MacWorld/iWorld 2014 is over, but what’s new is just now coming out — or on the horizon. Because of the “i,” what there is to covet doesn’t just include stuff you can hold, but software/apps you can load into the computer/iPhone/iPad/touch and click or tap away at. Picking the best from what’s there wasn’t easy–but when is the good stuff ever?
First, the hardware…
What does your pet do when you’re away? Don’t just check up on them, interact with them instead. The wide-angle wireless camera means that streaming video is just an app-click away, and you can talk to them too, since there’s speakers in the cube. But to really get their juices going (and avoid them chewing up everything in sight), kick in the low-intensity laser and move it around so that the safe red beam becomes an object of attention. And sure you can snap pics or shoot video while they’re having fun (or being heavily peeved from the beam).
Glasses that play video aren’t new, or even cool anymore. But if the “screen” comes down from a pair of what seemed to be noise-canceling premium headphones, well, that gets attention. Add to that a battery-powered view ithat’s 720p HD actually being shot at your eyes (no glasses) and it becomes more than cooler, not to mention more comfortable. HDMI input and head-tracking bump it up even higher for gaming and not just movie watching.
Ever saw one of those round TV tubes that “floated” on top of a cabinet? This video webcam looks sort of like that, only 21st Century tech powers 720p HD video streaming to your phone or tablet wherever you are. Night vision, sure. Two-way talk so you can remind the cat who’s boss? Of course. And easy to set up for motion detection, alarms and alerts so it doesn’t end up in a corner. Even face-detection capabilities when paired with the optional “cloud” services.
See the heat, because looking at light’s normal spectrum is boring, and not at all useful at night. This personal thermal imager just requires an iPhone 5/5S inside it — then you can see in the dark, not to mention taking pics wholly different than what you’re used to. Use it to watch wildlife at night or to check on leaks in the basement, even see through smoke and navigate in total darkness. Just aim the infrared camera and let the iPhone screen do the rest.
Reading is still the best way to get the info you need for Apple devices, especially since you can choose between paper-based or electronic books (or get both). Learning about Mavericks (OS X Mavericks on Demand) or digital photography (iPad and iPhone Digital Photography Tips and Tricks) or how Talking to Siri 2/e— that’s all good stuff. But the Unauthorized Guide to iPhone, iPad and iPod Repair will really open your eyes!
Those camera cases that have attached lenses are great — except when you need one that’s waterproof against rain and rugged too. So combine both and add more than just a lens: try a Macro, Fisheye, a 2X Telephoto and one designed for shooting underwater without distorting. Quick shifting from one lens to the other and the iPhone 5/5S/5C stays cool and comfortable throughout.
WiFi doesn’t mean much if you can’t use it — and antennas on mobile devices don’t always “catch” the signal by being too far away or there being some interference. The Edge is not only made to boost WiFi (not needing a USB connection) but its built-in amplifier powers an extended network like nobody’s business. The long-range antenna can even be removed to replace with another if you want. A quick setup in a web browser after plugging it into a wall outlet and it’s done.
GRAVITAS Docking Station
A lightning-connector dock for iPhones 4-5 and iPad Mini/Air needs more than swappable inserts or an audio out to be worth having. It needs to be made of heavy, make that really heavy aluminum so it stays put and keeps whatever Apple device is in it the same. This does. That it looks good is just so much icing on the iOS cake.
So you want to shoot 3D, too bad “cuz no Apple device has the hardware built in for that. So pull out what looks like a retro Viewmaster and pop the iPhone (4/5/5S/5C/ touch 5th gen) inside. Now there’s mirrors making two views of whatever is being shot/recorded, with an app doing the heavy lifting. When done taking pictures or shooting video, watch it right then and there, or transfer the files to a 3D TV. Yes it’s that simple and the biggest problem is deciding whether to get the Poppy3D in black or white. And for those who’ve gone without, convert pics into “wigglegrams” — picture files that twerk like 3D while staying firmly in the 2D world.
Bass Egg Speaker
One of the most important parts that make a speaker, regardless of size, is the speaker cone — it moves the air to produce sound. But since portable speakers are small, so is the cone and bass suffers (as does midrange really). How to get back those high-frequencies without bulking up is easy: make whatever the Egg sits on the speaker cone — a wooden table in a park for example — and as long as it can resonate, so too will you to the music. Charge it up, plug it into your phone/tablet (or use Bluetooth) and place it on something to sound off. If you don’t like the black, there’s different colored skins to buy.
Now for the software…
It’s a drawing program you can use on an iPad, but it uses vector graphics to make 3D images (yeah sounds tough but isn’t). Design logos, diagrams or make art — doodle with it if you want and can’t draw a straight line yourself (the program integrates with others using cut “n paste). Skribltips helps to explain what’s going on too. And why vector graphics — because image quality doesn’t depend on the dpi (dots per inch) of the output device and, as they’re mathematical functions, are easy to manipulate and edit.
Check out graffiti “history style” in this iPad interactive app of taps and swipes — full color iconic images that made New York City the Mecca of Graffiti from the ’70s to early 19’80s. Audio commentary joins blueprints of what the artists created to deconstruct for viewing the colors and techniques used — trains beat planes for drawing on them for sure. New works can even be created using these examples as well.
Focus 2 Pro
Want to make your photos even more awesome? Then fire up your Mac and go full-bore with professional lens effects that rival the pros. Do things you didn’t think were possible to family portraits, street scenes or landscapes — stuff like adding depth where there wasn’t, lens blurring, boosting color or going with macros or tilt-shift to make what’s seen into miniatures. It’s like reshooting to get the effect you couldn’t, right there with an easy to use interface that doesn’t sacrifice power just to “dummy” it down. The more it’s used, the more there is to use it seems (selective focus and perspective shifting is cool), and the fact that it can integrate as a plug-in and export to other programs doesn’t hurt one bit.
The camera on an iPhone will take a good picture of a person, but to get a great picture some work always needs to be done (faces being what they are). That’s where image-processing tech comes in; can the app do more than just get rid of redeye and reshape a smile, smooth skin defects or add “virtual” makeup as needed? This one can, and it stuffs all the high-end work behind the scenes to provide a simplistic interface that just makes sense to use. And sure it works just as well on selfies as it does at what it’s been aimed at. Comes in an iPad-specific app too.
$79.95 (software only)
Need to build a website that looks REALLY good but you’ve no time or talent for it? Then tell your Mac to forget the coding and use the advanced tools later: just pick a template, follow the obvious and click to publish to have your site go up. Create a mobile-optimized one just as easily too — either way, an SEO engine promotes what you’ve done to help get noticed. Yeah it’s too bad iWeb is gone, but this is here and choices as to software, publishing and web hosting make for an easy ride.
The iPad doesn’t like doing different things at the same time, so how do you take notes while filming a lecture, recording a meeting or shooting an interview? By using Noteology’s scheme of letting the keyboard work even as you’re shooting video (and saving what’s written as well as being able to bookmark). The finished notes can be saved as PDFs, exported to Dropbox as well as emailed. Use a Bluetooth-powered keyboard or external microphone as well.
$119 (Community version)
Making an app doesn’t have to be hard — if the Mac software can pick up on doing the tough stuff for you. Use this to create training tools or a brochure or try for the next flapping bird game. It’s all about unlimited app creation using the “Hypercard” idea re-imagined, with drag and drop interface control. Let your Mac simulate an iOS device when it’s time to try it out too. And yes it readies itself for going on the app store so it’s not just about being “creative” but practical as well.
$10 (yearly subscription)
Want to watch TV on the internet without sticking some dongle in a Mac slot? But pay a lot, no way —so does that mean giving up on channels and having a guide that can quickly show you what’s on when? Not if you hop to it; Rabbit TV aggregates and presents over 100,00 selections that are free but found all over the place to make your eyes go nuts — instead it puts it all in one place and then adds in pay-per-view and premium channel choices to keep your eyeballs busy for a long, long time. And watching it on an iPhone or iPad is just as easy too with an app — or will be once the iOS app appears.