(You're reading all posts by Leander Kahney) Leander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.
About Leander Kahney
CUPERTINO, Calif. — The Apple Watch doesn’t look like it comes from some distant future, where cars drive themselves and we never have to go through airport security again. Instead, it’s clearly the best smartwatch Apple could design based on knowledge gleaned from today’s experts — including those in arcane arts like metallurgy and horology.
And you will absolutely want one.
It may not look like it yet, but after trying out the Apple Watch, I’m convinced it will become an essential piece of kit – as important as your iPhone.
Bad news for anyone in the cellphone repair business!
A full list of the iPhone 6 specs we’ve received from a source in China says not only is the iPhone 6 water-resistant but that the screen is shatterproof.
Not “scratch-resistant” or even “scratch-proof,” but “shatter proof,” which suggests the new iPhone is nearly indestructible and could put a few repair shops out of business.
As far as we can tell, the spec list below is the most comprehensive list of features published to date.
With less than 24 hours to go, security precautions for Apple’s big press event Tuesday have been taken to unprecedented levels.
Apple has wired the entire event auditorium — the Flint Center for the Performing Arts — with a brand new, state-of-the-art security system to lock down access and prevent leaks.
The auditorium is crawling with 24-hour security personnel. Anyone working at the massive show, from caterers to construction staff and technicians, is required to submit their phones to Apple’s security team. The phones’ cameras are being covered in special tamper-proof tape, which changes color if removal is attempted.
“If it changes color, we’ll be fired on the spot,” said one person who is working at the show but asked to remain anonymous.
Want to buy some iPhone 6 parts?
To prove he had an actual iPhone 6 screen in his possession, a repair company owner who contacted Cult of Mac took this photograph, which confirms the component's size.
iPhone 6 screen
This iPhone 6 screen measures 4.7 inches diagonally, the widely rumored size of the "smaller" smartphone that will be unveiled Tuesday by Apple.
iPhone 6 LCD front
We were offered this iPhone 6 screen -- which is "definitely" made from sapphire glass says the seller -- for $500.
iPhone 6 LCD back
The seller -- a repair shop owner -- said we could pay for the screen on delivery to make sure it was genuine. He was going to throw in the cables too.
iPhone 6 hard case
This is a non-functioning iPhone 6 dummy the repair shop owner made for a U.S. case manufacturer. The accessory maker wants to get the jump on its competitors by putting iPhone 6 cases on store shelves as quickly as possible.
Rear shell of iPhone 6
This is the back of the new iPhone 6. It is also available from Apple's Chinese suppliers -- for a price.
This is the new sapphire glass that will front the iPhone 6. This picture was sent to the repair shop owner from his suppliers in China. He hasn't tested the screen for strength but sincerely hopes it can be broken. "More business for me," he said.
iPhone 6 displays
Another picture from China showing the iPhone 6 screen assembly compared to the iPhone 5c. This is the smaller iPhone 6 (4.7-inch diagonal screen), but it still dwarfs the current iPhone.
iPhone 6 displays
Another view of the iPhone 6 screen compared to the current iPhone 5, this time showing the back.
Charging dock flex cable
The remaining pictures in this gallery are sent from China showing the various repair components that are readily available.
Sensor flex cables like these are easy to come by.
True Tone flash cable
A look at the front and back of the updated True Tone flash for the iPhone 6 with four LEDs.
The iPhone 6 home buttons come in gold, silver and space gray.
iPhone 6 home button
A backside view of the iPhone 6's home button cable.
Speaker assemblies for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.
Touch ID flex cables
This is the wiring magic that makes Touch ID possible.
This Lightning port flex cable is ready to go into a brand new (or broken) iPhone 6.
Apple’s iPhone 6 is supposed to be a big secret in this part of the world, but in China, parts are readily available.
Although the iPhone 6 hasn’t been announced and won’t be in stores for a couple of weeks, everything from the new aluminum case to the sapphire-covered LCD screen is available on the Chinese gray market.
Cult of Mac has been contacted by a U.S. smartphone repair company that offered to sell us a bunch of iPhone 6 components — almost enough to assemble our own device.
“I can get all the parts except the motherboards are very rare and very expensive to purchase,” said the owner of the repair company, who asked to remain anonymous. “The display assemblies alone are $500 per piece right now.”
The repair company owner claims iPhone 6 parts — especially for the upcoming 4.7-inch model — are readily available in China from suppliers to the repair industry.
“All the parts needed for repairs they acquire shortly before release — this is normal,” he said. “Usually they have no need to sell the parts because there’s no demand this early but I’ve bought samples from them … so I can buy parts in the future.”
Many people routinely avoid spoilers for TV shows and movies, but some also steer clear of clues about Apple’s upcoming product announcements.
Next Tuesday, Apple is expected to reveal two new iPhones and an iWatch. While the long-rumored wearable remains shrouded in mystery, many details of the next-gen iPhones are all but confirmed, thanks to an avalanche of rumor reports and parts leaks. So comprehensive are the leaks, some have even managed to build a working iPhone 6 from parts — and the device is still weeks away from shipping to customers.
But some Apple fans remain blissfully ignorant of the details.
Road trips are great for testing your nerves — and your gear.
I took the Kahney family on an epic road trip across the American West this summer, visiting a half-dozen of the United States' most spectacular national parks. We covered thousands of miles, with six of us crammed into a Land Rover LR3 that had overstuffed storage units strapped to its top and back.
We weren't prepared for the vast distances, but we were prepared for the torrential monsoons and the blazing heat. And somehow we never lost our sense of humor: Here's my son at Zion Canyon in Utah, goofing around for a cruel joke pic to send to his grandparents ("We nearly lost one!").
Having the proper gear helped. Here's a rundown of the best camping and outdoors gear we road-tested during our month-long trip.
Land Rover LR3
The Land Rover LR3 is the best car I've ever owned. It's big, fast and very, very capable. My wife hates it. She calls it the “Assholemobile” because it’s the U.K. version of a Hummer, but I love this luxe SUV.
It's a great vehicle for a big family like ours (we have four kids). Ours is a seven-seater, with a third row that folds up from the rear storage area. The cabin is light and airy with huge, widescreen windows. It has command seating, which is great for lording it over other vehicles on the road.
It feels big and safe. It's got gadgets galore, from the crazy-sophisticated, computer-controlled air suspension to a console icebox for keeping your sodas cool. The superior sound system rattles the windows. The big V8 is so quiet you can barely hear it, yet it hauls the beast onto the freeway like a 747 taking off — even fully loaded.
We used to own a Discovery II — it was, alas, a bottomless money pit — but the LR3 is much improved reliability-wise now that Land Rover has come under Ford's ownership. Shocker: Late-model Landys (approximately $12,000 to $25,000 used) are somewhat reliable. Even the car snobs at Jalopnik call it "shockingly good." At 100,000 miles, everything works perfectly except the seat warmers. This is partly thanks to the previous owner, who rushed it to the dealer every time an interior bulb blew. At 100K, the LR3 is just getting broken in.
Primus Firehole 100
A camp stove needs to be reliable and tough. For this trip, we ditched our trusty old Coleman stove for the Primus Firehole 100. We needed a bigger stove that could feed six hungry campers.
The Firehole 100 is pricey ($169.95), but it's bigger than most and solidly built. Its two burners put out 24,000 BTUs — enough to boil two big pots of water in a few minutes. The fuel line is built-in (we've lost detachable fuel lines in the past) and the burner knobs are recessed to stop them from snagging packs. There's a big plastic handle for easy carrying, and the wind breaks are magnetic and double as prep areas. But the thing I liked best? The piezo igniter worked every time!
REI Hobitat 6 tent
REI's Hobitat 6 tent is a spacious car-camping tent that's surprisingly quick and easy to set up and break down. My teenage son managed to put it up on his own the first night working with a feeble flashlight. After that he became very proficient at putting it and pulling it down, though a 10-minute job became a five-minute one with some assistance from his siblings. Once up, the Hobitat was big and sturdy. We never staked it down or used guy wires, but it stood firm in several thunderstorms and didn't leak a drop.
Unfortunately, the Hobitat 6 is no longer available, but REI's Kingdom 6 ($439) is very similar.
Jacaru Summer Breeze hat
My mother brought me Jacaru's Summer Breeze hat as a gift during a trip to Australia. I didn't like it at first — it's too cowboy — but over the years it's grown on me. It's proven perfect for almost every outdoor occasion, from grueling hikes to boozy afternoon naps after a day swilling the old amber nectar by the river. It's pretty lightweight and its wide brim is good for keeping the sun's rays off my pasty British skin.
Made of cowhide and PVC mesh, it's nearly indestructible. It's been trampled, chucked and swept down the river, but it shows few signs of wear. The Jacaru Summer Breeze hat is available by mail order for $69.00 AUD (about $64).
Waze maps app
At one point during our trip, Apple's Map app sent us 100 miles down a backroad only to have us do a U-turn at a gas station and go back exactly the way we had come. Enraged, I immediately downloaded Waze, a reliable mapping app that includes a killer feature — crowd-sourced traffic alerts.
The free Waze app (available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone) allows other drivers in the area to report things like police, accidents, stopped cars and traffic jams. I found it spooky reliable. The app beeped and chirped whenever we approached a speed trap or a vehicle stopped on the shoulder. There were no false positives and directions were solid and reliable. Waze even has a ton of features I didn't use, like crowdsourced cheap gas alerts and the ability to share drive times with contacts. The only thing I don't like is the cartoony icons.
Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
Camelbak might make the best bottles, but the best hydration packs are now made by Osprey. We had a trio of 3.0-liter Osprey Hydraulics Reservoirs ($36) for our hikes, and they proved reliable lifesavers.
The Osprey bladders have a stiff backing plate and rigid carrying handles, which makes filling and handling them easier than other bladders. They slipped easily into and out of our backpacks, and didn’t flop everywhere when being filled. The large cap also helped (and the oversize opening made cleaning and drying a snap). The bite valve works better than Camelbak's design, and the lockout is easy to use.
Camelbak Eddy bottle
After years of drinking out of squeezy cycling bottles during exercise, I really fell for Camelbak's Eddy bottle. Unlike cycling bottles, you don't have to tilt your head back to drink: You just bite on the Eddy's silicon valve and suck up water via the internal straw. There are no spills or side squirts and you can gulp down gallons at a time.
The Eddy is a well-designed water bottle: It's easier and faster than any I've ever tried. During our hikes, we had several Eddys to supplement our hydration packs. They proved durable and reliable. They're easy to refill, fit in most car cup holders, and have a handy carrying carabiner loop built into their lids. The bite valve is exposed and got dusty on hikes, but at $16, the Eddy can't be beat for hiking, trips to the gym or everyday drinking. I even water the houseplants with it.
100 percent free of BPA and BPS, the Eddy bottle comes in a range of colors, materials and sizes, from 400ml to 1 liter ($13 to $30).
Old Navy Swim-to-Street shorts
Dirt-cheap and lightweight, Old Navy's Swim-to-Street shorts are my new favorite summer attire. They're absolutely perfect for baking-hot weather.
Made of a 70/30 cotton/nylon mixture, the shorts dry out in no time. That makes them great for hiking rivers or swimming in lakes; they're dry long before you get back to the car. They have enough pockets to carry money, phone and keys, and are easy to wash in the sink and hang over a balcony to dry. $12 on sale.
Alite Mantis Chair
Alite's Mantis Chair is a lightweight, collapsible camp chair that's easy to transport and easy to sit in. It's made from elasticated aluminum tent poles, with four little legs that make the seat quite firm and sturdy. Its large nylon seat is surprisingly comfy for long periods of time.
The Mantis is easily dismantled and stuffed into the bottom of a day pack. It weighs just 1.6 pounds but will support up to 250 pounds. At $120 list, it's not cheap — but we picked up a broken one (which I repaired) at REI's semi-annual garage sale.
It goes without saying we took our iPhones with us everywhere. They were perfect travel companions, great for capturing family photos as well as wildlife — and sometimes both at once.
Photos: Kahney family archives and Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SAN FRANCISCO — The iPhone has changed the way we do everything, from finding a date to finding a meal. Now it’s about to change the way innovative hardware gets made.
With smartphones manufactured in such massive quantities, basic components like chips and batteries have become dirt cheap. Smartphones also allow hardware to be dumber by providing processing power and a big screen. Add 3-D printers (which ease prototyping), crowdfunding (which has shaken up financing) and Github (for sharing software), and you’ve got a smartphone-fueled manufacturing revolution in the making.
“It’s the cellphone peace dividend,” said Brady Forrest, a former venture capitalist who heads up Highway1, an “incubator” for hardware startups that launched a few months ago here in the city’s Mission district. “So many are being made, prices for components are plummeting.”
Google’s keynote presentation at its I/O developer’s conference today offered a revealing picture of the company itself: meandering, unfocused, copycat and just a little bit evil.
The two-hours-plus keynote had a lot of everything, from a new version of Android to new phones, smartwatches, TVs, cars, Chromebooks and big data — but much of it was deja vu from Apple’s WWDC two weeks ago.
Purple Mac Pro Hackintosh
Unlike Apple's newest Mac Pro, which looks like a trashcan, this replica 2013 Mac Pro is made out of an actual trash can. It even comes with a matching toilet brush.
Purple Mac Pro Hackintosh, back view
Made by hacker JuanLobo, the replica is quite capable, boasting outputs for HDMI (three), USB, Ethernet, DVI and digital audio.
Purple Mac Pro Hackintosh, the guts
It was hard work getting all the components to fit inside the trashcan. The fan cooling the graphics card had to removed and flipped over. Another challenge was squeezing in the special power supply.
Purple Mac Pro Hackintosh, custom 3D base
To make everything fit, JuanLobo created a 3D model of Mac Pro's base. "It provided another 30mm of space that was desperately needed," he wrote on the project description.
The actual trashcan
This is the $53 Lunar Waste Bin used to build the replica Mac Pro.
Water-cooled PowerMac G5
This is a water-cooled PowerMac G5. "I've always loved the style of the PowerMac G5 enclosure," wrote it's creator, MrAhlefeld.
The original PowerMac G5 case
"I've sourced a PowerMac G5 from a local MAC shop in my city," said MrAhlefeld. "It was dirt cheap, cause one of the handles on the to was bend out of shape."
PowerMac G5, filling the coolant
"I will be using some of my old parts as I love my Eheim 1048 pump, just can't beat it at those noise levels," explained MrAhlefeld.
PowerMac G5, the cooling system
The coolant loop includes three beefy fans to dissipate heat. The original G5 ran so hot it had nine fans.
The HackinBeast tower
In September 2012, the HackinBeast was one of the fastest Macs on the planet with a whopping GeekBench score of 36,918.
Based on a pair of Intel Xeon X5690 CPUs, the machine’s total cost was $4,500. That’s less than half of an equivalent 2012 Mac Pro, which would have cost more than $10,000 and topped out with a Geeekbench score of 25,000.
Cooling the HackinBeast
Here's the beast's crazy cooling system. It's loaded with LIQ-702 Liquid Coolant (UV Green).
The HackinBeast's logo. “It took me from January 2012 to Sept 2012 (a total of 9 months); the same amount of time it takes to have a child,” wrote its maker, PunkNugget.
This is a mini G5, approximately half the size of the original. It was hacked down to size by prolific hacker neilhart. "This has been four months of 'fun' and I end up with a high performance machine that runs with the best," he wrote.
Hackintosh mini server
This Mac mini case has been updated with up-to-date components.
With a Star Wars aesthetic, the G4 Stormtrooper Haswell has been updated with a speedy 17 processor. Painting the case was a lot of work. "I sanded all the parts, applied a coat of primer, sanded down, applied a second coat, painted it in black and white (two layers), sanded with steel wool, and finally applied three layers of varnish," said its creator, antonvodenitcharov.
G4 Stormtrooper, open
The G4 Stormtrooper is made for audio work. " I decided to built my dream Hackintosh," said antonvodenitcharov.
iMac G4 Hackintosh
Another iconic Mac, the iMac G4, gets an update from an Intel NUC mini-PC. "The project turned out great, and works terrific in early testing," wrote its creator, ersterhernd.
The Cube's tiny cooling loop
This is the cooling loop for the water-cooled Cube.
Powermac G4 Hackintosh_
"I got excited by the idea that i could have a crazy powerful machine in ANY case I wanted," wrote modder rayd. "So naturally I picked the best looking case ever to be made; the Powermac G4 MDD." The Powermac G4 MDD runs OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Not too shabby!
Brix Pro Hackintosh
"Extremely small form factor micro PC kits are gaining steam," writes Tony of TonyMacX86. "Since the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) was launched, many users have started using them as HTPCs, and even full desktop replacements."
Brix Pro Hackintosh Mini PC
Tony built his tiny Hackintosh from a Gigabyte Brix Pro mini-PC.
Hackintosh in an Xbox
There's no accounting for some people's taste. This modified Xbox 360 is based on a low-power Celeron processor. It's no speed demon, but serves well as a Mac-based media PC. "The idea was to make a small, cheap but yet capable machine, mainly intended for usage under a TV set," said its creator dj_aris.
These are the computers Apple never built, and never will — a water-cooled Cube; a teeny-tiny G5; a faux Mac Pro in a trash can.
Oh wait. Apple did the trash can, but not a genuine rubbish bin with a matching toilet brush, like the purple beauty in the Hackintosh gallery above.
These homemade Macs, built from non-Apple hardware, come in a thousand different shapes and sizes, built by legions of dedicated, ingenious hackers. In the nine years since Apple switched to Intel processors, a DIY subculture dedicated to building alternative Mac hardware has steadily grown. It’s not a strictly legal endeavor — Apple’s EULA forbids OS X from running on non-Apple hardware — but Cupertino turns a blind eye to hobbyists.
“You know what? We’ve never gotten anything from Apple other than a few anonymous employees asking for help :),” said Tony, who runs Hackintosh website tonymacx86.com, in an email to Cult of Mac. “It’s clear that tonymacx86.com doesn’t sell hardware. I would think that they’d understand that we are promoting the purchase of OS X and Apple peripherals and laptops, and have zero tolerance for piracy.”
SAN FRANCISCO — Victor Broido has an enviable lifestyle. He lives and works 200 yards from a sun-kissed beach. He often kitesurfs before work. Sometimes he surfs during work.
“It was my dream, as a kid, to surf for an hour before going to the office,” Broido said. “That’s my life. It’s happening right now.”
You might want to punch Broido in the face upon hearing this, but he’s the nicest, most self-deprecating guy. You can’t begrudge him anything. Plus, he worked to attain this way of life.
Broido and his colleagues run DigiDNA, an eight-person company based in Geneva, Switzerland, with a satellite office in Geraldton, a small city in remote Western Australia with a reputation for world-class water sports.
DigiDNA is one of thousands of small, independent software developers spawned by the mobile revolution. In 2013, Apple’s App Store revenues topped $10 billion, and a lot of that money flowed to small startups. There are small indies in every category, from games to databases. Lots of them flocked to San Francisco last week for Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. DigiDNA was a gold sponsor of last week’s AltConf, the alternative conference that ran parallel to Apple’s event. (DigiDNA has also sponsored Cult of Mac’s Cultcast in the past.)