September 10

AAPL: 112.57

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Microsoft has announced that its Office apps will be all set for the launch of iOS 9 and the iPad Pro, with support for multi-tasking and marking up documents using the Apple Pencil. The company highlighted five features on its blog, the first two of particular note.

Slide Over lets you open a second app without leaving the one you’re in. Jot down a reminder in OneNote while you’re catching up on email. Or reference your notes while you’re working on a PowerPoint presentation.

With Split View, you can have two apps open and active at the same time. Copy numbers from Excel into PowerPoint or rehearse a PowerPoint presentation while reviewing background information in Word … 

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September 9

AAPL: 110.15

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In the old days, buying and paying for a new iPhone was simple: you typically paid $1-200 up-front, then the rest of the purchase cost was absorbed by carriers into the monthly rates they charged for their contracts. There was no easy way to tell how much of that monthly payment was for calls/texts/data and how much was paying off the balance of the cost of the phone.

Today, things are very different, with carriers being much more transparent about what you pay for your contract – if you choose to have one – and how much you pay for the iPhone itself. The WSJ has put together a simple infographic outlining the main options open to you …  expand full story

September 8

AAPL: 112.31

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September 7

AAPL: 109.27

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Reuters reports that Apple is working on significantly increasing the number of artificial intelligence specialists it employs as it works to make Siri smarter, but that the company’s commitment to user privacy imposes constraints.

As part of its push, the company is currently trying to hire at least 86 more employees with expertise in the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, according to a recent analysis of Apple job postings. The company has also stepped up its courtship of machine-learning PhD’s, joining Google, Amazon, Facebook and others in a fierce contest, leading academics say.

Machine learning relies heavily on large-scale data-crunching to figure out what users are likely to want to know. But while Google analyses the data of Android users en-masse, Apple’s approach to privacy means that far less data is sent from the iPhone to its servers, making it more challenging to increase Siri’s intelligence …  expand full story

The official Steve Jobs biopic, written by Aaron Sorkin, was shown at the Telluride Film Festival for a preliminary screening ahead of its cinema debut on October 9th. The reviews are in and seem to be very good indeed. Variety called it “a terrific actors’ showcase and an incorrigibly entertaining ride that looks set to be one of the fall’s early must-see attractions.”

The film is just over two hours long, with Michael Fassbender who plays Jobs, being a standout success. The Guardian described Fassbender playing the lead role as a transformative experience with others already lobbying Fassbender for an Oscar for the part. We’ve compiled some quotes from various reviews below. Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak seems to like the film as well …

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September 5

AAPL: 109.27

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September 4

AAPL: 109.27

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Steve Jobs, the Universal Pictures biopic written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, gets its debut screening tomorrow at the Telluride Film Festival. This is followed by a screening at the New York Film Festival on Oct 3rd, before its national release on 9th October.

We first saw a trailer for the movie back in May, with a longer one shown in July and a modified version shown on TV last month. A leaked screenplay draft confirmed that the movie is set around three product launchesthe original Macintosh, the NeXT Cube and the iMac …  expand full story

August 27

AAPL: 112.92

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Belkin’s three latest products in its Wemo line of Wi-Fi connected, smartphone-controlled products for the home include a white bulb starter kit, a versatile strip light, and garden lights for outdoor use. The last two are both tunable to thousands of colors and all three connect to Belkin’s Wemo ecosystem and companion app for remote control from your iPhone. All three of the products are through a partnership with OSRAM SYLVANIA, who provided the lightning products that Belkin has integrated into its Wemo platform. We took the three new starter kits for a test drive to get a second look at the growing Wemo platform and see if they are worth the investment before support for Apple’s HomeKit…
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August 24

AAPL: 103.12

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Making use of unproductive commuting time is the aim of a New Zealand created app, which allows users to safely check their email while driving.

Speaking Email reads emails aloud, so that users can make their commute time productive, while keeping their eyes on the road.

The app was developed by small Auckland web development company, beweb, after director Mike Nelson got frustrated with the lack of such a product on the market.

“Like many people, I get so many emails a day and it is impossible to get through them all. Living in Auckland, I waste almost an hour a day driving and I wanted to use that time productively. Using this app I get an extra hour of chargeable work done every day.

“I got sick of waiting for someone else to create an out-loud email, or for Siri to get to the stage where she is helpful. That’s when I decided to have a go at creating an app.”

Mr Nelson says one of the latest buzz words around work productivity is ‘inbox zero’ – encouraging  people to stop having inboxes full of messages, but to keep on top of emails and deal with them as you go.

“The theory is people with cluttered inboxes and unread messages waste a lot of time. We’ve created Speaking Email around this – you use unproductive time to get on top of your emails, and with a simple tap can archive, star or flag an email while on the go.”

Safety is another key feature of the app, and Mr Nelson says it has been designed to minimise the amount of time drivers need to look at a screen, or touch the screen.

A quick glance screen for images is all that is needed – all text is read aloud. Then users can easily triage their email – easy tap or swipe functions allow emails to be archived, flagged or swiped to skip reading. There is also a quick reply feature with pre-loaded text for a ‘thanks’ or ‘ok’.

“We purposely don’t encourage typed replies because that is cumbersome and dangerous when people are on the roads,” he says.

Mr Nelson says the latest trend in technology is to create apps, systems and hardware that requires only a quick glance or fast tap to access and review information.

“It’s exciting to have created something that is using the latest technology and the latest trends, but is also a massively useful product,” he says.

Although specifically developed with drivers in mind, Mr Nelson says runners, walkers and gym goers will also find it useful.

“Because of the minimal need to look at the screen, it is a great way to use exercise time to also get on top of your inbox. With the use of a phone armband and a pair of headphones – you can look like you’re listening to music, but actually be working! “

Mr Nelson uses Speaking Email every day and says it feels extremely satisfying to walk into the door at work and already know what his emails say.

“Who doesn’t struggle to get on top of their emails these days? I think there is a huge market for a product like this.

“I specifically designed Speaking Email for people who drive from home to the office, and need to be on top of their emails when they get there. But it would also be a great system for people who are on the road much of the day – such as salespeople and tradespeople,” he says.

Speaking Email has the flexibility for users to set it up the way that suits their email use – from speaking all emails, just those previously not read out, or only new emails. There’s also options for using multiple accounts and different ways for users to triage their emails.

Speaking Email can now be downloaded on the app store.  It currently works on Gmail and will next be available for, Yahoo Mail, iCloud, Exchange and IMAP.

“We’ve made it free to download, so now’s the time to give it a go. Once we have it out in the market more, we will start to charge US$10,” Mr Nelson says.

Beweb has been developing websites and web applications for New Zealand companies since 2000. Speaking Email is the company’s first app.

“We saw this as an opportunity to not only create an app that we wanted to use, but to learn the process of creating, launching and marketing an app.

“Every aspect of this project has been a lot harder and more time consuming that we would have thought it would be. But it has also been fun and a great way to learn. We now have a lot more knowledge and understanding of apps, and we are able to share this knowledge with our own clients.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve created. It started off as a small idea – and we’ve funded it all ourselves and created it by ourselves.  We haven’t looked for any partners or funding, because we didn’t want to compromise on how we wanted Speaking Email to work.”

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August 19

AAPL: 115.01

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Looks like Apple has a couple of new accessories launching in the future and these haven’t been refreshed in a while. It’s no surprise that iPhone 6S rumors are in full effect, but which ones should you believe? Also, is Apple Music as much of a success as expected? All this and slightly more on this incremental “27S” version of the Happy Hour Podcast. (Just kidding, it’s episode 28.) The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed.

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August 17

AAPL: 117.16

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iHome has spent years building a reputation for thoughtfully designed, value-packed Apple audio accessories. Beyond its annual releases of ever-improving speaker systems, it was the very first company to release an iPod alarm clock, and a day-one supporter of Apple’s AirPlay speaker standard. No audio company has focused as much on the practical needs of iPod, iPhone, and iPad users as iHome. And when it innovates, it always comes up with something cool.

Kineta K1 ($150) and Kineta K2 ($100) are iHome’s latest innovations: Bluetooth speakers with beautiful built-in battery charging docks and detachable USB battery packs. K2 is a nightstand- or desktop-friendly alarm clock radio with a large screen, stereo speakers, and speakerphone support for the iPhone. K1 is a completely portable stereo speaker with 13 hours of play time and speakerphone support. Each comes with iHome’s new K-CELL, a tube-shaped 2,600mAh battery that locks in place until you’re ready to go, then easily hides in your pocket or bag to refuel your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Apple Watch anywhere.

Both Kinetas efficiently address two simple facts: Apple’s devices sound better through speakers and need extra power on-the-go. Read on for details on how they each combine two useful accessories into a single great package; you’ll also find a special discount inside!…

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August 12

AAPL: 115.24

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Amid falling sales of the device, The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is working with more than 40 tech companies to make the iPad a more appealing work tool. Apple is reportedly working with officials from professionals in the business app market to train its own specialists to better sell towards workforces, which will lead to

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August 11

AAPL: 119.72

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I love the Apple ecosystem. It’s not perfect, and the gap between it and the Google alternative isn’t as great as it used to be, but to my mind it’s still by far the best solution for anyone looking to have all their data and content available across both desktop and mobile devices.

But there’s one notable gap in my own use of the Apple system: books. Despite the fact that my iPad is my primary ebook reader, I still use the Kindle app and buy my books from Amazon rather than Apple …  expand full story

[Update: Statement from CVS below the fold…]

When Apple Pay launched in the US late last year, Apple’s mobile payment system was officially accepted by several launch partners and unofficially supported by even more retailers and vendors. Then a small number of retailers banded together as members of the Merchant Customer eXchange actually disabled mobile payment support at checkout in favor of an upcoming CurrentC payment system. Drug store chains CVS and Rite Aid were among the first to block Apple Pay support after initially accepting it and even prompting a response from Apple. Now Rite Aid is ending that blockade as it announced today that it will officially accept Apple Pay starting this weekend. expand full story

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