I am not a huge fan of using cases for my smartphones because they add too much bulk. There is definitely a purpose to them if you’re the type who is rough on your smartphone. But if you are gentle on your devices you should strongly consider getting a skin. I have a really unique skin made by Toast on my Nexus 6P and it is pretty freaking amazing.
Toast is a relatively new company getting its start in 2012 by a man named Matias Brecher which I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at CES 2016. My first impression was a good one. Similar to other people I know who own their own businesses, I could tell he took great pride and passion in his work. He was standing at the CES booth and actually applying real wood Toast skins to people’s personal phones.
In the 15 minutes I was at the booth, I did get a chance to speak with Matias and even though he was tired from being on the CES floor for three days straight, he took the time to tell me about his company. He even told me he was the one who designed and cut my custom AG skin.
Toast got its name by the process in which the designers engrave and cut with a laser that burns in a very precise manner. So Matias named his company after toast which also burns.
Toast is a true U.S. based company which does all of its business in Portland, OR. In just three quick years, they have already grown to a company of 10 where they handle every step of the skin creation process. They are very good people. Toast takes part in the 1% for the Planet program in which a minimum of 1% of Toast’s net proceeds are donated to help save the earth. It’s a rarity for such a new company to have a social conscience, but it does and I am happy to support a company like Toast.
“We are a small company dedicated to quality products and quality of life: for you, for us, and for our planet.”
Real wood skin made in the U.S.A.
Toast makes a wide variety of skins – mobile devices, tablets, gaming consoles and even custom skins out of real genuine wood. I happen to have the grey Nexus 6P which has an all metal body. And if you’ve owned an all metal device before you understand that metal can be easy to scratch. If you’re like me and are tired of having the same old look in a smartphone with most of them being black, white or gold, skins can offer a superior level of customization without adding bulk.
I have been a fan of the “wood” look but only a few devices employed the look. Leave it to Toast to fill that gap with real wood skins that can be applied to almost any smartphone. My Nexus 6P skin is made from Walnut with an Ebony inlay for the camera and custom laser etched AG in the center of the skin. I also have the optional Walnut front cover which rounds out skin.
Every single detail is covered when it comes to the Toast skin. The cutouts are perfect for the buttons, cameras, and sensors. The wood itself is about a millimeter thick which a sticky backing which means it is very delicate until it is actually applied to the phone. Since it does add thickness, the SIM slot, power and volume buttons are slightly recessed when the main skin is applied. But Toast provides perfectly cut out wood inserts for that too.
Every detail is well thought out and Toast even provides an alcohol swab to clean your device to make sure the skin gets proper adhesion.
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I am not a huge fan of applying skins because they can sometimes be painful, but not the Toast skin. The laser that does the cutting is perfect and I say that without exaggeration. Once you line up the rear microphone hole, found below the Nexus 6P camera, and align the buttons all you have to do is push down and it fits perfectly.
Once the main section is in place, I dropped in the Ebony AG insert as well as the camera insert. It was as simple as removing the protective covering over the glue and fitting it into the skin like a jigsaw puzzle. Following those, I then put the inserts in for the SIM card, power button and volume rocker. I was a little skeptical of the tight fit and was worried they would get stuck, but was pleasantly surprised when my buttons worked without issue. And then all I had to do was apply the front Walnut screen cover and I was done. The whole process took less than five minutes.
The skin fit perfect. It gives my 6P a unique look that I have not seen before on another phone. It definitely adds grip to what otherwise is a slippery Nexus 6P, and it is 100% made in the U.S.A. and supports charity at the same time. It even smells a little like burned wood. Rather than talk up the results I am just going to provide some sweet pictures. Words can’t do it justice.
Of all of the skins I have tried, the Toast all wood skin is by far my favorite. It was super easy to apply, has a unique look and is made by a company with values that I adore. The skins start at just $34 and can work their way up to $50+ if you want custom designs and graphics. I highly recommend checking out Toast skins if you’re up for a new look. You will not be disappointed.
Learn more at Toastmade.com
Apple’s retail expansion efforts over the past few years have primarily focused on China, where it has opened over 15 new stores since the start of 2015. Over that time, the company has only opened 7 new retail stores outside of the China region, including two locations in New York City and one in Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Dubai, Sao Paulo, and Miranda, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.
But if recent rumors are any indication, Apple still has significant plans for new stores in several major cities around the world, including Birmingham, Brooklyn, Istanbul, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Paris, Toronto, and more. The following is an excerpt from our new Apple Store roundup that tracks recent retail stores — from new and renovated to rumored and confirmed locations. Read more
Your phone probably has a fantastic display and there is no better way to see the beauty of it than through a wallpaper. We’ve collected a huge library of over 130 wallpapers of macro images, color, water droplets, dandelions and flowers all to make your background pop. These are perfect to show off the pixels and color gamut on your Android, iOS or Windows smartphones. They’ll also look great on your tablets as well.
We’ve changed things up lately and will be sharing the entire collection through Google Photos rather than hosting them on our servers. There are thousands of you who love these wallpapers and rather than drain the speed on our server, we’re offloading that responsibility to Google. All you have to do is join the collection through this link and you’re free to download all of the wallpapers to your device.
See the entire collection by clicking on this LINK to Google Photos.
Here some of our favorites from the collection.
The post 130+ HD minimalist wallpapers of colors, macro images and more appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Apple today launched a new Repair Extension Program that addresses video issues on some late 2013 Mac Pro models, according to an internal notice obtained by MacRumors.
Apple has determined that graphics cards in some late 2013 Mac Pros, manufactured between February 8, 2015 and April 11, 2015, may cause distorted video, no video, system instability, freezing, restarts, shut downs, or may prevent system start up.
Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will repair eligible Mac Pro models affected by the video issues free of charge. Customers can book an appointment with the Genius Bar at an Apple Store or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to determine if their Mac Pro is eligible for coverage.
Unlike Apple’s voluntary recall of some international AC wall adapters last week, Apple is unlikely to publicly announce this repair program on its support website, but it may contact some customers directly.
Apple has sold around 11 million Macs since Q2 2015, which is when the affected Mac Pro models were first sold, but the company does not provide a sales breakdown by type of Mac. It is also unclear if the affected Mac Pros were sold beyond April 2015, making it difficult to gauge how many customers are potentially impacted.
A lengthy Apple Support Communities topic was posted about Mac Pro video issues in February 2015, and it has since amassed nearly 3,500 views and 50 replies from affected users. One customer claimed Apple agreed to replace his Mac Pro’s graphics card after he contacted the company’s support team about the issue.
Apple also launched a repair program for 2011-2013 MacBook Pros with video issues in February 2015.
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Apple’s rumored iPhone 5se may come in Silver, Space Gray, and a pink shade that’s different than the Rose Gold of the iPhone 6s, reports Japanese site Mac Otakara [Google Translate], citing information obtained from a third-party vendor.
The site compares the shade of pink to that of the seventh-generation iPod nano and sixth-generation iPod touch, which is a deep pink that is brighter than the Rose Gold iPhone 6s. Mac Otakara was not able to see the shade of pink firsthand, so its exact tone is not clear, but the vendor said it is not the same color as the iPhone 6s.
Early iPhone 6s rumors said pink would be a color choice for the device, but it turned out that “pink” was actually Rose Gold. Today’s rumor, if true, makes a clear distinction between Rose Gold and a deeper pink shade, so it seems unlikely the vendor is making the same mistake.
Other potential colors for the iPhone 5se are not mentioned, but Space Gray, Silver, and Bright Pink is an odd lineup, so there’s a possibility that Apple will include other color options. The first “iPhone 6c” rumors pointed towards a brighter color lineup for the device, but later rumors have indicated that it will be available in the traditional Silver, Space Gray, and Gold colors.
With the iPhone 5se just over a month away from a potential unveiling at a March 15 event, we may soon see part leaks or more concrete detail that gives us a better picture of the colors we can expect. Other iPhone 5se rumors point towards an iPhone 5s-style design with the curved cover glass of the iPhone 6, an A9 processor, Touch ID, and an 8-megapixel rear camera.
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Apple users are now receiving a pretty strong incentive to swap to Android. An emerging iPhone ‘feature’ is discovered to brick devices that were repaired by non-Apple entities. When a user upgrades to the latest version of iOS 9, some are reporting an “error 53” that renders the device unusable. Although the phone may have been functioning perfectly for weeks or months after a repair job, this error will effectively render the handset inoperable, and the Guardian is reporting that any data lost on the phone this way is unrecoverable.
“The problem occurs if the repairer changes the home button or the cable,” said California tech expert Kyle Wiens, owner of the iFixit website. “Following the software upgrade the phone in effect checks to make sure it is still using the original components, and if it isn’t, it simply locks out the phone. There is no warning, and there’s no way that I know of to bring it back to life.”
Some suspect that this is a move by apple engineered to undercut independent repairers. Repairing the home button through Apple will run upwards of $200, but smaller repair shops can perform the fix much cheaper. There are concerns that this might go against competition rules. The Guardian points out that car manufacturers are not legally able to insist that automobile owners get serviced exclusively through their shops.
The worst thing about “error 53” is that there is no warning and no fix. The only solution is to get a new phone. Antonio Olmos, a freelance photographer, fell victim to this issue after he had his phone repaired in a shop in Macedonia in September. Months later, when prompted to upgrade his software, Olmos accepted the update and his phone was immediately bricked. The self-proclaimed Apple addict was incensed when he learned that he had to pay £270 for a replacement.
“The whole thing is extraordinary,” said Olmos. “How can a company deliberately make their own products useless with an upgrade and not warn their own customers about it? Outside of the big industrialised nations, Apple stores are few and far between, and damaged phones can only be brought back to life by small third-party repairers. I am not even sure these third-party outfits even know this is a potential problem.”
Apple has been pretty cagey about the whole issue. The closest we’ve gotten to an explanation is a jargon-stuffed statement from a spokesperson:
We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure… When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.
Apple support, by all accounts, will then tell you that you need to buy a new device from them. If you’re an iPhone user and you’ve had your device repaired by a non-Apple entity, it might be a good idea to hold off on any upgrades for the foreseeable future.
If you’re an iPhone owner who hasn’t had a run-in with the dreaded Error 53, consider yourself lucky. The error — which usually forces iPhones with replacement screens or home buttons into a boot loop after attempting a software update — was widely considered a bug until Apple cleared things up in with The Guardian earlier today.
“We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated,” Apple said. “This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.”
Apple tacitly admitted that its exchange with The Guardian was a little jargon-heavy by releasing this new, official statement.
“We take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers. iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device’s other components. If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled. This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used. If a customer encounters Error 53, we encourage them to contact Apple Support.”
So, fine, that’s fair — Apple’s concerns about an ersatz Touch ID sensor compromising an iPhone’s security aren’t off-base. The bigger issue comes into play when the phone’s owner tries to restore or update the software — that process triggers “additional security checks” that seem to flag the hardware change and trigger an Error 53. Most of the reports on Apple’s support forums and hobbyist sites like iFixit maintain this is when their devices get stuck in a boot loop, which seems downright crazy. Why doesn’t Apple just refuse to authorize the update and let the phone continue working (sans Touch ID, of course)?
Apple’s statement concludes with a note for customers who encounter an “unrecoverable” Error 53 to contact Apple support, but since the third-party hardware installation that caused the error also violates Apple’s warranty, the only way out seems to involve lots of currency. Even more concerning is how this issue seems to pop even when damaged phones haven’t been repaired by a stranger. The Daily Dot’s Mike Wehner has probably the most-cited case out there — his iPhone 6 Plus fell into the Error 53 pit after weeks of intermittent Touch ID spottiness, prompting to him to present it to puzzled Apple Store employees for an eventual replacement. While he was unlucky to get hit with the issue in the first place, at least he an Apple Store nearby that could help out — that’s certainly not the case for many other affected users.
Plex is a media server and personal content library for TV shows, music, movies, and photos. It’s designed to organize personal media collections, allowing videos and music to be streamed to TVs, iOS devices, Macs, and more, both locally and remotely. With Plex, you can download the media server to your Mac, store your content in a folder, and then stream it directly to an iOS device or the new Apple TV via the Plex app.
Plex is especially useful for those of you with a fourth-generation Apple TV, which is the first Apple TV to officially support the Plex service. Check out our walkthrough of how it works below:
Plex is free to use, but unlocking all of its features requires the Plex Pass, priced at $4.99 per month, $39.99 per year, or $149.99 for a lifetime. A Plex Pass includes access to Gracenote Music Magic and Vevo Music Videos, both of which enhance your music collection through playlist creation and added music videos.
It also enables Mobile Sync features, Plex Home for managed accounts, and Cloud Syncing options to sync content from the Plex Media Server to a cloud storage provider. Other Plex Pass features include Camera Upload, access to Trailers, and early access to new Plex apps.
One MacRumors reader will win a lifetime Plex Pass through our giveaway. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner and send the prizes.
You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page. Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.jsThe contest will run from today (February 5) at 11:15 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:15 a.m. Pacific Time on February 12. The winner will be chosen randomly on February 12 and will be contacted by email. The winner has 48 hours to respond a before a new winner is chosen.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook let an intriguing bit of news slip earlier this week at a town hall meeting with the company’s employees. Apple Music for Android was apparently just a first step: The company is considering bringing more of its software and services to Google’s mobile OS.
It sounds a little crazy, as Apple’s message for decades has been how well its software and hardware work together. But both Google and Microsoft are infiltrating iOS with their own excellent apps, pushing many of Apple’s services to the side. Cook may feel he needs to fight back and bring more Apple apps to Android — but he first needs to make sure the company’s software runs better on its own hardware than it currently does.
It’s a refrain you’ve likely heard already. Many of Apple’s apps and services have become too buggy to recommend using full time, or they’re entirely outclassed by what Google offers. Raise your hand if you have a folder on your iPhone full of native Apple apps you never use … yup, that’s a lot of you. Now raise your hand if you use iCloud email, iCloud Drive or the default iOS Notes or Reminders apps instead of third-party options like Gmail, Dropbox, Wunderlist, Evernote and so on. Not nearly as many of you are raising your hand this time.
I don’t want to wax hyperbolic and say that Apple’s software is irrevocably broken and not worth using. I actually use nearly all of its services pretty extensively, and when they work well they are absolutely better at working across multiple Apple devices than a lot of third-party options. ICloud Calendars, Notes, Reminders and even Apple’s email app with iCloud Mail work fine if your needs are basic, and the way they integrate between iOS and OS X is a killer feature. But, true to form, there isn’t a lot of customization or flexibility there.
Apple’s apps have become either too bloated and complex or too basic with key features missing.
And if the app isn’t too basic, it’s too overwrought and complex. The greatest examples of these problems are illustrated in iTunes, which has grown into an unwieldy, bloated monster doing too many things at once, and Apple Music, which is powerful but not terribly intuitive. The company’s new Photos app for the Mac and corresponding iCloud Photo Library for iOS are more examples; once you take the time to figure out how they work, they’re a solid, sometimes excellent solution. But at first glance, understanding how your photos are backed up and synced through iCloud is not at all clear.
Then there are the bugs. I frequently have an infuriating time making AirDrop work. My first experience with the company’s new Music Memos app led to song sketches disappearing and reappearing at iCloud’s whim. And too often I find that the App Store isn’t downloading updates for me, even though I have auto-update turned on. None of these are dealbreakers per se, but I wager that most iOS users have their own list of bugs that pop up from time to time with no apparent explanation.
That’s not to say that the competition is perfect, either. No software works flawlessly all the time, and Apple does a lot of things right. Continuity and Handoff between the Mac and iPhone are great features, and iMessage for Android would be an absolutely killer app. But it would be even better if Apple tightened up its software ship first. I get excited every year when Apple shows off upcoming iOS and OS X updates at WWDC, but things rarely play together as well as they do in the company’s expertly managed demos.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t an upside for Apple here: Cook is clearly looking at the success Google and Microsoft have had bringing their services to iOS lately. Microsoft has been unable to get people to buy its phones, but under CEO Satya Nadella, the company now offers Office, Bing and even Cortana on the screens people use the most — that’s iOS and Android. And for years now Google has put nearly all of its often-excellent services on Apple’s platforms. (The less we talk about the one notable exception, the abominable Gmail for iOS, the better.)
Apple might try the “put your apps where everyone is” strategy that Google and Microsoft have used.
Historically, Apple has resisted this strategy, refusing to bring its software to platforms it doesn’t control. ITunes and now Apple Music have been the notable exceptions, and both served an obvious purpose. ITunes for Windows helped accelerate iPod sales, and the dominance of the iTunes Store eventually made it easier for everyone to buy an iPhone back when you needed iTunes to manage your phone. And mobile is probably the most important place a streaming service needs to be; not having Apple Music on Android would make it near impossible to compete with Spotify.
The case for bringing other services to Android is a little murkier, but basically it comes down to the same “put your software where users are” strategy that Google and Microsoft already follow. Android won the market-share battle, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. But having access to services like iMessage, the iCloud suite, the iTunes Store and Apple’s new photo-syncing solution would make using an Android phone with a Mac (or an iPad) a lot easier. And Apple made it clear last week that it will rely on its growing services business to drive revenue in the months to come.
If Apple can simplify its more complex apps while adding a few features to its more basic offerings, a cross-platform Apple app suite would be a lot more appealing. There’s a middle ground that the company has had a hard time hitting lately in software design and functionality. But if it can get back there, Apple will have a chance of making some inroads on Google’s home turf.
Amid rumors that Apple is working on extended range wireless charging capabilities for future iPhones, there has been some speculation that Apple has partnered with Energous to implement the technology. Energous is the company behind WattUp, an emerging wireless charging technology that uses radio frequencies to charge devices from up to 15 feet away.
Though there’s no concrete proof of a relationship between Energous and Apple, a new research report from Louis Basenese of Disruptive Tech Research highlights a large pool of circumstantial evidence pointing towards a potential partnership, so it’s worth taking a look at Energous’s technology, both in that context and as an example of the wireless charging techniques that are currently being pursued by tech companies.
Basenese posits Apple is working with a partner rather than developing an in-house solution due to the small number of patents the company has filed surrounding wireless charging — just five, with none filed since 2013. As evidence that partner is Energous, he points towards their common manufacturing partners (TSMC and Foxconn), their membership in ANSI working towards standards for wireless power transfer compliance testing, and most notably, the fact that Energous’s RF-based wireless charging system is the only long-distance solution nearly ready to launch.
In early 2015, Energous also inked a deal with an unnamed consumer electronics company, positioned as one of the top five companies in the world. Names weren’t mentioned, but that’s a short list — Apple, Samsung, HP, Microsoft, and Hitachi. Basenese believes Apple is the likeliest partner by process of elimination.
From that list, we can easily eliminate HP and Hitachi, as they don’t make phones. Since Samsung makes its own chips and WATT is working with TSM, we can cross it off the list, leaving only Apple and Microsoft. In reality, though, Microsoft is an also-ran in the mobile phone market and rumored to be exiting it. So we’re left with one company. Of course, the identity will remain a mystery, as AAPL’s notorious about insisting on secrecy with partners and employees.
Wireless charging capabilities have been implemented into several smartphones, including those from Apple’s direct competitors, but Apple executives have downplayed wireless charging in the past due to its dependence on built-in chips, mats, and close proximity. In a 2012 interview, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said it wasn’t clear “how much convenience” magnetic induction and resonance wireless charging systems offered because they still need to be plugged into the wall.