I had the opportunity to try PowerClip ($61) from Emtec. This clever charger snaps on to the bottom of the iPhone via the Lightning port. This can be a more compact alternative than a traditional battery pack case. I used to have a similar charger for my 30-pin iPhone and was glad to see a Lightning option. Emtec also makes an Android-compatible model with a microUSB port.
I love the products from Satechi. They offer a range of hubs, stands, remotes, and more that make the iOS and Apple Mac experience better. Additionally, many of their gadgets are made out of aluminum which makes them right at home on any Apple user's desk. Recently, Satechi gave me their Premium Aluminum Monitor Stand ($69.99) to try.
While some new owners of the Apple Watch are content to destroy it for the benefit of YouTube fans, other firms like iFixit and Chipworks are carefully taking their Apple Watches apart to check out the components inside. Chipworks has had some time to analyze the components and reached some conclusions. Here are some key takeaways.
There are 54 combinations of the Apple Watch, but that may still not be enough for some people. Third parties are making their own bands and even bands with batteries in them. But if you really want to stand out, you probably want a gold Apple Watch. If you don't have $14,000 to pay for a gold Apple Watch Edition, the folks at WatchPlate.com have a more affordable alternative.
Have you ever thought of using a smart light? Witti sent me its Dotti and Notti smart lights to test out, and they provide an interesting iPhone experience, allowing users to connect via Bluetooth to apps that control the units.
I had the opportunity to try Scosche MagicMount XL Dash/Window ($34.99) from Scosche. The MagicMount is a car mount for phones, but is hefty enough to work with tablets as well, and it can also work on a desk in an office. This makes the MagicMount's decent price even more justifiable. I once drove a Tesla Model S and it has a 17-inch touchscreen display. If you want to do something similar, with an iPad mini or even a full-size iPad, the MagicMount could do the trick.
The Apple TV is due for a refresh and signs point to a June announcement, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. The box might not be the only element to get an upgrade, as reports suggest the remote control that ships with the Apple TV, and is sold separately to control Macs, could get a touchpad. I was just setting up a current version of the Apple TV at a friend's house today and it was a pain trying to use the arrow keys to enter an email and password. Usually I use the Apple Remote iPad or iPhone app which adds touchscreen control and a virtual keyboard. It will be a nice addition if the next generation of the Apple TV includes an improved remote control.
May 4 ought to be a national holiday. That day is known as Star Wars Day, as in "May the Fourth be with you!" Fortunately, there are a ton of accessories that can get you in the spirit of Star Wars. A year ago, I reviewed the SMS Audio Boba Fett headphones and I still use them, so I can report that they have held up well. It was nice to learn that SMS has expanded their Star Wars-themed offerings to include Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Tie Fighter, and R2-D2 versions. They are adorable and each one has a unique design that will be appreciated by any Star Wars fan. The headphones are packaged in a gift-worthy box that includes a carrying case, poster, sticker, cleaning cloth, and certificate of authenticity that extend the Star Wars theme. These new headphones are available for pre-order, and early adopters will receive a free t-shirt as well.
If the rumors are true, the upcoming iPad Pro could incorporate a stylus and Force Touch, like the new MacBook and Apple Watch. Both Force Touch and a stylus would make it possible to create more artistic content thanks to pressure sensitivity. Fifty Three is one third party that released a Bluetooth stylus dubbed the Pencil which works with their Paper by Fifty Three app for the iPad. The combination allows for pressure sensitive drawing where the harder you press, the thicker the lines are. The Pencil uses Bluetooth, whereas an Apple offering could rely on Force Touch or Apple's version of Near Field Communication or some combination of those technologies.
There have long been rumors that Apple will be coming out with a new Apple TV to replace the aging device that hasn't been updated for several years. The first clue that it might happen soon was when Apple recently lowered the price of the current Apple TV to $69, suggesting that the company might be trying to clear out inventory. And now Apple's website shows that the current Apple TV is no longer in stock and gives a ship time of one to two weeks. This sort of thing usually happens in advance of an updated device from Apple. It now seems likely that Apple will announce a new Apple TV at the Worldwide Developers Conference scheduled for June 8–12. Rumors for the past 18 months have suggested that Apple would open up the Apple TV to developers, and now it may be happening.
I gave blood today. No need to thank me, I did it for the free snacks and t-shirt. But seriously, it was an opportunity to get my heart rate measured by an expert and compare it to my Apple Watch. The good news? Both the watch and the American Red Cross nurse said my heart rate was fine. The nurse measured me at 68 Beats Per Minute and my Apple Watch measured 67 BPM, which is well within the margin of error. So I've got that going for me!
The DX-FREE ($69.99) from uNu Electronics is a 2400mAh external battery case that is surprisingly thin and light. The two-piece construction gives superior protection that is practically seamless once installed. So much so that I almost couldn't uninstall it!
Instead of a traditional unboxing video, I thought I'd compile some photos I took last Friday when I received my Apple Watch and turn them into an animated GIF. I did the same with the screenshots from the Apple Watch App installation process. Enjoy!
MOBI gave me the opportunity to try its MOBI Cube White Bluetooth Speaker with 360° Light Show ($29.95) and I'm glad I did. So is my daughter, who liked the fun light show that the speaker offers. In fact, the light show has five modes and can be synced to your Bluetooth or wired music source. The MOBI Cube is surprisingly well-built given the price point of just around $30. Plus who wouldn't like how cute the MOBI Cube is. It reminds me of my Rubik's Cube—which I was a champion at solving, by the way! And when it's turned off, the MOBI Cube is still pretty stylish and wouldn't be out of place in an Apple Store or the Museum of Modern Art!
The Apple Watch uses some clever algorithms to detect if it is on your wrist. For example, through the use of sensors, including a camera, the Apple Watch can detect blood flow and react differently than if it was on your desk. This is important for Apple Pay and fitness notifications. When the watch is removed from your wrist, you need to re-authenticate on your iPhone to use Apple Pay. This way, if the Apple Watch is stolen, it cannot be used indefinitely to make payments.
This is Part 2 of a two-part Indie Project Corner featuring the Libre wireless keyboard from Casestudi (see Part 1 here). In part 1, we queried Peter Ho (Casestudi Founder) on the gory specifics about his fancy new thin keyboard that works with PC, Android or iOS! In this part, we actually kick the tires (or kick the Libre, as it were) on this spotlighted Kickstarter effort!
This is the second edition of the Indie Project Corner, where we highlight the coolest new crowdfunded projects; and this time we have selected the Libre Keyboard from Casestudi for our project spotlight. Peter Ho, Casestudi Founder, thinks we need a thinline, wireless backlit keyboard that is both affordable and universal (and I agree). He designed his own multi-OS-compatible Bluetooth keyboard and funded it on Kickstarter, and is now headed for stretch goals.
I had the opportunity to try LifeProof frē Case ($79.99). LifeProof also makes a more expensive nüüd line which does not use a screen protector yet manages to be waterproof just the same.
It was painful to watch, but CNET put the Apple Watch Sport through a torture test I wouldn't wish on a $10 watch, let alone a hard-to-get $349 Apple Watch. The watch is put through a series of likely and unlikely tests like water, boiling water, a cheese grater, drops, stomps, and more. I held my breath for most of the video!
Apple often likes to go their own way. If there is a standardized solution that meets their needs, like USB-C, they may embrace it as they did with the new MacBook. Apple has also been known to work with companies like Intel to develop technologies such as Thunderbolt and Firewire. But other times, Apple is happy to blaze their own path, as they did with Lightning. Initially, it looked like the Apple Watch's magnetic charger might be as proprietary as Apple's MagSafe chargers. It now appears that the circular watch charger is based on the Qi open standard, although Apple has not confirmed this.
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