Amazon announces its Fire Phone with launch on July 25th

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Date: Thursday, June 19th, 2014, 08:17
Category: Amazon, Android, Announcement, Features, Mobile Phone

Amazon_FirePhoneOn Wednesday, Amazon introduced the latest iPhone competitor, the Fire Phone which boasts a number of unique features. First up is the Dynamic Perspective feature which gives users a 3D perspective view of items on a map or within a game. The same technology allows you to tilt, auto-scroll, swivel, and peek to navigate menus and access shortcuts with one hand. These functions are controlled by its four forward facing cameras located in the four corners of the handset. This allows two cameras to track the user’s head regardless of the position in which the phone is held. Imbedded infrared sensors allow the feature to be used in complete darkness.

Next up is Firefly, Amazon’s equivalent to Shazam for everything you can buy as well as other information. Point the Fire Phone’s 13 MP rear-facing camera at a book or an item in a magazine, and Firefly will return results about the item that may be important such as where to buy it, or bring up a celebrity’s IMDB entry. Firefly can also read telephone numbers and give you the option of calling or saving the information. It’s a little like what Google Googles was supposed to be, but mainly for media and text.

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Doctor sets the bar for Apple’s Health app

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Date: Tuesday, June 10th, 2014, 08:24
Category: Apple, Apps, Features, Health, iOS, Software

482887779JS023_APPLE_HOSTS_Do a search for “health tracker” in the App Store and you’ll get a list of 500 apps before the search truncates the list. Health apps are a dime a dozen. The apps track everything from diet (calories, weight) to activities (running, biking) to vital body readings (blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate), some integrated with hardware such as Withings Blood Pressure Monitor. When Apple finally releases its Health app, what will make it any different or more valuable than the other 500 apps? Well, according to Dr. Thomas J. Morrow who holds the position of Chief Medical Officer at Next IT, developers of virtual assistant technology for healthcare, Apple needs to include 3 vital functions if the Health app is to set itself apart from the crowd.

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Pebble releases Pebble firmware update 2.2

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Date: Monday, June 9th, 2014, 08:00
Category: Accessory, Features, iOS, Software, User Interface, Wearables

Pebble 2.2 updating-crop

Last Wednesday, Pebble deployed the latest update to the firmware of the Pebble smartwatch. The Pebble iOS app was updated the week before on May 27th bringing it to version 2.2, not to be confused with the firmware for the watch itself which is once again in sync with the app’s version.

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Online version of iWork gets some improvements

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Date: Thursday, May 22nd, 2014, 08:56
Category: Apple, Apps, Features, iCloud, Software

 

iWork iCloud app icons

It looks like Apple has been giving the iWork apps on iCloud some new features. The entire list, including those made to iWork for the Mac, and the iOS apps can be found here. Many of the updates apply to all three apps, rather than specific functionality change to each.  Document handling, text formatting, and collaboration seem to be areas of focus. A few examples are;

  • Add passwords and share password-protected documents
  • Export documents to ePUB format
  • Print your documents directly from the Tools menu
  • Collaborate with up to 100 people at the same time
  • See cursors and selections for everyone in a document
  • Watch images and shapes animate as your collaborators move them around
  • Almost 200 new fonts
  • More color options in the format panel
  • Folders
  • Edit documents up to 1 GB in size
  • Support for Retina display

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Google is creeping onto your desktop

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Date: Tuesday, May 13th, 2014, 08:51
Category: Apps, Features, Google, Software

Chrome canary logoThis isn’t the first time Google has invaded the desktop space of other operating systems. Who remembers the train-wreck that was Google Desktop? However, this time Google might have it right…or at least close. Some of you may be aware of Chromium, the open-source project behind Google Chrome, which has nightly builds of the app which may squash bugs, introduce new ones, or add new “cutting-edge” features, which may not be ready for the general public. When a particular stable version gets the ok, Google cleans it up and releases it as an update to Google Chrome.

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A good view of the Amazon smartphone

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Date: Friday, May 2nd, 2014, 08:13
Category: Amazon, Features, Hardware, Mobile, News, photos

amazon-logo-150x60What’s the one thing missing from today’s tech lifestyle? That’s right, another smartphone! At least that is what Amazon is betting on when it launches its own phone later this year. There have been a few photos of phone’s hardware in the last month, but it appeared that there was some type of case obscuring details of the device’s appearance. The folks over at BGR have managed to snag a nice, clear image of Amazon’s yet unnamed smartphone.

 

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Macworld/iWorld 2014 Session wrap-up

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Date: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014, 08:49
Category: Apple, conference, Features, iPhone, Mac, Meetup, Software

Macworld_sessionSessions have always been a big part of any Mac Expo, but especially in recent years in response to the absence of Apple’s Steve-notes and daily product demonstrations and tutorials. While I miss the Apple presence, as a power-user I welcome the fact that the bar for session topics has been risen. Past “standard” sessions (non-IT) focused primarily on the average consumer, giving tips on using iPhoto for organizing and improving the quality of photos, using standard utilities to execute basic maintenance, or creating ringtones with GarageBand. These are all worthy topics, and the average user is an important demographic for Mac, but it was frustrating that there were few opportunities for the average power-user to learn something new or push their learning experience to the next level. While there has been some improvement, I think there could be more done for power-user education, however, that is not to say there have not been some great additions to the session agenda to improve the experience for all types of Mac users.

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Apple TV software gets updated to 6.1…but what does it do?

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Date: Monday, March 10th, 2014, 23:57
Category: Apple, Apple TV, Features, Opinion, Software

upgrade-apple-tv_?Earlier today we announced that the long anticipated iOS 7.1 update was released. Hot on its heels were a few other updates including one for Xcode (5.1) which adds support for iOS 7.1, an update to the Remote app (4.2), and an update for the Apple TV. The thing is, I can’t seem to find out what the new 6.1 update does, at least not much. Everyone and their grandmother has mentioned the new ability to hide the channel icons directly on the Apple TV menu screen, which previously required you going into the Settings to do this.

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A win/lose for Apple against Samsung

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Date: Friday, March 7th, 2014, 09:36
Category: Apple, Features, iPhone, Legal, Mobile Phone, Patents

apple-vs-samsung-fightOne has to wonder how long Apple and Samsung will be at each other’s legal throats as yet another judgement has been reached in the patent battle that started in early 2011. I was not really surprised to find that there is actually a Wikipedia article about it, which can bring you up to speed if necessary. The latest set of decisions to come down from Federal Judge Lucy Koh awarded Apple approximately $930 million in damages relating to patent infringements on the part of Samsung. There’s your win. Unfortunately for Apple, Judge Koh denied Apple’s request for a permanent injunction blocking the sales of devices that infringed on those patents in America. There’s your lose.

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Uber introduces Surge Drop to iPhone users

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Date: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014, 08:53
Category: Announcement, Apps, Features, iOS, iPhone, Mobile, Services, Software

Uber appUber is a great service and can be vital in a big city, even if the public transportation is good. I frequently use it to shave time off my travel between clients, and occasionally when I’ve been out having a good time all night and want a quick trip home so I can get to bed and try to function the next morning. Naturally, these kinds of services get really busy on holidays and during special events, and Uber takes advantage of the high demand with “surge” pricing. That means that during those busy times, Uber will raise the rate of a ride and later drop them back down again. This can end up being a real hit to the wallet, as I found out one New Years, if you aren’t aware that the surge pricing is in effect, or if you take a car because you have no idea when the surge pricing ends. With the latest update, Uber has taken care off that with a new feature they announced on their blog called “Surge Drop“.

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