iPhone 12 Pro puts premium in your pocket [Review]

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Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro on wooden table
The iPhone 12 Pro looks like a piece of jewelry, and offers a ton of powerful features, too,
Photo: Ian Fucs/Cult of Mac

Back in September 2012, Apple released what was arguably the best iPhone, the iPhone 5. It looked beautiful, felt great in hand, and signaled the shift from 3G to LTE.

Now, eight years later, Apple is revisiting that playbook with the iPhone 12 lineup. And after about a week of using the iPhone 12 Pro, and putting it to the test on my family’s vacation to Disney World, I think I can safely say this is both my new favorite iPhone, and possibly the new best iPhone of all time.

iPhone 12 Pro review

All the things we didn’t get at Apple’s ‘Hi, Speed’ event

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Hi, Speed event image with wishlist in background
Apple's "Hi, Speed" event offered up some nice updates to the iPhone 12 and HomePod, but left some boxes on the wishlist unchecked.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

It happens before every Apple event. The rumor mill, tech blogs (hello), and iPhone-obsessed nerds pin every hope, dream and desire on the next version of Apple’s devices.

More often than not, those desires are dashed, pushing those wants off to another event. While Apple’s iPhone 12 event showed the steps the company is taking toward iterating on its most popular device, there were also some things left on the wish list.

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.