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Creating the World of Red Rising with Author Pierce Brown (Part 1)

Today on Dialog, we are joined by author Pierce Brown the creator of the Red Rising series of novels. In this first part of a two-part interview, we talk about the lead up to the release of Dark Age, Brown’s latest book that will be released tomorrow, how he got started writing, the themes and influences behind the Red Rising series, the business of writing, social media, and interacting with fans.

You can find the episode here or listen through the Dialog web player below.

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Taskheat: The Innovative Task Manager for Everyone [Sponsor]

Taskheat is an innovative new task manager for the Mac that extends beyond traditional task lists to allow users to visualize their projects and goals. The trouble with lists is that they don’t convey the relationships between the tasks that make up a project. Taskheat, which borrows concepts from mind-mapping and project management apps combines checklists and flowcharts to visualize the links between your tasks.

Every project has dependencies: tasks that can’t be started before something else is completed. Taskheat’s flowchart view makes it simple to add those sorts of connections between tasks and then see how each part of your project fits together into a unified whole. Making the connections is simple too: just drag from the connection point in one task to another. If you need to reverse, add, or delete links later, you can do that with just a few clicks too.

Taskheat also features a separate list mode that allows you to create, view, and check off tasks in a more traditional manner. In list view, connections are displayed on the side of the list, so they’re always visible regardless of how you’re managing your projects.

Of course, Taskheat supports tagging, due dates, delegation, and location details too. This allows the app to create an ‘Actual’ inbox of tasks that are just the ones you can accomplish now. It’s features like this that enables Taskheat to reduce a long list of tasks into a manageable, actionable subset of items. It’s a unique approach to task management that will transform the way you get things done.

To learn more about Taskheat visit their website or simply download a 14-day free trial of Taskheat from Mac App Store. When you’re ready to buy, Taskheat is just $14.99, and it’s available as part of a Setapp subscription too.

Our thanks to Taskheat for supporting MacStories this week.


Apple Announces Acquisition of Intel’s Smartphone Modem Business

As the stock market closed in the US, Apple announced the acquisition of Intel’s smartphone modem business. As part of the deal, 2,200 Intel employees will join Apple. The company is also buying intellectual property and other assets from Intel like equipment and real estate associated with the business. According to Apple’s press release, the companies anticipate that the transaction will be consummated in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory and other conditions.

Apple says that:

Combining the acquired patents for current and future wireless technology with Apple’s existing portfolio, Apple will hold over 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from protocols for cellular standards to modem architecture and modem operation. Intel will retain the ability to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, such as PCs, internet-of-things devices and autonomous vehicles.

Commenting on the deal, Johny Srouji, Apple senior Vice President of Hardware Technology said:

“We’ve worked with Intel for many years and know this team shares Apple’s passion for designing technologies that deliver the world’s best experiences for our users,” said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Technologies. “Apple is excited to have so many excellent engineers join our growing cellular technologies group, and know they’ll thrive in Apple’s creative and dynamic environment. They, together with our significant acquisition of innovative IP, will help expedite our development on future products and allow Apple to further differentiate moving forward.”

Given Apple’s two-year court battle with Qualcomm that resulted in a settlement earlier this year, the deal with Intel is not surprising. Ever since Apple’s acquisition of P.A. Semi in 2008, Apple has been buying hardware companies that have allowed it to make more of the components that are crucial to the iPhone and its other products. The Intel deal, however, is one of Apple’s largest acquisitions and demonstrates just how serious the company is about 5G technology and gaining independence from Qualcomm.


Billboard Profiles Apple Music Lead Oliver Schusser

Billboard has an in-depth profile of Oliver Schusser, who has been running Apple Music for the past 15 months. You may not have heard Schusser’s name before, but he’s been at Apple since 2004, first working to expand iTunes in Europe. With Jimmy Iovine taking on a consulting role at Apple Music and Robert Kondrk moving to a product and design role, Billboard explains that Schusser was tapped to grow the streaming service.

The profile, which also includes interviews with Jen Walsh, the director in charge of Shazam and Beats 1, and Rachel Newman, the global senior director of editorial, emphasizes the service’s focus on editorial over algorithmic content:

“You hear Tim talk a lot about humanity – how we’re at the crossroads between the liberal arts and technology,” says Oliver Schusser. “It’s got to be both.” The new leader of Apple Music (the Tim in question would be his boss, Apple CEO Cook) is relaxing in his sun-drenched corner office at the company’s Culver City, Calif., headquarters on a June morning, explaining – in his typically measured way – why the service he oversees hasn’t gone all-in on algorithms. “That’s just not the way we look at the world,” continues Schusser. “We really do believe that we have a responsibility to our subscribers and our customers to have people recommend what a playlist should look like and who the future superstars are.”

Among other changes Schusser has implemented since taking the reigns of Apple Music, Billboard emphasizes the shift away from annual feature releases timed around Apple hardware releases noting the mid-year of top 100 charts and new personalized playlists. Those changes caught my eye in particular because unlike software tied to hardware advances or operating system changes, services, which have become increasingly important to Apple, demand ongoing attention to remain in the forefront of the public’s mind to retain existing customers and sign up new ones.

The approach is a departure for Apple, but one we’ve begun to see more often with ongoing improvements to Siri and mid-year updates to Shortcuts, for example. Apple Music’s advances may not get a lot of attention from the software and hardware-focused tech press, but in my experience, Apple Music has steadily improved since its debut, developing into an excellent way for me to enjoy my favorite bands and discover new ones.

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Connected, Episode 253: Jeff Would Absolutely Destroy Me

On this week’s episode of Connected:

Federico and Myke are interested in expanding their smart home devices, wondering if Apple will buy a chunk of Intel, and considering the possible new features of the iPhone 11.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

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Connected, Episode 253

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StayGo USB-C Hub: First Impressions

The two devices that first got me interested in USB-C hubs were my iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. With the iPad, the attraction was a single device that could connect an external display, support Gigabit Ethernet networking, and read photos from an SD card with the promise of external storage support in iOS 13. For my 2016 13” MacBook Pro, I wanted a way to easily connect legacy USB-A devices, jump on my wired network, copy photos from SD cards, connect to an external 4K display, and leave other USB-C ports open for devices I only occasionally connect to my Mac.

One of the trickiest aspects of picking a hub is finding one with ports that fit your use cases the best. On top of that, not all connections are created equal. As Federico explained in his story on his iPad setups late last year, there are a variety of USB flavors that support different data speeds and power delivery amounts as well as HDMI ports that refresh 4K video at different rates.

Since early this year, I’ve been using the HyperDrive Slim 8-in-1 USB-C Hub, which has:

  • 1 USB-C port with Power Delivery, but that isn’t Thunderbolt-compatible
  • 2 USB-A 3.1 ports with 5Gbps throughput
  • an Ethernet jack
  • Mini DisplayPort (4K at 30Hz)
  • HDMI (4K at 30Hz)
  • an SD card slot
  • a microSD card slot

I haven’t had a need for the Mini DisplayPort connection on the Slim 8-in-1 much, but the hub has handled my other needs well as I detailed in my review. However, one of the biggest problems with the HyperDrive hub is that it has a short built-in cable that can’t be removed. The trouble is that at about 16 centimeters long, the short cord causes the hub to dangle from the side of my MacBook Pro when it’s elevated on Twelve South’s Hi-Rise stand and my iPad Pro when it’s in the Viozon stand I use to write. Both setups look messy and put stress on the cable that I worry will cause it to fail eventually.

That’s why I was intrigued when Twelve South told me they were working on a way to solve the problem. The solution is the company’s new StayGo USB-C hub, which Twelve South sent me to try.

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CARROT Weather iPad App Modernized with Multitasking and Expanded Keyboard Shortcuts, iCloud Sync for Settings

Today in version 4.12, CARROT Weather debuts a modernized iPad app that takes advantage of the features core to a great iPad experience: multitasking support, more keyboard shortcuts, and a tweaked design that better utilizes large displays. Additionally, since the iPad app is maturing in several key ways, CARROT has added iCloud sync for all of the app’s 150+ settings options, ensuring you won’t need to configure settings on both iPhone and iPad.

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