(You're reading all posts by Charlie Sorrel)

About Charlie Sorrel

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)

These are the best messaging apps on iOS

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

It’s an iOS messaging shootout! Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

I recently watched The Lady try to convince a friend of ours to download WhatsApp. The friend is moving to the United Kingdom, and we want to stay in touch. Our friend tried to say that email would do the job, but we all know that will never work.

Our friend doesn’t want WhatsApp (maybe because it’s owned by Facebook), and she doesn’t own an iPhone, so iMessage is out. Thankfully, there are plenty of free and good alternatives. Some are more secure, some have more features, and none of them is owned by Facebook.

Let’s take a look at what’s available and how these very different messaging apps compare on a number of key features.

Read the rest of this post »

App Watch: Homemade photo filters, self-scheduling calendar and more

Xync’s cable-concealing carabiner could double as a paperweight

xync-2

The Xync is handy, but a bit too bulky. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Moshi’s Xync packs a Lightning-to-USB charging cable into a handy, dangly carabiner-clip package, and adds a secret compartment on the side. But is it better than just carrying a regular Lightning cable in your pocket/bag? The short answer? Hmm…

The long version? Read on.

Read the rest of this post »

How to use two powerful tools to collaborate on writing projects

Literature... and latte. Photo illustration Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Literature… and latte. Photo illustration Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

These days you can easily share data and collaborate on almost anything, from Rdio playlists to photo streams. But when it comes to plain old written text, your options are terrible. You’re pretty much caught between working on a shared file in Google Docs or shuttling versions of your work back and forth via email. Add more than one collaborator and this becomes a total nightmare.

Thankfully, tools exist to smooth the process of collaborating on writing projects. I’m currently editing the second draft of a novella, and I’m looking for a way to work with “beta” readers. I’m testing several pieces of software, and so far one called Draft is in the lead. Not only does it let you share a document with other people, it lets the team comment on any part of the source document and also allows them to edit a copy. Then, when they submit their versions, you can preview any changes before accepting or rejecting them.

Better still, because Draft can sync with a document in Dropbox (as well as several other cloud services), you can sync the edits from your beta team with a local app, like Scrivener. Here’s what you need to make the collaborative magic happen.

Read the rest of this post »

Gadget Watch: Bags, bags and … bags. Plus, some cool new camera gear

This cheap plastic bag will waterproof any gadget

Waterproof. Do try this at home. Photos Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Do try this at home — if you’ve got a LokSak. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Today I’m going to review a plastic bag. A new low, even for me? Maybe, but this is no ordinary plastic bag. It’s a bag that has beaten out pretty much every waterproof gadget case i’ve ever tested, because:

  1. It fits almost every gadget I have
  2. It weighs almost nothing. I can keep one in every bag I carry.

The bag is the LokSak, and it’s designed to keep your gadgets safe.

Read the rest of this post »

7 amazing extensions we want to see in iOS 8

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

We can’t wait for iOS 8 to supercharge our trusty iPhones with Extensions. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

iOS 8 will bring Extensions to your iPhone and iPad. Extensions are essentially miniature versions of apps that can be run inside other apps. For instance, if you have Evernote installed on your iPhone, you could pop up the Evernote Extension when you’re running the Mail app, and save a snippet of that email to your Evernote account.

Clearly this is huge. It’s something that Android and Windows Phone users have enjoyed for a while, but Apple has – typically – taken its time to get it right. In fact, you have probably used Apple’s own “test” Extensions already: Whenever you see the Mail sheet roll down inside another app, or you access the built-in Twitter sharing box, you’re using an Extension.

But what kind of things can Extensions do for us? I’ve been thinking about that, and here’s a wish list of Extensions I’d love to see.

Read the rest of this post »

App Watch: iOS apps that are minimal, slo-mo, vintage and bespoke

Gadget Watch: Cameras, colanders, clackety keyboards and cufflinks

Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth: Clackety keyboard on the go

The Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth, alongside my own tenkeyless Filco Majestouch.

The Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth, alongside my own tenkeyless Filco Majestouch. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I took the Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth keyboard with me on vacation this year to use with a MacBook Air propped up on the fantastic Roost stand. I use the tenkeyless Filco Majestouch at home, and I was hoping for the same super-accurate, clicky-key action in this battery-powered, portable wireless version.

And I almost got it. But for one major flaw, the MiniLa is almost as good as the desktop version. The good news is, that flaw might just be a personal quibble.

Read the rest of this post »