How to set up and use your brand new AirPods

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AirPods
AirPods. So, so, cool.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

If you’re a super lucky duck, then Santa may have left a pair of AirPods a) in your stocking of b) under your tree (depending on how good or bad you’ve been in 2017). We picked AirPods as Apple’s best product of last year, because they really do offer a huge upgrade on all previous headphones. They’re easy to use, and they sounds amazing. Here are a few pointers on getting the most out of your new AirPods.

Best gadgets of 2017

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Best gadgets 2017
What gadgets grabbed our attention in 2017? Funny you should ask.
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac's 2017 Year in Review Welcome to Cult of Mac‘s Gadget of the Year extravaganza. Unlike some other blogs, where harassed writers get a last-minute order from the boss to come up with an end-of-year list, and then spend a half-hour writing up the first five Google results for their given subject, our top gadgets are all rad, and all genuinely worth your cash.

Two of them will even change how you use technology, which isn’t a bad score for just one year. Let’s take a look at our favorite gadgets of 2017, and see why they’re so good.

Cult of Mac’s 2018 Apple wish list

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iPad Pro2
A future Face ID iPad may have smaller bezels.
Photo: Martin Hajek

Cult of Mac's 2017 Year in Review With 2018 about to begin, why rehash everything that already happened, just to fill up some space while we take time out for Christmas? Let’s go with a different year-end cliche? Yes, it’s a wish list for Apple products in 2018.

Some of these will almost certainly come to pass, while others perhaps will not. One is probably doomed before you even read about it here. Let’s take a look at what Apple products I hope will part me from my money in the coming year.

Set up your new iPhone X the right way

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iphone x dock
Get your new iPhone set up the right way.
Photo: Apple

The new iPhone X is radically different from previous iPhones, but the setup hasn’t changed much at all. The biggest difference from your current  iPhone, is that you’ll be able to take advantage of Automatic Setup. And of course Face ID has ousted Touch ID, so you’ll only have to save one face, instead of several fingers.

Other than that, you may find yourself on familiar ground. So lets take a look at how to set up your new iPhone X the right way.

High Sierra ‘Content Caching’ turns your Mac into a local iCloud server

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iMac content caching
If you have a spare Mac, you could turn it into a local iCloud cache.
Photo: Dean Hochman/Flickr CC

When iOS update time rolls round, you probably run through all the devices in your home, downloading those multi-gigabyte updates over and over. If you have a few iPhones, plus a couple of iPads, it all adds to a lot of data, and a lot of waiting. New in macOS 10.13 High Sierra is Content Caching, which stores these downloads on a Mac, so they only have to be downloaded once.

This doesn’t only save on internet data usage. It also makes it way faster to update several devices. And it’s not just updates either. Content caching can also cache iCloud documents, your photo library, and app updates.

Slow iPhone? Here’s how to check the health of your battery

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iPhone battery
Brazil demands easy iPhone battery replacements.
Photo: iFixit

With all the fuss about depleted old batteries slowing down iPhones, it might be a good idea to at least check the health of your iPhone’s battery. To do this, you can use a free tool called coconutBattery. This handy app digs into your iOS and Mac devices to tell you how old they are, and how strong your battery is compared to when it was new.

This SD card reader can transfer any file to iPad and iPhone

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The Kingston MobileLite G3
This little box solves all kinds of problems.
Photo: Kingston

If you’re traveling to see family this Christmas, then you may like the Kingston MobileLite G3, which is — amongst other things — a wireless SD card reader that lets you load and save any files you like. Unlike Apple’s own SD card reader, which only works with video and photos, the MobileLite can read any file you want, and then hand it off to any app that can open it.

Not only that, but the MobileLite also works with USB drives, and can juice your iPhone with its built-in 5,400 mAh battery.

Fusion Guitar packs an iPhone dock and speakers

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fusion guitar
With the Fusion Guitar, you too can sit in a chilly, graffiti-covered street and smile.
Photo: Fusion Guitars

What would happen if you took an electric guitar, made it as thick as an acoustic guitar, and stuffed the extra space not with boring old air, but with speakers and an electronic brain that works with your iPhone?

Then, you might put in a cutout on the guitar top to hold that iPhone, and a rechargeable battery to power it all. If you did all that, then you’d have invented the Fusion Guitar.

Activate iPhone X Reachability with a flick of the thumb

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gestures iPhone x
Your thumb will get a workout now that the home button is no longer around to do all the work.
Photo: Apple

Here’s a great Reachability tip for iPhone X users. It’s so neat that even if you find Reachability pointless, you’ll love it. Or at least, you’ll love how absurd the gestures are to activate it.

What am I talking about? Let’s just say that if you’re a close-up conjurer who specializes in card tricks, then you will have no problem with this iPhone X tip. If you’re a normal human, it might take a bit of practice.

How to calibrate your Apple Watch for accurate workout stats

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Apple Watch
Get ready to run (or walk).
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The Apple watch is pretty good at counting your steps, and guessing the length of your strides, but does it really know how far you have run or walked? With a Series 3 Apple Watch, the onboard GPS almost takes care of it for you. If you have an older Apple Watch, though, you’ll need to take your iPhone along for a few runs to let the watch calibrate itself using the iPhone’s GPS. Here’s how.