What If…? – An Immersive Story Will Debut May 30th

Source: Disney+.

Source: Disney+.

Earlier this month, I linked to What If…? – An Immersive Story, which Marvel Studios and ILM Immersive developed for Disney+. The project is an Apple Vision Pro exclusive for which there were few details originally. Now, however, we have a trailer and a launch date. What If…? – An Immersive Story will be available to Disney+ subscribers in just over one week on May 30th:

The trailer’s description explains the project’s premise:

The Multiverse is in danger and The Watcher needs your help. Dangerous variants are hunting Infinity Stones and altering the fate of not only their realities, but yours as well. To save the fate of the Multiverse, you’ll need to use your own hands to learn mystic spells, defend your allies in epic battles, and more. But, be careful… everything might not be all that it seems.

Source: Disney+.

Source: Disney+.

I can’t wait to try What If…? – An Immersive Story. There hasn’t been a lot of new immersive content since the Vision Pro’s launch. However, along with the appearance of Parkour in the TV app, which is set for release in a couple of days, the pace seems to be picking up.

Magic Rays of Light: Apple TV Wishes Past, Trying, and Sugar

This week on Magic Rays of Light, Sigmund and Devon highlight the return of Trying, recap the first season of Sugar, and revisit their 2023 WWDC hopes to see what came true and what remains on the wishlist.

Show Notes

Send us a voice message all week via iMessage or email to magic@macstories.net.

Sigmund Judge | Follow Sigmund on X, Mastodon, or Threads

Devon Dundee | Follow Devon on Mastodon or Threads

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Tadoº Announces New Range of Smart Heating Products Supporting Matter Over Thread

Tadoº, the European-based smart heating company, has announced a new line of products called tadoº X. These products feature upgrades from the company’s previous V3+ range, support the new Matter smart home standard, and are built on the Thread protocol for a more reliable connection.

Tadoº also announced a new product, the Heat Pump Optimizer X. This device controls heat pumps, an increasingly popular way to heat homes that is more efficient and not dependent on fossil fuels. Tadoº says the new tadoº X range “has been designed to make Smart Thermostats and the new Heat Pump Optimizer X more accessible for millions more households across Europe to cut both their energy bills and impact on the climate.”

The tadoº X line includes the following products:

  • Smart Thermostat X
  • Smart Radiator Thermostat X
  • Wireless Temperature Sensor X
  • Heat Pump Optimizer X
  • Bridge X (which serves as a Thread border router)

Amongst the notable upgrades, the Smart Radiator Thermostat X now features a USB-C rechargeable battery that can be detached without removing the whole device from the radiator. The Heat Pump Optimizer X can be used with tadoº’s smart energy tariffs to shift operation times to periods of the day when energy prices are cheaper. Finally, the tadoº Bridge X that serves as a Thread border router, allowing your devices to connect to each other and the Internet, is not necessary if you already have a HomePod mini or the Wi-Fi + Ethernet version of the latest-generation Apple TV 4K, as these also serve as Thread border routers.

The smart radiator thermostat now has a removable, rechargeable battery.

The smart radiator thermostat now has a removable, rechargeable battery.

As before, the tadoº range is compatible with the Apple Home app, but most features – such as advanced scheduling and checking battery levels – are only available in the tadoº app. The devices also integrate with an optional subscription called ‘Auto-Assist’ that gives access to additional features including Energy IQ, Care & Protect, Geofencing, and Open Window Detection. This service costs €3.99 per month or €29.99 per year, but each tadoº X product comes with 12 months free.

The tadoº app. Image: tadoº

The tadoº app. Image: tadoº

I have personally used tadoº products for over three years now (and covered them recently in our home accessories roundup), and I’ve seen genuine savings in my usage. (tadoº claims an average of 22% savings based on internal usage data.) One flaw I’ve sometimes encountered is dropped connections, as the previous V3+ range could only connect to a single bridge that had to also connect via ethernet to my router. The move to Thread should hopefully alleviate these issues.

I will have to wait for the new tadoº range, however, as it is not launching in the UK yet. In response to an inquiry about this, tadoº told me the company has a September target release date in the UK and other European countries. They also confirmed an additional product, the Wireless Smart Thermostat X, which connects to traditional gas boilers like the one I have, will be released at that time. This will enable efficient usage through the ability to remotely turn the boiler off if no radiator thermostats are on.

Another detail provided to me is that the Auto-Assist feature, which was previously complimentary to Apple users, was a limited offer through Apple. As such, after the 12-month trial, the service will now cost the standard €3.99 per month or €29.99 per year, even if you are an Apple Home user.

The new tadoº X range is now available in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, and Denmark.

QuickTune: A Music Remote App for Mac with Tiger Vibes

I’m not usually nostalgic about apps. I appreciate classic designs from the past, but I find ‘new’ more exciting. However, for every rule, there’s an exception, and for me, it’s Mario Guzmán’s beautiful, pixel-perfect reimagining of classic Apple music apps.

Guzmán’s latest app is QuickTune, a remote control utility for Apple Music. The app is the spitting image of QuickTime 71 running on Mac OS X Tiger, with a sprinkling of modern features and fun interactions that make it a pleasure to use.

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I Turned the New 13” iPad Pro Into a MacPad and Portable Gaming Display

The updated MacPad.

The updated MacPad.

As I hinted in my story on the issues of iPadOS last week, I upgraded from an 11” iPad Pro to a 13” iPad Pro (1 TB, Wi-Fi-only model). While I was very happy with the 11” form factor, I decided to return to the larger model for two reasons:

  • I wanted to have maximum thinness with the ultimate iPad Pro model Apple makes.
  • I sacrificed the physical comfort of the 11” iPad Pro to get a larger display for my MacPad as well as portable gaming.

Today, I will explain how I was able to immediately turn the brand-new 13” iPad Pro into a convertible MacPad using a combination of accessories and some new techniques I’ve been exploring. I’ll also share my experience with using the iPad’s glorious Tandem OLED display in a variety of gaming setups ranging from streaming to emulators.

Let’s dive in.

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Apple Rolls out Support for Paris Transit Passes in Wallet Just in Time for the Olympics

Today, Apple rolled out support for Paris’ Navigo transit passes in the Wallet app, just in time for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Travelers are now able to acquire a Navigo pass directly from Apple’s Wallet app and load it with transit tickets. Not only that, but this now also makes it possible to use your iPhone to get through any gates on the Paris transit network, simply by holding the iPhone near the stations’ contactless readers.

Navigo in Wallet also supports Apple’s Express Mode feature, which means the pass is automatically activated when holding the iPhone near a gate, without having to authenticate with Face ID. Additionally, this features lets you use the pass for up to five hours after your iPhone runs out of battery.

As French publication Numerama notes, this full integration with Apple’s transit pass system is a first of its kind in continental Europe. In my testing, you can add a Navigo pass in Wallet and pay for a new batch of tickets without even having to install Paris’ official transit app at any step of the process. However, this only applies to occasional travelers since the official app is still required to purchase weekly and monthly tickets before you can load them onto the pass in Apple Wallet.

Loading tickets onto the Navigo Pass in Apple Wallet, and enabling Express Mode.

Loading tickets onto the Navigo Pass in Apple Wallet, and enabling Express Mode.

This integration with Apple Wallet has been a long time in the making. Android smartphone owners have already been able to replace their physical Navigo pass with their device since 2022. At the time, Île-de-France Mobilités (Paris’ transit authority) announced they were actively working with Apple to bring the feature to the iPhone in 2023. Today, one year later than originally expected, it has finally arrived.

The One Where Quinn Nelson Tries to Create a Window with iPadOS’ Stage Manager

I’ve published my fair share of criticism regarding the iPadOS version of Stage Manager over the years. I wrote about it again last week, but most of its underlying issues date back to the original release in late 2022, which I documented here.

But let’s say you don’t want to read my articles and would prefer to have a more practical example of the issues I described. In that case, go check out this three-minute video by Quinn Nelson, in which he tries to have a Freeform window on the iPad and another Freeform window on an external display:

Post by @snazzyq
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This video has everything:

  • It shows the confusing lack of Mission Control/Exposé to see all active windows for an app in Stage Manager.
  • It highlights the lack of a window picker in Stage Manager. Quinn points out that he can see a window picker on the iPad’s display, but that’s because the iPad is running in traditional Split View mode, which does come with the shelf.
  • Quinn is (rightfully) perplexed by what ‘Add Another Window’ means.
  • The video shows the inconsistencies of Spotlight as an app launcher.
  • It also showcases the inconsistent implementation of keyboard shortcuts for multitasking.
  • The video shows how downright unintuitive the solution is. An alternative solution mentioned in Quinn’s replies is equally non-discoverable.

I’m sure someone at Apple may argue that this is the kind of feature people buy another computer for. But it’s always the same story: if Stage Manager for iPad exists, what’s the point of leaving it in this state for two years?


A TestFlight Update: Patched, But Still Broken

Just over a year ago, I wrote about the poor performance of TestFlight, the app that App Store developers rely on for beta testing their own apps. Today, thanks to a couple rounds of Feedback submissions, TestFlight is working better than before, but it’s not fixed. With WWDC around the corner, I thought I’d provide a quick update and share a few suggestions for fixes and features I’d like to see Apple implement.

One of the benefits of writing about TestFlight last year was that it became clear to me that, although my use of the app was unique, I wasn’t alone. Other writers who test a lot of apps and super fans who love trying the latest versions of their favorite apps got in touch sharing similar experiences, which convinced me that the issue was related to the number of betas I had in TestFlight. My experience was one of the worst, but with others in a similar boat, I took the time to file a Feedback report to see if there was anything that could be done to improve TestFlight.

An example of a beta app set to automatically update. But at least on my iPhone, none do.

An example of a beta app set to automatically update. But at least on my iPhone, none do.

That initial Feedback attempt ultimately went nowhere. Then, I got busy and resigned myself to getting by as best I could. However, getting by was no longer an option as the Vision Pro’s release date approached. That added a significant number of new betas to my TestFlight collection. By March, the Mac version of TestFlight had stopped working entirely. With apps lined up in my review queue, that posed a problem I couldn’t work around.

I removed inactive betas using my iPhone and removed myself from testing as many active betas as I could bear. However, nothing worked, so I filed another report with the black box known as Feedback. Fortunately, this time, it worked. After some back-and-forth sharing logs and screen recordings of TestFlight failing to load any content, I received a message that something had been adjusted on Apple’s end to shake things loose. Just like that, TestFlight was working again, although sluggishly.

TestFlight once again loads betas on my Mac, but not always with icons.

TestFlight once again loads betas on my Mac, but not always with icons.

My immediate problem is fixed, and I’ve been managing old betas more carefully to avoid a repeat of what happened on the Mac before. However, it’s clear that TestFlight needs more than just the quick fix that solved the worst of my problems. First of all, although TestFlight works again on my Mac, it’s slow to load on all OSes and clearly in need of work to allow it to handle larger beta collections more gracefully. And there’s a lot of other low-hanging fruit that would make managing large beta collections better on every OS, including:

  • the addition of a search field to make it easier to quickly locate a particular app
  • sorting by multiple criteria like developer, app name, and app category
  • filtering to allow users to only display installed or uninstalled betas
  • a single toggle in the Settings app to turn off all existing and future email notifications of new beta releases
  • attention to the automatic installation of beta updates, which has never worked consistently for me
  • a versioning system that allows users to see whether the App Store version of an app has caught up to its beta releases
  • automatic installation of betas after an OS update or ‘factory restore’ because currently, those apps’ icons are installed, but they are not useable until they’re manually re-installed from TestFlight one-by-one

It’s time for Apple to spend some time updating TestFlight beyond the band-aid fix that got it working again for me. It’s been a full decade since Apple acquired TestFlight. Today, the app is crucial to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and visionOS development, and while it’s not as critical to macOS development, it’s used more often than not by Mac developers, too. Apple has gone to great lengths to explain the benefits of its developer program to justify its App Store commissions generally and the Core Technology Fee in the EU specifically. TestFlight is just one piece of that program, but it’s an important one that has been neglected for too long and no longer squares with the company’s professed commitment to developers.

AppStories, Episode 384 – Our 2024 iOS and iPadOS WWDC Wishes

This week on AppStories, we kick off our annual WWDC wishes episodes with a conversation about the changes they’d like to see made to iOS and iPadOS 18.

Sponsored by:

  • Things: a beautiful native app for Apple Vision Pro.

Our iOS and iPadOS 18 Wishes for WWDC

On AppStories+, I explain the three features that made me apprehensive about my iPad Pro purchase.

We deliver AppStories+ to subscribers with bonus content, ad-free, and at a high bitrate early every week.

To learn more about the benefits included with an AppStories+ subscription, visit our Plans page, or read the AppStories+ FAQ.

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