Looking back on the hits from Apple’s blockbuster year. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
2014 was an absolutely monumental year for Apple. Haters will hate, but one thing can’t be denied: This is a company that refuses to rest on its laurels.
Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple debuted a new product category with the Apple Watch, sold a record number of new iPhones, made the biggest acquisition in its history, and successfully sent its suffering stock price back into the stratosphere.
The company wasn’t without its missteps, but all in all, it’s hard to call 2014 anything short of a blow-away year for Apple.
Bust terrorists in the balls by seeing The Interview. Photo: Sony Pictures
Whether you head to a theater or stream it in the comfort of your home, you really ought to watch The Interview this weekend.
The action-comedy, about two journalists on a mission to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has become the unlikely must-see movie of the Christmas break — and it’s your patriotic duty to see it, like it or not.
The Microsoft Band is an awesome gadget. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
I’m really digging the Microsoft Band. I’ve worn various fitness trackers for a couple of years now, starting with the original Jawbone UP and most recently the new Fitbit Charge.
I’ve had mixed results with them, and none have became indispensable. The Microsoft Band, on the other hand, is rapidly becoming a fixture on my wrist. It’s a great omen for the Apple Watch, which is due in early 2015. The Apple Watch will be like the Microsoft Band on steroids, and if it works as well, it’s going to be awesome.
Designers Holly Kennedy and James Turner run their business from the road, visiting places like Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. Photo courtesy Kennedy and Turner
The lengthy list of logistics involved in starting any business eventually lands on what to do about equipment and office space.
James Turner and Holly Kennedy run their user experience design consultancy out of a single backpack each as they trek from country to country like nomadic college students with a free summer.
Kennedy says you won’t find the couple “wearing bandannas or growing dreadlocks” but they are happy living life on their own terms — with an unconventional commute and ever-changing scenery. Cult of Mac caught up with the ex-Londoners, both 26, in northern Thailand, where they were working around spotty Wi-Fi and a client 13 time zones away.
Developed by former Apple engineers, Duet Display is the first iPad app that lets you use the tablet as a secondary display for your Mac via a Lightning cable. Other apps have tried streaming over WiFi to turn the iPad into an extended display, but then you usually have to deal with bad lag and poor frame rate.
Because you connect the iPad via a 30-pin or Lightning cable, Duet Display claims to be capable of powering a Retina display at 60 frames per second with zero lag.
Its developers claim that the app works with all iOS devices on iOS 6 and up along with all Macs capable of running OS X 10.9. I wasn’t able to test it because my Mac is running the 10.10.2 Yosemite beta, which is currently super buggy.
Duet Display sounds like a great tool for making use of an old iPad you may have lying around the house. Support for older iOS 5.1.1 devices is being worked on for a future update in the App Store.
Algoriddim is known for making Djay, the most popular consumer DJ app out there. While the software already supports professional-grade turntables and DJ gear, Algoriddim has taken another big step into the world of pro DJing with the release of Djay Pro, it’s new Mac app.
This app is a powerhouse with 64-bit support, multi-core track analysis, a design that look great on Retina and 5K displays, and 60 frames-per-second graphics rendering.
The design looks pretty similar to what existing Djay users know, expect now there are even more features, like the ability to mix four tracks at once. The biggest feature addition by far is integration with Spotify. Premium Spotify subscribers have full access to their playlists, saved music, and the entire service’s catalog. Djay Pro is the first app to integrate with Spotify this closely, and it shows. It’s pretty cool to be able to switch seamlessly between your iTunes and Spotify libraries inside the app.
Djay Pro is trying to be the Final Cut or Logic of DJ software, Algoriddim CEO Karim Morsy told Cult of Mac in an interview. This new app is aimed squarely at the pros out there who also want a simplistic, powerful design. “This is what they’ve been waiting for,” he said.
Available on: Mac
Price: $49.99 introductory price (will eventually go up to $79.99)
If you’re someone who lives and dies by group texting, this is a great app to try out. From the same developers behind Launch Center Pro, Group Text+ allows you to “mix and match contacts, groups, images, and text snippets to quickly compose messages.”
You can add things like current location, the content of your clipboard, or a song to the group text as well. What you get with this app is an experience tailored to group messaging that’s built on iMessage and SMS, so you don’t have to worry about signing people up for some proprietary messaging service.
The interface is pretty simple, and there’s a handy extension to use the app throughout iOS.
Made by the same people behind the previous app, Email+ is the same group messaging approach applied to email. If you live in group email threads all day, this app could be the breath of fresh air you’ve been waiting for.
Amazon is determined to be the one-stop shop for just about anything you could need, and it’s new Prime Now app is for getting those things to you as quickly as possible.
With “tens of thousands” of items available for sale, Prime Now will ship to Amazon Prime subscribers within one to two hours.
The experiment is similar to Prime Pantry, Amazon’s same-day grocery deliver service that’s being slowly rolled out across the country. Prime Now is only available in Manhattan right now, but Amazon has plans to bring it to other cities.
Available on: iPhone
Price: Free with Prime subscription (One-hour deliveries cost $7.99 and two-hour deliveries are free)
Download now, thank us later. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac
The word “app” has always described Apple’s executable programs, but it wasn’t until the App Store appeared in 2008 that the term really took hold as a way to describe the little programs that help make our smartphones not just smart, but also useful and totally fun.
At this point, “There’s an app for that” has become a phrase you’ll hear pretty much everywhere.
We’ve taken a look at our favorite new apps, some of which have been featured on Cult of Mac previously, and chosen the year’s best. Now get downloading!
2014 has been an intriguing 12 months for movies. With no obvious breakout Oscar winners (a la 12 Years a Slave) or billion-dollar box office smashes (like The Avengers), it’s easy to think it’s been a forgettable year.
But that’s not really true. Peer beneath the surface and it has, in fact, been a very strong year for movie fans — from emotional masterpieces like Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and returns-to-form like Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street to action-packed blockbusters such as Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s truly been something for everyone.
So what are our picks for the 10 “must see” movies of 2014? Keep reading to find out.
Get the chef in your life something special for the holidays. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Surely you know one of these people: They’re not intimidated by a complicated recipe, and they can turn a handful of random ingredients into something delectable.
They stare dreamily at the windows when they walk by Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma, and they’d rather whip up a meal on their own than go out for a dinner and drinks.
They’re serious about food and drink, and they’re not afraid to try new things. Well, serious cooks need serious tools. If you’ve got one of these masters of the culinary arts on your list, these gifts will tickle their tastebuds.
There are tons of reasons why you might need to reformat your Mac: It’s slowing down, filling up with too many unneeded files to delete manually or suffering from major technical issues that can’t be fixed otherwise.
Or maybe you’re just selling it as you move on to a better, faster Mac and need to remove everything.
Devs are generally pleased with what they can do on the Watch, but you might be surprised at how much is off limits. Photo: Apple
Third-party developers are already making apps for the Apple Watch, but they’re doing so with one hand tied behind their backs.
Coders that Cult of Mac spoke with are pleasantly surprised by the opportunity to bring apps to the Watch so early, but many note they must abide by severe limitations to get their apps ready for the Apple wearable’s launch next spring.