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Apple Updates the iPad mini and 10.2” iPad

At today’s Apple event, the company unveiled updates to the iPad mini and the 10.2” iPad. The 10.2” version continues to serve as Apple’s entry-level iPad at the lowest price point of any iPad, while the mini takes a more pro-like turn compared to its predecessor.

iPad mini

The new iPad mini was my favorite announcement of today’s Apple event. In the 18 months since I wrote The Mighty mini: Adapting Apple’s Diminutive Tablet to Work and Play, I’ve heard from many MacStories readers who have the same affection for Apple’s most portable tablet that I do. However, the trouble was that that iPad, which was released about 2.5 years ago, came with a lot of compromises compared with any other iPad you could buy until today.

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Apple Watch Series 7: The MacStories Overview

At this morning’s virtual keynote event, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams announced the Apple Watch Series 7. Packing a brand-new display, a more rounded case design, faster charging, and greater resistance to cracking and dust, the Series 7 is a very nice iterative update.

Display and Durability

By far the biggest feature of the Series 7 is its gorgeous new display. Apple has reduced the bezels on all sides of the device by 40%, resulting in just 1.7mm borders around the screen. The screen itself has been stretched to fill this new area, and is 20% bigger than the screen on last year’s Series 6. To fit the new screen, case sizes have been increased to 41mm and 45mm — a fairly subtle change from the 40mm and 44mm sizes of the Series 5 and 6 Apple Watches. Thankfully, compatibility has been maintained with existing Apple Watch bands.

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The New iPhone 13 Lineup: The MacStories Overview

Today, Apple debuted its iPhone 13 lineup consisting of four new models:

  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max

Similar to the iPhone 12 family of devices, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are the more affordable options, while the two Pro models add premium features at a premium price. All four devices share the A15 Bionic processor, 5G networking, camera updates, MagSafe, and more.

Also, all four devices will be available for pre-order this Friday, September 17th, with availability beginning one week later on Friday, September 24th.

Here’s a complete overview of everything new coming to the iPhone 13 lineup.

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What Does It All Mean?: A Look at Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ Decision in the Epic Versus Apple Trial

Yesterday, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers decided Epic Games’ antitrust lawsuit against Apple, delivering a ruling in favor of Apple that comes with significant caveats. Although the Judge found that Apple‘s operation of the App Store isn’t an exercise of monopolistic power, she concluded that App Review Guidelines and related provisions of its agreements with developers foster a lack of pricing transparency store-wide that undermines competition under California law. So, while the decision is undeniably a win for Apple in many respects, it’s also a decidedly mixed bag. I’ve taken the time to read Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ 185-page decision and having written an in-depth look at the issues going into the trial, I thought I’d follow up with what the Court’s ruling is likely to mean for Epic and Apple as well as all developers and consumers.

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FaceTime’s Audio and Video Take a Leap Forward With Apple’s Upcoming iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS Updates

FaceTime has been a centerpiece feature across all of Apple’s platforms for a long time. However, with the pandemic, it became more important than ever, playing a critical role in the way friends and family have stayed connected. Of course, FaceTime isn’t the only way have kept in touch. The app had plenty of competition from Zoom, Skype, and other services.

So, it’s not surprising that this year’s FaceTime updates focus on fundamentals like audio and video quality and making the app available outside of Apple’s ecosystem, allowing it to compete better with other services. Nor is it surprising that Apple announced SharePlay, which won’t ship until later this fall, so friends and family who can’t be together can still enjoy synchronized group activities like watching a video or listening to music. I’m skeptical that SharePlay will be the hit that Apple’s marketing suggests the company hopes it will be, but even putting SharePlay aside, the app is getting some major improvements that I think everyone will appreciate, so let’s dig in.

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Apple’s Fall OS Updates Promise Deeper HomeKit and Entertainment Integration

Apple’s fall OS updates will include a variety of HomeKit and home entertainment features. Unsurprisingly, some of those changes can be found in the company’s Home and TV apps, but this year, those apps only tell part of the overall story. To get the full picture, you need to zoom out from the apps, where you’ll find an interesting mix of new smart home device and entertainment features sprinkled throughout each platform.

Let’s start with HomeKit devices. This year, many of the changes coming to Apple’s OSes relate to two important categories: video cameras and door locks. Controlling both types of devices will become easier this fall, thanks to deeper integration with the upcoming OS releases.

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Reminders’ Smart Lists Put Unprecedented Control in the Hands of Users

A couple of years ago, Apple transformed Reminders from a simple checklist-style task manager into something far more robust. It was a surprising but welcome update that made the app a good choice as the sole task manager for many users. Reminders is back with more surprises this year, including tagging and Smart Lists features, which I didn’t expect. Both new features work together to make it easier than ever to manage your tasks in Reminders, which by itself makes this year’s update to Reminders worth checking out. However, the update may indicate something broader too: that Apple is more receptive to providing users with greater control over how they use the iPhone and iPad’s stock apps, an exciting possibility that I hope comes to pass.

Tags are brand new to Reminders and probably the most surprising addition to the iOS and iPadOS 15 versions of the app. Tags aren’t anything new to task management apps in general, but user-defined tags haven’t historically been available in Apple’s iPhone and iPad apps.

There's a new Tag Browser in Reminders and multiple ways to add new tags.

There’s a new Tag Browser in Reminders and multiple ways to add new tags.

The design of Reminders’ tagging system makes it easy to get started. When you add a new task, there’s a field just below Notes for adding tags. Just start typing a name for your tag, and when you tap the Space bar, hit return, or type a comma, a hashtag is added to the beginning of the tag, and it changes to Reminders’ purplish accent color. Sorry, no spaces are allowed in your tags.

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Building Calliope: A Technical Journey Through MacStories’ Big Software Project

Last week the MacStories team launched Project Calliope, an enormous new software project that we’ve been working on tirelessly for the last year. If you’ve been following along, you’ve heard us describe Calliope as a CMS; but from a software-engineering perspective, it’s actually a whole lot more. While we introduced Calliope as the foundation of our all-new Club MacStories and AppStories websites, we have much bigger plans for the new platform going forward. This is the foundation for the next generation of MacStories, from the website itself to many special projects in the future.

We’re extremely proud of what we’ve created here, and as the sole developer of Calliope, this post will be my deep dive into the more technical side of the project. Fair warning: this will be easier to follow if you’re a software developer (particularly a web or back-end developer), but I’ll be doing my best to give understandable explanations of the technologies involved. I also just want to talk about the journey we took to get here, the challenges we faced along the way, and the factors that drove us to this particular set of solutions.

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Automation Academy and The Macintosh Desktop Experience: Exclusive Monthly Features for Club MacStories+ and Club Premier Members

MacStories’ roots are in writing, so it’s only natural that Club MacStories+ and Club Premier are expanding beyond our weekly and monthly newsletters to offer two new exclusive features: Automation Academy and The Macintosh Desktop Experience. Freed of the constraint of an email newsletter, Federico and I will be tailoring our columns to take advantage of the new features made possible by Calliope, the web app that powers the new Club website.

Let’s take a look at what members can expect.

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