Swype your way to easier typing on iOS 8

One of the features that Android users have been able to take advantage of for years that iOS users have been missing is the ability to use third-party keyboards rather than the stock keyboard that comes pre-installed on most devices. The recent release of iOS 8 adds the ability for iOS users to finally utilize third-party keyboards. In my opinion, the best option is Swype, which I’ve been using on my Android phones and tablets since 2009, and it is the first app I download whenever I get a new device.

The main functionality of Swype has been copied by many other Android keyboards, but Swype was the first to implement it and, in my experience, is still the best at it. Rather than having to click on each letter in the word, you can just draw a trail through each letter you want in one continuous motion without having to lift your finger off of the screen, other than to make a space between words. Here’s a demo of the Android version in action:

In my limited experience of using the iOS keyboard on other people’s iPhones, it leaves something to be desired as far as a touchscreen input method so Apple finally giving its users choices and allowing third-party keyboards to be used is definitely a step in the right direction and iPhone and iPad users should take advantage of it. I paid 99 cents for it when it was first added to Google Play and think it’s the best 99 cents I’ve ever spent in the Play store. At the time of writing, it is available for the same price in the iTunes store. You use the keyboard virtually every time you use your phone, so why not spend $1 on a keyboard that is a vast improvement over Apple’s default keyboard? I think Swype should be on all Android and, now, iOS devices.

Maybe size does matter: Apple introduces bigger iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch

it’s an annual tradition in the tech world that takes up all the headlines: the day Apple announces the new iPhone. The hype for this year’s keynote was even bigger than usual because of the anticipated bigger-screen devices Apple was expected to announce. Those expectations were met, with the introduction of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. The company also announced its first entry into the wearables market, the Apple Watch.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus - announced by Apple chief executive Tim Cook

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company finally embraced what most Android manufacturers have embraced over the past several years: that consumers want bigger screens on their phones, or “phablets,” as they’re sometimes called. So the bigger screens are the big deal on the new phones. Both versions of the iPhone 6 feature a new 64-bit A8 processor, 8MP rear camera and 1.2MP front camera (though only the Plus has optical image stabilization on the rear camera), and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Full specs for both models (along with the other iPhone models currently available) can be found here.

Apple is playing catch-up to Android phones with the bigger screens, but that’s not the only area where Apple is finally adding things that Android phones have had for years. Other features that fit into that category are NFC payments, which the company is calling Apple Pay — and Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capability.

Both the iPhone 6 models will be available in silver, gold and space gray beginning September 19 at all the major U.S. carriers, starting at $199 for the 16GB iPhone 6 and starting at $299 for the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus. Unlike with previous models, there is no 32GB model; the larger storage capacities for the iPhone 6 models are 64GB and 128GB.

Then there’s the Apple Watch, the company’s answer to Motorola’s moto 360 and Android Wear devices from other manufacturers, like Samsung and LG. The Apple Watch, which is expected to be released in early 2015, features all of the basic functions you would expect from a smartwatch, including notifications for text messages, emails and phone calls, but also includes features that Apple says allows the watch to be used as an all-day fitness tracker. The Apple Watch comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, both of which feature a sapphire crystal and 316L stainless steel case. Because of the typical “Apple tax,” the Apple Watch starts at $349, $100-150 more than comparable Android Wear watches.

Pre-iPhone 6 announcement catch-up: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge announcement

During last week’s IFA conference, Samsung announced the latest version of its Galaxy Note “phablet” series, the Galaxy Note 4, along with a new entrant in the Note series, the Galaxy Note Edge, which features a wraparound screen. The big-screen Note line has become a big seller for the Korean company in recent years and the Note 4 is expected to follow that pattern, but the Note Edge is a little less conventional and probably won’t be as mainstream.

As far as specs go, most of the Note 4’s improvements over the previous-generation Note 3 come inside the device, as both phones feature a 5.7″ screen, though the 4 ups the resolution from 1080p to quad HD. Other specs for the Note 4 include 3GB RAM, internal storage starting at 32GB (with microSD slot), 16MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, 3.7MP front camera, a 3220 mAh battery and Android 4.4.4. Of course a staple of the Note series is the S-Pen input tool that allows users to more precisely write and draw on the touchscreen as well as utilize the S-Pen for other functions with the device.

The screen on the Note Edge measures 5.6″ and comes with a slightly smaller battery than the Note 4, at 3000 mAh, but many of the other specs are the same between the two devices. The Note Edge also comes with a S-Pen. The biggest differentiator with the Edge is its curved screen, which wraps around one edge of the device to allow slightly more room for easier access to such features as notifications.

Both devices are expected to be available through all four major U.S. carriers beginning in October. The Note 4 will likely face more competition than its predecessors have in the past as Apple is expected to announce its own 5.5″ (and 4.7″) iPhone today.

Fire sale: Amazon phone drops to 99 cents

Less than a week after reports surfaced that Amazon’s Fire Phone sold “no more” than 35,000 units since being released in July, the latest move by the e-tailer and its exclusive carrier partner, AT&T, suggests that the data used to estimate the sales numbers may be pretty accurate. Amazon announced today that the phone’s on-contract price has been slashed from the original $199 cost to a mere 99 cents with a two-year agreement with AT&T.

At its original price, the mid-range specs and a gimmicky 3-D feature couldn’t compete with other manufacturers’ flagship phones consumers could buy for the same price or even less at Amazon itself. Sure some more phones may be sold now that it’s essentially free on a contract, but at this point it’s just about getting rid of inventory to cut the losses on the product. On the bright side, the Fire Phone lasted (slightly) longer than HTC’s Facebook-centric First did on AT&T before its price was cut to 99 cents before being discontinued earlier this year.

Maybe Amazon should stick to selling its successful KIndle Fire line of tablets and leave the phones to companies like Samsung and Apple that sell millions of units of their phones. I guess you can chalk this up to a failed experiment for Amazon, though I can’t really say I’m surprised by this outcome.

32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — Playoff Picks



After previewing all 32 NFL teams, it’s time to make my playoff picks:

AFC Playoff Seeds

  1. Denver Broncos
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Baltimore Ravens
  6. Kansas City Chiefs

NFC Playoff Seeds

  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. New Orleans Saints
  3. Green Bay Packers
  4. Philadelphia Eagles
  5. Chicago Bears
  6. Arizona Cardinals

AFC Wild Card Round

Bengals defeat Chiefs
Colts defeat Ravens

AFC Divisional Round

Broncos defeat Bengals
Patriots defeat Colts

AFC Championship Game

Patriots defeat Broncos

NFC Wild Card Round

Packers defeat Cardinals
Bears defeat Eagles

NFC Divisional Round

Seahawks defeat Packers
Saints defeat Bears

NFC Championship Game

Seahawks defeat Saints

Super Bowl


32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — St. Louis Rams


Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the St. Louis Rams.

Any optimism Rams fans had for the upcoming season likely went away in August when QB Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the team’s third preseason game. In his absence, veteran backup QB Shaun Hill is expected to get first crack as the team’s starter as he sits atop the depth chart. With the quarterback situation, it’ll be tough for the team to improve upon its 7-9 record from last season.

Rookie RB Zac Stacy began last season as a backup but took over the starting job during the season and showed some promise in the role. Stacy started 12 games — he played in 14 total — and ran for 973 yards with seven touchdowns. The team’s top receiver last year was TE Jared Cook, who caught 51 balls for 671 yards and five touchdowns. No one else on the team caught more than 40 passes last season.

Looking ahead to this year, the team’s biggest question is Hill. In his eight seasons in the league, he has started just 26 games — none since 2010 in his first season with the Lions. Stacy likely needs to have a good follow-up to his breakout campaign in his rookie year to help out the offense. The receiving game could get a boost after the offseason signing of WR Kenny Britt, who can put up good numbers when he plays, but injuries have limited his production throughout his career. in addition to the typical divisional games against the Seahawks and 49ers, tough games on the Rams’ schedule include a road game against the Chiefs and a home game against the Broncos. It looks like another sub-.500 season for the team that hasn’t had a winning record since 2003.

Source: http://www.stlouisrams.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

32 in 32ish: NFL Preview — San Francisco 49ers


Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the San Francisco 49ers.

In his first three seasons as the 49ers’ head coach, Jim Harbaugh has led the team to three NFC championship games, with one Super Bowl appearance, but has been unable to get the team the elusive Super Bowl title. He’ll try to finish the task this season, but with injuries and suspensions, it may be tough for the team to make another run to the conference championship or beyond.

In his first full season as the starter, QB Colin Kaepernick threw for just 3197 yards and 21 touchdowns, but that doesn’t tell the full story with him; he also added 524 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. Those rushing numbers put him second on the team, behind only RB Frank Gore, who ran for 1128 yards and nine touchdowns. Kaepernick’s top receiver was WR Anquan Boldin, who had 1179 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season with the team. TE Vernon Davis had 830 receiving yards with 13 touchdowns while WR Michael Crabtree added 284 yards in an injury-plagued season that limited him to just five games. The team did well defensively, ranking third in the league in points allowed and fifth in yards allowed.

With the offensive core returning, including a healthy Crabtree, the offense shouldn’t be a problem for the team this year, but the defense could be. Still recovering from an injury suffered in last year’s conference championship game, LB NaVorro Bowman will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after being placed on the physically unable to perform list and will likely miss longer than that. LB Aldon Smith will miss the season’s first nine games after being suspended for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, and DT Ray McDonald faces a possible suspension over his recent arrest for domestic violence. The 49ers kick off their season on the road against the Cowboys before playing their first regular-season game at their new stadium in week two when they host the Bears. The schedule also includes road games against the Broncos and Saints and a final three-game stretch against the Seahawks, Chargers and Cardinals that could cause problems for the 49ers if they’re fighting for a playoff spot in the stretch run.

Source: http://www.49ers.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com