It’s not my favorite Apple ad, but it does a great job showing off the beautiful hardware design and several tasks that the Apple a Watch can be used for.
I’ve been playing Harthstone since I got my iPad in mid-February and it’s one of the few iOS games that has stuck with me for more than a couple of weeks. There’s a ton of depth to the game’s current card pool and Blizzard’s preparing to shake things up with a new set (Blackrock Mountain) this Thursday which will give players 31 more cards to collect and even more possibilities for deck building.
I’m not sure if I’ll spend much time playing Hearthstone on my iPhone. But, I’ll appreciate the option if I end up with a few minutes of downtime and nothing more than my iPhone for entertainment.
TouchArcade’s Eli Hodapp expects the update to be released on April 9 based on the Android client’s release schedule, which took place one week after the release of Goblins vs. Gnomes.
I’ve spent several weeks with the iPad Air 2 as my primary computer, now, and thought this would be a good time to share some thoughts on what I would consider to be the most essential iPad accessories. I’ve purchased a few of these products already while others are on their way or will be purchased when the need for them arises. All of these items are what I would consider to be the best of all of the most essential categories — stand, Bluetooth speaker, charger, drawing stylus, and sleeve.
Compass 2 by TwelveSouth
I’m still using the original Compass by TwelveSouth that I purchased nearly five years ago for my first-generation iPad. But, every review I’ve read claims the sequel to be even better than the original. It’s built out of a sturdy aluminum with rubberized feet and has rubber pads and strips along every point at which the iPad would come into contact with it. The stand can be set in two different positions — laying back on its shorter flip-out leg for more comfortable typing or standing up in a vertical position which is great for viewing media.
My two favorite features of the Compass is that it actually holds your iPad up off of the surface it’s sitting on — which is great for use in messy places such as the kitchen. And, it’s great for traveling as it can be easily folded up into a compact size and comes with a handy carrying case.
Even though one of my Compass’s feet is a bit wobbly, I’m still in love with it. And, I guess that’s the kind of wear you’d expect from an accessory you’ve been using for over four years. When my Compass eventually bites the dust, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase the Compass 2. TwelveSouth designed a great product that’s needed very little revisions over its relatively long lifespan.
While not strictly an iPad accessory (I use it just as often with my iPhone), a Bluetooth speaker is an incredibly useful device that I use for music, podcasts, and the occasional episode of Boy Meets World with my fiancée while we eat lunch.
The Jawbone Jambox might not be the cheapest Bluetooth speaker on the market, but it is my favorite. It has great battery life, good sound quality, and is loud enough to fill my (admittedly small) apartment with the latest Against the Current EP. It’s a brilliantly well designed and very simple piece of hardware (that every other competitor seems to be copying these days), with just three buttons along the top and a single switch on the side. It gives great audio cues letting you know it’s turning on or off and even speaks to you when the battery is low or to declare “Jambox is in pairing mode. Waiting for device to connect.”
The Jambox travels well because of its compact size and even comes with a nice felt carrying case to protect its audio-in jack and speaker grill. I’ve taken it on road trips, to a friend’s house for music during board games, and even to outdoor gatherings. It’s handled it all well and everyone who interacts with it has commented on its superb build-quality and impressive volume (considering its small size).
I’ve been using the Jambox for nearly two years and it’s another device that I would gladly purchase again if I ever needed a replacement. Although, next time I think I’ll go for something a little more colorful than my current all-black model.
Anker 20W 2-Port USB Wall Charger
This is the first accessory on my list that I don’t actually own. ButI have been keeping my eye out for a nice two-port wall charger that I could use with my iPhone and iPad when traveling, and this is my current front-runner.
Whenever my fiancée and I take a road trip to visit my family in Pittsburgh we end up taking at least three chargers with us — one for each of our iPhones and one for the iPad. You might assume that I would be better suited with a charger that can support three or more devices, but that’s not the case. My fiancée and I both prefer to have our own iPhones on our own side of the bed so that we can get to them more easily in the middle of the night, set separate alarms, and be able to use them before we fall asleep without having to ask the other to plug their phone in.
The Anker 20W charger has some fancy amp-adjustment technology they call “PowerIQ” that they claim identifies the device plugged into it and adjusts the amperage it delivers to charge it as quickly as possible. It sounds like an interesting pitch, but truthfully I just want a compact accessory with two USB ports I can plug my gadgets into when I travel. And, anything beyond that is just a nicety.
Pencil by FiftyThree
I’ve been known to beat the anti-stylus drum, but the Pencil by FiftyThree isn’t made for use throughout the entire interface (although, you could use it for that if you felt so inclined). The Pencil is designed to be used for drawing. It connects with the iPad over Bluetooth which allows Paper (FiftyThree’s drawing application) and other apps which support Pencil to ignore input from your palm and tell the difference between the Pencil’s tip and eraser ends.
It features pressure sensitivity, great battery life, and built in magnets to keep your Pencil and iPad together in the gold and walnut models. It’s very comfortable to use and has been very responsive during my time with it. My fiancée has had mixed results with it, though. She’s had the occasional Bluetooth disconnect and situations where Paper misinterprets input as if it was coming from a different source — smudging when it’s supposed to draw or drawing when it’s supposed to erase. But, those problems haven’t cropped up more than a few times and are easily remedied with Paper’s rewind feature.
I don’t have much experience with other styluses, but I’ve been quite happy with the Pencil. I’ve used it for jotting down ideas, quickly building checklists, and my fiancée has spent hours drawing with it. It’s not the cheapest stylus available and it’s extra features aren’t supported by every application, but if your drawing app of choice is supported, I think it’s well worth the price.
Bear Motion for iPad Air 2
The last accessory on my list is also one I haven’t used yet (Amazon tells me to expect it here tomorrow). But, it’s the best iPad sleeve I’ve been able to find after hours of searching. There was a few key pieces of criteria the sleeve had to adhere to: it needed to be as slim as possible while still having enough room to house the iPad (obviously), a TwelveSouth Compass, the Pencil by FiftyThree, and a pair of earbuds. The Bear Motion looks like it will be up to the task. I’d also like it to hold a charger and a USB to Lightning cable, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker if I had to put those in another bag while traveling. I suppose I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how much it can actually hold.
The other reason I was drawn to this particular iPad sleeve was its design. It’s made out of a very attractive felt and features a leather string and button mechanism to keep it closed. Many of the other sleeves on the market that had similar design aesthetics didn’t also feature pockets for small accessories — if the sleeve didn’t have pockets I didn’t even bother investigating any further.
And, it was also surprisingly difficult to find an iPad sleeve that completely covered the iPad — many of them only had thin straps while others relied on friction alone to keep the iPad inside of the sleeve. These weren’t even considered, I can’t risk my iPad falling out of its sleeve while I’m walking around or while it’s in a larger bag with other items.
Of the lot, the Anker charger is the only accessory I haven’t yet put my money behind. But before I do more traveling this summer I’ll probably pick one up to simplify packing. Personally, I think this covers the gamut of accessories that most iPad owners should own or at least consider owning. You’d be hard pressed to find someone that owns an iPad that didn’t feel the need to purchase at least one of these accessories during the lifespan of their device.
I’m extremely excited to get my hands on the Bear Motion sleeve later this week. The last iPad sleeve I bought was a simple Incase sleeve with no pockets that I purchased on an impulse before a trip in 2010. I’m hoping I’ll be happier with this one than I was with the last, which just didn’t suit my needs. My biggest concern is about build quality. Let’s be honest, $10.99 is a pretty low price. I just hope I’m more inclined do describe it as inexpensive than as cheap.
This is the kind of show I can get excited about.
A handy knowledge base article that lists who and how to contact the content providers for every Apple TV channel. It also includes information about geographical restrictions and whether or not a subscription is required to view content on that channel.
(Via Six Colors.)
Craig Hockenberry shares a great OS X tip that shows how to make Paste and Match Style the default for the ⌘V shortcut.
Aronald Kim, reporting for MacRumors:
However, according to training documents that MacRumors has received, Apple is not allowing any walk-in retail purchases for the Apple Watch at launch. Instead customers must make an online “Product Reservation” to hold a specific Apple Watch model at a retail store. […] Apple seems to expect low inventory for the Apple Watches, and notes that “try-on” appointments also do not reserve a specific Apple Watch for purchase. Apple expects to eventually allow walk-in purchases, but not until the initial wave of demand has passed.
I think this is a smart move on Apple’s part. There isn’t really a reason to encourage customers to line up for products anymore — they don’t need the additional press and the cult-like tone of waiting in line for a product is an easy target for mockery. Not to mention that waiting in line for several hours to spend hundreds of dollars on something you don’t truly need isn’t a great customer experience.
Mark Gurman details some of the special perks that come with being an Apple Watch Edition customer, including private appointments, 24/7 support, priority assistance in store, and more.
A talk at the SoHo Apple Store in New York City with co-authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. I was happy to hear that they asked John Gruber to moderate and found it interesting from beginning to end — well worth the 50 minutes of your time.
Brian Donohue discusses the thought process behind Instapaper’s tweet shots feature. I’m really impressed by the work they did on this. I haven’t had much time to actually use it myself, but based on Brian’s piece it appears that betaworks did everything they could to make posting tweet shots with Instapaper as easy and unintimidating as possible — allowing you to publish with minimal taps and without the need to crop the image or clutter your camera roll.
(Via Joe Caiati.)
Tom Wood has spent the past year using DuckDuckGo instead of Google for his web searches. He lists six reasons why he could never go back and many of them are quite compelling.
I’ve used DuckDuckGo occasionally, but have never decided to give it a proper trial. Now that Apple has added it as an optional default search engine in iOS, I think I’ll finally give it the testing it deserves. I might not stick with it for a year like Tom Wood has, but I’ll at least give it a few weeks, which should be sufficient to determine whether I could see myself using it full time.
I’ve known about the site for most of its 14 year existence, but only started regularly reading it a few months ago. It’s sad to hear that he’ll no longer be writing on the site but I can understand his motivations — Apple is a huge company that’s becoming increasing difficult to keep up with, even if you’re focusing on only on one aspect of their business.
A great Apple-centric podcast by Joe Caiati and Cody Coats. They’re only on episode ten and it’s already a must-listen for me —it’s one of the first podcasts I listen to when I notice it appear in Overcast every friday. If you haven’t heard the show yet, give it a listen.
They’ve also just launched a Patreon page for the show, with which I immediately signed up to contribute on a monthly basis.
Speed reading, instant sync, faster saving, and tweet shots — a great update to one of my favorite iOS apps of all time.
The new keyboard appeared on Apple’s Czech online store and has revised function keys that indicate the addition of backlit keys. Apple has also removed the eject key from the upper-right in favor of a power button, in-line with changes Apple has made to remove optical drives from Macs over the past several years.
Apple’s wireless keyboard hasn’t seen an update since 2007 and feels long overdue for an update — I hope this is it. But, there’s no indication as to whether this update includes the new butterfly mechanisms found on the recently announced MacBook.
When I bought my second Mac in 2008 (a 20-inch iMac) I was always impressed by how similar my MacBook’s keyboard felt when compared to the wireless keyboard for my iMac. It was just a small detail that helped me feel at home whether I was using my desktop or notebook computer — I never felt like I was forced to use the lesser of the two based on my location, they both made for a great typing experience. I really appreciated Apple’s approach in this respect and I hope Apple plans to keep up this tradition with these new keyboards.
Just a few days after the Wall Street Journal claimed that Apple was building an online TV service, John Paczkowski reports that Apple is also preparing to announce new Apple TV hardware:
And now sources familiar with the company’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that a successor to its dusty and recently discounted Apple TV set top box is headed to market as well. Apple intends to show the device off at its annual World Wide Developers Conference in June along with a long-awaited App Store and a software development kit to help developers populate it.
I hadn’t written about the WSJ rumor because I’m still a bit skeptical about their “people familiar with the matter.” But, if Apple was working on a $30-40 television service then launching it alongside a new Apple TV sounds like the way to do it.
The Apple TV has always felt a little neglected by Apple, but I wonder if the company’s other products have reached a level of maturity that would allow for them to dedicate more time to their set-top box. I’ve been dreaming about an App Store for the Apple TV since it was announced for the iPhone in 2008 and it looks like it will finally see the light of day.
It’s worth noting — as John Gruber points out — the obvious foreshadowing of new Apple TV hardware with their “starting from $69″ slide that announced the device’s price cut at the Spring Forward event earlier this month.
I Find it fascinating that Apple had employees working out in this lab for two years without knowing what product the data they were collecting was going to be used for.
The Apple Watch isn’t just a watch, interchangeable like any other. It’s an entire mobile computing and communication platform, and a significant enhancement to the smartphone, which is probably the most successful, ubiquitous, and disruptive electronic device in history. Once you’re accustomed to wearing one, going out for a night without your Apple Watch is going to feel like going out without your phone.
I’m not all-in on the Apple Watch, but I’m also the guy who’s spent the past decade wondering why someone would wear a (dumb) watch in the first place. If there are people out there that still wear traditional watches then clearly smartwatches will succeed. It’s just the logical successor to what we all think of as a watch today. The current high-end watch makers are either going to fail or realize that it’s time to embrace smartwatches and start manufacturing their own.
Once people get a taste for a feature it’s hard to go back to a product that was built without it. It’s like cruise control in cars or an ice maker in your freezer — they don’t seem like a big deal until you live with them for a while. If you take those features away, the chore of having to keep your foot on the peddle during long car rides or the need to continuously refill ice cube trays will feel archaic compared to what you’re used to.
And, the same will be true with watches. Once you live with a watch that has applications for communication, the weather, news, etc. you’ll feel hindered every time you leave home without it or make the decision to wear a dumbwatch for a day. It’ll likely take several years before the majority of watch wearers feel that way, but it’s inevitible. In a decade, releasing a watch without smartwatch features will be like a releasing a computer without the ability to connect to the Internet — there’s likely a niche market for such a product, but nobody you know would even think about buying one.
Fascinating story by Daniela Hernandez on the origins of ResearchKit. I especially found this bit interesting:
After Friend’s talk, [Apple’s Vice President for medical technologies, Mike] O’Reilly approached the doctor, and, in typical tight-lipped Apple fashion, said: “I can’t tell you where I work, and I can’t tell you what I do, but I need to talk to you,” Friend recalls. Friend was intrigued, and agreed to meet for coffee[…]
Friend immediately grasped the potential benefits of collecting health data at Apple’s scale. In the wake of the MedX meeting with O’Reilly, he made frequent trips to Cupertino and other cities to meet with scientists, engineers and quantified-self geeks. During one such trip, Friend helped organize a DARPA-funded workshop on how biosensors might help scientists understand Parkinson’s disease, a condition that would turn out to be the focus of one of ResearchKit’s five debut apps.
If you’re even the least bit interested in ResearchKit I suggest you read this piece. It’s the most well written one I’ve read about the topic.
Apple’s foray into medical research might be the most important decision they’ve made in decades. There isn’t much they could do that would have such a positive impact on people’s lives like ResearchKit could. And, I’m excited for the potential medical breakthroughs it might contribute to.
Marco Arment on the CIA’s attempt to compromise iOS, Xcode, and other Apple software:
What would you call a targeted attack on one of America’s most successful and beloved companies in history in order to break security protections, spy on millions of citizens, intercept their communications, and steal their data?
Unpatriotic? Absolutely. Terrorism? Maybe. But those don’t quite capture what this really is: war.
I hate to sound hyperbolic, but this is the kind of thing I grew up hearing about other countries doing. I never thought it would happen here. But it has. And, we need to vote the jokers out of office that let this happen on their watch.
John Gruber on his recent comments on The Talk Show regarding the creation of USB-C:
Only that from what I’ve been told, Apple ought to be getting (and taking) credit as the leading company behind USB-C’s innovations. Not that they “invented” it, but that they “basically invented” it. I completely stand by that. But there are a lot of politics involved. One reason Apple isn’t taking more public credit for their role: they truly want USB-C to see widespread adoption; a perception that it’s an Apple technology might slow that down.
Jordan Kahn, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:
Apple’s latest memo to retail employees, obtained by 9to5Mac, asks staff to prepare for several upcoming Apple Watch dates. Required final meetings and training will take place at the end of March, followed by online preorders on April 10, when the device will also arrive for “preview” in retail stores. In the memo, Apple confirms that appointments won’t be necessary to try on the device in stores, but they are recommended.
I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find the time to go to an Apple Store during the “preview” period, as I live over two hours away from my nearest Apple Store. But, I am excited to actually get my hands on one and try it out.
Earlier this week, at Apple’s Spring Forward event, Apple announced the final launch details of the Apple Watch and unveiled a brand new MacBook. This was one of the few events I’ve been able to watch live from beginning to end. Typically I’m stuck at work when Apple is making their announcements, but I was able to sit comfortably on my couch and watch the stream on my Apple TV while making the occasional comment regarding the event on Twitter.
I’ve already linked to some of the smaller announcements, but wanted to chime in on the rest of the news and thought it was worth waiting a couple of days to digest it before publishing.
It was an exciting event from beginning to end with only a few spots that I thought could have been tightened up. I thought Kevin Lynch’s demo went a little bit longer than it needed to, especially considering much of what he demoed was already shown off at their event in September. I also wasn’t much of a fan of the Christy Turlington Burns bit — it started out strong but ended with an awkward moment between her and Tim Cook in which she did a poor job of explaining how the Apple Watch helped her during her marathon in Africa.
We finally have launch details for the Apple Watch and can start swooning over the new MacBooks (more on that later) instead of speculating about pricing, release dates, and battery life. Apple will begin accepting preorders on April 10 and start shipping on April 24.
They’re doing things a little differently with the launch of the Apple Watch. Instead of expecting customers to fork over $349+ for a new gadget sight-unseen, Apple will have the Watch available to preview in their retail stores starting on April 10. This is an incredibly clever idea.
I’ve been more than willing to preorder iPhones and iPads in the past without ever touching one, but a watch is different. It’s something you wear, something that’s strapped to your body for hours a day. You can’t be expected to make a purchasing decision about such a personal object without being able to wear it first to ensure that its comfortable. And, imagine the publicity Apple will receive for all of the inevitible lines waiting outside Apple Stores on April 10 just to get their hands on one — without even being able to walk out of the store with it.
Pricing has also been officially announced for the Apple Watch, confirming that Apple will charge more for the 42mm model (starting at $399 for the Sport model) and ending our collective speculation about the cost of the steel and gold models.
The Apple Watch (proper), built with a steel enclosure, will start at just $549 for the 38mm watch face and $599 for the 42mm. I never actually published my speculation regarding the pricing for the steel edition, but if you were to ask me on Sunday I would have guessed something in the neighborhood of $700. I just didn’t think it would have enough breathing room to be worth existing with the Sport models being so close in price. But I suppose Apple will have a much easier time upselling customers to a watch that’s only $200 more, than they would if it was twice as expensive as the Sport model.
Tim Cook also briefly mentioned the higher end Apple Watch Edition saying that it will start at $10,000 and will be available in limited quantities in select retail locations. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I pressume that if you’re in the market for a $10,000+ watch you’ll make an appointment at one of their locations that stocks the Edition and will have an employee with you in a quieter location (off the sales floor) to try on the watch and actually make your purchase.
The final bit of news regarding the Apple Watch is that during normal usage Apple is quoting 18 hours of expected battery life. This should get the vast majority of potential owners through a day’s worth of usage, only having to charge it at night time. Apple’s own Watch battery page does note that the 42mm models typically experiences longer battery life than the 38mm models do.
Apple also debuted a brand new Mac notebook on stage at the event. An ultra-slim, extremely portable machine that revives the name “MacBook” that had in recent years always been accompanied by the “Air” or “Pro” qualifier. The new MacBook is the thinnest and lightest laptop Apple has ever shipped — at just 13.1mm thick and weighing only 2 pounds.
Apple packed a lot of technology into this tiny notebook, clearly learning a lot from their development in miniaturization with the iPhone and iPad. It sports a 12-inch 2304×1440 Retina display that Apple designed to minimize electronics on each pixel, widening the aperture, and resulting in a screen that uses 30% less energy without sacrificing brightness. This, and Apple’s newly developed terraced batteries help achieve 9 hours of battery life on such a thin and light device.
The engineers behind the MacBook also spent some time redesigning Apple’s notebook keyboard which now uses a newly developed butterly key mechanism that increases stability and allowed them to shrink the depth of each key. They also changed their keyboard backlighting system by placing an LED behind each key to give more precise and deliberate illumination.
Apple has made some enhancements to their trackpad in the new MacBook adding preassure sensitivity (which their calling Force Touch, as they do in Apple Watch), and their Taptic Engine. This means it no longer has a physical clicking mechanism, instead relying on the Taptic feedback to give you the tactile sensation. And, Apple has debuted Force Touch gestures in OS X which gives you quick access to Wikipedia lookups, calendar entries, file previews, and more.
Force Touch gestures do worry me a little. I still get questions from family members about the right-click menu that they accidentally bring up from time to time — they don’t know why it appeared, how it happened, or why they’d ever want to use it. It’s always dangerous to add functionality that could be accidentally invoked by the user. I hope Apple has it turned off by default or, at the very least, prompts the user to turn it on alongside an informative animation that explains what it is in the first place.
Apple has removed nearly all external ports from the MacBook save for a headphone jack and a single USB-C port. The new USB-C port offers all of the connectivity you’d expect on a notebook computer (USB, HDMI, power, etc.), but unfortunately requires the use of dongles or adapters if you want to connect any current accessories.
The new MacBook will begin shipping on April 10 and comes in silver, space gray, and gold with pricing starting at $1299.
I still don’t expect I’ll be purchasing an Apple Watch any time soon — I’ve never worn watches and would need something a little more earth shattering in order to convince me otherwise. But, I have to admit I’m a sucker for a good hardware release and this is certainly one of them. At this moment, there’s nothing I want more than to spend hours playing around with an Apple Watch, just to see how it works — I want to see how the digital crown feels when you spin it, I want to see how bright the screen is in sunlight, I want to see how the Taptic Engine feels on my wrist.
But, I have a strong feeling that my interest would quickly wane if I had one of my own. I just can’t see myself putting an Apple Watch on every morning and actually interacting with it throughout the day. I would probably keep it up for a week or two. But after that first day I forget to wear it, I think I’d start to question why I spent so much money on something that I don’t need.
Whenever I’m asked about the Apple Watch I always say that I’d have to wait and see what developers come up with before I pass judgment on it. And, I still think that’s the case. If someone comes up with an amazing killer app for the device that blows my socks off I’ll be more than willing to purchase one. But, until that happens I’ll simply be passively interested in the entire smartwatch market.
As for the MacBook, I’m extremely interested. My MacBook Air’s trackpad has been sporadic lately and I wouldn’t mind upgrading to one of these newly announced machines. I almost never connect accessories to my current MacBook, so the lack of connectivity wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me like I’ve seen others claiming it is for them.
I don’t think I’ll end up buying one, though. The iPad Air 2 has quickly become my primary computing device and I’ve only used my MacBook Air a few times since the iPad was delivered nearly a month ago. At this point I think I’m far better off just getting my MacBook’s trackpad replaced and saving the MacBook purchase for a later date.
I didn’t mention it above, but I am happy to see that Apple has finally designed a completely fanless notebook computer. I can barely do anything on my MacBook Air without having to hear the fans whir up to full speed. I still have some overheating concerns, but I doubt Apple would be willing to pull the trigger on such a move without being confident in it.
It is ironic that the MacBook Air is no longer the thinnest and lightest notebook in Apple’s lineup, but that just leaves me wondering what Apple could do to the MacBook Air to make it worthy of its moniker. And who knows, maybe Apple will move to a similar sales approach as they have with the iPad and iPhone — selling last year’s model at a reduced price when they release the next revision. Maybe we’ll see the MacBook Air disappear completely when they announce the next MacBook and drop these current models to the Air’s price points.
I also want to give credit where credit is due, Mark Gurman nailed the MacBook all the way back in early January. His sources are incredible and everyone should be paying attention if you aren’t already.