20 OCT

Apple Releases iOS 8.1 with Apple Pay, Photo Album, More

by Marianne Schultz

desktop_ios8_iconAs promised at last week’s media event, Apple has released iOS 8.1 which adds Apple Pay for its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices, along with the return of the Photo Album within Photos and the ability to send and receive text messages on a Mac running Yosemite via a paired iPhone, and much more.

Apple Pay is arguably the most notable and anticipated feature in iOS 8.1 and it’s easy to set up. Once you’ve upgraded your iPhone 6 to iOS 8.1, open the Passbook app and tap on the option to add a credit or debit card. You’ll then be walked through adding the card’s information, which you can do manually or by using the device’s camera.

Click images to enlarge

The last step is verifying that you’re the owner of the credit card and indeed want to add it to Apple Pay, which can be done via phone, text message, or email. For my Citibank card, I opted to receive a text message, but it didn’t arrive after several minutes so I went back and chose to call Citibank and provided a password to complete the process. For my American Express card, I opted to receive a text message with a code, which did arrive immediately and the card was added after I entered the code into Passbook.

Once you’ve set up your eligible credit and debit cards, you should be able to pay for goods and services at participating stores with just your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus and your fingerprint via TouchID. Apple has published a list of participating stores.

Currently only the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can use Apple Pay for contactless payments in stores, while other devices with TouchID can use Apple Pay though only for in-app and online purchases since they lack the NFC chips present in the newest iPhones.

For more information, you can check out Apple’s own Apple Pay FAQ, a walk-through on how to set up and use Apple Pay, and Apple’s list of participating issuing banks. If you’re concerned about how safe and secure Apple Pay is, read Apple’s overview of Apple Pay security and privacy.

Here’s a demo video showing how Apple Pay works from TechCrunch:

I’m going to try out Apple Pay tonight. The credit card I use most often isn’t from a participating bank (hustle up, Fidelity!) and while I’m hoping that will change soon, I still have others I can test it out with in the meantime. Are you excited about Apple Pay?

16 OCT

Mac OS X Yosemite Available Today, iOS 8.1 Coming October 20

by Marianne Schultz

yosemite-roundelIf you’ve been looking forward to updating your Mac to the newest OS available, today is your day. At its press event this morning, Apple announced that the latest version of its Mac OS, Yosemite, will be available today as a free download. Also announced today was the release date for iOS 8.1, which will hit on Monday, October 20. Both updates have the phenomenal price of $0.

OS X Yosemite is the most advanced version of OS X we’ve ever built, with a brand new design, amazing Continuity features and powerful versions of the apps you use every day,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “OS X Yosemite ushers in the future of computing, where your Apple devices all work together seamlessly and magically. It’s something only Apple can do, and it’s available today.”

In YosemiteMessages and Mail have been revamped and new Continuity features provide seamless integration in editing documents and even phone calls and text messages with a paired iPhone. Spotlight search has also been overhauled with more robust search results and information and iCloud Drive officially debuts with document storage that’s accessible from both Macs and iOS devices.

iphone6-apple-payThe bump to iOS 8.1 brings the debut of Apple Pay, the company’s new electronic payment system that uses NFC technology built into the newest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. With Visa, Mastercard, and American Express on board, along with hundreds of banks and stores, Apple Pay will let users forget their wallets and still make credit card purchases in participating stores using only an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and their fingerprint via Touch ID. The just-announced iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will be able to take advantage of Apple Pay too but only for online purchases since these tablets lack the NFC chips present in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

I’m super excited for Apple Pay and will be trying that out as soon as I can on Monday. I already carry very little cash on me and use a credit card for everything I can since I earn cash back with them. And since I carry my iPhone 6 in a pocket, it will be that much quicker to make my purchases without having to dig my wallet out of my purse.

Are you looking forward to Apple Pay? If you have a Mac, are you making the jump to Yosemite today or will you wait a little while?

UPDATE: Yosemite is now in the Mac App Store. You can get to it through the link below.
[applink url=”915041082″]

16 OCT

Apple Announces iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with Touch ID

by Marianne Schultz

ipad-air-2At its media event today, Apple announced the next iPad models. The iPad Air 2 is the newest version of the company’s full-size tablet and the iPad mini 3 is the newest smaller tablet in the company’s tablet line-up. Both devices get Touch ID sensors in the home button for device unlocking, compatibility with Apple Pay for online purchases, and more.

iPad is a magical piece of glass that runs more than 675,000 apps specifically designed for it, and is thin and light enough that you can comfortably hold it all day; the new iPad Air 2 is packed with amazing new innovations, weighs less than a pound, and at just 6.1 mm is the thinnest tablet in the world,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “iPad Air 2 has a new Retina display with anti-reflective coating, second generation 64-bit A8X chip, all-new iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, faster Wi-Fi and LTE wireless, and includes the revolutionary Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor.”

The iPad Air 2 is even thinner than its predecessor and features an improved display with an anti-reflective coating and new sensors including a barometer and the M8 motion coprocessor that has previously only been present in the recent iPhone models.

The iPad Air 2 also gets an upgraded rear camera, with a bump to 8 megapixels up from 5 in the previous model, and the ability to take panoramic photos, capture images in burst mode, and time lapse and slow motion video recording. The front-facing camera also gets a new sensor, burst selfies, and HDR photo and video.

Pre-orders for the iPad Air 2 will begin on October 17, with shipping beginning about a week later. The Wi-Fi only versions will cost $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 64GB model, and $699 for the 128GB model. The Wi-Fi + cellular versions will cost $629, $729, and $829 respectively for the different storage configurations.

The iPad mini 3 will cost $399 for the 16GB model, $499 for the 64GB model, and $599 for the 128GB model. As with the iPad Air, cellular capabilities will add $130 to the price for each storage configuration. No spec changes, aside from the addition of Touch ID, were announced for the iPad mini 3.

All new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 models will be available in silver, space gray, and gold and Apple will begin taking pre-orders on October 17, with shipping beginning about a week later.

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!

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/productivity/fantastical-2-for-ipad-calendar-and-reminders”]

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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