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Apple, IBM Release First 10 Apps from Enterprise Partnership

Last July Apple made a surprise leap into enterprise when it partnered with IBM to combine the best aspects of Apple’s hardware and software with IBM’s extensive knowledge of working with enterprise data. Today the first fruits of that collaboration appeared in the form of 10 apps for iOS aimed at enterprise customers.

Noting in a press release that the apps mark a “big step,” Apple exec Phil Schiller noted that “Apple and IBM are bringing together the world’s best technology with the smartest data and analytics to help businesses redefine how work gets done.”

The apps, all part of an IBM program called “Mobile First for iOS,” cover a wide range of specializations. Plan Flight and Passenger+ serve the travel industry, Expert Tech deals with communications, Advise & Grow and Trusted Advice help the banking industry, Incident Aware and Case Advise help law enforcement and government officials, and Pick & Pack and Sales Assist pertain to retail services. You can read more about the apps on Apple’s sit here.

That’s just the beginning. In time, more than 100 apps will be released for the suite, and the partnership between Apple and IBM offers other perks as well, such as an enterprise-specific version of AppleCare, access to IBM cloud services for iOS devices, and specialized activation and management options from IBM.

It’s a big move for both companies, and IBM clients Citi, Air Canada, Sprint, and Banorte have already expressed their support for the program.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Users Shifting Away from iPads for Reading

We’ve heard a lot about how consumers love the new screen sizes for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but very little about how that love translates into practical use. The news reading app and service Pocket now has some data to remedy that, and it seems clear that the devices are changing how users are changing their reading habits on their iDevices.

Pocket’s data focuses on 2 million articles and videos that were opened after the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and the team studied how often readers with both an iPad and an iPhone used each respective device to access content saved on Pocket.

Readers who owned an iPhone 5s spent a little more time reading on their iPhones (55 percent of the time), while they used their iPads 45 percent of the time. But those numbers shift dramatically once Apple’s two new large handsets are tossed into the equation. Users with an iPhone 6 started using the device 72 percent of the time, compared to just 28 percent for the iPad.

The numbers jump even higher for the iPhone 6 Plus. Users with both devices read on their iPads with Pocket a mere 20 percent of the time, and the remaining 80 percent of the time was spent gazing at the words displayed on the screen of their gigantic phone. According to the study, video usage among iPhone 6 Plus Pocket users also shot up by 40 percent.

This is well in line with the predictions ahead of the launch of the devices, which argued that large iPhones would eat into the sales of Apple’s famed tablet. The trend may grow even sharper in the coming months, particularly as tablet sales continue to decline and still more iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units go out to consumers over the holidays.

You can pick up Pocket for free on App Store.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Lenovo Borrows Shamelessly from Apple with New Smartphone’s Design and Marketing

Samsung usually gets the most flack for blatantly copying the design of an Apple product and passing it off as its own, but the Korean company’s going to have to try really hard to up the ante Lenovo just put down. The Chinese manufacturer’s new “Sisley” S90 smartphone looks appallingly familiar; indeed, at a casual glance, one might easily mistake it for a certain large smartphone Apple released just last September.

Sure, you’ll find some design elements in different places and the dedicated Apple home button is missing in action, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer audacity on display here. Not only does the marketing for the device closely mirror Apple’s own — Gizmobic compiled some of the most obvious examples — but the casing is almost identical to the iPhone 6 right down to the weight and size. Yes, just like the iPhone 6, it’s 6.99mm thick and weighs in at 129g.

For its part, Lenovo claimed in a statement to The Independent that its latest phone shares only “external similarities” with the iPhone. It’s just not possible, they allege: “Considering the product design lifecycle of any smartphone — at least a year in planning and prototyping — it’s not possible to copy a design so quickly.” Perhaps not, but the fact remains that rumors and mockups for Apple’s plus-sized iPhones were already appearing way back in May of last year. That’s plenty of time to cobble together a new smartphone based on leaks alone.

Lenovo and usual suspect Samsung aren’t the only parties to blame. There’s also Xiaomi, the Chinese company that makes little secret of the similarity of its devices to Apple’s own. Apple’s design chief Jony Ive, shall we say, isn’t a fan.

“I see it as theft,” Ive said in an interview at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco last month. “I have to be honest — the last thing I think is, ‘Oh, that is flattering.’ All those weekends I could’ve been home with my family…I think it’s theft and lazy. I don’t think it’s OK at all.”

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Morning Report: TLC Nixed from iPhone 6, Pixelmator for Mac 3.3, Amazon Echo

iPhone 6 two models

Ever wish you could have one or more devices around your home capable of answering questions whenever the whim strikes? Our Friday Morning Report has the details on Amazon’s latest hardware endeavor, as well as what steps Apple may be taking to stomp out NAND flash storage issues with the iPhone 6, plus the release of Pixelmator for Mac 3.3. It only takes a click to find out more!

Apple May Drop TLC NAND Flash Storage After iPhone 6 Issues

BusinessKorea today reported that Apple may be eyeing a switch away from triple-cell (TLC) NAND flash storage, which is allegedly responsible for the “functional defects” experienced by owners of the 64GB and 128GB iPhone 6 models. The problem, which Apple has yet to acknowledge, reportedly stems from the controller IC made by former SSD supplier Anobit, which the iPhone maker absorbed in 2011.

TLC NAND flash is actually more affordable than multi-level cell (MLC) solid-state flash memory, but capable of holding three bits of data per cell — three times that of traditional single-level cell (SLC) and 1.5 times the capacity of MLC. According to the report, the tradeoff is that MLC is actually slower at read/write operations than the lower capacity storage types.

There’s apparently hope for current iPhone 6 users suffering from flash storage-related problems: The forthcoming iOS 8.1.1 update currently being tested by developers is expected to provide some relief by improving “products already equipped with TLC NAND.” Apple also reportedly plans to switch to MLC NAND flash for newly assembled 64GB iPhone 6 and 128GB iPhone 6 Plus models.

Pixelmator for Mac 3.3 Adds Yosemite, Handoff Support

The folks behind Pixelmator received plenty of acclaim for bringing its image editing software to the iPad last month, but they haven’t forgotten their roots. On Thursday, the company released Pixelmator 3.3 to the Mac App Store, a significant update to the .99 application which adds full support for OS X Yosemite along with a redesigned user interface.

In addition to its new good looks, Pixelmator for Mac 3.3 adds support for iCloud Drive along with a new Repair tool extension, which allows users to quickly fix images in other compatible applications like Mail or TextEdit. Last but not least, the Mac version now supports Handoff with the iPad edition for seamlessly working between desktop and tablet. The update is available for existing users absolutely free from the Mac App Store.

Amazon Echo Aims to Be Like Siri in a Box

It’s hard to beat the convenience of Siri, especially when most of us have our iPhone or iPad close at hand — but Amazon thinks they can do one better. Yesterday, the e-tailer announced Amazon Echo, a cylindrical black tube that promises to be “always ready, connected, and fast” when answering your questions. Featuring far-field voice recognition, the device named “Alexa” also doubles as an “expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.”

Ironically, Amazon Echo can be controlled from a free companion app on a Kindle Fire, Fire Phone, or Android device, but iOS devices require using a web browser (which also works on the desktop) for managing alarms, music, shopping lists, and more. The cloud-connected Echo is priced at 9, but Amazon Prime members can save 0 for a limited time only — but you’ll need to request an invitation, which may or may not arrive “in the coming weeks,” and only then can you warm up the credit card.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

 

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Morning Report: Apple Watch Price Rumors, Unlimited Storage from Amazon & iDrive

iDrive unlimited mobile backup

By all accounts, we’ve got at least three more months of Apple Watch rumors to endure, and very likely more than that — but the most recent report is at least practical enough to get a sense of how Apple may be planning to price the wearable device. Our Wednesday Morning Report also has a pair of deals on unlimited storage for your mobile devices, but be sure to read the fine print before diving in.

Apple Watch May Start at 0 for Stainless Steel, K Gold

How much will you be willing to pay for an Apple Watch? Although Apple previously announced the device would start at 0, a new report yesterday from MacRumors suggests the stainless steel model could start at 0 instead, with the gold models falling somewhere north of ,000, but less than ,000.

The estimated pricing comes courtesy of French Apple-centric website iGen.fr (via Google Translate), who reportedly has a good recent track record for such rumors, having accurately pegged the display sizes for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus ahead of their release last month.

There’s also a bit of good news for prospective Apple Watch buyers still holding out hope of giving one for Valentine’s Day next year: The same report claims Apple is still aiming for the annual lover’s holiday, despite recent assurances by Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts that the launch would arrive in spring 2015 instead.

Amazon Offers Unlimited Photo Storage for Prime Customers

Amazon eliminated one of the best reasons to buy a Fire Phone on Tuesday with the announcement of free, unlimited cloud photo storage for all Amazon Prime customers. The Prime Photos feature works with existing iOS and Android apps as well as Mac or Windows computers and the e-tailer’s own smartphone and tablet products, allowing access to full-resolution photos from a wide range of devices including gaming consoles, smart TVs and Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick.

There is one catch, however: Video files still count against existing Amazon Cloud Drive storage limitations, although it’s easy enough to flip a switch in the iOS app to prevent such content from being uploaded in the first place.

iDrive Unveils Unlimited Mobile Backup for .99 Per Year

Speaking of unlimited storage for mobile devices, iDrive announced a new deal this week that enables up to five smartphones or tablets to have an endless amount of cloud storage for backup for a mere .99 annually. While that deal may not sound so great for iPhone or iPad shutterbugs in the wake of Amazon’s announcement (above), iDrive goes the extra mile with unlimited storage for videos, contacts, and calendars as well, which are backed up using 256-bit AES encryption.

Additionally, the iDrive mobile app allows automatic upload of new photos and videos, selective sharing of files or folders using a secure link, passcode lock for privacy, and the ability to back up Facebook and Instagram accounts, which can be restored to any linked device. That sounds like a pretty great value to us…

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

 

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