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Safari Extensions for iOS and iPadOS 15: A Roundup of Our Favorites

With the introduction of iOS and iPadOS 15, Apple has created an entirely new class of utility app on the App Store: Safari web extensions. Mac users have enjoyed extensions for years. However, for iPhone and iPad users, they’re brand new and promise to make Safari more useful than ever by opening up new power-user functionality that extends Safari in ways that Apple hasn’t. Judging from the initial crop of extensions available, I think Safari users are going to be very happy.

Managing extensions from Settings (left) and Safari (right).

Managing extensions from Settings (left) and Safari (right).

There are a couple of ways to install Safari extensions for iOS and iPadOS 15. First, you can go to the Settings app, select Safari, and inside the Extensions section, turn on any extensions you’ve installed and give them permission to interact with webpages. Second, you can enable or disable extensions by tapping on the puzzle piece icon in the address bar and then choosing ‘Manage Extensions.’ The same popover that appears when you tap the puzzle piece icon also lets you ‘Edit Actions,’ picking favorite extensions that will appear at the top of your extensions list in whatever order you drag them into, similar to the way picking favorite share and action extensions and rearranging them works.

Okay, let’s dig into some of the best extensions already available.

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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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Meet Daylite: The CRM with Apple Fans in Mind [Sponsor]

For small businesses trying to stay on top of clients, leads, and projects that are evolving every day, it can be tough, if not impossible, to manage everything. That’s where Daylite comes in clutch. Daylite is an award-winning, native CRM and business productivity app for your Mac, iPhone, and iPad that’s designed to help you and your team manage more clients, close more deals, and finish more projects.

Daylite is fully compatible with M1-powered Macs and works seamlessly with the Apple features you already use and love:

  • Integration with Apple Mail on Mac
  • Share your Apple Contacts and iCal
  • Leverage Siri and Caller ID on your iPhone
  • FaceID and TouchID support
  • Create contracts and other documents by pulling Daylite data into Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

What’s more, all of your information is accessible online and off, and it can be segmented, so it’s perfectly tailored to your specific client story. Combined with a sophisticated, elegant design that makes it easy to access and use your data on the go, Daylite is the complete package for your growing business.

Unlike most Web-based CRMs that focus on customer relationships and sales, Daylite’s productivity-focused design helps you and your team get more done throughout the full customer lifecycle. From meeting prospects and winning business to managing the moving pieces on projects, all the way through to following up for referrals and repeat business, it’s all done in Daylite.

Whether you’re in a legal, design, consulting, or other professional services firm, Daylite can help you build stronger client relationships and scale your business. Daylite also offers complimentary onboarding support to help new customers get started.

See what Daylite can do for your business today. Start your free 30-day Daylite trial today!

Our thanks to Daylite for sponsoring MacStories this week.


MacStories Unwind: iOS and iPadOS 15, the iPad Mini, and iPhone Camera Reviews

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Sponsored by: DetailsPro – A Design Tool Made for SwiftUI

This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • Coming Saturday:
      • The ‘Making Of’ Federico’s iOS and iPadOS 15 review
      • Two Club-only advanced shortcuts
      • Lots of app coverage

AppStories

Unwind


AppStories, Episode 241 – iOS and iPadOS 15: The MacStories Review

This week on AppStories, John interviews Federico about his iOS and iPadOS 15 review live in the Club MacStories+ Discord community, covering the challenges of writing this year’s review, Focus mode, Safari changes, Shortcuts, Live Text, the Shelf, listener questions, and more.


On AppStories+, Federico shares what review day is like and how he deals with negativity, John covers MacStories’ eBook production workflow, and Federico discovers an eBook reader that supports Quick Note and annotation.

We deliver AppStories+ to subscribers with bonus content, ad-free, and at a high bitrate 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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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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iPad mini Review: Small Wonder

The iPad Pro, iPad Air, and new iPad mini.

The iPad Pro, iPad Air, and new iPad mini.

For the past week1, I’ve been using Apple’s sixth-generation iPad mini, which is officially launching this Friday. I’ll cut right to the chase: I’ve been waiting for this kind of iPad mini refresh for years, and the device absolutely delivers on all fronts. The new iPad mini fulfills my longstanding dream of an iPad Pro/Air-like device in a diminutive form factor, providing a highly portable experience unlike anything else in Apple’s lineup.

The iPad mini was already in a class of its own; with this redesign, Apple has made the best small iPad I’ve ever tried – one that is a joy to use on a daily basis. Whether you’re looking for a companion device to your iPad Pro or a portable iPad to complement your Mac experience, this little iPad is worth the price of admission.

The new iPad mini was the missing piece to my iPad workflow; now that I have it, I want to use it as much as possible.

Let me explain.

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watchOS 8: The MacStories Review

We’ve come a long way from the Wild West of watchOS’ early versions. Changes in recent years have been thoroughly iterative in nature, suggesting that Apple believes that the platform has reached maturity. watchOS 8 heralds no deviation from this path, but as usual, a host of features bring new minor excitements for us to explore.

Health and fitness are established pinnacles of any good watchOS update, and this year’s offerings include a new Mindfulness app, sleep tracking improvements, and expanded workout types. Since Complications can now communicate with Bluetooth devices, health and fitness data from Bluetooth accessories will be more accessible than ever.

The usual host of first-party app updates are back this year too, with Home and Timers getting the most interesting changes. As for watch faces — another common source of easy feature additions — Apple seems to have dropped that ball this time around. Only two new faces are joining the ranks, and existing faces have remained stagnant.

At the system level, text input has received some nice updates. While still a bit clunky, some of the strictest limitations have been lifted, making the Apple Watch useable in more situations where I would previously have never considered it. The always-on display in Apple Watch Series 5 and higher will be far more useful in watchOS 8 as well, as third-party apps are finally able to utilize it.

Despite a lot of tidbits scattered throughout, watchOS 8 is easily the smallest annual update in the Apple Watch’s short history. This shouldn’t be a surprise given that we’re in the second year of a global pandemic, but it still feels disappointing.

Hopefully next year Apple will devote a bit more time and effort to watchOS, but for now let’s dig into the new additions that we do have to explore. Despite the small size of watchOS 8, its features are all positive improvements, and it’s still the best iteration of the Apple Watch operating system to date.

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