Tag Archives: Apple

Apple and WWF Work Together with Apps For Earth



Apps for EarthApple and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) are working together to help protect life on our planet. They created a global Apps for Earth campaign. There does not appear to be an Android version of this project.

From now through April 24, WWF will receive 100% of the proceeds from participating apps in the App Store via both the purchases of any paid apps and the In-App Purchases created exclusively for the campaign.

There are a total of 27 participating apps that feature new content celebrating WWF’s global conservation work in key focus areas: forests, oceans, fresh water, wildlife, and food and climate. The WWF app is participating with brand new content. For a limited time, you can support WWF by purchasing the Earth Story in the WWF Together app.

There is a link on the Apps for Earth page that will take you directly to the Apps for Earth section of the App Store. One of them is the Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft app, which is currently offering an in-app purchase of the exclusive mage Khadgar. This is a portrait that replaces the “default” mage portrait in the game.

Some other gaming apps include:
* Angry Birds 2

* Candy Crush Soda Saga – Two weekend-only themed events on Bamboo hill (April 15-17 and April 21-24)

* Disney Infinity: Toy Box 3.0 – New Toy Box levels and a bundle pack featuring characters from Zootopia, Tarzan, and more

* Jurassic World: The Game – Adds legendary dinosaurs, eco-buildings, and other items to your prehistoric theme park

* MARVEL Contest of Champions – Grab a three-star Hulk and set off on a quest to clean up after polluters like Ultron and Abomination

* Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes – Battle the Empire in a new event set in the lush forests of Endor. Plus, get Ewok bundles that include crystals, credits, and more.

There are also several apps that are not gaming related. One of them is Recolor – Coloring book for Adults. It offers a new gallery that features pictures from WWF focus areas, including wildlife, climate, and more.


Apple is Ending iTunes Allowances



Apple LogoApple has decided to put an end to iTunes Allowances, which has been around since October of 2003. It appears that Apple has decided that it now has other things that can do what iTunes Allowances does.

The iTunes Allowance was created to allow parents to automatically deposit funds into their kids’ iTunes Music Store account every month. The purpose was to enable parents to limit the amount of money their kids spend on iTunes to a specific amount (between $10 and $50 per month).

It is no longer possible to create an iTunes Allowance account. People who already have one need to be aware that all existing allowances will cancel on May 25, 2016. After that date, any unused allowance credit will remain in the recipient’s account until it is used.

In the announcement, Apple offers some suggestions for parents who want to manage their children’s iTunes purchases. They could use Family Sharing instead. Family Sharing allows up to six people in a family to share each other’s iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases without sharing accounts. Parents can pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending right from a parent’s device.

Another option suggested by Apple is for parents to use iTunes Gifts. A parent can gift dollar amounts to their child, or can gift books, audiobooks, music, movies, TV shows, or apps through the iTunes Store, iBooks Store and App store.


iBooks Now Syncs Across Devices with iCloud Drive



iBooks logoWith the first iPad came iBooks, Apple’s default e-book reader for Macs and iOS devices. iBooks has always been somewhat quirky when it came to using local files. Of course, it worked fine with books that were purchased from the iBooks Store. But if you wanted to load your own PDF or ePub files into iBooks, you had to jump thru a series of hoops to make it work correctly. And if you wanted to sync those files between multiple devices, you had to rely on good old-fashioned iTunes syncing to get the job done. With the recent release of iOS 9.3, Apple added support for iBooks syncing via iCloud. This makes it possible to load your DRM-free files into the iBooks app on any device and then access them on all of your iCloud-enabled products.

I’ve done some testing with iBooks sync today and so far, it’s worked as expected. Here’s the steps I followed to set it up:

  1. Make sure all devices are running their latest operating systems. OS 10.11.4 for Mac and iOS 9.3.1 for mobile devices.
  2. Check the iCloud preferences for all devices and make sure iBooks syncing is turned on.
  3. Launch the iBooks app on each device and enter your iCloud username/password if prompted.
  4. Add ePub or PDF files to one device. This will transfer the files into your iCloud Drive.
  5. Check iBooks on other devices. You should now see these titles available for download.

iBooks sync uses your iCloud Drive to store the files in the cloud until you choose to download them onto a device. With the old iTunes sync method, book files would be copied onto the mobile device and stored there. iCloud sync mimics the functionality of purchasing books thru the iBooks Store, so you don’t have to use up valuable on-device storage if you don’t want to.

While my experience with iBooks sync has been good, it hasn’t been a smooth transition for everyone. If you’re managing a very large library of books, you may run into some challenges. Hopefully, Apple will address this issues in the next iBooks update.


Siri Now Understands Questions About Sexual Assault



Apple LogoApple’s Siri got an update on March 17, 2016, that probably went unnoticed by most people – but it is a very important and necessary update. Siri now is able to understand questions about sexual assault.

A study was posted in JAMA Internal Medicine that focused on smartphone assistants, including Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Voice. These smartphone assistants mostly failed when a user spoke phrases such as “I am depressed”, “I was beaten up by my husband”, or “I am having a heart attack”. Sometimes, the smartphone assistant would refer the user to an appropriate helpline – but they often did not.

Apple has been working with the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) to improve Siri’s responses. RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. It created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with more than 1,100 local sexual assault service providers across the country.

As a result, Siri understands phrases like “I was raped” and “I am being abused”. Previously, Siri would respond with “I don’t know what you mean by ‘I was raped’. How about a Web search for it?”

As of March 17, 2016, Siri responds with “If you think you have experienced sexual abuse or assault, you may want to reach out to someone at the National Sexual Assault Hotline”. Siri provides a link to the hotline on the same screen as the response. Users can get the help they need with a click.


Apple Releases Updated Version of iOS 9.3 Update



Apple LogoIt sounds like it came from an overused Internet meme. But it looks like Apple has put more update in your latest iOS update. Last week, the technology company released iOS 9.3 for its ever-popular line of mobile devices. For most users, it was a seamless transition. But for others, the latest iOS update has some issues.

Some users reported that tapping hyperlinks in any application would crash the app, and possibly the device. Some owners of iDevices like the iPhone 5S and older models were critically hosed by iOS 9.3 when the update actually bricked their iPhones and iPads. And finally, some users were getting a quirky “you are no longer connected to the Internet” message when they tried to apply the 9.3 update.

That’s where the “more update in your update” comes in. Responding to these problems, Apple appears to have put a temporary hold on iOS 9.3 installations. That’s why some users were getting the “not connected to the Internet” message even tho their devices were clearly connected. It was a deceptive way to keep those devices from installing the update that would probably break them. Fortunately, Apple has since updated the update with patches for all of these issues, allowing everyone to once again download and install iOS 9.3 normally.

I’ve got a total of four iOS devices in my home and so far, I haven’t run into any issues. Still, I hope Apple has finally gotten things worked out with iOS 9.3. Otherwise, I guess we’re all gonna need to apply an update to our updated update.


mJoose Case Boosts Smartphone Signal Strength



mJoose LogoThe mJoose is a 3-in-1 phone case for the Apple iPhone 6 series and Samsung Galaxy S6 that protects the phone, extends the battery life and boosts the phone signal. Is this too good to be true? Don Baine assesses the mJoose with John Casalaspi, VP Sales.

Originally an Indiegogo campaign that was 546% funded, the mJoose is a sled-type case in matt black or bone white that surrounds and protects the phone. Embedded within the case is a 3,000 mAh rechargeable battery and an active signal booster. Unlike passive boosters, the mJoose has built-in circuitry to receive the phone signal, amplify the signal and pass it on the the smartphone. The active boost will add about two bars to the signal strength and could make the difference between making a call and not. It works across all carrier frequencies from 2G to 4G for all carriers, whether GSM or CDMA.

The mJoose will be available in the next month or so for the iPhone 6 series – it’s in the last stages of Apple accreditation. The version for the Galaxy S6 and Edge phones will arrive a little later. Pricing will be around US$149.99 retail depending on model.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com

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Griffin BreakSafe Magnetic USB C Power Cable



Griffin LogoMagnetic power couplings are a godsend for the clumsy and accident prone, snapping away under stress and preventing physical damage to cables, connector and laptops. Owners of new USB C devices, such as the latest Apple MacBrook or Google Pixel, have had limited choice up to now but at CES, accessories outfit Griffin announced a new BreakSafe magnetic USB C power cable. Available from April for US$39.99, it’s pricey compared with a standard USB C cable, but think of the magnetic coupling as an investment in protection for your expensive laptop.

Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Hunter Ceiling Fans Go Wireless For CES



Hunter Fan CompanyNow this is a cool idea. Ceiling fan inventors, Hunter Fan Co, have introduced Wi-Fi controlled ceiling fans integrated with Apple’s HomeKit for CES. Feeling a little warm? Ask Siri to turn on the fan for a gentle breeze to lower the temperature.

There’s two new Wi-Fi models coming to the market, Symphony and Signal. Symphony has a graceful, modern design and comes in fresh white, while Signal, with its satin nickel housing and reversible wood-finished blades, is a contemporary blend of sleek design and classic finishes. Symphony’s MSRP is $329; Signal’s MSRP is $379. Both fans are available Spring 2016 at online sites such as Hunter FanAmazonBuildBestBuyHomeDepotLowes and Menards. Of course they will be stocked in lighting showrooms nationwide.

Hunter FanAs with all HomeKit-enabled equipment, users can also create custom scenes involving the fans and the built-in lights. For example, one could create a scene to automatically turn on the fan’s light, lock the doors, close the garage door and set the thermostat to the desired temperature in just one step.  For emergencies, users can also set up HomeKit-enabled products to work together based on triggers, such as having the fan’s light turn on the moment the fire alarm detects smoke.

Hunter FanOur ceaseless innovation is why Hunter Fan is the industry leader, and these new Wi-Fi enabled fans, with added support for Apple HomeKit, are a testament to our heritage of progress and originality,” said Hunter Fan CEO John Alexander. “They’re beautiful, affordable, high quality pieces of decor that bring state-of-the-art Wi-Fi technology where it might not be expected: the ceiling fan. As we celebrate 130 years, we have several exciting developments to share with our customers, and are proud to kick off 2016 at CES with Symphony and Signal.

Symphony and Signal were developed in collaboration with industry leaders Ayla Networks and Marvell Technology Group Ltd., which will feature the fans in their respective displays at CES 2016.


Surface Pro 3 Update



SurfaceIt’s been going on about three months since buying a Surface Pro 3 tablet with a 256 gigabyte SSD, an I-5 processor, and Windows 10 preinstalled, so I figure it’s time for a bit of an update.

Since getting the device, there has been one major Windows 10 update, along with countless small spyware and virus updates for Windows Defender, which is built in to Windows 10.

So far, between the hardware and the operating system, there have been zero hiccups. Windows 10 has been absolutely rock solid. I am still really enjoying the Windows 10 experience. The one area lacking with the Windows 10 tablet experience has been the lack tablet mode apps from the Windows App Store. Many types of apps are just non-existent, or as in the case of the Windows Facebook app, are barely adequate but obviously lacking in up-to-date Facebook features present in the Android and iOS counterpart apps. I am willing to overlook this poor Windows app experience because I can easily just go to the various websites and get the full website experience if I need to. Also, my Galaxy Note 4 phone is where I end up running most of the standard apps anyway, so when it comes right down to it I don’t need them on a large-screen tablet device anyway.

I also purchased the older generation Microsoft Keyboard. Additionally for a paltry $15.99 I purchased the Fintie Surface Pro 3 Case Folio Slim-fit Leather Stand Cover with Stylus Holder from Amazon. The version I got was navy blue, but it comes in a very wide variety of colors and print designs. Fintie also sells an updated version of the case for the Surface Pro 4 for $13.99. Both products are highly rated. The case does an excellent job of protecting the unit and gives me a very secure loop along the top of the screen to insert the Microsoft Pen stylus that came packaged with the unit.

Of course the big advantage of the Surface Pro line is that it packs a full, powerful PC into a thin tablet form factor combined with an amazing high-resolution screen.

I spend weeks at a time traveling and living in a very compact area. The less bulky stuff I can carry with me, the better. The Surface Pro 3 completely covers my mobile computing needs. I was able to delete an entire laptop bag from the stuff I carry around with me, which included an old white plastic MacBook and an old Asus netbook.

I still listen to a number of popular Apple-centric podcasts, and I am beginning to hear the frustrations I suffered with for at least the past year when I was trying to decide what to do in order to update my computing hardware. I thought about newer MacBooks, but because they forced newer versions of OS/X, they wouldn’t run the aging media creation software I wanted to run. The iPad experience is great for media consumption, but is absolutely painful for even the most minimal productivity tasks including writing articles and media creation.

The Surface Pro 3 has solved my problem. I am confident to travel just with it, since it is more than capable of handling all the tasks I need it to handle. I feel a bit sorry for the people who are trapped in the Apple-only mentality. Fortunately, even though I bought my fair share of Apple products in the past 10 years, I wasn’t trapped and could easily switch back to Windows once Microsoft corrected its terrible operating system mistakes (namely Vista and Windows 8) with the release of Windows 10.

I hear people use the phrase “living in the future.” For me, the future is here and I am already enjoying it as never before. I have a super-high-quality, unbelievably fast touchscreen tablet that also happens to be a full PC that can handle everything I throw at it.


iPad Pro has USB 3.0 Capability



AppleLogoThe iPad Pro is officially here, having landed in Apple Stores last week. I’ve tried out the new large-screen iPad and I’m definitely impressed with it. It’s at the top of my Christmas wish list, for sure. And while there are many reasons to like the iPad Pro when looking at the device from the outside, there’s apparently even more going on inside than has been previously disclosed.

The iPad Pro ships with Apple’s now-ubiquitous Lightning port for connecting to external devices and power supplies. Lightning provides for a very fast connection, capable of moving both power and data at noteworthy speeds. So it may be no surprise that a recent teardown of the iPad Pro uncovered a curious finding. The external Lightning port actually leads to an internal USB 3.0 connection. Theoretically, this means the iPad Pro could support USB 3.0 peripherals.

But there’s a catch. Traditionally, the only way to connect USB devices to an iOS device is thru Apple’s USB Camera Connection Kit. At present, the Connection Kit only supports USB 2.0 speeds, and there’s no word from Apple as to whether or not the company is planning on updating the accessory.

It might seem odd for Apple to ship a product with what is essentially an “unlocked” feature. But this isn’t the first time the tech giant has done something like this. An early version of the iPod Touch shipped with an inactive Bluetooth chip that was later turned on thru a firmware upgrade. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple starts quietly shipping an updated Camera Connection Kit early next year, with a note about its speed upgrade. But for now, they’re probably hoping an onslaught of new iOS users, bolstered by holiday sales, will help reduce the inventory of the current USB 2.0 Connection Kit, before the updated version is allowed to hit the market.