Apple Heavily Promotes the Amazon Echo’s Apple Music Integration


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At the end of November, Amazon announced on its blog that Apple Music would be coming to Echo devices the week of December 17th. The music streaming service showed up on Echos a little earlier than expected last Friday, December 14th.

Today, Apple began promoting Apple Music’s availability on Echo devices through three different channels. The Echo integration first appeared on the App Store, which gave the Alexa app top billing in a Today tab story that highlights the new feature. Apple is also promoting the Echo integration on the Apple Music features page of its website along with other third-party devices like PCs, Android devices, and Sonos music players. Finally, late in the day US time, the Apple Music app began delivering push notifications highlighting the Echo feature.1

Amazon’s Echo devices aren’t the first third-party hardware to get Apple Music support as the Apple Music website demonstrates, but Continue reading “Apple Heavily Promotes the Amazon Echo’s Apple Music Integration”

AutoSleep 6: Effortless Sleep Tracking More Accessible Than Ever


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If you’ve followed MacStories for long, you probably already know that AutoSleep is one of our favorite sleep tracking apps on iOS. The app stands out for offering a frictionless, effort-free experience. Where other sleep trackers may require you to start and stop sleep tracking manually, AutoSleep takes the burden of remembering those tedious tasks off your plate. If you wear an Apple Watch to sleep, the app will automatically detect your sleep patterns even without a separate Watch app installed. If you don’t have a Watch, or simply don’t wear it to bed, the app will track your sleep through other methods. Whatever your habits are, AutoSleep has you covered.

Today marks the debut of AutoSleep’s latest major iteration: version 6.0, which introduces new wellness features, refined graphs and color schemes, sleep hygiene trends, Siri shortcuts, an improved Watch app, and more. It’s an extensive update that simplifies

Continue reading “AutoSleep 6: Effortless Sleep Tracking More Accessible Than Ever”

Launch Center Pro 3.0 Review: Universal Version, New Business Model, NFC Triggers, and More


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Launch Center Pro, Contrast’s popular launcher for iPhone and iPad, has been updated to version 3.0. It may be hard to believe, but Launch Center Pro 2.0 came out five years ago (in 2013), before Workflow, when Pythonista, Editorial, and Drafts were the only other apps pushing forward the idea of iOS automation thanks to URL schemes and x-callback-url.

The iOS automation landscape is vastly different five years later. While Apple still hasn’t shipped a native automation framework for inter-app communication and URL schemes are still the only way to let apps exchange data with one another in an automated fashion, the evolution of Workflow into the Shortcuts app now provides users with an easier, more integrated solution to craft complex workflows. Not to mention how, thanks to its widget, ‘Open URL’ action, and ability to add custom launchers to the home screen,

Triggering an action via NFC (left) and picking one among multiple supported actions (right).
Adding an NFC trigger to Launch Center Pro.
A Launch Center Pro NFC sticker.
The Launch Center Pro sticker I attached to my microphone stand last month.
Multiple schedules in Launch Center Pro 3.0.
Contrast's shortcut to add custom shortcut launchers to Launch Center Pro.

Continue reading “Launch Center Pro 3.0 Review: Universal Version, New Business Model, NFC Triggers, and More”

Darkroom 4.0: The MacStories Review


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With version 4.0 released today, Darkroom has emerged as a photo editing force to be reckoned with on iOS. The highlight of the release is a brand-new iPad app, which is the version I’ll focus on in this review. I ran into a couple of bugs and would like to see Darkroom push its photo management and a few other tools even further in the future. However, the app’s combination of thoughtful design and platform-aware functionality together enable Darkroom to scale its full suite of tools gracefully from iPhone to iPad, which makes it an excellent choice for mobile photo editing.

Continue reading “Darkroom 4.0: The MacStories Review”

Affinity: Super-Fast, Powerful, Professional Apps for Modern Creative People [Sponsor]


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Serif, the maker of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, is one step closer to completing its trio of apps for creative professionals with the desktop publishing app Affinity Publisher, now available as a free public beta. From the earliest days, Serif’s vision has been to build the Affinity apps as an unrivaled trio of sleek, super-modern apps that work with the latest technologies, are ultra-fast, and completely stripped of feature-bloat. With the launch of the Affinity Publisher’s public beta, Serif is on the cusp of realizing that vision.

Affinity Publisher is set to revolutionize desktop publishing in the same way Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer have shaken up the worlds of professional photo editing and graphic design. The app will boast full integration with Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo, allowing owners of all three to edit vector designs and images inside one app in a stunning new way. Although not Continue reading “Affinity: Super-Fast, Powerful, Professional Apps for Modern Creative People [Sponsor]”

AppStories, Episode 92 – Introducing the 2018 MacStories Selects


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On this week’s episode of AppStories, we unveil the MacStories team’s 2018 MacStories Selects for Best New App, Best New Game, and Best App Update.

Sponsored by:

  • Outcast – The best standalone podcast player for Apple Watch.
  • Luna Display – The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code APPSTORIES at checkout for 10% off.

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Game Day: Tropico for iPad


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Tropico is a franchise that’s been around since 2001, but today marks its first time on an iOS device courtesy of Feral Interactive. Ruling a banana republic in the Caribbean as El Presidente is a natural fit for the iPad’s touch interface. Whether you’re navigating around your island nation or building out its infrastructure, touch makes the interaction with the game’s environment feel natural and tactile in a way that pointing and clicking with a mouse or trackpad can’t. Add a steady pace of challenges to overcome as a leader, and the results are terrific.

Continue reading “Game Day: Tropico for iPad”

Connected, Episode 222: Green Monday, Yellow Wednesday, Purple Thursday


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Myke struggles to use Amazon’s website, Stephen checks his heartbeat and Federico tinkers with keyboards for the iPad Pro.

On last week’s episode of Connected, we talked about ECGs on the Apple Watch and my story about the different setups of the 2018 iPad Pro. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

  • Luna Display: The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code CONNECTED at checkout for 10% off.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code CONNECTED at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • Simple Contacts: Contact lens prescriptions from home: Use offer code CONNECTED20 for $20 off your first order of contact lenses.

→ Source: relay.fm

Introducing MacStories Selects: The Best New Apps, App Updates, and iOS Games of 2018


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Over the course of a year, the MacStories team tries hundreds of apps. We test them, live with them, poke, prod, and break them, and then we write and talk about them. Collectively, it amounts to thousands of hours of thought and analysis that on a macro level seeks to answer the question: what makes a good app? There’s no single factor or simple formula; if there was, nearly every app would achieve greatness. But after evaluating as many apps as we have, each of us has a fine-tuned instinct for standout apps when they come onto our radar.

We write about lots of terrific apps, but every year a handful stand out as exceptional. The precise quality that sets an app apart is often harder to identify than the app itself. Some are apps that push the boundaries of Apple’s OSes into new territory, while others are fresh takes

Continue reading “Introducing MacStories Selects: The Best New Apps, App Updates, and iOS Games of 2018”

Apple Music Is Now Available on the Amazon Echo


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Although Amazon initially indicated that it would be out the week of December 17th, Apple Music support has begun to roll out on Amazon Echo devices today in the US.

To set up Apple Music on the Echo, open the Alexa iOS app and go to the Music section of the app’s Settings. You won’t see Apple Music listed as an existing service, so tap the ‘Link New Service’ button, which will list Apple Music along with several other services.

Once you’ve logged in with your Apple Music credentials, the Apple Music Skill is enabled, which allows you to say things like ‘Alexa, play my New Music Mix on Apple Music.’ You can separately set Apple Music as your default music service, which lets you use Alexa to request music without specifying ‘on Apple Music.’ When you make a request for music Alexa will let you know that

Continue reading “Apple Music Is Now Available on the Amazon Echo”

Apple Music’s Connect Feature Is Shutting Down


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Apple Music Connect, which once had a tab to itself in Apple’s Music app, was a multimedia feed of artist-submitted posts that debuted with the company’s music streaming service. The feature never really got traction after an initial flurry of posts by artists, and in the latest versions of Apple Music and iTunes, it was buried at the bottom of the ‘For You’ section and on individual artists’ pages.

According to Zac Hall at 9to5Mac, artists were contacted by Apple today with news that the company is ending Connect, which is backed up by a support page also cited by Hall. As of today, artists can no longer post Connect content, and existing posts are no longer visible in the Music app or iTunes. However, Apple also told artists that previously-uploaded content would remain available until May 24, 2019, via search.

Connect content appears in the 'More' section of search results.

Connect content appears in the ‘More’ section of Continue reading “Apple Music’s Connect Feature Is Shutting Down”

Apple Frames Shortcut, Now with Support for the 2018 12.9″ iPad Pro


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Apple Frames, my shortcut to add official device frames to screenshots taken on iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watch Series 4, has been updated with support for the 2018 12.9″ iPad Pro.

Since Apple announced the new iPad Pro in late October, I was frequently asked by MacStories readers whether I could update Apple Frames to support the device’s new rounded display. While I could have updated the shortcut a few weeks ago to include third-party frames for the new iPad Pro, what I personally like about Apple Frames is that it uses Apple’s official device frames adapted from the company’s Product Images webpage. Unfortunately, it took Apple a few weeks to post official assets for the new iPad Pro.

Last week, I noticed that Apple updated their Marketing mini-site with new assets for the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and I immediately asked Silvia (who worked on the original

Continue reading “Apple Frames Shortcut, Now with Support for the 2018 12.9″ iPad Pro”

CARROT Weather Adds New Data Sources, Including Netatmo Weather Stations


This post is by John Voorhees from MacStories


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One of the nerdy features of CARROT Weather I love is its support for personal weather stations as a data source. Not long ago, Federico explained on AppStories that the weather station down the street from him had shut down, so he could no longer use it as a source in CARROT. I suggested he get a Netatmo Personal Weather Station and connect it to Weather Underground’s network of stations, but at about the same time Weather Underground ended its support for the Netatmo device, which left us both without a hyper-local weather source. It wasn’t a huge deal, but there’s something fun about knowing that the temperature you’re seeing in CARROT is the precise temperature outside your window and not some weather station that may be miles away from your home.

With today’s update, CARROT has stepped in with direct support for the Netatmo weather station as well as

Continue reading “CARROT Weather Adds New Data Sources, Including Netatmo Weather Stations”

Agenda 4.0 Brings Support for File Attachments, Improved iOS Automation


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Agenda launched earlier this year with a fresh take on note-taking apps focused on dates and a timeline-based approach. As John noted in his original review of the Mac version (and later iOS), Agenda prioritizes dates as a means of note organization rather than folders or tagging; while it is possible to store notes in folders (called Projects in Agenda) and add hashtags to them, Agenda shines when your notes become actionable, time-sensitive steps that you can access in the top level ‘On the Agenda’ view, the ‘Today’ section, or, even better, the system calendar. Given its unique nature, it takes a while to understand Agenda and evaluate whether or not it may have a place in your workflow; I recommend reading our reviews of the first version of Agenda if you still haven’t tried the app.

As I mentioned on AppStories and Connected recently, I’ve been experimenting with

The enhanced copy & paste menu in Agenda 4.0.
Different presentation styles for attachments in Agenda 4.0.
Adding attachments to Agenda via URL scheme.

Continue reading “Agenda 4.0 Brings Support for File Attachments, Improved iOS Automation”

Apple Announces New Austin Campus and Broad Expansion Across the US


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Apple has announced a significant expansion across the US, including an expanded presence in Austin, a city where it currently employs over 6,000 people. Over the next three years, Apple also plans to grow to more than 1,000 employees in Seattle, San Diego, Culver City and add hundreds of jobs in New York, Pittsburgh, Boulder, Boston, and Portland. The company is also expanding its data centers in places like North Carolina, Nevada, Iowa, and Arizona.

At the center of the announcement though is a new facility that will be located in North Austin not far from Apple’s current Austin campus. The new office will cost over $1 billion to build and sit on a 133-acre site, 50 acres of which will be set aside for open space. Initially, the Austin campus will house 5,000 employees, with the ability to expand to as many as 15,000. The new complex will run

Continue reading “Apple Announces New Austin Campus and Broad Expansion Across the US”

Things 3.8 Brings Dark Modes to the iOS Task Manager


This post is by Ryan Christoffel from MacStories


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This fall when macOS Mojave introduced a systemwide dark mode feature, Things added support for the new mode in version 3.7. The iPhone and iPad versions of the app, however, were left out. A lack of feature parity across platforms is always unfortunate, but that was especially true this time around because our John Voorhees  highlighted Things as having his single favorite dark mode implementation.

There’s good news though: we didn’t have to wait long for Things’ dark mode to make its way to iOS. Launching today in version 3.8, Things has added two different dark modes on both iPhone and iPad, one of which is suited particularly well to OLED iPhones.

Accessible via a new Appearance screen in Things’ Settings, there are now options for Light, Dark, and Black modes for the task manager. The former is the default appearance of the app we’re all well acquainted

Continue reading “Things 3.8 Brings Dark Modes to the iOS Task Manager”

Djay 3.0 Debuts as a Free, Universal App with a Subscription Option for Pro Features


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During the October iPad Pro event in Brooklyn, New York, Apple briefly showed off an upcoming version of djay by Algoriddim. Today, djay 3.0 was released on the App Store as a universal app that’s free to download with premium features available as a subscription.

Previously, Algoriddim offered free and paid iPhone apps as well as separate paid iPad apps. Add-ons like audio effects and skins were available separately as In-App Purchases. Algoriddim also offered a video mixing app called vjay. Today’s launch of version 3.0 consolidates all of those apps into one with a simplified pricing model.

Continue reading “Djay 3.0 Debuts as a Free, Universal App with a Subscription Option for Pro Features”

HomeRun 1.1 Enables Creating Custom Watch Complications


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HomeRun is a simple Apple Watch utility for controlling HomeKit scenes from your wrist. Where Apple’s Home app for the Watch can be clunky to navigate, especially if you have more than a couple HomeKit devices set up, HomeRun makes controls easily accessible for all your scenes. And today, with version 1.1, HomeRun has introduced custom complication creation, making it possible to have different launcher complications for each of your configured scenes.

Inside the HomeRun app on iPhone, the Complications screen in version 1.1 appears largely the same at first glance, but once you start tapping around you’ll discover that Watch complications are now fully customizable. Visit the detail view for a specific watch face and you’ll be able to update any and all complications for that face with custom colors and icons to accompany your selected scenes. The Series 4 Watch’s Infograph face, for example, presents options Continue reading “HomeRun 1.1 Enables Creating Custom Watch Complications”

The Electrodes Used by Apple’s ECG Watch App Enable Faster, More Accurate Heart Rate Measurements


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On 9to5Mac, Zac Hall breaks down how the new electrodes work in the Apple Watch Series 4 based on details published by Apple when it updated watchOS last week with the new ECG app. For now, the ECG app is only available in the US, but that doesn’t mean that others can’t benefit from the hardware that it uses. As Hall explains:

According to Apple, putting your finger on the Digital Crown to capture a heart rate reading also measures faster and with more accuracy as it updates every second versus every five seconds while the measurement is active.

That’s because placing your finger on the Digital Crown completes a circuit between your heart and arms that allows the Watch to record electrical impulses across your chest.

It will take time for the ECG app to gain the approval of regulators worldwide. However, in the meantime, it’s nice Continue reading “The Electrodes Used by Apple’s ECG Watch App Enable Faster, More Accurate Heart Rate Measurements”

AppStories, Episode 91 – Apps for Planning Projects Big and Small


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On this week’s episode of AppStories, we explore the apps we use for planning everything from the upcoming year to the week ahead.

Sponsored by:

  • Affinity – super-fast, powerful, professional apps for modern creative people
  • Luna Display – The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code APPSTORIES at checkout for 10% off.

→ Source: appstories.net