John Voorhees

2558 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John, MacStories’ Managing Editor, has been writing about Apple and apps since joining the team in 2015. He also co-hosts MacStories’ podcasts, including AppStories, which explores of the world of apps, MacStories Unwind, a weekly recap of everything MacStories and more, and MacStories Unplugged, a behind-the-scenes, anything-goes show exclusively for Club MacStories members.



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Screens 5: An Updated Design, Improved User Experience, and New Business Model

Screens 5.

Screens 5.

Screens, the remote screen-sharing app for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac by Luc Vandal of Edovia is one of those apps that I feel like I’ve always used. It’s installed on all of my devices, letting me lazily check on the Mac in my office from my couch or grab a file that I forgot to put on my laptop when I’m working remotely. It’s also the app that makes working with my headless Mac mini server that’s humming away in a closet feel like it was sitting right on my desk.

The last time I reviewed Screens was in 2017 when version 4 was released. In the years since, the app has received regular updates, refining the workflow of connecting to remote computers and keeping up with the latest changes to Apple’s OSes. However, as an app that’s designed to be a window to another system, the UI hasn’t seen a lot of change until today’s update to version 5, which adds a bunch of refinements to how connections are organized and makes significant improvements to the app’s toolbar.

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First Look: Stray for Mac

Source: Annapurna Interactive.

Source: Annapurna Interactive.

Stray, a high-profile and well-regarded videogame that debuted in 2022, is now available on the Mac. Initially launched on PlayStation and Windows, followed by an Xbox version this past August, today’s Mac release is available on both the Mac App Store and Steam.

The game, created by BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive, is set in a neon-lit, post-apocalyptic cityscape where you play as a cat. Thrown into an unfamiliar environment, your goal is to solve the mysteries of a dangerous rundown city aided by a flying robot named B-12.

Stray was generally well-received by reviewers, who appreciated how BlueTwelve imbued its cat protagonist with personality and captured life-like cat movement and behavior. As a result, it’s unsurprising that the number of systems on which you can enjoy Stray’s feline adventures has continued to expand.

I played Stray when it debuted on the PlayStation 5 and enjoyed it. The game’s controls are relatively simple, and the story isn’t terribly long, but the puzzles are challenging, and the cyberpunk visuals are stunning. It’s been a while since I last dipped into Stray, but the game was one of my favorites of 2022, so when I got the chance to play it a day before the launch, I jumped at the opportunity.

I’ve only had time to play Stray on the Mac for a few hours, navigating through the introductory scene and the early part of the game, so this isn’t a review. However, as someone familiar with the console version, I thought I’d share my early impressions playing on my M1 Max Mac Studio and my M1 MacBook Air.

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AppStories, Episode 362 – What If?: Exploring Alternative Apple Timelines

This week on AppStories, we explore alternative Apple timelines by asking the question: What if?

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On AppStories+, I try to simplify and speed up my backup setup, and Federico has an update on his default apps.

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MacStories Unwind: Streaming Games at Home


This week on MacStories Unwind, Federico and I follow up on AppStories experiments with our thoughts on the Sony PlayStation Portal and the best ways to stream videogames from a console or PC on your home network.

  • Kolide – It ensures that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta. Watch the demo today!

MacStories Unwind+

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Apple Marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities with Video and Ebook

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Sunday, December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and to mark the day, Apple has released a short film directed by Taika Waititi. The film, shot in New Zealand, stars a young girl and a menagerie of fanciful creatures searching for one of their voices. The narrative is told in rhyme in a style that’s reminiscent of a children’s book, which foreshadows the final scene of the video between a father and his daughter, which I won’t spoil. The narrator is Dr. Tristram Ingham, a physician from Taika Waititi’s hometown in New Zealand who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy and uses Personal Voice to narrate the film.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The video is a touching way of promoting Personal Voice, an important new accessibility feature of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma. Users record 15 minutes of themselves speaking, which is processed privately, on-device, creating a facsimile of their voice. It’s an invaluable feature for anyone who is at risk of losing their voice as a result of a disease or disability.

As Apple explains in its press release, the voice that is created is stored locally on the device on which it is recorded but can be stored in iCloud and shared with up to three devices. If you choose to use iCloud, voice data is end-to-end encrypted. The device on which you record your voice must be password-protected, too.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The film released today also highlights Live Speech, a feature of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS that allows users to type responses that are spoken aloud in a system-generated voice or your Personal Voice. You can learn more about setting up Personal Voice and using Live Speech from this Apple Support video on YouTube:

Alongside the video released today is a free ebook version of the story told in the video, which is designed to continue the conversation about voice loss and help people faced with losing their voices.

Apple Announces Apps of the Year

Today, Apple unveiled the winners of its annual App Store Awards in 10 categories. Earlier this month, Apple revealed almost 40 finalists across its award categories for their innovation and excellence.

As in the past, this year’s winners represent a broad cross-section of the App Store:


iPhone App of the YearAllTrails, from AllTrails, Inc.

iPad App of the YearPrêt-à-Makeup, from Prêt-à-Template. 

Mac App of the YearPhotomator, from UAB Pixelmator Team.

Apple TV App of the Year: MUBI, from MUBI, Inc.

Apple Watch App of the Year: SmartGym, from Mateus Abras.


iPhone Game of the Year: Honkai: Star Rail, from COGNOSPHERE PTE. LTD.

iPad Game of the Year: Lost in Play, from Snapbreak Games.

Mac Game of the Year: Lies of P, from NEOWIZ. 

Apple Arcade Game of the Year: Hello Kitty Island Adventure, from Sunblink.

Cultural Impact

For the App Awards Cultural Impact category, Apple picked five apps and games, which the company chose for their “ability to drive positive change through apps and games:”

Pok Pok from Pok Pok

Proloquo from AssistiveWare*

Too Good To Go from Too Good To Go

Unpacking from Humble Bundle

Finding Hannah from Fein Games GmbH

As always it’s great to see some of the MacStories Team’s favorite apps on this list, including Pok Pok, Photomator, and SmartGym. Congratulations to the developers of all the winning apps and games.

Apple Music Replay Is Out, but for a Deeper Look at Your Music Habits, Try

Yesterday, Apple released Apple Music Replay, its annual recap of Apple Music subscribers’ listening habits. The site is beautifully designed with images of artists coming to life with video when you’re not scrolling the page. Included this year are:

  • A highlight reel
  • Top artists
  • Top songs
  • Top albums
  • Top genres
  • Top playlists
  • Top radio stations
  • Listening milestones

As I scroll through my lists, there isn’t anything surprising here. I could have guessed my top artists, songs, and albums and put at least the top five or so in the correct order, which goes to the heart of what I and others have faulted Apple Music Replay for in the past.

The site looks great, and the listening milestones, which explain things like the fact that I crossed 25,000 minutes of listening in early August, are interesting, but they don’t go deep enough. I’d like to know things like which of the artists that I didn’t listen to prior to 2023, did I listen to the most in 2023? What’s a favorite album or band from years ago that I rediscovered? How did the genres I listened to evolve over the course of the year? Which artists took off in my regular rotation compared to past years? There are a million questions that could be answered by Apple Music that aren’t, and that’s a shame.

Spotify does a better job at surfacing interesting data with Wrapped, but if you’re like me and prefer other aspects of Apple Music, sign up for, use one of the many excellent indie apps, like Marvis Pro, Soor, Albums, Longplay, Doppler, and Air Scrobble that support the service, and then enjoy your weekly, monthly, and annual reports in’s app or on its website.

To view your own Replay 2023 statistics, visit

Play 2.0 Adds YouTube Channel Support, Folders, and a New Premium Subscription

Marcos Tanaka’s Play has become the way I watch YouTube, which isn’t something I expected would happen as much as I’ve enjoyed the app since its launch early last year. The app, available on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, started as a way to save YouTube links to watch later. That made Play indispensable for keeping track of videos in a way that is similar to how I save articles I want to read later in Matter.

With version 2.0, Marcos has transformed Play from a utility where I save links for later to how I find videos and watch them in the first place. The big difference is that Play now allows users to manage YouTube channels inside the app. I still come across YouTube links on social media, iMessage conversations, on the Club MacStories Discord server, and elsewhere that I add to Play using its excellent share sheet integration. However, with support for YouTube channels, I now have a chronological list of everything published by my favorite channels delivered to an inbox where I can quickly pick the ones I want to watch, which is wonderful.

If that sounds a lot like RSS, that’s because it is. That’s how I prefer to scan my favorite websites for articles to read, and now, it’s how I’m watching my favorite YouTube channels.

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AppStories, Episode 361 – Nerding Out for the Holidays (Part 2)

This week on AppStories, we conclude our tour of their geeky holiday projects.

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On AppStories+, Federico and I address follow up from the first part of Nerding out for the Holidays.

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To learn more about the benefits included with an AppStories+ subscription, visit our Plans page, or read the AppStories+ FAQ.