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MacStories Unwind: Obsessing Over Wi-Fi

This week on MacStories Unwind, Federico teases a big project he’s been working on that will be out on MacStories next week, plus both he and John obsess over their Wi-Fi setups but wish Apple would make hardware that made it all easier.



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Federico Teases a Big Project

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Obsessing over Wi-Fi


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Vision Pro App Spotlight: Status Bar Builder’s Key Is Customization Combined with Simplicity

There’s an elegance in simplicity that I value. I use plenty of complex apps, but there’s a certain satisfaction in finding one that fits your needs perfectly. One such app that seems destined to claim a long-term spot on my Vision Pro is Status Bar Builder, a customizable utility that displays useful information without taking up much space.

Status Bar Builder's UI for organizing and creating status bars.

Status Bar Builder’s UI for organizing and creating status bars.

The app allows you to build status bars, which are narrow, horizontal windows reminiscent of the Mac’s menu bar that you can place around your environment. Status bars come in three text sizes and can have no background, be translucent, or use a colored background.

Regardless of the styling you pick, status bars can include:

  • Shortcuts
  • Links
  • Today’s date
  • Weekday
  • Numerical date
  • Month
  • Time
  • Your calendar events
  • A battery charge indicator
  • A spacer
Adding items to a status bar.

Adding items to a status bar.

Designing status bars is easy. They’re created and stored in the app’s main window, which includes a preview of each along with buttons to open any existing status bars, make revisions, or delete them. At the bottom of the main window, there’s also a ‘New’ button to add to your collection.

You can make as many status bars as you’d like, sprinkling them around your room. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many items you can include in a status bar, either, but as a practical matter, if a status bar gets too long, it doesn’t look great, and some text will be truncated.

Adding shortcuts to a status bar.

Adding shortcuts to a status bar.

What’s more, you can add as many of each type of item as you’d like to a status bar. For Shortcuts, that means you can create a long list of shortcuts if you want. However, you better be able to identify them by their icons because the buttons in the status bar don’t include shortcut names or the colors you assigned to them.

Links work like a mini bookmark bar, allowing you to save frequently visited websites with a custom icon as a button in your status bar. However, like shortcuts, you’ll need a memorable icon because there are no link labels or other text to go by. Links support URL schemes too, offering additional automation options.

Links and shortcuts can be represented by an icon.

Links and shortcuts can be represented by an icon.

There are also a few other other item-specific settings available. For example, there are three sizes of spacers that can be added to a status bar, and calendar events can include the color of their associated calendars if you’d like. Plus, dates and times have formatting, color, size, and other style options. It’s worth noting that your next calendar event doesn’t include the scheduled time and events cannot be opened, both of which are things I’d love to see added to the app in the future.

Although you can overstuff your status bars with links, shortcuts, and other information, I’ve found that the best approach is to be picky, limiting yourself to a handful of items that make your status bars more glanceable. Then, if you find yourself adding more and more to a status bar, consider breaking it up into multiple status bars organized thematically. I find that works well and gives me more flexibility about where I put each.


I have to imagine that Apple will eventually release something like Status Bar Builder. It’s too easy to lose track of time in the Vision Pro. It needs a clock, battery indicator, date, and other basic data we’ve had on our iPhones since day one. Status Bar Builder fills that gap but goes one step further by adding links, calendar items, and shortcuts. I wouldn’t add a lot more to the app, but a weather item with the current conditions and temperature would be great. However, even though parts of Status Bar Builder may eventually wind up as parts of visionOS, I expect the app has a long and useful life ahead of it, thanks to the other components that go a step further than I expect Apple ever will.

Status Bar Builder is available on the App Store for $4.99.


Magic Rays of Light: Apple Sports, Immersive Video, and Dick Turpin

This week on Magic Rays of Light, Sigmund and Devon discuss new Apple Original comedy series The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin, Apple’s brand new Sports app for iPhone, and the potential for immersive video across sports, music, and live performances.



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

View our Apple TV release calendar on the web.

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Apple Music Debuts Heavy Rotation, A New Daily Made For You Playlist

This morning I woke up to a pleasant surprise. Apple had quietly added a new Made For You playlist to the Music app called Heavy Rotation that’s updated daily.

As you’d expect from a playlist called Heavy Rotation, mine is comprised of 25 songs, most of which I believe I listened to yesterday and probably other times recently. What’s a little different about Heavy Rotation compared to the other Made For You Playlists is that it’s updated daily, while the other Made For You playlists get updated weekly.

Made For You and Stations for You are excellent complements to Apple's curated playlists.

Made For You and Stations for You are excellent complements to Apple’s curated playlists.

If you listen to a lot of albums, you’ll probably have a bunch of songs by a handful of artists in your Heavy Rotation playlist. That is certainly true of The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, an album I listened to yesterday. However, most of the time, I listen to playlists, which will undoubtedly add more variety.

Curiously, the new playlist doesn’t seem to respect the Focus filter that allows you to exclude listening from your Apple Music Listening History. Both Federico and Jonathan use that feature and told me they each found a track in their Heavy Rotation playlist that should have been filtered out.

Heavy Rotation is an excellent addition to Music. Playing it as I write this, it feels like I’m picking up where I left off yesterday as I walked around my neighborhood with my AirPods Pro. I hope that today’s addition of a new Made For You playlist and the recent addition of the Discovery station are signs that Apple plans to explore even more ways to resurface songs in your Music library.


Simple Scan: A Scanning Solution for People Who Don’t Scan Often

One of my favorite kinds of apps is simple utilities that solve a common problem and are straightforward to use. That’s exactly what Greg Pierce has created with Simple Scan, a scanning app for the iPhone and iPad that simplifies the process of one-off document scans.

Simple Scan is entering a crowded scanning market. Many scanning utilities also help you organize your scans, store them in the cloud, submit expense reports, and more. There are people who need that sort of extended feature set, but somewhere along the way, people with simpler needs have been forgotten.

That’s exactly my situation. I occasionally scan a receipt for one reason or another, but it’s not something I do often. As a result, it doesn’t make sense for me to pay a lot for a scanning app with features I’ll rarely use. Nor do I want to use a free version with ads, which is why I like Simple Scan so much.

Simple Scan has two options and a big ‘Scan Document’ button. Pick whether you want to create a PDF or an image, select a destination, then point your device’s camera at a document and start scanning. That’s all there is to it. Destinations include email, Messages, the Files app, and the system share sheet, covering all the obvious places you’d want to send most scans.

There are four scanning modes including color and black and white.

There are four scanning modes including color and black and white.

The destination options in Simple Scan are key. You can already scan documents into Apple Notes, but it adds to the overhead of scanning and clutters Notes with one-off scans. With Simple Scan, you’re up and running faster and with more options for where to store or send your documents.

The scanning process uses Apple’s built-in scanning feature, allowing you to drag points to the corners of your document for cropping. The app also supports:

  • Manual or automatic shutter
  • Color, Greyscale, black and white, and photo scans
  • Automatic, on, and off settings for your camera’s flash

Plus, there’s a toggle in settings to turn OCR of PDF files on or off.

As you scan pages, they stack up as thumbnails in the corner of the screen, where you can tap on them to make basic edits or discard them. When you’re finished, there’s a Save button on the opposite side of the shutter button that sends the images to whatever destinations you’ve chosen. That’s all there is to Simple Scan, but for a lot of people, myself included, it’s also enough.

Simple Scan is free to download from the App Store and use for your first five scans. Paying $4.99 per year or $19.99 one time unlocks unlimited scans and custom destinations that allow you to pre-fill email and iMessage recipients.


AppStories, Episode 372 – Apple Vision Pro Entertainment Apps

This week on AppStories, we share some of our favorite visionOS entertainment apps.

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Vision Pro Entertainment Apps


On AppStories+, I explain all the little gotchas involved with taking screenshots even if you have the Vision Pro Developer Strap.

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Apple Arcade’s Prestige Problem

Brendon Bigley wrote about the Apple Arcade report by mobilegamer.biz today on Wavelengths too. This part really rang true to me:

I don’t agree that there is any “real” difference in prestige between mediums beyond ever-changing societal norms, all art is capable of rising to sit upon a pedestal. I also don’t agree that any art necessarily needs to rise up in that way, and games built for quick hit sessions or telling small and relatable stories are just as valuable to the culture as anything else. Apple Arcade launched with a lineup that seemed to make a statement aligning with that belief, and has since drifted away from it while Netflix Games has run with the baton.

That belief is exactly the vibe Apple Arcade started with and still has – to a degree. But it’s also a vibe that people seem to sense is fading. I hope not. As much as I enjoy AAA titles, there need to be places to showcase games from small studios and for indie ‘finds.’ I’d love Apple Arcade to continue to be one of those places.

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Some Game Developers Are Unhappy about Apple Arcade

According to multiple unnamed mobilegamer.biz sources, some game developers are unhappy with Apple Arcade, citing shrinking payouts and canceled games. No specifics about canceled projects are cited in the story. Nor are concrete revenue numbers shared. Moreover, the criticisms leveled by some developers were not universal, with some sources speaking favorably about their relationship with Apple. Clearly, however, not everyone who has worked on Arcade titles is happy.

The details of mobilegamer.biz’s story that I think are most interesting are the ones about the business terms Apple has struck with game developers. Those are details that developers seem to be contractually prohibited from talking about. I know because I’ve asked developers about how it works before. However, according to mobilegamer.biz, Arcade developers are paid an up-front fee and from a ‘bonus pool’ based on something called ‘qualifying sessions’:

“They have this opaque metric that they call a qualifying session, and bonus pool payments are made based on that,” said one source. “But no-one knows what a qualifying session actually is – it has something to do with if the game was launched, how long the player played for and how often they return. But it’s a black box, really.”

It will be interesting to see if those arrangements change in light of the purportedly declining revenue developers are earning and the money that Netflix is spending to attract games to its newish subscription-based videogame service.

We’re about three weeks away from the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and this story strikes me as an attempt to send a message to Apple by developers who feel their games have been abandoned by the service as it has evolved. Maybe Apple hasn’t been as clear with developers as some would like. However, it’s hard to imagine that game developers paying attention to Arcade are truly surprised by the projects it approves.

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Mona 6 Moves from High Visual Customization to Advanced Automation

Mona, the Mastodon client for iOS, iPadOS, and Mac from Junyu Kuang, is out today with a significant version 6 update. Mona is my choice for using Mastodon primarily due to what John referred to in his review as its ‘epic level of customization.’ Everything from how the taskbar at the bottom of the screen looks to how posts are displayed is fully customizable. Even the main app view on iOS can be vertically split in two.

But Mona is not just about looks; it’s also a solid tool for navigating Mastodon. Things like the ability to privately set colors or notes to other users, timeline syncing across your devices using iCloud, and full support for VoiceOver make it a strong choice for a wide variety of people.

Which brings us to this new update. In the year and change since the mass Twitter exodus, Mastodon has matured a lot as a platform, introducing new features that users can take advantage of while filling some of the gaps impeding the platform from growing. Version 6 of Mona includes those new features while advancing its power user functionality with powerful new Shortcuts actions, including one that takes advantage of the Action Button on the iPhone 15 Pro.

Let’s dive in.

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