Apple’s spaceship campus is looking more impressive as construction gets closer to wrapping up, and TMO’s latest drone pic really drives that home. Taken Wednesday, our intrepid drone pilot’s flying skills let you see the roof solar panels are nearly all installed, landscaping is starting to come together outside the massive building, and the giant courtyard in the building’s center is taking shape, too. The building really looks like something from JJ Abrams’ Star Trek. Apple Campus 2.0 isn’t finished yet, but is moving along well enough that the company will likely start moving in some time in 2017.
Vulnerability Lab has published a video to YouTube (via AppleInsider) demonstrating a method for bypassing the Activation Lock on an iOS device. Researchers discovered a convoluted series of steps one can go through starting with a buffer overflow, and also using a Smart Cover…it’s complicated. The bottom line, though, is that the method would allow someone to bypass the Activation Lock, meaning they could use a device that’s been locked by Find My iPhone. Apple is usually able to patch these bypasses, but this video nicely highlights the ongoing cat and mouse game involved with security. The video is presented in real time, meaning there are long stretches where not much is happening. It’s interesting, though, to see the steps necessary for the exploit and the end result.
I have no idea how practical these products are, but they’re gorgeous. Check out the Orée Board and Orée Touch Slab, a keyboard and trackpad made from wood. The Board is portable and can connect via USB or Bluetooth. It’s designed to work with macOS and iOS, or Windows and Android. Each is made from a single piece of wood, making individual units unique. The Touch Slab is a multitouch trackpad that can also be used as a numeric keypad. Look closely and you’ll see the keypad outlined on top. It’s Bluetooth only, and works with macOS, and Windows 7 or 8. The Board is priced at US$129, while Touch Slab is $150. I haven’t tested them, but they totally caught my eye.
Forget Pokémon. A really cool use for augmented reality on your iPhone is an animated 3D model of the White House, complete with an audio tour of its importance and history. The new app 1600, released this week by the White House Historical Association, uses AR to build a fully animated 3D model of the White House on a $1 bill while White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest narrates a miniature history lesson. Users can also tap on various parts of the model to reveal additional information and a few hidden secrets. Check it out now for free on the iOS and Android app stores.
Apple has a new iTunes promotion titled “Under $10 in HD: ’90s Essentials.” It includes movies like Clueless, The Matrix (the first one, only, thank you), Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Silence of the Lambs, Good Will Hunting, L.A. Confidential, Fight Club, American Beauty, and 22 others. Most are $7.99, and many are less than that.
You all know that we love Plex around here, and yesterday the company announced that its new Plex Media Player app for Mac and Windows, which had previously been limited to paying “Plex Pass” customers, is now free for everyone! Even better, the latest version of the app now supports both a “10-foot” interface for navigating with a remote as well as the Plex “Web” interface for more intimate use with mouse and keyboard. Check out the announcement at the Plex Blog and download your copy of Plex Media Player for macOS.
Former iPhone hacker George Hotz has released his company’s self-driving car software and hardware as open source. The software itself is on GitHub, as well as 3D printer plans for housing the smartphone needed to run it. The Verge reported there is only one device that will work—the OnePlus 3—and you’re going to need some specific Honda or Accura models to use it. And really, what could go wrong with a bunch of folks experimenting with unproven autonomous vehicle software? Mr. Hotz has been developing the software and hardware as an after-market conversion kit, which he intended to compete with Tesla’s self-driving system. He abruptly announced he was pulling the product from market after regulators had the temerity to express an interest in it. This week, he announced its release as an open source project, rather than a for-sale product. Again, what could go wrong?
Google Earth Timelapse is “a global, zoomable video that lets you see how the Earth has changed over the past 32 years.” It’s not exactly new, but the project was just updated this week with new data and improved historical images. Head over to the Timelapse website, zoom into your favorite location, and watch the path of rivers change, glaciers melt, and cities spread from 1984 through 2016. It’s an incredible way to view the immense library of Google Earth’s satellite imagery.
Check out Canopy from Neat Studio, a case specifically for Apple’s Magic Keyboard. In addition to being a case, it can also serve as a stand that holds your iPad Pro (or other device) up while you’re typing. It has a synthetic canvas cover and a microfiber interior. The strap that holds it shut is leather, and it holds your Magic Keyboard using micro-suction pads. I haven’t tested it out, but if I was going to haul a Magic Keyboard around, putting it in a case makes a lot of sense. Canopy is available for pre-order for $40. The company said it’s trying to deliver before Christmas, but can’t guarantee it.
Blending colors on your computer typically doesn’t give the results you expect, meaning where they overlap ends up being some weird dark color. That’s because most apps take shortcuts with the math. MinutePhysics put together an awesome video explaining exactly what’s happening and why—and it’s totally worth watching. The downside is now all of the blur effects that are done wrong will really stand out. You’re welcome.
Check out the latest flyover video of Apple Campus 2.0, posted by Sexton Videography. It’s an HD tour of the so-called Spaceship HQ that shows just how far the architectural masterpiece has come. Complete with labels letting you know what you’re looking at, you can see side buildings, parking structures (with solar panels installed), landscaping, and how much of the main building has taken shape. It’s labeled “December 2016 Update,” but the video was posted November 25th. It’s a great tour. Adjust the resolution up to 1080p, as desired.
Apple’s iBooks has loads of books on sale, and they’re all $0.99, $1.99, $2.99, or $3.99. There are hundreds of them in Fiction & Literature, Mysteries & Thrillers, Biographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction, Romance, Young Adult, Kids, Cookbooks, Food & Wine, and SciFi & Fantasy. It’s a mix of big and little names, including Tolkien, Daniel Silva, Stephen Ambrose, Bill Bryson, Neal Stephenson, Octavia Butler, and many, many more. If you scroll all the way to the right on any given category, there’s a “See all” link that will take you to every book in just that category. I personally just picked up Atlas of Lost Cities.
The new Touch Bar MacBook Pro doesn’t include an Ethernet port—just like Apple’s other laptops—and despite the company’s long list of adapters, it doesn’t make a USB-C to Ethernet dongle. Apple offers Belkin’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet adapter but it’s back ordered 7 to 10 weeks, which isn’t much help if you need one now. Anker, however, is selling one on Amazon that’s shipping now, and it’s less expensive than Belkin’s at US$22.99 instead of $26. Anker has a solid reputation, which is why I already ordered mine. Bonus: Amazon Prime members get two-day free shipping.
Check out StällDesk on Kickstarter. This project is for a standing desk made from high-quality—and very attractive—plywood called ApplePly. The retail price for this desk will be $199, but there are currently early bird funding options left at $129 that will get you one. The thing that first grabbed me about this desk is that it’s gorgeous. The shape is sleek and elegant, and the finish is beautiful. It’s adjustable, and you assemble/disassemble it without using screws. It’s also very strong, courtesy of ApplePly. Check out the project’s page for images of people standing on it. Also check out the closeup images of the StällDesk itself to see the fit and finish. The company is raising $20,000 for custom runs of ApplePly and new tooling, and the desks are being made in Colorado.
Apple released a new commercial this week called Frankie’s Holiday. It’s a touchy-feely piece vaguely showing an iPhone being used by Frankenstein’s Monster to reach out to his community. I love it. It’s cute. Touching. A little off-beat.