Electric bicycles have become popular for their motor-assisted, eco-friendly locomotion, and some even have companion apps. Julio Ojeda-Zapata took a break from his traditional road bike to test two such high-tech e-bikes and found that their iPhone-based connectivity adds considerably to the experience.
You would pay dearly for Apple’s AirPods Max headphones, which at $549 exceed the cost of rival products by $200 or more. But Julio Ojeda-Zapata came away impressed with their stylishness, ruggedness, audio quality, active noise cancellation, design flourishes, and integration with Apple’s ecosystem. They have flaws, but none are deal-breakers.
Apple’s AirPower never shipped, but the notion of a multi-device wireless charger with flexible positioning lives on. Julio Ojeda-Zapata tried Nomad’s Base Station Pro, a charging pad for up to three arbitrarily placed devices. It mostly works as advertised, but its high cost and technical shortcomings mean it isn’t for everyone.
For users of Apple’s laptops, one screen isn’t always enough. Xebec aims to solve that problem with its Tri-Screen, an accessory that attaches to the back of the laptop lid and has screens that slide out on the left and right. Julio Ojeda-Zapata took a look.
Apple’s iPhone 12 line is the first with 5G, meaning the phones can tap into high-speed data from the main cellular carriers in the US. But “high speed” is relative. Depending on carrier and location, downloads are crazy fast or merely akin to 4G LTE. Julio Ojeda-Zapata tried T-Mobile and Verizon 5G.
Apple announced the HomePod mini, a smaller, less expensive, and more rounded version of its two-year-old HomePod. The expanded speaker line has little in the way of groundbreaking features as it competes with speakers from Amazon and Google, but at least it’s now more affordable.
Is the Apple Watch even more attractive than normal during the pandemic? Julio Ojeda-Zapata has been pondering its utility in the coronavirus context, and he’s increasingly using his watch so he doesn’t have to keep digging out—and later disinfecting—his iPhone. He’s trying to talk his wife into doing the same—we’ll see how that goes.
You can access Google’s Gmail in desktop email clients, but its IMAP support can be awkward. Enter Mimestream, a native Mac app that uses Google’s Gmail API to more faithfully bring Gmail’s features to the desktop. Mimestream is still in beta and the developer has much to do, but you can try the app now for free.
Apple has announced its next-generation Apple Watch Series 6 with a number of enhancements, notably a blood oxygen sensor and new bands. The company also unveiled a lower-cost Apple Watch SE.
If you’re skittish about visiting a public library during a pandemic, ask about electronic borrowing you can do from home. Many US libraries provide digital versions of books, comics, and magazines, plus music downloads and streaming video options. Julio Ojeda-Zapata examines all the likely choices.
Videoconferencing has surged during the pandemic, and keeping track of meetings on multiple platforms is a hassle. Julio Ojeda-Zapata tried two software tools, Meeter and Fantastical, that promise to make this juggling act easier.
Outdoor cycling is feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but long rides are impractical and group rides are an infection risk. Enter Zwift, a bicycling simulator you run on an iPad, Mac, or Apple TV as you sit on a stationary bicycle. As you pedal, your Zwift counterpart does the same as it roams exotic realms. You can meet friends on Zwift, and you might even see a T-Rex!
Updates in Apple’s just-announced watchOS are substantive if not groundbreaking. They include sleep tracking, a handwashing-detection feature suitable for the COVID-19 pandemic, and “dance” as one of several new workouts. Other improvements include watch face sharing, language translation, bicycling directions and earphone-volume detection.
Eggtronic’s Power Bar cuts down on clutter by charging all your Apple mobile devices in one tidy location. It’s a power bank with a USB-C port for MacBook and iPad charging, and it has wireless charging pads for an iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch.
The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is Apple’s first iPad cover with an integrated trackpad, and it also features a revised keyboard, a rugged hinge with a built-in USB-C charging port, and a new docking system that holds the iPad in the air. It makes the iPad Pro into more of an alternative to a laptop than ever before.