Posts tagged iPhone

Kill Switches Are Killing Off iPhone Thefts

Looks like the theory that smartphone kill switches discourage theft may be graduating to fact.

Three cities—London, New York and San Francisco—all saw fewer iPhones reported stolen since Apple began putting kill switches into its smartphones, Reuters reports. The drop in crime wasn’t just a subtle downward slope either. Think of it more like the fall off a cliff.

Apple launched the iPhone feature a year and a half ago, and since then, New York City authorities noted a 25 percent decline in iPhone thefts. San Francisco weighed in with a 40% decrease, while in London, thefts dropped by half. All thanks to the software that effectively “bricks” phones by disabling them.

Officials in the three cities issued a joint statement announcing the results.

See also: A Thief Snatched My iPhone—And I Learned A Lot About Smartphone Crime

The news must be very gratifying for London Mayor Boris Johnson, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, all of whom argued for laws to make kill switches mandatory.

Few U.S. jurisdictions have kill switch laws outside of Minnesota and California. The latter just passed one of the strongest last year, though it hasn’t yet gone into effect. Apple, as the maker of one of the most stolen smartphones, voluntarily added the switch—dubbed Activation Lock—in August 2013. Last year, the feature remained a fundamental part of the company’s new and very popular iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phablet.

Samsung and Google have also implemented kill switch features, and Microsoft will add them into its upcoming Windows phones. In general, the mobile industry seems open to the broad idea of kill switches, but would rather make them opt-in, rather than turned on by default. That led smartphone makers, carriers and the mobile trade group CTIA to argue against the California law, which will mandate default activation. 

See also: Smartphone “Kill Switch” Now Mandatory In California

According to William Duckworth, an associate professor of data science and analytics at Creighton University, American consumers spend $580 million per year (PDF link) on replacements for stolen phones. A National Consumers League statistic from 2012 revealed that 1.6 million people in the U.S. had a handheld device stolen from them. 

Lead photo by Jonas

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The Scoop On Microsoft’s New Outlook App For iPhone and Android

Acompli built an Outlook-like mobile app that was so good, Microsoft bought it, renamed it and just released it as the company’s own official Outlook app for iOS and Android

Microsoft has been pushing to extend the reach of its Office productivity software to iPhones and iPads, as well as a preview version for Android tablets. (The latter loses the “preview” label today and becomes a full release.) Meanwhile, the company also gave Windows mobile users Office apps and its own version of the email and calendar software. The lack of Outlook apps for iOS and Android, the world’s most popular mobile platforms, seemed like a huge gaping hole. 

Turns out, Acompli managed to fill that annoying, inefficient void just fine. 

See also: Microsoft Office Comes To iOS For Free

Like Outlook, Acompli combined email, appointments, contacts and an attachment manager into one app, so users don’t have to bounce between separate, incompatible applications. Microsoft acquired Acompli last December, and appears to have wasted no time in slapping a new name on it and pushing it out the door. Here’s what you need to know. 

Building A Better Outlook: Mission Acompli’ed

There’s no question that Outlook on the desktop is a powerhouse email client. On Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms, however, it looked like a power failure. 

Microsoft’s email, calendar and contacts application has been dominant on the desktop literally for decades—which is no surprise, since it comes bundled with versions of Microsoft Office. But before Thursday, Outlook on iPhones and Androids existed mostly as glorified Web apps for Office 365 users or via numerous third-party Outlook alternatives. 

See also: How To Get Started With Microsoft Office On iPad

Most of the choices paled in comparison to full-fledged Outlook, but one managed to do better. Launched less than a year ago, Acompli garnered immediate rave reviews after its April 2014 release. The free app quickly became a hit—so much so that Microsoft itself couldn’t resist scooping it up later that year. 

For the startup, the deal gives it access to “over a billion Office users,” Javier Soltero, co-founder of Acompli and now general manager for Outlook, wrote on the Microsoft Office blog. It also allows for “tighter integration with Office and Outlook, the most popular desktop email app on the planet.” 

The new Outlook is a dead ringer for the old Acompli, an app I’ve been using on the iPhone for several months now. In that time, three features have stood out for me: I can choose Chrome as the default Web browser for email or document links, instead of Safari.

The “focused inbox” for priority messages may not be perfect at picking out important emails, but it’s helpful enough to be handy. The app also offers a handy attachment viewer that integrates with cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and, of course, Microsoft’s OneDrive service. 

All of these features remain in the new app, at least for now. 

“For our Acompli users, Outlook will be a familiar experience, as we’re developing the apps from this code base,” the Official Microsoft Blog states. “You will see us continue to rapidly update the Outlook app, delivering on the familiar Outlook experience our customers know and love.”

In other words, Microsoft wants the former Acompli app to resemble the Outlook experience, and it’s in a hurry to get it there. How much of a hurry became plain when Julia White, Microsoft’s general manager of Office, told the Verge, “We have been and we’ll continue to update the app weekly.” 

Those updates will likely lead to heavier emphasis on the company’s own offerings. Hopefully that won’t come at the expense of integration with Google Drive or other external cloud storage services. 

Super Email Busting Powers

When it comes to email on Acompli—er, Outlook—support for Gmail, Yahoo and iCloud, as well as Microsoft’s own Outlook.com and Exchange, won’t go anywhere. In fact, it would benefit Microsoft to link up with as many major email providers as possible, to keep users relying on the app. 

Outlook also offers one of the most popular email features these days: Like with Google’s Inbox, Dropbox’s Mailbox and the now-defunct Acompli, users can swipe to schedule, archive or delete. 

The finger-flinging really adds a jetpack to zipping through unwieldy piles of messages, which should appeal to the businesses and workers that form Microsoft’s key user base. 

Serving businesses has always been a primary focus for Microsoft, which has seen competition heat up in this area—most recently by Amazon, which just introduced its own WorkMail service. White said, “we’ll be rounding out the really important business and organizational capability of the app too,” though she didn’t elaborate on what exactly that means yet. But with weekly updates, we may not have long to find out.

For now, Outlook for iOS and a preview for Android are both available for download. Early user reviews seem solid for the iPhone version, and generally positive on Android, though apparently some people report various bugs. That’s understandable, given that the preview app is essentially an early beta-type release. 

The user interface supports 30 languages, and the apps require iOS 8.0 and higher, or Android 4.0 and above. To check them out, visit the Apple App Store or Google Play, or play the promo video embedded below. 

Lead photo by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite; all others courtesy of Microsoft

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The iPhone May Be Booming, But The iPad Is Still Cratering

Lurking behind Apple’s dazzling October-December iPhone sales  (74.5 million units, up 46% against a year earlier) and financial results (a 30% jump in revenue to $75.6 billion, a 38% jump in net income to $18 billion) was some almost unremarked bad news. Namely, that the iPad is still tanking.

Apple sold just over 21 million iPads during the holiday quarter, a drop of 5 million units compared to the same quarter a year earlier. The once iconic tablet also posted its first full calendar year of decline; Apple sold just 63 million iPads in 2014, the lowest number since the tablet’s launch in 2011 and a 14.6% fall compared to 2013.

See also: How The iPad Stalled And Android Took Over The Tablet Market

Overall tablet sales have slowed dramatically over the past year, but the iPad is faring much worse than the overall market. In November, the research firm IDC predicted that 2014 tablet shipments would rise by 7.2% compared to 2013, but that iPad shipments would fall by 12.7%.

We now know that the iPad did even worse than that, although IDC hasn’t released final 2014 figures yet. For comparison, IDC predicted 16% growth in Android tablet shipments and a 67% rise (from a low base) for Windows tablets.

The Apple Rebuttal

As always, Apple CEO Tim Cook remained upbeat about the iPad despite the poor sales numbers, insisting that he felt it was a product that should be looked at “over the long arc of time” rather than in quarterly segments.

“I see that the first time buyer rates are very high,” he said during the company’s earnings call with analysts. “If you look in developed markets like the U.S., Japan, (and) the U.K., you’d find that 50 percent of people are buying iPad for the first time. In China, it’s over 70 percent. When you have that kind of first time buyer rate, you don’t have a saturated market.”

Cook also theorized that the lifespan of the iPad was playing a part in the decline in sales. “The upgrade cycle is longer, somewhere between an iPhone and a PC,” he said. “There’s probably some level of cannibalization that’s going on, with Mac on one side and iPhone on the other. It’s very hard to tell in the early going.”

According to Apple, the record-setting financial numbers were due to all-time highs in iPhone, Mac, and App Store sales. Sales numbers were up in China, where Apple established two more retail stores in the last quarter. On the conference call, Apple CFO Luca Maestri said Apple planned to have 40 stores open in Greater China by 2016.

China figures to be a key battleground for Apple in the near future, representing a huge market for customers and the base of its largest competitor in the country, Xiaomi

Photo by TonyV3112 for Shutterstock

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iOS 8.1.3 Shrinks Free Space Needed For iPhone Updates

Apple just removed one of the biggest irritations with its current iPhone software—the amount of free space on your handset required to install updates.

The latest release of its iOS mobile software, version 8.1.3 shrinks that storage requirement, which can vary depending on the specific iPhone or iPad model. Previous versions of iOS 8 forced many users—particularly those with 8GB or 16GB devices—to either delete apps, media or other data to make room, or connect their cables to perform a “tethered” iTunes sync. 

iOS 8.1.3 also promises to nix password issues for Messages and FaceTime, a Spotlight glitch that sometimes kept apps out of search results; and problems related to iPad multitasking gestures. The release notes also cover new configuration options for education standardized testing environments. 

For the most part, the update looks like a set of bug fixes. The next major version, iOS 8.2, which has entered its fourth beta for developers, will include support for Apple’s upcoming wearable, the Apple Watch. Analysis of that beta version reveals that the software will let Watch users customize watch faces, and include a passcode-protected lockscreen (and auto-unlock in the presence of a companion iPhone), among other things.

iOS 8.1.3 will apply to any device running iOS 8, which includes iPhones 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, and 6 Plus; iPads 2 and later; and the iPod Touch, fifth generation.

Photos and screenshots by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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EFF To Apple: No iPhone App For You

On Friday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation released an Android app designed to alert users about new digital-rights campaigns, such as this one against NSA surveillance. iPhone users, however, are out of luck; the EFF refused to release an iOS version of the same app, explaining that it found Apple’s developer-agreement terms “outrageous.”

Among other things, the EFF objects to Apple’s complete control over the availability of apps; they can only be distributed through the company’s app store, and Apple can remotely disable apps on a whim should it choose to. The EFF is also not a fan of Apple’s attempts to prevent developer from talking about the agreement itself.

Corynne McSherry is the intellectual property director at EFF and has worked there since 2006. She specializes in issues dealing with copyright, trademark, and free speech issues, and penned the post by EFF explaining its problems with the Apple terms. While neither Apple’s developer agreement nor EFF’s problems with it are new, McSherry said the issue seemed newly relevant given the organization’s release of the Android app.

“We felt like we owed folks an explanation,” she said. According to McSherry, Apple hasn’t budged on the agreement.

“Suffice to say Apple is well-aware of our concerns,” she said. “Apple has made a choice that they don’t want to change that agreement. I think they’re going to change it if they hear from enough people, not just EFF but also developers.”

While the EFF feels the Google developer agreement for Android apps isn’t perfect, it doesn’t make the same “onerous” demands that Apple does. McSherry said that EFF understands many people and developers feel they need to agree to the terms for business reasons, and that the organization doesn’t mean to imply anything negative about anyone that does agree to them. Still, EFF felt it needed to “walk the walk” as far as its espoused beliefs.

“We were not going to put our imprimatur on that agreement,” she said. The EFF currently has a petition asking Apple to make changes.

Apple did not respond to request for comment.

Photo by TonyV3112 for Shutterstock

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A Simple Guide to Transferring Your Stuff From Android to iPhone

Editor’s Note: This was originally published by our partners at <a href=”http://www.popsugar.com/tech/How-Switch-From-Android-iPhone-35739041″>PopSugarTech</a>.&nbsp;

Have your eye on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus? Apple’s made it easy for Android folk to move all of their data from their Galaxy S4, HTC One, etc. to the shiny new iPhones. There is now an official guide to switching from Android to iPhone (if you’re going the opposite way, from iPhone to Android, this is what you need). You can check out the new Apple page for more in-depth instructions, but here is the gist of what you need to know.

Mail and Contacts

Apple’s official mail app supports iCloud, Microsoft exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Outlook, so if you use one of those services, linking up your email account is pretty straightforward. For contacts, you can use an app like Copy My Data (free, iOS andAndroid).

Photos and Videos

For moving photos, we suggest uploading your mobile pictures to a cloud service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Flickr (1TB of free storage!) then downloading the mobile app versions of those storage services on your new iPhone, so you’ll have those pictures on hand without taking up any new space in your iPhone’s camera roll.

Apple suggests you use PhotoSync ($3, iOS and Android). You’ll find those freshly synced photos in the Photos app in Albums. You can also move photos and videos with a computer. Download Android File Transfer then go to Transfer > DCIM > Camera to drag the images from your device to a folder on your computer.

After downloading the images to your computer, plug in your iPhone, open iTunes, select your iPhone, click the Photos tab then select the “Sync Photos from” checkbox, and choose the folder where the photos from your Android phone were saved.

Music

If you use a streaming service like Spotify or Rdio . . . you’re in luck! All of your music will automatically be synced and you don’t need to move a thing. Just head to the App Store and download the apps you need.

To import music from an Android device, use Android File Transfer then select Android File Transfer > Music and select the songs you want, then drag them to a folder on your computer. Disconnect your Android device, plug in your iPhone, then open iTunes.

Go to Library > Music, then drag the music files from your Android device into iTunes. Click iPhone > Music, then sync your library by clicking Sync.

Books and PDFs

If you use Kindle, Nook, or Google Play Books, access them on your iPhone via the iOS app versions of those services! For ePub books and PDFs, use Android File Transfer, then select Android File Transfer > Documents to drag those files onto a folder in your computer. On a Mac, open the iBooks application and drag your book files into “list.” On a PC, open iTunes and drag the files under “Books.”

Connect your iPhone, open iTunes, click on iPhone, select Books, then select the “Sync Books” checkbox.

Read More: 

6 Things You Should Never Post On Social Media

The 15 Tricks You Need To Know When Using iOS 8

New Resolution? This Site Will Help You Actually Keep It

20 Solutions To The Most Obnoxious Tech Problems

Why Getting Girls To Code Is A Really Big Deal

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The iPhone 6 Plus And The Gendered Conversation Over Phablets It Sparks

As a woman with tiny hands, making peace with the iPhone 6 Plus took some effort. It’s the largest iPhone ever, and my mitts skew itty bitty. But I got the hang of it, only to land on the receiving end of some weird reactions—some from women, but mostly from men.

Tis the season to check out new gadgets, and some can’t help but stare at my handset, even three months after its launch. I don’t blame them. Big phones have been around for years, though the enormity is completely new for the iPhone and its users. 

See also: Mastering Apple’s Gigantic iPhone 6 Plus With Puny Hands

I get a lot of wide eyes, even looks of disdain at times. The reactions split down the gender line, turning the question of whether to get Apple’s largest phone into a conversation about the politics of gender.

A “Reminder” To Women That They Don’t Count

Go back through the years, and you’ll spot the strange ways the mobile industry catered to the sexes. Don’t forget to guffaw at the lame female-focused HTC Rhyme, with its light-up notification charm, and reminisce with the Palm Pre and its girlfriend, the Palm Pixi.

Well, at least those phone makers were trying. Tech companies have come to consistently let down female users, as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci argued in a Medium post last year. “For most men, it’s just one small, added benefit,” she wrote about growing screen sizes. “For many women, though, it’s a reminder that the tech industry doesn’t always remember or count your existence.”

For her, the issue took on even greater significance: The size of her Nexus 4 actually prevented her from documenting tear gas misuse in Istanbul, Turkey.

… as my lungs, eyes and nose burned with the pain of the lachrymatory agent released from multiple capsules that had fallen around me, I started cursing.

I cursed the gendered nature of tech design that has written out women from the group of legitimate users of phones as portable devices to be used on-the-go …

I especially cursed that I could not lift the camera above my head, hold it steadily *and* take a picture—something I had seen countless men with larger hands do all the time.

Her Nexus, which had a 4.7-inch display, would be considered modest now. It’s roughly equivalent to Apple’s “small” iPhone 6, which also disappointed Tufekci. Meanwhile the trend for phablets—or phones with screens sized at 5 inches or more—is still going strong. And so the iPhone 6 Plus and its 5.5 inches of screen has turned Apple, a brand loved by women for years, into a phablet maker. 

But The 6 Plus Freaks Out … Men?

Woe be to anyone—man or woman—trading their iPhone 4S for a 6 Plus. You’ll have quite some phone-shock.&nbsp;

CNET trotted out a study earlier this year that indicated women prefer Apple gadgets. So one might assume that if the big bad 6 Plus unnerves anyone, it would be its meek user base of weak-fingered ladies. And yet, most of the negative reactions I’ve gotten came from men. 

My iPhone 6 Plus is way too much phone, they tell me (notably, from a distance; many don’t even want to touch it). Strangers stop me to ask about it frequently. When I ask if they’d like to hold it, women tend to accept the offer. Most guys decline. Even my husband, who always inherits my phone after I’ve taken the family upgrade, refuses to have anything to do with my 6 Plus. 

I wondered what was going on. Research suggests men are prone to snap judgments, and it’s possible this plays into it, at least for male iPhone users. (Android users of both genders have had phablet options for years.) The purse effect may help explain the difference: Women might be more open to it, since they have a purse to stash bigger devices. 

The iPhones 6 Plus, 6 and 5S

But maybe something else is at play. In an opinion piece over the summer, technology expert and analyst Tim Bajarin noted that “once 5-inch and even larger 6-inch phablets hit the market, they became real hits with women, especially in Asia where women make up the largest demographic of phablet users in the world.”

As an Asian woman, I can attest to the fact that we have some of the smallest hands around. And apparently, in general, we embrace phablets. The reason: Big phones can serve dual needs. As Bajarin wrote:

[F]or many women a phablet really is a cross-over device and serves as their smartphone and mini tablet, so that they only have to carry one device with them instead of two.

As much as I want to buck generalizations, I have to admit that this describes me perfectly too. I haven’t touched my iPad mini in weeks.

The Major Pros And Cons Are Universal

Like Tufekci, I’m a woman who has pined—quite publicly—for a decent compact phone. Now I’m a convert. I figured out how to make Apple’s colossus work in my petite grip, and there’s no going back. I’m spoiled. 

See also: Why Can’t I Find An Awesome Compact Smartphone?

I no longer squint to read text on websites that won’t let me zoom in. Videos and photos look glorious on a large screen. For navigation, a big display mounted to the dashboard offers obvious benefits. I also have more room to view any lengthy messages I write, making my phone much more of a productivity tool than any of my previous small phones. I even find Apple Pay kind of fun, now that there’s no threat I’ll drop my phone

The one benefit that matters most: battery life. A big phone comes with a big power cell. The iPhone 6 Plus can go nearly twice as long as my old iPhone 5S. And when it’s not socially acceptable to have the world’s biggest iPhone sitting out on a table, I can use my smartwatch and my Ringly notifications ring for alerts—neither of which will hammer this magnificent battery. 

The 6 Plus has downsides too, of course: It’s expensive, and plenty of apps still haven’t optimized for it, so they look a bit blurry. Then there’s that pesky bending issue—which, even if it’s overblown, still haunts my dreams. But overall, I find the pros far outweigh the cons. 

That’s not to say one size fits all. But I wonder, if Tufekci or any of the male naysayers gave a phablet some time, would they find a way to make peace with it too? Because the most important benefits, at least for Apple’s phablet, seem to be pretty gender neutral. 

Lead photo and photo of couple by Hadrian courtesy of Shutterstock; Apple Store photo of female shopper amid male shoppers bu Canadapanda courtesy of Shutterstock; all others by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Mastering Apple’s Gigantic iPhone 6 Plus With Puny Hands

When I held an iPhone 6 Plus for the first time, I laughed. It looked comically huge in my little grip. Now I can’t imagine life without that big screen.

If you’ve dismissed large phones due to their unwieldy size, here’s something to consider: Despite tiny hands and normal-size pockets, I’ve managed just fine with Apple’s “embiggened” new iPhone. No hand cramps. No finger spasms. Believe it or not, I can even use most features with one hand.

If you’re wondering what dark magic this is, let me fill you in on my secret: A couple of cheap add-ons have made all the difference, transforming the super-sized phone from ridiculous gizmo to one of the most useful, usable Apple mobile devices I’ve ever relied on.

The Add-On That Makes The 6 Plus Sing In My Hands

The Plus is so big, it can literally hide my whole hand.

The iPhone ditched its squarish design, going for a super-slim profile with rounded sides that feel good, but make the iPhone 6 Plus a dicey proposition. Perhaps more than other huge smartphones, this potentially delicate device feels like it could slip easily out of my hands. Having butter fingers really doesn’t help.

I took the plunge anyway, and I’m glad I did. My own clumsiness and an upsetting phone-snatching incident this summer put me on the hunt for a phone case with finger loops. What I found was even better. Meet the Bunker Ring

This is no cockamamie thumb extender. The Bunker Ring (available on Amazon for $16) is a simple metal loop that attaches to your phone. The add-on can rotate 360-degrees, double as a kickstand and be reused on different devices. 

Initially, I doubted the grip of the tacky material that adheres it, but after several weeks now, I can attest that it hangs on for dear life. (It’s actually rated for 8 to 9 pounds of weight.) But if it ever starts to feel wiggly, just pull it off and rinse it under water. There’s no actual glue or adhesive, so water won’t ruin it, and it won’t damage your phone’s finish. Just let it dry, and it’s sticky again, ready to be reapplied. 

See also: A Thief Snatched My iPhone—And I Learned A Lot About Smartphone Crime

Concerned about the holding power being too good—Would pulling it off bend my device?—I picked up an inexpensive phone case and tacked it to that instead. 

Presto.

Bonus, the case even has a little nub for a hand strap or dongle.

Even less expensive options exist, of course, but for an item that holds up my very expensive phone, I didn’t want to go too cheap. 

A Bunker Crop Of Goodness

With my gear complete, the 6 Plus has taken on new life for me. I can reach up to the top …

… down to the bottom …

… and all the way to the left. 

No need for that weird workaround Apple calls “Reachability,” which lowers the screen so users can touch the tippy top. I kept setting it off accidentally, which had me rushing to shut it down. Now I don’t ever have to trifle with it again.

With the ring on the back, the phone feels more stable in my hand. My fingers can stretch to reach buttons or inputs without any phone-teetering now. I can hold the device above my head to snap photos, reach most controls on the opposite side of the screen, as well as do some basic texting. 

“Basic” is the operative word, though. The shift key and numbers button on the lower, far left side still remains out of reach. So if I need to text more than “lol,” “ok,” “c u” or “be right there,” the effort may require my other hand.

This hasn’t been a huge problem. I use a smartphone with one hand much less often than I realized. And when my hands are full, I tend to dictate to Siri anyway. Your mileage may vary.

The iPhone 6 Plus: 6 Weeks Later

Apple needs to stock this item, because it makes an incredible difference to the usability of the iPhone 6 Plus.&nbsp;

More than a month in, and I’ve noticed changes in my habits. I’ve barely touched my iPad mini (which may partially explain the downturn in Apple’s tablet business). I watch a lot more video on my phone now, and I tend to reach for the Plus for viewing photos, documents and websites.

Through all that usage, I have yet to drop my device. Apparel makers want to help too; they’re already redesigning pockets to fit large phones. But there’s one scenario I haven’t solved yet: taking it on a bike ride. Massive arm bands for the 6 Plus are nothing short of ridiculous.

There are two items that might resolve that: the $29 Flip Belt and the LD West Holster ($120 CAD, roughly $106 USD). Once again, both accessories work for different devices. 

The holster might be a bit pricey, and I could question the value of a smartphone that requires add-ons to make it functional. But then I remind myself of one thing: With the 6 Plus—or, for that matter, a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or Nexus 6—I don’t need a tablet anymore. If the 6 Plus can save a bit of money, why not dedicate a fraction of those savings to accessories? 

Product photos courtesy of related companies; all others by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite 

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23,000 iPhone 6 Pluses Slated For United Flight Attendants

Airplanes, brace yourselves: Apple’s giving 23,000 of its mammoth smartphones to flight attendants at United Airlines. 

Next spring, the United flight crews who satisfy our cravings for snacks or miniature wine bottles will use the iPhone 6 Plus to charge us for those treats. The devices will also keep them connected, at least on the ground, where attendants can use the phones to check their emails and manuals. 

See also: Five Travel Hacks To Save Time, Money, And Sanity On Your Next Flight

It’s striking that an industry that forced passengers to shut off their phones for years has been increasingly stepping onto the mobile bandwagon. In 2012, American Airlines announced plans to pass out Galaxy Notes to 17,000 of its flight attendants.

Almost as if the Android versus iPhone wars have taken to the air, United chose the rival iOS mobile device, and plans to expand its crews’ usage, eventually letting them use the big smartphones to report cabin issues or use apps designed as customer service tools.

The Planes vs. Phones Smackdown

Phones on planes have become a hot-button topic, and in a variety of ways.

Many airlines slowly began easing restrictions, acquiescing to passenger demand by permitting gadgets to operate in “airplane mode,” which shuts off all wireless signals. Some allow controlled Wi-Fi through expensive third-party carriers like GoGo Inflight Internet. The Federal Communications Commission still hasn’t officially ended its ban on cell phone calls inflight, though it has been mulling it over for about a year.

In a twist on the “planes vs. phones” tussle, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that a covert program by the U.S. Marshals Service used planes with high-tech gear to surveil nearby cell phones. The law enforcement organization reportedly outfitted Cessna aircraft with “dirtboxes,’’ or devices that impersonate cellular towers, so nearby phones would hop on the signal and report their location and other identifying information. 

Photo courtesy of United Airlines

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Here Comes the iPhone Safari Browser, Starring … Bing?

iPhone and Mac users, brace yourself for change: Google’s tenure as the Safari default search engine for Apple’s phones, tablets and computers will expire next year, sources tell The Information. If true, the sudden opening could set off a mad scramble to lay claim to all of your Web searches.

The unnamed sources told The Information’s Amir Efrati that Yahoo and Microsoft have already started courting Apple’s Eddy Cue, its senior vice president of Internet products and services, as they vie for the much-coveted spot. 

It’s all too easy to believe it’s true. There’s no love lost between bitter rivals Google and Apple, with the latter taking (sometimes painful) steps to inch further away from the services of the Mountain View, Calif.–based tech giant over the years. 

Back in 2012, Apple kicked YouTube and Google Maps off the iPhone when it demoted them from default-app status. It replaced Google’s map app with its own flawed Maps iOS app—to much initial hilarity—and then ultimately allowed both Google Maps and YouTube to return via the App Store as third-party downloads.

See also: Firefox Kicks Google To The Curb To Make Room For Yahoo

Earlier this year, the iPhone maker crowned Microsoft’s Bing as the engine powering its mobile and desktop Spotlight search. (Prior to that, Spotlight kicked users over to Safari, which defaults to Google.) Meanwhile, Yahoo showed some signs of life this week, inking a new deal with Mozilla to install Yahoo as the default search tool in Firefox.

Efrati notes that, while Web searches on mobile devices may be waning as developers try alternative modes of search and discovery in apps, Safari searches on iPhones are still lucrative:

Searches on Apple devices are more valuable than on Android because Apple owners are wealthier and spend more money.

Some executives in the search industry estimate that Apple receives more than $1 billion annually from its undisclosed share of Google Search revenue on Safari, a sign that it is also a windfall for Google.

Apple, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft would not comment on the story.

See also: How Yahoo Could Get Back In The Search Game

Given that Apple already uses Bing in other parts of its ecosystem, there’s a good chance it may partner with it again. If not, well, Microsoft could still benefit, as Bing actually powers Yahoo searches, at least on the desktop. (Apparently, Yahoo mobile searches may be another story.) Both search tools are already options in Safari’s settings, along with privacy-minded search engine DuckDuckGo. 

In any case, Apple would probably love to send those dollars to anyone but Google, which makes most of its money from search. But the change could be bracing for iPhone users. Google has been a fixture in mobile Safari since the device’s launch in 2007. 

Images by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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