John Voorhees

780 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John joined MacStories in 2015. He is an editor and regular contributor to MacStories and the Club MacStories newsletters, co-hosts AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps, with Federico, and handles sponsorship sales for MacStories and AppStories. John is also the creator of Blink, an iOS affiliate linking app for the iTunes Affiliate Program.


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Linea Sketch 2.0: Elegant, Approachable Sketching for the iPad

Today, The Iconfactory released a major update to its iPad sketching app, Linea. Version 2.0, which has been renamed Linea Sketch, takes what was already one of my favorite Apple Pencil-enabled drawing apps and has extended it with new features that make it more powerful than ever before. Most importantly though, the new features don’t come at the expense of the app’s usability.

When I reviewed Linea 1.0 last year, I was struck by how approachable yet capable the app was. That’s still the case, but The Iconfactory has added several new features that should make it appeal to an even broader audience.

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Setapp: An App for Every Job, Already on Your Mac [Sponsor]

Setapp is a Mac app subscription service created by MacPaw, the maker of CleanMyMac. For one low monthly fee, Setapp offers more than 110 of the very best Mac apps from big names like Ulysses, Bartender, and iMazing. It’s a collection that grows every month becoming more and more valuable to subscribers.

Setapp includes a vast array of apps. There are productivity apps like task managers, time trackers, and text editors, as well as photo editors, developer tools, and much more. When you sign up, Setapp installs a handy catalog on your Mac that lets you easily browse its offerings. Nothing is downloaded until you decide to install it.

The app is designed to make finding just the right app easy too. The included apps are carefully vetted and curated, so you know that only the highest quality apps from the best developers are included. The business model couldn’t be more clear either. There are no hidden costs or gimmicks. You pay just $9.99 per month for access to the entire catalog of apps including any updates. There are no fees for upgrades, no In-App Purchases, or other hidden costs. Every app is a fully functional version that updates automatically.

Sign up today to unlock this amazing collection of Mac apps. Setapp is free to try, and you can extend the trial period up to six months by referring friends.

Our thanks to Setapp for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Apple Promotes Face ID with a Video That Asks What if You Could Open Anything by Looking at It?

A new tongue-in-cheek ad from Apple highlighting the power of Face ID has been published on YouTube. The ad begins with a girl walking through the halls of a high school who looks startled when she unlocks her iPhone X by looking at it. Next, she looks at a locker in the hallway that unlocks too, spilling its contents onto the floor. From there, the girl runs through the school unlocking and opening everything in sight, wreaking havoc to the beat of Bang Bang by Pete Cannon, a single that was released on Apple Music today.

The video is fun way of promoting Face ID by imagining what it would be like if you could unlock anything with just a glance.

Apple Invites Press to An Event For Teachers and Students in Chicago

Last December, Apple announced a partnership with the Chicago Public Schools to bring Apple’s Everyone Can Code program to the city’s students. Today, Apple sent invitations out to members of the press about an event that will be held at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. The invitation, which is titled ‘Let’s Take a Field Trip,’ says ‘Join us to hear creative new ideas for teachers and students.’ The event is scheduled for March 27, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

The invitation doesn’t provide details of what Apple has in store for the event, but the debut of iOS 11.3, a new Apple Books app, and new entry-level iOS hardware targeted at the education market are all possibilities.

Jot Takes a Stripped-Down Approach to Note Taking

Jot is a simple note taking app that collects the little bits of textual ephemera that come at you throughout the day. True to its name, Jot makes it easy to take down notes quickly. Although I think there’s room for a few more features that would enhance the app without compromising its simple approach, anyone with basic note taking needs that is looking for an app that focuses first and foremost on the words captured should appreciate Jot.

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Apple Adds a Families Section to Its Website with Information for Parents

Apple has introduced a new webpage that highlights the tools it makes for parents to limit kids’ use of the company’s devices, keep them safe, and make sure they are viewing appropriate content. The page provides an overview of:

  • The Kids section of the App Store
  • The App Store’s Ask to Buy feature, which requires children to get an adult’s permission to download apps
  • Restrictions that allow parents to block In-App Purchases and viewing of certain media
  • Settings that block adult content or limit browsing to certain sites on the Internet
  • Location Services, including Find My Friends and Find My iPhone
  • Media sharing
  • Health and Safety Features, including the Emergency SOS and Medical ID features of the iPhone
  • The Apple Watch’s fitness features
  • Privacy features like Face ID and Touch ID
  • The Classroom app

Each section links to additional resources on Apple’s website.

Apple was recently criticized by certain institutional shareholders in advance of its annual shareholders’ meeting for doing too little to help parents protect children that use their devices. The company responded swiftly with a statement:

“We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them,” Apple said in the statement. “We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids.”

Apple’s new Families webpage doesn’t include any new features. Instead, it’s a useful one-stop resource for parents looking for guidance about the tools already at their disposal. Apple has said, however, that additional features and enhancements to parental controls in the works.

Apple Commissions Videos by Artists That Showcase the iMac Pro’s Power

Apple has published a trailer and six short films by artists showcasing the power of the new iMac Pro. Apple also posted six behind-the-scenes videos explaining how each artist used the iMac Pro to create their film.

The videos each begin with the tagline ‘The Most Powerful Mac Ever’ followed by ‘Pushed to the Limit.’ The artists were tasked with creating a project that put the iMac Pro’s hardware through its paces. The six shorts combine CG effects, animation, and bring other techniques to bear using professional-grade apps with stunning results.

The behind-the-scenes videos explain how each film was created along with commentary by the artists who all walked away impressed by the iMac Pro’s capabilities.

Below is the trailer for the film series. The full videos and behind-the-scenes features are available after the break.

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Spotify Is Testing Voice Control of Its iOS App

Spotify is testing a voice navigation feature that lets users search for and play songs, albums, and playlists in the music streaming service’s iOS app. The feature, which was first reported by TechCrunch, is found under the Spotify app’s Search tab, but it’s currently only available to a small number of users.

Casey Newton of The Verge got a chance to try the feature:

I got early access to the test and tested out the feature set. In short, it’s an excellent step forward for navigation in app that has historically required too much tapping and typing to get where you’re going.

Spotify confirmed the test to both TechCrunch and The Verge but declined to provide any details.

If you have the feature, it appears as a microphone icon inside a circular white button in the search view. According to Newton, voice search provided ‘mostly accurate results.’

Spotify’s experiment with voice commands is notable because rumors have been circulating that it is developing a smart speaker to compete with offerings from Apple, Amazon, and Google. It’s not as useful as having built-in voice search functionality, but unless Apple opens up Siri to other music services, building the feature into its iOS app is also the closest Spotify can get to working like Apple Music on the HomePod.