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Updated: 1 hour 9 min ago

12 powerful websites that can replace your desktop software

1 hour 26 min ago
These days, even brawny tasks like video editing can take place solely in your browser. Check out these great sites for productivity, creativity, security and more.

First look: Shazam for Mac

1 hour 26 min ago

As you may have heard, Shazam’s music recognition technology will be incorporated into Siri in iOS 8. Having the ability to identify a song playing in the background (and then purchase it via the iTunes Store) is powerful for mobile devices. But what about those of us sitting in front of our Macs?

The answer comes today in the form of the free Shazam for Mac app. Available from the Mac App Store, you simply download, double-click to install, and Shazam keeps an ear out via your Mac’s built-in mic or a microphone plugged into the computer’s microphone port (USB mics are not currently supported). I’ve had a couple of days to play with it and here’s what I’ve seen.

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Going on a trip? Keep a travel diary with Bonjournal

1 hour 26 min ago
This journaling app compiles your individual entries into a beautiful narrative... if you remember to use it.

Modbook launches Kickstarter campaign for Modbook Pro X Mac tablet

Wed, 2014-07-30 16:47

The custom Mac tablet, the Modbook, is back—this time with a souped-up, 15.4-inch display and the latest Mac hardware under the hood.

To make this dream a reality, however, Modbook is asking that you fund a Kickstarter campaign for the Modbook Pro X, which will cost a minimum of $2,000 apiece. That funding will buy you a place on Modbook’s assembly line; company executives hope to deliver the first Modbook tablets in 2015.

The Modbook has been around for about seven years, when Axiotron and Other World Computing teamed up to deliver the first Mac tablet at Macworld. Three years later in 2010, however, Apple released the first iPad, a much smaller tablet powered by Apple’s iOS. Subsequent upgrades yielded the Modbook Pro. 

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iOS 8 preview: AgileBits releases 1Password extension

Wed, 2014-07-30 14:58

Ah, Wednesday: Time for middle-of-the-week celebrations, new comics, and… iOS 8 extensions? Yes, indeed: AgileBits, the developers behind 1Password, have released a Github repository containing all the stuff that other app makers need to include a 1Password extension in their programs.

AgileBits has also released a video preview (embedded below) that shows just how easy that extension will make it to use logins you've saved in 1Password on iOS devices. (Spoiler alert: Thanks to iOS 8’s extensions program, it's going to be very easy indeed.)

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Microsoft OneNote embraces Mac and iOS users with a raft of new features

Wed, 2014-07-30 11:40

Microsoft said late Tuesday that it has added several new capabilities for OneNote for the Mac and iOS, including imported files from email and OneDrive for Business storage.

All of the improvements are aimed at continuing to make OneNote the digital framework for storing notes and other reference materials—and, not coincidentally, to do so as students begin thinking about back-to-school purchases of laptops and tablets.

OneNote users can use the software in a variety of ways, from crafting to-do lists to storing personal notes and files. In an academic environment, however, storing files digitally “handed out” by professors and aides could be a common use case.

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Best Buy dreams of laptop revival amid 'crashing' tablet sales

Wed, 2014-07-30 10:16
Shoppers aren't in a rush to upgrade their aging tablets. That sounds a lot like the PC market.

Flir One first look: Shooting thermal imaging pictures of the new MacBook Pro

Wed, 2014-07-30 09:15

Flir One

Some cool gear arrived at the office on Tuesday: new MacBook Pros and the new Flir One ($349) thermal imaging camera for the iPhone 5s. Macworld Lab set up the laptops for benchmark testing, so I took a few pictures of the new $2499 15-inch MacBook Pro as it churned through Speedmark 9.

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The mall of small apps

Wed, 2014-07-30 09:00

In this episode we talk about a couple Apple acquisitions that might make it easier for you to find podcasts and books that you’ll enjoy, the beef between Bose and Beats, why we think Beats is all that, and why Microsoft and Samsung picking on Apple is probably a good thing.

Show notes Sponsors

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Amazon says cheaper e-books are better for everyone in latest Hachette war salvo

Wed, 2014-07-30 08:53
Amazon argues for price elasticity as messy dispute with Hachette drags on.

How to burn movies to disc in an iDVD-less world

Wed, 2014-07-30 08:00

Colleague X has a burning question from a friend:

Hey, have you done a 911 recently about burning a movie to a DVD? A friend was asking and I realized I have no real idea how this is done in the post-iDVD world.

No I haven’t, but it’s time I did.

It’s true, now that Apple has filed iDVD under “Old Technology That Interests Us Not” your options aren’t as clear as they once were. Let’s see if we can bring some clarity to the situation.

To begin with, iDVD, though dead to Apple, still works with Mavericks. So, it’s simply a matter of laying your hands on a copy, installing it, and going about your burning business. Apple no longer sells iLife ’11 (which carries a copy of iDVD 7.1), but you can find a copy on Amazon for $40. I’ve seen copies on eBay going for as little as $10.

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The Week in iOS Accessories: Eight is enough?

Wed, 2014-07-30 07:00
Eight is enough?

This week's roundup of new iOS accessories includes a device for quickly charging up to eight iOS devices, plus cables, Bluetooth speakers, and more.

Bite My Apple

The $80 Skiva Octofire is billed as “the first ever USB charger that is equipped with 8 ports, to simultaneously charge eight devices at optimum speed.” It should be perfect for large households, or businesses with multiple mobile devices in need of charging.

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Permanent 2 review: updated iPad spreadsheet gets more useful, less quirky

Wed, 2014-07-30 06:45

When I previously looked at Permanent (2.0 mice), I concluded that the iPad spreadsheet app had potential, but that potential was mostly untapped. The app simply lacked many features—printing, cell styling, pinch-to-zoom, deleting rows and columns, and more—you’d expect from a well-rounded spreadsheet program.

However, Permanent did have some unique features, and I concluded my review by stating, “I think there’s an interesting model here, and it definitely could work well if the authors can deliver on their promises.”

Permanent 2 (version 2.2.2 as of this review; free with in-app purchases) loses much of the uniqueness found in the original version of Permanent, such as floating tables and images, and scrolling within a sheet instead of within the screen of the iPad. But the end result is a much more usable application.

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Cloud Commander review: A sanity-saving single point of access to your cloud storage

Wed, 2014-07-30 05:15

Cloud storage is a great way to sync up content to access on multiple devices and platforms, and provides an offsite backup for important files. But if you’re like me, you’ve got numerous cloud accounts, with files scattered among them. Cloud Commander (Mac App Store link) decreases the insanity by letting you connect to your Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, SugarSync,, Bitcasa, Picasa, and Flickr accounts in one place. It can also act as a WebDAV or FTP client.

Once you’ve connected your accounts, double-click one to open it in the Cloud Commander window. From there you can drag and drop files and folders to and from that service, either moving or copying the items, depending on how you’ve configured Cloud Commander’s preferences. Control- or right-click on a file or folder to rename, delete, or (for most services) get a sharable link for it. You can select an item and press the spacebar for a QuickLook preview. You can even open multiple Cloud Commander windows to, say, copy files from your Dropbox account to your OneDrive account.

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The secret to great presentations: it's not about the software

Wed, 2014-07-30 05:00

I’ve sat through countless dull PowerPoint and Keynote presentations. And I’ll admit that some of my own have been snoozers, too. Based on my observations of presentations by others, and on feedback I’ve received about my own, I’d like to share one simple tip for making your presentations better: Don’t focus on your presentation software.

You read that right: In some of the most successful presentations I’ve seen, I barely noticed what was on the screen. If your audience leaves feeling informed, inspired, or entertained, you’ve done a better job than if they leave talking about your fancy 3D effects.

Start with the message

Nobody watches an Apple keynote to see the slides. They watch to see Tim Cook and other executives in action and learn about new products. Sure, there’ll be some interesting photos, charts, and statistics. But those are there only to supplement and reinforce what the speakers say. Or consider politicians, preachers, comedians, and TED presenters, all of whom convey the bulk of their messages with speech alone. The essence of your talk is the words you say, not what you put on the screen.

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Premiere Pro CC 2014 review: New features allow video editors to do more

Wed, 2014-07-30 04:30

If you’ve been caught in an embarrassing situation by the local 6 o’clock news crew, then you’ll appreciate that professional video editors often must protect the innocent by obscuring people’s faces in broadcasts, and in some cases, they may need to avoid trademark infringement by blurring company or product logos. A new feature in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014 can make that a much less tedious task.

Premiere Pro CC 2014 lets you designate a "master clip," to which you can apply effects that are then applied to all instances of the clip on your timeline.

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Comic-Con: iPads are mainstream, but there's still digital drama

Wed, 2014-07-30 04:30

I’ve been reading comics on and off since I was a kid, and I went to college in San Diego, yet I never attended San Diego Comic-Con International until the release of the iPad. I was drawn by the impact that device would have on the comics industry, and sure enough, over the past five years there’s been massive change.

But the story that drew me to my first Comic-Con is, it seems to me, drawing to an end. The industry freak-outs about how digital comics were going to destroy printed comics and comic shops? They’re gone, by and large. (This doesn’t mean that the industry isn’t changing—just this week a venerable retailer announced it probably wouldn’t return to the show.) The shouting is over and digital comics are just another part of the landscape.

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iPhone gets first free app for encrypting voice calls

Tue, 2014-07-29 22:55

An open-source project has released the first free application for the iPhone that scrambles voice calls, which would thwart government surveillance or eavesdropping by hackers.

Signal comes from Open Whisper Systems, which developed RedPhone and TextSecure, both Android applications that encrypt calls and text messages.

The application is compatible with RedPhone and eventually RedPhone and TextSecure will be combined in a single Android application and called Signal as well, according to a blog post.

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In a flash, Instagram launches Bolt in select countries

Tue, 2014-07-29 15:50
Singapore, New Zealand, and South Africa received Instagram's new messaging app before anyone else.

Two Apple acquisitions aim to help improve book, radio recommendations

Tue, 2014-07-29 14:14

Apple’s been on a bit of an acquisition kick over the last couple years, and it seems to be continuing apace. This week, the company has confirmed the acquisition of two separate firms, both of which may help improve the company’s algorithms for recommending content.

Over the weekend, Re/code reported that Apple was aiming to buy Swell, an app described as “Pandora for talk radio.” Among the company's partners: ABC News Radio, PRI, NPR, and TED. The service focused on figuring out what users like to listen to and then suggesting similar content. (In and of itself, it’s not different from the NPR One app we recently reviewed, albeit with more sources.) Re/code also reported that the deal would be worth $30 million. As of Tuesday, the Swell app is no longer available for download, and the website has been replaced with a thank-you message; the Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayashi tweeted that he had confirmed the sale with Apple.

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