John Voorhees

2009 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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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


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.

Read more


Apple Discontinues the iPod touch

Apple has announced that it is discontinuing the iPod touch.

As the last iPod in Apple’s lineup, the end of the iPod touch marks the end of an era for Apple. The iPod, which debuted in 2001, played a significant role in Apple’s comeback as a company. The iPod touch was introduced in 2007, the same year as the iPhone, as a sort of phone-less iPhone that became an entry-level iOS device for kids and others who didn’t need or want the iPhone’s mobile phone functionality. Over the years, though, the touch has been updated less frequently as its role was absorbed by hand-me-down iPhones and other products.

Although the timing of Apple’s decision makes sense, it’s still a little sad to see the iPod touch go. Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, Greg Joswiak, had this to say about the legacy of the entire iPod lineup:

“Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry — it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared. Today, the spirit of iPod lives on. We’ve integrated an incredible music experience across all of our products, from the iPhone to the Apple Watch to HomePod mini, and across Mac, iPad, and Apple TV. And Apple Music delivers industry-leading sound quality with support for spatial audio — there’s no better way to enjoy, discover, and experience music.

With a month to go before WWDC, now is the time that Apple often clears the decks for bigger announcements. Is the end of the touch a precursor to something bigger coming with Apple Music, the HomePod, or other products? I hope so. As Federico and I discussed on this week’s episode of AppStories, there is plenty of room for improvement with Apple Music, and the HomePod mini feels like part of an incomplete lineup after the original HomePod was discontinued. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.


AppStories, Episode 273 – Our iOS 16 Wishes

This week on AppStories, we kick off our annual ‘OS wishes’ series with a look at our wishes for iOS 16, including everything from system-level features to the iPhone’s built-in apps.

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On AppStories+, Federico explains why he’d like to see Quick Note come to the iPhone.

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.


Adobe Announces Major Updates to Fresco and Photoshop for iPad

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

Today, Adobe announced substantial updates to Fresco, its drawing and painting app for the iPhone and iPad, and its image editor, Photoshop for iPad. I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with these updates yet, but based on Adobe’s announcement, the changes promise to be among the most significant releases yet.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

Fresco is adding a magic wand selection tool that allows selections to be made based on color. A slider adjusts the color that defines the selection, which gives artists fine-grained control over what is selected. As with magic wand tools in other Adobe products, the purpose of the new tool is to eliminate tedious manual selection methods where possible.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

The app has also added a liquify tool that blends colors on Fresco’s canvas as though they were paint. Liquify, which is part of the Transform set of tools, allows users to push, pull, and mix adjacent colors in a way that looks quite natural in Adobe’s demonstrations.

Fresco first added tools that brought compositions to life with motion last year. Today’s update adds the ability to adjust the opacity of motion frames from the Frames action menu and move, resize, and rotate motion paths. Fresco’s update includes several other new features, including a recent brushes list, new vector manga brushes, and the ability to define reference layers, a handy way to separate line work from color fill work, and capture a perspective grid from an imported image.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

The Photoshop update has added a new AI-based Content-Aware Fill tool that can use surrounding parts of an image to remove and fill unwanted sections of an image with a single tap. Content-Aware Fill is one of the marquee Photoshop features on the Mac, so it’s nice to see it added to the iPad now too. The app has also added a single-tap background removal and replacement tool, which relies on Adobe’s Select Subject technology.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

To make quick adjustments to an image, Adobe has introduced auto-tone, color, and contrast tools to Photoshop too. Adobe says these are three of the most frequent actions taken by users on the desktop, so bringing them to the iPad should make it a much more attractive platform for editing images. Adobe’s font browser with over 20,000 fonts is available on Photoshop for iPad too.

I continue to be impressed with the pace at which Adobe apps, but especially Fresco and Photoshop, are advancing on the iPad. Both have grown into some of the most sophisticated iPad apps available and feel natural and native to the platform in the way they implement the equivalent of desktop features on the iPad.

Fresco and Photoshop are available as free downloads on the App Store and offer In-App Purchases to unlock certain features.


Last Week, on Club MacStories: Federico’s New Reminders Setup and Imagining Deeper Integration of Videogames with Apple TV

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 319



Apple, Google, and Microsoft Announce Their Commitment to Expand Standard-Based Passwordless Sign-Ins

Today, Apple, Google, and Microsoft committed to expand the use of passwordless sign-in technology developed by the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium. The companies say that the standard will ‘offer consistent, secure, and easy passwordless sign-ins to consumers across devices and platforms.’

If this rings a bell, it’s because the passwordless technology announced today was first covered by Apple at WWDC 2021 when the company released a technology preview to developers to start implementing the tech into their apps and websites. The goal of passwordless sign-ins is to make sign-ins more convenient and secure by eliminating password management. Instead of passwords, sign-ins for apps and websites will happen through face, fingerprint, or device PIN authentication and eliminate the need for the use of one-time passcodes over SMS.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft already have FIDO Alliance standards built into their devices, but with the expansion announced today, the system will make authentication easier for users. According to the companies’ joint press release:

  1. Allow users to automatically access their FIDO sign-in credentials (referred to by some as a “passkey”) on many of their devices, even new ones, without having to reenroll every account. 
  2. Enable users to use FIDO authentication on their mobile device to sign in to an app or website on a nearby device, regardless of the OS platform or browser they are running.

Kurt Knight, Apple’s Senior Director of Platform Product Marketing, said of the joint effort:

Just as we design our products to be intuitive and capable, we also design them to be private and secure. Working with the industry to establish new, more secure sign-in methods that offer better protection and eliminate the vulnerabilities of passwords is central to our commitment to building products that offer maximum security and a transparent user experience — all with the goal of keeping users’ personal information safe.

With the number of devices in our lives today and the use of multiple platforms by many people, those two changes should go a long way to making passwordless sign-ins easier to use. As good as password management apps and OS-level tools have become, juggling passwords for hundreds of websites and apps is a burden on consumers, which often leads to password reuse and other insecure practices. The FIDO Alliance’s standard promises to change that, and with Apple, Google, and Microsoft on board, the likelihood that we will see a more secure, passwordless future is better than ever.