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MacStories Unwind: Dropout Boogie, The Foundations of Decay, and Pokémon Home

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This week on MacStories Unwind, John recommends the latest album from The Black Keys and Federico has a single from My Chemical Romance and an update to Pokémon Home to share.

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John’s Pick:

Federico’s Picks:


Apple Music’s ‘Essentials Anniversaries’ Feature Highlights Classic Albums with Interviews, Editors’ Notes, and More

Update: It turns out that Essentials Anniversaries is not a new feature, but isn’t something that has been heavily promoted in the Listen Now tab of Apple Music before. You can read the original post below.


Apple Music was quietly updated today with a new feature: Essentials Anniversaries. The new Apple Music section features landmark albums from artists organized by their anniversaries, from five-year anniversaries all the way to 65-year-old albums.

The first featured anniversary is OK Computer by Radiohead, which celebrates its 25th anniversary tomorrow, May 21, 2022. The new Essentials Anniversaries section includes Radiohead’s album, a handful of music videos, and something new: an episode of an Apple Music radio show also called Essentials Anniversaries. The first episode is hosted by DJ Matt Wilkinson, who introduces most tracks, providing context and commentary and interviewing people involved in the production of OK Computer.

It’s not uncommon for Apple Music to receive updates throughout the year. Updates to the service haven’t been timed to Apple’s OS update cycle for a while but tend to come in batches. Case in point, earlier this week, Apple began promoting Apple Music Live, a series of livestreamed concerts that start today with a show by Harry Styles.

I’ve been listening to the OK Computer episode of Essentials Anniversaries, which runs for about an hour, and it’s excellent. Wilkinson, who is one of my favorite Apple Music DJs, does a fantastic job providing context for each track and conducting short interviews that provide a sense of the album’s import and place in history.

It appears that Essentials Anniversaries is still rolling out worldwide, so you may not see it on all of your devices, but if you want to check it out, here’s a link to the new section.

This and the introduction of more live music with the concert series that Harry Styles kicks off later today are exactly the kind of thing Apple Music needs to fuel discovery and renew interest in the service. I’m looking forward to seeing where both of these features lead next.


AppStories, Episode 274 – Our watchOS and tvOS Wishes

This week on AppStories, John and Alex tackle their watchOS 9 wishes and then Federico and John are joined by Myke Hurley to consider what they’d like to see added to tvOS 16.

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On AppStories+, John and Alex swap tornado stories before Alex explains some of the ways Calliope, the collection of backend technologies that run Club MacStories, was adapted to run the Automation April.

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.


Bike: An Elegant Outliner For Mac-Focused Workflows

Bike is a brand new Mac-only outlining app from Hog Bay Software that executes the fundamentals of outlining flawlessly. The outline creation and editing workflows are polished, and the keyboard-focused navigation makes moving around a large outline effortless.

The app’s feature set is limited by design. That focus is part of what makes Bike such a good outliner. The care and attention that has gone into building a solid outlining foundation are immediately evident.

However, that focus comes with a downside. Bike is a simple app that won’t meet the needs of users looking for iPhone or iPad support, formatting options, Shortcuts support, or other features.

Overall, I like the approach Bike has taken a lot, but I think it has gone too far, limiting the app’s utility more than is necessary to maintain its simplicity. Let me explain what I mean.

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Apple Marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day by Announcing Upcoming Accessibility Features

Thursday is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To mark the occasion, Apple has announced a long list of accessibility features coming to its products later this year and shared other ways it is celebrating the day through its apps and services.

Apple’s press release sums up the features coming to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch as follows:

Using advancements across hardware, software, and machine learning, people who are blind or low vision can use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection; users with physical and motor disabilities who may rely on assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control can fully control Apple Watch from their iPhone with Apple Watch Mirroring; and the Deaf and hard of hearing community can follow Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple is also expanding support for its industry-leading screen reader VoiceOver with over 20 new languages and locales. These features will be available later this year with software updates across Apple platforms.

Door Detection will be part of the Magnifier app later this year. The feature helps blind and low vision users find and navigate doors when they arrive somewhere. The feature will judge the distance to the door using LiDAR, describe the door’s attributes, like whether it opens by pushing or using a doorknob, and read signs and symbols next to doors.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

The Apple Watch will add several Physical and Motor accessibility features too. Apple Watch Mirroring, which is built on AirPlay in part, will allow users with physical and motor disabilities to control their Watches from an iPhone using Voice Control, Switch Control, voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, and Made for iPhone switches. The Apple Watch will also add a new double pinch gesture for controlling, like answering and ending phone calls and taking photos.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

For Deaf and hard of hearing users, Apple will add Live Captions on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple says captioning will work with video calling apps like FaceTime, streaming video services, video conferencing apps, and in-person conversations. Live Captions occur on-device to preserve privacy, and on the Mac, users will be able to type a response that will be spoken aloud.

VoiceOver will get an update, too, adding the following languages:

  • Arabic (World)
  • Basque
  • Bengali (India)
  • Bhojpuri (India)
  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • Croatian
  • Farsi
  • French (Belgium)
  • Galician
  • Kannada
  • Malay
  • Mandarin (Liaoning, Shaanxi, Sichuan)
  • Marathi
  • Shanghainese (China)
  • Spanish (Chile)
  • Slovenian
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Ukrainian
  • Valencian
  • Vietnamese

VoiceOver on the Mac will also gain Text Checker that will discover formatting issues.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Apple previewed several other upcoming accessibility features across its products, including:

  • Buddy Controller, the ability for someone to use a second game controller to assist with playing a game as though the two controllers were one
  • Siri Pause Time, which will allow users to customize the period Siri waits before responding to a user
  • Voice Control Spelling Mode, for dictating words letter-by-letter
  • Customizable sound recognition of the sounds in your environment
  • New themes and text adjustments in the Books app for a more accessible reading experience
Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Also, Apple has announced that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is being celebrated with Apple Store sessions, an Accessibility Assistant shortcut in the Shortcuts app, special Fitness+ sessions and Time to Walk or Push episodes, an accessibility-oriented Maps guide, and highlighted content on the App Store and in Apple Books Apple Podcasts, Apple Music and Apple TV.

We’ve seen Apple announce accessibility features coming to future versions of its OSes before, but today’s announcement is unique given the number of features revealed. I’m eager to try these features out. Based on what Apple has said, there seems to be a lot here that will make meaningful impacts on a lot of users’ everyday lives.


Last Week, on Club MacStories: HomeKit Advice, Behind-the-Scenes of Automation April, and a Reader Home Screen

Because Club MacStories now encompasses more than just newsletters, we’ve created a guide to the past week’s happenings along with a look at what’s coming up next:

MacStories Weekly: Issue 320


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Apple News Audio, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and Nanuleu

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This week on MacStories Unwind, John recommends Apple News Audio stories and Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Alex Guyot makes a special guest appearance to suggest a classic iOS game, Nanuleu.

SaneBox – Organize Your Inbox (and Never Waste Time on Email Again)

John’s Picks:

Alex’s Pick:


Introducing the 2022 Automation April Shortcuts Contest Winners

John: One of the hardest things about a new project is keeping it under wraps until it’s ready. That was true of Automation April in general, but it was especially true of the Shortcuts Contest. As soon as we’d decided on the outline of what the contest would be, we knew it was something that had the potential to be special by bringing together the MacStories and broader Shortcuts communities for a single event.

We couldn’t be happier with how this year’s inaugural Automation April Shortcuts Contest went. We had over 200 shortcuts submitted to compete in six categories:

  • Best Everyday Shortcut
  • Best HomeKit Shortcut
  • Best Mac Shortcut
  • Best Media Shortcut
  • Best Productivity Shortcut
  • Best Overall Shortcut

The shortcuts we received were remarkable, and as we’d hoped, they ran the gamut from simple automations that solved one problem exceptionally well to shortcuts that offered broad functionality more like an app than an automation.

Having gone through every one of this year’s submissions, we’ve got a deeper appreciation than ever for just how vibrant and creative the Shortcuts community is. Across every Apple platform, its users are creating clever automations to extend the power of their devices and sharing them with a community that is incredibly generous with their time and efforts in helping others to learn how to build their own shortcuts.

With so many excellent shortcuts from which to choose, picking the winners was tough, but fortunately, we had a crack team of Shortcuts experts to help judge the submissions. Thanks to Simon Støvring, Matthew Cassinelli, Christopher Lawley, Jason Snell, Rosemary Orchard, Alex Cox, and David Sparks for their participation. We appreciate the time each was able to take sifting through this year’s contest submissions.

We’ve also got a little surprise for readers. Alongside the winners in each category, we’ve included a handful of honorable mentions to showcase some of our favorite shortcuts that didn’t win a category. I think you’ll see from the quality of these bonus shortcuts just how deep the field of submissions was.

With that, it’s time to reveal our first ever Automation April Shortcuts Contest winners and share the shortcuts they’ve created.

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