R.I.P. Muhammad Ali

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Muhammed Ali in Apple's Think Different campaign.
Muhammed Ali in Apple's Think Different campaign.
Photo: Apple

Godammit. I really loved Muhammad Ali. My all-time greatest hero. A great athlete, funny as shit, and a giant of a man because he gave a shit about something other than himself. He stood up for what he believed in, and he shone a light on all kinds of injustice. Rest in peace Ali.

Check out the crazy attention to detail at Apple’s new San Francisco store

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Apple_Store_Union_Square_exterior_side

Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Look carefully at the cracks in the sidewalk around Apple’s new flagship store in San Francisco. They all line up with architectural elements of the store.

Some are continuous with the metal panels on the exterior walls. Some line up with the windows, and the huge glass panels that make up the 42-foot high front door. Some of the cracks are continuous with the stone floor tiles inside the store.

In turn, the joints in the floor line up with panels on the wall, which line up with the lighting panels on the ceiling.

In fact, most of the lines in the store — the edges of the glass balconies, cutouts in the middle of the tables, the edges of shelves and drawers — all line up with other elements of the store.

Some of these lines run continously from the sidewalk in front of the store all the way through to the tree-lined plaza in the back. It’s a bit crazy, when you examine it, and very, very difficult to pull off.

Lust List: Moshi’s Avanti headphones are light and stylish [Reviews]

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Moshi's Avanti headphones are easy to wear and easy to carry. They sound [pretty great too.
Moshi's Avanti headphones are easy to wear and easy to carry. They sound [pretty great too.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Avanti On-Ear Headphones by Moshi

I like the convenience of carrying earbuds in my pocket, but I’ve never liked jamming them in my ears. I love the sound of full-size headphones, but not the bulk.

I’ve discovered a happy middle ground. Moshi’s new $200 Avanti On-Ear Headphones are lightweight, folding headphones that sit atop your ears, not in them or over them.

They’re like a pair of soft pillowy hamburger buns that sound pretty darn great.

Ditch your old router, Eero is the new king of Wi-Fi routers [Review]

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In a recent survey, Apple's soon-to-disappear AirPort was ranked the most popular Wi-Fi router.
In a recent survey, Apple's soon-to-disappear AirPort was ranked the most popular Wi-Fi router.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

I’ve seen the future of Wi-Fi. It’s called Eero. It comes in a pack of three, costs an arm and a leg, but boy is it worth it.

Eero is a slick system of mesh-connected routers that blanket your whole house in Wi-Fi. Eero promises to eliminate dead spots, make restarts redundant, and offer blazing speeds from the basement to the attic.

In my tests, Eero performs as advertised. After years of Wi-Fiheadaches, and an Apple Time Capsule that barely worked, we now have fast and reliable Wi-Fi all over the house.

Why I love both of Amazon’s new Echo smart speakers [Reviews]

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The Amazon Echo Tap is the portable, battery-powered member of the smart speaker family.
The Amazon Echo Tap is the portable, battery-powered member of the smart speaker family.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo Tap

Ask Amazon’s Echo smart speaker “How much does the Earth weigh?” and she’ll rattle off the answer in pounds. It takes about a full minute and is genuinely amusing. It’s just one of many surprises up Echo’s sleeve (see this crazy list of Echo Easter Eggs on Reddit). It proves she is by far the best computer you can talk to. Sorry Siri.

And now there are two new members of Amazon’s smart speaker family, both with significant advantages. I love them both, with a couple of caveats.

Why Jony Ive rides in a chauffeured Bentley

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This is the luxurious interior of the Bentley Mulsanne, Jony Ive's chauffeur-driven car.
This is the luxurious interior of the Bentley Mulsanne, Jony Ive's chauffeur-driven car.
Photo: Bentley Motors

The striking thing about Motor Trend‘s piece on the rumored Apple car is all the talk of the “user experience.”

The various auto designers and experts interviewed by Motor Trend speculate that Apple will try to redefine the car “experience.” They talk about stuff like acoustics, and look and feel, rather than specs like miles per gallon or engine torque.

They predict that Apple will bring a better “user experience” to the car of the future, not just a better physical product.

This reminded me of interviewing Apple’s designers for my Jony Ive book. They explained that the design group takes exactly this approach when thinking about new Apple products. Instead of starting with chip speeds or screen resolutions, they begin by asking each other how the new product should make the user feel.

And thinking about this made me realize why Jony Ive has a chauffeur. It’s not because he’s a one percenter. It’s about Project Titan, Apple’s future car.

Why the departure of Apple designer Daniel Coster matters

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Daniel Coster, fourth from left, is leaving Apple's vaunted industrial design team.
Daniel Coster, fourth from left, is leaving Apple's vaunted industrial design team.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The departure of veteran Apple industrial designer Daniel Coster is significant because, like the Mafia, no one ever leaves Jony Ive’s design studio.

Coster, a core member of Apple’s design team for more than 20 years, is perhaps only the third member of Ive’s tight-knit industrial design group to leave in almost two decades. And one of the others died.

What Apple product launches say about Tim Cook’s leadership

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Tim Cook Apple March 21 event
Under Tim Cook's leadership, Apple is innovating in a new way.
Photo: Apple

A cynic would call it greenwashing, but the most surprising thing about Tim Cook’s “Loop you in” event was what it said about how he’s running Apple.

When Steve Jobs was around, Apple’s product events were about the products, and little else. Yeah, Jobs would often start with corporate issues, but he usually boasted about how the company was absolutely crushing it.

By contrast, the first 25 minutes of Monday’s event — almost half of the hour-long presentation — focused on things only tangentially related to Apple products. Cook and his lieutenants discussed government snooping, privacy, recycling, the environment, renewable energy, creating platforms for sustaining customers’ health — and even protecting Chinese yaks.

Jobs used to touch on issues like these, but under Cook, they’ve taken center stage. Cook has turned Apple’s product events into showcases for corporate responsibility.

Nyne’s big, bulky speaker is a boombox for the Bluetooth age [Review]

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Nyne's new boombox is the biggest Bluetooth speaker we've ever seen. It's called -- what else? -- the Rock!
Nyne's new boombox is the biggest Bluetooth speaker we've ever seen. It's called -- what else? -- the Rock!
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

As a teenager in the 80s, I love a good boombox. The bigger, the better, like Radio Raheem’s.

That’s why I was keen to check out Nyne’s new Bluetooth Boombox, called — what else — the Rock. It’s the biggest Bluetooth speaker I’ve ever seen, promising to put out 65 watts of raw music power.

But does it rock — or not?

Beefy iPad Pro case is worth its weight in protection [Reviews]

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As a working iPad, the Pro needs protection like Gumdrop's DropTech Case for iPad Pro.
As a working iPad, the Pro needs protection like Gumdrop's DropTech Case for iPad Pro.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: DropTech protective case for Apple iPad Pro by Gumdrop

Apple charges a whopping $599 to repair a broken screen on an iPad Pro. With its 13-inch screen, yeah, the Pro has a lot of glass, but 600 bucks is nearly as much as it costs to buy a new one. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.

So I’m grateful that my iPad Pro is safely ensconced in the equivalent of a big, rubbery safety blanket. Gumdrop’s DropTech Case looks like a flattened tractor tire, with big ridges on the back for maintaining a grip. It’s not elegant by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m confident it’ll save me a trip to the Genius Bar.