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February 19, 2018 • 1 hour, 27 minutes
This week on Upgrade: What does the death of Twitter for Mac say about the future of Mac software? Is Apple making big changes to how it releases software, and how will it impact the quality of the Apple product experience? We ponder these questions, note some surprising additions to Apple’s video programming, and briefly discuss how Jason permanently scarred his bookshelf.
February 16, 2018 • 36 minutes
With Dan’s triumphant return from Iceland—no blizzard can stop him!—the team reunites just in time to discuss a veritable onslaught of HomePod controversies. How is the sound? What’s with the white rings? Does Dan have way too many smart speakers? Why is John talking about Zip Drives? Will Lex ever stop making groan-worthy puns? Why are there so many questions this week?! The answer to at least a couple of those awaits.
Dan Moren for Macworld
February 16, 2018 4:39 AM PT
Traveling is a great chance to put technology through the wringer. It’s a time when you have to be economical about the gear you carry, when your environments challenge you, and when you start seeing places where your devices could go further and do more than they already do.
Last week, my girlfriend and I spent nine days in Iceland (it was supposed to be seven, but a blizzard stranded us for an extra forty-eight hours). During that time we covered roughly half the country, from snowy lava fields in the west to black sand beaches—also with their share of snow—in the south. We carried more than a few pieces of tech with us, which gave us ample time to see what worked well and where we could use some improvement over the status quo.
Jason Snell for Macworld
February 15, 2018 8:55 AM PT
The HomePod doesn’t behave like most other Apple devices. Unlike the Apple Watch, there’s no dedicated app. It supports AirPlay, so it shows up in the list of audio sources—but it’s also remote-controllable like an Apple TV. And to configure it, you don’t visit the Settings app, but the Home app. Here’s a quick guide to where and how you can control the HomePod from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
By Dan Moren
February 15, 2018 8:54 AM PT
When traveling, I generally pack a headphone adapter—this five-port Belkin model, even though it’s kind of overkill—so that my girlfriend and I can watch videos together on the plane.1 It’s a perfectly fine solution, and generally one without problems, given how low-tech it is.
But on our most recent flight back from vacation, we were in the midst of our ascent and were about to watch a video when my girlfriend realized that she’d pulled out her Lightning earbuds instead of the standard minijack pair. Not a problem once we could get up and get to her bag in the overhead, but a minor inconvenience in the meantime.
Given the opportunity, however, I decided to do a little experimentation. After all, I had my Bose QC-35s, which work over either Bluetooth or via a standard minijack. It occurred to me that we could plug in her Lightning headphones and connect the QC-35s to the iPad at the same time.
Unfortunately, this is where we ran up against an iOS limitation. Currently, there’s no way for it to pipe audio to multiple outputs, even if we’re talking about two headphones that are physically connected to separate ports.
Now, this probably isn’t an issue that people run into on a daily basis. Even on the Mac, you still need to resort to a tool like Audio MIDI Setup in order to push the same audio to multiple outputs.
However, I’d also imagine I’m not the only person who’s frustrated by having to carry around an extra dongle, so it’d be awfully nice if there were an option to let you connect multiple audio outputs and play the same audio to all of them.
What makes this interesting is that the upcoming AirPlay 2 will allow iOS devices to output audio to multiple AirPlay devices at the same time. The screenshots floating around of the iOS 11.3 beta, which includes this, feature show the ability to send audio to, for example, several Apple TVs. This has also been one promised feature for the HomePod, even though it didn’t coincide with the device’s arrival.
So, as long as we’re sending audio to multiple outputs, why not the ability to, say, connect two pairs of Bluetooth headphones to a single iOS device? The Mac can accomplish this via the Audio MIDI Setup app, so it seems like it ought to be feasible to do the same thing on an iOS device. Or, for that matter, to a set of Lightning earbuds and minijack headphones. Or a set of minijack headphones and Bluetooth headphones.
As of iOS 11.3, the interface for sending audio to multiple AirPlay speakers will already be there, so it’s more a matter of supporting Bluetooth or physical audio connections. Then again, Apple may simply have no interest in spending the time and resources to support those options and instead push users towards AirPlay-compatible devices.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that we’ve hoped for bolstered audio capabilities in iOS, though we’ve previously focused on letting more than one app use an audio input to facilitate podcast recording. So here’s hoping that a future version of iOS features more robust audio support across the board.
Thanks to the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, when we’re in a hotel or Airbnb, I’ve mainly just resorted to using the built-in speakers, which are plenty good enough. ↩
February 14, 2018 • 29 minutes
This week, on the 30-minute tech podcast that’s chock full of romance, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Casey Liss and Aleen Simms to discuss our most essential travel tech, our most romantic uses of technology, our biggest tech disappointments, and our thoughts on the first few days with HomePod.
February 13, 2018 • 1 hour, 51 minutes
This week on Upgrade: After a weekend with the HomePod, it’s time for Myke and Jason to discuss what they like and dislike about Apple’s new connected speaker. Is it so loud that Myke is angering his neighbors? Will Jason replace his Amazon Echo? How does the HomePod match up with other products in the category? Plus, Apple introduces its new battery interface and one of the company’s first big TV shows loses its creative team.
Jason Snell for Macworld
February 8, 2018 10:48 AM PT
The HomePod is coming Friday, and with it, even more attention is being paid to Siri, Apple’s voice assistant that serves as its primary interface. The early HomePod reviews are in, and most of them suggest the device is an excellent speaker that’s hampered by Siri’s limitations.
I haven’t used a HomePod yet, so I can’t speak to that, but as someone with a constellation of Apple devices, it does seem to me that Siri could stand to use some improvement. (Couldn’t we all?) So let’s leave the details of the HomePod aside for the moment and think bigger. Where does Siri need to go from here?
February 5, 2018 • 1 hour, 37 minutes
This week on Upgrade: Apple reaches a record high in revenue and profit, but what’s up with the iPhone and Mac sales figures? This week we break down Apple’s huge holiday quarter, including the calendar quirk that has cut Apple both ways.
February 4, 2018 4:39 PM PT
My thanks to DuckDuckGo for sponsoring Six Colors.
Over the years, DuckDuckGo has offered millions of people a private alternative to Google, serving over 16 billion anonymous searches. Now they’ve launched fully revamped versions of their browser extension and mobile app, with built-in tracker network blocking, smarter encryption, and, of course, private search - all designed to operate seamlessly together while you search and browse the web.
The DuckDuckGo app and extension are available across all major platforms - iOS, Safari, Chrome Firefox, and Android - so that you can easily get all the privacy essentials you need on any device with just one download.
Jason Snell for Macworld
February 2, 2018 8:58 AM PT
Three months ago, Apple boldly asserted that the holiday quarter of 2017, its first financial quarter of this fiscal year, would be the company’s biggest in history. They weren’t wrong. In fact, Apple’s holiday quarter generated $88.3 billion in revenue, blowing past even the high side of Apple’s estimates.
By just about any way you measure it, this was a great quarter for Apple. But of course, the devil’s in the details, whether it’s line items in the corporate reports or in tidbits revealed during the company’s regular phone call with analysts. So here’s a look at four tidbits we learned about Apple’s big quarter.
Dan Moren for Macworld
February 2, 2018 8:29 AM PT
Apple may have embraced the pro market on the Mac hardware side with the recent release of the iMac Pro and forthcoming Mac Pro, but the software side, well, that’s a slightly different story.
A quiet post on Apple’s support site last month revealed that the company is significantly dialing back the capabilities of its macOS Server package, the $20 add-on software that turns your Mac into a full-featured piece of server hardware. Gone are features like web and mail hosting, VPNs, and more. Instead, Apple says it is re-focusing macOS Server on “management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.” Or, in other words, on managing all your other Apple devices.
Still, that’s a shame for a number of reasons, not least of which that macOS has long been a powerful (if somewhat under-the-radar) network server option. As someone who’s dabbled in running servers in the past, I’ll be sad to see macOS Server go—but I’m not exactly surprised.