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Apple’s Trade-In Plan for iPhone is Moving Forward

Published on August 26, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News

Apple’s Trade-In Plan for iPhone is Moving Forward

Rumors that have been circulating regarding a trade-in program for iPhones were confirmed Monday, as Apple began training its store employees to handle the new program prior to its launch.  The training sessions are intended to teach retail employees how to evaluate used iPhones.  This round of training will apply to store trainers; they’re expected to start instruction with the next round of employees next week.

The company has already begun a pilot program for iPhone trade-ins at a select few of its Apple Stores.  In these locations, customers can trade their old iPhone in and receive a gift card in return.  The value given for the trade-in is dependent on the condition of the phone.  Employees inspect the trade-in models for various types of damage, including damage from liquid or impact.  The customer must complete an in-store form prior to a value being offered for their old phone.  Restrictions apply as to how the gift card for your trade can be used.  A few of the stipulations include that the gift card’s value must be applied to a new iPhone and that the offer is only valid when the customer has phone upgrade eligibility from their cellular provider.  If any gift card value is available following the new iPhone purchase, it may be applied to additional costs incurred in the retail store.

Details Scarce on Training

Concrete details concerning the actual training being undertaken are few and far between.  Mutterings have surfaced that the program has been implemented, and it is suspected that it concerns the anticipated iPhone trade-in program, but Apple is as famously reticent as ever.  There have been some independent confirmations that Apple is training and preparing employees to handle the ins and outs of a program for trading iPhone models, but Apple isn’t inclined to confirm (or deny) the program’s existence.

Apple observers think that the company may be preparing to launch the program during the September 10th media event where they are also expected to showcase the new generation of iPhones – the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.  Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive, has remained closed-mouthed on the subject.  Rumors about the program have been in circulation since June of this year.

The General Consensus

This new trade-in program may well boost Apple’s retail sales of the iPhone.  The broad reach of Apple’s 253 retail outlets will likely help the company make gains in its campaign to be responsible for half of all U.S. retail iPhone sales.  The iPhone retains its value very well, making a trade-in program the next logical step in Apple’s plan to increase its retail market share for iPhone.



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Apple’s Siri Tips, Tricks and Surprising Capabilities

Siri Top Tips and TricksTips, Tricks and Surprising Capabilities of Siri

Apple’s Siri has achieved an iconic status since its introduction.  It’s no surprise that the decidedly feminine personal assistant has gained such a following.  Her retorts to certain queries are the stuff of legend and her usefulness is hard to overstate.

Many users who have access to Siri aren’t fully cognizant of a lot of her capabilities.  As a personal assistant, Siri can help keep track of your appointments, emails, texts and other daily tasks.  She can also carry out a variety of other useful jobs.  Gathered here are some of the top tips and tricks for Siri.

Reminders Set by Location or Time

You probably know that Siri can send you a reminder at a specific time.  What is less well-known is that Siri can also give you reminders based on your location.  Setting either type of reminder is very easy.

For a time-specific reminder, simply tell Siri what time to remind you and what you need to do.  For example, you can tell Siri, “Remind me tomorrow at 9 a.m. to call my brother.”

Setting a reminder by location works the same way.  Instead of setting a specific time for a reminder, you set a specific place, such as “Remind me to go to the dry cleaner’s when I leave home.”  Because your iPhone has GPS, Siri knows when you leave your home location and will remind you to stop by the dry cleaner’s.

You may have to tell Siri specific information regarding locations or various other tidbits but location-specific reminders can be very useful.

Manage Your Text Messages

Texts and emails can be dictated through Siri, as many users are already aware.  Start by pressing and holding the Home button, and then simply speak what you want to do.  You might need to send a text to a colleague.  Simply say, “Text Mike Willis, don’t forget the PowerPoint presentation for the meeting.”  Siri searches your contacts for Mike Willis, composes the text and sends it without further input from you.

Many users don’t realize that Siri can also read your texts to you.  When you press and hold the Home button, tell Siri to “read my texts.”  Once a text has been read, you can tell Siri to reply in straightforward language like, “Tell Mom I’ll be there for Dad’s birthday,” or “Reply saying we’re on for next week.”

Siri can also sift through texts to find the ones from specific contacts when you ask if you have texts from them.  “Do I have texts from Mike?”

Social Media Upgrades

Siri’s most recent incarnation allows you to update your Facebook status or tweet by voice command.  This is different from the older version in that you no longer have to text to Twitter or Facebook to get Siri to post for you.

When you want to post to Facebook, tell Siri “Post to Facebook, I made a new friend today, an eight foot red-tail boa!”  You must start your command with the words “Post to Facebook.”  Siri will render your post into text and you can then approve it by saying “Yes” or tapping the Post button.

Twitter is just as easy.  Pressing and holding the Home button (as you must anytime you want to talk to Siri), tell Siri to “Post to Twitter” and then compose your tweet.  Siri will again render your post into text that you can review and approve or not by saying “Yes” or “No” when Siri asks if it should be posted.

Siri is a Math Whiz

Calculators are very helpful, as anyone who isn’t very good at math can attest.  But sometimes, a calculator isn’t enough.  A problem might have more steps that you think, resulting in wildly inaccurate figures when you try to tackle it yourself.

Say you’re out with a group of friends and need to know how to split the tip.  You can ask Siri to solve the problem for you.  Tell Siri the total of the bill and how many people are sharing it and she’ll tell you exactly how much everyone needs to chip in.  Multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and more complex equations can be completed in less time than it would take you to count to ten.

Finding Family and Friends

The Find My Friends app allows you to find the geographical location of individuals who have shared such information with you.  Find My Friends opens as a map with colored orbs that represent family members and friends.  The colored orbs tell you where a specific person is, even allowing you to access the street address if you want or need it.

Of course, this app is better with Siri. Just ask Siri where your friends are, and Siri will open the app and show you their locations.  You can then tell Siri to send a message to the contact of your choice.  You can ask Siri the location of specific people, too.  For this, you need to employ commands like “Find my girlfriend” or “Where are my parents?”

Entertainment Advisor

Siri may be the best thing to ever happen to movie-goers.  Box office information, reviews, cast lists and other movie-related information can be accessed through Siri by voice command.  You can even request that Siri find movie trailers for you.

Older movies are typically not supported, but sites like Rotten Tomatoes have trailers for thousands of movies available on demand.   These include new release movie trailers as well as trailers for a lot of movies that have come out in the last five or ten years.  Whether you’re looking to rent a slightly older movie, or trying to decide what to go see at the theater, Siri can help.  Tell Siri to “Show me the trailer for Kick-Ass 2.”  The appropriate trailer will start playing on your device automatically if it is available.

Making Reservations

Not only can Siri do research for you about restaurant ratings and reviews, as well as getting driving directions, Siri can even make reservations for you.  You’ve got to have the OpenTable app installed on your device, you have to have an account and be signed into it, and your restaurant of choice must be in the OpenTable database.  Tell Siri when you want to dine, what kind of cuisine you’re looking for and where and as long as the conditions above are met, Siri can make recommendations and book a table.

You’ll want to tell Siri to “Make a reservation for four at an Italian restaurant tonight.”  Siri will produce a list of nearby Italian restaurants, show you their ratings and let you know if they have tables available and at what time.  Select one, review its details and make the reservation through the OpenTable app (Siri will open it for you).

Siri Makes Life Easier

Apple’s iconic personal assistant can help with these and many other day-to-day tasks.  Learning how to make the most of Siri is important because it will allow you to increase your productivity and take your mind off all the little details that Siri can handle for you.  You won’t have to worry about forgetting an appointment or dropping the ball on your to-do list because you now have a phenomenal personal assistant.

These helpful hints are just the tip of the iceberg, so keep an eye out in future posts for more helpful tips and tricks for Siri.




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iOS 6.1.1 Update Released for iPhone 4S

Published on February 13, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News

Apple released an iOS software update specifically for iPhone 4S users on Monday. The supplemental update, which brings iPhone 4S models from 6.1 to 6.1.1, “fixes an issue that could impact cellular performance and reliability for iPhone 4S,” according to Apple’s release notes for the update.  iOS 6.1.1 didn’t go out to users of other iOS devices, such as iPads and iPod touches, or to newer iPhone models.

iOS 6.1 was released in January of this year, bringing 4G LTE support for more carriers on Apple’s newest devices. It also included a feature that allowed users to buy movie tickets from Fandango after finding showtimes with Siri.  iTunes Match subscribers also regained the ability to download individual songs from iCloud. There were other changes in iOS 6.1, including improvements to Safari, new boarding pass functionality in Apple’s Passbook program, and tweaks to music playback controls from the lock screen.

Despite quick adoption of iOS 6.1 (nearly a quarter of iOS users tracked by Onswipe had installed it within 36 hours of its release) – or perhaps because of it – the update to Apple’s mobile OS has presented headaches to numerous corporate IT departments and at least one major wireless carrier. Vodafone advised its subscribers not to update to 6.1 because of “difficulty in connecting to the network to make or receive calls or texts or to connect to the Internet.” iOS 6.1 also had issues with accessing Exchange servers, which resulted in many companies outright blocking devices running it from accessing their servers at all.  It remains to be seen if iOS 6.1.1 will fix the corporate IT issue, but it seems unlikely that enterprise-level snafus would be left unaddressed for too long.

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SnowLizard SLXtreme Case for iPhone 4/4s reviewed

Published on December 6, 2012 by in Apple, iPhone, Mac, Reviews

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There aren’t too many iPhone users that carry a naked phone. Be it for fashion or function, a good case is essential. The SnowLizard SLXtreme case is for the hard-core, insanely active iPhone user who likes to hit the slopes, beach or rock-climbing with their iPhone.

The SnowLizard SLXtreme includes some pretty impressive features. The packaging and site claim:

  •    Waterproof up to 6 feet. This is great for those underwater shots, or if you want to tweet how long you can hold your breath. I tested this in about a foot of water in my sink, and it kept everything inside dry.
  •    Ruggedized up to 6 feet. This is good for mountain bikers, climbers and clumsy people like me. I tested this from about 4 feet and cringed as it hit the ground, but this heavy-duty case easily protected my phone.
  •    An integrated 2000 mAh battery. This keeps the phone charged for a lot longer. The site claims this will give you 7 hours of talk time, 11 hours of video, 46 hours of playback, or 380 hours of standby power.
  •    A solar powered charger. This is my favorite feature, and I can see this being really handy at the beach or out by the pool. You can keep your phone dry and charged longer while you listen to iTunes and post pictures of your sand castle on Facebook. This keeps the internal battery charged so you can keep your phone juiced up.
  •    A clip and lanyard. This is nice because the case is very large and difficult to fit in your pocket.

My phone slips right into the case, and the closing mechanism seems very tight. The screen and top button’s touch sensitivity is about the same as the naked phone, but the Home and volume buttons are tough to use. I really have to push down on the Home button to exit an app or wake up my phone.

I did find a few negative design flaws. When I take a photo or video with flash, the result is a reflected mess. There are clear openings for both the front and rear cameras, but the thickness of the case creates a glare that ruins any photos or videos. When I turn the flash off, the results are perfect.

My biggest complaint is when I make a call. I can barely hear the person on the other line, they can’t hear me very well, and they hear an echo of their own voice. It makes phone calls impossible with this case. However, with a Bluetooth device the result is good, and I can hear everything clearly. If you don’t use a Bluetooth attachment, this is not the case for you.

At $129.99, the SnowLizard SLXtreme case is an investment, but if you take your iPhone on all your outdoor adventures, it’s a lot cheaper than replacing a damaged phone. The company offers a 90-day warranty for product defects, but this only replaces the case. So if you take your phone swimming and the case fails, you’re still out the cost of a new iPhone.

Apple Approved Rating: 4/10 – as is. 7/10 – if the phone clarity issue is resolved.



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Refurbished iPads are Great Deals for Consumers

I have been looking for a used iPad for my kids to share (and to stop the fighting for mine).  I looked on the typical sites like Craigslist and was shocked to see how much money some people are asking for a used iPad 2 or the new iPad.  Talk about a product that retains its value!

Beyond the cost of the device, though, there are a few other issues to think about when considering an iPad purchase from a non-retail environment like Craigslist:

  1. There is no way of knowing if there something wrong with the iPad beforehand.
  2. The owner could have the iPad as a result of theft.
  3. The person could be planning on taking your money without giving you the product, maybe even by force.
  4. The iPad could be a fake.

The above concerns inspired me to check other options. Apple has a section of its online store where users can look at refurbished iPads, which come with a full 1-year warranty from Apple. This started to look interesting considering the cost was very similar to what the people on Craigslist were asking for their used iPads.

I found out that the Apple refurbished units are actually a very good deal, because they could actually be considered better than new. A new unit goes through an assembly line whereas a refurbished iPad will get the dedicated attention of a tech who will look over the whole unit and then fix whatever was wrong. They also install a brand new battery and a new outer shell.

Basically you get a new iPad, remanufactured by a real person, for less money than a new one in a retail store.

If you are looking for a used iPad or a less expensive one, take a look at a refurbished version. For a similar price to a used one that you find on Craigslist or nolongerneedit.com you get a practically new one with warranty.

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