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Like cleaning two chalkboard erasers.
Twitter’s new crowdsourced fact-checking feature, Apple’s new companion audio for taking walks, our tech pet peeves, and the future of unions in Silicon Valley.
The better place.
Our top-two streaming media services, our thoughts on MagSafe returning to the Mac, gadgets we think still need work, and what we use instead of Instagram, Oculus, and WhatsApp.
By Dan Moren for Macworld
Apple’s no stranger to introducing and popularizing new technologies. The original iMac wasn’t the first to use USB, but it drove adoption of the standard. Multitouch displays existed before the iPhone, but it was the first real commercial product offering it. Sometimes those technologies take a while to gestate, though. And there may be no better example in recent years than Apple’s take on ultra wideband, or UWB.
Like those other technologies, ultra wideband isn’t new as a concept, but it’s something that hasn’t really found a home in the consumer market. In 2019, Apple released the iPhone 11 series and included a custom chip dubbed the U1. During the introduction, Apple talked up the amazing properties of the U1, and how it could be used to not only track the location of objects with amazing precision, but even has the ability to point you in the right direction towards them.
But almost a year and a half later, U1 remains a technology without much of an application. Yes, it’s built in to AirDrop to show you which other devices are closest, but that only works with other U1-enabled iPhones and it’s more of a proof of concept than an actual feature to tout. Other than that, there’s really not much there there—yet. With a few U1-enabled technologies waiting in the wings, 2021 finally be the breakout year for this technology.
By Dan Moren
January 14, 2021 12:18 PM PT
Export your Apple Notes in bulk
I’m an avid user of Apple’s Notes app: it’s where I keep all my random jottings, from ideas for books to thoughts for podcasts I’m recording, and pretty much everything in between. In general, I’m pretty happy with the built-in iCloud syncing that makes sure those notes are available on all my devices in short order, but what if you want to take those notes out of Notes, either to share them with somebody who’s not on iOS, or perhaps to back them up.
Turn out, it’s surprisingly tricky. Yes, you can sort of export a single note using the Share button—though it doesn’t really save it to a file—or, if you’re on a Mac, you can export one as a PDF.1 But if you want to export a bunch of notes as individual files, seems like you’re out of luck!
But there’s a loophole, and it comes courtesy savvy Six Colors reader Ken, who reports that he discovered a way to bulk export your Notes into text files, and all it takes is an iPad and some digital—the finger kind, not the ones and zeroes kind—acumen.…
This is a post limited to Six Colors members.
The one where Lex walks out.
Yet another leak of Apple’s tracking fobs, who should moderate online content, good password hygiene, and Spotify’s podcast listeners.
By Dan Moren
January 12, 2021 8:50 AM PT
Where Apple could improve Fitness+
In some ways, Fitness+ couldn’t have come at a better time. At one point or another, we’ve all probably made that New Year’s resolution to work out more, and with the pandemic forcing many of us to stay in our homes, a friendly exercise option is suddenly much more appealing.
Both my wife and I have spent the last several weeks with Fitness+1, and in general, the service has really impressed us. The trainers are an inclusive, engaging group and the focus on mobility and providing alternative workout options is a marked contrast from many other competitors.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t improvements to be made. Even after just a few weeks, we’ve definitely run into places where the service could be tweaked or offer more. That’s understandable, given that Fitness+ just launched, and no doubt Apple is planning to make changes down the road, especially once it sees how customers are using the service. But just in case Cupertino’s paying attention, here are a few ways we’ve noticed that Fitness+ could use a little more attention.
Get back in the groove
It’s certainly not ideal to have to stop a workout in the middle, but sometimes life gets in the way. The kids need attention, or someone rings the doorbell, or heck, the Fitness+ app crashes. We’ve all grown accustomed, in this modern era, to being able to drop out of something and pick up right where we left off. But Fitness+ has proved to be much touchier about such interrupts. My wife has had her workout prematurely ended a couple times, and thus far the only option is to start all over again, which clearly isn’t ideal.
Certainly, a workout is a little more complicated than a movie, since your Apple Watch is tracking your vitals at the same time, but there should still be an option to easily jump back in where you left off. Right now, you can’t even fast forward through workouts to get back to where you were, which can quickly turn what should have been a positive experience into a frustrating one.
Switch it up
Along those same lines, it should be easier to switch devices mid-workout. If you’re using the Apple TV to do your yoga workout, and somebody else wants to use the TV, you should be able to switch to your iPad without missing a beat. Again, it’s the kind of seamless continuity we expect from other Apple apps. Even trying to use AirPlay from your iPad to your Apple TV and then switch to using the iPad can cause some hiccups in the workout experience, and then it’s back to our previous problem about resuming interrupted workouts.
Filter it out
Currently, Fitness+ lets you filter by three criteria: type of workout (cycling, yoga, strength, etc.), duration, or trainer. That’s all useful, but when you’re trying to do a little more targeted exercise, it would be helpful to have some additional information about workouts. For example, Fitness+ could let you filter by which part of the body a session focuses on (upper body, lower body, core, etc.) or even by the intensity of the workout.
To the latter point, yes, Fitness+ does do a nice job of providing different options within a workout, but some trainers and some sessions can definitely be more strenuous than others, and it would be helpful to have a better idea of what you’re getting into. The Absolute Beginner classes are a great way to start off, but beyond those it would be nice to know whether you’re diving into the deep end or taking a slower ramp up.
Context is king
The integration with the Apple Watch is definitely part of Fitness+’s secret sauce, but it would be nice if those metrics had a little more context to them. For example, Fitness+ shows you your progress through the workout in the corner of the screen, including your current heart rate, but there’s not a great indication of what your heart rate should be.
One useful data point would be whether your heart rate is within the target range for the workout. (Target heart rate is generally based on your age and the kind of workout you’re doing.) That would make it easier for you to adjust on the fly during a workout, taking things up a notch if you’re not quite feeling the burn, or maybe cutting back if you’re going too hard.
One aspect that Fitness+ is kind of light on at present are social features. The only real concession to connecting with other people—aside from the Apple Watch’s built-in competitions and achievements—is the Burn Bar.
The Burn Bar is supposed to give you an idea of how you’re doing compared to other people who’ve done the same workout. The more calories you burn, the better you do on the Burn Bar, which at least gives you some idea of context (see above)—except that the Burn Bar is only available in a small number of workout types: Treadmill, High-Intensity, Rowing, and Cycling.
Now, I get it: I may not want to be focusing on how my calorie burning stacks up to everyone else when I’m doing a relaxing yoga workout, but in some of the others, like Core, or Strength, or even Dance, it would be nice to at least have the option to turn it on.
And if Apple wants to take social features a step further and create ways for you to, say, remotely do a workout with a friend, or otherwise compare performance, that might be fun too—assuming, of course, that they’re purely opt in.
In addition to the above areas, there are a handful of other small improvements that Fitness+ could stand. The Apple TV app could use a way to access workouts you’ve saved to your list (if there is one, I couldn’t find it); likewise, on the Apple TV, it’s impossible to do a workout if you don’t have an Apple Watch, which seems like an unnecessary requirement given that the iPad version doesn’t require it; and it would be useful to have more overarching, holistic guidance if you’re working toward a specific goal—say, running a 5K—rather than relying on the algorithms which seem to suggest workouts based largely on things you’ve already done.
On the whole, despite the potential for improvement, Apple Fitness+ has had a promising start. It’s only a month old at this point, and Apple’s obvious commitment to continually adding new content does provide a solid hook to keep coming back, but it will be intriguing to see where the company goes from a feature standpoint over the next years or so.2
[Dan Moren is the official Dan of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, The Aleph Extraction, is out now and available in fine book stores everywhere, so be sure to pick up a copy.]
By Dan Moren for Macworld
I think we can all agree that there are times when the current reality could be a little…better.
For several years, Apple has talked up the potential of the augmented reality space, and more recently, there have been rumors that the company is getting ready to take those ambitions to the next level by releasing a product focused on augmented reality, virtual reality—or possibly both.
But Apple isn’t one to take on projects casually: despite the multitude of calls for Apple to enter this market or that, the company tends to be very conservative in what projects actually make it through the extensive gauntlet to become shipping products. As Steve Jobs once said, “innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
If Apple truly is ready to take the plunge into this new product area—which reports are now suggesting could happen sooner rather than later—then that’s because the company believes that it’s figured out how to bring the combined might of its hardware, software, and services to bear on a type of device that no company has cracked quite yet. Which raises the question: what the heck is this thing?
Killer apps for AR and VR, video chat etiquette tips, how we’ll use tech differently in 2021, and the advertising and marketing decisions that we’d toss out the window.
By Dan Moren for Macworld
Here’s the thing about being one of the most prominent—and, by some measurements most valuable—companies in the world: it paints a heck of a target on your back. Apple’s long found itself on the receiving end of attacks from competitors, smaller challengers, and the government, and that hasn’t changed in recent years.
But as we flip our calendars over to 2021, there are already a handful of battles in progress that could have marked effects on Apple’s business in both the short and long terms. Of course, a company with as many resources as Apple may be able to weather the occasional squall, but every once in a while you get a perfect storm that’s harder to fend off.
Let’s take a look at these three brewing fights and how they might force Apple to batten down its hatches in the year ahead.
By Dan Moren
December 31, 2020 11:39 AM PT
The Back Page: Apple 2021
Good morning! We’re so glad you could join us today, here at Apple Park. We’ve got a lot of exciting announcements to share with you, but before we get started, I want to take a moment to look back at everything Apple has achieved in 2020.
Even in the face of a global pandemic, Apple continued to deliver products to surprise and delight its customers, who remain trapped in their own homes with their glowing screens as the only comprany they have. Here at Apple, our employees have worked tirelessly to help make sure that you can stay safe by having food delivered to your door, providing a non-stop slew of content to binge, and enabling you to keep endlessly doomscrolling, even as the world dissolves into chaos around you. Also, we released five new iPhones!
We’re glad that we’ve been able to do our part to get people through this tough time…but we think we can do better.…
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Tech we’re looking forward to in 2021, our schedules for buying M1 Macs, favorite gadgets of 2020, and holiday tech gifts.