(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
Black Friday is a shopper’s dream and worst nightmare. The blitz of fliers advertising post-Thanksgiving sales has already begun, with retailers large and small offering deals on just about everything imaginable.
How do you know what’s actually a bargain and what’s a cheap marketing ploy? Never fear! We’re keeping our eyes peeled for the very best Black Friday deals, and we’ll be adding them to this roundup. This isn’t a roundup for all of the millions of discounted TVs and kitchen appliances out there, just the stuff we think is really worth your attention. Keep this page locked for sweet savings on tech, entertainment and other cool gear.
You might think college students are tricky to shop for, but in reality that couldn’t be further from the truth. Since they’re constantly swamped with homework and simultaneously managing a busy social life, all they want is stuff that makes their lives easier and more fun.
If you’re stressing about what to get the student in your life this holiday season, never fear. We’ve collected some great gift ideas, handpicked by college students for college students:
Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay on Steve Jobs has been in a seemingly perpetual state of flux for months. Multiple A-list actors and directors passed on the project, with Christian Bale most recently bowing out of the leading role after being all but confirmed by Sorkin himself.
Then the studio financing the movie, Sony, put it up for sale—a good sign that a project isn’t going smoothly in Hollywood. Luckily, Universal has swooped in to save the day.
When it comes to Black Friday shopping online, no one does it bigger than Amazon. Starting today, Amazon’s Black Friday hub will be featuring new deals literally every 10 minutes, which is probably too much for the feeble human brain to handle.
There will be limited-time Lightning Deals, Deals of the Day, and a slew of discounts for everything from 4K TVs to Rubik’s cubes. And of course Amazon Prime customers will be treated like royalty with free shipping and the ability to get deals before everyone else.
Every week Apple selects a paid app to become its “Free App of the Week” in the App Store, and it usually makes for a decent deal. But this week is the best promotion so far.
Things by Cultured Code, an Apple Design Award-winning task manager, is completely free through next Friday. That’s a total discount of $30.
You’ll soon have Beats Music on your iOS device whether you want it or not.
Apple is planning to bake the streaming music service into iOS in early 2015, according to The Financial Times. The integration could happen “as early as March,” which would line up with the possibility of a media event to announce the rumored iPad Pro.
It's Oscar season
And that means Hollywood's finest are contending for coveted nominations. There are a lot of great films in the running, and we've gathered five in particular that are almost sure to be nominees, if not winners.
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics
The Theory of Everything
Already a strong favorite among critics and the festival circuit, this film is based on legendary physicist Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his ex-wife, Jane Wilde Hawking.
With an 81% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The Theory of Everything is being praised for its performances and screenplay. Eddie Redmayne's visceral portrayal of Hawking has been compared to roles like Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot. Expect Redmayne to be in the race for best actor.
Photo: Focus Features
The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician and logician who helped crack a code that was crucial for defeating the Nazis in World War II.
This has all the makings of Oscar bait: a star-studded cast, warm festival reception, a period setting, and a strong leading man playing a character who was prosecuted for homosexuality. Best picture, director, actor, screenplay, and supporting actress nominations are probable.
Photo: The Weinstein Company
Directed by Bennett Miller of Capote and Moneyball fame, Foxcatcher is sure to receive a slew of nominations and probably a few wins.
It's hard to imagine anyone winning best supporting actor over Steve Carell's chilling performance as the wealthy wresting coach and paranoid schizophrenic John Eleuthère du Pont. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo also give stellar performances.
The story itself is portrayed in such a way that grips you from beginning to shockingly tragic end. Nominations for best picture, director, screenplay, actor, supporting actor, editing, makeup, and maybe even sound design are all very possible.
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics
How can a film that literally shows a boy growing up not receive Oscar attention? Boyhood was shot intermittently over an eleven-year period, which is a feat in and of itself that will place it in film studies textbooks.
The scope of such a project is mind blowing, and critics have been overwhelming favorable with a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "Epic in technical scale but breathlessly intimate in narrative scope, Boyhood is a sprawling investigation of the human condition," reads the critical consensus. What more of a recommendation do you need?
Photo: IFC Films
Michael Keaton's Birdman is the rogue, weird, unrelentingly indie contender that hasn't stopped gaining momentum. Keaton's portrayal of a washed-up actor who once played a famous superhero (cough) is being called his best work in years. Then there's the incredible supporting cast: Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, and Naomi Watts.
Besides its witty dialogue and fascinating characters, Birdman soars on the talented wings of Gravity and Children of Men cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who effortlessly follows the story with what feels like one continuous, epic shot. Birdman is worth watching for the way it looks alone, and it's hard to imagine it not winning best cinematography.
Photo: Fox Searchlight
Another day, another app from Facebook.
That seems to be the trend lately for the social networking giant, as seemingly every aspect of its service has been siloed into its own app. The latest is Facebook Groups for, you guessed it, managing and interacting with different groups.
As promised, Apple has given third-party developers tools to start making apps for the upcoming Apple Watch. Today the company announced the availability of WatchKit, its new SDK for creating app experiences on the wrist.
With WatchKit, developers will be able to make actionable notifications, Glances “for timely information accessible by an easy, quick look,” and eventually full-fledged apps. Early WatchKit partners like ESPN, Instagram, and American Airlines have already tested the new APIs for future versions of their apps.
We got a lot of great feedback from last week’s minimal iPhone 6 case roundup. Many of you suggested other cases to check out, and we got so many good recommendations that we decided to share them with everyone.
Not all of these cases are necessarily super slim and minimal, but they’re worth checking out if you’re in the market for something stylish and functional to cradle your precious iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.