January 13, 2015

Review: CoolStream Bluetooth Receiver

CoolStream Bluetooth ReceiverWe reviewed CoolStream’s Duo a few months ago and have enjoyed most of its features and usability, but were curious about some of the other models in the lineup. As such, we took a look at the original version of CoolStream’s Bluetooth receiver, which sells for about $10 less than the Duo at $30. Is it worth saving a few bucks?

January 12, 2015

Link: The Software and Services Apple Needs to Fix ☍

Glenn Fleishman:

Even while it leaps forward with features in its operating systems, Apple has a huge installed base it drags with it. And even if, for instance, iTunes has been a terrible mishmash for a decade, the fact that it continues to be one with a major new release in 2015 is beyond the pale: Apple should be learning, not starting over and re-inventing when it comes to stability and experience. They can evolve to add Continuity and fix iPhoto, for instance; or ensure that months after release, its flagship Handoff feature works reliably.

Part of what makes these sorts of statements reasonable, though, is to enumerate the problems, whether they’re long-running or unique to Yosemite or iOS 8 (or to the last two releases of each system). Here’s a list of regularly recurring issues or fundamental problems I’ve seen supplemented by those provided by others…

Although Marco Arment’s original post stirred up some controversy, it has prompted a good dialogue for many smart folks to discuss the current state of Apple’s software. While the company is certainly not making things as fussy or unreliable as some things during the pre-OS X era, this list is a good starting point for things that really need to be ironed out sooner than later.

January 9, 2015

Review: Griffin iTrip Aux

Griffin iTrip AuxIf you were reading this site back in 2008, you might remember that we reviewed Griffin’s AutoPilot, a combination car charger/remote/audio interface for iPods, and later iPhones. For cars without dedicated iPod interfaces, but auxiliary inputs (or using a cassette adapter—this was 2008), this was a great one-cable connection that would charge the device and pull the arguably better line out signal. With the introduction of the iPhone 5, newer cars, Bluetooth audio streaming, and USB-capable car stereos, the AutoPilot started to seem unnecessary. That being said, Griffin has introduced its spiritual successor, the $50 iTrip Aux, an AutoPilot for the Lightning age…

Link: Eight Years of the iPhone ☍

Jason Snell:

Eight years ago today Steve Jobs got up on stage and introduced a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device: The iPhone.

Jason also mentions where he was during the event and shares some other memories, along with the obligatory YouTube clip of the entire keynote.

Link: Spotlight Search in OS X Yosemite Exposes Data to Spammers ☍

Dan Goodin for Ars Technica:

The potential privacy glitch affects people who have configured the Mac Mail App to turn off the “load remote content in messages” setting, as security experts have long advised. Spammers, stalkers, and online marketers often use remote images as a homing beacon to surreptitiously track people opening e-mail. Because the images are hosted on sites hosted by the e-mail sender, the sender can log the IP address that viewed the message, as well as the times and how often the message was viewed, and the specific e-mail addresses that received the message. Many users prefer to keep their e-mail addresses, IP addresses, and viewing habits private, a goal that’s undermined by the viewing of remote images.

Like Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook, and many other e-mail clients, Mail allows users to block remote images for precisely this reason. But even when remote image viewing is disabled in Yosemite-based Mail app settings, the images will be opened by Spotlight, according to two recent media reports. The feature is used to search a Mac for files or e-mail containing a specified search term. When spotlight returns a preview of e-mails containing the term, it loads the images, overriding the option. Images are loaded even when the previewed message has landed in a users’ junk mail folder.

Although this is a very specific use case, I hope Apple gets it patched sooner than later. Until then, I removed Mail & Messages from search results on Spotlight (uncheck it under the Spotlight preferences).

January 7, 2015

“Despite its problems, I’d take iOS 8 over an improved version of iOS 7 with no new features any day.”

Link: On the Utility of MagSafe ☍

John Gruber weighs in on the idea of a MacBook Air with only a USB port and headphone jack:

But one that I keep thinking about is MagSafe. I can definitely see getting rid of classic USB — it’s old and thick. Thunderbolt, sort of. But MagSafe? When Apple announced MagSafe back in 2006, I knew they were solving a real problem, not an imaginary marketing problem. Tripping over power cables and yanking laptops off tables and onto floors was a real issue. I had an iBook way back when that ultimately died after one too much such incidents. If anything, Apple has made MagSafe 2 even easier to pull apart, not harder. Switching to USB Type-C seems like it would take us all the way back to days when tripping over the charging cable would take your laptop along for the ride.

While I’m all for removing unnecessary ports, going back to a charging connector that didn’t have some sort of magnetic release mechanism just feels like a step backwards and asking for trouble. Plus, one port for everything is fine in the iOS world, but I think the current MacBook Airs have pared down the number of ports to an appropriate minimum.

January 2, 2015

“I’m a sucker for apps. I’m on the App Store every day. You know the famous saying, don’t judge a book by its cover? If it looks interesting, I’ll buy it. So, games, books, movies, gadgets, security features.”