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Agenda

Date-Focused Note Taking


Eternal City, Modern Photography: The iPhone 11 Pro in Rome

The Colosseum at night. Shot on iPhone 11 Pro using the wide lens, with night mode enabled. Unedited. Zoom in for details.

The Colosseum at night. Shot on iPhone 11 Pro using the wide lens, with night mode enabled. Unedited. Zoom in for details.

In many ways, the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera system feels like the culmination of over a decade’s worth of judicious, relentless improvements. Not only is the device’s camera the best and smartest Apple has ever shipped, but it also affords the most photographic freedom, allowing non-professional photographers like me to produce amazing shots with minimal effort.

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    MacStories Shortcuts Icons Receives Free Update with 50 New Glyphs

    I’m happy to announce that MacStories Shortcuts Icons, our custom icon set for adding shortcuts to the Home screen, has received an update today that adds 50 new glyphs.

    The update is available now for free for existing customers (just download the file again with the link in your original email receipt); for new customers, the update is part of the standard MacStories Shortcuts Icons purchase, which is available at $14.99 for a total of 350 custom Home screen glyphs.

    All sales are final. You can read our license and terms of use here.

    For those who may have missed it last month: MacStories Shortcuts Icons lets you customize the look of your shortcuts added to the Home screen by choosing from hundreds of glyphs designed specifically with Shortcuts users in mind, going beyond what’s provided by Apple in the Shortcuts app.

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    Arcade Highlights: Card of Darkness

    Do you like fantasy-themed games? How about Zach Gage’s work – Flipflop Solitaire, Really Bad Chess, Typeshift, SpellTower, etc.? Would a mobile game brought to life by the art of Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward be of interest to you? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then Card of Darkness should be one of the first games you download from Apple Arcade.

    If you answered no to all three questions, you should probably play Card of Darkness anyways.

    Card of Darkness is a roguelike game where each stage contains a grid of stacked cards, with each stack holding a random mix of monsters to defeat, weapons to equip, and potions and treasure to find. There are also magic spell scrolls that help you more easily navigate what can be a treacherous quest to get from the start of the grid to its end. You don’t have to clear every card stack to complete a level, but you do need to forge an open path to the finish line, and every stack you take even a single card from will need to be finished. As you clear each card stack, more stacks further into the grid will be revealed, slowly reducing the amount of cards that stand between you and the end of the grid.

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    Connected, Episode 265: What Are You, a Dictionary?

    On this week’s episode of Connected:

    Apple has revealed its new emoji set, so it is time for Federico to guess their names as Stephen and Myke listen and keep score. After that, Myke shares his thoughts about his Galaxy Fold.

    You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

    0:00
    01:45:42

    Connected, Episode 265

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    Mac Catalyst Isn’t Only for Bringing iPad Apps to the Mac for the First Time

    So far, the most common path to releasing a Mac Catalyst app on the Mac App Store has been to adapt and release an existing iPadOS app as a first-time Mac app. However, that’s not the only route to the Mac App Store. Apple allows developers to use Mac Catalyst in a variety of ways, as Steve Troughton-Smith has demonstrated with HCC Solitaire, a Mac-only game built using Mac Catalyst. He and Brian Mueller, the creator of CARROT Weather, have also used Mac Catalyst to release new versions of Mac apps that were previously built with AppKit.

    As Troughton-Smith’s HCC Solitaire confirms, developers are not required to have an iPad app on the App Store to release an app on the Mac App Store using Mac Catalyst.

    The game is an implementation of classic solitaire that’s just $0.99 and displays no ads. Perhaps most interesting from a developer standpoint, though, is that you won’t find HCC Solitaire if you search for an iOS or iPadOS version on the App Store. Troughton-Smith built the game using UIKit and the tools provided as part of Mac Catalyst without also creating an iPadOS version.

    Brian Mueller's CARROT Weather.

    Brian Mueller’s CARROT Weather.

    Mac Catalyst apps can also be swapped in for existing Mac apps. That’s what Brian Mueller did with CARROT Weather, which was launched the day macOS Catalina was released as version 4.13 of his existing AppKit app. Troughton-Smith took the same approach with SameGame, a color-matching game in which you earn points by eliminating contiguous blocks that are the same color, releasing version 2.2 shortly after Catalina’s release.

    Steve Troughton-Smith's SameGame.

    Steve Troughton-Smith’s SameGame.

    I don’t expect either of these approaches to become the main way that Mac Catalyst apps are released, but I’m glad to see that it’s possible. Most developers will be bringing an iPadOS app to the Mac for the first time, but business models, developer backgrounds, the APIs used in an app, and many other variables play a role in the decision of whether to use Mac Catalyst. It’s encouraging to see Apple take a flexible approach and allow developers to experiment because that makes Mac Catalyst useful to more of them. However, as I noted in my Catalina review and elsewhere, that flexibility needs to be coupled with bug fixes, documentation, and rapid evolution of Mac Catalyst for it to become a viable option for a wider audience of developers.


    MakePass: Create Your Own Apple Wallet Passes on the Mac

    I often find myself reaching for my iPhone or iPad to do something that can’t be done at all or as quickly on my Mac. If I’m already working at my desk in front of my Mac, though, that requires a context switch that slows me down and often leads to being distracted by something else. One of the areas where this happens most frequently is with specialized, single-purpose utilities that are plentiful on iOS and iPadOS, but often unavailable on the Mac.

    A terrific example that just debuted on the Mac as a Mac Catalyst app is MakePass, an app for generating Apple Wallet passes. Whether it’s a health club membership card, bus pass, grocery store loyalty card, or concert ticket, MakePass can turn them all into digital passes stored inside Apple’s Wallet app where they are organized and out of the way.

    Several apps offer functionality similar to MakePass’ on the iOS and iPadOS App Store. However, my searches turned up none on the Mac App Store. That may be because Apple’s Wallet app is an iPhone-only app, but it’s handy to be able to make passes on your Mac too because that’s one of the places where codes come into your life.

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    New Beats Solo Pro Headphones Featuring Apple’s H1 Chip Are Available for Pre-Order

    Apple subsidiary Beats has announced a new version of the Beats Solo Pro noise cancelling headphones, which can be pre-ordered now and will begin shipping at the end of the month.

    The new headphones, which retail for $299, feature Apple’s H1 chip that also powers the second-generation AirPods and Powerbeats Pro. The H1 chip enables hands-free ‘Hey Siri’ commands and the ability to share audio with someone using the Audio Sharing feature that Apple debuted with iOS and iPadOS 13. The headphones also have volume, track, and call controls on the right ear cup and a button for turning noise cancellation and their Transparency feature on and off on the left ear cup.

    Unfolding and folding the Solo Pros turns them on and off.

    Unfolding and folding the Solo Pros turns them on and off.

    The Beats Solo Pros feature active noise cancellation to filter out external sound and what Beats calls Transparency that uses external microphones to allow some sounds through, so users remain aware of their surroundings when using the headphones. According to Beats, the headphones, which are turned on and off by unfolding and folding them, get 22 hours of battery life with noise cancellation and Transparency turned on. If those features are turned off, the company says the battery life lasts 40 hours. The company also says that a ten-minute charge provides up to 3 hours of battery life. The Solo Pros charge with a USB-A to Lightning cable for the first time too.

    The Solo Pros come in six colors: light blue, red, dark blue, ivory, black, and gray. Although The Verge and other sites report that the new headphones will begin shipping on October 30th in the US, apple.com currently lists the ship date as October 29th during the pre-order checkout process.


    Roku Devices Gaining Apple TV App Today

    Roku announced in a press release that the Apple TV app would be available on its streaming devices starting today:

    For the first time ever, Roku users can add the Apple TV app via the Roku Channel Store to discover and watch movies, TV shows and more, including accessing their iTunes video library and subscribing to Apple TV channels directly on Roku devices. Starting November 1, Apple TV+, Apple’s home for all-original shows and movies from the world’s greatest storytellers, will be available on the Apple TV app on the Roku platform.

    Like the TV app on Samsung smart TV sets, the Roku version of the app offers access to all iTunes movie and TV show content, as well as all Apple TV channels options, such as HBO, CBS All-Access, and soon Apple TV+. However, content from non-channels like Hulu or Amazon Prime Video, which are accessible on iOS and tvOS devices, will not be present on the Roku version of the TV app because it lacks third-party app integrations. Moving forward though, I expect that all of Apple’s new content partners with the TV app will be full-on channels rather than legacy app integrations.

    Earlier this year Apple announced that the TV app would also be arriving on Amazon Fire TV devices and TV sets from more manufacturers, so as we get closer to the November 1 launch of Apple TV+, I expect we’ll see those other vendors all follow Roku’s lead.

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