Happy Hour Podcast 015 | Refreshed Macs, Apple Watch update, and the end of Apple’s rumored TV plans

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Apple has slightly refreshed the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, added a more affordable Retina 5K iMac, and an iPhone related surprise. Along with that, we have a new Watch OS update and sad news about Apple’s rumored TV plans. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed…

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15-inch MacBook Pro with Force Touch, and cheaper $1999 27-inch Retina iMac, officially launched

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Yesterday’s report of a new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Force Touch trackpad, together with a new 27-inch iMac, have been confirmed via an official announcement by Apple.

Apple today updated the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display with the new Force Touch trackpad, faster flash storage, longer battery life and faster discrete graphics, delivering even more performance and capabilities to the MacBook Pro line. Apple also today introduced a new $1,999 configuration of the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display featuring a breathtaking 14.7 million pixel display, quad-core processors and AMD graphics, and lowered the price of the top-end iMac with Retina 5K display to $2,299.

While the upgrade to the latest Broadwell Haswell processor doesn’t show a speed-bump, Apple says that the flash storage is 2.5 times faster and greater power efficiency provides an extra hour of battery-life …  Read more

Report: New Force Touch 15-inch MacBook Pro & 27-inch iMac arriving Wednesday

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French site MacG, which has a very decent track-record, cites “reliable sources” as stating that a new 15-inch MacBook Pro and 27-inch iMac are going on sale on Wednesday. (Update: We are now told their sources don’t know whether it’s the Retina or non-Retina iMac.)

Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro back in March, the most notable update being the inclusion of the Force Touch trackpad fitted to the new 12-inch MacBook. The machine also got 5th-generation Intel Core processors, the base model running at 2.7GHz, configurable to 3.1GHz, and Intel Iris Graphics 6100 GPU.

While the site had no specific details, it’s likely the 15-inch model will likewise get CPU and GPU bumps, alongside the Force Touch trackpad …  Read more

Apple patent application shows how Force Touch could in future simulate more than just clicks

Apple's existing Force Touch mechanism

Apple’s existing Force Touch mechanism

An Apple patent application published today shows that the Force Touch trackpad used in the 12-inch MacBook and latest 13-inch MacBook Pro could get more sophisticated in future versions. The patent describes how a mix of vibration and temperature could fool your finger into ‘feeling’ different surfaces, such as metal and wood.

For example, a glass surface may be controlled to have the temperature of a relatively cooler metal material and/or a relatively warmer wood material […]

In some cases, the temperature may be varied over time, such as in response to one or more touches detected using one or more touch sensors. For example, a metal material may increase in temperature while touched in response to heat from a user’s finger.

The patent describes how vibrations could be used to simulate a textured surface, such as the grain of a wooden surface …  Read more

The best travel accessories for your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Retina MacBook

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Traveling with any MacBook is a lot easier today than it was five or ten years ago. Apple’s latest laptops consume much less space than their predecessors, and last much longer when they’re in active use. Whether it’s on a seat-back tray or resting in your lap, your MacBook can deliver quite a few hours of productive work time, video viewing, or even gameplay without assistance. But it can do even more if you bring the right accessories along.

My goal is to help you choose the best items to carry with you on the road — the type of items I’ve spent years testing. The picks below are highly practical and focused to make good use of space and address real-world concerns that many travelers have. Read on!

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How-To: Choose the best stand or desktop mount for Apple’s iPads and Macs

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Apple currently sells more “laptop” than “desktop” Macs, but in reality, most Macs will be used substantially on flat surfaces — desks, tables, and sometimes nightstands. iPads are more lap-friendly, but also tend to get used upright, particularly for watching videos and access in the kitchen. Since I’ve spent a lot of time testing Apple device stands and mounts, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you, so you can choose the solution that best suits your Mac, iPad, or both at the same time.

Below, I’ve hand-picked options for different types of users, starting with passive MacBook stands such as Twelve South’s BookArc for MacBook Pro ($50). Made from Mac-matching aluminum with gray rubber inserts, BookArc is designed to safely hold a MacBook Pro upright so that its ports and SD card reader are easily accessible. Twelve South also sells a smaller version of BookArc for the MacBook Air, a bigger BookArc for the Mac Pro, and an earthy version called BookArc mod for fans of wood. That’s a rarity, as most Mac and iPad stands are designed to match Apple’s products, as you’ll see inside…

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Review: Swapping MagSafe for SnapFit, BatteryBox adds 60Wh of portable power to MacBook Airs, Pros

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Thanks to Apple’s patent on the MagSafe connectors used in MacBook Airs and Pros, the list of third-party external batteries for MacBooks previously began with Hyper’s HyperJuice/HyperJuice 2 and ended with Lenmar’s ChugPlug — not much of a variety. Apple’s legal department chased Hyper for attaching harvested MagSafe connectors to its batteries, and Lenmar chose a workaround, sending ChugPlug’s power indirectly though an Apple wall adapter. Neither solution was ideal. It took until now for a completely different third solution to appear: BatteryBox ($220) from Gbatteries Energy.

BatteryBox is the first MacBook power option I’ve tested that doesn’t require either MagSafe or an Apple wall adapter to function. Since the developers went out of their way to create something that won’t run afoul of Apple’s legal team, there’s absolutely nothing Mac-like about its brick-like rectangular design. And it’s not cheap, priced between the two HyperJuices and higher than ChugPlug, which can now be had for only $100. But it works, adding a 60-watt-hour additional battery to the 38-95-watt-hour cells already inside MacBook Airs and Pros. So if you’re on the road without access to a power outlet and need to add hours of additional runtime to your Apple laptop, this is a viable alternative….

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Inklet plug-in adds pressure-sensitive drawing on new Force Touch MacBook trackpad

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Ten One Design has released an updated version of its drawing plug-in, Inklet, adding pressure-sensitive drawing on the new Force Touch trackpad in all Mac drawing apps, including Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture and Illustrator. The new trackpad was introduced by Apple on the 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

This means MacBook owners with the new trackpad will enjoy enhanced, highly-accurate pressure sensitivity when drawing on the trackpad whether drawing with a stylus or with a finger.

Inklet for Mac adds an icon to your menubar that you click when you want to draw on your trackpad in your chosen app …  Read more

Apple’s 2015 MacBook Pro and Air models now at US retailers Amazon, Best Buy, MacMall, B&H and others

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Refreshed 2015 MacBook Air and Pro models are now available at major US retailers following their announcement at Apple’s Spring Forward event on March 9th.

Currently, Amazon has all of the new MacBook Air models in stock and ready to ship, from $899. The new MacBook Pro models are also listed on Amazon as well, although supply is currently more limited. 2014 versions are discounted.

B&H offers $5 off and no tax at the time of purchase outside of New York on the new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros as well as a free copy of Parallels. 2014 versions are discounted.

MacMall also offers $5 off the new MacBook Airs and Pros and tax only in a few states. 2014 models discounted.

Meanwhile if you want to get your hands on one today, Best Buy offers free site to store on the new MacBook Pro/Airs which will have stock varied by location. 2014 models discounted.

If you want to save some real money, 2014 models are seeing deep discounts at 9to5toys. At the Apple Refurb store you can pick up some heavy discounts on previous models while extraordinary savings are available at B&H and Best Buy on 2014 models including a student deal that chops the 2014 models down to $750 .

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Top 15 hidden Force Click features on the new 2015 MacBook (Video)

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Apple’s 2015 MacBook and 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are both equipped with a new Force Touch trackpad that adds new features within certain apps on OS X. If you’re not familiar with Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad, it’s completely pressure sensitive and can detect a hard press from a soft press. With this, you now have the ability to Force Click (a click with a continued press) on specific items to perform different actions.

We’ve spent the last 24 hours searching through OS X on Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display to find all of the hidden Force Click features that Apple has yet to mention. There are a good amount of uses for Force Click, but these 15 happen to be our favorite…

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