20 best Mac games of 2015 — Macs don’t get as many games as Windows PC, or as quickly, but the releases have improved steadily in recent years and we’re getting a nice mix of AAA heavy-hitters and a lot of the top indie games.
Macworld’s monthly Mac games release column aims to put the latest and greatest titles on your radar, but if you haven’t kept close tabs on Steam, the Mac App Store, or other storefronts this year, consider this a cheat sheet: the 20 most intriguing Mac games from 2015 (slideshow).
15 Startup Key Combinations for Mac — Bryan Chaffin writes that your Mac and OS X have a variety of startup keys and key combinations you can use to affect how the device starts up. Shift key, for instance, starts your Mac in Safe mode, and C (or c) starts up from a bootable CD, DVD, or thumb drive. Command-S is for “single-user mode,” which essentially means booting to the command line.
Apple to pay Italy $348M, sign accord to circumvent allegations of unpaid taxes — To settle charges that it failed to pay corporate taxes, Apple will pay Italy’s tax agency some 318 million euros — about US$348 million (or about NZ$508 million) — and sign an accord on managing its liabilities from the 2015 fiscal year onwards, a report said on Wednesday.
Review: IK Multimedia Studio Mic is a portable, flexible, essential piece of kit — Lester Victor Marks reviews it on appleinsider. With both Lightning and USB connectivity, the mic covers all the basic needs for a podcaster or musician, we’re impressed by the IK Multimedia Studio microphone. But with a US$139 price tag, and the inability to support in-call audio from Apple in iOS, we feel like it’s a good product that’s let down by iOS for one common podcasting use. [My own review appeared here in July – it’s under Reviews on the right.]
How the iPad Pro stacks up as a photographer’s tool — The iPad Pro pushes the boundaries of tablets in interesting ways as a general-purpose laptop replacement, but how does it change the photography game?
Dennis Sellers’ Apple-related predictions for iOS, watchOS and tvOS for 2016 —As for iOS … Apple will release new iPhones in September: the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. They’ll have the same screen sizes as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus — but not sapphire screens or 3D screen effects.
Apple devices account for 49% of all new activations during Christmas — Apple dominated the holiday gift giving season, according to a recent study that found iPhones and iPads in aggregate comprised 49.1% of new device activations in the week leading up to Christmas.
Apple doomsday prophet dismissed by Berenberg Bank — Berenberg Bank analyst Adnaan Ahmad has been dismissed after three years of predicting doom for Apple, reports FORTUNE.
Three years ago he set a split-adjusted price target of $60 a share and five months later flipped the stock’s rating from ‘buy’ to ‘sell,’ the article notes. This spring, with the iPhone 6 selling like hotcakes and the stock trading above $124, Ahmad raised his target (to $85) but not his rating. “We sense that the company is over-earning, over-loved and, in our view, the stock should be ‘over-and-out’ soon,” he wrote to clients. [This was clearly his view – or at least, his wish.]
Adobe rolls out another critical Flash Security Update — Adobe released an update for Flash on Tuesday with patches for what it called critical issues. Like so many other flaws Adobe has already patched, those addressed in this update could let attackers remotely take control of your computer. See Adobe’s Security Bulletin.
The /me Command is supported in Messages for Mac — There’s one IRC command that has gained life outside of IRC, and that’s the /me command. It turns whatever follows into an action rather than a normal line of text (main picture, above: ‘Mark Webster asks Mac NZ to respond’) and you can find it in games, all manner of texting apps, and even Apple’s Messages app, at least on the Mac. Bryan Chaffin explains.
The next wave of cybercrime will come through your smart TV — Always on and vulnerable, smart TVs are waiting to be attacked. Smart TVs are opening a new window of attack for cybercriminals, as the security defenses of the devices often lag far behind those of smartphones and desktop computers.
Tested: 9 fashion-forward Apple Watch bands — Sarah Jacobsson Purewal tried out nine third-party bands, including a couple of double-wrap bands and rhinestone-studded bands, over the course of several weeks to see how they feel, look, and hold up.
Hyundai Sonata to get CarPlay Support via Software Update — Hyundai plans to make good on its two-year old promise to offer Apple CarPlay support on some of its models, and they’re planning on doing that in early 2016 through a software update. The update will be limited to certain 2015 and 2016 Sonata models with in-dash displays.
Dennis Sellers’ Apple-related predictions for 2016: Macs, OS X — The iMac will, of course, be revved with faster Skylake processors and get updated graphics (sorry, but no 8K display). I don’t expect the basic design to change (can Apple make it any thinner?). iMacs will continue to ship with either Fusion or flash drives. However, expect this to be the final year for the former. In 2017, all Macs will come only in flash drive models. I also think we’ll see Lightning and USB-C connectivity come to the all-in-one. And there’s more… he covers wireless charging, WiFi, the Mac Pro and more.
Apple & Foxconn consuming 30-40% of Tainergy’s growing solar cell production — Apple’s effort to convert suppliers over to renewable energy is resulting in it, along with partner Foxconn, consuming 30 to 40% of Tainergy Tech’s solar cell production in China, according to Tainergy president Kevin Hsieh.
Whink review: full-featured, easy to use writing app hits all the right notes — Whink is a note-taking app equally proficient at handwriting and typing. The universal app features fast, automatic backup and sync via iCloud, so notebook content is available from whatever iOS device you happen to be using at the moment.
Official White House photographer uses iPhone to capture intimate presidential moments — Pete Souza, President Barack Obama’s Chief Official White House Photographer, posted his annual ‘Year on Instagram’ collection of photos to the web on Monday, this year selecting only images shot on iPhone.
Nearly one-third of all photos uploaded to Flickr in 2015 were taken on iPhones — According to a year-end report from Flickr, Apple’s iPhone extended its lead as photo sharing service’s most-used camera brand during 2015, accounting for almost one-third of all images uploaded to the site.
Judge dismisses Android Switcher lost iMessage lawsuit — A lawsuit alleging Apple somehow interfered with text messages so they wouldn’t appear on Android smartphones after users switched from iPhones has been dismissed. The ruling wraps up a string of failures from a small group trying to call Apple to task over the problem.
Apple requests another $179 million in supplemental damages from Samsung — Three weeks after finally receiving US$548,176,477 (NZ$Heaps) from Samsung over the South Korean company’s infringement of Apple’s design and technology patents dating back to a 2012 jury verdict, the iPhone maker has filed for another US$178,659,870 in supplemental damages and US$1,192,490 in interest payments.
Apple marks Lightning-to-USB Camera Adapter as officially iPhone-compatible — Apple has updated its product page for the Lightning-to-USB Camera Adapter to officially include iPhone support, extending it beyond the iPad use the accessory was originally designed for.
How to limit Facebook’s iPhone background battery usage — Facebook’s iOS app is a notorious background battery eater and, despite some attention and updates aimed at solving this problem, it remains so to this day. While it’s simple enough to just remove the Facebook app and access the site in Safari, this leads to missing on Notifications, Live Photos and other features. Good news: it’s possible to have your cake and eat it, too, with a little bit of understanding and effort.
Safari 9: using Responsive Design Mode — If you’re a Web designer, boy, are will love this. Under the secret “Develop” menu, the new version of Safari is hiding something cool — the ability to view a site as it would appear on different devices and under different user agents, all in one place! That’s just…well, that’s awesome, is what that is.
Apple Music racked up more than 54.5M monthly users in 2015, study says — According to a year end report from consumer research firm Nielsen, Apple Music was one of the most popular smartphone apps of 2015, and with more than 54.5 million monthly users ranked among offerings from Facebook and Google.
1/ Using Mail Drop in iOS — If you’ve updated to the latest version of iOS 9 on your iPhone or iPad, you have a very handy ability that was only available on the Mac up until now: Mail Drop. This feature will let you send large attachments through email, which is especially great on the iPhone, like a video that is too large to easily share with other people. MailDrop basically uploads the file to an Apple server and sends a download link to that to the recipient – very clever. (This link expires after 30 days; Apple wipes the file from its server.)
This feature is now also built in to iOS 9 now. To use it, all you’ve got do is, well, use it: select a group of photos or a video that may be too large to send through Mail, and your iOS device will warn you and give you the choice of what to do.
2/ Mail Settings Lookup — Mail Settings Lookup is a free Apple service that can greatly help when setting up an account in the Mail.app (or other email clients). It only works with major email providers like Apple, Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, Mail.com, and a few others. You can’t use it to check the settings of your work email, for instance, not even if your employer uses Gmail on the back end. Load the page and you get to a form page.
Enter your email address (Apple states it will not store that address). Hit the blue arrow, and you’ll get settings for your incoming email server and outgoing server, too. You can use that information to set up an account in an email client – handy when you want to set up your account on a new Mac or iDevice.
3/ Forwarding multiple emails — If you need to send someone the entire history of correspondence on a project or the trail of an email conversation, open Mail. Either do a search for the messages you need or open the folder they’re in. You’ll have to select them all: if you click on one email and then hold down Shift and click on another, you’ll select everything in between them. Alternatively, hold down the Command key and click on messages, and your Mac will select everything you click on (even if the emails aren’t sitting next to one another).
Now you can click the Forward button in your toolbar (or press Shift-Command-F), and that will start a new email with all of the items you selected in the body of the message.
4/ Forward multiple emails as attachments —Alternatively, forward the selected emails as attachments. Select the emails and then pick Message>Forward as Attachment from the menus at the top or by right-clicking (or hold down the Control key on your keyboard and do a normal click) on one of the emails then choosing that same option from the contextual menu that ‘pops’.
5/ I’m away on holiday —And you can get Mail to do the ‘I’m away’ message for you, you know, like companies do. In Mail, click on the Mail menu from the menu bar and select Preferences. Select the Rules tab and click on the Add Rule button.
Enter a description for this rule (ie, Auto Reply).
Turn on ‘If ANY of the following conditions are met: Set this section to Account | Exchange’.
Set this section to Reply to Message | Reply message text then click on the Reply message text field to the right to construct your message; ‘I am currently having a wonderful holiday you should all be jealous of and cannot answer my emails until [date’], for example. Or something more considerate … Click OK.
You will now get a message asking if you want to apply this rule to all existing messages. Click Don’t Apply as you only want the rule to work for new messages. Your Out of Office message is now set up. NOTE:You must remember to disable your Out of Office message manually as it will not turn off automatically. Open the settings again and just uptick this rule so you can use it again another time.
Apple Music adds Star Wars Radio Station ahead of The Force — Apple Music added a Star Wars station to its online radio lineup on Wednesday that’s loaded with music from the movies interspersed with sound effects like blasters and Darth Vader’s respirator between tracks. It’s great music, and so far has been spoiler-free.
Adobe Post creates social media graphics in seconds — Do you ever think about design when you’re sending a tweet or posting on Facebook? You might start doing just that if Adobe Post (free with in-app purchases) catches on. The new app makes it a snap to create eye-catching graphics on the iPhone by remixing professional designs with your photos and text.
Simulation Curriculum’s SkySafari 5 for iOS has impressive new features — SkySafari is an excellent sky simulation and charting app for iOS. With it, you can view the sky at any date and time, identify objects in the sky, read about celestial objects, learn the constellations and even control an amateur telescope. On December 15, SkySafari 5 Pro was released, with Basic and Plus versions to follow soon. The suite of apps has an impressive list of new features.
How to make an iTunes backup of your iOS device — If you have an iCloud account, your iPhone and iPads back-up their contents there. However, to be doubly safe, you should make an iTunes backup of your device on your Mac. Here’s how.
Pull your iPhone from your pocket, now it won’t charge, here’s why — Have you ever plugged your iPhone into the charger and found, to your dismay, no reassuring “doink” and lighting bolt indicator in the top right menu bar? A trip to the Apple store may not be necessary if a rather amusing thing has happened. John Martellero might have a quick fix (in a word: lint).
Away —Sorry, there will be no updates for a few days as I’m blatting off for a quick pre-Christmas break. I will create a MagBytes between Christmas and New Year. I hope you have a good holiday season. Stay safe!
Apple revamps its Macs in Business webpage — Apple has revamped its Macs in Business webpage, noting that “organizations everywhere are realizing the potential that Mac brings to their employees by giving them the freedom to use the tools they already know and love.” It’s nice to see the Mac, as well as the iPhone and iPad, get a little love from Apple.
The new Volvo XC90, a well-appointed and high-tech SUV, supports CarPlay via cable into a USB port concealed in the centre console, where you can leave your iPhone (charging) as you drive. There isn’t room for an iPad (it’s not supported anyway – it needs 3G-4G for Siri and Map functions – but an iPhone 6 or 6s Plus fits easily. Supported models are iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus as long as they have iOS 8 or newer as their operating systems. CarPlay functions are displayed on the central 9-inch touchscreen.
This is one high-tech car. It seems to be festooned with cameras, although I didn’t actually spot any of them. Start reversing and the centre touch-screen becomes an animated procedural (right) to show what’s behind you; stop parallel to parked cars and cameras spring in to life to assist you – or just tap the auto-parking option on the touch screen and let the car do it for you. In the model I drove, everything was matched cream leather, including the steering wheel.
My favourite XC90 feature by far, for just driving around, is relatively simple: your speed and the current speed limit are projected onto the windscreen very clearly even in full daylight. This means you always know what you’re doing without ever having to lower your eyes. Exceed the speed limit and the speed-limit indicator blinks. (Exceed it by a lot, apparently, and the car activates various warning devices.) I wish every car had this heads-up display.
Dashboard-wise, directly in front of you, Volvo has opted for another screen display instead of analogue dials. The speed, RPM and fuel/trip appear on this, with fuel given as how many kilometres you have yet to travel before you need a refill; the large space in between them is a seamlessly updating map.
To further ease your use, and improve your safety, there are thumb-tip controls on the steering wheel for Siri, music volume up and down and previous or next track on the right, with a Home button in the middle.
You’ll soon be using them without looking. A similar panel on the left side controls the adaptive cruise control: set your speed, nudge it up and down a few kph to suit surrounding traffic speeds and even set a distance to maintain from the car in front.
Various other cameras and sensors make themselves known in different ways. Driving up a fairly narrow road, the XC90 flashed warning indicators on the windscreen that a car was approaching. Over the top, in this instance, as there was room enough, but I appreciated the thought. There’s even a warning if you drift out of lane, for tired or otherwise inattentive drivers. There’s also cyclist and pedestrian detection, and forward collision warning. We used to educate drivers to be defensive – now the car takes care of it.
Volvo actually signed onto CarPlay back when it was announced in 2014, but this is the first real entry for the Swedish car firm. Volvo was thinking ahead enough to build the capacity for CarPlay into the Sensus console in this model – a software update has recently turned it on. Existing XC90 owners just need to take their car into a dealer for the approximately one-hour update to enable the Apple feature. Buyers of the new 2016 model need to specify they want it – apparently there’s an additional cost involved. Other Volvos will support it to, according to this Volvo tech note: Volvo cars built up to and including week 45 of 2015 require an update to the cars’ IHU Software and an application download. (For cars built from and including week 46 of 2015, Apple CarPlay is already prepared in IHU Software and can therefore be activated by just downloading the application.)
CarPlay in the Volvo leaves the top half of the Sensus display with typical car functions: radio, onboard navigation, time … The display even has the car manual in it – no more groping around in the glovebox.
This car has GPS and it’s always working, even updating local traffic info (which almost isn’t necessary in Auckland any more, as it’s just bad all the time, everywhere). But I have got really used to navigating with my iPhone and I like the interface, and I also like the tapped prompts on my wrist via Apple Watch. Seven apps are supported on the CarPlay interface, in my case – you can search for ‘CarPlay’ in the App Store to see what apps support the interface, so it depends what you have installed – Spotify supports it, for example. In my case the apps were Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, Remote (‘Now Playing’), Podcasts (just in time for the new Serial series, yahoo!) and Audiobooks – and not Mail.
In the hot seat — Actually, I mean that literally. I turned on the seat heater by mistake – a simple tap on its indicator sorted that out but it took me a few minutes to realise what was going on. Those Swedish climes clearly appreciate some under-body thawing enhancements during their long winters. CarPlay was added into the car’s onboard capabilities via a software update. You plug your phone in – the cable means you don’t need to worry about Bluetooth dropouts and besides, it charges your iPhone. At the same time, you get much better sound quality than you would via Bluetooth.
The first time you plug in your iPhone, your iDevice appears on the screen, it pairs and you’re off. From then on it remembers it, so you can support several devices (your friends and family can fight over music rights on long trips). A round icon at bottom right is your Home button, as per iPhone, and there’s a hardware Home button too, underneath the screen, and in the middle of the steering wheel controls.
It’s awesome being able to drive to your own music – I got a couple of startled looks as I cruised down Remuera Road with Joy Division blaring out. This car has a really excellent sound system. When a call comes in, tap the screen to accept and the music quietens down. Call clarity is excellent and I’m not sure where the microphone is inside this cabin, but the other person had no trouble understanding me.
Siri works a treat too: ask for directions, if it’s raining at your destination or to make a call, since this is an entirely hands-free system. I tried to call my dad and it defaulted to his mobile. Since he was at home, he wasn’t answering that and it took me a few go-rounds to get Siri to dial his home line. Stupidly, perhaps, I asked Siri to dial ‘dad’s home line’ and ‘call dad’s home phone’. Finally, ‘Call Dad home’ nailed it – I guess if you do this a few times you work the correct language out. But note that it definitely pays to set your voice to New Zealand English in the settings of your iPhone! It does a much better job of understanding our virtually vowel-free Kiwi speech.
CarPlay can also read off addresses from text messages, contacts and dates and suggest destinations where you might want to go, in case you’re roving about the countryside trying to get to your friend’s batch, for example.
I really appreciated the calling – it’s no harder than chatting to someone sitting next to you.
You can reply to Messages too, telling Siri what to type. While this works, I think most people would just call people back rather than try and wrangle typos and mistakes while driving.
Maps is good though, since you can use it on the touch-screen the same as if it’s on your iPhone, without having to get the iPhone out at all.
To get out of any CarPlay app you have running, just swipe the entire screen; then you get all the XC90 functions to tweak: air conditioning, seat temperatures, radio etcetera.
Conclusion — CarPlay will obviously expand out in functionality as Apple hones the service and as more car manufacturers come on board. Just the other day, General Motors in America, which has rolled out support for Apple’s CarPlay iPhone integration faster and across more models than any rivals, stated its independent dealers report CarPlay draws in customers and helps them close deals in selling new cars.
If you’re wedded to your iPhone (as I am) it’s really wonderful having it at your fingertips in a car, and for me the biggest bonus was being able to listen to my music. I know lots of people can do this, but my own car is too old to splay anything from my iPhone through the car stereo.
Volvo XC90, NZ$97,900 for D5 Momentum through to $136,900 for the T8 R-Design.
All-wheel-drive, anti-skid system, numerous safety features, seven seats … And no, I did not buy one!
Things look rosy for the Apple Watch as wearable sales are predicted to boom — If you can believe two new research reports, things look sunny for Apple Watch in the months ahead. New data from Parks Associates says that smart watch adoption has nearly doubled — from four percent of U.S. broadband households at the start of 2014 to seven percent now, with 10 percent planning to buy a smart watch by midyear 2016.
IBM delivers its 100th MobileFirst for iOS app — IBM says it has delivered more than 100 IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps as part of its partnership with Apple, to transform work across 14 industries and 65 individual professions, from wealth advisors to flight attendants, first responders, nurses and retail buyers. [Er, how many IBM apps do you have?]
Samsung’s latest ‘innovation’: 3D Touch — Samsung is adding a new and innovative feature to its top of the line smartphones set to launch in the spring: pressure sensitive touch, or as Apple calls it, “3D Touch.” Much like the feature works on the iPhone, Samsung’s pressure sensitive touch will add new ways to view interface elements based on how firmly users press on their smartphone’s display.
New ResearchKit app will help track concussions — Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center will begin testing whether a new free mobile app for iPhone and Apple Watch can help those with concussions better track their symptoms during the critical six weeks following their diagnosis. (A concussion is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or the body that shakes the brain inside the skull, which can damage brain tissue and disrupt brain function.)