Dec 27, 2016
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As we move further into the age of wireless audio with the iPhone 7 abandoning the ever-so-present headphone jack, a new category of "truly wireless" earbuds has been popping up. So you may be asking, what does "truly wireless" even mean? Well, as you may have seen, many earbuds that have claimed to be "wireless" actually have a wire in between the buds that generally goes around your neck. So, a few companies, such as Bragi, decided to do away with any and all wires, leaving us with Bragi's first product, the Dash. The Dash started as a Kickstarter project back in February of 2014, with an enormous amount of support, raising just under $3.4 million with the promise of earbuds completely free of wires and with loads of other features. These features included activity tracking, touch controls, on-board storage, water-resistance, and more. The campaign had initially intended to ship out the Dash units in October of 2014, but due to many setbacks, they started shipping out units in early- to mid-2016. With initial reports of problems with the microphone and Bluetooth connectivity, it seemed, at first, like the Dash could be just another Kickstarter flop. Instead, however, the company dedicated a lot of time into creating new updates to the firmware that drastically improved, if not completely solved these issues. The Sound DSC01138An earbud can't be good without sounding good, of course. So, how does the Dash stack up to the competition? After all, the price for these is not cheap, coming in at around $300. Well, they're actually pretty good! I wasn't expecting amazing sound from a device so small, yet packed full of components. What I found was that the Dash produces a good, clear sound, though certainly preferring the mids over the lows and highs. That said, I am quite a bass-lover myself and I'm coming from using a V-Moda Crossfade M-100, so I've been spoiled, and for earbuds, the Dash does a good job producing the bass it does. If I had to compare it to some other earbuds, I'd compare the sound to something like the "wireless" (but not completely wireless) Jaybird Bluebuds, which are quite good themselves. Bluetooth Connectivity Now, a common issue with truly wireless earbuds is their often lacking performance in their ability to hold a strong Bluetooth connection. In the beginning, there were lots of complaints from users experiencing poor connection even if the phone was placed only as far as the user's pockets. Obviously, that's a huge issue, but also one Bragi appears to have fixed through their updates. I can confidently say that I have had virtually no issues whatsoever with the connectivity of these earbuds, other than maybe one or two micro drops in connection. I tested the Dash by walking around a room and was able to go as far as 10 to 15 feet away from the source without experiencing any connectivity issues. Additionally, just the process of using and connecting the earbuds is really simple. All you do is take them out of the case and put them in your ears. The buds sense when they're in and automatically turn on, connect to each other, and connect to your phone or other device. Comfort and Design DSC01125Another historically common problem with this category of audio products is the ridiculous look of the product or their inability to stay in ears due to the sheer weight they carry. Luckily, this is not an issue with the Dash. While you may get some head turns while using this product, people often just don't care, and the Dash really doesn't look bad at all. Additionally, these earbuds were surprisingly comfortable to wear. They come with multiple sleeves to fit your ears (XS, S, M, and L), and once you find the right fit, the earbuds fit snuggly and quite comfortably. I haven't had too many issues with the buds falling out, which has always been a problem for me, whether or not the earbuds I was using were wireless. Yet another check mark for the Dash. Gestures/Controls A neat feature of the Dash is the way you control them. There are multiple ways that you control the Dash, including through the app, touch sensors on the outside of each bud, and head gestures. For instance, if you receive a call while using the earbuds, just nod or shake your head to answer or deny the call. Playing and pausing is easy, with just a tap on the right earbud, or start tracking activities with a tap on the left. One of the issues I noticed is that the touch sensors aren't only sensitive to your fingers, so putting on a winter hat caused the earbuds to do some unwanted actions. After looking around a bit, though, it looks like Bragi addressed this issue by including a touch lock that can be implemented by holding down on both the right and left touch sensors, which worked well and solved my problem. Other Features DSC01143The other features included with the Dash are a microphone, onboard storage, a heart-rate sensor, and a case that charges the buds 5 times on-the-go. To start off, the microphone had quite a few complaints in the early days, with users claiming it was unusable and that the person speaking sounded robotic over the phone. This is yet another area where Bragi has used its firmware updates to address an issue. When I was using the microphone for phone calls, some people said there were no problems at all, while others said it sounded a bit muddled, but they could still hear me and know what I was saying. As for the onboard storage, there's not much to be said about it. Songs can be added through a computer and using it works as described. Next up is the heart-rate sensor, which seemed to be relatively accurate, though I didn't have another device to compare it to at the time. This is a really nice feature for athletes looking to listen to music without an annoying wire and no need for a smartwatch. And lastly, the charging case. The case is built quite well, with an aluminum sleeve and a strong metal or plastic where the earbuds actually rest. The earbuds flash when they've been connected properly, and a magnet holds them in place. My only complaint is that I feel like I will drop the earbuds when trying to get them out of the case because you have to take the sleeve off, hold that, hold the battery part, and then fiddle with getting the buds out. That said, overall, the battery case is a nice feature, as the battery life on the buds isn't spectacular at about 3 hours. Conclusion So, what are my overall thoughts of the Dash? Well, I like them. I don't know if I, personally, would quite want to spend the $300 for them, but I could understand why some would. The features work well and the sound quality is pretty good, considering everything that's built into them. I think Bragi's next product, the Headphone, could also allow a lot more people to purchase their products, with reportedly better sound quality and a much lower price of $149. However, that new product does strip the Dash of many of its capabilities, including the water-resistance, touch controls, onboard storage, and heart rate sensor. So it really comes down to what you want. If you want the smart capabilities, there really is no other product out there that offers all of the Dash's capabilities, but if that does interest you, the Headphone is probably the way to go.

2in1cable’s Micro USB/Lightning Charging Cable Review

For a long time, Apple and Android users have fought over which of their phones or operating systems are best, all while never actually accomplishing anything. Luckily, a company called 2in1cable decided to resolve one of the biggest 1st-world problems: your friend always has the wrong charging cable. The interesting part is how they went about solving the issue.

Pic 6

The interesting part is how they went about solving the issue. One may think they just created a splitting cable, where you have one USB end that connects to two different ends (one a micro USB end and the other a Lightning end). But that would look weird and not many people would be fond of it. So, the company came up with the novel solution of just combining the two ends into one single end that can fit into either a micro USB or Lightning port. Simple stylish, and most importantly incredibly useful. Now you can charge your friend’s Galaxy S7 even though you have the 6S.

Pic 2

Another pretty cool thing the team did is create a lot of different styles, from a simple white cable to cowboy blue jean or various colors of leather. If you’d like to pick up one of these neat cables, head on over to their website at http://www.2in1cable.com/. Also, check out the images of some of the cables below: Pic 3

Pic 4

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Apple Opposes Government to Protect Customers

“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step, which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

 

On February 16, 2016 Apple CEO, Tim Cook, released a letter to their customers about the United States government’s demand to essentially build a backdoor to their iPhone. Apple believes that this would threaten the privacy and security of their customers, with further implications in the wrong hands.

 

The San Bernardino Case

Apple received an order from a California court to assist the FBI in unlocking an iPhone by hacking. The iPhone belonged to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, a couple which took 14 lives last December. Apple has no sympathy for terrorists and has worked hard to help the FBI solve this tragic crime in an attempt for justice. Apple has taken great measures to comply with the government and provide all possible information such as complying with valid subpoenas and search warrants, making Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and offering ideas on investigations. However, the US government is now asking for something that Apple does not currently have, and believes is dangerous to create – a backdoor for the iPhone.

 

What is the government asking for?

“Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

 

This backdoor to the iPhone would create a custom version of iOS that would ease the FBI’s attempts at unlocking the iPhone by “brute force,” i.e., trying millions of passcode combinations using a special peripheral, without the risk of deleting the data on the device.

 

Apple believes in encryption

Smartphones are an important part of our lives. A majority of the population now has a smartphone and “we use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going”.

 

This information should be and needs to be protected from criminals, hackers, and terrorists who wish to use it without our permission for corrupt purposes. Customers expect and rely on companies such as Apple to provide protection of their personal information; thus, invoking the need for encryption. “Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.”

 

Why should we be concerned?

This order not only raises the issue of data security, but also personal privacy. It would expose customers to a greater risk of attack due to weakened encryption. In the wrong hands it could also compromise our security. It is also a question of privacy. “Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture his or her data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.” This backdoor could allow the government to invade our privacy, and in a country promising freedom, this order seems to impose further restrictions on those liberties.

 

Apple has opened the debate to cellphone users everywhere. Personally, I stand with Apple’s decision to fight the order due to the implications it would have on our security and our privacy.

 

The letter from Apple can be viewed here: http://www.apple.com/customer-letter/

Henge Dock Vertical Docking Station for MacBook Air Review

 

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Henge Docks is a company that makes docking stations for various models of the MacBook, so you can just set your laptop in and essentially convert it to a desktop. This particular review relates to the MacBook Air 13″ model, which supports one USB and one Thunderbolt port. The cost of this dock is set at $65 and can be purchased at Henge Docks’ website.

imageFirst off, we’ll look at the design. This dock has a white plastic outer coating and grey inner color, with a durable plastic inside to help make sure it’s sturdy. With a larger base, you can ensure your MacBook won’t fall over. On the other hand, though, it’s not to big and the part that hold the MacBook is quite thin. On the back are the two ports: one USB and one Thunderbolt, and on the sides the Henge Docks logo is shown in grey.

This design is very nice, though I kind of wish that Henge Docks had chosen an aluminum color to match with the MacBook and accessories like the SuperDrive, Magic Trackpad, and keyboard.

Next up is the functionality. With a vertical dock and a design like the MacBook Air, there isn’t a great way to cover all of the ports, which does kind of leave me wanting more from something like this. Because the Air has one USB port, SD card port and Thunderbolt port on one side and another USB port, 3.5mm audio port, and charging port on the other, a vertical dock can only utilize one USB port and the display port. However, I wish Henge Docks had split the port into two on the dock itself so you could at least plug one mouse and one keyboard into it. Simultaneously, though, it’s not going to break the bank to purchase a USB hub for additional devices. The other side-effect to using only the one side is that you have to plug the charger into the top of the Air, so Henge Docks included a clip to hold the charger in place, so that also isn’t too big of a deal.

Overall, I think this dock is probably the best vertical one on the market for the MacBook Air. Even with its quirks, everything seems to work very well, and I feel completely safe using it without it falling over. I highly recommend you check it out!

Apple Announces 2015 Lucky Bag (Fukubukuro) in Japan

Each year, Apple participates in the Japanese New Year tradition called Fukubukuro, or Lucky Bag, in which retailers create grab bags of items they sell, often for a highly discounted price. Apple has gained some attention with this tradition, as the bags have contained some premium products in the past.

Bags that are purchased contain items that the purchaser doesn’t know, and the bags cannot be returned with the exception of items not properly working. This keeps the tradition interesting and almost like a lottery of sorts.

Last year, four different versions of the bags were created and sold for 36,000 yen, which is the equivalent of about $345. Items in the bag varied from iPods, iPads, and Jaybird Bluebuds to MacBook Airs and Beats Pills. Below is an example of a bag someone purchased last year:

MacBook-Air-Lucky-Bag-

 

As you can tell, the bags are quite well-priced, with the above bag containing over $1300 worth of merchandise. Unfortunately, this deal is only available in Japan, but if you are there, the bags will be selling on January 2, 2015, and they will likely be sold out very quickly as there is a limited quantity.

Apple Introduces The Swift Programming Language

Apple has just announced the Swift programming language which is a new programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. Swift is faster, safer, and more interactive than past programming languages.

Swift is an innovative new programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. Writing code is interactive and fun, the syntax is concise yet expressive, and apps run lightning-fast. Swift is ready for your next iOS and OS X project — or for addition into your current app — because Swift code works side-by-side with Objective-C.

Modern

Swift is the result of the latest research on programming languages, combined with decades of experience building Apple platforms. Named parameters brought forward from Objective-C are expressed in a clean syntax that makes APIs in Swift even easier to read and maintain. Inferred types make code cleaner and less prone to mistakes, while modules eliminate headers and provide namespaces. Memory is managed automatically, and you don’t even need to type semi-colons.

Code

Swift has many other features to make your code more expressive:

  • Closures unified with function pointers
  • Tuples and multiple return values
  • Generics
  • Fast and concise iteration over a range or collection
  • Structs that support methods, extensions, protocols.
  • Functional programming patterns, e.g.: map and filter

Interactive Playgrounds

Playgrounds

Playgrounds make writing Swift code incredibly simple and fun. Type a line of code and the result appears immediately. If your code runs over time, for instance through a loop, you can watch its progress in the timeline assistant. The timeline displays variables in a graph, draws each step when composing a view, and can play an animated SpriteKit scene. When you’ve perfected your code in the playground, simply move that code into your project. With playgrounds, you can:

  • Design a new algorithm, watching its results every step of the way
  • Create new tests, verifying they work before promoting into your test suite
  • Experiment with new APIs to hone your Swift coding skills

Read-Eval-Print-Loop (REPL). The debugging console in Xcode includes an interactive version of the Swift language built right in. Use Swift syntax to evaluate and interact with your running app, or write new code to see how it works in a script-like environment. Available from within the Xcode console, or in Terminal.

Designed for Safety

Swift eliminates entire classes of unsafe code. Variables are always initialized before use, arrays and integers are checked for overflow, and memory is managed automatically. Syntax is tuned to make it easy to define your intent — for example, simple three-character keywords define a variable (var) or constant (let).

The safe patterns in Swift are tuned for the powerful Cocoa and Cocoa Touch APIs. Understanding and properly handling cases where objects are nil is fundamental to the frameworks, and Swift code makes this extremely easy. Adding a single character can replace what used to be an entire line of code in Objective-C. This all works together to make building iOS and Mac apps easier and safer than ever before.

Fast and Powerful

From its earliest conception, Swift was built to be fast. Using the high-performance LLVM compiler, Swift code is transformed into optimized native code, tuned to get the most out of modern Mac, iPhone, and iPad hardware. The syntax and standard library have also been tuned to make the most obvious way to write your code also perform the best.

Swift takes the best features from the C and Objective-C languages. It includes low-level primitives such as types, flow control, and operators. It also provides object-oriented features such as classes, protocols, and generics, giving Cocoa and Cocoa Touch developers the performance and power they demand.

Ready Today

Xcode

You can begin using Swift code immediately to implement new features in your app, or enhance existing ones. New Swift code co-exists along side your existing Objective-C files in the same project, making it easy to adopt. And when iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are released this fall, you can submit apps that use Swift to the App Store and Mac App Store.

To get started with Swift, download Xcode 6 beta and follow the tutorials included in the documentation.

Source: Apple Developers

Apple announces iOS 7 With an All-new Design

Apple has announced iOS 7 which sports beautiful new user interface that has been completely re-designed.

 

Completely Redesigned With Stunning User Interface & Great New Features

SAN FRANCISCO―June 10, 2013―Apple® today unveiled iOS 7, the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone®, featuring a stunning new user interface. iOS 7 is completely redesigned with subtle motion, an elegant color palette and distinct, functional layers that make it feel more alive. The typography has been refined for a cleaner, simpler look, and the use of translucency and motion makes even simple tasks more engaging. iOS 7 has hundreds of great new features, including Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop®, enhanced Photos, Safari®, Siri® and introduces iTunes Radio™, a free Internet radio service based on the music you listen to on iTunes®.

“iOS 7 is the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “To create it, we brought together a team with a broad range of expertise from design to engineering. With what we’ve been able to achieve together, we see iOS 7 as an exciting new beginning.”

[toggle title=”Full Press Release”]Apple Unveils iOS 7 Completely Redesigned With Stunning User Interface & Great New Features SAN FRANCISCO―June 10, 2013―Apple® today unveiled iOS 7, the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone®, featuring a stunning new user interface. iOS 7 is completely redesigned with subtle motion, an elegant color palette and distinct, functional layers that make it feel more alive. The typography has been refined for a cleaner, simpler look, and the use of translucency and motion makes even simple tasks more engaging.

iOS 7 has hundreds of great new features, including Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop®, enhanced Photos, Safari®, Siri® and introduces iTunes Radio™, a free Internet radio service based on the music you listen to on iTunes®. “iOS 7 is the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “To create it, we brought together a team with a broad range of expertise from design to engineering. With what we’ve been able to achieve together, we see iOS 7 as an exciting new beginning.” “There is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation—it’s about bringing order to complexity,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Design. “iOS 7 is a clear representation of these goals. It has a whole new structure that is coherent and applied across the entire system.” iOS 7 is completely redesigned with an entirely new user interface, but will be instantly familiar to the hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPad® and iPod touch® users around the world. The new interface actually makes your phone appear bigger because everything is designed to take advantage of the entire screen. The redesigned fonts look amazing on the Retina® display, creating even sharper text. iOS 7 introduces Control Center.

Now the controls you want to access quickly are all in one convenient place. With just one swipe from the bottom of your screen, you have access to controls for Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Do Not Disturb, and the ability to adjust screen brightness, pause or play a song, jump to the next track and stream your music with AirPlay®. Control Center also gives you instant access to apps such as Clock, Camera, Calculator and the Flashlight. With iOS 7, Notification Center is now available from the Lock screen so you can see all your notifications with a simple swipe, and the new Today feature in Notification Center gives you an at-a-glance view of your day with a summary of the important details such as weather, traffic, meetings and events. With improved Multitasking in iOS 7, developers have the ability to enable any app to multitask in the background with a new API. Users have the ability to switch between their apps in a more visual and intuitive way, and iOS 7 pays attention to which apps you use most and automatically keeps your content up to date in the background. AirDrop is an entirely new way to quickly and easily share content with people nearby. When you’ve got something you want to share, AirDrop shows you your contacts close by. Just select who you want to share with and AirDrop does the rest. AirDrop transfers are peer-to-peer so you can use it anywhere, without any network or set up required, and transfers are fully encrypted so your content is protected and private. iPhones are used to take more photos around the world every day than any other camera, and with iOS 7 the new Camera app features filters so you can add real-time photo effects. The Camera app now includes a square camera option, and you can quickly and easily switch between your four cameras—video, photo, square and panorama—with just a swipe. iOS 7 includes a redesigned Photos app that introduces Moments, a new way to automatically organize your photos and videos based on time and location. You can zoom out to see all your photos organized by Moments, Collections of Moments and Years. iOS 7 includes iCloud Photo Sharing, the easiest way to share just the photos you want with just the people you want. With iCloud® Photo Sharing, family and friends can contribute their own photos and videos to your shared photo streams, and the new Activity view displays updates from your shared streams all in one place. Safari’s redesigned user interface lets you see more of your content—starting with full-screen browsing.

The new smart search field helps simplify searching, and there’s a new view for your bookmarks and your Safari tabs. With iCloud Keychain®, your passwords and credit card information are securely stored and available on all your devices, so navigating password protected sites or autofilling during transactions is simple and secure. Enhanced Parental Controls allow you to automatically block access to adult websites or only allow access to a specific set of permitted websites. Siri sounds better than ever with new male and female voices and includes Twitter search integration, so you can ask Siri what people are saying on Twitter*. Siri also now has Wikipedia integration, providing access to the world’s most popular Internet reference site. Siri offers Bing web search within the app and the ability to change device settings and play back voicemail. The Music app has a beautiful new design and includes the new iTunes Radio, a free Internet radio service featuring over 200 stations and an incredible catalog of music from the iTunes Store®, combined with features only iTunes can deliver. iTunes Radio is the best way to discover new music. When you tune into iTunes Radio on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac®, PC or Apple TV®, you’ll have access to stations inspired by the music you already listen to, Featured Stations curated by Apple and genre-focused stations that are personalized just for you. iTunes Radio evolves based on the music you play and download. The more you use iTunes Radio and iTunes, the more it knows what you like to listen to and the more personalized your experience becomes. iTunes Radio also gives you access to exclusive “first listen” premieres from top selling artists, Siri integration plus the ability to buy anything you hear with just one tap. With over 900,000 apps, the App Store℠ is the world’s largest app marketplace.

iOS 7 now features Popular Apps Near Me, a new way to find apps based on your current location, and iOS 7 will automatically keep your apps up to date. The App Store also comes with a new Kids category, allowing teachers and parents to easily discover apps for children by age. Additional new iOS 7 features include: a new Find My iPhone Activation Lock feature that requires your Apple ID and password before you can turn off Find My iPhone, erase data or re-activate a device after it’s been remotely erased; Night Mode in Maps that responds to ambient light when you use it in the dark; FaceTime® audio for high quality calls over a data network; Notification sync, so when you dismiss a notification on one device it is dismissed on all of your devices; Phone, FaceTime and Messages blocking to prevent specific people from being able to contact you; Tencent Weibo support for users in China, a Chinese-English bilingual dictionary, and improved Chinese input including handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters; the ability for businesses to more efficiently deploy and manage iPhones and iPads; and enhanced in-car integration, bringing an Apple designed experience into the car for the first time. The iOS 7 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. iOS 7 will be available as a free software update for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and iPod touch (fifth generation) this fall. Some features may not be available on all products. *US English, French and German will be available with the launch of iOS 7. Additional languages will be added over time. Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.[/toggle]

Check out all of iOS 7’s new features on Apple website.

Source: Apple

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