Apple today launched its first trade-in program for non-iPhones in its Apple Stores. The program allows users of select Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry phones to bring in their devices and receive credit toward the immediate purchase of a new iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, or iPhone 6 Plus but is not available for the Apple Watch.
Apple first launched its standard iPhone Reuse and Recycle trade program, and the company expanded the program to the iPad last year. Apple made today’s announcement on the individual store pages, indicating that the program is so far now available in the U.S., France, UK, Germany, Canada and Italy. Also, multiple retail sources say that the program has gone live today. A version of the iPhone trade-in program that does not support non-iPhone products is launching this week in China.
The days of the flagship iPhone only being available in black, silver and gold are long behind us. The next version of Apple’s primary handset could come in pink, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The top-of-the-line iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are currently available in silver, gold and space gray. A bright pink iPhone 6 varient would be a big departure from the relatively muted color schemes that mainline iPhones are known for. However, it would fit the design aesthetic of the iPhone 5c, Apple’s budget phone that comes in colors such as yellow, blue and, yes, pink.
In addition to a pink casing, the Journal reports that Apple plans to incorporate pressure-sensitive screens in the new iPhones that can differentiate a hard tap from a soft one. The new devices will reportedly keep the same dimensions of the iPhone 6 (4.7-inch screen) and 6 Plus (5.5-inch screen).
Google has officially announced Android 5.1, about a month after it started shipping Android One phones with it. Better late than never, right?
The release was detailed on the Official Android Blog, and should start rolling out to Nexus devices this week. Don't get too excited; this release is mostly about fixing the plethora of bugs in Android Lollipop. There are four new features worth mentioning, though.
Multi-SIM support: Have a phone with more than one SIM slot? Now you can use them both!
HD Voice: On networks with HD Voice like Verizon and T-Mobile, you can now actually use it on supported devices (such as the Nexus 6).
Device Protection: If your phone is lost or stolen, you'll need to log in with your Google account to unlock it—even if it is factory reset.
Quick settings: Select which Wi-Fi network to join or Bluetooth device to pair with, right from a drop-down list in the quick settings menu.
Most of those features won't be of much use to people who don't use stock Android phones (Nexus, Google Play Edition, or Android One). Most manufacturers enhance Android with their own quick settings menus, support for carrier features like HD Voice, or dual-SIM support. But the new device protection feature should be a welcome deterrent to theft for all phones that ship with Android 5.1.
Perhaps the best to come from its release will be more rapid updates from manufacturers, who have not been as speedy in updating their phones to Android 5.0 as we hoped. This is in part due to all the bugs in the initial release—this major bugfix release might help grease the wheels on Android updates.
I've tested one of the first cars to use Apple's CarPlay and Android Auto – briefly – and I'd say smartphone users will think it was worth the wait when cars with the systems hit the road at some point this year.
It's been nearly a year since Hyundai and a handful of other automakers announced deals to use CarPlay, which will more or less mirror your smart phone on a car's touch screen. Work continues to get Apple's system – CarPlay – and the similar Android Auto feature into production.
A lot of that work is being done at Hyundai Kia America Technical Center just outside Ypsilanti, Mich., about 40 miles west of Detroit. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is on track to be one of the first cars with the systems.
"Launching is a challenge," John Robb, Hyundai senior manager of electronic systems development, said. "This is a very tight coupling between automotive and consumer electronics. We're very concerned with stability, reliability and usability." Translation, Hyundai won't green-light the system until its engineers are convinced it works consistently and does not distract drivers.
Contrary to early reports, the system will work with either an iPhone or Android phone; buyers won't have to commit to one type of phone for as long as they own the car. The system is complementary to Hyundai's Bluetooth system, so you can stream music and use voice recognition with just about any phone.
To have your phone's screen and apps recreated – selectively; no Angry Birds or reading Wikipedia behind the wheel – you must connect the phone to the car's USB port.
From that point, everything will feel very familiar to a smart phone user. Familiar icons for music, phone, navigation, messages and more will appear on the vehicle's touch screen. You can use them by touching the screen or with voice recognition.
A brief trial with iPhone and Android phones during a drive was encouraging. Ask Siri to find museums and the virtual assistant generates a list, from the closest to furthest away. Tap an address on the screen, and Apple maps will plot a course and provide turn-by-turn instructions. Sorry Google map fans; if you're using an iPhone and Siri, it's like your Google Maps app never existed, although Apple Maps can access your previous destinations from it.
My test drive provided a reminder of why I use Google rather than Apple maps on my iPhone 6. The directions were consistently quicker testing with Hyundai's Android phone than an iPhone
CarPlay and Android Auto will also read text messages to you and take dictation for replies. If a text message includes an address, tap on the address and the nav system will plot a route.
You can also ask general questions, like sports scores or weather forecasts. Your car will be able to do anything your phone's virtual assistant can do.
Honda, Jaguar, Mercedes and Volvo have all announced plans to offer CarPlay soon.
New research suggests smartphones are making us cognitively lazy. And, the evidence is still out as to if this will be an issue as we age.
The ubiquitous cellular devices allow us to obtain information without having to retrieve information that is traditionally coded in our brain. Phone numbers, directions, and even recommendations to restaurants are provided with a touch of a finger or upon a voice command.
The study, from researchers at the University of Waterloo and published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, suggests that intuitive thinkers are especially disposed to use a smartphone’s convenient features.
Intuitive thinkers typically rely on gut feelings and instincts when making decisions and frequently use their device’s search engine rather than their own brainpower.
Smartphones allow them to be even lazier than they would otherwise be.
“They may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it,” said Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of the study, and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology at Waterloo.
In contrast, analytical thinkers second-guess themselves and analyze a problem in a more logical sort of way. Highly intelligent people are more analytical and less intuitive when solving problems.
“Decades of research has revealed that humans are eager to avoid expending effort when problem-solving and it seems likely that people will increasingly use their smartphones as an extended mind,” said Nathaniel Barr, the other lead author of the paper.
In three studies involving 660 participants, the researchers examined a variety of measures including cognitive style. Investigators reviewed individuals preferred method of information retrieval ranging from intuitive to analytical, and verbal and numeracy skills. Then they looked at the participants’ smartphone habits.
Participants in the study who demonstrated stronger cognitive skills and a greater willingness to think in an analytical way spent less time using their smartphones’ search-engine function.
“Our research provides support for an association between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence,” said Pennycook.
“Whether smartphones actually decrease intelligence is still an open question that requires future research.”
The researchers say that avoiding using our own minds to problem-solve might have adverse consequences for aging.
“Our reliance on smartphones and other devices will likely only continue to rise,” said Barr.
“It’s important to understand how smartphones affect and relate to human psychology before these technologies are so fully ingrained that it’s hard to recall what life was like without them. We may already be at that point.”
The results also indicate that use of social media and entertainment applications generally did not correlate to higher or lower cognitive abilities.
The Galaxy S6 Edge is notable in that it is the first smartphone to feature a curved display on both sides of the device, constructed from Gorilla Glass 4. Both smartphones have 16-megapixel rear-facing cameras and 5-megapixel front-facing cameras with f/1.9 lenses for improved low-light photos, Auto HDR, optical image stabilization, IR white balance and a "Quick Launch" feature for accessing the camera from any screen in less than one second.
Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge have improved hardware specifications in most areas, each featuring a 5.1-inch 2560×1440 Super AMOLED display at 577 ppi, Exynos 8-core processor, 3GB of RAM up, 32GB to 128GB of internal storage, Category 6 LTE, 802.11/a/c Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, NFC and 2,550 mAh and 2,600 mAh batteries respectively. The devices will run Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box.
A New York man says his smartphone blew up in his pocket and that he wound up in a hospital.
Erik Johnson of Lindenhurst says his iPhone 5C spontaneously erupted in extreme heat while it was in his pants pocket, giving him second- and third-degree burnson his leg the size of a football.
He was headed to a wake for his cousin in New Jersey on February 14, Johnson said, and he dropped his car keys.
"When I went to bend over, I heard a pop," he told CNN. "I heard a sizzling, and I ended up ripping my pants off to stop it from burning me."
Johnson said he didn't know what was causing the pain at first and there was no warning -- just an extreme burn and a lot of pain. In a panic, he quickly started ripping at his pants as the phone began to melt the edges of his pocket shut, he said.
"I was trying to get it out of my pocket," he said. "It started burning right through my pants. It was burning my leg, and I had to get my pants off somehow."
Johnson's brother, who was with him at the time, decided driving him to the hospital would be faster than dialing 911, Johnson said.
They drove to the Bayonne Medical Center in New Jersey. After being evaluated in the emergency room, Johnson was taken by ambulance to the Burn Center at Staten Island University Hospital. The burn center confirmed to CNN that he spent 10 days there receiving treatment.
"I still can't believe it," Johnson said. "I've never dealt with anything like this before."
He works as an operating engineer in New York City, maintaining escalators, cranes and forklifts.
He said now he is at home with family in Lindenhurst, and a nurse comes in every day to change his bandage.
In the meantime, he said, he hasn't even thought about buying a new phone.
Mike Della, a personal injury lawyer on Long Island who is representing Johnson, says despite two phone calls and a letter, Apple had not yet responded to his queries about why his client's phone suddenly exploded in heat.
CNN reached out to Apple, and the company stated that it is looking into the incident.
Johnson purchased the phone last year and had not been using a battery case or third-party charger, Della said.
"First and foremost, we have to find out how this happened and prevent it from happening ever again," Della told CNN. "That's the whole goal here. Is the product safe?"
Della said because of this case, he now is quick to take extra precautions with his phone.
"Now, every single time I have my iPhone, instead of putting it in my pocket, I put it in the seat next to me because of this case," he said. "My wife does the same thing, and so does everyone else at the (law) firm. It's a little scary."
"You shouldn't have to worry about your phone exploding," he said.