App Watch: Stargazing, light-leaking and book-recommending



App Watch Sep 01 2014

This Labor Day holiday we take things easy. Whether stargazing with Starwalk 2, taking a walk and remembering the hot spots along the way with Rego, getting a recommendation for a good read with Bookvibe, or adding so retro-style light leaks to our photos with a new set of Prolost Lightroom presets.


If you follow at least a few half-intelligent folks on Twitter, Bookvibe will help you out with recommendations for what to read next. It’s a service that monitors your Twitter feed and winkles out any mentions of books, sending an occasional list via email. Sometimes it’s tricked by a mention of something that sounds like a book, or presents a subject of Twitter ridicule (or Twittercule) as a recommendation, but overall Bookvibe is solid, and I’ve found a few titles from it. $Free


Rego bookmarks places. Add them from a map, from an address search, from your contacts or even by pulling in location data from a photo in your Camera Roll. Make collections, view your places on a map, add stars and customs map-pins, and share. A companion website pulls in Foursquare info and other details. Never forget a place again. $5


UpTime adds every keyboard shortcut you could need in an iPad browser. If you ever find yourself hitting a desktop shortcut on a keyboard hooked up to your iPad, and nothing happens, then you need UpTime, a simple iPad browser that can be driven entirely from the keyboard. Scrolling, searching, tab-switching and even Tweeting can all be done without once touching the screen, and it’s just $4

Eye-Fi IFTTT Channel

Your Eyefi card can now send photos straight from your camera to, well, to anywhere. Evernote, Flickr, Tumblr, OneNote… Even your Great Aunt Flo. Thanks to the new Eyefi IFTTT channel, any photos that’s uploaded from your Wi-Fi-capable card to the Eyefi cloud can be routed to any IFTTT destination that accepts photos. $Free

Jolicloud Drive photo editing

Jottacloud’s Drive web app pulls together all your cloud services into one beautifully-designed place, including Jottacloud’s own secure, secret, Norway-based version of Dropbox. Now you can take any photo from any of these services (Dropbox or Flickr, say), and edit them right there in the browser. $Free


Quotebook is a place to collect quotes and other text snippets. The Universal app integrates with your browser, your Mr. Reader RSS reader, IFTTT and even with Instapaper’s own highlights feature, and turns those snippets into searchable, organizable quotes. New in v3.0 is auto-lookup of sources (you get an icon and description for authors) and x-callback URL support to work with apps like Drafts. $5


Prolost Light Leaks for Lightroom

When Lightroom Mobile accepts custom presets, there will be no need for any other photo editing app on iOS. Until then, you can switch back to the desktop to use things like Prolost’s fantastic Light Leak presets, a set of 480 different faux light leaks, 120 from each of four different vintage-camera styles. Just install, run your mouse over the list on the left of your Lightroom screen and hit the one that catches your fancy. Next up: a plugin that fakes leaving the lens cap on for the entire roll of 36 photos. $30

Perspective icons

Perspective icons aren’t an app. They’re a bunch of icons to use in your OS X Omnifocus, but they’re so beautiful, simple and flat that you might want to use them elsewhere, too. For instance, I plan to add them to Scrivener so I don’t have to use the hideous 1990s-era stock icons included with that otherwise amazing app. Perspective icons come retina ready, and cost $10

Starwalk 2

Starwalk 1 was the app for showing off your iPad back when it first launched. Starwalk 2 adds new views and graphics to the stargazing guide. Hold your iPad up to the night sky and see a map of the stars overlaid on the sky using motion-tracking. You can now see a 3-D view of heavenly bodies from any point-of-view, and add satellites, deep-space objects and more via IAP. So put that bourbon down and use the nighttime for something more useful instead. $3

Gadget Watch: Cameras, cameras and even more frikkin’ cameras



Gadget Watch: Aug. 29, 2014

Cameras, cameras, cameras. German photographic trade show Photokina is just around the corner, and the big names are outing their latest models before the news pipes get completely clogged with the tangled hair and soap scum of new releases. So this week we have a bunch of cool new cameras and accessories, including a GoPro harness for your pooch, along with the usual mix of gadgets designed to make you want to part with your cash.

Fujifilm X30

An update to the already-discontinued X20, this compact swaps the old optical viewfinder for a hi-res electronic finder, gets a bigger tilting rear LCD and adds a control wheel around the lens. It keeps the amazing X-Trans II sensor and 28-112mm (equivalent) ƒ2-2.8 zoom, and packs a new Classic Chrome film mode. I want this so hard. $600

Evernote Pfeiffer Collection

Evernote’s Pfeiffer Collection is not – as you might hope – a range of productivity tools designed by 1980s actress and icon Michelle Pfeiffer. It is instead a set of desk tidies, made from various materials including walnut and “bright.” They’re intended to hold old-school detritus like paperclips and pens, plus modern junk like iPhones, SIM cards and even an iPad. $106

Pentax K-S1

The best part of Pentax’s new mid-level K-S1 is the strip of pulsing LEDs on the hand grip. Pentax missed a chance to build the “Knight Rider of cameras” with its choice of green over red LEDs, but still. This pointless addition will flash to count down the self timer, and the light around the shutter release will turn red in video mode. $750

Bluelounge Soba

Bluelounge’s Soba is a cable-routing kit that will wrangle wayward wires, keeping them tidy in a “Vortex” tube and letting them exit where you need them. The kit comes with 10 feet of zip-closed tubing, a y-splitter and mounting caps (brackets). I have one here and ready to test, but it looks like there’s some effort involved in planning it all out, so maybe I’ll just have one more coffee first… $25

GoPro Fetch

Of course GoPro’s dog harness is called the Fetch. Of course. The Fetch straps onto the dog’s back, secured around its shoulders, chest and belly, and the camera can be mounted up top or down below. This is probably my favorite product of the year so far, and the photo above is definitely the best product shot for 2014. If I had a dog I’d be out with one of those playing frisbee right now. $70

Olympus Pen E-PL7

Olympus makes the best Micro Four Thirds bodies right now (and that’s coming from someone who owns a great Panasonic). This one’s even better, with a 180-degree flip-screen that activates “selfie mode” when fully extended (there's a shutter button on the touchscreen), built-in Wi-Fi to share that selfie to your iPhone, a 16MP sensor and a 14-42 mm (equivalent) ƒ3.5-5.6 kit lens. From $700.


Moleskine Livescribe notebook

Moleskine’s newest notebook has an almost-invisible dot pattern on the pages that makes it work with your Livescribe pen. The pen has a camera in its nose that tracks your every stroke and scribble and sends it all to your iPhone or iPad as editable text, creating a perfect digital copy of your paper notes. Now you can continue your Moleskine habit, but with added digitization. $30

iPhone magnetic lens plates

Love: accessory iPhone lenses. Hate: Those stupid stick-on metal rings the lenses’ magnets stick to.

The answer is the new magnetic plate that now ships with every set of lenses sold by Photojojo. The plates, color-coded to your iPhone, stick over the entire glass strip at the top rear of the iPhone 5/s, so you can use these lenses and still get the iPhone in a case. Bonus – you can slide the lens out of the way when not in use. From $20.

Schiller X1

This Schiller water bike is to the pedalo what a sweet S-Works road racer is to a recumbent bike. It’s slick, speedy and way overpriced. A Gates carbon drive turns a NuVinci transmission, which turns two propellers. You can even use the handlebars to steer the thing, and it’s only $6,500.

Evernote Business Notebook will thrill rich kindergartners


It's worth buying this book just for the pattern embossed on the cover. Photos Charlie Sorrel -- Cult of Mac
It's worth buying this book just for the pattern embossed on the cover. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

What’s the difference between a businessperson and a regular person? According to Evernote, a businessperson has secrets, whereas a regular person is happy to share everything. This somewhat cynical take is a pretty good model of the world, and it is embodied in the Evernote Business Notebook, a “collabo” with Moleskine that lets you snap/scan a photo of your pages into Evernote, and selectively share the result.

Let’s take a look.

Kobo’s waterproof e-reader is a big-screen beauty


The new Kobo H2O might be the best e-reader, like, ever. Photo Kobo.
The new Kobo H2O might be the best e-reader, like, ever. Photo courtesy Kobo

If you live in the Southern hemisphere, I have some great news for you – there’s a new waterproof e-reader coming out, the Kobo Aura H2O, that will ship in October, just in time for your summer.

For everyone else, this upscale reading gadget looks like a great Christmas gift.

Clickety keyboard without the clack is perfect for stealth missions


Beautiful and functional. And no frikkin wires. Photo Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
The Matias Secure Pro is beautiful and functional. And no frikkin' wires. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you like mechanical keyboards, but those inconsiderate jerks in your office or home can’t stand the clackety racket they make, then you might consider something that uses “tactile” keys instead, which look and work like clicky keys — only without the click.

And if you’re into wireless keyboards, but you don’t like the NSA van parked outside snooping the connection and recording your keystrokes, you might like something with an encrypted wireless connection.

Well, guess what? We have just the thing. The Matias Secure Pro, a tactile keyboard with 128-bit AES Encryption.