This tiny Belkin accessory allows iPhone to be used as webcam for your MacBook

Still, stuck to the 720p webcam on the MacBook? Well, it’s time you move on whether Apple has an intention to or not. I say this, but in the hindsight, I know, Apple is working on the idea of a Continuity Camera to accompany the macOS Ventura and iOS 16. It is a feature that will actually unify the Apple ecosystem we talk so much about how it effectively allows Apple’s different devices to work together seamlessly. It’s a feature that will let the MacBook connect to an iPhone which can be used as its webcam.

While we are at it, Belkin is working on a new puck that is MagSafe compatible. It attaches to the back of the iPhone and using its support can cling on to the Mac (where the webcam is) to let the iPhone’s rear camera be used as a full-fledged webcam.

Designer: Belkin

Belkin’s Continuity Camera accessory sounds like a fantastic idea, one that Apple enthusiasts in you would be gearing to try! Sadly, the accessory is not yet released. Some YouTubers and bloggers have managed to go hands-on with the prototype, giving us a fair idea of what to expect from the MagSafe-compatible Continuity Camera when it arrives.

From how it appears, the Belkin device – in the making – is an all-white circular peripheral that attaches to the iPhone’s back with MagSafe. I’m not sure of the material it’s made from but presume it will be soft silicone so it leaves no scratches on the back of the Mac when it’s mounted. When attached to the Mac at the ideal spot where the webcam features, the Continuity Camera automatically activates to allow the iPhone to be used as the webcam.

The fun really begins here. The iPhone webcam can then be set to features like the Center Stage or Portrait mode, which means you not only get into zoom calls and FaceTime chats at a better resolution but can also make the call more interesting. Even more compelling is the Desk View that users can activate to let the iPhone webcam use the ultra-wide lens to even accommodate your work desk in the video; highly useful for product reviewers making unboxing videos.

As I said, this is only a prototype that has shown up, so the final accessory could be different from the slightly delicate one we see. But for the fact that it can also prop up as a kickstand for the iPhone, we are expecting a resourceful tool. From how things are panned, the Continuity Camera accessory will be launched in a couple of months alongside the macOS Ventura and iOS 16.

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Apple Mac Studio: Reasons to upgrade to this powerhouse

Apple has announced an unexpected new member of its Mac family, and while the initial response has been mostly positive, it still raises one critical question: is it worth the upgrade or not?

Apple was expected to announce a refresh to its Mac lineup, but few probably expected it would be making such a big change. The Mac Studio isn’t just its most powerful Mac, threatening even the latest Mac Pro; it also shakes the lineup in a very fundamental way. In effect, Apple seems to be favoring a discrete computer that still needs its own display, slowly moving away from the all-in-one iMac. More importantly, the Mac Studio adds another option for buyers to consider, making it harder to make a decision on whether to opt for this rather pricey desktop computer or stick with your iMac or Mac Pro. We take a closer look at some of the Mac Studio’s most important factors to hopefully help you reach that decision, in case you need to make one really soon.

Designer: Apple

The Competition

In one fell swoop, Apple almost put three of its existing product lines on notice, though one actually dodged the bullet. Although parallels will be drawn due to their relatively more diminutive sizes, the Mac Mini, even the one powered by an Apple M1 chip, serves a completely different purpose and audience. Though definitely powerful enough for basic image and video editing, the Mac Mini is geared towards more casual computing uses and entertainment applications, sometimes even serving as a home media center.

The gigantic Mac Pro is, of course, the easiest target. It’s almost like a David and Goliath scenario where you expect the smaller underdog to emerge victorious. After all, Apple is trying to wean itself off its dependence on Intel CPUs, so proving that bigger isn’t always better might be its ulterior motive. In most cases, the Mac Studio could definitely stand taller than the larger Mac Pro, unless you really need an Intel-based processor for compatibility and discrete graphics cards, in which case the Mac Pro still has no competition on Apple’s desktop lineup.

Instead, the Mac Studio might actually be gunning for the iMac, especially considering that the 27-inch iMac disappeared on the same day that the Mac Studio and Studio Display debuted. The 24-inch M1 iMac is still around, of course, but that might not last long as the overlap between its “Mini Macs” and its all-in-one iMacs narrow even further. All-in-one PCs seem to also be on the decline in general, so it might only be a matter of time before the venerable iMac brand either gets retired or hopefully reused somewhere else.

Performance

Along with the Mac Studio and Studio Display, the new M1 Ultra chip is undoubtedly the star of Apple’s March event. It makes bold claims about performance that threatens whatever is left of Intel’s hold in the Mac world. Its real-world performance does still need to be tested, but if Apple’s track record is any indication, interested buyers need not worry.

To say that the Mac Studio and the M1 Ultra go perfectly together would be an understatement. Admittedly, it has a higher starting price than the M1 Max configuration, but you will be getting the top specs from the get-go. For example, the two ports in front will be Thunderbolt 4 instead of USB-C, offering compatibility with even more devices and opening up more uses beyond just data transfer.

Except for the Mac Pro, none of Apple’s other computers can compete with the plethora of ports available on the Mac Studio. If the name weren’t already suggestive enough, this Apple mini desktop computer is a digital creative’s dream when it comes to connecting with other devices and equipment. Photographers and cinematographers might even be tickled pink by how the SD card slot sits right in the front for easy access, a clear indication that it was a priority rather than an afterthought.

If the Mac Studio could stand toe-to-toe with the Mac Pro in most ways, the one area where some buyers might worry about will be in the graphics arena. Some still need and swear by discrete graphics that are available only on the Intel-powered Mac Pro. Apple is definitely closing in on whatever advantages those might still have, and the Apple M1 Silicon’s graphics performance has been nothing but extraordinary since day one anyway. Even more so if Apple’s promises about the M1 Ultra’s prowess closely match reality.

These will be important metrics for what has been Apple’s most faithful audience from the very beginning: designers, artists, and creatives. Raw CPU power is no longer enough, and image and video processing, not to mention 3D rendering, need heavy-duty graphics silicon, too. With all that power, however, also comes the need for more advanced cooling systems, and Apple promises that the Mac Studio also delivers more with less, as we’ll get to later.

Design

Despite the novel name, the Mac Studio isn’t exactly ground-breaking in its aesthetic. It looks like a very tall Mac Mini with some of the Mac Pro’s grilles on the back and the base. The new mini computer’s design innovation, however, comes from the things you don’t see, especially when you don’t see the Mac Studio itself.

Freedom

Unlike the Mac Mini, the Mac Studio is too big to hide in small spaces, but it still has more flexibility in where you keep it compared to the bigger Mac Pro. You can hide the Mac Studio away from its monitor if you want to, though that means losing easy access to those ports. You at least have the freedom to place it where you want or even move it around places, something that’s not easily done with a traditional tower.

You also have the freedom to choose the monitor you prefer, though Apple will definitely prefer that you opt for the 27-inch Studio Display. These are almost made for each other, if their launch didn’t already make that obvious, with their designs and features complementing each other perfectly. You can, of course, choose differently and upgrade either separately. The same can’t be said for an all-in-one iMac solution where you really get what you pay for and nothing more.

The Mac Studio combines the power of the Mac Pro with the versatility of the Mac Mini without completely erasing the other two’s existence. It does almost make the iMac redundant and seemingly replaces the 27-inch iMac on Apple’s store. It gives people more freedom not only to choose which displays to go with it but also in how to design their workspaces without worrying about how it will take up space.

Sustainability

Apple also gives the new Mac Studio a stronger sustainability narrative than its older peers, one that could help appeal to more environment-conscious buyers. For some parts like magnets and soldering on the mainboard, it uses “100% recycled rare earth elements.” It also used recycled aluminum and plastic in other components. The chassis is built from a single aluminum extrusion that not only adds durability but also reduces the number of materials to keep the parts together.

The Mac Studio also boasts of a thermal management system that keeps the fans from running unless absolutely necessary. Not only does this reduce the noise coming from the Mac, but it also keeps its overall power consumption down. In fact, Apple says that the Mac Studio uses up to 1,000 kWh less energy than an equivalent high-end desktop PC, which is no small claim as far as energy efficiency goes.

Consumer electronics use a lot of non-sustainable materials, and high-end computers consume a lot more power than typical appliances, especially when running for hours with heavy workloads. Reducing their negative impact on the environment one Mac Studio at a time is a small but important step in changing the landscape for the better, something that Apple is strongly committed to doing in the next eight years.

Price

The Mac Studio definitely has a lot going for it, whether you aim for the M1 Max or the top-of-the-line M1 Ultra. As with most Apple products, however, many consumers will balk at Apple’s asking price. While it might sound pricey, it’s actually well within what you’d expect from a premium Apple product. In fact, it might actually be a sweeter deal, depending on how you look at it.

Considering the Mac Pro starts at $5,999, the fact that the Mac Studio starts at $1,999 is almost shocking. That’s for the lowest M1 Max configuration, though, and the M1 Ultra variant actually starts at $3,999. That’s still significantly lower for something that matches the power but surpasses the size of a Mac Pro.

The now-defunct 27-inch iMac started at $1,799, but it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison at this point, no pun intended. Admittedly, the Mac Studio doesn’t come with its own screen, and the Studio Display that Apple probably wants you to buy with it costs $1,599. If you already have a favorite and trusted monitor, though, that’s already one less worry off your back, but suffice it to say, the TCO of a Mac Studio is no laughing matter.

Verdict

So we finally come to the most important of this long piece, to find out whether the Mac Studio is truly worth it, especially for product designers and digital creatives that need a trustworthy partner in their quest for the ultimate render. Presuming you’re aiming for the better M1 Ultra model, here are some considerations to help you reach that answer.

If you’re actually just buying your first Mac in a few years, the answer is already a resounding yes. Short of budget constraints, there’s almost little reason to get a Mac Pro (more on it later) or even an M1 iMac if you’re really investing in a powerhouse. Sure, the iMac does let you keep your desk clean, but it makes sacrifices in power and flexibility, especially when it comes to ports.

If you’re upgrading from an M1 Mac Mini, the answer is also a yes. By now, you have probably been used to whatever limitations there might be in software compatibility, which isn’t that many by now. The most important tools of the trade are already compatible with Apple Silicon, so there’s not much reason to hold back at this point.

Perhaps the only reason to avoid the Mac Studio, other than the price, is if you really need a dedicated GPU like on the Mac Pro. At that point, however, you’ll need to save up even more, which sort of makes the price concern moot. The M1 iMac still does have a place if you’re willing to make compromises on performance for the sake of a neater work area. And there will always be room for a Mac Mini, even a whole rack of them, for certain applications that would be overkill, even for a $1,999 M1 Max Mac Studio.

These all presume that the M1 Ultra is all that it’s cut out to be, which we’ll really know after a few months only. Needless to say, the Apple Mac Studio is kicking up a storm on the Internet and is positioning itself to be Apple’s best desktop to date.

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Retro Macintosh concept is the perfect fusion of nostalgia and modern Apple design

Everything old is new again, as they say, and one designer envisions the possibility of a Macintosh that tastefully blends the old and the new in a way that could make even Apple interested.

Nostalgia is a very strong emotion, as shown by the number of successful retro consoles and crowdfunded projects launched in the past few years. Going down memory lane is quite effective for people who were there to witness events first-hand, but it also serves a different function for those who weren’t around back then. It gives them an insight into the minds of the past and the thinking that lead to the products of yesteryears. More importantly, they also serve as inspiration for new ideas, like this Macintosh concept that brings the past to the present in some interesting ways.

Designer: Ian Zelbo

Even back in its earliest days, way before the iPhone or even the iPod, Apple was already turning the consumer electronics market on its head. Although it unsurprisingly looks dated by today’s standards, the original Macintosh already prefigured what would become Apple’s forte. It offered something that wasn’t just a tool but a well-designed, thoughtful, beautiful, and more human product.

Ian Zelbo wasn’t around when Apple launched the first-ever Macintosh in 1984, but he was well aware of how that product sent ripples that would be felt even decades later. Likewise, what started out as an almost tongue-in-cheek joke and homage to the landmark product ended up sparking interest and discussion over the Internet. After all, nothing fuels the imagination more than something Apple would never do yet still remained within the realm of what is possible if it ever decided to do so.

From the front, the Retro Macintosh clearly looks like a blast from the past. The screen extrudes forward from the body just like the original Macintosh with the array of ports sitting below it. The rainbow Apple logo, something that the company would never use today, also sits in the original place on the lower-left corner of the display. And while Apple has wholeheartedly embraced white for many of its products, the off-white hue is a clear nod to the computers of the past.

At the same time, this concept isn’t just the 1984 Macintosh with a colored screen and USB ports. Unlike the hulking boxes of the 80s and 90s, this retro concept chops off most of the body, leaving only a comparatively slim chassis to hold the electronics. It is pretty much like a modern all-in-one iMac, albeit a bit thicker. It doesn’t have a slim stand that keeps the computer afloat, but there is a “foot” that extends toward the back to balance the Retro Mac while keeping in line with the computer’s unibody design.

It isn’t all praise for Apple’s design, though, at least not for some people. Zelbo didn’t miss the opportunity to include what is perhaps one of the most controversial new features in the latest MacBook Pros. There is a wide notch on the screen, something that Apple might also implement in future iMacs. Ironically, this small detail is the one thing that truly sets this concept apart from being a mere recreation of the original Macintosh, embracing Apple’s design language throughout the decades. After all, nothing says “modern” than having a notch on your screen.

There is, however, one aspect that conflicts between the two generations of Apple computers. While the iMac and even the Mac Pros hide their ports, this retro concept puts them up front, just like the original Macintosh. While this isn’t as clean and tidy as current Macs, this “old” design has the benefit of providing easy and immediate access to those ports.

“While I was not born in time for the launch of the Macintosh, I can appreciate how influential it was,” says the designer. “I wanted to see what the Macintosh would look like today by blending the nostalgic design with Apple’s current design trends. While it started out as a play on Apple’s recycling of past designs, I truly love the result.”

Apple will most likely never make such a product, of course, not even to celebrate the Macintosh’s anniversary and its significance in history. The concept, however, is still a fruitful exercise in testing how Apple’s designs can actually stand the test of time and how different aesthetics can blend together, even if they’re decades apart. Fortunately, we live in a time when it’s possible and feasible to actually make something like it, and it might only be a matter of time before someone does try to hack together a Retro Macintosh that actually works, unofficially, of course.

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Mini 1980s Macintosh Computer Keycaps: Nostalgia at Your Fingertips

Drawing direct inspiration from the Macintosh 128K of the 1980s, this mechanical keyboard escape and tab keycap set brings the nostalgia back to your own modern computer. Gosh, they sure don’t make them like they used to, do they? No, they don’t, because they used to make them with a ~6MHz processor, 128kB of RAM, a single-sided 400kB floppy drive, and no internal storage. Even my toaster has more processing power.

Handcrafted by Etsy seller CCcoolArt and available through their store for $24, the escape key features the Macintosh computer body with a translucent screen and five interchangeable screen stickers (Apple logo, light face, dark face, Tetris, and heart). The tab key features the likeness of the old Macintosh keyboard and mouse. Could you imagine trying to use one of these computers now? People go nuts when the internet is slow; what if everything was slow? It would be a total global meltdown.

One of the best things about the set is that if you have an RGB light-up keyboard, the monitor will glow thanks to the translucent screen. How about that! With an escape key like that, you’re sure to be the talk of the town. Or at least the talk of anybody who sees your keyboard. I mean, I’d definitely say something. Probably something along the lines of, “Hey, cool keys, I’m going to take them.”

Mac mini 2021 could be a plexiglass compact + powerful machine in peppy color options

This compact Mac mini for this year brings with it improvements from the previous model both in terms of power, heat dissipation and of looks dominated by the thin acrylic cover. The peppy colors of the latest Mac mini are reimagined in this cool concept.

The M1-powered Mac mini is a compact PC perfect for a modern lifestyle that’s dominated by frequent travel and flexible working regimes. The M1chip-powered supercomputer is unlike any other gadget on the market, and Apple has hit all the right notes in coming up with this magic box that’ll surprise you with its power and swiftness. While we are already basking in the success of the Mac mini 2020 model, a successor is on the cards. Yes, the Mac mini 2021 model is rumored to launch this fall and how it could look visually has piqued my interest.

An interesting concept design by Qocept Graphics gives us a purview of the Mac mini design for this year with very subtle modifications on the outside and some major improvements on the inside. The size on this one reduces the footprint a tad with dimensions of 13.5cm in width and length, and a 3cm thickness – making it the thinnest Mac thus far. To provide extra protection to the aluminum body, and a premium overall feel, the Mac mini concept gets a 2cm thin acrylic enclosure. This also raises the machine slightly above the work surface for active dissipation of heat.

The designer emphasizes the acrylic shell as it gives the Mac mini 2021 model a weightless feel and enhances airflow around the ventilation as the air is vented out through the rear opening. Going in line with the speculations of an increased number of ports, the concept adapts to the rumor mill predictions. It has more USB 4 and USB 3 ports. Also, there is a magnetic power connector akin to the iMac and the Gigabit Ethernet through the external power supply.

This Mac mini concept assumes the machine to get the same M1-powered guts but here I disagree. There’s substantial evidence of M1X chip-powered innards – giving the Mac mini more CPU and GPU cores to work with. On the exterior, the new Mac mini might get a refreshing boost of colors with red, blue, purple, yellow, orange sea green and the classic silver white option.

Designer: Qocept Graphics

Having Trouble with Your Mac VPN? Update to Big Sur 11.2

Here’s a case of development time constraints causing a panic among the security community. Before the second beta of Big Sur 11.2 was released, Apple had included a specific feature that would exclude its first party apps from most security checks. This means apps like VPNs, firewalls, anti-malware, and others would no longer function correctly. More details on the feature below. Apple Apps Bypass VPNs Pretty straightforward – a macOS component called ContentFilterExclusionList allowed Apple programs to ignore user-specific network settings. As a result, you couldn’t block first-party apps from communicating with Apple servers (with a firewall, for example). Similarly,…

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