If any of the 7,500 riders at Levi’s Gran Fondo are on your gift list, we have some suggestions for you. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
We here at Cult of Mac love bicycles almost as much as we love our iPhone 6 Pluses and iMac Retina 5Ks.
Maybe it’s the feeling of almost flying. Or the passionate design coming out of the bicycle industry. Or maybe it is just the idea of being a part of something else that drives intense passions in people. Whatever it is, we love it.
So we scoured high and low to bring you a list of crazy gift ideas for yourself or for your two-wheeled companions. Take a look, but remember to take a deep breath before firing up your Apple Pay.
Apple co-founder Ron Wayne’s archive will go up for auction this month. Photo: Christie’s
In a universe where things worked out a bit differently, Ronald Wayne would be a billionaire.
When Apple was incorporated on April 2, 1976, Wayne was named alongside Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak as one of three founders, with a 10 percent stake in the company. However, just 12 days after Apple started up — feeling out of his depth because he “was standing in the shadow of intellectual giants” — Wayne threw in the towel and sold his shares for just $800.
“I was 40 and these kids were in their 20s,” Wayne tells Cult of Mac. “They were whirlwinds — it was like having a tiger by the tail. If I had stayed with Apple I probably would have wound up the richest man in the cemetery.”
In Apple lore, Ron Wayne is the man who won the lottery but lost the ticket. He’s Cupertino’s version of Stuart Sutcliffe or Pete Best, the musicians who played with The Beatles but left before the band made it big. Unlike Wozniak and Jobs, who became multimillionaires at a young age, Wayne’s finances have been “in a hole for the last 40 years.”
Now he’s selling his Apple archive — which includes original proofs of the Apple-1 manual he created and unused designs for a proposed Apple II case, among other documents — in a Christie’s auction later this month. Expected to go for between $30,000 and $50,000, the archive will give its new owner a tangible piece of Apple’s early existence.
And the sale will help Wayne, who claims he does not regret his decision to leave Apple, pay his bills.
App icons float on the Apple Watch’s tiny homescreen. Photo: Roberto Baldwin/The Next Web
Despite never having laid their hands upon an Apple Watch, developers are feverishly crafting apps for the long-awaited wearable.
To do this, they face considerable challenges: The size of the device is unlike anything most of them have ever contemplated, and they must design for an entirely different kind of user experience. To make matters worse, the Apple Watch’s functionality will be severely limited, at least at first.
Still, the independent developers that Cult of Mac spoke with are unabashedly delighted to take on the design challenge as they seek to colonize the next frontier of computing: your wrist.
Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List reveals the products we're reveling in right now.
Garmin Forerunner 920xt
Swim, bike and run your way over to your local Garmin dealer — the multisport watch you have been waiting for has finally arrived. Adding all the good stuff from the other new computers in the Garmin lineup, the Forerunner 920xt arrives with activity tracking, a color screen that actually shows colors, cycling VO2 max, a metronome and the ability for devs to create additional apps through Connect IQ. All in a package you could wear all day without feeling like a complete goober.
Unlike its predecessor the 910xt, the new watch can actually be worn and used as a watch. And if you are willing to carry your smartphone on your workouts, Bluetooth pairing can deliver real-time tracking and push notifications from your phone to the watch (although HealthKit compatibility remains limited at this time).
The Garmin Forerunner 920xt ($449.99 list) is packed full of features designed to help you track your data better; with third parties developing apps, at some point we might see heart-rate capability while in the pool. If you unlock half of this watch's capabilities, you might also start to unlock your own. — Jim Merithew
"Oooh, sweet toothbrush." Until recently, I could honestly say I'd never heard those unexpected words before. But that's exactly what my wife exclaimed when she spotted the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean rechargeable toothbrush sitting quietly on our bathroom counter.
It's easy to see why: The black matte finish looks and feels amazing, more like a high-end smartphone than a dental hygiene product. Luckily for our teeth and gums, the luxe brush is just as practical as it is beautiful. After my better half demanded that I hand over the spare brush head, she took the sleek sonic tooth-scrubber for a spin and declared her pearly whites felt cleaner than ever. She's hooked, and she still hasn't seen the cool travel case that holds the DiamondClean and cleverly recharges by USB.
I like the DiamondClean too, although it took a few sessions to get used to its high-pitched howl. Its polished bristles feel exceedingly gentle, and the at-home charging glass is unique (and dishwasher-safe, delivering us from the evil pool of drool that accumulates on pedestrian plastic chargers). All in all, the DiamondClean ($219.99 list) is more delightful than I thought a toothbrush could be. — Lewis Wallace
Strap these bad boys onto your head and use the included Xbox One wireless adapter to connect to your Microsoft gaming console, or just plug the standard 1/8-inch wire into any headphone jack on your iPhone, iPad or PlayStation 4 controller. The Strikers are comfortable, sound great and look pretty rad along the way. At $89.95 list, you won't have to break open your piggy bank to afford them. — Rob LeFebvre
The updated edition of Jonathan Zufi's coffee-table book Iconic costs a cool $250 — but it features a cool pulsating light!
The book, originally released to wide acclaim last year, is a photographic tribute to Apple's products that’s elegantly crammed with more than 150,000 glossy photos of every single piece of hardware out of Cupertino. It also includes practically everything else, from prototypes to packaging.
The updated version of Zufi's good-looking book — with 16 new pages — comes in plainer, cheaper editions (the Classic Edition costs $75, while the $99 Classic Plus Edition adds a black slipcase), but you’ll want the Ultimate Edition. That’s the one with the LED embedded in its classy Cromwell Aristo Grain-White clamshell case. When you pick up the book, the LED gently pulses in homage to MacBooks of yore. Now that’s iconic. — Leander Kahney
With Thanksgiving in the rear-view and Christmas eggnog in the offing, perhaps it's time to consider – just consider, mind you – a little dietary moderation. I've never been a giant fan of fruits and vegetables (especially the really healthy green stuff), and I certainly don't get as many daily servings as I should, but after seeing lard-ass fright flick Fact, Sick and Nearly Dead and taking a realistic look at my waistline, I got nudged in the direction of juicing.
And by "nudged" I mean my wife bought me a fantastic Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer ($240 from Amazon). This chrome-and-black masticating monster uses a single menacing augur to crush and squeeze every last delicious drop out of fruits and vegetables. I especially love what it does with carrots, turning a pile of orange root vegetables into a nutrient-rich thirst-quencher. Toss in a few bits of ginger or a couple handfuls of kale, and you've got a surprisingly delicious drink that's guaranteed to give you a boost.
It's not all about health, either. Fresh fruits like cantaloupe and pineapple make shockingly good additions to fanciful drink recipes. And that ginger juice? Unbelievably potent and awesome for kicking cocktails up a notch. I'm still fat, but I don't feel nearly as sick or dead. — Lewis Wallace
If you've ever tried to record your own vocals, you know that the built-in microphone in your Mac or iPad, while competent, isn't something you'd want to use to create a world-class song demo. IK Multimedia knows iOS audio, and their iRig Mic HD ($129.99) is an incredibly good condenser microphone that will let you unleash your inner rock star (or podcaster).
It connects easily to your Mac or iOS device via the included standard USB or Lightning cable. And it's serious business, as the iRig Mic HD has a 24-bit audio-to-digital converter, a 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate and a fantastic pre-amp to reproduce your vocal performances at a rate of stunningly high fidelity. — Rob LeFebvre
“Is that a sticker or what?” I get asked that question at least once a week when I’m in public working on my MacBook. The same protective skin has clothed its aluminum exterior since 2012, and it still looks as good as the day I put it on.
The maker is iCarbons, a great U.S. company that makes protective skins for everything from Macs to iPhones. The one I’m rocking is black carbon fiber, and it feels a lot sturdier than a mere sticker. I know my Retina MacBook would look a lot more banged up without this bad boy protecting it from minor scratches and bumps.
Some people see it as sacrilegious to cover a MacBook with anything, but I like this skin because it’s minimal and looks cool. In a sea of gray, I stand out. The iCarbons MacBook skin (normally $49.95 but on sale now for $32.99) will cover the trackpad area on the inside of the MacBook, but I recommend not installing that part on a Retina model. Because everything is so densely packaged together for maximum thinness, even the tiniest bulge will cause the screen hinges to warp over time. — Alex Heath
If you are going to cover up your beautifully sleek new iPad mini, it might as well be with Italian leather and microfibers. The Nodus Access case (89.99 pounds) exudes an elegance and simplicity that can’t be overstated. Or is that understated. Either way, it is beautiful.
Using micro-suction technology to hold your iPad firmly in place, the case couldn’t be any simpler. — Jim Merithew
If you play darts, you know it's all about the doubles and triples. Landing your pointy projectile in those choice slivers of bristle board real estate make all the difference when you are playing to win.
The Bandit Plus ProTrainer ($65 from A-ZDarts.com) can help. On this fiendish and well-constructed training tool, the double and treble beds are just half the size of a regulation steel-tip dartboard. Practicing with this demanding mistress is the darting equivalent of running in ankle weights or sliding a doughnut on your bat while taking a few cuts in the on-deck circle. Spend some quality time with the ProTrainer at home, and those precious moneymaker slots will look gigantic when you step up to the oche during your next pub match. — Lewis Wallace
Available just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, the SteelSeries Stratus XL is the first full-size wireless controller for iOS. It mimics larger home controllers, with a button layout that will be familiar to most console gamers and a 40-hour window of battery life eked from only two AA batteries.
The build quality is insanely good, making this an ideal choice for anyone who wants the comfort and style of a full-on gaming controller for the hundreds of iOS games that utilize Apple’s new made for iPhone (MFi) controller system. The Stratus XL will be available starting December 9 from the SteelSeries website and other fine retailers. — Rob LeFebvre
Every weekend Cult of Mac brings you a roundup of the past week’s greatest new apps and updates.
This week, we’ve got what looks like the best app yet for using an iPad as a secondary desktop display, the best app for DJing on the Mac, and more.
Without further ado, here are this week’s awesome apps you need to check out.
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, “What’s on your iPhone homescreen?” Fellow Apple geeks love to know each other’s favorite app layouts, and there’s a new app specifically for showing them off.
Homescreen by betaworks (the great company that brought Digg back to life) is a simple app that takes a screenshot of your homescreen, analyzes it, and lets you quickly share it on social media. The neat trick is that it attaches App Store links to the third-party apps you’re using so that, when someone hovers over the icon, there’s a description and link to download. Sometimes the app links it chooses can be wrong, but all in all it’s a nifty enough app to try out at least once.
For a little additional reading, check out betaworks CEO John Borthwick’s insightful Medium post on how people are using smartphone apps these days.
What if you could nuke every screenshot in your Camera Roll with the tap of a button? That’s the premise behind Screeny, a great new app released this past week.
After scanning your Camera Roll, you can choose which screenshots to delete if you’d rather not delete everything at once. Screeny shows you how much space you’ve saved once the deed is done. Give it a try. If you take as many screenshots as I do, you’ll feel better after.
Canopy is the new iPhone companion app for the website of the same name, which specializes in surfacing beautiful things on Amazon to buy.
Think of Canopy like a curated hipster boutique of Amazon’s massive catalog, now in your pocket. There’s a trending section based on popular purchases from other Canopy users, and you’ll enjoy browsing different categories like “Art & Design Books” and “Bar.”
You have to create a free account to like and save products to your collection.
1Writer is an all-in-one writing tool for iOS, and this past week it got optimized for iOS 8 and the iPhone 6/6 Plus.
With support for the Markdown syntax, 1Writer lets you write with a custom extended keyboard layout, different themes/fonts, a built-in browser, and syncing with iCloud Drive and Dropbox. Touch ID can be used to protect your files, and there’s a Notification Center widget to quickly access your most recent documents.
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones sound as sexy as they look. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
It’s ludicrous but true: How headphones look can be nearly as important as how they sound. Luckily for anybody who slides a pair of Bowers & Wilkins P7s over their ears, these high-end headphones do double duty. They will bamboozle your ears as well as your eyes.
With a stylish design and sturdy construction of gleaming metal and luxurious sheepskin leather, these aren’t a pair of big, cartoon-like plastic puffballs for your head. The P7s whisper quiet refinement rather than screaming “look at me.” If Beats Electronics’ brightly colored models are like those candy-colored iMac G3s from the ’90s, the P7s are like this year’s stunning iMac with Retina 5K display.
But really, looks are only skin deep. When it comes to music at its most intimate — when the sounds are piped straight from the source and directly penetrate your ear canals — it’s the quality of the audio that matters most.
You might want to think twice before giving Uber your data. Photo: Uber
Uber has been sideswiped by a ridiculous number of controversies lately, but things are about to get even worse for the ride-sharing service. A security researcher just reverse-engineered the code of Uber’s Android app and made a startling discovery: It’s “literally malware.”
Digging into the app’s code, GironSec discovered the Uber app “calls home” and sends data back to Uber. This isn’t typical app data, though. Uber has access to users’ entire SMSLog even though the app never requests permission. It also accesses call history, Wi-Fi connections used, GPS locations and every type of device ID possible.
Gorilla Glass is the go-to material for today’s touchscreens. Photo: Corning
Corning’s relationship with Apple looked doomed earlier this year. Having manufactured the touchscreens for every iPhone since 2007, the Gorilla Glass bosses were all but sure they were being ditched in favor of synthetic sapphire crystal, set to be supplied by Apple’s hot new partner, GT Advanced Technologies.
But while Apple’s affair with GT has imploded spectacularly, Corning is back on Cupertino’s crush list after stepping in at the eleventh hour to create super-sized displays for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Now Corning is convinced its latest technological advance — Gorilla Glass 4, its toughest version yet — will banish sapphire suitors for the immediate future.
“Sapphire is a really, really nice material that’s very good for reducing scratches,” Dave Velasquez, Corning’s director of marketing and commercial ops, told Cult of Mac. “However, we feel very strongly that glass is the best material for touch panel cover glass. When you weigh up everything from cost to drop-testing, to the amount of energy that’s needed to make it, in our opinion Gorilla Glass is clearly the best material to use.”
From music to MacBooks, these gifts will resonate with students. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
You might think college students are tricky to shop for, but in reality that couldn’t be further from the truth. Since they’re constantly swamped with homework and simultaneously managing a busy social life, all they want is stuff that makes their lives easier and more fun.
If you’re stressing about what to get the student in your life this holiday season, never fear. We’ve collected some great gift ideas, handpicked by college students for college students: