(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.
About Charlie Sorrel
With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple is finally showing us its idea of how we’ll compute in the future. Perhaps not surprisingly, this pristine vision of our computing destiny — unveiled after years of secret, patient and painstaking development — aligns perfectly with how we currently use our computers and mobile devices.
The keynote at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month not only showed off a new way to think about computing, based on data not devices, but also silenced pretty much every criticism leveled at the company over the past few years.
Let’s take a look at Apple’s new way of doing things, which fulfills Steve Jobs’ post-PC plan by minimizing the importance of the Mac.
Do you like to wander the streets, camera in hand, ready to catch an amazing shot? Have you ever missed that shot thanks to the time taken to fumble your iPhone from your pocket and fire up the camera? Even if the answer to these questions is “No,” you should probably take a look at Shoulderpod’s S1 anyway – it’s not only a great camera grip, but also the best value you’ll get spending $30 on an iPhone accessory.
Welcome to the final part of our series about note-taking for writers (or anyone else). Today we’re going to look at getting clippings and bookmarks into Evernote, to be stored and accessible alongside your scanned, paper-based notes (Part 1) and your text notes grabbed on your iPhone or Mac (Part 2).
We’ll use a few apps and services to get this done – EverClip, Mr Reader, IFTTT and Pinboard are the main ones.
As ever, you could just do much of this using Evernote and its web clipper, but this only works in Safari and Chrome on the desktop. In 2014! Clearly that’s no good. Let’s see how we can do it better.
Gadget Watch: June 14, 2014
From waterproof e-readers and old-school (sort of) newspapers to stylish Mac stands and remarkably big buttons, here's what's new on the gadget front this week.
The Beach Vault is a threaded plastic chamber with a watertight lid. You screw it onto the sand down at the beach and use it as a sandy safe for your belongings. Not only does it make your gear harder for pickpockets to snatch, it also protects electronics from sand and salty sea.
It even comes with a matching towel. $35
Training wheels don’t teach your kid to balance a bike – how could they when they won’t let it tip? Here in Germany the 3-year-olds buzz around on balance bikes, little two-wheelers with low seats and no pedals. These let kids run and learn to balance and steer, ready for a big bike.
The FirstBIKE features a special seat that’s hard to slip out of, Schwalbe tires and a rear drum brake with a lever that won’t pinch kids’ fingers. Prices start at $130.
Grovemade desktop accessories
Grovemade produces great handcrafted wooden accessories for MacBook and iOS devices. Now it is turning to the desktop with a range of wooden stands and trays. From the $59 mouse mat (LOL) to the $19 paperclip holder, not all of it is practical, but the plywood Maple Monitor Stand looks beautiful and practical, and costs a relatively reasonable $79.
The Nova is a proper flashing flash for your iPhone, one that actually syncs with the camera instead of just acting like a dumb flashlight. You can even adjust the color and brightness of the light using the free companion app, and the whole thing connects using low-power Bluetooth 4. $60
Do you use a read-later service like Instapaper or Pocket? Click, save, ignore. Now you can have those unread articles printed into a real newspaper, which will land on your doormat just like in the olden days.
Save articles in the browser with a bookmarklet, then click to order the paper version, which will be printed at your demand and delivered to your door. Right now the service is U.K.-only, and invite-only, but it's supposedly expanding to other countries soon. £5
Hardware – it’s all about the software. The bttn is a single button that you hit to get something done. And that "something" depends on which service you hook it up to using the bttn servers. Just like IFTTT, only with a button, the device uses Wi-Fi or a cellular connection to trigger tweets, emails, your house lights or anything that hooks up to it. Yes, including IFTTT. Pre-order for €69.
Titan multi-tool collar stays
I’m not sure if these multi-tool collar stays are Skymall trashy or James Bond awesome. What I do know is that these little titanium sticks will not only keep your collar straight, but also let you MacGyver your way out of a sticky situation. They pack a half-Phillips screwdriver, slotted screwdriver, thread-cutter and bottle opener, plus imperial and metric scales on the sides.
Just keep them out of the washing machine if you value your shirt’s collar. $30.
Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite
One excuse the book-sniffing holdouts give for refusing to get with the 21st century is that you can’t read a Kindle in the bath. Which is crap – you just put it inside a Ziploc bag. But now you don’t even need that: You can buy this modified Waterfi waterproof Kindle Paperwhite and take it wherever you like, down to 120 feet below (where you should no doubt read some Jules Verne).
You can more or less double the price though – the waterproof version will cost you $240.
Yalta Noa backpack
Chrome makes some of the heaviest bags around, and this roll-top Yalta backpack, customized by Japanese artist Noa, is no exception. The hefty 3.4-pound water-shrugging sacks are cut from a canvas made by the artist, so, as the product page says, once they’re gone they’re gone. $140.
You know those cheapo gadgets you pick up at the dime store or from the racks by supermarket checkouts? That’s the kind of throwaway gadget you think you’ve got when you pick up the Clamplight MINI from Blackfire. Which is a shame, because it’s actually pretty good.
iOS 8 packs in a bunch of great new photo features, in both the Camera app and the Photos app. You now get a lot more control over your photography at the front end, with manual exposure and even a time-lapse mode, and you can edit and find your photos with a little more precision than before.
iOS 8 is still a few months out, but you don’t have to wait: Use these currently available apps to add all these new functions to your iPhone (or iPad) today.
The Walden is the first of Pad & Quill’s top-notch cases that I would actually use. That’s because it ditches the wooden frame of the company’s usual bookbindery cases, instead offering a minimal slipcover that uses adhesive strips to hold an iPad Air in place.
The result is a case as beautiful and classic as other P & Q cases, but slim and light enough to match the slender Apple tablet it protects.
Apart from letting you quickly edit and share photos (and always sitting, ready to go, in your pocket), the iPhone camera has one other great feature: It geotags every photo and video you shoot with the place you captured the imagery. You might not care about that now, but in the future when you wonder, “Where did I take that naked self-portrait?” or decide to take a look at your old vacation snaps, you’ll love geotagging.
Hell, half the time I use a map to find a photo — I can usually remember where I was better than when I was.
Lack of geotagging is perhaps the main reason I don’t take my regular camera out as often as I’d like, so I decided to do something about that. I’m using a combination of the iOS GeoTagr app on iPhone and iPad, plus a Fujifilm X100S camera and a Garmin EDGE 500 GPS bike computer.
Let’s take a look.
The official musical instrument of the 2014 World Cup is the Caxirola, but it has already been banned from stadiums. Not because it will drive you out of your mind with irritation like the last World Cup’s vuvuzela, but because the Caxirola is considered a security risk (or more likely, a perfect booze and drug-smuggling device.
The Caxirola looks like a cross between a lemon and a set of knuckledusters. Inside the hollow plastic bubble are hundreds of beads that rattle when you shake it and make a “nice, pleasant” sound. But you don’t have to bother with a real plastic lemon: you can buy the app.
As a kid I never really liked football, but I loved Panini football stickers. Now there’s an environmentally friendly way to collect and swap stickers (if you consider making an iPad or iPhone to be less damaging than printing a paper book). The official Panini Online Sticker Album app lets you collect and swap stickers, and stick them into a virtual album. Swapping is done online, and you get three sticker packs with the free download. $free
Authentic World Cup Jersey
I’ll be buying my Spain World Cup shirt down at the local knockoff market, but the real deal has some features that partially justify its $150 price tag. Dri-FIT microfiber, laser-cut mesh and ventilations zones will keep you cooler than if you went topless. And of course you’ll get the shivery chills every time you remember how much you paid for it. $150
Listen to the Radio
Maybe you want to follow the World Cup from the beach, or the park, or just not be stuck indoors. Or maybe you live in a foreign country and you want to listen to an English commentary while you drink Brazilian beer and watch the match in a Brazilian bar.
For this, you need the radio. Either tune a real radio to the BBC, like the World Band Tecsun radio that people like on Amazon, or grab the excellent (free or paid) TuneIn Radio app, which, as its name suggests, tunes in to any radio station that transmits via the internet. I recommend the BBC.
Street View stadium tour
Stuck in rainy Europe? Don’t own a passport to leave the U.S? No problem. Google has visited the World Cup stadiums so you don’t have to – just head over to this page to virtually tour any of Brazils World Cup stadiums via Street View.
Pick them on a map or just browse the list, and you can even take a look at the streets outside.
A big frikkin' TV
Just before the 2010 World Cup, I remember seeing lots of men dragging huge boxes into their apartment buildings. What better excuse for a new TV than a World Cup? Right now, the Wirecutter says that the best TV you can buy is the Samsung F8500, available in 51, 60 and 64-inch models and ready for 3-D should you happen a cross a game broadcast that way (and sport is probably the only reasons to use a 3-D TV). Best of all, the 51-incher is currently $1,800 on Amazon, which is $900 off list price.
The supermarkets are already full of Brazil-related plastic junk, and even folks who only watch football once every four years are getting excited. Why? It’s World Cup time, of course!
Here we have a selection of apps and gadgets, clothes and toys to help you follow along and enjoy the show. The only thing we haven’t included is streaming app, because broadcast rights vary from country to country. Our workaround is to watch on TV or listen on the radio. Or do it like the Brazilians and head to your local bar.
Gadget Watch: June 7, 2014
This week’s Gadget Watch is all about getting outside. Whether you're shopping, taking photos or traveling, we've got you covered (quite literally, in one case).
From drone-based aerial photography to phone-based iPhoneography, from magnetic notebooks to overpriced tote bags, from stealthy tents to absurd iPhone cases, this week we want to get you out in that summer sun: Take a flight on a plane with a built-in iPad holder, and when you get home you can open your front door with an ultralight bike-chain key holder. Just remember the sunscreen.
Photojojo Phantom drone
They used to be called quadcopters, but now anything with a horizontal rotor blade is called a drone. Photojojo’s Phantom 2 is a drone built for photography. It has a GPS autopilot to float safely and combat wind, a three-axis gimballed mount underneath for super-smooth footage, a six-mile range and a 25-minute flight time. The price? $959 with a GoPro mount or $1,299 with a Phantom Vision+ camera included. Buy from Photojojo.
Moschino french fries case
Moschino, the fashion choice for lottery winners and Russian gangsters, will sell you this McDonald’s-a-like french fries case for just $85. Yes, it probably comes from the same Chinese factory as the $5 cases in your local mall, but at least you can repurpose this as a SpongeBob case with a few licks of paint. $85
Notebook too thick? Or too thin? What if you could take that weighty-but-comprehensive paper pad and split it into smaller sections as needed? That’s the Magnote, a set of three paper notebooks that combine – Transformers-style – into one big book using magnets in their spines. What’s more, those notebooks can contain day-planner pages, plain, ruled or gridded paper, and they’re the same size as an iPad mini for perfectly pairing paper and pixels. From $29.
Monarch iPad-holding plane seat
U.K.-based budget airline Monarch has a new plane seat. It doesn’t recline (thank God), and offers more space for passengers. There’s also a bungee-cord pouch instead of those filth-harboring pockets, but the best part is the tablet holder up top, so you can slip in your iPad for in-flight movies on a Retina screen. Monarch
Add a proper shutter button to your iPhone with the snappgrip, a Bluetooth-enabled controller that slots onto an iPhone 5/s and adds not just a shutter release, but a pair of zoom rockers and a mode dial. The USB-charged gadget has it’s own companion app, and lots of third-party apps work with it. $70
Braven Mira speaker
Braven makes some of my favorite Bluetooth speakers, and the Mira looks like another winner – 10-hour battery, built-in speakerphone, proper control buttons for play/pause and volume, and splashproof. But the really neat part is the fold-out hook for hanging it up in kitchens, bathroom, gardens and workshops. The hook also doubles as a kickstand for safer spaces. $99
Hard Graft Cube Tote
Canvas and leather, brought to a carry-anything tote bag. The Cube Tote gets its name from the magnetic closure that gathers its flaps together and tidies them up top, but the bag opens out to carry your groceries, your BBQ gear or — well, or anything: It’s a big, open-topped bag. The best part? Those wide straps that sit comfy on your shoulders. $340
Lightweight, good, inexpensive. Pick two. Wait, no – pick three. The £150 Stealth from Trekkertent is like a luxury tarp. It weighs just 590 grams (20 ounces). Packs to a 30 x 10 cm roll (a foot long, like a fat sub) but includes a flysheet (that can stand alone) with sit-up room plus an inner mesh tent with "bathtub" base. $252
Yes, a keychain made from a bike chain. An actual bike chain. The TIK takes links from a Yaban SLA, a chain with “hollow, chromium carbide-coated steel pins and cro-moly steel plates,” and grafts your keys onto its pins. The result is a set of keys that weighs less than the keys alone.
You select the correct key blanks when you buy a set, and then head down to your local locksmith and have her dupe your own keys onto them. Or you could just grab a Dremel and make your own today. From $35