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Connected, Episode 273: Come on, Guys, Let’s Go to the Station

On this week’s episode of Connected:

Stephen and Myke are joined by John Voorhees to talk about the new Mac Pro, then Federico reflects on the 5th anniversary of Shortcuts.

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

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01:35:31

Connected, Episode 273

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Twitter Adds Support for iOS Live Photos by Making Them GIFs

Twitter today announced long-overdue support for iOS Live Photos. Rolling out now on all compatible platforms, whenever you add a Live Photo to a tweet you’re composing, you’ll see a new GIF button in the corner of the image. By default the button is crossed out, indicating the Live Photo will be shared as a still image. However, with a single tap you can choose to share your Live Photo as a GIF instead.

Live Photos first debuted in 2015 alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, but there were plenty of questions at the time about whether the feature would be adopted by social media services or not. For Twitter we now know that the answer was yes, eventually.

I think turning Live Photos into GIFs is a great idea, especially since Twitter auto-plays GIFs by default as you scroll your timeline. Not every Live Photo deserves to be converted to a GIF, which is why I’m glad the feature isn’t on by default, but being able to change that with a single tap is a nice option to have.


Mac Pro Accessory Roundup: Stand, Mount, Webcam, Lock Adapter, and More

After having been pre-announced by nearly 1,000 days, the new Mac Pro finally went up for sale yesterday on Apple.com, alongside the Pro Display XDR. Complementing these two devices, a variety of new accessories have also just launched, some from Apple and others from third-party companies.

The $4,999 Pro Display XDR doesn’t include a stand or mount of any sort out of the box, so buyers will want to either pick up the $999 Pro Stand or the $199 VESA Mount Adapter. The display also does not include a built-in webcam. However, Logitech is offering a new 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam for $199 that attaches magnetically to the top of the display as an add-on for professionals who need that functionality.

Another Apple-designed ‘accessory’ is the $2,000 Afterburner Card, a PCI Express card designed exclusively for the new Mac Pro to accelerate ProRes and ProRes RAW video codecs. Along the same lines of Mac Pro-exclusive hardware, Apple has added a variety of options for DDR4 ECC memory to its store, including 16GB for $400, 32GB for $800, 64GB for $1,200, 128GB for $2,800, and 256GB for $6,000.

After spending a small fortune on your Mac Pro, you might reasonably be concerned about the device being stolen. To the rescue is Belkin with a $49 Lock Adapter that enables you to secure your Mac Pro with a third-party lock. Also from Belkin is a $69 AUX Power Cable Kit which provides an assortment of common AUX cables for graphics cards.

Rounding out the accessory options are AMD’s $2,800 Radeon Pro Vega II MPX Module and $5,600 Vega II Duo, along with an MPX module, the Promise Pegasus R4i 32TB RAID ($2,299), and the Promise Pegasus J2i 8TB Internal Storage Enclosure ($399). The optional $400 wheels for the Mac Pro are not available for separate purchase at this time, and instead must be ordered as part of your configured model.

Two things are immediately obvious upon surveying these accessories: first, they’re clearly for users with very specific high-end needs, and second, Apple has poured significant investment into creating the new Mac Pro, Pro Display XDR, and fostering this new ecosystem of accessories. The target user base may be small, but Apple has nonetheless gone all-out with its most powerful computer.


Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR Unboxings and Impressions

Earlier today, Apple began accepting orders for the all-new Mac Pro, which will start shipping to customers in 1-2 weeks. Reminiscent of what Apple did when it released the iMac Pro, the new Mac Pro was provided to a very limited set of reviewers with video production experience in advance of pre-orders.

Marques Brownlee shares his impressions after using the Mac Pro and two Pro Display XDRs to edit all of his YouTube videos for the past two weeks. His main takeaways? “One, it’s really quiet, Two, it’s really fast.” So fast, in fact, that he was able to render 8K video more quickly than the time it would take to watch.

For two unboxings and a look at the setup process, be sure to watch these videos by Justine Ezarik and Jonathan Morrison.

To learn more about what it’s like to edit video on using Final Cut Pro X, a new Mac Pro, and Pro Display XDR, don’t miss Episode 514 of Mac Power Users on Relay FM, on which David Sparks and Stephen Hackett interview Thomas Grove Carter.

Finally, director and photographer Vincent Laforet shares his impressions of Apple’s newest hardware on his blog along with the first project he created with it.

More than anything else, the thing that struck me about each of the impressions shared by this small group is their sense of wonder and amazement at the speed and power of the new Mac Pro. This isn’t a computer for most people, but if you need it, the Mac Pro clearly opens up new possibilities.


Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.3 with Communication Limits, Removable Memoji Stickers, and tvOS 13.3 with Alternate Top Shelf for TV

Apple today released what are surely its last major point releases of software for the year, iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS 13.3, alongside minor updates for the company’s other platforms. In fitting the trend of an out-of-the-ordinary software release cycle, which was largely caused by a particularly buggy iOS 13.0 release, today’s releases don’t contain the number of features we’ve grown to expect from a point update. iOS and iPadOS 13.3 include only a couple noteworthy improvements: Communication Limits have been added to Screen Time, and Memoji stickers can be removed from the emoji keyboard. On the tvOS side, 13.3 re-introduces the option for the TV app to display your Up Next queue as its Top Shelf behavior rather than auto-playing video instead.

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Apple Begins Accepting Pre-Orders for the New Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR with Shipping Beginning in 1-2 Weeks

First revealed at WWDC this past June, Apple has begun taking pre-orders for its next-generation Mac Pro and 32-inch Pro Display XDR with in-store availability and shipping beginning in 1-2 weeks.

The new Mac Pro’s specs are a huge step up from the previous cylindrical model. As we reported from WWDC in June:

The system’s processor is an Intel Xeon W available in 8, 12, 16, 24, and 28-core configurations powered by a 1.4 kilowatt power supply. The processors also feature large L2 and shared L3 caches and 64 PCI Express lanes. The 8, 12, and 16-core models support 32, 48, 96, 192, 384, and 758GB memory configurations, with the 24 and 28-core models also supporting 1.5TB of memory using a six-channel architecture and 12 easily accessible DIMM slots. There are also a total of eight PCI expansion slots, four of which are double-wide, three of which are single-wide, and one of which is a half-wide slot preconfigured with Apple’s I/O card. The Mac Pro also supports up to 4TB of SSD storage and features Apple’s T2 chip.

Mac Pro

Mac Pro

The graphics options are similarly impressive:

The system supports two MPX Modules with a total of up to 4 GPUs. Configurations include a single AMD Radeon Pro 580X, single AMD Radeon Pro Vega II, or AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo, which features two GPUs. Two MPX Modules with AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duos provide 56 teraflops of compute power and 128GB of high-bandwidth memory, for handling the most demanding video compositing and 3D rendering tasks, for example. The new Mac Pro also introduces Apple Afterburner, a hardware accelerator card that can process up to 6.3 billion pixels per second, which allows up to 3 streams of 8K ProRes RAW, 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW, or 16 streams of 4K ProRes 422 video all at 30 frames per second.

A look inside the new Mac Pro.

A look inside the new Mac Pro.

The new Mac Pro, which starts at $5,999 and can be configured well into five figures, is available for immediate pre-order on apple.com with in-store availability and shipping beginning in 1.2 weeks. In total, there are two base configurations – tower and rack mounted versions – each of which can be further customized on Apple’s website. Apple’s website also revealed that the optional Mac Pro wheels will cost $400.

As you would expect from a pro-level desktop Mac, there are numerous options for processors, system memory, storage, graphics, and more. Equipped with the most expensive of every hardware option, you can spend over $50,000 on a Mac Pro, which is a very large sum, but one that professionals in industries like film and music will likely be willing to pay to eliminate bottlenecks in their production workflows.


The Pro Display XDR.

The Pro Display XDR.

Apple has also announced availability of the Pro Display XDR, which was shown off alongside the Mac Pro at WWDC.

The new display is 32 inches diagonally with over 20 million pixels, P3 wide color gamut, and 10-bit color, which Apple says results in over 1 billion colors. The display can sustain 1,000 nits of brightness with 1,600 nit peaks and features a 1 million to 1 contrast ratio. The company also offers an optional matte finish that etches the screen’s glass at a nanometer scale, which adds $1,000 to the price.

The Pro Display XDR is available for pre-order now starting at $4,999. A model with a nano-etched anti-glare finish model begins at $5,999. The display’s stand is sold separately for $999, as is the VESA adaptor, which is is $199.


The MacStories Selects Awards Are Just Around the Corner

Last year, we introduced readers to the MacStories Selects Awards, which honored our favorite apps of 2018 in various categories. The MacStories Selects Awards will be back again this year with awards in the following eight categories:

  • App of the Year
  • Best New App
  • Best App Update
  • Best New Feature
  • Best Watch App
  • Best Mac App
  • Best Game
  • Readers’ Choice Award

The response to last year’s awards from readers and developers was fantastic, so this year we’ve decided to expand the MacStories Selects with a few new categories and some surprises that we aren’t ready to reveal just yet.

Club MacStories members can find the link to vote for the Readers' Choice Award in Issue 203 of MacStories Weekly.

Club MacStories members can find the link to vote for the Readers’ Choice Award in Issue 203 of MacStories Weekly.

One of the new categories that deserves a special mention, though, is the Readers’ Choice Award, which will be awarded to an app chosen by Club MacStories members. If you’re a Club member, please take the time to use the link in Issue 203 of MacStories Weekly that was sent to members last Friday, December 6th to vote for your favorite iOS or iPadOS app from a third-party developer. You can find Issue 203 in the MacStories Weekly Archives. We’ve had a tremendous response so far, but would love to have an even broader group of members participate.

Every year, we look at hundreds of terrific apps on all of Apple’s platforms, and MacStories Selects is our way to call out a handful of our absolute favorites. It’s the perfect way to cap off the year as the new one approaches. We look forward to sharing our selections and our Club members’ pick very soon.


Drafts for Mac: It’s Action Time

When Drafts for Mac first arrived, I knew there were great things to come – not that it wasn’t an excellent app already! But since that time, Drafts for Mac has evolved. What was previously a functional app is now functional, automatable, and more importantly a flexible tool that can mold to fit your workflow.

Since Drafts first released, there have been numerous new features. Notably, it now supports multiple windows. This means you can have as many Drafts windows open at once as you like. I’ve taken to assigning different Spaces to different projects, enabling me to have Drafts open with its relevant Workspace in the same area as other apps.

As well as this, Drafts for Mac added batch tagging (and untagging) drafts. This has improved my workflow dramatically, as I can process the items that land in my inbox and need filing much faster. Another excellent feature is the addition of dictation (for macOS Catalina users). Especially with the demise of Dragon Dictate for Mac, this feature is a great way to talk at your computer and let it do the typing.

The headline new feature, though, is something Drafts for iOS fans consider the heart of the app: actions.

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