Support this SiteBecome a Six Colors member to read exclusive posts, get our weekly podcast, join our community, and more!
With Myke on assignment, Dan Moren joins Jason to discuss the features Apple hasn’t yet delivered in 2021 and its product lineup for 2022. Then Jason breaks down the new e-readers you could use to read one of Dan’s novels.
By Dan Moren for Macworld
Apple’s approach to major software updates has changed a bit over the past couple of years. Once upon a time, the company would roll out one big update then do smaller point releases over the next year or two to fix bugs and occasionally add minor features, followed by a long life of security updates. Over the last decade, those major releases have become yearly, but they still tended to deliver most of the promised features in one go.
Nowadays, with several major software platforms to keep up to date, the company has gradually shifted to a strategy of major software releases which include most of the features the company announces at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. But invariably, a handful of those headline features don’t make it into the initial version and instead trickle out in a variety of updates over the subsequent months.
So it’s been with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey. Several of the most ambitious features have still yet to be released, and with the clock ticking down on 2021, it’s left more than a few users wondering if we’ll even see these features this year.
By Jason Snell
December 3, 2021 8:47 AM PT
YouTuber and podcaster Quinn Nelson has a cat problem:
Strange question: is there a way to disable the touch sensitive surface on HomePods? Our cat has learned that if he touches them music plays and my wife woke up to extremely loud Christmas music at 4AM today and I’m pretty sure that’s not the spirit of Christmas.
— Quinn Nelson (@SnazzyQ) December 3, 2021
This is a tricky one, because Apple doesn’t let you entirely disable the touch surface on the HomePod. But there are a few possible workarounds that might prevent Quinn’s fluffy white agent of chaos from waking him and his wife up in the middle of the night.
First, as recommended by several Twitter users, is to use an accessibility feature that adjusts how long you must press the Homepod’s touch-sensitive area before it registers. To do this, open the Home app, long-press or right-click on a HomePod, select Settings, then choose Touch Accommodations from the Accessibility menu. Among the options here is a Hold Duration, which you can set to a ridiculously high number of seconds. (Cats are rarely that patient.)
But a more clever suggestion Quinn received from Zachary Livingood was to use a home automation to set the volume of the HomePod to zero at some point in the late evening.
To do this, go to the Automation portion of the Home app, make a new timed automation, select the HomePod as the device to be automated, and use the Media option to Adjust Volume Only, with a Custom Volume of zero. (You could also make a corresponding automation to set the volume of the HomePod to a more reasonable level in the morning.)
That said, the cat could still just push the HomePod off the table and onto the floor, waking everyone up in the process. Cats will do what they want.
By Jason Snell
December 2, 2021 4:05 PM PT
When I reviewed three recently-released e-readers last month, I received several complaints about this line in the story:
Kobos are much better citizens [than Kindles] when it comes to borrowing e-books from your local public library.
Wait a minute!, said the Kindle folks. My Kindle works great with Overdrive/Libby!
(For those who don’t know, Overdrive is the service used by most public libraries in the U.S. to provide e-books to patrons. Libby is the excellent iOS app that works as a front-end to Overdrive. I can’t recommend them both enough.)
But let me be clear: When I say Kobo e-readers are better at Overdrive than Kindles, I’m not saying Kindles don’t work. I’m saying that it’s not nearly as good as an experience as it is on a Kobo. (This is unsurprising, since the owners of Kobo also owned Overdrive for several years.)
Here’s how you check out a book if you’re a Kindle user. You open Libby, select your book, and tap Read With Kindle (left, above). The Libby app then opens a webview at Amazon.com (center). You select where you want the book sent, tap Get Library Book, and a new page opens telling you that you’ve succeeded (right). The book will automatically download on your Kindle device the next time it syncs.
Not bad, right? Certainly this is more streamlined when Amazon began supporting library books a few years back. You can even return a book to the library right from the Kindle, which was not previously possible. It’s pretty good.
But here’s where Kobo beats the competition: all of Overdrive is available, right on device. Right down at the bottom of the Kobo Home screen are links to the Overdrive catalog and your personal list of holds:
Tap on the left option, and you’ll get a browsable catalog of books that are available from your library (below left). Tap on the right, and you’ll see the same list you’d see in Libby—all the books you’ve held, along with an estimated wait time (below right).
It gets better. Like Kindle, Kobo offers its own online bookstore. Unlike Kindle, you can search the Overdrive catalog as well as the store.
And if you are searching for a book in the Kobo Store, you can always tap the ellipsis button to see if it’s available at your local library—and place a hold on it right from there.
In short, while the Kindle’s integration with Libby is just fine, it does rely on a second device for all management of the experience. Kobo, on the other hand, will let you drive the entire experience from the device that’s already in your hands.
It’s the season of American consumerism, so here’s the technology we bought.
Diving into Netflix’s brand new global and regional top 10 lists, and all the things they tell us about the global streaming giant. Also, ViacomCBS corrects its Star Trek mistake, and why Netflix is bad at movies.
The older tech that we can’t justify replacing, what we’d change about Twitter in the wake of Jack Dorsey’s exit, the health tech we’d like to see next, and which retro video games we’d remake.
By Jason Snell
December 1, 2021 8:55 AM PT
I was reminded by Simon Støvring, maker of the excellent Mac and iOS utility Data Jar (which is a persistent data store that’s accessible via Shortcuts), that people may not be aware of just how well integrated Shortcuts is into macOS.
For example, if you’re someone who works in the Terminal a lot, you may not realize that you can integrate Shortcuts (including accessing data from apps like Data Jar) directly into your shell scripts and commands via the
shortcuts command-line app.
I created a small example shortcut called songtitle that outputs the title of the currently playing song.
Now from Terminal, I can use that output in any way you would normally process data. If I want to open the result in BBEdit, for example, I’d type:
shortcuts run songtitle | bbedit
If I wanted to output the result to a file, I can use the
-o flag to direct the output:
shortcuts run songtitle -o ~/songtitle.txt
And if I just want to see the output, I can pipe the result to
shortcuts run songtitle | cat
By the way,
shortcuts will also provide command-line access to the names of all your available shortcuts by typing
And yes, if you’re writing AppleScript scripts, you can use the
do shell script command to gain access to
shortcuts, though the proper way to do this1 is to instead use the new Shortcuts Events helper app:
tell application "Shortcuts Events" set theResult to run shortcut "songtitle" end tell
- In the current macOS Monterey 12.1 beta, no result is returned! Betas. ↩
By Jason Snell for Macworld
In about three weeks it’ll be winter in Cupertino, and while the turn of seasons in the Bay Area usually doesn’t amount to much beyond wearing a slightly heavier hoodie, the turning of the seasons also represents an expiration date for one of Apple’s most springtime promises.
Several features of iOS 15 and macOS Monterey announced way back in June didn’t arrive at launch. We got SharePlay in iOS 15.1, iCloud+ features are still in beta, and ID cards have been delayed till 2022. But Apple still claims that Universal Control is shipping “later this fall,” which means we’ve got less than a month before Apple’s promise to ship perhaps the best feature in Monterey, is in arrears.
Sure, three weeks is a long time… until you consider that Apple has yet to even ship a beta version of macOS and iOS that supports this new feature. If the feature isn’t even ready to be previewed by brave souls, how will it be ready for us all by mid-December? It’s tricky.
Nobody likes waiting until Christmas morning to unwrap the presents under the tree, especially the one that’s literally shaped like the outline of a new bike. But we don’t get to choose. Apple’s gifts, Apple’s rules.
By Dan Moren
November 30, 2021 1:53 PM PT
The holiday season is upon us, and what do you get for the man who has literally everything?1
Tim Cook has got to be a hard man to shop for. From outward appearances, all he seems to do is work and work (out). Truly, he seems to be a man of few luxuries, excusing the occasional hobnobbing with celebrities and expensive home purchase. But with his zip-up sweaters and sensible slacks, his lifestyle doesn’t exactly scream creature comforts.
So, in order to help all those people with Not So Tiny Tim on their holiday list—especially those who are doing a little last-minute shopping2—we’ve compiled this helpful resource of a few things that the CEO of one of the world’s most valuable companies might be excited to unwrap.
A stay of execution. Court orders aren’t anybody’s best friend, but with the clock still ticking down on Apple dealing with its one loss in the trial versus Epic, Tim (Cook, that is, not the other one) would certainly breathe easier knowing that the App Store wouldn’t undergo any upheavals—no matter how minor they might end up being—during the holiday season.…
This is a post limited to Six Colors members.
Myke checks in from mid-vacation to discuss his visit with Jason, and shares some observations from his first extended travel in a couple of years. Then Jason takes a deep dive into his adventures Shortcuts on the Mac. And there’s still time to discuss Mac AirPlay quirks and Apple lawsuits!
How we charge our devices, the travel tech we’re taking with us this year, our thoughts on Apple’s plans for digital IDs, and an examination of Apple’s newly announced Self Repair Program.
By Jason Snell
November 24, 2021 11:15 AM PT
Last week Dan wrote about macOS Monterey’s new Network Quality Tool, which lets you quickly get a sense of your local network speed from the command line.
I certainly was wondering that, so I’ve written a small SwiftBar plugin (requires python3) to run
networkQuality and report the results in the menu bar every 20 minutes. You can download it here if you’re interested.
By Jason Snell
November 24, 2021 10:00 AM PT
This time of year leads to a few inevitable kinds of stories. Giving thanks, and… deals? Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and Black Friday one of my least favorite “holidays”, and yet they’re placed back to back on the (U.S.) calendar.
I’ve written the occasional tech-I’m-thankful-for column over the years, and even drafted Thanksgiving dinner one year. And while I’ve witnessed many of my friends in the tech press being forced to spend their holiday week digging up Black Friday Deals, I’ve generally been able to stay out of it.
But in the spirit of the season, I thought I’d spread several familiar dishes across the table this week.
Tech-themed giving of thanks
On this week’s episode of Upgrade, a listener wrote in to ask about the second-generation Apple Pencil. I have to admit, I haven’t written much about the Apple Pencil since writing a love song to it back in 2018, though I did make a video that showed it off as part of my podcast-editing workflow.…