Category Archives: Apple Device

AAA road safety campaign shows real videos of teenage car crashes while using smartphones

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has put online video clips from real car crashes caused by 16-19 year old drivers using smartphones while driving. The videos, which show both the view through the windscreen and a view of the driver, are designed to make real the dangers of distracted driving.

None of the crashes featured in the above clip feature injuries, but almost 3,000 people a year are killed in crashes involving drivers in this age-range, the majority of them caused by the driver being “inattentive or engaged in some other non-driving-related activity.” A further 383,000 people a year are injured.

Researchers at the University of Iowa examined carcam footage from 1,691 crashes involving drivers aged 16-19 to determine the cause. Distracted driving was found to be the cause in 58% of crashes, with 12% of them due to using a phone while driving. For crashes involving the car leaving the road, a full third of crashes were attributed to cellphone use.

UK tests conducted earlier this month suggested that smartwatches are even worse than smartphones for driver distraction.

The full AAA report can be downloaded here.

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UK government approves free iPad Air 2 for all 650 members of parliament

apple ipad air 2

The UK government has decided to equip all of its 650 members of parliament with an iPad Air 2, according to a report from The Telegraph citing an official announcement from the House of Commons Commission this week.

While some have been critical of the decision to lock into Apple’s ecosystem, it’s now official with all members set to receive a 16GB WiFi + Cellular iPad Air 2 at a cost of around £200,000 or almost $300,000 US a year:

“Our requirements are for a secure, SIM-enabled tablet with a good life expectancy and capable of supporting future upgrades. “The Apple iPad Air 2 meets these requirements and is competitively priced when compared with similar models.”

The Commission also responded to comments about locking into Apple’s ecosystem by noting that due to iPads being “integrated with current business processes and infrastructure”… “A move away from the Apple operating system at this time would incur costs to change these processes.” Around 209 MPs were reportedly already using iPad. 

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Review: Brydge keyboard for iPad Air/2 — can this all-aluminum model beat the ClamCase Pro?

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One thing I love about 9to5Mac readers is how engaged they are in the comments. My review of the ClamCase Pro iPad keyboard case last month led to a lively discussion about the relative merits of that vs the Brydge keyboard, so I decided to give that a try for a retrospective shoot-out.

The Brydge Air is a slightly different beast to the ClamCase, being just a keyboard and not a full case. It still hinges shut in a laptop-like clamshell fashion, but there’s no rear protection on this one. That, as we’ll see, has both pros and cons … 

Looks & portability

Looks are, let’s be honest, important. You don’t spend this kind of money on an iPad keyboard just to get decent typing performance: there are plenty of cheaper options for that.

The Brydge Air has a unibody aluminum construction–there’s no plastic at all, unless you count the rubber shims used to adjust the hinges that grip the iPad. You get two sets of these, one for the iPad Air, the other for the iPad Air 2–I have the latter.

The Brydge also gives you a choice of colors: silver, space gray or gold. Despite the fact that I have a Space Gray iPad, I prefer a classic plain aluminum look for keyboards, so opted for silver.

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The Brydge thus wins the first round. Where the ClamCase has plastic on the outer casing, and also in the keyboard inset, the Brydge is all-metal. From the typing position, it looks gorgeous, and has a real feel of quality to it.

The difference in appearance in the keyboard itself is pretty minimal. Here you can see my 11-inch MacBook Air on the left, Brydge in the center, and ClamCase on the right. The plastic inset on the ClamCase doesn’t stand out that much.

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The other plus point of the Brydge is footprint. The angle of the photo doesn’t show it, but to be completely fair I aligned the rear edge of the ClamCase with the hinges of the Brydge to show the difference in size. You can see that the lack of any casing makes the Brydge a little narrower and noticeably less deep.

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However, I have to say the rear/underside view of the iPad with Brydge attached is rather clunky in appearance. The ClamCase may have a plastic exterior, but looks neater in this view.

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Thickness wise, there’s very little in it:

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And neither product is going to win any aesthetic awards when viewed from the hinge side:

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With the keyboards closed, then, I’m going to call the beauty contest a draw. However, for protection, it’s a clear win for the ClamCase, offering all-round protection against scratches and dings when carrying the iPad in a bag.

Setup

Bluetooth pairing is Bluetooth pairing: quick and easy. Both products also have a physical on/off switch, making it simple to disconnect/reconnect after the initial pairing.

The Brydge also has built-in speakers. I’ll get to those later, but for now just note that you need to do a second Bluetooth pairing if you want to use them. Both input and sound pairings can be used simultaneously.

The keyboard comes with the shims installed for the original iPad Air, so I needed to replace these for the slimmer fit of my iPad Air 2. The adhesive makes this a slightly fiddly process, so the ClamCase wins by a nose for the setup.

Insertion/removal of the iPad

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Inserting and removing the iPad is easy with both products. The ClamCase requires a little courage, as it feels like you’re at risk of breaking it, but works well once you’re used to it. With the Brydge, you just slide the iPad in and out of the hinges. The presence of rubber shims means it slides easily in and out, and is very securely held.

Opening and closing each keyboard is similar. The ClamCase has a cutout to help the process, while the Brydge doesn’t, but both devices really require you to pick them up off the desk to open them. I’m going to call this one a draw.

In use

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So finally we get to the important part: using the keyboard.

Both products have stiff hinges that allow you to position the iPad screen at any angle, and both are rock solid once positioned. The ClamCase is more flexible, with its 360-degree fold allowing you to use it in tablet mode without removing it from the case, but this makes for a very thick device, so I always ended up removing it and putting away the keyboard anyway, so no practical difference here.

You’d think a review of a keyboard would spend most of its time talking about the typing experience, but in truth there’s very little to say: both the Brydge and ClamCase keyboard are absolutely superb. I give a slight edge to a MacBook keyboard over both, but there’s very little in it.

The Brydge keyboard is slightly stiffer in use, but it’s a very marginal difference, and I couldn’t honestly say that one is better than the other.

A draw so far, then, but the Brydge does pull ahead in one respect: it offers backlit keys. I use these in exactly one situation–in a taxi at night–but it is useful then, so a slight win for the Brydge. The brightness of the backlighting is also variable, though I found I wanted full brightness anyway.

Speakers

The Brydge Air has one extra (one not available in an earlier model): built-in speakers. These are built into the rear of the keyboard.

In theory, this is a useful idea. With previous iPad models, I have sometimes found the speakers a bit weedy when watching a movie. But with the excellent iPad Air 2 speakers, it seems completely pointless: the speakers are lower-volume than the iPad ones, and pointed out back, they are less usefully positioned too.

I really can’t understand why the company bothered with this, other than to create a bullet-point for marketing purposes.

Pricing & conclusions

As with the ClamCase review, pricing needs to make it onto a heading as it requires the same sharp intake of breath: the price is identical, at $169. Or even more expensive, if you want the gold version: that, for some reason, carries a $20 premium.

As I said before, only you can decide whether any keyboard can justify adding at least 20% to the price of your iPad. There are much, much cheaper options out there, including the $40 Anker model that Jeremy considered a perfectly viable option in his review yesterday.

With either the ClamCase Pro or the Brydge Air, you’re getting a MacBook-quality keyboard with looks to match; whether that justifies the price premium is a decision only you can make.

If you do think it’s worth spending this kind of money, choosing between the ClamCase and the Brydge is not easy. The ClamCase offers all-round protection, and a neater look when closed–but has a plastic outer and is white. The Brydge looks a little more sophisticated in use, but clunkier from behind and when closed–and offers no protection to the back of the iPad. The Brydge has a slightly smaller footprint.

I’d say it’s very much a personal choice, and may depend on how likely you think it is your iPad could get scratched when carried. In the shoulder bag I use when walking, there’s very little risk of damage in the padded tablet pocket, so the smaller footprint of the Brydge wins out. In my cycling bag, where there’s more chance of my iPad bouncing around a little on London’s less-than-smooth roads, the ClamCase is more reassuring.

Yer pays yer money and makes yer choice.

The Brydge Air keyboard is compatible with iPad Air and iPad Air 2. It is available direct from Brydge for $169 (silver and white) or $189 (gold). The older (speakerless) model for iPad 2/3/4 cost $129 when launched, but can now be found on Amazon from $110 new, $80 used.

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Mini-review: Libre, the ultra-thin & spill-proof iPad keyboard (with a rather less thin case)

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As someone who uses his iPad for email and writing as much as for media consumption, I’m a big fan of physical keyboards. My current favorites are the ClamCase Pro and Brydge, each of which offers a near-Macbook quality moving keyboard.

But if you’ve ever been deterred by the bulk or weight of a full moving keyboard, the Libre – a new iPad Air/2 keyboard case that launched yesterday on Kickstarter – may be worth a look. The keyboard itself is just 5mm thick and weighs only 200g, yet manages to squeeze in a backlight and the ability to switch between up to three devices. I’ve been using a prototype version for the past few days … 

The keyboard is made from polyurethane pretending to be wood. I’m not generally a fan of fake wood: my attitude is ‘give me the real thing or nothing.’ I do have to say, though, that visually the Libre is very convincing, blending in well with my oak desk. The feel, however, is rubbery.

The Libre is supplied with a plastic case, also with a fake wood look. You then get the keyboard and a keyboardless cover, both of which attach magnetically to the case. While the idea is that you can make the complete unit slimmer when you don’t need the keyboard, there’s really so little difference in total thickness that I can’t quite see the point.

The case has a built-in stand.

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The keyboard is made both ultrathin and spillproof by having it as a sealed unit. The keys do move, just barely, but this is no full moving keyboard. Thinness has been prioritized over almost everything else.

Technologically, it’s incredibly impressive. Fn-F, -G and -H switches seamlessly between paired devices, and the backlight works well. Fitting that into a device so light and slim is an incredibly impressive achievement.

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The typing experience is a kind of halfway-house between a proper moving keyboard and the on-screen one. It doesn’t even come close to comparing to the feel and usability of a ClamCase, Brydge, Belkin, Logitech, Kensington or Zagg. But it is significantly better than typing on the iPad screen itself – and you don’t lose half the screen to the keyboard as you do without an external keyboard.

Unfortunately, the slimness of the keyboard isn’t matched by the case. The complete thing is actually rather thick.

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Nor can you easily use the keyboard without the case. Despite using magnets to attach to the case, these don’t align with the magnets in the iPad itself, so while you can use the keyboard alone as a screen cover in a bag, it doesn’t actually attach.

I think the creators missed a trick here. If the keyboard alone could attach to the iPad, you’d have something that adds only marginal bulk and weight to the iPad, while offering a typing experience that is a worthwhile improvement over the on-screen one. As it is, by the time you factor in the case, you don’t really save anything on the thickness over a full moving keyboard (though you do still save weight).

Is this a workable solution for me? No: I prioritize the typing experience, and I’m willing to put up with some bulk and weight to achieve that. Can I recommend the Libre as a complete system? Not really: the case destroys the main benefit, that delicious slimness.

But I’m not writing it off. There is one type of iPad user I think might find this perfect: someone who uses Apple’s own Smart Cover but gets a bit frustrated by losing half the screen while typing. Slip the keyboard alone into your bag, adding almost no bulk or weight, and use the Smart Cover as your stand.

Right now, early birds can pick up the keyboard and case for $48. Leave the case behind, and you’ve got the ultimate in portable keyboards at a still pretty reasonable price.

Update: Libre has picked up my suggestion to offer the keyboard only as an option, at $33.

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Apple TV gains CNNgo channel for viewing live and on-demand news content

CNN Apple TV CNNgo

Just a day after the last Apple TV channel refresh, CNNgo has added more news content to the set-top box lineup. The new channel appears to require an active cable subscription to view live content, but on demand news content is available without authenticating a subscription. This marks the first time content from CNN has been available on the Apple TV.

CNNgo joins ABC News, Bloomberg TV, CBS News, CNBC, PBS, Sky News, and WSJ Live in providing news content on the Apple TV in the United States.

The channel is organized by the Featured front page, Live TV for cable subscribers, Shows for seeing everything CNN offers, and Must See for viewing news by categories like politics and entertainment as well as top news and many other sections.

The Live section of CNNgo also includes a multi-hour schedule of upcoming broadcasts.

CNNgo Apple TV CNN Live

Supported cable providers at launch include AT&T, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Verizon and a long list of others. Viewers can view on-demand videos available on CNNgo without authenticating a subscription, although live news requires activation.

The CNNgo channel on Apple TV is similar to the video content including live news after activation made available on the CNN app for iPhone and iPad.

CNNgo joins the Apple TV channel lineup just one day after TED, Tastemakers, and Young Hollywood apps launched as content options. As ever, you can follow our How-To tutorial for rearranging, hiding, or restoring Apple TV channels on your home screen to create a more personal and manageable experience.

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