As sturdy as Apple’s MacBooks are, it’s a little depressing to pull your laptop out of your bag and discover a ding or scratch on the aluminum case. If you want some extra protection for your laptop, Handy Candy Cases’ $60 HardShell Case might be the answer.
Hard Candy makes the HardShell Case for the Retina MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. (I tested a version for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.) The case consists of four pieces of translucent, rigid plastic. The plastic doesn’t feel brittle or cheap, and it’s available in blue, black, lime, or red.
Snapping the HardShell Case onto your laptop is easy and takes just a few minutes. Before doing so, however, you’ll want to clean the outside of your MacBook and the inside of the HardShell Case’s pieces to prevent any dirt or debris from getting trapped inside.
With the HardShell Case on my MacBook Pro, I was able to connect various cables and several different USB flash drives without a problem. However, if you have a very oddly shaped USB device, there’s a possibility that the bottom shell, which sticks out a bit just below the computer’s ports, could get in the way.
While it may not be a full-fledged HDTV, the Apple TV set-top box continues to expand its portfolio. According to a story first reported by Deadline, the CW is bringing its video content to the Apple TV via a dedicated app.
The CW offering would mimic what the network already has on Microsoft’s Xbox; the network confirmed to MacRumors that the app will feature ad-supported full episodes available for streaming the day after they air. And, in a bonus for cord cutters, the app will not require an existing cable subscription to view content. A specific release date for the app has not yet been announced, though it should be sooner rather than later.
This marks the first foray from one of the major broadcast networks onto the Apple TV, though the box already features content from video middlemen like Hulu and Netflix; sports leagues like MLB, NHL, and NBA; video-sharing sites Vimeo and YouTube; and other video sources, like the Wall Street Journal.
In this week’s edition of our iPhone-case roundup, you’ll find protection inspired by one of history’s darkest and most-loved superhero vigilantes. But if battling crime is not your thing, we also have our usual mix of the fashionable, the practical, and the adventurous.
Previously unknown Mac OS X spyware, signed with a valid Apple Developer ID, has turned up on the laptop of an activist from Angola at a human rights conference in Norway.
Security researcher and privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum found the spyware on the activist’s Mac at the Oslo Freedom Forum earlier this week.
The activist’s computer was compromised as a result of a spear phishing attack, Appelbaum said Thursday on Twitter. The researcher claims that he has copies of the attack emails and two different malware samples.
Security researchers from Finnish antivirus firm F-Secure analyzed one of the malware samples and concluded that it is a previously unknown Mac backdoor program which appears to be signed with a valid Apple Developer ID.
Panic's $10 Status Board for the iPad is an app that fits a niche so spectacularly, it leaves you kind of breathless. Designed to display and update data from a variety of sources, Status Board offers an amazingly customizable way to display your most important data on almost any screen, from your iPad to an HDTV.
It's important to note that Status Board is a niche tool; it’s not something you're likely to use casually at home or if you only have one iPad. But it is perfectly suited to situations where you want to publicly display specific information that's updated on a regular basis.
Open Status Board for the first time, and the app walks you through a quick setup process to configure and create some of the app's prefabbed status panels. These panels are little rectangles of data you can move, resize, and rearrange in almost any way you choose. By default, the app comes pre-loaded with calendar, clock, and weather panels, and can also display Twitter timelines, RSS news feeds, and the subject line of your latest email messages.
Some of the panels allow you to customize the way your data is displayed. So, for example, your Twitter, email, and news feeds can be displayed as a either a list or as a ticker; the ticker shows one message at a time, and it slides across the screen, sits for a couple of seconds so you can read it, then slides the next update into view. I loved the ticker feed, but was disappointed there was no option for adjusting the delay setting to something slower of faster than Status Board's defaults.
Google had a lot to say during Wednesday’s Google I/O keynote—so would you, if you had three-and-a-half hours to fill. And while new features in voice-powered search functionality, Google Maps, and other pronouncements from the search giant were certainly eye-catching, just how much of what was said at this week’s developer conference should make iOS device owners sit up and take notice?
Quite a bit, actually, though there was nothing that'll cause a parade of iPhone and iPad users to swap their devices for the Android counterparts. With the understanding that Google will still need to deliver on many of the promises it made this week—and that Apple has a developers conference of its own in a month’s time—more than a few Google I/O announcements deserve your attention, even if the only way you’ll give up your iPhone is when it’s pried out of your grip. After all, it’s a safe bet that more than a few people in Cupertino were keeping a close eye on Google I/O this week.
Are you pissed off at Adobe yet? If the answer is yes, then you're not alone.
If you use at least one of the company's professional software packages derived from the late, great Creative Suite, then your life is about to change. Some 14,600 of your compatriots are so unhappy about it that they've officially put their names—often alongside an assortment of scathing comments—to an online petition that seeks to convince Adobe to back off its plan to transform its Creative Suite from traditional licensed software to a cloud service, and go back to the old way of doing business. Knowing that will never happen is at least partially fueling that customer rage.
Adobe used its Max 2013 creativity conference to announce plans to end the sale of its popular creative software—including Photoshop, InDesign, and Premiere Pro—in favor of a cloud-only subscription service.
By itself, the switch was not surprising. Ever since Adobe launched Creative Cloud last year, and outlined an elaborate subscription strategy that covered nearly every segment of the market, it seemed only a matter of time before everything went to the cloud.
The answer to that question: Mostly, but Delicious Library 3 has some mild shortcomings to be addressed.
If you’re not familiar with Delicious Library (the last major version of which, Delicious Library 2, was released five years ago), the Mac app organizes and tracks collections of books, movies, other media, and even tools—it’s media-oriented, but it’s not limited to media. Essentially, anything with a barcode can be scanned and added to the app’s customized “shelf.”
In the past, the easiest way to add an item to Delicious Library was by holding its barcode up to your computer’s webcam for scanning. The app uses this barcode to automatically find and enter pertinent information about the item (including a photo) to the shelves of your virtual library.
This week, I take an in-depth look at just one question. I get a lot of emails about syncing music to an iOS device, and many people find it difficult to sync when their music library is larger than the space available on their iOS device. So here’s a question about checked tracks, playing albums, and syncing.
Q: I have a lot of music and an iPod. I can’t fit all the music onto the iPod, so I uncheck the tracks I don’t want to sync. This works fine, except when I want to listen to an album in iTunes on my Mac.
I might have the three best songs checked so they get synced to my iPod, and when I go to play the full album in iTunes, it will only play those three songs, unless I check the others. If I do that, however, the next time I sync the iPod, those other tracks will get copied. Even if I create a playlist, it will skip the unchecked songs, so the only way to listen to music that I don’t want on my iPod is to check the boxes and hope to remember to uncheck them again.
Yes, that’s right: Politico. Tim Cook’s giving interviews to political sites in advance of his testimony in front of the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The topic? Offshore holdings by Apple and other companies. In his Politico interview, Cook categorically denied funneling domestic products overseas, and said that the company paid all of the taxes it owed. Furthermore, Cook apparently plans to make some suggestions about overhauling the tax code, which will finally let those salivating tech writers drag out the “Apple tax” headlines again.
If you were hoping that the next update to iTunes might reverse some of the drastic changes Apple made in last year’s version 11, don’t hold your breath. A minor update released on Thursday, iTunes 11.0.3, makes some tweaks to the program’s interface, as well as applying fixes for some security issues.
Among the changes in 11.0.3 is a revamped MiniPlayer, which now features a progress bar, complete with draggable playhead. The audio output button, which now uses a speaker icon instead of Apple’s traditional AirPlay icon, is also now visible even when you’re not hovering over the window.
There’s also now an alternate view of the MiniPlayer, which you can toggle by clicking on the album art: You’ll get a larger window, focused on the album art, with controls—including playback, Up Next, audio output, and more—that appear when you hover over the window. This view replaces the somewhat peculiar album art window from earlier versions of iTunes 11, which appeared when you double clicked on album art in the playback window, but provided fewer controls.
And Apple’s fascination with album art continues apace: a new view option in 11.0.3 lets you display album artwork in the Songs listing. Go to View -> Show View Options and click the new Show Artwork checkbox. By default, iTunes will not display album art for albums where you only have a couple songs, but you can force it to display those images by selecting the Always Show option.
Back in 2008 when I last reviewed DevonAgent (version 2.3), I said this unique application had powerful research capabilities but was less successful at being a day-to-day Web browser. Now, many revisions later, this app (now called DevonAgent Pro) has matured and improved considerably, so I went back for another look.
DevonAgent Pro’s main function is to search for information on the Internet—but not just from a single search engine such as Google. DevonAgent Pro can collect data from all the major search engines as well as from dozens of specialized sources, such as USA.gov (government data; formerly called FirstGov), Lexis Web (legal data), MedlinePlus (medical data), Scirus (scientific data), the U.S. Patent Office, various online libraries, and so on, not to mention Facebook and Twitter.
You start a search by selecting or creating a Search Set, which tells DevonAgent Pro where to search and what to look for. The Search Set can include Boolean operators (AND, OR, XOR, NOT), proximity terms (BEFORE, AFTER, NEAR), and wildcards; it can also specify whether and how deeply to follow links, whether to search inside documents such as PDF and Microsoft Word, and how to present the results (for example, displaying only images or audio files). Besides filtering the search results according to your preferences, DevonAgent Pro ranks all the results in order of relevance and provides a brief summary of each one.
A search might take anywhere from seconds to hours, depending on how thorough you want a given search to be. But searches can run unattended on a schedule, and can even look for only newly added items since the last search. You can ask DevonAgent Pro to cache all downloaded pages (optionally clearing that cache—which can become quite large—when you quit), and you can also archive any search results within DevonAgent Pro or in DevonThink Pro, the document management app from the same developer.
iOS’s accessibility features are great, particularly on the iPad—as I’ve written elsewhere—but for disabled users, accessibility is more than just a niche set of options in the Settings app.
But perhaps the greatest accessibility feature is the most obvious part of a smartphone: the screen. As a visually impaired user, my effective use of these devices depends on the quality and brightness of the screen. In order for me to achieve optimal use—especially on the iPhone, the device I use the most—I’ve found that I really need a Retina display set to maximum brightness.
My eyesight is such that I see “pixels” naturally, meaning that everything I see is fuzzy. While no Retina display will ever be able to completely eliminate that fuzziness, such displays can drastically reduce it.
I used both the orignal iPhone and original iPad with great success with their displays set to full brightness, but seeing my iPhone 4’s Retina screen was a total game-changer (in some cases, literally). It was the combination of the big, bright LED-backlit display with the high pixel density that made all the difference. Suddenly, even the smallest text was readable, and I was able to spot details in images that were previously indistinguishable.
Brandon Ashmore, who calls Mentor, Ohio, home, is having a very good day. Apple on Thursday announced that Ashmore downloaded the 50 billionth app from the App Store.
As part of Apple’s promotion for the historic download, this makes Ashmore the lucky winner of an iTunes gift card worth a cool $10,000. The app Ashmore downloaded to win the prize was Space Inch’s new Say the Same Thing, a fun (and free) game for the iPhone in which two players collaborate to find common words by free association—like the old “think of a word” game you used to play as a kid, but with smartphones.
Apple itself has much to celebrate, of course, as the App Store now counts some 850 thousand apps—almost half of which work natively on the iPad—and has paid out some $9 billion in royalties to developers.
And, if 50 billion downloads doesn’t sound impressive enough, consider this: That’s the number of first-time downloads only, which doesn’t include updates or re-downloads.
You’ve probably ditched your paper dictionary, but do you know how to use OS X’s built-in one? This week’s video shows you how.
Whether you need to know what a word means or just how to spell it, the days of leafing through hefty paper dictionaries are gone. But few Mac users really know how to make the most of OS X’s built-in Dictionary app. Today I’ll show you five tricks for doing just that.
1. Use pop-up definitions
A useful, and chronically underused, OS X feature is systemwide pop-up definitions. In most Mac applications—including Safari, Mail, Pages, TextEdit, Twitter, you name it—just position your cursor over the word you want to define and press Command-Control-D. A pop-up window appears containing the definition, synonyms, and any relevant Wikipedia entry.
If you thought the only way you could use your Mac to communicate with other people was to send email messages, I’m about to brighten your day. For years the Mac OS has supported instant messaging, a form of texting similar to sending and receiving messages with a mobile phone.
In days past this was done with an application called iChat. iChat was significantly reworked, renamed Messages to reflect its relationship with the iOS app of the same name, and released in finalized form with Mountain Lion. Messages supports a number of services including AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, and Jabber in addition to Apple’s own FaceTime video messaging and iMessage services. (iMessage is a scheme that allows you to send messages, documents, photos, videos, contacts, and group messages over Wi-Fi and cellular connections to iOS devices running iOS 5 or later and Macs running Mountain Lion. Unlike the SMS services offered by mobile phone carriers, it’s free.)
Messages is relatively easy to use, but it has a certain depth. In this lesson we’ll focus on its interface and basics.
Ready from the get-go
If you’ve added an iCloud account to your Mac, Messages is ready for you to use. Unlike with other kinds of accounts—Google or Yahoo, for example—you don’t have to choose to enable messaging in the Mail, Contacts & Calendars system preference. Your iCloud account is automatically added to Messages. Before we talk about the other kinds of accounts you can add, let’s focus on Messages with an iCloud account.
The DOJ wants to put Apple on ice for collusion on ebooks’ price. Elsewhere, if an iPhone button wiggles, is it more than just a niggle? And to get some relief, Siri asks you to please keep it brief. The remainders for Wednesday, May 15, 2013 like to rhyme all of the time.
According to the Department of Justice, Apple masterminded the price-fixing scheme, cajoling and threatening the poor innocent publishers into its nefarious schemes. Supporting evidence includes emails from Apple execs to publishers, as well as a recording of ex-CEO Steve Jobs sitting in his office and laughing maniacally.
If you’re like me and happen to have a bunch of vintage Macs powered by Motorola 680x0 CPUs lying around, then you probably like to tinker with them. And what better way to tinker with obsolete hardware than by installing an obsolete version of Linux on it? It’s a difficult and time-consuming procedure with no practical purpose, of course, but when has that ever stopped us?
In this how-to, I’ll install Debian 4 (a Linux distribution) on a 68K Mac. There are some catches, and the road to functioning Linux on a 68K machine can be long and frustrating, so I’ll try to condense the process into a series of easy-to-follow steps. No matter how I simplify it, though, keep in mind that almost everything about this process is antithetical to the traditional Macintosh experience, so it is not for the faint-hearted.
Step 1: Prepare the Mac
Find a Mac that will work with the version of Linux we’re using. There is no hard and fast guide to compatibility, so you’ll have to go by the general guidelines I lay out below. Before you begin, be sure you have a fresh PRAM battery installed.
CPU. You need a Mac with a 68020, 68030, or 68040 CPU. The plain 68000 CPU machines (like the Mac SE) will not work with this version of Linux. The list of candidate machines that can use this version of Linux includes most Quadras, the Centris machines, some Performas, many of the LC models, and most of the Mac II series.
This week we offer you a double-header—one where we start with Jackie Dove speaking with Adobe’s Senior Marketing Director, Scott Morris, about the company’s recent announcement that it was ending perpetual licenses for upcoming versions of Adobe Creative Suite applications. Chris Breen then talks with Jeff Carlson about ways Jeff believes iPhoto could be improved.
Folio-style iPad mini cases are great for protection, since they cover both the back and front (and usually the sides) of the iPad. But they’re not terribly slim—in fact, a lot of folio cases are modeled after hardback books, and add quite a bit of extra bulk. STM’s $35 Skinny for iPad mini gives you protection without the bulk, or so its name would seem to imply.
The Skinny is a fairly basic folio case. It comes in four solid colors—pink, blue, black, or berry red—and features a plastic fitted cradle covered in textured cloth. The cradle is fitted to the mini’s dimensions and it’s easy to snap on. The case is a little more difficult to take off, but it’s manageable. The cradle has cutouts for the mini’s Sleep/Wake button, headphone jack, microphone, mute switch, volume buttons, bottom speakers, and Lightning port. None of the cutouts are too deep, which means all of the buttons and ports are easily accessible.
The Skinny’s cover is made of textured fabric on the outside and microsuede on the inside, which helps to keep the mini’s screen scratch free. It does have a magnet inside, which activates the mini’s magnetic Sleep/Wake feature. The cover is held shut by a wide tab that tucks into a strap on the back of the case. This tab holds the case securely shut—which is good, unless you’re trying to open it. When the tab is tucked into the strap, it’s so tight that it’s difficult to open up the case quickly. The case’s cover can also be folded back onto itself (and the tab tucks back into the strap from the other side) to form a stand or an angle for typing. The stand feels very sturdy.
Here’s the good news: the Skinny lives up to its name. It’s a very slim case, and it adds hardly any bulk to the iPad mini while still appearing to add a decent amount of protection. Unfortunately, while it’s slim, it’s not as sleek as some of the other slim-fitting folio cases I’ve seen. The case feels a little cheap—the sides are unfinished and fraying a bit, and the textured cloth cover seems like an afterthought, rather than a choice. Although the cradle is fitted to the Mini, the mini doesn’t seem to fit perfectly inside, like it does in the Speck FitFolio.
No longer are rainbows, sparkly dolphins, and synth-pop ballads limited to acid trips in your high school buddy's Astro Van.
With Adult Swim's original Robot Unicorn Attack, an ironic novelty premise was married to a seriously addictive endless platformer, which then gave birth to a phenomenon that has spawned imitators, sequels, and pop-culture status.
And now, several years later, we have a sequel to what was perhaps a semi-joke game that has a devoted following. The challenge for Adult Swim was following up a game known for its over-the-top premise and difficulty. Fans may be disappointed that the universal Robot Unicorn Attack 2 for iOS isn't as difficult, but they certainly can't say the game is subtler.
The Robot Unicorn Attack world is as strange as ever. Full of rainbows, dolphins, floating space whales, and other leftovers of a seven-year-old’s fever dreams, the opening level of the game is everything that fans of the series would hope for. You get to frolic in a heavenly dreamscape until you violently die, your poor robot unicorn decapitated in an explosion of failure. Thus, ends your “wish,” or one of your three lives that you're given during each run.
Reader Cameron Chang seeks a simple movie editor. He writes:
I have some video clips that I’d like to lightly edit. For instance, I want to cut the sound track from one and replace it with a different sound file. On another, I want to copy 12 seconds and turn that bit into a separate movie. iMovie seems like overkill for these jobs. Can you recommend something simpler?
Although iPhoto for iOS isn’t quite as robust as its OS X counterpart, it’s a very capable image editor—and it can do a few cool tricks you simply can’t do on your Mac.
Straighten your photos
iPhoto for iOS allows you to straighten your photos in a few smart ways. The first is by auto-detecting a strong horizon line. Open iPhoto, choose a photo and then tap Edit. Now tap the Crop & Straighten icon in the bottom left. If the photo displays a white line across it with icons at either end, then that means a horizon line has been detected. To proceed with straightening, simply tap the arrow icon at the right.
Unfortunately, iPhoto can’t always detect a horizon line and that means you’ll have to make the adjustment yourself. The Crop & Straighten mode places a dial under your photo, and you can straighten your photo simply by dragging the dial left or right. A grid overlaid on your photo as you turn the dial, lets you straighten with visual cues in your photo.
What happens when your photo has no visual cues, but still feels off-kilter? iPhoto for iOS has one more strategy to assist you, and it’s a lot of fun. Choose a photo you want to straighten and then hold the iPad or iPhone up in front of you. Now tap the dial. iPhoto then calls on the gyroscope in your device to help you straighten the image. Simply tilt the iPad or iPhone to the left and right; as you do, you’ll notice that the photo remains upright. It’s helpful to tilt your head as you tilt the device so that you have a better sense of the final crop. Once you’re happy with the position of the photo, tap anywhere on the screen to lock it in.
These days, it’s hard to imagine going on a camping trip or relaxing by the pool without our favorite tunes playing in the background. But when a battery-powered device is exposed to the elements, worries about damage are surely at the back of your mind. Luckily, a number of manufacturers have developed speakers with such use in mind. I tested nine rugged, Bluetooth-equipped speakers designed for portable use in electronics-hostile environments.
Of course, “rugged” is a vague term, but the industry has developed a specialized standard called Ingress Protection (IP). A product’s IP rating indicates how well that product’s enclosure resists solid particles (such as sand and dirt) and liquids (such as water).
In reviewing the Bluetooth speakers, I was particularly curious about sound quality, given their overall compact size—after all, a rugged speaker that sounds tinny and underpowered may not be a desirable tradeoff. I also gave consideration to each unit’s intended use: Some models forego toss-in-your-bag size in favor of bigger sound, making them more apt for poolside entertainment than a long hike in the woods, while some make too many compromises in the name of packability.
Braven’s $180 BRV–1 (4.5 of 5 rating) is a relatively new addition to the company’s lineup of Bluetooth speakers that sports an IPX5 rating, which means it’s good enough to withstand rain, splashes, and jets of water, though not full immersion. The speaker, which comes in black with a blue or gunmetal finish, also sports a 3.5mm audio-in jack for connecting a non-Bluetooth source, although this requires opening a waterproofed port at the back, thereby reducing its water resistance.
A new feature released Tuesday from children’s app maker Kidaptive lets parents track the progress of what their children are learning inside the company’s first story and game application.
Leo’s Pad has been out for a year, releasing short story and game content it calls “appisodes.” The new parental layer shows a control panel broken out by child, and breaks down which areas children are struggling with and what new things they’ve learned. It also gives tips on how to increase color recognition, for example, and cites research for each recommendation.
The company’s founders have a varied background in comic book writing, education and 3D animation, which helped create an app that children’s-application watchers say sets it apart.
Chartsmith is a Mac app designed to do one thing, and only one thing: make charts. If your charting needs are casual and infrequent, this is not the app for you; you’ll be more than happy using Numbers, Excel, or any other spreadsheet to create the occasional chart. Conversely, you’d assume that if your chart needs are serious and frequent, Chartsmith would be the app to use, right? The answer to that question, unfortunately, isn’t an automatic yes.
Launching Chartsmith is a bit like stepping into a time machine: Chartsmith’s interface seems dated, with a two-window setup (plus a nearly-required Inspector window), a drawer for chart notes, and an odd toolbar-like thing that floats next to the chart window, yet is attached (with a delay) when you move the chart window around.
The flashback extends to the tutorials, too. Remember Aqua’s stripes and bright blue 3D-esque tab buttons? You’ll find them alive and well in the screenshots in the tutorials. (Thankfully, the app itself doesn’t share the appearance of the tutorial’s screenshots.) The whole thing just feels somewhat dated and dusty, though everything works.
Using Chartsmith is unlike using a spreadsheet to create charts. Once I learned the interface, though, Chartsmith was relatively easy to use. The aforementioned two windows contain the chart viewer (which holds the charts) and the data viewer (for entering/editing data), and the inspector is used to customize every element of your charts. The chart viewer window shows real-time changes as you make edits in the data viewer window, and you can change text (but not values) directly on the charts, if you prefer. Creating a chart is as simple as adding rows and columns in the data viewer, entering your data, and choosing a chart type. Want to change one bar of a three-bar chart to line? One click of a button in the data viewer window, and that task is done.
Internet payment company Square has announced a new accessory that turns your iPad into a high-tech cash register, complete with built-in credit-card swiper and a slew of point-of-sale accessories.
Aimed squarely—if you’ll pardon the pun—at small businesses, the $299 Square Stand allows you to connect an iPad to a secure card-swiping machine; it’s designed to work alongside the company’s free Register app. This, in turn, combines a credit-card-processing facility with a powerful point-of-sale system that can be used to maintain inventory and charge customers, essentially working like a souped-up version of a traditional cash register.
The Stand also features a hub that can be used to connect external accessories to the system, including a receipt printer, cash drawer, and barcode scanner. The current version works with an iPad 2 or a third-generation iPad—later this year, the company will release a version that works with Apple tablets that use the new Lightning connector.
The company’s new hardware is slated for general availability starting the week of July 8, when it will be sold both online from Square as well as at Best Buy stores; pre-orders begin on Tuesday. If you want to see it in action before then, Square says that it will be piloting the Stand at select small business throughout the United States starting May 15.