Apple announced the HomePod mini, a smaller, less expensive, and more rounded version of its two-year-old HomePod. The expanded speaker line has little in the way of groundbreaking features as it competes with speakers from Amazon and Google, but at least it’s now more affordable.
Is the Apple Watch even more attractive than normal during the pandemic? Julio Ojeda-Zapata has been pondering its utility in the coronavirus context, and he’s increasingly using his watch so he doesn’t have to keep digging out—and later disinfecting—his iPhone. He’s trying to talk his wife into doing the same—we’ll see how that goes.
You can access Google’s Gmail in desktop email clients, but its IMAP support can be awkward. Enter Mimestream, a native Mac app that uses Google’s Gmail API to more faithfully bring Gmail’s features to the desktop. Mimestream is still in beta and the developer has much to do, but you can try the app now for free.
Apple has announced its next-generation Apple Watch Series 6 with a number of enhancements, notably a blood oxygen sensor and new bands. The company also unveiled a lower-cost Apple Watch SE.
If you’re skittish about visiting a public library during a pandemic, ask about electronic borrowing you can do from home. Many US libraries provide digital versions of books, comics, and magazines, plus music downloads and streaming video options. Julio Ojeda-Zapata examines all the likely choices.
Videoconferencing has surged during the pandemic, and keeping track of meetings on multiple platforms is a hassle. Julio Ojeda-Zapata tried two software tools, Meeter and Fantastical, that promise to make this juggling act easier.
Outdoor cycling is feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but long rides are impractical and group rides are an infection risk. Enter Zwift, a bicycling simulator you run on an iPad, Mac, or Apple TV as you sit on a stationary bicycle. As you pedal, your Zwift counterpart does the same as it roams exotic realms. You can meet friends on Zwift, and you might even see a T-Rex!
Updates in Apple’s just-announced watchOS are substantive if not groundbreaking. They include sleep tracking, a handwashing-detection feature suitable for the COVID-19 pandemic, and “dance” as one of several new workouts. Other improvements include watch face sharing, language translation, bicycling directions and earphone-volume detection.
Eggtronic’s Power Bar cuts down on clutter by charging all your Apple mobile devices in one tidy location. It’s a power bank with a USB-C port for MacBook and iPad charging, and it has wireless charging pads for an iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch.
The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is Apple’s first iPad cover with an integrated trackpad, and it also features a revised keyboard, a rugged hinge with a built-in USB-C charging port, and a new docking system that holds the iPad in the air. It makes the iPad Pro into more of an alternative to a laptop than ever before.
Office workers have left their fancy standing desks behind as they work out of their homes due to the pandemic. Luckily, low-cost alternatives exist. Julio Ojeda-Zapata tested two affordable tabletop computer stands.
Baked into iPadOS 13.4 is full-featured support for trackpad and mouse input, with a few twists. Apple has tailored the traditional technology to the iPad with a cursor that looks nothing like you’ve seen on a computer.
Don’t waste precious time manually repositioning and resizing macOS windows. You can automate that task to a large extent using native macOS controls, and third-party utilities give you even more power. Julio Ojeda-Zapata looks at two of the top window-wrangling apps.
Step counting is a good way to ensure you’re staying active, and if you don’t have an Apple Watch, your iPhone can keep track of how many steps you take every day. Apple’s Health app includes step counting among its fitness metrics. Better yet, try a third-party pedometer app such as ActivityTracker Pedometer or Pedometer++.
Apple has expanded upon its hit AirPods with new AirPods Pro models. They fit and sound better, courtesy of silicone ear tips, and add audio features like noise cancellation and a “transparency mode." The previous generation AirPods aren’t going anywhere, though.