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

MAcBook-air-sale

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)

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 12.27.46 PM

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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Opinion: Are we bidding farewell to MagSafe, and does it matter?

magsafe

When Apple unveiled the new 12-inch MacBook with just a single port (plus a headphone socket), it was doing not just one radical thing, but two. Reducing a machine to just one port was the first; dropping MagSafe was the second.

MagSafe has been one of the key features of MacBooks since it was first introduced by Apple in 2006. It is still highlighted on Apple’s website as one of the key design features of both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

MacBook Air offers innovations you won’t find anywhere else — like the MagSafe 2 power connector, which breaks cleanly away from the notebook if you accidentally trip over the power cord.

The magnetic power cord attaches securely and detaches cleanly.

It’s one of the features that even the most die-hard opponents of Macs tend to grudgingly admit is a good idea. And yet that (very) shiny new MacBook aimed at the largest slice of the MacBook Air market doesn’t have it. Is this a one-off move for a single model, or will we see USB C power replacing MagSafe across the entire MacBook range … ?  Read more

The Apple Store is back online with Apple Watch, the new MacBook, and more

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The Apple Online Store is back online after going down for Apple’s Spring Forward event today. The upcoming Apple Watch is now listed on the store, allowing users to create their own look and see how much it will cost them ahead of the pre-orders and live in-store previews start next month. Watch bands and accessories are also listed, though they won’t be available until April.

The new MacBook is also on the store, though custom configuration options don’t seem to be showing up just yet.

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How-To: Boost your Mac’s speed and prolong its useful life with easy RAM upgrades

imacram

As I’ve spotlighted over the past month, the best way to dramatically speed up an older Mac is to replace its old hard drive with a new solid state drive (SSD). The process is super-easy on MacBooks and Mac Pros, surprisingly manageable on iMacs, and challenging on Mac minis, yielding 3X to 5X speed boosts. But there’s another option that can speed things up with relatively little effort or expertise: upgrading your Mac’s RAM.

RAM upgrades are easy and cheap. You can expect to pay $90 or less for enough (Mac-safe) RAM to run OS X Yosemite without hiccups, or $180 for enough RAM to guarantee you won’t need more for years. Installing RAM generally doesn’t void your Mac’s warranty, and except for several models, the only tool you’ll need is a small screwdriver. Below, I’ll walk you through your best options.

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Opinion: Does the Apple Watch Edition signal future luxury-model iPhones, iPads and Macs?

luxury

Back in April of last year, when a luxury model of the Apple Watch was still a vague rumor, I wrote an opinion piece in which I expressed the view that Apple could indeed pull this off. I went further, and suggested that it could even create an entire range of luxury versions of its existing products, from iPhones to Macs.

Ten months on, with the Apple Watch Edition now real, and the general expectation that it’s going to cost several thousand dollars at least, I thought it was time to revisit that idea. Is a luxury model of the Apple Watch a one-off, or does Apple see this as the first step toward Edition models of its complete product range … ?  Read more