Google+ April 2015 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hands-on first impressions: Three days with the Apple Watch Sport edition by Matthew Miller

I really was planning to pre-order an Apple Watch and even went to the 24-hour Apple Store in New York for a 10:30 pm appointment to try one out, but it seemed it was not the wearable for me.

After returning the Galaxy S6 Edge due to poor battery life and realizing the Apple iPhone 6 Plus is really the best device for my needs, I changed my mind and decided to buy an Apple Watch.

Unfortunately, they were backordered until June. Since Kevin Tofel's pre-order didn't ship as planned, I decided to buy one on eBay and had it delivered to my hotel in Washington, DC, last Saturday so we could get some hands-on coverage here at ZDNet.

Retail packaging and unboxing

I've always been impressed with Apple's simple, clean packaging and initial presentation. Given that you pay more for Apple products than competing products, having a more premium unboxing experience is appreciated.

When I picked up my Apple Watch package from the hotel front desk, I was surprised by the shape and weight. It was a very long box, approximately 15 inches, and weighed just over two pounds. I've seen other unboxing articles showing a small square box so wasn't sure why my Apple Watch Sport edition package was shaped like this.

After taking the Apple Watch out of the cardboard shipping package I found a very sturdy plain white box with the Apple logo and word Watch embedded in the top. After removing the top of this box, there was a long white sleeve containing some directions, legal warranty info, and once side of a watch band. This extra piece is present so you can switch to a smaller size band. The large band is installed by default.

CNET Review: A beautiful, bold watch, with complications
I found a long glossy white case wrapped in soft white plastic with tabs at the end positioned under this white sleeve piece. Under this were two compartments; one for the small A/C adapter with female USB port and the other for a very long (2 meter) charging stand and USB cable. The charging stand is integrated with the cable so you cannot use your own USB cable to charge the Apple Watch.
Opening up the glossy white plastic case reveals the Apple Watch laid out flat, thus justifying the length of the full retail package. The blue sport band was attached with the soft foam material in the case form fitted around the band and Apple Watch body.

The sport band is softer than any other watch band I have felt, yet also seems to have some heft and durability. It reminds me of the way Nokia made high quality plastic phones and I'm sure those of you who bought the sport band will be impressed.

The brushed aluminum also looks and feels great. Apple embedded words all around the underside of the watch (Apple logo and the word Watch, 42mm case, 7000 series aluminum, Ion-X glass, composite back, and serial number), but there is nothing printed anywhere else on the watch body itself.

The glass front curves down and over the side a bit with the digital crown and favorites button on the right. The speaker opening is on the left, along with a microphone hole.

Pairing with the iPhone 6 Plus

Now that your Apple Watch is unboxed, press the large button on the side (favorites button), and follow the setup instructions. One of the first things you are asked to do is open up the Apple Watch app that was preloaded by Apple on your iPhone in a recent update.

The pairing process is pretty slick with instructions to hold your Apple Watch up to the camera so that the yellow square on your iPhone viewfinder is positioned over the interesting morphing color cloud shown on your Apple Watch. You will then see a confirmation on your iPhone that your Apple Watch is now paired.
As the automatic setup process is happening on your iPhone you will see a screen appear with white text on a black background. Interestingly, the text matches what is imprinted on the back of your Apple Watch.

On your iPhone you need to select which wrist you will wear your Apple Watch on, read the location services disclaimer, read the Siri and diagnostics information, and choose whether or not to unlock your Apple Watch with your iPhone. I chose to accept this unlock method.

After pairing, the iPhone setup process prompts you to install all available apps that you already have installed on your iPhone or choose to install them later. I didn't want my Apple Watch overloaded with apps I might not use so I chose to install them later.

Your iPhone then shows a screen stating that Apple Watch is syncing. That's it for pairing and initial setup.

Setting up apps and notifications

By default, 20 application icons are installed on your Apple Watch. The Watch app is also found at the center of the unique launch screen and cannot be uninstalled or repositioned.

These default apps include Watch, World Clock, Alarm, Stopwatch, Timer, Workout, Activity, Passboook, Remote, Photos, Messages, Stocks, Phone, Mail, Music, Maps, Camera, Calendar, Weather, and Settings. None of these can be uninstalled, but everything, other than the Watch app, can be moved around the display.
While you cannot uninstall any of the default apps, you can turn off the glances functionality and notifications so you can just position them way off to the top, bottom, or side. You can change your app layout on the Apple Watch (tap, hold, drag) or on your iPhone using the Apple Watch app.
If you selected to install all of your apps, with compatible Apple Watch conduits, during the initial setup then you can tap and hold on each one and select the X in the corner to remove from your Apple Watch.

For those of you who chose to install later like I did, then launch the Apple Watch app and scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Below the individual settings for the default loaded apps, there are some detailed settings contained in there so do visit them at some point, you will find a list of all apps installed on your iPhone that have associated Apple Watch apps.

There are 26 additional apps available on my iPhone 6 Plus to install on my Apple Watch. Since I really have no desire to read the news on a small screen, view files I have stored on OneDrive, and play lots of games I skipped several apps. In most apps there is an toggle to choose whether or not to "Show App on Apple Watch". Most also have a toggle for "Show in Glances."

Similar to the app options, there are plenty of detailed notification settings. A popular option here is to choose to "Mirror my iPhone", which is what most of mine are setup for. Check out the other custom settings too though.

I recommend spending some time going through the Apple Watch app on your iPhone in detail to make sure that your Apple Watch is setup just how you want it. You will also find you try something out and then later remove it as you refine the experience that best meets your needs.

One app you won't find in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone is Watch. There is no way to select and customize the watch face on your iPhone. I hope this gets added in the future, but for now the process on your Apple Watch isn't bad.

On your Apple Watch, tap and hold firmly (force touch) on the clock and then swipe left or right to choose a default watch face. Apple includes 10 watch faces with the Modular face setup by default. If you choose to add another then you get a Utility watch face to customize. You can slide a watch face up and confirm deletion too.

Most pre-installed watch face has some kind of customization option. This includes the kind of data that is shown, color of watch face elements, and more. The Solar and Astronomy watch faces do not have any available customization. After setting up the watch face that you like, press in on the digital crown to activate it.

I personally like the Motion watch face with the jellyfish and date showing. The jellyfish do take a couple seconds to appear and then move slowly around the display. Depending on your timeout setting you may only see them briefly. It's cool how they always appear in a different location and in a different orientation when your display turns on.
I'm also a fan of the Mickey Mouse watch face since I can have it showing the date, weather, and activity shortcut while also seeing an animated Mickey.

Getting used to the UI

You can tap on the display, force touch the display, slide up or down the display, press in on the digital crown, press and hold in the digital crown, scroll the wheel of the digital crown, and press in on the large friends button. You also rotate your wrist to turn on the display. Also, don't forger a quick press of the two right buttons captures a screenshot.

At first you may be a bit overwhelmed with the UI elements, but everything performs smoothly and looks fantastic on the screen so it's not really a frustrating experience. I was able to figure things out after a couple of hours. I mainly use the crown and swiping with the large button rarely being used.
Rather than use the large friends button, I prefer to press and hold the digital crown to launch Siri and handle communications that way.

You swipe up from the bottom on the watch face to view your glances, swipe down from the top to view your notifications, tap to select things, swipe left and right to view more information within an app (small dots show you where you are at when there are multiple pages of data).

Depending on the selected watch face, you can also tap on watch face elements to view more details. For example, tapping on the date will open up the Calendar app.

I was worried there would be no way for my fat fingers to scroll lists with the digital crown, but thankfully I was wrong. When there is more data available down a screen a small indicator will appear just to the left of the digital crown. Spin the crown to scroll up and down to view the data. It's really quite slick in regular usage and unique to smartwatches.

Battery life and daily experiences

When I heard the official stated battery life of the Apple Watch was 18 hours I freaked out a bit and thought there was no way in the world that would be acceptable. Given that you cannot track sleep with the Apple Watch and sleeping with a watch on is not conducive to snuggling properly with my wife, I was fine with charging it each night.

After more than three full days with the Apple Watch, I am actually blown away by how long it is lasting me. I left my hotel room and the chargers for six to eight hours for a couple of days and saw the Apple Watch drop to a low of 50 percent. I tested it the day I flew home, off the charger for 16 hours (5 hours in airplane mode during my flight) and ended up with 40 percent when I arrived home.
I'll be posting more detailed thoughts on my fitness experiences, but after a one hour run the Apple Watch only went down 10 percent while actively using the Apple Workout app in airplane mode.
I am seeing a bigger hit than normal on my iPhone 6 Plus while connected to my Apple Watch, but since I have always been able to go longer than a day with the 6 Plus I am not severely impacted by this issue. I'm not sure if Apple can improve iPhone longetivity, but know that those with smaller capacity iPhones are not pleased right now. I guess this is one way to sell more iPhone 6 Plus units.

My primary means of getting around DC included walking, taking the Metro, and jumping in an Uber vehicle. The Apple Watch proved useful while walking and riding the Metro where I could check notifications while leaving my phone in my pocket or Bolt briefcase. The convenience and utility of the Apple Watch is proving itself to me and I personally like the experience better than what I saw on my Android Wear Sony SmartWatch 3.

The haptic engine and resulting physical movements felt on the Apple Watch are interesting. ZDNet's David Gewirtz wrote how Apple's wrist taps could be a game changer and after experiencing these taps over the past few days I can see them being quite useful.

Closing initial thoughts

I paid a $150 premium to buy the Apple Watch Sport on eBay and it wasn't the color I had planned to order, blue instead of black, but after spending over three days with it I am very happy with my purchase and think Apple has a real winner on its hands.

The Apple Watch is performing much better than I anticipated and my concerns with the battery life on the Apple Watch have been proven to be unwarranted. There may be some issues with reduced battery life on the iPhone, but further testing is needed there.

Come back here on Friday when I will be posting my detailed comparison of my experiences running with the Apple Watch with the Microsoft Band, Garmin Vivoactive, Fitbit Surge, and Sony SmartWatch 3. Next week I will post my full formal review with the Apple Watch as well since there is plenty more I wish to share with you.

Monday, April 27, 2015

iMac Buyer's Guide: Is the 5K iMac Right For You? by Roman Loyola

The new Retina iMac, also known as the iMac with 5K Retina display, came at a time when the iMac line needed an infusion of something new, something dramatic -- after all, it's difficult to get really excited about another speed bump. The last time Apple made a major change in the iMac was in late 2012, and that was when Apple shrank the iMac to 5mm at the edge, a change that was nice, but a thinner iMac wasn't on most people's wish list.

The Retina iMac is the change in the iMac lineup we've all been waiting for, but it's not quite the computer for everyone -- yet. This buyer's guide, and the video below, take a look at what needs to be considered when deciding to buy the Retina iMac.

What is the iMac with 5K Retina display?

The Retina iMac looks like your typical iMac from the outside. The key difference is the screen; you'll notice that it shows amazing detail, and images look crisper and cleaner on the Retina iMac than on a standard iMac.

Apple calls a display "Retina" when a user, at a typical usage distance, can't discern the individual pixels on the screen. The Retina iMac achieves this with a 5120-by-2880 pixel resolution. A standard 27-inch iMac has a resolution of 2560-by-1440. That's a lot more pixels (four times, to be exact) on the Retina iMac.

Screen resolutions compared with the Retina iMac

If you're still trying to wrap your head around the enormity of the Retina iMac's resolution, Apple provides a sample 5K image that you can look at on your Mac. The Retina iMac can show this complete image on its display.

In order for the iMac to handle so many pixels, Apple had to create a new timing controller. It's currently found only in the Retina iMac -- the Mac Pro doesn't even have the graphics capability to handle 5K resolution (yet).

Who is the 5K iMac for?

The Retina iMac is $2499, out of the price range for many consumers. For most users, a 5K display is a luxury, not a necessity to be productive.

Content producers will benefit the most from a 5K display. There's enough screen resolution for video editors working with 4K content to show video at actual size and still have room for app menus in the editing app. Photographers who work with large files will also benefit from the display, and designers will have the space to create and modify projects.

That being said, if you have the money, there's nothing stopping you from buying a Retina iMac. Who wouldn't want a display capable of such gorgeous graphics? And with so many pixels, you can fit more windows on the screen, so you many not need a second display.

It's undoubtedly only a matter of time before Apple outfits the whole iMac line with Retina displays. Apple will eventually figure out how to reduce the costs to make such machines. Waiting to see if a more affordable Retina iMac is released isn't a bad idea, especially if your current machine still meets your performance needs.


The Retina iMac is not just the high-end iMac with a better display. The specs between the standard configuration $1999 iMac and the $2499 5K iMac are different in three major areas (besides the display).

At the heart of the Retina iMac is a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz. That's slightly faster than the 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz found in the $1999 iMac. For $250, you can customize the Retina iMac with a faster, 4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz.

Another major difference is the graphics card. The standard $1999 iMac has a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M, while the Retina iMac has a 2GB AMD Radeon R9 M290X (and don't forget the special timing controller). You can upgrade the graphics card in the Retina iMac to a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M295X for $250.

The final major difference is the storage device. The older 27-inch $1999 iMac comes with 1TB hard drive standard, while the Retina iMac has a faster 1TB Fusion Drive. Apple offers Fusion Drive and flash storage upgrades for an additional fee.

All iMacs include 8GB of memory. The 27-inch iMacs, including the Retina model, allow the user to upgrade the memory. Apple supplies the 8GB as a pair of 4GB RAM modules, so you can add a couple of modules if you'd like later on after your purchase.

All iMacs include the following:
  • Four USB 3 ports
  • Two Thunderbolt ports (Thunderbolt 2 for Retina iMac)
  • Ethernet port
  • SDXC card slot
  • Headphone jack

Mac Pro vs. 5K iMac

Apple's quad-core Mac Pro is $2,999 without a display. 5K displays aren't in wide distribution yet; the only ones you'll find are Apple's iMac and Dell's $2,500 UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K Monitor, which you can't use with the current Mac Pro. More 5K displays are coming (and it's possible Apple will update the Mac Pro so it can drive a 5K display), but you can consider a 4K display, which range in price from $700 to $3,000. The Retina iMac doesn't support target display mode, so you can't get one, connect it to your Mac Pro, and use it as an external display.

A 5K display or a quality 4K display can cost as much or more than a standard configuration $2,499 Retina iMac, so it's tempting to get the Retina iMac instead of the low-end quad-core Mac Pro.

Outside of price, there are software instances where you're better off with a Retina iMac. If your daily usage involves productivity apps, Internet access, and even iLife apps, the Retina iMac is a better choice. It outperforms the quad-core Mac Pro (and even the six- and eight-core models) in single-core performance, according to GeekBench 3 benchmark results.

A Mac Pro is the better choice if you use pro apps like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and Photoshop. These apps are designed to use multiple processing cores, and the Mac Pro excels in multi-core performance, according to GeekBench 3. The higher-end Retina iMac with a 4.0GHz processor does outperform the 4-core Mac Pro, however.

Many pro apps still need to be optimized for the Retina iMac, so keep that in mind. Retina iMac owners have found that UI elements may have some performance issues. For example, in his review of the Retina iMac, Jason Snell found that Logic Pro X had issues when scrolling through a timeline, but this has since been fixed in an update.

Should you buy a 5K iMac?

The Retina iMac offers top-notch performance with the best display Apple has ever made. If you own an iMac that's more that four years old and you've been holding out for a game-changing upgrade, the Retina iMac fits the bill.

If you've bought an iMac within the past three years, you're probably happy with the performance of your current machine. The Retina display is more of a luxury, unless you often use pro app -- then you'll be able to take advantage of the high resolution.

The Retina iMac is really targeted at pro users who are working in different forms of media and use apps that take advantage of multiple processing cores. Editors of high-resolution video will benefit from the Retina display, and even if you're working in audio or lower-resolution video for the web, you may not need to rely on a second display as much as you do now -- the Retina display gives you plenty of space to do your work.

Five Things You Must Do Before You Ditch Your Old Gadgets by Dan Tynan

Getting rid of your old electronics? Whether you’re donating, selling, or recycling your aging gear, you’ll want to take the following steps to make sure your data stays safe and your gear goes where it’s supposed to. And, no, these steps are not optional.
Five Things You Must Do Before You Ditch Your Old Gadgets
1. Back that thang up!The first thing to do before you part with any piece of electronics is to make sure you have copies of the data that was on it — especially information that’s difficult or impossible to replace, like photos, videos, and contacts. If you don’t use an automated PC backup service like Backblaze or Carbonite, you’ll want to copy files manually (preferably to an external storage device like a thumb drive or a DVD). If you have an Android or iOS device, make sure you’ve activated Google Auto Backup or Apple’s iCloud service; you also want to go into your data vault and make sure that the files you need are really there.

2. Wipe it down.Do not assume that whoever gets your old gear will remove your data from it; be safe and do the job yourself. Otherwise you could leave yourself wide open to identity theft. And don’t think for one minute that deleting your Documents folder or even reformatting your hard drive is enough. Last year, Intel Security's online expert Robert Siciliano bought 30 used computers via Craigslist and went through their hard drives with a forensics expert. Half of the machines that had been reformatted still contained personal data from their previous owners. uses Active KillDisk to wipe Windows PCs, which comes in a freeware version. Mac owners can use the OS X Disk Utility or White Canyon Software’s WipeDrive. A factory reset should be enough to secure most recent smartphones, provided that you remove any SIM cards that could contain personal info, Siciliano says. But to be ultra safe, use Blancco Mobile to wipe Android and iOS phones.

3. If you can’t wipe it, destroy it.If you’re not planning to donate or resell your electronics, it’s better to simply destroy any part of them that contained your data, Siciliano says. For example, I recently recycled a laptop that was missing its power supply, so there was no way to turn it on and wipe the disc. Instead I removed the hard drive with a screwdriver, ran over the drive with my car, and then took a sledgehammer to it. (Aside from protecting my personal data, it was also a lot of fun.)
4. Recycle the right way.Even if you donate or resell your old gear, some or all of it may end up being recycled — and not all recyclers are created equal. You want to make sure that your e-waste isn’t ending up in a landfill or dumped in some Third World country. The best way to do that is to ask who does the company’s downstream recycling, and make sure it’s part of either the e-Stewards or R2 (Responsible Recycling) certification programs, which ensure that all materials are handled in an environmentally responsible way.
5. Keep records.If you donate equipment to a school or a nonprofit, you’ll want to let the IRS know so you can get a little something back on your taxes. Document your donation with a receipt, and make sure it falls within Uncle Sam’s guidelines for charitable giving.

Send files, links and more to your phone or back by Kim Komando

When you use multiple gadgets regularly, like a smartphone, a tablet and a computer, it can be frustrating to keep important pictures, links and files the same on all of them.

 You can quickly fill up your email and text messaging trying to send files back and forth, and it's a hassle to find the information when you need it.

It would be much easier if there was a dedicated service that kept your gadgets on the same page. Well there is, and it does that and so much more.
This add-on works with your computer's browser to send notifications from your computer to your smartphone or tablet and vice versa. You can send a link, file, picture, photo, contact, location, or a to-do list back and forth. It's as simple as clicking a button.

When you're busy working on your computer, you don't want to keep picking up your phone to see who is calling or texting. Pushbullet sends text and call notifications to your desktop screen to keep you informed.

Plus, Pushbullet lets you easily share links and more from your desktop to your friend's phone or computer. It's an easy way to stay in touch and to push information along.

You'll need to use the app for Pushbullet to work on your gadget. Click here to get Pushbullet on your smartphone or tablet.

Download Instructions

To install the Pushbullet extension to Chrome, navigate to the Chrome Web store using the link below. Click the blue "+ADD TO CHROME" button located at the top right corner of the screen and click "Add" in the pop-up box to continue with the installation.

To install the Pushbullet extension to Firefox, navigate to the Firefox Web store using the link below. Click the green "+ Add to Firefox" button to add the extension to your browser. Click "Install Now" in the pop-up box to continue.

When installation is complete, the Pushbullet app button will appear in the top right corner of your browser. The button looks like a white bullet in a green circle. Just click the button to get started. You will need to sign in to Pushbullet with either your Google or Facebook account.

If you're not sure what browser you're using, click here to find out.

Note: This extension works in conjunction with Google. If you do not want Google to have access to your information, do not use the app or the extension.

Battle of the hard drives: SSD vs. HDD by Kim Komando

I talk quite a bit about speeding up your computer. Whether it is streamlining startup, adding RAM or , tracking down resource hogs there is always something you can try.

Of course, at the end of the day these tricks are trying to compensate for one computer part: the hard drive. It is by far the slowest part of any modern computer.
While the rest of the computer is operating in nanoseconds and microseconds, a hard drive works in milliseconds, which is more than a thousand times slower. Your processor and RAM can spend precious time just waiting around for information to arrive.

That's why solid-state hard drives are gaining popularity. If you aren't familiar with the term, or haven't looked at them in a while, let me explain what an SSD is, how it can supercharge your computer and whether or not it's finally time to buy one.

Hard drive technology 101

A conventional hard drive, like the one you probably have in your computer right now, uses spinning magnetic disks called "platters" to store information. An arm moves across the disk, similar to an old turntable record player, to write and read information.

Even with multiple platters, it still takes a while for the hard drive to find information, and the data can only transfer as fast as the platters are spinning. That's why hard drive manufacturers often tell you the platter RPM. 5,400 RPM is used for many laptops and 7,200 RPM is typical for most desktops, but they can get up to 10,000 RPM and beyond for "high-speed" models. Or that used to be the case before solid-state came along.

A solid-state hard drive is a big block of flash memory, similar to a USB drive or memory card, with no moving parts to slow things down or break. The benefits of an SSD are that it's much faster (it works in microseconds rather than milliseconds), lighter, cooler, uses less electricity and is harder to damage than a conventional drive.

That's why solid-state storage is used for tablets, smartphones and high-end laptops like the MacBook and PC Ultrabooks. And it's working well for those gadgets, but there are still some concerns to address.

SSD drawbacks?

One worry about SSDs is that the flash memory does wear out over time as information is written and overwritten. However, a year-long test by The Tech Report found that newer SSDs can write way more information than the average user will need in a decade before they fail (some drives have written more than you normally would in a 1,000 years, although the SSD would probably fail for another reason before then).

Even better, once SSDs realize that they're getting near the end of their useful life, they go into read-only mode. While you can't use the drive anymore as a drive, you can usually still pull your information off of it. That's much more graceful than a conventional hard drive simply crashing.

That's not to say, though, that a manufacturing error, catastrophic power surge or natural disaster can't still kill an SSD and destroy your information. Or that your computer can't be stolen. That's why you still need a reliable off-site backup to keep your precious data safe no matter what.

I recommend my sponsor Carbonite. It's what I use to protect my important data, and it's never let me down. I love that it automatically backs up my files so I don't have to think about it. Plus, it has double encryption to keep hackers away, and I can restore my files to any computer without hassle.

With the list of SSD benefits I just gave, you're probably wondering why everyone doesn't have one in their computer. The simple answer is that SSDs cost more and hold less than conventional drives. Plus, as with any new technology, there are some kinks to work out.
For example, the Samsung 840 EVO uses an alternative type of flash memory that's faster and cheaper than competing drives. However, it had an unforeseen problem that causes it to slow down over time. Samsung finally came up with a fix, but it left a lot of 840 owners' computers at cripplingly slow speeds for months until the fix came through.

Still, those problems are few and far between, and SSDs are continually dropping in price thanks to increased use in mobile gadgets. The new iPhone 6, for example, did away with the smallest 16 gigabyte storage size and introduced the 128 gigabyte model.

Should you buy an SSD?

So, are we finally to the point where an SSD makes sense for the average computer user? Well, it depends.

The prices are certainly becoming reasonable. You can get the Samsung 850 EVO 250GB drive for just $100, or the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB for $110. True, you can still get a 3 terabyte conventional drive that holds 12 times information more for the same price, but take a second to think how much room you're really using on your current hard drive.

If you're an average computer user, I doubt you've come close to using 250GB. It might be time to trade that extra space for some extra speed. You can use a program like WinDirStat to see exactly how much you're using and what type of files are taking up the space.

For those who store their entire movie library on your computer, you can always pick up a large conventional hard drive to store the movies and use the smaller, faster SSD to run your operating system and programs.

There are also hybrid hard drives available. These combine a small SSD and a large HDD in a single package. While hybrids aren't as fast as a true SSD, they are less expensive and hold more. Of course, as SSD prices continue to drop and sizes increase, hybrids will eventually disappear.

The bottom line is if you're buying a new laptop or desktop and it has an SSD as a hard drive option, I would seriously consider choosing the SSD. You'll definitely enjoy the extra speed and it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg.

If you're thinking about upgrading your existing desktop, that's a little trickier. For a Windows Vista computer, you won't see a huge speed improvement for the investment. Vista doesn't have the code in place to really take advantage of an SSD, plus the computer is probably using slower hardware to begin with.

For a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer, an SSD is definitely an option. However, you'll want to contact your computer's manufacturer to get a disk containing your computer's operating system first. Most newer computers ship with a recovery partition on the hard drive, which means you can't easily install a new hard drive.

Unless you feel you're up to it technically, I would hold off on an SSD upgrade and just get one in your next computer. That will probably be a Windows 10 computer, and it's definitely built to work well on SSDs. Click here to learn more about Windows 10 and what cool new features it will have.

HTHC Note: We have the tools to copy (clone) your old hard drive and the recovery partition on a SDD.  We do not install from scratch the operating system, application software and your personal files. Whatever is on your hard drive gets copied in it's entirety to the SSD.

Pogue’s Top Apple Watch Tips by Dan Pogue

Well, it’s the big day: April 24, the day the Apple Watch is supposed to start landing on the wrists of the faithful — the faithful who preordered. Some of them, anyway.
If you’re among them, you’ll quickly discover that this watch’s operating system has many visual and gestural similarities to the software on the iPhone. But overall, the navigation and features are very different.

Pogue’s Top Apple Watch Tips

And so, to help you dive into the splendors of your new acquisition — and for all the curious bystanders — I offer you Pogue’s Top Tips for the Apple Watch. These are the little goodies Apple has buried in the watch’s software but never really told anybody about.
Many of these rely on the Apple Watch app on the iPhone. It’s a fairly unsung app, with hundreds of settings to explore. And it has a lot of fodder for Top Tips.
Tip 1: Magnify the text.
Just when you’ve gotten used to reading tiny type on the screen of a phone, now you’re supposed to read email and news items on the screen of a watch.
Fortunately, the watch’s small type need not be a barrier to your enjoyment. In the iPhone app, don’t miss the Brightness and Text Size and Bold options. As you drag the type-size slider, you see the font change on the watch in real time, wirelessly. Turning Bold on or off, however, requires you to restart the watch.


Tip 2. You can zoom.

If things on the watch are still too small, you can zoom in! Turn on zoom on the iPhone app in General Accessibility.


From now on, using two fingers, you can double-tap to zoom in, drag to scroll the magnified view, or double-tap/drag to zoom in and out. (That is, with two fingers, tap twice — but on the second tap, leave the fingers down and drag up or down.)


Tip 3: Bounce between the two most recent apps.

The crown (knob) on the side of the watch is also a clicker (push it inward). If you double-click, you pop back and forth between the two apps you’ve used most recently.

Tip 4: Insta-mute.

If your watch is ringing or chirping for any reason, you can shut it up by briefly resting your palm on it, as though to say, “Shush, you!”
(That’s a feature called Cover to Mute. The on/off switch for this feature is on the Sounds & Haptics screen of the iPhone app.)

Tip 5: Put your favorite app icons at the edges.

The app icons on the watch screen are about the size of hydrogen atoms. But at least you can rearrange them so that the ones you use most stick out near the edges of the cluster.


To do that, rest your finger lightly on any app icon to make them all start jiggling, then drag to rearrange. Just like on the iPhone or iPad.
Actually, you can do exactly the same thing on the App Layout screen of the iPhone app. It’s easier that way, because the icons are bigger.

Tip 6: Stifle the “stand up” reminders.

Every time you’ve been sitting like a sloth for an hour, the watch reminds you to get up and walk around for a minute. That’s good for your health!


But there may be times when you can’t stand up and walk around — for example, when you’re stuck in a meeting, attending a church service, or watching a Michael Bay movie. In those situations, you can turn that reminder off in the iPhone app. It’s on the Activity screen, and it’s called Stand Reminders.


Tip 7: Edit your canned replies.

When you get a text message and hit Reply, the watch offers you a list of six canned responses like “OK” and “I’m on my way.”


But in the Messages screen on the phone, under Default Replies, you can customize those messages. You can change them to say, for example, “Got it!” or “Thanks!”


Tip 8. Exploit Power Reserve mode.

When the battery gets down to almost zero, the Apple Watch goes into Power Reserve mode. In this mode, the watch does nothing but show you the time — not a bad feature for a watch to have.
And it displays the time only when you push the watch’s side button. The good news is that the watch can stumble along for nearly a week in this mode.


You can also go into Reserve mode on demand. From the clock screen, swipe upward to get to the Glances (information screens). Then swipe sideways until you reach the Battery screen; tap Power Reserve and confirm your decision.
To exit Power Reserve, charge up the watch (if it entered Power Reserve automatically) or restart it (if you entered Power Reserve manually).

Tip 9: Two ways to talk to Siri.

To ask Siri a question, speak while pressing the crown.
Or do it hands-free: Wake the watch (by tapping it or by raising your wrist), then say, “Hey, Siri” and your question.


Tip 10: Get online without the iPhone.

In general, the watch requires an iPhone to be nearby — the iPhone is its antenna to the Internet world. But when you’re in a known Wi-Fi hotspot, the watch can perform the most essential online functions even when your phone is turned off or unavailable! You can query Siri, send and receive iMessage texts, and exchange drawings and tap patterns with other watch owners.

Tip 11: It’s OK to be left-handed.

You can wear the watch on either hand, with the crown and button on either side.
To set up how you like it, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap General, then Watch Orientation, and tap your preference.


Tip 12: Load music.

You can listen to music while you’re running or working out without the iPhone — provided you have Bluetooth headphones.
In the iPhone app, on the Music screen, tap Synced Playlist to choose an iTunes playlist of songs that you want copied into the Watch’s storage. (It holds up to 2 gigabytes.)


Tip 13: Load photos.

Similarly, in the iPhone app, under Photos, you can choose an album of pictures that you want available for viewing on the watch. (Turn the crown to zoom in to the batch of photos you’ve copied there, as you can see here in the before/after.)


Microscope not included.

Tip 14: Choose your friends.

When you push the side button, you see your most frequently used contacts, so it’s quick and easy to text or call them. But the iPhone app, under Friends, lets you specify who appears here, and in which order. (Tap Edit.)


Tip 15: Exchange glances.

Glances, in Apple lingo, are the quick-info screens that appear in a horizontally scrolling virtual row beneath the time display: weather, stocks, Twitter, and so on.
One of your first acts as a watch owner should be to open the iPhone app and tap Glances. Here, you can hide the Glance screens you never use, install new ones, and rearrange the left-to-right order of the Glance screens (by dragging the grip handle on the right side up or down).


Tip 16: Run a couple of times with the phone.

The watch’s accelerometer (motion sensor) knows every time you take a step, but it doesn’t know how big each step is. So you should start out your watch ownership by going for a run or two with your phone, which does have GPS. That way, the watch can learn how much distance you cover with each footstep — it even differentiates between quicker footsteps and slower ones. Thereafter, it can calculate the distance you’ve run all by itself.

Tip 17: What happens when you raise your wrist

Ordinarily, the watch wakes up when you raise your wrist. But what does it show you at that point? The current time? Or the app you were most recently using? That’s up to you.
Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Tap General, then scroll down to Activate or On Wrist Raise; tap your choice.


Dive in

Poke around the Apple Watch app on the iPhone long enough, and you’ll find a lot more gold. It’s an impressively complete set of settings for a 1.0 product. And it’s kind of cool that you never have to hit Send or Save — whenever you change something on the iPhone, that setting takes effect on the watch wirelessly and instantly.
Happy watching!

Report: 1 in 5 Android Apps Is Malware by Dan Tynan

Bad news, phandroids. Android malware is on the rise.

According to Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report, “17 percent of all Android apps (nearly one million total) were actually malware in disguise.” In 2013, Symantec uncovered roughly 700,000 virus-laden apps.

More than one third of all apps were what Symatec calls "grayware" or “madware” -- mobile software whose primary purpose is to bombard you with ads. The company also discovered the first example of mobile crypto-ransomware – software that encrypts your data and holds it hostage until you pay ransom for it – for Android devices.
symantec norton internet threat security report
(Norton Mobile Insights)

How to stay safe

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to avoid infection if you obtain your apps from a trusted source, like the Google Play Store. The company doesn’t break out how many of the 1 million+ malware apps were found in the Play Store, but Symantec’s Director of Security Response Kevin Haley admits the number is probably quite low.

“Google does a good job of keeping malware out of the Store,” Haley says. “And if a malicious app does make it in there, they do a good job of finding it and getting rid of it.”

On the other hand, if you visit alternate Android app markets, download apps from app maker’s Websites, get them via email links, or find them on Bit Torrent sites, you run a much greater risk of infecting your phone, he adds.

Other App Stores

Symantec used its Norton Mobile Insight software to crawl more than 200 Android app stores, downloading and analyzing more than 50,000 apps and app updates each day in 2014.

Most of the malware found by Symantec tries to steal personal data like phone numbers and contact lists, which are then sold on the Internet’s black market, says Haley. Some may cause your phone to send text messages to premium SMS services, automatically adding charges to your monthly bill. Other apps may pelt you with ads that pop up randomly over other applications. Some apps even change your default ringtone to an advertisement, Haley says. 

The Android malware problem is greater overseas, especially in regions where users can’t access Google Play and must rely on third-party app marketplaces.
Mobango is one of hundreds of alternate Android app marketplaces in the wild. Be careful out there. (
If you see unusual charges on your bill for premium texting services or ads start popping up where you don’t expect them, those are good signs you’ve got an infection, he adds. Your best recourse is to use a mobile security app to scan and protect your phone.

As for iOS? Symantec found a grand total of 3 infected apps in the iTunes store in 2014. Last year it found zero.

“One of the benefits of Android versus iOS is that it gives you a lot more freedom as to where you can download apps,” Haley says. “But that freedom comes with a cost.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Watch these Netflix movies before they're gone by Kim Komando

It's that time again! Licenses for individual movies and TV shows are set to expire on Netflix at the
end of the month, so that means it's time to watch certain titles before they disappear forever. But don't worry, the streaming video service also regularly adds news films as well.

If you were planning on watching "Airplane!" or "Life Is Beautiful" on Netflix, you better do it in the next six days. That's because those movies and 34 other titles are expiring at the end of the month. Not only that, but dozens of other movies including "Skyfall" and "Flight" will be gone sometime in May.

But we've also got lots to look forward to with a brand new Netflix original series, "Grace and Frankie," "Inglorious Basterds," "Legally Blonde, " "The Boxtrolls" and many more.
I've got the full list of expiring films. And don't worry; I have a list of new programs coming in March, too.

What's going - last chance to watch

May 1st 
  • 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue
  • 6 Bullets
  • A Knight’s Tale
  • Airplane!
  • Airplane II: The Sequel
  • All I Want for Christmas
  • Along Came Polly
  • An American Haunting
  • Baby Genius: The Four Seasons
  • Baby Genius: Underwater Adventures
  • BASEketball
  • Bitter Moon
  • Boys Don’t Cry
  • Bratz: Babyz: The Movie
  • Call Me Claus
  • Call Me Crazy: A Five Film
  • Cecil B. Demented
  • Deuces Wild
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya­Ya Sisterhood
  • Fantastic Voyage
  • Finding Forrester
  • Friday the 13th: Part 7: The New Blood
  • Funny Face
  • Ichi the Killer
  • Into the Blue 2: The Reef
  • Life Is Beautiful
  • RoboCop
  • Romancing the Stone
  • Sabrina
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
  • The Accused
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • The Jewel of the Nile
  • The Secret of NIMH
  • True Justice: Season 1
  • Valkyrie
May 2nd through May 15
  • 1428
  • Buffalo Girls (2012)
  • Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel
  • Flight
  • Frank Skinner Stand­Up: Live from Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos
  • Grimm’s Snow White
  • Grumpy Old Women Live
  • Robot & Frank
  • Russell Kane: Smokescreens & Castles Live
  • Skyfall
  • The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
May 16th through May 31
  • Bridezillas: Season 9
  • Cloud 9 (2014)
  • Dane Cook: Rough Around the Edges: Live from Madison Square Garden
  • Fun Size (2012)
  • No Woman, No Cry (2010)
  • Red Dawn (2012)
  • Silent House (2011)
  • The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013)
  • The New Guy (2002)

What's new

Note: Not all titles will be available March 1st. They will gradually be rolled out over the course of the month.
Available May 1
  • Beyond Clueless
  • Jimi: All is by My Side
  • Legally Blonde
  • Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde
  • Longmire (Season 3)
  • No No: A Dockumentary
  • Shameless (series 10)
  • The Last Waltz
  • The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
  • Underclassman
  • Witnesses" (Season 1)
Available May 2 through 
  • Lalaoopsy: Festival of Sugary Sweets
  • LeapFrog Letter Factory Adventures: Amazing Word Explorers
Available May 3
  • Anita
  • D.L. Hughley: Clear
  • Royal Pains (Season 6)
Available May 5 through May 15
  • A Few Best Men
  • American Restoration
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (Season 4)
  • Counting Cars
  • Cyber-Seniors
  • Dance Moms
  • Dawg Fight (2015)
  • Duck Dynasty
  • Extraterrestrial
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Give Me Shelter (2014)
  • Grace & Frankie (Netflix original)
  • Granite Flats (Seasons 1-3)
  • Hoarders
  • Jinn
  • Magical Universe
  • Modern Marvels
  • Puss in Boots (Season 1 with 5 additional episodes)
  • The Identical
  • The Liberator
  • The Longest Week
  • The Universe
  • Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas
Available May 16 through May 29
  • Antarctica: A Year on Ice
  • Before I Disappear
  • Before I Go to Sleep (2014)
  • Between (Season 1)
  • First Period
  • Girlhood
  • Graceland (Seasons 1-2)
  • H20 Mermaid Adventures (2015)
  • Hot Girls Wanted
  • Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  • Jen Kirkman: I'm Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)
  • Love and Honor
  • Mako Mermaids (Season 3)
  • Richie Rich (season 2)
  • The Boxtrolls
  • The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir
  • Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (2015)
  • Transporter: The Series (Season 1)
  • Welcome to the Punch
  • Zombeavers

FAQ: Everything you need to know about the Apple Watch by Caitlin McGarry

The first wave of Apple Watches were delivered on April 24, but if you were waiting to order a Sport, wait until June to get your hands on a Watch. steel, or Edition until you could try it on in person or read the early reviews, you’ll have to to get your hands on a Watch.

But that’s OK, because we know so much more about Apple Watch now than we did when it debuted last September. How long does the battery last? How does Apple Pay work? Is it really better than a fitness tracker? 

We answer all these questions and more in this ultimate guide to Apple Watch. If you think of any more questions, let us know in the comments, and be sure to check back for the full Macworld review at the end of the month.
apple watch trio Apple
Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.
What’s the latest? Apple delivered the first wave of Apple Watch preorders on Friday, April 24. Early reviews indicate that Apple has made the best smartwatch on the market, but it’s not a must-have—for now. 

Let's back up to the beginning! Apple finally made a smartwatch, huh? Yes it did—several, actually. The Apple Watch comes in three editions, varying in materials and luxury: the Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition.
What are the differences between those three? Apple Watch is made of stainless steel, in a shiny chrome or a space black finish. Its touchscreen is covered by sapphire crystal, which should make it more scratch-resistant than the Gorilla Glass Apple has used on its iPhones. Prices range between $549 and $1,099, depending on whether you buy the 38mm or 42mm case and which band you choose.
Apple Watch Sport has an anodized aluminum case (which is lighter than stainless steel) in silver or space gray, and the face is Ion-X glass, which also designed to be hard and rugged (as well as a little bit lighter) than the sapphire. It’s definitely the lightest of the three Apple Watch editions, making it an ideal exercise companion. It’s also the cheapest option at $349 for the 38mm version and $399 for the 42mm model.
As for the Apple Watch Edition, it ramps up the luxury factor with an 18-karat gold casing in yellow or rose. As you might expect, it’s heavy. Gold, y’know. The Apple Watch Edition also comes in a fancy leather box that doubles as a charging cradle! It also costs about as much as an entry-level car, ranging from $10,000 to $17,000, depending on size and band choice.
apple watch female model Apple
Apple’s promotional shots and videos are full of women wearing the watch, which comes in two sizes.
Are there multiple models because one size doesn’t actually fit all? Yes, each edition comes in two sizes, which is something we haven’t seen with any Android Wear watches so far. You’ll be able to get the Apple Watches in heights of 38 and 42 millimeters—about 1.5 and 1.65 inches, respectively, if you’ve had it up to here with the metric system. The Watch’s promotional videos feature plenty of women wearing the watch, which is especially nice to see, since other smartwatch makers appear to be ignoring those of us with slender wrists.
Can you swap out the watch band? Absolutely. Apple Watch comes with six bands that are easy to mix and match any band with any watch. You can swap them out as your heart desires without the aid of any tools—as long as the band and watch are the same size. (The Leather Loop band, for example, only fits 42mm watches, not the smaller 38mm size.) Apple said it’s come up with its own proprietary system to make switching bands easy—but that also means you probably won’t be able to swap in just any band. And even if Apple’s bands fit your watch, the finish might be different: The solid-gold hardware accents on the rose gray Modern Buckle band won’t match the anodized aluminum finish of the Apple Watch Sport, for example.
Apple Watch Edition
Different body finishes and strap materials let you choose your own look.
For working out, the sweat resistant elastomer Sport Band comes in black, white, pink, blue, and lime green. The Sport Band comes as the default on the Apple Watch Sport, naturally. Weirdly, different colors of the Sport Band have different weights, with black being the lightest.
Owners of the Apple Watch and Watch Edition get three leather straps and two metal straps to choose from. The Leather Loop is designed to be soft and comfortable, with a highly adjustable hidden magnetic closure—you just wrap it around your wrist and the strap sticks to itself to stay closed. That one comes in stone, light brown, and bright blue. Available in pink, brown, and midnight blue, the Leather Modern strap has a two-piece magnetic closure and a subtle texture. And the old-school Classic Buckle strap is a black leather strap that closes with a stainless steel buckle just like the traditional watches you’ve seen your whole life.
Crafted of stainless steel, the Link Bracelet band closes with a butterfly clasp. Apple included a link-release button on several of the links, so you can remove links yourself to customize the fit—instead of having to take it to a jeweler or watch repair shop. That one comes in a regular stainless steel tone or in space black. With myriad tiny, interlocking loops, the Milanese Loop band kind of resembles chain mail, only much more modern. The stainless steel mesh is also magnetic, so you can adjust it to more sizes than you could the Link Bracelet.
Where can I buy it? All Watch models are sold out online, but if you live in London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, or Milan, you can buy an Apple Watch in select high-end boutiques (not Apple Stores.)
Otherwise, you’ll have to either buy one online and wait for it to ship sometime in June. Apple Stores might start stocking their shelves with Watches in June, too, but no official date has been announced.
apple watch edition rose Apple
This rose gold beauty with a rose gray Modern Buckle strap will cost you a hefty $17,000.
Which phones does it work with? Good news: you do need an iPhone to pair with your Apple Watch, but it doesn’t have to be the brand-new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. An iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c will work just fine. That’s a big deal since the watch’s $349 starting price might be harder to justify if it also required the purchase of a shiny new phone. 

Can left-handed users wear it? Don’t worry, southpaws, Apple hasn’t forsaken you. The Apple Watch works just fine for lefties, because the display rotates. All you have to do is flip the watch over so the Digital Crown is on the left side. Then select “right wrist orientation” when you’re pairing the Watch with your phone and swap out the band so it’s also in the right position. Easy, right?
apple watch activity Apple
The watch can track your daily activities as well as workouts, using its own sensors plus the ones in your phone.
What kinds of sensors does the Apple Watch have? Can it track my heart rate? Apple says that the watch has a couple different sensors, including a gryroscope and an accelerometer (as you’ll find in most smartphones), plus a “custom” sensor that uses visible-light and infrared LEDs along with photodiodes, all on the back of the device, to determine your heart rate. The Apple Watch can also talk to your iPhone’s GPS and Wi-Fi to help with figuring out location and other information. 

So it’s a watch and a fitness tracker? The accelerometer lets the watch count your steps, and it extrapolate distance on its own, or rely on the GPS in the paired iPhone to trace your exact route. That step data comes in handy for two of the apps Apple included on the watch: Activity and Workout. Activity shows your progress toward daily goals for moving, exercising, and even standing. Workout is for more detailed tracking of a variety of activities, including distance, pace, time, and calories burned during each session; you can also use that app to set workout goals, and the watch will give you feedback as you reach those goals. Both of the watch’s fitness apps sync data back to the Health and Fitness apps on your iPhone, too. You can’t use third-party fitness apps like Runtastic or Nike+ Running without your iPhone in tow, though. 

How do you navigate the Apple Watch? It’s got a touchscreen, right? It does have a touchscreen, but the Apple Watch’s big innovation is the little dial that sticks out the side, also known as the Digital Crown. That’s a high-tech version of the crown you’ll find on standard wristwatches, which you turn to set the time or wind the watch. In the case of the Apple Watch, however, the Digital Crown acts more like the iPod’s clickwheel: You can turn the crown to scroll through a list or zoom in and out of a map. Pressing the Crown returns you to the watch’s home screen, just like pressing the Home button on your iPhone would. 

Below the Digital Crown, you’ll find a button, which Apple simply refers to as “the Button.” Press it to access the Friends app, which brings up a Contacts-style collection of the people you like to stay in touch with. Tapping a picture of a friend lets you send them a message, make a phone call, or make contact with the Apple Watch’s Digital Touch features (which we’ll talk about below). 

You can touch and tap on the screen too, but if you recall using the sixth-generation iPod nano (the little square one from 2010 that you could buy watch bands for, remember?), the size of your fingertip is bound to obscure part of what you’re trying to tap. That’s why the Digital Crown is there, to let you navigate the Apple Watch while still being able to see the entire screen.
apple watch crown Apple
The Digital Crown is sort of like the iPod’s clickwheel: It helps you scroll through options and return to the home screen.
That said, there’s one gesture that works pretty well on even a watch-sized screen—swiping. Swipe up from the clock face to see little bits of information—your calendar, your location, current weather data, and so forth. Apple calls these “glances,” and they strip out the most relevant information from apps and put them into a form you can digest just by looking at your Watch’s screen. 

When you do touch the Apple Watch, its screen can actually distinguish between a regular tap, which you’ll use to select things, and a harder touch, which is how you’ll access contextual menus—kind of like right-clicking with your mouse. Apple calls this technology Force Touch, and it’s enabled by tiny electrodes in the display. Check out our hands-on video for a glimpse of how the Digital Crown, Digital Touch, and Glances work in real life. 

Can the Apple Watch do anything my iPhone can’t do on its own? Apple showed off a really cool-looking feature called Digital Touch, as we mentioned above, that you can use with other Apple Watch wearers. Digital Touch lets you tap out a pattern on your watch face, which your friend will see and feel on his or her own Apple Watch. You can also draw each other little pictures. And if you hold down two fingers in Digital Touch, you can send your heartbeat, which shows up on your friend’s watch as a glowing, pulsing heart. This might encourage couples to buy his-and-hers watches so they can let each other know anytime how their hearts flutter for each other… or pound like hammers when they get really mad. 

Can I use the Apple Watch to pay for things? Yep! The Apple Watch has near-field communication, or NFC, technology, just like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. That means you can wave your watch near an NFC-equipped payment terminal to pay, just like you would your new-model iPhone.
apple watch passbook
Apple Watch brings Apple Pay to iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s owners.
Good news for iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s owners: You don’t need a 6 or 6 Plus to use Apple Pay on the watch. iOS 8.2 just put the Apple Watch companion app on every compatible iPhone, which is where you’ll add your credit or debit card information to store in Passbook. No financial details are stored on the watch itself, but the device does store a token, or a number to act in place of your card number, so you don’t need your iPhone with you to use Apple Pay

The iPhone 6 models have a dedicated “Secure Element” chip that stores your encrypted information—not your actual credit card numbers, but rather a “device account number” that is used to create a single-use security code to authorize each transaction. The phone provides the watch with information about the items stored in its own Secure Element, and then the watch has the ability to use those items itself in order to pay wirelessly. There’s a nice security touch, too: If you take the Apple Watch off, it’ll lock and require a code before you can purchase anything, so if someone steals your watch they won’t be able to use it as a credit card. 

What kind of apps did Apple build for Apple Watch? Will it run third-party apps? Apple went all out for the watch, building in many of the common apps that we use every day: Messages, Mail, Weather, Calendar, Maps, Passbook, Music, Photos, and more. A few notable omissions: While the Apple Watch can act as a viewfinder for your iPhone’s camera, letting you snap pictures and even set the self-timer, it doesn’t have its own built-in camera. Nor does it have Safari, Apple’s Web browser—all the information you get is mediated through those apps.
apple watch mlb Apple
The At Bat app for Apple Watch will display the latest scores right on your wrist.
Still, if what Apple builds into the Watch isn’t enough for you, the company supports more than 3,000 third-party apps and Glances. You can install these apps from the Apple Watch App Store, which is accessible through the Apple Watch app that came preinstalled with iOS 8.2. All the usual suspects like Instagram, Uber, and Twitter are there, plus indie apps from game developers and much, much more. 

What kind of battery life will the Watch have? Apple says the Watch will have all-day battery life, which means up to 18 hours of active and passive use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of nonstop app use, and a 30-minute workout with Bluetooth music playback from the watch, which can store up to 2GB of music locally. If you’ve been a bit overzealous in your watch usage and your battery starts to dwindle halfway through the day, the watch will automatically default to a Power Reserve mode for up to 72 hours so you’ll still be able to see the time (but not anything else). Basically, if you plan to buy an Apple Watch, expect to charge it next to your iPhone every night. Apple did say that the watch battery will be replaceable, but didn’t give details as to how much replacement batteries will cost. 

Does the Apple Watch charge wirelessly? No. The back of the watch has no exposed charging contacts, and the charging cable snaps on with magnets to juice it up via induction. But it’s not “true” wireless charging as you might normally think of it, where you’d drop the watch onto a charging pad and walk away—it’s more like your electric toothbrush. 

We’ve seen a magnetic charging dongle similar to this on the FiLIP, which is a wearable GPS tracker and phone for kids. The first few times we used it, we loved the satisfying click as the magnets latched on, but the novelty quickly wore off, and then the charger was just another proprietary dongle we had to keep track of. 

Can I choose from a whole slew of watch faces? Oh yeah, a bunch—poke around Apple’s gallery for some great examples. They look good in person, too—some are animated, like the one that gives you a fully interactive view of the moon phases and how the planets align. And yes, there’s even a Mickey Mouse watch face, a modern spin on the face we saw on that watch-like six-gen iPod nano. Apple’s Kevin Lynch also demonstrated how you can customize several of the watch faces, spinning the Digital Crown to select a new color scheme, or tapping at the screen to tweak what kind of information is shown. Apple is keeping tight rein over the watch’s timekeeping features for the moment, with no third-party watch faces available at launch.
apple watch siri Apple
Use voice dictation to send messages and interact with apps on the Watch.
Does it have Siri? Can it make phone calls? The Apple Watch has a microphone and a speaker, so you can talk to it and it can talk to you. (You can also use the microphone to do voice dictation, send audio messages, and even communicate via walkie-talkie mode with other Apple Watch users.)
And yes, you can use it to make and receive phone calls, as well as transfer calls to your iPhone or a Bluetooth device. 

Is it waterproof? Can I swim with it? The Apple Watch is water resistant, but not waterproof. You can wear it on a rainy day and have water splashed on it and it’ll survive, but you should avoid submerging it in water. Apple’s official line (in the fine print) is: “Apple Watch is splash and water resistant but not waterproof. You can, for example, wear and use Apple Watch during exercise, in the rain, and while washing your hands, but submerging Apple Watch is not recommended. Apple Watch has a water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529. The leather bands are not water resistant.” 

An IPX7 rating officially means it can survive in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. Which makes it sound pretty waterproof, but you probably don’t want to take chances. Immersion in water any deeper than 1 meter, or in any amount of water for more than 30 minutes, could spell doom. Tim Cook reportedly told an Apple Store employee in Germany that he showers with his Apple Watch on. But Tim could also get a new one anytime he wants, we’d guess... 

What can the Apple Watch do without a phone? The Apple Watch can track your fitness information (just sync your workout data to HealthKit later), play music (from its own onboard storage) via Bluetooth, and even make purchases using Apple Pay, all without the iPhone being present.