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Updated: 13 hours 16 min ago

Apple, please fix active noise cancellation in the AirPods Pro

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 17:50

My AirPods Pro made me wonder if I was going nuts over the holiday break. For a couple months, I loved the way they delivered me from the cacophony of San Francisco’s rush-hour trains and buses. Then suddenly they were no longer doing the trick. Hearing the roar of the train itself was bad enough (compared to what I’d gotten used to), but now the chatter of skateboarders and those annoying wearable speakers were more easily muscling their way into my eardrums as well.

I briefly considered trying Federico Viticci’s memory foam mod for better sound isolation. I took to cranking up the volume on my music all the way—as I used to do with the regular AirPods—even though the noise cancellation alone used to grant me peace. I wondered if I just been over-enchanted by a new Apple product in those first few weeks.

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iOS and iPadOS 13.3.1: The second developer beta has been released

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 13:40

Another week, another iOS beta bugfix release. The staggered and piecemeal release of iOS 13 has been anything but smooth. When iOS 13.3 was released, we thought Apple might be done fixing bugs and adding features for awhile (at least until the new year). But lo and behold, the beta releases of iOS and iPadOS 13.3.1 have begun.

Update 01/14/20: After a break for the holidays, Apple is back with the second developer beta for iOS 13.3.1. 

What’s new in iOS 13.3.1

We don’t yet know what’s new in this release. There are no release notes, and no major changes noted by users on forums or social media as of yet. It is suspected that this release will primarily fix more minor problems, like an issue with the communication limits added to Screen Time in iOS 13.3 that could let kids call back unknown numbers if the iPhone was configured in a particular way.

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Mac Pro: Rack-mount version of the Mac Pro is now available starting at $6,499

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 13:02

The Mac Pro is Apple’s workstation. It’s designed for professionals who need a powerful and flexible machine, and is ideal for applications that use as many processing cores as possible—video-editing applications, image-editing software, 3D programs, and the like.

The Mac Pro is getting a revival of sorts. The company released a brand-new, redesigned Mac Pro in December 2019, after years of stagnation with the previous, cylindrical Mac Pro.


Apple doesn’t offer a standard configuration choices for the Mac Pro. It’s really meant to be customized by the customer. To give you an idea of where pricing starts: if you configure the Mac Pro with the base components, it’s $5,999 for the standard tower configuration, or $6,499 for a rack mountable version. Learn more about the Mac Pro by reading about its main features below.

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iOS: What to do if iCloud Photos uploads are paused due to a low battery, but you’re actually near a full charge

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 08:15

The Low Battery Mode in iOS and iPadOS can eke out a lot more usable time when your charge runs low. It’s a big enhancement that turns itself on automatically. When Low Battery Mode engages, a number of background activities shut down, including sync and email checking.

When your battery tops 80 percent charge or you disable Low Battery Mode via Settings > Battery, operations should go back to normal.

Some readers find that iCloud Photos remains paused, however. When they open the Photos app, a message appears that reads, “iCloud Photos updates are paused to save battery. Would you like to resume updates for one hour?” A button labeled Resume Updates can be tapped, but the only other option is Cancel.

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Small phone blues: Wondering if the rumors are true

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 06:15

Buckle up, buttercups, because The Macalope is about to apply the tin foil to the antlers and dive Mac-head first into iPhone SE 2 rumors!

If you believe these rumors… well, if you believe these rumors, please seek professional help.

You know what? Even if you don’t believe these rumors, seek professional help. We’re all just trying to get through this thing called life and there’s no shame in asking for some help.

[rainbow and theme song]

Anyway, if you believe these rumors, we could get not one but two smaller phones this year. Yes, this is how they get The Macalope for holding on to his iPhone SE for four years, they coax him into maybe buying two phones this year.

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Bulbrite Solana color-changing A19 smart bulb review: A fair generic built for Wi-Fi

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 06:00
An immature app keeps Bulbrite's color-changing smart bulb from meriting a strong recommendation.

Best headphones: Our top picks for personal listening

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 17:20
Whether you're looking for an over-the-ear, on-ear, or in-ear model, we'll help you find the perfect pair.

Apple just extended the iPhone XS and XR Smart Battery Case warranty to two years

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 13:27

As battery cases go, Apple’s Smart Battery Case is one of the best around, with a slim fit, excellent monitoring, and of course, great battery life. But if yours isn’t working as it should, Apple might replace it for free, even if it’s out of warranty. And if it is working, you just got a free extra year of warranty.

Apple has launched the Smart Battery Case Replacement Program for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, which covers all cases made through October of 2019. That’s basically every model ever produced, since the case only launched a year ago today, on January 13, 2019.

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Please, Android phone makers, just give us better cameras, not more dumb gimmicks

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 08:47
2020 has barely begun and we already have out first camera gimmick of the year. Please make it stop.

How to switch the language and region used by your Mac

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 06:15

Some of us speak more than one language, and we may at different times prefer one over the other on the Mac. In some cases, we might also have licensed software that only works when the app or macOS is set to a particular language or keyboard.

Apple lets you perform a global or app-specific language change, which is quite handy. (Having a problem with the language selected with macOS Recovery? See this column from last year.)

To change your language for macOS, you start with the Language & Region preference pane. If you don’t see it in System Preferences—it didn’t show up for me in macOS Catalina—choose it from the View menu with System Preferences open.

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AIAIAI TMA-2 modular headphone review: You'll pay a steep price to build your own headphone

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 06:00
This customizable, modular headphone sounds good, but has some quirks that mar its overall appeal.

Nexx Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Controller NXG-200 review: Sophisticated, but very expensive

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 06:00
This garage door controller Wi-Fi retrofit kit has some advanced features, but that might not be enough to justify its high price tag.

‘No Way Home’ impressions: Finally, some mindless space shooting fun

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 19:00

In Apple Arcade’s new No Way Home, poor Cho is stuck in an escape pod in the depths of space following an explosion that killed everyone else on the Budget Star Cruises ship she was on. She needs to get back home to Earth, but she’s apparently not even in the same galaxy.

“Would you like some smooth jazz while we wait for a rescue?” asks Matey, her robotic Safety Pod Assistant.

Cho—a young mohawked woman who flunked out of pilot school—would not, thank you very much. Luckily for our hero, Budget Star Cruises at least didn’t scrimp on the budget for her pod, equipped as it is with an upgradeable laser that blasts boulders and baddies and a grappling hook that can either pull away asteroids or hold enemies in place when they’re trying to avoid her gunfire. And then there’s Matey himself, who floats alongside her and fires off both tutorial taps and automated secondary attacks. If you’ve gotta be lost in space, it could be worse.

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Here are all the Apple Arcade games that support controllers

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 14:43

Apple Arcade is here, and you can play some of the subscription service’s many games with select models of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers as well as Mfi (Made for iOS) controllers!

During Apple Arcade’s announcement, though, Apple gave the impression that all Apple Arcade games would work with gamepads (in part because the service will eventually also come to macOS and tvOS), but it turns out that’s not entirely true. Some games have interfaces solely designed for touchscreens—at least on iPhone and iPad. 

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Apple Arcade: 'No Way Home' out now

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 14:35

Apple’s new Apple Arcade subscription-based gaming service is finally here. It’s basically Apple’s way of helping customers sort through the chaff in the App Store, as the highly curated service features premium games that are untainted by in-app purchases and ads. If all goes well, it could elevate the perception of mobile gaming in general.

Got questions? We've got plenty of answers. 

Updated 1/10/20: Added No Way Home to the list of available games.

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This Firefox vulnerability is so bad, the U.S. government is urging users to patch it immediately

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 13:06
Mozilla has issued a patch for its Firefox browser after a bug was found that could give a hacker complete control over a user's PC.

How to use Apple ID to create passwords for your apps

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 08:00

Apple upped its account security for Apple IDs years ago to prevent unwanted and unauthorized third-party access to all your information. Apple relies on Apple ID across all its software and services, but third-party software can only gain access to three kinds of data: email, contacts, and events.

Apple requires web-connected and native mobile or desktop software—on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and others—that want to use any of those three kinds of data to use a special kind of access. You create a so-called app-specific password for each piece of software to which you want to grant access.

Google and other ecosystems offer a similar approach to reduce the opportunity for exploitation. Apple lets this password be used for email, contacts, and events; some other systems require you lock it down to one of those three services, or even to a task as specific as “retrieving email.”

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Apple’s security and privacy is good, but could be even better

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 07:15

Buckle up, because we’re poised for another battle on digital security. The FBI has reputedly asked for Apple’s help unlocking phones belonging of the alleged shooter from the Pensacola air base incident last year. Apple, for its part, claims it has already turned over to law enforcement all the information it has access to.

If you feel like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have. Back in 2016, the FBI wanted Apple to unlock a phone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter; Apple declined to help, as doing so would have potentially compromised the security of all of its devices. Eventually, the bureau sought help from an Israeli-based cyber security firm who was able to hack into phone in question.

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For Apple Pay to really improve our lives, Apple needs to improve loyalty card support

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 06:15

Since getting an Apple Card, I’ve tried to use Apple Pay as much as I possibly can (in order to get the higher 2 percent cash back rate). Forcing myself to pay with my phone as much as possible has taught me several things.

First, Apple Pay is very broadly supported now. I can use it in far more places than I could even two years ago. Second, a lot of vendors don’t know if their payments systems support paying by phone or not, nor how it works. As popular as Apple Pay and Google Pay are, they’re still used infrequently enough that many cashiers hardly ever see anyone try it. When it works, it’s great—it really is a faster, more convenient, and safer way to pay for stuff.

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How Apple TV Channels prices compare to native apps like HBO Now, Showtime, and CBS All Access

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 12:55

Apple’s newly redesigned TV app, which debuted in iOS 12.3, isn’t exactly packed with new features. The layout changed a little, but it’s not very different from what we've used for a few years now.

The new app is all about access, not features. It’s available on the Mac, smart TVs, Roku, and Fire TV. And it's available in a lot more countries than the old TV app ever was.

It’s also the place where you’ll find new ways to subscribe to content. Apple TV+ will showcase Apple’s original shows and series starting this fall, and Apple TV Channels let you subscribe to other streaming providers from right within the TV app. It’s just like Amazon Prime Video Channels or Roku Channel Premium Subscriptions.

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