John Voorhees

415 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John Voorhees is the creator of Blink: Better Affiliate Links, an iTunes affiliate linking app for iOS from Squibner, and co-host with Robb Lewis of the podcast Ruminate.

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This week's sponsor

Shapego

Beautiful Word Clouds for iPad and iPhone


Apple Releases watchOS 3.2 and macOS 10.12.4

Today, Apple released updates to watchOS and macOS Sierra. The two updates are predominantly maintenance releases, but there are a handful of user-facing highlights between the two.

watchOS 3.2 adds Theater Mode. According to the beta release notes published on Apple’s developer site, Theater Mode lets users mute their Watch and disable raise-to-wake. Theater Mode is accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the Apple Watch’s screen. While the feature is engaged, notifications are silent, but you still receive haptic feedback when a notification is received and can view a notification by pressing the Digital Crown.

The watchOS update also adds SiriKit support for the following types of activities:

  • Messaging
  • Payments
  • Ride booking
  • Workouts
  • Calling
  • Searching photos

SiriKit was originally rolled out as part of iOS 10 last fall.

The primary user-facing change to macOS Sierra 10.12.4 is the addition of Night Shift. As with iOS, Night Shift on the Mac changes the color of your display to reduce blue light, giving your screen a warmer, slightly orange cast.

There are a couple ways to turn on Night Shift on a Mac. One way is to use Siri to toggle the feature on and off. If you want more control over Night Shift though, the feature is available in System Preferences under Displays. Night Shift occupies its own tab in the Displays preference pane, from which you can turn it on and off manually or set a schedule to activate Night Shift automatically. Schedules include the ability to create a custom schedule or turn it on at sunset and off at sunrise. You can also dial in the exact color temperature that Night Shift uses with a slider.

Sierra 10.12.4 includes Touch Bar support for the Mac App Store.

Sierra 10.12.4 includes Touch Bar support for the Mac App Store.

In addition to Night Shift, Siri on the Mac now knows about cricket, including data from the Indian Premier League and International Cricket Council. macOS 10.12.4 also adds supports dictation for Shanghainese, updated PDFKit, which was a source of bugs for third-party PDF apps, and added Touch Bar support to the Mac App Store.


Game Day: Typeshift

Developer Zach Gage describes Typeshift as 'Anagrams meets Word Search, with a sprinkle of Crosswords,' which fits well. Gage is the creator of SpellTower and other excellent iOS games. It's a clever mashup of the familiar in an unconventional way. With an extensive library of free puzzles, new daily puzzles, and puzzle packs that are available as In-App Purchases, TypeShift is a thoroughly addicting, seemingly bottomless pit of word game fun.

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1Blocker Adds Easy Page Element Hiding

1Blocker is one of our favorite content blockers on iOS and macOS. The app has been continuously updated and refined on both platforms, syncs between the two, and has an extensive list of blocking rules.

On iOS, 1Blocker made Federico’s list of ‘Must Have’ apps for 2015 in part because he could create custom rules with CSS overrides to hide individual elements on a webpage. That’s a powerful feature, but the developer of 1Blocker found that too many people didn’t want to be bothered inspecting webpages on a Mac and typing in a blocking rule manually. Other users simply weren’t comfortable with using Safari’s inspector.

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Super Mario Run 2.0 Arrives

On the heels of Super Mario Run’s debut on Android, Nintendo released a big update to the iOS version of the game that adds new features and refines gameplay.

Parts of Super Mario Run are free to play. Unlocking the remaining levels requires a one-time In-App Purchase. Nintendo has been criticized by some for making too few levels available for free. Version 2.0 addresses that criticism by letting players unlock courses 1-4 after completing one of Bowser’s challenges. Clear courses 1-4, and new Toad Rally courses are unlocked too.

You can now play Toad Rally with different colors of Yoshi, which will unlock Toads of that same color. Also, Nintendo’s release notes say that new buildings will be available in an upcoming event. The remainder of the updates to the game consist of tweaks to gameplay such as an expansion of the availability of Easy Mode and changes that make it easier to earn Rally Tickets for Toad’s Rally.

The update to Super Mario Run is free and available on the App Store.


iTunes Adds Rent Once, Watch Anywhere Feature

In the aftermath of Apple’s announcements earlier today, it released an update to iTunes with a new feature described as rent once, watch anywhere. The release notes for iTunes 12.6, which is available as a free upgrade on the Mac App Store, say:

Now you can enjoy your iTunes movie rentals across your devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

With this new feature, you should be able to start a movie rental on an iOS device and finish it at home on an Apple TV for example, which is a welcome change to what was an overly inflexible system.

iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 are currently in beta but are expected to be released soon, at which time this new feature will be available to everyone who upgrades to those versions of the OSes.


Interact Scratchpad for Mac Takes the Pain Out of Adding Contacts

Last year, Agile Tortoise introduced Interact for iOS, a powerful app for managing contacts. One of the most popular features of that app is the scratchpad that parses contact information, making quick work of turning a block of text into a new contact. Agile Tortoise has ported that functionality to the Mac in the form of a menu bar app called Interact Scratchpad.

Adding information to contacts is tedious. Too often I find myself switching back and forth between a webpage and the Contacts app typing information into field after field or copying little bits of text and pasting them into those fields. Scratchpad does the monotonous part for you by automatically recognizing all kinds of contact information.

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Starting a Website With Setapp [Sponsor]

This week, MacStories is sponsored by MacPaw, makers of Setapp.

Setapp is a subscription service for Mac apps that is a great place to start if you’re launching a blog. There’s more to starting a website than having a good text editor, though Setapp has one of the very best of those in Ulysses. Tools to organize your thoughts, focus your efforts, publish your articles, and manage your business are just as critical. Setapp has some of the very best apps in each category for just $9.99 per month.

Writers will appreciate the inclusion of iThoughtsX in Setapp for developing story ideas. When it’s time to start writing, utilities like HazeOver, which obscures windows other than the one in which you are working, and Be Focused, for Pomodoro-style timed writing sprints, are great options to keep you focused. When you’re finished writing, Markdown users will appreciate having Marked to preview how posts will look before they are published.

Setapp also includes apps to help you create and maintain your site, like Rapid Weaver for site design and Blogo for publishing your posts. To keep your business and productivity on track, Setapp offers Taskpaper, a plain-text task manager that packs lots of power under the hood and Timing to automatically track your work.

Finding the tools that fit with your work style is time consuming and expensive. Setapp reduces the friction with a highly-curated library of excellent apps at an affordable monthly price.

Our thanks to MacPaw and Setapp for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Game Day: Mushroom 11

Chicago-based Untame released Mushroom 11 on iOS this week as part of Apple's Celebrating Indie Games promotion. Mushroom 11 started as a PC game, but its unique gameplay works especially well in a touch environment. You play as a green blob of goo in a post-apocalyptic world populated by mushrooms, glowing jellyfish-like creatures, and the ruins of the present world. To get around you erase behind the blob, which regenerates on the opposite side. It's a novel mechanic that forces you to approach the game's challenges in a different way. The result is perplexing and fun.

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