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I Finally Got An Apple Watch, And I Love It (With One Caveat)

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Scroll through any tech news and rumors site these days, and you will be inundated with Apple coverage. Everyone wants to talk about the new AirPods and Apple News+ and the Apple Card and everything else the behemoth tech company announced at their Apple Special Event last week. But if you read one of those articles, you will have read them all – a lot of speculation, a lot of talking points and, especially in the case of Apple News+, a lot of derogatory information. (Apple News+ represents a direct threat to tech reporters’ employers and ultimately their livelihoods).

That coverage is all well and good if you are an Apple fanboy – someone who HAS to know about the latest and greatest Steve Jobs’ old brainchild has to offer. But what if you are a regular old consumer? What if you are someone who still rocks the iPhone 6 and has yet to make the jump to a smartwatch. This article is for those people. Because I am one of those people.

In the past two months, I made two separate (but related) Apple purchases. First, I got an Apple Watch Series 4. I did not want an Apple Watch, mind you. I liked my classic Bulova. I’ve sneered at digital watches since I was a child. And what is an Apple Watch but a digital watch made cool? But I got a deal, and with my Bulova needing a new battery, I decided I would at least try it out.

If my immediate experience with the Apple Watch wasn’t disappointing, it was only because of how low my expectations really were. The thing just flat out did not work. I followed all of the instructions, downloaded the app on my phone, turned it on and off about half a dozen times. Nothing. Ok, sure, it told time. And I suppose it looked cool. But it could not make or receive calls. It sometimes could send text messages but usually couldn’t. It began to seem like a giant waste of money.

Indefatigable as I am, I was determined not to give up. I scoured the internet for reasons that my Apple Watch might not work as expected. The only thing I could reasonably come up with was that my phone was too old.

Apple’s website claims that the Apple Watch Series 4 will work with iPhones 6 or later. I had an iPhone 6S, so my watch should have been compatible. Could it be that Apple was not entirely truthful? Maybe they wanted schmucks like me to think they could get away with spending $400 for a new watch without simultaneously shelling out $700 for a new phone.

Turns out, that is exactly what happened. While Apple may not have been completely mendacious when claiming the Series 4 “works” with the iPhone 6, the assertion is clearly misleading. If you want your Apple Watch to perform the primary function of an Apple Watch – namely, sit on your wrist and show other people that you own an Apple Watch – then an iPhone 6 is perfectly suitable. If you want it to perform all of the advertised secondary functions, then you need a newer model.

So, I did it. In what turned out to be more of a necessity than I had ever imagined, I bought an iPhone XR, hopeful that the upgrade would solve my Apple Watch problems. And you know what? It did. Since getting the iPhone XR, I have no complaints about any piece of Apple tech I own. The watch excels at making and especially taking calls. (I had never answered a phone call from the golf course before). Another feature I like is that I can control the music on my phone when it is plugged in to an audio jack on the other side of the room. (The downside here being that I needed to buy a special Apple-sanctioned adapter in order to be able to even play such music anymore).

Long story short: I do recommend the Apple Watch Series 4 for any traditional watch wearers considering making the leap. But caveat emptor, depending on what is in your pocket, it may end up costing you hundreds more than expected.  

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Your Kid Wants Squeakee The Balloon Dog For Christmas

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With Prime Day in the books, it is fair to say that Christmas shopping season is officially in full swing. This year’s hottest toy is a balloon dog. Yes, I’m serious. His name is Squeakee the Balloon Dog, and he costs $60. According to the official tagline on the Amazon page, you can “Feed Him, Teach Him Tricks, Pop Him, and Watch Him Deflate!” That’s right, folks: You can pop and deflate your very own balloon animal for just $60. Building balloon animals is a skill that must really be in demand these days. Who knew?

Photo via Amazon

In fairness to the many, many parents who will attempt to win their children’s affection by buying Squeakee this year, $60 may not be an unreasonable price for a balloon animal. After all, a genuine Jeff Koons balloon animal will set you back about $10,000. In comparison, Squeakee looks like quite the steal.

Plus, Squeakee will do WAY more tricks than a Koons sculpture ever will. Turns out it offers more than the verisimilitude of a real-life balloon. Squeakee can sit and stand, and he can react to both touch and the sound of your voice. He can also “cut the cheese,” and even urinate. No idea whose idea those were, but I have no doubt they tested well in the focus groups.

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How Do You Charge The New iPhone 12?

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Apple.com

If you had told techies in advance that Apple would be getting rid of its 5W power brick in its iPhone 12 (and iPhone 12 Pro) release, they likely would have been ecstatic. If you had mentioned that it did in fact come with a USB-C cable, they would have been over the moon, thinking that their prayers had finally been answered.

Unfortunately, they would have been wrong. Unlike the new iPad Pro, the latest iPhone does not have a USB-C port for charging. In fact, it has the same old lightning port, and the cable that it comes with is a USB-C to lightning cord. It does not include a USB-C block to plug that cord into.

This result is not satisfying to anybody. For tech people, it means they still have to lug around another cord specifically for their iPhone, as opposed to just using USB-C for all their devices. For everybody else, they are likely going to buy their new phone and immediately wonder how on earth they are going to charge it. Unless they have one of newer MacBooks, they probably do not have a USB-C port lying around their house.

I know this from experience. A member of my household has a pair of noise canceling bluetooth headphones, the Tribit QuietPlus 72. They work really well for him, and with 30 hours of playtime, he can go several days without charging them. When they die, however, he is out of luck. The first time it happened, he spent over an hour digging through his desk trying to find some cable that could charge it. When he finally found the one it came with, he was flabbergasted. Because it is USB-C, he could connect it to the headphones but had no way to connect it to a power source.

Since I have a MacBook Air, he can use my USB-C charger for his headphones. Now, every few days, he comes to me in need of some juice. This situation is going to play out over and over again in households around the country when the iPhone 12 is finally delivered to their door.

Of course, you can solve this money by handing over more money to Apple. If you don’t already own one, you can buy their 20-Watt USB-C adapter for $20. Or, if you want to be really fancy, you can buy their MagSafe charger for $40.

What? You thought you it was only going to cost you $800?

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Wait, WHEN Is Amazon Prime Day?

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Amazon

As you no doubt remember, Amazon Prime Day typically falls at some point during the summer. So what’s all this about it taking place on October 13th this year?

We can include Amazon Prime Day in the running list of annual events that have been disrupted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Everything Store isn’t going to just let an opportunity to rake in the big bucks pass it by. This year, Prime Day was not canceled but merely rescheduled. Like in recent years, it will be a 48-hour event. And, as noted above, it will begin on October 13.

The first question that came to my mind when I heard the news is: “Isn’t this a little close to Black Friday?” Turns out, experts expect Black Friday (and its little brother “holiday,” Cyber Monday) to be a dud this year. I’m not sure if it is because shipping times are longer this year, or because everybody is stuck at home with nothing better to do than browse on Amazon, but whatever the reason, people are apparently doing their annual Christmas shopping starting now.

There is perhaps no better proof of this than another online sale going on next week. To compete with Amazon, Best Buy is literally holding a “Black Friday” sale, also on October 13 and 14. (You know, because words have no meaning anymore).

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll keep an eye on both events and be sure to let you know if we see anything worth pulling the trigger on. In particular, Amazon is expected to push its new smart home products. Right now, there’s nothing we can do but wait and see.

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