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Hyundai and Ford Need to Talk

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Each refresh of the Hyundai Sonata brings it closer to being a clone of the Ford Fusion. Who knows. Maybe it already is. I mean, you don’t ever see them in the same room together…

2018 Hyundai Sonata

2017 Ford Fusion

In case you can’t tell, the Hyundai is at top and the Ford is on bottom.

So Ford and Hyundai should meet up, figure out who is going to make the car, then rebadge appropriately.

2017 Lexus GX 460: Still Ugly

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C’mon! This is what a luxury SUV looks like?

2017 Lexus GX 460

The body was designed 15 years ago, and then Lexus decides to make their new Darth Vader grill work on that aging design. It’s expensive and ugly, and it’s in the same line-up as some really beautiful SUVs.

Lexus RX

Does the RX look like it’s at all related to the GX abomination?

Honda Ensures Continued Stigma of Mini Vans

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So Honda helps debut the 2018 Odyssey like this:

Honda Minnie Van ... get it?

All dads who are trying desperately to keep hold of their masculinity are grimacing now.

So Honda is tying some of its marketing to Disney, obviously. Their recently redesigned Odyssey is rolling out now, and you might even notice … if you look closely.

2018 Honda Odyssey

The redesign is so subtle that you might dismiss the look for the previous design. I expect that under the sheet metal, this is basically the same platform dating back to 2011.

Mini vans are relatively large vehicles nowadays. That makes for large pieces of sheet metal for the body panels. And like many automakers, Honda doesn’t know what to do with all that space. So they do what other lost designers do and design meaningless swoops that advertise “sorry, we didn’t know what to put here.”

Meaningless Swoops

Honda Didn’t Finish the Accord

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Honda recently debuted the 2018 Accord … and it doesn’t look done. I mean, where is the rest of the front end?

2018 Honda Accord

Don’t get me wrong. Overall, the new Accord is fairly attractive. The headlights are pretty cool. The chrome bar with the Honda logo is placed well, but the big gaping hole under it makes the car look woefully incomplete.

But at least you can inspect the butts of the bugs the end up in your radiator.

I think the rear combination lights come off as non-standard and welcome. Props for being imaginative.

But seriously, put some grill in that hole, Honda.

Quick Tip: Mute/Unmute a Call When Your iPhone is Locked

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Phone App Icon

Phone ControlsIf you’re like me, you participate in conference calls with your iPhone. I frequently use headphones or a bluetooth headset during such calls. I hate when the screen locks, then it’s my turn to speak, and I fumble to get to the screen where I can unmute myself. Oddly, the iPhone doesn’t lock when the speaker phone is enabled, but using headphones will lock you out after a bit.

Here’s a tip to get to the mute toggle much quicker:

  1. With a call active, wake the screen on your locked iPhone.
    1. Owners of iPhone 6s and later phones can pick up the phone.
    2. Owners of iPhone 6 and earlier phones can press the Home button.
    3. Owners of iPhones with Touch ID (iPhone 5s and later) can press the Home button with a fingernail or a finger that is not programmed for Touch ID.
  2. Tap the phone number and timer area near the top of the screen.
    The phone call controls will appear without the need to unlock the phone.

Told you it was quick.

Thoughts About the 2016 MacBook Pro Laptops [UPDATED]

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MacBook Experience

Apple’s new MacBook Pro laptops were shown on October 27 to a relatively small audience at the company’s headquarters. The machines were redesigned to be smaller with a respectable offering of hardware options in processors, RAM, storage, and graphics horsepower. The highlight, of course was the Touch Bar with Touch ID which offers innovation for the tired row of function keys along with fingerprint security.

Touch Bar on MacBook Pro

The only surprise was the significant bump in price over the predecessors. And for me, Apple seemed to apologize for this by offering a less expensive MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar and half the USB-C ports.

Apple executives seemed to be prepared for this reaction and conducted an unusual interview with Cnet reporters. I can’t recall such an interview at previous product launch events.

During this interview, Apple asserted that the MacBook Pro models were designed to an experience and not a price point. I’ll take them at their word, but the prices are still too high. Comparably equipped premium Windows computers aren’t cheap but are much more affordable. So the whole designed-to-an-experience-and-this-is-what-it-costs argument is kind of hollow.

If the experience was paramount, the MacBook Pro line would start off with 1 TB of flash-drive storage.

Another point on the steep price: The day after the launch event, Amazon had a Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro discounted $200 and the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro discounted $360. Hmm.

In the past, Apple has poked fun at Windows PCs with touch screens. Their opinions were arguably valid, but their actions might not be fully in line with their words. With the large trackpad and the new Touch Bar, I’d argue Apple is making everything “touch” except the screen. I don’t intend this to be an outright criticism of Apple, but it’s something to consider.

And finally, let me pick on Apple about input/output. The MacBooks appear to be all going to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. While this creates an uncomfortable period where there are few directly compatible peripherals, I feel this is the right way to go. USB-C is the future. It powers devices, runs video/audio, and offers very high data speeds. And each port can do more than one thing per connection. What’s not to love about USB-C?

Meanwhile, the iPhone still uses Lightning connections. And the latest iPhones, the 7 and 7 Plus, courageously lost their headphone jacks (but you can still connect your wired headphones to the new MacBook Pros). To do right by their customers, Apple needs to lose Lightning in favor of USB-C on the very next iPhone.

That has to be obvious.

Don’t get me wrong, I find the new MacBook Pro laptops very attractive. They’re top of the line and will perform very well, I’m sure. But I can’t bring myself to afford the one I want right now. Perhaps more of the discounts Amazon previewed will become more widespread soon.

So … my waiting continues…

Sad German Shepard Waiting

UPDATE Oct 30, 2016: So this is part of the designed experience? The right-hand side USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports have reduced performance. I know this would only be noticed by few users, but still…

Missing Messages in the iOS Mail App

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Missing Email MessagesAre you seeing an email message in your web-based email services, but you’re not seeing it on your iPhone or iPad’s Mail app?

Well, the solution is pretty simple but kind of a pain. You’ll need to delete the troubled account on your iPhone, and then re-add it. Here’s how:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Swipe down and tap Mail.
  3. Tap Accounts.
  4. Tap the account name with which you’re having trouble. For example, Outlook or Yahoo!
  5. Find and tap Delete Account.
  6. A confirmation will pop up from below. Tap Delete Account to confirm the action.

After a moment, the account will disappear from your iPhone. Now, add that account back to the iPhone.

  1. Go back to Settings.
  2. Swipe down and tap Mail.
  3. Tap Accounts.
  4. Tap Add Account.
  5. Tap the name of the service provider.
  6. Follow the prompts. Depending on the service provider, signing into the service will differ.
  7. Once that has been completed, tap the service’s name from the Accounts list.
  8. Tap Mail Days to Sync. Choose an option that fits your needs. I generally choose No Limit, but you might not need this.

You should be good to go.

App Pick: AnyList

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AnyList

I heard about the AnyList app on the Daily Tech News Show podcast during the Today’s Pick section. I’d been looking for an updated app for syncing shopping lists for a while. I was skeptical, but AnyList’s features and its freemium model won me over. We’ve been using it for a while, and it’s working well.

Note: Currently, there are no Android or Windows Phone versions of AnyList.

Free Features

The basic features of AnyList should work for most. You can create and edit lists and synchronize them among your own devices. You can also share individual lists among other user accounts. This allows you to share with your partner without having to also share your account. Meanwhile, your partner can maintain her or his own separate lists.

The same list on two devices

The built-in database contains most grocery items, and you can add items if you prefer specific brands or product types (like Vanilla Oreos). As you type, autocomplete offers quick, tappable suggestions.

AnyList manages categories in groups. So Dairy, Meat, and Product are in the Grocery Category Group. And you can add categories and sort them as you see fit. For example, I added Coffee and then sorted it so it would appear after Breakfast & Cereal. And this edit is available to anyone with whom I share the list.

Thoughtful convenience features are also available. You can keep your device from powering off while AnyList is open. You can set to double-tap to cross off a list item which can prevent accidental cross-offs when your finger mindlessly touches the edge of your screen. And you can tweak the colors of individual lists to help visually differentiate them.

AnyList Complete: The Premium Features

The premium features are not overpriced. Individual accounts are $7.99 per year and Family accounts are just $11.99 per year for everyone. And the renewal is not automatic, so you stay in full control.

The cost entitles you AnyList for the Web (a nice web-based app) and a Mac app. You can use the iOS mobile app and desktop browser extensions to import recipes from popular websites. This allows you to manage the ingredients in your lists including recipe photos. There’s also recipe scaling and meal planning.

In case you just gotta have the exact item, you can add item photos to remove potential confusion.

Your lists, recipes, and associated photos are all backed up to the cloud. This helps get the premium elements onto new devices by just logging into your AnyList account.

You can configure badge counts and protect lists with passcodes. And if you’re wild about themes, you have more options with the premium services.

More Than Groceries

While I’ve gone on and on about the features for groceries and recipes, AnyList can manage, well, any list that you can think of.

Find out more at www.anylistapp.com.

Quick Tip: Text Replacement in iOS and Mac

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Text ReplacementApple has baked in text replacement (aka, text substitution) in Mac OS X and iOS. This can take the drudgery out of typing frequent things like your email address whether on your Mac or iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch). You just need to know it’s there and how to configure it. Both of which are simple.

Mac OS X

  1. Click System Preferences.
  2. Click Keyboard.
  3. Click the Text tab.

To create a new replacement, click the plus-sign (+) under the list.

To edit an existing replacement by clicking once to highlight the row then click onto the text in either the Replace or With cells to change them.

You can delete a replacement by clicking to highlight the row and then click the minus-sign () at the bottom of the list to delete that item.

iOS

  1. Tap the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Keyboard.
  4. Tap Text Replacement.

To create a new replacement, tap the plus-sign (+) in the upper right corner. Under Phrase type the long text string (like your email). Under Shortcut, enter the short text string that will invoke the replacement action. Then tap Save.

To edit an existing replacement, tap the row. Then, like described above, edit the Phrase and Shortcut and tap Save.

To delete a replacement, swipe your finger to the left on a row to expose the red delete button. Tap Delete.

The Implications of a Delayed iPhone 7

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iPhone ?

Nikkei is speculating that the iPhone 7 won’t debut until 2017. And I’ve been wondering the same thing over the past few months.

So perhaps Apple will keep the iPhone 6 design around for a third year. Photos of alleged iPhone pre-production parts are appearing on the rumor blogs, and they look like … iPhone 6 designs. The most significant rumored changes are camera updates and no more headphone jack (which might lead to better water resistance).

Meanwhile, the rumor mill regarding iPhone’s switch to OLED displays puts that hardware change into 2017. Going with OLED displays on an “s” year just seems unlikely to me.

If this is all true, it will be entertaining to see what they decide to call the 2016 iPhone 6 iteration.

Also if this is true, it might allow Apple to dedicate some time and resources to Siri. Other existing and upcoming virtual assistants from competitors are making Siri look neglected. In fact, Siri’s original creators recently demo’d Viv which seems to be leaps and bounds ahead of Siri. Apple’s 2016 WWDC might include a huge push for Siri. Rumors swirl that the voice assistant might get its own SDK for developers to better implement the technology in their apps. Also, dedicated Siri devices could be on the way to compete with Amazon’s intriguing Echo product.

While that sounds positive, a delayed iPhone 7 could further impact Apple’s stock price. Apple continued to sell a huge number of iPhones this year, but it showed essentially flat growth from the previous year. Investors tend to hate that. And if there’s no shiny new technology to make up for an absent iPhone 7, the Apple stock will likely take another hit.

This is, of course, all speculation, and that’s fun. Time will tell, though.