D. Griffin Jones, author at Cult of Mac

How to join the awesome password-free future and use passkeys

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No More Passwords
Passkeys are here, and I’m here to tell you they’re awesome.
Image: Santeri Viinamäki/Wikimedia Commons, D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Managing passwords is and always has been a giant pain. It isn’t the best system, but it’s the system we’ve got. Well, not if Apple can do anything about it. Passkeys are a new system that automatically signs you in to online services using your phone’s Face ID (or Touch ID) or your computer’s password. It’s one less thing to remember; it works without fiddling around with a password manager.

Passkeys aren’t an Apple-exclusive feature. You can bet it’ll be supported no matter what you have because all of these companies are part of the FIDO Alliance that created the system… eventually. Apple fully supports it in iOS 16 and Safari 16 for Mac, but Google’s version is still in beta and Microsoft won’t add it to Windows until next year. Until that day comes, you can still use your password to sign in.

Follow along as I show you how it works.

Graphics breakthrough brings Linux on Apple silicon closer to reality

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Quake 3 running in a Linux environment on an M1 Mac
3D first-person shooter Quake 3 can run in Linux on an M1 Mac with the new graphics driver.
Screenshot: Alyssa Rosenzweig & Asahi Lina/Asahi Linux Blog

Independent developers working to get Linux running on Apple silicon have made a significant breakthrough — the release of the first graphics driver. This is an important step toward running operating systems other than macOS on Apple’s powerful new computers.

“We’ve been working hard over the past two years to bring this new driver to everyone, and we’re really proud to finally be here,” wrote developers Alyssa Rosenzweig and Asahi Lina in a Wednesday blog post announcing the GPU driver release. “This is still an alpha driver, but it’s already good enough to run a smooth desktop experience and some games.”

Use the all-new iCloud online web app

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Find your photos and files online.
All of your photos and files are in the cloud anyway — with iCloud.com, you can access them from any computer.
Image: Matthew Bowden/Wikimedia Commons, D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can use iCloud online to access all of your online Apple services from any computer, tablet or phone. This includes Find My, Mail, Photos, Files, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Notes, Calendar and Reminders. It’s really convenient if you need to find a lost device, print a file or download a picture from a different computer you’re not signed into.

The site has just been redesigned to make it easier to use than ever before. Let me show you how it works.

Every keyboard Apple ever made — ranked!

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Mac keyboards in a pile.
Clockwise, from top: Apple Extended Keyboard II, Macintosh Plus Keyboard, Apple Keyboard (G4), Apple Keyboard (Aluminum)
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

In the 40-odd years that the Mac has been on the market, very few people have actually used all of Apple’s keyboards. I haven’t either, but I’ve come close. Here is my review of every Apple keyboard I’ve got my hands on — ranked from worst to best.

Røde’s refreshed NT-USB+ mic is easy for all kinds of audio

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The Røde NT-USB+ on a desk. The NT-USB+ is a great professional microphone for your Mac out of the box.
The NT-USB+ is a great professional microphone for your Mac out of the box.
Photo: Røde

Røde’s new NT-USB+ microphone brings exciting new features to the company’s well-reviewed NT-USB from 2014.

Like its predecessor, the NT-USB+ is an all-in-one microphone for streaming, capturing vocals, playing instruments and recording podcasts. The refreshed version adds higher bit depth, a built-in low noise/high gain preamp and a high-powered headphone jack to the classic model. Plus, it connects over USB-C at both ends.

How to get started using Mastodon

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Leave Twitter, join us! …please
Mastodon is a good Twitter clone, but it needs some more active users like you.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Perhaps you, like many others, would like to move away from Twitter. If you read news, webcomics or blogs, you can follow all the same stuff with an RSS reader. But if you want to follow people in your community and talk to others online with the same interests, there’s a Twitter alternative you may have heard about: Mastodon. It’s a full-blown Twitter clone that a lot of people you may know are moving to.

Recent changes at Twitter did not instill confidence in the platform’s future. That’s about the shortest and most diplomatic way I can summarize the cavalcade of poor decision-making that has trickled down from their new CEO, he-who-shall-not-be-named, Rocket Car Tunnel Guy. It’s the last straw for a lot of people.

Despite the memes you may have seen, signing up for Mastodon isn’t that hard. There are just a few things you need to consider. Let me show you how to use Mastodon.

How to use the Dvorak keyboard on iPhone

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Apple’s digital Dvorak keyboard.
Apple’s digital Dvorak keyboard brings the alternative layout to iPhone.
Image: Michael Bunsen/Wikimedia Commons and D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The Dvorak layout is a different way of arranging the 26 letters on the keyboard. Dvorak puts all of the most common letters right on the center row for increased typing speed. It also balances the most common letters across all ten fingers for reducing strain. Physical Dvorak keyboards have been available for computers forever, but finally, you can get it on your iPhone and iPad. Now, you Dvorak aficionados can have a consistent keyboard across all of your devices.

Follow your favorite news, blogs and webcomics without Twitter

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Ditch Twitter, follow the news.
Ditch Twitter, follow the news.
Image: Mori aka ICE/Wikimedia Commons, D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

We all have our favorite news sites, independent blogs or webcomics. A lot of people keep up with new posts on Twitter — it’s where a lot of Cult of Mac traffic comes from. With a mass exodus of Twitter users after you-know-what happened, there’s a way you can still keep up with your favorite sites. It’s a technology that has powered the web for over twenty years called RSS; let me show you can follow the news without Twitter.

Apple News will be shoved into the Weather app

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News in the Weather app.
If you're in the right city, and the weather is notable enough, and you're on the 16.2 beta, and all the stars are aligned, you just might see the News section of the Weather app.
Image: Dmitry Makeev, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons and D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Weather app for iPhone, iPad and Mac soon will incorporate local news sourced from the Apple News service.

In the latest beta of iOS 16.2, certain cities have an additional section for weather news, slotted between the 10-day forecast and the air quality meter. On iPadOS and macOS Ventura, this section occupies an even larger widget in the corner.

Bad news for Xmas: Apple’s largest factory forced into ‘total lockdown’

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Foxconn building
Foxconn is Apple's biggest contract manufacturer.
Photo: Puddingworld, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons

Days after reports of Foxconn employees hopping fences and fleeing from their jobs, a report late Wednesday from Taiwan News says Apple’s biggest iPhone factory is now on “total lockdown.” These new restrictions may have a big impact on Apple’s sales during the crucial holiday period.

Foxconn, whom Apple contracts to manufacture the lion’s share of iPhones, Macs and other Apple products, has had employees stay in on-site dormitories in a “closed-loop system” to prevent COVID outbreaks. Employees have been complaining about the “increasingly unsafe and inhumane working conditions” of the dorms.