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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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.

Apple making progress in forming alliance between Apple Pay and Alibab’s Alipay in Chinese marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, November 11th, 2014, 10:58
Category: Finance, News, retail

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While Apple may be spinning its wheels arguing with MCX and getting Apple Pay supported by assorted U.S. retailers stuck in their MCX/CurrentC contracts, it seems to be doing ok opening Apple Pay up in the Asian marketplace.

According to AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, after officials from both Apple and Alibaba publicly expressed interest in forging a possible mobile payment deal, Alibaba confirmed on Tuesday that it is currently in negotiations to bring Apple Pay to China.

A potential deal between Apple Pay and Alibaba’s Alipay would focus exclusively on the Chinese market, where Alibaba is the dominant online retailer, vice chairman Joseph Tsai told The Wall Street Journal. He said that while the company is “positive” about the ongoing talks, details must still be worked out before an agreement can be reached.

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Touchpress releases Molecules by Theodore Gray science application

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Date: Friday, November 7th, 2014, 11:34
Category: iOS, News, Software

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It’s a sort of huge app – and it chews up more than 700 megabytes of space – but it’s also beautifully made and useful as anything.

Touchpress has announced that its Molecules by Theodore Gray app, which was initially used by Steve Jobs to demonstrate the power of the iPad in 2010. Now, its sequel is set to shape the future of the next generation of apps. Created for science enthusiasts and experts alike, Molecules is a fascinating, invaluable guide behind the scenes of our world.

Based on Theodore Gray’s book of the same name, Molecules combines beautiful photography with compelling stories, and adds state-of-the-art simulations so, for the first time, anyone can experience what it’s like to touch, stretch and twist molecules.

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Microsoft releases Office apps for iOS, now allows basic editing features for free

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Date: Friday, November 7th, 2014, 04:54
Category: iOS, News, Software

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If you’re going to get your product out there, it never hurts to release a decently functional version of it for free.

Per 9to5Mac, Microsoft announced on Thursday that it’s rolling out standalone Office apps for iPhone after releasing the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps exclusively for iPad earlier this year. Microsoft previously had an “Office Mobile” app for iPhone that integrated features of all three Office apps, but today’s release of standalone Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iPhone are officially replacing Office Mobile as Microsoft’s Office solution for iPhone.

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Rumor: Apple Watch steel model to begin at $500, gold model to retail between $4,000 and $5,000

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Date: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014, 10:00
Category: Hardware, Rumor, Wearables

Apple is far from releasing its price points for its upcoming watch, but the rumors as to the cost are starting to pour in.

Per 9to5Mac, French website iGen.fr, reported on Tuesday that the steel Apple Watch will start at US$500 alongside a gold model that will retail for between US$4,000 and US$5,000. Apple previously claimed at its September event that the Apple Watch would start at US$349, but did not disclose further pricing information.

The report claims that the stainless steel Apple Watch in polished steel or black will cost US$500, while the gold Apple Watch Edition will be the more expensive version at between US$4,000 and US$5,000. That price range would be nearly half the estimated US$10,000 price that some other reports have suggested.

In terms of a launch date, the report claims that the Apple Watch will launch in time for Valentine’s Day, but that was the most specific date given. An internal memo from Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts was recently published in which she wrote that the Apple Watch will launch in the “Spring” following the Chinese New Year.

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Rumor: Apple to discontinue iPad mini in favor of larger 12-inch “iPad Pro” model

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Date: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014, 10:00
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

It’s just a rumor, but it’s got some decent sources behind it.

Per AppleInsider and Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, a rumor out of East Asia on Monday claims Apple is looking to wind down iPad mini production in favor of a 12-inch tablet, a response to flagging sales and growing consumer interest in larger-screened devices.

Citing sources in Apple’s supply chain, the Economic Daily News reports the company is looking to discontinue iPad mini sales when the tablet lineup is refreshed next year and will instead concentrate on production of a new 12-inch format being called “iPad Pro.”

The shift in tablet strategy is said to be in reply to a shifting smartphone market, which has seen consumers gravitate toward devices with screens larger than 5 inches when measured diagonally. Apple itself has seen unexpectedly high demand for the new 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, the company’s first “phablet” handset.

Also cited as a catalyst for change is increasingly aggressive competition in the tablet sector, with competitors like Samsung slowly nibbling away at Apple’s dominant marketshare. For the most recent fourth fiscal quarter of 2014, Apple moved 12.3 million iPads, down 17 percent from 14.1 million year-over-year.

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Rumor: Apple designing larger, thinner “iPad Pro” tablet for education market

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Date: Monday, November 3rd, 2014, 10:23
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

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The new iPads are out.

That doesn’t stop the rumor mill speculating about the next generation of the tablets.

Per AppleInsider and Macotakara, the latest rumblings surrounding the anticipated release of a larger, education-focused iPad next year suggest the device may touch down with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 in its crosshairs, sporting a super-slim form factor, enhanced audio, and a slightly more compact 12.2-inch display.

Macotakara has cited its own sources as saying that iPad maker is specifically designing the device to play into the same markets as Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, but adds that the company may choose to employ a slightly more compact 12.2-inch display than the 12.9-inch option that is widely rumored and also used by the Surface Pro 3.

The overall design of the iPad Pro itself is said to largely resemble a jumbo iPad 2 with two additional speakers (and an additional microphone) located at the top of the device, which “might” make the iPad Pro “capable of supporting stereo audio.” It reportedly won’t be as thin as the 6.1mm iPad Air 2, but will still be as slim as an iPhone, measuring somewhere between the iPhone 6′s 6.9mm and the iPhone 6 Pro’s 7.1mm at its thickest point.

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Circuit court ruling states that police can require fingerprint, not pass code, for cell phone entry

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Date: Friday, October 31st, 2014, 13:24
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

This could open up a whole new can of worms.

According to HamptonRoads.com, a Virginia Beach, Virginia, Circuit Court judge has ruled that a criminal defendant can be compelled to give up his fingerprint, but not his pass code, to allow police to open and search his cell phone.

The question of whether a phone’s pass code is constitutionally protected surfaced in the case of David Baust, an Emergency Medical Services captain charged in February with trying to strangle his girlfriend.

Prosecutors had said video equipment in Baust’s bedroom may have recorded the couple’s fight and, if so, the video could be on his cell phone. They wanted a judge to force Baust to unlock his phone, but Baust’s attorney, James Broccoletti, argued pass codes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits forced self-incrimination.

Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled this week that giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits. A pass code, though, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against, according to Frucci’s written opinion.

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