Scribble and Smart Selection make Apple Pencil way more productive

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Apple Pencil 2 in Hand
The Apple Pencil is fancy, and finally getting more useful.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Back when Apple introduced the Apple Pencil, the company positioned the stylus primarily as a tool for artists. And try as I might, I’ve never been particularly great at drawing. That said, it didn’t stop me from picking up an Apple Pencil to annotate documents, edit photos or use as an alternative way to touch the screen.

Then the Magic Keyboard came along with a fantastic trackpad experience. It offered a different way to interact with the screen without touching it with my finger. But now, with iPadOS 14, Apple has rewritten the story of what Apple Pencil can do, and it’s completely changed how I use my iPad once again.

SmartDesk 2 lets you sit or stand at a stellar price [Review]

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SmartDesk 2 full setup with monitor and light
The SmartDesk 2 can turn your boring desk into a versatile workspace.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Until very recently, I never spent a lot of mental energy thinking about the desk I worked at. As long as there was enough space for whatever I was doing, and it wasn’t getting in the way, I was pretty flexible.

As I’ve started spending more time working and taking meetings from home, I have started to notice when certain “desks” don’t work as well. Sitting on the couch, standing at the bar in our kitchen, or working from the dining table are all OK from time to time, but none are particularly comfortable long-term. Some of this comes down to having a desk at the proper height, and some of it is the lack of flexibility I get in those situations.

That why, when the folks at Autonomous asked if I wanted to check out their SmartDesk 2 adjustable standing desk, I saw it as an opportunity to see if the hype about standing desks is all it’s cracked up to be.

The Magic Keyboard changes the iPad all over again [Review]

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The 12.9
The Magic Keyboard finally makes the iPad Pro a full-on laptop.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

It should come as no surprise that the iPad is one of our favorite devices here at Cult of Mac. Ever since the introduction of the 2018 iPad Pro models and iPadOS 13, Apple’s tablet has made huge strides in being more capable and powerful for tons of things I do. So, needless to say, when I saw the Magic Keyboard, I had high hopes.

One critical factor for the iPad to be a useful tool for me has been a good keyboard experience. Even more important is the ability to shift from typing on the keyboard to interacting with the touchscreen when I want to go mobile around the house or office. 

Now, with the Magic Keyboard, Apple offers a new option for the iPad Pro. The new case lets you effortlessly jump between keyboard and tablet mode whenever you want. Or you can forget about the touchscreen entirely, turning the iPad into more of a laptop than ever before.

Apps to boost your work-from-home productivity

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App icons for TickTick toggle outlook and dayone
It only takes a few key tools to make working remotely much more manageable.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

COVID-19 lockdown certainly brought a swift change from the norm for many people. We’re dealing with the added stress of different working situations, the struggle to get groceries, and in many cases, even acting as teachers or child care providers.

All of that can make it really challenging to feel accomplished and productive. Luckily, I finally found my groove in the last week or so, thanks to a couple of really useful apps (and some self-imposed rules).

This one trick will make the Apple News app way better

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Scrolling Apple News on iPhone
Scrolling Apple News doesn't have to be about ignoring dozens of articles.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Ever since its launch, people have mostly been dismissive about Apple News on iPhone, iPad and Mac. One big reason is the way it interacts with links on the web, boxing users into the News app instead of letting them visit the open web.

For me, that’s actually a pretty desirable thing, because I really like the News app. It’s much cleaner-looking than many ad-bloated websites, and far less emotional and combative than getting your news on social media.

But making the News app show you the things you care about, with less clutter and noise, requires one simple trick.

Peek-a-View lets you safely limit the photos someone can see [Review]

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Peek-a-View lets you limit a photo album to be view-only.
Peek-a-View lets you limit a photo album to be view-only.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

If you’ve ever found yourself showing other people pictures on your phone, you’ve probably also been trying to micromanage what they can and can’t see. And, if you’re a parent of a young kid, it’s likely that you’ve let your child look through a photo album on your device. In that case, you’ve certainly been worried about their ability to delete or accidentally modify an image.

There are ways to limit what a person — or child — can or can’t get to on your device through the Guided Access settings in iOS. But nothing is as simple as using a new iOS app called Peek-a-View to lock down your photos.

These stocking stuffers are the perfect gift for tech lovers

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stocking stuffers 2019
You don't have to give a big gift to make someone's holiday memorable with these great stocking stuffers.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

The holidays are near, and the season of gift-giving is here. Finding that perfect something for your loved ones can be tricky, but sometimes it’s the little things that really make the difference.

Whether it’s a stocking stuffer, a secret Santa gift or you just need something quick and easy, these are five excellent gift ideas to point you in the right direction.

Forget the MacBook Air. Roll your own Apple ‘laptop’ for less than $600.

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The Brydge Keyboard on the 10.2 iPad
An iPad with a Brydge keyboard is a pretty good replacement for a Mac!
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

A year ago, when Apple introduced the latest iPad Pro models, I called the tablet the computer for everywhere. To this day, I still think the 2018 iPad Pro, complete with Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio, is an incredible setup for tons of situations. At the same time, it’s anything but cheap, starting at $1,107 for an 11-inch model with keyboard and Pencil.

Then there’s the Mac laptop lineup. Apple’s current cheapest offering is the MacBook Air, also starting at $1,100. Fortunately, you don’t have to drop over a grand to get an incredibly versatile, powerful, and portable budget laptop made by Apple.

Pro or no: Which AirPods should you get?

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AirPods vs. AirPods Pro: Which is better? Feature-packed, or sleek and simple?
Which is better? Feature-packed, or sleek and simple?
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple’s AirPods are brilliant. They’re incredibly convenient, sleek and offer pretty good sound. They also add a layer of functionality you don’t get with many other Bluetooth headphones or earbuds. And I’m not even talking about the new AirPods Pro.

So, now that Apple expanded the AirPods line to include both the standard AirPods, and the pricier (although more feature-packed) AirPods Pro, choosing the right option might not seem so clear. How do you choose the AirPods that are best for your life?