MACWORLD is unlikely ever again to unveil a product as important as the iPhone, which debuted there in 2007. But the annual San Francisco-based show is still a mecca for Apple fans and offers an amazing array of accessories, allowing you to clip, carry, protect and even shoot with your iOS and Mac devices.
Nearly every inch of the Moscone Center exhibit hall during Macworld shows support for Apple devices: how to prop up an iPad, clamp an iPhone or hang an iOS device around your neck, along with all manner of fits, finishes and folding folderols. There wasn’t time to put these fully through their paces but here are some of the most impressive add-ons I saw.
The most unusual accessory I tried was the Bowblade ($185 from April, available internationally through its website), which brings the bow-and-arrow gaming concept to life. The iPhone is clamped to the bridge of this full-sized bow and its touchscreen is tapped by a cable and trigger contraption that takes the place of the arrow.
You can draw back the bow to shoot a virtual arrow at targets in more than 35 off-the-shelf iPhone games. It is a better upper-body workout than your average computer game.
Another unusual peripheral I liked was the Evoluent vertical mouse ($100), which stands on its side so it can be grasped in a handshake fashion — a more natural position than turning your wrist to operate a mouse in the traditional way.
One of the more stylish cases was the Strotter Across ($99 leather version, $55 synthetic), which has four metal rings on the corners so a strap can be attached in different configurations. You can wear it on your shoulder or back, with the iPad safely enclosed in an envelope-style case. Or if you want to use the device when you are relaxing, you can shift the strap and have the case open and viewable in a hands-free fashion on your hip or chest.
For excellent protection, iBallz ($25, add $30 for international shipping) attaches four hard rubber balls to the corners of an iPad. The balls are attached to each other with an elastic cord. Readjust them and the device can be turned into a tilting stand. Alternatively, the elastic can be used to hang the iPad like a picture.
Chef Sleeve offers disposable plastic sleeves to protect the iPad from flour, grease and other hazards in the kitchen. It also has a range of dishwasher-safe stands. I liked a chopping board ($70, available online) with a slot carved in it to rest an iPad, although I was worried about the possibility of losing a finger while chopping and watching tips from apps such as Top Chef and iCookbook.
Back home with software from the show, I got my MacBook into shape with MacKeeper (licences from $39), which finds extra hard-drive space by identifying duplicate files which you can delete after a quick preview. Colour-coded disk usage analysis was also useful in tracking down big files taking up space. There are also antivirus, antitheft, file recovery and "fast clean-up" utilities.
I was even more impressed with CleanMyMac 2 ($30), which has fewer functions but is more elegant. A fast, automatic clean-up of my solid-state drive made my Mac run faster. It was especially good at removing different copies of pictures in the iPhoto application.
Finally, I loved the speed and features of Jaksta Music Miner ($20), which automatically downloads music you are listening to on the web as an MP3 and puts it in your iTunes library. Jaksta says it is legal to do this for personal use and I watched in amazement as a whole track was downloaded in the first 30 seconds of the music playing, as well as being identified and tagged with the artist and the song title.
Planet of the Apps
Chris Nuttall picks his favourite from the apps shown at Macworld.
What it is: Givit (iPhone, iPod touch, free)
Why you should try it: Givit is a video-editing app that allows you to select a "highlight" with a tap of your finger as you are recording. Highlights can be combined and given effects such as slow motion and a soundtrack from iTunes.
I liked this when it was launched in October and improvements shown at Macworld include the ability to add titles, fade-outs and still images, plus the video can be shared and shown in your Twitter stream, as well as on Facebook and YouTube.
© 2013 The Financial Times Limited