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In the Prime of Life: Why does Amazon keep hassling me?

Posted on by Mike Evans

I used to think Amazon Prime was a brilliant idea: Under £50 a year for free shipping and a bit of preferential treatment. Then it went up to £79 and, in recompense, I was given "Prime Instant Video", which I didn't want, and the ability of borrow Kindle books, which I don't use. Trouble is, Amazon doesn't believe I don't need these goodies and persists in assuming that because I don't use them I don't know about them. Mad old me.

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Size Matters: The incredible shrinking iPhone 6 Plus

Posted on by Mike Evans

You know what? My iPhone 6 Plus is shrinking. Every day it gets smaller and now it looks perfectly dinky in its dark grey silicone case. I have had it about my person for all of two months and the size shock has well and truly subsided. Like a pricked balloon. Instead, the 5.5in screen is the new norm. I've even compared it with friends' "small" iPhone 6 devices and, frankly, there isn't that much difference, certainly not enough to make me feel that the 6 is in any way superior.

And here's another thing. Despite also buying a full-size iPad Air 2 "for use around the home", I find it is the convenient iPhone 6 Plus that has become my default pick-up device. For instance, at first I would take the Air 2 up to bed so I could read a few chapters on that wonderful, large screen. Then I found myself preferring the 6 Plus. It is lighter and just so much easier to hold. I now invariably read books and news on the 6 Plus and do not miss the larger screen.

Magazines

  Reading magazines is certainly possible on the iPhone 6 Plus but more rewarding on an iPad. The long format of the iPhone screen is not ideal for publications such as this and results in wasted space top and bottom

Reading magazines is certainly possible on the iPhone 6 Plus but more rewarding on an iPad. The long format of the iPhone screen is not ideal for publications such as this and results in wasted space top and bottom

The only time when I feel it better to open the Air 2 is when viewing magazines in the Readly app. In order to get the best out of magazines, the larger screen of the Air 2 makes it possible to read a full page without feeling tempted to zoom in or, perhaps, split the page into two.

Admittedly, some popular applications, especially writing and productivity apps, do still work better on the iPad. In particular, there was initially a lack of support for landscape use in many products. Gradually, though, this impediment is being removed as more developers come to realise that the iPhone 6 Plus is nothing less than a small iPad. There will soon be no real difference between iPad and iPhone apps.

Cannibals

It isn't surprising to read that the new iPhones are beginning to cannibalise sales of iPads, especially the mini. Or that users are consuming more content on the new iPhones. Owners of the iPhone 6 now view content 72% of the time on the new device compared with only 55% of the time with the old 5 and 5S. And those fortunate individuals who chose the 6 Plus are happy to view content 80% of the time on the larger screen. I would say that these figures neatly mirror my own experience.

As I said, every day the iPhone 6 Plus appears more normal and less of an odd-ball. I am sure many people who felt the Plus was too big now realise it was a mistake to settle for the smaller iPhone 6. I have certainly not regretted opting for the Plus, despite a couple of minor quibbles.

Quibbles of the true addict

First, I am now less inclined to leave the 6 Plus in a pocket all the time, especially when around the house. The 5S was the perfect pocket size; the 6 Plus is just a tad long. This brings me to the second, connected quibble. Because the bigger phone is not always in my pocket it is easier to forget to pick it up when leaving home. This happened occasionally with the 5S but, invariably, I had always an iPad mini in my bag and could manage a day without the phone.

Now, because the 6 Plus combines the talents of both phone and tablet, I have occasionally found myself setting off with absolutely no way of keeping in touch. Call me an addict, but I cannot manage a day without electronic communications, especially now an Apple device of one sort or another represents my only access to books and news. I am seriously considering sticking a pay-as-you-go SIM card in my old 5S and then leaving the phone at the bottom of the bag for emergency duties.

Apple has never been afraid of cannibalisation and I imagine the evidence of iPhone 6 Plus sales harming iPad numbers is hardly causing a blip on Cupertino's radar. After all, the 6 Plus is more expensive than the Air 2 and, with the demise of the 32GB middle memory option, there has been a significant shift to 64GB, something that will benefit Apple's bottom line in a big way.

After two months living with the new iPhone, my advice is unequivocal: Get the iPhone 6 Plus if you possibly can.

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iPad continues to dominate US tablet web traffic with 80% share

Posted on by Mike Evans

We hear a lot about Apple's shrinking tablet market share and the impending world takeover by Android. Yet the statistics continue to show that Apple's tablet is bought by serious users. They account for 80 percent of all North American tablet web traffic, leaving other devices to fight for the remaining share. We can also infer that iPad owners are being exposed to more advertising and are responsible for the lion's share of tablet web commerce. Quite remarkable, really.

Read more here

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iPad Air 2: Slim, light and beautiful to behold

Posted on by Mike Evans

On Friday I picked up a space-grey 128GB cellular iPad Air 2 from the Apple Store in Covent Garden. It wasn't an impulse buy, I had been planning this ever since the iPhone 6 Plus appeared and I decided to sell of my iPad mini.

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iPad Air & iMac 5K: New toys, new decisions, more cash to spend

Posted on by Mike Evans

The Apple event last week had been widely trailered and it was no surprise to find new iPads and a new iMac. I was disappointed not to find the rumoured retina-screen MacBook Air making an appearance nor, for that matter, any upgrades to the laptop range in general. This rather puts on hold my strategy of replacing my 15in MacBook Pro retina in the near future. 

Seductive display

The new 27in iMac was a pleasant surprise. I was immediately seduced by that gorgeous 5K retina display. Having previously stated that I would never again buy an iMac (a great display to last five years trapped in a body that will be out of date in two) I felt my resolve weakening. I can just imagine this beast on my desk and I am sure I would love the resolution, especially for my photographic work. The problem is, this becomes a very expensive computer when tricked out to my satisfaction. Add the 4.0 GHz quad-core i7, 32GB of memory, a 1TB SSD drive and a few other fripperies and the bill comes to an eye-watering £3,500. This is very much in MacPro territory but, of course, you do get that wonderful 27in retina display thrown in. And if you follow Marco Arment's suggested specification you could shave off a few hundred pounds without serious compromise.

There is still a big snag. After two years the computing bits will be looking ancient but the magnificent screen will easily last another three or even five years. So, again, I have to ask myself if this is the right choice. Had Apple had introduced a retina-display Cinema Display at the same time I would have snapped one up in an instant. It is what I have been waiting for for several years. I understand, however, that a new 5K display would not play well with any other current Mac, including the latest MacBook Pros, so that is probably the principal reason the Cinema Display has again been neglected. It's a pity, though, because it would be the perfect answer for many users who prefer to keep their computing power up to date and don't want to have to lose a display every time there's an upgrade. On the contrary, it would be possible to use the new 27in iMac as a monitor in conjunction with a new generation of Macs a couple of years into the future. On that basis the iMac seems more justifiable.

Faced with these choices, my decision is to sit on the fence a few more months. If in doubt, do nothing is very wise advice.

iPad choice

The new iPads don't demand as much thought. Last year I chose to go with the retina-screen mini in preference to the iPad Air. In the meantime, along came the iPhone 6 Plus which, although not an iPad, is sufficiently large to be a daily carry-around device for casual productivity work. After a few weeks with the 6 Plus I no longer want to carry the iPad mini. And if I don't need to carry it, why not get an iPad Air 2? 

That's the logical plan. My mini is up for sale at Amazon and I will be buying one of the new iPad Air 2 models, primarly as a house device for reading magazines and browsing. It is also something I can pack when I know I am going to be doing lots of writing or editing while on the move.

The thinner, lighter and much faster iPad Air 2 offers a great excuse to upgrade. In addition, I am fascinated by Apple's new built-in SIM card and can't wait to try it out. I now see ultimate freedom from these annoying bits of plastic that are so easily lost. Federico Vittici has produced a masterful overview of the new iPads on Macstories and I recommend a browse if you are in the market for one of these svelte newcomers.

With the introduction of the Air 2 and the iPhone 6 Plus, the poor mini is squeezed. As far as I am concerned, it has almost lost its raison d'être.

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David Sparks on choosing iPhone 6 or 6 Plus

Posted on by Mike Evans

Everyone I know has had trouble choosing between the iPhone 6 and the larger 6 Plus. I eventually chose the 6 Plus and am very happy with it. David Sparks of MacSparky had a similar dilemma but made the opposite choice. He exchanged his 5.5in initial choice phone for the smaller 4.7in device which suits him better as he explains here.

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iPhone is dead. Arise the OneDevice

Posted on by Mike Evans

But why do Apple and other tech manufacturers continue to differentiate between phones and tablets? They now essentially the same product except that the so-called phone is able to make cellular calls. The tablet can do everything except make cellular calls. These days people are making fewer cellular calls. VOIP calling, which is perfectly possible on an iPad, is arguably now more important than cellular. It is free, for starters.

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iPhone 6 Plus: Nightmare at the bedside

Posted on by Mike Evans

Choosing between the new iPhone 6 and the huge 6 Plus is a problem for everyone. I outline some of the differences in my article on Macfilos/tech. But what of photographers? Many, I know, carry an iPad as a showcase for favourite shots and there is no doubt that the larger screen of the Air or, even, the iPad mini, is a great showcase for photographs. 

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iPhone 6 Plus arrives on time. Hugeness explored

Posted on by Mike Evans

I expected the UPS man to be dressed as Father Christmas when he appeared at the door this morning. It must be nice pleasing so many people in one day. I soon had the Plus up and running. Restoration from the iCloud backup was painless and quick, thanks to my new 150Mbps Virgin broadband. 

The device is now snuggled inside an Apple Project Red leather case (which, incidentally, appears to be made from a smoother and less rigid leather than previous 5S cases) and it even fits in the Belkin iPhone 5 dock without toppling over.

But it is big. When I briefly played with the two new iPhones in the Apple Store I decided that the 6 Plus was not as huge as many people suggested. Now it is on my desk I see the full enormity of the Apple phablet. In some ways the red case surround emphasises the size.

I will reserve final judgment until I have used the phone for a few days. However, since I have been boring you over the months about my preference for a phablet, a one-size-fits-all phone and tablet, I shall no doubt soldier on for the next year. I have no plans at the moment to bottle out and exchange it for the smaller 6.

There is also an unknown factor in the offing: The Apple Watch should play well with the larger phone, enabling it to be kept in a bag and brought out only for web browsing and reading. 

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iPhone 6 Plus arriving in UK sooner than originally scheduled

Posted on by Mike Evans

When I ordered the iPhone 6 Plus last week I was quoted a delivery date between September 30 and October 3. Yesterday I got a revised delivery of this coming Monday, September 22. Today came another advice, threatening delivery tomorrow, September 20. This year Apple seem to have speeded things up considerably. 

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iPhone 6 Plus: Is this the the end of carrying around two devices?

Posted on by Mike Evans

There's only one snag to carrying just one communications device. Occasionally I leave home without my iPhone and only realise when I've gone too far to make it reasonable to return. Now, of course, I can turn to the iPad which can do everything the iPhone can do except make cellular calls.

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John Gruber on the big-ass iPhone and the wrist wearable thingie

Posted on by Mike Evans

John Gruber of Daring Fireball has a clearish view on the new iPhone 6 and the wrist wearable thing:

I don’t know if it’s a watch. But as we get closer, everyone is saying it’s a watch. So for the sake of clarity I’ll call it a watch here, but I want my Being Right Points if it winds up being something that goes on your wrist but isn’t a watch.

If it has a screen, I’ll bet it’s square. And if it’s square, 320 × 320 pixels sounds about right to me. But here’s the thing I don’t understand: LCD screens are power-hungry. Watch batteries are necessarily tiny. I don’t see how a watch with a 320 × 320 display could get acceptable battery life, unless the screen is almost never on. And if the screen is almost never on, how is it a watch?

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iPhone 6 Plus: Huge phones are no longer ridiculous

Posted on by Mike Evans

Marco Arment today:

People holding Galaxy Notes up to their faces to make phone calls looked ridiculous in 2011. Today, making a phone call in public on a huge phone is commonplace, and how often do you make phone calls in public anymore? We also thought it was ridiculous to hold up an iPad to take a picture — a brand new phenomenon in late 2011, as the first iPad with a camera was released only six months earlier — but that has also since become ubiquitous and unremarkable.

Read the full story here

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A sort of complete guide to the iPhone 6 and other new toys

Posted on by Mike Evans

September has arrived and in the world of Apple that can only mean one thing, the new iPhone is due to turn up. Not to mention a plethora of other devices and software updates; as we lead up to the holiday season September is undoubtedly Apple’s action packed month. This is by no means a detailed run down of iPhone 6 rumours, but it is aimed at giving a picture of what to expect.

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iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, that is the question

Posted on by Mike Evans

Apple has obviously considered all the implications, from the splitting of the iPhone market to the impact this could have on iPad (in particularly iPad mini) sales. We are entering a period of convergence, just as the iPhone itself was a convergence of many different stand-alone technology products, and I suspect the distinction between call-enabled devices and the now-familiar tablet will become blurred.

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Another good quarter for Apple

Posted on by Mike Evans

Apple has just announced another good set of results for the second quarter of the calendar year, with a sharply increased gross profit margin just short of 40%, compared with 37% a year ago, and substantial increases in sales of iPhones (up 13%)  and Macs (up 16%). iPads are down by 9% and iPods, predictably, show a further decline of 36%. 

Macstories has put together a series of graphs which explain the quarter's figures in more detail.

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