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From OS X to macOS… We dig deep into Sierra’s great new features.
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Significant advancements in Apple’s latest processor.
farewell headphone jack
Deus Ex Go
We look at why Apple removed the 3.5mm jack.
David Chartier on the magic of iMessages in iOS 10.
6 clever iMessage apps
6 project and to-do apps to help you get on track
Olympus Tough TG-Tracker
libratone One click
How to: send money with Square cash
Razer Mechanical Keyboard case
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aukey Ora clip-On lens Kit
Game loop Brianna Wu on Nintendo’s iPhone gamble.
crave The gear we’re lusting after.
$50 iTunes card What would you buy…?
Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case
4 NOV 2016 maclife.com
Get smart Lifestyle-enhancing gadgets for your home.
The a10 fusion chip
Apps that work in harmony with iMessage in iOS 10.
How HomeKit has finally come of age with iOS 10.
consider Matt Bolton on the disruptive price of progress.
iOS 10’s Home app
apple TV Apps and hardware for your Apple TV.
ask Our Apple experts answer your burning hardware and software questions.
Power up your menu bar
104 Encrypt and sign your email 106 Make websites the easy way 108 add text to photos with Over 110
Discover GarageBand’s powerful edit view
Overhaul your podcasts
Random apple Memory Interactive TV in the early 1990s? Well, sort of. Plus, what to expect next issue…
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EDITORIAL Editor Matt Bolton opErations Editors Jo Membery, Ed Ricketts ContriBUtors Adam Banks, Alex Blake, Gareth Beavis, Duncan Bell, J.R. Bookwalter, David Chartier,Emma Davies, Dan Grabham, Craig Grannell, Kate Gray, Christian Hall, Alastair Jennings, Cliff Joseph, Sarah LeBoeuf, Joseph Leray, Gary Marshall, Amber Neely, Howard Oakley, Nick Peers, Jennifer Phin, Alan Stonebridge, Brianna Wu ART art Editor Mat Gartside ContriBUtors Apple, Alex Duce, iFixit BUSINESS viCE prEsidEnt salEs Stacy Gaines, firstname.lastname@example.org viCE prEsidEnt stratEgiC partnErships Isaac Ugay, email@example.com East Coast aCCoUnt dirECtor Brandie Rushing, firstname.lastname@example.org East Coast aCCoUnt dirECtor Michael Plump, email@example.com mid wEst aCCoUnt dirECtor Jessica Reinert, firstname.lastname@example.org wEst Coast aCCoUnt dirECtor Austin Park, email@example.com wEst Coast aCCoUnt dirECtor Brandon Wong, firstname.lastname@example.org wEst Coast aCCoUnt dirECtor Tad Perez, email@example.com dirECtor of markEting Robbie Montinola dirECtor, CliEnt sErviCEs Tracy Lam dirECtor, rEtail salEs Bill Shewey MANAGEMENT Editorial dirECtor Paul Newman groUp art dirECtor Graham Dalzell PRODUCTION hEad of prodUCtion Uk & Us Mark Constance prodUCtion ControllEr Fran Twentyman projECt managEr Clare Scott prodUCtion assistant Emily Wood
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thE PRICE oF PRoGRESS I know that a lot of our readers have strong feelings about Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone. I’ve read your emails! Some of you have said it will end your relationship with iPhones; some have said you’re happy Apple is dropping legacy ports, just as it did with optical drives on notebooks, or when it introduced USB on Macs. In technology, there’s no step forward that never leaves anyone behind. Backwards compatibility is a noble goal, and important to help people transition to new platforms or systems, but it’s never perfect. When Apple makes big software changes, maintaining functionality with old software can mean a hit on resources, or more work for developers. For big hardware changes, it tends to mean adapters, which is exactly the case with the iPhone 7 and its Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter. In all cases, the end result is clumsy, which is ironic given that the idea is generally to produce more elegant devices or software. The problem is people. There’s a famous military saying: “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Perhaps in Apple there’s a board somewhere that says “No redesign survives contact with the customers.” When you’ve sold over a billion iOS devices, your users are so diverse in wants and needs that elegance is almost impossible in practice. It would be easier if we could all buy the optimum products at the optimum time, but when does anything ever work like that? People’s lives are messy and disordered – if you’ve lost your favorite pair of headphones and need to hit the stores just before a long train journey, you don’t plan ahead on which you’re going to buy just in case the connector becomes obsolete. So the transition to new technology is also messy and disordered – and maybe even disruptive. The trick is whether a company can emerge with its vision intact. Apple has proved adept at doing this in the past, and I suspect it will again. It makes me happier to move my focus to the other aspects of the iPhone 7 – read all about them in our reviews starting p60. And I hope Mac lovers will enjoy our guide to Sierra on p20!
Mat Gartside art Editor Mat’s favorite Sierra feature is the new Photos search – he can finally find things!
Jo Membery operations Editor Jo’s delighted she can use her Safari “keep 78 tabs open” system in every app.
J.R. Bookwalter Contributor J.R. is loving Auto-Unlock, so his Mac is ready to work whenever he is.
Matt Bolton, Editor Twitter: @matthewbbolton
8 Nov 2016 maclife.com
Your opinions, rants & raves
A reader wrote in to ask about converting their DVD collection to a digital format stored on their Mac (issue #119). While it is likely true that in some places it’s illegal to do that to commercial DVDs, in Canada our laws actually permit this “format shifting,” providing it is done for personal use, and the person owns a legal copy of the video (it’s not a borrowed or rented copy that was converted). It’s also legal in Canada to make backup copies of movies you’ve purchased as DVDs. Here’s the relevant law: bit.ly/2ch0LlH. PaUl PrEScoTT Confusingly, this is both right and wrong. I didn’t get into this in the original letter for reasons of space, but the same law you’ve cited that makes personal format shifting legal in principle also makes it illegal in practice. Section 41 makes it illegal to break the encryption that protects DVDs’ video from being copied, so in order to make it possible to perform the format shift to which you’re legally entitled, you’d have to perform an illegal act. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act says essentially the same thing in the US. The end result: it’s not legal to copy commercial DVDs.
macoS on the Surface
The Surface Pro is a nice piece of gear, but running macOS on it will be precarious.
I find Microsoft’s Surface Pro series of computers to be compelling. They are small, light, fast, and can be used as either a real PC or tablet (although I must admit I don’t like a smudged monitor, hence the minimal use on my iPad). To that end, I am requesting that Mac|Life feature a guide listing the software and hardware requirements, as well as the steps needed, to install El Capitan on a Windows Surface Pro. I really believe this combination could be the best of both worlds and I trust Mac|Life to provide the best method available to accomplish this task, and I’m certain many of your subscribers and readers would be interested in doing this as well. JoHn The Surface Pro is a nice piece of hardware, and while it is possible
SHarE wiTH US!
to install El capitan (or Sierra) on non-apple hardware, it’s not something we’ll be featuring any time soon. The process is totally unsupported by apple (or microsoft, for that matter), is highly technical, and full of things that can go wrong. and even for those who’ve successfully done it in the past, parts of the hardware don’t work, including the wi-Fi and touchscreen. and if you can’t get the touchscreen working, i kind of think you might as well get a macbook…
no jack, no sale Personally, I am not impressed with the new iPhone. My phone is two years old (iPhone 6) and works perfectly well. I don’t take many pictures. And I don’t want to shell out $150 for a pair of headphones when I have two pairs of high quality
Never mind an updated Apple Watch, where’s our new MacBook Pro!?
headphones that use the classic audio jack. I was very disappointed that nothing was announced about new MacBook Pros. Mine is a mid2009 and is doing fine, but will not be able to update to Sierra, so the writing’s on the wall to get a new one. And not one word on that. Dr. G You can see what we thought of the iPhone 7 after lots of time with it on p60, but we totally agree with you about macbook Pros – hopefully new ones will be out by the time you read this!
and now a Segway David Chartier startled me in issue #119 when he wrote that the inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen, had died in a Segway accident. It was Jimi Heselden, not Dean Kamen, that was killed on a Segway. Heselden purchased Segway from Kamen in 2010. DalE rEbHorn a few people spotted this! You’re quite right of course – apologies for the confusion, and to mr. kamen for the premature reports of his demise…
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maclife.com NOv 2016 9
START FEED YOUR MIND. FEAST YOUR EYES.
Meet the amazing A10 Fusion processor Apple’s new phone chip isn’t just an A9 beater. It’s also a MacBook beater… BY MAtt Bolton
the A10 Fusion chip brings huge improvements in processing and graphics capabilities.
10 nov 2016 maclife.com
For nerdY technologY lovers like us, a big part of the excitement around new iPhone launches is seeing the new Apple processor. In recent years, Apple has become one of the most innovative chip design companies, producing amazing advances in computing power with every new model. This year is no exception, with Apple revealing the A10 Fusion processor alongside the iPhone 7, promising a 40% improvement in processor speed over the A9, as well as a 50% faster graphics chip, and a smart new design that includes four processor cores, instead of the dual-core design of the A9. That doesn’t mean the A10 is a quad-core processor, though: the Fusion part of the name refers to the fact that it has two high-power cores that are the fastest Apple has ever produced, and another two that are much lower power. The idea appears to be that the iPhone will use either the high-speed cores or the low-speed ones, depending on how demanding the task at hand is. Editing in iMovie? The fast cores will keep things smooth. Uploading something to Dropbox in the background with the screen turned off? The low-power cores can take
Feed your mind. Feast your eyes.
the Watch gets a second chance With watchOS 3 and an all-new range, it’s time to take another look at the Watch BY MAtt Bolton over, performing the task with lower battery usage. The A10’s high-speed cores run at 2.33GHz, which is a big increase over the 1.85GHz speed of the A9. It also appears to have other design improvements to speed it up, and 3GB of RAM in the 7 Plus is another boost, over the 2GB in the iPhone 6s. WhAt’s reAllY got us excited about the A10 is how it performs compared to processors in the MacBook Air, and even 13-inch MacBook Pro, in benchmarks. Its single-core performance matches even the higher-end Intel chips in Apple’s notebook line-up, while its multi-core performance beats low-end machines. Put simply, we appear to be at the point now where Apple could replace Intel’s processors with its own in certain MacBook models without a serious drop in performance. Now, these are just benchmarks, not real-world usage, and Intel’s processors scale up to more powerful computers in a way that Apple’s may not. But the potential is huge: at the time of writing, we haven’t seen the likely A10X processor that may power the iPad Pro’s successor, which could be even more powerful. It may even add extra cores: there’s precendent in the A8X, which was triple-core, while the regular A8 was dual-core. The question still remains, though: if Apple does harness this power to launch a MacBook that runs on its own processors, what operating system will it run?
the Apple WAtch is the bestselling smartwatch, but that’s a bit like calling it the best-selling private jet; it’s not a huge market to be king of. Reaction to the Watch overall has been mixed. Some people who own one find they couldn’t live without it, while some people just stopped wearing it because they didn’t find it useful. Many of our readers have told us they love it, and some have told us they hate it. The first model definitely had flaws, mostly around speed and a few missing fitness features. But if you’re one of the people who had no interest in it in the past, it’s definitely time to take a second look now. Apple hAs lAunched two new models of Watch: Series 1 and Series 2. Series 1 is the same as the existing Watch, but with a new faster processor. Series 2 looks the same, but has a brighter screen (so is easier to see outdoors), better waterproofing (so it’s suitable for tracking swimming activity), and built-in GPS (so it can track things like running or cycling routes without the need for an iPhone). Series 1 gives you a budget way to buy into the Watch line, but with the speed problems largely fixed; Series 2 fixes the most obvious missing activity features for fitness lovers. We’ll have a full review of Apple Watch Series 2 for you next issue, but we’ve already tried it,
and it’s a solid improvement over the original model. Perhaps most importantly, both Watch models run watchOS 3, as do all existing Watch units. This is the biggest change to the line-up, even beyond the extra hardware. It’s a rethinking and huge refinement to what the Apple Watch means as a product: it pulls information from your iPhone in the background, so when you open apps, you don’t have to wait for them. The idea of Glances is gone, replaced with a new “Dock,” which shows snapshots of the information in your most-used apps. It’s also easier to navigate, with just a swipe taking you between watch faces, and the confusing “contacts” screen has also gone, replaced by the Dock. Whether it’s enough to make people change their mind about the Watch is hard to say, but this fresh start for Apple’s wearable vision deserves a fresh look if you dismissed it before. The new Dock view shows live information from your most-used apps.
maclife.com nov 2016 11
>>> Start Feed your mind. Feast your eyes.
paladins Free Anyone familiar with the smash hit game Overwatch (which hasn’t come to Mac) will find Paladins… a bit familiar. But that’s not a bad thing: it’s a solid imitation of an excellent game. It’s a team-based shooter, with cartoony characters, interesting powers, and a nice feature of its own in cards you can buy to boost your abilities. version tested: 0.33.1275.4
Pre-release games and software available now
Why did apple remove the headphone jack? What does the iPhone 7 gain from its loss? By Matt Bolton
runescape: idle adventures Free This is an epic adventure packed into a game you can play with just a few clicks here and there (hence the “Idle” title). You help to build a village into a thriving economy, and occasionally battle various monsters. Even the fights can be mostly automated! It’s a bit light for us, but the writing is fun. version tested: 0.1.2
12 Nov 2016 maclife.com
“soMe people have asked us why we would remove the analog headphone jack,” said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller on stage at the iPhone 7 launch. “It’s been with us a really long time and it comes down to one word: courage.” Apple’s definition of courage was met with (deserved) amusement on the web, but the company did offer more information in an interview with Buzzfeed. VP of hardware engineering Dan Riccio explained: “We’ve got this 50-year-old
connector — just a hole filled with air — and it’s just sitting there taking up space, really valuable space,” Riccio explained. “It was holding us back from a number of things we wanted to put into the iPhone… It was fighting for space with camera technologies and processors and battery life.” Riccio noted that the headphone jack was a significant vulnerability for water damage, and its removal helped to achieve the better water-resistant rating of the iPhone 7. A teardown of the new
models by iFixit also reveals how the space is being used, with a large Taptic Engine unit immediately filling the gap at the bottom of the unit, but also a higher capacity battery, larger footprint for the dual cameras in the Plus, as well as upgraded water ingress protection throughout, including proper rubber gaskets, which again take up more space than the foam protection used in previous models. These are the benefits – see our reviews from p60 to find out if the sacrifice has been worth it.
>the shift iMessage isn’t just for messages any more, and david chartier is excited about the opportunity to do more in our devices’ most-used app
he arrival of iOS 10 has brought a wonderful variety of new features and enhancements, one of the largest being an “iMessage App Store.” While this helps iMessage finally catch up to the rest of the world with “stickers” – think of them as larger, potentially animated versions of emoji – it’s the app aspect that brings a world of potential to explore. iMessage apps can do some pretty wild things right in the privacy and intimacy of our
iMessage apps can do some pretty wild things in the intimacy of messaging
messaging. This should be fun, and occasionally a little weird. One of the first interesting apps a friend found is Do With Me. It’s a simple task manager, but it can insert a live, functional task list right into your conversation. It’s similar to Apple’s Reminders, Todoist, and other task apps, both you and your iMessage recipient(s) can add things to a Do With Me list right in Messages. But the difference here is you’re doing this all within iMessage, where you can talk with
your friends, send stickers, and do everything else available in the app. I’ve also played Tic-Tac-Toe in iMessage for iOS 10. When my friend made a move, I got a typical message alert. When I viewed the message, the game board expanded within Messages and I could make my move. Fandango’s iMessage app shares movies and showtimes so you can decide with friends and buy tickets. OpenTable helps you vote on restaurants for dinner. Square Cash can send money to your iMessage friends (yes, you have to authenticate with Touch ID). There are plenty of games too – pool, poker, Words With Friends (see the next page), and more. There were dozens of sticker packs and around 20 apps available for day one of the iMessage App Store, and I get the feeling developers are just getting started. i wonder if iMessage apps share some of the same challenges as Apple Watch apps. Both are fairly new places for developers to design apps, and for us to actually use them day-to-day. What do iMessage users actually want to do while texting? Should this or that feature stay in our app, or can it be useful by itself in iMessage? How much should developers try to stuff into the iMessage app versus
asking users to stop the conversation to switch to the full app? Some prominent Apple community members believe iMessage stickers and apps are the Next Big Thing in the app space, and I’m inclined to agree. Apple said Messages is “by far” the most-used app on iOS. It’s also one of the most personal and intimate. Most companies have finally figured out that they need to reach users where they are – on our mobile devices – and now app developers are going to start reaching us where we spend most of our time on those devices.
Animated stickers are a lot of fun, but visit the iMessage App Store to find plenty of useful and fun chat-friendly apps.
>>> David Chartier is a content strategist and writer with vast experience analyzing the tech world. He runs the website Finer Things in Tech (finerthings.in) and hosts its podcast, The Finer Things In.
maclife.com nov 2016 13
>>> Start Feed your mind. Feast your eyes.
6 clever iMessage apps for iOS 10 Apps that make smart use of Apple’s newly extensible messaging app BY Matt BOltOn
and destination), and makes it easy to send.
itranslate Need to speak to someone in another language (or just want to practice one)? iTranslate (free) can translate messages right as you send them!
Based on current location and transport method, ETA can calculate your arrival time.
With the arrival of iOS 10 came big changes to Apple’s Messages app. Not only did it add cool animations, but also its very own App Store, full of interesting tools that run purely within your conversations with your friends. Some of these apps are just sticker packs, adding new images to send to people. What we’re looking at are the apps that add functionality. Developers are already doing some extremely cool things here: making it easy to look up and send travel information right from iMessages, translating text, hiding private messages, and more! Some are standalone iMessage apps, and some are Universal (free with their corresponding iOS app) – though a bug means you may have to reinstall these apps to get them working.
14 nov 2016 maclife.com
Whether you’re just working out lunch or refurbishing a room, Pennies Mini can help.
Secretly Messaging Want to send an iMessage about a special present for an all-important person, or one that contains banking details, and be sure it’s visible only to the right recipient? Write your message and this 99¢ app hides it, with the other person able to reveal it by using Touch ID or a PIN (which they set up in the app on their end).
Polls With Friends What will you do today? Where will you eat? Who’s gonna drive? Use this 99¢ app to send a question to a group, and they can vote on it right in the conversation!
eta How long will it be until you arrive? This $2.99 app knows (based on your location, transport method,
Pennies Mini Set a budget in this 99¢ app and send it to others – you can all say how much of you’ve spent. Great for days out.
Words With Friends Yes, you can now play the hugely popular and free Scrabble-style word game right inside an iMessage chat. The games are slightly different – fewer tiles, for faster play.
Go multi-lingual with iTranslate’s app.
Polls With Friends allows you to canvass friends to resolve the burning issues of modern society.
>game loop In a bold move, Nintendo has decided to bring Mario to iOS, but briaNNa wu says the venerable games company is taking a huge gamble
he biggest shock from the iPhone 7 announcement wasn’t Jet Black iPhones or Apple Watch models you can swim with. It was seeing Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto onstage, announcing an official alliance between Nintendo and Apple. Super Mario Run is coming to iPhone, and Apple is rolling out the red carpet. Mario Run takes the endless runner game formula, uses sprites from the Mario core series, and packages it in what seems like an extremely polished experience. You can compete with friends for top scores. Except for the conspicuous absence of Peach, Rosalina, or Daisy, it seems like a fantastic experience for your iPhone. But, make no mistake, this isn’t just an iPhone game with Mario. This is a major gamble for Nintendo
– risking its main source of profits with the bet that it will lead to Nintendo hardware sales. Most people don’t realize this, but Nintendo has made most of its money from handhelds since the release of the Game Boy in 1989. Its home console, the Wii U, is an important part of Nintendo’s strategy, but as a percent of sales it’s a minor variable. In 2015, Nintendo sold 3.3 million Wii Us, but nine million 3DS handhelds. Players also buy more games on the 3DS, making it a far more profitable product line.
But are kids today becoming fans of Mario with so many free games on offer? That’s the reason for bringing Super Mario Run to iPhone – it gives kids a taste of the character, and will encourage them to buy a 3DS at some point. Apple is happy to help them make Super Mario Run a hit. You can preorder it on your phone and Apple will send you a notification when it’s released. This is unprecedented for a game on the App Store. But will the gamble pay off? It’s worth considering where Nintendo is financially. Nintendo only recently
Naturally, as the iPhone has eaten away at the market for cameras, video players, and portable music devices, people that love games have been worried for Nintendo. Anyone with children knows how much they love games on the iPhone and iPad. And it’s hard to convince a parent to buy a $169 handheld with $40 games when there are so many free options on iOS. And yet, Apple doesn’t have characters like Mario, Zelda, and Samus. As great as Pokémon GO is, it’s not a substantive experience the way a real Pokémon game is. The truth is, Nintendo platforms deliver an extremely polished experience that’s meant to hook kids when they’re young, and make them Nintendo fans for life.
with super mario run on iphone, Nintendo is risking its main source of profits
became profitable since Wii sales died in 2011, sustaining four straight years of losses. The Wii U is widely considered a failure. Nintendo shares plummeted recently after investors realized it doesn’t make Pokémon GO or receive significant profits from it. As long as there’s a market for handheld devices, Nintendo will thrive. So, if you know someone that loves Pokémon GO, encourage them to pick up a 3DS and try the real thing.
>>> Brianna Wu is the head of development at Giant Spacekat, developer of Revolution 60 on iPhone and iPad,
and is a regular speaker at industry events, as well as host on the podcasts Isometric and Rocket.
maclife.com nov 2016 15
>>> Start Feed your mind. Feast your eyes.
CRAVE THE GEAR WE’RE LUSTING AFTER
Gogoro Smartscooter gogoro.com $TBC
>>> The Smartscooter can go from 0-30 mph in 4.2 secs, reach a top speed of 59 mph, yet, thanks to its “magnet synchronous” motor, there are no harmful emissions. The suspension is inspired by jet fighter landing gear, and the aluminum chassis is strong, light, and recyclable. The Gogoro app allows keyless control, and the bike is littered with sensors – to analyze ride patterns and adjust elements from lighting to torque. The aim is to have replaceable power banks across cities worldwide so you can just perform a quick battery swap. Time to get on your bike and ride.
16 nov 2016 maclife.com
oBravo EAMT-1 obravoaudio.com Around $4,900
>>> Let us introduce you to the world’s most expensive earphones, retailing at just under $5,000… According to makers oBravo, the earphones feature a number of “world-first technologies and exotic materials” – you’d hope so at this price. The earphones boast HybridPlanar coaxial drivers with Air Motion Transformer Tweeters and Neodymium Dynamic Drivers, as well as precision ceramic driver housing, producing a frequency range of 15Hz-45Hz. If all that seems baffling, just know that the high-tech features result in sparkling sonics. Although, they don’t have a Lightning connection, so be warned if you got an iPhone 7…
Dlodlo V1 dlodlo.com Around $559
>>> VR glasses that are light and comfortable to wear… Can it be true? Yes, these virtual reality glasses are, er, real. Looking like a pair of respectable sunglasses, the carbon fiber Dlodlo V1 set weighs a mere 3.1 oz and is just 0.6 in thick. (The Oculus Rift headset weighs over 16 oz and is over 8 inches in depth.) You’d think the focus on weight reduction might have an impact on features, but the bionic optics give a 105-degree field of vision, a 2400x1200 resolution display, a 90Hz refresh rate, and the glasses even boast touch control. You do get a separate pack to power the glasses, but at least you don’t have to wear it on your head.
LEIF leifdoes.com $TBC
>>> It’s all too easy to leave your wallet at the gym, or on the table in a restaurant. The size of a regular store card, the LEIF tracking device slots into any wallet and works with the GPS on your phone to map out its location, so you never lose it again. The range is 30-40 ft, with the distance tracker counting down as you get near. If you’re out of range, LEIF will display where the wallet was last “seen” on a map. The app even works with Google Maps to pull contact info, so you can call the store or restaurant to say you’ve left your wallet behind. A charging pad is included, but battery life depends on how often you lose your wallet…
maclife.com nov 2016 17
$50 iTunes Card How would you blow 50 bucks on music, movies, books, TV shows, and apps? BY MAtt BoLton
Ghostbusters Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones $17.99 This reboot of a comedy classic succeeds by staying true to the original: it takes four great comedic actors and lets them run riot. The setup is familiar: when Abby, (McCarthy), Holtzmann (McKinnon), and Erin (Kristen Wiig) lose their university jobs because of their theories that ghosts are real, they team up with history buff Patty (Jones) and start fighting ghouls on their own. It doesn’t try to copy the original film, but instead uses the same premise for a more 2016 style of comedy. McKinnon steals the show as the off-kilter Holtzmann, and overall it’s a fun, breezy, cool action comedy.
18 nov 2016 maclife.com
the PiGeon tunnel John Le Carré $14.99 Having penned some of the most influential spy novels ever written (including Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy), this new book from le Carré details his own history of work for Britsh intelligence services, including MI6. Rather than a full-blown autobiography, le Carré (real name: David Cornwell) picks out some of the more audacious and affecting events in his life, spending time with the likes of Yasser Arafat and meeting those affected by devastating wars. The writing is as sharp as his novels, but the fact that it’s all real can add an inherent melancholy tinge beyond the life and humor provided by le Carré.
PlayCast Bitwise Solutions $9.99 The PlayStation 4 has the ability to be played remotely, streaming its video output to a PlayStation Vita, as well as PC or Mac (with the official app). And now, unofficially, your iPhone and iPad too, with games streaming at up to 720p resolution. You can use an Apple-certified iOS games controller (though these lack L3 and R3 buttons – the app has a workaround for this, but it was buggy for us) to control games too, or use on-screen controls – but we definitely recommend a controller. There’s a little bit of lag when playing, but it only stands out in intense shooters or similar highspeed games. For anything else, this is just great.
adobe PhotoshoP liGhtroom Adobe Free In iOS 10, Apple has added the ability for the iPhone 6s’ and 7’s cameras to shoot raw photos, and this app is one of the first to enable it. It takes pictures in DNG format, so they can be edited without losing any of the image quality, as tends to happen with JPEG images. The app is free, but to unlock some advanced editing features, you need an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
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maclife.com nov 2016 19
by Christian hall, Craig grannell, alan stonebridge
20 NOV 2016 maclife.com
Get started with macOS Sierra
The latest update to your Mac’s operating system is here! Here are the first things to try out in Sierra
pple’s latest and greatest operating system has landed, bringing not just a change of name from OS X to macOS, but also some fantastic new features to make your Mac more useful than ever. In this feature we’re taking you into exactly how those features work and what you can do with them.
We’ll start with the new AutoUnlock feature that enables Apple Watch owners to log into their Macs without needing to enter a password – and look at a third-party option to help those without a Watch do the same. Then we’ll look at what Siri can do on the Mac, how Apple has made the Photos app more powerful and smart, iCloud’s fantastic new features, the brilliant Universal Clipboard (and some App Store alternatives that expand on this functionality), the new options in Messages, how tabs work in more apps, Optimized Storage, and Picture in Picture mode! We think Sierra is a really strong upgrade for our Macs, and we hope you’ll enjoy making the most of its impressive new features!
maclife.com NOV 2016 21
Your Mac’s new look The beautiful new vista and powerful features of macOS Sierra do more with your photos Photos arrived in Yosemite, but it’s taken until now to become really intelligent. The brand new Memories feature collects groups of related images to create a movie, while improved search makes large libraries more manageable. 1
22 NOV 2016 maclife.com
spruCe up messages Messages on the desktop reflects many of the changes in Messages on iOS 10. You can now interact with messages (similar to a “Like” on Facebook), see stickers and bigger emoji, and see Digital Touch drawings. 2
ask siri to find things Siri is getting more powerful with every iOS and tvOS release, and now it’s the turn of the Mac. It’s capable of searching for files, playing music, finding information from the web, adding calendar appointments, and more. 3
make more of the desktop macOS Sierra is transforming the concept of the desktop workspace. Essentially, your desktop will become available in iCloud Drive so you can get to its contents from another device. “Never lose another file” just became a reality! 4
Get started with macOS Sierra
Using Sierra’s Auto Unlock >>> you Can unlock a Mac when your Apple Watch running watchOS 3 is nearby. Assuming your Watch has a passcode set and two-factor authentication is enabled for your Apple ID, you can turn on Auto Unlock in System Preferences’ Security & Privacy pane. Try to unlock your Mac; it’ll say it’s doing so with your Watch. If the Watch is absent, you’ll get the standard password screen. Sadly, there’s no automatic locking based on proximity, but MacID can do that (see below).
How to Unlock your Mac using your iPhone and MacID
install the maC app Download, install and then open the Mac component of MacID from macid.co. It requires OS X 10.10 and a Mac that supports Bluetooth 4.
get maCid for ios Install MacID ($4.99) on an iOS device with Bluetooth active. If you also have an Apple Watch, you can use MacID as a Watch app too.
pair your ios deviCe On your Mac, MacID should list your iOS device. Select it and click Continue, type your user account’s password, then click Continue again.
seCure your maC In Security & Privacy > General in System Preferences, set your Mac to require a password to wake from sleep or after its screen saver starts.
unloCk your maC Try to unlock your Mac; MacID sends notifications to your devices. Unlock it with a tap (Watch), or a swipe or using Touch ID (iPhone).
take it further On iOS, you can use MacID to lock your Mac from afar. On Mac, use the app’s menu to set up Sierra-like proximity-based locking and waking.
maclife.com NOV 2016 23
Siri has its own preferences pane, where you can even assign it a specific mic.
“Hey, Siri” Siri comes to the Mac – now you’re talking! aving been a cornerstone of the iOS experience for several years, Apple’s virtual assistant Siri is now baked into macOS. As long as you have a way to talk to your Mac (using a built-in or external mic), you can give it commands, such as to display weather reports, locate documents, or add events to Calendar. On macOS, Siri lives in the Dock and the menu bar, and is triggered with a click, or you can activate it by holding ç+Spacebar for a moment. That’s the same combo that opens Spotlight when pressed and released quickly, so Siri’s System Preferences pane offers a couple of alternative
24 NOV 2016 maclife.com
shortcuts that you can press in order to avoid confusion, or you can define your own shortcut. However, you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t clash with one you use elsewhere. Saying “Hey, Siri!” to your Mac is absent, but there is a workaround. First, this requires you to be using a keyboard shortcut for Siri that you press for an instant response, rather than hold down, so make that change.
saying “hey, siri!” to your mac is absent, but there is a workaround
Next, turn on Dictation in Keyboard prefs, and Use Enhanced Dictation (which may require a download). Open the Accessibility pane, select Dictation on the left, enable the use of a dictation keyword phrase, and use “Hey” for said phrase. Next, click Dictation Commands, turn on “Enable advanced commands,” and click + to create a new one. In the top field, type Siri. In the Perform pop-up menu, choose Press Keyboard Shortcut, then press the Siri shortcut you set earlier, and finally click Done. The Dictation icon will appear in the menu bar, and you can now say “Hey, Siri” to activate the feature, rather than having to press keys.
Get started with macOS Sierra
How to Use Siri in Sierra
searCh the web Ask Siri to search the web for a topic. It also knows about sports and weather; ask how a major team fared recently (“Did the Giants win?”), or for today’s or tomorrow’s forecast.
get organized Rather than laboriously typing out Calendar events, you can have Siri “set a meeting with Craig on Friday at 9,” move existing events, or tell you what’s scheduled for a given day.
find and open stuff Open apps, access preference panes, and change things like screen brightness. Have Siri open specific files in certain folders: “Show all the JPEGs in my Downloads folder.”
stash your searChes After finding some files using Siri, click the + to save the search in Notification Center as a Finder Search widget; it’ll update as other relevant files are later added.
get direCtions Have Siri give you “directions from home to Las Vegas”, or “show a map of New York.” An evening out? Easy. “Show me local restaurants,” or “What movies are showing locally?”
get more ideas Siri has many more capabilities. To discover some of them, ask it: “What can you do?” – Siri will bring up a scrollable list. Click an item to see specific examples of how to use it.
maclife.com NOV 2016 25
Photos Clever tech and artistic features are a click away pple says it brought the new Memories feature to macOS to turn your shots into unforgettable experiences. Well, it’s kind of overdue: Photos on the Mac has been a little underwhelming to date. Most of us use it, but we hardly ever think it’s the complete experience it should be. Photos in Sierra at least takes two steps forward to making us feel like it’s close to being the app we expected to get in the first place.
photos becomes more useful for the most common tasks of searching and displaying your pictures
Photos becomes more useful for the most common tasks of searching and displaying your pictures in creative ways. With its “machine learning” tech, not only does Photos have better face recognition – remember how hit-and-miss it used to be? – but it can also identify places and pets! What that boils down to is a much improved way to search your ever-expanding library. We take a lot of shots on iPhone, each containing lots of information. Photos in Sierra puts that data to much better use, to automatically group your shots from a particular location, or with particular subjects, in Albums. Then there’s Memories, a way for the app to assemble related images as short movies. You pick a style, choose some music, and then let an algorithm make a slideshow with no effort from your side.
With so many of Sierra’s compelling features using iCloud, you may need some more space! See p29.
How to Relive your memories
magiC moments In your Photos library, click Memories and then Get Started. Photos will get to work gathering your images into groups it thinks belong together. It’ll automatically name the memories using metadata and tags from the images it’s aggregated. 1
26 NOV 2016 maclife.com
stylize your memories Everything is auto-generated by Photos, so you only have rudimentary choices over the visual theme and music. There are seven choices of theme, but on the Music tab you can pick anything from your iTunes library for a more personal feel. 2
Get started with macOS Sierra
explore your memories With a theme and music chosen, before you click on Play Slideshow, you can scroll down to see the photos that the app has chosen for the memory. Images are displayed in a grid, just like in the Activity view in the Shared tab. 3
enjoy the show! Scroll to the bottom to see Photoâ€™s new facial recognition at work. It finds all the faces from your photos â€“ in this case it included Thomas the Tank Engine! Photos are also plotted on the Places map. Now go back and play the slideshow. 4
maclife.com NOV 2016 27
iCloud Drive Apple’s cloud service now syncs your Mac’s Desktop and Documents folders to your iOS devices or a long while, Apple pushed back against traditional file systems. On iOS, documents only live “inside” apps. With iCloud, cross-device syncing worked well when using the same app on iPad, iPhone, and Mac. However, when using multiple apps, you had to copy documents between them; this often resulted in many partfinished files strewn across devices. With iCloud Drive’s introduction, Apple added a more typical file system to the core iOS experience, and made it accessible on Macs and iOS devices. You can delve into app-specific folders, but also add folders of your own, just like in Finder on a Mac. Now, with the release of macOS Sierra, Apple is making a particularly audacious move regarding iCloud Drive, enabling you to keep your Mac’s Desktop and Documents folders on iCloud Drive. The option to do this is provided when you first set up macOS Sierra, but you can turn it on later in System Preferences’ iCloud pane: click on Options next to iCloud Drive, and in the Documents tab check “Desktop & Documents Folders.” When this feature is active, Desktop and Documents appear in the iCloud section of Finder’s sidebar (you can move them back to Favorites if you want), and the documents stored in those places will be available everywhere else. And we mean everywhere. On an iOS device, you can open iCloud Drive (which in some versions may
28 NOV 2016 maclife.com
require an app that includes its own Document Picker, or going to Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive and switching on “Show on Home Screen”). Among Macs using the same Apple ID and with the same settings, your documents will sync in the background. On a Mac running an older operating system, you’ll find your files in the Desktop
it’s an audacious move of apple to put these crucial folders in iCloud
and Documents folders within iCloud Drive. When using a non-Apple device, access them in the iCloud Drive app at iCloud.com. will it fit you well? Regarding the specific folders that sync, Apple reasons they’re the most common places for saving files; also, images and other media are already catered for by existing iCloud services. There are, however, some snags to be mindful of before jumping in. First, there’s no granularity whatsoever at this time. The feature is either on or off. If you like the idea of syncing
Access your Mac anywhere
your Desktop but not Documents: tough. Secondly, if you regularly work with massive media files (such as Photoshop documents, audio recordings, or video), be wary of slowing down your internet connection to a crawl as your devices try to sync huge documents with iCloud Drive. Finally, whatever you store in iCloud Drive eats into your iCloud storage plan. By default, Apple gives you just 5GB for free, which disappears rapidly with a couple of iOS device backups, let alone when syncing all manner of documents from your Mac.
>>> there are other ways of getting at a Mac’s desktop from another Mac, by making use of OS X’s File Sharing and Screen Sharing features. These can be enabled in the Sharing pane in System Preferences. Macs that are configured to use them appear in Finder’s sidebar, under the Shared heading. Select one there and click Connect As to access the Mac’s files and folders. Click Share Screen and then enter login credentials for the remote Mac to view its desktop in a window. Drag files in Finder to copy them between the computers. This only works with Macs on the same network, but you can also access a Mac over the internet. In System Preferences, choose which users should have access to Screen Sharing, then turn on Back to My Mac in the iCloud pane. In Finder’s Sidebar preferences, ensure Back to My Mac is checked. You should then be able to see the remote Mac in the sidebar.
iCloud pricing 5GB FREE
maclife.com NOV 2016 29
Universal Clipboard Copy and paste between your Mac, iPhone, and iPad ather than create what Tim Cook once memorably called “toaster fridges,” Apple offers distinct devices that communicate effectively as a single, coherent ecosystem. Its Continuity features enable you to make and receive phone calls on your Mac, or start an email on one device and continue it on another. With the release of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, Universal Clipboard is added to Continuity’s capabilities. With all your devices signed into the same Apple ID, you can copy text or an image, photo, or video on your iPad, for example, then switch to your Mac or iPhone and paste it in a there. What you copy is sent over a peer-to-peer connection, so nothing’s uploaded to iCloud.
Universal Clipboard uses the familiar Copy and Paste commands, so you won’t need to adjust.
Useful third-party Clipboard apps Copied
alfred + powerpaCk
£19 (around $25) alfredapp.com
The basics of Copied more or less mirror what you find in Universal Clipboard, albeit with support for older versions of Apple’s operating systems (starting with iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite). Once you enable Copied’s iCloud Sync feature, you can copy and paste things between your Macs and iOS devices. However, Copied goes beyond the capabilities of Apple’s system by providing access to a much richer range of features, such as a Clipboard history.
At its core, this app is a smart Clipboard history and clippings manager. It claims to store “everything you’ve ever copied,” and enables you to later search for and retrieve important clippings so you can reuse them. Paste enables you to define rules that exclude specific apps, and create pinboards for regularly required clippings. At the time of writing, clipboards can be shared and sent over AirDrop; cross-device support is in the works, with Paste for iOS coming soon.
Although it isn’t technically a Clipboard manager, this app, once its Powerpack add-on is installed and activated, has a Clipboard history feature. Alfred’s settings are usefully granular: you can define how long it should keep various kinds of clipping, such as plain text, images, and file lists, from 24 hours to three months. You can scroll through clippings, or filter the contents by typing a word or phrase. More advanced features include the ability to append the currently selected item.
30 NOV 2016 maclife.com
Get started with macOS Sierra
Messages Conversations are about to get a whole lot more fun >>> apple’s instant messaging service is about to get a lot more interesting, with a mix of fun and practical features that make it more engaging. Messages in Sierra supports many of the same tools that are found in the iOS 10 version, enabling you to send a quick reaction to a message in two clicks and without any typing. Share a web page’s address from Safari and Messages presents it more attractively than before, with the page’s title and a picture to make it a little clearer where clicking will take the recipient. The app also deals with media better than before. However, Sierra lacks some stuff from iOS 10; unsurprisingly, fullscreen effects such as balloon animations, but also the message bubble animations.
supersize your emoji Messages already allows you to increase the overall font size for conversations, helping a little to distinguish emoji, but confronting you with large text. In Sierra, messages that contain emoji but no text are presented at a superlarge size. At last, no more struggling to identify an expression! Mix them with text, though, and they’re shown at the normal size. 1
send a quiCk reaCtion to a message Position the pointer over a message bubble and then hold down the mouse or trackpad button. After a moment, Messages will display a thought bubble with a range of common reactions you might want to send back: a heart, a thumbs up or down, “Ha ha,” a double exclamation point, or a question mark. Click one to send it and the other person will see it attached to the message you clicked. 2
spruCe it up with digital touCh On macOS Sierra, Messages sadly doesn’t allow you to use your Mac’s trackpad to doodle quick sketches to send to people, as you can on the screen of an Apple Watch or iOS 10 device. However, it’s able to show Digital Touch drawings sent to you from those devices, and you can copy and paste them into other apps just as you’re able to with text, images, and website links in conversations. 3
maclife.com NOV 2016 31
Optimized Storage >>> sierra’s optimized Storage feature provides guidance about operating system and app preferences you may want to change to help conserve storage space – an important consideration given that most MacBooks still ship with a fairly limited amount. The feature isn’t in a particularly obvious place: go to > About This Mac, click the Storage tab, then click the Manage button at the top right of your startup disk. The window opens with a Recommendations category selected in its left pane. Some of these
actually cover multiple app preferences. For example, if you’re not already using iCloud Photo Library, the top item (Store in iCloud) covers two changes: enabling that feature, but also turning on the ability to move your Desktop and Documents folders to iCloud Drive, which enables files in those folders that you haven’t touched in a while to appear there, but actually to be stored in iCloud and only downloaded when you open them, saving on local space in the meantime. You can make these changes elsewhere in macOS and its apps, as long as you know where to look. The point of the Optimized Storage feature is to consolidate them so you only have to look in one place to make smart changes to how your Mac manages its storage. Below Recommendations in the left pane, the feature highlights a few other areas you may want to check out. Among the most useful for quickly clearing out large amounts of space are: the Applications view, which you can sort by date last accessed to identify those you may no longer use; Documents, which offers granular options for document files wherever they’re stored; and iOS Files, which lists firmware updates still on your Mac even after you’ve updated your devices.
Picture-in-Picture Keep videos visible no matter what you’re doing >>> some video players, including iTunes, have long enabled you to keep their window on top of others and tuck it at the edge of the desktop, so you can carry on with another task. What’s surprising, given how much video content we all consume over the web these days, is that it’s taken Apple until Sierra’s release to offer this capability for online video in Safari. Now that Safari offers this, you’ll no longer have to clumsily position its window at one edge of the screen and resize others to keep it in view. Instead, you can pop the
32 NOV 2016 maclife.com
video out of its originating page and position and resize it at a corner of the desktop. It’ll stay there even if you switch to a fullscreen app. The Picture-in-Picture mode can be tricky to discover within video players, especially with sites like YouTube, whose HTML5 video player substitutes its own contextual menu when you right-click a playing video. The trick is to right-click a second time to reveal Safari’s own contextual menu, and then choose Enter Picture-in-Picture from it.
Get started with macOS Sierra
A ground-up storage redesign Upcoming technical changes with positive benefits for you pple filing System (APFS) is the new a storage format which all four of Apple’s operating systems will eventually use. While it isn’t fully used in Sierra, Apple has provided an early version to developers to test in the new OS; APFS supports almost all the same features as HFS+, the Mac’s file system since the late ’90s, but Apple explicitly warns that disk utilities will need to be updated for APFS. So, if you depend on anything of that nature, start saving for an upgraded version.
duplicated files only use up additional space for the parts you actually change
The reason for APFS’s development stems from technical attributes of HFS+ that are a clue to its age; HFS+ dates from a time when magnetic media was the dominant type, whereas APFS will be optimized for the flash storage that’s used in most Apple devices today. the details Apple says that security and privacy are fundamental in APFS’s design. A disk can be formatted either without encryption, or using a single key for the whole of it, or with a different key for
each file. APFS’s cloning feature means duplicates take up no extra space until you change one version, at which point only modified blocks are stored, rather than a copy of the whole file, which could save you a lot of space. Then there are snapshots, which are read-only copies of files that enable rolling back to an older version. APFS itself doesn’t implement RAID (a method of pooling physical disks for better performance or redundancy), but Apple says you can combine it with macOS’s software RAID implementation. Also, where Disk Utility lost graphical RAID management in El Capitan, Sierra brings it back. But Apple has deprecated the AFP protocol used for network file sharing, so using APFS on your NAS will need the drive to support SMB or NFS.
Organize your Apps >>> in sierra, any app that can create multiple documents is automatically enhanced with the ability to gather them in one window. Sierra gives such apps a tab bar just like the one you’re used to in Safari, without them needing to be updated to a newer version, and you can drag any tab off the bar to split it out into its own window. It also makes Mission Control look less cluttered, with each app’s thumbnail being larger and easier to distinguish. By default, tabs are enabled only for fullscreen apps (so you will no longer end up with many desktops for one such app), but they can be disabled entirely or added to windowed apps too.
You can manually or automatically merge document windows, therefore decluttering Mission Control in the process.
os x el Capitan
maclife.com NOV 2016 33
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maclife.com nov 2016 35
Go pro >>> Feature
with iPhone and iPad
ne of the most frustrating things about technology is dismissal. Something new and exciting appears, and naysayers are all too eager to wave it away, shrugging it off as a mere toy. This happened in the past with the mouse and the very first Mac. These days, it happens to the iPhone and iPad. But here at Mac|Life, we know different, and our readers do too. You know that an iPhone or an iPad can be a tiny window into a world of productivity and creativity â€“ and this in some ways goes beyond even the Mac in terms of convenience, usability, and accessibility. So the following pages delve into a range of tasks youâ€™ve perhaps never before considered doing on these devices. From recording podcasts and creating animations, to smaller tasks like sending Safari downloads to your Mac, there are tips here for everyone wanting to do more with their iPhone and iPad.
From productivity to creativity, we show you how to do things you never thought possible on your iOS devices by craig grannell
36 nov 2016 maclife.com
Go pro with iPhone and iPad
maclife.com nov 2016 37
MAkE A LETTERhEAD
Custom templates in Pages
get started When creating a new document in Pages, you can choose from a number of templates, but these are predefined rather than customizable. You can, however, create a sort-of personalized template using a cunning workaround. Choose one of Apple’s existing templates – Elegant Letter, say – as a starting point.
Make adjustMents Select and edit Apple’s boilerplate text as appropriate (including the footer – remember to scroll), replacing it with your own details. If you prefer a different font, select a text box, tap the toolbar’s paintbrush icon, and make changes accordingly, ensuring whatever you’re left with is easily readable.
add new eleMents Tap + and use the tools within to construct your custom masthead, importing images or using shapes to create a logo. If adding an image, tap the paintbrush icon and use Edit Mask in the Image tab to define a mask. In Arrange, Move to Back and Wrap > None can set your image behind text as a background.
duplicate and safeguard Go back to the Documents screen, tap and hold your letterhead’s title and rename it Letterhead template. In case of deletion, send a Pages format copy to yourself and store it in email or Dropbox. To use the original in future, tap Edit, then the template, then the duplicate icon. Rename the copy and you’re ready to go.
38 nov 2016 maclife.com
Go pro with iPhone and iPad
WORk SMARTER WITh TExT
Edit with Editorial ditorial ($9.99) feels like the text editor other text editors want to be when they grow up. At its core, it’s a minimal plain-text editor suitable for streaming words from your brain to your device and structuring them using formats such as Markdown, TaskPaper, or Fountain. But any length of time with Editorial reveals it to be something greater. You can fold sections by tapping a triangle icon next to headings (each of which subsequently displays a word count for the collapsed section), and jump to headings by selecting them from the menu bar. Terms can be highlighted across a document, and formatting can be previewed in a web browser.
But it’s Editorial’s extensibility that makes it a must-have for the serious writer. The lightning button opens the Snippets panel. Here, you define abbreviations that expand to larger chunks of text, optionally containing dynamic tokens such as the date or clipboard content. Best of all, the Workflows menu offers a programming-like environment for manipulating text in all kinds of ways, such as copying and pasting in specific formats, grabbing definitions for selections, and adding content to a scratchpad. You can build these workflows yourself, but if it seems like too much, the Editorial community can help – as you can see below.
Four excellent Editorial workflows Tap “More Workflows…” to get these great add-ons
convert lists The Convert to Ordered List and Convert to Unordered List workflows do what you’d expect, adding, respectively, numbers or bullets to the beginning of selected lines of text (overwriting any that already exist).
save as pdf You can share Editorial documents as hTML or plain text, but PDF provides a better output option when sending your words out. The exported document is sent to Editorial’s browser and can be shared from there.
copy all text This one’s useful for people who want to use Editorial for Markdown but need to quickly export text for adding to a website. Copy All Text converts your work to hTML and places it on the clipboard with a single tap.
editorial backup A boon when switching devices, this workflow backs up workflows, snippets, bookmarks, and local documents as a ZIP in Dropbox. You can then later restore everything to a clean Editorial install on another device.
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GET YOUR hEAD ORGANIZED
Track things with iOS alculator apps mostly copy desktop equivalents – and by desktop, we mean actual calculators that sit on real-world desks. But Soulver rethinks calculations on iOS, being closer in nature to scribbling down sums on a scrap of paper – only the sums magically add up, and the figures can be edited at any time. By way of example, try using Soulver to add up business expenses. On the first line, type “Hotel: 4 nights at $179.” Anything left of the colon is recognized as a label; the other figures are understood and a total is provided in the right-hand column. You can do something similar with meals and taxis. (Lists can be comma-separated
or you can use + to add values.) Next, the clever bit: on a subsequent line, type “Total:” and tap the totals you’ve created. They will be added as answer tokens referencing a specific line. Make changes to previous figures and all the values automatically update; add new lines and Soulver recognizes that too, dealing with your tokens accordingly. Use the folder icon to save your sum for future use (collapse the keyboard to do this on iPhone), or share to export it as a PDF or email. The app can do far more than just adding up: variables, conversions, and currencies are all supported. Delve into the Drafts menu (three-line icon, top left) for additional insight into the app.
his ipad-only app ensures your tablet does something useful even when idle. It’s essentially a set of customizable widgets, which you drag to the canvas and configure to display useful information, such as weather forecasts, calendar entries, and news/social media feeds. But pay a one-off $9.99 IAP and you gain access to more involved widgets: Graph, Table, and Do-It-Yourself. (The In-App Purchase also adds the straightforward Photos, Countdown, and Text.) The fastest way to get going with Graph and Tables is to place a CSV file in Dropbox and point Status Board at it. For a CSV, use the Tables option, and Microsoft Excel with
headers top and left in the usual manner. Populate the document with your data. For tables you can also add a Colors row at the bottom for custom colors, and a blank Totals row if you would like Status Board to automatically calculate totals. In-app tutorials show how to take things further with JSON graphs and HTML/CSS tables. Creating your own DIY panels does require quite a bit more work – they’re essentially tiny web pages and beyond the scope of this article. But open the panel and tap “Learn…” to discover how they work. The tutorial can be shared via email, opened in Safari, examined in View Source, and edited/uploaded in Coda – all on your iPad.
Soulver Calculator and spreadsheet all in one really handy app
Status Board keep track of anything live, from weather to CSV data
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Go pro with iPhone and iPad
search your scans
>>> scrivener ($19.99) is a rich text editor, designed for working on longform documents, such as essays and books. The Binder sidebar can hold research – PDFs, images, URLs, and so on – and the screen can be split between research and writing.
>>> Scanning using an iPhone isn’t new, but scanbot has extra time-saving features. Pay the $7.99 IAP and any scanned text document can have its text searched, extracted, and shared. Additionally, the app extracts “actions” from scans, such as URLs and phone numbers, which can be activated with a tap.
Scrivener can also keep track of a project’s status. Every element of a draft can have a label, status, and notes assigned. on iPad, you can rearrange sections on a digital corkboard, by dragging virtual index cards with synopses on them.
visualize a project
>>> When trying to figure out a project, keeping ideas in your head just means they’re going to get lost. With Mindnode ($9.99), you can get ideas down as mind maps. Each branch from the central concept can be uniquely styled, adding your own colors, styles, and imported imagery. >>> The iPad is often seen as a tool for personal focus, but with the right apps, you can also collaborate with others. google docs, Microsoft word, and now Apple’s pages all include collaborative word processing tools, enabling you to track changes to documents, add comments, and work live with others.
Should thoughts turn more to hard deadlines, many will look to a desktop computer or a massive chart on the wall. But omniplan for ioS (from $74.99) gives you professional-level at-a-glance views of complex projects, tasks being displayed in a Gantt chart or network diagram.
ADVANCED INTERNET TIPS
Quick web tasks on iOS safari to Mac >>> It’s convoluted getting Safari for iOS downloads to a Mac – emailing files to yourself is inefficient. Try using transmit ($9.99) instead. On your Mac, turn on File Sharing in the System Preferences Sharing pane. In Transmit, add a new SFTP server with your Mac’s address, a username and password, and a default directory. Next time you’re in a Share sheet, add Transmit to Activities, and use it to send files across.
post a blog >>> The iPad is an excellent tool for focused writing, using the likes of byword ($5.99) and ulysses ($24.99) – fullscreen text editors with a firm emphasis on words. (Both work with iPhone, too, if you’re happy tapping in words with your thumbs.) They also enable direct publishing of your writing to blogs, speeding things along – Byword (with an IAP) supports WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, and Evernote, while Ulysses supports WordPress and Medium.
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upload to servers
>>> Transmit can be used to upload content to a range of server types, including FTP, WebDAV, and Amazon S3. On iPad, you get a two-pane interface with local/remote files, so you can manage docs in the former, importing items from iCloud, Photos, and other online services.
blocked content >>> There are various reasons why you might want to access geoblocked web content, from needing pricing information on a website that pings your location, to reporting from somewhere that heavily restricts internet access and use. Once launched, opera vpn (Free) gets you there in three taps: install the profile, confirm you want to do this, and then Turn On in the settings tab. Choose Region enables you to adjust your virtual location.
zip docuMents >>> In Transmit, tap the tick to enter document editing mode, select some files, tap “…” and then Compress. You’ll get a ZIP you can upload. You can also tap the info button to access a ZIP’s details to rename or decompress it. If you’re actually just interested in the archiving element, and not the other things Transmit is designed for, consider goodreader ($4.99) or zip-it (99¢), the latter of which functions as a Share sheet extension.
>>> We think you’d have to be very ambitious to create an entire website on an iOS device. But fixing some errors? No problem. coda ($24.99) and textastic ($9.99) both provide smart editing environments (including custom keyboard rows) for grabbing files, making edits, and uploading changes – even on an iPhone.
Go pro with iPhone and iPad
GET STARTED WITh GRAPhIC DESIGN
Illustration and CAD on iOS
Concepts oncepts offers precision sketching with an eye towards lightweight CAD. It sits between freehand drawing and technical illustration, providing tools for scribbling on a canvas, but also offering control over every object. For free, you are restricted to the basics, but can at least get a feel for the app’s illustration engine and tools. With the Pro Pack IAP ($7.99), Concepts really comes alive, its power all the more evident. Any item (or group of items) can be selected and adjusted, from rotating and skewing through to changing colors and brush types. Activate the precision mode for background grids, optional snapping to points, and seriously smart tools for accurate sketching at speed. You can plonk down a tool for circles, rectangles, angles or arcs, size it accordingly, and make your mark – which retains the character of your stroke rather than being boringly rigid. For iPhone and iPad designers and architects, Concepts is a very capable sketchpad for working up ideas away from the big screen, in whatever surroundings you find most creative.
Bez ver since Jorge Colombo fingerpainted a New Yorker cover in 2009 using an iPhone, the notion of iOS being an artist’s tool has taken hold. iPad Pro made this even more evident with the introduction of Pencil. But not everyone immersed in creating visual fare dabbles with paint and pencils – virtual or otherwise; many live inside Adobe Illustrator, using vector tools to craft sleek illustrations, technically oriented artwork, and logos. Bez for iPad has many tools that will be familiar to Illustrator users: shapes; Bézier curves; object
ordering; image import for tracing; and more. It’s ideal for creating finished illustrations, but you can also export to SVG, and continue working on your masterpiece elsewhere. Note that Bez is free to try, and a one-off $7.99 IAP unlocks pro-oriented import and export options. If Bez overwhelms, try Assembly (Free, Universal). A little like a digital take on arranging felt shapes – albeit ones that auto-snap and can be resized and recolored – Assembly offers surprising scope for design. And while suitable for beginners, it’s also a useful ideas sketchpad for pros.
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Get started with Workflow ne of the big problems with doing anything on a computer is the need to do near-identical things again and again. You may end up regularly punching in details for the same taxi ride, or fiddling around with calculator apps to work out a tip. Workflow ($2.99) aims to free you from such drudgery using step-based workflows. In effect, the app becomes your personalized automation tool. If you’ve an understanding of drag and drop, Workflow should be simple enough to use. Workflows comprise a series of steps, built from components dragged from the Actions menu. (On iPad, this is a simpler process, due to a two-pane interface; on iPhone,
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you need to drag between an Actions screen and the workflow you’re building.) Helpfully, Workflow is aware of apps you have installed and filters lists in Actions accordingly. So if you use Dropbox, you’ll find the likes of Save to Dropbox and Append to Dropbox File within the Apps section. When necessary, you may need to grant permission for Workflow to access a service or app on adding a step, and also configure settings within the step. (So with Append to Dropbox File, Workflow will need permission to access Dropbox, and you’ll need to state which text file you’re appending content to.) Your workflows can be tested by tapping the play button, and settings (tap the cog icon) provide options for naming a workflow and adding a custom icon. By default, workflows live and exist within the app, four also being available as Quick Actions from the Workflow Home screen icon. However, there are alternatives – you can, within the settings, define workflows to exist specifically inside Notification Center’s Today view, on the Apple Watch, or within Share sheets as an Action extension. In all cases, you can also add workflows to the iOS Home screen as pseudo-apps. These function similarly to Safari bookmarks added to your Home screen, in that a single press launches Workflow and runs the action. If you’re a fan of Launch Center Pro (see following page), it’s also possible to add Workflow shortcuts to that app’s grids. If you don’t want to create your own workflows, or would like to see how some are made (beyond the brief tutorial you get when first running the app), there’s the Gallery. This resembles the App Store in miniature, with loads of pre-defined workflows that you can explore and install. Featured favorites appear at the top, along with shortcuts to types of workflows (for Today view, the Share sheet, and so on). Example workflows include showing the NASA image of the day, figuring out how long it’ll take to get home, converting Live Photos to GIFs, logging weight into the Health app, getting directions to a nearby coffee shop, and generating meme images. This is all a great showcase in how to make an app with enough power for the geekiest iOS user to immerse themselves in, yet remain accessible and give value to anyone with an iPhone or iPad.
Go pro with iPhone and iPad
Master iOS launchers Create shortcuts to your favorite things odern ios devices give you shortcuts for triggering actions within certain apps. You can have Siri send a message to a specific contact, or use Quick Actions from some app icons to rapidly access things you do most often. launch center pro ($4.99), though, utilizes a more traditional iOS input mechanism, having you define and use shortcuts on a grid-based layout that echoes an iOS home screen. The app comes with a number of useful pre-configured shortcuts, including tweeting your most recent photo or adding a new event to Fantastical. It also offers shortcut groups – these work by you pressing an icon (Photos, Bookmarks, Search, and so on) and simply sliding across
to the relevant action you require. Existing items can be deleted or amended and new ones created in Edit mode. Tap the pencil icon, select a slot, and use Launch Center Pro’s Action Composer to browse available actions and select the ones you require. For example, you can create a shortcut for single-tap access to the Storage & iCloud section buried in Settings within a few moments. The app must be open to view all your shortcuts, but you can place it in the Dock for faster access. It’s also possible to add some shortcuts to Launch Center Pro’s Today view widget, and a handful to the app’s Quick Actions menu. If you want something simpler, however, check out launcher with notification center
widgets (Free, $2.99 pro IAP), which is specifically targeted at Notification Center. You use the app component only for configuration, to set up groups of shortcuts for things like contacts, apps, music, web pages, or system functions. These then appear in Today view, giving you speedy access to anything from disk space details to oft-used directions.
Get started with IF by IFTTT Connect web services to work the way you want them to lthough the web was initially envisaged as a communications and information dissemination tool, it’s increasingly thought of as a kind of plumbing for virtual “stuff.” The If This Then That (IFTTT) service takes this to its logical conclusion, giving you the means to create the pipework yourself – or make use of ready-mades offered by a thriving community of tinkerers.
The main IF by IFTTT app (Free) is where you get to fashion the magic yourself. Delve in and you can build “recipes” (IFTTT’s term for workflows) that connect online services, such as saving favorite tweets to Evernote, or pinging Slack when Dropbox is updated. For the most part, though, you’re best off exploring existing recipes, because chances are someone will have already done the hard work. All your active recipes can be
managed within the app, and can be activated or disabled any time. Should the IF app feel a bit too sprawling and complicated, IFTTT offers three alternatives: DO Camera, DO Note, and DO Button (all free). These focus, respectively, on recipes for photography, note-taking, and quick productivity actions. Post-configuration, the apps show one massive button, but you can swipe to access others in your list.
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MAkE CARTOONS IN iOS
Animate simple loops
get started Get the animatic by inkboard app (Free). Tap + to begin a new animation. You get drawing tools and a limited color palette for each. Draw your first frame, but keep it fairly simple – all content (moving or otherwise) needs redrawing across each frame. Once you’re done, tap the + in a square to create a new frame.
add More fraMes Animatic uses “onion skinning,” so you can see previous frames (up to three) faintly under the current one you’re working on. This means that you can trace over the top of them, making subtle adjustments to the elements within the composition that move (and attempting to precisely copy those that don’t).
test and export Tap Done to view your animation. Note it’ll be a bit cartoonish and wobbly – that’s just the nature of Animatic! On the playback screen, adjust the animation speed, and then choose an export method – video or GIF. Tap Edit to continue working on your animation. (You can also edit the samples.)
go further Animatic has an endearingly scribbly aesthetic akin to children’s cartoons, but it nonetheless gives you a grounding in animation. For something more prooriented, try Animation Desk Cloud or Animation Creator. Both offer higher-end features and tools, including layers for static backgrounds.
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Go pro with iPhone and iPad
DESIGN AN EBOOk
Discover Book Creator for iPad
f you think you’re the next J.K. Rowling, Scrivener’s where to head on iPad. But for simple, personal and visual books, Book Creator for iPad (Free) is a fun, usable, and accessible means of, well, creating a book on an iPad. (We can’t fault the app’s name, that’s for sure.) When you’re done, you can export it to ePub or PDF.
add photos Tap + to add a photo. once on the page, an image can be moved/resized. Use the inspector menu to add links and “alt” accessibility text. 1
draw shapes Tap + and choose Pen. Select a color and nib and draw freehand. Tap done and the drawing can be resized (although not subsequently re-edited). 2
style text Use Add Text to add a text block. Type in, then tap Done. The box can be repositioned, and the Inspector used to adjust size, font, color, and alignment. 3
arrange eleMents Using inspector, a selected element’s order in the stack can be changed with Move to Back/Front. Use Page to show guides, and snap to guides/grids. 4
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BECOME AN iOS RADIO STAR
Edit a podcast with Ferrite 1
ou’d think podcasting would be beyond the capabilities of an iOS device – but you’d be wrong. With Ferrite Recording Studio, even an iPhone is enough to record, edit and export podcasts, thereby potentially turning you into a modern-day digital radio superstar. The app resembles a beefed-up Voice Memos – while recording, you can tap to set bookmarks, and flag section breaks or parts that need later work. Recordings (and other imported audio) can then be transformed into full multi-track projects. For free, Ferrite is a highly capable app; but IAP (from $9.99) enables you to take things further with more tracks, effects, and useful automation tools. You can import audio files, too.
audio Tap + to add a track, then tap an empty slot to import audio from Ferrite’s library. Tap and hold a region and it can be dragged; its length can be adjusted by dragging the tab at its edges.
region Tap to select a region and drag the triangular buttons to set fade in/out points. Tap a selected region for a menu that includes options for splitting the region and stripping silences.
track At the left is a sidebar with track controls (drag inwards to see this on iPhone). here, set volume and pan levels, and tap the wrench icon to access ducking, effects and automation options.
playback At the foot of the screen are playback controls, along with undo/redo. The time display can be tapped, opening a menu with zoom options to fit the selection or entire project in the screen.
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Tap Forms Organizer 5 A full-featured, easy-to-use database app $16.99 Developer Tap Zapp Software, tapforms.com Platform Universal Requirements iOS 9.3 or later
With Tap Forms Organizer 5, it’s easy to organize any collection and consolidate the functionality of multiple apps into one.
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As much as we like to think there’s an app for everything, the hype doesn’t always live up to the reality. Rather than search endlessly for multiple apps capable of tackling a diverse range of needs, sometimes what you really need is one app to rule them all. Tap Forms Organizer 5 is billed as a “digital filing cabinet for life’s scattered details,” but it’s much more than that. Also available for Mac, the database app offers an intuitive interface to help organize a wide range of information, but is easier to use than expensive solutions such as FileMaker. For example, rather than downloading dedicated
apps for tracking DVD, book, and wine collections, use Tap Forms to manage all three. Sample forms are included for more than 30 different types of personal or business needs, which can be used as-is, or as the foundation for your own database. If you already have info stored in other software, it’s easy to import existing records into Tap Forms using the web server feature. Turn it on, browse to the unique URL on your computer, and upload the file – we imported text and CSV, but the app also recognizes template data from the late, great Bento. New in Tap Forms 5 is the ability to store individual databases as a self-contained document. This comes in handy when sharing with others, but also makes each one feel more like a standalone app, complete with file attachments, photos, and database records. Whether you want to sync with the Mac or between iOS devices, version 5 offers the option of cloud-based or cloud-free sync. Unfortunately, the former no longer works with iCloud or the usual suspects such as Dropbox, but rather IBM
With support for multiple documents, it’s simpler than ever to share with others.
Cloudant. There’s a bit of initial setup involved – we recommend watching the how-to video on the developer’s website that walks through the process – but after that it’s fairly hassle-free. For many users, the cloud-free Nearby Sync option will be more appealing anyway. Simply open a database, tap the Send icon, and choose a nearby device on the same wireless network to sync files to another device or computer. It’s as easy to use as AirDrop, but faster than waiting for cloud sync to catch up. the bottom line. Tap Forms Organizer 5 takes a step back with cloud sync, but everything else is just about perfect. J.R. bookwalteR
Tap Forms organizer 5 Comprehensive database app Robust import/export support Sync between devices, computers with or without cloud No iCloud, Dropbox sync greaT
Tough testing, trusted ratings
Microsoft Pix Maximize your best portrait pictures and minimize your photography frustration Free Developer Microsoft, microsoft.com Platform Universal Requirements iOS 9 or later
Whether you’re a parent or a grandparent of an especially squirmy kid, or just someone who can’t take a good picture for the life of them, you probably know the frustration of pulling out your iPhone to only take a series of entirely disappointing and useless pictures. Microsoft has decided to step in and help out with this very problem with its decidedly smart new photography app, Microsoft Pix. If you know your subject has a habit of blinking while getting their picture taken, or if they’re prone to moving around quite a bit, you won’t have to sit and take 10 or
15 pictures in the desperate hope of capturing just one usable shot, as the app will take a burst of images and save only the best. Pix functions as a point-andshoot photography app and has very little in the way of photo-editing abilities. Microsoft Pix isn’t perfect, mind you. Often, it has a bit of trouble figuring out the best exposure for an image, prioritizing pictures that are far too bright rather than those that are more shadowed. This seemed to be less of a problem in areas with bright, even lighting, such as outdoors or inside under fluorescent lights, but wasn’t uncommon with diffused or dim lighting.
Pix takes a series of pictures, including before you press the shutter, to get the best shot.
It also wasn’t terribly impressive with non-human subjects either, but it does tout itself as a portrait-taking app, so we weren’t too bothered by this. the bottom line. Microsoft Pix is invaluable for anyone trying to snap pictures of kids or other unruly photography subjects. AmbeR neely good
Storyo Like Instagram, but louder Free Developer Storymatik, storyoapp.com Platform iPhone Requirements iOS 8 or later
Storyo takes your photos from a certain point in time (say, a holiday in Hawaii, a friend’s graduation, or a wedding) and turn them into a cute pre-prepared slideshow – a bit like iOS 10’s Memories feature. This builds on the idea by offering several filters, which all have nice touches: borders, music, transitions, and fonts that add to an overall feeling of sunniness. You can alter most of this to your taste, too, giving each slideshow a title and changing the music to one of Storyo’s presets or your own music, if you prefer. However, the music automatically plays every time you create a story, which makes the app quite offputting,
because you’re not sure if it’s about to ambush you with chirpy ukelele tunes. The slideshows are sweet, though there aren’t quite enough customization options. Interesting touches such as animated maps make it worth adding your geotagged pics, but generally, no matter what photos you use, the video always feels centered around exciting trips abroad. There are also automatic stories that Storyo will push on you: Hey, I made a new story about everything you’ve done this week, it’ll say. Then you’ll look at it, and it’s a bunch of receipt photos so you can do your expenses. Overall, Storyo is the kind of app you’ll love if you want to spice up your Facebook
You can choose to take off the dates on the pictures, but they can be a nice reference point.
feed with something a bit different, but don’t go expecting full video-editing tools, or having any of your videos look much different from one another. the bottom line. Cute but slightly limited, Storyo is a great accompaniment to Instagram for anyone looking to show off their vacation pics. KAte GRAy good
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>>> App Life
Foresee A weather/calendar app that’s not quite a crystal ball $1.99 Developer BorderLeap, foreseetheday.com Platform Universal Requirements iOS 9.3 or later
Wouldn’t it be great if the iPhone could notify us of the optimal time to go out for a walk or run each day? Or the best time to mow the lawn to avoid getting burned in the sun? That’s the ambitious premise of Foresee, a pseudo-calendar app centered around daily outdoors activity. Rather than focus on meetings and other events, Foresee taps into current and forecasted weather conditions, combining them with useradded activities taking place at your current or upcoming location. It’s a fantastic idea. You can set up the desired window of time, then tap an activity
to view a forecast of the high temperature, chance of precipitation, and how cloudy, windy, or humid it’s expected to be during that designated period. You can establish preferences for each of these weather conditions when setting up a new activity, which you’d think would mean that Foresee does the hard work by recommending a more ideal time to do them. But that’s not actually the case, and worse yet, activities are limited to an eight-hour window. On the plus side, Foresee has an easy-to-use, great-looking interface, but that advantage is spoiled somewhat by on-screen text that’s way too small. Also,
Foresee doesn’t offer much help to suggest a better time to perform activities.
Foresee only displays events from a single location at a time – there’s no way to view all scheduled activities across all locales. Overall, this doesn’t quite live up to expectations just yet. the bottom line. Foresee’s personal activity forecasts aren’t quite as intelligent as they need to be. J. R. booKWAlteR solid
Castro A podcast app for managing heavy feeds $4.99 Developer Supertop, supertop.co Platform iPhone Requirements iOS 9.3 or later
Podcasts are becoming more and more popular – which means some aficionados have dozens of subscriptions, with new episodes piling in daily. Castro is for these people, with tools to help manage the flow, and get right to the best stuff. This is apparent both in the app’s layout and its features. New podcasts arrive in an “Inbox,” where they’re all queued together (rather than being divided by podcast). This is where one of our favorite features of Castro comes in, though: the queue is in chronological order by default (it can be manually rearranged), but whenever you subscribe to a new podcast, you’re given
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options for how the inbox should prioritize new episodes for that show when they arrive. You can have Castro put that podcast’s new episodes right to the top of the queue – or add them to the bottom. It can also just archive them right away, so they miss the queue entirely. These, plus a very understandable layout, are Castro’s main pull. A Now Playing bar sits permanently at the bottom, with easy access to speed and sleep options. There’s nothing like rival app Overcast’s smart silence removal tool, but if you mostly listen to professional podcasts, it’s not a huge miss. Some of Castro’s screens could use a little polish, and its minimal use of artwork
Castro automatically pushes episodes of your favorite podcasts to the top of your “Inbox.”
makes it look a little plain. You can import current podcast subscriptions directly from Apple’s Podcast apps, Overcast, or with OPML, and can export the latter, too. the bottom line. Podcast fanatics will love Castro’s Inbox and prioritization options. Casual listeners will be fine sticking with the free Overcast. mAtt bolton Great
Tough testing, trusted ratings
Vizable Turn spreadsheet data into attractive, easy-to-understand charts and graphs Free Developer Tableau Software, vizable.tableau.com Platform Universal Requirements iOS 8 or later
If you’ve got a love-hate relationship with spreadsheets, allow us to introduce you to an app that might improve your compatibility. Vizable attempts to make data comprehension accessible for absolutely everyone, regardless of their comfort with the subject, by turning the data into easy-to-understand graphs so that users can immediately grasp the differences in points of data. Vizable reads CSV and XLS spreadsheet files, so if you’ve got any other apps that export data as a spreadsheet file, you can quickly and easily import it (including from
Google Docs). Vizable is a joy to navigate and includes pinch and pan gestures that allow users to view only the data they want, and easily save it, share it, or print it. There is a downside, though: if you’re tracking your own points of data, you’ll either have to be comfortable creating your own spreadsheets in programs such as Numbers or Excel, or you’ll have to find another app that can create those sorts of files – there’s nothing that allows you to actually create spreadsheets in Vizable itself. Still, even if you have to use Vizable as a companion app to other apps, we think
Vizable can instantly create attractive, clear graphs from your CSV and Excel files.
it’s invaluable. Track your business profit, log your activity straight from your FitBit, or just create attractive sharable graphs for school projects. the bottom line. Truly a wonderful and versatile app for anyone who wants to visualize data, be it for business or personal needs. AmbeR neely excellent
Kiwake Alarm Really, really making sure you wake up in the morning $1.99 Developer Kiwake, kiwake.com Platform iPhone Requirements iOS 8 or later
What are you supposed to do when you’re reviewing an app that you fervently hate with the fire of a thousand suns, but which does the job it’s supposed to do perfectly? That’s our conundrum with Kiwake, an app that promises to get you up every morning, even if you’ve struggled to do it with any alarm before. The core concept is simple, giving you three steps to wake up your body and brain, and to generally motivate you to keep going. The “body” step makes you take a photo of something far from your bed – great if you always sleep in the same room and you have one object you always see,
but if you travel, it’s a bit of a hassle. The “brain” step makes you complete a couple of short, simple games that test your memory and reflexes. Get them right three times in a row and you’ll get to the “motivation” step, which is a bunch of stuff you input when you set up the alarm that might make you want to wake up early: save money, have more time, look better… that kind of thing. It’s sweet, but maybe not as necessary as the rest for waking up. The reason this app is so easy to hate is that there is no way to snooze it. You can’t skip a step, because it beeps angrily. You can’t try to cheat, because it’ll beep some more. You can’t even close the app because
The No Snooze challenge motivates you, and gives you nice messages when you succeed.
it beeps at you. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. You’ll never snooze again, but you might also develop a lifelong grudge against the (probably) lovely people who made this app. the bottom line. Designed by people who genuinely want to help you wake up, Kiwake is smart, simple and well-crafted. KAte GRAy excellent
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That blue tinge is your invisibility cloak, and means you’re safe from that turret.
Deus Ex Go Not quite the (human) revolution you might hope $4.99 Developer Square Enix, square-enix.com Platform Universal Requirements iOS 7.1 or later
Retreating guards are ripe for a good punching.
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If you’ve played any of the Deus Ex games on Mac (or console), it probably won’t surprise you that Deus Ex Go’s main character, Adam Jensen, is very good at punching things. He leaps into the air like he’s applying for his certification in badassery, bringing a fist down on the unfortunate person/ weapon/wooden crate in his
path. It is honestly one of the most satisfying things we’ve experienced on iOS this year. It might, however, come as some surprise how limited his movements heading towards the punches are. Rather than the action structure of the main Deus Ex games, this takes the form of a turn-based puzzler, with each level comprising a set of nodes to navigate. Adam can move one node at a time, as can his foes. If they spot you (which is only if you wander into their line of sight – they don’t seem especially concerned with casing the joint or even turning a head), they set out towards you, their path marked with a red line that you’ll need to veer away from before your courses collide. Simply put: hopscotch your way from A to B, dodging and/or sneakily knocking out enemies as you go. All wrapped up in a
vaguely silly story about terrorist plots and that kind of thing. This is, of course, a bit of an oversimplification. Crossing the path of a turret is a one-hit death wish, while invisibility cloaks give you a move or so of stealthy invincibility. The meat of the brainwork, however, comes in manipulating the hacking stations so that the environment does your bidding. Oddly, it’s a difficulty curve that flattens off once you’ve got your head around how the puzzles work. How they work leaves little room for improvisation. Whereas the Deus Ex series is mainly known for its scope of many possible approaches to a scenario – do you eviscerate that guy with your wrist-chisels, or use your charm to bribe your way into his good books? – Go feels like a set of levels that can only really be solved with one best approach for each of them. As such, it’s a bit of a funny proposition. As a puzzle game? Enjoyable, solid and stylish. As a Deus Ex game? More of a hat-tip than a wholehearted effort. the bottom line. A turnbased puzzler that nails the aesthetic (and the punching) of the series proper, but otherwise avoids the trademark Deus Ex ingredients. emma Davies
Deus ex Go Looks brilliant and feels big-budget What little passive combat there is shines Pushes you to think multiple turns ahead Lacks the Deus Ex smorgasbord of options GooD
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Blitz Breaker Hardcore platforming on the dash $2.99 Developer Boncho Games, boncho-games.itch.io/blitz-breaker Platform Universal Requirements iOS 8 or later
You know what they say about fools and rushing in. Blitz Breaker’s spritely miniature protagonist seemingly doesn’t, since “rushing” is the only speed he’s familiar with, and it tends to lead him into all kinds of hazardous situations involving implements designed to turn him into an instant kebab. More fortunately for you, his haste in any given direction (just swipe the screen, and off he dashes) offers a thrilling sense of speed. It’s fraught with danger, too, as that motion only stops when you bump into something – at which point you either rebound slightly… or die. You can maneuver
your way through entire levels without so much as glancing off the floor, instead leading a merry jig from wall to wall, spinning off sideways after dropping down from above a ledge, then flying up again a second later. It’s a frenetically paced game that also relies on razor-sharp reactions, though it sometimes feels like you’re given a little too tight a window for success. There’s more than an echo of the Mac’s Super Meat Boy here, in the way you’ll often take several runs at a level, learning its twists and turns and pinch points with no room for error. Each level is a blend of action and environmental puzzling, where learning your route (and the most finely
That score at the top ticks down as you play, adding an element of time trial.
honed way to tackle it) is the only way to progress. You’ll spill some rainbow-tinged blood before you hit your mark, though. the bottom line. Thrills and spills abound in this speedy platformer, but you’ll need sharp reactions to prevent yourself from becoming the pot of minced beef at the end of the rainbow. emma Davies good
Journey Below Adventure, die, repeat. Don’t stop believin’ $2.99 Developer Ravenous Games, ravenousgames.com Platform Universal Requirements iOS 8 or later
The premise of Journey Below is easy to sum up: tiny knight moves through 2D platformer dungeons, with you vaulting and stabbing along the way. The nuances, however, would take far longer: gauging when to lunge for an extra combo multiplier, deciding between double-jump or anti-bat power-ups between levels, knowing when to cut your losses and just make a break for the exit – to name but a few. It’s deceptively simple, really. Your only controls are jumping and attacking (the latter also serves as a sort of dash), and your aim is simply to progress downward through 12 levels (which are unique each
time you play) and kill the end boss. As you might expect, that’s all more easily said than done: levels are thick with monsters, from Lovecraftian tentacles through to cannons that swivel. Turning a foe into a red splat tacks 0.1 onto your combo multiplier, which sounds pitiful but soon racks up across a densely populated expanse. Get hit one too many times and you’re back to the very beginning, with nothing to show but your latest score. Unfortunately, the thing with a set of randomly created levels that you’re unlikely to finish any time soon is that your progress sometimes feels arbitrary. Sure, you might have died on level 5-2 , but there’s no
Everything is so cute! The enemies will still kill you stone dead, though.
physical milestone to measure yourself against next time – only a level number and a score. Still, you know there’ll be enough creepy-crawlies down there to lure you back for another try. the bottom line. A steadily paced game that encourages enthusiasm, if not experimentation. emma Davies great
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Sometimes you’ll make bad decisions for good reasons. Or you can tell yourself that, anyway.
Reigns Tinder for medieval monarchs $2.99 Developer Nerial, nerial.co.uk/reigns Platform Universal Requirements iOS 9.1 or later
Achievements are fun, but sometimes a little too cryptic to figure out.
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If you’ve ever used the dating app Tinder, you’ll understand why people find it so compelling. It’s like a game – swipe right for yes, left for no. It’s simple, fun, and memorable (at least, you hope it will be eventually). Reigns plays on that, literally. Rather than deciding whether or not a human being is worth your time, Reigns presents you with various regal options, and it’s your job as the ruler of the country to make the right choice. Your advisors, lovers and pets approach you one by one to present you with issues – the palace is on fire, your wife is having an affair, the pope is visiting – and just like Tinder, you swipe left or
right to make a decision. Each decision affects one of four meters (church, population, army, and money) and keeping them in balance is the key to a long and peaceful reign. It’s not as simple as “make decisions until things are perfect,” though. There are secrets, quests, things that take centuries to play out, and you might even find yourself playing more than once to find them all. The design is interesting yet minimal, keeping the focus on the interactions, although the swipe left/right is just mindless enough that it starts to become dull after an hour or two. There is a pretty good soundtrack to keep your interest, though, and the text is generally very well written, with a good dose of humor. New “cards” are found by following certain sequences of
events, but sometimes it’s a game of waiting for those events to be triggered, meaning that you’ll be experiencing the same things over and over before new things happen. (Somewhat like Tinder again, it could be argued.) There’s still a good deal of mileage to get out of a game that boils down to two options. Certain unlockable effects will put a new spin on the cards you’re seeing again and again, and late-game it becomes more about trying new combinations of things than getting the “right” answers anyway. Indeed, perhaps it’s an accurate representation of a real monarchy: a handful are presented with interesting opportunities, while the rest are rather forgettable. In any case, it’s not the kind of game you’ll be playing and replaying for ages; the outcomes are pretty limited, but luckily it’s worth it for the fantastic story that trickles down through the ages, the secrets to uncover, and the sense of fun that the game conveys so well. the bottom line. Occasionally repetitive, especially towards the end, but rewarding enough to play through at least a few times. Kate GRay
Reigns Compelling, slowly unfolding mystery Very easy to pick up Rich system of achievements Repetitive excellent
Tough testing, trusted ratings >>> App
6 apps to help you get on track Try these project and to-do apps to improve your routine by DaViD cHarTier
Many of us need a little help to stay on track with personal projects, or tasks at work. The Productivity shelves in the App Store can seem to scroll on forever, but many of the to-do apps can feel overwhelming. Here’s a selection of standout ones. Due ($4.99, Universal) is a simple to-do app with a trick up its sleeve. Sure, you can add tasks with due dates. Where Due shines is in its ability to repeatedly remind you – at intervals of one, five, 10, 15, 30, and 60 minutes – to finish a task until you check its box. You can snooze reminders, but Due’s persistence might be just the thing you need. If you need some help in the “creating new habits” department, ToDay (Free, iPhone) presents an easy way to create a list of things you’d like to start doing – run, read, drink water more often, you name it. Today then keeps you on track with customizable reminders and a check-in to review progress. Today is free and has an In-App Purchase to
Tell Lark what you’re planning for dinner and it will log it and make alternative suggestions.
Today has a really attractive interface, making it a pleasure to set up new routines.
unlock slots for more habits and more flexible reminder options. Lark (Free, iPhone) is a health app that avoids the complexity of calorie counting. It takes a unique approach of using a simple chat interface. You text in with your meal (“eggs, sausage, and hash browns”) and Lark’s coach will text back with recommendations on how you could improve your nutritional intake. A subscription of $20 per month enables a 24/7 personal coach, more holistic meal planning, and many more planning and tracking options. Timepage ($4.99, iPhone) is built by Moleskine – makers of the popular text and sketch journals – with the goal of simplifying the calendar. It throws out unnecessary calendar complexity while elegantly incorporating tertiary features you need, such as maps for directions, contacts, and weather info. Whether you want to track the time you work on tasks for clients or a boss, or you simply want to see
where your days go, Hours Time Tracking (Free, iPhone) is a simple, beautiful way to do it. Much of the complexity from other tools is gone here, allowing Hours to offer simple tools and a clever design. Projects are differentiated with colors, while a unique timeline view and optional push notifications help you fill in any blank spots throughout the day. A monthly $8 subscription opens a number of reporting options for submitting to others. Sometimes, being productive means automating the simple stuff so you can focus on the real task at hand. That’s where iF by iFTTT (Free, Universal) comes in: it’s an easy way to hook services and apps together to take care of the little stuff. For example, every time you receive an email from a particular company or service, IF could turn it into a PDF and save it to Evernote or Dropbox. Or, every time someone tags you in a Facebook photo, IF could save a copy to Dropbox.
With Hours Time Tracking, you can access times from the app, desktop, or Apple Watch.
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>>> App Life
watch apps and guides to get more from your watch
iCalorie Monitor your calorie intake Free Developer Beijing Qingka Technology Platform watchOS, iPhone Requirements iOS 8.2 or later
Trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet? With a database of more than 80,000 types of food, iCalorie makes short work of cataloging meals and activity with your iPhone. Like so many apps today, iCalorie connects with Apple Health, so all data syncs automatically with all of the other services and devices you’re already using. Naturally, that includes Apple Watch, which can be used in conjunction with
Wake to previous app You can customize whether the Watch should reopen your last-used app when you raise your wrist in Settings > General > Wake Screen. While In Session only does this for workouts, there are two
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time-based options, or you can set it to Always reopen.
iCalorie to track your step count and other exercise throughout the day. With a flick of the wrist, users can keep tabs on how many calories have been consumed and burned, see net calories remaining, and initiate a variety of different activities including running, skiing, football, and jogging. We initially had problems getting the Watch app to display data, but quitting the iPhone app and relaunching soon got things working properly. It also occasionally displayed text in Chinese – the developers’ native language – despite our device being set up for English. Although iCalorie offers a fairly comprehensive set of features overall, the list isn’t quite as long as MyFitnessPal, which includes niceties such as a barcode scanner that makes entering meals as fast and easy as possible. While the iCalorie app is technically free, features such as cloud sync, weight, meal, and activity analysis are only available with the purchase of an in-app
Premium subscription, starting at $9.99 per month. the bottom line. iCalorie makes it easy to keep tabs on exercise and calorie intake, but it’s a little buggy and not quite as full-featured as rival apps. J.R. bookwalteR iCalorie Easy-to-use calorie counter and activity tracker Buggy Apple Watch sync, limited functionality Watch app occasionally displays text in Chinese Premium subscription required to unlock all features solid
Tough testing, trusted ratings
Relive Charlie Chaplin’s classic film 99¢ Developer Allan Cook
Send money with Square cash
Platform watchOS Requirements iOS 7.1 or later
It’s been a century since silent comedy genius Charlie Chaplin released The Pawnshop in 1916 – his sixth starring role for Mutual Film Corporation. That entire 20-minute movie is now available for viewing at the unlikeliest of places. Pawnshop is a watchOS app for the express purpose of watching Chaplin’s film play back on the Apple Watch – complete with picture and sound, in the form of a musical soundtrack accompanied by occasional effects, where relevant.
Naturally, the Watch is a little small for a comfortable viewing experience, but it’s an impressive technical feat nonetheless, and a treat for silent-era fans. There’s also a still gallery for viewers to scroll through with the Digital Crown, and information about the film. We’d love the addition of a way to watch the film on the iPhone (or better yet, add Universal iPad support), but the app otherwise delivers. the bottom line. Pawnshop keeps the spirit of silent film alive with a 21st century way to watch a Chaplin classic. J.R. bookwalteR great
Rubix! Can you solve it? Depends on your digits… 99¢ Developer Woodsign Platform watchOS Requirements iOS 9 or later
It was probably just a matter of time before someone adapted the real-world insanity of a Rubik’s Cube into a smartwatch app. Rubix! is one such app, and it’s exclusive to Apple Watch – launching it from your iPhone simply displays a warning the game is “only playable on your Watch device,” with options to share on Facebook or Twitter. On your Watch, Rubix! displays a flat, 2D approximation of one cube side, daring players to tap arrows along each edge to shift the rows and columns in an effort to
FinD mY FRienD Tap to select a Square Cash user nearby using a Bluetooth connection, someone you’ve recently sent money to, or anyone in your device contacts.
match the goal image. As you tap, each move is tracked, and the app makes a quiet confirmation noise, which is good since the arrow buttons are fairly small. Rubix! isn’t quite as fun as the real thing, but it’s just as maddening when you can’t get the rows and columns to be color-coordinated. But at least you (hopefully) won’t be tempted to throw your expensive Watch across the room when things don’t go your way. the bottom line. A Rubik’s Cube-style challenge, but you’ll need small fingers to play. J.R. bookwalteR good
Select an amoUnt Next, choose one of the default denominations by tapping on the virtual stacks of cash ($1, $2, $5, $10, $20, or $100); tap-and-hold to clear.
PaiD in FUll When you’re ready to pay, tap the button to confirm the amount and watch as the app showers you with immediate gratification for a job well done.
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TOUGH TESTING, TRUSTED RATINGS
Apple iPhone 7 Will lots of small changes make for a big upgrade? From $649 Manufacturer Apple, apple.com Features 32GB/128GB/256GB, 4.7-inch display, A10 Fusion processor, 12MP rear camera, 7MP front camera
he metronomic quality of Apple’s yearly iPhone upgrades seems to have come to a halt – or the pendulum is stuck. It used to be that you got a dramatic redesign with every new numbered model, and feature improvements with every S model. But the iPhone 7 looks a little bit like the second S model in a row, though that’s on the harsh side: this is more than just an S upgrade – but it’s not as much of a push forward as many would have expected given the huge changes in the iPhone 4 and 6 in particular. There are refinements to the design (the smoothing of the camera “bump,” better hiding of the antenna bands, and a new Jet Black color, of course. But the two biggest design changes on the iPhone 7 are major talking points: it can now survive dives into a swimming pool, thanks to the water-resistant chassis, and the headphone jack on the bottom of the phone is no longer there. Let’s start with the biggest of those changes: the omission of the headphone jack. The loss of this port will impact users to varying degrees: for some people, it’ll be no more than a shrug before they get on with their day, because they only use the EarPods in the iPhone box – and those are still there, just with a Lightning connector. And if you use Bluetooth headphones, little has changed. For others, though, it’ll be an inconvenience, because they’ll need to attach the short white dongle to the 3.5mm jack on the end of their headphones in order to plug them into the Lightning port. And losing the headphone jack limits the next pair of headphones you might buy to use with your iPhone (unless you’re happy with the adapter). Ultimately, how big a problem this is comes down to you: it’s an inconvenience for sure (if nothing else, it stops you listening with wired headphones and charging it at the same time), but if you use EarPods or wireless headphones, it’s probably something you can live with easily enough. If you have a set of 3.5mm-connected headphones you’re wedded to, it means awkwardness. It’s fairly impressive that the iPhone’s thickness hasn’t changed with the addition of waterproofing, since this always add thickness, because the seals need some space within the device. The water-resistance works well too – we got our review model good and wet (within its tolerances) and had no problems.
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It feels like the iPhone 7 is more a series of small steps forward, than a dramatic overhaul.
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Above: The Home button now uses the Taptic Engine. Right: The 12MP sensor and f/1.8 aperture lens take better photos in low light.
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The new dual speakers, which fire out of the top and bottom of the phone, sound great – not as good as the iPad Pro’s impressive sound quality, but a notable improvement. The home button, that iconic design from Apple that’s endured for years, has changed dramatically too: it’s no longer a clickable, physical entity, but a sunken point that responds to the force of your touch. Initially, we found the loss of the dependable, pressable button awful – the Taptic Engine replacement like an imposter under our thumb.
Tough testing, trusted ratings
But, suddenly, it clicked (so to speak), and it felt like a natural motion. And we love that the degree to which it “clicks” is adjustable. The main change to the screen on the iPhone 7 is its brightness and color – it’s otherwise identical, with a 4.7-inch, 1334x750 resolution display. But you now get the wider color gamut offered by the likes of the iPad Pro. The screen is more colorful – not in an overpowering technicolor way, but in terms of richness, with the depth of color matching that of a cinema screen. The brightness is also improved in the right way – again, it’s not overpowering, but gives you better visibility of the screen when it’s at full brightness. The white balance of the display is also improved to a warmer tone – though sadly Apple didn’t include the fantastic True Tone display technology from the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Low-Light Love The iPhone 7 doesn’t have the elaborate dual-camera system of its Plus sibling, but it is improved from the 6s. The 12-megapixel sensor is matched with an improved f/1.8 aperture lens for better photos in lower light, an enhanced ability to gather color and light into the lens, and optical image stabilization (formerly a Plus-only feature). The changes add up to a few strong steps forward in a number of areas, rather than making a colossal stride forward in picture quality. Darker shots are where the iPhone 7 has improved the most – all of its new features help with low-light shots, with image stabilization in particular helping shots look sharper. But in all cases, the brightness was better, and the colors are improved thanks to not only the sensor’s ability to pick up a wider array of colors, but also the screen’s ability to display them. The difference in colors in shots taken and viewed on a 6s compared to those taken and viewed on an iPhone 7 is immediate and clear. But you do need the wide color screen to get the full effect. The front-facing camera has been upgraded, now featuring a 7MP sensor that’s also better in lower light, and picks up sharper images with more vibrant colors. Fast Fusion The iPhone 7 comes with the new A10 Fusion chip, which is (of course) the fastest mobile
chip in a phone right now, but also includes two extra low-power processor cores, to improve battery life during light use. And yes, it’s blistering fast. You can fly between different apps with no waiting, opening up music before browsing the web, then playing a game. It’s not quite a complete revelation compared to the iPhone 6s, but the difference is noticeable. Speaking of games, the A10 has a more powerful graphics chip, but the new feature that really improves the gaming experience is actually the Taptic Engine. This delivers smaller, more targeted buzzing of the phone, so when you’re firing a machine gun, or crashing a car into the side of a wall, it feels more realistic and engaging. One of the aims of the A10 Fusion chip is to improve battery life, with Apple saying the 7 gets two more hours than the 6s in its tests. In practice, we saw little improvement in most use, though watching videos used less battery than previous models – it appears that its life is improved for media, but other app types still
t h e n ew a 1 0 F u s i o n c h i p i s b L i st e r i n g Fast – yo u ca n F Ly b e t w e e n a p p s take their toll. We wish we could see if the A10’s low-power cores were active or not, to learn more. Still, one great addition is that you can use an iPad’s higher-power 2.1A charger to juice up the iPhone 7 faster than previous models. Apple has hit its marks with the iPhone 7, delivering upgrades in the right areas and to a strong level at times. Water-resistance is a welcome feature, the improved camera and screen are great together, the speakers are impressive, and we can’t argue with its speed. The headphone jack might be a dealbreaker – there’s also a question for those upgrading from a 5s or 5c whether you’d be better off with the iPhone 6s for now, which is cheaper, not hugely inferior, and has a jack. Or there’s the 7 Plus, of course, and we have some thoughts on that on the next page… the bottoM Line. The iPhone 7 isn’t a huge upgrade; it’s a series of small, useful steps forward, that make for a really great phone. gareth beavis & Matt boLton
iPhone 7 Super-fast A10 Fusion chip Reassurance of being waterproof Improvements to camera and screen No headphone jack, and light on groundbreaking new features Great
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You get bigger sound from the new stereo speaker setup.
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Tough testing, trusted ratings
Apple iPhone 7 Plus The new dual camera means the Plus really does give you more From $769 Manufacturer Apple, apple.com Features 32GB/128GB/256GB, 5.5-inch display, A10 Fusion processor, dual 12MP rear cameras
his is the big one – and we don’t just mean because of its 5.5-inch, 1920x1080 screen. In the iPhone 6 and 6s models, the only significant difference between the regular iPhone and the Plus was size and battery life, so choosing which to buy was a matter of taste. This is the first time one of the models has a feature that differentiates it enough that we think it’s worth recommending over its iPhone sibling. And we do recommend it: if you get an iPhone 7, we think the Plus is the better option, on balance. As with the smaller iPhone 7, the design is very similar to the iPhone 6s version, with the biggest changes being the removal of the headphone jack, and the larger dual-camera bump. There’s also the new Jet Black and regular black finishes, of course – Jet Black looks especially cool on the bigger surface of the Plus (and shows even more fingerprints and scratches if you’re not careful). It’s also now waterproof to an IP67 rating, meaning you can drop it in a bath or get seriously rained on without any worries about water damage. So with everything that’s the same (including the A10 Fusion processor), why are we rating the Plus higher than the iPhone 7? A closer look The bigger screen and battery life are factors, as we’ll come to, but the dual-camera setup is what sets the Plus apart. The system uses two 12-megapixel sensors, one with a wide-angle 28mm f/1.8 lens, the other a telephoto 56mm f/2.8 lens. The wide-angle lens features optical
image stabilization, though the telephoto lens doesn’t. The latter is all-new for an iPhone, while the wide-angle lens is an improvement over the previous model, with a wider aperture and more elements for a sharper image. The sensors have also been upgraded to be able to capture a wider color range, just as in the iPhone 7. There are a few reasons for the dual-camera system. The most important is that it allows for true 2x optical zoom (rather than digital zoom, which always results in image degradation). A 2x zoom might not sound like a huge amount,
T H e d uA l- cA M e rA s e T u p i s w H AT s e Ts T H e p lu s A pA rT FroM THe ipHone 7 but we found ourselves instantly using it a lot – it adds plenty of flexibility to your ability to compose shots. The results are excellent, and in some cases, it means capturing photos which you couldn’t otherwise. Switching between the lenses is instant with a button tap, so you don’t miss your chance for a great shot. You can even switch between the lenses while taking video, which can be really useful. It does appear to us that images taken with the wide-angle lens are sharper than those taken with the telephoto (which isn’t a huge surprise, since the telephoto lens lacks optical image
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>>> Reviews Tough testing, trusted ratings
The dual camera lenses give you flexibility for photos and video.
stabilization), but both take absolutely gorgeous photos, with realistic colors and fantastic tonal depth. Low-light shooting has been noticeably improved, too. Apple uses the image data from both cameras whenever you take a shot, adding in details from the secondary sensor to make sure you get the best possible shot. It does all this instantly thanks to the powerful new image processor in the A10. It’s so fast, so convenient, and so flexible, we’re totally in love with it. The dual-camera system can also be used to create a shallow depth of field effect, blurring the background of images to make the subject “pop” in the way a DSLR can. This feature will be available as a free software update later in the year, so we haven’t been able to test it yet, but the promise is tantalizing. oh, and the frontfacing camera has been upgraded as well, as
with the iPhone 7 – the selfie camera now features a seven-megapixel sensor that produces brighter, sharper images. The 7 Plus’s screen is still 1080p, and is Apple’s highest-density display, but now offers wider color reproduction and improved brightness. The colors are instantly noticeable when you’re viewing photos, and look beautifully sharp on the screen. For photo lovers, the combination is just fantastic. For everyone else, it’s still really pleasing, and the increased brightness makes it easier to use in outdoors in full sunlight. The other feature of the Plus is its longer battery life over the regular 7, and that’s been gently improved in this model – Apple says by an hour. The end result is much the same as the difference between the 6s and the 6s Plus: during a day of intense use, the Plus should get you all the way through to bedtime, but the 7 might drop out slightly earlier. We’ve found the difference between the two to be significant; you can feel more confident about the Plus staying with you even if you spend a day talking and browsing the web. But the change from 6s Plus is very minor – there’s no battery life revolution in the newer model. TougH cHoices The dilemma of choosing between the 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch model has always involved the more convenient and portable size of the smaller iPhone, compared to the larger (and sharper) display and battery life of the Plus. In the past, we’ve called it a draw, and suggested that you choose based on your priorities. That’s still true. If you just don’t like the larger size, no amount of extra tech will convince you; if you must have the best battery life, a lighter phone won’t be much of a temptation. But now the new camera is in the equation, we think the Plus is overall the better iPhone for those on the fence. As we said in the iPhone 7 review, the removal of the headphone jack is absolutely an inconvenience if you want to use a particular pair of older headphones. The adapter works fine, and there are other workarounds, but the fact remains. We like using wireless
Color reproduction has been improved even further, though the effect can be subtle.
headphones, but switching to them may mean an additional cost. You still get EarPods in the box though, so if you use EarPods at the moment, it won’t mean much of a change in practice. Speaking of audio, the new speakers are loud, clear, and a big improvement over previous iPhones. The new Home button is the same as on the 7, which means it isn’t a button at all. You press it, and the Taptic Engine makes it feel like it’s moving. You get used to it quickly, and it actually feels better in use for double-pressing – to bring up the app switcher, for example. Just as with the iPhone 7, the A10 Fusion chip is blisteringly fast. Moving between apps and scrolling
even demanding web pages in Safari is totally fluid. There’s no lag, no waiting for anything… ever, really. That’s especially great with the new emphasis on opening apps directly from the Lock screen or other widget screens – it makes everything feel a lot easier and more fluid. THe boTToM line. The iPhone 7 Plus may not be a drastic reinvention of the phone but it’s Apple’s most advanced ever, and its best ever – with a caveat for headphone-lovers. We absolutely adore the dual camera and sharp, big screen to view your photos on, and the longer battery life to support it. In short, this is our iPhone pick for 2016. duncAn bell & MATT bolTon
iPhone 7 Plus Brilliant dual-camera system Improved screen and speakers Better battery life than the 4.7-inch model Big and heavy, and that headphone jack… excellent
maclife.com nov 2016 67
Parallels Desktop 12 Run Windows apps direct from your Mac’s desktop $79.99 ($49.99 upgrade) Developer Parallels, parallels.com Requirements Intel Core 2 Duo processor or later, 2GB RAM, OS X 10.10 or later
A new presentation mode makes it easier to use your virtual Windows machine in Coherence mode.
parallels desktop 12 Run Windows or Linux on your Mac Incremental improvements No standout new features Still no DirectX 11 support Good
68 nov 2016 maclife.com
Parallels Desktop has been our go-to solution for running Windows apps on the Mac for some time now. Our favorite feature is Coherence Mode, which allows you to blend your Windows apps right into the Mac desktop itself, making them appear like native apps. Parallels Desktop 12 attempts to continue its gradual evolution with a smattering of tweaks and improvements, but the absence of noteworthy new features makes it a hard sell for existing users. The lack of standout features explains why the pre-launch hype has been around Parallels Toolbox, a collection of 20 mini-tools that aims to plug various gaps in OS X, with examples including a one-click “Do Not Sleep” button and a tool for downloading video. Useful, but not earth-shattering, and they do little to enhance Parallels Desktop itself. As always, what changes Parallels does introduce are welcome, but they’re evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Take Coherence Mode, for example: version 12 adds a
distraction-free presentation mode that disables notifications, hides desktop icons and forces your Mac to stay awake – plus you can now assign default behaviors to individual Windows apps, such as always opening them in fullscreen. Edge and Internet Explorer passwords can be integrated into the Mac Keychain, and Office options appear in your Mac’s contextual menus too; all welcome changes, but minor. Parallels 12 also comes with a year’s 500GB cloud backup with Acronis TrueImage, which is then integrated into Parallels to allow you to backup incremental changes to your virtual machines. Great, but going forward will you have to then pay, or switch to Parallel’s subscription-based Pro edition? Every year we’re told Parallels gets faster and better. With version 12, it seems Parallels is forced to find niche areas to tweak: Suspend times (up to 60 percent faster we’re told) and shared folder access (up to 25 percent), for example. It also makes much of added support for the Windows 10 Xbox app and popular game Overwatch, but DirectX 11 support is still missing, despite being “in development” as far back as Parallels 8. The boTTom line. Still a great way to get Windows apps on your Mac, but not an essential upgrade for existing users. nick PeeRs
The biggest new feature in Parallels Desktop 12 is actually a separate app, Parallels Toolbox. It’s pretty useful.
Tough testing, trusted ratings
Tasky – ToDo & Task Manager Tasky makes time and task management simple. But is it too simple? $9.99 Developer Inspiring-Life Technologies, inspiringlife.co/tasky requirements OS X 10.10 or later
Sometimes we wonder how anybody got anything done before computers and smartphones: the explosion of task management apps on OS X and iOS suggests we’re all pretty awful at being organized without help from our electronic assistants. Tasky – ToDo & Task Manager promises to help with that, without the complexity of some rival task managers. It runs on your Mac and syncs to a $3.99 iOS companion app via iCloud. The interface is clean, with the calendar in the top left corner, filter buttons for All, Complete, and Incomplete in the middle, and bookmarks for tasks due today, tomorrow and next week. The rest of the window is dedicated to the tasks themselves, with a panel that slides in from the right enabling you to create and manage task categories. You can create a task from the main window or by clicking a date in the calendar view, and there’s room for notes underneath the task title. You can quickly postpone a task to the following day, week or month. And that’s about it. Tasky is fast, and is pleasant to use, but it lacks some of the features in Apple’s Reminders app: you can’t schedule alerts based on time or location, you can’t automatically repeat an event, and you can’t set different priorities for different tasks.
You can export your list of currently viewed tasks as an email or as a PDF for printing.
And if you’re an Apple Watch owner, you can’t control the iOS app or add reminders via Siri from your Watch. And of course Reminders isn’t your only option. For calendar and reminders, Fantastical 2 is the app to beat, and if task management is your thing then you’re spoilt for choice by the likes of Todoist, Wunderlist, and Clear. The pitch for Tasky is simplicity, but we think it’s perhaps a little too simple for anything other than the least demanding schedules. So Tasky is effectively positioning itself as the task manager for people who think most task managers are too powerful. It’s polished, but it’s limited. We’d recommend checking out the many free task managers and to-do lists before deciding to spend any money here. the bottom line. Tasky feels too simple: it lacks features that Apple’s own Reminders offers, and you can get more flexible apps for less. Gary marshall
Tasky is a nice place to spend time, with a clean and clear interface that prioritizes your task list.
Tasky – ToDo & Task Manager Nice, attractive interface Lightweight and fast Lacks key features Probably too simple for most okay
maclife.com NOV 2016 69
CloudMounter Easy access to the cloud – but how reliable is it? $29.95 Developer Eltima Software, mac.eltima.com Requirements OS X 10.10 or later
CloudMounter delivers cloud services to the Finder, including Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and more.
cloudmounter Easy-to-use menu bar application Colorful drive icons customized by service Occasional reliability and connectivity issues No progress indicator when files have been uploaded solid
70 nOv 2016 maclife.com
Cloud storage is super-convenient, but transferring files through a web browser doesn’t feel very modern or intuitive. Many services provide native Mac software, but such clients are often designed to sync files, rather than enable you to access them directly from the Finder. CloudMounter mounts cloud-connected storage services as local volumes, making them accessible and easy to use. This isn’t a new or revolutionary concept in itself – ExpanDrive successfully pioneered the idea, first with FTP servers and later with cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. CloudMounter tackles all three services from an easy-to-use menu bar application, along with Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon S3, and WebDAV. Add the desired providers, click Mount, and they appear on the desktop as colorful drive icons customized for each type of service, used to drag and drop files between cloud-based destinations. Unfortunately, CloudMounter isn’t yet as reliable as ExpanDrive. Mounted volumes don’t automatically appear in the Devices sidebar, and we occasionally encountered server interruption error messages that sometimes caused the Finder to lock up when ignored; quitting and relaunching usually fixed it.
Copying and moving files to or from cloud services generally worked fine, although the speed is entirely dependent upon your available internet connection. Uploads are temporarily cached until transfers are complete, so CloudMounter isn’t well-suited for larger files. There’s also no progress bar or visual notification beyond the initial caching – a much-need feature which is included in ExpanDrive, along with support for a few additional services including Amazon Cloud Drive and Box. Be careful using Quick Look or trying to directly open large files – more often than not, this caused our iMac to hang as CloudMounter struggled to make the file available. We also found services such as OneDrive to be more reliable than others. The boTTom line. CloudMounter is a promising debut, but isn’t yet as robust or reliable as ExpanDrive. On the other hand, it is quite a bit cheaper. J.R. bookwalTeR
It may not be as reliable as ExpanDrive, but CloudMounter certainly has prettier icons, customized for each service.
Tough testing, trusted ratings
Shredo Eradicate deleted files for good $6.99 Developer MyMixApps, mymixapps.com Requirements OS X 10.10 or later
AppLocker Secure individual apps with a password $4.99 Developer Denk Alexandru, applocksite.wordpress.com Requirements OS X 10.10 or later
AppLocker is a menu bar utility for setting up password protection on a per-app basis. Setting it up is easy and straightforward: click the green plus buttons next to a list of installed applications, search by app name, or view a list of only those currently running. A single global password is used across all protected apps, and only while AppLocker is running. There’s also an option to lock administrative apps (Terminal, Activity Monitor, Keychain Access), which is on by default. The only downside is you’ll have to quit the selected applications in order to protect them, at which point AppLocker takes over with a fullscreen password prompt screen next time the software is launched. That makes it less convenient to use, especially when a triple-key keyboard shortcut is required to dismiss the prompt. Multiple displays also tend to confuse AppLocker; with iTunes running on a Thunderbolt display connected to our iMac 5K Retina, the keyboard shortcut failed to work, and password prompts for apps residing on the main screen occasionally appeared on the secondary display instead. The boTTom line. AppLocker works, but the protection is cumbersome and limited. J.R. bookwalTeR
Deleting files or folders on a Mac is simple. But nothing is actually permanently erased this way – the space is only marked as available until another file writes over it. The best way to truly eradicate content is to perform the virtual equivalent of a crisscross paper shredder, securely erasing files or folders multiple times. This is what Shredo does. When launched, Shredo displays three circles onto which you drag-and-drop files or folders for deletion. There’s a trio of options: one-pass, seven-pass, or 35-pass, denoting the number of times content is “shredded” (overwritten) – lower numbers are faster, while higher options are more secure. Deleting copies of a 2GB file on an iMac Retina 5K, one-pass clocked in about 16 seconds, while sevenpass and 35-pass came in at 81 seconds and nearly six and a half minutes, respectively. Our attempts to recover the files (using Disk Drill 3) proved futile. The software was able to recover files for the first and third files, but they were rendered unreadable. The boTTom line. Shredo provides inexpensive peace of mind that files and folders are actually being erased. J.R. bookwalTeR
Shredo One-pass, seven-pass, and 35-pass shredding options Attractive user interface Vertical or horizontal window layout Some files were recoverable, although unusable great
applocker Password-protect individual applications Intuitive menu bar interaction Single global password for all applications Occasional multiple-display bugs good
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72 NOV 2016 maclife.com
Tough testing, trusted ratings >>> Reviews
Dragon Responsive Email Designer An email marketing tool for hobbyists and pros alike $24.99 manufacturer Aidaluu, responsiveemaildesigner.aidaluu.com requirements OS X 10.9 or later
Dragon responsive email Designer Very easy to use Extensive formatting options Default fonts aren’t very clear Could do with more templates great
ast month we reviewed Equinux’s Mail Designer Pro ($89.99), an email marketing tool designed for people who’d rather leave the design to others. This month we have Dragon Responsive Email Designer, which is a more affordable option, and as happy working for HTML experts as it is for beginners. The app is template based, with a good selection of different designs and a blank template for when you know exactly what you want to achieve. They look a little sparse in the preview, but they’re designed as skeletons rather than finished designs. It would be nice to have a few more to choose from, though. Once you’ve chosen your design, you’ll then see what looks very much like a desktop publishing system, with all the different elements in their own little frames. The inspector panel on the right-hand side gives you access to a library of elements you can add by dragging and dropping, object size and properties, and the layers that your design consists of – so, for example, you might have text on top of a button on top of an image inside a shape. You can also copy and paste formatting from one element to another, which saves a great deal of time, and you aren’t stuck with the templates’ default fonts. Image handling is
particularly good, with built-in cropping and special effects to brighten up your photos. It’s very easy to pick up and supports HTML code inside the text boxes, and there are both desktop and mobile preview windows to check that your design works on big screens and little. You don’t get the extensive list of simulated screens that some rivals offer, but desktop and mobile is more than adequate unless you’re doing some really tricky design. Once you’ve completed your design, you can export it to HTML, to MailChimp, or as a collection of source files. You can also send from within the app: all you need to do is provide your SMTP server settings and you can then send the message with the names in Cc or better still, Bcc fields. The app already knows some of the key providers such as iCloud and Hotmail, but you can add your own server details too. We suspect HTML purists might balk at the extensive use of HTML tables, but there’s no doubting that Dragon makes it easy to produce surprisingly complex designs and to ensure they work on mobile as well as desktop. the bottom line. If you need the convenience of templates but want to put your own stamp on things, Dragon is very good. Gary marshall
maclife.com NOV 2016 73
MoneyControl Small-scale but well-done budget control Free (up to 20 entries per month) Developer Mobiware, mobiware.de Requirements OS X 10.7 or later, 64-bit processor
The overview screen in MoneyControl for Mac provides an overall view of your financial health at a glance.
MoneyControl 2.4 Dropbox or web app sync Companion Universal app for iOS, Apple Watch Free version limited to 20 entries per month Manual Dropbox sync solid
74 NOV 2016 maclife.com
Following the sage wisdom of Snoop Dogg – “Keep your mind on your money and your money on your mind” – is easier said than done without the right financial management tools at your disposal. MoneyControl is a Mac application that makes it easy to establish a budget and stick to it. Although not as fullfeatured as more expensive rivals, the software is well designed, easy to use, and covers the basics, including recurring transactions, multiple accounts, and detailed reports. It also happens to be free, although only for the first 20 entries made each month. After that, you’ll have to cough up a one-time In-App Purchase of $12.99 to go unlimited, or $15.99 for a bundle that unlocks extensions to add receipts and export PDF reports; the free version allows you to sample both features. These limitations aside, MoneyControl is otherwise fully functional, so if your accounting needs are modest – students and others who make only a handful of transactions each week
– it’s worth a look, but small business owners will want to look elsewhere. There’s also a free Universal iOS app which makes it easier to scan receipts on the go, since the Mac version requires a dedicated scanner (or file import) and can’t be used with a FaceTime camera. MoneyControl also supports syncing via Dropbox, but it’s not an automatic process – you have to manually initiate sync each and every time. (Sadly, iCloud is not an option.) Version 2.4 alleviates this cumbersome process by adding automatic syncing with the developer’s servers from a new web app, although this method only works every five minutes and currently doesn’t work with receipts. This decision also raises privacy concerns, since many users will feel their financial data would be safer with Dropbox. Like much other personal finance software on the Mac App Store, one thing MoneyControl doesn’t do is treat entries like a traditional paper check. While you can set up predefined lists of people or groups when adding new entries, there’s no dedicated field to enter a payee or merchant name; there is, however, a generic note field which can be used for this purpose. the bottom line. It’s not the most fully featured software around, but MoneyControl will hit the sweet spot for those with simple needs. J.R. bookwalteR
MoneyControl now includes a web app component, enabling faster auto sync and access from any browser.
Tough testing, trusted ratings
NightTone Take the glare out of screen time $2.99 manufacturer Denk Alexandru, alexdenk.eu requirements OS X 10.10 or later, 64-bit processor
Proud Task lists brought back to the Mac $9.99 manufacturer Proud, proud.com requirements OS X 10.10 or later, iCloud for syncing
Proud for iOS gave us a new take on iPhone-based list-making. Sure, its main tab is conventional, with you creating tasks, breaking them down into subtasks, reordering, and swiping items on completion. But you can also assign deadlines in a human manner (“later today,” “tomorrow”). The app has useful mini-apps and a few “superpowers” – a de-stress breathing tool, a Pomodoro-style timer, and a completed tasks graph. There’s even a “Give me more time” option in there. That all sounds great, so what about the Mac version of the app? Well, it more or less is the iPhone version. On the plus side, it syncs well over iCloud, and has the same great features as the iPhone release. But the iPhone-like interface (which can be switched to a comical fullscreen mode) is less intuitive. Robbed of the touchscreen, the tactile and exploratory nature of Proud is gone. Instead, you hunt through a menu, and must rely on remembering keyboard shortcuts to trigger actions. As a way to get Proud lists on your Mac, the app is fine (although twice the iOS version’s price); but as a standalone app, it needs to be more Mac-like for us to wholeheartedly recommend it. the bottom line. The iPhone to-do manager comes to the Mac in maybe too faithful a manner. Craig grannell
NightTone’s software manipulates the cool blue light emitted from computer monitors, which trick our natural body clock into believing it’s daytime. During normal work hours this is fine, but if you spend late nights at your Mac, it could be messing with your sleep. NightTone is an easy to use menu bar app for mixing hues into your display. Toggle it on, choose one of seven predefined colors for the most common scenarios (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, white, and black), or use the picker to select a custom tone, then adjust the brightness. There are also options to invert colors (recommended for very dark rooms) or take advantage of your monitor’s true color spectrum. Last but not least, NightTone can be scheduled to work only during a set period of time. For the most part NightTone works as expected, although occasionally a previous setting would persist on the external Thunderbolt display in our dual-monitor setup. Also, the menu bar icon is so thin and small, it’s easy to overlook. the bottom line. NightTone won’t make the fluorescent lights go away, but it does make nighttime easier for Mac users. J.r. bookwalter
NighttoNe Seven common color tones, or choose your own Invert and true color options Schedule display tone for specific time period Thin, small menu bar icon easily overlooked good
Proud Good ideas throughout Lots of flexibility Awkward interface Twice the iOS price solid
maclife.com NOV 2016 75
Olympus Tough TG-Tracker A fine first foray into the action video-camera market by industry veterans Olympus $349 manufacturer Olympus, olympusamerica.com Features Water, shock, dust, and crushproof Video 4K 30p, 1080 60p/30p, 720 240p
Olympus TOugh Tg-Tracker GPS and motion sensors 4K video at 30fps Flip-out screen App and software need work greaT
76 nOV 2016 maclife.com
he Tough TG-Tracker is Olympus’s first venture into the action video-camera market. Olympus is by no means new to rugged cameras, however, with an existing range of Tough compacts. These are fully waterproof and shockproof, so it’s no surprise that the TG-Tracker shares similar design traits. At 1.37x2.22x3.67 inches it’s relatively small, and weighs in at 6.35 oz, so a little heavier than the GoPro Hero4 Black – but its built-in image stabilizer does a good job of reducing, although not totally eliminating, vibrations. Out of the box and with no need for separate housing, the cam is waterproof to 100 ft, shockproof to 7 ft, freezeproof to 14° F and crushproof to 220 lbf, which is pretty impressive. All the buttons and ports are fully sealed, with access to the battery, microSD slot, and USB/HDMI ports via a lockable hinged door in back. The small camera packs headline features including built-in Wi-Fi and 4K video capability. In addition there are five field sensors: GPS, compass, accelerometer, barometer, and thermometer, capturing location and motion data. However, at present the integration of this data capture with the app and software doesn’t feel like it has been fully realized – the Garmin Virb XE, for example enables the overlay of the data on the footage and integration with Garmin heart monitors and other compatible gear. At present, the TG-Tracker’s app is only able to display the data alongside the footage. Inside, there’s a 7.2-million-pixel, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, which is fronted by an ultra-wide – even in action camera terms – 204-degree angle-of-view lens. In addition to 4K at 30fps, it’s possible to record at other resolutions, including 1080p and 720p at 60fps and 30fps. There’s also a high-speed recording option, which enables frame rates at 720p and 480p to be increased to 240fps, which will enable slow-motion playback once edited. The TG-Tracker’s 30fps, 4K video footage is well balanced for exposure, with plenty of fine detail visible. Contrast is a little high, and as with the majority of action cameras it struggles with dynamic range, losing some shadow and highlight detail in high-contrast situations. The boTTom line. For all-round features and performance, the Olympus TG-Tracker is ahead of all other action cameras that are currently available. AlAsTAir Jennings
Tough testing, trusted ratings
The Trackerâ€™s camcorder-like design is very different to most other action cams.
maclife.com nOV 2016 77
It looks a little like a wash bag, and doesn’t mind getting wet either.
Libratone One Click Splashproof sound to take outside $199 manufacturer Libratone, libratone.com features Bluetooth, 3.5mm line-in, speakerphone Dimensions 4.7x7.8x1.6 inches
L libratone one click Splashproof casing Simple and durable Claimed 12 hours battery life No USB charging great
78 NOv 2016 maclife.com
ibratone’s new One Click is a sturdy portable speaker that is well suited to vacations. It’s roughly the size of a chunky paperback book and weighs slightly less than 2 lbs, so will be easy to slip into a backpack when you’re traveling. There’s a protective rubber bumper around the speaker’s edges, and the One Click is water-resistant (IPX4 splashproof) too, so it can cope with a bit of rain or some fooling around by the pool. Also included is a simple carrying handle and a more rugged, padlock-style hook that clicks into place – hence the name – to attach the speaker to a backpack or a bike’s handlebar. There’s Bluetooth for wireless streaming, along
with a speakerphone option, and a 3.5mm audio connector behind a protective rubber flap for a wired connection. You can pair two One Clicks together, thus providing stereo sound, using the Libratone app. The One Click’s sound quality is good: it’s detailed, with respectable bass for such a compact speaker. When it’s standing upright, it fires out sound from both back and front, creating a strong, spacious effect that works well outdoors. And, with a quoted 12 hours of battery life, it’ll last until the small hours when you’re partying. The boTTom line. Not cheap, but its sturdy design makes the One Click good for outdoor listening. Cliff Joseph
Tough testing, trusted ratings
You can record footage at no extra charge with this D-Link cam.
D-Link DCS-8200LH A decent camera that records everything locally $155 manufacturer D-Link, dlink.com Features 180-degree panoramic lens, 720p HD camera
S D-Link DCS-8200LH 720p HD lens, with decent night vision No subscription costs No schedule or location based controls A few app niggles SOLiD
etting up this D-Link security camera is simple enough, and made easier by an option to pair directly with your router via WPS, if supported. The app itself is reasonably easy to navigate, although some options, such as reviewing footage, can be a bit tricky to find. The app also allows you to check on a live feed from your home. The wide-angle, 720p HD lens is good quality with no warping. It’s got night vision up to 16 ft, and the ability to set custom detection zones and tweak sensitivity. However, there’s no scheduling or location-based controls. The camera integrates into the mydlink Home ecosystem, and the addition of IFTTT support through a trigger- and action-based channel
widens support to other apps and services. So you can, for example, set up a sequence to trigger the camera to start recording every time you leave the house. It’s just a shame it can’t provide those missing controls… You have to provide your own (formatted) microSD card for storing your recorded footage, but that’s the only additional cost involved – there’s no expensive monthly subscription for recording to the cloud, giving you full control over your footage. This really is the way security cameras should operate. the bottom line. The lack of scheduling and location options is a major niggle, but this cam scores highly in other areas, including local recording facilities. nick Peers
maclife.com NOV 2016 79
The Mechanical Keyboard Case provides a sturdy design together with a comfortable keyboard.
Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case The PC gaming brand makes its debut in the iPad market $169 manufacturer Razer, razerzone.com Dimensions 0.9x11.8x9.2 inches Weight 2.2 lbs battery 10-600 hours
R RazeR Mechanical KeyboaRd case Firm, responsive mechanical keyboard Sturdy design with protective case Adjustable metal stand Requires Bluetooth connection gReat
80 nOv 2016 maclife.com
azor is well-known for its specialist gaming keyboards and mice, and now it’s brought that expertise to its Mechanical Keyboard Case for the iPad Pro. Like its gaming counterparts, the Mechanical Keyboard Case is built like a tank – it’s very solid, and the upper panel acts as a protective case for the iPad Pro (12.9-inch only). You can also detach that upper panel and just use it as a case on its own. The keyboard panel is pretty chunky, but the mechanical keys feel firm and responsive, and we prefer them to most of the thin, flat keyboard covers we’ve seen recently. Our only criticism is that the keys can be quite noisy when you’re typing up a storm. There’s a set of function keys for iPad features such as brightness and volume,
but Razer opts for Bluetooth connectivity rather than using Apple’s Smart Connector. This is powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts between 10 and 600 hours, depending on your use of the keyboard backlight. The battery also adds to the weight of the keyboard, which comes to 3.7 lbs with the iPad Pro included – more than even a 13-inch MacBook Air. At this price, the Mechanical Keyboard Case is the same price as Apple’s Smart Keyboard, with more weight, but a much nicer typing action. We know there are plenty of mechanical keyboard fans out there who’d love using it. The boTTom line. It’s heavy and expensive, but this mechanical keyboard will appeal to people who want to use their iPad Pro as a laptop alternative. Cliff Joseph
Tough testing, trusted ratings
Aukey Ora Clip-On Lens Kit Open up the lens on your iPhone $40 manufacturer Aukey, aukey.com Features 120-degree wide-angle lens, 15x macro lens
Twelve South Compass 2 Stylish looks, but a bit wobbly $40 manufacturer Twelve South, twelvesouth.com Features Rubberized soles, travel case
The latest incarnation of Twelve South’s Compass iPad stand folds up into a compact peg shape, making it easy to stow away in a travel bag. Its three legs come with rubberized soles, as do the two small plaforms on which your iPad rests; these keep it well grounded so it won’t slide about. When in its more upright mode (as in the image above), the Compass 2 is intended for more passive uses – making Skype calls or watching TV. You shouldn’t notice much wobbling with everyday use. However, we had to be a bit careful when tapping in the top corners of the screen with the iPad in portrait orientation – poke too hard and your device could fall or get shaken loose. Portrait mode’s better if you’re not interacting with the iPad much, but it’s not really at a comfortable angle for your wrists when typing. If you want to type, Twelve South says you’re better off switching to the low-profile mode by pushing in the rear leg and extending the mini support. While this puts the iPad in a flatter position, it’s actually far less stable, wobbling alarmingly as you type. It’s better with an iPad mini, though. the bottom line. This is still a good stand for watching the occasional video, but not for typing emails and messages if you have a 9.7-inch ipad. AleX blAKe
The Aukey Ora Clip-On Lens Kit boasts 120-degree wide-angle and 15x lens attachments, which screw onto a plastic clip, piggybacking onto a smartphone or tablet. The lenses are made from sturdy aluminum alloy, with soft rubber lining the detachable clip to prevent scratches. With both lenses stacked, you can shoot wideangle shots, or attach standard 52mm lens filters; the larger top half unscrews for shooting extreme close-ups from 0.4 to one inch away. Weighing less than 3.5 oz with both lenses attached, the all-black accessory has a premium look and feel. You’ll need a little practice to line up the clip correctly, but the snug fit works well, even with a case on the device. We found that images were sharp and clear, but do become fuzzy around the outer edges; this is fairly typical with these kinds of lenses though. We consider this an acceptable trade-off, ultimately, given the price and performance. the bottom line. An affordable way to shoot wide-angle or macro shots. J.R. booKwAlteR
auKeY ora Clip-on lenS KiT Affordable two-in-one lens kit Works with any smartphone or tablet camera Image tends to be fuzzy toward outer edges Clip must be adjusted for proper placement good
Twelve SouTh CompaSS 2 Stable for iPad mini Narrow fold-up makes it very portable Neither orientation option lends itself to typing Larger iPads wobble Solid
maclife.com NOV 2016 81
>>> Reviews Tough testing, trusted ratings
Defect If you build it, they will steal it from you $14.99 Developer Three Phase Interactive, threephaseinteractive.com requirements OS X 10.9 or later, 2 GB RAM
Defect A robust and expansive spaceship building system Rigorous tactical and strategic potential Frustrating, repetitive missions hampered by camera and menu issues “Direct control” disincentivizes complex ships weak
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efect is a spaceship-building game with a mutinous heart: at the end of each level, without fail, your malcontent crew ejects its hapless captain (that’s you) into space and gleefully seizes the ship. Back at square one, you put together another vessel from an ever-expanding collection of scrap parts and head out to exterminate a ring of space pirates or defend an orbital weapons platform. But mutineers from the previous outing always attack at the end, forcing you to face your own creation in battle. With rebellion constantly looming, planned obsolescence is the guiding principle of ship design, hence the game’s title: a sluggish engine or a weakness to guided missiles becomes a hedge against inevitable insurrection. Each ship must not only satisfy the current operation, but also have a tactical edge on your previous ship and an exploitable weakness. Unfortunately, Defect’s strategic possibilities get bogged down in the missions themselves, which usually consist of variations on destroying enemy ships or escorting friendly ones. You control your lovingly constructed space cruiser on a vast 2D plane, jousting enemy dogfighters and skirting around dangerous dreadnoughts. Defect emphasizes a “direct control” system, whereby one of your ship’s constituent parts can be temporarily boosted and repaired: control your hull during a firefight for increased armor, or your engines for a surge in speed. For all but the smallest of ships, however, direct control is messy and hectic, forcing players to micromanage each wing joint and phaser bank. There’s a puzzle-like rigidity to these missions that demands specific configurations and narrow strategies, and it’s hard to autopsy a failed run if the problem can lie anywhere from ship construction to strategy to player ability. Defect boasts thousands of unique ship combinations, but not all of them are interesting or useful, and new scrap is unlocked so slowly that most of your ships, especially early on, will look and feel the same (lightly armored skirmishers). Taken together, these issues undermine the promise of free-form spaceship construction and offer directionless repetition instead. the bottom line. Defect’s premise, possibilities, and the joy of tinkering with spaceships are let down by frustrating mission design. Joseph leray
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This scrappy land could be a verdant fruit farm, provided you don’t get too distracted…
Stardew Valley The strange and wonderful world of fantasy farming $14.99 Developer ConcernedApe, stardewvalley.net Requirements OS X 10.9 or later, 2GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 256MB video memory, 500MB HDD
Stardew Valley As addictive as any other farming sim More to do right away – no slow tutorial period Players can choose their own pace Glitches often disrupt the flow excellent
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The idea of a fantasy farming sim has been around for years, dominated by the Harvest Moon series on most platforms, though the Mac has missed out. Stardew Valley begins like so many other such sims before it: as a newbie farmer in a tight-knit community, you’ll need to learn the ropes in order to make the decrepit old farm profitable again. Right away, though, the faster pace rewards veterans who want to get right into the action. There are no tedious tutorials, and while tools can be upgraded, those upgrades are available right away – if you can find the parts and cash. Even after a few seasons in the valley, the Quest system presents ongoing goals to keep Stardew Valley from losing its draw. There are nooks and crannies to explore, mines to plunder, suitors to romance, rare fish to catch,
and exotic areas to unlock, to name just a few of the activities that will take you away from the day-to-day grind. Of course, your farm is what funds these adventures, so maintaining a steady growth of seasonal crops and raising farm animals is important, but just how much of the game is chore-based is entirely up to you, depending on how aggressively you play. There’s a soothing draw to simulation games that keeps players coming back for dozens of hours, and Stardew Valley has that charm in spades. It has a few repeated glitches, such as not being able to water plants from a certain direction, but these are minor annoyances. the bottom line. With a calming, engrossing central aim, and an intriguing quest system, Stardew Valley is the joy of farming without the hard work. SaRah leboeuf
Tough testing, trusted ratings
Near Death A near-perfect game that marries survival and horror
When the lights stop flickering across the walls, you’re out of kerosene. A deep chill creeps in shortly.
$14.99 Developer Orthogonal Games, orthogonalgames.com requirements OS X 10.10 or later, Intel Core i5 2GHz, 4GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 (or AMD equivalent) with 1GB VRAM
Near Death is a first-person survival game, with emphasis on survival. In the winter of 1982, a pilot (you) crash-lands in severe conditions at Sutro Station, a decommissioned research outpost on the vast, unclaimed ice of West Antarctica. Your only outside contact – via Teletype machine – is Jack, a communications officer 225 miles away at McMurdo Station. The game is thus tightly focused in its scope and plot: try not to freeze to death. No surprise, then, that body heat is Near Death’s central concern. A portable heater will stave off hypothermia in any of Sutro’s far-flung buildings that aren’t exposed to the elements, but kerosene is limited. A more sustainable solution is to repair the station’s generators and circuit boxes, assuming you can find them, keeping the lights on and the heat running. As the weather shifts, harsher weather freezes
doors shut and saps your body heat that much quicker; but with few exceptions, there are no heads-up displays, warmth meters, or weather advisories. Reinforcing your parka with spare canvas should keep you warmer longer, but it’s never clear by how much (and you may need that canvas to seal windows). You manage risk by reading thermometers and listening to the wind. Near Death has the mood and pace of a horror game: the heightened awareness of your surroundings, the constant lurches toward light and heat, and Jack’s unsettling revelation that the McMurdo team has begun hallucinating… the bottom line. Near Death deftly mixes light crafting and puzzle-solving with a tight, subtle plot. A masterclass on how to use game mechanics, environment, and audio to create drama, it’s one of the most graceful games of the year. Joseph leray
NEAR DEATH Smart, subtle game mechanics Focused writing Puzzles and crafting work well with the theme A few too many dialog boxes ExcEllENT
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home liFe beTTer living Through smarTer Technology
The home app means y o u n o l o n g e r h av e T o swiTch beTween apps To co n T r o l a l l yo u r homeKiT devices 86 NOV 2016 maclife.com
> get staRted with…
ios 10’s home app It’s taken a while, but iOS 10 gives HomeKit a much needed boost, in part thanks to a brand new app by cliFF Joseph
egular readers of these pages will be familiar with HomeKit, the centerpiece of Apple’s plans for home automation. It’s a piece of software built into iOS that allows products from different manufacturers to work together, perhaps turning on a thermostat such as the Ecobee3 when you leave work, and turning on your Philips Hue lights when the Eve Door & Window sensor detects you entering your home after sunset. HomeKit got off to a fairly slow start until Apple unveiled iOS 10 at WWDC in June. There it showed off the brand new Home app, which makes it much easier to get all your different devices working together. In other words, there’s never been a better time to check out the latest HomeKit devices, and uncover Apple’s plans for home automation. We’ve seen some amazing gadgets and devices in Apple Home in recent months, from color-changing lighting and musical fridges to more practical heating and healthcare products. All can be controlled from an iOS app, but things start to get complicated as you add more and more devices to your home. For instance, when you leave for work each morning, you might want to turn off your lights and heating and turn on your security camera. Switching between apps to do all that could take so long that it’d be quicker to do things the old-fashioned way: by hand.
You can set up controls in the home app that trigger multiple devices at once, making it easy to set the mood you want.
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>>> Home Life
Rather than touch your iOs device, you can tell siri to do things like set a light to exactly 50% brightness.
Apple designed HomeKit to solve that problem by allowing devices from different manufacturers to work together. So instead of using three different apps to control your lights, heating and security camera, you can use HomeKit to link your devices together and control them all with a single command. That’s a great idea, but when HomeKit launched in 2014 it was buried in the depths of iOS, and was simply ignored by most makers of home automation devices. Thankfully, iOS 10 raises HomeKit’s profile, and provides major new features to help get the ball rolling for your smart home. coming home Important technical changes to HomeKit in iOS 10 allow it to work with a wider range of devices. We were surprised to find HomeKit didn’t originally work with security cameras, so the addition of this to iOS 10 will help open up the home security market for Apple. Withings and Canary have told us they plan to add HomeKit support to their existing cameras, while D-Link is planning a new one for later this year.
i n T e g r aT i o n w i T h conTrol cenTer puTs home JusT a swipe a w ay, e v e n i F y o u r ios device is locKed The biggest change in iOS 10 is that HomeKit is supported by an official app. Simply called Home, it’s bundled with iOS, which should encourage more companies to support HomeKit – Apple has named several that have products planned. Security products are an important type, and in addition to the various cameras that we’ve mentioned, there are products such as August’s Smart Lock that work with HomeKit. August’s Video Doorbell Cam shows who’s at your door, even when you’re away from home, so you can open the door for a delivery or to help out a family member who has forgotten their keys. August’s range is available from Amazon, and its products are primarily designed for deadbolt locks and fittings, but it’s worth checking to see if they’re suitable for your home before ordering. lighT iT up! Another key application of home automation is managing energy bills. Lighting is one area where HomeKit has always done well, with the popular
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You can invite family members and other people to share control of your homeKit devices using the home app, provided they have an iCloud account.
Philips Hue range and Nanoleaf’s eye-catching Smarter lights among the first products to support HomeKit. For many homes, though, heating is the biggest energy buster, and though there are several smart thermostats available, few so far support HomeKit. However, Ecobee has the HomeKit-enabled Ecobee3, along with Honeywell and its Lyric range of heating products. We’ve also seen a HomeKit version of the Netatmo Thermostat for sale on Apple’s UK online store – but, oddly, Netatmo didn’t want to talk to us about it or whether it would come to the US. Unfortunately, one of the biggest names in this field is unlikely to support HomeKit at all, as the popular Nest Thermostat is owned by Google, which is focused on its own Weave technology. Some property developers plan to build HomeKit into new homes, providing control of lights, heating and even garage doors from the moment you move in. home and away There’s more to HomeKit than just the Home app. Siri is an important part of Apple’s plans, enabling you to control your devices using voice commands. Siri is intelligent too – as well as simply turning a light on or off, you can issue specific commands such as “Dim the living room light to 50 percent,” or tell your thermostat to “Set the temperature to 72 degrees.” Your HomeKit devices appear in iOS 10’s Control Center, so you can quickly adjust settings. There’s a
home provides essential controls for devices. tap details to find a link to a device’s own app, which can offer even more. Favorite accessories and scenes appear in home and in Control Center as well.
Home app on Apple Watch too. Even Apple TV gets involved, as the third- and fourth-generation models can be used to remotely control HomeKit devices over the internet. Sadly, the Mac isn’t yet part of HomeKit at all. We’ve also heard rumors that Apple is planning a device that combines voice control with a speaker, to compete with the headline-grabbing Amazon Echo speaker and the forthcoming Google Home. So, despite a slow start, iOS 10 is a real step forward for HomeKit and should ensure more devices become available for your Apple Home over the next few years.
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>>> Home Life iOS 10’s Home app
Five oF The besT We recommend the best gadgets for starting your smart home
elgaTo eve door & window $40 elgato.com
ecobee ecobee3 $247 ecobee.com
nanoleaF smarT ivy lighTing KiT $100 nanoleaf.me
philips hue whiTe ambiance $179 meethue.com
> The black, angular light bulbs in Nanoleaf’s Smart Ivy kit look a bit odd. However, they work well and are currently Philips’ only real rival when it comes to HomeKit support. The Ivy Smarter Kit includes two bulbs and a hub for your router for just $100.
> The popular Philips Hue range includes various types of smart lights and bulbs, and the new White Ambiance Starter Kit is a good place to start experiencing what it’s all about. The kit includes two bulbs, a dimmer switch, and a Hue Bridge to provide compatibility with HomeKit.
> This little sensor is an affordable way to keep an eye on your doors and windows. It works with Home, and can warn you whenever a door or window is opened, but you’ll need an Apple TV for remote control when you’re away from home.
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> The Ecobee3 is smartly designed with an attractive touchscreen interface. We particularly like the ability to purchase additional sensors so that you can monitor the temperature in several different rooms at once, while support for Apple’s HomeKit and Siri make it easy to control.
> what else shOuld i thiNK abOut…?
remoTe conTrol Use an Apple TV or your iPad to talk to your devices from a remote location ure, it’s kind of cool to relax on the couch while you tell Siri to dim your lights or adjust your heating. However, you can use Home to control your smart devices while you’re away, too. The central piece in this jigsaw puzzle is Apple TV (third- or fourthgeneration models only). If your iPhone and Apple TV are both signed in to your iCloud account, your iPhone can control your lights and other devices from wherever you can get online. Of course, not everyone wants to buy an Apple TV just for that, so with iOS 10 you can use an iPad to provide remote control of HomeKit devices. The iPad needs to stay at home and be online and powered to be used for this, but at least this saves the extra expense of an Apple TV. This feature is enabled in Settings > Home > Use this iPad as a Home Hub.
5 wiThings home $197 withings.com > The popular Withings Home security camera should get its HomeKit update before the holidays. It has an HD camera and a microphone for motion and noise detection. You can store video online for 48 hours; storing longer requires a subscription, which is somewhat unfortunate.
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>>> Home Life Smart thermostats
> hOw tO
u s e T he home ap p EASy CONTROL As well as using the Home app and Siri to control your devices, you can also access them in Control Center on iOS’s Lock screen for near-instant access.
the home app You first set up a new homeKit device using its manufacturer’s app; the device will then automatically appear in home. here we’ve set up smart lights from Philips and Nanoleaf, as well as elgato’s eve door & window sensor.
device controls You can tap on a device in home, such as a light, to turn it on/off, or hold a finger on it to fine-tune its settings. You can also use siri to control devices, using spoken commands such as: “hey siri, dim lounge lights to 50%.”
JARGON BUSTER Scenes enable you to combine different commands – perhaps turning on a bedroom light at the same time as turning your lounge light off. Groups are slightly different as they treat multiple devices – your downstairs lights, say – as one, so they can be controlled all together.
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set the scene as well as controlling individual devices, home enables you to create scenes that control several together. there are a number of preset scenes available; we’ve left the “leave home” scene to turn off our lights.
Remote control You can also create automations that are triggered by specific events. some of them can be scheduled for a specific time, and you can use geofencing to trigger them in response to your location, down to an accuracy of 33 ft.
The home of technology techradar.com
>>> Home Life Better living through smarter tech
Nanoleaf Aurora nanoleaf.me $199
>>> Nanoleaf started quite simply, with its Smart Ivy light bulbs, but its new Aurora modular smart lighting system is in a different league altogether. Rather than using conventional light bulbs, the Aurora kit consists of nine triangular LED panels that can click together and be arranged in different shapes. Each panel is just 0.3 in thick and weighs about 7 oz, so theyâ€™re light enough that you can experiment with different designs, and move the panels around a room, attaching them to walls using double-sided tape (included). The panels can display 16 million different colors, and the app enables you to create and save your own color schemes,
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ranging from simple white light for daytime use, through to gentle, colored mood lighting in the evening, or multicolor disco lights for party time. Nanoleaf is also, quite understandably, pitching the Aurora at public venues, such as hotels and restaurants. The Aurora kit is Wi-Fi enabled and works with HomeKit, so you can impress your friends by controlling the lights with Siri. The starter kit also includes connectors, a controllor and a power unit (to control up to 30 Aurora panels). You can also buy expansion packs with three extra panels (with mounts and so on) for $59, so you can let your imagination fly and create some really spectacular lighting designs.
Gear4 Stream 3
>SmArT home LiViNG
gear4.com Around $160
>>> Gear4 is best known for its cheap and cheerful Bluetooth speakers, but the company has gone a bit more upmarket with its new Stream range. The Stream 3 is still pretty affordable at around $160, and as well as Bluetooth it supports Wi-Fi streaming for connecting to your home network. Its companion app enables you to link multiple speakers into a multiroom audio system. Unfortunately, there’s no AirPlay support – not at this price – but the Stream 3 sounds really good and is one of the most affordable multiroom options available.
JeNNifer PhiN’s Wi-Fi coffee machine is leading her down a dangerous path
TP-Link AV1200 tp-link.com $99
>>> Many people struggle with deadspots in their home, where the Wi-Fi signal can’t reach or isn’t reliable enough for gaming and streaming video. We’re great fans of powerline adaptors that send data over your home’s mains electrical wiring. TP-Link’s new AV1200 powerline kit provides three Gigabit Ethernet ports for high-speed wired connections, plus dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi for reaching deadspots. It also has a passthrough power socket, so you don’t lose the socket.
>>> heLLo, my NAme is Jennifer Phin, and I own a Wi-Fi coffee maker. That’s right; I am now such a slothful example of post-digital, Generation Y entitlement that, rather than walk across my house to press a button, I harness the power of the supercomputer in my pocket plus trillions of dollars’ worth of satellites, twinkling server infrastructures, and, I dunno, magical tree pixies, to do it. I’m one macchiato away from a stairlift and a fraudulent application for a service dog. It started as a shopping trip that escalated wildly. The desired coffee maker became a bean-to-cup coffee maker, then my husband saw a Wi-Fi version. We played chicken at the checkout, willing each other to call a halt to the madness, then… it was delivered. Now every morning I open an app and groggily paw at the WANT COFFEE NOW THX button, then the thing springs to life a few rooms away, grinding beans with such gusto I’ve had to apologize to my neighbor. A few months on, I’m starting to feel it’s unreasonable that I have to walk to the kitchen to get my morning joe. “Can we move the coffee maker into the bedroom?” I ask my husband. “Into… the bedroom?” “I could reach out and grab the pot from bed. You could literally wake up and smell the coffee!” I am a genius. “I could literally wake up and have a migraine, that thing is loud. And it’s Wi-Fi! What is wrong with you?” I guess for now I can cope with walking a few steps to pick up a coffee brewed for me by internet fairies. And after a little training, maybe the service dog will do it for me. One day at a time. Who’s next? Oh, there’s coffee? I’d love a macchiato.
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>>> Home Life
apple Tv The laTesT tvOs apps and The hOTTesT hardware
Minecraft: Story Mode No building here, just adventure $4.99
Starting to feel a little hungry now? You can go straight from Netflix binges to sweet doughy sustenance.
Papa John’s Pizza Let’s order, let’s eat, let’s watch pizza! Free
“Better ingredients. Better pizza.” And now, a better way to order! Papa John’s Pizza is providing you with an easier way to order and pay, directly from your television screen. This gorgeously crafted app allows customers to order pizza, wings, sides, desserts, and more without getting off the couch or lifting a finger to dial the phone. You can order with or without a PapaJohns.com account, but the experience is definitely better by logging in, because you have faster access to favorites and past orders when hunger strikes. Oh, and Papa John’s has also added a tvOSexclusive option called Watch Beautiful Pizza, which is exactly as it sounds – high-definition video of pizza being made, for your personal enjoyment. If that’s not enough, Apple TV owners also get 25 percent off all orders as an incentive to use the app – perhaps our favorite feature of all! j.r. bookwalter
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Minecraft on the Apple TV? Well, sort of. Although it doesn’t have the endless fun of building randomly generated worlds, Telltale’s new Minecraft: Story Mode challenges players to drive the story by the decisions they make along the way. For example, what you say to characters in the game helps shape the perilous on-screen adventure as you make your way across the Overworld, through the Nether, to the End, and beyond. Choose to be heroic during moments of thrilling action, and you just might have the adventure of a lifetime.
In Story Mode, you and your friends discover something is terribly wrong at EnderCon, unleashing a quest to find The Order of the Stone and to save the world from oblivion. Developer Telltale Games has produced Story Mode in association with Mojang, so the series comes with the stamp of approval of Minecraft’s creators. Best of all, players are joined in this five-part episodic series by a roster of Hollywood talent. Notable voice actors include Patton Oswalt, Martha Plimpton, Corey Feldman, and Pee-Wee himself, Paul Reubens. j.r. bookwalter
Telltale has a fine reputation when it comes to creating licensed adventure games, and Minecraft: Story Mode is no exception.
Better living through smarter tech
Big-screen media database Free
Bruji’s DVDpedia, CDpedia, Gamepedia, and Bookpedia are some of the best Mac applications around for managing your movie, music, game, and book collections. While there’s also a pocket-friendly companion app for iOS available, there’s never been a way to sync databases to the Apple TV — until now. Pocketpedia TV allows owners of any of the four Mac “pedia” software titles to search databases, browse collections, and look up details for entries from the comfort of the living room. After all, it’s the perfect place when deciding what movie to watch, music to listen to, game to play, or book to read.
Make the most of home entertainment
Exploring your “pedias” on a decently sized screen can really bring them to life.
You’ll need to have your Mac turned on with the Apple TV in the same wired or wireless network to sync, but it’s a fairly automatic process. The tvOS app will initiate sync with your open “pedia” apps — first the data, and soon the artwork will populate as well. j.r. bookwalter
Mapit for TV
PhiliPs 901-F 4k oleD AROuND $4,000 PHILIPS.COM Would you pay four grand for an awesome 55-inch 4K OLED screen? Philips apparently thinks so, and is betting on the combination of its proprietary Ambilight edge-lighting, nearly bezel-free panel, built-in 30W soundbar, and Android TV to win you over. It’s apparently great for those who like to watch TV with the lights down low.
Apple Maps meets television (unofficially) $1.99
Why should iPhone, iPad, and macOS have all the fun? Mapit for TV is an affordable way to display Apple Maps on the television, reformatted into a horizontal screen so you can plan trips or explore some of the world’s greatest locations without moving a muscle. Naturally, Mapit allows users to search any location in the world by typing in the name, and then view the resulting maps in standard, satellite, or hybrid modes, just like the official iOS app. If a location supports it, you can also view maps in 3D or Flyover mode for a more dynamic and photorealistic virtual trip across town.
The interface may not be very Apple, but all the functionality you need is here.
The user interface isn’t quite as refined as Apple Maps, but the data is the same – and at only $1.99, the price is right. We’re skeptical Apple will ever bring Maps to the Apple TV, so Mapit for TV could very well be the only way to get them. j.r. bookwalter
hiDeit atV4 $25 HIDEITMOuNTS.COM There’s only one problem when mounting a flat-panel TV on the wall: where can you put the Apple TV? HIDEit comes to the rescue with an affordable steel wall mount specifically designed for the fourth-generation media box, and it even allows cables to face in any direction; naturally, it’s black to complement your Apple TV.
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TECH SUPPORT & TECHSPLANATIONS
Open the PDF using your editor, such as Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, and the playlist in a text editor. Copy, paste, and format full track titles and other text into the insert before saving and printing it.
The magic of wireless Does the Magic Keyboard actually use a USB connection when it’s plugged in, rather than Bluetooth? I haven’t really been able to determine this one way or the other. Yes, when connected using a Lightning-to-USB cable to a USB port on your Mac, the Magic Keyboard functions as a wired device. That means it can be used in situations where a Bluetooth keyboard may not work, such as when starting up your Mac in the Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics by holding d when you power on the Mac.
Sharing between Snow Leopard and El Capitan
CD insert options in iTunes are basic. To get better results, save as a PDF and edit it in another app.
cAn I creAte Better InSertS FOr cDS? When I create a CD jewel box insert for a playlist that I’m burning to CD, iTunes crops titles and other entries for tracks to fit the space available. How can I change the font size? iTunes offers no options to alter the font or its size, so entries in the track list are always cropped to fit available space. Other apps, such as Revolver CD Cover ($35.99, revolvercg.com) and Disc Cover 3 ($24.99, belightsoft.com), can print CD inserts, and most will import iTunes playlist data. If you already have an app that can edit the content of PDF files, you can create a PDF of an insert
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using iTunes, and edit that to fit the text to your requirements. In iTunes, select the playlist for which you want to print an insert, then choose File > Print. Select “CD jewel case insert” and the theme you wish. Click Print, then in the Print dialog use the lower-left popup menu to save as a PDF file. Export the playlist as Unicode text by choosing File > Library > Export Playlist.
Although both my iMac and MacBook Air run OS X 10.11 and share via Wi-Fi, my wife’s Mac mini is still on OS X 10.6.8. We can’t establish a network connection between her mini and either of my Macs. Is that possible? It’s often tricky to share access across such a range of versions of OS X. It may be easier to connect the more recent version to the older one, rather than the other way around. If you can upgrade the mini to run El Capitan too, you should be able to connect either way. Debugging networks starts by setting all your devices to use fixed IP addresses (such as 192.168.1.1, 192.168.1.2, and so on) on the same subnet. Open Network Utility on each – enter its name in Spotlight to find it – and select its Ping tab. Prove connections between the various Macs are possible by pinging each Mac’s IP address from all your other Macs. Next, turn on file sharing, ensuring that a useful folder, such as Documents, is being shared. In Finder, choose Go > Connect to Server, and in the dialog that opens enter the IP address of the other Mac. Enter the admin user name and
Tech Support & Techsplanations
> Getting the best Wi-Fi connection
With network connection issues, first prove each device can see all the others by pinging them in network Utility.
password for the other Mac that you’re trying to connect to, not the one you’re connecting from.
Bluetooth blues thanks for bringing to light current problems with el capitan and Bluetooth. My problems started when I upgraded my 2010 iMac to el capitan, and I’m concerned that when I replace it later this year, I won’t only have problems with wireless peripherals, but with Bluetooth networking too. Should I insist on seeing it working? There’s no evidence that current Mac models have underlying problems in their Bluetooth hardware, which consists of well-proven chips and, as you’ve found, can work properly for both peripherals and networking in older versions of OS X. These issues are far more likely the result of kernel or driver bugs. In normal use, the latest iMacs seem fairly reliable, and dropouts are infrequent, making their use with wireless peripherals largely trouble-free. Networking may be a little more prone to problems, but those should only be an occasional irritant. There’s no way for users to alleviate or fix these issues: they await revisions to the drivers in El Capitan or, if not there, in Sierra. Always keep a wired mouse and keyboard to hand to help with entering Apple Hardware Test or Diagnostics at startup when needed. Apple supplies USB cables with its latest wireless devices for charging them as wired USB devices, although their purpose isn’t to work around Bluetooth problems like this.
We use a couple of Wi-Fi access points to deliver good signal coverage throughout our house and garden. How should we configure them to ensure our Macs and iOS devices always get the best wireless connections? In theory, you should set up each with a unique name and password, so that in the event of problems they are easier to identify. However, Apple devices don’t simply connect according to the best signal, but first and foremost according to the priority list of access points, and so they may well opt for a weaker signal if that connection happens to be at the top of the list. You can use this to your advantage by giving your access points identical names and passwords. They’ll still have unique IP
addresses, and will automatically configure themselves to operate on different wireless channels. When your Mac or another device then tries to connect, it’ll give both the access points equal priority, and should choose the one with the better signal. This should in turn ensure you get the fastest speed and a more reliable connection. If you later have a wireless problem and
Your Wi-Fi signal may broadcast beyond your home’s boundary, so ensure its password is a strong one.
need to work out which access point is causing the problems, you’ll have to rename it until that’s fixed. one other important matter is that you must ensure the common password is long, impossible to guess, and robust. Unless you’re in a remote location, it’s wise to turn off guest access to reduce the risk of anyone breaking into your network.
IP or not IP
Hopefully Bluetooth problems will be fixed, both with updates to El Capitan and in the macoS Sierra upgrade.
Why does my Mac get a self-assigned IP address? If your Mac gets an IP address of something around 169.254.18.44, it means you haven’t assigned it a fixed address, and it also can’t find a DHCP server in your router or access point. Check those, its network connections, and run Network Diagnostics in /System/ Library/CoreServices, and Network Utility and Wireless Diagnostics in Applications there to help fix this.
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My USB audio system disconnects from my Mac Since upgrading it to el capitan, my iMac switches its audio output spontaneously, from the Bose companion 5 speakers connected to its USB port back to its internal speakers. I have to restart the Mac or disconnect and reconnect the USB cable in order to continue using the external speakers, although sometimes they reconnect later. My Mac’s hardware has been checked, and is healthy. How can I keep my sound system working? Similar problems have been reported with several other USB audio devices in El Capitan, so it seems to be a bug that hasn’t yet been fixed. It appears to occur because the Mac loses contact with the speakers, assumes that they have been disconnected, and then reverts to normal internal audio output. You might notice a log entry when this occurs. As soon as it happens, open Console and look for a recent error message involving IOUSBHostHIDDevice, which would confirm it. The best workaround at present seems to be to open Audio MIDI Setup tool, check your USB audio codec, which is responsible for this output, and set it to “44100.0 Hz” and “2ch-16bit Integer” output. Some users report that it helps to leave this app open all the time. It’s worth combing through your Library folders to root out any old extensions or audio plugins that may have been migrated from older software, as one could be messing up settings. These can be blocked for testing by using safe mode: hold ß at the startup sound until you see the Apple logo.
Big data I’ve got a large number of massive files that I need to move between two iMacs. What’s the fastest way of moving these files – am I resigned to using external disk drives? Target disk mode over a Thunderbolt cable is quickest: connect the Macs via their Thunderbolt ports, and restart one, holding T. If you want to continue using
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Some people find their USB-connected audio devices, like these Bose speakers, spontaneously disconnect every so often under El Capitan.
both Macs while the files are transferring, try Thunderbolt networking: connect as before, then enable the Thunderbolt bridge in their Network panes, assigning a pair of IP addresses belonging to the same subnet.
Lost Canon scanner with El Capitan I’ve just updated my iMac to el capitan. Although I can still print normally to my canon Pixma MG4250, I can’t use its scanner, despite that feature working normally from a laptop running Windows 7. Does that mean el capitan can’t support this model’s scanning capability? El Capitan does support your device, both as a printer and a scanner. Sometimes it takes a little nudge to get this going, though. To begin, uninstall all Canon software for it, particularly any which has been migrated from previous versions of OS X. Next up, disconnect the printer: open the Printers & Scanners pane in System Preferences, select the currently installed printer and click the – (minus) button below the list of devices
to remove it. Repeat this for it as a scanner. Next, open the App Store and install any OS X updates that it offers. Reconnect your printer to the Mac and power it up. When it’s ready to use, open Printers & Scanners, and install the device there again, both as a printer and a scanner. Check again for any App Store updates, as installation sometimes triggers additional updates. If that still doesn’t get the scanner working properly, visit Canon’s support site, download its software for El Capitan, then remove the printer as described above, reconnect the hardware and install Canon’s software instead.
If your scanner is no longer accessible after an oS X upgrade, try removing it from the Printers & Scanners pane and adding it again.
Tech Support & Techsplanations
> Email reminders of appointments and events
It’s easy to forget that the SDXC slot in a MacBook Pro can be used to conveniently boost storage capacity.
Faster or shared storage? I create and edit architectural files typically of 25MB or larger, and am a keen photographer with a large Photos library. the former files are stored on a WD Mycloud Mirror so I can access them from other systems, but they take a long time to save. My Photos library is eating space on the 512GB SSD in my MacBook Pro. How can I reduce the time it takes to save files and keep my photos to hand? A faster hardware-based RAID NAS would improve performance a bit, but you would need to go up to much more expensive network systems to match the performance of internal storage. Your fastest option would be to fit a larger internal SSD, but architectural files stored there would need to be synchronized over your network to the NAS or other shared storage. An SSD or even a hard drive in a Thunderbolt enclosure would also perform very well, although again you’d need to synchronize over your network. For your Photos library, a costeffective and neat answer might be to add a fast 128GB or larger card to your Mac’s SDXC slot (which will cost upwards of $80). Otherwise, keeping it on an external drive would mean the library would only be accessible while that drive is connected to your MacBook Pro.
SHAre WItH US!
I’m looking for a simple calendar that’ll send me email reminders of appointments and events, and will run on both my iPad and my iMac. Apple’s own calendar app doesn’t seem able to send emails, so unless I were to carry my iPad around with me all the time, I’d most likely miss its reminders. can you suggest something that will do what I want? Due to the widespread use of Macs in conjunction with ioS devices, Apple has integrated all reminders of this type into notifications, which are accessible by swiping down from the top edge of your iPad’s screen, and through the icon at the far right of your Mac’s menu bar. Sadly, neither platform offers the facility to divert
those notifications to email messages. The closest you can get to it in Calendar is a crude solution that’s only available in the Mac version, which requires you to set an alarm that sends an email on each event you create. This will only work when your iMac is running and connected to the internet, though, which isn’t of much practical use. To receive email notifications more easily, you’ll need to switch to a different calendar system. Probably the most popular and capable is Google Calendar (calendar.google. com), which includes the ability to send email notifications, as detailed at bit.ly/2aH3ZfJ. Because Google Calendar is so widely used, several
Crosstown traffic Is there any way of analyzing exactly what network traffic is coming into and out of a Mac? Preferably something that isn’t too hugely technical, so that I might have a hope of understanding… Wireshark (Free, wireshark.org) is the standard tool of choice; as its blurb describes, it “lets you see what’s
Calendar alerts you to events using notifications, which are flexible but don’t support sending emails instead.
third-party ioS and oS X apps make access to it simpler and more productive, although you may be perfectly happy to use its web interface. Google’s own ioS app is designed to fit iPhone screens but not iPad, though it does run on Apple’s tablets.
happening on your network at a microscopic level.” Its interface is crossplatform, however, so many Mac users prefer the familiarity of Cocoa Packet Analyzer. Frustratingly, the limitations of OS X’s sandboxing means the Mac App Store version isn’t capable of capturing packets of network traffic, so instead get the fully functional version from tastycocoabytes.com – it’s still free.
eMAIl: firstname.lastname@example.org FAceBOOK: facebook.com/maclife tWItter: twitter.com/maclife
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creaTe hoW To Do anyThing on yoUr mac, iPhone & iPaD
REQUIRES > BitBar, a plain-text editor
Power up your menu bar Add loads of useful widgets to your Mac’s menu bar with BitBar
LEVEL > Medium IT WILL TAKE > 15 minutes
The lofTy claim made by BitBar is that you can use it to put anything in the menu bar. So, alongside the clock and your Mac’s Wi-Fi status, you can add additional widgets to track important info and quickly perform basic system tasks. You can download it for free at getbitbar.com. In our walkthrough, we show you how to get started with BitBar, and run through a few of the plugins we’ve found useful. We’ve gone resolutely manual in this tutorial, so that you can get to grips with BitBar and how it works. In part, this is because the app is very much the brainchild of scripting geniuses. It’s therefore lacking some of the elegance usually associated with Mac utilities.
Fortunately, BitBar makes it possible to deal with such issues, if you’re willing to get your hands dirty. For any plugin that you find needs altering, you can open its script in a plain-text editor – we’ve used BBEdit (barebones.com), which has a free trial version that simply disables some features after 30 days. If something really doesn’t work, just open BitBar’s plugins folder, drag the offending item to the Trash, and refresh BitBar by selecting “Refresh all” from the Preferences menu of any installed plugin. Finally, if you get really into BitBar and also have some experience with scripting, you can always write your own plugins, as outlined at github.com/matryer/bitbar. craig grannell
How to install, use, and edit plugins
Create a folder When you first start BitBar, it displays a dialog box so you can decide where its plugins will be stored. Create a new folder in your chosen location (perhaps one called BitBar in your Documents folder) and click “Use as Plugins Directory.”
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Activate BitBar You should now see BitBar in the menu bar. Right now, it doesn’t do very much — you can click to open its menu and change the plugins folder, set the app to open at login, or quit it entirely. We need to install some plugins!
Check out plugins In BitBar’s menu, click Get Plugins. You’ll be sent back to the website from which you downloaded the app. Let’s start with a plugin for quickly rating iTunes tracks. In the Music section (on the left), find “iTunes Rating.”
How to do anything on your Mac, iPhone & iPad
Continued install, use, and edit plugins
Install the plugin Click Add to BitBar under the plugin and a confirmation dialog will appear. Click Install. In the menu bar, the “BitBar” text is replaced by the plugin’s icon. If iTunes isn’t open, this is a musical note — click it and “Launch iTunes.”
Power up Clipboard From the System section, install Clipboard History. This places a clipboard icon in the menu bar. Click it and you can access the last 10 pieces of text or links you copied. To send an item back to the Clipboard, just choose it from the menu.
Make some changes In that line, after the opening quote symbol, add $artist: with a space after it, and save the file. You’ll now see the artist and track name in the menu bar, to a maximum of 40 characters as stipulated by the last digits in the script.
Use the plugin Prior to iTunes playing, the widget might register an error, but as soon as you play a track, the widget should show the corresponding star rating. You can update this by clicking the stars in the menu bar and choosing a new rating.
”now playing” From Music, install Adam Kenyon’s “Now playing” plugin. When music’s playing, this displays the track name, making it a handy companion to the rating plugin. Open its menu to access playback controls and artist info.
Currency tracker In Finance, install Currency Tracker. This cycles through how many US and Canadian dollars you get for a Euro. In BitBar’s plugins folder, open “currency-tracker.py” in your text editor and find the currfrom and currTo values.
Install a timer From the Time section of BitBar’s website, install the Pomodoro Timer plugin. When activated by choosing Work from its menu, it starts a 25-minute countdown that alternates with threeminute breaks, to keep you focused.
Edit a plugin Open BitBar’s plugins folder (pick Preferences > Open Plugin Folder from any BitBar plugin’s menu) and then open the “nowplaying.sh” script in a text editor. In the output section, find the part that starts echo "$track | length=40".
Edit settings To set a new base comparison currency, change currfrom’s EUR to something else (say, USD). Then add whatever you like to the currTo list. Save, then pick Preferences > Refresh all from BitBar’s menu to apply the changes.
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encrypt and sign your email Add extra layers of security and privacy to your email conversations
reQUIres > Keychain access, an account in Mail leVel > Medium It WIll taKe > 30 minutes
email is an inherently insecure medium. Security and privacy weren’t part of its original design, and no matter how careful you and your recipient are to ensure no one is peeking when you read messages, the fact is it’s still vulnerable. One of the easiest ways in which email is hijacked is through email spoofing. It’s very easy to fake an email address when sending a message, which is used to trick people into thinking a message is genuine when it’s not. One way to counter this problem is to digitally “sign” your emails. If your recipients are forewarned – you could put this warning in your emails – they’ll know to treat with suspicion any unsigned emails purporting to be from you. It’s possible to go further and digitally encrypt email using a signature too – but this requires cooperation between you and each individual contact. Both you and your email partner require digital signatures configured to encrypt as well as digitally sign messages. While it’s possible to provide digital signatures through third parties, these either cost money or come with strings attached – typically a single year’s use before the certificate expires. Happily, the tools to create a signature that can identify you and encrypt mail are built in to OS X’s Keychain Access utility. The process involves setting up your own self-signed Certificate Authority (CA), which acts like a master certificate maker. Once created, you use this to generate a single certificate designed
certs for all
It’s possible to export your certificates for use in other email clients such as Thunderbird. Consult the app’s help file for info.
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After exchanging certificates, messages can be encrypted.
You and your recipient will need to follow a few easy steps to tell Mail that a received certificate should be trusted.
specifically for a single email address. If you have multiple email addresses, you can set up separate certificates for each of them. The walkthrough opposite details the process you need to follow. Use yoUr certificates The first time you open Mail and compose a new message from the email address you’ve digitally signed, you’ll see a blue check mark alongside a dimmed padlock. The first task is to send an email to your recipient informing them you’ve set up a digital signature. Because your certificate is a self-signed one, it requires manual verification by the recipient; this process varies from app to app, but in the case of fellow Mail users, they’ll need to click the Show Details button next to the warning, then Show Certificate. At this point it’s a case of putting a check mark next to “Messages from <email> are valid if signed by <certificate name>” and clicking OK. This places your certificate in their keychain – open Keychain Access to review it – and future signed messages from you are marked as such. If they then reply to the message with their own signed certificate, and you verify it, future messages between the two of you should see the padlock become available – just click this to lock it and future conversations will be encrypted and private. Also keep an eye out for incoming messages, which should also clearly be labelled as signed and/or encrypted when appropriate. nick Peers
How to do anything on your Mac, iPhone & iPad
How to set up your certificate
Create an authority Open Keychain Access and pick Keychain Access > Certificate Assistant > Create a Certificate Authority. Put a check mark next to “Let me override defaults,” enter your address under “Email from,” then click Continue.
Complete assistant On the next page, check “Key Encipherment” and “Signature,” then click Continue until you reach “Specify a Location For The Certificate.” Enable “On this machine, trust certificates signed by this CA,” then click Create.
Choose an issuer Make sure the Certificate Authority you created is selected (it’ll likely be the only one listed), then click Continue. Run through the rest of the assistant, ensuring you enable Key Encipherment on the Key Usage page.
Set an expiry date Your CA is set to expire after a year. Extend its life by entering a higher value next to Validity Period. Deselect “Sign your invitation,” click Continue to enter some personal details, then click Continue again.
Set up a certificate
Set key usage info The key pair info (2048 bits long and using the RSA algorithm) is fine as it is, so click Continue twice. At the Key Usage Extension page, check “Key Encipherment,” “Certificate Signing,” and “Signature,” then click Continue.
Close Certificate Assistant, then choose Keychain Access > Certificate Assistant > Create a Certificate. Set Identity Type to Leaf, check “Let me override defaults,” and then click the Continue button.
Specify how long you want your certificate to last before it expires, then click Continue. Enter some personal details (an email address is mandatory, but the rest is optional) and then click Continue once again.
Send your message
Verify your email address is listed under “rfc822Name” and finally click Create. The certificate should be listed as valid, meaning it’s ready to use. Click Done to add it to your keychain, quit Keychain Access and open the Mail app.
Open a new message window and compose an email. You should see a blue button with a check mark in it next to the Subject field, which indicates the digital signature will be sent with your message to prove your identify to the recipient.
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Make websites the easy way Get off to a running start with your website using RapidWeaver
REQUIRES > RapidWeaver LEVEL > Medium IT WILL TAKE > 30 minutes
frEE! See p19 for details
part 1 of 5 Next issue:
Learn how to tweak a template’s design
uNtil A feW years ago, you needed a website if you wanted to post blogs, share pictures of your dogs, or promote a club or business. Today, social networks such as Facebook and Instagram handle most of the blogs and dogs, but websites remain crucial for clubs, campaigners and businesses alike. Sites are like any other kind of promotional material: to do a really good job you need to have design talent or the money to hire that talent. However, if you aren’t a Photoshop ace and don’t have stacks of piles to spend, there is another great option: templates. Templates help you to make a professional website without spending a fortune. You don’t need to understand the HTML code they generate or how everything hangs together; it’s just a matter of deciding which template you want to use, and then tweaking it so that it suits your particular requirements. In the walkthrough opposite we’ll build a website for a local community group using RapidWeaver 7, but you can apply the same tips to any kind of site you want to build. Before we get
started, though, we need to ask you to do something unthinkable: get away from your Mac! Imagine you want a garage. You wouldn’t just hire a contractor, order a bunch of bricks, and hope for the best. You’d work out exactly what you wanted, how much you were willing to spend and then make plans accordingly. Websites work in much the same way: if you plan what you want to do first and only then start building, you’re much more likely to end up with a happy result. set youR objectiVe The most important thing you need to decide is what you want your website to do. Is it an information resource, or are you encouraging people to buy your products or services? Is it a shopfront for your art, an online resumé, or a guide to your local area? Once you’ve identified the purpose of your site, you can then decide what pages it needs to have and what you want to put on those pages. It’s also a very good idea to have any media – photographs, audio clips, PDFs, or anything else you plan to include on it – organized before you start putting your website together. GARy MARshAll
Quick look RapidWeaver 7 The Media Browser Drag folders to the top pane here for quick access to images and photos you want to use.
The main pane The magic happens here, in two different modes: Edit and Preview. Use the buttons above to switch mode.
The Inspector Buttons in the toolbar open this as a sidebar or a window. Use it to adjust item properties and override defaults, just like in the iWork apps.
Health Check Don’t publish any web pages without clicking Health Check in the toolbar to spot potential issues in them.
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How to do anything on your Mac, iPhone & iPad
How to start building your site
Pick a project RapidWeaver’s welcome screen provides quick access to the most common tasks you’ll perform in the app. In this case we’re starting from scratch, so we’ll pick a template under Examples on the right. We’ve decided to go for Tesla.
See your site RapidWeaver isn’t a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor; it keeps editing distraction-free and generates a preview as required. To see what the Tesla theme looks like on the page, click Preview near the top of the window.
Say hello RapidWeaver creates a basic website that you can then edit. The list of the site’s pages is at the top of the sidebar, while the options below that and in the main pane are where the content is located. We’ll replace that soon.
A template is a page or site somebody else has already designed in such a way that you can personalize it without doing anything difficult.
Make your mark Don’t worry about photos and colors – we’ll change those things later. For now, let’s rename the site’s pages. Click Edit at the top of the window, double-click a page name in the sidebar, then type a new name for it.
DRAg AnD DRop
Change global settings Some content, such as the site title, is set once and then automatically used throughout the site. To alter it, click General under Settings in the sidebar and set a title to the right. You can change other placeholder text here, too.
Remove the overrides Click Preview. Notice the slogan from the Settings page isn’t used; some sample pages override things. Open the inspector, click the leftmost icon at the top of it, then clear the relevant box under Override Default Settings.
RapidWeaver enables you to drag and drop images from Finder and blocks of text from apps such as Pages into the page you’re editing.
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add text to photos with over Use this free app to spruce up pictures with text, stickers and more
REQUIRES > iOS 8 or later, Over 3.3.3 or later, Over’s Pro Toolkit for steps 8 and 9 LEVEL > Medium IT WILL TAKE > 30 minutes
If you find yourself with a very complex project comprising many images and pieces of text, adjust the item stack order using the layers button.
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You’ve likelY heard the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” many times. It’s absolutely true that you can convey a significant amount of emotion and storytelling within a single frame. But that doesn’t mean we should discard text entirely. Often, some carefully considered text can transform a photograph into a greeting, message, poster, or meme that has far more impact than the image alone. There are, unsurprisingly, many apps for iOS that enable you to add text to images, but Over (Free, Universal) is a firm favorite. This is because even the free version of the app affords you a great deal of control, providing a usable interface for adding, editing, and adjusting words and phrases. Over is also extensible. A “Pro” toolkit In-App Purchase ($2.99) adds all kinds of useful features to the app, including image filters, cropping, drop shadows, blend brushes, and Google Image search. Over bundles a range of fonts and a small selection of stickers, but many more can be purchased as you go along. Basics and BeYond In the walkthrough, we take you through the basics of using Over, adding some styled text to a single still image, and then at the end utilizing a few of the pro tools to further enhance our work. However, at the top of this page, you’ll see a screen grab of another creation – a simple birthday card. This showcases the use of stickers, which aren’t mentioned in the walkthrough. Stickers are set pieces of artwork that can be
overlaid on any image, much like text. They can be resized, rotated, recolored, and have drop shadows applied to them. In our example above, we’ve placed a sticker with a blurred drop shadow over an imported photo, which was itself heavily blurred, and then cropped, saturated, and finally “knocked back” a little by reducing exposure. The two very different results (the other being the walkthrough) highlight how powerful Over is, and how it rewards those who are happy to be imaginative and try new things. Fortunately, you are at no point punished for experimenting. The editing screen has an undo/redo feature, and Over also offers a projects system. Exit an edit at any point and you’ll see your work saved as a project at the top of Over’s entry screen. Tapping a project opens it for editing, but you can also tap the “…” menu for additional options. You can name (or rename) an existing project, delete it, or – importantly – duplicate it. So, if you’re fairly happy with something you’re working on but wonder if it would be possible to take it further, you can return to the entry screen and duplicate the project; you can then make wild changes to the copy, knowing that your original version remains safe at the point you left it. Prior to starting work on the walkthrough, we’ll assume you’ve installed the app and given it permission to access your photos. Our guide takes you through the process on iPad, but all the tools are available on iPhone, and even the layout is very similar, with tools at the bottom and top in portrait, and at the left and right in landscape. craig grannell
How to do anything on your Mac, iPhone & iPad
How to add styled text to an image
Get started In Over’s entry screen, tap a photo. (We’ve gone for this dramatic cow.) This becomes your artwork’s background. It can be replaced by tapping the + button and choosing something else from the Background option.
Choose a color Tap the Color icon to start changing your text’s color. Drag the color panel to select a hue and drag the circular handle to adjust the saturation, or tap the circle with a dot button to pick a color from your photo.
Share your work Use the standard Share button to show the iOS Share sheet, for sending work elsewhere. Alternatively, exit the edit screen using the < button, which returns to the entry screen. Your work is saved as a project.
Add text If default text appears, doubletap it; if not, use + and tap Text. The keyboard will appear, so you can type some words. Tap Done and then resize and move your text using standard iOS pinch and drag gestures.
Fine-tune spacing Tap the Spacing button and use the – and + buttons to adjust how close together letters in your text are. Reset reverts to default settings. Use Nudge to zoom in and shift your text pixel by pixel using the arrow buttons.
Go pro If you’ve bought the pro In-App Purchase, tap the background and select Edit. Use a filter to add impact to your photo, and Adjust > Vignette to focus on the center of the image and make text at the edges easier to read.
Pick a font Switch your device to portrait — it makes viewing fonts easier. Tap Font. Drag the fonts left and right to select one. If variants exist (such as with Nexa, which has bold and italics), access them with vertical drags.
Add more text Over is quite happy with you adding multiple text objects to a project, so experiment with doing so when relevant. Note: if you want multi-line text, you must manually add soft returns when typing it out.
Add effects Double-tap some text and then tap Shadow. This will add a sharp shadow to the bottom right of the text. Use Angle, Blur and Opacity to, respectively, change the shadow’s position, soften the shadow, and strengthen the effect.
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harness GarageBand’s edit view Discover the power of Apple’s iOS music app, whether beginner or pro
REQUIRES > GarageBand (iOS) LEVEL > Medium IT WILL TAKE > 25 minutes
GaraGeBand is riGhtly praised for its beginner-friendly approach, but it has a lot in common with its heavyduty Mac sibling, Logic Pro X. Behind the Smart Guitars, Smart Strings, Smart Keys, and Smart Drums there’s a powerful editor that makes it easy to combine recordings, MIDI, and virtual drummer tracks. In many respects GarageBand is really Logic Lite, or perhaps more accurately a Logic that’s been designed for musicians rather than for sound engineers. It has simpler versions of Logic’s most popular tools, such as a MIDI editor, pitch shifting, pitch correction, and quantizing. It includes essential effects such as compression and reverb without the complexity of the ones you’ll find in Logic. And it has Drummer, whose realistic, customizable drums are just fantastic. If this all sounds a little high-end, don’t worry: you’ll see how simple it really is!
You don’t need any instruments or recording equipment to make songs in GarageBand: the built-in virtual MIDI instruments are very good, and you can always use the built-in mic to record vocals and acoustic guitars. For serious recording, though, it’s worth investing in gear such as the AmpliTube iRig for guitars, or a good microphone and USB interface for your vocals and acoustic instruments that plugs into Apple’s Camera Connection Kit, which adds a USB connection to any iOS device. In this tutorial we’ll concentrate on the key features for recording and arranging a song. We’ll look at global settings and per-track parameters, looping recorded audio, and fixing timing mistakes in MIDI instruments. We’ll discover how to access the app’s excellent MIDI editor, and how to add fade-outs to your finished tracks. Finally, we’ll have some fun with the live special effects. Gary Marshall
Visual guide Finding your way around GarageBand Track Labels Slide this drawer to the right to see per-track options such as volume, soloing, and muting.
Audio and MIDI tracks These are color-coded: blue for recordings, green for MIDI (including Smart Instruments), and yellow for Drummer.
Settings icons Here you’ll find global options for your song – such as key and tempo – and settings for individual tracks.
Special effects The fun part which enables live scratching, mixing, and filtering right as your song plays!
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How to do anything on your Mac, iPhone & iPad
How to edit songs in GarageBand
See your sounds Tap the handle on the right of the track instrument icons and drag it out to the right. This displays volume controls and various monitors alongside the tracks themselves, making quick mixing easy.
Go global You can adjust global settings – the tempo, time signature, key and metronome – by tapping the icon of a spanner at the top right. You can also add an automatic fade-out by checking a single option.
Hit the beat Don’t worry if the timing is a bit off in one of the virtual instrument recordings: quantizing automatically fixes the timing of notes in any MIDI track. Tap the Track Settings icon, then Quantization. Select the timing you want.
Silence and solos The speaker and headphone icons at the left of each track control Mute and Solo. Mute silences the selected track; Solo turns all the other ones off, leaving only the soloed track or tracks playing.
Loop the loop To loop a section of a recording, trim it to just the part you want to loop, and then tap it to show the track options. Select Loop and the selected part of the track will now repeat until the end of the current section.
Make MIDI better The MIDI editor enables you to correct any bum notes or add new notes in MIDI-based tracks. Double-tap the track, choose Edit and press to move notes around. The strip at the left shows where you’re playing on the instrument.
Trim a track To trim a recording, just tap it. You’ll see grab handles appear at the left and right; drag them to trim the track. Tap again to see additional options for copying, pasting, splitting, and renaming.
Adjust entire tracks Tap the Track Settings icon – it’s the “sliders” symbol at the top right – to change how the track sounds. You can add echo and reverb, adjust the equalizer and add compression to even out the volume. These apply to just that track.
Go FX crazy If you tap FX, you can mess with your tune while it plays back live. The left panel is for changing the overall sound, the right is for repeating the current bit, and the middle for adding live effects. Play around and see how it sounds!
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Overhaul your podcasts Shove aside Apple’s subpar app in favor of a better podcast manager
REQUIRES > iOS 9 or later, Overcast LEVEL > Easy IT WILL TAKE > 15 minutes
Let’s be cOmpLeteLy honest: the Podcasts app is not exactly a priority for Apple. Sure, it does the job, but we can’t help feeling that it could be so much better if Apple only devoted a little more time to it. In the absence of that, we’re going to take a look at Overcast. It’s a free app that offers a far superior podcast experience to Apple’s own offering, giving you much more granular control over how episodes are played, sorted and organized on your device. We particularly like the Nitpicky Details section of the app’s settings. Here, you can enable remote episode skip, which lets you play, pause, fast forward, and skip podcasts simply by using your headphone’s inline remote or your car’s media control buttons. There’s even an option to show the number of unfinished episodes on the app’s iOS icon, “to add stress to your life.” Some of Overcast’s best features lie in its Effects flyout menu, accessible when you’re playing an episode. There’s the standard play speed adjustment (as found in Apple’s app) – useful if you want to cram in a few more episodes on your daily commute – but that’s where the
similarities end, as Overcast has some clever extras. First is Smart Speed, which shortens silent stretches so you’re left with less dead air and snappier podcasts. The second is Voice Boost, which strengthens and equalizes podcasters’ voices. That means quieter voices are brought up to the same level as louder ones, even within the same episode, which is a particularly great feature for noisy car journeys. There are plenty more things – even just small touches – that make Overcast an excellent app. While viewing episode notes for podcasts you’ve subscribed to is easy enough in Apple’s app, it’s all but impossible for those you haven’t subscribed to. Not so in Overcast, which makes it easy to find this info for any show. You get useful sharing options in Overcast, too. For instance, you can share an episode with friends and have it start playing at a specific point. Also, you can link your Twitter account to get recommendations from people you follow and the Overcast community. Then there are smart playlists – one of Overcast’s strongest assets. We’ll describe them in more detail opposite. ALex bLAke
Quick look Overcast Browse for new episodes You can show all new episodes, or just unplayed ones you have downloaded to your device.
Tap to download Grayed-out episodes have not yet been downloaded. Tap one to start downloading it.
Extra-special audio effects Use Smart Speed and Voice Boost to reduce silent stretches or tweak volume on the fly.
Raising the speed limit Overcast lets you speed up playback so you can fit more podcast goodness into your commute.
112 nov 2016 maclife.com
How to do anything on your Mac, iPhone & iPad
How to create a podcast playlist
JARGON BUSTER Show notes are the text and other info which podcasters include with each episode. This may include a link to their website, a description of the episode and the date it was published.
Get started The home screen of Overcast displays all your podcast subscriptions. To create a new playlist, tap the icon that’s second from the right at the top of the screen – the one that looks like a page with a plus sign in its top-left corner.
Add podcasts Scroll through the list and select podcasts. Or, tap Exclude and select the podcasts you don’t want to make it onto your playlist – this may be the quicker option if you want to include lots of different podcasts rather than just one or two.
What’s in a name? This button takes you to the Create Playlist screen. Give your playlist a title, choose how you want episodes in it to be sorted, then tap the Add Podcasts row to choose which podcasts will be included in your new playlist.
Additional episodes You can add individual episodes without adding the associated podcast. Simply tap Additional Episodes and choose which you want to include. This is useful if an unrelated podcast produces an episode relevant to your playlist. TAKE CONTROL
Refine your selection Your playlist is now populated with your chosen podcasts and episodes; new episodes are added automatically as they are published. You can remove episodes by tapping Excluded Episodes and picking which ones to leave out.
Change play order You can display episodes chronologically, or tap Edit and drag them into your desired play order. To choose shows that should play first, tap Select Priority Podcasts, select the shows and the most important ones are automatically put at the top.
Tap the “i” next to an episode to bring up the show notes, then tap “Recommend” to show it to Overcast users who follow you on Twitter.
maclife.com nov 2016 113
>>> RAM raNdOM applE MEMOry
apple Interactive Television Box
©Jonathan Zufi, iconicbook.com
Apple’s continuing quest to “fix TV” began more than 20 years ago, remembers Adam Banks
It’s not a million miles away from a standard cable box…
device. You can still read its manual in Apple’s official user document archive (bit.ly/inter_tvbox). Using the supplied remote control, users would select, play and pause programs from an “interactive video service.” Apple’s first partner to provide such a feed would be British Telecom (BT), the giant UK company formed a decade earlier by the privatization of the country’s telephone service. The Interactive Multimedia Service, described by BT as the world’s first truly interactive video-ondemand trial, was tested in 1994 across 2,500 households in English suburbia. A contemporary promotional video (bit.ly/bt_inter_tv) shows the Interactive
Television Box accessing not only a range of TV shows, but also Nintendo video games, implying a partnership of which few other records exist. Trials also began in the US in 1995, and legend has it that as many as a thousand boxes were installed in Disneyland hotel rooms. But the technology was too immature for standards to be established, and neither this nor any other multimedia broadcast platform caught on. It would be a different revolution – the rise of the web – that eventually changed TV forever.
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114 nov 2016 maclife.com
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Contents subject to change
IN THE Early 1990s, tech was all about multimedia: the convergence of computers and entertainment. CD-ROM, the hybrid format that allowed programs and video to be delivered on audio discs, brought moving pictures to PC and Macintosh screens in an exciting new genre of software bridging the gap between games and films. But the big money was still in television, and Apple CEO John Sculley wanted a piece of it. The ingredients of a digital TV service would be a network supplying interactive content, and hardware to receive it. Apple already had hardware, and the Power Macintosh Quadra 605 (the “pizza box Mac”) was quickly dressed up as a set-top
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