Today the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that lets customers legally unlock their cell phones and switch carriers. The same bill was passed in the Senate last week, and now President Obama is expected to sign it into law. The process of unlocking a phone to take it to another carrier in the U.S. has been a convoluted and questionably illegal one. The “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” is designed to make the process easier for those looking to take phones to a different service provider. But there’s an important caveat. The bill won’t permit you to unlock your phone mid-contract and take it from, for example, AT&T to Verizon. The goal is to restore “he Library of Congress’s former exemption so that consumers may unlock their phones after their contracts have expired.” (Emphasis added.) That’s right, legal unlocking is only being applied to situations where the life of a carrier contract has been fulfilled and you own the phone outright. A decision by the U.S. Copyright Office in 2012 made it so you to have to ask your carrier’s permission to get your phone unlocked after your contract was up. If this new bill is made into law, the same exemption could be applied to a broader set of devices, including tablets.
While iCloud has been a trusty storage companion for photos and documents, Apple’s recently announced iCloud Drive upgrades what we already know and love about the service. In today’s video, we take a look at five ways iCloud Drive will upgrade your life when Apple rolls out the enhanced service alongside iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.
I write a ton of hardware reviews for TUAW, and I really get tired of seeing overpriced stands for MacBooks. The idea of these things is to just put your device into a comfortable position for typing while you’re using the laptop on a flat surface or lap, but some of the accessory designers think that you want an expensive museum piece instead. Not so with the BlueLounge Kickflip, a US$19.95 (for 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display) or $17.95 (for 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display) adjustable stand that adds no bulk and almost no weight to your favorite Apple laptop. The Kickflip was released today by BlueLounge, in an act of perfect timing for the back-to-school crowd in another month.
The Kickflip is made of a piece of black polyurethane that is hinged in the middle. It’s attached to your MacBook Pro (or in my situation, a Speck SmartShell case) with a special gel adhesive band that makes it possible to remove it without damage.
Normally, the Kickflip adds just a little height — maybe about a quarter-inch — to the back of your MacBook Pro. But when you flip down the hinged piece it raises the back of your laptop by about 1-1/4 inches, enough to really make a difference.
Installation of the Kickflip on either a “naked” MacBook Pro or on a shell like that I have installed on my MBP is quite simple — you just remove a piece of paper off of the gel adhesive, align the top of the sticky portion with the back of your laptop, and press it into place. The adhesive has a strong grip and inadvertent removal of the Kickflip should not be an issue.
So, now you’re typing away on your MacBook Pro and need a little bit of angle to the keyboard to make it a bit more comfortable? Just reach under and flick that “kickstand” down and you’re good to go. Ready to pop your MacBook Pro back into its carrying bag? With one hand, you can flip the Kickflip back up and get it out of the way.
I’m a sucker for well-designed products that are inexpensive, and the Kickflip from BlueLounge fits that bill. It works with either size (13- or 15-inch) MacBook Pro, and as you can see in my photo at the top of the page, it’s also compatible with third-party shells. I just wish it had the ability to lock into one more interim position as well in order to give it just a tad more flexibility.
Apple today has launched an interesting new service for iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore users in Japan with iPhones and iPod touches. The new service, called iTunes Pass (no, not thatiTunes Pass), allows users to go to an Apple Store in Japan, purchase credit in-store for the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore, and have that money immediately applied to the Apple ID account instead of needing to receive a gift card and enter a redemption code…
To substitute for a physical gift card, iTunes Pass installs a new pass inside of the iOS Passbook application. The Apple Store employee can scan the pass in order to immediately apply the credit to the Apple account. Users can install the iTunes Pass feature in Passbook on the main screen in the iPhone iTunes Store app. Apple previously opened up the ability for Apple Store gift cards to be stored in Passbook as well as WWDC tickets for its developer conference and iTunes Festival tickets for its free concert series. Here’s Apple’s description of the service, machine translated from Japanese into English:
Use the iTunes Pass, you can now deposit directly to the account of the App Store or iTunes Store you. Go to the iTunes Store in the iOS device you have, if you tap “Use iTunes Card / Code” button and scroll down, you can get the iTunes Pass. 3 Please tell specialist that then, the Apple Store near you, you want to deposit into account. When you open the iTunes Pass from the Passbook, specialists will scan it, and accepts the payment. Balance is updated on the fly, available immediately.
While the feature is launching in Japan today, Apple has not yet indicated if the function is planned to come to other countries in the future. Apple rarely launches significant initiatives in just a single region outside of the United States, so perhaps a larger rollout with more countries is not far behind. Another possibility is that Apple is using Japan as a test country for this feature as the region is a major market for Apple, but one with only nine Apple retail stores. Apple has approximately 400 other locations outside of Japan.
The iPhone 6 isn’t expected to get a huge battery upgrade, but in just a few years your next iPhone might be able to go weeks on a single charge.
Apple and British fuel-cell firm Intelligent Energy have supposedly been working on a secret partnership, according to The Daily Mail, that might bring embedded fuel cells with weeks of battery life to Apple’s armada of MacBooks, iPhones and iPads.
Not only would the adoption of fuel cells free iPhone owners from their wall-hugging bondage, the conversion of chemical energy into electricity is clean and highly efficient. Neither Apple or Intelligent Energy have acknowledge the secret partnership, but according to the report, the two companies are hoping to bring the fuel-cell technology to the market within a few years.
Intelligent Energy just purchased a bundle of patents for the practical application of fuel cells last December. If Apple is able to successfully adopt the technology in the iPhone it would mark a huge leap forward for energy-efficient devices and further distance from Samsung.
Apple and Intelligent Energy already share some connections, with Apple’s former computer product specialist, Joe O’Sullivan, now serving as Intelligent Energy’s COO. IE also recently opened an office in San Jose, California, just down the road from Apple HQ.
Along with the possibility of fuel cells, Apple is also rumored to be adopting new materials such as unbelievably scratch-resistant sapphire glass, and perhaps more Liquid Metal. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is expected to sport a modest 1,900mAh battery when it launches this fall, but it’s beefier brother, the 5.5-inch iBeast, will have a 2,500 mAh battery (if it ever makes it out the gate).
ncreasingly, iPads are replacing laptops and even desktops as the computing platform of choice, especially in schools. But the onscreen keyboard is often the weak link. There are a plethora of Bluetooth keyboards, notably Apple’s own pricey Wireless Keyboard. It could get expensive to outfit each student with one.
Enter the myKeyO. This is a unique combination of a Bluetooth keyboard with something I haven’t seen before. Indeed I was skeptical of this item when the vendor first emailed me about it, but now that I’ve had a chance to use it, I totally get it.
First, there is a base station, made of heavy duty silicone. There are cutouts to hold an iPad (or other tablet) in portrait or landscape mode. More cutouts can hold a variety of things, like a pen or stylus, business cards, paperclips, and more.
The most important slot is for either the official Apple Wireless Keyboard, or their own keyboard. They have designed a lower cost, tough plastic keyboard that shares the exact same dimensions as Apple’s version. In some ways, this keyboard is better because it has iPad-specific buttons like the Home button. It also could work with Microsoft Windows computers or tablets, as it has labels for Windows.
I could easily see the myKeyO units being placed throughout a school or office, so students could set down their tablets and get to work. Ideally, each student would work at the same spot, so the Bluetooth keyboard would already be paired, but if not, pairing is an easy process with the Connect button on the bottom of the keyboard.
The base station is really heavy and should stay put on most desks. It’s also available in assorted colors, so students can have some customization. It’s one of those accessories you didn’t know you needed until you see it. But now it’s earned a dedicated spot on my desk.
As user-friendly as they are, Macs are complex machines. They’re absolutely loaded with features, some of which might not be obvious from the start. In today’s video, we take a look at five basic tips that can help make everyday use of your Mac much more enjoyable. Find out how to clean up your desktop, customize your Dock, tweak audio settings and more with just a few quick clicks.