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These are the best messaging apps on iOS

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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.

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Xync’s cable-concealing carabiner could double as a paperweight

xync-2

The Xync is handy, but a bit too bulky. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Moshi’s Xync packs a Lightning-to-USB charging cable into a handy, dangly carabiner-clip package, and adds a secret compartment on the side. But is it better than just carrying a regular Lightning cable in your pocket/bag? The short answer? Hmm…

The long version? Read on.

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Capture epic feats of gaming in all their high-def glory

Tiny box, hugely useful. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

The Elgato Game Capture 60HD is a tiny box, but it’s hugely useful. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

When you’re gaming on a new-generation console like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you’ll be astounded by the crystal-clear graphics and the silky-smooth 60 frames per second animations.

If you want to share this video at its native resolution, you’ll need something heavy duty to do the capture and editing. Something massively capable that can handle input via an HDMI interface. Something that doesn’t take up too much space — you need that for your gaming consoles. What you need is something like the Elgato Game Capture 60HD.

Because life’s too short for a crummy converter box with a huge footprint.

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This cheap plastic bag will waterproof any gadget

Waterproof. Do try this at home. Photos Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Do try this at home — if you’ve got a LokSak. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Today I’m going to review a plastic bag. A new low, even for me? Maybe, but this is no ordinary plastic bag. It’s a bag that has beaten out pretty much every waterproof gadget case i’ve ever tested, because:

  1. It fits almost every gadget I have
  2. It weighs almost nothing. I can keep one in every bag I carry.

The bag is the LokSak, and it’s designed to keep your gadgets safe.

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Vintage-style lens makes impression with its dreamy bokeh

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Lomography’s Petzval lens clone will give your pictures a certain special something. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

A photo editor friend of mine will often say, “It’s getting harder and harder to make a bad picture.”

It sounds absurd but he is partially referring to technology and how it can remove some of the thinking from photography. Cameras can be set to figure out aperture, shutter speed and, with the touch of a button, do the focusing. You can massage a bad exposure with software or, if you snap photos with your phone, choose apps and filters to effect a variety of looks and feels.

So it’s not uncommon for serious photographers to occasionally reach back for a piece of analog gear to challenge their thinking and reinvigorate creativity.

This summer I reached back to 1840. Well, sort of.

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For those about to rock, this universal mic clip is essential kit

iKlip XPand for iPhone, iPad. Photo: Rob LeFebvre, Cult of Mac

Two models of iKlip XPand will hold iPhones, iPads or most other mobile devices. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

If you use your iPad or iPhone (or both!) onstage when you perform, you know how hard it can be to find a good place to put them. Putting your iPad on a flimsy music stand just won’t cut it, and leaving your iPhone on the floor near your guitar pedals is just asking for a stomped-on smartphone.

The solution, for me, has always been iKlip iPad stands, which connect right to my mic stand. The new versions, including a sweet new iPhone mount, keep my iPad and iPhone safe from all musician-based harm, and always at the right height and angle to get at my lyric sheets, set lists and guitar effects.

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Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth: Clackety keyboard on the go

The Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth, alongside my own tenkeyless Filco Majestouch.

The Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth, alongside my own tenkeyless Filco Majestouch. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I took the Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth keyboard with me on vacation this year to use with a MacBook Air propped up on the fantastic Roost stand. I use the tenkeyless Filco Majestouch at home, and I was hoping for the same super-accurate, clicky-key action in this battery-powered, portable wireless version.

And I almost got it. But for one major flaw, the MiniLa is almost as good as the desktop version. The good news is, that flaw might just be a personal quibble.

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Space Colors is a trippy, brutal explosion-fest that will keep you hooked for hours

SpaceColors

Team Chaos has a reputation for publishing quirky, fun, colorful games like Cat vs. Aliens, Flappy Stache, and Dragon Academy (a “hatch-three” puzzle game).

With Space Colors, they’ve done it again. This time, you’re an Asteroids-style spaceship trying to destroy and mine asteroids, kill all the baddies, and avoid dying for as long as possible while gaining experience points and credits, which can be used in the in-game store to purchase weaponry and armor upgrades.

It’s stylish, easy to learn, hard to master, and is truly a lot of fun.

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Razer’s new gaming peripherals perfectly match your Apple style

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Apple’s EarPods aren’t too bad for gaming, what with their in-line microphone capabilities, but they’re really not the best for long game sessions; honestly, they just end up hurting the inside of my ears.

And as far as gaming mice are concerned, you really do need one with a second button at the very least.

While you’re at it, of course, you want your gaming peripherals to match your Apple style. Razer’s Taipan ambidextrous gaming mouse and matching Kraken-pro headset are exactly that – quality peripherals that make your gaming life easier and your style just that much more put together.

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Revolution 60 is like Charlie’s Angels in space

Revolution60_Screen

Beautiful 3D rendering and smooth animation are Revolution 60’s undeniable strong points.

A year ago, I heard about an intriguing potential game in the making, a possible hybrid of games like Mass Effect and Heavy Rain, two of my all-time favorite console games. This alone was enough to pique my interest, but once I found out it starred a crack black ops team of lycra-clad ladies like Charlie’s Angels, I was sold.

Ambitious and innovative, Revolution 60 offers an iOS experience like no other. With gorgeous 3D animations, bold interactive gameplay and intriguing plot, Giant Spacekat brings to life a team of four futuristic female operatives assigned a mission to re-establish control of a compromised space station. As the sharp-tongued and strong-willed protagonist Holiday, you’ll find yourself balancing your decision-making between the needs of two of your subordinates – the compassionate Amelia and authoritarian Minuet.

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