(You're reading all posts by Leander Kahney)

About Leander Kahney

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.

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

Once you get your hands on the Apple Watch, you’ll never let it go

Trust me, you'll want one. Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Trust me, you’ll want one. Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

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.

Read the rest of this post »

Shatterproof and water-resistant? Full iPhone 6 spec list contains surprises

iphone 6 back cover (1)

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.

Read the rest of this post »

Apple takes security to highest level for Sept. 9 event

CUPERTINO, California -- What's inside the mystery building Apple is fabricating for its big September 9 event?

Apple is taking security for its big Sept. 9 event to a new level. Phones are being searched, cameras are covered in special tape and everyone is “super-paranoid.” Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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.

Read the rest of this post »

iPhone 6 components are readily available

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.”

Read the rest of this post »

Spoiler alert: For some Apple fans, rumors ruin product launches

Photo:

For some people, rumors and leaks about Apple’s upcoming products ruin the inevitable reveal. Photo: Neerav Bhatt/Flickr CC

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.

Read the rest of this post »

Lust List: Road-ripping camping gear edition

Photos: Kahney family archives and Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Can hardware incubator Highway1 be the new Silicon Valley startup garage?

A visit to the Highway 1 incubator in San Francisco, Ca. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

“It can be polka dots one day or an image the next,” says Lara Grant, a fashion technologist working on an LED-powered handbag at San Francisco hardware incubator Highway1. Photo: 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.”

Read the rest of this post »

Google reveals its real face: unfocused, unoriginal and a little bit evil

Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web

Wednesday’s Google I/O keynote offers a window into the search giant’s world. Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web

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.

Read the rest of this post »

State of the Hackintosh 2014: A peek into a shadowy subculture of Apple fans

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.”

Read the rest of this post »

Lifestyles of the rich and famous independent software developer

Victor Broido, COO at DigiDNA, talks about his work and lifestyle during AltConf in San Francisco June 3, 2014. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

DigiDNA COO Victor Broido is living the dream — and talking it up at AltConf 2014. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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.)

Read the rest of this post »