Tag - Christmas
We've talked about a number of last-minute gift ideas, and believe it or not even today -- December 24 -- it's not to late to put a physical object in someone's hand. Amazon has one-hour (ish) delivery of selected goods in 16 metropolitan areas around the US (see map below), and a number of stores are still open that can offer popular electronics, household items, and most importantly gift certificates. Online GCs are easy to order as well, but here's another area that works up to and including Christmas Day: gifting an app or app bundle.
It's funny how you've had to work twice as hard in order to get these few short days off but you've done that and now we're into the holidays. So put down your email and instead pick up the wrapping paper, forget your calendar and instead count the hours to Christmas Day and then, the New Year.
Get your coat, it's cold out there. But while regular co-host Malcolm Owen is off working, you and I are going to take a little drive. It's a very British drive so expect a lot of roundabouts – what is it with the UK and roundabouts? – plus some slightly distracted driving, possibly a few near misses, and also, well, not exactly news.
Look, we're not prying, and we're certainly not judging. Yet, if you have left your Christmas shopping this late, perhaps you should be taking a moment to examine why. Late shopping usually means obligation more than, say, fondness, and it always means limited choices and hiked prices. Times are tough for retailers, you can't blame them for capitalizing on those times when someone has given you an unexpected present that you've got to reciprocate. However, you are a Mac and iOS user, you've got options.
On the last day of Hanukkah and just days before Christmas, Apple has given out its annual holiday gift to its employees. This year, in one of the more generous packages in recent memory, workers at all levels of the company will receive some urBeats headphones, and a free nine-month subscription to the Apple Music service. SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue relayed the news to workers through a video message, and employees will receive the Apple Music promo code later this month.
There are a couple of things you can be sure about with Christmas: you've procrastinated from buying for too long to get a good card, but that's okay -- there are no good cards anyway. Certainly, none that say precisely what you want. We're British, so we secretly long for a range of cards with messages like "Happy Holidays to an entirely adequate uncle" and we've always been disappointed. Until now -- while Cardsmith 1.0.1 is really meant for less curmudgeonly people than we seem to be today, it still helps you create personalized cards for any occasion. It just happens that there's a big one coming.
If you don't have an Apple Watch, you may feel that Christmas has already come for people who do -- and you've got a point there. If you do have an Apple Watch, though, you tend to adore it, and there can't be anything better for inserting yourself into a loved one's life and/or attention span than by giving them something to make the Watch even better. It can be done. It can. It's just not easy.
This is where the news went. While you were eating turkey, holidaying with family or simply not looking, there was news. Malcolm Owen was here and this week fills in William Gallagher on everything he missed. That includes the new Apple holiday advert, the potential new Apple moves with Lightning cables and OLED displays plus Christmas Thingies of the Week.
We've been checking our lists twice, chiefly because of syncing issues, and you know how it is. Christmas expands to fill the space you have and nature abhors a news vacuum so in what continues to be a quiet week, One More Thing decks some halls. Wait, is that Christmas or Thanksgiving? It's some holiday or other and we're after celebrating all of them because it's a Grade A excuse to discuss some of the finest technology around.
Mobile analytics firm Flurry posted new data on the holiday buying season on Monday, and summarized its findings on global mobile devices purchases for Christmas in a single sentence: "It's clear that Santa is no longer into cookies -- he prefers Apples." On a worldwide scale, 51.3 percent of mobile activations between December 19 and Christmas Day were Apple devices, outstripping the combined might of all competitors and leaving each individual company -- even Samsung -- far behind.
Now AAPL Stock: 93.4 ( -2.7 )
WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R