(You're reading all posts by Charlie Sorrel) Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie on Twitter at @mistercharlie.
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[UPDATE: Lots of readers report that the new option to activate iCloud Photo Library isn't showing up on their devices. I'm looking into it. So far I know that the GM version -- the one I used to write this guide -- and the final version are identical, build number 12A365. My guess is that Apple turned off the beta already]
iCloud Photo Library is rad. The idea is that all your full-res photos (including RAW photos) reside on Apple’s servers, and you access them from all your devices.
That’s a change from Photo Stream as it is now, which stores only the last 1,000 photos you took, not your whole collection. Apple has also introduced new tiers of iCloud storage pricing to cope with all your photos (and videos). This is now live, and I signed up for the 200GB option ($4 per month) to test it out.
Let’s take a look.
Photos on iOS 8 are so good that you will be able to ditch a whole home-screen folder’s worth of editing and organizing apps. That’s not an exaggeration: Apple’s new mobile OS packs in so many great new features that – even without the extending abilities of iOS 8’s new plug-ins – you can do pretty much any edit right there in the photos app.
The camera, too, has gotten an upgrade, and – maybe the most important for some – so has the iCloud Photo Stream, which will now give access to all your photos, from any device, whenever you want.
Sounds pretty good huh?
Amazon has two new Kindles out, the Voyage, plus an update that brings touch to the cheapest Kindle. The new Voyage isn’t – as its name might suggest – waterproof ready for travel, but it does have a brighter screen and, get this, page turn buttons.
iMovie for iOS 8 is straight-up amazing, and I say that before I’ve even bothered using the app. And not because I’m a typical tech writer who “reviews” things based on rewrite of a press release, but because you don’t even need to open iMovie to use it.
Why? Because it has an extension that lets you edit your videos, right inside the Photos app.
ProCam 2 – confusingly now at v3.0 – is the first camera app that allows manual focus and exposure on devices running iOS 8. You now get full manual control of ISO, shutter speed, focus and white balance, all with neat-o on-screen sliders.
Extensions are coming to iOS 8, and Omni shows us just how cool they can be with a new version of OmniFocus 2 for iPhone plus the brand new OmniFocus 2 for iPad.
Gadget Watch: Sept. 13, 2014
The big iPhones are here at last, and so – as surely as indigestion follows a burrito – are the oversize iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cases. Also new on the scene this week: a game controller for all your iDevices, plus some sweet retro-style cameras.
Waterfield Spinn case for iPhone 6 Plus
A big-ass phone needs a big-ass case, and the Waterfield Spinn is both big and sits by your ass. The leather holster clips to your belt, the bottom is open for hooking up headphones and hearing the speaker, and the closing clasp doubles as a winder for unused headphone cabling. Pretty cool for a dorky holster. $59
Fujifilm’s successor to the amazing X100S changes little. You get refined buttons and dials, and more of these can be given custom functions. You get a double-resolution LCD on the back, plus Wi-Fi inside, and a sweet new hybrid viewfinder that can overlay a digital rangefinder on the pure optical view. $1,300
The Tivo Mega really is mega, with 24TB of DVR storage for 4,000 hours of HD and 26,000 hours of SD programming. At roughly 20 minutes each, that’s enough space to keep the entire series of Big Bang Theory 490 times over. It’s rack mountable, has six tuners and you can stream direct to your phone. How much? $5,000
Grovemade Maple & Leather iPhone 6 case
Grovemade puts a lid on its gorgeous wooden iPhone cases with the new Maple & Leather model for the 6 and 6 Plus. It has the usual bumper-like wooden surround, but with a new leather flap on the front that doubles as a kickstand, thanks to a stiffening wooden liner. It looks gorgeous. $129
Moga Rebel controller
What could be a better accessory for your new iPhone 6 Plus than the Moga Rebel, a Bluetooth game controller for your iPhone or iPad that boasts an adjustable arm and clamp to hold even a giant phone? $80
Leatherman By The Numbers
Leatherman By The Numbers is a range of 10 new tools that each pack at least four tools into one lightweight little package. There are no moving parts (except on the No. 4, which has a removable screwdriver bit), and you can pick the combo that best suits your needs. From $11
Quit trying to squeeze a cylinder into your bag with your computer and books – try the book-shaped Memobottle instead. These plastic water bottles slide straight into your bag, and come in A4, A5 and U.S Letter sizes. Made from dishwasher-friendly Tritan, the only problem might be drinking from them – probably a two-handed task. From $22.
Lomo LC-A 120
Forget full-frame digital. The way to get maximum photographic quality is medium-format film. Then you can proceed to ruin that film with the plastic-fantastic Lomo LC-A 120, a relatively tiny medium-format camera with automatic exposure, four-zone manual focus and a square format. $430
SanDisk 512GB Extreme Pro SD card
Put all your photos of eggs on a single SD card, with SanDisk's new 512GB Extreme Pro SDXC card. Pointless for photos, the super-fast UHS Speed Class 3 card is better for capturing video from your movie-making DSLR. Just $800.
AeroClam bike saddle bag
The Aeroclam switches a saggy, baggy saddle bag that rattles on the rails of your racing seat for a tightly-fitted clamshell bag that stays permanently – and tightly – attached to your undercarriage. There’s space for a patch kit and maybe a multitool, but not a pump. Fits most non-Brooks saddles. NZ$50
Bumpies border upon the nonexistent, and that’s why they are better than most other iPhone cases. Not that you could really count Bumpies as a case: They’re little stick-on corners that protect your iPhone’s extremities, and do it almost invisibly.
Two things strike me about the camera in the new iPhone 6 models. One is that you can take better pictures; the other is that the iPhone is now a much better place for viewing those pictures.
With their bigger, brighter screens — and iCloud’s new Photo Albums feature (which stores all your photos, ready to view, in iCloud) — the iPhone 6 and its larger sibling, the iPhone 6 Plus, are looking to be the best smartphones yet, from a photographic point of view.
App Watch: Sept. 10, 2014
Widget, widgets, widgets. Boy, have we got some widgets for you. And text. Plain text. Plain old text, turned into a calculator. And widgets. Did I mention those? Weather widgets. Battery widgets. And yes, text widgets.
Read all about these new widgets and other new apps in this week's App Watch.
WunderStation from Weather Underground hooks into thousands of privately owned weather stations and presents their data in an iPad app. The smoothly animated graphs are beautiful and can tell you way more than you’d ever want to know about rainfall, barometric pressure and even UV. If you have stations near you, it’s pretty rad. If not, no biggie – the app is $Free
Filthy name, great app. Droool is a “photo gallery for your social networks.” Browse pictures from Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and more, and index pictures from iCloud and other local folders without moving or copying the files. It’s fast, simple and looks great, and it’s free with in-app purchases. $Free
Terrible name, great app. iBetterCharge monitors your iOS devices’ battery level over your Wi-Fi network, using the same connection that iTunes Wi-Fi sync would use, if you still synced your iPhone with your computer in the space year of 2014. It can pop up warnings when the battery drops to a preset level, and a click on the menu bar shows you the level of all the devices on the network. $Free
This is what the Internet is made for. Photogrammar puts 170,000 Depression-era photos in a searchable, browsable archive. Explore on an interactive map, search or get into the Labs section and browse by metadata sourced from the U.S. Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information archives. Warning: serious time-sink. $Free
PlainTextMenu takes the text on your Mac’s clipboard and transmogrifies it into something useful. It strips out formatting, so you never get big ugly Comic Sans when pasting from a colleague’s Word report, and it can turn the text to uppercase, lowercase or title case along the way. From the school of One Thing Well. $1
Web service re/spin takes Spotify playlists and transforms them into Rdio playlists. If someone’s going to share a playlist, it usually comes from Spotify, and re/spin works with published Spotify playlists. Or you can just paste in a track list copied right from the app. It also works with Last.fm. Remember when PCs couldn’t read Mac floppy disks? It’s like fixing that all over again. $Free
You know all those hard drives grafted onto your Mac? Keep a close eye on them with StorageStatus, an app that turns hard drives into traffic lights in your menu bar and changes their colors when they do something. It knows when they are sleeping, it knows when they’re awake, and it knows when they’ve been good or bad. $3
Not new, but awesome nonetheless. Calca is as close as you’ll get to a plain text calculator. Tap in complex formulas or simple sums and see the results right there in a plain text document. Set variables or just add numbers. And see all your pages synced over iCloud between Mac, iPhone and iPad versions, as well as Windows(!). I love Calca for its balance of simplicity and power. From $3
TVShow Time for iPad
Finally, a version for the iPad. TVShow Time tracks your favorite TV shows and tells you when they’re on. Browse shows and show synopses, and get notifications when something is about to air. See the shows on a calendar, view news about your shows and read about new shows. It’s pretty comprehensive, and looks great on the big iPad screen. $3