Opinion: Don’t judge – Apple Watch accessories are supposed to be personal, not universal

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Over the past fifteen years, I’ve seen certain commenters pick the same fight literally every time Apple releases another device: “are accessories really needed for _____?” Fill the blank in with “iPod,” “iPhone,” “iPad,” “Apple TV,” or “Apple Watch” and you’ll see how the answer has eventually turned out to be “yes” every time. Even though I’ve tested virtually every type of Apple accessory out there, I couldn’t help but shake my head when companies first announced cases for the Apple TV’s remote control. Crazy, right? But there were eventually behind-TV mounts, Bluetooth keyboards, and universal remote controls that became truly handy for even Apple’s least-accessorized device.

Now the Apple Watch is coming, and despite Apple’s focus on its purely aesthetic customizability — including welcoming third-party band makers to the party — the “is this necessary?” comments are appearing again. “Nothing like a faux carbon fiber decal on your watch to convey your sense of good taste,” said one commenter, who separately opined that “every protective product listed here is the modern day equivalent of plastic-covered furniture.” To be honest, I personally agree with the first sentiment, but I’m not the target market for stickers. And I can still remember some people describing iPhone cases as plastic-wrapped furniture, back before Apple started selling them, too. So who’s actually right here, a handful of anonymous commenters acting as arbiters of universal style, or consumers looking to have fun customizing their new toys to their personal tastes?…

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Review: Griffin’s iTrip Bluetooth adds wireless iPhone music streaming to your car’s stereo

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Twelve years have passed since Griffin released its first iTrip, a breakthrough FM transmitter that enabled iPods to send music wirelessly to car and home stereos. The original model, a glossy white housing that sat atop early iPods like a tube of Chapstick, effectively defined iPod accessories for an entire generation of early adopters. And it was fun, too: using an radio antenna and brilliant software, iTrip could flood an empty FM radio channel with iPod music, acting like a pocket-sized pirate radio station.

Everything changed when the FCC cracked down on FM transmitters, forcing reductions in broadcasting power that made iTrips (and numerous competitors) sound staticky, reducing their appeal. Around the same time, Apple and car companies transitioned to better-sounding solutions — Bluetooth and aux-in audio ports, respectively — leaving FM transmitters with fewer customers. But Griffin is rejuvenating the iTrip family with iTrip Bluetooth, aka iTrip Aux Bluetooth, which provides a different type of dead-simple wireless solution for cars. Priced at $50 but available online for $38, it has one purpose: to receive Bluetooth audio sent by your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, conveying it through an included 3.5mm audio cable to your car’s aux-in port…

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How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Part 2

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As I noted in Part 1 of How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Apple has designed the Mac purchasing process to be easy: pick a model, pick the good, better, or best configuration, hand over your cash, and enjoy your computer. Since most people get confused by tech specs — bullet points filled with numbers and acronyms — Apple downplays them in its marketing materials, leaving customers to sort through the details and figure out what most of them mean.

But these specs are really important when you’re shopping for the right Mac for your current and future needs. So I’ve created this How-To guide to walk you through each of Apple’s Tech Specs pages using clear explanations, hopefully enabling you to properly understand what you’re about to buy. Part 1 focused on the “big 5″ Mac specs you really need to know about, and this Part 2 looks at the rest — generally things that remain the same in a given model, regardless of the configuration you choose…

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Sources offer hands-on Apple Watch details: battery life, unannounced features, and more

Just ahead of the finalized Apple Watch’s presentation at Apple’s March 9th “Spring Forward” event, sources with hands-on Apple Watch experience have revealed a collection of new details about the device’s features to 9to5Mac. Our sources have offered new information on the Watch’s real-world battery life, health and fitness features, apps, and experiences using Apple’s next-generation touchscreen hardware…

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Review: Brydge keyboard for iPad Air/2 — can this all-aluminum model beat the ClamCase Pro?

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One thing I love about 9to5Mac readers is how engaged they are in the comments. My review of the ClamCase Pro iPad keyboard case last month led to a lively discussion about the relative merits of that vs the Brydge keyboard, so I decided to give that a try for a retrospective shoot-out.

The Brydge Air is a slightly different beast to the ClamCase, being just a keyboard and not a full case. It still hinges shut in a laptop-like clamshell fashion, but there’s no rear protection on this one. That, as we’ll see, has both pros and cons …  Read more

SXSW plans largest iBeacon deployment yet to let attendees meet up & find events via mobile app

 

South by Southwest (SXSW) just launched its official mobile app ahead of the festival and alongside it announced plans for the world’s largest deployment of iBeacons to offer mobile app features triggered by the Bluetooth beacons. In total, more than 1000+ beacons will be deployed to pull it all off. SXSW thinks the features will “fundamentally change attendee’s experiences” by letting mobile app users network and navigate the event. Read more

Tim Cook: Apple Watch will replace car keyfobs, reward exercise, filter messages

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In an interview with the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, Tim Cook said that while people might see limited reasons to want an Apple Watch today, they will soon find lots of other uses for it. The interview took place during a London stop in Cook’s international tour.

This will be just like the iPhone: people wanted it and bought for a particular reason, perhaps for browsing, but then found out that they loved it for all sorts of other reasons.

One of those reasons, he said, would be to replace your car keyfob …  Read more

Review: A-Audio’s Icon over-ear headphones pack Bluetooth and active noise cancellation in a premium package

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These days, it seems like there is an endless variety of headphones to choose from. With new models popping up on a weekly basis, it’s hard to sort through the crowd to find the ones that fit you best. When it comes to active noise cancellation this elite selection thins out a bit, but there are only a handful that fall into the same category as A-Audio’s Icon over-ear headphones.

From a functionality perspective, these headphones give you everything but the kitchen sink. They can be used wirelessly via Bluetooth with active noise cancellation, in passive (wired) mode, and even feature dual sound profiles. Along with that, they include a wide variety of accessories that offer more than enough for any situation…

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Paper by FiftyThree’s essential tools now free for all iPad users

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Paper by FiftyThree, the popular illustrating app for iPad, is making a significant change to its app price today. While Paper for iPad has been free to download and use since its debut, the app has also had tools for drawing and illustrating available for unlocking through in-app purchases as well.

Starting today, FiftyThree is making the all tools offered in Paper free for everyone to use. FiftyThree is now including the Draw, Sketch, Outline, Write, and Color tools for every Paper user. Previously, the essential tools were $3.99 to unlock as a package while individual tools could be have for $0.99 each. Read more

Review: Libratone’s second-generation Loop brings Bluetooth to the AirPlay-only Danish speaker family

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AirPlay isn’t dead as a wireless speaker standard, but it’s not exactly healthy: many models have been discontinued, and new releases have all but stopped. Having previously gone all-in with AirPlay, Danish designer speaker maker Libratone is now rolling out updated versions of its circular Loop, tube-shaped Zipp, and triangular Live systems that augment AirPlay rather than ditching it. The new Libratone Loop ($500) modestly tweaks the prior version to add Bluetooth 4.0 support — a feature that radically increases Loop’s compatibility. Though its high price tag will continue to keep this model out of reach for most consumers, long-awaited and substantial discounts on the prior-generation models (Loop here, Zipp here, Live here) may bolster their appeal.

Having tested the new Loop, my personal feelings are mixed: I applaud Libratone for consistently releasing speakers that look distinctive, working both as design objects and audio systems, but the MSRPs remain somewhat hard to justify given the sonic performance…

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Apple hires Burberry’s VP of Digital Retail initiatives ahead of Watch launch

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Apple has made yet another key hire from the fashion industry: Chester Chipperfield, the Vice President of Digital and Interactive Design at Burberry. Chipperfield was “responsible for User Experience and Digital Design for all channels” and was “highly involved in digital retail initiatives” at Burberry, according to his LinkedIn profile. He confirmed the move to Apple on his profile as well as on Twitter

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