Top apps and games: Apple names 37 App Store Award finalists

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App Store Award finalists for iPhone apps
If you're looking for reliably good apps and games, this is a fine place to start. These are the apps for iPhone finalists (AllTrails, Duolingo and Flighty).
Photo: App Store

Apple’s App Store named its apps and games of the year for different devices/services plus other App Store Award finalists Tuesday. All told, it recognized 37 apps and games whose developers “are delivering exceptional experiences and making a profound cultural impact.”

And in a matter of weeks, we’ll find out who the winners are, the company said.

Save tunes you hear on TikTok straight to Apple Music

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TikTok Add to Music App
If you come across a cool tune, you can add it to your library with a click.
Photo: TikTok

Even if you only hear a snippet of a tune on TikTok, now you can add the whole song directly to Apple Music or another music-streaming service.

TikTok’s new Add to Music App launched Tuesday in the United States and the United Kingdom. It works with Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and other music streamers.

Store and charge Apple gear with the super-cool BentoStack

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You can use the BentoStack to neatly store you Apple accessories (and charge them).
You can use the BentoStack to neatly store you Apple accessories (and charge them).
Photo: Function101

Ever order a bento box from a Japanese restaurant, with sushi and other foods in separate little compartments? The Function101 BentoStack Charge 8000 is like that  — except it holds Apple accessories you want to store at your desk or tote around. Plus, it charges them.

The BentoStack comes with four useful compartments that you can use as trays. And it features a rechargeable power bank.

Coming ‘ultrasonic’ revolution could change wireless earbuds forever

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xMEMS Cypress
The Cypress ultrasonic speaker promises a leap in digital sound quality.
Photo: xMEMS

xMEMS Labs is bringing what it calls breakthrough technology to the wireless earbuds market late next year after a CES 2024 debut — the Cypress ultrasonic speaker. It turns ultrasonic waves we normally can’t even hear into full-frequency, hi-res audio with remarkable detail, the California-based semiconductor company said Tuesday.

The solid-state microspeaker, which will find its way into various companies’ earbuds and headphones — hello, AirPods? — generates low-frequency sound pressure for a full bass response, according to xMEMS Labs.

That makes the ultrasonic speaker a true replacement for legacy speaker technology that has only been refined, not replaced, since your great-grandparents rocked the Victrola.

Beautiful workstation serves up double the fun with dual everything [Setups]

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Want a highly functional and symmetrical setup? Get two of most things.
Want a highly functional and symmetrical setup? Get two of most things.
Photo: rapgamejordan@reddit.com

A New York City-based magazine editor showed off a beautiful computer setup that serves up twice the fun because it boasts two of everything. Well, not everything.

But it doubles up on a lot of the main gear — two M3 MacBooks Pro, two Studio Displays, two sets of Philips Hue smart lights, a pair of Yamaha speakers on stands and, believe it or not, two Magic Trackpads and a Magic Mouse.

Read more about the setup’s whys and wherefores below, and check out that gear list of links at the bottom of the article.

For All Mankind season 4 launches with painful look back [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★

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For All Mankind season 4★★★
Graying XO Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) pilots a craft with a Soviet colleague in "For All Mankind" season 4.
Photo: Apple TV+

Alternative-history space-race drama series For All Mankind returned to Apple TV+ Friday with a season 4 opener that handled two tough jobs pretty well — painfully looking back at past tragedies and peering ahead with trepidation to probable new ones. After all, space is dangerous and so are people.

In an episode called “Glasnost,” set 8 years after the end of season 3, For All Mankind sets its sites on asteroid wealth and a joint mission led by the United States and Russia to get it. And it doesn’t take long for people to start dying up there.

Be the ‘King of Digital’ with cool new synth app [Awesome Apps]

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AudioKit King of Digital synth app
Retro-obsessed audio mavens: Don't miss this one.
Photo: AudioKit
Awesome Apps

If you love the synth sounds of the ’80s, we have something for you. AudioKit Pro launched a brand-new hybrid synthesizer app for iPhone and iPad Wednesday for those who love the sounds of the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s.

And while the developer said the synth app usually costs $19.99, right now you can get it for $3.99. And by the way, it’s currently rated #1 in Music on the App Store.

Save a couple hundred bucks on Microsoft Audio Dock

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Microsoft Audio Dock
At these prices, you might as well try it.
Photo: Microsoft

If you take a lot of calls via Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom — and if you like to save big on gear — new discounts on the Microsoft Audio Dock might be hard to pass up. You can get up to 86% off the normal $250 price.

Both Amazon and its bargain site Woot! offer deep cuts on the price. The lower price is just $35.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

Killer MacBook Pro misses top billing in monstrous AV rig [Setups]

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That's pretty pricey for 'cozy,' but we'll take it.
That's pretty pricey for 'cozy,' but we'll take it.
Photo: AtroxGraphics@Reddit.com

If you use an M1 Max MacBook Pro bristling with 64GB of unified memory to drive two of Apple’s top Pro Displays XDR as well as off-the-charts audio gear in a Mission Control-looking workstation, can your computer setup accurately be described as “cozy?” That’s what today’s featured setup user said, improbably.

And while the user’s MacBook is still formidable despite Apple moving on to M3 chips, it’s not necessarily the workstation’s star. It almost pales in comparison to the AV components, including two of Apple’s $5,000-plus displays, incredible headphones and mounted KEF speakers that bring massive audio.

Humane unveils Ai Pin: Is it an iPhone killer or damp squib?

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Humane AI Pin
The Humane AI Pin goes on your clothing and may or may not replace your iPhone.
Photo: Humane

After months of cryptic hints and teasing demos, startup Humane finally put its supposedly iPhone-killing Ai Pin on sale Thursday for $700, plus subscription costs.

You pin it to your clothes and interact with it through voice, touch control, gestures and laser projections on your hand.

The question is, will this thing really kill the iPhone? To those who don’t like talking to devices except when absolutely necessary, it must seem unlikely.

See gorgeous shots from Paris iPhone photo exhibition

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“I Remember You,” a two-day photography exhibition highlighting original work shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max, opens in Paris Friday.
Photo: Apple

An iPhone photography exhibition called “I Remember You” debuts Friday in Paris — but here’s your chance to scope out some of the fantastic iPhone 15 Pro Max photos online.

The two-day exhibition at the Salon Corderie showcases work by five esteemed photographers, Apple said Thursday.

Here’s how Apple is changing the next Swift Student Challenge

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Swift Student Challenge 2024
A new category in Apple’s February 2024 Swift Student Challenge will recognize 50 Distinguished Winners.
Photo: Apple

Not only did Apple announce next year’s Swift Student Challenge early to give coders more time to prepare — it put the word out Wednesday for the February 2024 competition — it also added a new “Distinguished Winners” category and a raft of new coding resources in “Everyone Can Code Projects.”

Ted Lasso star belts out classics in Home for Christmas trailer

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It really looks like a song-and-dance extravaganza, if that's your thing.
It really looks like a song-and-dance extravaganza, if that's your thing.
Photo: Apple TV+

Any fan of old-school song-and-dance numbers has a lot to look forward to this Yuletide season, judging by the trailer Apple TV+ dropped Wednesday for its upcoming special, Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas.

The big, star-studded show debuts November 22, along with a companion album on all music streaming platforms, Apple said.

Stunning Mac mini streaming rig took 2 years to perfect [Setups]

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Setups RetroGameCollector-Reddit
Check the links list below to explore all the gear here.
Photo: RetroGameCollector@Reddit.com

It might seem unlikely that a computer setup could take 2 years to build and idealize — until you see just how loaded and beautiful it is. Today’s M2 Pro Mac mini went through many iterations in the past couple of years, its user said, and now they’re finally happy with it.

And they should be. The setup rips through gaming and streaming tasks using an awesome lineup of gear. Read more below and check out that gear list.

Carterjett nylon Apple Watch bands rise to all occasions with comfort

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For beach combing, a workout, the workday, a hot date -- Carterjett nylon Apple Watch bands fit in everywhere.
For beach combing, a workout, the workday, a hot date -- Carterjett nylon Apple Watch bands fit in everywhere.
Photo: Carterjett

Many people associate leather and stainless steel with watch bands for both analog and smart watches, but nylon seems to be on the rise for a lot of good reasons. Straps like the Carterjett Nylon Apple Watch Band offer lightweight comfort, flexibility and waterproof durability that looks good in a lot of situations.

And you can get the Carterjett Nylon Apple Watch Bands in 11 color choices from just $32.99 in the Cult of Mac Store.

Apple gets ready to make much better batteries

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iPhone and other Apple devices may have much better batteries within a couple of years.
iPhone and other Apple devices may have much better batteries within a couple of years.
Photo: PBKreviews

Apple is developing greatly improved batteries for its future devices, according to a new report. It appears the iPhone-maker wants to create a custom process in-house and own it — rather than outsourcing — just like it did with Apple silicon chips.

Commandos kidnap one of Gary Oldman’s Slow Horses in season 3 trailer

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Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb in Slow Horses
Gary Oldman's Jackson Lamb has seen better days. And better spies.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is cranking up the action in espionage-thriller series Slow Horses, if the season 3 trailer it dropped Tuesday is any indication.

Dissipated Cold War-era spy Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman) sees his Slough House crew of remedial MI5 agents come under major attack, and one of them is kidnapped by an elite military unit. Is it an inside job? Per previous seasons, the Slow Horses tend to get in trouble with their more-accomplished MI5 colleagues.

Nice-guy dad remembers how to kill in The Family Plan trailer

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The Family Plan trailer
New action comedy “The Family Plan,” with Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Monaghan, comes to Apple TV+ December 15.
Photo:

Nice-guy dad. Loving wife. Eye-rolling teens. Cute and happy baby. The trailer Apple TV+ dropped Monday for action-comedy film The Family Plan really has it all — including tons and tons of killing.

Mark Wahlberg stars as assassin-turned-straight-arrow husband and dad whose past rushes back in a hail of bullets, even as he still tries to hide everything from wife Michelle Monaghan and the kids. The movie premieres December 15 on Apple TV+.

Logic Pro gains powerful music tools for Mac and iPad

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Apple enhanced the musical user experience in Logic Pro for Mac and iPad.
Apple enhanced the musical user experience in Logic Pro for Mac and iPad.
Photo: Apple

Apple said Monday it updated its Logic Pro music software to help spark users’ creativity and let them produce pro-level tracks.

New features for Mac include Mastering Assistant, 32-bit recording, Sample Alchemy and Beat Breaker. And Quick Sampler Recorder adds to the slate of iPad features.

All M3 MacBook pros reviewed: Same cars, better engines

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Apple M3 chip family
Apple unveiled the M3 and didn't make Mac users wait for the M3 Pro and M3 Max.
Image: Apple

To paraphrase many of the M3 MacBook Pro reviews coming out Monday, Apple’s new lineup is like new car models that look like the old ones but have much better engines under the hood.

Other than the inclusion of blazing-fast M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max chips, reviewers made note of the new Space Black color for the M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBooks. And some poked a little fun at Apple for even having a MacBook Pro with an option for only 8GB of RAM (the 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro model).

Star Wars fan converts old iMacs to Cinema Displays [Setups]

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There's a lot to look at in SE's setup, including 3D-printed
There's a lot to look at in SE's setup, including 3D-printed Star Wars figures like a BB-8 droid on the shelf next to the Xbox.
Photo: Straight_Estimate_76@Reddit.com

If you’ve got an old or damaged iMac lying around, why not make use of it? You can find plenty of guidance online to help you turn that dead weight into a version of Apple’s classic Cinema Display and use it with other Macs.

The owner of today’s setup talked about doing just that, plus using open-source software to make his old Macs run recent macOS versions.

Fake news clips launch For All Mankind season 4

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For All Mankind season 4 fake news clips
Before you blast off with "For All Mankind," don't forget to catch up on the fake news.
Photo: Apple

If you’re fan of alternative-history drama series For All Mankind — in which the space race never ended — Apple TV+ has a treat for you. It’s 15 minutes of fake news clips showing you relevant (fictional) events between season 3 and season 4.

Consider it a teaser that gets you ready for the next 10 episodes, debuting November 10.

Apple opens its 56th retail store in China

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This is Apple's first store in the city of Wenzhou.
This is Apple's first store in the city of Wenzhou.
Photo: Apple

Apple previewed its 56th retail location in China Thursday, saying Apple MixC Wenzhou will open to customers on Saturday as the company’s first in that city of more than 9 million people, and its fourth in Zhejiang province.

The iPhone giant also emphasized the new store’s accessibility and sustainable design incorporating plan-based materials.