Apple unveils Watch and iPhones, big and bigger, at San Francisco keynote

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“Can’t innovate any more, my ass,” joked Apple’s Phil Schiller last year as he unveiled the latest generation Mac Pro. After accusations of the company stagnating and failing to put out a revolutionary product since 2010’s iPad sparked the post-PC revolution, Apple’s share price tumbled despite record sales figures.

Though targeted at the likes of video professionals rather than you or I, the ‘trash can’ Mac Pro was a sign of bright things to come. With a unique construction designed to save power, space and noise, the desktop workhorse (and Schiller’s comment) appeared to perfectly represent Tim Cook’s all-new Apple. They were going to innovate. They wouldn’t be afraid to have some fun. They were going to strike back.

Along came September 9th and Cook graced the stage at San Francisco’s Flint Center, bringing with him a pair of new iPhones and the long-awaited Apple Watch. All are clear responses to the likes of Samsung and Motorola, though is the catch-up effort enough to restore Apple to the head of the pack? Continue reading

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Apple does thing that everyone expected Apple to do, just like always

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You know how Apple has an event every September in which they announce iPhones and other assorted technology devices and everyone freaks out about 2 weeks before when an invite lands in the inboxes of all the big tech blogs and has an Apple logo and a few words that don’t reveal anything useful and gets deconstructed to hell by Apple bloggers everywhere clamouring for a piece of the news that Re/code broke the day before?

Yeah, that happened. See you Tuesday 9th.

Source Kurt Colbeck (Twitter)

Amazon Cart launches, allowing lazy shoppers to consumerise without leaving Twitter

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For all of us who find clicking on Amazon links and pressing buttons to add products to shopping carts mind-numbingly tedious, Amazon and Twitter’s new partnership promises to revolutionise how we shop in the most #social way ever. Enter #AmazonCart (or #AmazonBasket for my fellow Brits). Once you’ve linked your Amazon and Twitter accounts, you can add any product to your Amazon purchase queue by tweeting #AmazonCart in reply to a tweet that contains an Amazon product link. Of course what this doesn’t tell you is how much the product is, whether it is any good or if you can find a better deal elsewhere. Much of this can be solved by clicking on the link, but then what’s the point in this new scheme? Click on a link, take a peek and tap a button sounds a lot faster, simpler and consumer-savvy than seeing a tweet, pressing reply, typing out a response to (what is most likely) your brand of choice or a friend who couldn’t actually care any less about your chronic purchasing habits, scribbling #AmazonCart at the end and then tweeting your response.

But #hashtags, right?

First Look: A cooler/desk hybrid that makes laptop use practical again

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Despite the name, it’s pretty well known that laptops just aren’t suitable for lap use. Whether due to the instability that the thighs (as a surface) produce or due the heat that is generated as we send the devices into overdrive, it’s generally preferable (and recommended by the manufacturers) to just stick the damn thing on a desk and get on with it. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the long-term heat exposure that stems from laptop use can cause Toasted Skin Syndrome. As such, some people invest in impractical coolers, either active or passive, to provide some additional ventilation, but these don’t tend to cater for the lap users.

That’s where an unusual innovation that recently passed through DX Towers comes into play.

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Designed and built by Luke Hansford, a sixth form student at Christ’s Hospital School, the as-yet unnamed device converges a laptop cooler, standing and sitting desk and a desk tidy into one package. The unit, which I tested in early prototype form, is constructed from metal, wood and plastic, but it’s not exactly the sleekest solution I’ve seen – this is not going to fit in your bag for the commute. Nevertheless, it’s a great setup. The contoured acrylic base allows for a fantastic chair-centred work experience that combines the convenience of being able to sit anywhere with a functional and spacious working surface. Contrarily, when placed on a standard desk, you create a quick and convenient standing desk solution thanks to the added elevation.

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In terms of cooling, a yellow wire coming out of the rear with a thermistor on the end leads to a circuit and an active fan system underneath the isometric metal surface. Theoretically, the thermistor will kick the fan (powered by a pair of 9V batteries) into action, although trying to secure the thermistor to the warmest points of the laptop was impossible without some Blu-Tack. At this point, running Kerbal Space Program, The Walking Dead and Bioshock Infinite simultaneously not only generated enough fun to power the circuit, but also sent my laptop fan into overdrive and awoke the circuit below.

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As this is only an early prototype, modifications and refinements are afoot. Currently, he upper metal layer is vulnerable to a bit of flex when heavier machines adorn it and rotating wooden desk tidy element, while splendid for stashing away pens and other assorted desk ornaments, can dig into those among us with rounder figures. The temperamental thermistor, too, may also be adjusted to ensure more consistent action, although the perforated metal sheet does provide ample ventilation and increased airflow while remaining aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps the 9V batteries could also be phased out in favour of USB power draw, which would reduce the running costs yet further, while the thermistor system will also surely become more discrete as the prototype evolves.

Though no wide production run has yet been confirmed, it is estimated that, upon an eventual launch, the contraption would cost around £50. Make sure to follow Hansford on Twitter for updates as the project develops.

Nokia announces Lumia 930, its new Windows Phone 8.1 flagship

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At Microsoft’s Build developer summit today, future subsidiary Nokia has unveiled its new Windows Phone flagship device, the Lumia 930. Serving as true successor to the Lumia 920 (because the 925, 928, 1020 and 1520 just don’t cut it) which debuted in September 2012, the 930 is effectively Verizon’s recent Lumia Icon for a global market, with the relatively uninspired design being improved tremendously by the addition of chromatic rears, including black, white, green and, finally, orange. Continue reading

Helvetica: The story of the future’s font

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In 1957, one of the most powerful figures of our time was born in a small Swiss town. Though the majority wouldn’t even recognise his name, his countless distinct silhouettes are among the biggest players in the marketing and information spheres. He’s worked with everyone in the music industry from The Beatles to Swedish House Mafia. He’s the only one whose talents are diverse enough to justify appearing in advertisements for everyone from American Airlines to American Apparel and 3M to Verizon without being dismissed as a corporate shill. Every day, hundreds of millions of iPhone users are greeted with his face as they go about their days. And yet, he still frequently appears in public without anyone batting an eyelid. 

For he is Helvetica. He is the typeface of both the 20th and 21st centuries. He is the symbol of modernism, of efficiency, of approachability and of sophistication. You saw him on the way to work this morning. He’s behind you on the fire exit sign. In some places, he’s even on your government documents and public transportation signage. The omnipresent typographical embodiment of Swiss neutrality brought brands into the age of machinery in the 1960s and beyond, forever changing the way we think about marketing and advertising.

There was a simpler time, though. Continue reading

Apple iPhone 5s review

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I’m sure that you all know by now that Apple has announced their latest addition to their smartphone lineup – the iPhone 5s. As ever with Apple, there has been a lot of hype surrounding this launch, and that has resulted in the fact that some of the sites that have reviewed it haven’t really understood what the phone is about, or what it is trying to be. Some put it down for its “bad” specifications. Others fawned over the device just because it was sent down by the Apple gods from above.. Even though I’m pretty late with this review, hopefully I’ll be able to give my thoughts on the device, and while doing that tell you what this device is really about. Continue reading