iPhone 6 Plus is the best phablet ever made. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
After claiming no one would buy big phones during his iPhone 4 reveal in 2010, Steve Jobs made it pretty clear Apple had no interest in making a substantially larger smartphone anytime soon. But fast-forward to 2014, and the company Jobs founded in his parents’ garage has been forced to do just that.
Having watched customers flock to Android in pursuit of bigger screens, Apple could no longer ignore our demands. It had to build new iPhones that would win back users it lost, and prevent any more from wandering.
Bumpies are so small, you almost can’t see them. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
Bumpies border upon the nonexistent, and that’s why they are better than most other iPhone cases. Not that you could really count Bumpies as a case: They’re little stick-on corners that protect your iPhone’s extremities, and do it almost invisibly.
I don’t do a whole lot of up-close computer-based gaming, but when I do, I prefer to have a decent set of headphones to keep the sound to myself so that the rest of the household doesn’t need to hear the full complement of explosions and combat sounds that typically accompany gaming on my Mac. There are an array of headsets out there with gaming microphones built in, many of them in the $300 and up range.
Not everyone can afford this sort of luxury, so most brands have less-expensive versions of their headsets to appeal to a more budget-conscious gamer. The HyperX Cloud is just such a set of headphones aiming for the entry-level gamer who may not have much more than $100 to spend on their gaming audio gear.
The Lensbaby LM-10, shot through a fisheye lens and two mirrors. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
I like the Lensbaby that I have for my regular camera, but I frikkin’ love the Lensbaby LM–10 for the iPhone. Like most things that make the trip from elsewhere to iOS, the little Lensbaby offers a subset of the original’s features, but they are – dare I say – a more focused set of features.
Let’s just say the iPhone Lensbaby is about the funnest iPhoneography accessory around.
Waterfield’s MacBook Outback Solo holds just enough to keep you productive. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
I’ll admit it — I’ve got a thing for these waxed canvas and leather bags from Waterfield. I’ve ended up using the impeccably designed Staad backpack and the classy Nintendo 3DS case long after my reviews of them were published. These bags and cases from the San Francisco design collective are warm, inviting and just get better with age and use.
Let’s face it, though: Sometimes you only want to carry your laptop and a couple of accessories, and that’s it. Waterfield’s latest design, the MacBook Outback Solo, is a minimalist sleeve made of the same strong canvas material and rich, thick, buttery-smooth leather as the other bags in the line. It can be paired with a carrying strap that turns the sleeve into a messenger bag. While our very own Charlie Sorrel called the iPad version of this bag a man-purse, I’m thinking of this more as a shoulder-saving device — the fewer things I end up having to carry, the better.
It’s worth buying this book just for the pattern embossed on the cover. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
What’s the difference between a businessperson and a regular person? According to Evernote, a businessperson has secrets, whereas a regular person is happy to share everything. This somewhat cynical take is a pretty good model of the world, and it is embodied in the Evernote Business Notebook, a “collabo” with Moleskine that lets you snap/scan a photo of your pages into Evernote, and selectively share the result.
Roguelike games are a retro treat, hailing back to the earliest computers. They used various ASCII characters to denote dungeon walls and dangerous creatures in an attempt to recreate the experience of playing Dungeons & Dragons.
There are many good roguelikes out there these days on both Mac and iOS with varying amounts of verisimilitude regarding the original game. This type of game typically features a randomly-generated set of dungeon levels so that you never play the same level twice, the idea of perma-death, meaning that once your character dies, the game is over, and lots of treasure, loot, and monsters to contend with on a turn-by-turn basis.
Nightmare Cooperative, from Bad Hotel and Gentlemen! developer Lucky Frame, is a finely-polished rendition of the familiar formula with a few fun twists.
Check out the teaser video below to get a sense of how it looks and sounds.
The Matias Secure Pro is beautiful and functional. And no frikkin’ wires. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
If you like mechanical keyboards, but those inconsiderate jerks in your office or home can’t stand the clackety racket they make, then you might consider something that uses “tactile” keys instead, which look and work like clicky keys — only without the click.
And if you’re into wireless keyboards, but you don’t like the NSA van parked outside snooping the connection and recording your keystrokes, you might like something with an encrypted wireless connection.
Well, guess what? We have just the thing. The Matias Secure Pro, a tactile keyboard with 128-bit AES Encryption.
The AL13 iPhone case comes in an eye-catching electric blue and six other colors. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
I’m torn these days between wanting a functional wallet-style case for my iPhone and something a bit more minimalist. I tend to switch cases as I need them because I haven’t found a one-case-fits-all solution that works for me.
The minimalist new AL13 metallic bumper case for iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s is quite a classy little addition to your important iOS device, combining good protection with looks that invite stares. It’s got all the great stuff of its ultrathin predecessor, but it’s also easier to put on and doesn’t have any issues with dropped calls due to signal loss.
It’s a bear to get off, though, so if you like to change your iPhone case as often as you change your mood, you’ll probably be a bit frustrated.
It’s an iOS messaging shootout! Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
I recently watched The Lady try to convince a friend of ours to download WhatsApp. The friend is moving to the United Kingdom, and we want to stay in touch. Our friend tried to say that email would do the job, but we all know that will never work.
Our friend doesn’t want WhatsApp (maybe because it’s owned by Facebook), and she doesn’t own an iPhone, so iMessage is out. Thankfully, there are plenty of free and good alternatives. Some are more secure, some have more features, and none of them is owned by Facebook.
Let’s take a look at what’s available and how these very different messaging apps compare on a number of key features.