Top 40 tips that make you love the Touch Bar

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You got the touch. Here's how to master your MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar.
You got the touch. Here's how to master your MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The Touch Bar is one of Apple’s most controversial innovations of recent years. Located inconspicuously at the top of the MacBook Pro keyboard, where the function keys used to sit, some users ignore it altogether. Others actively hate it.

For pro users, like software developers, the lack of a physical escape key and function keys can be a real pain. And the Touch Bar’s touch-sensitivity makes it all too easy to trigger Siri by accident when you aim for the delete key.

But love it or loathe it, we’re stuck with the Touch Bar. Apple includes it on all its high-end laptops, without even offering function keys as a built-to-order option. So we might as well learn how to get the most out of it.

The good news is that once you get in touch with your Touch Bar, it turns out to have some genuinely useful time-saving features. Especially if you use apps that support it, like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office. Here are my top 40 Touch Bar tips.

Get fit with Apple Watch and nail your New Year’s resolution

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How to get in shape with Apple Watch in 2019
How to get in shape with Apple Watch in 2019
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If your New Year’s resolution is to get fit with Apple Watch in 2019, maybe I can help. I know from personal experience that it’s never too late to get in shape.

I’m a middle-aged guy, and up until a few years ago, I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle. I never exercised, I only ate junk food, and I was seriously overweight. Today, I have a six-pack, I run seven miles a day, and I even write about fitness for Cult of Mac.

The secret to my transformation is something I call “The Ratchet.” It’s a way of running that makes it so easy to get started that pretty much anyone who can walk can do it. All you need is your Apple Watch and a pair of running shoes.

So if you’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions for 2019, why not give The Ratchet a try? Here’s how.

Tap into the ancient wisdom of the Apple Watch Breathe app

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Chill out with the Apple Watch Breathe app.
Chill out with the Apple Watch Breathe app.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

In today’s fast-paced, connected world, the demands on our time seem endless. We spend much of our day in a state of constant hyperactivity. Apple Watch and iPhone add to the pressure, with their endless notifications telling us what we should be doing, who we should be speaking to and where we should be going.

Fortunately, Apple also offers an oasis of calm that can help us slow down this frenetic pace. The Apple Watch Breathe app draws on the ancient wisdom of Buddhist monks and yogis who practice a technique called “resonant breathing.”

Luckily, you don’t need to be a master of meditation to use the Breathe app that comes built into your Apple Watch. With clever visuals and smart features, it will guide you through this time-honored method for relaxing your body and clearing your mind. It’s a surprisingly subtle and relaxing experience that you might really enjoy.

In this quick guide, we’ll take a look at the origins of the Breathe app, how it works, what the benefits of resonant breathing are, and how to take advantage of this calming tech. So take a deep breath and let’s get started.

How to start swimming with Apple Watch

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Apple Watch Series 4 loves getting wet
Apple Watch Series 4 loves getting wet.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

While many of us learn to swim at school, plenty of people never return to the pool as an adult. If that sounds familiar, but your shiny new Apple Watch Series 4 is tempting you to dip your toe in the water again, this guide to swimming with Apple Watch is for you.

We’ll take a look at what equipment you’ll need, how to use your watch for swimming, how to structure your workouts for maximum fitness gains, and how to track your progress in Apple’s Activity app.

Let’s dive in and start swimming with Apple Watch.

Why creative pros can’t rely on iPad Pro [Opinion]

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Is the 2018 iPad Pro or a MacBook a better option for you?
Futurists claim the iPad has already eliminated the need for a Mac. Realists say nah.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Since the new iPad Pro’s launch, debate about the powerful devices has become increasingly polarized into two opposing camps: futurists and realists.

The futurists argue that the iPad is the future computing. Apple’s tablet has eliminated the need for laptops, they say, and anyone who claims they can’t manage their workflows on iOS is living in the past (and should just get with the program).

The realists, on the other hand, retort that while the iPad may be cool, it remains limited by iOS in a lot of very important ways. Those limitations mean it is currently impossible to use the iPad as a primary workstation for pros.

So, who is right?

How Apple Watch pace alerts will make you run faster

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watchOS 5 pace alerts are like having a running coach strapped to your wrist
Pace alerts in watchOS 5 are like having a running coach strapped to your wrist.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple made three big strides for runners in watchOS 5, adding Pace Alert, Rolling Mile pace and Cadence features.

In this post, I’ll focus on Pace Alerts, which let you set a specific pace for your run. This handy new feature is not just designed to keep you moving by warning you if you slow down. Pace alerts are ideal for lactic threshold workouts, which will help make you a faster runner. And you can use them to develop your pace awareness — an essential skill if you want to achieve a personal best this marathon season. Here’s how to get up to speed with pace alerts on Apple Watch.

How to sync your Apple workouts to Strava automatically

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Sync Apple Workout app with Strava to get the best of both worlds.
Using Apple's Workout app with Strava gives you the best of both worlds.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Your shiny new Apple Watch is great for logging workouts. But it comes up short when you want to review your training progress and share your workout history with friends. Everything gets bundled in the Activity and Health apps on your iPhone, which are pretty basic.

That’s where third-party apps like Strava come in. Strava offers all the essential fitness analytics that Apple overlooks. The trouble is, Strava’s watch app sucks for logging workouts.

If only you could have the best of both worlds: logging your workouts with Apple’s excellent built-in Workout app, then syncing the data automatically to Strava. Well, thanks to a brilliant indie app called HealthFit, you can.

GPS workout maps prove far more accurate on Apple Watch Series 4

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We took Apple Watch Series 4 to the running track for the ultimate test of GPS accuracy
We took Apple Watch Series 4 to the running track for the ultimate test of GPS accuracy
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch is pretty awesome at doing a lot of things. But mapping workouts isn’t one of them. At least, not until now. Back in 2016, I was pretty disappointed with the maps I got from my Apple Watch Series 2 (the first model that came with built-in GPS). When I tested it at my local running track, the maps it generated looked like random scribbles.

Fast-forward to today, and things look a whole lot better. Last week, I repeated that test with a shiny new Apple Watch Series 4 and got some very interesting results.

Series 4 makes me fall in love with Apple Watch all over again

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apple watch
Cupertino’s latest shiny wearable is really giving me the feels.
Photo: Apple

Can Apple Watch Series 4’s fall-detection feature tell when you have fallen in love? I hope so, because I’ve really fallen for it. Big-time. I haven’t felt this way about an Apple Watch since my first love, the original model, was announced back in 2014.

It’s not just the sleek new design. Nor the spacious new screen. It’s not even the breakthrough new health features. It’s when you combine them all together. It defies all logic and reason that Cupertino managed to cram so much awesomeness into such a tiny, beautiful package.

I can’t wait to strap an Apple Watch Series 4 onto my wrist next Friday and take it for a run. But until then, here are my first thoughts on this exciting new direction for Apple Watch.

How Apple Watch apps’ death spiral nearly killed my iPhone app

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Developing watch apps ain't easy
Developing watch apps ain't easy
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Two years ago, my partner and I launched an Apple Watch app to complement our iPhone fitness app. Little did we know that our embrace of Apple’s smartwatch would threaten the very existence of the gym app we’d been developing since 2012.

Each year since we launched Reps & Sets, we updated it to keep up-to-speed with all the cool new features Apple rolled out at its Worldwide Developers Conference. That all changed last year, though. That’s when we discovered that, by adding support for Apple Watch, we had inadvertently taken a poison pill that could effectively kill our iPhone app.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With a few key changes, Apple could turns things around and reinvigorate the Apple Watch app ecosystem.