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MacStories Unwind: Two Months with the M1 iMac, a Fun CARROT Weather Update, and Skate City: Tokyo

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Sponsored by: Tempo – The Minimalist Email Client for Mac

This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • Part two of Federico’s Obsidian series covering the template he uses and some of his favorite pluginss
    • A collection of Mac screen recording apps
    • John on always-on display rumors and his experiments with using his iPhone and iPad with Auto Lock disabled

AppStories

Unwind


CARROT Weather 5.3 Adds Smart Layouts and a Fun Weather Reports Feature

My nighttime Smart Layout.

My nighttime Smart Layout.

Apple Design Award winner CARROT Weather offers an unprecedented amount of user control over its interface, something which Federico and I recently discussed at length on AppStories and interviewed developer Brian Mueller about last month. The customization options that were introduced in January with version 5 of the app allow users to define the look and layout of multiple weather tiles along with the date presented by each. Since that UI overhaul in January, Mueller has continued to extend the customization system, most recently adding a preview system and other refinements to make it easier to experiment with and create different layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

With version 5.3 that was released today, Mueller has added Smart Layouts, allowing users to create different layouts for nighttime and when it’s going to rain. I like these new options a lot for a couple of reasons. The first is practical: if it’s nighttime, you probably don’t care about the day’s high temperature because it likely happened hours ago. Likewise, if it’s going to rain, a graph of when the rain is going to start and when it will be most intense is far more important to you than on a beautiful, sunny day.

Picking Smart Layouts.

Picking Smart Layouts.

With Smart Layouts, you can adjust your weather layouts for each circumstance. For example, I created a Smart Layout for nighttime based on the Siren template that emphasizes the current conditions followed by the hourly and daily forecasts. When rain is in the forecast, I’ve got a layout that moves a precipitation graph and radar view to the spots just below the current conditions. The changes I made were relatively minor but have made CARROT Weather more relevant as conditions change.

I also enjoy Smart Layouts because they’re another outlet for trying new layout templates and experimenting with setup options. The process is fun and adds an extra touch of personalization and variety that I enjoy. Smart Layouts require a Premium Club subscription to CARROT Weather.

The other headline feature of CARROT Weather’s update is Weather Reports, which lets you create 30-second weather report videos and share them. Whether you’re flexing from the beach on vacation or just want to complain about how hot it is to your friends, Weather Reports are a ton of fun. Videos are recorded with the front-facing camera, and CARROT Weather lends a hand by providing an overlay to help frame yourself. Videos can be scripted randomly by CARROT or unscripted, and you can even pick a funny weatherperson name if you’d like. If you pick a scripted video, the words scroll up the screen as you record yourself teleprompter-style. Here’s one I did from my backyard yesterday afternoon:

Weather Reports are a blast to create and will undoubtedly show up in droves on social media networks before you finish reading this.

Today’s update also adds a variety of smaller updates, including new layout components and multiple formats for taking screenshots of weather conditions for sharing.

CARROT Weather 5.3 is available as a free update on the App Store.


Two Months with Apple’s New M1 iMac

The very first Mac I owned was an iMac. That white polycarbonate, first-gen Intel iMac was the epitome of a family computer, sitting in a central location where everyone in my family could use it for work, school, and projects. I had an early aluminum iMac too, but gradually, portable devices took over, satisfying everyone’s computing needs, and the iMac fell by the wayside.

In the ten years or so since then, the Macs I’ve bought for myself have been laptops and the Mac mini. It’s a flexible combination that has served me well. The mini isn’t as customizable as the Mac Pro, but it suited my needs well, allowing me to easily set up and tear down various peripheral configurations, which became even more useful when I started writing at MacStories. Combined with the MacBooks I’ve owned over the years for when I want to get away from my desk, I haven’t pay much attention to the iMac for a long time.

The iMac has come a long way since the first one I owned (left) and the latest M1 model (right).

The iMac has come a long way since the first one I owned (left) and the latest M1 model (right).

As a result, when Apple sent me an M1 iMac to test, I was curious to see how it would fit in in my home, but I didn’t expect it to rekindle my interest in an all-in-one Mac. Boy, was I wrong.

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Apple Music to Livestream Sold-Out Atlanta Listening Event for Kanye West’s Next Album, DONDA

In a Beats Studio Buds ad that aired tonight during Game 6 of the NBA finals, it was revealed and later confirmed by Def Jam Recordings that Apple Music will be live-streaming a listening event for Kanye West’s highly anticipated album DONDA. The sold-out event, which is being held at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, will be streamed Thursday, July 22nd at 8 pm Eastern, the day before the album officially drops.

The ad for Beats Studio Buds features American track star Sha’Carri Richardson, the sprinter who was poised to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games before testing positive for marijuana use. As Richardson gets set to start a race, No Child Left Behind, a track from Kanye West’s upcoming album plays in the background. Rumors of DONDA’s release have been swirling for days, so the Friday release is not a shock to his fans.

Apple Music has participated in some livestream events in the past, such as the live premiere of Billie Eilish’s documentary ‘The World’s A Little Blurry,’ but such events have been few and far between. It’s good to see Apple Music getting involved with big events like this. With the pieces in place to stream audio or video, there’s a lot Apple could do to get involved in live performances too.



New Tokyo level of Skate City Will Debut Alongside Skateboarding Becoming an Official Olympic Sport

This Friday, the Olympics will begin in Tokyo, Japan, and for the first time, skateboarding will be on display as an official Olympic sport. To mark the occasion, Skate City, the Apple Arcade game produced by Snowman and developed by Agens Games, is releasing an update that adds Tokyo to the game’s collection of cities this Friday, July 23rd.

According to Ryan Cash of Snowman:

For the last few years we’ve been looking for an interesting way to tie a real-world event into something we make, but we never wanted to do anything that didn’t feel meaningful. When the Tokyo games were announced it was a no-brainer for us. Skateboarding’s coming to the Olympics for the first time in history, which is a triumphant moment for the sport. We knew we had to be part of it in some small way.

The new Tokyo level features 21 new challenges and 30 new goals in Endless Skate mode, along with additions to the game’s soundtrack, new decks and clothing options to unlock, and leaderboards.

Judging from the trailer, the latest expansion, which Snowman says is Skate City’s largest yet, looks fantastic. The cityscape is full of vibrant, neon colors that set it apart from the other cities in the game.

Skate City was one of the original Apple Arcade launch games, and it remains one of my favorite games released on the service so far. I’m eager to give it a try and plan to do so as soon as it’s released on Friday. I’ll be covering my first impressions of the game along with Alto’s Odyssey: Lost City, which is also produced by Snowman and got a big update last week, on this week’s episode of MacStories Unwind, which will be out later on Friday.


Tempo - The Minimalist Email Client for Mac [Sponsor]

Tempo takes the stress out of email by putting you in control of the process in a beautifully designed, minimalist app for the Mac and iOS. The secret to Tempo is right in its name: it puts you in charge of when you get messages. By scheduling messages to arrive in batches, you can work more efficiently and on a schedule that works for you.

Tempo’s customizable scheduling reduced the number of notifications you receive, which means fewer distractions. Paired with a handsome, sophisticated UI that dispenses with clutter to provide you with a focused writing environment, Tempo delivers with a simple UI backed by a rich feature set and Markdown compatibility.

The app allows you to connect up to five Gmail accounts and can be set up in just minutes. Decide when you want messages to arrive and then process messages in Batches.

Tempo also features Quick Replies, one-click unsubscribe from newsletters, a dedicated ‘To Do’ tab for following up later, separate sections for reminders, drafts, and newsletters, and a focus mode for concentrating on one message at a time. When you need to receive a response immediately outside your normal schedule, you can mark a thread as VIP to get notified as soon as a reply comes in.

Privacy is important to Tempo. Your data isn’t sold to anyone, and the app only tracks what’s necessary to deliver your messages, which it does anonymously. Tempo also removes pixel trackers from the messages it delivers.

Your time is better spent outside your email client. Try Tempo today by downloading the Mac app and iOS beta now.

Our thanks to Tempo for sponsoring MacStories this week.


MacStories Unwind: Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack, New Emoji, and Troubles with the HomePod Beta

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This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • Federico kicks off a series of stories on his Obsidian setup
    • John shares his early experiments with Shortcuts for Mac

AppStories

Apple Arcade Update

Unwind


Emojipedia Publishes Renderings of Draft Emoji

The process of adopting new emoji as part of the Unicode character set continues, and today, Emojipedia has what it anticipates will be part of the Emoji 14.0 collection. These emoji represent the complete set of draft emoji that the Unicode Consortium will vote on in September, so there’s still a possibility that there could be changes. The approved emoji are expected to begin showing up on devices and in apps in late 2021 and into 2022.

The draft set of emoji include several smileys such as Melting Face, Face with Diagonal Mouth, and Saluting Face. There are also many new hand emoji in the set in different skin tones and combinations, including Handshake, Heart Hands, and Hand with Index Finder and Thumb Crossed. People include Person with Crown, Pregnant Man, and Pregnant Person. There’s also a Troll, which I expect will be popular, a nest with and without eggs in it, a Mirror Ball (someone on the Unicode Consortium is apparently a Taylor Swift fan or maybe Sarah McLachlan given the spelling), and Biting Lip.

Emojipedia is conducting a vote in connection with the new emoji to coincide with World Emoji Day, which is this Saturday:

You can vote for which you are most looking forward to in the Most Anticipated Emoji award, being drawn on July 17 aka World Emoji Day.

The images in this post include a handful of the draft emoji being considered by the Unicode Consortium as imagined by Emojipedia. The final designs will depend on each company that adopts them. Be sure to visit Emojipedia for all the details and the full set of renderings of the draft emoji.

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