¶ Regularly $19.99

Cultured Code makes a fantastic Getting Things Done (GTD) app aptly named Things. I used it myself for a while though I did eventually find OmniFocus to be a better fit for me. That's a story for another time.

Things is a premium app. It runs $9.99 for iPhone, $19.99 for iPad, and $49.99 for Mac.

The prices until Thanksgiving day are free, free, and $34.99, respectively. Why? Because the two iOS apps are Apple's Pick of the Week, and the Mac app is on sale from Cultured Code to celebrate it.

I don't think I have ever seen a $20 app be the Pick of the Week. Seriously, Things is a stellar premium app with a premium price and it is going for free right now. And Apple wants to show off how great of a deal it is by plastering the value on the App Store.

Regularly $19.99.

As someone whose livelihood is sustained by sales of a premium app with a premium price, I am both delighted to see Things receiving this attention and terrified what dropping it to free means for public perception of the value of the app.

It is good that a premium app is being thrust in front of millions of people, letting them know there are high quality apps out there. It is also good for people learn that high quality apps cost a more than a buck.

What gives me hesitance is the app being reduced to the cost of nothing — even temporarily. I worry that people will look at it and think Things should be free. That even though it exudes polish and talent and quality people will come to expect those characteristics in exchange for nothing.

I worry that giving away a premium app reinforces the entitlement many people display towards apps. I worry someday the App Store will be void of fantastic apps because no one was willing to pay for them.

I am left wondering what kind of star ratings will appear for Things once the price returns to being regularly $19.99.

The 1Password Emergency Kit 3.0

Mike Vardy posted a really great update to his 1Password Emergency Kit today.

The 1Password Emergency Kit V3.0 is now a fillable PDF that looks and functions a lot better, and includes even more information that will come in handy if any sort of emergency arises.

Naturally, I keep a lot of my life's essential data in 1Password. Should I ever be incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly, my family can get ahold of my copy of this (which I now need to update, so don't let me forget) in order to access the things they may need.

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and fill out your kit, too.

Deliveries for Mac

Junecloud's Deliveries is a fantastic little app to aid in tracking shipments that you are expecting or sending. It got its start on OS X's Dashboard feature ages ago, a feature which is being phased out in OS X Yosemite.

When the App Store came out for iOS devices, Deliveries was there. I've been using Deliveries in Dashboard on my Mac and on my iPhone and iPad for years. It is simply an indispensible and delightful little tool.

With OS X Yosemite eschewing Dashboard by default in favor of adding widgets to Notification Center's Today view, I was hoping to see Deliveries make the transition. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Deliveries is now a full-fledged Mac app with Notification Center integration, and it also allows me to say farewell to Dashboard, which has been stagnant for years on the Mac.

If you happen to receive shipments frequently and want to keep tabs on them, you need Deliveries.

Deliveries for Mac is available on the Mac App Store for $4.99.

¶ iPhone 6

I'm not the kind of guy who buys a new iPhone every year. In fact, I buy every other year, on contract, and I am on the non-S cycle. To date, I have owned the iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and as of last week the iPhone 6. I really like being on this upgrade cycle as my new phone is always a fresh design, whereas the S-series is always based on the previous year's design.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the headline feature of this year's iPhone release is that the screens (yes, plural) are bigger. Bigger than bigger, as Apple's marketing team would tell you. There's the iPhone 6 at 4.7-inches and the iPhone 6 Plus at 5.5-inches. Just looking at those numbers in print sounds so much bigger than the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5 (and 5c/5s).

I bought the iPhone 6, as I like my phones to be comfortably pocketable in my front right pocket. I was actually worried about that a bit this year, but I am happy to report the iPhone 6 fits perfectly for me. I haven't yet seen an iPhone 6 Plus in person, but the pictures make it look ridiculously huge. I know that big of a phone is just not for me.

Besides pocketability, I was concerned that the new 4.7-inch screen would be difficult to use, that it would be too large. Thankfully, it isn't. I have very average sized hands, almost small considering my height of 6'4", and I have no problem using the new display. I do notice I am deftly shifting how I hold the phone when I need to reach toward the top, as if I'd been doing this forever. My point is that the adjustment period was probably hours, whereas I was expecting weeks.

As a quick aside, I realized the other day that most of my iPhones have heralded a significant change in the screen. I started with the iPhone 3G, which is my baseline as it had the same screen as the original iPhone. The iPhone 4 kept the same screen size but brought the Retina display. The iPhone 5 had a taller Retina display. And now the iPhone 6 has an even bigger Retina HD screen.

Setting aside the thing I had been a bit worried about with the iPhone 6, I want to talk about the things I am ecstatic about. I love the look of the screen in so many ways. It's awesome to have more content on the display. Photos and videos look better than ever and the colors pop so much more. Typing with my thumbs is actually easier with the extra room for them to breathe. And the curved edges of the glass not only give the device a great feel as it seamlessly meets the aluminum casing, but they make using the edge swipe gestures in iOS feel even more natural. The screen is a grand slam. I love everything about it.

The aluminum casing feels a lot better with the curved edges, and reminds me of the graceful look of the original iPhone. While I truly loved the squared off edges of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 I've previously owned, I have to say these curves feel much better in hand, and also make sliding in and out of my pocket easier. One thing I will actually miss about the flat edges of previous devices is being able to lay the phone on its side for taking level photos or videos.

By far my favorite thing about any new iPhone model is the improved camera. I love taking photos, and the camera I use most is my iPhone since it is always with me. I have two gripes about the camera before I delve into blubbering praise.

  1. I am not a fan of the camera sticking out a bit. It looks odd, I'm afraid I will catch it on something, and the iPhone 6 cannot lay flat because of it.
  2. The iPhone 6 doesn't have optical image stabilization like the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus.

Beyond those two things, this camera is flipping awesome. I've captured crystal clear and well-exposed photos in a dark room, outdoors, at night with street lights as the light source, and indoors with high contrast beams of sunlight streaming in. It also does great at action shots, like my kid going down a slide. My iPhone 5 never handled those well. Also, I am quickly becoming a huge fan of slo-mo video, and I have some ideas for a few good time-lapse videos.

A feature that is new to me is Touch ID. Man, is that slick. I love unlocking my phone with Touch ID, and with iOS 8, unlocking apps like 1Password and Day One with it. I'm really looking forward to using Touch ID with Apple Pay soon.

Long story short, I was definitely apprehensive about the larger size of the iPhone 6 compared to my old iPhone 5. I shouldn't have worried. This phone is great. After all, I was apprehensive two years ago about the extra half-inch the iPhone 5 was adding and that ended up being great, too. I will say I don't really want my next iPhone in about two years to be any bigger. This feels like a good threshold. In fact, I think in the future, Apple could keep the screen size at 4.7-inches and slim the width of the device slightly by shaving off a bit of the side bezels. And I would definitely like to see the top and bottom bezels shrink a bit.

At the end of the day, this is by far my favorite iPhone yet. It's darn near perfect, and like every iPhone I've owned before it, I look forward to all the memories it will help me to capture.

iOS 8.1, 8.2, & 8.3 are showing up on the web

If this is true, then I consider this a welcome change from Apple. I wrote about Apple's lack of frequency for iOS updates a while back. Since iOS 4, we have not seen a great deal of feature addition to iOS between the major version leaps.

After the bumps this past week with iOS 8.0.1's release and subsequent retraction, then iOS 8.0.2 being rushed to fix the damage, I'm ready for Apple to slow down on the software side of things and make sure they are refining like crazy. More frequent updates between the major version numbers is entirely welcome.

How to Setup Medical ID with iOS 8's Health App

Friend of the site Stephen Hackett goes over the benefits of setting up Medical ID in the new Health app on iOS 8. My wife and I also set this up on our new iPhones almost right away.

I, for one, am very happy to see Apple offer an easy-to-access solution such as this for something that is so important. And because it is now available on every iPhone running iOS 8, I would guess it won't take long for many medical personnel to become familiar with Medical ID's existence.

Should You Upgrade to iCloud Drive?

The short answer is probably not.

When you install iOS 8 tomorrow, part of the setup will ask if you want to upgrade to iCloud Drive. That same screen will also list devices attached to your iCloud account that will not yet work with iCloud Drive. Namely, your Mac running OS X Mavericks will not be able to sync with iCloud Drive. iCloud Drive is simply not backwards compatible with the Documents & Data portion of iCloud sync that we've been using for years.

In about a month's time we should have OS X Yosemite, which will work just dandy. That is the time to embrace iCloud Drive. If you use OS X Mavericks (or an even earlier version) iCloud sync will permanently break on that Mac once iCloud Drive is enabled on an iOS 8 device.

Don't get me wrong here. iOS 8 should be a fantastic upgrade. iCloud Drive will be fantastic, too — when all your devices are ready for it. It's just that tomorrow is probably not that time, unless you only use iOS 8 capable devices.

Last year, with iOS 7, Apple held off with iCloud Keychain until OS X Mavericks' release. I wish they had done the same with iCloud Drive, as the ability to sync between your devices seems like something pretty important.

¶ Bigger than bigger

The anticipation before last week's Apple event was at the highest since the 2010 iPad announcement. The hype in the air was palpable, and everyone knew this was going to be a big event.

The event itself was amazing, but it wasn't without its hiccups for the folks watching from home.

The Livestream

As if there wasn't enough hype surrounding the event from the media alone, Apple fanned the flames a bit higher by tossing up a giant countdown to the beginning of the event showcasing a lifestream of the event. In recent years, Apple has done these lifestreams more and more, so I usually dispense with following a couple liveblogs in favor of just catching it live.

This year was a disaster on this front. The lifestream kept crashing, then showing a test image with the media team's schedule. When it did seem to work, you could hardly hear Phil Schiller because of the translator being piped into the same audio stream. Things didn't start coming together until we were well past the iPhone announcement.

Issues with the livestream aside, the event it self was great. Especially if you went and re-watched it later after the proper fit and finish of production quality we know and love was added.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The first 10-20 minutes of a keynote are usually dedicated to talking about the health of the retail stores and the various other numbers Wall Street is interested in. Not this time. Tim Cook dispensed with the pleasantries and 7 minutes into the show the new iPhones were revealed.

As all the rumors suggested, Apple brought out larger iPhones. 4.7" and 5.5". The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, respectively. The two phones are identical in features in every way except two:

  1. The iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization, instead of just digital stabilization like the iPhone 6.
  2. The iPhone 6 Plus has a nifty landscape mode that is similar to the iPad, where apps like Mail and Messages will have a split column appear.

Pre-orders went live yesterday and I promptly ordered two, one for my wife and one for myself. We both went with the iPhone 6, space gray, 64 GB on Verizon. I was really glad to see the mid-tier price point jump from 32 GB to 64 GB this year. The high end went to 128 GB. I am baffled as to why Apple kept the low end at a paltry 16 GB instead of bumping it to 32 GB.

The one thing I always love the most about a new iPhone is the camera improvements. In that regard, I was bummed that the iPhone 6 did not get the optical image stabilization, but I do not want a 5.5" phone. That is so big you could serve a lunch on it.

Speaking of the iPhone 6 Plus, every non-techy person I have talked to this past week is flat out excited for it, and declared they will be getting the 5.5" phone. I do think the iPhone 6 Plus will prove insanely popular. It turns out people really want a really huge phone. It certainly isn't in my taste, but it is clearly the preferred trend.

And the pre-orders backed that up. The iPhone 6 Plus sold out just about everywhere very quickly. While I do think it likely had more limited quantities than the iPhone 6, I really think it is the preferred device among the masses.

Apple Pay

Another great feature of the new phones is the built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) chip and antenna. NFC is the standard for contactless payments. If you have a credit card with the little pay wave symbol on it and you can just wave it close to the checkout terminal, it is the same technology.

Apple is integrating a new service into the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus called Apple Pay. The idea is that you enter your credit or debit card into Passbook (by taking a picture of it). Apple verifies it is indeed your card. You then see one of these pay wave enabled terminals at a store, and you hold the top of your phone up to it and rest your thumb on the Touch ID sensor. The iPhone authenticates it is you authorizing it to pay, and does the payment.

What is neat about Apple Pay is the security behind it. The merchant never sees your card number, your name, nor your address. Instead, the iPhone generates a one-time payment code, and that is used to reference your card with the bank for the payment. Apple also never sees where your purchase was made, what you bought, or how much you spent.

And if the merchant is ever compromised (think Target and Home Depot in the past year) all the thief gets is the one-time code, not your card info. So you don't have to get your cards re-issued.

And if your phone gets stolen, you can disable it for payments from Find my iPhone on the web or another device. Even if you can't get to that right away, the phone can't authorize a payment without your fingerprint.

All around this seems like a welcome improvement to making secure payments to a system that is rife with insecurity. I mean, come on, when you hand a check or your credit debit card over to someone else for payment, everything needed to make fraudulent transactions is right there printed on the check or card.

Apple Pay also has a component that can be used in-app to make easy payments using Touch ID.

Apple Watch

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I don't have to be typing iWatch for the years to come. Honestly, Apple Watch isn't much better, and it is more to type, but I just thought the iWatch name sounded weird.

Apple's first intentional take at a wearable device comes in the form of a watch. There are three different models, with two sizes each, and 6 different bands (in two sizes each). That makes for quite a few different combinations.

The Apple Watch has a color touchscreen, a single button reminiscent in appearance of the iPhone's sleep/wake button, and a new Digital Crown, which is used for zooming and scrolling depending on context, and as the home button when pressed.

The Apple Watch doesn't do much different from other smart watches already on the market. It tells the time (obviously), displays notifications from your iPhone, allows brief interactions and responses largely using voice, and has some app integration. But it appears to do all of those much better than other attempts at smart watches. The smoothness of interaction is fluid.

One thing the Apple Watch is adding in that I haven't seen a great deal of in other smart watches is the health & fitness aspect. Essentially, it has all the hallmarks of a Fitbit that is enhanced further when paired with your iPhone. I think the fitness aspect will be huge for the Apple Watch.

From a looks department, it is a handsome timepiece. The digital crown really helps to give it the watch look & feel. And it is certainly the best looking smart watch yet. However, to me it does look extremely 1.0. I can't help but be reminded at the drastic difference in aesthetic, style, thickness, and weight between the original iPad and the iPad 2. It was night and day.

I am planning to hold off on the first crack at the Apple Watch and see what Apple does with a second go at it. I am certainly excited by the concept of the Apple Watch, but at the same time I have questions about how yet another device fits in my life.

U2

As is normal with Apple's big Fall event, they close it out with a musical performance. This year was the band U2, who I actually like. I grew up listening to their albums as my parents had them.

After the performance, Tim Cook and Bono had a very rehearsed , sometimes awkward, exchange about U2's upcoming album, and after beating around the bush, announced that the album would be a free gift to every iTunes account holder for through mid-October.

Tim and Bono did a little countdown from 5 and then Tim said that it just went live. Amazingly, for as many technical issues as the livestream had, the album was in my purchase history within a moment and I had it downloaded a moment later.

As odd as the whole exchange on stage was, I have to hand it to Apple for giving away an entire new album to so many people so quickly. It was a pretty neat experience.

Only Apple

This event was simply jam-packed with great announcements. Not one, but two new iPhones, the new iOS 8, a new, secure payment service that looks like it will be fantastic to use, the Apple Watch becoming a reality, and the largest and fastest rollout of a new album in music history.

Tim Cook has said at the close of the last few events "only Apple" could accomplish all that it does. And I think that is incredibly true. Apple makes the hardware, software, and the services that bind all of its products together into a way that makes experiencing technology almost life-enriching. It is because they sweat the details of all those areas that only Apple could pull all this off.