As we do every month, Macworld staffers got together to chat about the best apps they've been using recently. Here are some that have recently captured our imaginations (and perhaps a spot on our homescreens), whether they're tiny apps from budding developers or the top-grossing apps that everyone is using. Our hope is that, while you might recognize some of these apps, others you might never have encountered. All of them, we think, are worth a look.
On Thursday, Satya Nadella charted a new course for Microsoft, focused on interconnectivity and productivity--one where, conceivably, the company's standard-setting Office applications and other products and services could slowly blur into different modes of working with the same data.
New CPU and GPU architectures roil the market pretty much every year--sometimes more than once a year. Yet in spite of the impact that system memory can have on a PC's performance, the industry has relied on the same basic memory architecture for what seems like an eternity--in tech time, at least.
At Apple's recent Worldwide Developers Conference, the company announced--among a great many other things--HomeKit, a suite of tools for controlling such devices in your home as thermostats, furnaces and air conditioners, smart appliances, lights, cameras, garage-door openers, and security systems. Apple will provide a platform that these devices will be asked to conform to. Do so, and you can control them all from your iOS device.
If you believe the weekend rumors, Apple will announce a connected-home platform next week at WWDC. But before you get too excited about an iThermostat and an iFridge and an iCamera watching you sleep, consider this: If Apple does get into the home-automation market, that doesn't necessarily mean it'll make smart-home gadgets of its own.
If Microsoft indeed intends to release a shrunk-down Surface Mini this month, as an invite for a "small" Surface event suggests, merely downsizing the tablet's design to fit an 8-inch frame ain't going to cut it. Sure, the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 are beautiful pieces of kit, but they're made for big-screen productivity--the Surface Pro is essentially an Ultrabook without a keyboard. That experience won't translate well to a smaller form factor, better suited for content consumption than content creation.
There's no getting cold feet now. On Friday, Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's device business will be official, after months of delays and regulatory hurdles. The remnants of Nokia will get a whopping $7.2 billion. In return, Microsoft will get 32,000 new employees, a legion of Lumias, and oh yeah, those funky Android-based Nokia X phones.
Just what the world needs: another HDMI dongle to compete with Google's Chromecast and Roku's Streaming Stick. Like those popular devices, Ematic's MediaBeam plugs directly into one of your HDTV's HDMI ports in order to stream content.
The Gear Live is the best smartwatch I've ever used--but that's not a remarkable achievement considering all the crappy-to-middling efforts we've seen from Samsung, Sony and Qualcomm. If I were being generous, I'd say Samsung finally landed on a simple, wrist-friendly interface that does away with messy nested menus and convoluted features like voice calling.
There's a utopian idea behind the OnePlus One: Offer a phone powered by the latest hardware and featuring a wealth of carrier options without any carrier restrictions. If that doesn't grab you, the price tag might--it's $300 for an off-contract 16GB model, about half of what you'd pay for phones boasting similar specs. But does the phone deliver a premium experience?
Editor's note: The following review is part of Macworld's GemFest 2014. Every day (except weekends) from July until September, the Macworld staff will use the Mac Gems blog to briefly cover a standout free, low-cost, or great-value program. You can view a list of this year's apps, updated daily, on our handy GemFest chart, and you can visit the Mac Gems homepage for past Mac Gems reviews.