Apple preps basic and fancy shopping experiences for Watch buyers — Buying an Apple Watch won’t be as simple as wandering into your local Apple Store and pointing out the device you want, like it is with most other Apple products. Expect more of a ‘journey,’ if 9to5Mac’s latest reports about the watch-buying experience are accurate.
Weight watching has never been so informative with the Withings smart body analyser —Withings Connected Scale measures body fat and displays your Body Mass Index (BMI). The scale now also acts as an air quality sensor and takes your pulse when you weigh in. Any measurements made by the scale are transmitted via Wi-Fi to the Withings cloud, where you can either view it on a website or using the free Withings Health Mate app.
Cheaper iPhones coming? Alleged ‘iPhone 6c’ rear shell suggests Apple will repackage iPhone 5s parts — On the heels of a new report saying Apple will continue to offer a 4-inch iPhone with a new ‘C’ model, a set of new images show what appears to be a revised design for an unreleased iPhone that could feature parts from the current iPhone 5s.
Vine’s video quality jumps to 720p — Previously, Vine video quality was limited to 480-by-480 resolution. The square aspect ratio will remain unchanged as 720-by-720 resolution videos are beginning to appear.
How Apple’s new MacBook gets nearly as much battery life as the MacBook Pro with a battery half the size — Apple has packed its all-new MacBook with some impressive technology, but its outstanding battery life – nine hours from a single charge – may be the most staggering. AppleInsider took a look under the hood to see how they could have done it.
Apple Inc has quietly doubled its Reno, Nevada data centre site — Apple has greatly expanded its data centre near Reno, Nevada, about four hours east of Silicon Valley. However, it appears the company’s aggressive growth in iCloud server capacity is only just getting started, with massive room for expansion surrounding the facilities.
Mac 911: Good backup habits making migrating to a new Mac easier — To go forward, you must back up. This is an old rubric and bad joke about the importance of keeping regularly updated copies on hand of your personal and work documents and, ideally, your entire drive. Backing up is often an important stage in migrating to a new machine as well. This week, Glenn Fleishman covers his recommended methods.
Logitech’s latest all-in-one wireless speaker unit is out, and it’s even louder than the last one. It’s under the UE (Ultimate Ears) brand of bespoke audio products which go up into the professional arena – earbuds and other audio equipment, including thousand-dollar earbuds that reproduce the frequency range 5Hz-22KHz.
Rugged, a little hefty and cylindrical, this latest unit is well named, as it’s even louder – startlingly so – and more bassy than its predecessor.
The MegaBoom is designed to be grabbed and taken with you, for instant parties anywhere. It’s the perfect companion to, say, TV On Demand or Netflix on iPad, not to mention adding a whole new spectrum of immersive enjoyment to games. Also, thanks to it’s 360° sound emanation, it doesn’t matter all that much where you place it, although you won’t get stereo of course. Maximum Sound Level is 90dBA with a frequency range of 65Hz to 20kHz; there are speakers and even earbuds that go higher and lower, but that’s a decent enough range for a standalone accessory speaker and better than many. Midtones are clear and high tones crisp, and bass is surprisingly deep. The challenge with any kind of compact speaker is first, to get any real bass at all, and secondly to get any definition in that bass. The sound output is all thanks to two 2-inch drivers and two 2×4-inch passive radiators – these are typically like speakers without their own drivers – they bounce and radiate due to the sound from the other speakers that do have drivers.
The MegaBoom is tough,with a woven-fibre cover and rubberised top and bottom plus the side panel with the massive Plus and Minus volume controls. Since it’s waterproof; you can pretty much take it anywhere. It’s so waterproof, Logitech reckons, you can actually drop it in into water and it will survive. I wasn’t game to try it (besides, I had to send the unit back). Quite how sound can come out where water can get in, I don’t know.
On the underside is a D-ring – so you can hang the unit – and that’s removable to reveal a tripod mount. Also on the underside are ‘weather doors’ that open to reveal the charge port and the stereo minipin auxiliary-in port, to connect outputs via wire. It stands 22.6cm high, it’s 8.3cm in diameter and weighs 877g.
Charge it up for 20 hours music — it has Lithium rechargeables inside that reach peak charge in 2.5 hours via the supplied micro USB cable and, in the case of the dark grey unit anyway, this goes into a fluorescent green power brick for charging. Untypically, by the way, once these rechargeables lose their kick, they can be replaced.
I found it hard, at first, to pair with my Mac, but easy with the iPad and iPhone, where it appeared as discoverable immediately after holding in the top-mounted Bluetooth button for a couple of seconds. So the usual sound files I run to see what speakers/earphones/headphone can do had to be run from my iDevices. Do this via Settings/System Preferences>Bluetooth. Once it’s playing, the App equaliser settings make an immediate difference; I found I mostly preferred my custom setting that dropped the bass a little and boosted the very top end worked best for my music.
Sounds — Good.The amazing thing is how much sound this thing, a little shorter than my forearm, can pump out. I always use the same test songs: Tropical Hotdog Night by Captain Beefheart, is one of my all time faves with a great range of tones; it really pushes speakers and it’s a good test of how well they can define, and keep up with, a range of sounds across the spectrum. Public Image Ltd by Public Image is a great test of bass thanks to Jah Wobble’s habit of leaning a four-speaker box up against a wall then putting pics on the wall, rather than to the speakers, to record. This can overwhelm the bass response of almost anything.
Finally, Alanis Morrisette’s You Oughta Know has a great speaker stress point just after three minutes when she’s done her wailing bit and the bass and everything else comes back in. If you can clearly hear the bassline bobbling along and then its higher-range riffs (really nice bass work, here) you are probably on to a good thing. Also, Morrisette’s voice is a good push in the vocal range, straining as it does sometimes to express her jilted anger.
Mostly, the UE kept up – and I’m talking flat-out full volume. It’s slightly muddied compared to a dedicated speaker setup, but remarkably good considering it’s not. I get awesome, taut mids on my Mission stereo speakers, and this is missing on the UE – and to be fair, it’s missing from most other things I’ve ever tested. But the Megaboom certainly has the volume you can have a good time to, and loud enough, if you have it outside, to annoy the neighbours a bit. In other words, it’s damned impressive.
Run it as-is, as a Mac speaker (if you can pair it – actually, I easily could once I updated the Boom’s firmware via the app) or as an iDevice sound system or use the free UE MegaBoom app (for iOS) to set audio profiles, use a 5-band EQ, run two MegaBooms at once, and to choose between the sound profiles ‘Stereo’ (if you have two) or ‘Double’.
Under More you’ll find other options, for example you can give your Mega Boom a distinctive name, handy if there are more around, and you can turn the built-in audio alerts on or off.
These are actually pretty handy – there’s a start-up sound, an off sound when it decides to sleep (after a certain period of non-use), there’s a Bluetooth ‘discoverable’ melody, and if you hold the volume up and down buttons in together for a couple of seconds, a woman’s US-accent voice tells you how much charge you have: ‘Sixty percent charge.’ It also let me update the firmware – all this was under Settings.
You can also select one of nine languages (2 Asian, 7 European) to run in.
However, I utterly failed to find this app via the App Store on the iPad, but I did find it in iTunes on my Mac, and downloaded and syncced it that way to an iPhone and an iPad. If you do find the app, it can even set a musical alarm that will have you leaping out of bed to your favourite – or perhaps more effectively, to your least favourite – track.
The setup guide (you can run two Booms at once and pair any one Megaboom to two devices at once) is best read online, I found.
Mac NZ Buying Advice —For many situations most m=people can think of, this Bluetooth speaker has everything going for it.
Logitech Ultimate Ears MegaBoom, NZRRP $399.90. Available in dark grey, red, purple or blue.
John Martellero thinks he has the real reason iPad sales are falling — “Apple’s iPad sales started out growing like gangbusters. It looked to become a major product line alongside the iPhone. But then, in the last year, sales have faltered. Various reasons have be put forward: update cycles, the popularity of phablets, and so on. But the real reason goes much deeper.”
How to create light trail photographs with your iPhone — Light trails can be created on bright sunny days as well, and that opens up a world of possibilities, writes Vern Seward. [It’s down to apps that let the shutter stay open longer than a second.]
April Fools Day Siri prank you can play — My kids love to play with Siri on my iPhone. They are always changing my default name to some oddball phrase or asking Siri to “Tell them a story.” For April Fools’ Day, I decided that I am going to prank them by changing Siri’s voice and language. It takes less than a minute to change those attributes, and you’ll get a good laugh when you watch the bewildered responses of your familly members. Follow the steps in today’s 60-second tip, so you can be armed and ready for the prank fest that is April Fools’.
Apple’s new MacBook employs unorthodox keyboard design to achieve maximum thinness — To pursue its continuing obsession with thinness, Apple has gone to extraordinary lengths with the keyboard on the new 12-inch MacBook, redesigning it in a way that is thoroughly distinct from its Macbook Air and MacBook Pro stablemates. It uses a new ‘butterfly mechanism’.
USB Type-C peripherals are on the way, and storage devices are first up — With Apple’s latest MacBook and Google’s newest Chromebook just out and featuring the new USB Type-C connector, we’re on the lookout for peripherals that use the interface, and storage devices appear to be first out of the gate.
Apple’s Tim Cook plans to give away all his money — Apple chief executive Tim Cook has revealed plans to donate the vast majority of his wealth to charity before he dies, saying that he wants to develop a “systematic approach” to philanthropy. [Is that ‘make it harshly, give it away softly’?] Fortune magazine named Apple CEO Tim Cook the world’s greatest leader on Thursday. Meanwhile, he’s ‘deeply disappointed‘ by new Indiana anti-gay law.
Intel & Micron’s new 3D flash memory could mean cheaper, larger storage for Apple’s Macs, iOS devices — Intel and Micron have announced the launch of a new 3D NAND flash technology, one which could substantially improve the amount of data storage possible in Macs, iPhones, iPads, and numerous other devices.
Apple’s $848M solar power deal better on back end, says environmental VP Lisa Jackson — The $848 million solar power deal Apple signed with First Solar last month is a better value than some have suggested, according to Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson, who on Thursday pointed to a surge in the amount of power Apple will receive towards the end of the contract.
Safari users in the UK can sue Google over alleged privacy violations — The UK Court of Appeal won’t block a privacy lawsuit that alleges Google tracked Safari users without authorisation, so the three plaintiffs can continue their legal fight against the search company.
Dark Matter even darker — Using the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes astronomers have discovered that dark matter is not only invisible to direct observation, it is invisible to itself. ~ It needs a New Age self awareness course.
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence just got a big boost — That’s thanks to the introduction of a powerful new infrared telescope. In addition to scanning for pulses of infrared light, astronomers will use device to search for alien megastructures, such as Dyson Spheres. ~ But how will that improve my vacuum cleaner?
Ganymede’s odd bulge — There’s a strange bulge on the Solar System’s largest moon. It measures 603 kilometres wide and just under 3kms high. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why it’s there or what caused it, but it may have something to do with the Jovian moon’s subsurface ocean. ~ Call the midwife.
Biobug — By cladding a living cell with graphene quantum dots, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) claim to have created a nanoscale biomicrorobot (or cytobot) that responds electrically to changes in its environment. This work promises to lay the foundations for future generations of bio-derived nanobots, biomicrorobotic-mechanisms, and micromechanical actuation for a wide range of applications. ~ They made a tiny biological entity.
8-Bit instant camera gun — This 8-bit instant camera gun might be useless but it’s definitely cool (main picture). His inventor, the Moscow-based media-artist and musician Dmitry Morozov, put it together using and old Game Boy, a camera, a thermal printer and Arduino. ~ It prints images on receipts.
Speaker that blows out fires — Viet Tran and Seth Robertson, both students at George Mason University, spent $US600 of their own money to build a prototype sonic-wave gun that blows out fires.
The canister directs low-frequency (bass) waves to a specific point, while an over-the-shoulder pack that weighs about 9kgs generates the waves. ~ So boy racer cars can’t catch fire?
Ikea refugee shelters — Ikea’s line of flatpack refugee shelters are going into production. Each unit takes about four hours to assemble and is designed to last three years — far longer than conventional refugee shelters, which typically last about six months. ~ Desperation in style.
Japan to build anti-tsunami wall — Japanese authorities have unveiled plans to build a giant 400km long cement sea barrier to protect its coastline from devastating tsunamis. According to the proposals, the £4.6bn ($6.8bn) barrier would reach 12.5m high in some places (taller than a four storey building). ~ Tourists start planning to walk the Great Wall of Japan. But coast dwellers – there goes the view.
1/ Want your scrollbars back? I have noticed some people don’t realise they can scroll in some fields (even Mail) simply because the scrollbars are no longer visible. Apple actually changed this behaviour ages ago so that whenever your cursor is over a field, a swipe on a trackpad or swipe/scroll on a mouse moves you up or down or side-to-side whether you can see scrollbars or not. But if you really want them back, here’s how: open System Preferences from the Apple menu of Dock and select the General tab. Under ‘Show scroll bars’, you’ll find three options: ‘Automatically based on input device,’ ‘When scrolling’ and ‘Always.’ You want ‘Always’.
2/ Jump around in text — Command–Left Arrow and Command–Right Arrow will take your cursor to the beginning or end of whatever line you’re typing on in any text field – Mail, Pages, Word …
3/ Top and bottom — Command–Up Arrow and Command–Down Arrow shortcuts will place your cursor at the beginning or the end of your document, Mail message, or what have you.
4/ Navigate by paragraphs — Option–Up Arrow and Option–Down Arrow take you to the beginning or the end of the paragraph that your cursor’s in. (And thanks to MacObserver, here’s a giant list of shortcuts you can use on text.)
5/ Sign PDFs by creating a signature on your trackpad — Taking a picture of your signature written clearly on a piece of paper provides a more accurate representation of your actual signature, but signing the trackpad is way more fun. Both possibilities are semi-hidden in Apple’s simply brilliant Preview app (everyone has it – it’s in your Applications folder and I strongly recommend putting it into your Dock).
Launch the Preview app, and then choose Tools>Annotate> Signature>Manage Signatures. Now click Create Signature. When the overlay appears, start by clicking either the Trackpad or Camera tab at the top of the overlay.
To sign using your Trackpad (if you have a Mac with a trackpad, of course), click the Click Here To Begin button and sign your name on your trackpad.
If you need to do it with your in-built Camera, sign your name on plain white paper, hold it up to the camera, and align the signature with the blue line on the screen. When the camera decides it has what it needs, your signature floats in front of your face. Click Clear to redo it or Done when you’re satisfied.
Now, to sign a document, open it in Preview, choose Tools>Annotate>Signature and select the signature you want to use. It appears on the document where you can reposition and resize it. Just save the document when you’ve got it just so and you’re done.
Apple concept would require users to input health data to keep using their iPhone — Apple has explored presenting iPhone users with non-dismissable notifications, such as requiring personal health data to be entered before resuming normal use of their device, in a concept that could help break bad habits.
Twitter launches Periscope video streaming service — Twitter has released Periscope for the iPhone (free), which lets Twitter customers broadcast live streaming video with almost no friction at all. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Meerkat recently rose in popularity for doing the same thing.
Behind the scenes look at CARROT, the AI construct that shames you into submission — Last week, developer Brian Mueller of Grailr released CARROT Weather, the fifth app in the popular CARROT series. The star of these apps is the unforgettable CARROT, a sarcasm-wielding robot with a heart of weapons-grade plutonium. CARROT is known for her cutting comments that shame you into compliance while helping you meet goals like being fit or waking up on time.
Samsung Galaxy S6 comes with 56 apps preinstalled, including Instagram & Microsoft OneDrive — Critics of so-called ‘bloatware’ will have new fodder thanks to Samsung’s forthcoming flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone, which will come preinstalled with a total of 56 applications, including third-party services like Microsoft OneDrive and Whatsapp. [I’ve seen one of these in an exclusive preview – talk about ‘the sincerest form of flattery’!]
Christy Turlington: Apple Watch Accurately Tracks Workouts without an iPhone — Apple Watch spokesperson Christy Turlington-Burns posted her Week Three blog entry in a series about training for the upcoming London Marathon. Mrs Turlington-Burns said in her Apple-sponsored blog that after a few uses, her Apple Watch learned enough about her stride that she didn’t need her iPhone with her to accurately track her results.
Spaceship Steve Jobs — While late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs’s office remains in situ at the company’s Infinite Loop headquarters, a more impressive memorial may be in the works as current chief executive Tim Cook has indicated his desire to name all or part of the new spaceship campus after Jobs. [‘SpaceJobs’?]
Apple acquires big data analytics firm Acunu — Apple appears to have acquired London-based big data analytics firm Acunu, which previously marketed an eponymous real-time analytics platform that boasted high-velocity ingests and compatibility with Cassandra databases.
Sound like a hole? Apple reportedly puts Trent Reznor in charge of redesigned Beats Music app, presses forward with iTunes Radio revamp — A report on Wednesday claims Apple is moving forward with a long rumoured overhaul of its streaming music services lineup that will incorporate a reworked Beats Music app developed with the help of Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, as well as a revamped iTunes Radio service.
Apple, other US tech giants call for government spying reform in open letter to Congress — A number of powerful tech companies sent an open letter to Congress, President Barack Obama and other government agencies on Wednesday, arguing for drastic change in the nation’s surveillance laws that currently allow for bulk consumer data collection.
Another instalment of collected tips for the last month, plus news links, updates info, more for your edification, enjoyment and spiritual enlightenment. OK, the first two anyway.
To DOWNLOAD the PDF, right-click or hold down the Control key on your keyboard while you normal-click on this link ——>> Issue 62 March 2015<<—— This will give you a pop-our/contextual menu with one of the offerings being ‘Download linked file’.
It will look like this:
Then choose a destination and put it on your computer to read at your leisure. If you just click the link, chances are it will just appear in your browser. It’s fine to read it this way, but you won’t be ‘keeping’ it.
To download the newsletter on an iPad or iPhone: tap anywhere in Safari’s window, firmly but briefly. If you hold your finger there too long, you’ll just get the iOS editing magnifying glass. After a brief tap, you’ll see ‘Open in iBooks’ at top right.
Tap the button “Open in iBooks”. The document will be whisked from Safari to iBooks where you can read it with IBooks controls – and keep it forever if need be.
UK Parliament approves $1.5M plan to supply members with new iPad Air 2s, laptops — The UK’s House of Commons has decided to give each member of parliament a copy of Apple’s latest iPad Air 2, as well as a laptop, as part of a project that will cost taxpayers almost $1.49 million. iPads have already been used across the House since 2012.
iOS 8.3 allows users to turn off password requirement for free App Store downloads — Apple’s pre-release betas of iOS 8.3 include an option to disable password entry when downloading free applications from the App Store, removing a potential inconvenience for users.
Fantastical 2 ups the ante for events in OS X — Fantastical isn’t for everyone, but this update is a big step forward. Apple’s calendar app for iOS and Mac OS X has moved through recent releases “from inconsistent, inadequate, and irritating to more or less just fine” (inGlenn Fleishman’s words – I’ve always been happy with it), the market for replacements grew and matured. Fantastical for iOS, now in its second release, filled a gap there by not just presented a clean list and offering strong support for different calendar systems, but also its natural-language processing.
Why Apple is banking on USB-C for its all-new 12-inch MacBook and beyond — Apple recently made a splash by announcing a new 12-inch MacBook that features a single port for both power and data transfers: USB-C, a new connector spec that may sweep away not just USB 2.0, but also Thunderbolt — and possibly even Apple’s Lightning.
A new MagBytes out tonight — That’s right, all your tips and tricks for the month in one PDF.
Apple’s early 2015 MacBook Air confirmed to support 60Hz 4K external displays — While Apple says that its latest MacBook Air will officially support external monitors with resolutions up to 2,560-pixels-by-1,600-pixels, tests have shown that the slim portable can actually drive an external 4K display at a full 60Hz.
Boom 2 promise much better audio for 20% off — Crafted exclusively for OS X Yosemite and comes with audio boosting, full equalizer controls and cool effects for enhanced Mac audio. I bought it – with the discount it comes to NZ$14.99 and there’s a free trial.
Apple’s Japanese R&D facility confirmed for Yokohama with 2016 completion date — An Apple research and development facility promised by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been formally announced by the mayor of Yokohama, and is due to be completed sometime in 2016.
New ‘Try the Watch’ app uses augmented reality to visualise wearing an Apple Watch — Consumers who are still unsure of how the Apple Watch will look on their wrist can now get a better idea using nothing but their iPhone, a printer, and a pair of scissors thanks to a new augmented reality app from Belgian IT firm Underside.
Attaching a small, printable target to the wrist and then loading up the app will allow users to visualise different Apple Watch models. Tapping on the screen will cycle through different watch case and band color combinations. [Cor blimey. I have another solution: remember that watch you used to wear? It will feel like that.]
iRig 2 is a new and Improved Mobile Guitar Interface from IK Multimedia — The successor to the iRig guitar-iDevice interface shipped last week, fixing Bob LeVitus’ only complaint and adding new features like a 1/4″ amplifier output jack, FX/Thru switch, and Android compatibility. He likes it.
Apple TV Adds TED, Tastemade, Young Hollywood Channels — Apple TV added three new channels: TED, Tastemade, and Young Hollywood. Unlike some other channels on Apple TV that require a cable television subscription to view, the latest three are all free.
Apple releases new iOS 8.3 betas for both developer and public testing — The fourth beta of iOS 8.3 was issued to developers on Tuesday, while members of the public iOS beta program were given their second build of the forthcoming software update. Apple Insider has more. [I really hope it solves the complete inability to enter text sometimes.]
Instagram’s Layout iPhone app is just plain fun — Layout (free) is an Instagram app for iPhone that makes photo collages and sends them out to the multitude.