My First iPhone

Jen's new iPhone resizedAfter years of resistance, I have finally become the owner of an iPhone. It is my very first iPhone (and I presume I’ll have to upgrade to a newer one someday). No, I haven’t switched over to Apple’s popular phone from Android. Before this, I was actually using a flip-phone. That flip-phone was the very first cell phone I ever owned, and I purchased it in 2010.

My new iPhone 6 is, obviously, much more versatile than the phone I used before. There is a bit of a “learning curve” happening as I try to figure out what the iPhone can do. I’ll get the hang of things eventually.

So far, I’ve only messed around with “the basics”. My husband, Shawn (who also writes for Geek News Central), helped me to pick out a ring tone and assign another sound that would tell me if I got an iMessage from someone. I used his iPhone 6 Plus to take a photo of my iPhone 6 for this blog.

The first photo that I took with my new iPhone was of the microphone I was using while doing a podcast. (That photo became part of the show notes for said podcast). The first phone call I made was to the local government to find out more about something that was happening downtown. I haven’t taken a “selfie” yet, but I figure it is only a matter of time before I do.

The most useful thing I’ve done with my new iPhone involves an app called Paprika. Shawn and I are both using it via iTunes Family Sharing. In short, the app helps people put recipe ingredients directly into a grocery list.

Apple Watch Edition is a Mistake

Apple Watch EditionThe Apple Watch Edition is a mistake. There, I’ve said it. Apple fans can leave vitriolic comments below without reading any further.

The Apple Watch Edition is too expensive. Way too expensive. Apple fans can leave additional vitriolic comments below without reading any further.

The Apple Watch Edition will sell plenty. Not record breaking numbers, but well enough. Apple fans….just a sec, hold on…how can it be a mistake, too expensive and still sell? It’s because the problem is not the Watch Edition itself but rather what it represents.

In many ways, Apple and the late Steve Jobs embody the American dream. Although there were setbacks along the way, persistence, hard work and great products from the iMac to the iPod and iPhone led to success, fame and wealth.

On the other hand, Apple was egalitarian. While their beautiful, well-designed products were aspirational, they were also affordable. Not impulse buy affordable but if you too worked hard, saved your pennies, you could afford the Apple product of your dreams. The relationship was reinforced with iPhones and iPads in the hands of celebrities and fashionistas; you could have the same phone as your favourite pop star or actor. In an era of mass-produced mediocrity, you could have something a little special.

And this is why the Watch Edition is a mistake. Apple now has a product which is unaffordable for the vast majority of its fans and owners. There’s now Apple haves and Apple have nots and never wills. What you have is no longer special. The equality of product between the rich and (relatively) poor, the famous and the unknown, has been lost.

That’s why I think the Apple Watch Edition is a mistake. It’s nothing to do with its looks, functionality or value but rather the change in perception of Apple by its supporters.

What do you think? Is the egalitarian nature of Apple’s product line important?

I Just Wanted To Give You My Money, T-Mobile…

T-mobile logoI’ve been in the market for a couple of smartphones. Specifically, one iPhone 6 Plus for myself and one iPhone 6 for my wife (and fellow GNC contributor) Jen. I was all set to purchase the new phones from T-Mobile earlier this week. But the utter failure of T-Mobile’s website lead me to buying from a competitor instead.

When I logged on to the T-Mobile site, I was immediately greeted with this message:

T-Mobile website browser warning

 

I was using the latest version of Safari on an iMac running the latest version of OS X. And yeah, I get it. Safari is often a bit of a thorn in the side of web developers. But, come on. It’s 2015. Macs are everywhere and many Mac users (including me) prefer to use Safari. Upon seeing this message, I knew I was in for trouble. But I carried on, anyway. I closed the browser warning message and clicked the “Shop” link at the top of the T-Mobile site.

From there, I selected a silver iPhone 6 Plus and continued on thru the rate-plan selection process, which went OK. Then, I went to add the second phone and that’s when the process started to fail. When the iPhone 6 screen loaded, it never gave me an option to buy the phone. I was stuck. I went back to my shopping cart to try and resume the process, and after much lag I was eventually given a “Processing Error” page that told me something had gone wrong, to wait a few minutes and try again.

So, I waited a few minutes and tried again with no luck. I waited a few more minutes and made another attempt. Still nothing. I’m not sure how many times I repeated this process before I started getting frustrated. I imagine at this point, most people would’ve given up. I guess I’m stricken with some sort of weird combination of patience and stubbornness. But, the thing is, I really wanted to buy these iPhones from T-Mobile.

[Read more…]

Booking.com Launches Booking Now App

Booking.com logoI was somewhat surprised to learn that 50% of travel bookings made within 48 hours of departure are booked on a mobile device. On reflection, it’s perhaps not that surprising, given that the spontaneous decision to travel is likely to be followed up immediately, rather than waiting to get home to get the laptop out.

It’s with this opportunity in mind that accommodation site Booking.com has launched Booking Now, an instant booking app that can get a place to stay in as little as two taps. After a successful launch in the US and Canada, the app is now available in the UK for iOS devices with an Android version to follow. The app’s built-in intelligence, along with GPS, helps it choose the best properties based on your preferences from over 600,000 properties in 70,000 destinations.

Booking Now - Booking.com UK imageWith the launch of Booking Now, we’re increasing our investment in mobile by leveraging our global scale, assets and partnerships to accommodate the growing number of customers who are booking reservations within two days or less of their stay,” said Darren Huston, Chief Executive Officer of Booking.com. “The new app puts users at the centre of the booking experience, drawing from our vast database of properties to meet their specific preferences at the very moment they need to book. Booking Now is designed to deliver a seamless mobile experience for spontaneous consumers, fitting perfectly into their multi-device, on-demand lifestyle.

Booking Now personalises real-time search results based on the traveller profile created by each user when they first start to use the app. The profile indicates specific accommodation preferences, such as budget and options like parking, included breakfast and wifi. Users are then presented with the most relevant accommodation available based on profile and location. The traveller can then modify their choice of accommodation to suit their itinerary and the places that they want to see. With Booking Now’s predictive analytics, the more frequently customers use the app, the more personalised their recommended matches become. Additionally, as user’s swipe through the app, they can pin their top hotel choice to the map so they can see where the hotel is relative to their location or other attractions.

The Booking Now app can be downloaded from the relevant app stores – iOS only for now with Android coming soon.

If only I had more time and more money to be spontaneous!

Element Case Turns Your iPhone Into A Pro Camera At CES

Element case poster

There’s no doubt that smartphone cameras have improved immensely in the past few years, but they still haven’t reached the quality of a DSLR. Element Case is partnering with optics company Schneider to transform your iPhone 6 into a photography star.

Jamie spoke to Jeff Sasaki, CEO of Element Case, about Element’s new iPro 6 lens case. The sturdy case protects your phone, and the attachable lenses securely fasten to the case to drastically improve the quality of your iPhone’s camera. The range of interchangeable lenses includes wide-angle, super-wide-angle, macro, fisheye, and telephoto so you can create the perfect image every time. And with the ability to attach a handle and/or tripod, iPhone photography has never been better.

The iPro 6 case and lenses will be released Q2 of 2015 with prices between $100-$300 depending on your chosen lens configuration. For more details, check out the Element Case website.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly.

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iStabilizer Selfie Stick at CES

iStabilizer LogoThe OED named “selfie” as the word of the year for 2013 and since then it’s been embedded in the zeitgeist. In turn, the selfie stick became one of Time’s inventions of 2014 providing greater depth and spatial awareness for the inclusive snapper. In short, they’re great fun and you get more in the picture. Marlo talks with Noah Rasheta from iStabilizer about their new monopod aka selfie stick.

iStabilizer have a range of gadgets to mount, hold or otherwise position smartphones, tablets and action cams. The new version of their selfie stick makes life especially easy for selfie takers with a universal smartphone mount at one end and a Bluetooth button at the other end of the stick to press the shutter in the camera app. The stick works with both Apple and Android smartphones – there’s another button on the handle to switch between the different types. Overall, it couldn’t get any easier: put smartphone in mount, hold stick to get the best picture, smile and snap.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch for the TechPodcast Network.

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On3 PowerCliq Smart Battery Case

PowerCliq LogoCombo battery cases for the Apple iPhone are commonplace from no-name clones to well-known manufacturers whose brand is almost synonymous with the product. On the other hand, combined case, battery and Bluetooth headset packs with smart battery management are really quite rare. In fact, On3‘s PowerCliq is the only one I know of, so watch Don get a hands-on demo from Brad Yasar of On3.

The PowerCliq is a 2700 mAh battery case for the iPhone which has two additional features. The first is a Bluetooth 4.0 headset that slides into the back of the case for both storage and charging. The second is that the charging features of the external battery can be controlled by app on the iPhone. When plugged in, most battery packs simply charge until the smartphone is fully charged and then keep it topped up; there are some schools of thought that suggest this can be detrimental to the long-term performance of the battery.

On the PowerCliq, the app can be used to set a minimum battery level such that the recharging doesn’t kick in until the iPhone’s battery falls to that level and once fully charged, turns off. This larger discharge / charge cycle is supposed to improve the life of the battery.

The PowerCliq is fundraising on Kickstarter with early birds getting in at $88.  Update: since CES, the Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled. There’s a note on Instagram saying that this is to allow for new developments and the campaign will restart soon.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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Schneider Optics Interchangeable Lenses

Schneider LogoDigital pictures and cameras on smartphones have changed the photography beyond recognition in the last twenty years and the quality of the imagery is such that innovative filmmakers are using iPhones to record footage. One restriction remains and that is the lens itself; there’s only one and it’s fixed in place. There’s no swapping in a macro lens, though Schneider Optics might have a solution. Todd finds out more from Don.

Schneider Optics iPro Lens systems provides a selection of high quality optical lenses for Apple iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy S4, including macro, wide-angle, super wide, tele and fisheye. The system works by fitting the smartphone itself into a case and then mounting the lens onto the case with a bayonet connector to ensure the best possible optical alignment. The smallest offset can lead to aberrations and a loss of picture quality, which the iPro Lens case and lens combination avoids.

The iPro Lens is available now for the Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus variant will be on sale shortly. Lenses cost from $39 to $99, the case is $31 and there are kits available too.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Floome Smartphone Breathalyser at CES

2045 TechIt’s best not to drink alcohol at all before driving as even small amounts of alcohol can impair your judgement. However, if you need to check your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), then the Floome smartphone breathalyser from 2045 Tech can help you determine if it’s legal to drive. Fabio Penzo CEO shows Todd that he’s sober.

Floome is a small palm-sized device that plugs into the earphone jack of a smartphone. The owner breathes into Floome which analyses the alcohol concentration and passes the data to the Floome app on the smartphone. The phone then shows the BAC on the screen along with a green or red indicator. The app has other features such as showing the location of the nearest taxi firm or it can send “come and get me” messages with the alcohol level superimposed on a selfie.

The Floome will be launching in Italy for 49 euros and will come to USA in a few months.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Peri Duo Speaker Case for iPhone

Peri Logo

When it comes to smartphones and tablets, there are few mobile devices that produce anything like a decent volume and as for stereo separation, forget it. Fortunately Peri can come to the aid of iPhone owners with the Peri Duo, a high-power wireless speaker and phone charger case. Todd and Jamie find out more from Cedric Sumimoto, co-founder of Peri.

The Peri Duo is a standalone wi-fi and bluetooth-enabled speaker and iPhone charger case all in one. As expected, music can be streamed via AirPlay but the iPhone doesn’t have to be in the case when playing the music, so the Duo speaker can be on the opposite side of the room while the iPhone is safely in a pocket. Even better, more than one Duo can be connected to a phone so one Duo can be assigned as the left speaker and one as the right. Alternatively, one phone can multicast to dozens of Peri Duos, which really gets the party going.

The battery is 2500 mAh which will fully recharge an iPhone once with a bit over, or else the Duo will play music for around 4 hours.

The Peri Duo will be available for the iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and iPod Touch. The MSRP will be $139 though it’s currently on pre-order at $99 via Indigogo. Deliveries are expected from April onwards.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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