Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone from your favorite turkeys at Smartphone Fanatics! Gobble Gobble!

(Please do make sure you spend the day with your family and loved ones.  Shopping can wait one day.)

App Store Goes (RED) To Help Fight AIDS



Apple has long been a supporter of AIDS prevention.  This year, Apple has launched a multi pronged event to help raise awareness of the fight against AIDS.

To start, Apple has posted a special (RED) page on their website.  There is also a link to the RED.org website where you can lean more about the work that is being done and the other companies that are helping fight this disease.


Apple also has a few other promotions going on for your favorite iOS devices.  As in years past, Apple is promoting their (PRODUCT) RED devices and accessories.  Current model iPods are available in (RED) editions as well as (RED) cases for iPhone and iPad.  I have a few of the (PRODUCT) RED cases for my iPhones and iPads.  They cost the same as other Apple cases and look great!  What's better, is that they are on sale all the time.  You owe it to yourself to pick one up and feel good that you are supporting a good cause all the while having a case that looks great on your device!

Apple is also running a special promotion on Friday (11/28/14) and Monday (12/1/14).  On Friday, when you purchase participating products, you will receive a special (Product)RED Apple gift card and Apple will donate a portion of the proceeds to (RED).  Similarly, on Monday, when you make a purchase at an Apple Retail Store or online, Apple will donate a portion of the proceeds from everything they sell to (RED).  That's pretty damn amazing when you consider that Monday is "Cyber Monday" and a lot of people will be doing online Christmas shopping that day.

New this year, is iOS app developer's involvement in the (RED) campaign.  From November 24 - December 7, either 100% of app or In-App Purchase item is donated to (RED)'s Global Fund.  There are some really fantastic apps that are part of the program.


For example, Apple has updated Garage Band with a special (GarageBand)RED Loop Pack.  Rovio has created three special (RED)'s Mighty Feathers levels to play.  My favorite iOS app that is participating in this year's campaign has got to be ustwo's Monument Valley.  With a $0.99 IAP, you can purchase one extra level - Ida's (RED) Dream.


If games and making music aren't your thing, there are still other ways to help.  In total there are 25 iOS app developers involved this year, with apps like 53, Clear, Kitchen Stories Recipes and Star Walk 2.  You can find the complete list of apps and IAP on the App Store.  If you would just like to make a donation you can do that too.  Just open the App Store on your iOS device and make a donation.

This holiday season, we have lots to be thankful for.  Please, make a donation to help fight HIV/AIDS by participating in one of these programs.

Monday, October 20, 2014

iOS 8.1 Rolls Out Adding New Features to iPhone, iPad


Earlier today Apple released iOS 8.1 for all current model iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices.

The new features included in the iOS 8.1 update are:
  • Apple Pay for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
  • Photos app now includes the Camera Roll
  • Enables support for the iCloud Photo Library (beta service)
  • Enhancements to Messages for iPhone users to send SMS and MMS messages from an iPad or Macintosh running OS X 10.10 Yosemite
  • Fixes for Wi-Fi performance issues when connected to certain base stations/access points
  • Fixes and issue connecting to some Bluetooth hands-free devices
  • Fixes an issues that can cause screen rotation to stop working
  • Adds an option to select between 2G, 3G or LTE networks for cellular data
  • Enables HealthKit applications to access data in the background
The iOS 8.1 update on both of my iPhone 6 units (Sprint and Verizon) ran about 30 minutes from start to finish.  The update package was 126MB.

All current model iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices already running iOS 8 can upgrade now, for free, to the iOS 8.1 release.

Earlier this month, Apple released iOS 8.0.1 that caused some iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers (about 40,000 customers in total) problems with using their phone to make calls.  iOS 8.0.2, which corrected the problem and iOS 8.1 do not suffer from the same issue as the original iOS 8.0.1 update did.  In other words, iOS 8.1 is safe to download and install.

For more information, see Apple's support website.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Apple Store Grand Opening, Trumbull Connecticut


This weekend, Apple opened another store in Connecticut, this time in the well known Westfield Shopping Town, Trumbull mall.  My father and I were just crazy enough to get out of bed early on a rainy Saturday morning to stand in line to celebrate the opening of the new store - and to score free t-shirts!

The Trumbull Apple Store at 7:45am

We arrived at the mall at about 7:35am.  It took us about 10 minutes to park the car and make our wall through the virtually empty, cavernous mall.  As we turned the corner we could see the security guards standing around and knew that the new geeky playground was just ahead.  We took our places, twelve and thirteen, in line.  As you can see from the photo above, the store looks identical to all of Apple's other in mall stores.

The line at 7:55am

There where several points during the morning when the Apple Store employees would come up to the doors and check out the growing line.  We started taking them pictures of them and they did the same to us!

 Employees taking pictures of us taking pictures of them at 9:15am

Another Apple Store selfie

To help past the time, my Dad and I started taking more Apple Store selfies.  My daughters have informed me that we are definitely not cool.  By 9:40 the line had gotten pretty long.  While it looks like the line only goes to the mall doors, the line actually breaks to keep the doors clear and then continues down the hallway to the left.

The lines goes to the end of the hall and then breaks to the left

Chants of "Trumbull, Trumbull, Trumbull!" could be heard from inside the Apple Store

The staff really started getting psyched up in the final 15 minutes before the store opened for business.  You can see from the picture inside that the main house lights were turned off and that something was being projected inside (You can see a reflection of sorts on the ceiling).  Just before the lights came back on you could hear the staff getting super excited - clapping, whooping and chanting "Trumbull, Trumbull, Trumbull!  All of this got the crowd that was gathered out side super excited.  Everyone who had been sitting on folding chairs or the floor was now standing with anticipation.  The people in front of the line had big smiles on their faces.  We couldn't hide it.  I don't know what special magic is contained in the Apple Retail Store employee handbook, but I do know that whatever is says about the procedure for launching a new store and getting customers excited to go in and spend their money was clearly, clearly, working.

High fives and smiles all around

Seconds after the lights came back on and the chanting stopped, the employees exploded from inside the store and started running down the line high fiving the customers who had been standing in line for hours.  It was hard to remind myself that this was the opening of a high-end electronics store and not the pep rally just before a high school football game.




Once back inside, there was one more last minute team meeting and then the doors slowly began to part and lock into their open position as the crowd heard the familiar 6...5...4...3...2...1... and then everyone lost their minds and went nuts with an excitement - an excitement you can watch in an Apple keynote but just don't understand until you've participated in it live and in person.



Once I got inside, the store was instantly flooded wall-to-wall with customers, employees, hardware and what I can only describe as amazing party atmosphere! As we all poured in there was even more shouting, clapping, and high fives for everyone.  Store employees where handing out special commemorative t-shirts and greeting customers with warm hellos, welcomes and smiles.


While inside, I did manage to buy a new black smart case for my iPad Air







I can't adequately explain the excitement of being at the launch of an Apple Store.  Being a major tech nerd, my family expects me to wait up late at night to buy the latest shiny new gadget, software (boxed or download - yes, I was at the midnight launches for both Windows 98 and Windows 98) or get up early on a day I should be sleeping in to go stand in a long, long line.  This time, I knew it was worth it from the smile on my Dad's face.  And while I was one of the lucky first 1,000 people to get a free t-shirt, I just couldn't leave the Apple Store without picking something up, so my iPad Air, which I had with me, went home with a new black Smart Case to match the black leather case on my iPhone 6; which I was using to shoot these pictures and video with.

Once I got home, I unboxed the t-shirt.  I almost forgot to take the unboxing photos as evident by the cut in the box's silver tab seal.




The first 1,000 customers to the Trumbull store each received a large commemorative t-shirt
It's not every day that you get to buy a new major piece of hardware, such as an iPhone 6, or are able to be literally one of the first two dozen people to walk into a new Apple Store.  If you get chance to go to a product launch or a store opening, you should do it.  Even if you aren't an Apple fan boy, clearly I am, or a tech nerd, or don't know everything about Apple's stuff.  It's a pretty amazing experience to hang out with other customers, fans, and staff who truly "get" what makes Apple's products so amazing, transformative, and simply delightful to use.

But the best part was that I got to experience all of this with my Dad, who bought me my first Apple //e all of those years ago that eventually led us to this point - together.  Thanks, Dad!  (And Mom, too!)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy iPhone 6 Day!

Hello!

Today, September 19, Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to the cheering legions of Apple fanatics around the world!  Today, I was lucky to be one of them.

I don't think all of these people are here for L.L. Bean.

The day started off with my arrival at the Danbury Fair Mall.  I didn't think all of these cars were here for L.L. Bean.

The mall opened it's doors at 5:00am to accommodate the crowds.  I think being inside really helped keep people calm and comfortable with easy access to food, drink, and restrooms!

At least this couple has breakfast.
This is not the line you are looking for.
Fortunately for me, I pre-ordered my iPhone last Friday in the 3:00am Internet shopping frenzy and this is the line that I got to stand in.  Sweet!


iPhone 6 reservations line is much, much more manageable!
There wasn't as many lunatics who stayed up 'til 3:00am last Friday night to spend money on a phone smart people as I expected who pre-ordered their new iPhone.  After we saw the really long walk ins line, we were all pretty glad that we did pre-order last week.

I arrived at the store with Dad at 7:00am.  Waiting wasn't going to be hard with Amber keeping us informed and the Coca-Cola vending machines stocked chuck full of cold bottles of Diet Coke!

Two knuckleheads in line.

Amber kept everyone updated.

Go figure, I was standing next to a case of Coca-Cola!

Just before 8:00am local time, all of the Apple Store employees were called inside for a pre-sale briefing meeting.



As you might have expected, the store staff came running out and counted down the final seconds until 8:00am!  While I was waiting to go in, I managed to get in a few selfies.



As with all product launches, Apple put up new window signs.  This one was a metal spiral ring around the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.  You can see the first batch of people getting their iPhones inside the store.


Once inside, you were paired up with an Apple specialist who helped you get your new iPhone, make sure you understand the new Apple Care rules (you now have 60 days to buy the additional coverage rather than last year's 30 days), point out accessories if you needed them (I have my cases delivered to the house) and generally be there to answer any questions you may have.


Because I was crazy enough to stay up until the middle of the night to order a new phone, I was able to get a new iPhone 6 on launch day.  If you didn't get a chance to buy an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus today, you'll be able to get one in the coming days and weeks.  The iPhone 6, as cool as it is, is still just a phone at the end of the day.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, the unboxing photos.











I'll see you again next year.  Stay hungry, stay crazy!  Thank you, Steve.