Sparky’s iOS 13 Shortcuts Field Guide »

David Sparks has a new edition of his Shortcuts Field Guide out:

The new Shortcuts Field guide was shot entirely new with the new Shortcuts for iOS 13. Apple changed a lot and it is all covered in this field guide:

  • Over 6 hours of downloadable video tutorials
  • New materials for both beginners and advanced users
  • New Downloadable Shortcuts
  • So much Automation

I spent a chunk of my Friday and Monday going through most of this in prep for the next episode of Mac Power Users, and unsurprisingly, it’s really good. If you want to take a crack at learning what Shortcuts can do, this is the place to start.

Some of Apple’s Awkward Product Names Over the Years 

There’s no way around it, the name “iPhone 11 Pro Max” is a bit of a mouthful. For a company that is so good at marketing, this is far from Apple’s first awkward product name.

Of course, over time these things settle down. I remember groaning at “MacBook Pro” in January 2006 when the PowerBook’s successor was unveiled, but now we don’t think twice about it.

There are some other examples that have come to mind for me:

Apple IIe Enhanced (1985)

Over its 11 year existence, the Apple IIe was on sale longer than any other Apple computer (Mac or otherwise) without a major change.

The IIe Enhanced is one of the few changes to the machine. In March 1985, Apple revved the machine, swapping in the 65C02 processor, clocked at 1.023 MHz. The chip had been found in the smaller IIc, and Apple was hoping to make software support more uniform across the line.

The upgrade also brought updated character and firmware ROMs, making 80-column text far less buggy than before, and opening the door for lowercase letters in Applesoft BASIC.

By appending “Enhanced” to the name, Apple did a good job at signaling that this was just a better Apple IIe, but it seems a bit kludgy today.

In a very non-modern-Apple move, the company sold upgrade kits that let users upgrade — and even re-badge — their Apple IIe machines into Enhances models.

Macintosh SE FDHD (1987)

The SE/30 is one of the most beloved Macs of all time, but its predecessor, the Motorola 68000-powered Macintosh SE received a revision before the famous upgrade to the 68030.

The SE FDHD included support for 1.44 MB floppy drives, up from the 800 KB diskettes SE users were stuck with. Hence “FDHD,” which stood for “Floppy Disk High Density.”

image via Vectronic’s Collections

Siri, heat up some alphabet soup for me.

The Apple OneScanner Line (1991-1997)

In the 90s, Apple had a line of scanners dubbed the “OneScanner” line. Just look at this beast:

image via Stephen Edmonds

The OneScanner offered 256 levels of grey, with 1995’s OneScanner adding color support. Later models picked up goodies like automatic document feeders and support for higher resolutions, but never a less grandiose name.

Basically Every Performa (1992-1997)

The Performa line was a family of low-cost Macs borrowed from other product lines, made slightly worse, bundled with software and sold in places like Sears and other big-box stores.

The names of these machines are all long and some of them are downright awkward. Check out the full list on Wikipedia for more details, but you can see they got worse over time:

  • Performa 200
  • Performa 250
  • Performa 275
  • Performa 400
  • Performa 405
  • Performa 430
  • Performa 450
  • Performa 410
  • Performa 460
  • Performa 466
  • Performa 467
  • Performa 475
  • Performa 476
  • Performa 550
  • Performa 560
  • Performa 575
  • Performa 577
  • Performa 578
  • Performa 580CD
  • Performa 588CD
  • Performa 600
  • Performa 600CD
  • Performa 630
  • Performa 630CD
  • Performa 630CD DOS Compatible
  • Performa 631CD
  • Performa 635CD
  • Performa 636
  • Performa 636CD
  • Performa 637CD
  • Performa 638CD
  • Performa 640CD DOS Compatible
  • Performa 5200CD
  • Performa 5210CD
  • Performa 5215CD
  • Performa 5220CD
  • Performa 5300CD
  • Performa 5300CD DE1
  • Performa 5320CD
  • Performa 6110CD
  • Performa 6112CD
  • Performa 6115CD
  • Performa 6116CD
  • Performa 6117CD
  • Performa 6118CD
  • Performa 6200CD
  • Performa 6205CD
  • Performa 6210CD
  • Performa 6214CD
  • Performa 6216CD
  • Performa 6218CD
  • Performa 6220CD
  • Performa 6230CD
  • Performa 6260CD
  • Performa 6290CD
  • Performa 6300CD
  • Performa 6310CD
  • Performa 6320CD
  • Performa 6360
  • Performa 6400/180
  • Performa 6400/200
  • Performa 6400/200 VEE2
  • Performa 6410
  • Performa 6420

Workgroup Server 95 (1993)

This just sounds like Microsoft product, but it’s not. The Workgroup Server was based on the still-cool-looking Quadra 950, but with a digital tape drive coupled with faster internal SCSI.

image via Carl Berkeley

The Workgroup Server ran A/UX in addition to Mac OS, which is a story for a different time…

Macintosh LC III+ (1993)

Eschewing the traditional “Plus” spelling found on a couple of Apple II and Mac models,3 the LC III+ used the mathematical symbol, right in its name.

The main difference between this and a regular LC III was a faster 33 M MHz Motorola 68030 CPU, as opposed to the 25 MHz part found in the original machine. An optional Floating Point Unit could be added, and the machine did come wrapped in a slightly nicer case.

Why this wasn’t the LC IV, I’ll never know.

The + symbol would show up again in the summer of 2000 with the iMac DV+.

AppleDesign Products & PowerCD (1993)

The Apple Industrial Design Group was a team within Apple tasked with taking the company’s design back in-house after Apple split with Frog Design, who had worked on the famous “Snow White” design language.

The team’s name was given to several products, including the AppleDesign Powered Speakers in 1993 and AppleDesign Keyboard in 1994, as well as the AppleDesign Powered Speakers II in 1994.

I own a set of the original speakers:

Don’t miss the tiny Macintosh logo on the back.

Related to these speakers is the PowerCD, a redesigned and re-badged desktop CD player by Philips. While I like the name PowerCD, it feels a bit over the top.

PowerBook 500 with PowerPC (1995)

With a name like this, you would think that this notebook was the first to ship with a PowerPC processor, but you’d be wrong. That honor goes to the ill-fated PowerBook 5300.

Instead, the PowerBook 500 with PowerPC was exactly what it sounds like — a PowerBook 500 with a PowerPC chip onboard.

image of a PowerBook 500c via Wikipedia

This machine wasn’t sold for very long, but it’s exact end-of-life date is not known.

QuickTake Video Conferencing Camera 100 (1995)

The QuickTime Video Conferencing Camera came with the short-lived QuickTime Media Conferencing software. This obscure little bit of history is preserved for us by The New York Times:

But if Apple Computer and other industry players are right, this could be the year video conferencing finally lives up to its promise. At an industry trade show in San Francisco last week, Apple announced a new software technology that has the very real potential of driving down the cost of personal video-conferencing equipment, while solving some of the problems that have nagged this talking-heads technology since it first arrived on personal computers a few years ago.

Apple’s new video-conferencing technology is called Quicktime Conferencing, and is one of two extensions that the company plans to make by mid-year to the Quicktime video component of the Apple Macintosh software operating system.

[…]

“It’s not just the next best thing,”‘ said Rick Shriner, Vice President of Applecore Technologies, Apple’s technology development unit. “It’s better than being there.”

Mr. Shriner was referring to the fact that Quicktime Conferencing will do more than simply let two computer users view each other’s faces as they speak. Its Shared Window is an on-screen work space in which the two or more users can work on the same document simultaneously, each making notes the other can see, while cutting and pasting from other files. The face-to-face conversation, meanwhile, takes place in a separate window.

I’m sure it worked super well.

PowerBook G3 Series (1998)

Like the PowerBook 500 with PowerPC, this line’s name would indicate it was the first PowerBook with a G3 at its heart, but it wasn’t.

The early days of the PowerBook G3 line are messy, and worth exploring in a future article, but the original G3 PowerBook was pretty much an older PowerBook 3400 with new guts.

The PowerBook G3 Series was actually a range of notebooks, available with 12.1, 13.3 and 14.1-inch displays. They were completely build-to-order, thanks to Apple’s fancy new-at-the-time WebObjects-powered website.

These machines were on sale for four months before Apple killed off the 13-inch model and standardized features across the 12 and 14-inch machines. The smaller of the two then slowly faded away, too.

Best I can tell, this is the only time Apple has used a Mac’s product name to indicate the product is part of a wider family. After this, screen sizes were just a detail on the check-out screen.

iMac DV SE (1999)

For 1999, the humble iMac line was expanded out into a line of Good/Better/Best products, each with their own name. At the top of the line was the iMac DV SE, short for “Special Edition.”4

While not quite the jumble of letters the aforementioned SE FDHD was, I’m not sure how widely understood this was. For most people, it was the Graphite iMac:

Bonus Round: Apple Display Names

Apple’s series of displays have been plagued with some weird names as well. Here are a handful beyond the confusing “Apple Studio Display” line of the early 00s that included both LCDs and CRTs:

  • AppleColor Composite Monitor IIe/IIc
  • Apple Performa Plus Display
  • AppleVision/ColorSync 850AV

  1. I had no idea this machine was a thing. 
  2. …or this one. 
  3. Not to mention the it-shall-not-ever-be-thought-of-again Apple III Plus. This suffix, of course, came back much later with the iPhone 6 Plus. 
  4. Apple also used this name in the iBook G3 line for a time. 

Mac Power Users #500: David in the Hot Seat »

On a very, very special episode of Mac Power Users:

Stephen marks the 500th episode of Mac Power Users by interviewing David about his career, technology and choice of light saber color.

We recorded the bulk of this episode back in July at MacStock, and I’m very happy with how it came out. I truly look up to David Sparks, and nine months in, I’m still so humbled he asked me to join him on the show.

To mark the occasion, we have some super cool MPU 500 merch for sale, including a shirt, stickers, a challenge coin and patch:

Thank you to everyone who has tuned into MPU; 500 episodes is something special in our corner of the Internet.

The episode was sponsored by these fine companies:

  • eero: Get your WiFi fixed as soon as tomorrow! Free overnight shipping.
  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? You don’t have to worry about that anymore.
  • The Omni Group: We’re passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad.

$75,000 »

As I’m typing this, our annual fundraiser for St. Jude just cracked our initial $75,000 goal, a mere 12 days into the month of September. I cannot tell you how much this means to me, my family and the kids of St. Jude.

Being the parent of a cancer survivor is not what I would have signed up for ten years ago when our son was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but the things I have experienced because of it have genuinely made me a better person. I learn so much from my son and the other kids at St. Jude, and it’s an honor to serve them this way every year.

But we’re not stopping, because childhood cancer won’t stop, either.

So, how does $100,000 $175,000 sound?

PS: Myke and I will be playing Oregon Trail tomorrow on Twitch at 11:30 AM Eastern as part of the fundraiser. Be sure to stop by.

Recreating Apple’s California Wallpapers »

Andrew Levitt has published a pretty cool video about the macOS wallpapers:

My friends and I visited and recreated every default Apple wallpaper on a one week road trip. Starting with MacOS Mojave in Death Valley National Park, we traveled to each of Apple’s California Locations to try and make an identical photo to their wallpapers that come installed with every new Mac computer.

We visited Mojave, Sierra, High Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks. Now we just have to go visit Catalina for the MacOS Catalina launch!

As someone deeply interested in macOS wallpapers, I really enjoyed this video:

Connected #260: The Most Golden Master »

This week on Connected:

A new Chairman Ricky is named victorious and Apple’s new products are discussed, as are the leaks concerning the company’s AR headset plans.

There was a lot to talk about, so naturally this is the week I have a bit of a cold. It wasn’t enough to stop me from doing very well in The Rickies, however.

My thanks to our sponsors for this jam-packed episode:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code CONNECTED at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • Pingdom: Start monitoring your website performance and availability today, and get instant alerts when an outage occurs or a site transaction fails. Use offer code CONNECTED to get 30% off.
  • Freshbooks: Online invoicing made easy.
  • DoorDash: Dinner from your favorite restaurant delivered to your door. Get $5 off your first order.

Wonderful Tools: Thoughts on Apple’s 2019 iPhone Event 

Apple’s 2019 iPhone event has come and gone, but calling it the “iPhone event” isn’t quite right anymore, as Apple’s handset shared the stage with the company’s growing collection of content services, the Apple Watch and even a new entry-level iPad.

The event started with a video and a quote from Tim Cook that I think sums up how Apple thinks about itself pretty nicely:

Give people wonderful tools and they’ll do wonderful things.

As someone with a sizable Apple collection, this video was made for me:

Of course, the Apple TV’s Siri Remote made an appearance in this video,1 so not everything in it was wonderful.

From there, Tim Cook said he was dispensing with his normal updates to jump into product news, despite the event ending on a rather sleepy Retail update.

Apple Arcade

Before we get to any details, the most important stuff first: Apple Arcade is coming next Thursday, September 19, and will cost $4.99 a month for the entire family, and Apple’s offering a one-month free trial.

As previously announced, Apple Arcade is a collection of games that will run on iOS, macOS and tvOS, and those platforms only. Apple is working with gamemakers to build titles for its own platforms, and they’ll be free of any in-app purchases or other scammy tactics so often found in mobile games today.

$4.99 seems like a great price to me, and while I’m not a big gamer, I think this is going to prove to be very popular.

Apple TV+

Up next, Cook revisited Apple TV+, the company’s upcoming streaming service that is launching on November 1, for $4.99 a month, with a selection of Apple-created shows, with more coming each month. Unlike Netflix/Hulu/Disney+Every Other Streaming Service, Apple TV+ lacks any sort of back catalog of content, so I’m glad to see Apple didn’t take the highroad when it came to pricing.

Cook shared his excitement that the trailers for The Morning Show, Dickinson and For All Mankind have done so well online, before rolling a trailer for See, a show about the future of the human race, in a world where our sight has been taken from us.

Starring Jason Momoa, the show looks good. Honestly, out of the four trailers, the only one that doesn’t interest me that much is Dickinson. I hope to crash an episode of The Incomparable about For All Mankind later this fall.

Interestingly, Apple did not announce a services bundle, but any customer who buys a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV will get a year of Apple TV+ for free.

10.2-inch iPad

The first hardware of the day surprised me. Apple introduced a new entry-level 10.2-inch iPad replacing the $329 9.7-inch model.

The new iPad uses the A10 Fusion CPU from the iPhone 7, same as the outgoing 9.7-inch model. However, the new screen has been paired with a Smart Connector, so Apple’s foldable Smart Keyboard cover can be used with this iPad.

Like the out-going 9.7-inch, this iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil and has a Lightning port.

The elephant in the room is the 10.5-inch iPad Air, which also supports the Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil. The iPad Air starts $499 for a Wi-Fi model with 64 GB of storage, a big jump from $329, even if that entry-level iPad has just 32 GB of storage.

For the additional money, the iPad Air comes with:

  • A slightly larger display that is laminated and has an anti-reflective coating
  • Support for P3 wide color
  • True Tone support
  • A storage ceiling of 256 GB (instead of 128 GB on the plain iPad)
  • Better cameras
  • The much-faster A12 Fusion chipset

So, is the iPad Air worth the upgrade in price? I think so, but I don’t think anyone walking into an Apple Store will understand that, as they look the same, support the same accessories and are practically the same size. Yes, the screen on the Air is a lot nicer, and it’s a lot faster, but is that enough?

Apple Watch Series 5

Going into this event, very little was known about the next Apple Watch, and it turns out, this year is mostly about improving the performance of the Watch, with the exception of one big feature: an always-on display.

For the first time, someone wearing an Apple Watch will be able to tell the time without turning their wrists or tapping their Watch. Apple has achieved this by tinkering with the display and the hardware that drives it, while still claiming all-day battery life.

Another big feature, in my mind at least, is that Apple is uncoupling the Watch and band when you purchase. As always, they have suggested pairings, but now ordering a different band at the time of purchase is super simple. I think a lot of people ended up with spare bands they did not want, and this should help with that.

The much-rumored sleep tracking feature was not announced, but those interested in it should download Sleep++ anyway.

The Series 5 looks the same as the Series 4, with its larger screen and slimmer case, but this year Apple has a couple of new case options, including brushed titanium and the return of the ceramic Apple Watch. These models have been branded “Apple Watch Edition,” a name I did not think we’d ever see again.

Here’s some fancy marketing copy from Apple:

Titanium is one of the most sought-after materials in the watch world. It’s 45 percent lighter than stainless steel, yet has twice the strength to weight ratio. For the natural brushed titanium finish, Apple invented a whole new surface treatment that is stain and fingerprint resistant to keep it looking immaculate. The space black titanium finish uses a diamond-like coating, making it both beautiful and incredibly durable.

aaaaand:

Ceramic makes a return to Apple Watch. Sleek, light, and extremely durable, it’s more than four times as hard as stainless steel — with a pure, white finish that won’t scratch or tarnish. Every ceramic case is compression molded, sintered, and polished to a striking shine with a diamond slurry, a process that takes days.

Both options look great, but are more expensive than the stainless steel Apple Watch, starting at $799 for the Titanium and $1,399 for the ceramic.

The Series 3 is hanging around at a starting price point of $199.

As for me, I’m going to be sitting this Apple Watch revision out. I have a Series 4 that I wear when working out, but I’ve moved on from the Apple Watch in day-to-day use.

iPhone 11

As rumored, the old iPhone XR has become the mainstream iPhone, this time called the iPhone 11. Like last year, it is built around a 6.1-inch LCD screen complete with Face ID and comes in a bunch of colors:

I much prefer last year’s selection of brighter colors, and I am sad to see my beloved blue iPhone go away.

On the inside, Apple has followed in last year’s footsteps as well, making the iPhone 11 and its more expensive siblings all powered by the same A13 Bionic chip.

Around back, the 11 has picked up a second camera. The new ultra-wide camera shoots 12MP images through a 5-element, 13mm lens with a 120 degree field of view. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Going into this cycle, I had assumed the rumored ultra-wide lens would the third camera on the back of the more expensive phones, with the telephoto trickling down to the 11. I was wrong; this new phone has the same new ultra-wide shooter as the other two phones, which boast being the only models with the telephoto option.

Clearly, Apple thinks more people will use the ultra-wide than the telephoto, but the lack of the telephoto option was the one feature that made the iPhone XR unusable for me. Perhaps I’m just in the minority, but being able to zoom in is important to me.

Battery life this year is up one hour over the iPhone XR, and water resistance on the iPhone 11 is rated for a depth of 2 meters for up to 30 minutes.

The iPhone 11 is a correction for Apple, realigning the product line to how customers thought of it, and the iPhone 11’s new price of $699 is a reflection of that. I suspect this phone will sell very well to people still holding onto an iPhone 6S or 7.

iPhone 11 Pro

The replacement for the iPhone XS introduces a new name to the iPhone line — Pro. On stage, Phil Schiller said that names means that Apple believes that high-end users can get all their work done with the product. That aside, I think the name makes sense within Apple’s universe.

The bigger phone being named the iPhone 11 Pro Max is bad, though. So, so bad.

The new phones match the old in terms of size, but the rear glass has now been treated to have a matte finish, and a new color has been added — Midnight Green.

When I saw the color, I thought of the Newton, but according to people on Twitter, it’s a popular color in China.

The iPhone 11 Pro picks up the same CPU and GPU performance gains at the 11 thanks to the A13 chip, as well as the new ultra-wide camera. Apple showed how video recording can be handed off between the various cameras without any change in color, temperature or focus, which is really impressive.

Both the 11 and 11 Pro are picking up new Night Mode, which is long overdue. Google and others have been out in front here for a while.

Like the 11, these devices see a jump in battery life: 4 hours from the iPhone XS to the 11 Pro, and 5 from the XS Max to the 11 Pro Max. All of this is despite a much brighter “Super Retina XDR Display” which can now max out at 1,200 nits.

One thing missing from the keynote was the rumored Apple Tags, but Apple’s website seems to point in their direction:

The new Apple‑designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 Pro to precisely locate other U1‑equipped Apple devices. It’s like adding another sense to iPhone, and it’s going to lead to amazing new capabilities.

With U1 and iOS 13, you can point your iPhone toward someone else’s, and AirDrop will prioritize that device so you can share files faster. And that’s just the beginning.

Details on this are sparse; the U1 doesn’t even appear on the phones’ Tech Specs page.

Something else that doesn’t appear on any of the new phones? A USB-C port, or 3D Touch. Apple is using Haptic Touch across the board now. As this gives every phone and the iPad a more consistent experience, I’m mostly okay with the loss of 3D Touch.

What’s Next

Apple has some unfinished business this year, especially in terms of Mac hardware, so I expect to see another event in October. With a messy software release schedule, the company is clearly playing catch-up in some areas, so October may be a nice change to demo some of the iOS 13 features that will be missing when customers unbox their iPhones next week.

Even with iOS 13 being a bit of a mess, I’m excited to check out the 11 Pro next week. That ultra-wide camera should be a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to seeing better battery life from my iPhone. The XS hasn’t been great in that regard for me.


  1. Speaking of videos, don’t miss this fun story about Apple’s event recap video…