How to turn your iPhone’s Health app into an essential fitness dashboard

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A dashboard for your body: all your key stats at a glance.
The Health app can become a dashboard for your body, offering all your key stats at a glance.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Despite its heart-shaped icon, Health is an unloved app. It tends to gets relegated to a junk folder, along with other un-deletable Apple cruft, like the Stocks app.

But when you get past its garish colors and clunky user interface, Apple’s Health app turns out to be genuinely useful — if you customize the dashboard to match your personal fitness goals.

Apple’s new Music Memos app makes songwriting chimp-simple

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Easy to use music creation app means the end of complex demos.
Easy-to-use music creation app Music Memos does away with complex demos.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Apple’s new app, Music Memos, is hands-down the best free music-creation app I’ve ever used on my iPhone. The amount of tech packed into this tiny little iOS app is nothing short of amazing, and it shows Apple’s continuing commitment to the creative community.

Music Memos lets you sit down with your iPhone, tap the screen, and record music. Then it will totally figure out what you played, and supply fairly decent drum and bass tracks to complement your chords. Wow.

I’ve played in live bands that can’t even do that.

Take my word on this: If you can play even rudimentary guitar, piano or even ukulele, you owe it to yourself to give Music Memos a try.

iOS 9.3 brings all-new 3D Touch shortcuts

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3D Touch is becoming more indispensable.
Photo: Apple

3D Touch gets a big boost in iOS 9.3, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system.

On top of the various other “what to expect” features we’ve told you about, the iOS update, which arrived yesterday, also adds a host of new shortcuts you can use from the home screen for all standard pre-installed apps. Check out our list below.

How to restore older versions of iOS apps

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It's not easy, but you can restore old versions of apps on iOS.
It's not easy, but you can restore old versions of apps on iOS.
Photo: Jeff Benjamin

Usually, an app update is a good thing. But sometimes, things go wrong: An update does the opposite of what you expect it to do. In that scenario, you want to roll your apps back, but unfortunately, at least on the iOS and Mac App Stores, Apple makes that seemingly impossible.

But it isn’t impossible — just a little tricky. Here’s how to roll your iOS apps back to an older version when things go wrong.

You can finally use gift cards in the Apple Store app

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A small but welcome change: Gift cards are now supported in the Apple Store app.
A small but welcome change: Gift cards are now supported in the Apple Store app.
Photo: Apple

Apple updated its Apple Store app for iPhone and iPad today to include support for something it probably should have supported a long time ago: gift cards. If you have an Apple Store gift card – or multiple gift cards – you can now successfully apply them to an order within the app.

Colorblind? This iPhone app tells you what color you’re looking at

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Red Stripes tells color blind users what color they're looking at.
Red Stripes tells color blind users what color they're looking at.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Color blindness is an extremely prevalent disability, especially amongst men: according to official statistics, 1 in 12 men are color blind (although women fare better, at a rate of only 1 in 200). These rates of color blindness are part of the reason why Google places such importance in their Material Design guidelines on designing with color blindness in mind. For example, by not relying on color alone to relay critical information within an app.

But no matter how well programmed an app is, it’s not going to help someone who is color blind see colors… or is it? Red Stripe is a new app by developer Michel Fortin that aims to do just that.

Apple’s Podcasts app crashes on launch for most users

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Apple's looking for a way to monetize its podcasting success.
Apple's looking for a way to monetize its podcasting success.
Photo:

Bad news for those of you who use Apple’s Podcasts app: For the vast majority of users running iOS 7.1.1, the app crashes immediately after launching.

There’s currently no word as to why this is happening, since the Podcasts app was last updated May 29 — adding only minor bug fixes — but the malfunction has just kicked in.

How Apple’s Podcasts App Hints at the Future of All Content

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podcasts

Apple quietly released an app called Podcasts this week. The app enables the discovery, organization and playing of podcasts on an iPhone.

In the past, users listened to podcasts in the Music app by default. The next version of iOS will apparently come with a Music app that doesn’t support podcasts.

Podcasts are currently monetized using the advertising model. Nearly all podcasts are free, but those podcasts that make money do so through advertising.

Here’s a typical podcast app spoken during the show: “This podcast is brought to you buy Audible.com! For a free audio book of your choice, including audio books by David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, John Hodgeman, go to Audible.com/american.”)

Under the current system, a podcast content creator can make money from ads, but Apple gets nothing, even when it’s downloaded via the iTunes store.

Providing a platform for other companies to make money while Apple makes nothing really isn’t Apple’s thing.

Apple’s new Podcasts app contains two surprising but telling features.

First, Podcasts contains a skip-forward-30-seconds button. The most obvious use for this button is to skip advertising in podcasts, even the kind spoken by the host of the show. (“This podcast brought to you by [skip forward 30 seconds].”)

Second, the Podcasts app has a mysterious “Redeem” button— but only when you run it on the upcoming iOS 6 version.

It’s not clear what exactly the “Redeem” button will do, but it has something to do with a new way for podcasters to charge money.

So let’s put these two new features together: One makes listening to ads optional; the other creates a way to sell podcasts via iTunes using Apple’s agency model.

It’s a carrot and a stick to podcasters: We’re going to reduce the value of your advertising by letting people skip them; but don’t worry, you can monetize by moving to a paid model.

I think this is the direction Apple intends to move all content available on iTunes.

Go here to read the whole story.