Apple Watch’s retail sales pitch revealed: 3 key features, switch to iPhone, focus on bands

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With next week’s Apple Watch event fast approaching, Apple has revealed its retail selling strategies to employees, including a focus on “three key features” and a plan to encourage Watch customers to upgrade or switch to new iPhones. According to selling guidelines provided by sources within Apple Retail, Apple believes that “many customers have already decided they want an Apple Watch,” and will use the Watch to “position the benefits” of purchasing a compatible iPhone model. Retail employees have been told to ask customers about their iPhone usage habits, their favorite feature in iOS 8, and if they use health and fitness software on their iPhone…

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Review: Anker’s Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 brings reasonable pricing and smart design to Bluetooth typing folios

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I’ve tested almost every major iPad keyboard case since the first iPad was released five years ago, and still recall when companies charged $100 for greasy vinyl folios with terrible, squishy rubber keys. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. If you’re willing to spend $100, you can get a much nicer iPad-holding case attached to a nearly great keyboard. Drop $130-$150 (or go nuts for $170), and you can get a metal keyboard that partially resembles a MacBook Air. Personally, $100 is the ceiling I’d ever be willing to pay for an iPad keyboard case, and I’d rather pay less. But unless you count discontinued models for prior-generation iPads, there aren’t many great options.

Anker is changing that. Its new Bluetooth Folio Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 sells for a stunningly low $40, and just like the 25,600mAh Anker iPad battery pack I previously reviewed, it delivers remarkable value for its price point. As the product of strategic compromises, it winds up giving up only one thing I typically prefer — a complete iPad-holding frame — in order to offer an excellent typing experience for the same cost as a typical iPad case without a keyboard. Read on for the reasons why I’d recommend this over options costing three times the price.

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Gartner: iPhone worldwide sales topped Samsung in holiday quarter, but Samsung won the year

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Gartner is out with its latest report tracking smartphone movement during the previous year and more specifically the holiday quarter.

Headlining the report is news that over 1 billion smartphones were sold in 2014, a data point IDC first said was hit in the previous year, adding that two out of three phones sold last year qualified as smartphones.

Gartner’s data shows Apple topped Samsung in worldwide smartphone sales with 74,832,000 units shipped during the holiday quarter, just 1.8 million units more than Samsung, giving Apple 20.4% market share for the quarter, a virtual tie with Samsung’s 19.9%. Read more

SXSW plans largest iBeacon deployment yet to let attendees meet up & find events via mobile app

 

South by Southwest (SXSW) just launched its official mobile app ahead of the festival and alongside it announced plans for the world’s largest deployment of iBeacons to offer mobile app features triggered by the Bluetooth beacons. In total, more than 1000+ beacons will be deployed to pull it all off. SXSW thinks the features will “fundamentally change attendee’s experiences” by letting mobile app users network and navigate the event. Read more

Apple Pay adds 17 more banks & credit unions, over 90 institutions supported

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Ahead of Apple’s ‘Spring forward’ event on Monday where we expect to hear much more about the Apple Watch, more than a dozen new banks and credit unions have added support for Apple Pay. The Apple Watch will support the mobile payment service and extend Apple Pay support in stores beyond the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s when paired. Following the addition of 17 new banks including credit unions for American Airlines and IBM today, Apple Pay is now supported by nearly 100 institutions. Here’s the list of newly added banks: Read more

Koenigsegg includes CarPlay in crazy (and gorgeous) new 1782bhp hybrid hypercar

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You’d think putting three electric motors into a sportscar to generate a total of 697bhp would be pretty impressive in itself, as would a 1085bhp 5-litre V8 gas engine, but no: Koenigsegg had to combine the two. The exclusive Swedish supercar manufacturer’s new Regera hybrid delivers a total output of 1782bhp.

With all that power, it might be a little hard to hear the stereo over the engine noise and tire screeching, but Koenigsegg has fitted a CarPlay unit to the car for those times when you’re taking things a little easier …  Read more

Does Pebble’s new gold-colored Time Steel smartwatch look familiar to you?

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A week after Pebble announced a color-screen version of its popular smartwatch, the Pebble Time, it has now announced a stainless steel model: the Pebble Time Steel. The metal version is available in silver, black and … gold finishes. Wonder where they got the inspiration for a gold finish with red strap?

The Time Steel will retail at $299–a hundred bucks more than the plastic original, but still $50 less than the plastic-strap model Apple Watch. It’s available on Kickstarter for an early bird price of $250 …  Read more

Apple hanging billboards on skyscrapers and buildings around the world to showcase iPhone 6 photography

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As part of its Shot on iPhone 6 campaign promoting iPhone photography, Apple is now hanging billboard advertisements around the world. The ads feature the photographs in full bleed with a simple ‘Shot on iPhone 6′ tagline. The posters are going up around the world, including some dramatic large billboards on the side of skyscrapers. Pictured above is one such poster (photo taken by Jimmy Grewal on Twitter) being setup on a skyscraper in Dubai.

In total, the campaign will showcase 77 different individual’s images spanning 24 countries. Users on Twitter have been posting sightings of these ads from all over the world …

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Opinion: Apple TV should get these 10 updates at next week’s event, but probably won’t

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Nearly eight years have passed since Apple released the first-generation Apple TV, a product originally hyped as “something really special” but quickly demoted to a “hobby” after initial sales fizzled. The second-generation version arrived with much less fanfare in late 2010, and the modestly tweaked third-generation model got a mere five-minute launch at a March event three years ago. Since then, there’s been plenty of evidence that Apple was working on updated hardware, a major partnership with cable companies, and major new content deals, but apart from the quiet addition of new channels, nothing’s actually happened.

Since total Apple TV sales remain soft by comparison with Apple’s other product lines, next week’s fashion-focused and celebrity-packed Apple Watch special event would be a great opportunity to launch an updated Apple TV to a broader audience. The current-generation Apple TV is older than its predecessor was when Apple replaced it, and there are at least 10 software and hardware tweaks that could fundamentally improve the Apple TV experience. Here’s our list of 5 features Apple TV really needs, and 5 features it would really benefit from having…

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Apple Stores will now allow customers to test in-ear headphones before buying

Apple has always allowed customers to test over-ear headphones

Apple has always allowed customers to test over-ear headphones (Getty)

Apple will begin allowing prospective customers to test out in-ear headphones prior to purchase within Apple Stores, according to several employees. Due to sanitation concerns, Apple has been reluctant to allowing customers to try out in-ear headphones, but a new solution called Demo Kits will solve this problem. Beginning this week, when a customer is interested in purchasing in-ear headphones, an Apple Store employee will have the ability to create a custom Demo Kit that holds up to six different models of in-ear headphones. These kits will include a fresh pair ear tips and alcohol cleaning wipes so that the try on process is sanitary…

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