Alex has been writing for MacStories since 2013. As a MacStories contributor he covers Apple and related technology on the site and for Club MacStories. Alex also keeps the site running smoothly and works on new technology as MacStories’ senior software engineer.
Following the introduction of the Apple Watch Ultra last September, one question that stood out was whether this would be a new addition to the annual Apple Watch lineup, or another device like the Apple Watch SE which was only updated every few years. Two years may not yet make a trend1, but the Ultra 2 signals that the high-end device will be riding the annual update cycle alongside its standard Apple Watch sibling. This is great news for Ultra enthusiasts, even if the update isn’t quite enough to justify a single-year upgrade for most users.
In a similar vein, the Apple Watch Series 9 continues the slow, methodic, inevitable drumbeat of iterative Apple Watch updates. It too offers minimal allure for owners of last year’s Series 8, but looks a bit more intriguing for those with a Series 6 or 7, and downright mouthwatering for any Series 5 holdouts. This, as with every year’s iteration, is a great device.
At this morning’s annual September Apple Event, Apple announced its latest lineup of iPhones and Apple Watches. Kicking things off with the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2, both devices can be ordered starting today, with availability beginning September 22nd.
Despite rumors of a delayed launch date for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple will in fact be delivering the device at the same time as all other models. All of the new iPhones — the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max — are available for preorder starting this Friday, September 15th, at 5 AM PDT. Like the new Apple Watches, ship dates and availability for the iPhones will begin on September 22nd.
Apple is also releasing a lineup of new “FineWoven” accessories — a more environmentally friendly alternative to their previous leather accessory lineup. Most of these accessories are available for order here starting today, with the same ship date of September 22nd.
Apple itself is hailing watchOS 10 as the largest software update since the introduction of the Apple Watch. I’m not sure I quite agree with that characterization, but it’s certainly the biggest update we’ve seen in many years. The tenth iteration of watchOS includes an exciting fresh take on some of its core interactions, including a reassignment of the hardware side button and a brand-new widget interface. Apple has released the watchOS 10 public beta today, which you can access as part of the Apple Beta Software Program.
There’s a lot to dig into here, but we’ll leave most of the digging for my official watchOS review later this year. For now, let’s take a look at the highlights of watchOS 10, what exactly has changed, and what seems to be working after just a few weeks of usage.
The Apple Vision Pro wasn’t the only new hardware announced at Apple’s WWDC keynote event this Monday. The company also introduced a few new Mac models: a new 15” MacBook Air, an upgraded Mac Studio, and the long-awaited Apple silicon Mac Pro. Powering the freshly minted top of Apple’s Mac line is a brand-new chip: the M2 Ultra.
FaceTime is getting more attention in iOS 17 than it’s seen in quite a while, with a number of new features announced at yesterday’s WWDC keynote. All of these changes are coming to the iPad and Mac as well, and even tvOS has been shown some love.
tvOS 17 will include a brand-new FaceTime app, which will connect with an iPhone running iOS 17 to use as a camera. All you’ll have to do is place your iPhone in front of the TV, with the camera facing your couch, then sit back and take your FaceTime calls on your TV screen. The iPhone will use Apple’s Center Stage technology to keep the frame centered and focused on you, or expand it if someone else joins you on the couch. This feature also integrates with Apple SharePlay to enable you to watch a movie or TV show simultaneously with those on your FaceTime call.
This fall, iOS 17 will introduce a brand new viewing mode for iPhone, but it will be quite familiar to most Apple Watch users. StandBy is enabled automatically when you turn your iPhone on its side while it’s charging, and functions nearly identically to Nightstand mode on the Apple Watch.
Nightstand mode has been around since all the way back in watchOS 2 (I covered it in my very first watchOS review in 2015), and exists as a way to view the time in the middle of the night just by bumping your nightstand while an Apple Watch is charging on it. Just like the new StandBy mode, the Apple Watch must be charging on its side, thus placing the screen at an ideal angle to be read from your bed without having to sit up or search for your device in the dark.
iOS 17 is coming this fall, and Apple has once again directed a significant amount of attention to one of the iPhone’s most popular apps: Messages. This year we’re getting another round of minor UI tweaks, most notably shifting the positioning of iMessage apps again: they will now pop up in a new full-screen overlay. The two-page overlay starts with your most frequently used iMessage apps, which is where you’ll find Camera and Photos. Swiping the first page up will reveal any further apps you have installed beyond your top six.
In a packed WWDC keynote, Apple raced through many impressive additions to their hardware and software lineup, including a new 15” MacBook Air, an upgraded Mac Studio, and an all-new Apple Silicon Mac Pro. Significant changes are coming to watchOS 10, and Widgets are getting super-powered across all major platforms. But the star of show came in a rare One More Thing-style announcement: the Apple Vision Pro.
We’ll be posting coverage on all this and more in the coming hours and days, but in the meantime you can see it all for yourself in the keynote video on Apple’s Events site or on YouTube.
Apple is also hosting the keynote presentation in higher quality on Apple Podcasts, where you can choose between video or audio versions.
When we chose the second annual lifetime achievement award winner, there was no doubt in my mind that it should be Drafts. Developed and maintained by Greg Pierce of Agile Tortoise, Drafts has been the place where text starts on iOS for nearly a decade now. Times have certainly changed, but Drafts remains. Through the years, it has evolved into so much more than the simple text utility it once was.
While it has evolved, the most beautiful thing about Drafts has been the fervent dedication to its original mission statement. If you are about to type some text – any text — on your iPhone or iPad (and even, in modern times, your Mac), you should open Drafts. The app is so focused on text capture that it defaults to opening a new blank “draft” every time you open the app.
Writing text is only as useful as what you do with it, so the second pillar of the Drafts mission is its action menu; an infinitely customizable list of actions that allow you manipulate and send text from the app to essentially anywhere else you can think of. From random web services to other native apps on your devices, Drafts can almost certainly deliver your text. As your words get delivered throughout your entire digital life, you can take comfort in knowing that you can always search for and find anything you’ve written simply by looking up its record in Drafts.
Drafts in 2022. From left: the editing view, the action menu, and the filtering view.
It amazes me that after hearing that pitch (and even personally writing about it) again and again for over a decade, I still find it to be an alluring idea. Drafts’ longevity is a testament to the prescience of Pierce’s original vision. It pleases me immensely to see this app carrying on for so long, and it’s an honor to award it MacStories’ Lifetime Achievement award.