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Kahney’s Korner: Addicted to ASMR

Leander's got a new addiction: ASMR videos.

Leander’s got a new addiction that might be even stronger than the Apple Watch.

You know something’s up at Cult of Mac headquarters when you see Leander sitting with his fingers steepled, exuding an air of complete calm.

It’s like a zen garden around here ever since I told him about ASMR videos, the strangely addictive YouTube phenomenon that turns quiet sounds into something like an aural orgasm.

Now he can’t get enough of the weirdly creepy clips — and I feel a little like a guy who inadvertently turned his friend on to crack.

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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.

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Top 6 things you need to know from Google I/O

Google wants to be your everything. Photo: Google

Google wants to be your everything.

From smartphones to the Internet of Things, Google wants to be woven into the fabric of our lives.

The company detailed some of its latest hardware and software projects — some truly innovative, some strictly playing catch-up — during the annual Google I/O developer conference Thursday.

From the iterative improvements coming in Android M to the blue-sky thinking of Project Brillo, everything plays into Mountain View’s master plan, which Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president in charge of Android, Chrome and apps described as “putting technology and computer science to work on important problems that users face” — and doing it “at scale for everyone in the world.”

Google’s goals are similar to Apple’s: Both companies are trying to integrate their products (and possibly their worldviews) into every facet of our lives to make tech personal and useful. In many ways, Google’s approach is far more ambitious.

Here are the six things you need to know from the Google I/O 2015 keynote.

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A year later, Apple-Beats deal remains a mystery

Apple's Eddie Cue and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine discuss the Beats acquisition shortly after the announcement last year.

Apple’s Eddy Cue and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine discuss the Beats acquisition shortly after the announcement last year.

The rumor mill continues to churn about what the hell Apple is going to do with Beats Music. It’s been a year since Apple paid $3 billion to acquire the upstart music service and headphone maker, but we are no closer to understanding why Cupertino laid out the cash.

When Apple purchased Beats Music and Beats Electronics, it did so with a splash it generally reserves for the unveiling of a game-changing product like the Apple Watch. Since then, it’s basically been crickets.

It is clear Apple has a way to go to compete in the streaming music game against Spotify, Pandora and the other services scrambling to get a piece of the music industry pie. But what form will Apple’s next music play take?

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6 lessons Apple Watch could learn from rival fitness trackers

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

What would it take for Apple Watch to lap competing fitness trackers?

I’ve started cheating on my Apple Watch. It’s not that I don’t love it. It’s amazingly beautiful. It does stuff I didn’t even know I’d like. But when it comes to running wild in the outdoors, I’ve found a smartwatch that satisfies me more than Jony Ive’s wearable does.

For the past week I’ve been testing the Garmin Fenix 3, a top-of-the-line smartwatch from a company that’s made a name for itself by providing runners and outdoorsmen with some of the best wrist-worn fitness tech. I hate wearing the Fenix 3. While Apple Watch gently caresses my wrist, the Fenix 3 feels like I’ve strapped a tank to it. Yet it boasts features Apple Watch doesn’t have that I’m starting to think I can’t live without on runs and hikes.

I don’t plan to completely break up with the Apple Watch anytime soon, but I’m ditching it during my four-day trek through the Grand Canyon this weekend because there are still a couple things it needs to learn before it can truly be the best all-around fitness tracker.

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How gadgets helped me go from dad bod to six pack

Fitness gadgets saved my life. Sort of.

Fitness gadgets saved my life. Sort of.

I used to live the classic geek lifestyle, forever hunched over a MacBook, munching on comfort food. Until one day cancer forced me to take my health more seriously.

Now I run marathons and lift weights for fun. But the geek is still strong in me. From GPS watches to bioelectrical impedance analyzers, I’ve used pretty much every kind of fitness gadget.

Here’s the story of how fitness gear helped me get in shape for the first time in my life and swap my middle-aged dad bod for a six pack.

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Kahney’s Korner: Are you ready for Cult of Mac version 2?

The Cult of Mac is ready for its upgrade.

The Cult of Mac is ready for its upgrade.

Believe it or not, it’s been nearly a decade since The Cult of Mac got published. The book, by our fearless leader Leander Kahney, took readers on a deep dive into the world of Apple fanatics around the world. It introduced us to the creative and talented tribe of individuals devoted to Macs, iPods and all things dreamed up in Cupertino.

Now that seminal work about Apple devotees is ready for an update. As he gets ready to embark on a year of fresh reporting before writing the next chapter in Cult of Mac history, he’s revisiting the original text. And having a laugh, as you’ll see in this week’s edition of Kahney’s Corner.

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Updated trivia game QuizUp has all the answers for finding you a friend

Where is QuizUp heading? a) Up b) Up c) Up

Where is QuizUp heading? a) Up. b) Up. c) Up.

When Icelandic developer Thorsteinn Fridriksson unleashed QuizUp on the world in late 2013, the last thing he expected was that the trivia app’s questions would turn into the nerdy equivalent of Cupid’s arrows. However, a surprising number of people who fell in love with the app also fell in love with each other.

“Very soon after we launched, we started hearing about people connecting on the platform,” Fridriksson told Cult of Mac. “You’d be amazed at how many QuizUp couples there are — people who literally met each other because they shared interests in the game.”

Now QuizUp is poised to pivot, taking advantage of its innate ability to connect players — whether for love, friendship or just a killer trivia smackdown. Today’s update marks the biggest and riskiest change in QuizUp’s history, as the multiple-choice game relaunches with a new focus on social networking.

Crazily enough, it just might work.

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How Apple inspired the design of Force Awakens’ new stormtroopers

stormtroopers

When designing stormtrooper armor, ask ‘What would Apple do?’

Apple’s influence on the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens extends far beyond Kylo Ren’s ugly crossguard lightsaber.

The Force Awakens costume designer Michael Kaplan has designed costumes on movies like Blade Runner and Fight Club, but when it came time to redesign the new stormtrooper armor for director J.J. Abrams, Kaplan said he looked to Apple as his biggest inspiration on how to perfect the stormtrooper’s white, plastic-y armor.

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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.

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