Jordan Peele’s Us should cement his status as a master of modern horror


This post is by Jennifer Ouellette from Ars Technica


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Lupita Nyong’o stars as Adelaide Wilson, whose family encounters their own evil <em>doppelgängers</em> in Jordan Peele's new horror film, <em>Us</em>.

Enlarge / Lupita Nyong’o stars as Adelaide Wilson, whose family encounters their own evil doppelgängers in Jordan Peele’s new horror film, Us. (credit: Universal)

A family is terrorized by their own doppelgängers while vacationing in Santa Cruz in Jordan Peele’s new film, Us. With its spot-on writing and pacing and fantastic performances from its ensemble cast, the film should cement Peele’s status as a master of modern horror.

(Mildest of spoilers below, because anything more would spoil the fun.)

Us is the much-anticipated follow-up to Get Out, Peele’s surprise box office hit that earned more than $250 million and snagged Peele an Oscar for best original screenplay—the first time the award has gone to a black recipient. Get Out is a subtle exploration of racial tensions that quietly builds to reveal its horrifying premise and inevitably bloody conclusion. In Us, the theme isn’t so much racial tension—it’s exploring, in Peele’s

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Moleskine Flow Review: An Elegant, Accessible Digital Notebook for iPad and iPhone


This post is by Ryan Christoffel from MacStories


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One strength of an analog notebook is its simplicity. The times in my life when I’ve used a notebook regularly, I would always keep a pen attached to the notebook so that the process of writing involved just two simple steps: open the cover, and press pen to paper. Many digital notebook apps forfeit this simplicity due to overly complex interfaces and toolsets.

Moleskine’s new app, Flow, is a digital notebook that understands what it takes to succeed as a notebook replacement – giving you the tools to customize your experience to your own preferences. It’s available on both iPad and iPhone, and offers an elegant balance of convenience and flexibility that make it my favorite digital notebook to date.

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New iPad Mini Reviews: Capable Small Tablet With Nearly All Features of New iPad Air


This post is by Joe Rossignol from MacRumors: Mac News and Rumors - Front Page


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Early reviews and hands-on impressions of the new iPad mini came out today. Most publications agree that the iPad mini is a great update for fans of the smaller 7.9-inch tablet with almost identical tech specs to the new iPad Air.



That includes the same A12 Bionic chip, 8-megapixel rear camera, 7-megapixel front camera, Touch ID, Lightning connector, 64GB and 256GB storage options, two speakers, headphone jack, Gigabit-class LTE, first-generation Apple Pencil compatibility, and up to 10 hours of battery life.

The new iPad mini’s only notable differences versus the new iPad Air are its smaller screen and lack of Smart Keyboard compatibility.

As The Verge‘s Nilay Patel notes, however, the iPad mini design is now very old:

You’re still looking at the exact same external design, which is now nearly seven years old. If you secretly replaced any previous iPad mini with the new one, there’s

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Ulysses 15 Review: Split View on the Mac, Remote Images, Improved iPad Multitasking, and More


This post is by Ryan Christoffel from MacStories


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When a productivity app feels like it’s reached maturity, it’s in a dangerous position: if active development is neglected, the app will start to stagnate amidst a changing world, but on the other hand, if change is pursued for its own sake, the app can easily become bloated and an inferior product overall.

Ulysses 15 for Mac and iOS deftly navigates those potential dangers by offering thoughtful enhancements to existing features, plus new features that truly serve to enhance the core task of writing. There are improvements to image previews, writing goals, export previews, and keywords, plus big upgrades to how the editor can be set up on both the Mac and iPad.

The core app remains largely the same, but it’s now more compelling than ever before.

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True Detective’s stellar third season will restore your faith in the series


This post is by Jennifer Ouellette from Ars Technica


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"Did you think you could just go on and never once have to look back?" An elderly Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) has to reckon with his dark past in season 3 of <em>True Detective</em>.

Enlarge / “Did you think you could just go on and never once have to look back?” An elderly Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) has to reckon with his dark past in season 3 of True Detective. (credit: YouTube/HBO)

HBO’s True Detective was a pop-culture sensation when it debuted in 2014, but its sophomore outing sadly had none of the original’s surreal magic. So we were pleased to discover season 3 had returned to form, mixing elements of noir and procedural drama to weave a haunting tale of fractured time and memory. It’s the best installment yet in the anthology series.

(Mild spoilers below.)

Created by novelist Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective has always fostered a very literary, philosophical tone, falling very much into the “slow burn” category of prestige TV. When it works, it’s brilliant. Season 1 was set in the Louisiana Bayou, as Detective Rustin “Rust”

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Spectre: A Computational Approach to Long-Exposure iPhone Photography


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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Spectre is a new specialized camera app from the team that created Halide, one of our favorite camera apps on iOS. The Halide team describes Spectre as a computational shutter for the iPhone, which allows the app to do things like remove people from a crowded scene, create artistic images of rushing water, and produce light trails at night. The same sort of images can be created using traditional cameras, but getting the exposure right, holding the camera absolutely still, and accounting for other factors make them difficult to get right. With Spectre, artificial intelligence is used to simplify the process and make long-exposure photography accessible to anyone with an iPhone.

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Soor: A Third-Party Apple Music Client for iPhone


This post is by Federico Viticci from MacStories


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Soor, a third-party client for Apple Music created by indie developer Tanmay Sonawane, is based upon a fascinating premise: unlike other standalone music players for iPhone, Soor works with Apple’s native MusicKit API, enabling direct integration with Apple Music; unlike Apple’s Music app though, Soor prioritizes one-handed gestures, user customization, and a single-page design that packs multiple sections into one view. In theory, Soor should be the optimal blend of two different worlds – a third-party music player with its own aesthetic and stylistic choices combined with Apple Music data and the service’s vast streaming catalog. In practice, while Soor has some solid ideas I’d like to see in Apple Music too, and despite its intriguing visual design, the app doesn’t qualify as a complete replacement for the Music app on iPhone.

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Big Grocery Update Adds Recipe and Meal Planning Support Along with Other Refinements


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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I’ve used Grocery on and off for a long time, but what finally made it stick in a way that it never did in the app’s early days was the addition of a HomePod in my living room/kitchen area. The app is built on top of Apple Reminders, which means that even from the earliest days of the HomePod, adding items to our family grocery list using Siri was reliable. Grocery’s Siri support was available before the HomePod, but the ability to add things to the list while I’m cooking or rummaging through the refrigerator transformed Grocery into an app I use throughout the week.

With version 2.0, Grocery has added a new level of power to the app by creating a flexible system that allows you to do everything from storing a template grocery list that you can reuse over and over to recipe management and meal planning.

Adding single items and with Quick Add.
Grocery includes multiple store support.
Grocery's Recipes interface.
Saving a recipe using Shortcuts.
Viewing ingredients and starting timers.
Using the Meal Plan feature.

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The HyperDrive Slim 8-in-1 USB-C Hub Balances Flexibility and Portability for Mac and iPad Pro Owners


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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My main Mac is a 2016 MacBook Pro, which isn’t ideal. The problem isn’t really the laptop itself, it’s that my needs have changed. You see, in 2016 I was commuting to downtown Chicago every day and I wanted a portable Mac for working in Xcode and other tasks on the go.

Now, I work from home and my MacBook Pro sits in clamshell mode most of the time. It’s handy to have the MacBook to take with me when I need it, but that’s far less frequent than it used to be. Instead, my Mac drives a 27” LG 4K display, is connected to Ethernet, speakers, a Luna Display dongle, my podcasting microphone, and various other peripherals I need from time to time.

The trouble with the setup is that I quickly ran out of USB-C ports even though my MacBook Pro has four. I’ve tried several different configurations Continue reading “The HyperDrive Slim 8-in-1 USB-C Hub Balances Flexibility and Portability for Mac and iPad Pro Owners”

Tabs to Links: A Mac Utility for Creating Link Lists


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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Yesterday Benjamin Mayo released Tabs to Links, a Mac utility that can grab the links and page titles from your open Safari tabs and send them to another app. The app is as simple as it sounds, but its thoughtful touches make it a tool I expect to use often.

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Agenda 5 Expands iPad External Keyboard Support


This post is by Ryan Christoffel from MacStories


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Agenda recently passed the milestone of its first full year in public release, with the Mac version debuting last January and the iOS app a few months later. The team behind Agenda has been keeping busy ever since, with improvements like Siri shortcuts, dark mode, accent colors, and most recently, images and file attachments. Today’s update to version 5.0 on iOS and the Mac is relatively minor by comparison, but it still offers a few valuable additions. There are new options for your text environment, like the ability to set a custom line spacing and use an extra small text size, plus you can now perform multi-tag and multi-person searches. The improvement that stands out most, however, is Agenda’s newly expanded support for external keyboards on iPad.

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Obscura Updated with Histogram Support and a New Image Viewer


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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Obscura 2.0 was one of our favorite iOS app updates of 2018, which garnered it a MacStories Selects Best App Update Runner-Up award. Since it was released eight months ago, developer Ben McCarthy has continued to refine the app and add new features such as iPad support, new editing controls, localizations, and a Photos extension. With the latest update out today, Obscura has added a histogram visualizer, a redesigned image viewer, iPad keyboard shortcuts, and more.

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CARROT Weather Is More Customizable and Useful on the Apple Watch Than Ever


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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CARROT Weather has had one of the top tier Apple Watch apps for a long time now. In the early days of the Watch, CARROT was one of the few apps that loaded quickly and worked reliably. Since third-party complications were introduced, CARROT’s had some of the best. With the latest update though, CARROT has extended its Watch app’s functionality and flexibility even further and added a few other great features too.

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Inspecting JSON Files on iOS with Jayson


This post is by Federico Viticci from MacStories


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In writing about Workflow (then) and Shortcuts (now) for a living, at some point I realized that if I wanted to build more complex shortcuts to either deal with web APIs or store data in iCloud Drive, I had to learn the basics of parsing and writing valid JSON. The format is behind most of the web API-based Shortcuts I have shared here on MacStories1 and is one of the techniques I recently explained on Club MacStories when I built a shortcut to save highlights from Safari Reading List. The beauty of JSON is that, unlike XML, it’s cleaner and more readable – provided you have a dedicated viewer that supports syntax highlighting and/or options to navigate between objects and inspect values. There’s no shortage of such utilities on macOS, but this is the kind of niche that still hasn’t been fully explored on iOS

Jayson's text mode (center) lets you view highlighted source code for JSON files.
Tabbed navigation in Jayson.
Splits on an iPad Pro.
Examples of splits on an iPhone XS Max.
Jayson's rich notifications.
A shortcut can trigger a rich notification that lets you navigate JSON.
Jayson's Siri shortcut creation UI.

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AirBuddy: An AirPods Companion for Your Mac


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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AirBuddy by Guilherme Rambo is one of the handiest Mac utilities I’ve tried in a while. AirPods connect almost instantly to iOS devices, but the process of pairing them to a Mac is not as simple, often requiring fiddling with your Mac’s Bluetooth settings from the menu bar or System Preferences. AirBuddy solves that problem, making it as trivially easy to connect AirPods to a Mac as it is to do the same with an iPhone.

The app works with a Mac that supports Bluetooth LE and is running macOS Mojave and any headphones that include Apple’s proprietary W1 chip. That means in addition to AirPods, AirBuddy can also control Beats headphones that have a W1 wireless chip. The app runs in the background as a helper process, so you won’t usually see a window or dock icon while it’s running. Nor is there a menu bar icon. Instead, once

AirBuddy's settings.
The AirBuddy Today widget.

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Memento, the Third-Party Reminders Client, Adds Watch App, Keyboard Shortcuts, and More


This post is by Ryan Christoffel from MacStories


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Apple’s Reminders is one of the few native iOS apps with a database that can be directly tapped into by third-party clients. Like the iOS Calendar app, which has no shortage of alternatives on the App Store, developers can create their own task managers that fully integrate with your Reminders database, offering the convenience of a built-in system with the benefit of having multiple options to choose from.

A couple months back I wrote about two of the best third-party Reminders clients on the App Store, one of which was Reminder. Today as part of its big 3.0 update, Reminder is being renamed Memento and bringing a handful of improvements that take better advantage of Apple’s full device ecosystem. There’s an Apple Watch app for the first time, keyboard shortcuts on iPad, 3D Touch shortcuts on compatible iPhones, custom time presets, and more.

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Concepts for iPad: An Adaptable Infinite Canvas to Suit Anyone’s Needs


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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Concepts, an iOS drawing app featuring an infinite canvas, sat untouched on my iPad forever. I’d seen some buzz about it online, and the idea of an infinite canvas intrigued me. I’m not much of an artist though, so I was unsure how I’d use the app.

What broke my mental logjam was the new Apple Pencil. Attached to the side of my iPad Pro, the Pencil is always within easy reach, so I use it more now than ever. That, in turn, set me on a quest for the best apps that support the Pencil.

I started with familiar apps like GoodNotes, which I reviewed last week, and Linea Sketch from The Iconfactory, two of my long-time favorite apps. I’d used both apps for a long time, but with the new Apple Pencil, I found myself using them more often. Especially with Linea Sketch, I found

Concept art from The Grinch posted by Yarrow Cheney (instagram.com/yarrowcheney) on Instagram.
Concepts has many options for customizing your workspace.
Adjusting line width (left) and using the color picker (right).
Concepts has a HUD for moving its tools to one of ten possible positions.
Concepts includes extensive customization for brushes, tools, and colors.
Tapping 'Layers' and 'Precision' expands them to reveal additional options.
Yarrow Cheney's Cindy-Lou Who from Concepts to final art (Source: instagram.com/yarrowcheney).

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GoodNotes 5: The MacStories Review


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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I spend a lot of time at a keyboard. The obvious advantage of a keyboard is speed. When I’m in a groove, nothing beats typing into a text editor at my Mac or iPad Pro for quickly recording thoughts and ideas, so they aren’t forgotten.

Moving fast is not nearly as important when it comes time to refine those ideas into something coherent. Slowing down, switching tools and contexts, and working in different environments all help to bring order to disparate thoughts. The same holds for planning something new, whether it’s the next big article or organizing my thoughts on some other project.

It’s in situations like these when I grab my iPad Pro and open GoodNotes. The switch from the indirect process of typing into a text editor to working directly on the iPad’s screen with the Apple Pencil enables a different perspective that helps me refine ideas in

The Documents view includes notebooks, folders, and free-standing notes.
Documents can be viewed as thumbnails or a list.
Search shows recent search terms and organizes results by type.
Search is also available inside individual notebooks.
GoodNotes 4 (left) and GoodNotes 5 (right).
Viewing a notebook's individual page thumbnails.
From the top left: Switching pens, picking ink colors, adjusting the pen's stroke, adding a recent image.
The lasso tool in action (left) and resizing an image (right).

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Steredenn: Binary Stars Debuts on iOS


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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French indie game studio Pixelnest debuted Steredenn: Binary Stars on iOS today. The update is a major expansion of the original version of Steredenn that I reviewed over a year and a half ago. Everything I loved about the original game that made it special and an instant classic is present in Binary Stars plus a whole lot more.

Pixelnest has added more ships. Each has unique strengths and weaknesses and a special ability that’s triggered by tapping the top right corner of the screen. That’s a new addition to the game’s control scheme, but it fits naturally with the game’s existing controls making the new abilities easy to pick up even if you are used to the old control scheme.

The new ships aren’t all immediately available though. Instead, they, along with bosses, weapons, and other unique elements are unlocked as you progress through the game adding a sense

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Review: The June oven made me want a camera in every cooking device


This post is by Megan Geuss from Ars Technica


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June oven from the front.

Enlarge (credit: June Oven)

When my husband and I received a flashy, $250 Breville toaster oven for our wedding in 2014, we couldn’t believe how awesome it was. It revolutionized the two-person meal in our household. We were freed from using the geriatric, unreliable oven that came with our apartment, and cookies, pizzas, and baked chicken dishes were now heated all the way through.

The best feature was the timer; you could pop a banana bread in there, set it for 40 minutes, and go walk the dog knowing that, when the 40 minutes ended, the Breville would shut off, and your food would slowly stop cooking. The Breville also broiled and roasted, too, so I could char peppers in the summer for salsa. Even four years after buying it, I’ve maintained that it’s the best toaster oven out there.

Enter the June Oven. Ars heard about this Silicon-Valley

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