Prizmo 5

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Loupedeck+ Review: Faster, More Natural Image and Video Editing with a Dedicated Control Panel

Source: Loupedeck

Source: Loupedeck

The Loupedeck+ is a hardware control panel for editing photos and video that transforms the software tools you’re accustomed to using with a mouse or trackpad into physical buttons, knobs, and dials. By eliminating the need to dive into menus and hunt for software, the Loupedeck+ changes the image editing process into something much closer to the feeling of editing on an iPad with the Apple Pencil. The seemingly endless series of swipes, drags, and clicks are replaced by something far more tactile and natural.

The result is a clear example of the benefit of using a dedicated tool for a particular task. Photo and video editing is often a high-volume, high-precision activity with lots of repetition, and depending on your job, tight deadlines. That makes any tool that can shave a little time off of editing each photo a win for professionals who often edit thousands of images in a week.

What I didn’t expect, though, is that the Loupedeck+ also makes editing more accessible for beginners like myself. As I’ll explain in more detail below, when Loupedeck sent me their device to test, I spent most of my time using it in Adobe Lightroom Classic, which I hadn’t used before. However, after a short time familiarizing myself with the Loupedeck+ layout, I found myself deep in the editing process with my eyes fixed on the images I was working on instead of darting back and forth hunting for the tools I wanted to use.

I may never enjoy the sort of time savings that a professional photographer could squeeze out of the Loupedeck+. However, simply knowing that I can dip in and out of Lightroom Classic for my editing needs with virtually no learning curve eliminates a significant hurdle that has slowed me down in the past. Although there are aspects of the Loupedeck+ that could be improved, it’s an incredibly powerful tool that fits into more workflows than I anticipated, which makes it an accessory worth considering for a wide range of users.

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MacStories Shortcuts Icons: 50% Off for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are nearly upon us, and we’ve prepared something truly special to celebrate the occasion at MacStories: starting today through Monday, December 2, MacStories Shortcuts Icons will be available at 50% off the regular price.

To purchase MacStories Shortcuts Icons at $7.49 rather than the usual $14.99, tap the ‘Buy’ button below and enter promo code bficons19 at checkout.

All sales are final. You can read our license and terms of use here.

For those not familiar with MacStories Shortcuts Icons, they’re a set of 350 custom icons for shortcuts added to your iPhone and iPad Home screen. You can read more about them here. Designed specifically with Shortcuts users in mind, these icons expand upon the options provided by Apple in the Shortcuts app, bringing glyphs for task management, calendars and files, AirPlay, home automation, and lots more. With MacStories Shortcuts Icons, you’ll be able to personalize your iOS and iPadOS Home screen by pinning shortcuts whose icons are representative of their purpose. If you use the MacStories Shortcuts Archive on a regular basis, you’ll be happy to know that every shortcut from the archive is represented in MacStories Shortcuts Icons.

You can take a look at what MacStories Shortcuts Icons have enabled our Ryan to do with his iPad Home screen in this article. And you can take a look at my own iPad and iPhone Home screens below – both are based on MacStories Shortcuts Icons.

My Home screens, powered by MacStories Shortcuts Icons.

My Home screens, powered by MacStories Shortcuts Icons.

Both Silvia and I are incredibly humbled by the amazing response to MacStories Shortcuts Icons since we launched them in September. For this reason, we want to take Black Friday and Cyber Monday as an opportunity to let even more people enjoy the benefits of a Shortcuts-based Home screen powered by MacStories Shortcuts Icons.

MacStories Shortcuts Icons will be available at 50% off through Monday, December 2 at 11:59 PM Eastern. Once again, make sure to use promo code bficons19 at checkout for the deal to apply. You can purchase MacStories Shortcuts Icons here or by tapping the Buy button below.

All sales are final. You can read our license and terms of use here.

Automating a Dyson Fan with HomeKit and Push Notifications

A few weeks ago, following a long research process, my girlfriend and I finally decided to buy a Dyson fan for our apartment – specifically, the Pure Hot + Cool model. We’ve been keeping an eye on this product for a while as a potential solution to purify air as well as heat our (small) apartment; unlike other Dyson fans, this one combines cooling and heating modes in a single compact, good-looking product that we’ve placed on top of an IKEA BESTÅ cabinet in our hallway. So far, we’re liking it a lot.

Whenever I buy a new appliance these days, one of my priorities is to ensure that it can become part of our HomeKit setup, either via native HomeKit support, custom integration via homebridge, or, if all else fails, a smart plug. As far as native HomeKit fans are concerned, I couldn’t find anything here in Italy that combined cooling and heating functions in a single product. Modern Dyson fans do not come with official HomeKit support either, but they can communicate over Wi-Fi using a proprietary service called Dyson Link. This service can be controlled via an iPhone app (which comes with a virtual remote and stats collected by the fan’s built-in sensors) or Amazon’s Alexa assistant. As I was researching the Pure Hot + Cool, I discovered a homebridge plugin that, with minimal configuration, allows you to add a Dyson fan along with its sensors and different modes to your Home setup as a series of accessories and sensors. And since I’m already using homebridge to bring HomeKit compatibility to various devices around the house (including two TVs), adding a new one wasn’t a hard decision at all.

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Apple Releases Annual Holiday Video ‘The Surprise’

It’s become a tradition for Apple to release a special holiday season video each year, and this year is no different. Today, the company revealed the 2019 version entitled ‘The Surprise.’

The storyline follows a family as they visit the mother’s father. The video chronicle’s the family’s journey and visit with their two young children. To appease the kids when they fight or get in the way, their parents hand them an iPad to watch movies and play games. However, the children’s use of the iPad evolves over the course of the video, which reveals they’ve used it to create an interactive story about their family and their grandfather’s wife who had passed away.

It’s a touching video packed with emotion that does an excellent job of showing off the kind of creative projects that are possible with an iPad and pulls it off without being overbearing. The video reminds me a lot of the Emmy award-winning video called ‘Misunderstood’ from the 2013 holiday season.

Actions by Moleskine Adds Reminders Import, Shortcuts with Parameters, and Context Menus

Actions' new Reminders import feature.

Actions’ new Reminders import feature.

The new year approaches, and with it arrive dreams of being a more productive you – which of course involves choosing the perfect task management system for your needs.

In a timely move, Moleskine’s elegant task manager, Actions, was updated today with a new Reminders import feature, so you can instantly migrate any or all of your Reminders lists and tasks into Actions. The update also supports two new iOS 13 features: shortcuts featuring parameters and context menus.

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iOS Photo Metadata Utility Metapho Adds Deep Fusion and Night Mode Photo Detection

Metapho has been one of my favorite photo utilities on iOS for years. The marquee feature has always been its ability to strip metadata from images, which is handy when sharing photos online, for instance. Over time though, Metapho has grown to incorporate other functionality for inspecting and editing photo metadata that has made the app a must-have iOS utility. With its latest update, Metapho has added Deep Fusion and Night Mode photo detection, an intriguing addition that I haven’t seen any other app offer.

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Timemator 2: Automatic Time-Tracking Based On Your Rules and Activities [Sponsor]

One of the biggest hurdles to consistently tracking your time is starting and stopping timers. It’s too easy to forget to do, leaving you with gaps in your tracking or timers left running overnight. What if you could free yourself from the burden of timers by automating the process? You can do precisely that with Timemator 2.

By letting Timemator track the apps you use, the files you open, and the web sites you visit on your Mac, you’ll never lose a billable minute because you forgot to start a timer. Nor will you fret about stopping a timer when you’re finished because Timemator shows you exactly when you stopped using an app, allowing you to focus on what’s most important: your work.

Time never slips through the cracks with Timemator because it approaches the problem of tracking three ways. First, Timemator automatically creates an activity timeline as you work on your Mac. Just go over your activities at the end of the day and assign them to projects and tasks. Second, you can set up Timemator rules to automatically record time to a project or task when you open a particular app or file. Third, there’s a manual timer available for those one-off tasks and times that it’s just easier to click start. It’s a three-pronged approach that’s proven useful to a wide variety of professionals, including contractors, freelancers, and small teams.

Timemator is a native Mac app that’s been thoughtfully designed to look as beautiful as it is functional. The app is also continually updated with the latest macOS technologies. Next up on Timemator’s roadmap is iCloud sync, an iOS app, integration with third-party tools like Jira and Asana, and team features.

Timemator is free to try for 30 days, and for a limited time, readers of MacStories can buy the app for 30% off by using the coupon code TM-MACSTORIES at checkout. Don’t wait until the new year to get serious about time tracking. Start today by downloading Timemator 2, so you can stop thinking about timers and focus on your tasks.

Our thanks to Timemator 2 for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Automating HomePod Volume Levels

Great idea by Matthew Cassinelli: using the new HomePod and AirPlay 2 actions for home automation in iOS 13.2, it is possible to automate a HomePod’s volume level (including its Siri responses) throughout the day.

But one of the nagging problems with HomePod is the way Siri, regardless of the current time of day, will respond loudly at whatever volume you’ve previously set.

Whether it’s the middle of the night or super early in the morning, it’s all too common to ask Siri something and the answer shouted backed at you, only because you listened to music loudly sometime yesterday. Hopefully nobody wakes up, you curse at how dumb your supposedly “smart” speaker can be, and frantically try to turn it down.

Thankfully, iOS 13.2 provides a route to a solution by adding HomePods and AppleTV to scenes and automations – the HomePod didn’t fix this on its own, but, with a Home Automation, you can make it “smart” enough yourself.

As I explained when iOS 13.2 came out, you can put together these automations by using the ‘Adjust Audio Only’ option after selecting a HomePod or compatible AirPlay 2 speaker in the Home app. I just set this up for my three HomePods and Sonos One, and, sure enough, at 11:20 PM, volume was set to 15% on all my speakers (it should be raised back up to 50% tomorrow at noon).

In theory, I would like to turn this automation into a shortcut and add a Pushcut notification to confirm the volume change (and optionally shuffle a playlist by choosing a HomeKit scene from the notification’s actions). There’s a bug that prevents me from doing this in the latest iOS 13.3 beta, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future.