Use these smart Apple Music playlists to find old forgotten favorites

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record player smart playlists
The good old days etc.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple Music is great, but sometimes swiping and tapping around on your iPhone to find the right track is the opposite of great. That’s where Smart Playlists come in. These playlists automatically update themselves, based on criteria you choose, so you can quickly listen to, say, all the songs you have Loved, or everything you’ve added recently.

Let’s take a look at some of the best Smart Playlists for Apple Music on your iPhone.

How to fix your AirPods after iOS 11.2.6 broke them

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airpods
Fixing your AirPods is easy.
Photo: Ste Smith/ Cult of Mac

The latest iOS version 11.2.6 is making some users’ AirPods stream in mono, instead of stereo. That is, the same audio channel is coming out of both AirPods. If you only ever listen to podcasts, you may not have noticed this as most podcasts are recorded in mono, but if you listen to music it might be driving you nuts.

The update may also be screwing with the AirPods’ tap controls.

Either way, the fix is easy.

Pro Tip: Use iOS Spotlight as a keyboard app launcher

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spotlight keyboard ap launcher
A spotlight helps find things.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bugDid you know that you can use Spotlight on iOS as an app launcher? It works just like Launchbar or Alfred on the Mac. You just hit a keyboard shortcut and start typing, then hit enter to launch the app. If you have a wireless (or wired) keyboard attached to your iPad, you’re going to love this tip.

This great iOS Spotlight trick lets you know everything about a person

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spotlight contact search
Several spotlights.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Somewhere after the launch of iOS 11, Apple tweaked Spotlight search to be way more useful. Now, when you search for a person, you can trigger a sub-search that lets you find everything you have on them, from emails, to iMessages, to their contact details, through WhatsApp messages, to calendar events. Anywhere that your selected contact exists on your iPhone or iPad will show up in the list.

And then, you can narrow the results with a sub search.

This app can type every Unicode character ever on your iPhone

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Unichar works everywhere
A great new Unicode app.
Photo: Jordan Hipwell

On the Mac, you can type any character available in there Unicode standard, just by opening up the Emoji & Symbols viewer (Control-Command-Space) and picking the one you want. The selection on iOS is much more limited. Even finding an ellipsis is such an odyssey I can never remember whether it’s available or not. But UniChar changes that. It’s a Universal iOS app that brings every single Unicode character to your device.

How to adjust EQ on HomePod

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HomePod Siri Speaker
The HomePod automatically adjusts it EQ to suit the music and the room.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Theoretically, you shouldn’t have to adjust the sound of the music playing to your HomePod. Between all the fancy music processing, and the HomePod’s ability to tailor its audio to the size and shape of your room, music should come out sounding pretty great already. But that doesn’t account for taste. Maybe you like a whole lot of extra bass? Or maybe a certain frequency is booming in your room, and the HomePod isn’t doing anything about it.

Then you should try equalization — tweaking the balance of audio frequencies put out by the speaker. The bad news is that the HomePod offers no native EQ. The good news is that it’s easy to adjust on your Mac or iPhone.

How to use Type to Siri on your Mac

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HomePod siri
Siri -- not just good to talk to.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Type to Siri isn’t just for iOS 11. You can also turn on this super-useful feature on your Mac if it’s running macOS High Sierra. Type to Siri lets you do everything you can with normal Siri — call people, send iMessages, look stuff up on the web, do math, set reminders, and so on — only you type the command into a box instead of saying it. Type to Siri is classified as an accessibility feature, but it’s useful for anyone who works in a busy office, or just feels like a dork when they talk to their Mac.

Pro Tip: Drag and drop text between apps on iPad

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drag and drop text ipad
Dragging text works just like dragging anything else on iOS 11.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bug Do you want to grab a chunk of text from Safari and put it into your Notes app? Do you want to clip sections from a long Word document and comment on them in email? Or maybe you just want to collect snippets of text for research. If so, you should try drag-and-drop text on iPad.

It’s so easy and useful to put two apps side-by-side on one screen, and drag text between them, that you’ll wonder how you got by without it.

How to use Type to Siri in iOS 11 (and why you’ll love it)

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type to siri prompt
Type to Siri really shines on the iPad.
Photo: Cult of Mac

iOS 11 is Apple’s most keyboard-friendly version of its mobile software yet, but that doesn’t mean you have to hook up an external keyboard to use its best new keyboard-centric features. Today we’ll look at Type to Siri, which can be used whenever you’d usually talk to your favorite digital assistant just by tapping on the usual on-screen keyboard.

HomeKit light switch makes your smart lights dumb again

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instant switch
Did you ever dream that you'd be able to switch on a light from a wall switch?
Photo: iDevices

As if HomeKit and other automated home appliances weren’t bad enough, now you can buy a HomeKit-enabled light switch. That’s right. Instead of just walking into a room and flipping the switch on the wall to turn on the lights, you can now walk into a room, flip a switch on the wall to turn on the lights, and also deal with firmware and connection issues for the rest of your life.