It was supposed to be a rather ho-hum update of the iPhone 7 at the annual September event because the launch of the Samsung Note7 had totally eclipsed Apple’s latest phones. Not so. With Samsung trying to orchestrate a recall of its smartphone, Apple’s new iPhone 7 jet-black model and all colors of the larger 7 Plus sold out globally about a week after Apple started taking orders. The phones feature a variety of impressive improvements over the iPhone 6, but the changes, aside from the disappeared headphone jack, are essentially incremental. Both iPhone sizes have a new advanced 12-megapixel camera system, the longest battery life ever offered on an iPhone, the new A10 Fusion four-core processor running at twice the speed of the iPhone 6, splash and water resistance, a new home button, and new black and jet-black finishes. There’s a new stereo speaker system that’s twice as loud and new AirPod wireless headphones with a microphone so you can tap and connect to Siri while listening. There’s no headphone jack, but you can use EarPods with a lightning connector. www.apple.com


The Apple Watch Series 2 was also launched in September, and it includes a series of new features and improvements that lean heavily on the health and fitness capabilities of the device. Foremost are its water resistance and the new on-board GPS. Series 2 is rated water resistant to 50 meters, so you can wear it while swimming or running in the rain. Even the speaker is protected. It allows some water in and then forces it out with sound vibrations. There are 12 indoor and outdoor workouts—including swimming, biking, running, and elliptical—that are set up with programmed goals and then tracked with up to five metrics that can be shown simultaneously. With the built-in GPS you can leave your phone at home and have your watch record distance, speed, and pace while walking or running. www.apple.com


If you were impressed with Amazon’s Echo device, the Internet-connected cylinder that features embedded speakers and Alexa to answer your questions and play your music, you might want to look at the new second-generation Echo Dot. You can get three Dots to place in various rooms for the cost of one Echo ($179). The Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music; control smart-home devices like lights, blinds, and locks; provide information; set alarms; and more. The speaker is smaller than on the original Echo, but it can connect to headphones or speakers via Bluetooth or through a 3.5mm audio cable. It can hear you across the room when you say “Alexa,” and it uses ESP (echo spatial perception) to select the closest Dot if you have several in different rooms. You don’t need the larger Echo to set it up to work, just an app on your phone or computer. Available later this month. www.amazon.com


You already know you shouldn’t let your credit card out of sight when it’s being scanned, but did you know that the information can be grabbed by surreptitious scanners while the card is still in your pocket or purse? It’s called electronic pickpocketing, and SignalVault is a card with a chip that can block those scanners. You place the card behind your credit and debit cards to form a shield. The E-Field technology in the SignalVault doesn’t require batteries or activation. They’re available in two-packs, and the company also has a TravelVault RFID passport case. SignalVault will customize the cards with imprints of your company to be used as a promotional item. www.signal-vault.com

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