Aetna to offer Apple Watch free to employees, discounted to customers and launch new health-oriented apps

Insurance provider Aetna is planning to use the Apple Watch as part of a major health push later this year.

Beginning later this fall, Aetna will provide free Apple Watches to select large employers and individual customers during open enrollment season and plans to subsidize what it calls a “significant” portion of the cost and offering monthly payroll deductions to help cover the remaining costs.

It did not announce how much of the cost of the watch it would cover. The Apple Watch starts at $269 and runs to well over $1,000 for standard models.

The company will also offer free watches to its 50,000 employees who participate in a wellness program.

“We are incredibly excited to use iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to create simple, intuitive and personalized technology solutions that will transform the health and wellness experience for our members,” said Mark Bertolini, Aetna Chairman and CEO. “This is only the beginning – we look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days.”

To go along with its hardware push, Aetna plans to introduce several new health initiatives that will be exclusive to Apple’s iOS software for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. The software should debut in early 2017 and will include:


  • Care management and wellness, to help guide consumers through health events like a new diagnosis or prescription medication with user-driven support from nurses and people with similar conditions.
  • Medication adherence, to help consumers remember to take their medications, easily order refills and connect with their doctor if they need a different treatment through their Apple Watch or iPhone.
  • Integration with Apple Wallet, allowing consumers to check their deductible and pay a bill.
  • Personalized health plan on-boarding, information, messaging and decision support to help Aetna members understand and make the most of their benefits.

“We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Aetna’s new initiatives will be a powerful force toward creating better customer experiences in health care, and we look forward to working with Aetna to make them successful.”



QX50 crossover keeps Infiniti in the game, begs for update

2016 Infiniti QX50
2016 Infiniti QX50

Infiniti has tried hard to get its mojo back.
Introduced the same year as Lexus, the company bolted on the scene with the Q45, a stunning piece that gave Jaguar a serious challenge. It hasn’t had a big sedan that adventurous since, probably because it’s more concerned with trucks and crossovers.
That’s not a big problem since the company’s crossovers and trucks are pretty good.
The QX50 is one of those crossovers. It started as the FX35 back in 2008 and looks pretty much the same. As a 2016 it has gained more backseat room – a generous 4.3 inches – and a few cosmetic changes.
What is carried over is the glorious V6. The engine’s 325 horsepower makes this handsome crossover feel like a sport’s car. Put your foot in the accelerator and you get rewarded with an adrenaline rush. the QX50 scoots. The rear wheel driven vehicle pushes itself around corners with authority. Push a little harder and the QX starts eating up pavement with a quickness. The brakes scrub off speed quickly and the steering is spot on. Infiniti’s knack for building something interesting to drive is in tact.
The ride is surprisingly comfortable considering the vehicle’s sporting prowess. It’s taught, but not jittery. Really rough pavement may upset things, but it never seemed out matched.
The QX50’s star begins to dim once you park. The interior could use a complete redo. The look is still luxury, just not as up to date. Everything feels expensive, but a little dated. The stitching on the leather hood shrouding the gauges is a nice touch.

Understated luxury yet still functional dash
Understated luxury yet still functional dash

The Qx’s best feature isn the engine, which is also its worst. It is powerful, but thirsty. Twenty miles per gallon overall is the best you will get. Even Infiniti says you will spend $3,500 more in fuel over five years than if you bought something similar from another company. Also, the 118 cubic foot trunk doesn’t hold much.
At $34,450, the QX50 isn’t too expensive, if you like the base model. Infiniti offers a bunch of packages to boost your equipment, but that’s not cheap. My test vehicle had technology, premium, premium plus and deluxe touring packages. it also had illuminated kick plates.
All those packages gave the vehicle everything except all-wheel-drive and rear-seat entertainment.
The price jumped as well. With destination, the as-tested price was $43,535. To be fair, that included premium equipment that included navigation, Bose stereo, smart cruise control, 19-inch wheels, wood accents, leather seating surfaces, lane departure warning, adaptive front lighting and Sirius/XM.
There are Acuras, BMWs and Lexi for that price, more or less, and several domestics. The BMW will out drive it and the Acura can haul more stuff. Still, he Infiniti offers a strong engine, good looks and quality craftsmanship. it deserves a very hard look.

Why Tiger Woods buying TaylorMade Golf could be a great idea

A new rumor is circulating that one of the greatest golfers who ever lived, Tiger Woods, is in talks to buy one of the world’s best golf companies, TaylorMade.

The story got legs Thursday when Golf Australia magazine editor Brendan James hit Twitter to say that Sir Eldrick will not only play TaylorMade in 2017, he was thinking of buying the company as part of a group of investors.

Then James was seconded by another leading golf voice, Rick Young, a past president of the Golf Journalist Association of Canada and now a writer who follows the equipment industry.

Adidas currently owns TaylorMade but has made no secret it’s looking to get out of the golf equipment business, which isn’t producing the types of profits it once did.

Adidas bought TaylorMade in 1997 when it was part of a French ski and boot manufacturer called Salomon. TaylorMade paid $1.4 billion for Salomon and eight years later, it bought Reebok for $3.8 billion. TaylorMade also bought two other golf brands, Ashworth ($73 million in 2008) and Adams ($70 million in 2012).

Adidas’ golf apparel sales are strong, up 22 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year ago. TaylorMade’s golf business was up 6 percent but its overall golf brand, including TaylorMade, Adams and Ashworth, was down 1 percent.

Nike recently announced it was going to stop making golf equipment and continue with its apparel business, which is thriving. Woods is among Nike’s biggest pitchmen, playing swoosh equipment and wearing its gear.

Earlier this week, the world’s currently No. 1 ranked golfer Jason Day signed a seven-figure deal to wear Nike gear.

Nike has already kind of presented Woods’ “TW” line of apparel and shoes in a similar way to Michael Jordan’s Brand Jordan in basketball gear. Jordan’s stuff is Nike, but it has its own logo and branding experience.

Woods having his own official arm of Nike could make a lot of sense, and with his good buddy Day now in the fold, he would have a marketable star as well. And Day already plays TaylorMade clubs and plans to continue.

Woods — whether or not he did it under Nike or on his own — would also add huge star power to TaylorMade, too.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall into full effect; how to get a replacement or a swap out

Earlier this week, Samsung responded to its mounting Galaxy Note 7 problems by announcing a software fix that would limit the sleek new phone from charging past 60 percent.

The software update was issued for people outside the U.S. who ignoring an initial recall notice about the phone, which a small number of users reported was exploding and bursting into flames.

There was an placed on the front page of a large South Korean newspaper, the Seoul Shinmum, which read: “It is a measure to put consumer safety first but we apologize for causing inconvenience.”

The update for South Korean users will start Sept. 20, it said.

 Meanwhile, in the U.S., federal consumer safety regulators formally recalled more than 1 million of the Samsung devices Thursday.
After getting 92 reports of batteries overheating from U.S. consumers, including 55 reports of property damage, Samsung said it would stop selling the Note 7 in the U.S. on Sept. 2.
Some U.S. airlines and transits systems began to ask passengers not to use the Note 7 on rides and flights, due to the potential hazard. And following Thursday’s recall, the FAA said Note 7 users must power down their devices on flights and must protect from having the phone turned on accidentally.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission said U.S. consumers can begin swapping their current Note 7 for new ones on Sept. 21. CPSC chairman Elliot Kaye urged all customers to take advantage of the recall.
In its recall notice, the CPSC said “consumers should immediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note7 devices.”
Customers can get a free replacement from Samsung or their wireless carrier or retail outlet next week. They can also request a different phone.

Want a jet black iPhone 7 or any iPhone 7 Plus? Better order online; Apple Store supplies will be low

According to TechCrunch, Apple has released a statement saying that customers can expect limited quantities of iPhone 7 in Apple Stores when the phones go on sale Friday morning. And the iPhone 7 in the new jet black color is completely sold out, as are all colors of iPhone 7 Plus.

With news that Sprint and T-Mobile have seen records during the pre-sale period, it seems that customers are buying up the multiple improvements in iPhone 7 in droves and are not as concerned as some of us media folks were that Apple did not deliver the complete redesign that many of us wanted.

Incidentally, ordering a standard black iPhone 7 (32 gb Verizon version) on Apple’s website Thursday morning yielded a home delivery between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4. Ordering the same color in the Plus yielded a 2-3 week delivery zone.

Below is Apple’s statement.


We couldn’t be happier with the initial response to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and we are looking forward to beginning sales through our retail stores and partners around the world.
Beginning Friday, limited quantities of iPhone 7 in silver, gold, rose gold, and black will be available for walk-in customers at Apple retail stores. During the online pre-order period, initial quantities of iPhone 7 Plus in all finishes and iPhone 7 in jet black sold out and will not be available for walk-in customers. Availability at partner locations for all finishes may vary and we recommend checking directly with them.
Customers can continue to order all models in all colors on We sincerely appreciate our customers’ patience as we work hard to get the new iPhone into the hands of everyone who wants one as quickly as possible.

Special effects in Apple’s new iOS 10 not working? Here’s how to fix them

Yesterday, Apple released its much anticipated iOS 10 software for its users. The software will come standard in the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which will hit stores Friday. But users of some older iPhones and iPads can take advantage of a series of software-based improvements that will make their older devices more useful.

Of course, some users had issues with the software causing their hardware to crash Tuesday, though by Tuesday evening Apple seemed to have that under control.

But one other problem some users appear to be having is that they are unable to use the new special effects suite in iMessage that allows users to send flying balloons, use “invisible ink” and other fun little tricks.

Good news? It’s a simple fix.

The problem is the iPhone’s “Reduce Motion” setting is togged on. Because these are, well, motion effects, you need to turn it off to get them work.

How to do that? Go to Settings, then General, then Accessibility and then Reduce Motion. Slide it off and you can send all manner of special effect texts to all of your iMessage friends.



In advance of iPhone 7, X-doria releases suite of new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus cases. We examine

Ok, so you ordered your new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus last night and you’re probably, like many folks, thinking about the best way to keep it looking nice. And if you bought the new Jet Black color, do know that Apple says it is prone to scratching, so it’s best to find a case for it.

So on the morning of the official iPhone 7 preorder day, X-doria sent us a whole suite of cases to try out. Of course, we don’t have the iPhone 7 to put them on, but we did have a few iPhone 6s and 6 Pluses to put the cases on and try out.

So let’s dig in and see some of what X-doria has to offer.

Defense Lux Series


At $50, this is the king of the X-doria line, but the defense lux series is relatively thin with all the cutouts for the new speaker system and larger camera window, and it’s really much larger than in the past. img_2397


It comes in four colors — black carbon, blue gold, black leather and rose gold — and has a grippy backing to it that just feels good in the hand. More importantly, it doesn’t add a ton of bulk.

The case has a soft rubber inner-layer and a harder polycarbonate backing with an aluminum outer frame. It’s got metallic button covers, too.

It’s got a raised lip in the front and is designed, X-Doria says, to withstand 6-foot-6 drops to concrete. Best of all? It’s not ultra-bulky. Attached to the iPhone 6, this case looks sharp. Only the camera hole just looks Donald Trump HUUUUGGEEE on the older model.





At $29.99, this case has a polycarbonate back to cover the rear, and ours was clear so you could show off your color. The front has a fold-over leatherette covering with slots to put credit cards inside. It’s got a nice clean look and it’s not too expensive. It doesn’t provide the most protection in the world, but does give you the option to go sans-wallet in a pinch.














A little surprisingly, our favorite case of the bunch was the $24.99 Impact Pro. It’s a clear case with colored edges, which is best to show off your shiny black iPhone 7 and keep it protected.img_2380

X-Doria says it’s got two layers of impact protecting rubber: a clear outer edge lining that helps you grip the phone (we can attest this works very well) and an inner layer of what it calls PolyOne shock absorbing polymer. This helps, the company says, deflect the force of impact away from your phone.

On the back side there is a hard shell and the case has a raised lip.img_2379

It’s a handsome case and a pretty decent little bargain.

To see the full line of X-Doria cases, visit their website.








Samsung 4K player delivers the goods to high-def TVs

After spending a few months with a Samsung 4K disc player I have come to the conclusion that blu-ray is no longer enough.
There, I said it. Yes, folks, watching 4K movies is a much more immersive experience than watching my favorite films on Blu-ray. No there isn’t a lot of content, but what’s out there is enough to say it’s time for an upgrade.
The player is the Samsung UBD-K85009, the first to be offered in the United States. It’s debatable whether it’s actually the first 4K player, however. Panasonic sold a unit in Japan last year which was far more expensive but wasn’t available anywhere else. The Samsung unit has been selling throughout the world since late March or early April.


The UBD-K8500 comes with a remote, batteries for the remote and an instruction booklet. I have to say I liked the way it was packed in the box. I kept the box just in case I move. The set up is fairly easy. It has Samsung’s Smart Hub so it must connected to an wi-fi network in order to use those functions.

Samsung 4K Blu-ray player
Samsung 4K Blu-ray player

The unit does not have analog connections so you have to supply your own HDMI and toslink cord. As well as the new 4K discs, the unit plays Blue-ray, 3-d Blu-ray, DVD, CD and CD-R. It decodes stereo, Dolby DTS, TrueHD, Master DTS sound formats. It will also play Dolby ATMOS encoded discs if you have a receiver that can be switched to bitstream and has that program.
The best feature of the unit is HDR, or High Dynamic Range. All those new pixels on your 4K TV screen (3840 x 2860) are great, but it’s what can be done with them that is more interesting. HDR allows those pixels to expand the color range. Reds pop, blues sooth and the detail and varying range of color is astonishing. New life is breathed into the depth and spectrum of how color can be displayed.
Let me make this point. All 4K TVs, especially those in the early stages of 4K (also known as Ultra High Definition) were made with HDR. These units can upscale things to near 4K quality but can’t display the complete color range without HDR. Sometimes they are referred to as “super high def.” Check for HDR on the brand you have.
My Samsung UHD40-6700 TV doesn’t have HDR, but it was built with some of the hardware so the UBD-K8500 will upscale it to just short of true 4K. The TV also upscales as well. I didn’t think I would be able to tell the difference between Blu-ray and 4K, but, boy, was I was I wrong. I watched the Ultra High Def version of “Star Trek: Into The Darkness” and was blown away. The opening scenes with Captain Kirk and Bones running through a red forest with stark white aliens dressed in yellow running after them was simply amazing. The difference between the 4K and Blu-ray (included with the 4K disc) was jaw-dropping. There is a later scene where Bones and a scientist are on a planet trying to disarm a torpedo that will simply make you shake your head. It’s that lifelike.
The rest of the movie benefited from deeper blacks and crisper images. I wanted to see how the player did on something that wasn’t action oriented so I watched Will Smith’s “Concussion.” The picture was crisp and life-like, which I think enhanced Smith’s Oscar-worthy performance. Great movie.
“Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” also benefited. The 4K ultimate version wasn’t nearly as dark and grainy as it appeared in theaters. Wonder Woman’s costume looked brighter and Superman’s under roo was more vivid. (The added extra 30 minutes answered nearly every question there was about this film which was also good).
There is not a plethora of material to watch or buy, but what is out there is growing by the month. Don’t look for Marvel or other Disney titles because parent company Disney isn’t releasing anything on 4K yet. That’s a dumb move considering just about every movie is shot in 4K and HDR. Paramount, Warner Bros. and Sony has, as well as other studios.
The Samsung player is a good investment if you are spending a lot on your TV. Yes, you can stream 4K from Netflix, YouTube and a few other places (which this unit also does), but that is a compressed signal. A 4K disc doesn’t have internet constraints so you’re getting the Full Monty.
The Samsung UBD-K8500 was originally priced at $499.99, but hit stores at $399.99. You can now find it as little as $319.99.
Samsung isn’t along anymore. Panasonic is releasing a $700 player that will also play high-res music files. Philips will also have a 4K player in the $400 range. Microsoft’s X-Box update will play 4K and so will Sony’s Playstation 4.5. Curiously, that will be the first Sony anything that will play 4K-Blu-ray.
You can wait to see how the 4K things shake out. There are competing versions of HDR (I think the Samsung plays both) but I don’t see a loser. One version may become more popular but the end results are the same. Why wait. If you have splurged on a big-panel 4K TV you need to push it’s limits. I don’t see 4K discs going the way of 3-D. You don’t need special glasses, just a pair of eyes that can’t wait to be thrilled. I think the UBD-K8500 is the perfect place to start.


More online shopping consumers using smartphones than personal computers study shows

Skip Batman Killing Joke in theaters, save dud for a rainy day

Let us here at do you a favor: do not visit your metroplex Monday night (7/25) to see the animated film

The scene, despite the hype, is pretty soap-opera-on-a-weekday tame, except we’ve never seen the Caped Crusader in such a position. There’s been implied love or lust between the two characters onscreen before but the relationship has been more teacher-pupil, nee father-daughter than anything else, so to see the pair actually have, you know, feelings for one another, well, that’s too much to take for some people.

In today’s comic-book multi-verse, however, stories are adapted killingjokeor story arcs are adapted for each different show or movie that comes along. TV Flash is different than the one that will be in the movie Justice League. Characters are killed off in one show that pop up in another.

DC really needs to attend to this issue. Hardcore fans understand what’s going on, but the casual viewer gets lost and expects Batman to always be the Batman they know.

TV Flash, for example, plans to use one of the most popular comic book arcs ever, FlashPoint, as a central theme for the show’s debut this fall. In the comics, Flash speeds back in time and changes — to avoid too many spoiler alerts — many things about his upbringing. Of course, those changes lead to other changes. Bruce Wayne is dead. His dad is Batman. Superman is a skinny captive held out of the sun who doesn’t know his own strength. Green Arrow is not Oliver Queen.

It will be difficult to bring that adaptation to the small screen, so expect some changes. And do those changes affect the other CW superhero shows, or do they not?

As we said, the way DC or writers handling DC characters are doing it now, it can become too much for the average viewer to understand, so they will look at a film like Killing Joke and expect the characters to be the ones they know and love. Only they are not.

This Batman is darker than most, and drawn to be older. Batgirl feels much younger, a woman who won’t date other men because she’s in love with the man who won’t pay her any attention. That’s real life.

The movie is actually two movies in one. One about Batgirl dealing with her “feelings” for her mentor (who obviously shares them) and a neophyte bad guy who thinks his mastery of technology will allow him to rule Gotham. Oh, and he’s got a big “thing” for Batgirl.

It’s a decently played out story and could’ve made a decent made-for-TV comic book movie, but it’s stopped short here, and attached with the Killing Joke arc, mainly because the comic book story that KJ is adapted from is very short.

So after the Bat team wins the day in Part I, Batman comes across some old Joker murders from three years prior and, for some reason, feels the need to confront his white faced enemy in jail figuring that sooner or later one of them will kill the other.

Only the guy Bats visits is a fake. Imprisoned for years, Joker busts out of jail (never explained) and proceeds to visit the Gordons and shoots Barbara in the belly, a direct shot which doesn’t kill her but leaves her paralyzed (we know, go figure).

Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon to lure Batman to an abandoned theme park where he tries to verbally assault him and kill him, after trying to make the Commissioner “go crazy” by dragging him through the park naked staring at pictures of his daughter’s bloody torso (pissed off? Definitely. Go all out loony bill? Nah).

Earlier in the film, Joker is shown to have a fondness for prostitutes — and decides to rape bloody Barbara in an implied scene. Fueled with all this knowledge, Batman — who obviously loves Barbara and respects the Commissioner — goes after Joker. The fight is swift, of course, because Joker can’t fight and Batman is Batman.

But Batman’s choices of what to do next are curious given the situation. He actually never gets close to doing what you think he would, never even considers it really, and then the movie closes with the most bizarre unsatisfying ending we’ve ever seen in the series.

I was half waiting for the off-screen voice to come in and say, “so what does the Batman do next? Tune in next week, same Bat time, same Bat channel.”

It was great to see Mark Hamill come back and voice the Joker as only he can, but the Killing Joke was a bad movie, one that you should not waste time going to see in theaters Monday night. It’s worth a rental.