(You're reading all posts by Leander Kahney)

About Leander Kahney

Leander KahneyLeander 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.

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

What if Apple’s Beats 1 turns out like BBC’s Radio 1?

DJ Zane Lowe

DJ Zane Lowe is heading up Apple’s Beats 1 live radio station. If it’s anything like the BBC’s Radio 1 — where Lowe made his name — it could be the great music discovery mechanism that digital music’s been looking for.

Please, please, please let Apple’s Beats 1 radio station be good.

Of all the announcements at Monday’s WWDC keynote, that’s the one I personally am most excited about. When it launches June 30, Beats 1 will be a 24-hour global radio station run by three DJs from three different cities around the world.

I’m a music junkie. I listen to music radio all the time, especially Radio 1, the BBC’s flagship radio station in London. To be honest, a lot of it sucks, but a lot of it doesn’t. It allows me — an expat Limey living in California — to keep tabs on Britain’s awesome musical culture.

And that’s what I’m hoping for — that Apple’s billions will privately fund a radio station that’s like the BBC’s publicly funded Radio 1 — on a global scale.

Apple hinted at such ambitions in the launch video played during Monday’s keynote. Done right, it could be the great music discovery mechanism the entire music industry’s been looking for.

Read the rest of this post »

Take a peek at the new version of OS X, El Capitan

el-capitan

Named after a giant granite cliff in Yosemite National Park, Apple’s latest version of OS X looks pretty good, with new ways to manage windows and better performance. Most importantly, it’s now easy to mute annoying audio in open browser windows!

Unveiled during the Monday morning keynote at Apple’s big WWDC programmers’ conference, Apple’s OS X version 10.11 is called “El Capitan.” It will be available to the public as a beta in July and a final release in the fall.

OS X El Capitan looks pretty nifty. It has several new window management features — including a split-screen mode — that make it productivity nirvana!

Here’s a recap of everything that was shown off Monday.

Read the rest of this post »

Our Facebook page has been hacked, and it’s impossible to get it back (Updated)

Cult of Mac's Facebook page has been taken over by hackers; and we're having trouble getting it back. It's impossible to contact Facebook.

Cult of Mac’s Facebook page has been taken over by hackers, and we’re having trouble getting it back.

Update:We’re back! We were finally able to get hold of someone at Facebook and get our Facebook page back. Many thanks to everyone who tried to help and offered support. We contacted someone at Facebook through a reader in Chicago, who happens to work for a big newspaper. He had a contact in Facebook’s media team and called her up. Within minutes I received an email asking for details, and two minutes after that it was fixed. In fact, it was shocking how quickly the situation was reversed, given that we’d been wrestling with it for almost 24 hours — many thanks to the Facebook insider who fixed the problem for us. However, my thesis still holds — Facebook is a locked vault. If you don’t know someone who knows someone who works there, you’re SOL. Oh, and no word on what happened. I asked them, but no reply as yet.

Much to our horror, Cult of Mac’s Facebook page got hacked Monday and turned into a spam site. The hackers have locked us out and we’re finding it impossible to regain control.

We’re trying desperately to contact Facebook, but the company offers no customer support whatsoever. There are no online submission forms, no support email addresses, and the phone automatically hangs up on you if you call. It’s impossible to raise a human being over there.

It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. But during this ongoing nightmare, I’ve discovered something important about Facebook and the kind of tech companies it represents.

Read the rest of this post »

Why Jony Ive’s promotion means more design, not less

Jony Ive and Steve Jobs talk during the first public FaceTime demo, which took place at WWDC 2010 in San Francisco.

Jony Ive and Steve Jobs talk during the first public FaceTime demo, which took place at WWDC 2010 in San Francisco.

Apple is such a strange and secretive company, the news that Jony Ive has been promoted is instead widely interpreted that he’s on his way out.

The Telegraph revealed Monday that Ive has been promoted to Chief Design Officer and freed from the day-to-day running of Apple’s Industrial Design studio.

This was greeted with speculation that Ive is actually stepping back. He’s taking it easy, many theorized, easing into semi-retirement. He’s already halfway out the door, and will soon move back to the United Kingdom, seems to be the consensus among pundits.

I think this is Kremlinology in the extreme. And a little perverse. Apple is often obtuse, and sometimes disingenuous or even dishonest, but I think this news should be taken at face value.

Apple has characterized the move as a promotion, and it is. Ive has been moved up into a rare position that gives him a ton of freedom. He now has the breathing room to be what he really wants to be: a pure designer.

In fact, the promotion allows him to take on an even stronger and more Steve Jobs-like role. We will see more design work from him, not less.

Read the rest of this post »

Everything we know about Richard Howarth, Apple’s new ‘badass’ head of industrial design

Richard Howarth is the new head of Apple's legendary Industrial Design studio.

Richard Howarth is the new head of Apple’s legendary Industrial Design studio.

This is Richard Howarth, Apple’s newly appointed vice president of industrial design, and the man who has to fill Jony Ive’s (calf-leather) shoes.

Ive has been promoted to chief design officer to do more “blue sky thinking,” leaving Howarth to run the legendary Industrial Design studio that has been Apple’s ideas factory and product foundry for more than two decades.

Howarth is no stranger to the studio. He’s worked there for 20 years, heading up the design of the iPod, iPhone and a string of MacBooks, among many other products. He’s African-born, London-educated and has been Ive’s second-in-command for some time, earning a reputation among colleagues as a “badass.”

Read the rest of this post »

Headaches await if you break your Apple Watch

Good luck trying to get a broken Apple Watch repaired. Replacements are as scarce as brand new ones.

Good luck trying to get a broken Apple Watch repaired. Replacements are as scarce as brand new ones.

What happens when you try to get a broken Apple Watch repaired? Not much of anything!

I know this because my Apple Watch broke last week and I have a repair order pending.

Luckily, the watch is covered by Apple’s AppleCare+ extended warranty, which covers accidental damage. It also offers two-day express replacement. No downtime without your new precious.

This would be great, but Apple doesn’t have any watches to replace it with. Apple’s watches are in such short supply, it might be Christmas before a replacement is available.

Read the rest of this post »

On eBay and Craigslist, every Apple Watch is pure gold

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The Apple Watch is a hot ticket on eBay and Craigslist as owners cash in on long wait times. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

With shipping dates for new Apple Watch orders slipping to July and beyond, some owners are selling their devices in hopes of turning a quick profit.

It seems to be working. There’s a brisk trade of Apple Watches on eBay and Craigslist, with some used devices fetching up to twice their retail value.

“I am wearing the watch as we speak,” said one seller, who identified himself as Ben and has a stainless steel Apple Watch on Craigslist for more than $200 over the list price.

“I’ve been wearing the Watch since I posted that hoping to get a small profit,” he said. “Part of me hoped nobody would offer me the extra few hundred because I really wanted to wear this gorgeous first-gen product! I haven’t worn a watch in 10 years.”

Read the rest of this post »

Meet the Stromer ST2, the best electric bike on the road

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The ST2 electric bike from Stromer will put a big smile on your face. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Oh. My. Gosh. The Stromer ST2 electric bike is so much fun, it should not be street legal.

Two weeks ago I had zero interest in electric bikes. I’ve ridden traditional bicycles my entire life and I love them. The very idea of an electric bike was repellent — even in a hilly city like San Francisco. Hills and exercise are the entire point.

Then I test-rode the Stromer ST2.

Three seconds in, I’m laughing like a madman as the ST2 takes off like a rocket. I spend the next 30 minutes flying up and over the hill where I live, laughing like a loon and having the time of my life.

Now I’m a convert. The ST2 is the best electric bike on the market. It performs like a champ, has a ton of high-tech features (including an iOS app), and actually looks cool and not ridiculous.

Best of all, it’s a screaming blast to ride.

Read the rest of this post »

In praise of the ambitious, indispensible Apple Watch

Apple Watch is a great early adopter device. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch is going to be a big, fat mainstream hit. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Most early reviews of the Apple Watch didn’t do it justice. It’s fine, they said, but not for everybody.

Come on! COME ON!!!!

The Apple Watch is the most exciting gadget for years. Its ambition is huge. It does a ton of stuff. It’s not some silly smartwatch — it’s a computer for your wrist. And I’m loving it.

Yeah, it has its quirks, and it’s far from perfect, but it’s a great vision, and it’s only going to get better!

It’s a ton of fun, and it works great — except when it doesn’t.

Read the rest of this post »

11 key takeaways from Apple’s latest blockbuster financial quarter

Photo: Jim Merithew

Apple Pay is coming to Best Buy. And that’s just one small piece of good news from Apple’s latest earnings call. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The iPhone 6 is a monster hit, China is now bigger than US for iPhone sales, and Tim Cook is delighted with the world’s response to the Apple Watch. And those are just some of the key insights from today’s Apple earnings call.

Here are the top 11 takeaways about Cupertino’s blockbuster second quarter, which once again set financial records.

Read the rest of this post »