Jeff produces tech videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He earned his degree in Computer Network Systems back in 2001, but decided Cisco routers and the like just weren’t for him. Since then, he’s been heavily involved with online writing and video. He’s written for numerous tech sites since the late 1990′s, and has a knack for explaining things in a simple, clear and concise manner.
In this week’s edition of Friday 5 we showcase a couple of new games to try this weekend, including Stagehand, a title that places a new twist on the traditional platformer. We also look at Spiraloid, a stomach-turning 3D title that starts off slow, but delivers big fun in later stages.
If games aren’t your thing, then you might consider Parallels Access, a subscription-based app that lets you easily access your Mac from your iPhone or iPad while away from home. There’s also TwIM, a new messaging app based on Twitter DMs.
These and other apps are considered in the latest Friday 5. Watch our brief video for a hands-on look at each app in action. expand full story
As an owner of the LG UltraFine 5K Display, I often find myself using my 2016 MacBook Pro in closed-display (clamshell) mode with a keyboard attached to the display’s USB-C port. This allows me to enjoy the best of both worlds — a portable machine for when I’m on the go, and a 5K desktop setup for when I’m stationed at my desk.
Anyone who uses closed-display mode on a regular basis knows that having your MacBook Pro sitting flat on your desk takes can take up a significant amount of prime real estate on the desk top. It’s why vertical stands like Twelve South’s BookArc have been so popular with MacBook users over the years.
In this brief hands-on video, we take a look at the recently-updated BookArc, which includes a new rubber insert that’s specially designed to make the vertical stand play nice with the 2016 MacBook Pro. expand full story
I’ve always liked the idea of using a battery case, but with a phone like the iPhone 7 Plus, a lack of battery life isn’t a problem that I encounter regularly enough to warrant the extra bulk. I also like the idea of a wallet case to help keep up with my driver’s license and credit cards, but with a phone as large as the iPhone 7 Plus, I find such a setup to be a tad unwieldy.
The folks over at Nomad have come up with a solution that seems to address both of my issues, and depending on your needs, it might be a worthwhile solution for you as well.
The company’s Bi-fold and Slim Leather Wallet give you a place to keep all of your credit cards, identification, and other necessary items in a standalone form factor. In other words, it’s a traditional wallet setup that’s completely independent of your iPhone. But the kicker here is that the Nomad wallets feature an integrated portable battery with a hideaway Lightning cable for charging your iPhone on the fly when you happen to need it. expand full story
The highly anticipated BeatsX are the latest pair of wireless earphones to feature Apple’s W1 wireless chip, which makes it easy to pair and switch between eligible iOS devices.
First revealed at Apple’s fall iPhone event, the BeatsX have experienced a few delays on their way to last Friday’s release. The white and black versions are currently available for in store pickup and shipping, while the newly-revealed grey and blue versions are scheduled to ship in 2-3 weeks.
How do the BeatsX stack up to the similarly-priced AirPods? Are they a good option for users looking for a pair of Bluetooth earbuds? In this hands-on video walkthrough, we’ll take a look at some of the top BeatsX features in our quest to answer those questions. expand full story
If you’re a Spotify Premium user with an Apple Watch, you’re well aware of a big glaring omission as far as watchOS apps are concerned. Indeed, we’re approaching two years since the Apple Watch arrived in stores, and there’s still no official Spotify app for watchOS.
Developer and second year undergrad CS student, Andrew Chang, is aiming to lessen the void when he releases Spotty — a currently-in-beta, free third-party app that will allow Spotify Premium users to sync playlists and albums for offline playback.
That’s right; the app’s offline mode lends users the option of leaving their iPhones at home or in the car while engaged in Spotify-powered music workouts.
Spotty is a super-impressive app that works with all models of Apple Watch. Watch our hands-on video walkthrough as I take the app for a test drive. expand full story
Looking for a few apps to keep you entertained this weekend? Then have a look at the latest edition of Friday 5. Inside, we discuss Linea — a brand new sketch app with Apple Pencil support. We also talk about Moonlight, an app that lets you stream NVIDIA GameStream-compatible games to an iOS device. Those, and three additional apps are on the docket for this week’s edition of Friday 5. Have a look at our brief hands-on video inside for the full rundown. expand full story
As we showed you in our step-by-step tutorial, creating a Boot Camp partition on your Mac to install Windows is easy. The tedious part of the installation is taking Windows through its initial setup process, and configuring it to your liking.
The configuration portion of the install process — initial setup, installing drivers, and downloading needed applications — can take a significant amount of time, so it’s worth backing up your Boot Camp installation after you have it configured to your liking. By doing so, you can easily restore a snapshot of Windows in mere minutes.
Apple just released the first developer beta for watchOS 3.2, and we’ve spent some hands-on time with the release to observe the new features. The biggest feature, as alluded to in our initial post about today’s beta, is the presence of a new Theater Mode. In this brief hands-on video walkthrough, we take the new Apple Watch Theater Mode for a test spin. expand full story
In search of a few apps to keep you occupied this weekend? Then you’ll want to check out the latest edition of Friday 5. Inside you’ll find a major GarageBand update, a new game from the creator of Flappy Bird, an awesome iOS imaging app that’s currently on sale, and more. Watch our brief hands-on video for additional details. expand full story
While they’ve existed before the most recent MacBook Pro, the surge of interest in external GPUs is largely thanks to the implementation of Thunderbolt 3 in the latest Mac hardware. As we’ve shown in a previous post, an eGPU can make a significant performance difference, turning an otherwise graphically pedestrian MacBook Pro into a competent gaming machine.
In our previous tutorial, we showed you how to wield an AMD RX 480 in macOS. While that solution yielded definite benefits, it was also hindered by difficulties caused by macOS itself.
It should come as no surprise that the setup process and support with Windows is, in some ways, quite a bit better than using an eGPU with macOS. That’s not to say that you should run out and buy a Windows laptop if you want to play the latest games requiring a more powerful GPU. Instead, you can utilize a Boot Camp installation, and turn your MacBook Pro into a 1080p gaming machine.
The now-available $249 Akitio Thunder3 is much smaller than the larger Akitio Node, so it takes up a smaller footprint on your desk. The setup also lets you tap into the power of the GPU right from your MacBook Pro’s built-in display, no external display required. Watch our full walkthrough, as we showcase this simple and compact eGPU solution on video. expand full story
As we noted earlier, Apple has released iOS 10.3 beta 1 to developers. The update brings several new features to the table, including Find My AirPods for helping to keep track of Apple’s recently-released and highly popular AirPods. But that’s not all that’s new in iOS 10.3. In this hands-on video walkthrough, we’ll step through some of the other new additions. expand full story
If you’re interested in installing Windows 10 on your Mac running macOS Sierra, you can easily do so by means of Microsoft’s Windows 10 ISO download and the macOS Boot Camp Assistant. The installation can be a little time consuming, but it is by no means difficult. Check out our full video walkthrough inside for the details. expand full story
I’ve been a big fan of Philips Hue lights since the very first Hue Starter Kit was released back in 2012. I’ve been using that same initial set of bulbs ever since then, and have been largely happy with the experience.
Thanks to the success of that initial release, Philips has added many more Hue products to the lineup. It also produced a new second-generation HomeKit-enabled Bridge, which allows you to control your Hue lights directly from Siri or via the Home app features found in iOS 10.
But there’s one particular Hue product that I see utilized more than any other, and that’s Philips’ Hue Lightstrip. You’ve likely seen the $90 Lightstrip utilized in photos or on YouTube videos, and that’s because they’re a wonderful way to make practically any environment more interesting with minimal effort. expand full story
Channels, an app that we’ve covered several times in the past, allows users to stream live local television to an Apple TV or iOS device via a handy guide interface. The app works in harmony with an HD HomeRun box to receive over-the-air terrestrial television or cable TV depending on the box you purchase.
After the successful launch of the iOS version of the app and Channels 2.0 for the Apple TV, developer Fancy Bits’ next project involves integrating a subscription-based DVR service directly into the Channels app for Apple TV.
The DVR service, which will require a subscription, is currently in beta. By tapping into a NAS solution like the Synology DS916+, users can record live television, and schedule recordings directly from the Channels tvOS interface. Have a look at our video walkthrough as we take the service for a test drive. expand full story
The 2016 MacBook Pro has endured criticism for its lack of I/O ports, but what that it does have — two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports based on your configuration — has lots of potential. For example, it’s now possible to connect an external GPU (eGPU) box via Thunderbolt 3 and tap into the power offered by a full-sized graphics card.
In this hands-on post, we’re going to showcase how to power the 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro with an eGPU using Sapphire’s AMD RX 480. The RX 480 is modestly-priced GPU with a decent amount of power that’s good enough for 1080p gaming. The connection is made possible by means of the Akitio Node — an external GPU box with an embedded 400W power supply, and enough room inside for a full sized card like the RX 480.
The nice folks at Akitio provided us with an early unit for testing with macOS. Unlike Akitio’s other Thunderbolt 3-enabled enclosures, the Node features the newer Texas Instruments TI83 controller and is immediately recognized in macOS. While that makes for one less hurdle to clear, there are still lots of factors to consider before taking the eGPU plunge.
As you’ll see in this post, the setup takes some effort to get right, but it’s fairly simple to get working if you follow the steps correctly. If you’re a Mac gamer or video editor, then the benefits are very apparent, especially if you’re using a MacBook Pro with an integrated Intel Iris GPU like the 13-inch 2016 model. Have a look at our full hands-on video walkthrough for our step-by-step guide through the setup process. expand full story
WatchPlayer is a free app that allows you to transfer full podcast episodes to the Apple Watch for offline playback. That means you can leave the house without your iPhone and listen to your favorite shows while on-the-go.
The app isn’t the prettiest from a design perspective and podcast file transfers to the Apple Watch are slow, but it’s one of the easiest ways to play podcast episodes on the Apple Watch without an iPhone. The app even affords the ability to listen to your favorite episodes directly from the Apple Watch speaker — no headphones required. Have a look at our hands-on video walkthrough inside for more details.
Filmic Pro has long been my go-to app for shooting anything but the most frivolous content on my iPhone. It’s an app that affords a level of control over the filming process that’s unlike anything we’ve seen from an iOS app. If you’re serious about filmmaking with your iPhone, then it’s a no-brainer to have Filmic Pro as part of your repertoire. To illustrate the sheer amount of features contained within the app, we created a video that covered its basic concepts, and it was over 13 minutes long.
Filmic has recently been working hard on the next big version of its app. The forthcoming update will introduce a new log mode that allows filmmakers to shoot videos with a flat picture profile containing additional stops of dynamic range. This is the type of feature that’s normally reserved for more expensive standalone cameras, but it will soon be available to iPhone users. expand full story
LG’s UltraFine 5K Display is here, and while it tops the 4K model in virtually every statistic, there are some scenarios where you might consider buying two 21.5-inch 4K displays instead of a single 5K display.
Both UltraFine Displays are on sale for a limited time until March 31, 2017. The LG UltraFine 5K Display is on sale for $974 and the 4K version is on sale for $524.
That means that you can get two 4K models for $1048, or only $74 more than a single 5K display. Despite the 4K version’s noted shortcomings — lack of a camera, microphone, Thunderbolt 3, 10-bit color, etc. — this may be a viable option if it happens to meet your needs. expand full story
As an LG UltraFine 5K Display owner, I’ve been using my MacBook Pro in closed-clamshell mode for the last week. Closed-clamshell mode allows me to drive an external display with the MacBook’s lid closed.
While such a setup looks neat and takes up less desk real estate, there are a few downsides involved. The most obvious downside is that you lose the MacBook Pro’s screen. But for new MacBook Pro owners, losing the Touch Bar might be the bigger downside of the two.
If you’re an iPad owner, there is a decent solution to this problem. You can use your iPad as an external Touch Bar by using Duet, a $9.99 app on the App Store. As originally mentioned on FCP.co, Duet allows you to use an iOS device as an external display, and its most recent update adds Touch Bar support. This makes the app a viable solution for those wishing to employ closed-clamshell mode on the latest MacBook Pro, and for those with older Mac hardware without the Touch Bar. Watch our brief hands-on video to see how it works in action. expand full story