Stephan Brusche finds bananas to be a great surface for drawing and regularly posts his Fruitdoodles to Instagram. Photo: Stephan Brusche
Stephan Brusche was bored and starting to play with his food when he made a discovery that would change his life: Bananas are nice to draw on.
Graphic artists are paid to think this way, and Brusche was being urged by his wife to promote his work to a wider audience using Instagram.
“There wasn’t anything exciting to photograph,” said Brusche, 37, an artist for a travel agency in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “I still had a banana and I thought maybe if I draw a smiley face on it, that would make a nice picture. I discovered how nicely the ink flows on the peel. It was really a pleasant surface.”
That smiley face, posted more than three years ago, received more likes than his work illustrations. And thus Fruitdoodles was born. Since then, Brusche has transformed more than 200 bananas into fine art.
One of the designers in Apple’s Industrial Design Group helped create this shape-shifting fabric-covered car for BMW. Photo: BMW
As rumors that Apple is making a self-driving car rev up, a peek under the hood of the company’s famed Industrial Design studio reveals a crew of talented automobile designers.
An interest in futuristic cars is embedded deep within the DNA of Apple’s vaunted design team. Working under Jony Ive, Apple employs designers who worked on several fantastic concept cars, including a fabric-covered BMW that shifts shape depending on speed.
Ive has long been obsessed by cars. (He has quite a stable.) As a teenager, Ive wanted to be a car designer. He visited a U.K. design school that specialized in automotives with a view to studying there, but he found the other students too weird. They were making “vroom vroom” noises as they sketched. Instead, he went to Newcastle Polytechnic (which has since been renamed Northumbria University).
A look at other key members of Apple’s design team, and at a super-secret research-and-development facility planned for the company’s new campus, offers a few clues about how Cupertino might go about producing innovative and unconventional cars.
The latest from one of the App Store’s premiere game studios.
I’m not what you would consider a “gamer.” I dabble in mobile titles like Monument Valley and occasionally play Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart with friends, but few games manage to grab my attention for very long.
Yet there’s a new iPhone game I haven’t been able to put down for the past two weeks.
Apple made a big push to get school textbooks on the iPad a couple years ago, but adoption has been slow. Earth Primer, an interactive exploration of earth science that’s sure to make your kid’s jaw drop, sets the bar high for the sad state of the e-textbook market. Buy it for your kids or just to enjoy on your own.
You’ve probably heard of FiftyThree’s Paper drawing app by now. Known for its intuitive, ultra responsive drawing tools, Paper is one of the most successful iPad apps of all time.
Previously based on the freemium business model (free download with in-app purchases), FiftyThree did something crazy this week and made all of its drawing tools totally free. I guess 13 million downloads gives you some wiggle room to give back.
So the Sketch, Outline, Write, Color, and Mixer tools are now bundled in the free app instead of costing $0.99 each. That’s pretty cool.
Want a little Leap Motion action without the extra hardware? ControlAir is nifty little Mac app released this week that lets you control media playback with hand gestures.
Sounds cool, right? Kinda. The main catch is that your Mac’s iSight camera has to be on at all times for it to recognize your hand motions, and it only works with iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, Netflix, QuickTime, and VLC out of the gate.
I tried using ControlAir with my MacBook Pro, and it was surprisingly responsive once I got it to pick up the gesture that initiates its controller interface. The main problem is that a) I don’t want my Mac’s camera on all the time and b) I had to position the display at an awkward viewing angle to frame my face correctly.
It’s a neat concept, but ControlAir needs some work before it’s anything to recommend to your mother. Still, if you’re interested in this kind of futuristic stuff, it’s worth checking out
There’s a plethora of fitness tracking apps that can tell you how many steps you’ve taken and where you’ve been. Some apps, like Facebook’s Moves, let you geotag locations and break down different activities (running, biking, etc.).
Gross is for those who just want to see their basic activity for the day, and it’s got a refreshed design and Today widget to help. Walking, running, and “other” activity is broken down into a helpful activity graph for the day. It’s a nice, clean app that does its job well.
After several months of private beta testing, Detour is finally out in the App Store. Inside you’ll find seven high-quality audio tours of San Francisco based on different neighborhoods. Think of it like This American Life meets the audio guides you get at the zoo.
These tours are put together with care and expertise, and you can hear some previews on the app’s website.
More cities will be added as the app ramps up, with an Austin, TX tour slated to drop in time for the South by Southwest next month.
Available on: iPhone
Price: Free — $4.99 per tour or $20 for an unlimited annual subscription
New group-messaging app Bindle tries to un-suck the group messaging experience. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Chris Toy was an Everquest geek in the early days, playing the addictive open-world video game somewhat obsessively.
It wasn’t slaying the monsters or leveling up that really motivated Toy, but the social aspects of the game.
“I was honestly pretty isolated,” the Hong Kong native told Cult of Mac by phone, “and talking to people via Everquest or World of Warcraft felt better than talking to real people.”
That’s when he realized that being able to text chat with other people wherever they were was the future of messaging, and perhaps even communication itself. Fast-forward to now, and Toy and a high-tech team living in San Francisco have created Bindle, a new group-messaging app designed to create this very same future.
The Olloclip clipped onto an iPhone 6 Plus. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Like millions of photography fans, the iPhone is my main camera. In fact, ever since my Nikon D600 took a suicidal, lens-first dive off a cliff and into a waterfall, my iPhone has become my only camera.
I’m always trying to eke out a little extra performance from my iPhone’s tiny camera sensor with new apps, tripods and lenses. Over the last three months, Cult of Mac has been testing various lenses for the iPhone 6 in a search for the best aftermarket glass. I’ve narrowed the field down to two top choices: the new Olloclip and Moment’s mountable lens system.
Unfortunately, iPhone 6 users can’t actually use both the Olloclip and Moment lenses at the same time. But if you’ve been considering getting new photo gear for your iPhone 6, we’re ready to break down the pros and cons of these aftermarket accessories.
Buy your Mac with a credit card and you could save big money on repairs. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Have you ever had an Apple product bite the dust only a few months after its warranty or AppleCare expired? Out-of-warranty repair costs can easily soar into the hundreds of dollars for Apple products, but if you purchased your Mac using a credit card that offers extended-warranty protection, you might be able to get that money back.
Many credit cards offer purchase-protection and extended warranties, which are usually included as a free benefit for qualifying purchases made using the card. I recently had a MacBook Air die. It was over three years old, so it was no longer covered by Apple’s One-Year Limited Warranty or AppleCare. Fortunately, I purchased it using an American Express credit card and, therefore, AMEX’s extended-warranty program gave me extra coverage.
Read on to learn how Apple repaired my broken MacBook Air and AMEX reimbursed the cost — saving me nearly $300.
PicoPro projector. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Like most things that come in small sizes, pico projectors have always been a big disappointment.
Called “pico” because of their portability and battery power, the diminutive projectors in this class have typically been underpowered and underwhelming. Almost by definition, projectors need to be big and bright enough to throw a lot of light at the screen.
So it’s a big surprise that Celluon’s new featherweight pocket-size PicoPro is a heavyweight champ. I was prepared for it to suck — but was surprised and delighted when it turned my living room wall into a 150-inch cinema screen.
Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List busts out the gear we're hot for right now.
Timberland Men's Canvas Cord Case
You know when you see a parked car and the seat belt is stuck in the door? That is what I look like when walking with my computer satchel with the cord hanging out of the bag. The sloppy look is gone now thanks to a simple, waxed-canvas bag from Timberland.
You can find the Timberland Men's Canvas Cord Case on Amazon for $38 but if you poke around online you can find it for as little as $17. Even that might seem a little steep for a tiny, one-compartment bag, but it was worth creating new space in my bag for this organizer. The large end of my MacBook Pro power cord likes to unravel as I move with the bag. I try to clip my bag shut and when I do, it's sometimes like opening the fake can of peanuts where the snake flies out. The Timberland cord bag is just large enough to loosely coil the thicker end of the cord and still fit the power brick. I even tuck in my earbuds. — David Pierini
Usually I go for something subtle when it comes to motorcycle helmets — a solid-gray full-face or a nondescript black skid lid, depending on the weather. But when the cold rain started drenching San Francisco this fall, I got a wild hair and pulled on a Naza Carbon helmet made by Kali Protectives.
The Naza Carbon comes in several bold designs, all featuring Kali's weirdly ominous, masklike logotype. The one I chose, called Curve, melds eye-grabbing black and white lines with patterned grays and a couple slashes of red. The look is distinctive, but that's not what's really important in a helmet. Luckily, Kali nails the most crucial aspects of helmet design: comfort and safety.
The Naza Carbon is streamlined and extremely lightweight, with good ventilation to blow off some steam on warm days. It comes with a pair of differently sized cheek inserts to give you more of a custom fit. And when it comes to safety, Kali's got you covered: The carbon/Kevlar/fiberglass composite shell wraps layers of cushioning foam in Kali's Composite Fusion Plus construction. Plus, they've got an actual rocket scientist on board — owner Brad Waldron — to make sure Kali delivers cutting-edge noggin protection. — Lewis Wallace
When I want to get serious writing work done on my iPad — or even my iPhone in a pinch — I turn to a keyboard that is rugged, easy to tote around in my favorite minimalist bag, and super-simple to connect to my various Bluetooth devices.
The Logitech Keys-To-Go ($69.99 list) includes all of that awesome, plus it’s almost completely invulnerable to the coffee or beer spills that seem to go hand-in-hand with my journalist lifestyle. While it’s incredibly thin and light, the keyboard itself is a delight to use, with responsive keys that feel almost as great as the ones on my MacBook Pro. The battery in this thing is supposed to last for three months at a time, a claim I can support as I’ve not charged it once since getting it about a month ago. If you need a keyboard for travel, commuting or just as a backup when you’re on the go, this is the one to grab. — Rob LeFebvre
This chair changed my life. Or at least it changed my work life. Before the arrival of the Herman Miller Mirra 2 chair ($649) at Cult of Mac World Headquarters, I was acutely aware of my posterior — all day, every day. The run-of-the-mill rump thrasher I squirmed on previously was your standard-issue, inexpensive office chair like you would find at Ikea and the like.
Setting up the Mirra 2 for the very first time was a pretty daunting task. The chair allows adjustments for seat height, seat depth, lumbar height, arm angle, arm width and the list goes on and on. The best part of having all those adjustments is it made me consider every aspect of my ergonomic situation. And after the initial setup, the chair has disappeared underneath me.
My back thanks me and my ass certainly thanks me. — Jim Merithew
When I upgraded to the new hotness of an iPhone 6 Plus, I didn't realize I'd be a second-class citizen when it came to quality cases. Sure, I could grab something off the shelf at the local AT&T store, but ever since I spent some time with a Wally wallet case on my iPhone 5, I've been spoiled for anything but the best card-carrying iPhone case around.
I think I've found that in this new offering from Mujjo. The Leather Wallet Case 80° for iPhone 6 Plus ($50.57) slid onto the curves of my iPhone 6 Plus like a lover, and it hasn't let go yet. The thin case made of supple tan leather is protective, adds very little bulk, and has a cleverly canted slot that fits a couple of cards and a tiny bit of cash. It's perfect for that night out or your daily trips to the coffee shop. — Rob LeFebvre
While it's pretty easy to pull up the temperature and weather on any mobile device these days, we typically have to settle for the official reports from weather stations that may not be all that close to where we live. Heck, I want to know what the weather is right where I'm standing, even if it's indoors.
Enter the CliMate ($69.99), a personal weather gadget from Adam Elements that measures the humidity, UVI and temperature of wherever you put it, and relays that info back to your iPhone. You can set this in a baby's room, a greenhouse or just wear it around your neck on the provided lanyard, and you'll always know what the real weather is like right where you put it. It's simple to set up and use, and who doesn't want to know what their personal climate is? No one doesn't, that's who. — Rob LeFebvre
I love me some stompboxes. In my band, I am responsible for noise. Sometimes that noise is in tune and in time and sometimes it is not. But whether I’m playing really well or really awfully, I don’t want anyone to ever say my tone was horrible. So I rely on myriad stompboxes to help me craft my racket.
When I first discovered Zachary Vex’s line of hand-painted pedals, I thought they would give me a simple way to sound interesting. But the longer I use my small collection of boutique Zvex pedals, the more I practice, the more I realize they favor the talented and thoughtful musician. The Fuzz Probe is basically Zachary’s wild and wooly fuzz pedal with a theremin attached for added tone-sculpting. Twist a few knobs, play with your guitar volume and wave your foot over the copper plate — and let the racket ensue. Just remember, if you find a tone you like you should get a picture of the settings on your iPhone or you will never hear it again. — Jim Merithew
Staying fashionable is pretty much the last thing I’m thinking about when pounding up trails in the Superstition Mountains. But for those outdoorsmen who don’t want to sacrifice fashion over function, Forsake has you covered with skate-inspired hiking boots that feel as good on your feet as they look on the street.
The Forsake Hiker hiking boot ($129.99) is designed to take a beating on the trails while looking great by bringing urban styling to the ugly world of hiking boots. The Hiker boasts full-grain leather paired with a Cordura upper and tons of detailed stitching and little touches. They’re waterproof, with a breathable membrane that I found keeps your feet from getting soggy no matter if you’re stomping through street puddles or crossing a stream. And with the fully gusseted tongue and reinforced toe bumper, you’ve got enough support to blast through rocky trails like the Juggernaut while looking 10 times more posh than the typical hiker. — Buster Hein
It seems like no one uses light meters anymore. Now that Lumu has come out with a tiny meter that plugs into the iPhone — the world’s No. 1 camera — that could soon change.
The Lumu Light Meter ($149.99) is a small aluminum bulb you can pop into your iPhone audio jack. It measures ambient light to capture the perfect exposure every time you snap a pic. It’s aimed at DLSR users who want to toss their bulky light meters, but the company also has four separate apps that make the Lumu a great tool for iPhone photographers.It’s small as a quarter, requires no batteries and weighs practically nothing. One of its only drawbacks is that it doesn’t offer flash-meter functionality, but when it comes to measuring ambient light, Lumu is deadly accurate. In my experience, it recorded the exact same measurements for ISO, shutter time and aperture as a traditional light meter.
Lumu isn’t going to replace the $500 Sekonic light meter trotted out by pro photographers just yet, but for anyone that wants a reliable and accurate ambient light meter — without the giant price tag of full-featured units — this little gadget is a snap decision. — Buster Hein
Trying to find air for your tires in San Francisco can be a nightmare. Half the pumps are broken at any given time and if you do locate one that works, you'll need to feed it a bunch of quarters if you're not buying gas. All of that makes keeping your tires properly inflated a royal pain in the butt — unless you have your own source of pressurized air.
If you don't own or need a regular air compressor, the PowerStation PSX-2 is a great way to keep your tires pumped up. It's not lightweight, but the 20-pound rechargeable tool is still totally portable and will get your rubber ready for the road far more quickly than the typical 12-volt gadgets you plug into your cigarette lighter.
Oh, and did I mention it will also jump-start your car or motorycle when your battery's dead? And provide an emergency worklight and 12-volt DC outlet to charge your gadgets in a pinch? Yeah, it's super-useful in situations that otherwise might stress you out.
Costco members might find a PSX-2 in the automotive aisle for about $75; otherwise, Amazon's got a newer model PowerStation PSX-3 for $129. Buy one now, before you need it, and you (and your thankful neighbors) will find yourself leaning on this automotive lifesaver repeatedly. — Lewis Wallace