CategoryMacworld

CMRA looks to bring Dick Tracy-style video to Apple Watch

Read the earliest thoughts on the yet-to-be-released Apple Watch from back in the day and you’ll see countless references to Dick Tracy’s “two-way wrist radio.” But better yet, why stop at radio? Why shouldn’t Apple add actual video chat to its new watch? Given the company’s investment in FaceTime, it made perfect sense.

It never happened.

Blame the sluggish performance of the original watchOS, or Apple’s concern-slash-obsession with battery life, or a combination of the two, but we never got anything more than the ability to take your voice phone call from the watch. And it doesn’t look like that’s about to change anytime soon — even the Apple Watch Series 2 lacks any onboard camera(s).

Enter CMRA (think “camera” with most of the vowels removed.) It’s a strap for the Apple Watch that includes not one, but two HD cameras — much like the front and rear camera on an iPhone or iPad — that let you take and share photos or video, including real-time video chat via the Glide app.

CMRA is the brainchild of a former Apple Watch engineer Shawn Grening and Glide CEO Ari Roisman. CMRA is on pre-order for $149 and includes a charging stand that will charge both the CMRA strap and the watch simultaneously. The strap is scheduled to be available in the Spring of 2017, at which time the price will be $249.

The company’s videos are impressive, but spring is a long time away. Even more impressive is the company’s claim that CMRA will support any Apple Watch running watchOS 3 or later. That includes the original Apple Watch.

If CMRA works as advertised, it looks to be an incredibly cool product. We’re in touch with the company and are looking forward to checking it out.

Ulysses gains WordPress publishing support, other features

I’ve mentioned that pretty much every word I write for Macworld and The Mac Observer is done on Ulysses — a terrific Mac and iOS app. I use it because of its great support for Markdown and for its excellent synching capabilities, as well as the clean, focused writing experience it provides.

With version 2.6, Ulysses gains the ability to publish directly to WordPress. According to the press release, “Bloggers will be able to publish their texts with just a few clicks or taps; no more exporting as HTML or Markdown, no cumbersome pasting to the WordPress backend. Bloggers can add tags, categories, excerpts and featured images, even schedule a publishing time, and preview their posts – all from within Ulysses.”

The new version also adds full support for Dropbox; the iOS version gets the “Quick Open” feature of the Mac app; and it introduces “Typewriter Mode” for an even more focuses writing environment.

Ulysses is a 2016 Apple Design Award winner. The update is free for all existing customers. The Mac app is available for $44.99 on the Mac App Store. The universal iOS version is available for $24.99 on the App Store.

For me, the update also fixed a crash-on-open bug with the macOS Sierra public beta.

How my Apple Watch saved my life (really)

I had a health scare a couple months ago. I haven’t talked about it to many people, not because I want to keep it secret, but because that kind of sharing just doesn’t come naturally to me.

Writing about it is a different story, however; like any journalist worth his salt, I can’t resist a good story — even if it’s my own. So I wrote about it for Macworld, and I’ll share it with you all that way.
For the record, I feel great. I have no restrictions on what I can do, other than take one little pill every day. That’s a small price to pay for remaining upright.

I can’t tell you how much it’s meant to me to have my wonderful family through all this — especially Judy, who for some reason I still don’t fully understand, wants me to stay alive as long as possible (despite my reminder that I’m worth a lot more dead.) She is — as always — my rock, my center and my soulmate.
Anyway, if you want to know the story, here you go.

Parallels Desktop celebrates 10 years of putting Windows on your Mac

Parallels is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its virtualization software, Parallels Desktop. With Apple’s switch to Intel processors, running Windows on the Mac became possible, but it was Parallels that made it not just practical, but powerful. Adding innovative features that integrated Mac features into the Windows environment, Parallels arguably made running Windows on a Mac even better than on a standard PC.

One of my favorite aspects of attending Macworld Expo as press (or a speaker) was getting my annual not-for-resale copy of the latest version of Parallels Desktop. Because while I was lucky enough that I never needed to run Windows on my Mac, I looked forward to seeing what features Parallels had added with each release. It also gave me a chance to stay up to speed on what Windows was offering its customers.

There are lots of great reasons to use Parallels Desktop’s virtualization — to run Linux, ChromeOS, even other instances of Mac OS X. If you’re curious but haven’t tried it out yet, there may not be a better time — Parallels is offering 25% off Parallels Desktop 11 to celebrate its anniversary. You can even try it for free.

I’m happy to see that Parallels is still innovating and I hope they stay at it for many more years to come.

On Macworld: Five iOS apps to make your next road trip smoother

My latest Macworld article talks about five free iOS apps that could help you out on your next road trip. It focuses on apps that help save you time, money and frustration on the road by making it easier to find things like gas stations, food stops and hotels.

It was a fun one to write, based on a lot of real world experience. It was also inspired by a family trip to bring my son to his first year of college, so naturally, he wants a cut.

The article is on the Macworld website — I hope you check it out.

‘Hanging by a thread’

I was a guest on the British Tech Network’s Mac Show this week, along with Chris Breen, Josh Centers, Adam Christianson and Host Ewen Rankin. We had a great time speculating on what Chris will do as he leaves Macworld for that “fruit-flavored technology company.” We also talked a lot about the Apple Watch, what Pebble’s Kickstarter project for its own smart watch means for consumer appetites, Apple’s March 9th event and other assorted nonsense.

As usual, it was a tremendous amount of fun with a great panel of smart, funny people. The Mac Show has a bright Chat Room as well, and they add a lot to the program. It’s worth listening to (and subscribing) whether you’re interested in hearing my ramblings or not.

The show can be found on the British Tech Network’s website.

Macworld Review: Vivosmart finds its place by not trying to be a smart watch

My latest Macworld article is a review of Garmin’s Vivosmart. It’s a fitness band that looks to differentiate itself from Apple’s offering by being a fitness tracker with smartphone features, rather than a smartwatch that also happens to track your activity.

I think it’s a smart move by Garmin: get a great fitness band with some useful features at half the price of the Apple Watch. And you don’t have to wait until April to get one.

You can read the full review on Macworld.com.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy: Chris Breen leaves Macworld for Apple

Veteran Mac journalist and author Christopher Breen has left Macworld to join a “fruit-flavored tech company sandwiched between Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.”

Breen made the announcement on his personal blog, and confirmed it on Macworld.com.  “There are loads of reasons for the change, but blend them together and they add up to my desire to try something different before I don the large shorts and spend the bulk of my remaining days looking for my misplaced spectacles,” Breen wrote.

Chris has been a staple in Mac journalism for almost 30 years, and in that time earned a reputation as fair, honest, funny and smart. In addition to his work on Macworld, he’s authored several books, hosted innumerable podcasts and appeared on TV shows and user group meetings—all with a self-effacing, humble attitude that was as genuine as it seemed.

I’ve been a fan of Chris for more years than I can count, and have had the wonderful privilege of not only meeting him, but coming to count him as a dear friend, bandmate and colleague.

As a result of his new role, Chris will be retiring his tech persona. “I’ll be leaving the public stage as Chris Breen Technology Guy (though I may still pop up as Chris Breen Musician Guy at a saloon near you).”

As is typical of moves to that fruit-flavored tech company, Chris is mum about what his new role will entail. I can only hope that Apple knows what they have in Chris and that they take full advantage of his talents.

I couldn’t be happier for him and I wish him nothing but success in this new chapter of his life. It quite literally couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Beyond Cut and Paste: 20 keyboard shortcuts that will make you a more powerful Mac user

In my latest article for Macworld, I explain 20 (or so) keyboard shortcuts that can make using your Mac a lot more efficient. I like to think of these at “Mac 201” rather than Mac 101, since they go beyond the most basic keyboard commands.

I’m also thinking about doing a short video on the same topic—I think it might be a little easier to convey that way (and I want to try out my video demo chops anyway.)

The article is available on the Macworld website.

Macworld article: ‘3 key things to know about Yosemite and security’

My newest Macworld article covers some of the new features in Safari for Mac OS X Yosemite and how the could potentially impact your security. To Apple’s credit, each of these features can be controlled by the user. I’ll show you what’s shared, with whom, how to change the default settings — and why you might not want to.

The full article is on the Macworld website.

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