Posts tagged with "mac"

Catalina Developer Beta Changes How Mac Laptops Charge to Extend Their Batteries’ Lifespans

The developer beta release of macOS 10.15.5 has a new feature in the Energy Saver section of System Preferences called Battery Health Management that changes the battery charging behavior of Mac laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports. According to a story by Jason Snell at Six Colors, Apple says:

…the feature is meant to reduce the rate of chemical aging of the MacBook’s battery, thereby extending its long-term lifespan—but without compromising on day-to-day battery life.

The feature works by analyzing the temperature of the battery over time, as well as the charging pattern the laptop has experienced—in other words, does the laptop frequently get drained most of the way and then recharged fully, or is it mostly kept full and plugged in?

Battery Health Management can be turned off by unchecking a box in System Preferences.

As Snell points out, Apple’s approach here is in contrast to what it did with the iPhone’s battery in 2017, which embroiled the company in controversy and ultimately, led it to issue a public apology. It’s good to see Apple take the initiative to explain how the new power management feature works and give users a way to turn it off when it makes sense, though I expect to leave it turned on most of the time myself.

Permalink

Service Station Review: A Handy Utility to Customize Your Finder’s Contextual Menu

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Finder Sync Extensions. I haven’t run across many apps other than Dropbox and HoudahSpot that support the feature. Finder extensions allow third-party developers to customize the Finder on the Mac with buttons in the Finder’s toolbar or changes to the contextual menu that’s displayed when you right-click on a file.

Service Station adds apps and scripts to the top level of your Mac's contextual menu based on rules you define.

Service Station adds apps and scripts to the top level of your Mac’s contextual menu based on rules you define.

Service Station is a new Mac utility that takes advantage of Finder extensions by letting users create rules to control when and which apps are displayed in the right-click contextual menu. The app can also be used to kick off AppleScript and shell scripts and Automator workflows. These are all tasks that macOS already supports in one way or another, but Service Station surfaces them as top-level contextual menu options and can be customized to suit your individual needs, which makes this a very handy tool.

Read more


Universal Purchases for Mac Apps Are Now Available to Developers

Universal purchases, which will allow developers to offer an app across Apple’s platforms, are now available for Mac apps. In a short notice posted to Apple’s developer news site, the company said:

The macOS version of your app can now be included in a universal purchase, allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS by purchasing only once. Get started by using a single bundle ID for your apps in Xcode and setting up your app record for universal purchase in App Store Connect.

The feature began appearing for some developers on App Store Connect a little earlier in the day:

Prior to universal purchase, Mac apps were treated as separate products by Apple’s stores, which meant developers had to either charge separately for apps and, in some cases, jump through complex receipt-checking hoops to bundle their apps. This change should make the process of charging a single price or signing up for one subscription for apps across the Mac, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS much simpler and will enable cross-platform In-App purchases too.


Vote for Your Most-Loved Mac in 512 Pixel’s Mac Madness

I was immediately excited when Stephen Hackett told me a couple of nights ago about an idea he had. With bad news dominating the headlines, events canceled around the world, and people stuck at home with new-found time on their hands, he wanted to create a fun diversion for Mac fans. What he came up with is Mac Madness, a March Madness basketball tournament-inspired face-off among 32 beloved Macs.

Hackett has all the details on 512pixels.net where you’ll also find this video introducing the match-ups:

The initial matchups were chosen randomly, which adds to the fun because there are some very tough choices to make when you vote. Remember, the goal is to find the most-loved Mac, which doesn’t have to be what you’d consider the ‘best Mac.’

Round one voting closes tomorrow, March 20th, and the final winner will be announced on Friday, April 3rd. Along the way, Hackett will be live-streaming each bracket’s winners on the Relay FM Twitch channel and posting the videos later on 512 Pixels where he’s set up a special page to collect all the results. So, join in on the fun and vote now to see if your most-loved Mac takes home top honors.

Permalink

Editing FLAC Metadata with Meta for Mac

Meta for Mac.

Meta for Mac.

For the past year, I’ve been using a high-res Sony music player to listen to my personal music collection. I detailed the entire story in the December 2019 episode of our Club-exclusive MacStories Unplugged podcast, but in short: I still use Apple Music to stream music every day and discover new artists; however, for those times when I want to more intentionally listen to music without doing anything else, I like to sit down, put on my good Sony headphones, and try to enjoy all the sonic details of my favorite songs that wouldn’t normally be revealed by AirPods or my iPad Pro’s speakers. But this post isn’t about how I’ve been dipping my toes into the wild world of audiophiles and high-resolution music; rather, I want to highlight an excellent Mac app I’ve been using to organize and edit the metadata of the FLAC music library I’ve been assembling over the past year.

Read more


Adobe Unveils Photoshop Updates for the iPad and Mac on Its 30th Anniversary

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

Not many apps can say they’ve been around for 30 years, but that’s how long it’s been since Photoshop 1.0 launched. To coincide with the milestone, Adobe has released updates to Photoshop for the iPad and the Mac. We haven’t tried either update yet, but from the press demo I received, the updates to both versions of Photoshop appear substantial and promise to improve the experience of using the app significantly.

The Object Selection tool. Source: Adobe.

The Object Selection tool. Source: Adobe.

On the iPad, Photoshop already has a Subject Selection tool that lets users quickly select the primary subject of an image, but now, it also has a new Object Selection tool that works a little differently. Object Selection works best when there are multiple subjects in an image, and you want to select just one. After tapping the Object Selection tool, you trace an outline around the object you want to select. Then, Photoshop uses some software magic to figure out what you want and snaps the selection to the object. Finally, you can clean up the selection, adding and subtracting parts using Photoshop’s Touch Shortcut UI. It’s fantastic to see this tool, which just came to the Mac a few months ago at Adobe MAX, already part of the iPad app.

Photoshop for iPad's new type settings. Source: Adobe.

Photoshop for iPad’s new type settings. Source: Adobe.

The other headlining feature on the iPad is better typography settings. There are now type layer, character, and options properties that include tracking, leading, scaling, and other adjustments that can be made to text. It’s not quite the complete set of tools available on the desktop, but it appears to be a substantial improvement over the previous version of the iPad app.

The Mac version of Photoshop has also been updated too. Lens Blur has been moved from the CPU to the GPU for better performance. The app can also read the depth map from images taken with an iPhone and other smartphones, which can be edited in Photoshop to get the exact focal point and look that you want.

The old version of Lens Blur (left) and the new version (right). Source: Adobe.

The old version of Lens Blur (left) and the new version (right). Source: Adobe.

The Content-Aware Fill workspace has been improved too. Now, you can make multiple selections and apply multiple fills in the workspace, whereas before users had to leave the workspace and reenter it between selections.

Photoshop for iPad was released in early November 2019 with the promise of frequent updates to fill the gaps between it and its desktop sibling. So far, Adobe has lived up to that commitment with substantial updates last December and today. Another indication that Adobe is serious about mobile is evident from the Photoshop webpage, which prominently features the app.

Still, there is still plenty of work to be done before Photoshop for iPad rivals the desktop Photoshop experience. In addition to features that haven’t migrated from the desktop to the iPad yet, I’d like to see Adobe implement iPadOS system features like drag and drop, so I can drag images from Lightroom or other photo editors into Photoshop, context menus, which seem like a natural fit for an app with so many settings, options, and actions, and multiwindowing. My hope is that new functionality like keyboard event detection and whatever Apple has in store for iPadOS 14 will make it easier for Adobe to refine Photoshop further and continue to implement the most powerful desktop features on the iPad too.

Photoshop for iPad is a free update that is available on the App Store and requires a subscription. The Mac version of Photoshop is available directly from Adobe.


Developer Crunchy Bagel Releases a Mac Catalyst Version of Streaks

I’ve used Streaks on and off since its introduction. The app is a fantastic way to track and establish new habits. When it was launched, Streaks was iPhone-only. Since then, however, the app has added iPad support, an Apple Watch companion, Health app and Shortcuts integrations, new customizations, and other features, all while maintaining its distinctive, brightly-colored UI and fantastic iconography.

Today’s update adds Mac support to the mix via a brand new Catalyst app. There are a few differences between the Mac app and its iOS and iPadOS counterparts, but if you already use Streaks on an existing platform, the nearly-identical Mac version will feel familiar immediately.

iPhone screenshot scaled down for easier comparison with the Mac app.

iPhone screenshot scaled down for easier comparison with the Mac app.

By the same token, newcomers who discover Streaks on the Mac may have a hard time adapting to the app’s approach. Modal views that slide into place from the bottom of the screen like an iOS app, ‘Done’ buttons and custom controls to close views, and fixed window dimensions aren’t design elements typically found on the Mac.

Coming from using the iOS app, though, the only place I found things hard to get used to was the ‘long click’ that replaces a long press on iOS and iPadOS for completing a task or entering editing mode, for example. On balance, though, I think Streaks’ long history and large audience on iOS largely negate the downsides of its atypical interactions.

All the core features of Streaks on iOS and iPadOS are available on the Mac too.

All the core features of Streaks on iOS and iPadOS are available on the Mac too.

By and large, the functionality of the Mac version of Streaks is the same as the iOS and iPadOS versions. However, as you would expect, platform-specific settings that don’t make sense on a Mac, like Face ID and management of the Apple Watch app, are missing.

iCloud sync works well overall, too, syncing habit data, but not settings, running timers, and themes, which is also the case on the iPhone and iPad. However, I’ve noticed in my testing that the Mac version of Streaks is occasionally slow to update with changes from iOS. Even so, the two versions didn’t stay out of sync long since the apps coordinate their data every time the Catalyst app is reopened.

Streaks is a fantastic addition to the Mac by virtue of its nature as an activity tracker. It’s an app that fills a gap. If I don’t have my iPhone nearby, there’s a very good chance I’m working on my Mac or iPad. The inclusion of a Mac version of Streaks, like the iPad support that came before it, reduces the friction of tracking a new habit I’m trying to form, giving me even fewer excuses not to keep on top of my goals. As a result, even though I don’t expect to use the Mac app as often as Streaks on my iPhone, I’m glad I have that option now.

For more on Streaks, check out my reviews of the original app, as well as versions 3 and 4. Streaks for the Mac is available on the Mac App Store for $4.99.


Sensei: A Beautifully-Designed Dashboard and Set of Utilities for Your Mac

Sensei is a brand new Mac app that monitors the status of various components of your Mac’s hardware and provides a set of utilities to optimize its performance. The app is certainly not the first to offer these features – there are tools built into macOS and third-party apps that can accomplish many of the same functions, and in some cases more. However, what sets Sensei apart, and what has quickly won me over, is its ability to translate the data it collects and implement its utilities in a beautifully-designed, standalone app.

Read more


The Case for Low Power Mode on the Mac

Marco Arment on marco.org, outlining his self-created Low Power Mode-like system which relies on a third-party app, and making the case for Apple to add something similar as an official macOS feature:

The vast majority of the time I’m using it, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a much better laptop with Turbo Boost disabled.

It’s still fast enough to do everything I need (including significant development with Xcode), while remaining silent and cool, with incredible battery life.

But soon, I bet I won’t be able to do this anymore.

Turbo Boost Switcher Pro relies on a kernel extension that’s grandfathered into Apple’s latest security requirements, but it can never be updated — and when macOS Catalina loads it for the first time, it warns that it’ll be “incompatible with a future version of macOS.” I suspect that this is the last year I’ll get to run the latest OS and be able to turn off Turbo Boost at will, making all of my future laptop usage significantly worse.

Low Power Mode is one of many useful features that iOS has had for years but that Mac users have been forced to live without. The feature’s popularity on iOS makes it a no-brainer addition for portable Macs, where battery life is already worse than what’s found in the iPhone and iPad.

Update: Former MacStories contributor TJ Luoma helpfully pointed out something that genuinely surprised me: Low Power Mode isn’t on the iPad either. Here’s hoping Apple brings it not only to the Mac, but the iPad as well.

Permalink