Lust List: Zens Power Bank is a great little Apple Watch battery [Review]

Zens Apple Watch Power Bank
The Apple Watch Power Bank by Zens is a handy little battery pack for your timepiece.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Apple Watch Power Bank by Zens

Most external batteries for the Apple Watch are BYOC — Bring Your Own Cable — and have bulky winding systems for tucking the cable away.

Not the compact Apple Watch Power Bank from Zens, perhaps the most portable external battery pack on the market.

Mystery vans likely making 3-D road maps for Apple’s self-driving car

Mysterious unmarked vans roaming the Bay Area have been linked to Apple, and are likely generating detailed 3D maps for robot cars.
Mysterious unmarked vans roaming the Bay Area have been linked to Apple, and are likely generating detailed 3D maps for robot cars.
Photo: Business Insider/Stephen Smith

Some new data-gathering vehicles are roaming the streets of San Francisco. They’re unmarked, but are suspected to be Apple’s. They are laden with sensors, but what kind of data are they gathering, and what for?

Experts contacted by Cult of Mac say the mystery vans are next-generation mapping vehicles capable of capturing VR-style, 360-degree street photos. Plus, the vans use Lidar to create extraordinarily precise “point clouds,” a prerequisite for self-driving cars. Mesh those two databases together and you’ve laid the groundwork for an autonomous vehicle’s navigation system.

Case maker talks secret iPhone CAD files, Chinese intrigue [Podcast interview]

Veteran case maker Tim Hickman talks about iPhone 7 leaks out of China.
Veteran case maker Tim Hickman talks about iPhone 7 leaks out of China.
Photo illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The market for iPhone cases is worth billions of dollars. The first manufacturer with a case that fits a new device — say, the iPhone 7 — can make a killing in the days following an Apple launch.

For this week’s episode of Kahney’s Korner, I talked with industry veteran Tim Hickman, CEO of Gumdrop Cases. Over the years, he’s tried all kinds of tricks and strategies in the race to be first to market with new iPhone cases — including making thousands of cases that turned out to be wrong.

This time around, Hickman has received several CAD files from mysterious sources in China that supposedly show the exact dimensions of the upcoming iPhone 7. Will he bet his company’s fortunes on these files of dubious origin? Let’s find out.

Check out these great sketchnotes from Apple’s WWDC

Apple's 2016 WWDC Keynote. Sketchnote 1 of 2
Apple's 2016 WWDC Keynote. Sketchnote 1 of 2
Photo: Andy McNally/@andymcnally

There’s nothing more cryptic than someone else’s notes. Not so Scott McNally’s.

McNally, a senior UI design consultant from Memphis, Tenn., created several great “sketchnotes” of the talks at Apple’s WWDC.

Sketchnotes are a form of visual thinking that combine notes and sketches. They’re increasingly popular, inspiring an army of aficionados and books by noted practitioners. The Core77 design site has a whole Sketchnotes section that’s worth exploring.

McNally and kindly allowed us to reprint his WWDC sketchnotes. Check them out:

Everything from WWDC 2016 worth getting excited about

There's some exciting stuff at WWDC.
There's some exciting stuff at WWDC.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Although WWDC is a developer event, Apple’s keynote today was chockablock with features for end-users. It came thick and fast, with updates for watches, TVs, phones and computers.

There’s lots to unpack. Some of it was ho-hum. Siri on the Mac? Meh. A new app called Breathe? To do what exactly — remind you to inhale?

But there was tons of great stuff. Here are the features big and small that we’re most excited about.