(You're reading all posts by Alex Heath) Alex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.
About Alex Heath
Aaron Sorkin’s ill-fated Steve Jobs script is starting to actually become a reality, even after pretty much everything about the project was unearthed by the hacking of Sony Pictures.
After nailing down Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Seth Rogan to play Steve Wozniak, the film’s cast of supporting characters is starting to fill out.
In a documentary set to air tonight called Apple’s Broken Promises, BBC One went undercover at Pegatron, one of Apple’s main supply chain partners in China. The findings from inside Pegatron’s walls show that “Apple’s promises to protect workers were routinely broken,” according to the report.
Another alarming revelation was that Apple could be using tin dug by impoverished children in illegal Indonesian mines. Apple is denying the allegations, but BBC One is committed to unearthing a sensitive topic the iPhone maker has spent years trying to put to rest.
App Santa is back for the holidays with a very impressive collection of over 40 discounted iOS and Mac apps. You can score up to 80% off on some real gems, including Clear, Tweetbot, Day One, and Deliveries.
Organized by Realmac Software, App Santa represents an extremely high caliber of indie app developers. And if you’ve been holding out on buying any of their apps, now is the time to pounce. The promotion lasts today through December 26th.
Third-party developers are already making apps for the Apple Watch, but they’re doing so with one hand tied behind their backs.
Coders that Cult of Mac spoke with are pleasantly surprised by the opportunity to bring apps to the Watch so early, but many note they must abide by severe limitations to get their apps ready for the Apple wearable’s launch next spring.
The latest App Store rejection controversy has surrounded a critically acclaimed game called Papers, Please. When developer Lucas Pope finally brought the title to iPad, he was forced by Apple to remove all nudity, no matter how pixelated.
Never mind that the nudity in question was not “pornographic content” as Apple billed it, since it only showed when people went through body scanners in the game. After talking with Apple, Pope said the decision was chalked up to a “misunderstanding,” and he’s been allowed to add nudity back to Papers Please in the App Store.
How to become the highest paid musician of the year: profit from a multi-billion dollar buyout of your company.
That’s the lesson to be learned from Forbes Magazine’s tally of the top paid musicians of 2014. Dr. Dre, or just “Dre” as he’s affectionately referred to by Tim Cook, amassed a whopping $620 million before taxes this year, giving him “the biggest single-year payday of any musician in history.”
Apple is back with a new tearjerker of a Christmas ad, entitled “The Song.” Like last year’s Emmy-winning TV spot for the holidays, the company has chosen to showcase how its products make people feel, rather than what they do.
This time around, a young musician uses Garageband on her Mac to make a song for her grandmother. Expect to start seeing this on TV quite a bit over the next couple of weeks.
Awesome Apps of the Week
Every weekend Cult of Mac brings you a roundup of the past week’s very best new apps and updates.
This week, we’ve got what you need to make awesome PDFs, trade stocks, and more.
Without further ado, here are this week’s awesome apps to check out.
Readdle is known for making quality productivity apps like Scanner Pro and Documents. Its new PDF Office app is all about creating and editing PDFs on the iPad.
But wait, doesn’t Readdle already make a popular PDF viewer for iOS? What’s the difference?
“PDF Expert 5 is more of a reader, annotation app, whereas PDF Office is an all-in-one tool for document conversion and creation,” explains Readdle Marketing Director Denys Zhadanov to Cult of Mac. “If a person has to create PDF documents, forms, congrats, notes, etc., PDF Office is definitely the right choice.”
You can scan documents with the iPad’s camera and turn them into fully editable PDFs, which is a great way to clear out the office. Most people probably won’t need all the power that PDF Office provides, but for those who could benefit from the best PDF tool on the iPad that money can buy, it’s definitely worth considering.
Readdle is offering the app through a subscription system, and you should read this blog post if you want to understand why.
Available on: iPad
Price: $4.99 per month/$39.99 per year (Existing PDF Expert users get a year for free)
Download: App Store
The next generation of stock trading is upon us thanks to Robinhood, a new iPhone app that came out this week.
Most brokerages charge between $7 and $10 for individual stock trades, but Robinhood eliminates fees entirely by cutting out the middleman. You’re in charge of your trading, and you don’t have to be well versed in the ways of Wall Street to use the app.
The interface is dead simple, and it makes the possibility of trading stocks a reality for more people than ever before. There’s a pretty huge waitlist right now, so you won’t be able to use it right away. But if you’re interested, claim your spot in line.
Available on: iPhone
Download: App Store
The official Google app got updated with Android’s new Material Design philosophy, which is interesting to see on iOS. The design is based on traditional ink and paper with a reliance on animations to create depth, so it’s pretty different from where Apple has been headed with mobile post iOS 6.
You can see your recently visited businesses, start a new search from the center Google button, and use Street View without leaving the app on iPhone. The app has also been optimized for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Available on: iPhone/iPad
Download: App Store
Vemedio released Instacast 2 for Mac, a complete visual overhaul for OS X Yosemite.
“We redesigned the entirety of Instacast's interface, including the app icon, the MiniPlayer and each individual dialog in Instacast's settings,” said Vemedio’s Martin Hering. “The MiniPlayer's interface looks fantastic with Yosemite's dark mode too. We also added the new episode lists from Instacast 5 on iOS, including list syncing via Instacast Cloud.”
Instacast is already a fantastic solution for streaming podcasts on iOS, and this new Mac update means that it’s one of the most attractive cross-platform podcast clients available.
Those with an existing Instacast Membership ($14.99 per year) get version 2 for Mac free along with all in-app iOS purchases. A standalone license for Instacast 2 on the Mac costs $19.99, and an upgrade from version 1 costs $5. There’s also a 15-day free trial available to try.
Available on: Mac
Price: $14.99 per year for subscription that also unlocks premium iOS app, or $19.99 for single license
Slacker’s big redesign makes it a highly compelling take on internet radio. Not only does the new interface look gorgeous, but Slacker is debuting new partnerships with celebrities and content creators like Tyler Oakley, Rooster Teeth and Nerdist Industries.
In total, there are nearly 400 stations to choose from, and new customization features allow you to fine tune personal stations by artist, song, and genre.
Slacker is free to use on the web or mobile, but $3.99 per month gets you unlimited skips, no ads offline listening, and custom feeds from the likes of Disney and ESPN. A $9.99 per month subscription basically turns Slacker into a Spotify competitor with full access to its catalog of music.
Available on: Web/iPhone
Price: Free (with $3.99 and $9.99 subscription options)
Download: App Store
If you needed any more confirmation that Windows Phone is dead in the water, two of its most high profile supporters have abandoned it for the iPhone.
Veteran Microsoft journalists Ed Bott and Tom Warren both published essays this week in which they criticized Windows Phone for its shortcomings and announced that they’ve stopped using Windows Phones personally. Citing a lack of carrier and third-party app support, both agreed that Windows Phone has missed its shot at being a real competitor in the smartphone market.
A new app called Workflow aims to close the divide between the power of OS X and the convenience of iOS. By offering curated and custom workflows, the app can automate just about anything you’d want to do on the iPhone or iPad — along with actions you probably haven’t thought of before, like calling an Uber car to take you to your next meeting with one tap.
It’s an ambitious undertaking for any developer, but what makes Workflow even better is that it was created by two brilliant teenagers with great aspirations for making mobile devices as powerful as they can be.