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MacStories Unwind: The All-New iPad Air, Halide Mark II, Reeder 5, and Creative Pro Apps

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This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • MacStories Favorite: Keep
    • A collection of technologies that will shape the future of Apple’s products
    • Ryan’s system for setting up a new iPhone
    • Lots of new and updated apps and more

AppStories

Unwind


Porsche Adds Apple Podcasts and Apple Music Time-Synced Lyrics Support to Its Taycan EV

Source: Porsche

Source: Porsche

Last year, we reported Porsche’s partnership with Apple to directly support Apple Music as part of its Taycan entertainment system. Yesterday, Porsche announced that it’s expanding the relationship to include the Apple Podcasts app and expanded Apple Music support.

According to a press release from Porsche:

From the touchscreen display of the Porsche Advanced Cockpit, drivers can stream over 1.5 million shows from Apple Podcasts, the world’s leading podcast platform. This is the first-ever full integration of Apple Podcasts in any vehicle, and it includes the entire catalog-of-record with programming in 100 languages plus Top Charts for shows and episodes.

Porsche also revealed that its Apple Music integration would add support for Time-Synced Lyrics on the Taycan’s passenger-side display. The new features are already available for new Taycan owners. However, existing customers will have to wait until January for the new functionality.

Although the features announced by Porsche are limited to just one vehicle made by one manufacturer, it’s good to see because if it’s successful, Porsche’s early adoption will likely lead to other carmakers jumping on board.


AppStories, Episode 190 – The New iPad Air: Apple’s Most Forward-Looking iPad

This week on AppStories, John interviews Federico about the all-new iPad Air. Federico explains why the new iPad Air is Apple’s most forward-looking iPad that stands at the intersection of the iPad Pro line and the rest of the company’s other iPads, and covers every aspect of the hardware, design, and differences compared to other models, along with practical advice on who should consider buying the new iPad Air.


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Halide Mark II Review: The Convenience of Computational Photography and Flexibility of RAW in an Elegant Camera App

iPhone photography has come a long way in the past 13 years. The original iPhone had a 2 MP camera that produced images that were 1600 x 1200 pixels. Today, the wide-angle camera on an iPhone 12 Pro has a 12 MP camera that can take shots that are 4032 x 3024 pixels.

Hardware advancements have played a big role in iPhone photography, but so has software. The size of an iPhone and physics limit hardware advances, resulting in diminishing returns year-over-year. Consequently, Apple and other mobile phone makers have turned to computational photography to bring the power of modern SoCs to bear, improving the quality of images produced by iPhones with software.

Computational photography has advanced rapidly, pushed forward by the increasingly powerful chips that power our iPhones. Every time you take a photo with your iPhone, it’s actually taking several, stitching them together, using AI to compute adjustments to make the image look better, and presenting you with a final product. The process feels instantaneous, but it’s the result of many steps that begin even before you press the shutter button.

However, the simplicity and efficiency of computational photography come with a tradeoff. That pipeline from the point you press the Camera app’s shutter button until you see the image you took involves a long series of steps. In turn, each of those steps involves a series of judgment calls and the application of someone else’s taste about how the photo should look.

Apple has made great strides in computational photography in recent years, but it also means someone else's taste is being applied to your images. Source: Apple.

Apple has made great strides in computational photography in recent years, but it also means someone else’s taste is being applied to your images. Source: Apple.

In many circumstances, the editorial choices made by the Camera app result in great photos, but not always, and the trouble is, your ability to tweak the images you take in compressed file formats is limited. A more flexible alternative is to shoot in a RAW file format that preserves more data, allowing for a greater range in editing options, but often, the friction of editing RAW images isn’t worth it. The Camera app is good enough most of the time, so we tolerate the shots that don’t look great.

However, what if you could have the best of both worlds? What if you could capture a lightweight, automatically-adjusted photo and an editing-friendly RAW image at the same time, allowing you to pick the right one for each image you take? If you like the JPEG or HEIC image produced by Apple’s computational photography workflow, you could keep it, but you could always fall back to the RAW version if you want more editing latitude. That way, you could rely on the editorial choices baked into iOS where you like the results but retain control for those times when you don’t like them.

That’s what Halide Mark II by Lux sets out to accomplish. Halide is a MacStories favorite that we’ve covered many times in the past, but Mark II is something special. The latest update is an ambitious reimagining of what was already a premier camera app, building on what came before but with a simpler and easier to learn UI. Halide Mark II puts more control than ever into the hands of photographers, while also making it easy to achieve beautiful results with minimal effort. Halide also seeks to educate through a combination of design and upcoming in-app photography lessons.

By and large, Halide succeeds. Photography is a notoriously jargon-heavy, complex area. It’s still possible to get bogged down, fretting over which settings are best in what circumstances. However, Halide provides the most effective bridge from point-and-shoot photography to something far more sophisticated than any camera app I’ve used. The result is a camera app that gives iPhone photographers control over the images they shoot in an app that’s a pleasure to use and encourages them to learn more and grow as a photographer.

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Hands-On with the HomePod’s New Intercom Feature, Alarms, and Siri Tricks

With yesterday’s releases of iOS 14.1 and HomePod Software Version 14.1, which could really use a catchier name, Apple has introduced several new features announced last week at its iPhone 12 and HomePod mini event. Most readers are probably already familiar with what’s in the updates based on our iPhone 12 and HomePod mini overviews, so I thought I’d update my HomePods and devices to provide some hands-on thoughts about the changes.

Most of the new features are related to the HomePod. Although proximity-based features are exclusive to the HomePod mini, which features Apple’s U1 Ultra Wideband chip, some of the other functionality revealed last week is available on all HomePod models.

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iPad Air Review: Forward-Looking

The new iPad Air.

The new iPad Air.

Ever since its launch in late 2015, the 12.9” iPad Pro has been my primary computer. The combination of a large display – the largest Apple makes for iPads – with software that properly takes advantage of it (see: Split View, multiwindow, multicolumn) makes the 12.9” Pro an ideal blend of laptop-like usability and tablet modularity. If you’re looking for power and flexibility, the 12.9” iPad Pro is the ne plus ultra of the iPad line.

Before the iPad Pro, however, it was the iPad Air 2 that convinced me the iPad could be a suitable replacement for a MacBook. In my review of the iPad Air 2 in early 2015, which I published just a few months before the iPad Pro’s debut, I called the device a “liberating” experience, noting how it struck a balance of high portability and versatility that enabled me to get more work done from more places. In spite of the iPad Pro’s superiority – especially in terms of display size – I’m always going to have a soft spot for the iPad Air as the device where my modern iPad journey began.

For the past few days, I’ve been testing Apple’s latest iPad Air, which comes out this Friday starting at $599 for the 64 GB, Wi-Fi model. While the 10.9” Air won’t replace the 12.9” iPad Pro as my primary machine, I’ve been impressed by this iPad for a different reason: the iPad Air democratizes the notion of “pro iPad”, bringing key features of iPad Pro to more customers, while at the same time looking ahead toward the future of iPad with hardware not seen on the current iPad Pro lineup. The iPad Air sits at the intersection of old iPad Pro features trickling down to the rest of the iPad line and new ones appearing on this model first. This makes the iPad Air a fascinating device to review, as well as a compelling alternative to another iPad of similar dimensions: the 11” iPad Pro.

Five years after the iPad Air 2, I’m intrigued by an iPad Air again. Let me explain why.

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Austin Mann’s iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review

Pro travel photographer Austin Mann has put the iPhone 12 Pro through its paces in Glacier National Park, Montana. You won’t want to miss the full selection of images shot by Mann who concentrated his testing on the low-light performance of the iPhone 12 Pro’s improved Wide lens, the addition of Night mode to the Ultra Wide lens, Smart HDR 3, and low-light portrait mode photos that take advantage of the Pro’s new LiDAR sensor for autofocus.

Mann also delves into the Camera app’s settings to reveal new controls provided to photographers. My favorite is the setting that allows the exposure settings to be preserved between shots. As Mann explains:

I’m absolutely thrilled about this new (and hardly talked about) feature. We now have true exposure adjustment that doesn’t revert back to auto mode every time a pictured is captured.

This adjustment remains even when you switch between .5x, 1x, and 2x lenses, or when switching modes. Even if you lock your iPhone and come back to it later, it still remembers your exposure settings. This is much more like working with a traditional manual camera and I love it.

Mann’s post includes other compelling additions to the Camera app’s settings as well as beautiful shots that do a fantastic job of demonstrating this year’s camera advances. What I’m most I’m most eager to see, though, what Mann thinks of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has what promises to be significantly better hardware than the iPhone 12 Pro.

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Adobe MAX Kicks Off with Illustrator for iPad, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Fresco Updates for iPad, Plus the Addition of Fresco for iPhone

Illustrations: Adobe.

Illustrations: Adobe.

Today marks the start of Adobe MAX, Adobe’s annual conference for creative professionals. Every year, MAX is jam-packed with announcements about Adobe’s many products.

If you’ve been following along the past few years, the rise of the company’s mobile apps has been an unmistakable trend at MAX. Adobe has made apps for the iPhone and iPad for years, but with the launch of Photoshop for iPad in late 2019, it became clear that the company intends to play as big a role on the iPhone and iPad as it has for decades on the Mac. Instead of building companion apps for its powerful desktop apps, Adobe seems intent on building apps that let creative professionals move seamlessly from the desktop to the iPad and iPhone and back again.

Given the complexity of Adobe’s desktop apps, building something comparable on the iPad or iPhone is a tall order that takes time. Photoshop for iPad didn’t start out with nearly all the features users rely on when they use the desktop version, but with a monthly release cycle, Adobe has chipped away at the pain points, bringing the two apps closer together over time. The same goes for apps like Lightroom, which photographers rely on for editing images they take. The iPad versions of Adobe’s apps haven’t reached feature parity with the desktop, but the gap is closing, enabling users to work in new ways and in a wider variety of contexts.

This year the announcements at MAX are no different. I’ve tried all of the apps discussed below that Adobe is releasing or updating for the iPad and iPhone this year to one degree or another, including spending the past few weeks using the beta version of Adobe’s latest pro iPad app, Illustrator. My artistic skills don’t do Illustrator justice, but from what I’ve seen from my testing the past few weeks and demos by Adobe, Illustrator is a remarkably powerful vector drawing app that takes a truly innovative approach to the app that should still be familiar to desktop users, but is designed first and foremost around touch interactions. Adobe has also released Fresco for the iPhone and some substantial new features to both Photoshop and Lightroom.

Let’s take a look at what’s coming for the iPad and iPhone at Adobe MAX.

Illustrator for iPad

Illustrator on the iPad is Adobe’s popular desktop vector drawing app reimagined for the iPad and Apple Pencil. The app integrates with Adobe’s Creative Cloud service, allowing users to do their work from any device.

Adobe has created a context-aware interaction model that, coupled with the same touch shortcut UI first seen in Photoshop for iPad with the Apple Pencil, provides a rich and flexible set of tools for illustrators. The breadth and depth of tools and options Adobe offers comes with an initial learning curve. However, Adobe has wisely provided a set of tutorials and ways to learn from others that make it easy to learn the basics, so you can start experimenting on your own.

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