Tons of new features make iOS 8’s Messages app more powerful than ever. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
I’ve pretty much become a full-time texter these days, using Apple’s Messages app on my Mac and iPhone to send iMessages (to friends and contacts who use iOS or OS X) as well as regular text messages (to people outside the Apple ecosystem).
iOS 8 brings great new changes to the mobile version of the Messages app, some of which might not be immediately apparent. Here’s a look at the new features and how best to use them.
Have you been looking for in-ear headphones that look and sound good? This Cult of Mac Deals offer brings you modern design that you can hear.
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Have you ever been browsing the internet, opening new tabs, and blithely going about your business when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an ad begins blaring at you from one of your various tabbed windows?
This can happen in Safari or Chrome (or any other browser, really), but Chrome has a new feature that will let you find the guilty, noisy culprit and shut it down.
Arcam, the UK high-end audio company, has a little nugget to tempt audiophiles. It’s called the miniBlink, and it’s a “hi-def” Bluetooth audio adapter with a proper built-in DAC. What? Don’t fret. It just means you can beam Bluetooth audio to your stereo without it sounding crappy.
I’ve had a chance to test a number of headphones throughout the past year, and have grown more fond of the more traditional “over-ear” headphones during that time. As a regular podcaster – and as the person who edits those podcasts – having little to no bleed from outside sources has become increasingly important.
That said, I don’t want to spend a fortune on headphones, either. I want decent sound quality, the ability to wear them for a couple of hours comfortably, and compact portability. The Atlas Carbon Headphones by MEElectronics offer all three, which is rare. I was provided with a set to put through the paces, and was very happy with the results. (And Cult of Mac Deals just so happens to have the Atlas Carbon Headphones for 35% off the regular price – just $65 – during a very limited time offer. This promotion, however, is available only to continental USA customers.)
Every time I see someone wearing over-ear headphones out in public, I can’t help but think of the scene in the “Starsky & Hutch” film where Ben Stiller is running along the beach listening to “Old Days” by Chicago. There’s something odd about over-ear headphones being worn not only in that situation – but really in any public situation. To me, earbuds or in-ear headphones work best in public. And that’s not because of sound quality. It’s because they are a lot more discreet.
Speaker design seems to be drifting further toward the minimalist end of things, at least aesthetically. If that’s true, brand-new San Francisco-based NudeAudio has walked pretty far down this path, as evidenced by their just-introduced, four-model speaker lineup.
One of my favorite new features of the Podcasts app in iOS, on iPhone or iPad, is the ability to stream episodes directly, rather than have to download them. It’s made me much more independent and willing to try out new podcasts; I simply don’t have to subscribe to ones that don’t catch my fancy, then delete and move all the downloaded files.
To the uninitiated, though, the difference between streaming and downloading is a tricky one. Here’s how it all works, and how to either download or stream podcast episodes as you decide which is best for you.
I’ve got plenty of headphones lying around the house — and I mean a lot.
I’ve got some in-ear style ones, earbud style ones (which generally came from a variety of iDevices), and a couple of pairs — “over ear” headphones — that cover my ears completely. The thing about headphones is that each type is suited for certain activities better than others, which means that having several pairs available isn’t a bad thing at all…especially if you’re into being productive like me and want to have as little friction as possible going from task to task (or, in this case, from audio-related task to audio-related task).
The in-ear and earbud style headphones are my “daily drivers”. They’re the ones I use for everyday activity, mainly because they take up very little space in any sort of carrying bag I’ve got and they just seem so…disposable. But I’ll use the earbuds more often for exercising (running, for example) than the in-ear ones because they are less likely to fall out while I’m being active. My earbuds and in-ear headphones can be found in various spots throughout the house, that way they can be grabbed quickly – no matter what I plan to use them for.
At work, I use a big Acer monitor connected to my Macbook Air via an HDMI dongle from Moshi and an HDMI cable. For quite some time, I was content with having the sound come out of the Macbook Air, which I have set up just to the left of the big monitor as a second screen.
But the other day, since I have the huge TV in my office, the rest of the staff came in to preview a promotional video we’d done for our agency. The tinny sound of my Macbook Air speakers wasn’t enough. I wanted to hear it out of the TV.