Gift Guide: Apple Watch band roundup

The go-to accessory for any Apple Watch owner is a nice band (or multiple bands). Whether you are picking one up as a gift, or for yourself, we’ve rounded up nearly two dozen watch bands from some of the best Apple Watch accessory makers to help you find the perfect one.

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Gift Guide: Apple Watch band roundup” is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Earin Wireless Earbuds Review

Truly wireless earphones are one of the fastest growing technologies when it comes to how we listen to music, and as time moves on we’re seeing new companies create new products that push boundaries. A […]

Written by Axel Brown at Earin Wireless Earbuds Review for Geeknaut

Nest Protect Installation Review

Nest Protect is undoubtedly the best looking and most modern smoke and carbon monoxide detector on the market at the moment. It has a sleek design, can connect to your smartphone and is extremely reliable. […]

Written by Axel Brown at Nest Protect Installation Review for Geeknaut

Roku 4 Review: Could Be the Best Streaming Box Out There, Despite Flaws

I’ve been a happy Roku 3 owner for the past few years. It does what it’s supposed to do, with no hassle. It’s been exhilarating seeing the Fire TVs and Chromecasts come into this world, but I stuck by the Roku, waiting for a really cool update. Now there is one with the Roku 4 , but does it have enough to go for the upgrade?

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review: I Love It, But Not For Getting Real Work Done

Nobody knows what to make of the Microsoft Surface. It’s neat looking, but kind of awkward. Great at certain things and oddly tantalizing, But who’s it really for? Ack, fuck it. This latest hybrid iteration, the Surface Pro 4, is a refinement of sorts and sometimes subtle tweaks can go a long way toward making something worth buying.

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Chromecast Audio Review: A Cheap Way to Teach Your Old Speakers New, Wireless Tricks

In 2013, Chromecast was a revelation. For $35 you could transport virtually anything you could watch on a computer or phone to a television. Easy! Chromecast Audio performs a parallel magic trick for audio and speakers. It’s a similar tech magic trick that’s lost its shock and awe.

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Chromecast Audio Review: A Cheap Way to Teach Your Old Speakers New, Wireless Tricks

In 2013, Chromecast was a revelation. For $35 you could transport virtually anything you could watch on a computer or phone to a television. Easy! Chromecast Audio performs a parallel magic trick for audio and speakers. It’s a similar tech magic trick that’s lost its shock and awe.

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Kuiu Teton Review: High Performance Camo Goes Affordable

Kuiu has disrupted the camouflage market in recent years, making technical outdoors clothing that’s not just radically high-performance, but which also looks cool while obscuring the human silhouette across diverse environments. This new Teton range drops the price points below $100.

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Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K Review: This Is My New Favorite Drone

Learning how to fly a drone is scary . First of all drones are scary. They have a bad habit of falling out of the sky and into the stands of very important tennis matches . But flying in general is scary because, well, most people have never done it. Yuneec makes it magically easy and safe.

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Forecast Bar Review

This really useful weather forecast utility sits in the menu bar, giving you an at-a-glance idea of the weather, unless you open it up for more detail. By default, what you get in the menu bar is the temperature and an icon showing you the prevailing weather type (sunshine, clouds, rain and so on), though you can customize this. Click this icon, though, and you open a full five-day forecast.

The next eight hours are shown in detail, with graphs covering temperature, chance of rain or heaviness of rain. The five days after that have icons and a bit of detail for each, along with high and low temperatures. It’s really well designed, accurate thanks to its use of the excellent Forecast.io system, and useful — pretty much the OS X version of Mac|Life-favorite iOS/Watch weather app Dark Sky. Lots about it can be personalized too — from new locations to get info on, to different iconography options and temperature scale customization.

The bottom line. It’s not the cheapest option, but this is a great-looking, useful, and customizable OS X weather utility.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

Forecast Bar

Company: 

Real Casual Games

Contact: 

Price: 

$5.99

Requirements: 

Mac running OS X 10.9 or later, 64-bit processor

Positives: 

At-a-glance menu bar information. Great eight-hour graphs. Rain notifications.

Negatives: 

In-app purchases for more frequent updates.

Forecast Bar Review

This really useful weather forecast utility sits in the menu bar, giving you an at-a-glance idea of the weather, unless you open it up for more detail. By default, what you get in the menu bar is the temperature and an icon showing you the prevailing weather type (sunshine, clouds, rain and so on), though you can customize this. Click this icon, though, and you open a full five-day forecast.

The next eight hours are shown in detail, with graphs covering temperature, chance of rain or heaviness of rain. The five days after that have icons and a bit of detail for each, along with high and low temperatures. It’s really well designed, accurate thanks to its use of the excellent Forecast.io system, and useful — pretty much the OS X version of Mac|Life-favorite iOS/Watch weather app Dark Sky. Lots about it can be personalized too — from new locations to get info on, to different iconography options and temperature scale customization.

The bottom line. It’s not the cheapest option, but this is a great-looking, useful, and customizable OS X weather utility.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

Forecast Bar

Company: 

Real Casual Games

Contact: 

Price: 

$5.99

Requirements: 

Mac running OS X 10.9 or later, 64-bit processor

Positives: 

At-a-glance menu bar information. Great eight-hour graphs. Rain notifications.

Negatives: 

In-app purchases for more frequent updates.

The Moto 360 (2015) Review: Putting the Watch Back in Smartwatch

When smartwatches became a real thing you could buy, and not just a 80s fantasy dreamed up by Casio and Seiko, they looked unmistakably like technology on your wrist. Tech companies were mired in making a wristputer, rather than a wristputer you actually want to wear. But this year, that’s all changed.

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Carbo Review

If you find that writing or drawing your plans out by hand helps you to get them in order, you’re far from alone. But storing things digitally does tend to make them easier to find and sort. Carbo bridges the gap between these two, letting you take (or import) photos of drawings on paper or whiteboard, then digitizing them. It clears out things like the paper, leaving you with only the information itself. It’s not the first app to try something like this, but its results are among the most impressive we’ve seen.

Snap a photo and it will detect the lines, which you can then imediately make stronger or softer — our writing came out very weak at first, but tweaking the slider made it clear. Once you’ve grabbed the image, you can tag it, to make it easy to search for things relating to a certain project or topic, and you can store it locally or in the cloud to access from anywhere — all really easy.

In this core functionality, Carbo is very strong. Where it falls short is in the details of the other things you might want to do with your notes. There’s no handwriting support for adding to them within the app, nor is there OCR for extracting what they say to a text-editing app easily. You can export images to another app that will let you do these, but seeing as Carbo’s subtitle is “Handwriting in the Digital Age” we kind of expected it to step up itself.

You do have some editing options, including the ability to highlight portions of the notes, then tweak only the selected lines, making them thicker or thinner, moving and resizing them, or deleting them completely. Getting used to how the highlighting works can take a little while, but it’s potentially quite powerful.

Exporting is strangely hidden away too — you can’t do it from the main menu, and it’s not a direct option when viewing a note – you have to tap the palette icon, where you can apply some styles to your note before export. Again, nice, but inessential, and kind of just…in the way.

The bottom line. Its tech is great, but it could be much more useful.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

Carbo

Company: 

Creaceed

Price: 

$7.99

Requirements: 

iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 9.0 or later

Positives: 

Great handwritten notes capture. Some powerful editing features.

Negatives: 

No OCR or handwriting annotations. Some fiddly interface design.

Peak Design Everyday Messenger Review: The Perfect Camera Bag?

Peak Design changed the way photographers carried their cameras with the introduction of an innovative clip. Now, they’re taking on camera bags. We tested their Everyday Messenger to see how it performs.

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Apple Daily: ‘Truly Great’ iPhone 6s Reviews, iFixit on Apple TV, XcodeGhost Q&A

If you can’t stop refreshing the UPS website in anticipation of your shiny new iPhone 6s moving closer to home, our Tuesday edition of Apple Daily will point you in the direction of some early reviews to keep your mind occupied for a little bit. We’ve also got a first look at what’s powering the new Apple TV, along with official word from Apple on that XcodeGhost iOS malware that recently affected Chinese App Store customers. 

Early iPhone 6s Reviews Published, Apple Has “Done It Again”

Apple’s latest iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models are winging their way around the globe and across the country to land on the doorsteps of preorder and retail customers this Friday, September 25, but those hankering for some independent criticism on the new smartphones won’t have to travel very far to find them right now.

iPhone 6s website tumble

Naturally, our first stop is techradar, where the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have already been lovingly detailed, each with a four-star rating hailing 3D Touch, the “bright, vibrant display” and “fuss-free camera,” while noting the battery life falls a bit short, Live Photos don’t always work, and there’s still room for improvement even after the release of iOS 9.

Next, MacRumors has assembled highlights of other key reviews from tech websites such as The Verge, Mashable, and TechCrunch, and the mid-cycle refresh appears to be worthy of consideration — especially for those interested in the new 3D Touch technology or the expanded capabilities of the dual cameras.

The Verge wasted no time exclaiming that Apple has “done it again” and referring to the iPhone 6s “the best smartphone out there, period,” praising Apple for managing to “do new things better, apply them broadly, and make them seem natural” in reference to the new 3D Touch feature. Mashable also gushed over the iPhone 6s Plus hardware, calling it a “performance beast” whose 12-megapixel camera easily bests both last year’s iPhone 6 Plus as well as its closest rival, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.

TechCrunch also summed up the iPhone 6s camera as “truly great” while noting the second-generation Touch ID sensor is “so fast that you can no longer tap the home button to wake your screen, because it will unlock instantly.” Last but not least, Apple’s new 4K video recording and Live Photos feature was also singled out for particular praise in this first round of embargoed reviews.

iFixit Nabs New Apple TV, Promptly Tears It Apart

Last week, a select number of developers began receiving fourth-generation Apple TV units following a lottery to determine who would receive the brand-new hardware before its public release next month. Apparently, one of those developers have handed the unit over to the folks at iFixit, who summarily began tearing it down to see what makes it — and the accompanying Siri-powered remote — tick.

iFixit 2015 Apple TV teardown

Not surprisingly, the little black box is powered by a dual-core, 64-bit A8 chip with 2GB of SDRAM that retains the aging 10/100 Ethernet port found on earlier models. Perhaps contributing to the slightly taller dimensions, the latest Apple TV includes a larger heat sink than previous models, while the Siri Remote features a Broadcom-manufactured touch screen controller also used in iPhone 5s and iPad Air devices.

On a positive note, iFixit has awarded the fourth-gen Apple TV a repairability score of eight out of 10, suggesting that users won’t have a very difficult time trying to fix the media streaming box should anything go wrong with it in the future. Apple TV is scheduled to begin shipping sometime in late October.

Apple Posts XcodeGhost Q&A for Developers

Over the weekend, Apple removed dozens of apps from the Chinese App Store, all of which were infected with a new form of iOS malware dubbed “XcodeGhost.” Apparently, the afflicted developers used a counterfeit version of the developer tool Xcode hosted on third-party servers to compile these apps, but has since acted quickly with instructions on how to fix the problem, which does not affect apps compiled with the official Xcode versions found on the Mac App Store and Apple’s own website.

XcodeGhost

Earlier today, Apple posted a question-and-answer page in both Chinese and English to address any further concerns about the XcodeGhost malware, noting there is no evidence to suggest any malicious intent thus far, nor has any “personally identifiable customer data” been impacted.

Apple plans to list the top 25 most popular apps affected by Xcode Ghost, and will be notifying customers who have downloaded one or more of these apps. Once developers submit an update for the issue, customers will then be able to apply it to the copy on their device. Finally, it’s important to note this issue only affected Chinese customers — those in other regions were not impacted.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

Boom 2 Review

Boom 2 is an application that intercepts your system audio and modifies it to squeeze more gain and clarity out of whatever sound you are playing. The idea is to make movies, music, conversations, or YouTube playback louder and clearer without having to add external speakers. If you do plug in external speakers, the application adapts itself to those as well. 

Boom 2 uses audio processing to achieve its aims: the same kind of processors that musicians might use in Logic or GarageBand, only here they’re mostly hidden from view. There’s a volume slider that shows the normal maximum volume and then the amount by which you can boost it, and an equalizer section complete with presets for different kinds of music or different uses. Each band can be adjusted and you can save your own presets. There are also effects, which include the ability to add “ambience” or “fidelity.” The EQ section also lets you fine-tune any particular movie or radio stream to get better bass or clearer vocals.

Boom 2 works in real time, but there’s also a section that lets you process batches of files using the current boost settings. You can use various audio and video file formats and it works by analyzing and processing the audio in the files then re-saving them. Whether you’d want to permanently re-process movies and music using the conversion option is maybe less clear — we probably wouldn’t. This is perhaps better for old recordings you have digitized as it basically provides you with the same set of tools you’d get in an audio wave processor, albeit with more basic controls. 

The bottom line. A good way to boost and fine-tune your Mac’s audio output for music and movies.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

Boom 2

Company: 

Global Delight

Price: 

$14.99

Requirements: 

Mac running OS X 10.10, built-in audio hardware

Positives: 

Easy to use. Can work automatically. Manual control of EQ if you prefer.

Negatives: 

May not be wise to re-process music or movie files.

Curio Express Review

For nearly a decade, Zengobi’s Curio has been praised by users and critics alike as one of the best Mac notebook applications on the market. But not everyone is willing to spend $99.99 for such software, especially when there are so many free alternatives.

Curio Express appears to have been designed as a solution to this problem, slashing the cost by 70 percent but losing only one flagship feature in the process — the option to manage multiple pages (called “idea spaces”) within a single project. You can, however, create unlimited projects, so this won’t really be a limitation for students or home users, especially considering Express is otherwise the same as its sibling.

Although marketed as a notebook app, this version of the software is primarily a virtual whiteboard to help visualize new concepts, plans, or ideas. With built-in mind-mapping, outlining, and flowchart skills, Curio Express is capable of more than single-minded competitors can even dream of doing.

One of our favorite features is the ability to directly place content onto an idea space from an Evernote account, but the exhaustive list of other possibilities includes text, images, PDF files, Google Docs, web links, and embedded videos from YouTube or Vimeo — and that’s just for starters. In reality, just about anything can be dragged and dropped into Curio, which can even create automatic tables from CSV.

Although the exhaustive list of features are nearly the same as Curio, Express does have a handful of minor limitations due to Mac App Store sandboxing, such as the inability to open stored aliases created in the flagship application. Those accustomed to free productivity software from Google et al are likely to balk at paying even $30, but Express is an incredible value for the money.

Zengobi has also released Curio Reader, which allows anyone to view (but not edit) projects created in the full or Express versions. Likewise, the latter edition can be used in read-only mode for projects created with the former, which includes the option to view notebooks in presentation mode. One thing still missing: a companion iOS app, which feels like a glaring omission.

The bottom line. Curio Express loses little of its power or features en route to the Mac App Store, but your wallet will certainly notice the difference.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

Curio Express

Company: 

Zengobi

Contact: 

Price: 

$29.99

Requirements: 

Mac running OS X 10.10 or later

Positives: 

Comprehensive notebook software for half the price. Includes nearly all features of $100 version.

Negatives: 

Only one “idea space” per project. Minor limitations due to Mac App Store sandboxing requirements.

AfterCam Review

Comedian W.C. Fields supposedly once said, “Never work with children or animals.” Decades later, neither subject is much easier to photograph or record on video, even for smartphone owners with the latest devices.

AfterCam acts as a kind of time machine, so parents won’t miss baby’s first steps or the winning touchdown. This third-party camera app starts recording video from the moment it’s launched, only saving clips to the Camera Roll when you instruct it to.

When something happens that you want to keep while shooting, tap one of the on-screen buttons at either edge of the display to save the last five, 10, or 20 seconds of recorded video. There’s also a shutter button to grab quick still photos without interrupting continuous capture, although these images are saved in the same resolution as video (1,920×1,080).

AfterCam can be a lifesaver for grabbing precious moments, but the app forces users to keep their own mental timer running while shooting in order to remember what happened when – was it 10 seconds ago, or 15? A better approach would be an on-screen progress bar or thumbnail strip that gives a clearer idea of which video segment will be saved once you tap a button, even if it’s only optional.

In addition, the app frequently overlooked the fact it had been used before, repeating initial launch tutorial and access prompts despite our best efforts. Here’s hoping this minor nuisance gets addressed in a future update, because it disrupts one of the app’s core features – the ability to start recording immediately.

the bottom line. AfterCam makes it easier to capture video of life’s fleeting moments that might otherwise be missed.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

AfterCam

Company: 

Kemari

Contact: 

Price: 

$2.99

Requirements: 

iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 8 or later

Positives: 

Quick to activate. Makes it easier to capture highlights.

Negatives: 

Harder than it should be to navigate the recordings to find the moments you want to keep.

Battle of the Superzooms: Canon G3X vs. Sony RX10 Mark II

A while back, camera makers decided that people want to zoom in really, really far. More recently, they also realized people want great image quality and advanced controls. (Who’da thought!?) Here are new two cameras that do both. Let’s see which is worth your hard-earned dollars.

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