Apple has released a third generation of its iPad Pro line with a top-to-bottom redesign and high ambitions to set the tablet in competition with notebooks. Unfortunately, although a revised Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio provide added flexibility, the iPad Pro remains hobbled at times by software limitations.
Apple isn’t possessive of Portrait mode, the iPhone photography feature for creating shots with blurred backgrounds; it allows third parties to integrate the capability into their iOS apps. Google and Facebook are the latest to do it, each in their own way.
Apple announced in September that its new Apple Watch Series 4 is capable of taking electrocardiogram readings as part of its health-monitoring features. That feature didn’t ship with the watch, but it’s now available to users in the US with the watchOS 5.1.2 update, along with irregular heart rhythm monitoring on all supported Apple Watch models.
Astro HQ’s Luna Display dongle for the Mac turns an iPad into a secondary monitor via Lightning or Wi-Fi. Others have pulled off such an iPad-as-Mac-screen maneuver using software, but Luna’s hardware approach taps into the Mac’s graphics acceleration to improve performance.
For those whose offices cannot accommodate a full-size standing desk, a converter placed atop an existing desk serves the same function. Ergotron’s newest converter, the WorkFit-TX, remedies the flaws in other such products. It isn’t cheap, though.
The Mac mini, long believed to be on death’s door, has received an overhaul that brings it up to date and offers configuration options that will please professional users.
With watchOS 5 and new apps, the Apple Watch comes into its own as a standalone podcast player. Apple has released an Apple Watch version of its Podcasts app, and developer Marco Arment has followed suit with Overcast.
Apple has announced the Apple Watch Series 4 models that morph a bit in size and shape and boast larger, edge-to-edge screens. Also new are health-monitoring capabilities courtesy of new hardware—including a Digital Crown that can take an electrocardiogram.
The Arlo Baby security camera is officially a souped-up baby monitor. But look beyond its marketing and you’ll find a quality—if pricey—security camera with broad appeal. Though HomeKit is not yet fully integrated, other capabilities help make up for its limitations. Just ditch those animal ears.
On the Mac, Mailplane is a good fit for Gmail users who like Google’s Web-based interface but also want desktop features. With version 4, Mailplane rolls out many changes, including a new reliance on the Google Chrome browser under the hood, enabling the use of Gmail-focused Chrome extensions.
With Apple’s AirPort line of base stations gone to that Wi-Fi network in the sky, the Velop wireless system from Linksys is a solid alternative. Unlike Apple’s base stations, Velop is “mesh” hardware, with multiple units working in unison to bathe a residence in bandwidth. Velop works well but is costly. Luckily, there are less expensive options.
The Apple Watch, with a focus on fitness, communication, and info-snippet consumption, looks to become far more capable in all these areas courtesy of the just-announced watchOS 5. The updated will let other models work as walkie-talkies, play podcasts, spawn more-interactive alerts, aid hikers and yoga fans, and more.
The keynote presentation at this year’s Google I/O conference introduced no new hardware to compete with Apple devices, but it did feature improvements to Google apps and services used by many Apple users, including Gmail, Google Photos, Google Maps, Google News, and Google Assistant.
Gmail, Google’s popular email service, has undergone a revamp that includes visual tweaks and a battery of new features, some focused on usability, others on security.
Want to listen to a podcast while exercising or doing yardwork, without having your iPhone along? Couple an Apple Watch with one of these five podcast apps and you’ll be able to leave your iPhone behind. But prepare for a few glitches and rough edges.