Latest MagBytes available (#55)

MagBytes 55S – view it in your browser or right-click (or hold down the Control key and normal-click) to download the PDF.

On iPad, Open the link, tap the area along the top (which I coloured blue in the PDF) and you get the option ‘Open in iBooks’ if you’d like to add it to your iBooks library.

Apple bought Swell, plight of indie developers, Russia wants Apple code! interesting new apps

Effects Studio handles the basics of photo editing and adds exclusive features
Effects Studio handles the basics of photo editing and adds exclusive features

Apple confirms purchase of personalized talk radio service Swell, shuts down app — Apple has indeed purchased Swell, a personalised news radio application, Apple confirmed on Wednesday NZ time, after promptly removing the free download from the iOS App Store.

The plight of the Indie iOS developer: is the App Store broken or is this much ado about nothing? — Instapaper and Overcast developer Marco Arment recently penned a blog arguing that Apple needs to do a whole lot more to direct users to higher quality apps. Under the current set up, Arment articulates that the “top lists” on the App Store tend to skew far too often towards low quality apps, rip off apps and cheap clones.

Russian government asks Apple to hand over source code amid spying concerns — Russia’s Ministry of Communications and Mass Media has suggested that Apple should open its source code for government inspection to ensure that the iPhone maker is not complicit in enabling US intelligence services to spy on the world’s largest country. [Surely they’re Putin us on?]

Effects Studio for iOS takes photo effects to the max — There are so many apps for editing and adding special effects that it’s pretty hard to keep track of them all. I’ve reviewed so many that they can become a misty blur. Effects Studio (NZ$1.29) takes adding effects to photos way beyond where most apps go but still manages to offer the basics, so it does stand out from the crowd.

Instagram launches Snapchat competitor ‘Bolt’ in selected markets — A week after rumours that Instagram would launch Bolt, the Facebook-owned company soft-launched the new time-restricted image and video messaging app in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.

iPhone gets first free app for encrypting voice calls — For all your spies out there, an open-source project has released the first free application for the iPhone that scrambles voice calls, which would thwart government surveillance or eavesdropping by hackers.

New Retina MacBooks speed tested, hints of new Macs, Premiere, OneNote …

Motion Artist animates your comics
Motion Artist animates your comics

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina display models unboxed, SSDs speed tested — Hours after Apple released its refreshed MacBook Pro with Retina display lineup, aftermarket parts reseller Other World Computing has SSD speed test results for both 13-inch and 15-inch models, as well as photos of a partial teardown.

Another Apple page briefly mentioned mysterious ‘mid-2014’ 27-inch iMac and a mini — Apple may have accidentally tipped its hand on two imminent hardware releases this week, with support pages from the company referencing both a new Mac mini and 27-inch iMac models listed with a “mid-2014” launch.

Macworld reviews the new Premiere — Premiere Pro CC 2014 review: New features allow video editors to do more.

Microsoft updates OneNote for iOS and Mac with OneDrive access, file insertion, more — Microsoft on Wednesday (NZ time) rolled out a major update to its Apple-centric OneNote product line, adding new features like access to notes stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online, inserting files and note reorganization and sharing.

Apple US sales tax holiday for select states — Several states in the US offer sales tax holidays around the start of back-to-school season to help parents save money on required purchases. This Tuesday Apple announced that they would be honouring these sales tax holidays not only in the retail locations, but also online.

Comics, animation creator — Comic lovers and designers might like this software that takes designs, characters and stories and puts them in motion to create the story you’ve been visualising (pictured at top).

How to burn movies to disc in an iDVD-less world — Christopher Breen writes on Macworld that while it’s true, now that Apple has filed iDVD under “Old Technology That Interests Us Not” your options aren’t as clear as they once were. Let’s bring some clarity to the situation.

Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina updated – the official press release with NZ prices

Apple Updates MacBook Pro with Retina Display

CUPERTINO, California—30 July, 2014—Apple® today updated MacBook Pro® with Retina® display with faster processors, double the memory in both entry-level configurations, and a new, lower recommended retail price for the top-of-the-line 15-inch notebook. MacBook Pro with Retina display features a stunning high-resolution display, an amazing design just 1.8 centimetres thin, the latest processors and powerful graphics, and up to nine hours of battery life, delivering unbelievable performance in an incredibly portable design.* Apple today also lowered the recommended retail price of the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro, a very popular system with Windows switchers, by NZ$200 to NZ$1,499 inc. GST.

“People love their MacBook Pro because of the thin and light, aluminium unibody design, beautiful Retina display, all day battery life and deep integration with OS X,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The MacBook Pro with Retina display gets even better with faster processors, more memory, more affordable configurations and a free upgrade to OS X Yosemite this spring.”

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display features dual-core Intel Core i5 processors up to 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz and 8GB of memory, up from 4GB in the entry-level notebook. The 13-inch model can also be configured with faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.0 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz. The top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display has a new, lower recommended retail price of NZ$3,499 inc. GST. The 15-inch model features faster quad-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 2.5 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.7 GHz, 16GB of memory, up from 8GB in the entry-level notebook, and can be configured with quad-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.0 GHz.

iLife® and iWork® come free with every new Mac®. iLife lets you edit your favourite videos with iMovie®, create new music or learn to play piano or guitar with GarageBand®, and organise, edit and share your best shots with iPhoto®. iWork productivity apps, Pages®, Numbers® and Keynote®, make it easy to create, edit and share stunning documents, spreadsheets and presentations. iWork for iCloud® beta lets you create a document on iPhone® or iPad®, edit it on your Mac and collaborate with friends, even if they are on a PC.

OS X® Mavericks, the world’s most advanced operating system, also comes free with every new Mac. With more than 200 features, OS X Mavericks is designed for ease of use while taking full advantage of the powerful technologies built into every Mac, including core technologies designed specifically for notebooks to boost performance and improve battery life. This spring, Mac users will be able to download OS X Yosemite, a redesigned and refined version of OS X, with a fresh, modern look, powerful new apps and amazing new continuity features that make working across your Mac and iOS devices more fluid than ever. OS X Yosemite will be available as a free download from the Mac App Store℠.

Pricing & Availability — MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Pro are available today through the Apple Online Store ( and select Apple Authorised Resellers. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory, 128GB of flash storage and Intel Iris graphics starting at a recommended retail price of NZ$1,799 inc. GST; with a 2.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel Iris graphics starting at a recommended retail price of NZ$2,099 inc. GST; and with a 2.8 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage and Intel Iris graphics starting at a recommended retail price of NZ$2,499 inc. GST. Configure-to-order options include faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.0 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, up to 16GB of memory and flash storage up to 1TB.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.2 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.4 GHz, 16GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel Iris Pro graphics starting at a recommended retail price of NZ$2,799 inc. GST; and with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.7 GHz, 16GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage, and Intel Iris Pro and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics starting at a recommended retail price of NZ$3,499 inc. GST. Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.0 GHz and flash storage up to 1TB.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and a 500GB hard drive starting at a recommended retail price of NZ$1,499 inc. GST.

Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online.

iPhone as big as Coke & McDonalds, mistaken app purchases, doctors & apps

Modern Combat looks surprisingly impressive on an iPhone 4s
Modern Combat looks surprisingly impressive on an iPhone 4s

Apple’s iPhone business is as big as McDonald’s and Coke combined — The bulk of Apple’s revenue comes from the iPhone. During the company’s most recent quarter, for example, 53% of its $37.4 billion in quarterly revenue came from its iconic smartphone. In fact iPhone, as its own business, now compares to a number of blue chip companies – revenue wise, the iPhone business makes as much money as McDonalds and Coca-Cola combined.

Smartphone sales still growing, but Apple’s and Samsung’s share is slipping — Global smartphone shipments increased by nearly 25 percent year-over-year, new data released Tuesday indicates, with Chinese vendors accounting for the lion’s share of the growth at the expense of established heavyweights Apple and Samsung.

iPhone 101: How to request a refund from the App Store for mistaken purchases — If you have browsed through the App Store and inadvertently purchase an app that you really didn’t intend to buy. It’s one of those costly fat finger moments that you wish you could take back.
Thankfully, Apple provides a way to for you to request a refund in these circumstances. It’s not an immediate return and the restoration of your funds is subject to Apple’s approval, but it is nonetheless helpful when you’ve made a mistaken purchase, as TUAW explains.

Doctors freaking out about med apps — Doctors spend years learning about various ailments, equipment, and medications before ever being allowed near a patient, so it’s no surprise the glut of health tracking apps available today is giving them fits. The complete lack of oversight and unverified claims of many medical apps make them a real danger, and this increasing concern comes at a time when Apple’s own HealthKit framework is getting ready for the spotlight.

5 unexpectedly useful apps — These days, there really is an app for almost anything – even things you may never have thought of. Want to connect two previously unlinked web services? An app can help. Want to link two previously unconnected devices? Rhere’s an app for that, too. Read on for information on five of Liane Cassavoy’s favourite unexpectedly useful apps.

Facebook Forces iPhone Users To Separate Messaging App — Facebook is officially going to move messages to the separate Facebook Messenger app, a separate (free) iPhone app, artificially preventing users from messenging within the Facebook app by simply removing the feature.

How different is Modern Combat 5 on an iPhone 4s compared to a 5c — Modern Combat 5 has finally hit the iTunes store, bringing fiery action to your iOS devices (main picture). The folks at AppSpy have put together a comparison video showing how the title plays on the iPhone 4s and the iPhone 5c, and the answer is remarkable: the 5c version is noticeably sharper than the same title running on a 4s, the graphics on the 4s are still incredibly impressive considering the title is running on a device nearly three years old.

Faster Retina MacBook Pros, Mac sales surge, 1985 ad & software space

The Retina MacBook Pro is now faster and has 16GB RAM standard
The Retina MacBook Pro is now faster and has 16GB RAM standard

Retina MacBook Pro gets Faster Processors, More RAM — Apple has confirmed new models with faster processors and more RAM. The new 13-inch and 15-inch models look just like the versions they replace, but with more power under the hood – 16GB RAM and faster CPUs and graphics.
The 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro is still available and is the only Mac Apple sells with a built-in optical drive, but the price has been reduced slightly.

Apple’s focus on value in 2014 has sent Mac sales surging — Hardware updates to the Mac lineup thus far in 2014 have been generally unexciting, and yet Apple has still achieved record sales this year, as consumers are seeing plenty to like about the company’s newest and more affordable computers. [I think 16GB RAM standard, above, is pretty exciting!]

1985 Macintosh Office ad reminds us how much space software used to take up — “Now there are more than 500 software programs for the Macintosh Office, so no matter what business you’re in, you’re in business.” In just one sentence this 1985 Macintosh Office ad explained to viewers why it was going to change the way they worked on a computer. It also shows how much physical space these software packages used to take up.

iBeacons growing, Visa deal, Microsoft pans Siri, Samsung petition, Beats OK’d, Revolution 60

Soon you'll be use your iPhone as your Visa credit card
Soon you’ll be use your iPhone as your Visa credit card

Apple’s iBeacon continues to spread with new rollouts by Lord & Taylor, others — Businesses continue to embrace consumers wielding Apple’s mobile devices, as department store chain Lord & Taylor and German restaurant group Mook have announced new iBeacon-based customer outreach plans, while hoteliers Hilton will allow guests to check in and unlock their rooms with their smartphones.

Apple, Visa deal could make iPhone 6 your next wallet — Apple is reportedly working on a deal with Visa to have everything in place to make the iPhone 6 your new digital wallet this spring. The agreement would let iPhone owners pay for products and services just as they would with their credit card, but from their smartphone instead. (Picture, above, from The Mac Observer.)

Microsoft takes shot at Siri in new ad — Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant is an impressive addition to the company’s Windows Phone software, and while Siri’s update in iOS 8 will likely give Apple’s digital gal the edge once again, Cortana has the lead at the moment. Microsoft decided to take advantage of its current window of superiority by releasing a new ad mocking the less impressive Siri.

Petition demands Samsung improves factory conditions, 40K signatures — A petition at The Petition Site is being circulated that demands Samsung improve working conditions at its Chinese factories. The petition targets Boo-Keun Yoon, CEO of the Samsung Group, and accuses the company of operating or contracting with scores of factories that have unsafe working conditions. More than 40,000 people have signed the petition so far.

European Commission OKs Apple’s $3B purchase of Beats — The legislative arm of the European Union ruled on Monday that Apple is allowed to acquire Beats, the premium headphone maker it plans to acquire for $3 billion, as the agreement would not be detrimental to consumers in the organization’s eyes.

Revolution 60 is the most ambitious iOS game you’ll play this year — That’s what Serenity Caldwell thinks: “it takes a very specific kind of iOS game to grab my interest. I’m not a huge fan of first person shooters or clunky free-to-play titles; multi-touch puzzle games and the occasional 2D RPG are my bread and butter. It was luck and a random connection that led me to try Giant Spacekat’s Revolution 60, a 3D hybrid that’s part RPG, part chess game, and — surprisingly — part compelling animation film. And I am so very glad I did.”
It’s free.

Apple shares, Photoshop CC 2014, Yosemite Beta, Printworks, preparing for Mac disaster

YosemiteTransparency Apple to Shareholders get 47 Cents — Apple shareholders’ dividend this quarter is US$0.47 per share, according to company CFO Luca Maestri .

Photoshop CC 2014 review: Image editor gets new time-saving features — Even after all these years, Adobe continues to add new features to its venerable image and photo editor that make it easier to get your work done. Adobe added some incredibly practical features to Photoshop CC 2014, especially for productivity. Time-savers include smarter smart guides and smart objects, updatable Layer Comps, a colour picker that stays open, full Typekit integration, a searchable font menu with instant font previews on existing text, better blending with Content-Aware tools, the ability to sync more settings to Creative Cloud, and more. Other slick new features includea command that automatically selects the in-focus areas in an image, two new motion blur filters, a Package command for corralling linked smart object content, and the ability to edit masks made with Camera Raw’s Graduated or Radial filters.

OS X and iOS Application Compatibility Table — If you are waiting to install a new OS (ie, Yosemite Public Beta) because you are worried about compatibility issues, check out the Application Compatibility Table over at RoaringApps, which has compatibility charts from Snow Leopard up to Yosemite, and from iOS 5 up to iOS 8. If you don’t see an app listed there and you know its status, you can submit it to the list.

Take Control of Yosemite Beta — Joe Kissell has some tips for you on running a Mac OS Beta. He’s been beta testing since 10.3, so he knows of what he speaks. He’s put together a great set of tips in Take Control of Beta Testing Yosemite, the latest title from Take Control Books. This one has a suggested price of US$5/ (The public beta site crashed thanks to heavy traffic only hours after the beta was released and eventually Apple replaced the error users saw with its familiar “We’ll be back” image, but it’s working again.)

Don’t use TRIM with SSD on Beta — For those who are succeeding where others have failed at getting their hands on the public beta of Yosemite, make sure you disable TRIM before installing on a 3rd party solid state drives (SSDs). Users are reporting that having TRIM controls enabled will resort in your Mac not booting up.

Printworks handles Desktop Publishing —  Printworks (NZ$38.98) that debuts today in the Mac App Store. TUAW’s reviews says “it has a barrel full of more than 400 templates, and more than a thousand clip-art images and useful symbols. Unlike a lot of templates, these are skillfully designed and very appealing to the eye. The clip art is also tasteful, and in my experience most clip art is pretty worthless. The templates are easily modified without losing the look and feel of the design unless, of course, you want to.”

How to prepare for a Mac disaster — No one likes to think about disasters such as burglary, earthquake, fire, the zombie apocalypse, or other catastrophes that could potentially wipe out your Mac, your other gadgets, and perhaps even your entire home or office. But these things do happen (with the possible exception of the zombies), and despite your best efforts, you might not be able to prevent the loss. You can, however, minimise the damage and inconvenience you’ll suffer – and speed your recovery – by making sure you’ve taken a number of commonsense steps to prepare for misfortune ahead of time.

Rumours of new MacBook — Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup, in both the 13- and 15-inch varieties, is now rumoured to receive an update following a leak that suggested all 15-inch models will come standard with 16 gigabytes of RAM.

Swift resources, IBM already using iDevices, why an iWatch? Bose files vs Beats, Gmail app

Apple's Swift resource page
Apple’s Swift resource page

9 Swift Resources for iOS 8 Developers — If you’re interested in Apple’s new programming language Swift, announced at WWDC, there are a variety of resources available online now. The Mac Observer lists nine resources to help you get going.

IBM began mass adoption of iOS prior to its exclusive partnership with Apple Inc — When Apple and IBM announced plans to codevelop new iOS apps and jointly sell and support iPhones and iPad to enterprise customers, the news was greeted as if it were a new experiment. However, the deal is actually an extension of IBM’s mobile strategy that has included massive deployments of iOS devices and native apps.

What would make you buy an Apple watch? TUAW wants to know (poll).

Bose files lawsuit against Apple’s Beats over noise cancelling tech — Two of the biggest names in premium headphones, Bose and soon-to-be-Apple’s Beats, are set to square off in court, with a new lawsuit filed on Friday by Bose alleging that Beats products infringe on its noise canceling patents.

Google updates Gmail for iOS with enhanced Google Drive integration — Heavy users of Google’s web services suite will be pleased with the latest update to the company’s Gmail app for iOS, which adds two new features that more tightly couple Gmail with Google Drive.

Great Mac sales baffle analysts, Yosemite beta, choosing a Mac, BookLamp, Hemingway

Yosemite Beta adds million
Yosemite Beta adds million

Apple, Inc’s double digit US Mac growth contradicts IDC & Gartner reports of a Mac sales slump — Apple reported “strong double digit growth” in its Mac sales in the US, directly contradicting the earlier estimates published by IDC and Gartner that stated Apple’s U.S. Mac sales fell year-over-year in the June quarter and calling into question the legitimacy of market estimates that the tech media uncritically presents as factual. There are now 80 million Mac users!

OS X Yosemite: design good and the bad — Designer and Pixelapse co-founder Lo Min Ming took a magnifying glass to the design of OS X Yosemite and teased out those UI elements that have changed significantly, for better or worse, in Apple’s next-generation desktop OS.

How to make a bootable OS X 10.10 Yosemite install drive — With Yosemite (OS X 10.10) and the OS X Beta Program, Apple is for the first time since 2000 making pre-release versions of a new operating system available to people other than developers. The first million non-developers to sign up for the 10.10 public beta got to download and install pre-release versions of Yosemite, to help Apple get the final release right. If you take part, here’s how to create a bootable installer drive, on an external hard drive or a thumb drive [which is a really good idea, as you can only use the Redeem Code once, as I discovered when I reinitialised my Mac yesterday!]. And here’s how to revert it to Mavericks.

Want a Mac? This will help you to choose which one — Macworld’s buying guide provides an overview of all the Mac models available, and what each model is best suited for. To get more details, you can read the full review for each Mac model by clicking the “Read our complete review” links.

Apple buys BookLamp — Apple has confirmed a story that first appeared in TechCrunch saying Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
BookLamp, sometimes referred to as ‘Pandora for books’, developed some exclusive algorithms that analysed book content to make recommendations to readers. The Boise, Idaho based company was actually acquired by Apple this spring, but the deal was kept quiet.

Hemingway text editor comes to the Mac with Markdown support — Hemingway started off as a web-based text editor offering corrections on your writing as you type. The app focuses on basic grammar, such as adverb use, passive voice, long sentences and more.

Futurology 01 ~ Solar storm, visiting asteroid, wet storage & more

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Solar storm missed this teacup — On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere. These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA. Fortunately, the blast site of the CMEs was not directed at Earth. Had this event occurred a week earlier when the point of eruption was Earth-facing, a potentially disastrous outcome would have unfolded.
It probably would have caused widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket.
~ We can achieve all that ourselves, of course, with wars.

Closer look at a visiting asteroid — Last week, as the Rosetta spacecraft came within 1400 kilometres of its destination comet, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which it’s supposed to land on! It sent back images of what appeared to be a whirling rubber ducky in space. Now, using the same data, researchers have created a 3D model of the object (above).
~ Good luck with that landing.

A Terabyte in a  tablespoon — Researchers from the University of Michigan and New York University demonstrated how plastic nanoparticles, deposited in a liquid, can form a one-bit cluster — and that’s the essential building block for information storage. It’s called “wet computing,” and the technique mimics other biological processes found in nature, like DNA in living cells.
~ Giving the phrase ‘data leak’ a whole new world of possibilities.


Gorgeous icons (look at the bin!)
Gorgeous icons (look at the bin!)

The future — I’m looking at it. Yeah, I have installed the Yosemite Beta on my MacBook Pro.

US Army to 3D print warheads — In its latest bid to kill more people, more efficiently, and at less cost, the army is planning to print warhead components, according to the latest issue of Army Technology. “3D printing of warheads will allow us to have better design control and utilize geometries and patterns that previously could not be produced or manufactured,” James Zunino, a researcher at the Armament Research, Engineering and Design Center said.
~ Doesn’t that just warm your heart?

Smart design means no glasses or contacts needed — Researchers at Berkeley, MIT, and Microsoft have developed a prototype that could one day make glasses or contacts obsolete — at least when you’re looking at your phone or computer.
~ But the frame remains the same. 

Australian students break international solar car record — The Sunswift solar car team from UNSW Australia broke an international world speed record for the fastest long-range electric vehicle, averaging a speed of 107kph over 500km from a single charge with their car, eVe.
~ Outlook for them: sunny.


French plastic house, 1969
French plastic house, 1969

Retro-futurist plastic homes — In the mid-twentieth century, back when colonising the solar system seemed imminent, people decided to save money by building homes out of plastic. You can see the results here. Some are mind-bogglingly awesome, and some are just mind-boggling.
~ How many still stand? But now our house interiors are most all plastic, anyway. 

Dinosaurs were really just big angry birds — A new study published in Science (abstract) suggests that most dinosaurs were covered with feathers. This conclusion was drawn after the discovery of fossils belonging to a 1.5-meter-long, two-legged dinosaur called Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus. The fossils greatly broaden the number of families of dinosaurs sporting feathers — downy, ribboned, and thin ones in this case — indicating that plumes evolved from the scales that covered earlier reptiles, probably as insulation.”
~ Why did the dinosaur cross the road? To get to the anachronism.

Review: Logitech Big Bang iPad cases

The Logitech Big Bang case for iPad mini on top of that for the Air
The Logitech Big Bang case for iPad mini on top of that for the Air

I like to look after my iPad and you probably do too. Logitech has recently released iPad cases that offer extra protection. They have a layer of shock-absorbant material, liquid-repellent outers, a shock-rim that protects the edges of your precious tablet and everything is designed for durability.

You might think this would add an appreciable thickness to your iPad and you’d be right, but with, in particular, the iPad mini and even the slimmer,lighter iPad Air, that’s not that much of an issue if you have a busy lifestyle, have kids who use the, or hey, you’re reporting from a  war zone. On their own, these cases are still pretty light compared to, say, leather and I’d say the trade-off is worth it because they exceed the’Military Drop Standard’. (Which military I’m not sure.) Compared to most rugged cases, the Big Bang seems slim, and the protective rim part comes in different colours whereas the main case is only in ‘forged graphite’. The protective rim part either provides access to buttons or has over-buttons (in the case of the volume). This is definitely the case I want for my great little iPad mini with Retina display – that thing goes everywhere.

Best of all, compared to the previous Folio case I was using, the case lets you prop your iPa into one of four angles which is way better for reading stuff at the table – much more flexible. Like the folio, shutting the case sleeps your iPad and opening it wakes it, which is handy.

Logitech impact-resistant, Big Bang protective iPad case, NZ prices TBA, more info at Logitech NZ.

Review: Logitech’s new x300 & an All Black Boom

x300 – surprisingly big sound and excellent portability
x300 – surprisingly big sound and truly excellent portability (click image for full-size)

A new offering from Logitech is this little rubber-encased, gold-grilled Bluetooth x300 speaker – that’s right, no wires except the one for charging it. The advertising says it has a rich and deep sound and I found that to be true – with a woofer at each end and two mid-range speakers across the front, this thing surprises with depth but also with volume. I could still hear it four rooms away, and it wasn’t even on full, and it wasn’t distorting. Yet it still fits easily in one hand. It seems rugged, too, with it’s rubbery case and large Bluetooth and volume up and down buttons (of course, once it’s paired by a simple process you can turn it up on your iPhone or iPad, too). With an iPad, gaming sound is really impressive. According to Logitech, it will play for five hours once fully charged. What’s great — Loud and deceptively deep What’s not — A little detail missing in the treble end (but who actually likes that?)

x300 is small but powerful and clear
x300 is small but powerful and clear

Mac-NZ’s advice — packs a surprising audio punch in a tiny, yet substantial-feeling package – that’s it. left, next to an iPhone 5. Not on the market yet, but when it is the Logitech x300 wireless Bluetooth speaker will be NZ$99.90 (also available in pink and blue)


AB Boom — Logitech’s big wireless UE (‘ultimate ears’) Boom speaker can wear different skins, and now there;’s one just for us: an All Black model.  The UE Boom is now available in several editions including Artist and even an All Black Special Edition (left) – it’s not that far off the length of a rugby ball, after all, and is actually slim enough to  fit in many water bottle holders. It puts out 360° of sound, and the Boom now supports ‘double-up’, letting you combine two for even bigger sound. (If you already have one, just update it.) It’s black – of course – with a fern design, and built big and rugged to suit any occasion. The AB version of the UE Boom costs the same as the others: NZ$299