Friday, November 30, 2018

Apple Music and Amazon Alexa

For anyone looking for another reason to not buy HomePod, Apple and Amazon announced today that Apple Music is coming to Amazon Alexa. Starting the week of December 17, you'll be able to ask Alexa to play a song using Apple Music. It's almost poetic that Apple Music as the most popular music streaming service in the U.S. is available on one of the most popular smart speakers. But it does speak of Apple's position on HomePod. Amazon won't sell HomePod because it's technically a competing product, which is being generous calling it that. I've lost almost any reason to buy a HomePod with this news.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Apple and iHeartMedia

iHeartRadio has been the Frankenstein of music streaming. It tried AM/FM streaming, Pandora style-streaming, and Apple Music-style streaming all at the same time, but ended up failing. With iHeartMedia filing for bankruptcy, Apple is taking a look at buying a stake in the group [Source: Financial Times]. My opinion will vary based on how Apple implemented this, but I think it would be good for Apple to have some stake in iHeartMedia. I live in Arizona for university, but I enjoy listening to old fashioned AM/FM radio from California. I can listen to it through iHeartRadio, but I don't enjoy using their app. I think if Apple took iHeartMedia's stations and put them into the Apple Music's radio section, they could strike gold. Asking Siri to play a specific station with HomePod would certainly intrigue me more. Android users would have more incentive to download the Apple Music app and listen to their favorite stations at no cost. iHeartMedia, though bankrupt, could do a lot for Apple.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

iPhone XR Outsells iPhone XS

According to Apple via CNET, the iPhone XR has been outselling the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max everyday since the device's launch. This is a clear indication that the cheaper price point is good for Apple. Now, a lot of people are interpreting this as iPhones are doing fine. Which is weird because this came from an Apple's VP of Marketing. Apple would never admit the iPhone is doing terrible. To say the iPhone XR is outselling the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max is like saying a turtle is faster than a snail. This doesn't mean that the rumors of cutting iPhone XR production is false. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

DriveSavers' iOS Unlocker

The latest device that can unlock your iPhone has arrived. Earlier this year, there was the GrayKey box, which was advertised to law enforcement. Now we have DriveSavers, who have released a product that can unlock an iPhone marketed towards consumers. It works on iOS, in addition to Android, Windows, and Blackberry products. While Apple may patch out this device's usability, it's doubtful a company like Blackberry would, so it would still have some use. The device is priced at about $3,900 and is for device owners only.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Microsoft Surpasses Apple As Most Valuable U.S. Company

In early August, Apple became the world's first trillion dollar company. They went under $1 trillion earlier this month and now they have lost the most valuable company title to Microsoft, at about $814 billion [Source: Business Insider]. That's a pretty big fall from a trillion. Many believe that the fall is due to the mediocre sales of the latest iPhones. I hope this helps Apple realize that their logo on a product does not guarantee sales. Sales are earned, and it's clear that the latest iPhones were not deserving of the same sales as some other iPhones.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Amazon Begins Selling Apple Products

The other day, Amazon announced they would soon start selling Apple products. Now, Amazon has added Apple products to their site. Amazon is notorious for having knock off Apple products and accessories on their site, so hopefully official listings changes that reputation. But with many Apple products listed, be sure to check there for potential new deals on Apple products and accessories.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Apple Could Lower iPhone XR Price in Japan

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple could lower the price of the iPhone XR in Japan due to low sales. We've heard a lot of talk about how poorly the latest iPhones have been selling, especially in the U.S. So, the fact that Apple would reduce the iPhone XR price so quickly is concerning. This is something rare for any major smartphone company. Apple has a serious issue with their flagship lineup of products and needs to take action quickly.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Apple's Black Friday Shopping Event

As I have mentioned earlier this week, Apple is not known for great Black Friday deals. Now, their Black Friday shopping event is taking place. You can get various Apple gift cards depending on which product you get. This is a horrible deal, especially when considering the deals available from major retailers this year. I think, at the very least, we should get gift cards on price tier. But instead, Apple uses gift cards as incentive to clear out their products taking up too much stock. The iPhone XS has sold horribly, but there is no gift card available. Gift cards would be great for newer products because you can use the gift cards to buy accessories for the product right on the spot. Older products typically have less accessories, depending on the product. I hope we can get better deals in future years.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

iPhone X Could Be Produced Again

Ever since the first rumors of the iPhone XS, we've heard rumblings that the iPhone X would be discontinued. That was true, but could now be reversed. The iPhone X could be put back into production and we can attribute that to the poor sales of the iPhone XS and iPhone XR [Source: The Wall Street Journal]. If true, we could see a lower priced iPhone X that may be able to entice customers. The iPhone X is a fine smartphone. I personally love mine without taking a second glance at the iPhone XS. So, if Apple sold this phone a few hundred less than the iPhone XS, many people might consider it instead of the iPhone XR.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Use Hey Siri to Activate Google Assistant

A while back, Amazon and Microsoft teamed up to bring Alexa to Microsoft's smart speaker and Cortana to Amazon's Echo line. While this isn't a collaboration of any kind, Google has now used the Siri Shortcuts feature in iOS 12 to make it possible to activate the Google Assistant from Siri. Update the Google app on your iOS device and follow the "Add to Siri" prompt. You should be able to use the phrase you use for Google Assistant. If you pick "Hey Google," you would essentially say "Hey Siri, Hey Google."

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Apple's Holiday Ad 2018

Apple has had a rocky streak in recent years with their holiday ads. So, I'm glad they've turned that around this year with a pretty good ad. It's called "Share Your Gifts" and it does a good job connecting the "creativity" theme Apple has been promoting recently. Consistency is key here. This ad centers around a girl who keeps her artistic creations to herself, until her dog accidentally lets her papers fly out of her window for the world to see. This ad does a lot right that previous ads do not.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Gmail's Handy Reminder

If you write a lot of emails, you know the feeling of instant regret when you forget to add an attachment to an email you've already sent. If you can relate, Gmail has you covered. I don't know how long this has been a feature, but I encountered the message below the other day. I mention an attachment in my email and I forgot to attach one. Google notices this and prompts me if I still want to send the message. Think the "your message doesn't have a subject" reminder, but it's actually useful. All in all, this is a handy little feature that can go a long way.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

AirPort Line of Products No Longer Available

The AirPort line of products was officially discontinued back in April. However, Apple did allow users to deplete their stock before pulling the products from their shelves. Now, the AirPort Extreme and the 2 TB Time Capsule have reached their limit and are no longer available from Apple. With this, we no longer have any AirPort products to look for. Only refurbished models are available from Apple at this point.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Black Friday Deals 2018

Apple is notorious for not having great Black Friday deals, but at least we can look to other retail giants for great deals on Apple's latest products. If you're looking for an exhaustive list, I recommend checking out MacRumors' article on them. That being said, there are a few deals I wanted to point out.

The regular iPad is getting cheaper and cheaper, which makes it a steal when it goes on sale. The 32 GB 9.7-inch iPad will be available starting at just $249.99 (usually $329.99) at Target and Walmart. For 128 GB, Best Buy has it available for $329.99 instead of $429.99. The 9.7-inch iPad is great in that it just works. It gets the job done. A lightweight, portable device that does everything you expect from an iPad. And it's still well supported, despite being thrown in the shadow with the new iPad Pro.

The HomePod is getting a much needed discount at Best Buy. It will be just $249.99 instead of $349.99. While this is still relatively expensive for a smart speaker today, it certainly looks way better by comparison to the MSRP. I did mention earlier that I don't recommend HomePod in its current state, but for anyone who really wants HomePod and can't hold out until a cheaper model is released, this is certainly the time to buy it.

Overall, you can't expect too many great deals for Black Friday after Apple announced so many products just now. Unless they're older deals, you'll have to pay full price for the shiny new gadgets that have hype around them. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bendgate Returns in iPad Pro

Bendgate hasn't been a real issue since the iPhone 6, and there's still a lot of controversy if that was ever a "real issue." But it seems that the new iPad Pro could revive this issue. JerryRigEverything on YouTube has shown off the iPad Pro being bent in half. The iPhone 6 bend test took a consider amount of time and effort, but the iPad Pro seems to snap in half almost immediately. Obviously, this isn't a demonstration of normal wear and tear, but it is concerning at the least.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

iPhone's Awful Naming Convention

There is a very clear difference in the naming of the iPhone during the Steve Jobs era and the Tim Cook era.

Up to the iPhone 5s, the naming of the iPhone was very simple and clear. iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S. I could order any way and it would be very clear which model is the superior model.

Let's move on. iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, iPhone Xr. You can slowly see the naming degenerate, especially with this last year. The introduction of the "Plus" naming makes sense, but many will remember how ridiculous the name "iPhone 6s Plus" sounded when it first released. That was nowhere near where we are today. But the pattern is still there. Number model, S model. The S model is obviously superior to the number model, so evolution is still clear. Apple did change the styling of the S and made it lowercase for some reason.

Then, we just go from iPhone 7 to iPhone 8. No S model. But then, we skip the iPhone 9 entirely, and go to iPhone X (pronounced "iPhone Ten"). Furthermore, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X were all released in the same year. In addition, there's no iPhone X Plus, so if you wanted the larger iPhone we have in the iPhone Xs Max today, then you'd be out of luck. Now let's move to the twisted present. iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone Xr. I cannot bring myself to call it the "iPhone Ten-S" for whatever reason, but that terrible name aside, we randomly drop the "Plus" for "Max" for next to no reason. But now we have the iPhone Xr. The iPhone Xr actually uses a "stylized lowercase R" which makes it look like a capital letter, but it's really lowercase, which is an entirely different can of worms. The iPhone Xr is technically the latest iPhone, so you'd expect it to be superior to the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. But it's cheaper. Oh, so it's the budget model? Well, yes and no. The screen is bigger than the iPhone Xs by a considerable amount. There is no sense of any linearity with these iPhones.

There was a time where it was outstandingly clear which iPhone was the best. Back then, you could easily say that iPhone was the best smartphone period. But now, I realize that marketing is the real field that everyone should be pursuing, because now we know some team got paid a lot of money to create the "iPhone Xs Max" name.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Minor Change to Apple Watch Dock

For no clear reason, Apple has changed the model of Apple Watch Dock sold on their online store today. There are no appearance changes. We can only guess there are internal changes. The new model number is MU9F2AM/A, while the previous one was MLDW2AM/A. This is sure to spark theories about AirPower, but in reality, it's likely going to mean nothing in the long run. The dock is $79 on Apple's website.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Apple Sells Refurbished HomePod

While a refurbished listing doesn't usually spark too much discussion, the first refurbished HomePod listings have appeared on Apple's online store. And they sell for $299. That's just $50 less than the regular price. With little to no spotlight on the HomePod for sometime, it's unclear what Apple's plan for the HomePod is. I would highly recommend not buying HomePod at this price. Hopefully, we get a cheaper, better HomePod next year.

Monday, November 12, 2018

My Thoughts On The New Apple Pencil

I got a chance to try the new Apple Pencil the other day. The first thing I noticed when I picked it up was the difference in just holding it. The original Apple Pencil had this weird heft that doesn't belong in a pencil. This pencil is much lighter, and it doesn't feel like you're waving around a lightsaber every time you draw a line with it. The other difference is the material. The original Apple Pencil had a glossy texture. If I were to describe the new texture used, I would call it "synthetic wood." My point is, it felt way more like a pencil, rather than an overpriced stylus. I didn't use it enough to see how useful it would be in normal use, but I can imagine that it's an essential for iPad Pro users.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

iPhone X Display Repair Program

As an iPhone X user, I haven't experienced any of the issues described here (yet), but apparently, a lot of people have been experiencing issues where the iPhone X's touch screen becomes unresponsive. In addition, this has been going on for a while with some users, so Apple has decided to launch the iPhone X Display Module Replacement Program. Any user experiencing the issues described should go to an Apple Authorized Service Provider or Apple Store for a repair at no cost.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Mac Mini's Upgradability

Since the last major redesign of the Mac mini, Apple has made it relatively easy to upgrade the internals of the computer. With a new model finally available, Apple has made a major change in this regard [Source: iFixit]. The RAM is now upgradable, while it used to be soldered down. CPU and storage are soldered, meaning it isn't easy to upgrade them. Storage used to be able to be upgradable, so this is a bit of a hinderance.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Amazon to Sell Apple Products

Amazon has been notorious for selling non-certified Apple products. Many have been scammed or ripped off trying to buy Apple accessories and products. According to CNET, Apple and Amazon have come to an agreement to sell Apple products on Amazon. Products like the iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad Pro will be available for purchase. The HomePod won't be available due to competition from the Amazon Echo. This seems like a good move. You can buy pretty much anything on Amazon except for official Apple products at the moment. I usually buy from an Apple Retail Store, but Amazon would be a close second. I would probably buy official accessories from Amazon over an Apple Store just because it's more convenient. I'm sure this will benefit Apple and Amazon given Amazon's massive appeal to consumers.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Apple Watch Celebrates Veterans Day with Activity Challenge

Sunday, November 11 is Veterans Day. To celebrate, Apple has created a challenge to get people out and about. If you do a workout of 11 minutes or more on Veterans Day, you'll receive a new achievement badge. This applies to any workout done through the Workouts app on Apple Watch.

Image Credit: MacRumors

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

11" iPad Pro Features Better Keyboard

The 11-inch iPad Pro is based off of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but with more screen space. One of my biggest complaints about the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is how its managed to mess up typing. iPad from the very beginning was meant to feel great while typing. Even if a laptop was available, an iPad keyboard was never meant to feel compromising. Thanks to GottaDeal on Reddit, we know that the 11-inch iPad Pro has a larger keyboard with new keys for tab and caps lock, similar to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. How good this will feel compared to the 10.5-inch model, that's yet to be seen.

Image Credit: GottaDeal via MacRumors

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Apple Third Street Promenade Reopening

With a number of Apple Stores re-opening this month, I have to shine some light on the Third Street Promenade store. This store is located in Santa Monica, California. I obviously have had mixed thoughts on the marketing Apple has used in the past few years. I'm sure I can write an essay about that with the upcoming holiday ad. But Apple did something really cool to promote this store. They made an Apple logo that really captures the essence of the beachside retail store. Details like the bite of the Apple turning into a palm tree is so cool to me. The marketing goes further with special icons for creative sessions. It reminds me of the You Are Here mug collection from Starbucks, which also used vector art to symbolize landmarks.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Marvel of the New Apple Pencil

We've been waiting for a new Apple Pencil for quite a while now. The original Apple Pencil went down as one of Apple's worst designs for a product. It had no place to be stored, it could easily roll off of the table, the cap could easily be lost, there were no functions that integrated with the app being used, and, most annoyingly, it would plug into iPad to charge. So not only can you not charge your iPad while charging the Apple Pencil, but it turned your iPad into a lollipop. At least the Apple Pencil charged within seconds. This iteration of the Apple Pencil is a perfect example of Apple turning feedback into reality. I didn't even think of accidentally mistaking someone else's Apple Pencil as my own, but now we have engraving, adding an element of uniqueness to the stylus. The inductive charging that sticks to the iPad is what we've wanted for so long.

Now, the biggest flaw of the Apple Pencil would be in the native Notes app, which can be updated. It's subjective, but I am not a fan of the Notes app paired with Apple Pencil. Maybe it's a good thing, but I highly prefer other apps to use with Apple Pencil. However, with Evernote in the situation it's in, and the rapidly changing state of third-party apps, I find myself wanting to switch to a new note taking app pretty often. The idea of Apple's Notes being the end-all be-all of note taking apps would be nice because I know Notes is here to stay.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

First 5G iPhone Coming in 2020

5G is the next generation of cellular data, but it is still a far off reality for the consumer. According to Fast Company, Apple will be using Intel modem chips capable of using 5G in 2020. It's still two years off, but at least we don't have to get our hopes up for 2019. Given what a jump 4G LTE was from 3G, 5G should be a breath of fresh air. 4G LTE was introduced in the iPhone 5, over five years ago.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

iPad Pro's Benchmarks

Apple certainly brags about the new iPad Pro's immense power packed into a thin tablet. They went as far as to compare it to the Xbox One S, which is a pretty bold claim. They showed some good and bad examples of what the iPad Pro was capable of, but in the end, quantitive data is king. Thanks to Geekbench, we now know the benchmark scores of the iPad Pro are comparable to those of the latest MacBook Pros. Looking at the graph below from MacRumors, you can see the results for yourself. While these numbers are impressive, that still doesn't necessarily represent real-world situations. We don't have too many desktop class apps that will take full advantage of this power. iOS isn't the best framework to build this statistic off of. And without a fan, this score likely won't hold in power-heavy situations.

Image Credit: MacRumors

Friday, November 2, 2018

Spotify Coming to Apple Watch

With the Apple Watch becoming more and more independent, Spotify can only benefit with an Apple Watch app. There are certainly apps that work better than others on Apple Watch, but I think we can agree that a music app is a smarter pick than something like Twitter or Day One. Spotify’s Apple Watch app is still in public beta, but I’m sure we’ll see it hit the public soon. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Smartphones Outpacing Lithium-Ion Technology

Lithium-ion batteries are the life-force of most portable devices today. They made alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, etc.) nearly obsolete. Why find a C battery for your flashlight when you can just use your iPhone? According to the The Washington Post, smartphone technology may be advancing too fast for lithium-ion batteries, which brings into question whether an alternative should be used soon. The iPhone XS was ranked a worse battery than the iPhone X. The full chart is below. Take note of the color of the bars. Gray bars represent 2017 phones while blue bars represent 2018 phones.