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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell for Macworld

For the Mac and iPad Pro to advance, they need to come together

I’ve never felt the need to choose between the iPad and the Mac. I use and value them both. But over the last few years, it’s started to feel like both the Mac and the iPad are increasingly limited by an artificial barrier that Apple has placed between them.

The iPad has slowly become more Mac-like without ever really reaching the promised land. The Mac, meanwhile, has failed to pick up many features from the iPad.

I admire the discipline Apple has had in keeping its product lines separate, but it feels like that decision is starting to harm the futures of both products. The Mac and the iPad are on a collision course, and I’m concerned that they’re both about to run into the brick wall that Apple has erected between them.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

Did Apple’s designers want the company to give up on its dreams of augmented reality and just wait it out for a few years? We ponder that baffling report and try to make sense of conflicting rumors about the arrival of the new MacBook Air. Then we get mellow about yellow, and Jason exposes his limited knowledge of classical music and his comprehensive knowledge of 1980s novelty pop hits.

Inside the changes to macOS cloud storage

After three days of research on the subject, Adam Engst of TidBITS has provided a detailed explanation of what’s happening with cloud-storage providers on macOS Ventura:

My understanding is that Box, Google, and Microsoft have migrated their Mac users to the File Provider approach, whereas Dropbox—probably the most popular among everyday Mac users—has only recently started to encourage those outside its beta program to switch (while others are still being asked to join the beta).

Adam’s story has all the details. In short, Apple is having all these apps migrate away from kernel extensions and to an Apple-built API, leading to some major changes in how they work and how users interact with them.

—Linked by Jason Snell

By Dan Moren for Macworld

Four iPhone 15 upgrades that will make you want one right now

Last week, Apple announced its latest “new” iPhone—if by “new”, of course, one means “yellow.” But that’s not uncommon for the company, which has taken to adding a new shade to its phones about halfway through the model year.

Still, if you’re waiting for a truly new iPhone to hit the market, you’ve got another six months to go. Which means, naturally, that the rumors for the upcoming iPhone—the new new iPhone, if you will—are starting to pick up. But is this year’s update likely to be a major change from its predecessor? Or is this just going to be on par with a yellow iPhone. Let’s take a run through what will likely be some of the more significant changes.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By John Moltz

This Week in Apple: Stumbling into the future

Technology marches ever forward, even if it does stumble drunkenly from side to side, as it sometimes does. This week Apple contemplates its AI strategy, sets a ship date for its classical music app, and makes plans for new Macs. Reportedly.

Begun, the AI war has

Look out, Siri, because according to DigiTimes, Apple is going to re-examine its AI strategy.

It’s fine to reexamine your strategies at any time, and there are certainly some effective applications for AI, but given the current state of “AI” (which is really more machine learning than true “artificial intelligence”), this is an area where Apple should feel free to take its time.

Why? Well, let’s just pull a quote from thatMacRumors piece:

…companies like Apple, Meta, and Amazon… are purportedly making efforts to ensure Microsoft does not maintain its lead in AI.

Its what with the whatnow? Are we talking about the same AI?…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

by Jason Snell

MLB app updated with Live Activities support

Track a game from the Scores screen (left) and it will appear on the lock screen (center) and in the Dynamic Island (right).

Major League Baseball’s venerable MLB app was updated this week to add support for iOS 16’s Live Activities API. The result: you can now track your favorite team’s game status from the lock screen or, on iPhone 14 Pro models, the Dynamic Island.

Tracking appears as an option only on games featuring a team you’ve marked as a favorite. Beneath the game in the app’s Scores tab, you’ll find a blue button that allows you to turn on tracking. Once you tap the button, when you leave the app you’ll see the score in the Dynamic Island (where available) and on your lock screen.

I plan on using this feature a lot during the upcoming baseball season, which officially starts at the end of the month.

—Linked by Jason Snell

By Jason Snell

By the way, Alexa, you’ve been replaced

Google Nest Hub

I switched from a regular Amazon Echo to a screen-bearing Echo Show back in 2017. As a kitchen appliance, it essentially existed to answer basic queries, set timers, and play music. If I’m being honest, it became indispensable in a single way: setting multiple named timers via voice and being able to see their status with a glance. It’s a little thing, but once you’ve got it, you don’t want to give it up.

But my frustration about literally every other aspect of the Echo Show just kept building. When I first got an Echo Show, I complained about its lack of customizability and the fact that it littered its screen with a bunch of junk that I didn’t care about.

Unfortunately, over the years, that situation didn’t improve much—and in the past year, it became untenable. Amazon offers settings to stop unwanted items from displaying on the Echo Show’s screen, but on a regular basis, the company just added new items—and the new items would be on by default. The result was that I was constantly being bombarded by unwanted garbage on the Echo Show, followed by a frustrated scroll through the device’s settings to discover which new “features” I had to turn off.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. Amazon also decided that its voice assistant needed to continue pushing unwanted features and services to me whenever I interacted with it. After dutifully replying to whatever voice command I’d give it, it would inevitably continue: “By the way…” followed by a proposal for me to join something or activate something. For a device that did nothing but live in one room, the Echo Show had a remarkable inability to read the room.

Enough was enough. Out of desperation, I bought a $100 Google Nest Hub (second generation), the Google Home equivalent of the Echo Show. Google seemed like an unlikely provider of respite from incessant marketing, but I wanted to give it a chance.

Setting up the Nest Hub was a pain because I’ve got a managed Google account that doesn’t support all the features of Google Home. In the end, I had to set it up with an alternate Gmail account and share a bunch of stuff from my managed account to my alternate identity in order for the Home Hub to see it. (I wish Google was better at this.)

That all said, once it was up and running, it’s been a breath of fresh air. The Nest Hub’s touchscreen interface is a bit laggy, but I basically never have to touch the screen. It displays multiple named timers nicely. There’s even some whimsy that Amazon never managed to find: When you set a chicken timer, it displays a chicken and clucks! When you set a pasta timer, you may end up hearing a brief blurt of stereotypical Italian music.

The Google Assistant is accurate, probably more accurate than Alexa, though it does seem to be a little worse at detecting that we’re talking to it. (I’ve yet to get an accidental activation, but sometimes we do need to tell it twice before it hears us.) And a clever proximity sensor means that I can dismiss alarms by waving my hand in front of the screen without actually touching it, which is nice when you’re cooking, and you have stuff all over your hands.

The Nest Hub supports Apple Music, works with AnyList (which we use for shared shopping lists), and apparently works with lots of video-streaming services—but on that tiny screen, it’s hardly worth it. I am using almost none of its other features, which include access to some of my smart home equipment (including my Nest thermostat) and some of my home security cameras. I did use it to start my robot vacuum cleaner the other day. But for the most part, it is a little box that does alarms and plays music and otherwise just shows the time and a picture from a Google Photos album I created for it. That’s plenty.

Best of all, I have never felt punished for being in a home that’s primarily in the Apple ecosystem. The Nest Hub has filled its niche in our home ecosystem, and not once have I been interrupted by a special offer or other marketing opportunities.

Unless and until Apple comes through with a product in this category—there are rumors that it might be considering it—the Nest Hub seems like it’s going to be a kitchen mainstay in my house.

by Jason Snell

Apple Music Classical arrives later this month

Nineteen months after Apple bought classic-music app Primephonic and promised a new dedicated app in 2022, and three months after the end of 2022, Apple is poised to finally deliver the app that classical music fans have been waiting for.

Apple Music Classical has been added to the iOS App Store, but the wait’s not quite over: it’s available for pre-order, with an expected arrival date of March 28.

According to Apple, the app will be available to Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost, will run on iOS 15.4 or later, supports Dolby Atmos and spatial audio, and will work anywhere Apple Music is available (except for China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Pakistan).

As I learned years ago from Macworld contributor Kirk McElhearn, classical music fans have some very specific needs that aren’t well served by the pop-music-oriented design of Apple Music (and all the way back to iTunes, for that matter). Hence the need for a dedicated app. (It’s unclear to me if a Mac app is in the works, however.)

I hope Apple has done right by those classical music fans. I guess we’ll find out at the end of the month.

—Linked by Jason Snell

by Jason Snell

Video: Live with the yellow iPhone

Apple sent me the new iPhone. Well, “new.” It’s the same old iPhone 14 but in yellow. And it came with a purple case. Anyway, to celebrate the color yellow I did a livestream:

Yellow is not a bad color. There are better ones, but it has its virtues.

—Linked by Jason Snell

Whether we use spatial audio, the oldest tech in our setups, our smart TV situations, and what our Twitter experience is currently like.

By Jason Snell for Macworld

Why Apple is about to supercharge its Mac chip development

The release of the M1 processor was a milestone. Apple finally migrated the Mac to its fast, low-power mobile processors, and the results were incredible. They were a hard act to follow—and after about a year and a half, the M2 processor arrived with a (not unexpected) set of incremental gains.

You can’t reinvent the wheel every time out, and clearly the M2 was a careful follow-on to the M1 designed to keep the ball rolling. But now reports abound that the M3 is on the way—not at the end of the year or in early 2024, as you might expect from the 18-month gap between the M1 and the M2, but very soon, perhaps as soon as late spring or early summer.

Surprise! It turns out that Apple may be more aggressive with its Mac processing masterplan than we might’ve guessed from the first couple of years of Apple silicon.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

Jason returns from New Zealand as a better wizard, just in time for Zaz to announce new “Lord of the Rings” films. Has it been done, or can you not keep a good Hobbit down? Also, Netflix explores lower prices, and there’s Sports Corner, too.

The game that killed SimCity

Callum Bains, writing for PCGamer, recounts the disastrous launch of a SimCity reboot in 2013 and how it spelled the end for the storied franchise:

When SimCity launched on March 6, it required players to maintain an active online connection to the game’s servers. If that connection dropped, they’d be booted from the game. The problem, simple as it seemed, was significant: there wasn’t enough server space to go round. Players were met with frequent crashes, extreme latency, exceedingly long load times, disconnections, and delayed downloads. Swathes were unable to get into the game at all, left endlessly hanging in the launch menu, let alone experience the fresh multiplayer city building they were promised. The game’s servers buckled under the tidal wave of players trying to connect, and there was no subsidence on the horizon.

SimCity was one of the first games I can really remember playing on my Mac, and I must have spent hours at it1. But the last version I ever played was SimCity 2000, which came out thirty years ago. (How come we still don’t have arcologies?!)

Of course, nothing stays dead forever these days and even though there hasn’t been a SimCity game in ten years, I wouldn’t be surprised if we haven’t heard the last of this particular series. The popular spinoff The Sims is still going strong, so maybe some day they’ll be organized into…cities?

  1. I also have fond memories of playing SimEarth with my friend on a Mac at his mom’s office, and SimAnt. 
—Linked by Dan Moren

The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus now come in yellow

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced a new yellow iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, adding even more color choices to the lineup this spring. […] The new yellow iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus will be available to pre-order this Friday, March 10, with availability starting Tuesday, March 14.

These mid-year color updates are pretty much the norm now. I think this marks the first yellow iPhone since the XR in 2018. There are also new silicone case colors—canary yellow, olive, sky, and iris—and iPhone Emergency SOS launches in six new countries—Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Portugal—later this month.

Apple also announced its spring Watch band collection, which includes sports bands in bright orange, olive, and sky; solo loops in canary yellow, olive, purple fog, sprout green; and braided solo loops in bright orange, olive, and purple fog. Plus “horse-racing” inspired Hermès bands, if you’re into that sort of thing. There don’t seem to be any specifically for the Apple Watch Ultra, however.

—Linked by Dan Moren

Kia ora! Jason’s back from vacation to discuss Apple’s continued quest to optimize its iPhone product revenue and the reason why M3 Macs might be closer (and more interesting) than we thought.

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