apple · apple store · ipad pro · iphone · macbook pro · macintosh · retail

Apple Danbury Reopens with New Design Language

Apple is getting ready to launch their newly redesigned Danbury Fair Mall location with the new design language that has already debuted in other retail locations, such as the Union Square store in San Francisco.

As I arrived this morning, the prep teams were still putting the finishing touches on the store: setting up chairs at the newly designed tables, arranging the milk crate seats in front of the video wall in The Forum, and obsessively, and I do mean obsessively, wiping away every smudge and fingerprint on the massive sliding glass panels that make up the enterance to the store.

The new retail store format is the work of Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s SVP of Retail and Online Store, and Jonathan Ivy, Apple Chief Design Officer.

The store looks absolutely great! It is instantly recognizable as an iconic Apple store, and still offers a clean modern look that makes you want to just come in and hang out.  The Forum video wall looks really nice! Coming to the store for the new Apple Today sessions is going to be really great fun.

All of the Apple managers and staff that I have talked to this morning, like me, are really excited for the new store and the format. This store, just like the products that are sold here, is just incredible!

With less than an hour to go before the Danbury store relaunched, the employees are marking the last checks on everything.

As the 10:00am launch our draws near, the crew gets in a group photo.

After the doors opened, the group of enthusiastic customers that had gathered in the mall flooded in!

[Updated with new photos.]

apple · apple store

Apple MacBook Pro 15″ with Touch Bar & Touch ID


Today, I’m picking up a new MacBook Pro 15″ with Touch Bar and Touch ID.

For the last year, I have been happily using a 2015 27″ 5K iMac as my daily driver for personal and school work.  While I love my 5K iMac, there have been lots of times while working on papers, drawings, and programming assignments when I needed to get away from my desk and out of my home office.  On those occasions, I used a work issued Dell Latitude.  The Dell does a fine job (I’m the main buyer for work PCs and servers), but…it’s just not a Mac.
I have been thinking about what to purchase for a while now.  The MacBook (One).  A 13″ MacBook Pro (Escape).  A 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID.  I have finally settled on the 2016 15″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID.  Even now, as I’m getting ready to head to the Apple Store, I’m still not sure which color, space grey or silver, I am going to buy.  I have owned many silver MacBook Pros, more so than any other color (white, charcoal, or black).  My last MacBook, the 2009 17″ MacBook Pro was silver.  I think this time, I will go with the space gray model.  But who knows, I may change my mind at the last minute.


airpods · apple · apple store · imac · ios 10 · ipad · iphone 7 · iphone 7 plus · mac os x · trumbull

First Thoughts on Apple AirPods and Unboxing Photos


Earlier this week, Apple’s wireless ear buds, AirPods, when on sale in Apple Stores.  After selling out almost immediately, I finally got mine today.  What follows is my story and first impressions about getting my pair of AirPods.

The Story

I first learned about Apple’s new AirPods wireless earbuds like many of you…while watching a recording of Apple’s iPhone 7 event back on September 7th.  I was super excited about them and was looking forward to getting a pair to go with my iPhone 7 Plus. Alas, the AirPods wouldn’t be ready until “October”.  Throw in a “We need a little bit more time to get them exactly right” from Apple PR and you end up with some disappointed customers.

Fast forward to December 13, when Apple dropped a press release stating that the AirPods where now on sale at  Whoa!  I totally missed the press release because, you know, work, and by the time I checked out the online store, AirPods were showing delivery dates three to four weeks out.  Having to do the responsible adult thing this past Monday meant that there was no chance of taking the morning off to get in line at one of my local Apple Stores.  Topping it all off, AirPods are showing delivery dates around mid-February.  2017. Ugh!

But my luck changed today, thanks to!  Using their inventory status tool, I was energetically checking AirPod stock in Connecticut, New York City, Long Island, and southern Massachusetts.  Yes, I seriously considered driving out of state, taking a train down to Grand Central Station, or taking my car over to Long Island via ferry.

At 3:30pm, I saw that Apple Danbury received some in.  The hour drive, by comparison to getting on a ferry, wasn’t too bad, but driving back home in rush hour traffic would have been the worst.  With AirPods in my bag and my finger hovering over “Buy with Apple Pay” in the Apple Store iOS app, I chose to wait.  I decided to wait a half hour to get back to my iMac, and I told myself that if they were still available for pickup in Danbury, I would buy them and go pick them up after dinner.  When I checked the status, to my surprise, the AirPods were sold out in Danbury, but were “in” at Apple Trumbull.  I hastily changed by order and purchased them online for pick up today.  He shoots! He scores!


Earlier today, I dropped by Apple Trumbull in Westfield’s Trumbull mall.  The store was busy, as you would expect, but not super packed.  The greeter checked me in, and a few minutes later, Joe was coming over help me finalize my order.  Joe recognized my name from the store’s grand opening event two years ago.  We got to talking and I decided to open my AirPods in the store and set them up.  Joe gave me a quick session on how to pair AirPods with my iPhone 7 Plus (Spoiler Alert: Flip open the AirPods case next to your unlocked iPhone running iOS 10) and how to use them.  There was a lot going on in the store, so I appreciated him taking some extra time with me for a one-on-one.  I also took a few minutes to talk to Mary, the store manager, just to let her know how awesome her staff is.

W1, iCloud, and the Magic of the Secret Sauce

AirPods, are Bluetooth wireless ear buds.  The bud part that goes in your ear is styled after the current EarPod wired ear buds that Apple puts in the box with the iPhone.  I always thought that Apple’s ear buds were comfortable to wear, and the AirPods are no exception.  Pairing Bluetooth devices is a real pain in the neck.  Apple solved this problem by creating the W1 system on a chip.  W1 makes pairing AirPods with your Apple devices effortless if that device is running iOS 10, macOS Sierra, or watchOS 3.  Just hold the AirPod case a few inches away from your unlocked iPhone and flip open the AirPods case.  Boom!

For devices like my 4th generation AppleTV, the pairing process is still super simple, but you must press the round button on the back of the case to initiate the pairing process.  Because all my Apple devices are signed in to iCloud using the same account as my iPhone, all my devices instantly knew about my new AirPods.  That takes so much of the hassle out of trying to use Bluetooth headphones and ear buds with more than one device.  I love my PowerBeats ear buds for working out at the gym, but I almost never bother trying to get them to connect to my iPad Air to watch a TV show or movie.  Thanks to W1 and iCloud, using AirPods with all my iDevices is really easy.

AirPods in Action

There are some cool things you can do with AirPods.  First off, if you pull one of the ear buds out of your ear, whatever you are listening too or watching will instantly pause.  Pop the bud back in, and the music or video automatically resumes.  Double-tapping either one of the AirPods will summon Siri.  You can ask Siri to raise or lower the volume, skip the current track, or read new messages.  Any command that you can issue to Siri from your iPhone, Watch, or Mac will work.  In my few hours of playing with them, I haven’t found a command yet that didn’t work.  My daughter Kate wanted to do some Christmas shopping this evening.  I brought along AirPods so I could listen to some Christmas music while walking around the local Target.  A good song came on, and I pulled out one ear bud and popped it into her ear so we could both listen.  We got an aisle length apart and her AirPod bud was still rocking out without any trouble.  While connected to my iMac (in my finished basement), I could listen to music on my AirPods two floors away in my bedroom.  That’s some really great range!  You can also use one AirPod at a time.  You won’t be listening in stereo, but that’s perfectly fine while talking on the phone or listening to spoken word content in podcasts or audio books.

In just a few hours of using them, I have had a good experience so far.  They sound pretty good.  Obviously, personal preference will come into play here.  I’m not an audiophile, and I like the sound of the wired EarPods.  To me, AirPods sound as good as the wired ear buds.  They are light weight and are comfortable to wear.  I think the best part about AirPods is that there are absolutely no wires to get tangled up in.  I won’t catch the wire around the arm rest on my office chair.  There’s no cable to bunch up behind my neck while walking or running.  And the AirPods in their case is a smaller package them my PowerBeats in their case.  The negatives I can see with the AirPods in my limited amount of testing are the purchase price ($149.00) and the fact that unlike EarPods or Beats headphones, there are no buttons on AirPods.  Volume up, volume down, play/pause, and track skipping can only be done via Siri, from your iPhone, your Watch, or another connected Apple device.  This wasn’t an issue for me.  Each time I double-tapped an ear bud, Siri correctly understood and issued my voice commands.  Even in a busy Target store.  The pause/play feature also worked well just by taking one ear bud out of my ear.  AirPods provide about five hours of continuous use, and are charged when they are placed in their case.  The case charges via a Lightening cable.  A Lightning cable is provided in the box, however, you will need to provide an adapter, like the one that comes in the box with iPhone. This might be a problem for some heavy iPhone users who may need to charge their iPhone and their AirPods/case at the same time.

But let’s cut to the chase.  Everyone I talked to about the AirPods at work, and Meghan, my Apple loving child, thinks I’m crazy for wanting AirPods because I will promptly lose one and be sad.  I baby my Apple equipment.  I can’t imagine a normal day-to-day situation where I would misplace one or both buds.  They sit nicely in my ears.  Shaking my head in a vigorous side-to-side “No!” motion does not cause them to fall out.  Walking around the mall does not cause them to fall out.  Double-tapping them does not cause them to fall out. Lying in bed watching a movie on my iPad wasn’t a problem.  Heck, I even did 30 jumping jacks without any problems.  Every ear is different, so your individual mileage may vary.  When I’m not using them, I plan on putting the buds back in their charging case, so I don’t expect to misplace either of them.  There is no “Find My AirPods” app, so you will need to remember where you put them down.

Unboxing Photos


Everything told, I’m super excited to have a pair of AirPods, especially considering how constrained supply is right now.  They sound great, the W1 chip makes the Bluetooth pairing process dead simple, and they work as advertised.  In a word, I would call the new Apple AirPods “magical” and I am going to enjoy using them.


apple · apple store · iphone 7 plus · new haven

Apple iPhone 7 Plus Unboxing

Last Thursday, I found and purchased my Apple iPhone 7 Plus.  The road to getting it was a bit bumpy, but that is a story for another time.

What follows are my thoughts on purchasing, unboxing, and setting up my new matte black, iPhone 7 Plus 128GB.

 We all knew that supplies of all models of the iPhone 7 Plus were constrained.  It was almost by accident that I rolled out of bed and found stock at Apple New Haven.  I placed my order, setup my pick up window.  It’s time for another road trip for Dad and I to pick up a new iPhone!

Any day I get to wear an Apple t-shirt is a good one in my book!

When I arrived, the New Haven store was busy, but I was whisked in since I had a pick-up reservation.

While we waited, Dad checked out the new Apple Watch Series Two display while I was looking at the new color assortment of iPhone 7 Plus cases.

Jim has my new iPhone 7 Plus brought out from “Backstage” and the fun begins!

When I was ordering, I was torn between the new Jet Black and matte Black colors.  I am very happy with the way that the matte black iPhone 7 Plus looks.  Stunning!

I’m glad my Dad was able to go with me to pick up my new iPhone 7 Plus!

apple · apple store · iphone 7 plus

Looking Forward to Apple iPhone 7 Plus

“Just thinking what a difference a week makes.”

Those were some of the first words my Dad said to me this morning when I told him that I had finally tracked down an elusive matte black Apple iPhone 7 Plus.  At 5:46 this morning I was able to purchase a Sprint edition iPhone 7 Plus with an in-store pick up reservation. And, as usual, my Dad was right. Last week, after missing out on the launch day shenanigans that has become my small scale WWDC-like event, I was in a pretty rotten mood.

After all, I thought I did everything “right”. I marked the iPhone 7 Plus as a favorite in the Apple Store iOS app, I work up at 2:50am on pre-order day (Friday, Sept. 9), and make sure everything was up-to-date for my Apple Pay credit card. But alas, as soon as I was able to get into the store app to place my per-order, the iPhone 7 Plus was already showing a three week backorder.

Fast forward six miserable days later (just ask my wife and kids), and it’s a whole new ball game. While I am still disappointed that I missed the launch party, I am still pretty excited that I am finally getting my new iPhone 7 Plus today. I still get to wear and Apple Store t-shirt. I still get to pick up my iPhone in person at an Apple Store. And my Dad will be there with me. Not to shabby for the first full week of iPhone 7 sales.

To my fellow Apple nerds who are still trying to chase down an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, it would seem that supply is starting to loosen up. My recommendation is to use the website to see which Apple retail stores have iPhone 7 inventory. Once you find a store, use the iOS Apple Store app to make your purchase and pick up reservation.

Looking ahead to next year’s 2017 10th Anniversary iPhone, I am planning on pulling out all the stops to make sure I don’t miss launch day again. I am planning to do the pre-order shipping directly to my home and then arriving at a local Apple Store at Zero Dark 30 (anytime after 3:00am) to get in the walk ins line. Crazy. I know. But I am a Smartphone Fanatic, after all.

apple · apple store · iphone 7 · iphone 7 plus

My Feelings About This Year’s iPhone Preorder Process

It isn’t often that I can say this, but I am feeling let down by Apple. Before that gets blown out of proportion, let me explain what I am talking about.

I became an iPhone customer back with the iPhone 4S – when the iPhone first came to Sprint.  Up until then, I had been a Palm Pre user and was enjoying WebOS.  Ever since the pre-order period for iPhone 4S, I have gotten up at 2:50am ET to place my preorder.  Getting up at 3am to order a phone seems crazy to most people.  But Apple fans understand.

And so it went, for each iPhone I purchased since then: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6S Plus.  I even did so for the orignal Apple Watch Sport order.

This year, in preparation for ordering iPhone 7 Plus, used the iOS Apple Store app to go in and tag my preferred iPhone and accessories as Favorites (blue heart) so that I could quickly place my order.

Everything that we had been hearing in the media, whether it be from journalists writing for newspapers or bloggers writing on news and fan sies suggested that there would not be a redesign this year.  The big, exterior case changing redesign that we have come to expect every other year would skip a beat in 2016 and would instead be held back until 2017 – the tenth anniversary for iPhone.  With this three year “tick-tock-tock” cadence for the current iPhone 6-series body style, the usual negative Apple headlines started rolling in.

Apple’s New iPhone Isn’t a Game Changer, But It Might Be Good Enough” wrote Steven Russolillo on Sept 8.

Geoffrey A. Fowler chose “iPhone 7 First Look: Practical, but Not Jaw-Dropping” for his Sept. 7 headline.

Apple’s New iPhones Arrive, as Glow Fades” is my favorite headline from Robert McMillian’s piece on Sept. 5 – a full two days before Apple’s Sept. 7 press event to actually introduce the new iPhones.

Also from Sept. 5, Ryan Knutson and Thomas Gryta write “Apple’s New iPhones Face Upgrade Challenges“.

But coverage like this from the journalists and bloggers is to be expected.  After reading articles like these from The Wall Street Journal, you would think that virtually no one would want to buy such a ho-hum 2016 iPhone.

However, these headlines aren’t the reason why I’m let down by Apple.  For that, we must turn to an August 5 AppleInsider piece by Matt Milano covering an investors note from RBC Capital Markets’ Amit Daryanani.  In the piece, Daryanani suggests that one-third of all iPhone 7 sales will be that of the more expensive iPhone 7 Plus models.  The major differentiator of the larger iPhones has been its superior camera technology.  The iPhone 7 Plus continues this trend by offering both the standard wide-angle lense and a brand new telephoto lens.  In Milano’s coverage of the RBC report, this new camera technology is expected to “be the culprit in limiting availability at launch, with suppliers expected to struggle to keep up with demand at launch” (Milano, 2016).

And this is where my feelings of being let down and disappointment with Apple come in.  Even after marking my favorites in the Apple Store iOS app and waking up at 3am ET to get my pre-order in nice and early, I still wasn’t able to get my iPhone of choice on launch day.  I know.  I can’t get a new cell phone on a day I want to get it.  #FirstWorldProblems.  Still, it doesn’t change how I feel.

Over the years, I have built up this unrealistic expectation that Apple would reward it’s most fanatical fans.  Notice that I didn’t say their best customers.  I’m talking about fans.  Crazy people.  Like my Dad, Rob T., Mike C., and myself who wake up in the middle of the night to place an order for the newest Apple toy.  Let’s also not forget the getting up early and the waiting in line extravaganza that was Apple Store Trumbull’s opening weekend.  All of that was just so I could get a free Apple t-shirt.

I came to believe that if I was dedicated enough to wake up in the middle fo the night to order a new iPhone, i would be rewarded with the best new hardware on launch day.  As it stands right now, that won’t be the case this year.  For me, the best part about Apple opening a new retail store, or selling a new gadget is the excitement about getting in line and being one of the first people to have the new i-Whatever-It-Is.  Apple long ago stopped attending East Coast trade shows, which themselves are all but gone now.  Without anything else to attend, launch day at the Apple Store provided that sort of excitement.  And bragging rights in nerd circles.

The sale of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus starts on Sept. 16 – a week earlier than that of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus which went on sale on Sept. 25.  I seriously doubt that one week would make any significant difference in iPhone 7 Plus manufacturing, supply constraints, or how many iPhone 7 Plus models would be available for sale around the world on launch day.

I know that I will have a new iPhone 7 Plus on Oct. 10, the day my preorder is supposed to arrive.  Since I have already taken Friday Sept. 16 off from work, I plan to get in the standby line at my local Apple Store at some absurdly early time in the hopes that I can still get an iPhone 7 Plus on launch day.

In the end, it’s me, not Apple, that is the reason for my feeling let down.  Apple never guaranteed that I would be able to get the iPhone I wanted on launch day.  I know that, and I accept it.  But it doesn’t make it sting any less.  But don’t think I won’t be stalking and the iOS Apple Store app looking for an opportunity to snap up an iPhone 7 Plus sooner than Oct. 10.