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!
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.
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.
SEO PowerSuite delivers an easy-to-use set of Mac SEO tools. Photo: SEO PowerSuite
This post is brought to you by SEO PowerSuite.
These days, Google is clearly heading toward delivering more helpful search results, which makes some people believe that search engine optimization has become a thing of the past. The reality is quite the opposite, though: It has never been more important to understand best SEO practices and get your hands on accurate data to maintain a stable online presence.
If you don’t want to hire professionals to fix up your site, SEO PowerSuite is your DIY alternative.
SEO PowerSuite is an all-in-one suite of Mac SEO tools that, according to the company, is reportedly used by every third SEO professional in the world. To find out how to use SEO PowerSuite to optimize your website, read on.
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
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.
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:
Going gear-shopping for your favorite outdoors-loving friend or family member can be harder than trekking up Mount St. Helens as she’s about to blow. There are so many options, but so much crap.
To help you out with your holiday shopping, Cult of Mac waded through the endless lists of camping and hiking gear and gadgets to find the stuff your special someone will love.
Whether you’re looking for something for an adventuring buddy, or picking a present for someone you’d never want to be trapped in a tent with, we’ve found gifts for everyone. From hiking clothes to campsite gadgets, we’ve got you covered.