This week on Cult of Mac’ podcast: Super-sized drones, app-controlled robot bartenders, smart coffee mugs and the coolest of gadgets from CES 2016. Plus, don’t miss our picks for the absolutely, positively, you-should-install-them-today, most essential Mac and iOS apps.
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It’s been a busy week here at Cult of Mac as we all scrambled to get as much news as possible out of CES, the big electronics show that’s been chugging right along in Las Vegas. It’s one of the biggest trade shows in the world, so we had plenty of news to go around.
We had people on the show floor discussing everything gadgety — including the finer points of rejuvenating one’s vagina — and we had people at home trying to ignore how hilarious that was for long enough to crank out the rest of the news. While the stories were plentiful, our handy hub here ensures you don’t have to click around too much to get everything worth knowing from the show.
Here’s the huge collection of all of our coverage from CES 2016.
LAS VEGAS — You know your product’s hot when Chinese ripoff artists start selling knockoffs before your first unit rolls off the production line.
That’s the “flattering” situation the makers of Stikbox, the world’s “first” selfie stick case for iPhone and Samsung, find themselves in as they demo their only aluminum prototype on the CES show floor here. Stikbox’s Kickstarter campaign launched just two weeks ago, and the unique case hasn’t even been officially manufactured, yet already dozens of clones have popped up online.
“It just goes on,” Stikbox founder Yekutiel Sherman said as he scrolled through listing after listing of Chinese manufacturers selling Stikbox clones on Taobao, an e-commerce site owned by Alibaba Group. “Endless, endless,” he said, a mix of shock and dismay in his voice.
Welcome back to another week of amazing Cult of Mac action. We sent a crack team of staffers this year to Las Vegas’ all-you-can-eat buffet of technology, CES. Their on-the-spot reporting has resulted in a plate piled high with goodies, and we’re here to share it with you.
This week, we’ve got the best (and worst) of CES, a poll on which glitchy software Apple should fix, some more solid rumors about the upcoming iPhone 7, a quick look at some great knockoff Apple Watch bands, and a “one-click upgrade” that will double your MacBook’s hard drive.
Volkswagen is the first car maker to offer wireless CarPlay, but Apple doesn’t want them to show you how cool it is.
This isn’t a new feature; if you have an iPhone running iOS 9, it’s in there. But all CarPlay-compatible vehicles currently available go the wired route, making you plug your handset into your ride’s console to use the protocol. Volkswagen has managed to make the feature wireless, but Apple has forbidden the company from giving demos at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
LAS VEGAS — Your body is an amazing energy creation machine but you’re not even using it to its full potential. All the walking, running, biking and other movements you make throughout the day all create kinetic energy, and now you can finally harness it to charge the most important gadgets in your life with Ampy.
Ampy is a wearable battery pack that can be charged via USB, but its superpower is the ability to recharge using motion thanks to a couple of magnets that bounce up and down inside coils. One hour of moderate exercise (jogging or riding a bike) will add up to five hours of standby battery life to your iPhone, or about 1 hour of regular usage. It’s not something you’ll want to use everyday, but it’s perfect for when you’re going on a hike, or experience a power outage.
The device comes with a strap and carrying band so you can place it on your arm or leg depending on what exercises you’re doing. It features a curved profile, making it a great fit for jean pockets, jackets, or anything other object that moves a lot. Priced at $100 the device comes with an accompanying iOS app so you can track how much power you’re generating. A slimmer, more power efficient model is on the way later this year.
LAS VEGAS — CES is the tech world equivalent of an all-you-can-eat dim sum buffet. Your eyes boggle at all the tantalizing-looking options, but you’re never really sure what you’re about to sink your teeth into.
Sometimes an exhibitor at this sprawling electronics show serves up the tech equivalent of a delicious shrimp dumpling. Other times you end up politely nodding and searching for the nearest napkin.
In today’s Cult of Mac CES 2016 roundup, we’ve got hoverboards, a game console for dogs, robots and other exotic offerings on the menu.
The iPhone camera is great at photos and videos, but if you want to take your shots to the next level, you need some extra gear. BeastGrip is the easy-to-use solution that enables photogs to attach all sorts of components like stabilizers, mics, lights, and DSLR lenses to the iPhone to make a custom, pro-quality camera rig.
Every aspect of BeastGrip’s modular system can be expanded to fit practically any piece of photography hardware you throw at it. Whether you’re shooting on an iPhone, Android, or Windows device, simply loosen some screws, slide in a new segment, and you’re ready to capture professional quality video from your smartphone.
Flexibility is BeatGrip’s biggest selling point. The body alone costs $115, but you can also buy a kit with the company’s DOF adapter that lets you mount Canon or Nikon DSLR lenses to your iPhone, giving you much better depth-of-field for really unique camera phone shots.
We can officially add luggage locks to the list of things we kind of never expected to get smart versions.
Case and lock maker Dog & Bone is bringing out a keyless, TSA-approved, Bluetooth travel padlock that’s designed to keep unwanted people from getting their dirty hands on your underwear and hoard of duty-free booze. The company is showing off their new device at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
Navigating the many health devices on the CES show floor, I came across the vSculpt booth and stopped dead in my tracks. Mainly because it looked like a sex toy and they were giving away red panties (best swag ever).
But what I assumed was just a basic vibrator is actually a medical device used for vaginal rejuvenation therapy.
LAS VEGAS — Learning how to fly a drone isn’t easy, and accidents happen all the time. Wouldn’t it be great if your drone could just fly itself?
AirDog does just that. In fact, the only way to fly AirDog is to use its incredible auto-following technology that keeps the camera aimed at you during the entire flight Cult of Mac met up with the makers of AirDog at CES 2016 for a mountain-biking demo in the desert to see how the drone uses LiDAR and other tech to capture spectacular aerial footage on the fly without any human intervention. We came away ridiculously impressed.
If you’ve ever lived through a house fire, you know how devastating it can be. The fear of fire leaves many homeowners anxious, especially when they are away from home. The Leeo Smart Alert is here to save the day.
LAS VEGAS — The makers of a powerful new battery pack called the iTron claim it can be fully charged to 9,000 mAh in an astonishing 18 minutes. Even better, in just three short minutes, it slurps up enough power to recharge an iPhone 6.
To make the package even more enticing, the quick-juicing battery pack charges on a dock that offers three USB ports, so it can become a full-blown charging station for multiple devices.
LAS VEGAS — Who says everything at CES is rubbish?
Well, yeah, there’s a lot crap, but that’s why we’re here — to rummage through the rubbish and find the best stuff.
And we found plenty: smart footballs and running shorts that improve your game and gait; a coffee mug that instantly cools coffee that’s too hot; and a speaker system that uses all the iPhones in a room to create a distributed, shared sound system that sounds better than you’d imagine.
LAS VEGAS — For all Sony’s talk about high-definition audio and video during its CES press conference, the company’s most intriguing new product is a weird glass speaker with LED lights that looks something like a tubular hurricane lamp.
Called the Glass Sound Speaker, it’s a refreshing twist on the ordinary Bluetooth speaker that is certain to add a unique ambiance to any room. I’m not sure how it sounds, but its soothing, candle-like glow practically screams sophistication.
We like HomeKit; don’t get us wrong. Apple’s automation framework has taken our relationship with our lights to strange, wonderful, and not at all awkward new places. And we like the potential of saving money on energy with smart thermostats, getting smoke and carbon monoxide alarms directly on our phones, and using our iPhone or Apple Watch like a virtual bouncer to control who gets into our homes.
That’s the problem, though — that’s basically all anyone’s done with HomeKit. And it’s mostly lights and plugs.
But First Alert has arrived to bust us out of this rut with a promising device that sounds both useful and eminently futuristic: a HomeKit-compatible safe. And if that doesn’t fill you with dreams and vision for what automation can mean, we’re sure you’ll enjoy your bulbs. We really do.
iDevices is doing a better job at pushing HomeKit than Apple is.
That’s the impression we’re getting, anyway, as the peripheral maker just keeps churning out products that are compatible with the home-automation framework built into your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
The four new devices, which the company is showing off at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, bring its total number of things digital assistant Siri can control up to seven.
LAS VEGAS — There was a whole lot of sniffing going on at the Sensorwake booth here at CES Unveiled. The first olfactory alarm clock promises a kinder, gentler start to mornings, using scents instead of noise to wake up sleepyheads.
The quirky gadget couldn’t be any simpler: Set the alarm and wake up to one of six dry-air infused cartridges. Sensorwake is similar to a Glade Plugin but with cooler scents. It’s made by a French company, so it pumps out crazy European aromas.
Kodak is not prepared to let analog filmmaking disappear into the digital world.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the film-stock maker is showing off a prototype for a new camera that will combine time-honored, physical shooting techniques with the latest in digital technology. This powerful combination hopes to capture the best of both traditions, allowing present and future filmmakers to continue to produce their art in whichever way they see fit.
Music can set the mood for everything and the Prizm, a new music player described as “the music brain,” is hoping to reinvent the way we listen to music.
It listens to sounds in the room you’re in and identifies who’s in the room, then selects the perfect track for the situation. Lots of people making noise late at night? Prizm thinks it’s party time and plays techno music. Nothing but heavy breathing or kissing sounds? It’s time for some Barry White.
Huawei took to the stage at CES this morning to show off a bunch of stuff that looked really familiar — although the stage wasn’t free of some killer features.
The world’s number three smartphone brand is ready to take on Apple and Samsung, and it brought its own versions of the big three devices on stage to show off what they can do. And they can do quite a lot, it seems, but not all of it has us wanting to defect from our iPhones.