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AppStories, Episode 246 – macOS Monterey: The MacStories Review

This week on AppStories, we dive into John’s review of macOS Monterey and what it means for users and the future of the platform.

On AppStories+, John explains how he and Silvia helped James Thomson and Jason Snell pull off a prank on Relay FM’s Connected.


On AppStories+, John explains how he and Silvia helped James Thomson and Jason Snell pull off a prank on Relay FM’s Connected.

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AppStories, Episode 244 – iOS and iPadOS 15 Top Tips

This week on AppStories, we share a long list of iOS and iPadOS 15 tips, highlighting lesser-known features that we are using to get the most out of the latest versions of the OSes.


On AppStories+, John tries to convince Federico to try a robot vacuum cleaner and Federico explains the technique he’s using to bring localization to his popular Apple Frames shortcut.

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How iPadOS 15 Ruined Chris Welch’s iPad Home Screen

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge, covers an aspect of iPadOS 15 I also pointed out in my review: iPadOS 15 no longer keeps the same icon grid layout in portrait and landscape orientations, and, if you place widgets on the Home Screen, its density is reduced.

Welch concludes:

Some will see this as a very minor inconvenience and carry on with updating to iPadOS 15 for all of the other benefits. Since the App Library is now there, you can even go in the complete opposite direction and load your homescreens up with widgets everywhere and only a few app icons. If that’s you, don’t let me stop you. On the whole, it’s a very good release.

But I’m really hoping in a future software update, Apple will add a setting to restore the old layout that kept everything more consistent. It’d be even better if the company made the grid more customizable on the whole. If we’re letting people choose between new and old Safari designs, why not offer a choice between having more things on-screen or a less dense grid that’s better optimized for widgets? There’s already a “Home Screen and Dock” section in settings, after all. Letting you adjust the grid to your liking is something that Android phones and tablets already get right. It’s not a huge ask.

I think the point about customization is exactly right, and also why I’m not complaining about the ability to choose a layout in Safari. As iPads are used by a variety of less tech-savvy and more experienced pro users, it’s now increasingly challenging for Apple to cover the platform’s full spectrum of workflows with non-customizable features. Welch makes a great point about the Home Screen grid’s rigidity and lack of control; I hope Apple provides more options for this in the future, along with a denser grid if you have widgets placed on the iPad Home Screen.

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Matthew Panzarino Tests the iPhone 13 Pro’s Cinematic Mode and Interviews Apple Executives

Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch’s Editor-in-Chief, put the iPhone 13 Pro camera’s new Cinematic mode through its paces at Disneyland in an excellent real-world test of the new feature. Panzarino also spoke to Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing and Johnnie Manzari, a designer on Apple’s Human Interface Team about how Cinematic mode works.

As Manzari explained:

“In cinema, the role of gaze and body movement to direct that story is so fundamental. And as humans we naturally do this, if you look at something, I look at it too.”

So they knew they would need to build in gaze detection to help lead their focusing target around the frame, which in turn leads the viewer through the story. Being on set, Manzari says, allowed Apple to observe these highly skilled technicians and then build in that feel.

“We’re on set and we have all these amazing people and they’re really the best of the best. And one of the engineers noticed that the focus puller has this focus control wheel, and, and he’s just studying the way that this person does this. Just like when you look at like someone who’s really good at playing the piano, and it looks so easy, and yet you know it’s impossible. There’s no way you’re going to be able to do this,” says Manzari.

“This person is an artist, this person is so good at what they do and the craft they put into it. And so we spent a lot of time trying to model the analog feel of a focus wheel turning.”

To make it all come together into one, coherent feature, Apple’s engineers had to solve a long list of technical challenges:

Some of the individual components that make up Cinematic Mode include:

  • Subject recognition and tracking
  • Focus locking
  • Rack focusing (moving focus from one subject to another in an organic-looking way)
  • Image overscan and in camera stabilization
  • Synthetic Bokeh (lens blur)
  • A post-shot editing mode that lets you alter your focus points even after shooting

And all of those things are happening in real-time.

Despite everything that goes into Cinematic mode, Panzarino notes that the battery impact of using it throughout the day was surprisingly slight.

Cinematic mode isn’t without its flaws, which are covered in the story, but it’s worth watching the entire video that Panzarino shot during a Disneyland visit with his family to get a sense for it yourself. If you study the video closely, you’ll pick up on the places where Cinematic mode struggles. However, sitting back and casually watching the video like you would after a vacation or if a friend sent it to you, the flaws largely fade into the background. I’m eager to test Cinematic mode for myself, and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s necessarily fine as it is, but I also expect that it will be a net positive in a lot of circumstances.

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Austin Mann Puts the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max Cameras Through Their Paces

Specs only tell part of the story of new hardware. They’re important, but they only hint at what’s possible. Put that hardware in the hands of someone who can push it to its limits, and those hints of the possible become concrete examples of the actual. When Apple announced the iPhone 13 Pro, the stats suggested the device’s camera was poised to leap forward. Austin Mann’s review of the 13 Pro’s camera confirms it with a series of stunning photographs from Tanzania.

One of the new Camera features I’m looking forward to most is the ability to take macro photos. Mann explains that:

Although the iPhone 13 Pro still only has three lenses, the addition of macro capability is like adding a new lens altogether, and for the serious photographer I think it’s perhaps the strongest advancement in this year’s camera system.

Macro is more than just improved focus distance. It offers a new way of seeing and opens up an entirely new world of photography and storytelling.

Taken using Photographic Styles. Source [austinmann.com](https://austinmann.com/trek/iphone-13-pro-camera-review-tanzania)

Taken using Photographic Styles. Source austinmann.com

Mann also covers Photographic Styles, which he says allow for a relatively subtle shift of the look of photos without feeling like a flat image-wide filter has been applied, explaining when he’d use them even as a pro photographer:

Of course, I’m usually shooting ProRAW on client projects, but there are times when I just want great looking images right now versus maximum processing control later. Photographic Styles will be perfect for that.

Finally, I thought this insight about Cinematic mode was interesting:

As I watched this piece, particularly the interview in Cinematic mode, it dawned on me that we’re moving beyond the world of just computational photography and into the realm of computational videography. The release of Cinematic mode marks another one of those fundamental shifts where software, unbounded by the limitations of hardware, has opened up entirely new possibilities in the creative process.

From the reviews I’ve seen, Cinematic mode feels like early Portrait mode in terms of how well it works. Although there’s obvious room for improvement, Portrait mode has come a long way in recent years, and it’s exciting to think Cinematic mode may do the same too.

As usual, Mann’s review is full of fantastic shots of the landscapes, people, and nature of Tanzania, which are beautifully shot and are excellent examples about what’s possible with the iPhone 13 Pro.

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AppStories, Episode 240 – A Look at the HomeKit and tvOS Updates Coming Soon

This week on AppStories, we look at Apple’s evolving approach to the way HomeKit devices and entertainment features are incorporated into the company’s OSes.


On AppStories+, Federico covers WidgetPod and Marvis Pro and John gives Federico Apple Maps homework and explains something fun he received in the mail.

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AppStories, Episode 239 – Reminders, Notes, and App Customization

This week on AppStories, we examine the growing trend of app customization in the context of Apple’s system apps, focusing on Reminders’ Tag Browser and Smart Lists and Notes’ Tag Browser and Smart Folders.


On AppStories+, Federico explains how his recently-purchased Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has enabled a unique reading and note-taking workflow.

We deliver AppStories+ to subscribers with bonus content, ad-free, and at a high bitrate a day early every week.

To learn more about the benefits included with an AppStories+ subscription, visit our Plans page, or read the AppStories+ FAQ.

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AppStories, Episode 237 – Introducing the All-New Club MacStories

This week on AppStories, we introduce two new tiers of Club MacStories, run down all the new features of each tier, explain the web app that powers it all, and officially release a back catalog of three months worth of bonus AppStories+ content.

Sponsored by:

  • Quill – Messaging to Make Your Team Better
  • Technology Untangled – Join Michael Bird as he untangles innovation through a series of interviews, stories, and analyses with some of the industry’s brightest brains.

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AppStories, Episode 233 – Building an Apple-Only Research and Writing Setup

This week on AppStories, we consider whether changes coming to Apple’s OSes make a system app-only research and writing workflow possible and discuss where there’s room for improvement.

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  • Privacy – Smarter payments. Get $5 to spend on your first purchase.
  • Instabug – Ship Quality Apps with Real-Time Contextual Insights
  • Swell – A new voice-based social platform. Try it now.

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