John Voorhees

2555 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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Audio Hijack Gains Beta Audio Transcription Feature

I’ve been playing around a lot with OpenAI’s Whisper speech-to-text engine this year. Whisper isn’t perfect, but it does a remarkably good job, substantially lowering the effort and cost of generating transcripts.

There are dedicated apps to transcribe using Whisper like MacWhisper by Jordi Brun and Transcriptionist from the makers of Ferrite, both of which I’ve tried. However, the most promising option so far is a new Transcribe block released today as part of Audio Hijack by Rogue Amoeba.

The new block is a beta feature that Rogue Amoeba’s Paul Kafasis says the company will continue to refine. It’s using the same underlying Whisper technology as other apps, but by reducing transcription to part of your existing recording flow, it’s possible to transcribe on the fly as you record and identify speakers whose audio is coming from separate channels.

We weren’t recording any shows today, so to test the new feature, I copied our MacStories Unwind recording session and used the Zoom audio settings as a stand-in for Federico. I spoke into my microphone, which was one source, and used the piano music from Zoom’s settings as the other source. Audio Hijack recorded both and started transcribing the audio as I was still recording. Here are the results:

This was a very limited test. It remains to be seen how the app does with a longer recording session, but the ease with which I set this up has me excited. By renaming the sources fed into the Transcribe block, I was able to create a real-time transcript complete with timestamps and our names.

Still, as impressive as the results are, I don’t publish what I record in Audio Hijack. It still needs to be edited, at which point the transcript created with this session would diverge from the released audio. Nonetheless, for a newly released beta feature, I’m impressed and looking forward to seeing where Rogue Amoeba takes this.

Jason Snell’s Hands-On with the M3 MacBook Pros and iMac

Jason Snell of Six Colors got a sneak peek at the new Macs announced at yesterday’s Scary Fast Apple event. A lot of specs were thrown around by the company yesterday, but a software feature called Dynamic Caching really stood out because it’s clear that Apple is doing all it can to squeeze every bit of performance out of its GPUs. Jason’s explanation of how it works is excellent:

There’s also a big new feature Apple is calling Dynamic Caching. Put very simply, Apple’s chip engineers were extremely motivated to eke out even more performance from their graphics subsystem—and found that the way memory was traditionally allocated was inefficient. Memory is usually allocated to different threads at compile time, meaning that some threads allocate a larger amount of memory in order to handle peak need, while other threads might choose a smaller amount of memory but risk a bottleneck.

The M3’s graphics system dynamically allocates the memory per thread in a way that’s completely transparent to software developers. Apps don’t need to be rewritten to take advantage of the new system, which Apple says makes some huge gains by wringing a lot of memory efficiency out of the system. Memory that was previously reserved for a specific thread can be given to a different thread instead. A thread that’s in a bottleneck can be given more space. It’s all to the goal of increasing overall throughput.

The fact that these improvements come ‘for free,’ meaning developers don’t have to change their apps or games to take advantage of Dynamic Caching, is at least as important as the efficiency gains enabled by the technology. Especially when it comes to things like videogames, the more Apple can do to make it easy for developers to take advantage of Apple silicon Macs, the better.

Jason also got some hands-on time with the new MacBook Pros, including the new Space Black model:

I got my greasy monkey paws on a Space Black laptop and can report that Apple’s as good as its word in the sense that it seems generally more resistant to fingerprints and other smudges.

But I don’t want to exaggerate this feature: you can still see fingerprints. They just aren’t as prominent. This is a progressive improvement over something like the Midnight M2 MacBook Air, but it’s not a cure-all.

Despite its name, Jason reports that Space Black is more gray than black, but it’s still a noticeable shift from Space Gray.

With the details of the new Macs dissected, it’s going to be interesting to see how the M3 MacBook Pro’s latest CPU and GPU configurations perform relative to the M2 models that were released at the beginning of the year. As Jason also points out, the benchmarks we see from the new laptops and the M3 iMac should give us a good idea of how M3 MacBook Airs, Mac minis, and Mac Studios will perform when it’s their turn to be updated.


Shot on iPhone: Behind The Scenes of the Scary Fast Apple Event

Jess Weatherbed writing for The Verge:

Behind-the-scenes footage of Apple’s Monday evening Scary Fast eventreveals how it was filmed using an iPhone 15 Pro Max… with the aid of a full suite of professional recording equipment and studio lighting. Still images and a video reveal that (unsurprisingly) a great deal of fancy equipment — from drones, gimbals, dollies, industrial set lighting, and other recording accessories — is still required to make iPhone footage look this good.

The equipment supporting the iPhone 15 Pro Max used to film Apple’s Scary Fast event is extensive and clearly made for a final product that you couldn’t shoot on your own with just an iPhone. However, it’s still impressive to see such a small device at the center of such an elaborate and well-produced event. Originally leaked in a tweet, here’s the official version of the video:


AppStories, Episode 357 – Apple’s Scary Fast Event with Stephen Hackett

This week on AppStories, I was joined by Relay FM’s Stephen Hackett for a recap and thoughts on Apple’s Scary Fast event, which was recorded live in the Club MacStories+ Discord.

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On AppStories+, Federico, and Jonathan, and I discussed our home automation setups, strategies, and upcoming plans in an event that was recorded live in the Club MacStories+ Discord last week.

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Apple’s October 2023 Scary Fast Event: All The Small Things

Apple’s presentation moved fast this evening, and since the event concluded, more details have emerged about everything announced. We’ve been combing Apple’s product pages, social media, and other sources to learn more about everything announced, which we’ve collected below:

  • The 13” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has been officially discontinued and is no longer available for sale, marking the end of the Touch Bar era at Apple.
  • None of the desktop accessories for the iMac – Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard – were updated with a USB-C connector (or any other features).

  • The new ‘Space Black’ color of the 14” and 16” MacBook Pros with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips is apparently not so black, based on first impressions from people who saw it in person already.

  • Speaking of the color black, Apple now sells a 2-meter, black USB-C to MagSafe cable.

  • As it turns out, ‘Scary Fast’ was applicable not only to the new M3 series chips unveiled today but also the unusually short runtime of the event, which clocked in at 30:32, judging from the presentation’s YouTube video.

  • The event video was shot on an iPhone 15 Pro Max and edited on a Mac.

Not a very long list this time around, but at just over 30 minutes and no new accessories, there weren’t many tidbits surrounding this event I’m afraid.

You can follow all of our October 2023 Apple event coverage through our October 2023 Apple event hub or subscribe to the dedicated October 2023 Apple event RSS feed.

Apple’s October 2023 Scary Fast Event: By the Numbers

Today’s Scary Fast online Apple event was packed with facts, figures, and statistics throughout the presentation and elsewhere. We’ve pulled together the highlights.

M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max Chips

  • These are the first chips built on a 3-nanometer process.
  • This process can fit up to 2 million transistors in the cross-section of a human hair.
  • The M3 architecture grants up to 2.5x faster performance than the M1 generation.
  • The M3 CPU’s performance cores are 30% faster than M1 and 15% faster than M2; the efficiency cores are 50% faster than M1.
  • The Neural Engine is faster and more efficient in M3 as well. Specifically, it’s 60% faster than M1 and 15% faster than M2.
  • The M3 Max chip is up to 80% faster than the M1 Max.
  • The M3 has 25 billion transistors, while the M3 Pro has 37 billion, and the M3 Max has 92 billion.

MacBook Pro

  • The M3 Max MacBook Pro supports up to 128 GB of unified memory and 8 TB of storage, with a maximum 16-core CPU and 40-core GPU.
  • The M3 MacBook Pro can run for up to 22 hours on one charge, playing movies using the Apple TV app.
  • The new MacBook Pros are up to 11x faster than the last Intel-based models.


  • The M3 iMac is 2x faster than the M1 model, 2.5x faster than the 27-inch Intel model, and 4x faster than the 21.5-inch Intel-based iMac.
  • The M3 iMac has a 4.5K Retina display and features a 6-speaker sound system.
  • Apple offers up to 24 GB of unified memory and 2 TB of storage in the M3 iMac.

You can follow all of our October 2023 Apple event coverage through our October 2023 Apple event hub or subscribe to the dedicated October 2023 Apple event RSS feed.

Apple Introduces the New MacBook Pro in Three M3 Chip Configurations

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about the rollout of Apple silicon Macs is that the old rules don’t apply, and the new ones are still being written. The cadence of releases is still settling in, and today, in the face of speculation that Apple was struggling to release M3 Macs, Apple made it clear that not one, but three 3 nanometer process-based chips are ready to ship. Along with the M3 iMac, the company refreshed its entire lineup of MacBook Pros, computers that gained the M2 chip less than a year ago.

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Apple Reveals New M3 iMac

The new iMac.

The new iMac.

Just over two years ago, I spent the summer with a 24” M1 iMac on my desk and loved it. The elegant simplicity of an all-in-one Mac with just a couple of cables trailing off the back side of the computer is wonderful. The all-in-one design of the M1 iMac wasn’t new, but it was a stunning departure from its predecessor, with a slim, flat design that wasn’t possible in the Intel era. Plus, it came in a variety of vibrant, fun colors, which is all too rare in Apple’s product lineup.

Today, Apple announced the successor to that iMac that features an all-new M3 chip that, by Apple’s account, is ‘scary fast.’ Just how fast the new iMac is compared to other models will require hands-on testing, but from the specs alone, the new iMac is impressive.

Let’s take a look.

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Apple’s October 2023 Scary Fast Event: Replay Today’s Keynote

If you didn’t follow the livestream of today’s ‘Scary Fast’ Apple event, you can replay it on Apple’s Events site or YouTube.

The keynote video can be streamed here and on the Apple TV using the TV app. A high-quality version will also be available through Apple Podcasts as a video and audio podcast. An American Sign Language version of the event keynote is available on the Apple Events page too.

You can watch the videos for the new MacBook Pros and ‘You Think That’s Hard Work?’ opening sequence after the break.

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