John Voorhees

2211 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.




Endpoint Security for Teams That Want to Meet Compliance Goals without Sacrificing Privacy

iOS 16.1 and Apps with Live Activities: The MacStories Roundup, Part 2

When Live Activities debuted with iOS 16.1, a long list of apps supported the feature. There were some great examples, like the ten apps I covered in October and Timery, which was updated shortly thereafter. Because developers didn’t have a lot of time to prepare their apps for Live Activities, I expected a steady stream of updates that take advantage of the feature, but that hasn’t happened. Live Activity support is still being added to apps, but I thought I’d have more interesting, innovative examples to share by now, but I don’t.

Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t follow up October’s story with a few additions to my favorite examples of Live Activities. I’m sure there are some I’ve missed and others that will be released in the future, which we’ll cover in the future, but today, I’m going to focus on Dark Noise, Shelf, and Lock Launcher.

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Apple Has Stopped Development of System to Identify Child Sexual-Abuse Material

Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal, who interviewed Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, in connection with the new security features coming to its platforms, reports that Apple has abandoned its efforts to identify child sexual-abuse materials in its devices. According to Stern:

Last year, Apple proposed software for the iPhone that would identify child sexual-abuse material on the iPhone. Apple now says it has stopped development of the system, following criticism from privacy and security researchers who worried that the software could be misused by governments or hackers to gain access to sensitive information on the phone.

Federighi told Stern:

 Child sexual abuse can be headed off before it occurs. That’s where we’re putting our energy going forward.

Apple also told The Wall Street Journal that Advanced Data Protection that allows users to opt into end-to-end encryption of new categories of personal data stored in iCloud, will be launched in the US this year and globally in 2023.

For an explanation of the new security protections announced today, be sure to catch Joanna Stern’s full interview with Craig Federighi.


Apple Announces a Trio of Security Features Coming to Its Platforms

Today, Apple announced three new security features.

First, iMessage Contact Key Verification allows users to verify that they are communicating with the person with whom they think they’re communicating. The feature will alert users who use it if someone has infiltrated cloud services to gain access to the user’s iMessage conversations. For even greater security, users can compare a Contact Verification Code in person, on FaceTime, or through another secure channel.

Second, Security Keys lets users adopt hardware security keys when logging into their iCloud accounts. The new system is an enhancement over two-factor authentication because it prevents someone from obtaining a your second factor through a phishing scam.

Third, Advanced Data Protection for iCloud adds encryption on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac for a long list of data categories. According to Apple’s press release:

iCloud already protects 14 sensitive data categories using end-to-end encryption by default, including passwords in iCloud Keychain and Health data. For users who enable Advanced Data Protection, the total number of data categories protected using end-to-end encryption rises to 23, including iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photos. The only major iCloud data categories that are not covered are iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar because of the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems.

Apple says that iMessage Contact Key Verification will be available globally in 2023, and Security Keys is coming early 2023. Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is available in the US today for participants in Apple’s beta OS program, and will presumably roll out with the next point release to Apple’s OSes.

AppStories, Episode 308 – Gone but Not Forgotten

This week on AppStories, we explore the Apple apps and features that have disappeared from its platforms in recent years.

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  • Pillow – Sleeping better, made simple.
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On AppStories+, I work on a portable video streaming setup, plus country-ambient music release announcements and other email we contend with.

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Apple Announces Upcoming Apple Music Sing Feature

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Apple announced today that later this month, it will update its Music app with a new feature called Apple Music Sing.

According to Apple’s Oliver Schusser, its vice president of Apple Music and Beats:

Apple Music’s lyrics experience is consistently one of the most popular features on our service. We already know our users all over the world love to follow along to their favorite songs, so we wanted to evolve this offering even further to enable even more engagement around music through singing. It’s really a lot of fun, our customers are going to love it.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The feature is an extension of Music’s existing real-time lyrics. With real time lyrics playing on an iPhone, iPad, or latest-generation Apple TV 4K, users can adjust the lyric mix of a song, taking over the lead or backup vocals or singing along with the artist’s vocals. There’s even a duet view that takes up opposite sides of a screen for duets and multi-singer tracks.

Apple says it will be launching the new feature later this month with more than 50 dedicated playlists for users to use with Apple Music Sing.

CARROT Weather 5.9: A Robot Relationship and Layouts

It’s never been about just the weather when it comes to CARROT Weather, and version 5.9 of Brian Mueller’s app is no exception. With the latest update, you can participate in bonding activities with CARROT. Yes, it’s as strange as it sounds, and a lot of fun too. Still, if getting to know CARROT better isn’t your thing, the update has also expanded Live Activities, updated the app’s layout UI, and more.

Charging up CARROT to earn hearts.

Charging up CARROT to earn hearts.

Tap the CARROT icon in the toolbar to get to know her better through a series of mini-games. At the outset there are three games:

  • Charging CARROT’s batteries by feeding her an assortment of objects that rotate roulette-wheel-style onscreen until you tap a button
  • Stroking her ego by repeating nice things to CARROT, which uses speech recognition to make sure you get the compliments right
  • Debugging CARROT’s code by shaking your device

But relationships take time, so you’ll find that after a while, you’ll stop earning hearts and have to wait before you can continue earning your way into CARROT’s good graces.

Complete enough bonding activities with CARROT and you can start a romance with her.

Complete enough bonding activities with CARROT and you can start a romance with her.

Bonding with CARROT is part of the app’s Achievements system, and you’ll see if you visit that section of the CARROT menu that there are additional mystery tasks available to complete once you fill op the rings of the first set. Fill enough rings, and you can even start a romance with CARROT.

Tracking your CARROT achievements.

Tracking your CARROT achievements.

I love CARROT’s new bonding activities. They’re fun and breathe new life and personality into the character that’s been abusing users for years as they check the weather. I’ve only begun earning hearts, so it remains to be seen where this all will lead, so stay tuned to MacStories for updates on that, I guess.

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Pixelmator Pro 3.2 Moves into Video Editing

Pixelmator Pro 3.2 adds a new dimension to the Pixelmator team’s flagship app: video. I have yet to spend much time with the app’s new video features yet, but anyone familiar with Pixelmator Pro should feel right at home because working with video works a lot like editing still images.

Pixelmator Pro adds new video templates.

Pixelmator Pro adds new video templates.

To get you started, Pixelmator Pro includes templates, a feature that was added in version 3.0. There are templates for a movie title clip, a YouTube thumbnail, YouTube channel art, and story-style vertical video. Only some templates incorporate placeholder video clips, but those that do are a great way to get a better feel of the video features added to the app.

Pixelmator Pro's editing controls.

Pixelmator Pro’s editing controls.

Editing a video isn’t much different from working with still images, except you’ll notice playback controls at the bottom of the clip you’re editing for controlling sound and playing back the clip. Also, a three-dot ‘more’ button reveals a scrubber with clip trimming controls and other advanced options when clicked. Other than that, video layers work just like other layers. You can adjust brightness, exposure, colors, and other aspects of a clip, apply filters, crop your video, overlay text, and more.

Video can be exported as MP4 files, QuickTime movies, animated GIFs, or PNGs. The Pixelmator team also says it has improved support for Motion projects.

Pixelmator Pro isn’t a replacement for a timeline-based video editor that lets you build a video from multiple clips. However, for clips like title segments and short-form social media posts, Pixelmator Pro strikes me as a far simpler solution than a more complex video editor like Final Cut Pro.

Pixelmator Pro 3.2 is available on the Mac App Store and is a free update to existing users. New users can purchase currently purchase Pixelmator Pro for $19.99, a 50% discount of its usual price.

Last Week, on Club MacStories: Anybox, Music Tips, A Universal and VNC Desk Setup, and Lessons Learned From Going Indie

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 347



The Monthly Log, November 2022