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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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ReadKit 3.1 Adds Smart Folders, More Customization Options, and New Lifetime Purchase Options

Around this time every year, I tend to start fiddling with my RSS setup. Last year, I drastically simplified my setup, and it worked well. Still, with Twitter’s fate uncertain, I thought it would be an excellent time to reexamine what various sync services and apps have to offer to refine my RSS reading experience.

One of my goals with this year’s experiments is to find better ways to filter and sort the articles in my feeds. Folders are a useful top layer of organization, but I’ve wanted more control over my feeds for a while now, especially when I’m busiest. One way to accomplish advanced filtering is server-side with an RSS sync service, but support for them by third-party RSS apps is limited. That’s why I was excited to see that ReadKit 3.1 has added a new smart folders feature.

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Timery 1.5 Update Released with Lock Screen Widgets, Live Activities, New Shortcuts Actions, and More

Timery has been updated with a long list of new features and improvements that fans of the app are going to love.

Lock Screen Widgets and Live Activities

Timery's new Lock Screen widgets.

Timery’s new Lock Screen widgets.

First off, Timery has added iOS 16 Lock Screen Widgets and Live Activities. The Lock Screen widgets can display your current time entry, the total amount of time tracked today, or start a new timer. Each widget type includes circular and rectangular variants when added beneath the Lock Screen’s time, as well as a narrow in-line version that can be added to the top of the screen. The widgets can be configured to start a specific saved timer or show a list of timers and optionally show the app’s edit view for tweaking the details of the timer you start. It’s worth noting that Timery’s editing view now supports ‘@’ as a way to quickly search and add projects and ‘#’ for adding tags.

Timery's Live Activities.

Timery’s Live Activities.

Live Activities display the current time entry on the iPhone 14 Pro line’s Dynamic Island and the Lock Screen. Long-pressing either reveals additional information about the current project, task, and total time tracked for the day.

I’m a big fan of Timery’s new widgets and Live Activities because they offer the sort of glanceable details that weren’t possible before unless you were using the Mac version of the app and enabled its menu bar app. Now, I don’t have to unlock my iPhone or iPad to check on a timer, which allows me to get the information I want without getting distracted by other things on either device.

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iOS 16.1 and Apps with Live Activities: The MacStories Roundup, Part 1

The headlining feature of iOS 16.1 is Live Activities, which allows apps to display status information in the Dynamic Island and on the Lock Screen after a user closes an app. I’ve looked at over 40 new and updated apps and instead of just listing them, I thought I’d share a collection of the most innovative and useful ones that I’ve tried so far. This is just part 1 of this story. I’ll be back soon with even more as I continue to test the apps I’ve discovered.

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The New iPad and iPad Pro Review: Mixed Signals

The new iPad Pro and iPad.

The new iPad Pro and iPad.

Last week on Thursday, I received review units of the new 10th generation iPad and 6th generation iPad Pro. I’ve spent the past few days testing and getting work done with both of them – including finishing a big story about Stage Manager I’m going to publish in a few hours on MacStories.

These are relatively easy iPads to review with a fairly straightforward narrative around them. The new iPad Pro is an iterative update that shows us Apple has seemingly hit a plateau in terms of innovation with this particular design – save for one feature that truly surprised me. The new base model iPad is a massive update compared to its predecessor, adding an all-new, iPad Pro-inspired design and a brand new accessory – the Magic Keyboard Folio – that has turned out to be one of my favorite accessories Apple has launched in recent years. I’ve had a ton of fun playing around and working with the new iPad over the weekend; if you’re in the market for an 11” tablet, you shouldn’t sleep on this one.

When considered individually, these new iPads are solid options in their respective categories – each delivering on the different goals Apple set out to accomplish for these product lines in 2022.

It’s when you zoom out and take a broader look at the new state of the iPad lineup that things become…a bit more confusing.

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Music Remote: A Beautiful Retro Utility for Controlling Playback of Apple’s Music App

Music Remote by Mario Guzman is a fun, retro remote control for Apple’s Music app. You may have come across Mario’s work on MacStories before. We interviewed him for MacStories Weekly last spring and covered his Music MiniPlayer on MacStories.

Music Remote is Mario’s third remote app for the Mac version of Apple’s Music app. The first was Music Widget, which is styled after the Tiger-era iTunes Dashboard widget. Next came Music MiniPlayer, which adopted the style of iTunes 10’s mini player. Music Remote reaches further back in time to the Mac OS X Public Beta, recreating the look of Music Player, an app that didn’t last long.

Music Remote up close.

Music Remote up close.

The compact remote requires Apple’s Music app to be running, but once it is, you can minimize Music and use Music Remote instead. The app includes buttons to play/pause and skip forward and back, as well as a couple of unique buttons above and below the play/pause button. Above play/pause is a button that opens a separate window that lets you pick from your playlists. Below is a stop button. It works the same as pause, except that when you resume playback, it will start with the next song in an album or playlist instead of picking up mid-song.

Music Remote's playlist picker.

Music Remote’s playlist picker.

The display above the controls cycles among the song title, artist, and album name. If a text string is too long to fit into Music Remote’s tiny screen, it scrolls horizontally. You can also cycle through the information displayed in Music Remote more quickly by clicking on its screen. The screen shows elapsed song time by default but can be switched to the remaining time in the app’s preferences. At the bottom of the screen is a progress bar. There’s a volume slider at the bottom of the app’s UI, and the app can playback Apple Music radio stations using a slightly different UI, too.

What makes Music Remote such a fun utility, though, is its design. The bubble-like play/pause button and blue LED-inspired screen are from a very different era of Mac design but still look great today. I also appreciate that the app is small. It looks fantastic on my desktop, which is why I immediately turned on the option to float it above my other windows. Because the app is small, though, there’s always a spot for it out of the way. It works perfectly in app sidebars that have a little blank space or the margin of a text editor, for example.

I have all three of Mario’s remote apps installed on my Mac Studio. that may seem like overkill, but I listen to music a lot as I work, so I appreciate having options depending on my mood. However, for the last week, as I put the finishing touches on my macOS Ventura review, Music Remote has been the remote that’s been sitting in the margin of the review as I write, which has been great.

I highly recommend checking out Music Remote, which can be downloaded for free from Mario Guzman’s GitHub page along with his other apps.


LockPod Adds Apple Music and Spotify to the iOS 16 Lock Screen

So far, the big players in music streaming are leaving it to indie developers to create iOS 16 Lock Screen widgets that tie into their services. One of my favorite examples is LockPod, by Rishi Malhotra, which was released this week.

The app works with both Apple Music and Spotify, allowing users to create circular and rectangular Lock Screen widgets that serve as shortcuts to their favorite music. The details are a little different depending on whether you’re using Apple Music or Spotify, so let’s take a closer look.

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iPhone Gaming with the Razer Kishi V2 and Backbone One

Razer Kishi V2.

Razer Kishi V2.

When I look at the innovation happening in handheld gaming at all levels with devices like the Analogue Pocket and Steam Deck, I can’t help but wonder, “What if Apple really jumped into the videogame market and put the power of its hardware and software design teams behind devices that could play everything from Candy Crush Saga to Elden Ring?” Apple hasn’t, and I don’t expect it will, but every time I use my iPhone, I look at its gorgeous ProMotion OLED display and want to use it for more than the gaming experiences that the App Store offers.

That said, there is still gaming fun to be had on the iPhone. For me, that occasionally takes the form of an Apple Arcade game like the excellent Shovel Knight Dig that was released on the service last week, and I’ll cover this week on MacStories Unwind. Other times, it’s an indie platformer like the Dadish series or a classic Nintendo handheld game via Delta. With a fast enough WiFi connection, I’ve even found myself streaming games from my Xbox Series X, Microsoft Game Pass, and PlayStation 5. It’s not everything I think gaming could be on the iPhone, but it’s not bad either.

Despite Apple’s perplexing relationship with videogames, the last few years have seen the company expand controller support, which has gradually led to an increase in support among developers. That, in turn, has prompted me to try a lot of different controllers and conclude that with the iPhone, nothing beats an integrated Nintendo Switch-style controller solution.

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