Remember just yesterday, when I was going on about what was being said about getting the fingerprint sensor working on your fancy new iPhone 5s (or five-esses)? It turns out there's more talk on the Interwebs today from blogger "Dr. Drang," described by 5by5 as "a consulting engineer well known amongst nerds on the Internet," and Daring Fireball's John Gruber. (Tip o' the hat to Boy Genius Report.)
Apparently some are saying they feel like TouchID works great when first set up, but the accuracy seems to fade over time. Setting it up again makes it work perfectly again for a while, but they say the accuracy still degrades as time passes. Other folks report seeing no such thing.
If you fall into the first category, stay tuned.Full Story
Having trouble setting up TouchID? You might be holding your phone the wrong way.
Visiting family over Thanksgiving, I saw my sister was carrying a brand-spankin'-new iPhone 5s. She and her husband had changed carriers and got the new phones as part of the deal.
("iPhone 5s" still looks to me like the plural of "iPhone 5." What are the plurals of those supposed to be? "iPhone5ses" and "iPhone 5ives"? But I digress.)
We were talking about how she liked it, and I asked her about the fingerprint sensor on the home button. She said, a little sheepishly, that she hadn't set it up. It turns out the two of them had upgraded before changing carriers, and the iPhone 5s (the new one, singular) she'd been given by her old carrier didn't unlock when she touched the sensor. She'd almost always end up making multiple attempts and then being prompted to enter her passcode, so eventually she just turned TouchID off and used the passcode. When they changed carriers and they got their new phones, she'd just adopted the same setup. …Full Story
I don't know about you, but over the past 10 or 15 years my family has accumulated a ton of Christmas music. I'm pretty sure we could start playing it around the time the fake trees show up at Lowe's and never repeat a single track all the way through Valentine's Day.
Not that we would ever, ever do that.
But with all that music, it would be nice to actually be able to listen to it. And having it play on the iMac in the corner of our bedroom isn't really what I have in mind. What's the easiest way to get all that music from the computer to the stereo in the family room?
In our case, I've plugged an old Apple Airport Express into a power strip under the shelving unit in the living room, run an audio cable to the Audio In jack on our little bookcase stereo system and I can stream anything I want using AirPlay. Our house is small, and our network simple, so that does the trick. You can hear Deck the Halls from pretty much anywhere you'd want to hear it.
But maybe your house is bigger. Your budget might be bigger, too (or, though it feels unlikely, smaller). What if you want to stream traditional carols to the living room, but mix Weezer's and Relient K's holiday albums in the kitchen? …Full Story
How many Americans would you guess will be traveling next week, either heading to the airport or taking to America's safe highways for a get-together with friends and family for Thanksgiving?
Well, I don't know. But I bet it's a lot.
And if you're one of them, there's a good chance that at one time or another you'll be looking for a way to get online while you're on the road.
Pretty everyone knows they can find free wi-fi at a Starbucks. They're usually pretty good about providing power outlets near their tables and chairs, too, if you need to top off the battery on your phone or laptop.
But our photographers have learned that most McDonald's restaurants — 11,000 of the 14,000 across the nation — offer free wi-fi these days, too. That's proved pretty useful when we're covering tropical storms, since those hotspots are usually left powered and broadcasting even during evacuations. To send their photos from the field, our photogs can pull up in the parking lot and get online without getting out of their car. (A Miss Manners wi-fi etiquette tip: If you're using a business's free wi-fi, it's good manners to buy something. I'd suggest a cup of coffee or an apple pie — but something.) …Full Story
The Coin card has a screen on it that displays only the last four digits of your card number, the expiration date and the CVV (that three-digit code on the back of your plastic card). Pressing the round button on it -- which they say is hard to do accidentally -- switches among up to eight cards stored on the device. An unlimited number of cards can be swapped on and off the device from a smartphone app via a gadget that plugs into the phone's headphone jack.
Let's start by making this assumption clear: Cool ideas are only cool if they work. And when your idea has to do with electronic payments, "working" has a whole lot to do with keeping your personal information safe and secure.
But if these guys at Coin have worked that out, they have an incredibly cool idea.
Coin is a plain, grey gizmo that's exactly the dimensions of a credit card, with the magnetic strip on the back and everything. But Coin can act like any of the swipe-able cards in your wallet.
You can store the details for up to eight of your credit cards, or gas station cards, or ATM cards, or gym membership cards or whatever on the Coin itself, with an unlimited number in an app on your smartphone. And when you need that card, Coin will do a perfect impersonation. You can stick it in an ATM. A cashier can swipe it through their reader. If you try to lose it, the smartphone app warns you that you've left it behind. If your smartphone is out of range for too long, the Coin card deactivates itself. You can read more about Coin's form, function and security in their FAQ. …Full Story
Apple's first iPod, which went on sale 12 years ago today.
Think 12 years seems like a long time? It was Nov. 11, 2001, that Apple released its first iPod.
"Hardly anyone on Wall Street or in the tech press believed the iPod would be a success," Michael Grothaus notes for The Unofficial Apple Weblog. In fact, he dug up this gem of a prediction from The Street:
Don't buy Apple's (AAPL) stock. And if you own it, sell it. I know the company has a core following that is loyal, even cultlike, but the broader base of believers has been steadily eroding for years.
To wager on this company is to bet that the exodus of users can be staunched and then, implausibly, reversed. It's hard to imagine such a scenario, given Apple's shrinking girth. With less than 5% of the market, the company is no longer an afterthought in PCs — it's irrelevant.
(I don't own any Apple stock. But if I'd bought a share on Nov. 9, 2001, the last trading day before the iPod first went on sale, it would have cost me $18.71 — an investment that would be worth about $1,045.70 today. Keep that in mind the next time a financial analyst assures you they know what's going on.) …Full Story
The Seagate Satellite holds 500GB of your music and movies, streaming it to up to eight phones and tablets at the same time.
My family is taking a long-distance road trip later this month, and these things always take some careful planning and packing. I'm not talking about the useful things, like pet supplies, snacks and, y'know, clothes. My responsibility is usually figuring out what entertainment we want to bring for the car and how we should bring it.
Between the kids' iPod touches and the iPhones my wife and I carry, there's just not enough space to bring what you'd want to ride out 16 hours in the car. (Did I mention this was a long road trip?) You can load up more stuff on a laptop, but then you'd worry about the dog stomping it to smithereens as she barks at cows on the side of the road. (It's a long road trip.)
There's been an answer available for a while now: External hard drives that create their own wi-fi hotspot. You load up the hard drive with all the music, video, etc., that you can't fit on your handheld gadget, plug it into the cigarette lighter in your car, switch it on and suddenly everyone in the car can stream whatever's on it to their own personal screens. …Full Story
Pebble Technology Corp.
New Pebble software will support any notifications your iPhone can display in its Notification Center.
You can watch recorded video of the smartwatchmaker's announcement at getpebble.com, or read a detailed rundown on Engadget or MacRumors — but those are the highlights.
The improved notifications are probably the biggest deal, in my eyes. If all works as advertised, you'll be able to get notifications on your wrist for any app that gives you notifications on your phone. The app partnerships sound pretty nifty, too. It's been a while since I cared much about Foursquare (although I used to play with it a lot), but if I can check in somewhere without taking out my phone, I might take another look.
The new Pebble app should be coming to Apple's App Store early next week.Full Story
Pebble's invitation, emailed to the backers of the company's original Kickstarter project.
The smartwatch designers at Pebble sent an invitation to their Kickstarter backers yesterday apologizing for the radio silence the last couple months and promising "big news is brewing."
"This Wednesday, November 6th, we'll be sharing the details," the email reads. A live video stream of the announcement is scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern time. (Visit www.getpebble.com after noon for a link.)
The invitation makes a special mention that the news will be of interest to those developing third-party software for Pebble smartwatches.
The announcement will be posted to getpebble.com after the event, and the company's developer support team will take questions in a Reddit AMA at 3 p.m. Eastern time.Full Story
We're used to thinking about video games these days the way we think about movies. We critique plot lines, characters, visuals, special effects — you can still find the line that separates their audiences, but it's getting fuzzier every day.
So the way Sony decided on a game to highlight in the launch of its PlayStation 4 console seems a little different. Instead of starting out with a story idea, then planning the game around that, designers started with a character they thought would feature the new console's graphics capabilities.
"The developers brain-stormed for more than a year on the best character to utilize the graphic prowess of the PlayStation 4," Yuri Kageyama writes for AP. "Other ideas were considered, such as a character composed entirely of dots or one made of sand. The team finally settled on the idea of multiple parts, called "relics" in the game, a reference to archaeological finds."
So on the one hand, that feels like a cheesy sellout, designing a game that'll help sell a Sony console instead of designing a good game that sells well because it's a good game. …Full Story
Maybe Alec Baldwin laughs last today, as the federal government has decided to do away with regulations keeping airline passengers from reading, working, playing games, watching movies or listening to music on their electronic devices during takeoff and landing.
The Associated Press reports: "Currently, passengers are required to turn off their smartphones, tablets and other devices once a plane's door closes. They're not supposed to restart them until the planes reach 10,000 feet and the captain gives the go-ahead. Passengers are supposed to turn their devices off again as the plane descends to land and not restart them until the plane is on the ground.
"Under the new guidelines, airlines whose planes are properly protected from electronic interference may allow passengers to use the devices during takeoffs, landings and taxiing, the FAA said. Most new airliners and other planes that have been modified so that passengers can use Wifi at higher altitudes are expected to meet the criteria." …Full Story
Of the four people in my family, only my wife and I carry iPhones (the kids have iPod touches they saved up and bought with their own cash), so this trick wouldn't work so well for us. But in addition to being a handy way to protect your gear from loss and theft, Apple's Find My iPhone feature can be used to keep track of where your tweens and teens are panhandling for candy on Thursday. Macworld's David Chartier has a good rundown.
"Sure," I can hear some of you thinking, "but I already use Find My Friends to keep track of my family. The geofencing feature even warns me if they leave our neighborhood." That's how I can tell that some of you don't know that the iOS 7 changed the way Find My Friends works — to the point that the app is essentially broken. It's unclear whether Apple is planning to drop Find My Friends or is just waiting to upgrade it for some reason, but the app icon's chunky stitched leather sticks out like a sore thumb among the shiny minimalist treatment other Apple apps got for iOS 7. For now, Find My iPhone seems like the only geolocation option Apple's offering.Full Story
Apple's iWork suite, the company's answer to Microsoft Office, includes Pages (a word processor), Numbers (a spreadsheet) and Keynote (a presentation tool). This company rendering shows Pages running on a MacBook Air, an iPhone 5s and an iPad mini.
I don't use iWork for much — I bought Pages mostly to convince my 14-year-old daughter she could work on the novel she says she's writing with her iPod and a Bluetooth keyboard, instead of monopolizing the family computer — but I've always thought it was a simple tool well suited for around 90 percent of what you'd ever want a home word processor to do.
Apparently it used to do a lot more than that for some folks, and they're now hacked off about the fact that it no longer does everything it used to do.
"Apple's iWork free upgrade has angered long-time Mac power users," Gregg Keizer writes for Computerworld, "who have flooded the company's support forum with complaints about lost features."
Keizer notes that this isn't the first time Apple has faced criticism for rolling back features as part of an upgrade. "Two years ago, when Apple shipped Final Cut Pro X absent some features and tools, customers revolted, kick-starting a petition and generating parody videos, including one from the video crew who worked on Conan O'Brien's late-night television talk show and another that relied on the overused scene from the movie Downfall (Der Untergang)." …Full Story
I haven't upgraded my own iMac to Apple's new operating system, nicknamed Mavericks, yet — but I likely will, since it's free. I haven't found many friends or coworkers who've installed it yet to ask about their experience, tho'.
So, here's what folks are saying about it online:
Once I find the time to get it up and running myself, I'll let you know how it goes.Full Story
An Apple employee demonstrates the new iPad Mini on Tuesday in San Francisco. Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display, along with a slew of new Macs and software.
Here's what we learned by the time Apple executives wrapped up their big announcements yesterday afternoon (summary courtesy of Macworld):
The headline for me was how much of the software upgrades are available for free.
And apparently not announced during the session, but no less interesting, was a software upgrade for iPhones, iPods and iPads. iOS 7.0.3 includes iCloud Keychain and fixes problems with iMessage, iWork apps, accelerometers on some iPhone models and more.Full Story