Support this Site
Become a member and get access to a bonus podcast, newsletter, and community.
Jason Snell for Tom's Guide
January 20, 2019 7:41 AM PT
It looks like the display industry’s equivalent of the personal jet pack or flying car might actually be arriving from the future into the present. The flexible OLED display, long demoed but never sold, is coming to TVs (from LG) and smartphones (from Samsung, among others). In a smartphone market that has consistently gone ape for larger and larger displays, phones that double in size once they’ve left your pocket could be a game-changer.
(Or not. Until these phones exist, we won’t know if consumers are clamoring for a phone that can be expanded to be a miniature tablet—but it’s not a bad bet.)
Samsung has been the center of attention in the foldable smartphone discussion, but there’s another major player, one rarely discussed when it comes to this topic: Apple. Would Apple consider releasing an iPhone with a foldable display? And if so, under what conditions?
Dan Moren for Macworld
January 18, 2019 5:31 AM PT
Apple’s not a company that’s ever been afraid to kill off its products. At the height of the iPod mini’s popularity, Steve Jobs famously axed it in order to introduce the iPod nano. The underperforming iPod Hi-Fi got the hook, and in recent years we’ve said goodbye to both the AirPort line and most of the iPods.
But when a product lies fallow for many years, sitting without an update, it hangs in that liminal space between life and death, leading many to wonder whether it still has a future. Is it ready to shuffle off this mortal coil or could it be rescued from the edge of the abyss? The Mac mini, MacBook Air, and even the Mac Pro have seen this kind of revival in recent months, and just in the last week, two Apple products thought to have run out of time have been the subjects of rumored returns, hinting that perhaps death isn’t what it used to be for the company.
January 17, 2019 7:30 AM PT
This week, on the irreverent tech show sometimes called “Two and a Half Co-Hosts,” we run through a veritable laundry list of topics, including the huge number of iPhone battery replacements, Apple’s United business, streaming service news from NBC and Netflix, and Roku’s brief flirtation with InfoWars. Then Lex leaves and Dan and John can get down to the real business of discussing the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer.
January 16, 2019 10:09 AM PT
This week, on the 30-minute tech podcast that talks the tech and walks the…walk, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Shelly Brisbin and Ish ShaBazz to discuss Apple products we’d like to see revived, our favorite underdog technologies, the future tech we’re still waiting for, and Apple’s upcoming AirPower and iPhone battery cases.
Jason Snell for Macworld
January 16, 2019 9:30 AM PT
Much has been written—a lot of it by me, admittedly—about how Apple’s commitment to let iOS developers bring their apps to macOS in 2019 has the potential to dramatically change the Mac. But adding iOS apps to the Mac might not be where Apple stops. What if the company uses macOS 10.15 (or, dare I suggest, macOS 13?) to further unify the interfaces of its platforms?
For all the discussion about whether iOS apps running on an app can possibly live up to the platform’s interface standards, it’s entirely possible that this year, Apple will choose to redefine what it is to be Mac-like in a way that turns iOS and macOS into a continuum of interface decisions that are all, for lack of a better phrase, “Apple-like.” Longtime Mac users might chafe, but iOS users might welcome it. As someone who is both, I am not sure where I fall, but it’s worth considering just what Apple might do to make the Mac more closely resemble iOS.
January 14, 2019 12:01 PM PT
This week we officially open 2019 iPhone Rumors season, as the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple may be adding more cameras to the back of this year’s high-end iPhone. Will this restore bragging rights to the members of the Max Club? Also, it was a smart-devices Christmas at the Snell house, as Jason took delivery of a smart lock and a Roomba.
January 11, 2019 10:08 AM PT
This week, on the 30-minute tech show that always knows what year it is, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Quinn Rose and Aleen Simms to discuss the smart home gadgets we want, what platforms could replace YouTube, Apple’s opportunity in Services, and AirPlay 2 and iTunes on third-party TVs.
January 10, 2019 10:05 AM PT
This week on the irreverent tech show that occasionally takes a week off, the team is reassembled once again for the first episode of 2019. And there’s been a surprising amount of Apple news so far, from an iPhone sales shortfall to deals with smart TV manufacturers. Not that that’s going to stop us from talking about the big news: the year of Linux on the iPad.
By Jason Snell
January 9, 2019 3:14 PM PT
The moment we were headed down the freeway toward the Golden Gate Bridge and began to wonder if we’d remembered to lock our front door, I resolved to buy a Smart Lock. I’d been skeptical about replacing our front-door deadbolt with an Internet-connected gadget since I’d first heard of the Smart Lock category a few years ago, but in that moment I saw the perfect use case. By the time we got home, I’d ordered one.
My front door has a deadbolt and a separate door latch—one that doesn’t lock, which means every time we’ve come and gone since we got the door six years ago, we’ve had to manually lock the deadbolt. (Our previous door had a deadbolt and a knob that you could set to lock when closed. That backstop saved us from a lot of second-guessing.)
The lock I bought is the $300 Yale Assure SL YRD256, which works with HomeKit and other smart-home tech via the bundled Connected by August module and gateway. (It’s also the current Wirecutter pick.) It was an easy swap-out replacement for my existing deadbolt. I did the replacement in less than half an hour, using nothing more than a screwdriver.
Gone was the old traditional key lock above my door latch on the outside; instead, there’s now a black glass keypad. On the inside of the door, there’s now a small box attached to the door with a manual deadbolt control (i.e., you turn it and the lock slides open or closed) at the bottom. It’s bigger than what was there before, but isn’t overwhelming.
Out of the box, the lock works using Bluetooth LE. To attach it to a local network for HomeKit and Alexa integration, you need to add an extra piece—the August Connect adapter, which plugs into an electrical outlet and needs to be positioned within Bluetooth range of the lock as well as in range of your home Wi-Fi network. I spent an extra 30 minutes trying to find the ideal place for the adapter, as my closest outlet to the door didn’t seem to be picking up its Bluetooth signal. In the end I rebooted the lock (rebooting my front door lock is apparently something I can do now) and everything started working fine.
On its own, you can unlock your door by entering a number on the touchscreen, whether you have a phone or not. I was able to configure the lock via the August app on my iPhone, generating a guest code to give to my mother when she visited us.
But entering in a multi-digit code to get in your front door is hardly the 21st-century convenience I’m looking for. So the Yale lock cleverly takes advantage of Bluetooth LE to automatically unlock the door when I return home. In order to avoid unlocking my front door every time I walk past it, the auto-unlock system uses your iPhone’s location services to pay attention to when you leave the immediate area around your house. Once you leave the vicinity and then return, the lock looks for the presence of your iPhone via Bluetooth, and the moment it sees it, it unlocks the door.
In theory this is a magical process that makes your front door unlock for you as you walk up to it. That happens to me probably a majority of the time, but other times I’ll stand at the door for a couple of seconds before it opens. It’s still better than getting out my keys and unlocking the door—especially if you drive a car with a keyless ignition, because you won’t have your keys in your hands.
One quirk I’ve noticed is that when my wife and I both return home together, we’ll often enter the house and lock the door behind us, only to have the door unlock a moment later. It seems like the lock recognizes one of us first, unlocks the door, and a few moments later (after we’ve come inside) detects the second person’s phone and thinks they’re separately returning home. The software really should be smarter than that.
Then again, even if the door unlocks a second time, it’s not that big a deal. The lock will automatically lock itself after a configurable delay that I’ve set to two minutes. (This solves the issue of not remembering if you locked the door before leaving the house. You can also put a few fingers on the glass pad when you’re leaving and the door will lock itself immediately.)
What’s more, the August app can show you, from anywhere in the world, the current status of your door—whether it’s open or closed (via a small sensor you screw into the doorframe near the lock) and whether it’s locked or unlocked. (There’s also an activity log, so you can see every time someone comes in or out of your house—and who it is, if they’ve used a personalized keycode or device. One morning I expressed to my daughter how impressed I was by the fact that she got home at precisely her curfew time—as revealed by a peek at the front-door activity log.)
Because this is a HomeKit device, I can lock or unlock the door manually via the Home app or Home button in Control Center, or even via Siri. (I’ve disabled the ability to unlock the door via Alexa or my HomePod because theoretically that would allow someone to stand outside and shout “Hey Assistant, unlock the front door!”, which is not a good idea.) I haven’t yet tied locking or unlocking events to other HomeKit functions, but the option is there—if you want to set a light to turn on or off when the door is locked or unlocked, for example.
Beyond no longer worrying about if our door is locked or unlocked, the biggest change in my family’s life since the new lock was installed is the removal of our front door keys from our keychains. I used to bring a key with me when I went for a run or took the dog for a walk, but it’s not necessary anymore. If we’ve got our iPhones, the lock will sense our presence and open, and if we don’t, we can still punch in our keycodes and enter that way.
The lock is powered by AA batteries which apparently take a very long time to run down, and if you end up locked out of a house with a dead battery, there’s a little spot at the bottom you can use to jump-start the whole thing with a nine-volt battery. (We have a back and side door that we can use in emergencies, which feels like a better fallback than stashing a nine-volt battery in your Hide-A-Key.)
Is a Smart Lock necessary? Certainly not. But after resisting the entire category for a long time, one moment of clarity pushed me over the edge from a Smart Lock skeptic into a Smart Lock owner. I have to admit I still chuckle every time I walk up to my front door and hear it unlocking itself before I get there. But the peace of mind in knowing that our front door is locked—whether we remembered to lock it or not—made it worth it for my family in the end.
Jason Snell for Macworld
January 9, 2019 12:37 PM PT
Apple doesn’t officially participate in the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but this year it’s all over the show. That’s because Apple has been cutting deals with major TV manufacturers to embed support for AirPlay 2 (and in at least one case, the iTunes movie and TV stores) in their 4K HDR televisions, and CES is when TV manufacturers make big announcements.
I’ve heard from some people who are baffled about why Apple would make it so that people aren’t forced to buy an Apple TV in order to get access to Apple’s video content. Those people are, quite frankly, thinking about an Apple that no longer exists, namely one that’s committed to making money on high-margin hardware sales.
For the last three years, ever since Apple turned the spotlight on its Services revenue line in January 2016, Apple has been gearing up to offset slowing iPhone growth with a new category that can bring the kind of revenue growth that pleases Wall Street. Services is Apple’s fastest growing revenue category, on a constant upward trajectory that is unmatched by any other part of its business.
By Jason Snell
January 7, 2019 4:13 PM PT
When people ask me what features of BBEdit I use, I can mention Markdown tools and syntax support, which I use for writing stories like this one. But the other thing I use BBEdit for is a bit more esoteric and hard to describe—something I call “text munging”, for lack of a better word.
Text munging takes many forms, but generally it happens when you’ve got a bunch of text in one format and you need to get it into a different format. I’ve used BBEdit to transform the source pages of websites, to format a mailing list properly, and more. Today I used it to generate a podcast feed out of a chunk of HTML. And while I realize that’s not a task most people will do, perhaps this article can serve as a little bit of inspiration for some future moment when you find yourself in desperate need of a fast way out of an intractable text situation.
January 7, 2019 12:52 PM PT
The new year starts with a bang, as Apple misses its iPhone sales forecast and announces surprising partnerships with Samsung and other TV makers in advance of the launch of its new video service. We discuss these earth-shattering issues in detail, not to mention Jason’s world-exclusive trial of a new iPad Pro keyboard.