Apple’s Peek Performance Event

At its March 8th Peek Performance event, Apple freshened its iPhone and iPad product lines with a new third-generation iPhone SE and fifth-generation iPad Air, along with new green hues for the iPhone 13 line. Then Apple focused on the big announcements of the day: the entirely new Mac Studio, powered by the insanely fast M1 Ultra chip and accompanied by the stunning 27-inch Studio Display.

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macOS Monterey is now available

macOS Monterey showcasing new features on a MacBook Pro.

macOS Monterey delivers groundbreaking new features that help users connect in new ways, accomplish more, and work seamlessly across their Apple devices. FaceTime includes new audio and video features that make calls feel more natural and lifelike, and new Continuity tools like AirPlay to Mac enable Apple devices to work even better together. Live Text and Visual Lookup bring new intelligence features to surface useful information, Safari includes powerful tab organization with Tab Groups, and the ease of automation comes to the Mac with Shortcuts. Coming later this fall, SharePlay will enable Mac users to have shared experiences together through FaceTime, and Universal Control will make it easy for users to work effortlessly across their Mac and iPad. macOS Monterey is available today as a free software update on Macs with Apple silicon and Intel-based Macs.1

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Apple’s 2021 Crop: Four iPhones, Two iPads, and an Apple Watch

September is traditionally when new iPhones are ripe for the picking, and this year’s crop is no exception. At its California Streaming event on September 14th, Apple unveiled four iPhone 13 models. Apple also announced the expected Apple Watch Series 7, but entirely unanticipated were an upgrade to the iPad and a redesigned iPad mini.

Left to the fine print in Apple’s press releases was the fact that iOS 15, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 8 will become available for download on September 20th. As we’ve said before, you should wait at least a week or two before installing them on essential devices, just in case some unpleasant bug manifests itself. Regardless of when you upgrade, make a backup right beforehand, just in case something goes wrong and you need to erase and restore.

Let’s look at each of the new products. read more…

WWDC 2021

At its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, Apple announced a boatload of new features that we’ll see in macOS 12 Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 later this year. Here are the ten features we think you’ll most like:

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Apple Announces New M1-Based 24-inch iMac, iPad Pro, AirTag, Apple TV 4K, and More

On April 20th, Apple took to the Internet to stream its “Spring Loaded” event. Pundits had been unable to figure out a theme based on the name, but Apple was being blunt: the event was taking place in the spring, and it was loaded with announcements.With Apple CEO Tim Cook bookending the presentation—and doing a cameo as a master thief at 37:26 into the presentation—the company announced an M1-based 24-inch iMac, M1-based iPad Pro models, the long-rumored AirTag item tracker, and an enhanced Apple TV 4K with a redesigned Siri Remote. All these items can be ordered on Friday, April 30th, but some won’t ship until the second half of May.

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How Much Memory Do You Need in an M1-Based Mac?

If you’re thinking about buying a new Mac, you’re almost certainly planning to get one that uses a chip from Apple’s M1 family—the M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra. Only the Mac Pro and one Mac mini configuration still rely on Intel CPUs, and they will likely be discontinued before the end of 2022. That’s not a bad thing—the M1 chips offer astonishing performance combined with low power consumption. But the move from Intel chips to Apple silicon has changed the game when it comes to one decision: how much memory to get.

That’s because Apple completely rearchitected how M1-based Macs incorporate memory. On Intel-based Macs that have separate CPU and GPU chips, each chip has its own memory. For instance, the base level Mac Pro comes with 32 GB of RAM on user-replaceable memory sticks, while its Radeon Pro graphics card has 8 GB of memory. The main advantage of this approach is that you can install more system memory if you need it—up to 1.5 TB at purchase time or later—and you can opt for one or even two video cards with up to 64 GB of memory. But that sort of flexibility was available only for the Mac Pro, Mac mini, and now-discontinued 27-inch iMac—with Apple’s laptops, you couldn’t upgrade memory because it was soldered onto the logic board, not socketed.

For M1-based Macs, Apple went even further and built “unified memory” directly onto the M1 chip itself. This provides significant performance benefits for two reasons:

  • Shared memory pool: The M1 chips contain CPU cores, GPU cores, and Neural Engine cores, all of which need to use memory. By creating a shared pool of memory—hence the “unified memory” name—each processor can operate on the same data in memory rather than sending it back and forth from chip to chip. That’s both faster and more efficient.
  • Higher memory bandwidth: By building memory onto the M1 chips themselves, Apple could also speed up the connection between memory and the various processors. Communication between on-chip components is much faster than when data has to travel back and forth between chips across the circuitry of the logic board and graphics card, as was the case for Intel-based Macs.

The downside of unified memory is that you’re stuck with how much you choose when you buy a Mac—there’s no way to upgrade the memory later. Given that only certain Macs have particular M1 chips, figuring out how much you need gets a little complicated.

For instance, if you want a MacBook Air, you can only choose between 8 GB and 16 GB of memory. However, if you are interested in the 14-inch MacBook Pro, you can get either an M1 Pro or M1 Max, and which chip you choose determines whether you can opt for 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of memory. Here are your choices, with each chip offering two options:

  • M1: 8 GB and 16 GB. Used in the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and 24-inch iMac. The 16 GB option adds $200 to the price.
  • M1 Pro: 16 GB and 32 GB. Used in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. The 32 GB option adds $400 to the price.
  • M1 Max: 32 GB and 64 GB. Used in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Studio. The 64 GB option costs an additional $400, half the price per gigabyte of the M1 and M1 Pro memory upgrades.
  • M1 Ultra: 64 GB and 128 GB. Used solely in the Mac Studio. The 128 GB option costs an additional $800, matching the M1 Max’s price per gigabyte.

With all that background in your head, here are some questions to guide your decision:

  • What sort of user are you? For average users who use Safari, Mail, Photos, and the apps in Apple’s iWork suite, an M1 Mac with 8 GB is probably sufficient, although $200 isn’t that much more to pay for 16 GB. If you regularly work with photos, audio, or video, a Mac with an M1 Pro or M1 Max would likely be more appropriate, and the larger the files you work with, the more memory you should get. Only those with the highest performance demands, such as a video professional working with 8K video or data scientist, should consider a Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra—if you’re at that level, you probably know if you need 64 GB or 128 GB.
  • How much RAM do you have now? Another way to approach the problem is to think about how much RAM your current Intel-based Mac has, and if that’s enough. (Look at the Memory Pressure graph in the Memory tab of Activity Monitor—if it’s regularly yellow or red, you need more memory.) The increased performance and efficiency of memory use on the M1 chips suggest that you can get away with the same amount or even less than you have now while still enjoying improved performance. We recommended 16 GB as the minimum for Intel-based Macs, but 8 GB seems to be an acceptable base level for M1-based Macs.
  • Do you anticipate increased memory needs? The hardest part of the decision is looking into the future and thinking about whether a certain amount of memory will be sufficient in several years. It’s never a bad idea to buy more memory than you think you need now to plan for the future—just more expensive. For example, if you’re on the fence between 16 GB and 32 GB with an M1 Pro-based Mac, $400 may be a reasonable price to pay for some future-proofing.

In the end, you’ll never regret having more memory, though you may dislike paying for it now. If cost is a real problem, you’re probably better off getting more memory and less internal SSD storage, since you can always add more external storage. Regardless, feel to reach out for help choosing the right Mac and memory configuration.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Unified memory in the M1-based Macs boasts increased efficiency and performance but can’t be expanded after purchase. How much should you get when you buy a new Mac? Read on for our advice:

iOS 15 Allows Rearranging and Deletion of Home Screen Pages

Back in iOS 14, Apple added the App Library, which collects all the apps on your iPhone. With everything available in the App Library, iOS 14 was also able to provide the option of hiding Home screen pages, a boon for those of us with too many disorganized pages. In iOS 15, Apple has taken the next step. You can still hide Home screen pages, but if you never want to see them again, you can delete them (apps remain in the App Library). Or, if they’re not in the order you want, you can rearrange them. Touch and hold any empty spot on the Home screen to enter jiggle mode. Tap the dots above the Dock that indicate which Home screen page you’re on. In the Edit Pages screen, you can now tap the – button next to a hidden page to delete it ➊. If you want to delete a visible page, first hide it by tapping its checkmark underneath ➋. Or, to rearrange Home screen pages, drag a thumbnail to a new location ➌. Tap Done or press the Home button when you’re finished.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Where to Check macOS, iOS/iPadOS, and iCloud Storage Status

There’s little more frustrating than running out of space, which always seems to happen at just the wrong time. Luckily, Apple makes it easy to check any time, before it becomes a problem. On the Mac, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu and click Storage. On an iPhone or iPad, navigate to Settings > General > iPhone/iPad Storage. For iCloud, you can look in either System Preferences > Apple ID on the Mac or in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Manage Storage on an iPhone or iPad. Once you know how much space is consumed by what, you can more easily clear unnecessary data.

(Featured image by iStock.com/alphaspirit)

In iOS 15, You Can Now Open an App from the Lock Screen

Most of the time, when you unlock your iPhone or iPad, you want to launch an app. In iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, you no longer have to unlock the device, find the app on a Home screen page, and tap it. Instead, you can open an app directly from the Lock screen, assuming Settings > Face/Touch ID & Passcode > Today View and Search is turned on. Just swipe down from the middle of the Lock screen ➊ to access the Search screen, which lists apps from Siri Suggestions ➋. You can tap one of those to open it, or you can use the Search field to find an app by name and tap the search result ➌.

(Featured image by iStock.com/ipopba)

The Hidden Controls in the iPhone’s Camera App

The beauty of the iPhone camera is that it combines the ease of use of a point-and-shoot camera with the image quality of a DSLR. To take a picture, you simply open the Camera app, frame your shot, and tap the shutter button. Simple, but what’s happening behind the scenes is anything but. The iPhone captures multiple images at once, concentrating on variables such as exposure, focus, tone, highlights, shadows, and more. It then merges all that data to produce what it thinks is the best possible image. Impressively, all this computational photography happens in real-time with no perceptible delay. (That said, iOS 15 provides a Prioritize Faster Shooting option in Settings > Camera that adapts—and presumably reduces—the image quality when you rapidly press the shutter multiple times.)

Despite all this automation, Apple still provides numerous manual controls you can employ to take photos the way you want. These controls are hidden, though, so you’re excused if you haven’t noticed them or have been frustrated looking for them. (“Where is that dratted Timer button? It must be here somewhere!”)

First, you have to reveal the controls, which is easy, although you’d never guess how. When you’re in the Camera app, swipe up anywhere on the screen above the shutter button. If you swipe up on the horizontal row of camera mode labels, your swipe can be quite short. However, if you swipe up on the viewfinder image, the Camera app might interpret a short swipe as a tap-and-swipe and display the in-image exposure control instead. On the viewfinder, use a longer, more emphatic swipe ➊. Either way, the camera controls replace the camera modes underneath the viewfinder ➋.

Once you have the controls showing, tap a button to access its options, use a slider or button to adjust the settings ➌, tap the original button to hide the options, and swipe down in the same way you swiped up to hide all the controls. The really confusing bit is that not all the controls may fit on the screen, so if you’re looking for the Timer or Filter buttons on an iPhone 13 Pro, for instance, you may have to swipe left on the controls to bring those buttons into view.

Here’s the full set—note that all except Depth (the rightmost one below) are in Photo mode; some may also appear in other modes. (Not all controls appear on all iPhone models, and the Low Light button, for instance, shows up only in low-light situations.)

Now, let’s look at what the controls make possible:

  • Flash: Use the Flash control to allow the camera to use the flash as needed or force it to be on or off. You can also control the flash in Video and Slo-Mo modes.
  • Low Light: Night mode on some of Apple’s high-end iPhones makes it possible to take better pictures in very low-light situations. With this control, you can set a specific amount of time for Night mode’s exposure. The longer the exposure, the lighter the photo, but the more small movements will cause blur and graininess.
  • Live Photo: Live Photo records 1.5 seconds of video before and after you take a photo, animating the photo slightly. Use this control to set whether the camera takes Live Photos all the time, none of the time, or automatically when it thinks it’s warranted (which is a lot).
  • Photographic Styles: These custom settings—Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm, and Cool—let you apply that distinct look to all your photos automatically. Or stick with Standard and apply the look you want afterward by editing.
  • Aspect Ratio: Some iPhones can take photos in multiple aspect ratios. Use this control to choose from the standard 4:3 (below left) ratio, square, and 16:9 (below right). The 16:9 ratio expands the viewfinder to show what it will capture.
  • Exposure: Although automatic exposure control is usually fine (and you can adjust it afterward as well), you can use this control to increase or decrease the exposure manually. It’s also available in Video, Slo-Mo, and Time-Lapse modes.
  • Timer: For a hands-free selfie or a group photo that includes the photographer, use this control to set the timer to 3 or 10 seconds, starting from when you tap the shutter button. The iPhone counts down with both flash bursts and an onscreen number.
  • Filter: The Filter button offers nine options, three each in Vivid, Dramatic, and Mono. You may want to turn one of these on to see its effect while composing the shot. Otherwise, it’s easier to apply them in editing later.
  • Depth: This control is available only in the Portrait and Cinematic modes, where it lets you increase or decrease the depth of field. If you increase the depth of field, the background becomes sharper; if you decrease it, the background gets blurrier.

Apart from Photographic Styles, which automatically remembers your setting from session to session, the Camera app generally resets any changes you make in the next session. That’s usually what you’d want, but if you would prefer to keep a setting until you change it manually, go to Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings. That screen provides switches that tell the Camera app to preserve specific settings. Pay particular attention to Creative Controls, Exposure Adjustment, Night Mode, and Live Photo—we often make a point of using Preserve Settings with Live Photo so we don’t waste a lot of space unless we actually want to shoot a Live Photo.

In the end, it’s nice that these controls are neither necessary nor cluttering your view most of the time, but they’re extremely useful on occasion. We hope that Apple comes up with a way of hinting at their existence in future versions of iOS.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Darkdiamond67)


Social Media: Want to use a timer when taking an iPhone photo or manually control the depth of field in Portrait mode? You’ll need to reveal the Camera app’s hidden controls. Read on to find out how to show them—and what they help you do.

Change Your Pointer Color in macOS 12 Monterey

Some people find it hard to find the mouse pointer at times, particularly on a large screen or when working in Dark Mode or in apps with dark interfaces. You’ve long been able to increase the size of the pointer generally and also zoom it temporarily by shaking it, but in macOS 12 Monterey, Apple now lets you change the color of the pointer. That could be a boon to those who have trouble seeing it otherwise. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display > Pointer, click the Pointer Fill Color box, and choose a different color in the color picker. You can also choose a different Pointer Outline Color if that’s helpful. After customizing it, if you decide you prefer the old black-and-white version, click the Reset button.

(Featured image by iStock.com/tahir_duran)

Set Custom Text Sizes on a Per-App Basis in iOS 15

In previous versions of iOS, you could change the systemwide text size to make all apps—at least those that support Dynamic Type—display text at larger or smaller sizes. (Most people who use this feature want the text larger so it’s easier to read with aging eyes.) In iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, however, Apple lets you adjust the text size on a per-app basis, so you can increase it only for those apps where it really makes a difference for you. First, make sure Text Size is showing in Control Center by going to Settings > Control Center, and if it’s not in Included Controls, tap the green + button for it under More Controls. Then, while in an app where you want bigger text, invoke Control Center, tap the Text Size button, move the vertical slider to the desired setting, and then tap the App Only button so the setting affects only that app, not all apps.

(Featured image by iStock.com/SandraMatic)

Did You Know That Siri on a HomePod Can Control Alarms on Other Devices?

Siri has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, and we’ve just discovered a new one. Let’s say you set iPhone alarms to wake up and remind you to take medication throughout the day. However, if you don’t have your iPhone handy when those alarms go off, it can be annoying (for both you and others) to find your phone and stop or snooze the alarm. If you have a HomePod, it turns out that you (or someone else) can say, “Hey Siri, snooze the alarm” or “Hey Siri, stop the alarm.” Siri usually asks for confirmation—just reply with “Yes”—and sometimes tells you to continue on the iPhone, but it can be easier than finding the iPhone and stopping the alarm. (And yes, if you’re wearing an Apple Watch, you can stop the alarm from it as well. It’s also possible to set alarms on a HomePod directly, though they’re useful only if you’re guaranteed to be home when they go off.)

(Featured image by iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz)

Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Red Badges (On Our iPhone Apps)

Quick quiz: what does a red number badge on the Phone icon on your iPhone mean? You’d be right if you said that it indicates the number of missed calls or voicemail messages. The Mail and Messages apps also use a red badge to display the number of unread messages; Settings uses one to indicate that software updates are available; and Reminders shows a badge for the number of tasks due today. Third-party apps also use red badges to indicate that some number of somethings await you inside. You’ll also see a red badge on any folder that contains apps that are themselves showing badges—the folder’s badge sums the total of the badges inside.

We’re willing to bet that some of you stay on top of your badges at all times, checking the missed calls, reading the messages, and completing the to-dos. Others don’t find the badges helpful and either ignore them or find them somewhat annoying. Who needs to know they have 315 unread email messages?

Here then is our advice on how to ensure that the red badges either provide useful information or get out of your way.

Clear Badges Organically

Being told that you have 17 voicemail messages that you haven’t listened to or 32 unread texts in Messages isn’t helpful—at best, you have to remember that you had only 16 voicemail messages yesterday. There’s no option for dealing with them all at once, but it’s worth taking a few minutes while standing in line or otherwise killing time to clear the badges manually.

Precisely how you do this depends on the app. In the Phone app, all you have to do to clear the missed calls in the badge is tap Recents at the bottom—that’s enough to mark them as viewed. For voicemails, however, you’ll either have to listen to at least some of the message or delete it by swiping all the way to the left. (Remember that you can drag the playback slider to fast-forward if you want to mark it as listened without actually doing so.)

In Messages and Mail, the trick is to read or delete each message. That mostly means just loading it quickly and then moving on, although you can also swipe left to delete unread conversations or email threads. In Messages, you’ll have to scroll through all your conversations, looking for those that have a blue unread dot next to them. In Mail, you can tap the Filter button at the bottom to show only unread messages (tap Filtered By and select Unread if it’s set some other way).

Regardless, the goal is to mark everything as dealt with so the badge goes away, not for the sake of making it go away, but so when it returns with the next unread message or new voicemail, it’s giving you actionable information.

Disable Unnecessary Badges

However, some badge numbers are never useful. Unless you receive very little email, being told you have more than a handful of unread emails will likely just cause stress, not encourage you to deal with those messages. That’s especially true if a session in Mail merely knocks the number down to a still-high value. (“Oh good, now I only have 289 unread messages.”) Or you may just dislike the badges in general—that’s fine too.

Luckily, you can turn the badges off entirely. Go to Settings > Notifications > AppName and disable Badges. You’ll never see that red badge of nagging again.

Clear Stuck Badges

Sometimes an app will end up with a red badge even when you’re certain that you’ve done whatever is necessary to clear it. Here are a few things to try:

  • Update the app: Go to the App Store app, tap your avatar in the upper-right corner, and tap Update All if it appears (pull down to make the App Store check for new updates). It’s generally worth going to Settings > App Store and enabling App Updates so they come in automatically.
  • Force-quit the app: There’s no reason to force-quit apps unless they’re misbehaving, but a stuck badge counts as bad behavior. Swipe up from the very bottom of the screen and pause to enter the app switcher—or on Touch ID-equipped devices, double-press the Home button—and then swipe up on the card for the app in question to force-quit it.
  • Restart the iPhone: If all else fails, restart the iPhone. First, press and hold the side button and either volume button (iPhone X, 11, 12, and 13), the side button (iPhone 6, 7, 8, and second-generation iPhone SE ), or the top button (first-generation iPhone SE, iPhone 5, and earlier). Wait until the power off slider appears, drag it, wait 30 seconds, and then press either the side button or the top button to turn the iPhone back on.
  • Disable that app’s badges: If nothing else works to clear a stuck badge, you can always resort to the steps above to disable badges for that app.

Making sure that app badges are either useful or hidden won’t change your life, but given how often we look at our iPhones, even little tweaks like this can lift your mood.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)


Social Media: Do you love or hate those red badges on your iPhone Home screen icons? Or maybe you’re indifferent and mostly ignore them? Regardless of your opinion, our article explains how to make the most of them—or eliminate them entirely.