As we wait for September 9, it's app-y hour this week on the show
Driving across 770 miles of breathtaking Canadian landscape, Editor Charles returns from the Edmonton Fringe Festival with accolades and a shiny new Apple Watch for his trouble, just in time to bring you the big 3-0 episode of the MacNN Podcast, along with Managing Editor Mike, writer William Gallagher, and special guest Matt Boyd of the excellent webcomic Three Panel Soul.
Our grades for the likelihood of various whispers and scuttlebutt
So now that it is finally confirmed that Apple has chosen September 9 for its big event, and a different venue than usual to accommodate more press and that requires some street closures for a likely outdoor component (which hints strongly that something unexpected is up), the rumors are again flying about what we should expect to see at the event. Let's have a look at what's being whispered about, and a (speculative) look at the odds any of it will happen.
Parents may get to relax, but the students back to school know the grind
Kids headed back to school has been a lucrative market for ages, and this year is no different. There's always been the need for television and music. Additionally this year's crop, like every other for the last 15 years, is digital, connected, and with these come an insatiable need for power to charge these devices. We've got ideas for the back to school crowd, to keep things organized, drown out the noise of the neighbors, and just to get things done.
Three devices intended to unobtrusively clip to bags, purses
Today Belkin announced a new line of fashion-inspired charging cables. MFi certified to ensure iOS compatibility, these Lightning to USB cables are designed to clip on and off any bag, purse or keychain, so that users are never without a cable to charge their iPhone, iPod or iPad. The new fashion cables are available in three design options: a leather tassel, a braided USB clip, and a metallic keychain.
'Hey Siri, give us a hint' headlines the invitation
Apple has officially invited media to its September 9 event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The heading for the event is "Hey Siri, give us a hint," referencing Apple's voice recognition and interpretation technology that may extend itself past the iPhone and iPad at the event in either OS X or other hardware.
Looking at little things you can give yourself, in the absence of children
Kids are great -- except when they aren't. The fall is fabulous for many reasons, not the least of which is sending the munchkins off to be educated for the day, and off to college for the older set. Yeah, kids are the future, but parental freedom is good -- and necessary too. In this gift guide, we look at a few options for parents sending their entire brood off to school.
Fun app allows you to make wanted posters out of your friends pictures
So with Halloween on the horizon and convention season being a year-round thing, we've decided to bring you a little gift. What if there was a quick way to create some themed decorations for your haunted house or themed party? Today, we humbly suggest Wanted Poster Pro, an app that allows you to create your own wanted posters right from your iPhone or iPad.
Leef iBridge is the iOS equivalent of microSD storage
The Leef iBridge is the answer to a couple of our recent prayers. It is an elegant, MFI certified, USB and Lightning drive solution for Lightning port equipped iPhones and iPads that allows users to transfer data directly between a Mac or PC via USB drive to their compatible iOS device. It supports unprotected video and music files in the full range of formats supported by Apple on these devices (including ALAC) as well as Office-style document types. Read onto to see why we like it a lot, and why iOS photographers and videographers will love it as well.
High-end headphones offer superior sound at significant cost
Today is the fourth installment in an unplanned series about Audiofly in-ear headphones. We've taken a look at their starter models, the respectable A33 and the bolder version, the Clublife Paradise, but today we get to take a look at the high-end headphones from the company. Only the testing block today is the Audiofly AF56 in-ear headphones.
Rush to put Watch in all stores accompanies revamp of Apple SWASs
Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly has announced that the retailer will change course on the Apple Watch, and rush to put the wearable in all 1,050 of its retail locations in the US "by the end of September," instead of the 300 outlets it was previously planning for. In addition, the iPhone maker's "Store Within a Store" branded Apple sections within Best Buy stores in some 740 locations are undergoing renovations in time for the holiday season.
In which, a pair of staffers cover the topics of the week, shotgun style
Two man show! While the rest of the gang is off having a life, Mike and Jordan hit the microphones for this week's lean-and-mean episode. Up this week -- iPad Pro rumors, why we cover some of the rumors (but not all), Bungie's Destiny changes, and so much more!
CEO asked about digital divide, Silicon Valley diversity
Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared in a pre-recorded segment on Good Morning America today, highlighting Apple's participation in the US ConnectED program, rather than launching a new program as many media outlets reported. The Cupertino executive spoke about the digital divide, and answered questions about diversity in the technology sector with host Robin Roberts.
Convenient cable boasts two ends: micro USB and Lightning
If yours is a house of multiple devices chances are you leave with at least a couple of different cables in tow. But is it absolutely necessary? Doesn't it become a hassle trying to keep track of all those cords? Lucky for you, Tylt is here to fix that problem with the Flyp-Duo reversible USB charge & sync cable, a cable that lets you charge your iOS and Android products without excess cord clutter.
An iPad Air 2 is on the line in a MacNN Deals competition
This is a reminder for a competition we launched earlier this month on MacNN Deals that is giving away an Apple iPad Air 2 worth up to $599 to one lucky winner. We have passed the halfway point of the giveaway, which means you have under two weeks to enter the free contest on our store's pages before it ends. If you want it, you had better hurry up and enter now rather than later.
In-ear headphones that offer great sound but come with a high price tag
If you're like us, in your day-to-day lives you probably prefer listening to music with in-ear headphones -- and chances are you're used to trading off certain things, like great bass and overall clarity, for portability and comfort. Today, we're here to show you that there is a better option, provided you're willing to invest the money. We take a look at our third in Audiofly's in-ear headphone series, the improved AF45s.
Online deal highlights for August 20, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the staff of MacNN searches online retailers for offers, bundles, sales, and discounts on hardware, software, games, and gadgets for you, the discerning reader. The new deals joining the still-alive items from this week include a refurbished TiVo Roamio DVR for $35, an AOC 22-inch monitor from $70, and a 5TB external Seagate drive for $120. Now with a new updated layout for easier reading!
Online deal highlights for August 19, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the staff of MacNN searches online retailers for offers, bundles, sales, and discounts on hardware, software, games, and gadgets for you, the discerning reader. Aside from the new deals joining the still-alive items from this week, including a G.SKILL 16GB notebook memory upgrade for $75, a 40-inch RCA HDTV for $310, and JBL Synchros headphones for $50, we have also updated the layout of the post, sorting it into categories to make it easier to read.
New iPad6,8 seen in ad data collection firm, Bluetooth stylus possible
Application and advertising analytic firm Appsee claims to have discovered proof that the iPad Pro is real, and coming soon. Logs from the company show a new "iPad6,8" with a screen resolution of 2732x2048. Additionally, the company is seeing an "iPhone8,1" and "iPhone8,2," allegedly correlating to new iPhones. Additionally, analysts are predicting Force Touch and a Bluetooth stylus to ship alongside the new unit.
Yesterday in the MacNN forums, members speculate on when new iPads will be coming after one Forum Regular was asking if they should expect to see a refresh in October or if there will be a longer wait. Mac Elite "jeff k" is wondering if there is yet a way to make the desktop the default location to save documents from any app, it appears the answer is still no.
Cheap and cheerful fitness tracker offers features for new and seasoned gym-goers alike
Fitness tracking is hip right now, which is probably one of the more beneficial things we've done as a species, as far as trends go. If you've not jumped on the bandwagon yet, you might be a little wary about dropping a significant amount of cash on something you're not sure you're going to utilize. But if you're interested in getting started, we'd like to introduce you to Misfit Flash, a budget-friendly, feature-packed fitness tracker.
At last, some other topics not related to Microsoft -- and some MS stuff too
It's August, and that means festival season, almost everywhere. MacNN Editor Charles Martin is out on the road again enjoying a big one in Edmonton, Alberta, but he's not letting that stop him from hosting this week's episode of the show. Joining him this week are staff writer Malcolm Owen in Wales, Bradley McBurney in Kelowna, BC, and William Gallagher in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama). We predict, we blame ourselves, we mention Microsoft. Show notes after the jump.
LED smartbulb features bright, clean light at a steep cost
LED bulbs are in vogue these days, cited as being cheap to run, long lasting, bright, and less annoying than compact fluorescent lights. We couldn't imagine life without them at this point. Smart LEDs are starting to become more popular, and while we weren't sold at first, we're coming around to them. Today, we check out another contender in the smartbulb arena, A21 Ilumi Smartbulb, a feature-heavy Bluetooth lightbulb that works with your iPhone.
Move intended to combat AT&T Next, T-Mobile Simple Choice
Sprint has debuted the 'iPhone forever" plan, giving users on the plan the ability to upgrade to the latest iPhone at any time while on the plan. Starting today, new and upgrade eligible Sprint customers can get an iPhone for $22 per month. Anytime customers don't have the latest iPhone, they are eligible to upgrade by bringing the older iPhone into a Sprint store, and upgrading on the spot.
Plug-in powerbank saves you the worry of dead batteries without taking up much space
We've all been there -- that moment when you realize that your phone or tablet is dying, and you're barely through your day. And of course, this only ever seems to happen when being near an outlet just isn't an option. For most people, we go into critical battery saving mode, dimming the screen, turning off the vibrate function -- we've all got our own battery conservation strategies. Scosche has got our backs, though, with their portable powerbank, the GoBAT 6000.
Online deal highlights for August 14, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the staff of MacNN searches online retailers for offers, bundles, sales, and discounts on hardware, software, games, and gadgets for you, the discerning reader. Expired deals from the last four days have been removed from the list, with the new deals list including a 128GB iPad Air with cellular for $450, a Samson G-Track USB microphone for under $90, and a 960GB Crucial SSD for under $300.
Wherein, the MacNN staff gazes into the crystal ball
I've been battered with requests on Facebook and Twitter to talk about what we see for the rumored (but likely) September Apple media event. My response sits on a clipping on my desktop, and says in essence, that there is little value in speculating, as Apple will do what Apple will do, but the requests continue. Fine. I give up! I've corralled the staff, and forced them to write about what they see for the next event, and to criticize the rumor mill at large. Read on for our thoughts.
New version brings similar fixes to iOS as given to iTunes.
Alongside updates to iTunes and OS X, Apple has updated the iOS to version 8.4.1. The new version, which saw only two beta releases, provides "improvements and fixes to Apple Music" similar to those offered in the iTunes update. No data is available as to what security issues may have been addressed with this patch.
Active stylus boasts thin tip without drawbacks of Bluetooth pairing
We've checked out a couple of styluses in our day, and for the most part, they're all pretty similar. Most consist of a thick squishy tip, a conductive body, and are there for you through thick and thin, but are only slightly better than using your finger. Of course, there's some newcomers out there that have done their part, creating art-centric Bluetooth styluses that are capable of pressure sensitivity and boast thin tips at the cost of occasionally cutting out. But what about a stylus that takes the best of both worlds? Stilo figured out a way to make that happen with their thin-tipped, non-Bluetooth active stylus.
Tiny speaker promises to brave whatever you throw at it
Portable speakers are great, but there's still usually some sort of caveat. They're portable with an asterisk -- generally intended for indoor use, or outdoor use in "optimal conditions." If you lead an outdoorsy lifestyle, however, rarely will you be in "optimal conditions." That's why EcoxGear came up with the EcoPebble, a durable little speaker that can go wherever you do.
Fashionable speaker doubles as power bank, falls a little short on sound
If you're like us, you like your technology to work well and look good. There's nothing wrong with wanting your devices to be stylish, and there's something to be said for a device that wows you with its appearance and its capabilities. Braven takes that philosophy to heart with Lux, a Bluetooth speaker that's capable of turning heads.
Sleek headphones offer style and cordless convenience
We check out a lot of headphones here, which you've probably noticed by this point. Most headphones we check out tend to be geared toward a certain type of listener, music enthusiasts, club kids, gamers... You name it, we've reviewed it. But today we take a look at a set of headphones that could suit just about anyone's needs, especially when it comes to being downright convenient. Today, we check out the Plattan ADV Wireless headphones by Urbanears.
Tablet stand offers big sound, but could offer better quality
If you're like us, there are times you find yourself wanting to watch videos or listen to music without headphones. Most tablet speakers are decent, but leave quite a bit to be desired in terms of volume. We were lucky enough to check out Brackertron's JamSpot, a tablet stand with speakers built right into it.
Win an iPad Air 2 by entering the competition at MacNN Deals
Last week, we launched a competition on our very own MacNN Deals that aims to provide one lucky reader a sought-after gadget from Apple's catalog. Here is your reminder that you have the opportunity to win an Apple iPad Air 2 worth up to $599 in the store's giveaway, running throughout the rest of this month and ending at the beginning of September.
Flexible silicone keyboard is lightweight, portable, and damage resistant
There's no denying that we love our tablets and smartphones, but we find that extended typing on them isn't nearly as comfortable as one would hope, especially in the case of smaller tablets. Our iPad Mini is too big to thumb-text, but too small to home-row, touch-type. Having a full-sized keyboard on hand to make extended typing easier is nice. Having a full-sized keyboard that is light, portable, and damage-resistant? Even better. That's where Scosche's FreeKEY roll-up Bluetooth keyboard comes in, offering both convenience and portability.
Event would highlight new iPhone, iPad updates, OS updates, more
A new report has claimed that Apple is looking to put on its expected next big event during "the week of September 7," with a possible (though historically unusual) date of Wednesday, September 9. While unconfirmed, the event would likely introduce the next updates to the iPhone and iPad lines, as well as officially debut the next major upgrades to OS X, iOS, and the watchOS. In addition, it is possible that Apple may reveal a revamped Apple TV.
Modestly priced earbuds deliver big sound in small, stylish package
Earbuds. We're big fans of those humble, tiny headphones that we pop in just about every time that we leave the house that seem to reproduce when left unattended in our junk drawer. And for the most part, we tend to think headphones are like pizza -- when they're good, they're great. When they're not good? Well, it's better than not having headphones. But maybe it's time we upgraded from our $8 beater headphones and tried something a bit better, so we took a look at Audiofly's AF33 in-ear headphones.
Apple offers $200 off Macs, free Beats Solo 2 headphone in promotion
Apple's online store has now officially kicked off the Back to School promotion begun in Apple Stores last month, offering up to $200 off Macs and throwing in a free pair of Beats Solo 2 headphones, which normally sell for $200. Buyers taking advantage of the promotion can, if they choose, upgrade the headphones to a wireless Bluetooth version for $100 more. The company is also offering up to $20 off on iPads.
Latest Apple Watch beta now dependent on iOS 9 install to work
[Update: third public beta released for iOS as well] Two weeks after the previous releases, Apple on Thursday offered new, fifth betas of iOS 9 and watchOS 2 to developers. The iOS 9 beta is now required in order to use the latest watchOS 2 beta, and may address some of the long list of serious bugs developers have reported so far, such as random reboots, poor battery life, inoperative Bluetooth connections and other problems unresolved or introduced in beta 4.
Bluetooth enabled LED bulbs create fantastic scenes in your home
If you're like most people, you don't think too much about the light bulbs that hang out in the sockets in your house. Maybe you've got a preference, but most of us are happy as long as they work and illuminate the area adequately. Still, innovation is generally a good thing, which is why we were so excited to try out the Satechi Spectrum iQ Bulb, an LED bulb that utilizes Bluetooth to give users nearly-endless lighting options.
Win an iPad Air 2 in your choice of color with MacNN Deals
Everyone loves getting free stuff in a competition or sweepstake, especially if happens to be an Apple product that everyone wants. Our very own MacNN Deals is gearing up to do just that, by giving our readers the opportunity to win an Apple iPad Air 2 worth up to $599 in the store's giveaway, running for the entirety of this month.
Durable case offers multiple ways to protect your iPad Mini
We love our iPad mini around here. They're the perfect combination of portable and functional, giving us the extra screen space without becoming too unwieldy to manage when we're out and about. The iPad mini, however, poses a problem. With being so portable, we've come to realize that it's prone to experiencing just as much as we are, including nasty bumps, bruises, and even the occasional fall. Griffin seeks to make life a little less harsh on the iPad mini with the super sturdy Survivor CrossGrip iPad mini case.
Durable Lightning Cable stands up to abuse with multiple reinforcements
We're the first to admit that we are not easy on cables. It's not unheard of them to end up in the bottom of our laptop bag, bunched up and crushed together. We also might have a slight problem with being able to put our iPhones and iPads down long enough for them to charge fully, which often leads to the ends becoming crimped, which eventually leads to wire breakage, which eventually leads to the death of a poor, defenseless cable. Sound familiar? That's why Griffin decided to make their Premium Braided Lightning Cable, to give us serial cable-breakers something that can live up to the abuse.
A literally complete handbook on keeping your iOS devices running smoothly
Today's Pointers column was inspired by a real-life incident in which an acquaintance asked me for help in picking out a new iPad. Knowing that they had a fourth-generation iPad -- not far removed from the iPad Air 2 that I have -- I asked why. "Doesn't work anymore," they grumbled resentfully. "Lots of crashes, some apps don't even launch now." I asked if it had ever been turned off. "Every night," they said. I said, "no, not put to sleep -- turned off." "You can do that?!" they exclaimed.
Simple near-universal bluetooth remote allows for easy music and media control
Let's paint a scenario for you: you're driving along, letting your iPhone serenade you with favorites from your music collection, when suddenly it plays that one song that you hate more than anything. You look away from the road to grab your phone and switch the song to something else, and in that brief moment, you've drifted into the other lane. Sound familiar? If this sounds like something that you can relate to, we'd like to introduce you to the Satechi Media Button, a Bluetooth enabled media remote designed to help you avoid moments just like that.
MIB-II infotainment system also supporting Android Auto, VW app suite
As promised roughly a year after CarPlay was unveiled, German car maker Volkswagen is now shipping automobiles that include a next-generation infotainment system called MIB-II that includes support for both CarPlay and Android Auto along with its own proprietary suite of Car-Net apps, the latter of which requires a subscription. The company says that all but its entry-level models will feature the new MIB-II system.
Tablets still reign in enterprise, education, but consumer market lagging
Although Apple CEO Tim Cook remains "bullish" on the future of tablets, Apple and the market generally for tablets is declining as consumers continue to favor large-screen smartphones for tablet-like functions, and as companies struggle to figure out what the replacement cycle for the still-popular devices is or should be, says research firm IDC. According to Apple, it sold 11.2 million iPads (with shipments of 10.9 million) in its fiscal third quarter, down from 13.7 million sold in the previous quarter.
Online deal highlights for July 29, 2015
Welcome to Daily Deals, the post where the staff of MacNN searches online retailers for offers, bundles, sales, and discounts on hardware, software, games, and gadgets for you, the discerning reader. Still-active deals from yesterday are accompanied by a new wave of offers, including up to $600 off a mid-2014 MacBook Pro, an Epson Home Cinema projector for $400, and the Lytro Light Field Camera for $80.
Wintel installed base still larger, but Apple sees expansion headroom still
Apple reached a new milestone with its most recent quarterly report, according to analyst Benedict Evans, in that the combined sales of iOS devices now match annual sales of all Windows devices made by various manufacturers. While not unexpected, the change demonstrates the changing nature of computing in the 21st century, which has become increasingly mobile-centric and cloud-dependent -- two trends that have had significant ripple effects through the entire PC industry.
Hammacher Schlemmer rolls out remote actuated tablet stand
Gadget manufacturer Hammacher Schlemmer has unveiled the RC Rotating iPad Viewing Stand -- a motorized iPad stand that tilts and swivels into position by way of the included remote control. The stand's infrared remote allows for positioning in a range from 38 degrees backwards and five degrees forward of vertical, and can swivel the contained tablet in a 270 degree arc to enable optimal positioning.
Tactical game plays like an adrenaline junkies game of hide and seek
We're getting pretty familiar with games by Slitherine, the developer responsible for Hell: Fight for Gilrand and Warhammer 40K: Armageddon. So far, everything they've thrown at us we've liked, which is why we decided to check out Legions of Steel, another tactical strategy game that's out for the iPad.