Apple – Formerly Nerd4Rent https://www.nerd4rent.com Local, Trusted, Reliable Technology Support for Your Home, Small Business, Home Office. Computer Setup, Networking, Virus Removal, Backup, Windows and Macs. Wed, 03 Jan 2018 17:36:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.nerd4rent.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/cropped-Logo-Cropped-for-Website-32x32.jpg Apple – Formerly Nerd4Rent https://www.nerd4rent.com 32 32 Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks https://www.nerd4rent.com/protect-ransomware-attacks/ Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:42:14 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1299 Ransomware is a growing threat! Don’t be a victim. Our client Bill received an email with an invoice attached. He clicked on the invoice to open it and quickly bypassed a couple of warning pop-ups. Immediately, some malicious code contained Continue reading Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attacks

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Ransomware is a growing threat! Don’t be a victim.

Our client Bill received an email with an invoice attached. He clicked on the invoice to open it and quickly bypassed a couple of warning pop-ups. Immediately, some malicious code contained in the invoice file started encrypting all documents, PDF files, music and photos on his computer.

Worse, the code encrypted some files on his company’s server that he had access to, and looked for backup drives, and other computers on the network to attack.

Bill was a victim of ransomware. To see how Bill’s ransomware attack concluded, read on…

What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts files on your computer, backup drives and network. After your files are encrypted with an UNBREAKABLE code, the criminals will ask for payment (ransom) to unlock your files.

The use of ransomware is increasing dramatically, because it’s profitable. There’s no way to know how much money the criminals are taking in, but even published accounts (a very small number of actual incidents), quote tens of millions of dollars of ransom paid in 2015.

According to FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor, “There’s no one method or tool that will completely protect you or your organization from a ransomware attack. “But contingency and remediation planning is crucial to … recovery and continuity—and these plans should be tested regularly.”

How does ransomware infect computers?

1. Email attachment: This is the most common method. An email comes in with a legitimate-looking attachment, such as an invoice, fax, or photo. The user is tricked into clicking on the attachment and allowing a program to run.

2. Link to a malicious (or hacked legitimate) website. If your computer is using outdated software, the website will try to install the malicious software without your knowledge, by exploiting a known vulnerability in software like your browser, Java, Flash, etc.

FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor, “These criminals have evolved over time and now bypass the need for an individual to click on a link. They do this by seeding legitimate websites with malicious code, taking advantage of unpatched software on end-user computers.”

How can I protect myself from ransomware?

1. The best defense is knowledge. Don’t click on any unverified email attachments.  This alone will stop most ransomware dead in its tracks. Don’t bypass macro security prompts.

2. Backup your files, both locally and online. If the ransomware encrypts your files AND your local backup, you can usually recover from online backup. One of the great features of most online backup services is that they save versions of your files. If the current version is encrypted, you can recover an older, unencrypted version.

3. Keep your operating system and other software updated. Many viruses and ransomware will exploit known vulnerabilities-most of which have been fixed with updated software.

4. Disconnect your backup drives when not is use. If the backup drive is connected when the ransomware hits, it will try to encrypt your backups.

5. Use several layers of malware protection. Anti-virus software alone (especially free versions) is not enough.

6. Use anti-malware software, like MalwareBytes, in conjunction with your anti-virus software.

7. Change your DNS servers. DNS servers like Open DNS will not allow your computer to connect to known malicious websites.

8.  Lock down your computer. Login with a standard user account, and create a password-protected Administrator account that you only use for installing software and administrative tasks. This will prevent most malicious software from installing.

9. Disable macros in documents that come through email or the Internet. Article about disabling macros.

How much money do the criminals demand?
The ransom varies, but we’ve mostly seen $300-$800 demanded.

If I pay the ransom, will I get my files back?
Sometimes. There are many cases where the ransom has been paid and no key is returned. Worse, the criminals require you to pay with untraceable currency, like Bitcoins, which are anonymous and charges can’t be disputed.

What should I do if my files get encrypted?
Try to restore your files from backup
Pay the ransom (not recommended).

According to FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor, “The FBI doesn’t support paying a ransom in response to a ransomware attack. Said Trainor, “Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee an organization that it will get its data back—we’ve seen cases where organizations never got a decryption key after having paid the ransom.

Paying a ransom not only emboldens current cyber criminals to target more organizations, it also offers an incentive for other criminals to get involved in this type of illegal activity. And finally, by paying a ransom, an organization might inadvertently be funding other illicit activity associated with criminals.

So what does the FBI recommend? As ransomware techniques and malware continue to evolve—and because it’s difficult to detect a ransomware compromise before it’s too late—organizations in particular should focus on two main areas:

  • Prevention efforts—both in both in terms of awareness training for employees and robust technical prevention controls; and
  • The creation of a solid business continuity plan in the event of a ransomware attack.

Home computers and Macs are vulnerable to ransomware
if you are a home computer user or a Mac user, all of the above applies to you.

According to FBI’s Trainor “…home computers are just as susceptible to ransomware, and the loss of access to personal and often irreplaceable items—including family photos, videos, and other data—can be devastating for individuals as well

Bill’s story-Continued from above
Bill called us, and we were able to eliminate the malicious code with some virus and anti-malware scans. Luckily for Bill, he had backed up SOME of his files, and we were able to restore them. The files that were not backed up were lost. Bill has since implemented online backup and does not click email attachments.

Resources
FBI Article about ransomware

CERT Article about disabling macros

Open DNS

MalwareBytes

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How To Protect Yourself From Scam Phone Calls https://www.nerd4rent.com/protect-scam-phone-calls/ Sun, 06 Mar 2016 23:41:55 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1267 Executive Summary You receive a call claiming to be from a trusted vendor, claiming they know of some serious issue with your computer that needs immediate attention. The caller asks for remote access to your computer to fix the issue, Continue reading How To Protect Yourself From Scam Phone Calls

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Executive Summary
You receive a call claiming to be from a trusted vendor, claiming they know of some serious issue with your computer that needs immediate attention. The caller asks for remote access to your computer to fix the issue, and asks for payment.

These calls are scams-hang up. If you are too polite to hang up, ask the scammer to call your tech support department, (that’s us! (925) 283-5666), to setup a contract for service.

Should you allow the scammer/criminal access to your computer, or give them your personal information, at best you will have wasted several hundred dollars. At worst, your bank accounts will be drained, your identity will be stolen, your credit will be ruined for several months to several years, your files will be irretrievably encrypted requiring a ransom payment of several hundred dollars, your email and address book will be hacked, and your computer will require several hundred dollars of service to repair.


Full Article
The Scam-A Phone Call Claiming to be from a Trusted Vendor
A dangerous scam is gaining popularity. Here’s how it goes, and what you should do to protect yourself.

You receive a call claiming to be from a trusted vendor, claiming they know of some serious issue with your computer that needs immediate attention.

The caller will usually ask for remote access to your computer to show you the issue, and then offer to fix the issue for a fee.

The caller may even have information about you or your computer, such as serial number, purchase date, etc., This information, is designed to fool you into thinking that the caller is really from a trusted vendor.

If you give the caller remote access to your computer, they will “show you the problem”, often by running a test on some scam website, installing some scam software that reports hundreds, or thousands of errors, or by going into the normally-hidden areas of your computer and showing you alerts that look serious.

To demonstrate how benign unseen alerts can be used to manipulate you, here’s a screenshot from my own computer. Notice that there are over 6,000 “problems”. None of these “problems” require any attention, but most people would think their computer needs immediate attention if they saw this.
image003

How To Protect Yourself
Do not fall for this confidence game scam.
These people are lying!

Ask them to remove your number from their database, and then hang up. If you’re too polite to hang up, refer to the steps on the next page.

While they may have correct information about you or your computer, they are still criminals running a con. We believe that the client databases of some vendors have been hacked, and that is why they may have your purchase details, etc.

Microsoft has publicly stated that they do not make solicitation phone calls, https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx, and no vendor that we know of does either. Of course this assumes that the legitimate vendor even knows your phone number, or knows what’s going on with your computer (highly unlikely).

Do not talk to them, and do not give them access to your computer or your personal information, such as credit card number, bank account number, etc.

Should you allow the scammer/criminal access to your computer, or give them personal information, you can expect some or all of the things below to occur. We can’t be more specific because it all depends upon what actions the criminal chooses to take once they have access to your information/computer. This list is not exhaustive.

  • You will have wasted several hundred dollars
  • Your bank & investment accounts may be drained
  • Your identity may be stolen:
    • The criminals may open credit accounts in your name
    • They may change your mailing address
    • They may file false tax returns in your name, and collect the refunds at the your new mailing address, leaving you to deal with the IRS
  • Your credit may be ruined for several months to several years, requiring police reports, lots of forms to filled out, hours of time lost, and worst-having to try to prove you’re innocent to creditors
  • Your files may be irretrievably encrypted requiring a ransom payment of several hundred dollars, and you MAY get your files back
  • Your email and address book may be hacked. Your contacts may receive spam emails from your email account. And may get scammed into sending money to the criminals
  • Your computer may be infected with a virus and cost several hundred dollars to repair

We have seen all of these things happen! Don’t be a victim.

To download this article, plus a handy tip sheet, please click the link below
How-To-Protect-Yourself-From-Scam-Phone-Calls.pdf (229 downloads)

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How To Protect Your Computer And Data From Viruses, Crashes And Other Problems https://www.nerd4rent.com/how-to-protect-your-computer-from-viruses-crashes-and-other-problems/ Fri, 06 Nov 2015 16:37:45 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1207 Meet Anne. (not her real name). Anne runs a busy accounting office from her home.  She called in a sheer panic one April, because her hard drive died. Unfortunately for Anne, this happened just as tax filing season was near an Continue reading How To Protect Your Computer And Data From Viruses, Crashes And Other Problems

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Meet Anne. (not her real name). Anne runs a busy accounting office from her home.  She called in a sheer panic one April, because her hard drive died. Unfortunately for Anne, this happened just as tax filing season was near an end, and she was working literally around-the-clock to finish returns for her many clients. Luckily for Anne, she had taken our advice and had a USB hard drive with a recent image (clone), of her computer on it. We went to Anne’s home office with a replacement hard drive, and copied the image from her USB hard drive to the replacement hard drive. That took about 1.25 hours. When finished, Anne’s computer had all her files, all her applications, all settings, email, printers, wireless, bookmarks-everything just as before. She didn’t lose a thing!

Having that image saved Anne several hundred dollars in labor, along with many hours of downtime, and untold hours of re-work. To say Anne was happy and relieved would be a gross understatement. She was nearly in tears!

The Problem
Lots of things can happen to damage or break your computer. Whether it be a PC or a Mac, viruses, faulty updates, operating system upgrades (windows 10 upgrade issues anyone?…), electrical issues, even user error, to name just a few. When a serious issue occurs, the remedy is often a reinstallation of your Mac or PC operating system. This process requires several hours, on average, for a technical professional, and of course costs quite a bit of money. In the meantime, you don’t have access to your computer.

Another common issue is data corruption or loss. Your computer could be functional, but lose some or all of your files due to hard drive failure (even new hard drives fail sometimes!). If your computer was to die-right now-do you have a copy of all your important files, music, pictures? The vast majority of you would answer “no” to that question. While you can always replace or repair your computer, many files can’t be replaced-pictures, for example.

The Solution
There is an easy, inexpensive solution to this problem. Use imaging software to backup (clone) not only your files, but also your computer operating system, settings, and applications. Imaging software costs around $50, and a hard drive to backup your computer to costs anywhere from $99-$175 retail (often less).

So how does this solution work? Easy, just purchase Acronis True Image for PC or Mac, and a USB hard drive. Install Acronis and create a backup schedule, and Acronis boot disk. Acronis will copy your entire hard drive to the USB hard drive on schedule. If anything happens to your computer or data, you can simply restore the Acronis image in 30-90 minutes. The restored image will be an exact replica of your computer when you backed it up. You won’t need to setup or reinstall any software, or your files.

We use Acronis in our shop frequently. It has proven very valuable when a client has forgotten that they had some important file saved in an unusual location, and their hard drive had to be wiped clean.

Things to note
1. You can buy Acronis True Image from www.acronis.com, online retailers such as Amazon, or at your local electronics store. USB hard drives are available from online retailers and your local electronics store.
2. Buy a large USB hard drive. The more room you have on the drive, the more copies of your backup you can keep on it. This is helpful because you may not realize a problem has occurred for some time, and your recent backups might carry over the problem. Buy a 1-4 Terabyte hard drive for plenty of extra room.
3. Setting up Acronis is easy, but you must use care to select the correct backup options and schedule. You may want to hire an expert for this.
4. Your computer must be left on, or the backup will not work. Many computers are set to go to power-save (Sleep or Hibernate mode) after a period of inactivity. You may need to adjust or turn off the power-save settings during the backup schedule window.
5. I highly recommend that you create a bootable Acronis DVD. In the event that your computer won’t start, you can use this DVD to restore your computer to the last backup.
6. I always recommend that you have cloud backup in addition to a USB hard drive, to protect you from fire, water damage, theft, etc.

If you need help with your backup solution, please contact us at (925) 283-5666 or support@nerd4rent.com

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Does Your Phone/Tablet Need Anti-Virus? https://www.nerd4rent.com/does-your-phonetablet-need-anti-virus/ Fri, 23 Oct 2015 21:41:10 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1199 Everyone knows that your computer needs anti-virus protection. What about your phone or tablet? Phones and tablets are computers, and there are bad guys out there writing viruses and password-stealing programs, with the intention of stealing your money, holding your Continue reading Does Your Phone/Tablet Need Anti-Virus?

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Everyone knows that your computer needs anti-virus protection. What about your phone or tablet?

Phones and tablets are computers, and there are bad guys out there writing viruses and password-stealing programs, with the intention of stealing your money, holding your phone hostage for ransom, or stealing your list of contacts, pictures, etc. We have heard of viruses being installed that make your phone unusable unless you pay the criminals to have it unlocked.

Think of all the things we do with our phones: Log into our bank to pay bills, check balances, transfer money; purchase things from merchants; buy airline tickets; and much more. Our phones and tablets can be an easy target for the criminals, as most of us don’t protect them.

Here are a few popular apps that will help protect your phone or tablet. Most of them are free. Some vendors offer premium paid versions.

Android phones/tablets. Please remember to only download apps from the Google Play Store
Avira
Norton
Avast
Lookout Mobile Security

iPhones and iPads Please remember to only download apps from the Apple App Store
Avira Mobile Security
F-Secure SAFE

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Tips for Getting off The Grid https://www.nerd4rent.com/tips-for-getting-off-the-grid/ Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:52:06 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1189 All of us need to be away from home or the office occasionally for: vacation, business meetings, training etc. One of the big questions we all face is: do I want to be reachable by email or phone while away? You Continue reading Tips for Getting off The Grid

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All of us need to be away from home or the office occasionally for: vacation, business meetings, training etc. One of the big questions we all face is: do I want to be reachable by email or phone while away?

You have several options for keeping in touch while away:
No Communication (off the grid)
Limited Communication
Full Communication

No Communication (Off the Grid)
Many people want to have no email or cell phone access so they can completely unwind and not think about work. This is easy: just leave your cell phone and computer at home and enjoy your trip! Consider adding an out-of-office reply to your email, and changing your voicemail greeting to let your contacts know you won’t be reachable during your absence. (see below for more information about out of office messages)
Limited Communication
If you don’t feel comfortable being completely unplugged, consider limiting your connectivity by checking email and voicemail only periodically. For limited communication, it’s advisable to setup an out-of-office email reply, and to change your voicemail greeting. (see below for more information).
Full Communication
If you decide to keep your lines of communication open during your trip, there are several strategies to use to access your email and voicemail from anywhere.
Out-of-office/Vacation reply
This is a customizable message that is automatically sent to each person who sends you an email. A typical out-of-office message looks like this: ” I am out of the office until August 17th, with limited (no) access to email. If your message is urgent, please contact our support desk at (925) 283-5666 or email support@nerd4rent.com”
If you have corporate email, there is an easy setting to create and turn on an out-of-office reply. In Outlook 2013, go to File | Info | Automatic Replies.
if you don’t have a corporate email system, sign in to your email via your provider’s web site.(below are some common providers).
Gmail: www.gmail.com. Click the Gear symbol at the upper right side of the screen, Scroll down to Vacation Responder.
Yahoo/AT&T/SBC Global: www.yahoo.com.  Click the Gear symbol at the upper right side of the screen, Choose Settings | Vacation Response.
Comcast: www.comcast.com. Sign into your email account and click Preferences | Email | Vacation Response
Take your cell phone with you
Many cell phones will work in foreign countries-check with your provider. If you are going on a cruise, you may be able to use your cell phone on the ship. Check with your provider before you go.
Take your laptop or tablet with you
You can use your laptop or tablet almost anywhere there is Wi-Fi. This includes coffee shops, hotels, cruise ships, many airlines. Note that if you use a computer-based, (Mac mail, Outlook, Windows Live Mail, etc.) email, as opposed to web-based), email, you may have to change your outgoing email settings when you are traveling, in order to send messages.

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Computer Choices For The Student In Your Life https://www.nerd4rent.com/computer-choices-for-the-student-in-your-life/ Fri, 19 Jun 2015 19:24:32 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1162 During the summer months, many parents and relatives are considering which computer to purchase for the student in their lives. Summer is a good time to purchase the new computer, so your student can have it setup and ready once school Continue reading Computer Choices For The Student In Your Life

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During the summer months, many parents and relatives are considering which computer to purchase for the student in their lives. Summer is a good time to purchase the new computer, so your student can have it setup and ready once school goes back in session.

There are several choices for student computers:
Computer type: Desktop, Laptop, Tablet.
Operating system: PC, Mac, Chromebook.

Computer Type
Desktop
computers normally have separate monitors, keyboards, mice and cases. (there are some all-in-one desktop computers available). Desktop computers are the least expensive option, and offer the most flexibility in screen size, keyboard options, and accessories.

Laptop computers come with built-in screens and keyboards. Laptops are typically more expensive than desktops, and offer fewer choices for customization. The big advantage of a laptop for a student is portability.

Tablet computers like Apple’s iPad come with a screen, which is touch sensitive for writing and drawing on, or for using an on-screen keyboard. You can add a keyboard to a tablet computer to make it function more like a laptop. Areas of difference between tablets and laptops are size, power, software choices and accessories.

Tablets are small and light, with screens ranging in size from 7-10″. Tablets often weigh between 1.5 and 3 pounds and have long battery life. They do not have the processing power of a laptop, nor is their storage capacity typically expandable. Software for tablets comes from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store, and is not normally as full-featured as software that’s made for a laptop or desktop computer. Prices for tablets start at under $200.

Microsoft Surface Tablet. Depending upon which model you choose, the Surface tablet can have all the power and speed of a laptop, packed into a smaller, lighter package with a detachable keyboard option. A Surface tablet will run standard Windows software-a big plus. Surface tablets start at $499.

Microsoft offers 10% off for students, parents, educators. Check out their education discounts here.

Operating System
Apple
MacBook laptops are very popular, but pricey. Prices for MacBooks start at $899. Apple offers discounts if you meet their student criteria. Check out the Apple Store for Education here

Chrome laptops use Google’s Chrome operating system. Major points of differentiation between Chromebooks and Mac or Window laptops are that Chromebooks store all your files on the Internet (cloud), and prices are often much lower, starting at under $200.

Having your files stored on the Internet can be an advantage, as you’re less likely to suffer a loss due to hardware failure or computer theft. A potential disadvantage is that you may not be able to access all your files without an Internet connection. Another potential disadvantage is that not everyone likes Google’s versions of word processing, spreadsheet, email, etc.

For more information about Chromebooks, check out Google’s Chromebook page

Windows laptops are popular, come in myriad configurations and price ranges. We have found Dell laptops to be very well priced and reliable. Windows laptop prices start at under $200.

Recommendations
For most students, I recommend a Mac laptop. Why? Ease of portability and less chance of viruses.

Since virus writers do not target Macs as much as PCs, there is less chance your student will get a virus.

While it’s true that Macs are significantly more expensive than PCs, having a computer that needs fewer repairs is a significant advantage for students, who have to meet strict deadlines, and who are very dependent upon a computer for research, note-taking, writing, turning in assignments, etc.

The importance of a reliable computer for a student hit home for me several years ago. My son Matthew called one evening to say his computer had a virus. He was very stressed as he had an assignment due the next morning, and was unable to access his class notes, the draft of his assignment, or the Internet to complete his research.

Luckily for Matthew, he was attending college only a few miles away from home, and I was able to make an emergency service call to remove the virus. Even more fortunate was that the virus was easily and quickly removed-many are not. It is common for viruses to require a complete cleaning of the hard drive and reinstallation of all software and data-a job that normally requires a few hours.

If your student gets a virus, expect to spend at least $150, plus the time to wait for repairs. This can be especially harrowing for the student, who is likely busy with school, and may not have transportation to a computer repair shop.

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Is an Apple Watch right for you? https://www.nerd4rent.com/is-an-apple-watch-right-for-you/ https://www.nerd4rent.com/is-an-apple-watch-right-for-you/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 23:07:54 +0000 https://www.nerd4rent.com/?p=1124 Apple has recently started selling watches. These are not ordinary timepieces-they are tiny computers with some interesting applications. Is an Apple Watch right for you? Read on for a quick overview. Note that many of the Apple Watch features and Continue reading Is an Apple Watch right for you?

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Apple has recently started selling watches. These are not ordinary timepieces-they are tiny computers with some interesting applications. Is an Apple Watch right for you? Read on for a quick overview.

Note that many of the Apple Watch features and apps require an iPhone, so we don’t recommend buying an Apple Watch if you don’t have a recent model iPhone.

Apple Watch
Apple Watch
Apple Watch Apps
Apple Watch Apps
Apple Watch Edition
Apple Watch Edition
Apple Watch Sport
Apple Watch Sport

Pricing
Apple Watch comes in three models:
Sport, with an aluminum case $349-$399
Watch, with a stainless steel case $549-$1,099
Edition, (18 carat gold) $10,000-$17,000.

Primary Functions
The Apple Watch is designed to work with your iPhone to allow you tell time, monitor your physical activity, remind you of upcoming events, view and respond to texts, phone calls, email, and a host of other things. The watch face has several options, including time, date, notifications, and more.

One of the unique features of the Watch is that it uses gentle taps to provide you with reminders, such as an upcoming appointment, upcoming turn from the map app, etc.

Apps Make the Watch Special
In addition to the apps mentioned below, here are few things that you can do on your Apple Watch, depending upon your merchant.
1. Check in to your flight using a mobile boarding pass.
2. Open your hotel room door without a key card.
3. Control your Apple TV.
4. Control your home automation system.
5. Order a ride from Uber.
6. Pay for parking at a parking meter.
7. Get breaking news and financial information
There are many other apps available now-this is just a sampling. Over time, many more apps will be developed that will add capabilities to the Watch.

Messages. Text messages can display on your watch, and you can send short canned replies (you can create additional replies on your iPhone), or you can dictate a reply right on the phone that will be sent as text, or attached a voice file.

Phone Calls
You can receive or make phone calls using the Watch. The Watch has Siri, so you can just say “call John” and the phone will dial your contact.

Activity
One of the areas I find most useful in a device like the Apple watch is that it will track the steps I take, calories burned, and a remind me to stand up for at least a minute every hour. During workouts the Watch will measure your heart rate.

Apple Pay
Apple Pay is a way to pay for products and services. Merchants that accept Apple Pay will have a special reader that you point your Watch at to pay. No need to pull out a credit card, nor is there anything to sign.

Maps
Apple Watch can guide you to your destination whether you are walking or driving with turn-by-turn directions.

FAQs
Will the Apple Watch work with my Android?
No. The Apple Watch requires an iPhone.

I don’t have an iPhone, what are my options?
There are a number of watches and other gadgets (Android Wear) designed to work with your Droid phone.

Resources
Apple  Apple Watch Website
Tomsguide Apple Watch FAQ

Need help deciding on an Apple Watch, or configuring it?  Give us a call, we can help 925-283-5666

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