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iPhone 5c Flop

It appears that the iPhone 5c experiment won’t soon be repeated

By on September 10, 2014 at 10:24 AM.

It appears that the iPhone 5c experiment won’t soon be repeated

Notice anything unusual about this week’s Apple keynote? You know, aside from the first Apple phablet and confirmation of a wrist-worn wearable? This year’s mix of iPhone product is dramatically different from that issued at Apple’s prior September event, and I suspect that it speaks volumes about where the company will (and won’t) go moving forward. When the iPhone 5c was unveiled, it felt very forced. It wasn’t a low-cost iPhone — a product that could’ve driven up Apple’s marketshare in emerging markets. It was a watered down iPhone 5s, a phone that left many scratching their heads as to who exactly it was for.

This year, Apple still took the wraps off of two new phones, but with one key distinction from 2013: both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are premium products. More →

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iPhone 6 Features

The iPhone 6 feature that’s great, but hardly good enough: Wi-Fi Calling

By on September 10, 2014 at 9:35 AM.

The iPhone 6 feature that’s great, but hardly good enough: Wi-Fi Calling

It was mentioned in the company’s keynote as something of an afterthought, but for travelers, it was the one line that piqued the most interest: The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will support Wi-Fi Calling. For those who stay home — and are fortunate enough to call a place home that also has excellent mobile reception — the allure of Wi-Fi Calling is limited. In fact, you probably glossed right over it. But for those who routinely travel outside of their home nation’s borders, Wi-Fi Calling is one of the holy grails of mobile telephony. Despite being available for years now on select handsets at T-Mobile, the iPhone’s lack of support was a major hurdle in it gaining steam.

Now, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will support it, which is a tremendously great thing. The downside? Only T-Mobile in the United States and EE in the United Kingdom are supporting it at launch, and no other carrier has come forward suggesting that they’ll follow suit anytime soon. More →

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Apple Watch Release Date

Apple breaks form by announcing Watch far before it’s ready to ship

By on September 10, 2014 at 9:10 AM.

Apple breaks form by announcing Watch far before it’s ready to ship

Some might find it rather amusing that Apple generally makes things happen like clockwork, only to completely turn a habit on its ear when ushering in its new timepiece. While few things are ever certain in the world of consumer electronics, one thing seemed to be: Apple only ever made a product official when it was good and ready to ship it to the masses within a month. Usually, within one to two weeks.

Look no further than today’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus introduction — announced on September 9, available to pre-order on September 12, and shipping to nearly every country on the planet on September 19. Part of Apple’s strategy is to reveal a product very close to its ship date, which serves a couple of purposes. First off, it’s able to maintain a heightened level of buzz from launch right on through to ship. Secondly, it doesn’t give its competitors much time to react.

Considering just how well this has worked for it in the past, why did it deviate so severely with the premature launch of Apple Watch? More →

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Apple Pay iPhone 6

Apple’s delayed mobile payment entry explained: It’s about the ecosystem

By on September 10, 2014 at 8:20 AM.

Apple’s delayed mobile payment entry explained: It’s about the ecosystem

I fondly recall being planted in downtown San Francisco for the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5. Prior to the keynote, I surmised that Apple would finally add a 128GB storage option for those who still valued local storage, and that the iPhone 5 would be the first to boast NFC. After all, all of Apple’s rivals were already on the mobile payment bandwagon, and if anyone could spearhead mainstream adoption of tap-to-pay, it’d be Apple.

Neither of those predictions came true.

Fast forward a couple of years, and we ended up seeing both included in the iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus). Apple didn’t even rely on a proprietary chip — it’s the same NFC standard that’s been floundering around in Android and Windows Phone devices for years. Apple also didn’t generate a proprietary card, instead relying on the same 16 digit strings that your existing debit and credit cards already use.

So, what took so long? More →

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How Much Do Yelp Reviews Matter

The online review is becoming an all-or-nothing proposition

By on September 4, 2014 at 4:05 PM.

The online review is becoming an all-or-nothing proposition

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, my grandmother ran a restaurant. It was in the middle of nowhere North Carolina, a solid 20 miles from any town of size in either direction. The exterior wasn’t much to look at, and the view was simply fields upon fields upon fields. Inside, however, was a different story. Inez’s Restaurant (simple times called for simple names, folks) was home to hand-patted hamburgers, hand-cut fries, apple turnovers, and a soft serve ice cream machine that I attempted to deplete daily while growing up. Farming was the family business, but it was Inez’s fixins that generated solid revenue regardless of the weather. More →

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Automatic Trip Tracker Web Dashboard

Automatic trip tracker adds Web Dashboard for easier trip sorting, exporting

By on September 3, 2014 at 9:00 AM.

Automatic trip tracker adds Web Dashboard for easier trip sorting, exporting

We’re pretty big fans of Automatic’s savvy trip tracker ‘round these parts, but one of our primary gripes when reviewing it late last year was the dearth of accessible data. For those just catching up, Automatic plugs into your vehicle’s OBD-II port — a port that you may not even be aware of unless you’re mechanically inclined. From there, it syncs with your iPhone or Android handset via Bluetooth each time you take a trip, collecting data on mileage, fuel economy, hard braking, etc. It gathers oodles of useful information, but didn’t really go so far as to make a ton of it available to the motorist.

That’s changing somewhat with today’s introduction of Web Dashboard. More →

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The Rise Of Mobile Apps

How the rise of mobile apps is making everything easier

By on August 29, 2014 at 3:35 PM.

How the rise of mobile apps is making everything easier

There was a time when Googling for “how to erase background in Photoshop” meant something. Budding graphical wizards understood that software existed to accomplish fantastical things such as removing a background and coloring it with something else, but the process was complicated. It required supremely expensive software, plenty of time for research, and the patience of Job. But it was easier than doing it by hand, so we were grateful. More →

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App Store

Six years in, the mobile app market is already mature

By on August 28, 2014 at 4:04 PM.

Six years in, the mobile app market is already mature

It’s tough to remember an iPhone without third-party apps, but sure enough, the ability to download from the App Store didn’t arrive until iOS 2.0 in the summer of 2008. Though the iPhone 3G wasn’t nearly the global phenomenon that the iPhone brand as a whole is today, it was still quite clear that what Apple had just opened was the modern-day gold rush. Curious users flocked to the App Store on a daily basis — back in my time at Engadget, a few editors even pored through every single app release on a given day to see what was worth downloading. Now, with thousands being published every 24 hours, that same tactic is simply untenable. More →

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Smartphone Notifications

Wrangling push notifications: Control your phone before it controls you

By on August 27, 2014 at 4:08 PM.

Wrangling push notifications: Control your phone before it controls you

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been there. Buzzed, dinged, and blooped to death. For as incredible as smartphones are, their ability to notify you about anything and everything can quickly become a nightmare. Early on, in simpler times, it was a common technological courtesy for your phone to notify you whenever a call, text, or email was inbound. We branched out a bit with instant messaging, and if you were really crazy, you might even ask the ESPN app to ping you whenever your favorite team recorded a W. More →

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Social Media Critics

On social media, you’re more than just a critic

By on August 26, 2014 at 4:15 PM.

On social media, you’re more than just a critic

Judgmentalism has been a staple of societal life for longer than I’m even capable of understanding, and as such, folks have been handing out criticisms for just as long. It’s common practice for creators to look down on other creations, and moreover, to bestow opinions on current events without ever being asked. It’s an issue that has surely been around for some time, but it feels as if social media has only served to add fuel to the proverbial fire.

Talking heads of the tube were bad enough, but at least there were only a smattering of those. Now, we have billions of those same heads, and unlike television, their words remain linkable, searchable, and retweetable ad infinitum. More →

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laptop-garage

Subscription fatigue: Are all of those monthly plans worth it?

By on August 25, 2014 at 5:07 AM.

Subscription fatigue: Are all of those monthly plans worth it?

Blame the banks. Blame cheap credit. Blame serialized television advertisements that encouraged your mother to purchase something she didn’t need because she could pay for it in four monthly installments. Actually, just skip the blame game — subscriptions are here to stay, but they aren’t all bad. In recent years, the technology industry in particular has started to shift revenue models. While software, as an example, was sold as a one-time purchase for decades, today’s programmers largely expect smaller recurring revenues. More →

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moto-x-cameraphone

The photographed world: How our generation is redefining the art of documentation

By on August 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM.

The photographed world: How our generation is redefining the art of documentation

It was November of 2006, and while many were stuck in a food coma and/or preparing to zone out for the holidays, Flickr was launching a new tool. “Camera Finder,” it was dubbed, and its purpose was immediately clear: To allow viewers an insider’s look as to what digital imaging tools were making the biggest splash across the network. Even in 2006, consumers adored trends. As it turns out, Nikon even took out a sponsorship to trumpet its mighty D80 DSLR — after all, what camera company wouldn’t want such a tool to showcase its wares on? More →

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Why Is Amazon Prime So Successful

Unlimited two-day shipping has made it hard to wait for anything

By on August 22, 2014 at 1:05 PM.

Unlimited two-day shipping has made it hard to wait for anything

A few years ago, I was “that guy” — the one searching for fillers to boost my online shopping cart to $25 so that I could have the lot of it shipped to my place gratis. It wasn’t glamorous, but it worked. At the time, it felt like moving entirely unrelated products from Points A, B, and C to my home (let’s call that Point Z) in 5 to 7 business days was acceptable. In fact, it was remarkable. I clicked a few buttons, went about my day, and stuff just showed up a week later in a box I could either re-use or recycle. It was the future. More →

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