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Posts tagged with "accessories"

Getting Started with Shortcuts for Mac and the Stream Deck

The Stream Deck has been a favorite of Mac users who are into automation for a while now, but the device’s utility has grown substantially for a couple of reasons. First, you can use the Stream Deck to run Shortcuts, which expands the device into an entirely new realm of automation.

Second, the Stream Deck opens up new ways to approach all automation on your Mac that aren’t possible with any single Mac app, allowing you to mix and match different kinds of automation in one interface. It’s a powerful combination that unlocks the ability to organize the automation tools you use to fit with the way you think and work.

To get you started, I’m going to cover:

  • What the Stream Deck is and how it works
  • The many ways to run your Shortcuts from the device
  • Approaches for organizing your shortcuts and other automations with the Stream Deck
  • An alternative to the Stream Deck

Let’s dig in.

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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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Apple Releases New Mac Keyboards and Pointing Devices

Apple has updated its online store with new accessories that first debuted with the M1 iMac. The updated accessories were spotted by Rene Ritchie, who tweeted about them:

Among the items listed, which each come with a woven USB-C to Lightning cable and come in white and silver only, are:

  • Magic Keyboard ($99). The Magic Keyboard features rounded corners and some changes to its keys, including a dedicated Globe/Fn key and Spotlight, Dictation, and Do Not Disturb functionality mapped to the F4 - F6 keys.
  • Magic Keyboard with Touch ID ($149). Along with the design and key changes of the Magic Keyboard, this model includes Touch ID, which works with M1 Macs only.
  • Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad ($179)
  • Magic Trackpad ($129). The corners of the new Magic Trackpad are more rounded than before, but it’s functionally the same as prior models.
  • Magic Mouse ($79). The Magic Mouse is listed as new, too, although apart from the woven USB-C to Lightning cable in the box, there don’t appear to be any other differences between this model and the prior model.

I’ve been using the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse for a couple of months with an M1 iMac. Based on my experience, the trackpad and mouse haven’t changed enough to warrant purchasing one unless you need one anyway. However, if you’ve got an M1 Mac mini or M1 laptop that you run in clamshell mode, the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID is a nice addition to any setup. Having Touch ID always available is fantastic, and I’ve grown used to using the Do Not Disturb button along with the Globe + Q keyboard shortcut for Quick Note, the new Notes feature coming to macOS Monterey this fall, which is the same when using an iPad running the iPadOS 15 beta with a Magic Keyboard attached.


Apple Quietly Releases MagSafe Battery Pack

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Apple today released a $99 MagSafe Battery Pack accessory for the iPhone mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The white battery pack connects to an iPhone using Apple’s MagSafe connector to deliver 5W of power to your iPhone on the go. The battery pack can be charged by itself using a Lightning connector and power supply. Alternatively, the battery pack and an iPhone can be charged together using a Lightning cable and power supply, which delivers 15W of charging power when a 20W or higher power supply is used. There’s no official word on how much charge the battery pack holds, though MacRumors reports that images suggest it is a 1,460mAh battery, which is less than a single charge.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Apple’s battery widget can be used to monitor the charge held by the MagSafe Battery Pack. Apple’s support document for the accessory says that:

When you’re using your MagSafe Battery Pack to charge your iPhone, you might get a notification that says your iPhone will charge only up to 90%. To charge past 90%, open Control Center, press and hold the Low Power Mode icon*, then tap Continue.

Apple also says iOS 14.7 or later is needed to use the MagSafe Battery Pack.

The MagSafe Battery Pack has been rumored for a while, and with travel becoming an option for more people around the world and iPhones having aged since the release of the iPhone 12, the timing seems right for this accessory. Although the total charge the battery pack can deliver is less than a larger power brick, I like the portability of the MagSafe version and the fact that it will work with any current or future MagSafe-compatible iPhone.


Kensington Releases Two-Piece StudioCaddy Charging Station and Organizer for Apple Devices

Today, Kensington released the StudioCaddy, a $179.99, two-piece charging station and device organizer for Apple devices. Kensington sent me a review unit, which I’ve been using for about a week, so I thought I’d share my first impressions.

The StudioCaddy has a unique two-piece design. One half features Qi charging stations for an iPhone and AirPods, plus USB-A and USB-C charging ports. The other half is a weighted stand with slots to hold a Mac laptop and iPad vertically. The two parts can be used separately or connected magnetically.

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HoverBar Duo: The MacStories Review

There is no shortage of iPad stands. Search for one on Amazon, for instance, and you’ll be met with page after page of results. Most stands are unremarkable, with little that distinguishes one from another.

Twelve South’s HoverBar Duo is different, though. The black aluminum and plastic stand has two articulating hinges with a clamp for your iPad that connects to the stand’s arm with a ball joint. The stand also rotates side-to-side at its base. The design, which is reminiscent of an attractive, modern desk lamp, provides a broader range of motion than most stands, making it useful in more scenarios. As a result, I’ve found myself using the HoverBar Duo far more than any stand I’ve tried before.

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The M1 Mac mini and MacBook Air: A Giant Leap Forward for All Mac Users

It’s been just over two months since the first M1 Macs were delivered to customers. I purchased an M1 MacBook Air to replace my aging 2016 MacBook Pro, and not long after, Apple sent me an M1 Mac mini to try. In the ten weeks or so since then, I’ve used both almost exclusively for a wide variety of tasks, and although both computers are somewhat limited by their lack of ports, that has been less of an issue than I anticipated. What’s been far more notable, remarkable in fact, is the performance of the new MacBook Air and Mac mini.

Benchmarks don’t do these Macs justice. There are plenty of CPU-intensive tasks that are faster than before, which I expected would be the case. However, living with both of these Macs for as long as I have has given me a much greater appreciation for the impact that the M1 has on ordinary, day-to-day tasks. The differences are less pronounced for individual tasks that require less computing power, but the aggregate impact has still been significant for both computers, especially the MacBook Air.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

Performance increases quickly become the ‘new normal.’ They tend to fade into the background. What starts as startling soon becomes ordinary and expected. The M1 Macs are no different in this respect and perhaps even more so because they look like the machines that came before them.

Still, if you step back and consider these new Macs in the context of those that immediately preceded them and account for the fact that these are entry-level models, the future of the Mac is bright. The M1 update makes these Macs substantially better deals than the versions they replace with computing power to spare for most users. The new machines also bode well for the remainder of the Mac lineup that hasn’t been updated yet.

I’m excited to see what the M1 means for the rest of the product line, and I’m sure I’ll be tempted to try them, but I’ve also never been more content with new Macs than these. I’m sure there are things I do that future M1 Macs will do even faster, but the M1 MacBook Air and Mac mini have introduced a fluidity in my daily computing that I haven’t experienced since I first tried the iPad Pro. It’s the sort of subtle, qualitative shift that can’t be captured by benchmarks but has rekindled my fondness for the platform by improving the experience across the board. Here’s what I mean.

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CES Rundown: Highlights of This Year’s Most Intriguing (and Bizarre) Announcements

My coverage of CES has always been virtual. This year the show itself is virtual too, which left me wondering whether there would be much to cover. Although there are fewer vendors participating than in the past, the event continues to provide a steady stream of news about new products planned for the coming months.

Some of what is announced each year will never see the light of day, and other gadgets will never look as good as they did in the hands of expert marketers. Still, CES always provides a useful snapshot of tech industry hardware trends, a handful of unexpected gems, like last year’s Eve Cam that I reviewed over the summer and Samsung’s T7 external SSD, which ended up powering my Big Sur beta testing, plus a healthy dose of the truly strange.

After pouring over hundreds of headlines and press releases, I’ve compiled a roundup of some of this week’s most intriguing announcements. Feel free to skip around to the categories that you find most interesting using the table of contents below.

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Apple Releases New Pride Edition Watch Bands Ahead of Pride Month, New Watch Faces Coming Soon

In anticipation of Pride month in June, Apple today has announced the release of two new Pride Edition bands for the Apple Watch, and new Pride watch faces that will be available soon as part of the watchOS 6.2.5 release.

It’s become an annual tradition for Apple to debut a new Pride band for Apple Watch and an accompanying watch face, but this is the first time there have been two new options launching. The Pride Edition Sport Band features the traditional rainbow pattern similar to last year’s offering, though that previous band was a Sport Loop, rather than the first-time Sport Band option available this year. The Nike Pride Edition Sport Band follows the unique design style of Nike’s other bands, but with its rainbow colors adorning the white band’s holes. The Nike Pride face arriving in the next watchOS update is unique as well, with colored dots representing the face’s hour markings.

The new Watch bands will be available today from the Apple Store, and watchOS 6.2.5 is anticipated to release some time in the next month leading up to WWDC.