Thursday, September 18, 2014

iOS 8: Top 6 New Features

On Wednesday, Apple officially unleashed iOS 8 to the public around 1PM Eastern Time. If you haven't already done so, head right to Settings on your iPhone (I recommend only iPhone 5 users & later), go to General > Software Update. Be warned, it might take quite a while to fully download & install the update. Ideally, you should be plugged in to a power source while the update installs.

I have rounded up my top iOS 8 features that I feel make it worth the update. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of new features, but I'm picking out the key changes that will impact your daily use of the devices the most.

  • Voice messaging- Perhaps one of the greatest new features in iOS 8, and the feature that will pose the greatest change to how we communicate on iOS, voice messaging allows you to send a short audio clip to anybody else also using an iPhone with iOS 8. To use voice messaging, simply tap & hold the microphone icon to record your message. When you're finished, just swipe up to send it or left to cancel it. You can also opt to keep voice messages that people send you if you wish. 

  • Interactive notifications- You can now reply to a text or voice message right from the notification banner, no need to leave the app you may be using. 

  • Notification Center Widgets- This is something that folks have been asking for as long as I can recall, but we now have widgets in iOS. Widgets can be added to Notification Center if the app supports it. So far, nothing has really caught my eye but I do use the Dropbox widget. 

  • Health- Apple's new Health app may be a bit of a let-down right now, as Apple has pulled all HealthKit apps from the App Store until the bugs are worked out. As an app by itself, you can manually enter certain health info. Another cool feature of the Health app & iOS 8 is "Medical ID"- I highly recommend everyone sets this up! It allows somebody responding to you in case of an emergency to see your vital medical info at a quick glance.

  • 3rd-party Touch ID Support- This is something small but useful that I thought Apple would have done in iOS 7. With iOS 8, developers can finally utilize the Touch ID sensor to add even further security to apps. A great example of this is 1Password now using Touch ID as a method to gain entry to the app. 

  • Continuity & Handoff- This would definitely be first on my list if it was actually available right now. These features won't be available until Apple releases OS X Yosemite in October, but they are absolutely worth mentioning. Continuity will offer even deeper integration for owners of both an iPhone and Mac. You'll soon be able to answer or place a phone call from your Mac or iPad, regardless of who you're calling. You'll also receive all SMS messages to your iPad & Mac as well, just like you would on your iPhone. Handoff will allow you to start a task on your iPad (such as an email or document) and continue working on it on your Mac. This level of integration just makes it crystal clear that owning multiple Apple devices has nothing to do with being a "status symbol" and everything to do with simply making your life easier. 
I know these aren't everything, but these are my top 6 features that I feel make iOS 8 one of the best updates in years. Do you agree? 

**And to answer some questions that I got in my Youtube inbox- yes, I will be getting the iPhone 6 Plus tomorrow and sadly, yes I will be camping out for it because I was not able to get a pre-order (curse Apple's site!!). 

Thanks for reading! 

-TJ Volcheck 
TechTalk with TJ 

Friday, August 29, 2014

iWatch: Apple's Biggest Gamble Ever

It's that time of year again! The weather is slowly getting cooler, Apple has announced their Special Media Event will be on September 9th, and to nobody's surprise, iPhone 6 parts are leaking left & right. But one thing remains incredibly mysterious: Will Apple finally reveal their long-rumored wearable device? The most recent reports all point to an iWatch reveal during the September 9th event. But will it be a watch at all? For all we know, it could just be a fitness band intended as a health companion to the iPhone. Or, it could be a full-blown smartwatch that doubles as a teleportation device!

Assuming the wearable device turns out to be what is widely expected, an actual smartwatch, it could very well be Apple's riskiest gamble ever. If it has as many sensors as reports have claimed, it'll almost definitely cost no less than $300 and knowing Apple, a $400 price tag is entirely plausible. This begs the nagging question- who will honestly spend $300-400 on this thing? Let's assume for a moment I'm completely wrong and they get the price down to $200. Would the average consumer spend $200 on it? Maybe. I believe it all comes down to whether or not you are a watch person. Watches have become more of a fashion statement than an actually useful device since the rise of smartphones. Even in professions that utilize watches as a kind of necessary tool (medical field workers, for example), do they really want a smartwatch that will need to be charged often?

To be fair, I am excited to see this thing (if it really exists) but I am also skeptical that Apple will price it at a level that somebody that's not an Apple enthusiast would pay. Furthermore, what will the purpose of this iWatch be that somebody with an iPhone couldn't do with their phone?

I guess we will all see what happens on September 9th when Apple holds their event. What do you think of Apple's rumored iWatch? Would you spend $300-400 on it?

Thanks for reading!

-TJ Volcheck