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April 24, 2019 10:23 AM PT
This week, on the 30-minute show that just keeps getting older, Dan and Mikah are joined by special guests Heather Kelly and Jeremy Burge to discuss rumors that the iPad will add pointing device support, our favorite tech flops, drone deliveries, and our tips for selling our old tech. Plus, a very special Avengers-themed bonus topic.
Jason Snell for Macworld
April 24, 2019 8:19 AM PT
I fell in love with the Mac nearly 30 years ago, in the fall of 1989. It’s been the center of my tech world ever since, and I’ve been writing about it professionally for 25 years. And yet these past months, I’ve noticed something strange creeping into my thoughts occasionally while I sit at my desk working on my iMac Pro: iOS does this better.
It’s disconcerting, after three decades, to suddenly find that manipulation of files and folders in the Finder has gone from being business as usual to seeming like it’s more fuss and effort than is necessary. And yet that’s where I am now, thanks to a couple of years of using an iPad Pro rather than a MacBook Air whenever I’m away from my desk. The iPad, she has infected me. And I fear there is no cure.
April 24, 2019 7:30 AM PT
This week, on the irreverent tech show that sometimes takes lengthy digressions, we discuss the debacle that is the Galaxy Fold, John’s pulling back from Instagram, Lex’s daughter’s surprisingly macabre game of The Sims, and Dan’s experiences with Alexa and Apple Music. Then everybody takes a trip down memory lane to reminisce about classic digital cameras and old video games.
April 23, 2019 12:43 PM PT
What’s next for macOS and iOS? This week we discuss all of last week’s reporting by Guilherme Rambo about the future of Apple’s platforms, from Find My Friends to support for external displays and pointing devices, to the complicated future of automation on macOS. Jason also extolls the virtues of the Kindle, Apple and Qualcomm come to terms, and YouTube goes back to basics.
Dan Moren for Macworld
April 19, 2019 5:15 AM PT
As the Nobel Prize laureate once sang, “The times, they are a-changin’.”
2019 is a big year for Apple, and at the forefront of the questions circling around the company is the future of macOS. Last year’s demonstration of “Marzipan” technology—letting iOS apps run on the Mac with little alteration—shook the foundations of what many people considered a Mac app.
Long time Mac users are, understandably, nervous about what this could imply for the future of their chosen platform. Will apps get “dumbed down” and features lost? Will developers eschew Mac-specific programs for the ease of deploying one app everywhere? As Mac users, we’re used to feeling dour and grim about what’s to come, especially those of us who lived through the dark times of the mid-1990s.
But amidst all of that doom and gloom, there are plenty of glimmers of hope about what this could mean for the Mac. I’d go so far as to say I have optimism that deploying iOS apps could be a boon for not just Apple, but the whole Mac platform, which is not only alive and kicking, but even flourishing.
By Jason Snell
April 17, 2019 11:08 AM PT
In the last few months Amazon has released two new Kindles, the $130 Kindle Paperwhite and the $90 base-model Kindle. Both of them are notable improvements on their previous versions, making it harder for me to declare which Kindle you should buy. The base-model Kindle is much harder to write off than it was before, but I think the Paperwhite still has a better combination of features for most users.
A lot of people think the entire dedicated ebook reader category has been made obsolete by tablets and smartphones. Not so! If you’ve never used an ebook reader before, you may not realize that their screens are dramatically different from computer, phone, and tablet screens. These are reflective screens—like ink on paper, you read them by light reflected off their surface, rather than light shining in from behind like those other screens.
These screens have some huge advantages: They use very little power, and they’re extremely readable in bright light. But they’re relatively low resolution and can only display black, white, and shades of gray, so they’re inappropriate for much more than text on a page. If you’ve ever tried to read a book while sitting in the sun at the pool, you can see why this sort of display is a perfect match for this category.
What’s more, these devices are unitaskers. You won’t be tempted to flip over to Twitter or get bugged by a push notification or an incoming FaceTime call. When I’m using my Kindle, I am reading, not grazing the internet. When I’m out and about without a Kindle, I’ll read books on my iPhone, but when I get home I’m right back to the dedicated reading device. If you are someone who reads a lot, consider buying a Kindle. (You can probably even check out books from your local library to your Kindle using a service such as OverDrive!)
A word about Kindle pricing
Amazon’s pricing model for the Kindle is complicated. The base prices of each Kindle model include “special offers”, which is Amazon’s euphemism for advertising. With special offers enabled, the screensaver on your Kindle when it’s turned off is an ad for a book, and to turn the Kindle on you’ve got to press the power button and then swipe the touchscreen to dismiss the ad. There are also small ad banners at the bottom of the main navigation screen.
It costs an additional $20 to turn off the special offers. You can order your Kindle without special offers or just pay the $20 later on the device to turn them off. I have talked to many people who find the special offers valuable, because they aid in discovering interesting books and point out sales going on in the Kindle store. I find the addition of an extra step every single time I turn my Kindle on to be enough of an interface impediment that I always pay the $20 to turn off special offers. The choice is yours.
For the Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis, Amazon also offers two storage-size tiers—8GB or, for $30 more, 32GB. Unless you are leaving the internet for years or have decided to use the Kindle as a repository for audiobooks as well as text, you don’t need the larger size. Ebooks just don’t take up much space. You can fit hundreds of books on an 8GB Kindle.
Amazon also offers an alternative networking upgrade on the 32GB models of Paperwhite and Oasis, one that adds “free” cellular connectivity to the party. For an additional $70 (keeping in mind you’re also paying $30 more for the larger storage capacity—though your $20 Special Offers charge is comped at this level) your Kindle will use LTE cellular networking when it’s not able to connect to Wi-Fi. It means you can download books in more than 100 countries without needing Wi-Fi, and you’ll never see a bill (other than that $120 additional charge from Amazon). Wi-Fi is so ubiquitous that this seems unnecessary, but you can pay $250 instead of $130 for a Kindle Paperwhite if you really want all the features.
Base-model Kindle upgrade
The “cheap” Kindle (which now starts at $90, up from $80 with the previous model) has lagged behind the rest of the product line in failing to offer an integrated light (first offered on the Kindle Paperwhite in 2012). There is nothing dumber than needing to clip on a book light in order to read a digital device in the dark.
Those days are over. The new ninth-generation Kindle has an integrated light, four LEDs that shine from the edges of the display to make it readable in any light conditions. It’s an enormous step up that makes the base Kindle a product worth considering as more than a disposable beach-reading device.
In most other aspects, the Kindle is still inferior to other models, though. The integrated six-inch display is the same size as the Paperwhite, but at 167 pixels per inch it’s about half the resolution. This means that text is less crisp and more jagged. If your eyesight isn’t great you won’t notice, but everyone else will. I also found that the Kindle’s display was lower contrast than the Paperwhite’s, with text appearing less black and more dark gray.
The Kindle’s display is recessed in its case, with a plastic bezel that surrounds it. Years of using Kindles with recessed bezels has taught me that it’s an inferior design, because the corners where the recessed screen meets the bezel are magnets for dust, crumbs, and other tiny bits of distracting debris. (And of course, since the Kindle screen itself is touch sensitive, you can’t just wipe that debris away—you’ve got to turn the device off and then try to jimmy that stuff out of there.)
The Kindle is the lightest of all three of Amazon’s ereader models, at 5.9 ounces, but all the models are within an ounce of each other, so I’m not sure it matters that much. (The Paperwhite is 6.5 ounces and the high-end Kindle Oasis is 6.8 ounces.)
The overall texture of the Kindle is what you’d expect for a low-end, cheap tech product. It’s hard plastic, and not particularly grippy. In other words, this is a utilitarian product that gets the key parts right—it’s got an E Ink screen and lighting—while avoiding most nice-to-have features that the higher-end models provide.
The $130 fourth-generation Kindle Paperwhite retains its crown as the Kindle most people should buy. It’s a lot cheaper than the high-end Kindle Oasis and appreciably nicer than the base-model Kindle.
The Paperwhite’s screen has 300 ppi resolution, almost twice the base model, bringing it up to more or less “retina” resolution in terms of displaying smooth type that’s hard to distinguish from ink on paper. I found the display to be appreciably better quality than on the base model, with higher contrast and more consistent lighting. The display on the Paperwhite is also flush with the front bezel, so there are no nooks and crannies for lint and dust and crumbs to get stuck.
The biggest improvement to this generation of Paperwhite is IPX8 waterproofing, so you can read in the bath or by the pool without worry. The last time I went to a beach resort I saw a zillion Kindles poolside, so it makes me think that adding waterproofing will be very popular.
Beyond that, the Paperwhite is simply made of better materials than the base Kindle. It’s got a grippy back that feels nicer than the hard plastic of the Kindle, although it’s not quite as swank as the aluminum back of the Oasis.
In other words, this generation of Paperwhite remains the best balance of features and price in the Kindle line. In my opinion, the Paperwhite has been the real Kindle for a few years now, and that remains the case. The base-model Kindle is getting better, but the better display, waterproofing, flush-front design, and nicer overall feel push the Kindle Paperwhite ahead.
Jason Snell for Macworld
April 17, 2019 8:45 AM PT
Who knew that a report that Apple was replacing iTunes with new apps brought to the Mac from iOS would open a Pandora’s Box of Mac angst?
But it’s really not that surprising. 2019 promises to be a huge year of change for the Mac, in large part because this fall’s macOS release will open the floodgates to apps originally designed for iOS. When you compare the features of an iTunes (conceived for the Mac of nearly two decades ago) with Music (built for the iPhone and retrofitted for Apple Music), it’s hard not to feel like the Mac is about to get dumbed down.
There’s no denying that if Apple brings these iOS apps straight across to the Mac without any upgrades, they will be far less capable than the app they’re replacing. iTunes started life as an MP3 jukebox and has been the receptacle for every media and device-syncing feature Apple has needed to add to the Mac in the two intervening decades.
April 17, 2019 7:30 AM PT
This week, on the irreverent tech show where nobody is innocent for long, we discuss Disney’s new streaming service—aimed directly at John and Dan—and what it means for Apple TV+, plus iOS 13’s rumored improvements, Lex’s too-automated household, and why everybody is always listening to you anyway.
By Dan Moren
April 16, 2019 12:10 PM PT
I recently updated my Mac mini server to macOS Mojave after a long and troublesome ordeal. 1 While the update has been mostly positive, one of the features I was sad to lose was the ability to configure my own VPN server. As you may recall, the VPN server was previously available as part of macOS Server, but was removed by Apple—along with several other features—in that software package’s Mojave-compatible update.
But, as it turns out, all is not lost. The underlying code for running the VPN server is still present in macOS—there’s just no UI for configuring it. I could have just dug into the command line and figured out how to restore it, but it turns out that hard work has already been done for me. Via Twitter, Andrew Flemming pointed me to Bernard Teo’s VPN Enabler for Mojave, a $15 software package that—as its name suggests—provides a simple front-end for configuring a VPN server on Mojave.
I purchased VPN Enabler, set it up, and I would argue that it’s even easier than Apple’s own tools: besides fitting everything in one compact window, VPN Enabler will even suggest appropriate IP addresses so you don’t have to worry about figuring out what portions of your LAN are available. Additionally, it will generate a mobile configuration profile that you can use to automatically set up VPN access on your iOS devices with just a couple taps.
It took me less than 10 minutes to get up and running with VPN Enabler (and a solid few minutes of that was testing to make sure it still works even when the software isn’t open on the mini, which naturally, it does), and it’s working seamlessly. 2
So, if you’ve been holding off upgrading to Mojave because of the lack of a VPN server, I can report that VPN Enabler does the trick. And if you’ve ever wanted to set up a VPN for your home network but been worried it was too complicated, this app takes pretty much all of the guesswork out of it.
I’ve been writing a post about this whole saga which those of you who follow me on Twitter or listen to The Rebound will have heard much of, but it’s very long. Keep an eye out. ↩
I found that the macOS VPN server actually died every once in a while and needed to be restarted, but so far I haven’t had that problem with VPN Enabler. ↩
April 15, 2019 12:43 PM PT
Disney finally unveils its streaming service at a price that makes us wonder just what game Apple thinks it’s playing; we get a sneak peek at some possible new iPad features for iOS 13; and Jason and Myke ponder the major changes due for the Mac this fall with the departure of iTunes and the arrival of Marzipan.
Jason Snell for Tom's Guide
April 13, 2019 8:04 AM PT
Well, iTunes, it was a good run. According to reports from knowledgeable developers, this fall marks the end of the viable life of an 18-year-old app that started as an MP3 jukebox and ended up as an all-purpose media player, e-commerce engine, and mobile-device synchronizer.
It may be hard to believe it now, but iTunes began as a pretty great music player. iTunes was so good, and so successful, in fact, that Apple turned it into the repository for pretty much every media and device strategy that followed, making iTunes into a hodgepodge of features that was simultaneously unbearable (for users) and unkillable (for Apple).
The end may be nigh, but while iTunes may soon leave active service, it’s not going anywhere for quite a while.
Dan Moren for Macworld
April 12, 2019 5:30 AM PT
For a company that maintains multiple major operating systems, has its own productivity suite, and even developed one of the most popular web browsers in use, there was a time that the piece of software most identified with Apple was also perhaps the one most viewed as a necessary evil.
I speak, of course, of iTunes.
Yes, the music-playing/device syncing/media-buying/podcast-listening (and so much more) app was at one time not only a brand unto itself, but also an almost universal experience, as one of the few pieces of Apple software that was ported to Windows computers.
But iTunes may not have much time left on its clock. In recent days, speculation has hinted that the upcoming version of macOS will instead feature separate apps for music, podcasts, TV, and so on, likely based on their iOS counterparts. But those apps lack a lot of iTunes’s more powerful features.
Calls for iTunes’s breakup go back years (including me), but now that it seems to be on the verge of happening, it’s worth considering the things that iTunes actually does well and which deserve to stick around.