Touchscreen

10 ways Apple could improve the MacBook Pro

Apple’s MacBook Pro has been my personal computer of choice for almost a decade now, and while I’ve loved every upgrade along the way, I can’t help but feel like Apple could do better.

Given just how expensive a MacBook Pro becomes as you start pegging out the specs on Apple’s website, it seems like Apple could do more to help me justify the price point. With that in mind, I’ll discuss at least ten ways Apple could improve their flagship notebook in this piece.

TapticSpotify brings haptic feedback to the Spotify app’s music controls

I’ve always had a soft spot for jailbreak tweaks that bring subtle haptic feedback to various parts of my iPhone. That said, anyone who might be in the same boat should consider a new free release called TapticSpotify by iOS developer Chloee.

As you might have already inferred from the tweak’s name, TapticSpotify brings Taptic Engine-driven haptic feedback to the music controls found in the Now Playing section of the official Spotify app.

AirBar accessory that brings touch to your MacBook Air is now available

AirBar, a cool Mac touchscreen accessory that was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2017, is now available to purchase for $99 at Fry's Electronics, Evine.com and other retailers in the United States, its maker Neonode announced Tuesday.

The product will also launch through Amazon, Best Buy, Staples and other online outlets.

AirBar is basically a touchscreen sensor in the form of a USB laptop dongle that brings familiar touch gestures to your thirteen-inch MacBook Air. It uses an invisible light field projected on the surface of the MacBook Air's display to detect objects like a finger or stylus.

When an object breaks the light, the accessory is able to detect its precise position and distinguish between gestures like tapping, swiping, scrolling and pinch-zooming.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-4fFaWLnlQ

Remo Behdasht, Senior Vice President of AirBar Devices at Neonode, said:

We’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response from the Apple community since our big debut of AirBar for MacBook Air at CES this year. Other Apple devices, such as the iPhone and iPad, have helped consumers become accustomed to a range of touchscreen products for several years now.

It’s a natural progression for MacBook Air to have touchscreen capabilities, and we are thrilled to provide Apple enthusiasts with this completely new way to interact with their MacBook Air notebook.

Neonode’s patented zForce AIR technology lets you use anything from a gloved finger to a paintbrush to interact with the MacBook Air's screen, ideal for scrolling through emails, reading e-books, zooming in on images and more.

The product is plug-and-play though support for additional gestures requires the installation of the AirBar multitouch software. AirBar does not support other Mac notebook models because it needs 17mm of free space below the display.

For more information, visit www.air.bar.

Amazon unveils $230 Echo Show with 7-inch touchscreen, video calling & more

Amazon today added a new smart home device to its range of Echo-branded smart speakers. Dubbed Echo Show, it has all of the features of the basic Echo system, and then some more. The $230 device resembles a tablet with a built-in speaker and a seven-inch touchscreen.

Thanks to a built-in camera and Amazon's video technology, users can make hands-free video calls to other Echo Show owners or to the people who use Amazon's mobile Alexa app.

But first, check out the promotional video for Echo Show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQqxCeHhmeU

The addition of a touchscreen marks a new direction for Amazon's Echo family of smart speakers, which up until today supported voice-only interactions.

The touchscreen lets you swipe through photos, view weather forecasts, edit shopping lists and reminders, watch YouTube clips, check out video flash briefings, see music lyrics, watch video feeds from their smart home security cameras, including Ring and Arlo, and more.

Echo Show helps keep you organized at home. Start a timer in the kitchen and watch as it counts down, or easily see your family’s calendar.

Sign in to the Alexa App to take your to-do and shopping lists with you. Just add an item to the list from home, and whoever is out shopping will see it added instantly on their Alexa App.

With smart home control, you can use your voice to interact with smart home accessories like Philips Hue bulbs, Ecobee thermostats, Wink smart home accessories and more.

On the hardware front, Echo Show features Dolby-powered speakers with “crisp vocals and dynamic bass response”, plus eight microphones with beam-forming and noise cancellation that work in conjunction with Amazon's reliable far-field voice recognition technology to let the device hear the user from anywhere in the room, even while playing music.

A Drop In feature is also interesting, as per Amazon:

You can also enable a new feature called Drop In for the special cases when you want to connect with your closest friends and family. For example, you can drop in to let the family know it’s time for dinner, see the baby’s nursery, or check in with a close relative.

Amazon Echo Show is available to pre-order in Black and White for $230.

Amazon is sweetening the deal for those who'd purchase two Echo Show devices at once by allowing them to save $100 off of their order (use the promo code “Show2Pack” at checkout).

The new Echo Show will start shipping to customers June 28.

What do you think about Amazon's latest Echo-branded gadget?

Let us know in the comments!

Apple patent envisions a MacBook powered by your iPhone or iPad

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday published Apple's patent application for an “Electronic accessory device” acting as a dock that would turn your iPhone or iPad into a touchscreen-enabled Mac notebook, something many people have been craving for. The patent application outlines an ultra-portable MacBook of sorts with a special dock into which an iOS device could be inserted to provide compute power, software, storage and other features.

As with many other Apple patents, there's no telling when this particular invention might see the light of day, if ever.

Apple Watch Series 3 with glass-film touch display to ship in second half of 2017

A third-generation Apple Watch is expected to adopt a different display technology based on glass-film panels versus touch-on-lens panels utilized on Apple Watch Series 2 and glass-on-glass (two pieces of glass) ones on the original Apple Watch. Shipments of the tentatively named Apple Watch Series 3 are expected to start in the second half of 2017, as per sources cited in a Tuesday report from DigiTimes.

AirBar gives your MacBook Air a touchscreen display

You'll soon be able to give your MacBook Air a touchscreen display, courtesy of AirBar. Neonode on Tuesday unveiled a Mac version of its laptop dongle at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that will allow you to navigate macOS via touch.

The AirBar magnetically attaches to the bottom of your 13.3-inch MacBook Air display and connects via USB. It uses Neonode's patented zForce AIR technology to emit an invisible light field that can sense touches from fingers, gloves, and even a paintbrush.

Apple spent years testing if touchscreens made sense on the Mac

As first reviews of the new MacBook Pro hit the web this morning, Apple's marketing boss Phil Schiller took to Backchannel to dispel some of the myths saying his company has been stubbornly dismissive of the idea of a touchscreen Mac for no apparent reason. Schiller reveals that Apple has actually spent years testing if touchscreens made sense on the Mac before realizing that touching things on a 27-inch screen quickly becomes “absurd”.

Video: Apple’s Craig Federighi on the new MacBook Pro, Touch Bar and a touchscreen Mac

The MacBook Pro controversy isn't dying down yet so Apple dispatched Craig Federighi, its Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, who discussed the new Pro and thinking behind the Touch Bar feature in a short video interview with CNET in which he also defends no-touchscreen Mac stance.

He goes on to reveal that Apple had in fact built several touchscreen prototypes that however didn't impress Apple executives enough to greenlight the project.

Jony Ive speaks on MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, touchscreen Macs & more

Jony Ive, Apple's Chief Design Officer, sat for a Q&A with CNET's News Editor in Chief Connie Guglielmo following last week's “Hello again” Mac event. Ive talked about various topics, including design considerations behind the creation of the Touch Bar, a marquee new feature of the new notebook, saying it's “just the beginning of a very interesting direction”. He explained why Apple'd rejected a touchscreen iMac “many, many years ago” and more.