellent time to give it a whirl.

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    Clear – Tasks, Reminders &...

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    Over 2 million people de-clutter their lives with Clear, so stop stalling and start organising your daily routine. Clear is the revolutionary to-do and reminders app that makes you more productive....

08 JAN

See Who’s at Your Door with SkyBell for iPhone

by Marianne Schultz

skybell-iconI’m intrigued by devices that you let you accomplish tasks that normally require your presence through a smartphone from anywhere in the world. Like the Nest thermostat that lets you adjust the temperature in your home or the Scanomat TopBrewer coffee maker that can make a latte for you, all through your iPhone. So Skybell, a doorbell with a built-in camera that will let you see and speak to whomever is at your front door, caught my eye and its companion iPhone app is now available in the App Store.

The SkyBell Doorbell app can automatically notify you when the SkyBell doorbell device senses motion at your front door or if someone rings the doorbell. Through the app, you can hear or speak to anyone there or simply pull up the live video feed if you just want to see what’s going on. Here’s the promo video showing SkyBell in action:

Skybell was first publicized through Indiegogo last fall where its creators started a campaign to raise funds to manufacture it. The project easily surpassed its funding goal though it seems to be experiencing the manufacturing and delivery delays common to new products with crowd-sourced funding. However, the appearance of the SkyBell Doorbell companion app in Apple’s App Store is surely a welcome sign for those who have ordered the product.

The SkyBell Doorbell app is free and works only with the SkyBell smart doorbell, which will set you back $199 unless you managed to order a discounted one through the Indiegogo campaign last year. You can order a SkyBell doorbell directly from the SkyBell site or through Amazon. If you get one, let us know how it works!

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    SkyBell Doorbell

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    Do you have a SkyBell video doorbell? If yes, download this free app and enjoy the latest innovation in home automation: answering your front door from your favorite iOS® devices. SkyBell, the...

05 NOV

Unlock Your Mac by Knocking on Your iPhone with ‘Knock’

by Marianne Schultz

knock-ios-iconAre you tired of entering your password to unlock your Mac? Or do you even forego setting up a password for your Mac to avoid the hassle of unlocking it? If you’re like me and tend to carry your iPhone with you everywhere, developer Knock Software released today a unique solution to unlock your Mac using a simple gesture and your iPhone and doesn’t require you to touch your keyboard.

With Knock installed on your iPhone, along with the free companion app for your Mac, all you need to do is knock twice on your iPhone to unlock your Mac. Sounds crazy easy, right? It is and it does work. Here’s a cute promo video for it:

How does it work? The answer is through the magic of Bluetooth Low Energy, a Bluetooth protocol present in Apple’s newest Macs and iOS devices. Through Bluetooth and the Knock app, your Mac will recognize when your iPhone is nearby. When you knock on your iPhone, this signals to Knock to unlock your Mac and it enters your password on your behalf. It works even if your iPhone itself is locked and is in your purse or pocket.

Setting up Knock is easy and the apps will walk you through the process which takes a minute or two. Once you’ve got it set up, Knock will remain active in your Mac’s menu bar to detect your iPhone and enter your password when you knock on it.

Click to enlarge

Knock is similar to Keycard, a Mac app I reviewed that pairs with your iPhone via Bluetooth and automatically locks it when you (and your iPhone) get out of Bluetooth range and unlocks it when you get back to your Mac. However, Knock is different in one key way – you have to prompt it intentionally, whereas Keycard relies only on the proximity of your iPhone to your Mac, which could result in unintentional locking or unlocking.

To use Knock you’ll need both a newer Mac and iOS device that have a Bluetooth 4.0 radio. For guidance on which Macs will work, check out Knock Software’s FAQ.

You can get the Knock app for your Mac for free straight from Knock Software’s site and you can get the iPhone app, which costs $3.99, from the App Store through the link below.

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    Knock – unlock your Mac...

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    Knock to unlock. Faster and safer than typing a password, for iOS and Mac. PLEASE CHECK TO SEE IF YOUR MAC IS COMPATIBLE BEFORE PURCHASING. Compatible Macs are listed in the screenshot below. You...