CVS vs. Walgreens – NFC and Apple Pay will Win!

apple-pay-boa

It seems like there are very few situations where “we can all just get along”. When Apple introduced Apple Pay and support for the over 220,000 merchants already taking NFC wireless payments at the register, I thought “sweet!” Everyone loves a faster checkout experience and having one that’s more secure and private can only be a good thing right? Although CVS was never listed as one of the vendors to support Apple Pay, there were people reporting that it was working at their local CVS stores. This is because CVS has/had NFC wireless payments already in place for Google Wallet and other forms of wireless payments. Soon after these reports started coming in, we started to see reports that CVS purposely disabled not only Apple Pay, but NFC payments period! Yes, even Google Wallet on Android, which was already working and in place before Apple Pay.

Why would CVS, Rite Aid and others purposely block Apple Pay and NFC payments?

wireless_NFC_pay_icon

Well the answer seems to be they are throwing their weight behind a different mobile payment system called CurrentC. CurrentC isn’t live yet and isn’t slated to go live until early 2015. Hmm, ok. So your new payment system isn’t ready yet, then why disable one that is ready and already working at your registers? The answer to that seems to be an “exclusive” deal with CurrentC that states in writing that these merchants aren’t allowed to accept payments from competing systems. Hmmm, ok. Then why shut if off now. My guess is that they wanted to cut off support for Apple Pay before users got used to using it at their stores. In other words if something never worked you’d be less likely to complain (too loudly) than if something worked for months and then stopped working. Again, this is my personal guess, but it makes sense. It could also just be a coincidence in timing, but it seems to convenient to be a timing thing. The only other question I would have is why would you sign a deal that blocked your customers from using other payment methods especially if you already had the necessary hardware in place? As usual, it’s always about money. In other words, if CurrentC offered a better deal with less fees then the merchants just did the math and went with the better deal. What about the customer you ask? Well that’s the point of this post. At the end of the day customers always decide with their wallet what will succeed and what won’t

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The NFC capable terminal at Whole Foods Market

 

Can’t we just use CurrentC AND Apple Pay/Google Wallet?

The first thing that a consumer might think is “why not use both?” There’s certainly nothing stopping you from using both Apple Pay/Google Wallet AND CurrentC. It’s not like your smartphone is only capable of one payment system. Since CurrentC will use a dedicated App for both iOS and Android it’s easy for consumers to use both. As a matter of fact more iPhone users will be able to use it than Apple Pay because it doesn’t require NFC hardware to be in your iPhone. However, everything I’ve read thus far promises that CurrentC will be a disaster for the consumer. Here’s why: first off it’s linked to your checking account, not your credit and debit cards. This is probably why merchants are attracted to this payment system because it will reduce the credit card fees that they pay. This probably isn’t the end of the world for many at places like RiteAid and CVS, but BestBuy is on the list to get this too and I don’t know of too many people that buy big ticket items using the money in their checking accounts. People typically pay for these items over time. Next, the signup requires not only your banking information, but also your Social Security Number and your Driver’s License Number. If that’s not enough to stop you in your tracks right there, it almost promises to be slower at checkout time due to the back and forth QR code scanning that not only you have to do, but the clerk has to do as well. The clerk rings up your purchase and you then scan the QR code that’s on the display with your phone using the CurrentC app. Nope you’re not done. You then show the clerk the QR code that the app produced on your phone so that he/she can scan it as well. What could go wrong?

The Bottom Line – I have a choice

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By the way CVS, see the nice location based Walgreens Rewards Card in Passbook? You’ve promising this feature for over a year. Just sayin’

 

The funny thing is that I actually preferred going to CVS simply because it was closer to where I lived than either Walgreens or RiteAid. Proximity to my home made CVS my default choice. Now that’s no longer the case. Where I live now, the nearest CVS is directly across the street from a Walgreens. When I pull up to the intersection I can make a left and go into the Walgreens parking lot or make a right and go into the CVS parking lot. Since Walgreens makes it easier, faster and more secure to do my checkout in their stores with Apple Pay, it looks like I’ll be buying more from Walgreens from here on out. This is what I mean by “customers decide what succeeds and what doesn’t with their wallets.” I very rarely try to predict the future, but when it comes to CVS vs Walgreens (CurrentC vs ApplePay/Google Wallet)? Walgreens just gained at least one new customer. CurrentC is a non-starter for me. Making it harder to take your customer’s money usually doesn’t workout to well for the merchant. Lastly this just in… “In 72 hours, Apple Pay is already the wireless payment leader in the US

See the Apple Pay Process in action at Walgreens



8 Tips and Tricks for iOS 8

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Today is iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus day as well as many of you upgrading to iOS 8. I though I’d share 8 of my favorite iOS 8 Tips and Tricks that may not be obvious to many.



7 New Things You Can Ask Siri in iOS 7

siri-IOS7

This seems to be an annual thing  for me as each new iOS version lets you do more with Siri and each year there are more and more new iPhone and iPad users. Siri lets you do so much with simple voice commands and most people have no clue what you can ask Siri to do. For quick reference here’s my original 25 Fun Things to Ask Siri post and the follow up 25 New Things To Ask Siri when iOS 6 came out. Well iOS 7 is here and of course you can Ask Siri even more things now. Here are a few of my favorites – 7 New Things You Can Ask Siri:

AirPlane Mode (you tell Siri to control your settings, Bluetooth on, make the screen brighter, etc.)

siri-iOS7-airplanemode

Play iTunes Radio

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FaceTime My Sister

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Post to Facebook (or write on my wall, or Tweet)

siri-iOS7-posttofacebook

What’s trending on twitter?

siri-iOS7-trendingontwitter

Read my email

siri-iOS7-readmyemail

What planes are flying over me right now?

siri-iOS7-whatplanesoverme

Now for a little fun

Siri definitely has a sense of humor. Ask Siri these 5 questions and see what she comes back with:

Can you make me a sandwich?

Beam me up

What’s the answer to the universe?

Is Santa Claus real?

Who’s on first?



iPhone 5s Review

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Having been an iPhone user since the 1st iPhone back in 2007, I’ve grown accustomed to Apple’s annual release cycle and the evolutionary nature of the iPhone updates. Apple typically does a redesign and new form factor with each major number iPhone 3g, 4, 5, etc. and under the hood update with the ones that come out in between such as the iPhone 3GS, 4s and now the 5s. Therefore I was not expecting any major changes in the 5s. Apple did most of the work on this model under the hood. As a matter of fact the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 have the exact same form factor. iPhone 5 cases should fit perfectly on the 5s. However, under the hood the iPhone 5s sports a new A7 chip and 64bit processing. In layman terms the 5s is MUCH FASTER than all previous models of iPhone. Also as with all 32bit to 64bit transitions, the applications have to modified to take advantage of the new speed/pipeline. You’ll notice the new Apps in iOS 7 that are built-in will run faster. I was blown away by how fast Safari runs on the iPhone 5s. I may use it more than I used Chrome on the iPhone 5.

What’s New?

Apple_A7

Like I said above most of the work went into the inside of the iPhone 5s. On the outside you’ll have three new color choices: Gold, Silver and Space Gray. I had always gone with a Black iPhone and this time I was looking forward to getting the Gold one. However, Gold sold out instantly and by the time I got a chance to get mine it was Space Gray. The Home button is now a finger print scanner as well as a physical button. The little white iconic square on this button is gone now. The only other thing you’ll notice on the outside is the new dual LED flash near the camera on the back. More on that in a moment. I opted for the 64GB model as I was constantly running out of room with my 32GB iPhone 5. As a matter of fact I was looking to upgrade regardless of what the new features were just to get the higher capacity. I have over 400 Apps, thousands of photos and other content. On the inside you’ll find the speedy new A7 processor as well as the new M7 motion co-processor to offload a lot of graphic work and battery saving techniques from the main processor. Lastly the other major improvement is the iPhone 5s camera.

How’s the speed?

The speed is noticeable throughout the phone. You’ll feel the difference right away in all the built-in apps. However, third party apps will really need updates before they feel faster. Aside from third party apps, everything else seems instantaneous.

Does the fingerprint scanner really work?

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There were two things I was most interested in besides just having more capacity (64GB vs 32GB). The first one was the new camera and the other one was the new fingerprint scanner. When you set up your iPhone 5s you’ll be prompted to set up the built-in fingerprint scanner to recognize your fingerprint/thumbprint. You can configure up to 5 different finger/thumb prints. The process is very easy and it records your fingerprint at multiple angles so that you don’t have to place your finger/thumb on the sensor at the same spot each time. Once you have it set up, you will then be able to unlock your iPhone 5s just by holding your finger/thumb on the sensor for a couple of seconds. There’s no need to even swipe to unlock. You can also use your finger/thumb print for iTunes purchases. No need to enter your Apple ID password. I have to say that I’m really impressed with just how well it works. I had to record one of my prints over again, but after that it works every single time now. People ask me things like what if you have a cut on your finger? Or your finger is wet, dirty, etc? Keep in mind that you have up to 5 fingers to use. Lastly if all else fails you can simply enter your passcode. So to answer your question, does it really work? The answer is YES! It works great! Better than I expected and better than other fingerprint scanners I’ve used in the past.

How’s the new Camera?

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The iPhone is the most popular camera in the world! There are more images posted online that were captured with iPhone than any other camera. As a photographer I’m always taking pictures with my professional Nikon DSLR bodies. When I have my pro gear I use it. However, there are many more times that I’m out and about and the only camera I have with me is my iPhone. The camera on the iPhone 5 was already pretty good, so any improvements are/were welcome. The new iPhone 5s camera features a lower f/2.2 aperture. It has the same 8 megapixel resolution, but it also has larger pixels 1.5µ in size. While there are smartphones out there with more megapixels, most photographers know that more megapixels don’t automatically equal better quality. There are several factors and Apple gets it. The new f/2.2 aperture and larger pixels means better low light performance. Couple that with a industry first of a dual LED flash that flashes warmer or cooler depending on the lighting conditions of the room and you have the potential to have better photos from here on out. The new iPhone 5s camera also features both a burst mode (thanks to iOS 7, yes it works on the iPhone 5 as well) that can shoot up to 100 stills by simply holding down the shutter button and a new slow motion video capture feature.

Here’s a sample I captured using the slow motion feature:

The iPhone 5s comes in the same 3 capacities of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB and is available on all the major carriers in the US starting at $299.

What are my favorite features in iOS 7?

Even if you’re not getting a new iPhone, you can still benefit from upgrading your current iOS device (if it meets the minimum specs) to iOS 7. See My 7 Favorite iOS 7 Features here.

The Bottom Line

iPhone5s-colors

As with every iPhone review I do, at the end I tell you whether or not the new iPhone is worth the upgrade? You should be used to hearing this by now, but here goes. If you’re currently on an iPhone 5, especially if you’re under contract, you can probably sit this one out and wait for the iPhone 6. Yes the iPhone 5s is better than the iPhone 5, but not enough to spend more than you have to to upgrade. Now if you’re on a 4s on down, then yeah it’s time! The iPhone 5s is leaps and bounds better than the iPhone 4s or iPhone 4. You may also be wondering about the iPhone 5c. I have to admit that other than knowing that it comes in colors and it’s cheaper than the iPhone 5s, I really don’t know much about the 5c. I saw it and knew that it wasn’t for me so I didn’t spend any time checking the features of it.



Thanks goes out to my now over 75,000 Subscribers on YouTube!

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I just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU for subscribing to my YouTube Channel. I just blew past the 75,000 mark and I’m thrilled that so many of you like my content. Having over 75,000 subscribers and over 13 Million Views is no small accomplishment and again thanks.

Hey if you’re in the subscribing/following kinda mood, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (approaching 25,000 followers) and Like my Facebook Page (over 15,000 likes). Also add me to your Google+ Circles (over 25,000 have me in their circles) and follow me on Behance.

In other news

learn-cc

My Learn the Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White App has now been rebranded to “Learn the Adobe Creative Cloud with Terry White” as well as some bug fixes. Be sure to download the update. (note – I did have one person tell me that he’s having issues with it on iPad 1. So if you have an iPad 1 you might want to hold off till I confirm).

Grab the app here:

Learn Adobe Creative Cloud with Terry White - Wizzard Media

Google Adds Street View to their Mobile Web Based Maps

I think it would be an understatement to say that there is disappointment among users of Apple’s iOS 6 Maps App. It replaces the long standing and trusted Google Maps App and it fall short in many key areas. While I wasn’t a huge Maps user to begin with, I do use the App from time to time to find local businesses, get phone numbers, websites, etc. Long ago I adopted the Navigon App as my choice for turn-by-turn voice directions. However, since the new Maps App offers turn-by-turn plus direct Siri support it’s nice to be able to simply say things like “navigate to 123 Main St” and have the Maps app find the location and start navigating to it. Just last night I had the opportunity to use that feature and this was my first frustrating experience with the new Maps App. Since I was driving I wasn’t staring at my iPhone. I was simply listening to the voice directions. One of the directions was make a u-turn in a half a mile. However, by the time I got to the point to make the u-turn I realized that it had me navigate almost a mile past my destination just to turn around and go back to it. I could have made that u-turn right at the location I was headed to. That’s a mile of my life that I’ll never get back 🙂

Another problem I’m having with the new Maps App is that it simply doesn’t have the businesses listed that Google does. I ended up looking up that address last night using a regular Google search since Apple’s Map App didn’t have it.

Google beefs up their Maps Mobile Web App with Street View

One of the other missing features of Apple’s Maps App is Google’s Street View. Before today that feature wasn’t available in the mobile browser version of their Maps. Now it is. This means that I’ll likely use Google’s Map in my mobile browser more often and definitely use Navigon for my turn-by-turn directions as I’ve learned that I just can’t trust Apple’s Map app at this point for even basic navigation. Luckily there’s even a good trick to use Siri to get the Maps App to show you where you want to go and then hand it off to Navigon. Fire up Siri and simply say “navigate to __________ by train”.

Apple’s Map App doesn’t offer public transit options and therefore you’ll be offered the choice to use another app to do your navigation. Tap the Route button for Navigon and away you go (by car or public transit). This is by far the fastest and easiest way to get your destination into the Navigon app provided that the place you asked for is in Apple’s Map app or you simply use an address. I should also point out that Navigon has Google features built-in to their app. In addition to Google Local Search for POIs, it also has a Street View feature that comes up automatically as you arrive at your location so that you can see where you’re going on foot from the car, bus, train, etc.

NAVIGON North America - Garmin Wuerzburg GmbH

I’m sure that Apple will improve their Maps app over time, but at this point I definitely can’t recommend using it. The combination of Google Maps Web App, Navigon and Siri will be my solution for the foreseeable future.

iOS 6 Panorama Trick

Apple’s iOS 6 includes a great new Panorama feature for shooting panos on the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5 and 5th generation iPod touch (dual core iOS devices). The interface is really easy to use. You start shooting from the left of the scene and simply pan to the right with a visual arrow and line to keep your shots lined up (or tap the screen to go in the opposite direction right to lef). It feels more like shooting a video than it does the typical multiple still shots and then stitching them together.

The other advantage to this interface is that you can shoot at your own speed and that means that once you’re past the area on the left (like a person in the shot), that person can walk around you and get in the same shot on the right before you get there. Admittedly this is not a new idea and has been done before, but the pano feature in iOS 6 really makes this easy. Give it a try.

25 New Fun Things To Ask Siri in iOS 6

This is actually a follow up to an insanely popular post I wrote last year “25 Fun Things to Ask Siri“. I was blown away by the initial response to that post and even the continued large number of views to this day. Since iOS 6 is now out in the wild I decided to do a follow up and give you 25 New Things to Ask Siri. In no particular order here we go:

Tweet “Having fun with Siri and iOS 6”

Show Tweets that mention me

Launch Terry White

Launch apps by name!

Play Angry Birds

How did the Lions do last weekend?

Post To Facebook headed to the park

Take me home

Show me the White House

Navigate to My Sister

How long woud it take to drive to Ford Field?

Take a picture

FaceTime Scott Kelby

When do the Bears play next?

Show me the Roster for the Lions

Did the Buccaneers win?

What movies are playing near me?

What time does the movie Resident Evil Start?

Who stars in the Bourne Legacy?

What is Expendables 2 rated?

Show me reviews for The Dark Knight Rises.

Which movie won best picture in 2008?

Make a reservation at Ocean Prime for tomorrow at 7PM

Is there an open table at Morton’s tonight?

Do Not Disturb

What’s the best smartphone?

 

7 New Things To Ask Siri in iOS 7

Check them out here.

 

 

CloudFTP Lets You Share a Hard Drive Wirelessly with Your Devices, even your iPad

I ordered this little gadget before heading out on my current tour and got a chance to try it out in the hotel lounge with one of my colleagues. CloudFTP for all intents and purposes is a little adhoc access point with a USB port on it. Technically you should be able to hook up just about any storage device to it and share the content on that device wirelessly with your devices (computers and iOS/Android devices).

I figured I’d give it a real world test and time for a CloudFTP review. I took it out of the box, read the little manual that comes with it (so I could figure out how to access it), plugged in my LaCie Rugged Firewire 800/USB 2 backup drive into and fired it up. After a few moments it was up and ready to go. I then went to the web browser on my iPhone, keyed in the URL and there it was!

My hard drives directory structure. I could access any file and if the file was iOS compatible such as a PDF or movie I could see it right then and there. Speaking of movies, I get asked all the time about plugging in hard drives or other external drives into an iPad or iPhone to carry movies around and up until now I never really had a good answer. This would do the trick nicely. The first movie I tried wasn’t in a format that iOS liked (it was an AVI file) and therefore it copied the movie to the iPhone and then I was able to open it in the VLC App and it played just fine.

The movie playing above is streaming wirelessly from my LaCie hard drive to my iPhone 4s via the CloudFTP

I tested another movie that was in the proper .MP4 format and it streamed. However, I will note that about halfway through the movie the video froze and the sound kept going. Not sure if that will be an ongoing issue or not. I was also impress that the built-in USB port had enough power to run the drive without the drive or the CloudFTP being plugged into a power source. The second thing that impressed me even more was that it didn’t seem to matter what format the drive was in. My hard drive was Mac formatted and it still showed up as the “C” drive with all the directories (folders) showing.

Battery life is up to five hours and you can share documents, music or photos with up to 8 users at a time or movies with up to three users. It creates a WiFi network for your devices to join but keep in mind it’s not a WiFi Internet Router and therefore there is not internet connectivity while you’re connected to it. However, you can configure it to join your existing network if you like.

The Bottom Line

I don’t know how much use I will get out of this. I primarily got it as a method to quickly share files between computers and multiple users. I don’t run into those situations often, but when I do this device should come in real handy. The small size is also a plus as I can just keep it in the ThinkTank Cable Management 30 accessory bag that I carry in my laptop bag. The only thing I don’t really like about it is that while it does charge via USB, it comes with it’s own proprietary charging cable and that means having to keep up with more more cable as opposed to using a standard USB micro cable to charge. Other than that it works as advertised.

You can check out CloudFTP here for $99.95 and it comes in either Black or White