John Voorhees

1776 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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MacStories Unwind: Doppler for Mac, Sofa 3.0, GarageBand, Earnings and a Big Album Drops

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This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • Monthly Log
    • Federico on managing his music collection on an Intel NUC using his iPad
    • John on his note-taking philosophy and why you should delete and archive more notes
  • MacStories Weekly
    • Federico recommends Roon, the client app for the music server running on the Intel NUC he wrote about in the Monthly Log
    • John shares a shortcut for converting podcast audio clips to text and saving them in Obsidian alongside the embedded audio file
    • Christopher Lawley shares his iPad Home Screens
  • MacStories Unplugged
    • Panic’s Playdate
    • A conversation about 4th of July parades and real estate open houses leads to Italian private investigators and American personal injury lawyers
    • Federico invites members to play a guessing game

AppStories

Unwind


Apple Releases Remix Sessions, Sound Packs, and Producer Packs for GarageBand on the iPhone and iPad

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple announced Sound Packs for GarageBand for iOS and iPadOS from artists and producers that allow users to remix hit tracks from Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga and create their own music, using hundreds of loops and sounds from producers that include Boys Noize, Mark Lettieri, Oak Felder, Soulection, Take A Daytrip, Tom Misch, and TRAKGIRL.

Apple VP of Worldwide Product Marketing Bob Borchers explained that:

GarageBand continues to be a catalyst for music creation — making it easy for novices to get started and for seasoned pros to develop their ideas on the go. For this update, we’ve collaborated with an incredible group of artists and producers to give musicians an amazing collection of new sounds to play with, and we hope even more people will be inspired to tap into their creativity and start making music in GarageBand.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The Remix Sessions feature Break My Heart by Dua Lipa and Free Woman by Lady Gaga and allow users to remix the tracks using GarageBand’s built-in tools. Apple is also releasing seven Producer Packs from big names in music production. According to Apple’s press release:

Each Producer Pack is bursting with hundreds of royalty-free loops, beats, instruments, drum kits, synth patches, and samples that embody the sound and vibe of each producer. And in-app videos feature each producer offering words of encouragement to beginners, as well as insights into their creative process.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

One of the Producer Packs will serve as a companion piece to an upcoming docuseries with producer Mark Ronson called “Watch the Sound With Mark Ronson.” The TV+ series, which Apple says “explores and celebrates the intersection of music and technology,” will let GarageBand users create music using sounds inspired by the series.

I’m a little surprised that the Mac version of GarageBand isn’t part of Apple’s announcement today, but I love these sorts of add-ons to apps like GarageBand. This content allows fans of artists and producers to work with the same raw materials they do to come up with remixes and original music that express their personal tastes using a tool that is very approachable and fun.


Doppler for Mac Offers an Excellent Album and Artist-Focused Listening Experience for Your Owned Music Collection

I haven’t purchased much music in the past six years or so, but there was a time when it was a big part of my entertainment spending. I still have a huge collection of albums ripped from CDs I bought and later purchased online from the iTunes Store. That changed with the advent of streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, and later Apple Music. I still have those files frozen in time on the 2015 Mac mini I use as a Plex server. So, when Ed Wellbrook told me he was bringing Doppler, his excellent iPhone music player to the Mac, I figured it was time to dust of my old music collection and give it a try.

Doppler, which we’ve covered before here and in MacStories Weekly, including, most recently, Issues 252, 261, and 275, is a music player for people who buy their music. Apple’s Music app continues to maintain backward compatibility for users who own their music libraries, but Apple’s focus these days is squarely on streaming, not purchasing. That’s left apps like Doppler to fill the void offering features like the ability to add new music to your library from an iPhone, something that isn’t possible with Apple Music.

The minute you try Doppler, you can tell it’s made by someone who cares deeply about music and the experience of listening to it. The interface puts albums and artists front and center, focusing on album art and simple, intuitive controls to make listening to music on-the-go a pleasure.

Wellbrook has brought the same sensibility to a native Mac version of the app, which was released today. Doppler for Mac is a lot like what I’d imagine Apple’s Music app would be like if Music were split into separate apps for streaming and owned music. That’s not likely to ever happen, but fortunately, Doppler has you covered if you own your music.

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Sofa 3.0 Adds New Ways to Manage Your Media Lists Along With a New Business Model

Sofa 3.0, an app that I last reviewed in March, is out with loads of new ways to track, organize, and browse the media lists you create. The app also has a new subscription business model for its pro features.

Media recommendations come at us all from every angle, whether it’s friends and family or sources like reviews. You can save lists of books, movies, videogames, and other media you want to try in lots of ways. You could use an app like Apple’s Notes or Reminders, but they’re general-purpose apps that don’t address the specific needs related to media consumption. Plus, trying to track media in something like a task manager gets out of control and messy fast.

Another option is to turn to an app designed for a specific type of media, and there are many good options available on the App Store. The advantage Sofa has, is that it makes it just as easy to pick a book as a movie or something else when you’re deciding what media to try next. It’s a subtle but important distinction. With single-purpose apps, you need to decide what kind of media you want to consume and then turn to an app to pick something. Sofa dispenses with the first step allowing you to answer a broader question: “How do I want to spend my free time?” That a one-stop approach is one of Sofa’s greatest strengths and one that the app leans into hard with the latest excellent update.

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Apple Q3 2021 Results - $81.4 Billion Revenue

Apple has just published its financial results for Q3 2021. The company posted revenue of $81.4 billion. Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“This quarter, our teams built on a period of unmatched innovation by sharing powerful new products with our users, at a time when using technology to connect people everywhere has never been more important,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re continuing to press forward in our work to infuse everything we make with the values that define us — by inspiring a new generation of developers to learn to code, moving closer to our 2030 environment goal, and engaging in the urgent work of building a more equitable future.”

Expectations for Q3 2021 and the Year-Ago Quarter (Q3 2020)

Apple didn’t provide guidance for Q3 2021, but going into today’s earnings call, Yahoo Finance reported the following analyst expectations::

Here’s what Wall Street is expecting from Apple, as compiled by Bloomberg, versus how it performed in the same quarter last year.

  • Revenue: $73.8 billion expected versus $59.7 billion in Q3 2020
    • Earnings per share: $1.01 expected versus $2.58 in Q3 2020
    • iPhone revenue: $34.5 billion expected versus $26.4 billion in Q3 2020

    • Services revenue: $16.3 billion expected versus $13.2 billion in Q3 2020

Graphical Visualization

After the break, we’ve compiled a graphical visualization of Apple’s Q3 2021 financial results.

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AppStories, Episode 233 – Building an Apple-Only Research and Writing Setup

This week on AppStories, we consider whether changes coming to Apple’s OSes make a system app-only research and writing workflow possible and discuss where there’s room for improvement.

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MacStories Unwind: Two Months with the M1 iMac, a Fun CARROT Weather Update, and Skate City: Tokyo

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This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • Part two of Federico’s Obsidian series covering the template he uses and some of his favorite pluginss
    • A collection of Mac screen recording apps
    • John on always-on display rumors and his experiments with using his iPhone and iPad with Auto Lock disabled

AppStories

Unwind


CARROT Weather 5.3 Adds Smart Layouts and a Fun Weather Reports Feature

My nighttime Smart Layout.

My nighttime Smart Layout.

Apple Design Award winner CARROT Weather offers an unprecedented amount of user control over its interface, something which Federico and I recently discussed at length on AppStories and interviewed developer Brian Mueller about last month. The customization options that were introduced in January with version 5 of the app allow users to define the look and layout of multiple weather tiles along with the date presented by each. Since that UI overhaul in January, Mueller has continued to extend the customization system, most recently adding a preview system and other refinements to make it easier to experiment with and create different layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

With version 5.3 that was released today, Mueller has added Smart Layouts, allowing users to create different layouts for nighttime and when it’s going to rain. I like these new options a lot for a couple of reasons. The first is practical: if it’s nighttime, you probably don’t care about the day’s high temperature because it likely happened hours ago. Likewise, if it’s going to rain, a graph of when the rain is going to start and when it will be most intense is far more important to you than on a beautiful, sunny day.

Picking Smart Layouts.

Picking Smart Layouts.

With Smart Layouts, you can adjust your weather layouts for each circumstance. For example, I created a Smart Layout for nighttime based on the Siren template that emphasizes the current conditions followed by the hourly and daily forecasts. When rain is in the forecast, I’ve got a layout that moves a precipitation graph and radar view to the spots just below the current conditions. The changes I made were relatively minor but have made CARROT Weather more relevant as conditions change.

I also enjoy Smart Layouts because they’re another outlet for trying new layout templates and experimenting with setup options. The process is fun and adds an extra touch of personalization and variety that I enjoy. Smart Layouts require a Premium Club subscription to CARROT Weather.

The other headline feature of CARROT Weather’s update is Weather Reports, which lets you create 30-second weather report videos and share them. Whether you’re flexing from the beach on vacation or just want to complain about how hot it is to your friends, Weather Reports are a ton of fun. Videos are recorded with the front-facing camera, and CARROT Weather lends a hand by providing an overlay to help frame yourself. Videos can be scripted randomly by CARROT or unscripted, and you can even pick a funny weatherperson name if you’d like. If you pick a scripted video, the words scroll up the screen as you record yourself teleprompter-style. Here’s one I did from my backyard yesterday afternoon:

Weather Reports are a blast to create and will undoubtedly show up in droves on social media networks before you finish reading this.

Today’s update also adds a variety of smaller updates, including new layout components and multiple formats for taking screenshots of weather conditions for sharing.

CARROT Weather 5.3 is available as a free update on the App Store.


Two Months with Apple’s New M1 iMac

The very first Mac I owned was an iMac. That white polycarbonate, first-gen Intel iMac was the epitome of a family computer, sitting in a central location where everyone in my family could use it for work, school, and projects. I had an early aluminum iMac too, but gradually, portable devices took over, satisfying everyone’s computing needs, and the iMac fell by the wayside.

In the ten years or so since then, the Macs I’ve bought for myself have been laptops and the Mac mini. It’s a flexible combination that has served me well. The mini isn’t as customizable as the Mac Pro, but it suited my needs well, allowing me to easily set up and tear down various peripheral configurations, which became even more useful when I started writing at MacStories. Combined with the MacBooks I’ve owned over the years for when I want to get away from my desk, I haven’t pay much attention to the iMac for a long time.

The iMac has come a long way since the first one I owned (left) and the latest M1 model (right).

The iMac has come a long way since the first one I owned (left) and the latest M1 model (right).

As a result, when Apple sent me an M1 iMac to test, I was curious to see how it would fit in in my home, but I didn’t expect it to rekindle my interest in an all-in-one Mac. Boy, was I wrong.

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