Geekbench tests have always been grounded in real-world use cases and use modern. With Geekbench 6, we’ve taken this to the next level by updating existing workloads and designing several new workloads, including workloads that:
Blur backgrounds in video conferencing streams
Filter and adjust images for social media sites
Automatically remove unwanted objects from photos
Detect and tag objects in photos using machine learning models
Analyse, process, and convert text using scripting languages
In addition to updating benchmark workflows, Primate Labs says Geekbench includes modern file types and file sizes that reflect current computing tasks on Macs, iPhones, iPads, and other devices. The company also changed its multi-core benchmark to include tasks that span multiple cores to align the tests with how modern devices typically tackle a job.
My time with the new benchmark apps has been limited, but running them on my Mac and iPhone went smoothly. It’s worth noting that the apps are significantly larger, and it take longer than before due to the changes made to the underlying benchmark tests. However, it’s great to see Primate Labs working to make its tests reflect modern usage patterns and hardware.
When Apple released macOS Monterey in 2021, it introduced a new extension point for its Mail app. At the time I wrote my Monterey review, there were no Mail extensions on the Mac App Store. Over a year later, there is still only a handful. That’s why I was intrigued when Kriss Smolka of Funn Media contacted me about ReplyCube, the company’s first Mail extension.
Raycast, the app launcher and command utility that was our MacStories Selects Best Mac app of 2022, introduced URL scheme support for its extensive collection of built-in and third-party commands. The app’s existing system of hotkey and alias triggers is still the best way to send a command to Raycast in most circumstances, but with deeplinks, Raycast has opened up new automation possibilities.
One of the things I immediately missed when I moved to Mastodon was the ability to schedule posts. This isn’t something I do a lot. However, with a busy editorial calendar at MacStories, I’ve used a variety of services over the years, including Buffer, to allow me to set up draft posts in advance when we’ve got a big story or episode of AppStories coming up. Losing that convenience wasn’t the end of the world, but it introduced friction I hadn’t had to deal with in years.
That’s why I’m glad to see Buffer has added Mastodon support to its web and iOS apps today. I’ve been testing Buffer’s beta for the past day, and the best part of the update is that there’s not much to say about it because it’s so easy to use. If you’ve used Buffer before, the process is similar to any other scheduled post you’d create: draft the post, add any media and hashtags you want, and then schedule it. If you want, you can also use Buffer to cross-post to other services.
Scheduling a Mastodon post with Buffer.
Managing posts for multiple accounts has always been the sort of thing that can disrupt my other work. It’s too easy for me to get distracted and wind up browsing my timeline after I post something from one of our company accounts. With Buffer’s new Mastodon integration, I’m looking forward to creating those posts as part of our production workflow and avoiding getting sucked into my timeline when I have more pressing tasks.
It’s been over two years since FoodNoms, the nutrition tracking app for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch by Ryan Ashcraft, debuted on the App Store, and I reviewed it. Over the past two years, the app has steadily improved, refining its database of foods, adding Home Screen widgets, and a lot more. With version 2 out today, FoodNoms has taken its biggest step forward since its launch with a long list of new features and a refreshed design.
At its core, FoodNoms lets you set goals, track what you eat, and monitor your progress toward your goals. There are a lot of apps that do something similar, but what sets FoodNoms apart is its design, ease of use, and emphasis on privacy.
It’s the end of the year, and before I take a few days off to relax for the holidays, I have a few cool things to share that have been sitting on my desk and Mac for a little bit.
The Belkin Mount with MagSafe for Mac Desktops and Displays
One of macOS Ventura’s flagship features is Continuity Camera, which lets you use an iPhone’s camera as a webcam. I covered Continuity Camera in my Ventura review, and it works really well, especially with Center Stage turned off, so you get the full uncropped image from the iPhone’s camera.
A side view.
Alongside Continuity Camera, Belkin introduced an excellent, compact MagSafe mount for Apple Laptops but left desktop and external display users hanging. Last week, desktop users got their wish for a similar solution, with a double-hinged MagSafe Mount that I expect will work on a work with a wide range of displays.
Ready for hooking to a screen.
Belkin sent me its new mount to try last week, and I immediately gave it a try. The hardware has a nice, solid feel. The hinges are stiff, so your iPhone’s weight won’t affect your setup, and every surface that touches your display, front and back, as well as your iPhone, has a soft-touch finish that shouldn’t scratch your display or phone.
Freeform is a brand new iPhone, iPad, and Mac app from Apple that lets users create multimedia boards on an infinite canvas that include text, images, drawings, links, files, and more. It’s an ambitious entry into a crowded category of apps that take overlapping approaches, emphasizing everything from note-taking to collaborative design to whiteboarding.
As is so often the case with Apple’s system apps, Freeform falls squarely in the middle of the landscape of existing apps. Freeform isn’t going to replace apps that are deeply focused on a narrow segment of apps in the blank canvas category. Instead, Freeform is targeted at a broader audience, many of whom have probably never even considered using this sort of app. For them, and for anyone who has felt constrained by more linear, text-based ways of exploring ideas, Freeform is a perfect solution.
At first blush, Freeform’s spare interface may give the impression that it’s a bare-bones 1.0 release, but that’s not the case. The app is easy to use and impressively feature-rich for a new release. So, let’s dig into the details to see what it can do.
DMS bought 12 speakers and a bunch of DACs, but immediately had trouble getting the system to decode a Dolby Atmos signal without buying an expensive decoder. Ultimately, the solution was to use Loopback to combine the DACs into one virtual multichannel DAC, a far cheaper solution than trying to handle 12 channels at once.
DMS’s setup has been documented for anyone who wants to try it themselves. What struck me about it is how well Loopback handled an incredibly complex setup and saved DMS thousands of dollars by creating a software version of what otherwise would have required expensive hardware. This is a terrific example of why so many people turn to Rogue Amoeba’s apps when they need to do something with audio on the Mac, whether it’s as simple as recording a live track of their favorite band streaming in Safari, or as complex as a 12-channel Dolby Atomos surround sound system.
Timery has been updated with a long list of new features and improvements that fans of the app are going to love.
Lock Screen Widgets and Live Activities
Timery’s new Lock Screen widgets.
First off, Timery has added iOS 16 Lock Screen Widgets and Live Activities. The Lock Screen widgets can display your current time entry, the total amount of time tracked today, or start a new timer. Each widget type includes circular and rectangular variants when added beneath the Lock Screen’s time, as well as a narrow in-line version that can be added to the top of the screen. The widgets can be configured to start a specific saved timer or show a list of timers and optionally show the app’s edit view for tweaking the details of the timer you start. It’s worth noting that Timery’s editing view now supports ‘@’ as a way to quickly search and add projects and ‘#’ for adding tags.
Timery’s Live Activities.
Live Activities display the current time entry on the iPhone 14 Pro line’s Dynamic Island and the Lock Screen. Long-pressing either reveals additional information about the current project, task, and total time tracked for the day.
I’m a big fan of Timery’s new widgets and Live Activities because they offer the sort of glanceable details that weren’t possible before unless you were using the Mac version of the app and enabled its menu bar app. Now, I don’t have to unlock my iPhone or iPad to check on a timer, which allows me to get the information I want without getting distracted by other things on either device.