How to get started with HomeKit home automation

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Wemo WiFi Smart Plug is a nice start to home automation
A Wemo WiFi Smart Plug is a simple way to learn more about home automation with Apple’s HomeKit.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Controlling the lights and other gadgets in your home from your iPhone is convenient and fun, too. There are plenty of HomeKit and Alexa accessories that make home automation a snap.

I’ll go over some of the best options I’ve found that will get you started with as little trouble as possible.

How to hand off music from your iPhone when you arrive home

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Libratone Zipp mini black white airplay 2 support
The Libratone ZIPP and ZIPP mini offer great sound quality, and now supports AirPlay 2
Photo: Connect to any AirPlay speaker, automatically.

Imagine arriving home, listening to music on your iPhone. You want to start that music playing on your home speakers instead, only you don’t want all the hassle of using Control Center, or the AirPlay panel, to do the connection manually.

If you own a HomePod, all you have to do is hold your iPhone near it, and playback will transfer. But what about regular AirPlay speakers? Can you hand off to those? Yes! You can. With a quick one-time setup, you can have the music or podcast app switch from your headphones, and play on any AirPlay speaker you have at home.

How to safely erase your iPad, iPhone or Mac before returning it

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The hardest part of returning a MacBook is removing the stickers.
The hardest part of returning a MacBook is removing the stickers.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you get a MacBook, iPhone, or iPad this holiday season? Are you going to return it? The good news is that, even if the gift was purchased back in November, you can still return it thanks to Apple’s generous holiday return policy. But if you’ve already set things up and used the iDevice of the Mac, then you need to wipe your data off before you return it. Here’s how.

How to set up your new Apple Watch the right way

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Apple Watch setup
Check out the new Series 5 Apple Watch.
Photo: Apple

New Apple Watch? Congratulations! Whether you got the Series 5 with its always-on screen, or snagged a bargain with the still-useful Series 3, you might be wondering how to get it set up. After all, the Watch is unlike any other Apple device, both in its dependence on your iPhone, and in the way it works.

The good thing is, Apple has made it really, really easy to get things up and running. Let’s take a look.

How to set up your new iPad the right way

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2018 iPad Pro unboxing
Have you got yours yet?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Oh man! You just got your amazing new iPad Pro, tore it out of the box, and wondered how you tricked somebody into  dropping $130 on that tiny white Apple Pencil. Now it’s time to get things set up. Thankfully, this is an easy process, especially if you already use an iPhone or iPad with iCloud.

So easy, in fact, that there are just a few things you need to do to move from your old iPad to a new one, or to migrate from an iPhone. And setting up a new iPad Pro from scratch isn’t much harder — gone are the days of manually copying passwords just to get to the home screen.

Still, following these iPad Pro setup and customization tips will make sure you get the most out of your new machine. Let’s get started.

Set up your new iPhone from scratch the right way

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iPhone Xs
Get your new iPhone set up the right way.
Photo: Apple

For many people, the iPhone 11 will be radically different from previous iPhones. Despite this, the iPhone setup process hasn’t changed much. However, while you might find yourself on familiar ground, there are still plenty of little things you really ought to do before you fire up your new phone for the first time (or pretty soon thereafter). Let’s take a look at how to set up your new iPhone 11 the right way.

How to set up your new iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro the right way

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iphone 11 Upgrade Program
Rip that iPhone 11 out of the box right now.
Photo: Apple

In recent years, the iPhone setup process has changed as dramatically as the iPhones themselves. Apple just keeps making it easier to do. So easy, in fact, that there are just a few things you need to do to move from your old iPhone to a new one. And setting up a new iPhone 11 from scratch isn’t much harder — gone are the days of manually copying passwords just to get to the home screen.

There are still a few tricks, though, that will help things run smoothly. Let’s see how to set up your new iPhone the right way. Whether you have a new iPhone 11, or an iPhone 11 Pro, the process is identical.

Take control of your family photos this Christmas

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headless Santa holiday photos
Ho ho ho!
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This weekend, you’re “enjoying” some extended time with your family. After you’ve fixed their devices, and taught them that the battery of their iPhone lasts way longer if they don’t leave the damn screen on the whole time, you might decide to swap some photos. You may grab the your old childhood snaps off your mother’s iPad, or photos of the family recipe book off your father’s iPhone. There are a few ways to do this — slow, fast and faster, wired or wireless. Let’s see how to transfer photos between iPhones and iPads, and how to share the best holiday photos with everyone.

How to fix your parents’ messed-up computers this holiday season

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abandoned parents computers
Don't let this be your Christmas.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Christmas time means packing up your daily troubles, forgetting work for a week, and heading home to… troubleshoot your parents’ broken computers and gadgets? Oh man, is it that time of year again already? That’s the problem with being the family’s only geek – you get handed all the geek jobs. However, you can turn this to your advantage, and make it a lot easier, by going in prepared. Check out our Holiday Troubleshooting Guide right here.

How to set an Apple Watch Move goal that’s right for you

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For best results, you should tailor your Apple Watch Move goal to suit your personal situation.
For best results, you should tailor your Move goal to suit your personal situation.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The Apple Watch Activity app sets us three daily goals, for standing, exercise and movement. The first two are the same for everyone: Stand for a minute during at least 12 hours of the day, and do at least 30 minutes of exercise. But the Move goal is different.

For it, you must choose an appropriate goal for yourself, and that can prove a little tricky. Set it too high and it’ll be demotivating. Too low, and it’s just not challenging enough.

So how do you pick the perfect Move goal on Apple Watch?