(You're reading all posts by Staff Writer)

About Staff Writer

Staff Writer

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

Is Your Apple-Related Startup Insanely Great? Win A Showcase Spot At Macworld!

appleonapple_09

Far from the tree?

Is your iPhone app, awesome iPad case, or other Apple-related service so insanely great you know it’ll be the next big thing? Show it off to thousands of potential customers, journalists and investors at Macworld/iWorld by winning a spot in SF New Tech’s awesome “6 About to Break” event.

Cult of Mac is chuffed to be a media partner for the contest — we’ll be helping judge the best new apps, accessories, software and utilities tied to the Cupertino company, in the eternal quest for the next big thing.

Get a move on, though: The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. PST on Monday, March 3.

It’s free to enter and qualified entries include any newly released software, iOS applications, iPhone or iPad accessories, or Apple utilities launched in the past year. Winners will be announced Wednesday, March 12.

The six-pack stars of startup goodness get to showcase their wares at Macworld/iWorld 2014 with a 5-minute live demo plus a 5-minute Q&A in front of a live audience. Winners also receive a free kiosk at Macworld, free hosting from Rackspace and Kendo UI and Icenium full product licenses plus support from Telerik.

Bring it on!

6 About To Break contest by SF New Tech

Apple Experts Ask: Are Apple’s Best Days Ahead?

applefuture

Predicting the future of Apple is probably the no. 1 party game in Silicon Valley.  The venerable Churchill Club, which has been gathering luminaries to discuss tech in Menlo Park since 1985, has assembled a panel of experts who have some real insight in to the days ahead for the Cupertino company.

This Tuesday, March 4, they’re hosting what will surely be lively and provocative conversation with four Apple authors titled: “Are Apple’s Best Days Ahead?” .

Read the rest of this post »

EverWeb Is The Perfect iWeb Alternative [Sponsored Post]

EverWeb Is The Perfect iWeb Alternative [Sponsored Post]

This post is brought to you by RAGE Software, creator of EverWeb.

Remember iWeb, Apple’s website builder for its MobileMe online service, discontinued 2011? When Apple pulled the plug on MobileMe, users had to move their iWeb site over to another host or lose it. Now RAGE Software presents EverWeb, a new website builder meant to replace Apple’s iWeb. EverWeb has a similar interface to make users feel comfortable moving from iWeb to EverWeb. Users can copy and paste text, images and other elements from an iWeb-built site over to EverWeb from their published website. Watch the video and learn more here….

Read the rest of this post »

Compete In Cult Of Mac’s Selfie Olympics To Win Prizes And A Spot In Our Magazine

selfieolympics

The Winter Olympics are just three days away so of course we’re working on a special edition of Cult of Mac Magazine all about the intersection of the winter games and Apple.

99.997% of us aren’t talented enough to get an invite to Sochi, but we can all take a damn good selfie. So with the spirit of competition upon us, we’re introducing the Cult of Mac Selfie Olympics – a competition to see which of our readers can take the absolute best selfie before the real athletes battle it out in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Read the rest of this post »

Never Have To ‘Finder’ A File Again With Trickster [Sponsored Post]

Never Have To ‘Finder’ A File Again With Trickster [Sponsored Post]

This post is brought to you by Trickster.

The Mac’s Finder is great at locating files if you know the file’s name and likeliest folder. But often you don’t, and end up searching through your entire computer to find that one file. Now, Trickster does a fantastic job at keeping track of all the files you’ve been using recently. You won’t ever need to open Finder again on your Mac. With Trickster you can simply drag and drop files exactly where you want them. Trickster gives you quick and easy control over finding your files and documents–just a mouse click away right there in your Menu bar. Read on to see the video and get the special deal here.

Read the rest of this post »

New Stuff To Make Office Life Less Annoying

The Vegas show floor was packed with options to make your work day a little more fun — whether it’s how you get there with a great computer bag or keeping your iDevice cords out of the way. Or, at the very least, sound better, judging from the number of speakers blaring through the crowd.

Here are Cult of Mac’s picks!

Arcam’s Palm-Sized Hi-Def Bluetooth Audio Receiver

arcam-miniblink-preview

Arcam, the UK high-end audio company, has a little nugget to tempt audiophiles. It’s called the miniBlink, and it’s a “hi-def” Bluetooth audio adapter with a proper built-in DAC. What? Don’t fret. It just means you can beam Bluetooth audio to your stereo without it sounding crappy.

New Stuff To Make Office Life Less AnnoyingThe miniBlink, a tiny version of the bigger rBlink, lets you stream music using the regular AAC codec, or the better-quality apt-X (already used on some of the better Bluetooth speakers out there). The little dongle also has its own high-fidelity DAC (Digital Audio Converter) that makes for an even better sound.

Sure, you should probably use a wire or lossless AirPlay for the best sound around, but Bluetooth is so convenient, reliable and instant. And at $150, the new miniBlink isn’t going to break the bank.

– Charlie Sorrel

Cordlupa Solves Your Cable-Tangling Problems In A Cinch

cordlupa

Plenty of companies have come up with cable-tidying solutions for MacBooks but few let you tame the beast as easily as this miniaturized belt for your power adapter, the Cordlupa.

New Stuff To Make Office Life Less AnnoyingEven some of the tightest-wound power adapters will come undone after bouncing around in your bag for a few hours, so Cordlupa is designed to stay on your power adapter at all times to provide a fast and simple solution to tidy up your cables when you’re ready to travel or store the charger.

The leather loop keeps your cords from knotting and getting dirty in your bag. $25 gets you one loop in your color choice of black, brown, gray or whisky. If you want to go bonkers with your cable organization, you can splurge on This Is Ground’s new Cord Suite for 130 bucks, which also includes those delicious little cable tacos Charlie loves. – Buster Heine

This Charger Battery Is The Kind Of Smart Tech We’ll Actually Use

CES2014-4a

There’s a lot of seemingly brilliant, sexy tech here at CES. Like razor-precise, slightly annoying miniature flying drones! A case for your iPhone that gives it weird, infra-red Superman eyes!

Wonderful. But would we really end up using this stuff? I mean, yeah, we probably would. But not every day. Probably not every month. On the other hand, TYLT’s Energi 2K — a wall charger with a USB port that also houses a battery — is the kind of brilliant idea that we imagine we’d actually want to use every day.
New Stuff To Make Office Life Less Annoying

Simple, and smart: The little brick has fold-up prongs that plug into the wall, turning it into a wall charger. Plug a charging cable into the USB port and it’ll charge a hungry device (though it doesn’t have enough amps to charge an iPad); with no device attached, the battery inside the Energi 2K will charge itself. If you need power on the go, just grab it from the wall.

The Energi 2K comes with a 2200 mAh battery, theoretically more than enough juice to fully charge a depleted iPhone (for power users, there’s also the Energi 3K+, a 3000 mAh battery/wall charger that also comes with an embedded Lightning cable).

ZAGG has a similar device called the Sparq — a possibly interesting circumstance, as TYLT says they’ve received a patent for the Energi series. To make things murkier, there’s no word on pricing or availability for TYLT’s version. – Eli Milchman

USB Authenticator Uses Your Iris To Unlock Your Mac

IMG_1250

Remembering passwords seems to have become one of great challenge in computing for simpletons like me. Solutions like 1Password and iCloud Keychain have tried to solve humans’ forgetfulness, but EyeLock revealed a new product today that not only stores all your passwords, it keeps them locked away with your own personal iris scanner.New Stuff To Make Office Life Less Annoying

The Myris USB Authenticator is an iris scanner that plugs into your computer and allows users to do a quick scan of your eye rather than typing in a password. You can use it to unlock your Mac but it also can integrate with your email, bank account, or even schools and hospitals.

Rather than using photos, Myris authenticates your retinas using video to make the scanning faster and boasts a 1 in 2.25 trillion chance of false identifying your retinas compared to Touch ID’s 1 to 50,000 chance. All authentication happens on the device so your personal information isn’t transmitted and it works on Mac, Windows, or even Chrome OS.

The EyeLock is set to ship in the first half of 2014 but you can add yourself to the waiting list in the meantime.

Solar-Powered Speakers Now Bigger, Badder And More Efficient

Rukus-1

Eton has improved the wedge-shaped, solar-powered Rukus Bluetooth speaker it introduced just over six months ago, and are now calling it the Rukus II; they’ve also built a second, bigger, badder (and more expensive) version they’ve naturally dubbed the Rukus Xtreme.

Like the original Rukus, the II is a speaker/speakerphone wrapped in a rubberized exterior that’s klutzproof and splashproof, and gets its power from the sun. But it gets Digital Signal Processing for better sound, and a more-efficient panel that charges its 1600 mAh after five hours in the sun. Another bonus: The Bluetooth has been upgraded to low-energy 4.0, which means better battery longevity (and also incompatibility with iPhones older than the 4S.

The Rukus Xtreme is more serious. It gets all that, plus a much more massive 6600 mAh battery, bigger speakers with a bass radiator. Also serious is the Xtreme’s price: $230, versus the Rukus II’s pricetag of $130 (which is $30 more expensive than the original Rukus. It’ll be mid-year before you can get your hands on either.
– Eli Milchman

Here’s What Looks Like Another %#@&* Cool Bag

CES2014-14a

STM owner and co-founder Ethan Nyquist models the Drifter for us. Photo: Eli Milchman

It’s a bit odd to be thanked for cussing; but that’s exactly what STM Bags owner Ethan Nyquist did when I walked over to the STM table during a press event at CES. Apparently he was considerably impressed with an enthusiastic exclamation I made about STM’s bags, in response to the announcement of one of their new backpacks*. Hey, what can I say — I’m a bag junkie, and I get passionate about stuff I like.

So here then, is a prediction: STM’s new Drifter will deepen the outfit’s rep as a maker of stellar bags.

New Stuff To Make Office Life Less AnnoyingThe Drifter is a departure for the Aussie outfit; it’s larger — the largest they’ve ever made — and seems more like a stuff-all pack for adventurous roaming than one of their business-like mobile offices. And it felt lighter than it looked.

STM’s bags are generally constructed with markedly different fabrics than the majority of bags out there; the Drifter follows the pattern, with a soft-yet-tough-feeling texture to the fabric. Also cool: the female buckle on the sternum strap is metal.

Then there are the pockets — tons and tons of them. Three small zippered stashes on the outside, two for water bottles, a mesh pocket inside the lid, a document sleeve and of course, a laptop sleeve. Padding galore. A final surprise: there’s a waterproof raincover hidden in the bottom of the pack, where it doubles as bottom padding when not in use. Smart. No word on pricing or availability yet.

*clarification: While I think STM makes great bags in general, the bag that was announced at that time — the Velocity — has issues. Well, one big issue. Review  forthcoming.

– Eli Milchman

Finally, A Bluetooth Speaker That Sits In Cupholders

WhiteSpeeCup-960x325

If there’s one thing the fine citizens of the United States love in their cars it’s cup holders. God knows why a car needs like 20 places to stow a bucket of coffee or soda, but it does. Which means, ironically, that the average U.S. car has an average of 16[1] cup holders empty at any one time.

Thankfully, the SpeeCup is here to fill up at least one of them, although given the amount of free cup-holder space available, it seems almost silly to combine a speaker, a Siri-enabled mic and a cup-shaped vessel into just one single gadget.

New Stuff To Make Office Life Less AnnoyingThe SpeeCup, which sounds rather like something your doctor might ask you to take to the bathroom and fill up, is a Bluetooth speaker and Siri-compatible mic in a cup. The unit sits in any handily-available cup holder. It measure eight inches, and lasts for up to 20 hours on a charge (although you probably won’t have to worry about that as you have a car charger right there in your car).

Prefer to use your actual car stereo to listen to music in your car? Of course you do, so you can hook the cup up via a line-out jack, and still beam music via Bluetooth from your iPhone, using the controls on the top of the SpeeCup to skip, play and pause your music. Don’t have a car? Good. You can also jam this into the bottle holder on your bike. Or just use it as a Bluetooth receiver for your home stereo.

The SpeeCup can be had right now, for “just” $130.

Source: SpeeCup


Made up statistic.  ↩

– Charlie Sorrel

New 3D Printers Include Entry-Level Replicator Mini

replicatormini

We called it a “badass” product when MakerBot announced their Replicator 2X at last year’s CES, and now the company is back with three new 3D printers — including the Replicator Mini, which is being pitched as an affordable desktop unit for beginners.

“This is fifth-generation technology that’s setting the standard for reliability, quality, and connectivity,” MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis said of the new Replicator printer. “It’s our fastest and easiest 3D printer to use.”

In addition to the Replicator Mini — which has a build volume of 75 cubic inches — MakerBot’s new flagship Replicator desktop 3D printer has a build volume of 456 cubic inches, while its industrial-class additive manufacturing box the Replicator Z18, increases this to 2,592 cubic inches.

The Replicator Mini prints at a 200-micron resolution, while the larger units can print at 100-micron resolution. The printers can use biodegradable PLA filament, which serves as a greener, more sustainable alternative to ABS plastic.

The new printers come packed with 3D-printing software and firmware, alongside cloud-connecting capabilities, which mean that “you can connect to [them] however you want [using] a phone, a tablet, or your desktop computer.”

They additionally feature 3.5-inch color LCD screens to enable users to monitor the progress of their print jobs, and set up Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections with other systems and devices.

The MakerBot 3D Printing Platform also includes new applications for desktop and mobile — including MakerBot PrintShop, which is described as a “fun, easy, and free way to create and 3D print unique items,” and the MakerBot Digital Store in which users can “purchase, download, and print incredible MakerBot Verified 3D collections and models.” the company said in a news release.

The new Replicator 3D printer is currently available to purchase — while the Replicator Mini and Replicator Z18 are set to ship later this year.

MakerBot also announced that it is entering a “strategic alliance with innovative 3D vision company SoftKinetic” to make future 3D scanning products. – Luke Dormehl

Best Cases On Show At CES

The Cult of Mac crew got its grubby hands — and we do mean grubby! — on hundreds of iPhone cases in Las Vegas this week.

Here are the ones we most wanted to take home.

Flir One Case Gives Your iPhone Predator Vision

P1070404

FLIR One debuted their all-new thermal imaging camera case that gives the iPhone 5 and 5s the power to pick up heat signatures up to 100 meters away from live people, animals, and pretty much anything else around you.

Best Cases On Show At CES
Flir One makes thermal imaging products aimed at professionals but the Flir One case will bring the heat sensor to the everyday consumer. It cost $349, which sounds ridiculously expensive at first, but compared to Flir’s cheapest stand alone model that sells for over a grand, it sounds reasonable.

The detachable case comes with a thermal imaging camera on the back powered by its own battery source with up to four hours of charge. It comes with a custom app featuring different filters to interpret the heat signatures, and can be used for all sorts of household projects like looking for studs behind your wall, checking for water leaks, heat leaks, or even ferreting out a termite infestation. It also doubles as a really cool, really expensive, long-range thermometer.

Flir One says we can look forward to tracking heat with it sometime this spring. – Buster Heine

iZZi Slim Lens

CES2014-16a

Think the only serious, affordable quiver of lenses available for iPhone 5/S iPhoneography are the ones from Olloclip? Nope. Wrong.
Best Cases On Show At CES

iZZi Gadgets has actually offered a lens case for the last year or so in the Orbit Pro, a machined alloy case and four-lens — wide-angle, fisheye, telephoto and macro — carousel (it looks like three lenses, but as with Olloclip’s lenses, the wide angle unscrews to become a macro). The obvious difference, besides the alloy case, is that the Orbit Pro keeps all the lenses on the phone and swappable by a simple rotation of the carousel, compared with the Olloclip method of sliding lenses on and off the iPhone. But the Orbit Pro is bulky, suffers from slight vignetting (darkened corners) and carries an eyebrow-furrowing $240 pricetag.

Now iZZi has fixed all that with their new iZZi Slim. They’ve move the lenses closer to the case, eliminating the vignetting; the case is now made of plastic, making it much slimmer and lighter; and the price? $100. Which is less expensive than the $120 of the combined Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens and Quick-Flip case combo. – Eli Milchman

Retro Cases Add A Game To Your iPhone

pureviewvases

PureGear has a lineup of cases that turn your iPhone into a retro physical game, no app required. Best Cases On Show At CES

The PureView retro game case line up comes with three different analog game options: a traditional maze, a circular maze, and another called Undecided that’s kind of like playing Plinko from The Price Is Right, except you’re aiming for Yes or No instead of fat stacks of cash.

Pureview recently added new option for the iPhone 5c as well as some limited black and grey editions for the iPhone 5/5s. Each game case will set you back 30 bucks, but they’re more addicting than Candy Crush, don’t need WiFi and won’t waste your battery. Oh yeah, and they’ll protect your iPhone when you get mad and toss the maze across the room. – Buster Heine

Clever New Space Pack Will Double Your iPhone’s Battery And Storage

mophiespacepackMophie’s Juice Packs are widely considered to be the best battery cases you can get for the iPhone. They attach via Lightning and give you a backup power reserve for long days when a normal charger isn’t available.

Today at CES, Mophie unveiled its new lineup for battery cases for the iPhone. The Space Pack not only doubles battery life, but it has a pretty cool trick up its sleeve: additional storage.

Available in black and sliver, the Space Pack adds up to 32GB of storage that can be accessed any time the case is on the iPhone. The SSD hard drive inside the case works with Mophie’s free Space app. You can view just about any file type in the app’s browser and create folders to manage your stuff.

If that sounds cool, it’s because the idea is awesome. Not only do you have an extra reserve of battery life, but you can effectively double your iPhone’s storage.

Mophie launched preorders at CES with shipping slated to begin on March 14th. The 16GB model costs $149.95, and the 32GB model costs $179.95. Not cheap, but maybe worth it if you need more battery and storage than your iPhone can offer. – Leander Kahney

New Straitjacket Case: Where Hard Plastic Meets Silky Silicone

Straitjacket-iPhone

Loop Attachment, the company behind the awesome Mummy cases for iOS devices, is at CES in Las Vegas this week showing off its latest product for the iPhone. It’s called the Straitjacket, and it fuses a hard plastic bumper with the silky smooth silicone that Loop Attachment is famous for.Best Cases On Show At CES

The result is a minimalist case that’s protective without being too big or too bulky. It carries the Mummy’s trademark design, which aims to showcase your iPhone’s beautiful aluminum casing, and it provides complete access to all of your handset’s buttons, ports, and cameras.

The Straitjacket also holds a credit card, so you can slip your favorite piece of plastic in the back and not have to worry about carrying a wallet.

“The Straitjacket represents the next step in the evolution of our design language,” said Christopher Peterson, Chief Creative Officer of Loop Attachment. “The driving design intent of the case was to balance the common conviction for slim, space-saving design with the desire for tasteful expression.”

The Straitjacket will be available to order from Loop Attachment’s online store in late January. Pricing is yet to be confirmed. – Killian Bell

Fre iPhone 5/s Case Goes Camo

CES2014-13a

I’m not sure I get the whole camo thing. But it’s everywhere, it’s really popular and people can’t get enough of it. Trucks, iPhone cases, curtains, lingerie — if it exists, it probably comes in camo. (Note: If you need camouflaged lingerie, you’re probably doing it very wrong. Or very right. I’m not entirely sure at this point.)

Best Cases On Show At CESIf you know camo, you’ve heard of Columbus, Georgia-based Realtree, the outfit LifeProof partnered with to camouflage up their uber-popular Fre iPhone 5/s case, which now comes in four Realtree colors: Xtra, Max5, Xtra Green and APC, which is essentially pink. Pink camo.

The Realtree Fre is available for the same price as the non-camo Fre ($90). – Eli Milchman

The Fastest-Charging iPhone Battery Packs In The West?

IMG_2726

MyCharge president Jim Dara demonstrates the new Talk & Charge battery pack for the iPhone 5 line. Instead of attaching it to your iPhone, you just hold it next to it, which makes it easy to use with just about any iPhone case.

The simplest solution is always the best. Take external battery packs for your iPhone, which are sometimes hard to use when you’re actually talking on the phone. Either you have to remove your case to snap in a battery case, or you have a long cord dangling to an external pack in your pocket.

MyCharge’s clever Talk & Charge ($100) is a slim external battery pack that works with any and every iPhone case on the market because it doesn’t physically attach to your iPhone; you just hold it against the back of your iPhone while talking, like an electronics sandwich. Simple.

It’s almost the same size and shape as an iPhone 5s or 5c. It boasts a 3000mAh battery (good for more than two full iPhone 5 charges) and a Lightning cable built right in, so you’ll never forget your charging cable again. It’s a nice touch.

In fact, I think all of MyCharge’s wares are thoughtfully designed. The tech is pretty good too. According to the company, they are the fastest chargers on the market. Check out their well-designed charging bricks:

IMG_2735

One of MyCharge’s Hub series battery packs, which come in a range of sizes but all have built-in cables and AC charging prongs.

I was impressed with the Hub series of external battery packs (3000-9000mAh, $80-$120), which offer 13 to 40 hours of extra talk time. Each brick has built-in cables for Lightning and micro USB, which tuck away nicely into a slot on the side when not in use. Likewise, AC outlet prongs in the bottom can be pulled out when the brick needs recharging. Altogether, there’s no need for all the extra wires and chargers you need with other other external battery packs. It makes for a neat, compact, all-in-one solution that’s one of the best I’ve seen.

MyCharge claims its products are the fastest-charging battery packs on the market. Not only do they charge your devices faster, they are themselves recharged in less time than competing devices, according to the company.

It’s a combination of using the best components available and having good, smart firmware, said Jim Dara, president of MyCharge. For example, while competing batteries output the same voltage to every device plugged into them, MyCharge’s packs maximize the voltage for each device. So iPads get the maximum 2 amps and charge faster, Dara said.

I couldn’t independently test this, but Dara said the company is very careful to test its claims and tries very hard not to overstate them. I believed him. – Leander Kahney

Holiday Giveaway: Blu-ray Ripper And Tunes Cleaner From Leawo [Sponsored Post]

Holiday Giveaway: Blu-ray Ripper And Tunes Cleaner From Leawo [Sponsored Post]

This post is brought to you by Leawo, creator of Blu-ray Ripper and Tunes Cleaner software.

Having a New Year cleanout this holiday? Thinking of chucking out that old DVD player but still want to watch all your favorite vintage DVD/Blu-ray movies? Then why not convert your collection of movies on plastic optical disks to iOS-compatible video files to watch on your mobile devices?

In this holiday season giveaway, Leawo Software is offering free 1-year licenses and discounted lifetime deals on its Blu-ray-to-mobile converter Blu-ray Ripper Mac as well as its Mac/iOS music library file sorter, so you can brush up your song playlists as well….

Read the rest of this post »

CrossOver 13 Lets You Install Windows Apps On Your Mac Without Boot Camp [Review]

shot_mac_cxsetup

Thanks to the rise of the iPhone and iPad, Windows users are switching over the Mac in greater number than ever. If you’ve spent your entire computer life playing in Windows, you’ve probably accumulated quite a few apps in your toolkit that are Windows-only and letting them go during the switch ain’t easy.

For those Mac users that are having trouble letting go, but don’t want to throw down money on a new Windows-license just to use a couple apps, CrossOver 13 for Mac will let you install and run popular Windows software without having to reboot into a separate Windows partition.

Read the rest of this post »

Explory Makes It Dead Easy To Create Long Interactive Stories With Your iPhone [Review]

explory

In an era where Snapchat and Instagram reign supreme with quick messaging and bite-size snapshots of stories, iPhone users looking for a free platform to share long stories have had to make do with ugly workarounds – like stuffing seven pictures into one tiny Instagram square.

No one has built a really great free iPhone app that allows users to effortlessly create and share long interactive stories. Explory is aiming to break into the category by helping users combine photos, video, text, music and narration to create more meaningful stories to share. But can a free app with limited editing features convince users to ditch their 10-second disappearing messages in favor of longer storytelling? We went hands on with Explory to see. Here’s what we found:

Read the rest of this post »