Top smart home and HomeKit tech of CES 2015 (Video)

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There’s a very clear message delivered on the CES 2015 show floor: Smart home tech is definitely a thing. There is a ton of tech/accessories being showcased at CES that are designed to make your home life easier through connectivity. We’ve roamed the show floor searching high and low to bring you a roundup of some of the best smart home tech that was announced…

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Roost smart 9V battery turns your dumb smoke alarms into connected ones

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The plethora of smart home devices at CES makes it clear that home automation is an idea whose time has finally come. It seems there’s almost no household device now that can’t be controlled by, or at least communicate with, an iPhone.

The only downside is the expense of having to replace your perfectly good dumb devices with smart versions. This is the problem the Roost Smart Battery set out to solve, a WiFi-enabled 9v battery allowing your existing smoke alarm to send alerts to your iPhone when it’s triggered, so you get alerted even if the alarm is at the other end of the house or you’re away from home …  Read more

iPod shuffle supplies mysteriously dwindle in stores and online

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“Ships to Store” indicates store has no units in stock

If you’re trying to buy Apple’s cheapest iPod, the $49 screen-less Shuffle, you may be in for a difficult shopping trip. According to multiple sources, supplies of the iPod Shuffle are dwindling across Apple’s physical retail and online channels. In fact, Apple has warned its retail employees that Shuffle supplies will be short for an unspecified period of time and that customers seeking to buy a Shuffle via a retail store should be directed to Apple’s online store…

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Apple to widen pre-release iOS testing by roping in retail employees

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Apple will begin providing select retail store employees access to upcoming versions of iOS in order to widen its pre-release testing program, according to multiple sources. The program will begin in the near-future with an upcoming iOS release, perhaps version 8.2, which is slated to be released alongside the Apple Watch

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NY district attorney says Apple’s encryption policy “an issue of public safety” for law enforcement

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Bloomberg reports that a Manhattan District Attorney is challenging recent moves by Apple, Google and other tech companies by suggesting government pass laws that prevent mobile devices from being “sealed off from law enforcement.” In an interview this week, the government official called it “an issue of public safety.” Read more

Popularity of the iPhone 6/Plus sees Apple make market share gains around the world – Kantar

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Worldwide smartphone sales data from Kantar shows that strong iPhone 6 sales helped Apple achieve market share gains in all but one of the nine countries surveyed. iOS increased its market share in the US, UK, China, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – with Japan the sole exception.

In the US, Apple’s share of the smartphone market jumped 4.3% year-on-year in the three months ending in November to 47.4%. No surprise that the iPhone 6 was the best-selling phone in the country, capturing 19% of all smartphone sales …  Read more

Google Hangouts iOS app updated with intelligent location sharing, status messages and more

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Google has updated its text, video and voice messaging app Hangouts, adding all the new features added to the Android version last month – including intelligent, one-tap location sharing.

Google promised that it would be building more intelligence into the app, and the new location-sharing feature is the first step along that path. The app automatically detects when a contact in a text chat asks where you are, and allows you to share your location with a single tap …  Read more

Seagate and LaCie debut fashionable/wireless hard drives for iOS and Mac ahead of 2015 CES

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Seagate and its LaCie subsidiary have announced five new hard drives just ahead of this week’s 2015 CES, including two new iOS-compatible wireless models and three new Mac-only disks. All except one will be available in January from the company’s web sites.

For iOS, the 500GB Seagate Wireless ($130) is an economical and portable, battery-powered hard disk designed to compete with G-Technology’s G-Connect and Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless. Just under 4″ on each side and less than an inch thick, Seagate’s version is designed to look fun, with your choice of green, blue, gray, red, or white matte housings, and uses integrated Wi-Fi to connect with iOS devices and Macs for media playback as well as Android/Windows/Chrome. It runs for nine hours between charges and can connect to 3 devices simultaneously.

Seagate Seven ($100) is a Mac-only alternative that promises to be the world’s thinnest portable hard drive. Made from 100% stainless steel, the enclosure is only 7mm thick and includes a USB 3.0 cable for connecting to a computer, giving up wireless in order to achieve its small size. In a break from traditionally boxy or rounded hard drives, Seven is actually slim enough to let you see the contours of the traditional hard disk mechanism inside. Three additional drives are discussed below…

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iPhone 6 owners reporting that cards cannot be added back into Apple Pay after a restore [Update: resolved]

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Update: Users in the thread are now reporting that the problem has been resolved.

Multiple iPhone 6 owners are reporting in an Apple Support Communities thread that they are unable to add cards back into Apple Pay after their phone has been restored – whether as a new phone or from a backup. According to reports there, Apple has been able to resolve the issue only by replacing the phone.

I just left the Apple Store. They couldn’t diagnose the issue and we did a restore there in store and the problem persisted. The solution was to swap the hardware […]

I ended up going to the Apple Store and going to the genius bar. They proceeded to do all the thing I already tried. After they did a restore and set up as a new phone and saw they it didn’t work they went in the back and brought out a new phone. I fired up the phone and went thru steps to add my cards to Apple pay and everything worked. So getting a new phone fixed the issue.

The symptoms seem to suggest that the secure enclave is not being completely cleared, despite notifications from banks that cards have been removed at the point when the phone was restored …  Read more

GoodReader app forced to remove some iCloud Drive features to comply with App Store policies (update: reversed!)

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UpdateGoodReader 4.8.1 has now been released and the iCloud functionality has returned without explanation. It is unclear what prompted the reversal, although it is likely that Apple has once again backtracked on a public App Store decision.

Continuing the string of controversy regarding App Store approval in recent weeks, an update pushed through by GoodReader ($4.99, iPhone and iPad) earlier today shows that the company has been forced to remove some significant iCloud Drive features, in order to comply with iCloud Drive usage guidelines and remain in the App Store.

Specifically, the GoodReader update removes the ability to add folders, remove folders or move files around the iCloud Drive storage location. The update notes reference a ‘usage policy’, although it is unclear what document the company is referring to.

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Apple dominates holiday giving, iPhones & iPads making up more than half of mobile device activations

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Data from Yahoo-owned analytics company Flurry shows that iPhones and iPads comprised more than half of all mobile device activations between 19th and 25th December, at 51.3% – almost three times as many as second-placed Samsung.

Apple accounted for 51% of the new device activations worldwide Flurry recognized in the week leading up to and including Christmas Day (December 19th – 25th). Samsung held the #2 position with 18% of new device activations, and Microsoft (Nokia) rounded out the top three with 5.8% share for mostly Lumia devices. After the top three manufacturers, the device market becomes increasingly fragmented with only Sony and LG commanding more than one percent share of new activations on Christmas Day.

The company notes that while Chinese companies Xiaomi, Huawei and HTC didn’t reach 1%, this reflects the fact that Christmas is not celebrated in their home market …  Read more