Learn More about Your iPhone/iPad with Free Workshop at Apple Store

Apple Store WorkshopsOne of the advantages of living near an Apple store is the ability to take part in free workshops that are offered on a daily basis. Currently Apple is offering free workshops on iPads, iPhones, Macs, iCloud, iTunes, Using your Apple Devices Together, iPhone Photography, and using Apple in Your Business. All the Workshops last an hour and are free with registration. To check on availability of workshops in your area, visit the learn section of Apple.com.

In Delaware, our only Apple Store is the Christiana Mall location. To view a list of all workshops being offered at the Christiana Apple Store, visit http://www.apple.com/retail/christianamall/. At the top of the page, there is a link to register for a Workshop, or you can scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a list of all Workshops and events currently scheduled. To register for a free event, you do have to have an Apple ID. This is the username and password you use with iCloud. If you do not have an account, you can create a free account during registration.

If you are new to an iPhone, iPad or Mac, or feel that you are not getting the most out of your device, I would encourage to explore the free help that is offered directly from Apple.

Thoughts on Apple Pay

One of the major benefits of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, beyond the large screen, is Apple Pay. Although I have only used Apple Pay for 2 actual purchases, one of the hidden benefits for me has been Card Notifications. Once I enrolled my American Express Card in Apple Pay, I began to receive notifications on my phone whenever I make a purchase. At least for American Express, these notifications are provided for all transactions, not just those made with Apple Pay. Whenever my American Express is used anywhere, I now get an alert on my phone. I do not have to be logged in to the American Express app for these alerts to appear.

The advantage of these constant alerts is that I am able to now actively monitor my account for fraud. I no longer have to login to the American Express app or website to check my transaction history. I instantly get an alert and transaction history within the Passbook app by clicking the info button. Since I wear a Pebble SmartWatch, these alerts also show on my wrist. If there is suspicious activity, I know immediately.

Since I currently only have an American Express card enrolled with Apple Pay, I am not sure whether other card providers also provide you with notifications for all purchases, but I hope so. I feel much more secure knowing that my phone alerts me for any purchase I make, and I wish that my primary bank account was available in Apple Pay. I am hoping that as more of my credit cards become eligible, these same alerts are provided.

If you have started using Apple Pay, I would be interested in your experiences. Please let me know if you are receiving notifications for all purchases and whether you have had any difficulty. More banks started offering Apple Pay as an option this week, and several more are supposed to be added throughout the rest of the year. If none of your cards were initially eligible, you may want to check again to see if that has changed.

Microsoft Office Apps Come to iPhone, Editing and Creating Now Available for iPad and iPhone

Microsoft announced on its blog today, that Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps are now universal, meaning that they are available for both iPad and iPhone. In addition to Word, Excel and PowerPoint now being available on the iPhone, the updated apps now allow users of both iPhone and iPad to create and edit Microsoft Office documents without a subscription to Office 365. The prior versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad could only be used to view documents without a subscription to Office 365.

As part of this release, the horrible Microsoft Office Mobile app for iPhone will be retired. Additionally, Microsoft has promised a preview of Office for Android tablets in the near future and confirmed that a touch-optimized version of Office is in development for Windows 10.

Although Microsoft announced immediate availability of the updates in the Apple App Store, I could only access them with through a link currently and not through an App Store Search.

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This is a great change for Microsoft. Although a Microsoft Office 365 account is not needed for editing abilities, you do have to login with a Microsoft Account. If you already have a Live.com account, a Hotmail Account, or you have registered with Microsoft in any way, you can use the same login information. If you do not have an account, it is free to setup and use. If you do not login with a Microsoft Account, you are still limited to just viewing documents.

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The Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on the iPhone are just as full featured as the iPad versions, but due to the smaller screen, toolbar options have been adjusted to a menu instead of across the top. It will not be as quick to edit and create on an iPhone, but it is a nice option for those situations when you do not have access to a computer or tablet. I can confirm that documents that I routinely use with advanced formatting options appeared in the native format on my phone.

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Dropbox integration that was just recently announced has been added in the updated apps. When you first launch the updated app, you are given the option of immediately signing in to Dropbox. If you decline, the option can easily be added later by selecting “Add a Service” under connected services. I was able to easily add my Dropbox account and authenticate through the Dropbox App. Editing and viewing of Dropbox documents worked with no problem.

This is a very welcome addition to the Microsoft Office Applications.

Microsoft Joins the Fitness Race with Microsoft Band

Microsoft announced the release of Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band on Wednesday October 29, 2014. The Microsoft Band is a cross-platform smart fitness tracker that can also double as a watch. Appearance wise, the Microsoft Band is very similar to the Samsung Gear Fit, but unlike the Samsung device, the Band works with iPhone, Android and Microsoft Phone devices. The Band can display a clock, track steps, monitor sleep, continuously monitor heart rate and show notifications. Guided workouts are available from fitness partners, and all fitness data is compiled in Microsoft’s Health app. In addition to the heart rate sensor mentioned above, the Microsoft Band also includes 9 other sensors (including GPS) and can even monitor your sleep.

Microsoft Band Internals

The Microsoft Band is on sale at Microsoft Stores and online for $199.99 and comes in three different band sizes (all priced the same). The display can be personalized with different colors and backgrounds, but the Band itself is only available in black. Notifications, text messages and incoming call alerts can all be viewed on the Band, but you are not able to respond directly from the Band on iPhones. Microsoft has announced partnerships with MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, mapmyfitness, and Starbucks to add additional functionality to the Band. The display is full-color touchscreen, and is expected to last 48 hours on a 90 minute charge.

This is an interesting product from Microsoft that offers some of the functionality of the upcoming Apple Watch at a much lower price, but a much less attractive appearance. The Band can perform most of the same tasks as a Pebble, but comes in a package that makes it look more comparable to a fitness bracelet. One of the odd things is that the display is horizontal across the widest part of your wrist (unlike a watch). This means that to read the display you must hold your arm straight out in front of you, instead of bent at the elbow like you normally do with a watch. To me this seems like a weird way to interact with notifications and comfortably view information.

I visited the Microsoft Store to view the watch, and it seems very big on the wrist. Unlike my Pebble, I was unable to pull my sleeve over the Microsoft Band. In order for the heart rate monitor to function, you must wear the Band with the face on the palm side of your wrist. This leaves a very ugly clasp on the top of your wrist. I also would be concerned that while using a computer, the Band would also be scratching against my desk.

Although I am happy that Microsoft is making products and applications that are cross-platform with Android and iOS, I am not sure if this specific product will appeal to a mass market. It is priced above the costs of most fitness bands (albeit with more features), but not attractive enough to be worn as a watch. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft expands its product range to include a more fashion-focused alternative in the future.

Caution: iOS 8.1 is available for Download

iOS-8.1-Update

Apple released iOS 8.1 today (Monday October 20, 2014). The download is available over-the-air for eligible phones and tablets, or you can use iTunes to download and install the update. iOS 8.1 can be installed on iPhone 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus. It can also be installed on iPad 2, iPad with Retina (3rd and 4th generation), iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Air and iPad Air 2. In addition to standard bug fixes, the newest release enables Apple Pay on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, iCloud Photo Library Beta, and support for using your iPad to send SMS messages through your iPhone.

As always, make sure you have a backup of your device before installing any new update. I still recommend backing up with iTunes even if you have an iCloud Backup already. I would recommend waiting at least a day or two to install this update, as iOS 8.0.1 caused major problems (including disabling all cellular functionality on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus).

If any major problems are discovered, I will update iPlug Delaware. Please let us know your experience with the update.

iOS 8.1 iPhone 6 Plus Change Log:

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Apple Announces New iPad Air 2 and iOS 8.1

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On Thursday, October 16, 2014, Apple held a press briefing to announce additions to the iPad line of iOS tablets and the upcoming release of iOS 8.1. Most notably, Apple announced an update to the iPad Air. Dubbed the iPad Air 2, the new version of the iPad Air features reduced thinness, at only .24 inches, less than 1 pound total weight, improved display with antireflective coating, more powerful 8MP camera and advanced graphic and operating CPUs (featuring the new A8x chip). The iPad Air 2 also features TouchID to bring it to parity with the latest iPhones.

The iPad Mini with Retina saw a name change, but other than a new color of Gold and TouchID, not much more. The new iPad Mini with Retina is now called the iPad Mini 3. Last year’s model has now been renamed to the iPad Mini 2, and has seen a $100 price drop. Again the only addition you get for the iPad Mini 3 is TouchID, and a $100 price premium.

As with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, apple has eliminated the 32 GB storage option for both the new iPads. The storage options now run from 16 GB for the base model, to 64 GB for the step-up model, and 128 GB for the high end model. The iPad Air 2 starts at $499. Each step up in additional storage will cost $100 extra, and if you elect to add a cellular connection, it is $130 extra. This means that the iPad Air 2 is priced from $499 at the low end to $829 for the most expensive model with a cellular connection and 128 GB of storage (this is actually $100 cheaper than the original iPad Air for both the 64 GB and 128 GB models since the 32 GB option was eliminated).

The iPad Mini 3 starts at $399 for the 16 GB WiFi only version and runs to $729 for the 128 GB WiFi plus Cellular model. Last year’s iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 both received $100 price drops and will remain available. The storage options for the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 have been reduced to only 16 GB or 32 GB, but there is now only a $50 premium to move to the 32 GB version. Pricing for the iPad Air now ranges from $399 for the 16 GB WiFi model, to $579 for the 32 GB WiFi plus Cellular model. The iPad Mini 2 now ranges from $299 for the 16 GB WiFi model to $479 for the 32 GB WiFi plus Cellular model.

With the changes to the iPad line of tablets, the recommended model of iPad for most attorneys is the 64 GB iPad Air 2 (and if you plan on adding a lot of content to your machine, it is even nicer to pick up the 128 GB model). Although I have always been a fan of the iPad Mini, with the iPad Mini 3 retaining all the same base technologies as last year’s iPad Mini 2, it is simply no longer worth the cost (a $100 premium for TouchID is simply ridiculous). As anyone running iOS 8 on the iPhone 4s or iPad 2 knows, without having new hardware, running operating system updates on older hardware can be painful. Although the iPad Mini 2 will currently run iOS 8 without problems, when spending this much on a technology purchase, having the advanced microprocessor found on the new iPad Air 2 should guarantee acceptable performance for at least the next 2 iOS releases. TouchID is also a game changer for the iPad. I always highly recommend secure passwords, and the addition of TouchID on the iPad Air 2 will allow you to more easily use longer passwords and also better secure selected apps. All users should stay away from the 16 GB model of any of the iPads as this will quickly have you struggling with space limitations.

Apple also announced that iOS 8.1 will be available later today (Monday October 20, 2014). Most notably, iOS 8.1 adds Apple Pay functionality to the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. Apple Pay will be available as a payment option for in-app purchases on all the models mentioned, but you will only be able to use Apple Pay at retail locations if you are using iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 plus. The other notable addition with iOS 8.1 is the beta release of iCloud Photo Library (backing up of full resolution copies of every photo on your iOS device), and the return of the Camera Roll. iOS 8.1 also will include various bug fixes and performance improvements.

The iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 are both currently available for purchase and will ship as early as this week. They will also be available from retailers shortly. The prior models of the iPad Air and iPad Mini have also already received the promised price cut. If you are in the market for an iPad but not interested in the new models, you should expect to see great deals on the discontinued 64 GB and 128 GB models of the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 as retailers attempt to eliminate old inventory. Apple also has great deals for Refurbished iPads in their online store. More to come once iOS 8.1 is released later today.

Apple Mistakingly Confirms New iPads on their Way

iPad 2

Apple has an event scheduled at its Cupertino home tomorrow (October 16, 2014) where it is expected to reveal updates to the iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iMac. Well it seems that Apple is so excited about the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, that they couldn’t wait until tomorrow to spill the news. 9To5 Mac has a story that indicates that screenshots of the iOS 8.1 iPad user guide appeared in iBooks. It is revealed that the devices will feature TouchID and Burst Mode for the iPad Air 2 camera.

It is very nice of Apple to give us a preview of what will be announced tomorrow. More to come after official announcement tomorrow afternoon.

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