(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
LAS VEGAS — Nobody wants to get hacked like Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud account. Everyone, including Apple, is pushing two-factor authentication in the wake of the high-profile hack that exposed dozens of celebrities nude selfies, but verifying an account login with a code sent to your phone is a total pain.
Yubico is already providing eight out of 10 Silicon Valley companies with a tiny USB dongle called YubiKey that securely verifies an employee’s online identity. You just plug it into a computer and tap it when it’s time to log in. Now that Gmail has started supporting YubiKey on the front end, anyone can use it as the second verification step for getting into their inbox.
LAS VEGAS — On the surface, there’s nothing very exciting about a portable flash drive. It doesn’t excite me at all. But make that drive a sleek, Lightning-equipped, 256GB beast of a thing, and now we’re talking.
The Leef iBridge, on display here at International CES, packs the most storage of any iOS-compatible hard drive on the market. But all that space comes at a steep price.
$399.99, to be exact. Certainly jaw-dropping, but something in me, and obviously in the Leef team, believes there’s at least a few people out there who will buy it. If not, the cheaper 128GB ($200), 64GB ($120), 32GB ($80) and 16GB ($60) models should appeal to the layman.
There’s a nice companion iOS app that reads what you’ve stored and even lets you shoot photos/video directly to the drive. Not a bad thing to have for a photo adventure in the wilderness. Or if you still don’t have enough storage available to install iOS 8.
LAS VEGAS — An iPhone battery case is kinda like insurance: You don’t really want it, but you know you need it. It’s been months since Apple started selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but we have yet to see any battery cases from established brands … until now.
Otterbox unveiled its Resurgence power case for the iPhone 6 at International CES this week. The case packs a 2,600-mAh battery that will charge your iPhone’s battery twice over. And, like everything Otterbox makes, it’s designed with military-grade drop protection.
The case charges itself via a micro-USB connector, and it has a button on the back that needs to be pressed when your iPhone requires more life. Otterbox is offering four colors, and the case should be available in a couple weeks for $100.
LAS VEGAS — It seems like everyone is selling some kind of smart light bulb these days, but Sengled is setting itself apart by incorporating wild add-ons like Bluetooth speakers and Wi-Fi repeaters.
At a demo during CES Unveiled here, the company showed me its lineup of four smart bulbs, all of which have their own gimmick beyond the to-be-expected remote control functionality through an app.
LAS VEGAS — What if your entire life was like a Russian dash cam? Our phones already know where we are and what we’re doing every moment of the day, but the Narrative Clip takes things to the next level.
This tiny little square clips onto your person and takes a 5 megapixel photo every 30 seconds. Apparently wearing such a thing makes you a “lifelogger,” which sounds like a great term to drop on a first date. Then again, once you admit that you’re wearing an always-on camera during a date, it won’t really matter if you call it lifelogging or not. You’re not getting a second shot.
LAS VEGAS — When it comes to the smart home, there are two key players right now: Apple and Nest, the latter of which is owned by Google. While plenty of smart lock and thermostat makers are starting to support Apple’s HomeKit, the “Works with Nest” family is also growing.
There were more viral videos in 2014 than you can shake a stick at, and you could spend weeks watching them all. From John Oliver to the Ice Bucket Challenge, we were absolutely inundated with stuff to watch throughout the year, and that’s a great thing.
Wishing you could relive some of the best viral video moments of 2014? We’ve collected some of the best for your enjoyment:
2014 was an absolutely monumental year for Apple. Haters will hate, but one thing can’t be denied: This is a company that refuses to rest on its laurels.
Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple debuted a new product category with the Apple Watch, sold a record number of new iPhones, made the biggest acquisition in its history, and successfully sent its suffering stock price back into the stratosphere.
The company wasn’t without its missteps, but all in all, it’s hard to call 2014 anything short of a blow-away year for Apple.
The Interview has been made available for streaming and purchase online ahead of its theatrical release Christmas Day. YouTube Movies, Google Play, Xbox Videos, and a dedicated website are all offering the controversial comedy for $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to own in HD.
Notably absent from the list of streaming providers is Apple, which refused the chance to make the movie available through iTunes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stream “James Flacco” and Seth Rogen’s North Korean escapades on your Apple TV or iOS device.
Awesome Apps of the Week
Every weekend Cult of Mac brings you a roundup of the last week’s greatest new apps and updates.
This week, we’ve got an awesome educational app for the iPad, a tool for keeping your passwords safe, cool new Spotify features, and more.
Without further ado, here are this week’s awesome apps!
Developed by former Apple engineers, Duet Display is the first iPad app that lets you use the tablet as a secondary display for your Mac via a Lightning cable. Other apps have tried streaming over WiFi to turn the iPad into an extended display, but then you usually have to deal with bad lag and poor frame rate.
Because you connect the iPad via a 30-pin or Lightning cable, Duet Display claims to be capable of powering a Retina display at 60 frames per second with zero lag.
Its developers claim that the app works with all iOS devices on iOS 6 and up along with all Macs capable of running OS X 10.9. I wasn’t able to test it because my Mac is running the 10.10.2 Yosemite beta, which is currently super buggy.
Duet Display sounds like a great tool for making use of an old iPad you may have lying around the house. Support for older iOS 5.1.1 devices is being worked on for a future update in the App Store.
Available on: iPad
Price: $9.99 (requires free Mac installer)
Download: App Store
Algoriddim is known for making Djay, the most popular consumer DJ app out there. While the software already supports professional-grade turntables and DJ gear, Algoriddim has taken another big step into the world of pro DJing with the release of Djay Pro, it’s new Mac app.
This app is a powerhouse with 64-bit support, multi-core track analysis, a design that look great on Retina and 5K displays, and 60 frames-per-second graphics rendering.
The design looks pretty similar to what existing Djay users know, expect now there are even more features, like the ability to mix four tracks at once. The biggest feature addition by far is integration with Spotify. Premium Spotify subscribers have full access to their playlists, saved music, and the entire service’s catalog. Djay Pro is the first app to integrate with Spotify this closely, and it shows. It’s pretty cool to be able to switch seamlessly between your iTunes and Spotify libraries inside the app.
Djay Pro is trying to be the Final Cut or Logic of DJ software, Algoriddim CEO Karim Morsy told Cult of Mac in an interview. This new app is aimed squarely at the pros out there who also want a simplistic, powerful design. “This is what they’ve been waiting for,” he said.
Available on: Mac
Price: $49.99 introductory price (will eventually go up to $79.99)
Download: Mac App Store
If you’re someone who lives and dies by group texting, this is a great app to try out. From the same developers behind Launch Center Pro, Group Text+ allows you to “mix and match contacts, groups, images, and text snippets to quickly compose messages.”
You can add things like current location, the content of your clipboard, or a song to the group text as well. What you get with this app is an experience tailored to group messaging that’s built on iMessage and SMS, so you don’t have to worry about signing people up for some proprietary messaging service.
The interface is pretty simple, and there’s a handy extension to use the app throughout iOS.
Available on: iPhone/iPad
Price: $1.99 launch sale)
Download: App Store
Made by the same people behind the previous app, Email+ is the same group messaging approach applied to email. If you live in group email threads all day, this app could be the breath of fresh air you’ve been waiting for.
Available on: iPhone/iPad
Price: $2.99 (App Store bundle Group Text+ included costs $3.99)
Download: App Store
Amazon Prime Now
Amazon is determined to be the one-stop shop for just about anything you could need, and it’s new Prime Now app is for getting those things to you as quickly as possible.
With “tens of thousands” of items available for sale, Prime Now will ship to Amazon Prime subscribers within one to two hours.
The experiment is similar to Prime Pantry, Amazon’s same-day grocery deliver service that’s being slowly rolled out across the country. Prime Now is only available in Manhattan right now, but Amazon has plans to bring it to other cities.
Available on: iPhone
Price: Free with Prime subscription (One-hour deliveries cost $7.99 and two-hour deliveries are free)
Download: App Store