FaceTime has been a centerpiece feature across all of Apple’s platforms for a long time. However, with the pandemic, it became more important than ever, playing a critical role in the way friends and family have stayed connected. Of course, FaceTime isn’t the only way have kept in touch. The app had plenty of competition from Zoom, Skype, and other services.
So, it’s not surprising that this year’s FaceTime updates focus on fundamentals like audio and video quality and making the app available outside of Apple’s ecosystem, allowing it to compete better with other services. Nor is it surprising that Apple announced SharePlay, which won’t ship until later this fall, so friends and family who can’t be together can still enjoy synchronized group activities like watching a video or listening to music. I’m skeptical that SharePlay will be the hit that Apple’s marketing suggests the company hopes it will be, but even putting SharePlay aside, the app is getting some major improvements that I think everyone will appreciate, so let’s dig in.
I’ve waited seemingly forever for TestFlight for Mac, so I’m pleased to report that a beta is finally available. The app was released late yesterday, so first thing this morning, I downloaded it and started testing.
Use the beta version of TestFlight for Mac to test your Mac apps. You can invite registered Apple developers to download this beta version and use it to test your apps on macOS Monterey beta 5. We’d also appreciate your feedback on TestFlight for Mac, which you can provide through Feedback Assistant.
I haven’t had a lot of time to spend with TestFlight for Mac yet, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was already populated with a long list of betas. I downloaded a couple of iPhone and iPad apps that are compatible with Apple’s M1 Macs, and the process was as simple and straightforward as using TestFlight on iOS or iPadOS. That said, this is still clearly a beta. The sidebar lists every single TestFlight beta in which I’ve ever been enrolled regardless of whether it has expired or is compatible with my Mac. Also, there’s no way to sort or search through betas. Instead, the order of the sidebar list appears to be random.
Still, this is an excellent beta 1. The app works for installing betas and provides a quick and easy way to send feedback to developers. I expect TestFlight for Mac to be adopted quickly because it’s a much better way to manage a large group of testers and to distribute builds to reviewers.
MacStories’ roots are in writing, so it’s only natural that Club MacStories+ and Club Premier are expanding beyond our weekly and monthly newsletters to offer two new exclusive features: Automation Academy and The Macintosh Desktop Experience. Freed of the constraint of an email newsletter, Federico and I will be tailoring our columns to take advantage of the new features made possible by Calliope, the web app that powers the new Club website.
New Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse that debuted with the M1 iMac are now available for individual purchase (in silver and white) from Apple. (Touch ID on the new keyboards only works with M1 Macs, including the M1 Mac mini)https://t.co/2a6JpWp0Cbpic.twitter.com/47uGZ1C0vi
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 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.
I haven’t purchased much music in the past six years or so, but there was a time when it was a big part of my entertainment spending. I still have a huge collection of albums ripped from CDs I bought and later purchased online from the iTunes Store. That changed with the advent of streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, and later Apple Music. I still have those files frozen in time on the 2015 Mac mini I use as a Plex server. So, when Ed Wellbrook told me he was bringing Doppler, his excellent iPhone music player to the Mac, I figured it was time to dust of my old music collection and give it a try.
Doppler, which we’ve covered before here and in MacStories Weekly, including, most recently, Issues 252, 261, and 275, is a music player for people who buy their music. Apple’s Music app continues to maintain backward compatibility for users who own their music libraries, but Apple’s focus these days is squarely on streaming, not purchasing. That’s left apps like Doppler to fill the void offering features like the ability to add new music to your library from an iPhone, something that isn’t possible with Apple Music.
The minute you try Doppler, you can tell it’s made by someone who cares deeply about music and the experience of listening to it. The interface puts albums and artists front and center, focusing on album art and simple, intuitive controls to make listening to music on-the-go a pleasure.
Wellbrook has brought the same sensibility to a native Mac version of the app, which was released today. Doppler for Mac is a lot like what I’d imagine Apple’s Music app would be like if Music were split into separate apps for streaming and owned music. That’s not likely to ever happen, but fortunately, Doppler has you covered if you own your music.
The new iMacs announced yesterday will ship with special ‘Hello’ screen saver that pays tribute to the original Macintosh and the color schemes of the new iMac models. On 9to5Mac, Jeff Benjamin has a walkthrough of the new screen saver, its options, and instructions on how to enable it on other Macs.
As Benjamin explains, you don’t need to have the new iMac to run the screen saver, although you need to jump through some hoops. The Hello screen saver is in the macOS 11.3 RC beta that was just released and can be copied and installed on other M1 Macs running the 11.3 beta by following the steps in Benjamin’s video. I haven’t tried to install the screen saver on an Intel-based Mac, but I plan to give it a go once I update my Mac mini to 11.3.
The screen saver includes several settings and three themes. I’ve set up the screen saver on my M1 MacBook Air and selected the ‘All’ theme option to get a mixture of all three themes when my screen saver is enabled. In addition to the themes, you can choose whether the screen saver shows multiple languages and whether it follows your light or dark mode settings.
I’ve enjoyed the Drift screen saver on my Macs lately, but the switch to Hello on my MacBook Air has been nice. The bold, vibrant colors are lovely.
Update: It turns out that the same process for adding the Hello screen saver to an M1 Mac works on an Intel-based Mac running the macOS 11.3 beta too.
Bartender 4.0 was in beta for a long time, and the time and attention to the details paid off. If you were waiting to update until the app was officially released, now’s the time to act because it’s out, and the update is excellent.
I use Bartender on all my Macs, but I appreciate it most on my MacBook Air. The updated app, which manages your menu bar apps, retains its core functionality, allowing you to rearrange your menu bar apps and hide the ones you don’t need regularly. However, with version 4.0, Bartender does a lot more too.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since Mac OS X was released. I wasn’t a Mac user in 2001, but as a tech fan, I followed the release of OS X and the later switch to Intel closely, which was what finally convinced me to buy my first iMac.
Reflector 4, an app for mirroring iPhones, iPads, and other devices to the Mac, has been updated with a new design, M1 Mac support, and new onscreen device frames. Whether you’re making screencasts, demoing apps for a group, or in a classroom environment, Reflector lets you wirelessly transmit your device’s UI to your Mac and record it too. In addition to mirroring iPhones and iPads, which is what I did in my testing, you can also mirror Android, Windows, and Chromebook devices. Think of it as Apple TV and Chromecast’s mirroring and streaming features all on a Mac, thanks to this one simple menu bar app.