Nest reveals new Nest Cam, 2nd generation Nest Protect, updated iOS app

Following the Nest Cam outed by Best Buy earlier this morning, Nest did in fact take the stage today to announce its new lineup of products. Besides the Nest Cam, Tony Fadell and company showed off the 2nd generation Nest Protect smoke detector, a new mobile app for iOS and Android that brings all of the company’s new products together, and more. Unfortunately, the company’s flagship Nest Thermostat didn’t get any hardware upgrades today, but here’s what’s new… Read more

Review: blueLounge’s Portiko + Pixi bring elegance to Mac / iOS / Apple Watch charging + cable management

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blueLounge isn’t a typical Apple accessory maker. If you look through its 15-year backcatalog of releases, you’ll notice that its products are markedly different from somewhat overlapping alternatives produced by rivals — intensely practical and cleanly-designed, yet sometimes so conceptually minor that they’re hard to review. Take CableDrop and CableDrop Mini, for instance, circular adhesive pads that each do nothing more than hold one cord in a fixed position wherever you want it. I use CableDrop Mini every day with my MacBook Pro’s power cable, but can’t justify a full review of something so utterly basic.

The simultaneous release of two new blueLounge accessories — Portiko ($25) and Pixi ($10) — gives me the rare opportunity to cover one of the company’s minor but practical items alongside one that’s more gadget-like. Portiko (shown above) is a wall- or table-mountable power source attractive enough to put on display between the four devices it can charge at once. It has enough USB and AC power outlets to handle a MacBook, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch at the same time, or other combinations of devices. Pixi is blueLounge’s latest cable management solution, a set of elegantly-built elastic and plastic bands that wrap around bunches of cables, tidying up your desk. Read on for more details and pictures…

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How-To: Prepare your iPhone, iPad or Mac for iOS 9 + OS X El Capitan public betas

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Up until recently, unfinished “beta” versions of iOS and OS X were only officially available to registered Apple developers, enabling companies to make their apps compatible before the operating systems were publicly released. But to increase openness and expand its pool of beta testers, Apple decided to offer “public betas” of both iOS and OS X to interested users, starting with iOS 8.4 and OS X Yosemite. Very soon, both iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan will become available as public betas under the Apple Beta Software Program, which you can sign up for here.

Should you install these new and unstable betas on your iPad, iPhone, or Mac? What can you really expect after doing so? Below, I’ll provide you with some guidance so you can make an informed decision to participate in the public betas, or hold off…

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Apple reportedly set to kill Newsstand, introduce Flipboard-esque news app

Flipboard for the web

Apple set to introduce Flipboard-Like news product

A late-breaking report from Re/code is indicating that Apple is readying an announcement about news initiatives on iOS. According to the report, the company plans to kill off Newsstand although individual apps will still remain in the App Store.

Apple will also apparently introduce a new service which will present news stories from a variety of sources, such as ESPN, New York Times and Conde Naste. The report describes the product as similar to Flipboard.

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Review: Incase’s DSLR Sling and Pro Packs are durable, versatile MacBook/camera bags

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Eventually, pocket-sized cameras will compare in low-light performance to today’s large and expensive DSLRs. Although pro photographers will have moved on by then to even more powerful large cameras, the vast majority of people will see no need to carry big, heavy lenses and camera bodies around. The iPhone’s ascendance demonstrates that “eventually” is at least foreseeable, even though it’s not happening in the near term.

Serious photographers won’t be giving up their DSLRs any time soon, and in fact will be toting plenty of camera hardware — many times, along with a laptop — to any event or destination important enough to photograph properly. Over the years, I’ve learned that the “ideal bag” for my personal needs is one that can hold my camera, several lenses, and whichever MacBook I’m using. Having hunted for the ultimate carrying solution for both computer and photo gear, the best solutions I’ve found are made by Incase.

The bag I’ve used actively for the last three years is Incase’s DSLR Sling Pack ($90, above left), and incredibly, it looks virtually identical today to when I first started using it. The DSLR Sling Pack is perfect for 11″ MacBook Airs and 12″ MacBooks, plus a big camera body with three lenses. But since my 13″ MacBook Pro barely fits inside its zippered compartment, I’ve been struggling with whether to replace the bag. That’s why I’m checking out two larger models today: the DSLR Pro Sling Pack ($170, middle), and traditional DSLR Pro Pack ($150, right). They’re large enough for up to 15″ MacBook Pros and have more room for DSLR gear, as well. Which is right for you?…

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Opinion: Google’s new Photos may just have won my library away from Apple

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Google Photos

My relationship with Apple’s hardware is simple: I’m happily locked in, and not changing platforms any time soon. But my relationship with Apple’s software is complex: I want to love it, but every time Apple decides to “throw everything away” and “start over” with an app, it’s disruptive — and for many users, unnecessary. From my perspective, users weren’t complaining that Apple’s popular photo apps iPhoto or Aperture were hopelessly broken or even deficient in major ways, yet Apple discontinued both of them last month to release Photos, a bare-bones alternative no one seems to love. On the relationship scale, I didn’t abandon Aperture; Aperture abandoned me (and a lot of other people).

So yesterday’s announcement of the free cross-platform photo and video storage app Google Photos couldn’t have come at a better time. Apple has struggled to explain why it now offers two separate photo syncing services, neither with the virtually unlimited photo and video storage Google is now giving users — notably all users, including Mac and iOS users. Moreover, Apple has offered no sign that it’s going to drop the steep fees it’s charging for iCloud photo storage. With WWDC just around the corner, Apple has a big opportunity to match Google’s photo and video initiative, thrilling its customers in the process. If that doesn’t happen, I’m moving my collection into Google Photos, and not looking back…

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Get exclusive access to Incase’s killer new bags + a free power pack and giveaway entry!

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Update: Giveaway winners!! Shoot me an email (jordan@9to5mac.com) with your shipping info using the same email you used to enter. Congrats!

Reform Backpack bundle – Keith Jones

Reform Action Camera Pack bundle – Randy Fang

Reform Sling bundle – Robert a Stine III

Incase has always been one of our favorite brands selling bags for Apple and camera gear. You’ve likely seen their bags in Apple stores and on Apple’s online store. But for the new REFORM collection launching next month, 9to5Mac readers get access before anyone else.

Starting today, 9to5Mac readers only can purchase the bag before they’ve launched to the public and have their order ship before the launch date next month. All orders of the new Incase bags during our exclusive presale event using promo code “9to5Mac” will also get a free Portable Power 2500 battery pack worth $50.

In addition, you’ll also be automatically entered into a giveaway to win an Incase bag full of accessories for your Apple devices (details below).  Read more

The Best Mac Accessories and Upgrades

Over the past six months, I’ve published quite a few tutorials to help Mac users improve the performance of older computers, as well as some great guides to the best Mac accessories across a variety of categories. Today, I’m tying them all together in this handy, one-stop roundup of the best Mac accessories and upgrades.

This guide walks you through everything: in one place, you can learn about the best Mac hard drives, RAM upgrades, docks, keyboards, trackpads, stands, bags, and travel accessories out there. And you can also get free apps to improve your Mac’s storage and responsiveness, find plain English explanations of your Mac’s technical specs, and learn about the little security screws Apple uses to tamper-proof its machines. There’s a lot inside, so you may want to bookmark this piece for future reference!…

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How-To: Understand and unlock Apple’s Mac and iPhone security screws

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Decades ago, every electronic device was sealed with one of two types of screws: a minus-shaped Flat/Slot head, or a plus-shaped Phillips head. There was no concept — at least, for common consumer electronics — that average people shouldn’t be able to unscrew their gadgets and take them apart. And the only reason to have multiple Flat or Phillips head screwdrivers was to handle bigger or smaller screws.

Times have changed, and “security screws” have become increasingly common. Apple actually started using tamper-resistant screws in its Macs years ago, but when it added Pentalobe screws to the iPhone 4, the media took notice, and there was a brief public flare-up (actual sample headline: “Apple iPhone 4 Uses ‘Evil,’ Tamper-Proof Screws”). Despite initial frustration, however, the solution turned out to be simple: buy an inexpensive Pentalobe screwdriver, or alternately, a multi-bit screwdriver with tons of different bits, like iFixit’s 54-Bit Driver Kit.

I’ve been using iFixit’s kit for so long and across so many great Mac upgrade projects that I consider it essential to my office; if a Mac, hard drive, or other peripheral needs to be opened, the 54-Bit Driver Kit almost always can do it. But since most people have no idea what Pentalobe, Torx, Tri-Wing, Hex and other bits look like or are supposed to do, I’ve assembled this guide to explain them all, focusing on the ones used in Apple products. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll have a good sense of the world of security screws, and the reasons it’s handy to keep a kit around to open anything up…

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How-To: Clean and speed up your Mac with free, trustworthy downloads

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“My Mac used to be fast, but now it’s running so slow.” I’ve heard many versions of this complaint, and they’re always factually true, not just opinions: Macs do become sluggish over time, even if all of their chips and hard drives are working like new.

I’ve devoted several columns to hardware solutions — replacing old hard drives with fast new SSDs, adding more RAM, and increasing storage capacity using an external drive — but there are software solutions, too. Even die-hard Apple fans will admit that Macs typically run new OS X versions better (faster, and with fewer bugs) if you start with a clean slate: completely wipe your hard drive, do a fresh install of the latest OS X release, and restore only the files you need. That’s not as hard as it sounds, but it’s a radical and fairly time-consuming solution.

This How-To article offers a simpler alternative. First, find and delete enough files to leave your Mac at least 50GB of free storage capacity — enough room for the Mac to work without pausing to manage its hard drive space. Next, cleanse the cruft OS X builds up in the background as you use your computer. Below, I’ll show you how two completely free Mac programs, GrandPerspective and OnyX, will do all the heavy lifting for you. GrandPerspective offers a highly visual display of what’s taking up space on your Mac; Onyx cleans up the Mac files you’d be afraid to touch yourself…

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Spigen unveils affordable new Apple Watch stand and protective solutions from classic case lines

As lucky early adopters get their hands on the world’s first Apple Watches, Spigen has unveiled a collection of accessories designed to hold and protect them. The lineup includes the most aggressively-priced metal stand we’ve seen from any company, as well as affordable protectors that can keep an Apple Watch looking new — important if you want to guard against the bumps and scratches of everyday life, maximizing its trade-in value.

Spigen’s lineup starts with the S330 Watch Stand, an aluminum frame that resembles Apple’s classic iMac and Thunderbolt Display stands, and continues with five different cases and two anti-scratch screen protectors. They’re all currently available for pre-order, shipping in May…

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First 12″ MacBook 1.3GHz benchmarks: top model rivals 1.4GHz iMac, 2014 MacBook Air

Following Apple’s shipments of the first 1.3GHz versions of the 12″ MacBook this week, benchmarks have started to appear online for the new Intel Core M-5Y71 machine. Geekbench 3 shows the following results for each model, which vary based on the testing mode (32/64-bit) and number of processor cores used (single or multiple cores).

MacBook 1.1GHz

  • 32-Bit: Single-Core Average 2212, Multi-Core Average 4070
  • 64-Bit: Single-Core Average 2428, Multi-Core Average 4592

MacBook 1.2GHz

  • 32-Bit: Single-Core Average 2348, Multi-Core Average 4603
  • 64-Bit: Single-Core Average 2579, Multi-Core Average 5185

MacBook 1.3GHz

  • 32-Bit: Single-Core Average 2387, Multi-Core Average 4673
  • 64-Bit: Single-Core Average 2816, Multi-Core Average 5596

The 1.3GHz MacBook’s 64-Bit scores represent 16%-22% improvements over the 1.1GHz model, and 8%-9% gains over the 1.2GHz model. On April 27, we updated the 32-Bit scores now that additional benchmarks have been posted; they show smaller gains over the lower-speed models. More details are below…

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