The nice folks at Inateck sent me their waterproof MercuryBox Aluminum Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker to play with a few weeks ago. The first thing I did was drop it in the hot tub for a minute to test its waterproof-ness, which didn't hurt it a bit. Its sound quality is surprising for such as small speaker, and the solid aluminum case should stand up to abuse. While I'm not sure I'd recommend it at $129.99, Amazon currently has it for $46.99, which is a bargain. For the record, here are its specs: Dual 5-watt precision-tuned drivers; IPX5 water resistant speaker; 1800mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery for up to 15 hours of play time; built-in high sensitivity Microphone for hands-free telephone calls; compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled devices and non-Bluetooth devices via 3.5mm audio cable.
Taylor Swift is featured in the September issue of Vanity Fair in a cover piece titled, "Taylor Swift Reveals How She Stood Up to Apple." In it, she revelaled that she was scared of a backlash against the open letter she wrote ciriticizing Apple for not paying royalties to music streamerd during an Apple Music trial period, and surprised at the warm reaction it received. My favorite line was, "Apple treated me like I was a voice of a creative community that they actually cared about. And I found it really ironic that the multi-billion-dollar company reacted to criticism with humility, and the start-up with no cash flow [Spotify] reacted to criticism like a corporate machine." It's a good read.
Apple's licensing deals with the music labels allow the company to launch additional Beats stations whenever it wants. Citing unnamed sourced, The Verge reported that Apple has the power to launch new stations—thinks Beats 2, Beats 3, Beats Reggae, or even Beats Death Metal—without having to renegotiate. Beats 1 is Apple's radio-station-format show that is live around the world for 12 hours per day, and then repeated for the other 12 hours. It has been highly praised, and may well be the most-liked feature of Apple Music, which was rolled out in late June. Even the record labels are pleased, according to The Verge's sources.
Apple is in "talks" with carrier services to launch its own Apple-branded wireless service, according to BusinessInsider (BI). Citing unnamed sources "close to Apple," BI said that the talks revolved around an Apple-branded mobile virtual network operator service, or MVNO. This would mean that Apple would lease bandwidth from companies like AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and/or T-Mobile, and repackage it as its own carrier service. This sort of service is what powers Walmart's StraightTalk, TracFone, and a host of others. According to BI, iOS devices with an Apple SIM card would automatically switch customers to whatever network had the best signal at that moment. Furthermore, Apple is already testing such a service in the U.S., and is talking to carriers in Europe. Check out BI.
Apple has a cool video on its developer siste called Ecosystem, as noted by Redditor hollowgram. I'm not sure when it was posted, and I wasn't able to find it on any of the sub pages of Apple's Developer Videos site, but I believe it was made for WWDC 2015 (Apple's WWDC 2015 developer video page). Whenever it was made, it focuses on how developers and end-users are able to make more out of Apple's ecosystem because it's just that, a true ecosystem. Apple doesn't haven't a sharing feature built into the videos posted to its developer site, but you can click through and watch it.
You can turn your iPhone into a hologram projector, and it's surprisingly easy to do. Seriously. And it's frakking cool! All you need is an old CD jewel case, a sharp knife, a piece of graph paper for a template, and some tape. You'll need some videos, like those found in a couple collections on YouTube, to show off your awesome iPhone hologram projector. Now all we need is the message R2 played for Obi Wan Kenobi. Some one get on that.
The long-awaited Apple TV refresh originally planned for June is coming this September, according to Buzzfeed, where John Paczkowski is now the managing editor of the site's San Francisco bureau. This time, "it's for real." The device's release is intended to prepare the way for another long-rumored product, an Apple streaming TV service, even though Apple is not yet ready to announce that service. The implication is that the new Apple TV will support it when it does get launched. The device will supposedly be slimmer, have a new touch-pad remote, a faster processor, more internal storage, and an Apple TV App Store. Let's hope this one's true! Check out Buzzfeed for more details.
Feral Interactive announced that Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor has been released for Mac and Linux on the Steam platform. It's coming to the Mac App Store in early August, as well. The action adventure game is set in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth just as Sauron returns to Mordor, decades before The Lord of the Rings. It pits a slain-yet-resurrected Ranger named Talion against Sauron as Talion seeks vengeance. It's priced at US$49.99 and £29.99, and is available on Steam now. Check out the trailer.
Cusby has launched an Indiegogo project to deliver a modular and expandable USB-C dock system. As the developper describes it: "It starts by connecting a Cusby unit to any USB-C port.... From there, multiple Cusbys can be linked together like Lego blocks to create their own combination of ports for any situation. Every time a new Cusby is added, a new USB-C port is created, so there is always a free port available. We've lined up 3 models at launch: Power charger, USB-A and HDMI. Other ports in the pipeline are Thunderbolt, Display Port and Ethernet" Various contribution levels are available that include 1,2 or more Cusby blocks. Delivery is expected in October 2015.
Vesa Lehtimäki is well known for his amazing LEGO photography, and now—or at least soon—you can get a collection of his awesome images in a new DK book. LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy puts together the photos he took using his kid's LEGO minifigures showing recreations from the movies along with some fun ideas of his own. The book also includes descriptions of how some of the shots were done, along with Mr. Lehtimäki's creative process. The book is priced at US$24.99, but you can pre-order it for $12.37.
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