Are Wearables Really Worth It?

Wearable technology is bound to usher in an entirely new experience for it’s users, but are the devices really worth the price? From the Google Glass to the the Apple Watch, wearable devices promise an extra level of convenience, but at what cost? Will the price-points scare away the casual crowd?

In this day and age, there are very few technological advances that could have the practicality and perceived necessity of a cell phone or MP3 player. Having a consistent line of communication is important, having a watch that keeps one from reaching in their pocket…less so.

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A Million Ways* to Save Your iPhone Battery

A public power outlet is a gold mine isn’t it? I know when I’m out with a certain friend he takes advantage of every working power outlet he can. He’s constantly on his iPhone. If he’s not e-mailing, he’s searching social media or taking pictures. Once his phone hits below a certain percentage he suddenly becomes a character in an adventure film, on a far and wide source for the hidden power. Sometimes the place we eat lunch depends on whether he can charge his phone. Yes, it’s that bad.

I’ve slowly realized that instead of combing backstreets and awkwardly procrastinating in stores until he gets a decent charge, I could be a little more proactive in helping him. We did some hands on research and found myriad ways to preserve an iPhone battery. This is iPhone centric, but some of the general rules apply to all smartphones. There are very practical solutions, as well as some I never would have thought about. At LaptopMD we’re known for curing smartphones, but part of any good Medic’s duty is making sure your phone is always in peak condition. Here are some tips for iPhone owners:

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Battery Usage feature – i0S 8 has a new feature called Battery Usage, which allows you to see which programs are sucking up the most of your battery power. It’s a good idea to know which Apps are taking up the most power, so you can decide which Apps are the best to kill or maybe seek alternatives to. Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage.

Don’t Kill Your Apps! – This is the most obvious solution……except it’s not a solution. The iOS system doesn’t actually hold background memory on Apps, so when you’re not using an app, it holds exactly 0% of your CPU, and subsequently none of your battery. Constantly “killing” your Apps does nothing but drain your battery.

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The Geniu$ Bar

Many consumers prefer large retail stores when it comes to electronic device repair. We live in a world that’s increasingly defined by large corporations promoting their presence and cajoling shoppers into believing quantity = quality. Many customers with broken laptops, phones and tablets genuinely believe that the big shop, with its brand name, should be their first stop for repairs.

This three part series presents another side to some of the leading consumer repair shops — BestBuy, Staples and the Apple Genius Bar — with published reports from former employees and feedback from disgruntled customers, so that the buyer may beware.

The Geniu$ Bar
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Apple planning to corner the Gold market too?

gold When Apple releases its Apple Watch in April, most of the world will fall over themselves to snag one. Apple’s newest masterpiece will probably be treated like gold, especially the ones that are actually made of Gold.
Along with standard models with stainless steel casing, the brand has announced a “high-end “model made of 18 Karat gold. You would think this would be a rare, one of a kind model, bestowed perhaps to presidents and superstar entertainers to flout their importance, but Apple actually plans to mass produce these devices. They could retail for as much as $7500. Continue reading

Apple Watch will be announced Monday

The Apple Watch will be announced Monday, but details have already leaked. Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch and Mark Gurman of 9to5 Mac have spoken to numerous sources about the Watch, and here are the gems they’ve uncovered prior to Monday’s “Spring Forward” reveal:
The sources have noted how little they use their iPhone since they’ve started using the Watch. Apparently, the watch takes care of many tasks people usually handle on their phones. The time the watch saves a user figures to be a primary draw. Continue reading

The iPhone5 Unveiled…Sort Of

iPhone 5 Repair schematicsNot too long after Apple’s post-Jobs CEO, Tim Cook, promised that Apple is tightening security around their product launches, it seems that detailed schematics of the new iPhone5’s front panel have been leaked, and possibly by more than one person. First appearing in a blog by iLab, then arriving at the blog of non-approved iPhone App Store Cydia, and finally hitting MacRumors. And here they are now, in all of their blue-printed glory.

It seems that in the last couple of days/weeks the leaks and rumors have been flying fast, and coming together to form a more complete picture of the new iPhone design and specs. Granted, there is the usual hoopla by true believers who insist that every single one of these leaks are a clever plant by Apple to throw media and competitors off the real trail, but honestly that seems absolutely ludicrous at this point. Why? A couple of reasons: 1) Jobs was the real secrecy buff, and with him gone I imagine we will begin to see a big part of this culture of fear and secrecy fall apart. Without him there to bring down the wrath of god on any leakers, I think we’ll start to see a decades worth of repression bubble up into sloppiness and intentional leaking. 2) Apple is a month to 3 months away from launching this thing. There’s absolutely no point in throwing off competitors at this point, since no one can really do anything about anything at this point. And as far as the media, they get worked up into a frenzy every time an iPhone is launched. No need for PR stunts here. Lastly, over the last 3 or so product launches, we’ve seen that rumors and leaks that came within 1-3 months before the product launch were pretty solid. Continue reading

Apple iPhone 4 Settlemnent

An Apple For Teach, and $15 Each For The Class

Apple iPhone 4 Settlemnent
This is either a photo of Apple testing their antennas, or a stereogram of a schooner. (credit: Apple)

Just when we thought we could all put this long, national nightmare behind us, Antennagate is being dredged up once again. It seems that while everyone was busy complaining about the poor reception and other little quirks of the original iPhone 4 antenna, some enterprising Apple users actually did something about it and filed a class action lawsuit. And won!

Somewhere in the background behind all the noise about Apple and Google’s patent wars, this little tiny lawsuit, Case No. 5:10-md-02188-RMW Class Action, managed to sneak its way through the court system and has resulted in a settlement from Apple. Granted, it’s a settlement for $15 for everyone in the class, which isn’t huge, but it’s something.

For those that don’t remember Antennagate, think back to the release of the iPhone 4 in mid 2010. The phone was the coolest thing ever at the time, and consumers lined up for days outside of stores to get their hands on one. Then suddenly disaster struck: a small percentage of users reported that if they held the phone a certain way, their reception would disappear almost entirely.

The incident is less famous for the technical glitch (which affected an insignificant number of people, according to Apple) and much more for Apple’s utterly clueless response. Their first course of action was to tell people they were nuts and no such thing ever happened. Their second step was to admit that it could happen, but it would only happen to a tiny percentage of iPhone owners in a very tiny number of cases. Following that brilliant PR move, they released a software update that (This part is hilarious, bear with me) actually changed the reception display settings so IT WOULD DISPLAY FULL BARS EVEN IF YOU GOT NO RECEPTION!  I know, you can’t make this stuff up. Finally, after striking out, Apple introduced a bumper case that solved the issue and gave it out to iPhone 4 owners for free.

While this was going on, several lawsuits were filed by impatient customers, and after making their way through the court system, 18 of them were consolidated into one, which Apple finally settled recently. The settlement, details of which can be found at https://www.iphone4settlement.com, will provide $15 or a free bumper case to anyone who is a member of the class. Here are the details:

Who: Anyone can join the class if they are a US resident, AND are an original owner of an iPhone 4, AND both of these things were true as of Feb. 17, 2012.

What: Eligible class members get$15 or a free bumper case.

When: All claim forms must be submitted by Aug. 28, 2012. If you wish to be excluded from the settlement for whatever reason, you have to submit an exclusion request by June 15, 2012.

Where: Full information about the suit can be found at https://www.iphone4settlement.com/.

How: Either go to the website or give them a call at 1-877-417-7234 to receive a claims package to fill out and return.

Apple the new iPad

The (Kind of) New iPad

Apple the new iPad
Photo Courtesy of the LA Times

The new iPad is here. No, not the iPad3 or the iPad HD. The new iPad goes by the humble name of The New iPad. A fittingly boring name for a fittingly boring device. It really shouldn’t come as a shock, since the release of the iPhone4S set the stage for this release cycle being more about polishing the old and less about anything new, but on many levels it still comes as a disappointment.

So what exactly makes the New iPad new?

The Screen: Probably the biggest and most noticeable improvement is the updated screen. Apple has managed to take the great Retina display we’ve grown to love on the iPhone and make it big. With a resolution of 2048 x 1536, it looks significantly better than the iPad2. If what you’re looking for is the prettiest screen on any tablet out today, this one may well be it.

The Processors: Dispelling rumors of a Quad+1 processor, a la the Tegra 3 found in some Android devices, Apple instead went for a more traditional dual-core A5X processor, but supplemented it with a additional quad-core GPU. Why? I imagine their reasoning was that the iPad is rarely tasked with any serious processor-intensive tasks, however it is used to play games often. If they have also integrated proper load-balancing across the cores, this could make the battery life significantly longer than an all-in-one solution. On the other hand, if they didn’t it could mean that that you run out of juice shortly after turning it on. Oh, did I mention it’s supposed to be twice as powerful as the iPad2?

The Cameras: In a move that shocked no one, Apple has finally put a real camera on the back. About 3 years after everyone else. And it’s only 5 megapixels. Granted, that’s more than 5x the camera on the iPad2, but considering the size of the device I don’t see any real reason not to put a bigger camera with a dedicated image chip in. There is absolutely no excuse for the camera on a high-end tablet device to be outdone by $100 point-and-clicks. The front camera remains unchanged, though with so many video chatting services handicapping image quality for bandwidth purposes anyway, .3 megapixels is more than enough.

The Connection: 4G. And only a year or two after everyone else jumped on board. Which actually makes the New iPad a better phone device than the iPhone4s. Other than that, the only real improvement is the inclusion of Bluetooth 4.0, which should make using peripherals for gaming significantly more responsive and provide a much better experience when playing games, and I guess doing work.

What’d they miss?

A lot. I know I’m not the most Apple-friendly person in the city, but really there’s a lot missing here that should have been a no-brainer.

The Shape: It’s thicker AND heavier than the iPad2. Granted it has a bigger camera and beefier processors, but it still adds almost 2 ounces to the total weight. It’s noticeable. It’s also almost a millimeter thicker, which is a lot less noticeable, but still adds to the slightly bulkier feel.

Siri: The only big deal fro the iPhone4S is shockingly absent. This seems like a huge omission. My only guess is that they are working on making Siri play with the big screen better and will release her as an update, but nevertheless it feels sloppy.

Anything New: The internet, as always, was abuzz with rumors prior to the release. After Apple filed a patent for a carbon-fiber shell, many believed there would be new form factors or designs. We also expected something, anything, to get excited about. Even the addition of new colors would have been enough. Instead we got what is essentially the device Apple should have released last year as the iPad2.

So what does it mean for me?

If you have an iPad2? It means you’ve got another year to wait if you want to upgrade to something significantly better from Apple. If you have a first-gen iPad? It might be worth the upgrade cost to trade in for the newest model, but even then I’m on the fence. If you don’t have an iPad at all? Take a look at some of the Android options out there. They’ll give you significantly more bang for the buck. Or take advantage of the price drop on the iPad2.

As far as what this means for Apple? Based on Apple’s stock price, investors are very underwhelmed. This might be the first time in the last decade that Apples shares haven’t soared immediately after a new release was announced. Just as troubling is the lack of any real innovation in this release cycle. Technology has moved a LOT since the iPad2 came out, but the new iPad hasn’t kept pace. We saw much the same thing with iPhone4S. It’s too early to make a final call, but I’m going to speculate that Jobs played a much smaller role in the release of these two devices than he has in the past and I think it shows. With the cult of personality around Jobs dissipating in the Apple offices, I have to wonder if a lot of the employees are who had been running at 150% on fear and adrenaline are finally burning out. I guess we’ll see in a couple of months when the iPhone5 is announced.