D. Griffin Jones, author at Cult of Mac

Apple Watch Series 9 is a surprising package of new features [Review] ★★★★☆

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Apple Watch Series 9 with Mulberry Sport Band on desk★★★★☆
Apple Watch Series 9 is a fine watch, but some of its best features won’t come until later.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch Series 9 is the biggest year-over-year leap in recent years. It has not one, not two, but a whopping four new features, most powered by its updated chip. Apps load faster, voice dictation is near instant and the display gets both brighter in the sun and dimmer in darkness.

A couple of the best features I haven’t been able to test — double tap promises to make tapping the screen with your nose obsolete; improved connectivity with your phone will make it easier to find, if paired with a new iPhone. And with this release, Apple dips their toe into more sustainable manufacturing practices.

The Apple Watch Series 9 a good product. In the end, with big releases like this so few and far between, I can’t help but wonder if it’s close to reaching its potential.

Use Apple Health to track your mental well-being

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How do you feel, pointy or circular?
Apple’s mental health tracking feature makes it easy to log your feelings and see what’s bothering you most.
Image: Duke kgomotso/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Here’s how to keep track of your mental health using the new mood-tracking feature in iOS 17. Logging how you feel throughout the day, your iPhone will help you identify what’s causing you trouble or what works for you, whether it’s work, family, exercise, sleep or other things.

In order to make any kind of meaningful change, you need to understand fully what helps, what doesn’t, and what you can do. Starting your log is easy. Set it up once, and your phone will ask you every day so you don’t forget.

Let me show you how to start a log of your mental wellness in iOS 17.

Extend your MacBook’s battery for years of use with Energiza Pro

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Energiza Pro battery health panel in the Mac menu bar
Energiza Pro gives you full control over your battery health.
Image: appgineers

How can you best save your MacBook battery life for many years of use? Your laptop’s battery is the most likely component to wear out, and one of the biggest problems is keeping it plugged in all the time. Apple offers some built-in controls, but they’re pretty basic and inflexible. Energiza Pro, on the other hand, gives you far more options, extending your MacBook’s battery life for years to come.

It’s the smart battery manager you need to keep your MacBook alive for longer.

How to block unsolicited dick pics in iMessage in iOS 17

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Text: “Don’t Send Me That” with screenshot of blocked image in iMessage
Block unwanted images from iMessage.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you’ve ever been the victim of unsolicited dick pics, or “cyberflashing,” you can now automatically hide obscene images in iOS 17. Censoring NSFW sexts can give you an extra line of defense against unwanted, creepy texts. This feature, new in iOS 17, puts suspected nude images and videos behind a blurred gray background.

Unsolicited dick pics are a widespread problem. Among adults who reported receiving nude images, 91% of respondents say they were sent without their consent, according to Indiana University research. And one shocking study published in the Journal of Sex Research found 50% of heterosexual men admitted to sending them!

This new Sensitive Content Warning feature in iOS 17 isn’t just for protecting children. A lot of people likely will find it useful.

How to create a great Contact Poster in iOS 17

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Text: “Make a killer contact card” next to a screenshot of an iOS 17 Contact Poster
When I say “killer,” I mean in the awesome way. I do not endorse committing murder with your contact card. But if you can figure out how that works, I’d be curious.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

How do you create a Contact Poster in iOS 17? Contact posters are a brand-new feature that lets you customize how your contact card looks to other people. If you call someone — and they have your contact info in their address book — your Contact Poster appears on their screen. It looks great; way better than the old thumbnail that was displayed. You set it up once, and everyone with your matching phone number and/or Apple ID will see your chosen contact picture and personalized poster.

It’s really easy to turn an ordinary picture into a gorgeous-looking contact poster. Let me show you how it works — the process might look familiar if you’ve set up a custom Lock Screen.

The 36 best macOS Sonoma features you should try after you update

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While almost nothing about macOS Sonoma leaked ahead of WWDC23, Apple showcased plenty of upgrades during the keynote.
This is a big year for the Mac.
Photo: Apple

macOS Sonoma may not have the same buzz as iOS, but there are loads of new features this year to try out on your Mac. You can get beautiful Apple TV-style aerial screensavers, widgets on your desktop, powerful enhancements to Safari and more.

macOS Sonoma will be released at about 10 AM Pacific on Tuesday, September 26. Here are the 36 best features you can look for after you update.

How to reset your iPhone before trading in or selling

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Erase Your Everything First
Erase everything before you pass off your iPhone.
Image: Ahmadkurdi44/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

How do you reset an iPhone if you’re trading it in, selling it or passing it down to another family member? There’s a right way and a wrong way. If you don’t fully reset the phone, it’ll still be locked to your Apple ID — and the phone will be effectively useless to anyone who tries to use it.

Follow along to make sure you reset your iPhone the right way.

Stick your iPhone to this foldable MagSafe stand [Review] ★★★★☆

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iPhone attached to SwitchEasy Orbit★★★★☆
It’s a portable, foldable iPhone stand.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The SwitchEasy Orbit Universal Magnetic Stand is an incredibly handy little stand that’s sturdy and easy to use. It’s seamlessly blended into my daily iPhone habits — and unlike most products I review, my wife absolutely loves it, too. 

the handy stand props up your iPhone on a table, desk or kitchen counter. Its puck shape allows you to orient your phone vertically or horizontally. It collapses and folds flat, so you can carry it around. 

You can also stick on double-sided tape and attach it to the back of your monitor as a camera mount for your iPhone.

I’ve been using it for a few months now at my desk and around the house. Here’s why I recommend it.

Note: The SwitchEasy Orbit Universal Magnetic Stand is on sale in the Cult of Mac Store through 11:59 p.m. on September 19, 2023.

What do the Apple Watch buttons do? Click, double-click and hold.

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What do the buttons do?
The buttons on the Apple Watch switch apps, activate Apple Pay, open Siri and more.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

What do the buttons on the Apple Watch do? The Apple Watch borrows a lot from the iPhone, but the biggest difference between the two devices comes down to the extra buttons. They do different things whether you click, double-click or hold them down.

In watchOS 10, Apple changed a lot of these features. The software update added a new Widgets view, assigned Control Center to the side button and changed what double-clicking the dial does. (For older devices, consult our article about what Apple Watch buttons do in watchOS 9.)

Here’s a guide to the buttons on the Apple Watch.

The 50 best iOS 17 features you should try after you update

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iOS 17 preview
iOS 17 is packed with features.
Photo: Apple

What’s new in iOS 17? This is a big year for iPhone and iPad. You should definitely check out the biggest new features — Contact Posters and Standby — first. But there are dozens of other great features for you to learn, explore and take advantage of, too.

iOS 17 is out now. I have all the 50 best tweaks and changes organized in this overview.