Review: SurfacePad for iPhone 6 and iPad

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Date: Monday, November 17th, 2014, 08:14
Category: Accessory, Cases, iPad, iPhone, iPhone 6

SurfacePad iPhone 6 - Jason O'GradySome people use cases on their iPhones, some people don’t. If you’re in the second group I’m going to give you reason to consider a case.

While purists don’t want to cover the iPhone 6′s smooth, elegant curves, it’s easy to scratch its beautiful retina display (and aluminum back) while bouncing around in a pocket, bag or purse with a set of keys – and whatever else you might have in there.

What to do?

The good news is that you don’t have to cover your iPhone with a flak jacket or suit of armor to protect your investment, there’s a nice middle ground.

Enter the SurfacePad for iPhone ($49.99) by Twelve South. Its a slim, leather, folio-type case that adds barely any heft and just enough coverage to protect the front and back of your iPhone – without covering its trademark curves.

The SurfacePad sticks to the back of the iPhone 6 with an adhesive that’s removable and reusable. I didn’t stick mine on straight the first time and removed and reapplied it a couple of times before I got it perfect. The flap wraps around to cover the screen of the iPhone and includes pockets for two cards (like a debit card and driver’s license) on the inside front cover.

When combined with Apple Pay SurfacePad makes a compelling case for ditching the bulky, old-school wallet.

The volume buttons (along the left side) are still usable through the soft Napa leather and there’s a notched cutout for the camera lens and flash. The front flap doubles as a stand (for watching slideshows and movies) when flipped around back and the supple leather both looks and feels great. The contrasting stitching adds a touch of style and distinguishes the SurfacePad from all the anonymous cases on the market.

Don’t get complacent though. Front and rear flaps only provide a limited amount of protection, that while helpful, won’t protect your iPhone from impact against a hard surface. That’s the tradeoff with a case like the SurfacePad, it’s so thin that you won’t notice it in your pocket, but it also won’t protect your iPhone’s edges if you drop it on the sidewalk.

I’ve been using the SurfacePad (with debit card and DL) on my iPhone 6 for a week and haven’t needed to reach for my wallet once. SurfacePad is just the excuse I’ve been looking for to dump my bulky leather wallet for good.

SurfacePad is available in black, red, white and my personal favorite, camel for $39.99 (iPhone 6) and $49.99 (iPhone 6 Plus).

Pictures of the SurfacePad for iPhone 6 – and the similarly beautiful SurfacePad for iPad – after the jump.

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AT&T ceases “permacookie” tracking program for the time being, Verizon still enacting its own version

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Date: Monday, November 17th, 2014, 04:45
Category: iPhone, News, privacy, wireless

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There are consequences for when a wireless carrier installs something that apparently tracks its user base a little too closely with no convenient means of removal.

Per Macworld and ProPublica, wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T have been caught up in a privacy firestorm over their use of so-called “permacookies,” a method of tracking what their users do while browsing the Web with the intent of sharing that data with advertisers. Verizon’s permacookie program lives on, but AT&T has ceased the practice.

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Microsoft begins overhauling Skype, launches selected users to Skype for Web beta

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Date: Friday, November 14th, 2014, 11:19
Category: News, Software

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A while back, it was reported that Microsoft has been significantly overhauling Skype.

As of Friday, the company announced that it is starting to roll Skype out onto the Web. Per 9to5Mac, Skype for Web will allow users to chat, video call, and manage contacts from a web browser without having to download the Skype app. Microsoft is currently offering Skype for Web as a beta to select users.

To participate in the Skype for Web beta, Microsoft says to log on to Skype.com where the browser-based version of the video calling will be and check for an invitation. The company says its making invitations available to a small number of users to start and will expand to users worldwide “in the coming months.”

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Rumor: Department of Justice combining fixed-engine planes, fake cell towers to spy on cell phone users

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Date: Friday, November 14th, 2014, 11:22
Category: iPhone, Legal, Rumor, Uncategorized

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Well, you’re going to have to snoop on cell phones SOMEHOW, and the Department of Justice thinks a small, fixed-wing Cessna is the way to do it.

Per AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, a supposed secret spy program equips small aircraft with a device dubbed a “dirtbox,” which pulls data from mobile phones by masquerading as a cell tower. The project aims to identify criminals through their devices, but the wide net also snares cellphones used by the general public.

Purportedly operated by the U.S. Marshals Service’s Technical Operations Group, the dirtboxes are manufactured by Digital Receiver Technology, a subsidiary of Boeing, and installed on fixed-wing craft like those built by Cessna. The two-foot-square devices identify themselves as legitimate cell towers with the strong signals, tricking mobile phones into reporting IMSI information.

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Apple Pay now accounts for almost 1% of Whole Foods transactions

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Date: Friday, November 14th, 2014, 10:28
Category: iPhone, News, retail

wholefoods

The good news is that Apple Pay is starting to get some traction.

The bad news is that your organic produce still costs more than the human mind can actually perceive.

Per the cool cats at The Unofficial Apple Weblog, since going live in late October, Whole Foods has already processed over 150,000 Apple Pay transactions, this according to CIO Jason Buechel.

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Rumor: Chipmakers gearing up production of Apple Watch components for possible early 2015 launch

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Date: Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 10:59
Category: Hardware, Rumor, wireless

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Apple may have begun ramping up production of the Apple Watch for release in the relatively near future.

Per 9to5Mac and DigiTimes, while Apple has yet to provide a specific launch date for the Apple Watch, leaving its early 2015 timeframe and internal memo revealing a spring launch after Chinese New Year as the only information to go by in terms of a release date, chipmakers in Apple’s overseas supply chain are reportedly gearing up to begin production of the Apple Watch. The report, citing industry sources, claims that between 30 to 40 million units of the upcoming wearable device have been ordered.

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Rumor: Apple beginning to court enterprise markets via dedicated sales team

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Date: Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 10:12
Category: Finance, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

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Remember how Apple seemed like a second class citizen in the business and enterprise world?

That might be about to change.

According to Reuters, Apple is embarking on its most aggressive expansion yet onto corporate turf, hiring a dedicated sales force to talk with potential clients like Citigroup and working in concert with a dozen or so developers, two sources familiar with its plans say.

Experts say the company hopes to offset a gradual deceleration in growth – highlighted by iPad sales that have declined three straight quarters – by expanding its footprint in the workplace.

Three months after unveiling a partnership with IBM to develop apps for corporate clients and sell them on devices, the iPhone maker’s plans to challenge sector leaders Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Oracle and SAP are starting to take shape.

Details remain scant, but some industry experts say that the tie-up with Big Blue gives Apple an opportunity to begin to challenge Hewlett Packard’s and Dell’s dominance of office IT, and Oracle and SAP’s command of work applications. Depending on its progress, it may hamper Microsoft, Samsung’s or Google’s own efforts in the nascent market for mobile work applications.

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Review: mPact Glass Extreme Screen Protection for the iPhone 6

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Date: Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 08:19
Category: Accessory, iPhone 6

mPact Glass Extreme Screen Protection for the iPhone 6 - Jason O'Grady

Ever since I can remember I’ve installed a screen film on the front of my iPhone. I’m rough on my electronics and iPhone screens take a lot of abuse.

My iPhone is a tool and I treat it like the utility that it is. While it’s a rather expensive (and fragile) tool, it gets tossed into some of the most treacherous places on the planet (pockets, bags, cup holders) and mine gets handled by one of the most unpredictable forces known to mankind – children.

I’ve always gravitated toward Japanese PET films – made from a PolyEthylene Terephthalate resin – from Zagg, and most recently Power Support, until my colleague Rob Parker (a film and video pro) introduced me to glass screen protectors a few years back. The benefit is that glass screen protection doesn’t affect screen sensitivity nor image quality.

Since that moment I’ve insisted on glass screen protectors and I won’t go back to traditional PET-based films. My new ride is mPact Glass Screen Protection ($59.99), which fits my iPhone 6 perfectly and works like a charm. It doesn’t go all the way to the edge so it won’t interfere with cases and frankly, it can’t because of the iPhone 6′s voluptuous curves.

The mPact glass is 0.4mm thick (about twice as thick as PET films) and is heat and pressure resistant for extreme screen protection. It’s coated with a shatterproof film and is both antibacterial and oleophobic which reduces germs and smudges.

Mine installed easily and has been a great addition to a great iPhone, While it wasn’t inexpensive, neither was the iPhone that it’s protecting.

Oh, and that sweet leather folio case? More on that in another installment.

Google to launch YouTube Music Key subscription music service

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Date: Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 02:13
Category: Android, Google, iOS, music, News

musickey

Google today announced that it will be launching its YouTube Music Key subscription music service next week.

The service will be available on personal computers as well as smartphones running Google’s Android operating system to start. Beginning November 17, 2014 users will be able to listen to music without ads on the YouTube site. On smartphones, they will be able to play music in the background while they browse in other mobile apps, and store music for offline playback.

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Wal-Mart posts Black Friday deals, offers gift cards ahead of shopping holiday

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Date: Wednesday, November 12th, 2014, 10:04
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, retail

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You may not love their corporate policies, wages or the fact that you can’t use Apple Pay at their stores yet, but they’ve begun offering some decent deals.

Per MacRumors, retailer Wal-Mart today posted its Black Friday ad, revealing a number of deals on various Apple and Beats products for the upcoming holiday shopping season. The announcement follows the reveal of Black Friday ads from Best Buy and Target, which contained a number of deals on iPads, iPhones, and more.

Starting at 6 PM on November 27, Wal-Mart is offering the original 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad mini for US$199 which also comes with a US$30 gift card. Starting at 8 PM on November 27, the retailer will offer the 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air for US$397 which also comes with a US$100 gift card. Customers can also purchase the 16GB iPhone 6 at US$179 and receive a US$75 gift card, while the 16GB iPod touch is being offered for US$195 with a US$30 gift card. Additionally, a three-pack of iTunes gift cards will be on sale for US$25, US$5 off from the normal US$30 price.

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