D. Griffin Jones, author at Cult of Mac

How to stop Siri from activating all the damn time

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An Apple Watch with Siri Activated and the caption:
Siri always interrupts at the wrong time.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Ever since it was introduced in 2011, Apple’s Siri voice assistant can often drive you mad. As if Siri’s unhelpful answers were not irritating enough when you actually want them, Siri often interrupts a conversation, meeting or TV show when you haven’t asked for anything at all. How do you stop Siri from randomly activating?

How to keep your data private after Roe v. Wade reversal

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This detailed guide will help you keep your data on your device and your device only.
This detailed guide will help you keep your data on your device and your device only.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, and Facebook turning over a teenager’s private chats about her abortion to police, protecting your data is more urgent than ever.

Your iPhone and Apple Watch, and third-party apps you use on them, efficiently capture data that could be used against you at a later date by law enforcement. We’re talking things like location data, ovulation records, text messages and your web-browsing history.

Keeping all your data private after Roe v. Wade to avoid prosecution could prove highly important. Luckily, Apple gives you powerful controls over how and where your data is stored. You just might need to adjust certain settings for maximum privacy.

Read on to dive deep into data security recommendations for iPhone, Apple Watch, and Mac.

Every new email trick in iOS 16 that you need to know

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Undo sending emails and schedule emails in advance.
Undo sending emails and schedule emails in advance.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Email doesn’t often get new features. Sending an email still works basically the same as it has since the ’90s. But these days, people want modern features — like scheduling emails or undo send. In iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura, Apple brings a bunch of new features to the stock Mail app for the first time.

You can quickly take back an email if you forget to include an attachment, or schedule an important email way in advance. You also can get smart reminders to read email later, or alerts to send a follow-up. If you catch a typo right after sending an email, or if you want to send an invoice on a specific day and time, both features will soon be available.

Read on to see how it all works.

The best keyboard Apple ever made, but smaller? [Review] ★★★★☆

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The Matias keyboard on my desk. The Mac sits on the mStand next to an Apple Cinema Display and Magic Trackpad.★★★★☆
The Matias keyboard is the spiritual successor to the greatest keyboard of all time, the Apple Extended Keyboard II.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

In its entire 46-year history, Apple has made only one truly great keyboard: the Apple Extended Keyboard II. Dating from 1987, the Apple Extended Keyboard II has been dubbed “the greatest computer keyboard of all time.

For me, the Extended Keyboard is the ultimate Goldilocks keyboard: it offers the perfect amount of travel, feel and sound. Alas, it was discontinued in 1994 and Apple hasn’t made a mechanical keyboard — with switches and springs beneath each key — since.

But fear not. The Matias Mini Tactile Pro keyboard is the Extended Keyboard’s spiritual successor: a modern mechanical keyboard in a mini package that plays nice with modern Macs.

But is it any good?

How to use advanced Apple Watch sleep stage tracking

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Sleep tracking on Apple Watch got much more advanced in watchOS 9.
Sleep tracking on Apple Watch got much more advanced in watchOS 9.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you have trouble sleeping, the Apple Watch might help you get to the bottom of what’s going on. New to watchOS 9, it can track what sleep stage you’re in. That means you can see if you’re not getting enough deep sleep or REM sleep, or if you’re waking up too often in the middle of the night. If you have insomnia or sleep apnea, this information could be very useful.

Read on to see how to use the advanced sleep stage tracking in watchOS 9.

How to use iPhone’s Lockdown Mode in iOS 16

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Lockdown Mode is extremely useful for the select few who actually need it.
Lockdown Mode is extremely useful for the select few who actually need it and frivolous for ordinary people like me.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Lockdown Mode is a new option coming in iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura that limits system features for maximum security. Apple designed it to protect its products from sophisticated spyware, like NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, which has been used to target journalists, politicians, dissidents and activists around the world.

Spyware like Pegasus may seem like an unlikely threat. But for some, Lockdown Mode could be life or death. U.S. citizens need not worry at the moment, but it doesn’t take a wild imagination to picture how such spyware might be embraced by slightly more fascist administrations.

Right now, Lockdown Mode is meant for high-profile activists and journalists. And I mean real journalists — the kind who expose state secrets — not bloggers like me. Read on to find out how to enable Lockdown Mode and how it affects your device’s functionality.

9 ways to make your iPhone less addictive

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Here are my tips for spending less time on your phone.
Here are my tips for spending less time on your phone.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

I would not say I have an addiction to my iPhone. I’m a computer nerd; I have an addiction to my Mac. It’s mostly the same, except I can pretend it’s productive.

Many clearly suffer from smartphone addiction, though. If you feel the impulse to unlock your iPhone at every empty moment, or scroll through an app when you feel like you should be getting to bed, here are my tips for making your phone a bit more boring.

How to use Live Captions to get subtitles for absolutely anything in iOS 16

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Live Captions will let you read a podcast! …kinda.
Live Captions will be great! You’ll be able to watch videos wherever you are, in places where you can’t be loud and you don’t have headphones, like late at night in bed or on the train. At least, you will once it works.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Live Captions, a new feature coming in iOS 16, will generate subtitles of any audio playing in any app on your iPhone. Powered by the Neural Engine in Apple’s custom silicon, the capability to turn words from music and/or videos into real-time text will be a boon to many users, in many different situations.

If you’re hard of hearing, for instance, the ability to see instant captions on the screen is a game changer. Or, if you don’t have headphones when you’re sitting in bed late at night and your partner is asleep — or you’re in any situation where you don’t want to make noise, like on the bus or in an office — you can turn on Live Captions to get subtitles.

The applications are endless and exciting. Here’s how to use Live Captions in iOS 16.

Live weather, awesome astronomy and fun faces: Customize your iPhone’s Lock Screen

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There are a lot of ways to customize the Lock Screen in iOS 16.
There are a lot of ways to customize the Lock Screen in iOS 16.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

iOS 16 brings the most radical change to the iPhone Lock Screen yet. In the upcoming operating system, you can customize and totally transform the look and feel of your phone. If you liked the themed custom Home Screens people were putting together using Shortcuts and Widgetsmith, you’ll love the level of creativity you can express on the Lock Screen.

Read on to see all the features of the new iOS 16 Lock Screen.

Forget blur: How to cover faces and add emoji to photos

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The emoji in this picture are accurate representations of every picture of me until I was about 8. I didn't know how to smile for pictures and I did not care to learn.
The emoji in this picture are accurate representations of every picture of me until I was about 8. I didn't know how to smile for pictures and I did not care to learn.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

There are lots of times when you might want to cover up faces before posting pictures: Teachers often want to censor the faces of their students. Boudoir photographers (Google it) can censor explicit portions of their photography for social media. Foster parents who are legally prohibited from posting identifying pictures of children in their home can quickly cover them up. Forget trying to blur faces — there’s an app that makes covering up faces dead easy: MaskerAid.

If you’ve ever wanted to hide a face before posting a picture, MaskerAid (a pun on “masquerade”) will quickly censor faces with emoji. Unlike apps like Snapchat, MaskerAid will preserve the full quality and resolution of your pictures.

MaskerAid is the latest app by independent podcaster and developer Casey Liss. You can download MaskerAid here on the App Store for iPhone (there is no Android version). The app is free to try out with your own pictures, but to use the full set of emoji, you must pay a one-time purchase of $2.99.