Opinion: Why I love Apple products, and am just a tiny bit embarrassed to be seen using them

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I love my Apple products. I’ve used Macs since day one. My desk right now has on it my MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPad Air, Thunderbolt Display and iPhone. Oh, and an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad, of course.

My friends are convinced that I’m incapable of leaving the house without my iPad, and I have to confess that the evidence is on their side. My car has an iPhone dock so I can listen to music and podcasts. If I’m on a plane, train or tube, it’s a near-certainty that I’ll be using my iPad or listening to music on my iPhone – or both.

I love Apple hardware design. Sleek, minimalistic, beautiful. There aren’t that many other really attractive laptops out there, and most of the ones that are have essentially copied Apple’s designs …  Read more

Review: Anker IQ 40W 5-port smart USB adapter is the last power source you’ll ever need

As our families grow, so do our device charging needs. Where we just used to need 2 USB ports to charge our iPhones, we now have iPads, cameras, Bluetooth speakers, portable flashlight/batteries and even a few Android devices laying around that constantly need to be chargers. Our excellent 2-port ZaggSparq just couldn’t handle all of the stuff anymore. Time to step up to something more substantial.

Anker-reviewsWe’d heard great things about the new Anker IQ 40W 5V / 8A 5-Port Family-Size USB power supply. In fact, at Amazon where it can be nabbed on sale for $26, it gets almost exclusive 4 and 5 star ratings.

Anker hooked me up with a unit to test out at CES and I’ve relied on it since to keep our house full of devices charged. What’s particularly impressive about this one is that it has 40W of power to distribute through the 5 USB ports (a 25W one is a few bucks less). Anker’s new IQ does one better by recognizing high power requirements in devices like iPads, other tablets and even HPs new Chromebook and giving those devices the full 2-3 Amps of power they need to get charged quickly. Anker explains it thusly:

Not all USB ports are equal. Where past USB ports were hard-wired to exclusively charge iOS OR Android, we’re introducing Smart Port technology to create a truly universal charger. Dynamically adjusting to any device’s unique maximum charging speed, the Smart Port takes the brainwork out of compatibility.Just plug in and it’ll do the rest.

Were the reviews right? Was this the end to my USB charging woes?

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Smartphones are now a 95% Android-iOS global duopoly w/ Android closing in on 80% by itself

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Research firm IDC is out today with its latest report on the worldwide smartphone market highlighting shipments and marketshare by operating system for last quarter and all of 2013. Together Android and iOS made up around 95.7% of all smartphone shipments in the last quarter of 2013 (up from 91.2% in the year ago quarter), but the real story is how much Android has grown compared to iOS. As of last quarter, Android made up almost 80% of that 95.7% and shipped close to 800 million of the billion smartphones shipped during 2013. Read more

How-to: Setup and Use Chromecast to stream your content from a Mac and iOS device

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The Chromecast, Google’s streaming HDMI dongle came out last summer. It is compatible with any Android device running 2.3 or later, iOS device with iOS 6 or 7, and any Mac or PC. Initially, users were able to stream Netflix or Youtube from an iOS device and Android device, Google Play Movies and Music only on Android, or cast websites using the Chrome browser on a computer. The Chromecast works differently from Airplay in that you can multitask and do other tasks on the device or you can let it go to sleep while streaming.

Very quickly after its release, Chromecast has received support for Hulu +, Pandora, and HBO GO. Last month a major update added ten new apps including Plex, Vevo, Songza, Red Bull TV, Post TV from the Washington Post, Viki, RealPlayer Cloud, Avia, Revision3 Internet Television and BeyondPod. The most recent update the Chromecast received allowed users to stream Google Play Movies and Music directly from the Chrome browser on a computer.

In this How-to, we’ll discuss how to setup the Chromecast, use it with a Mac and iOS device and explore its gaming potential.

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SwiftKey keyboard arrives on iOS as Evernote-infused app, third-party integration possible

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SwiftKey, a popular Android keyboard option, has arrived on iOS. No, not as a keyboard that you can install to replace Apple’s iOS touchscreen keyboard, but in the form of a free App Store application. The name of the application is SwiftKey Note and it is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. More details below:

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Virgin Mobile cuts unsubsidized iPhone 5s to $440 or iPhone 5c for $360 shipped (Update)

From 9to5Toys.com:

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Virgin Mobile is knocking another 20% off their marked down iPhones yielding the lowest prices we’ve ever seen on the unsubsidized phones (that’s another 10% less than this weekend’s mention).

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Note Apple charges $650 for an unlocked iPhone 5s and $550 for an iPhone 5c so savings is around $200/iPhone. While the iPhones are unsubsidized, Virgin does offer extremely competitive plans on the Sprint 4G LTE network starting at $30/month for unlimited text/data. Read more