Wednesday May 6, 2015 7:29 AM PDT by Joe Rossignol
Kantar Worldpanel has released new smartphone operating system market share data for the first quarter of 2015, providing a regional breakdown of Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and other mobile platform adoption in the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico during the three-month period ending March.
Android continued to have the highest market share among mobile platforms worldwide, as expected, although the continued success of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus helped drive iOS adoption higher in the first quarter. Kantar Worldpanel claims that 32.4% of Apple’s new customers in the five big European countries surveyed switched to iOS from Android during the first three months of the year.
The regional breakdown for each platform per country:
Wednesday May 6, 2015 6:05 AM PDT by Joe Rossignol
Consumer Reports has crowned the Apple Watch as its top-rated smartwatch in its test of 11 smartwatch models from eight manufacturers, including the Asus ZenWatch, LG G Watch R, Moto 360, Pebble Steel, Samsung Gear S and Sony SmartWatch 3. The not-for-profit organization tested the Apple Watch and competing devices for step count accuracy, screen readability, ease of use, scratch resistance, water resistance, heart rate tracking and more.
In particular, the stainless steel Apple Watch scored the highest among the smartwatches tested because of its high readability in bright and low light, ease of use, ease of pairing with an iPhone, durable scratch resistance, IPX7 water resistance rating and accurate heart rate and step count tracking. Meanwhile, the Sony SmartWatch 3 finished at the bottom of the rankings, primarily because it failed the 24-hour water immersion test.
Related roundup: Apple Watch , Tag: Consumer Reports
Popular iPhone accessory maker Mophie is known for its line of battery cases and external backup batteries, which provide extra power at a decent price. The company introduced battery cases for the iPhone 6 early this year, but as of today, Mophie's got an all new iPhone 6 battery case with a brand new feature -- water protection.
The Juice Pack H2Pro is Mophie's first waterproof product, combining the extra power provided with a battery case with protection from the elements. According to Mophie, the H2Pro has an IP-68 rating (and a military rating of MIL-STD 810G), which means the case will work even when submerged for an extended period of time (1.2m for 30 minutes). In addition to being waterproof, it's also going to keep dust and dirt away from the iPhone, and it offers protection against drops.
Since it offers total device protection, there's a flexible membrane over the front of the phone's display, which Mophie says allows for complete access to Touch ID and the touch screen of the iPhone. There are also integrated mute switch, volume, and lock buttons so every iPhone feature remains accessible.
Like Mophie's $100 Juice Pack Air, the Juice Pack H2Pro offers a 2,750 mAh battery. The iPhone 6 has a 1,810 mAh battery, so the H2Pro can offer approximately one and a half charges. There's a power button on the case to toggle power on and off so it can be used without draining the extra battery capacity.
The H2Pro is 0.69 inches thick (17.4mm), so it's going to more than double the thickness of the iPhone 6 (6.9mm), but that's not unusual for cases that offer heavy drop protection and waterproofing.
The Juice Pack H2Pro can be pre-ordered from Mophie's website for $129.95. It's estimated to begin shipping out to buyers in late May.
One of the Apple Watch's most important features is the ability to keep you connected to your notifications without needing to have your iPhone in your hand or even in your pocket all of the time. I often miss important text messages because my iPhone is too far away from me to hear my alerts.
But with Apple Watch, all of your notifications are at your fingertips, as if someone is next to you, tapping you on the wrist whenever you get an alert. We've got a tutorial for you today that will explain how to set up and manage notifications so that you get the alerts you want and aren't distracted by the ones you don't want.
Set Up Notifications
Notifications on Apple Watch are actually mirrored from your iPhone by default, so any app you have notifications enabled for on your iPhone will also appear on your Apple Watch. To make sure you don't miss any notifications, you can turn on a Notification Indicator that will display a red dot on your watch face if you have unread notifications.
Enable compatible apps on your iPhone via Notification Center that you want to receive alerts for. It is likely these apps are already enabled on your iPhone, but it is a good idea to check on them.
Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
Tap the My Watch tab.
Select Notifications from the menu list.
Toggle Notification Indicator to the On position.
You can also set your notifications to private so that it requires you to tap the screen in order to see it.
Tuesday May 5, 2015 8:58 AM PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Connected file management service Dropbox today announced an update to its iPhone and iPad apps that will debut a trio of new features to iOS devices, bringing easier navigation, introducing communication features, and allowing the creation of Microsoft Word documents from within the app itself.
Right from the home screen the Dropbox team has decided to make big changes, doing away with a static list of files and instead curating a showcase of documents and files with which a user has most recently interacted. This way, the company suggests, "The files you’re most likely to need on the go will always be front and center."
The recently introduced comment feature for the Dropbox website will now also be available on iOS devices. Using an "@" symbol followed by a Dropbox user's name or email address, anyone can be brought into discussion over a particular document, with the app sending push notifications to the lock screen to ensure everyone is kept in the loop on any particular conversation.
The company also confirmed that "in the next few weeks" it would be introducing the ability to create and interact with Microsoft Office documents from within the iOS Dropbox apps. Any Word, Excel, or Powerpoint file created inside of the app will be subsequently saved to whatever Dropbox folder a user was in when creating the document, allowing instantaneous access to the file from everywhere a user can sign in to Dropbox.
As the company points out, however, the new update's most interesting feature is not any one of its individual new aspects but how they have the potential to work together to create a unique, more streamlined experience for its users.
The best part, though, is how these features work together. For example, when you’re meeting with a client to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming project, you can use the recents tab on your iPhone or iPad to quickly pull up your last project for reference. Then you can create a Word doc to take notes as you discuss. After the meeting, you can @mention your client in a comment, so they have the notes and can add anything you’ve missed. Then when you get back to your desk, you can turn that Word doc into a full project plan.
The team also notes in its blog that while the main crux of today's new update centers on the enterprise and work-related world, all of the features can be used for "vacation planning, apartment hunting, or whatever else Dropbox helps you do." The new 3.9 update to Dropbox on iOS [Direct Link] will begin rolling out today, with an upcoming smaller update for in-app document editing planned for the near future.
Apple updated its Apple Pay participating issuers list today with 24 additional banks, credit unions and financial institutions supporting the contactless payment service in the United States. Apple Pay now has nearly 250 participating issuers nationwide, and several hundred more plan to support the NFC-based mobile payment service in the future.
The full list of new Apple Pay participating issuers is reflected below, although it's worth noting that some banks, credit unions and financial institutions listed may have already had support for the contactless payments service for quite some time and are only now being reflected on Apple's website.
The full list of new Apple Pay participating issuers:
Bellwether Community Credit Union
Benchmark Federal Credit Union
Blackhawk Community Credit Union
Community America Credit Union
Community First Credit Union
Connections Credit Union
cPort Credit Union
Denver Fire Department FCU
Electro Savings Credit Union
Elements Financial FCU
First Financial Credit Union
Greater Nevada Credit Union
Harvard Universities Employees Credit Union
Interra Credit Union
Kern Schools Federal Credit Union
Nusenda Credit Union
People’s Trust Federal Credit Union
Premier America Credit Union
Premier Members Federal Credit Union
SAFE Credit Union
Scient Federal Credit Union
The Bancorp Bank
Tucson Federal Credit Union
Union Bank & Trust Co.
Apple Pay remains available in the United States only, although Apple is committed to an international rollout of the mobile payments service in additional countries such as Canada, China and the United Kingdom. Canada, a well-prepared candidate for Apple Pay, could be the first country to embrace the service outside of the United States as early as November according to The Wall Street Journal.
Tuesday May 5, 2015 8:18 AM PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Following in the line of automobile companies offering connected Apple Watch apps to control aspects of their vehicle, like Porsche Car Connect, German car manufacturer Volkswagen today announced a similar Apple Watch app that will bring most of the features of the company's Car-Net mobile app to a user's wrist.
The app will allow customers to lock and unlock a car's doors (on 2016-and-later models), open and close windows and the sunroof, provide a map of the vehicle's current parked location, and even set off a minor alarm when locating the vehicle is proving tiresome. Interestingly, the app will also bring over Car-Net's feature of tracking speed and set boundary notifications, allowing parents to monitor a child's top driving speed and send notifications if they break from a pre-set geofencing boundary area right to the Apple Watch.
“These high-tech features, available through the Car-Net® app for Apple Watch, are paving the way to Volkswagen’s future of connected vehicles,” said Abdallah Shanti, Executive Vice President and Group Chief Information Officer for Region Americas. “As a part of Volkswagen’s Digital Vehicle Management Platform, this was a truly collaborative effort between our Technical Development and Group IT teams.”
The Volkswagen Apple Watch app also brings the ability to check fuel on gasoline and TDI Clean Diesel engines and even the charge on the all-electric e-Golf. The full suite of Car-Net features is available on "select trims" of the 2014 and later Beetle, CC, Eos, Jetta, Passat and Tiguan models and on all trims of 2015 and later Golf, Golf GTI, Golf R, Golf SportWagen and e-Golf models.
OtterBox today announced the availability of its new Symmetry Series folio cases for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 in black with faux leather or white with a tan fabric cover. The cases feature a one-piece protective shell and slim folio that wraps around to cover the screen, alongside a micro suede interior cover to keep the tablet's display free of scratches.
The Symmetry Series cases for iPad double as both protective cases and multi-position stands with 360-degrees rotation for landscape and portrait viewing. The cases also automatically wake and sleep the iPad screen when the folio is opened and closed, and have certified drop protection in case your iPad takes a tumble.
OtterBox Symmetry Series folio cases for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 can be purchased through the accessory maker's website for $69.95 and $59.95 respectively. OtterBox makes the number-one selling cases in North America and was one of the earlier providers of cases and accessories for iPhone, iPad and other products by both Apple and competitors.
Related roundup: iPad Air 2 , Tags: Otterbox, Symmetry Series
Tuesday May 5, 2015 5:46 AM PDT by Mitchel Broussard
While not an official partner for Apple Pay, the presence of NFC terminals at many Home Depot locations across the country has enabled the contactless payment service to work as normal at select stores in the home improvement chain. Today, however, a user on Reddit received a response from Home Depot customer care that suggests the company may soon begin quietly phasing out support for Apple Pay completely at its brick-and-mortar stores, with PayPal highlighted as an alternative solution for customers.
"We currently do not accept Apple Pay in our local stores or online. We do have the option of using PayPal, in store or online. We may offer this feature in the future, but we currently do not have a time frame for this and if we are going to accept Apple Pay. We truly apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you Andrew."
The company's response leaves an open door for the re-activation of Apple Pay in its stores in the future, but doesn't commit to confirming that Apple's NFC-based payment service will ever be seen at their checkout counters again. Apple recently updated a support document on its website confirming that Home Depot "might not be currently set up to accept contactless payments, including Apple Pay" at this current time.
Although no direct reason is given, the company's mention of supporting PayPal online and in-store is a pretty good piece of evidence that Home Depot may simply be siding with a different electronic payments solution. It's also worth pointing out that a few responses on the original Reddit thread have had no trouble with using Apple Pay in their own local stores, so either the company is keeping quiet support of the service or it's taking a slow rollout to dismantling support for Apple Pay.
Belkin today announced that it's partnering with lighting company Cree to add the Connected Cree lightbulb to the Belkin WeMo connected-home ecosystem. In the summer of 2015, Connected Cree bulbs will be compatible with the ZigBee-to-WiFi WeMo Link bridge and will be able to be controlled with the WeMo app that's used to control all of Belkin's WeMo devices.
The Connected Cree bulb's integration into the WeMo system will allow it to work with several of Belkin's other WeMo products through the WeMo app, including the WeMo Light Switch, the WeMo Insight Switch, the WeMo Maker, WeMo's Smart LED bulbs, and the NetCam HD+.
Integrating fully with the WeMo ecosystem will allow Cree customers to easily create a fully integrated smart home customized to their needs and schedule. For example, the NetCam HD+ can act as a motion sensor to automatically turn on the bulbs as soon as motion is triggered by opening the door or just walking into the room.
Using the WeMo app and Cree bulbs, users can create a variety of rules and actions that make home life easier and more comfortable.
Cree's Connected Cree bulb is one of the more affordable smart bulbs available on the market and can be purchased for $15 from Home Depot. Introduced in January of this year, the bulb is compatible with Wink and ZigBee platforms thanks to the addition of a Cree4Flow Filament, and it integrates with SmartThings and the Philips hue lighting system in addition to its new WeMo integration. The 60-watt 2,700K single-color bulbs have a brightness of 815 lumens and use 11.5 watts of power.
Belkin's also announcing an updated WeMo app with IFTTT support for its WeMo LED bulbs and WeMo-enabled lighting solutions from Osram Sylvania, allowing its lightbulbs to be incorporated into various IFTTT recipes. The new app should be available this week.
Google today announced an acquisition of iOS-based time management app Timeful, which first launched last year. When it was released, Timeful was described as "the first intelligent time manager" for mobile devices, aiming to help users manage their lives by combining a time management app with a calendar, a to-do list, and reminders designed to reinforce positive habits.
In its current incarnation on iOS, Timeful connects to the Calendar app to import existing events into a daily view that includes all tasks that need to be completed. It also lets users create to-dos, and when there's a block of open time on a user's schedule, Timeful will insert "Habits." Habits are user-defined tasks like "Take a Walk" or "Read for 30 Minutes," and are aimed at fitting recreation or skill-building tasks into each user's schedule.
Google plans to incorporate Timeful's clever time management tools into its existing products like Inbox and Calendar, making it easier for users to schedule events and find time for all tasks that need to be completed in any given day.
The Timeful team has built an impressive system that helps you organize your life by understanding your schedule, habits and needs. You can tell Timeful you want to exercise three times a week or that you need to call the bank by next Tuesday, and their system will make sure you get it done based on an understanding of both your schedule and your priorities. We're excited about all the ways Timeful's technology can be applied across products like Inbox, Calendar and beyond, so we can do more of the work for you and let you focus on being creative, having fun and spending time with the people you care about.
According to a blog post on the Timeful site, the Timeful app will continue to be available on iOS, but going forward, attention will be on "new projects at Google." Current Timeful users can export their data out of the app for use with other apps if desired.
There are few third-party band options available for the Apple Watch at the current point in time given that it just launched a week and a half ago, but those of you who purchased a stainless steel Apple Watch with a Classic Buckle or Modern Buckle band can use the components from those bands to connect standard watch bands to your Apple Watch devices.
In a newly published video, Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy walks through the process of using the parts in the Classic Buckle band to connect a 22mm third-party watch band to the Apple Watch.
As it turns out, there are two small pentalobe screws holding the pin component of the Classic Buckle together, so with a pentalobe screwdriver, the portion of the band that connects to the Apple Watch can be disassembled, slid into a standard pin-based watch band, and reassembled.
The Modern Buckle and the Classic Buckle are the only two bands that have a pin-based connector built-in, so those of you who want to use different watch bands with your Apple Watch devices will need to either purchase one of the models that comes with a Classic Buckle band or purchase a Classic Buckle band separately for $149 (estimated to ship out in May). The Modern Buckle has the same connector, but Modern Buckle Apple Watches have not yet shipped out and those bands are listed as "Currently Unavailable" in the online Apple Store.
Along with a compatible Apple Watch band, a tiny pentalobe screwdriver is also required to swap out the band, but those are available at little cost. With a Classic Buckle and the screwdriver, making a swap is as uncomplicated as simply removing two screws, pulling apart the connector, sticking the pieces into another watch band, and putting it back together again.
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