(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
There are a lot of Apple skeptics out there. CNBC thinks the new iPhone 6 models are nothing special, and dis the Apple Watch because it doesn’t work with Android. Watch Cult of Mac editor and publisher Leander Kahney set them straight in the video above. See also our report card for Tim Cook’s first three years as CEO.
CUPERTINO, Calif. — This is the first group photo of Apple’s new Industrial Design team — the men and women behind the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and a long string of other hit products.
The group is super-secretive and rarely appears in public together. In fact, they’ve only been pictured once before. This picture was taken at the end of Tuesday’s launch event, when many of the journalists had been ushered out. In the middle is Jony Ive and the team’s latest and highest-profile hire, star designer Marc Newson.
The Industrial Design team is Apple’s idea factory. This is where Apple’s innovation comes from. They design and develop all of Apple’s products, and many of them were working at Apple before Steve Jobs returned in 1997.
CUPERTINO, Calif. — One of the big questions about the Apple Watch is how Apple will prevent thieves from ripping it off your wrist and using it to clear your bank account.
Because the Apple Watch is connected to Apple Pay — making purchases as easy as a quick swipe — what’s to stop miscreants from abusing it?
The answer wasn’t addressed at Tuesday’s unveiling, but an Apple staffer at the hands-on demo told me how the watch will be protected against fraud.
CUPERTINO, Calif. — The iPhone 6 is about the only phone that can make your iPhone 5 look fat and schlumpy.
The first thing you notice when you get your hands on one is that the iPhone 6 is pleasing to the touch: The aluminum feels great, the screen is big, bright and beautiful. This is the total package, possibly the best smartphone ever made, and definitely the best in class. I’m not ashamed to say I tried to sneak out of Apple’s demo tent with one.
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