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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Apple targets for Apple Watch battery life revealed, A5-caliber CPU inside

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Although Apple has said that the Apple Watch will need to be charged nightly, the company has not disclosed any details on how long the wearable’s battery will last. For the first time, people with knowledge of the Apple Watch’s development have provided us with the specific performance targets Apple wants to achieve for the Apple Watch battery, but the actual numbers may fall short of those targets.

According to our sources, Apple opted to use a relatively powerful processor and high-quality screen for the Apple Watch, both of which contribute to significant power drain. Running a stripped-down version of iOS codenamed SkiHill, the Apple S1 chip inside the Apple Watch is surprisingly close in performance to the version of Apple’s A5 processor found inside the current-generation iPod touch, while the Retina-class color display is capable of updating at a fluid 60 frames per second.

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode. Sources, however, say that Apple will only likely achieve approximately 2-3 days in either the standby or low-power modes…

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Being separated from our iPhones creates anxiety and makes us dumber, says university study

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A study by the University of Missouri demonstrated that separating people from their iPhones not only causes anxiety, but also reduces cognitive performance.

The study hooked up participants to a wireless blood pressure monitor and then asked them to solve word-search puzzles. Once base readings of blood pressure and puzzle-solving performance had been measured, the researchers claimed that the participant’s iPhones were causing Bluetooth interference with the wireless monitor, and the phones needed to be moved further away within the room. New blood pressure and puzzle-solving readings were then obtained to measure the effect of being separated from their phones …  Read more

CES 2015: Noke is a Bluetooth padlock that can be unlocked with your iPhone

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It is the second day of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and we’re back on the show floor to discover the diamonds in the rough. Noke, the world’s first Bluetooth-enabled padlock, is one of those hidden gems. Noke replaces the nuisances of losing your keys or needing to remember random combinations with convenient unlocking over Bluetooth technology when your iPhone is within close range. Read more