Chrome browser taps AI for new ‘Help me write’ tool

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Google Chrome 'Help Me Write' AI writing tool
"Help Me Write" uses AI to improve your writing online.
Image: Google

Google Chrome uses artificial intelligence in a new experimental tool that makes it easier to start writing or improve something already written online. “Help me write” can punch up the content of any text field in the browser.

It’s coming to Mac and Windows, and is just the latest AI addition to Chrome.

Today in Apple history: Hippie-themed iMacs fuel Cupertino flashback

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The Flower Power iMac G3 and Blue Dalmatian iMac G3 were two of the wackier Macs in history.
These were two of the wackier Macs ever.
Photo: Apple

February 22: Today in Apple history: Hippie-themed Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian iMacs fuel Cupertino flashback February 22, 2001: The iMac Special Edition, sporting wild designs that would make a hippie happy, puts a wacky face on the computer that saved Apple’s bacon at the turn of the century. The Flower Power iMac and Blue Dalmatian iMac evoke tie-dye shirts or other unconventional ’60s-era imagery.

A far cry from the super-serious, aluminum-heavy industrial design that will come to define Apple in coming years, these colorfully patterned iMacs stand out as some of the most irreverent computers Cupertino ever dreamed up. (C’mon, when was a real Dalmatian blue?)

Under the consciously tacky exteriors, a pretty darn great iMac G3 hums along.

Earthsounds trailer: You’ve never heard nature like this

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Earthsounds documentary series on Apple TV+
The Earthsounds docuseries premieres February 23 on Apple TV+.
Image: Apple

Now hear this: Apple TV+ dropped a trailer Tuesday for its upcoming documentary series Earthsounds, narrated by Golden Globe winner and Emmy Award nominee Tom Hiddleston.

The streamer said you’ll “hear our planet like never before in the new 12-part immersive natural history series.” All episodes become available February 23.

Spark app’s new AI assistant writes emails like you do

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Spark email app gains My Writing Style feature
One of the best email apps for the Mac is getting even better.
Photo: Readdle

Spark, a renowned email client for iPhone and Mac, is getting a new AI-driven My Writing Style feature. While the email app already offers AI-powered writing assistance, the new feature aims to mirror your writing style. This will enable you to use AI to draft emails in your voice and style, giving them a personal touch.

iOS 17.4 beta 4: All the new features and changes

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iOS 17.4 logo
iOS 17.4 beta 4 surprisingly packs some major changes.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple recently seeded the fourth beta of iOS 17.4. Despite this late into the beta cycle, iOS 17.4 beta 4 packs several notable changes.

Below are all the changes we have come across in the latest iOS 17.4 beta along with an archive of all the changes in the previous beta builds.

Act fast to chop $200 off M2 MacBook Air 

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M2 MacBook Air
$200 off is nothing to sneeze at.
Photo: Apple

There’s no time like the present to jump on a great deal on a very cool laptop computer — $200 off an M2 MacBook Air. You can get that price on a midnight- or spay gray-colored model at B&H Photo.

Right now you can get the highly rated laptop — 4.9 out of 5 stars at B&H — for just $1,149, down from $1,349. That’s a great deal on a bantamweight machine that packs a powerful punch, thanks to Apple silicon.

Improved iPad screen protector and Apple Pencil tip make drawing easier

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Astropad Rock Paper Pencil v2 textured iPad screen protector and Apple Pencil tip
Rock Paper Pencil v2 is for artists struggling with drawing on a slick iPad screen.
Photo: Astropad

The second-generation version of Astropad’s Rock Paper Pencil includes an improved version of the textured iPad screen protector. Theres also a more durable Apple Pencil tip.

The combo is designed for digital artists who want drawing on an iPad to feel more like using a pen on paper.

Apple fortifies iMessage to foil hackers of the future

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Apple Security Encryption
iMessage is about to achieve a higher level of security than any of its widely used rivals.
Image: Apple

An iMessage upgrade with post-quantum cryptography will make Apple’s instant messaging platform ready to fend off future hackers. Today’s encryption methods likely won’t be able to stand up, which is why Apple is bringing in the cutting-edge protocol.

The new tech will launch in March, making iMessage the most secure, widely used messaging service in the world, according to Apple.

Pair faces 20 years in jail over iPhone fraud scheme

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Fake iPhone fraud scheme
Take note: Trying to trade in 5,000 fake iPhones for real ones might not work.
Photo: Photo: Donald Tong/Pexels CC

A federal jury found two Chinese men living in Maryland guilty Tuesday in a fake iPhone fraud scheme. They attempted to defraud Apple in a $3 million scheme to replace fake iPhones with real ones, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said.

Haotian Sun and Pengfei Xue’s mail fraud convictions carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Apple Watch Ultra is tough, but this case/band combo makes it tougher

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Elkson Quattro Pro 2.0 case for Apple Watch Ultra
Want your Apple Watch Ultra to be all but indestructible? Try this case.
Photo: Elkson

The Apple Watch Ultra is famously rugged and great for endurance sports. But no wearable is truly indestructible. So if you want to make your Ultra even tougher, put it in the Elkson Quattro Pro 2.0 bumper case with band for Apple Watch Ultra.

The case/band combo, which now comes in six colors, is available in the Cult of Mac Store for just $23.99.

Custom mechanical gaming keyboard ups ‘cool’ factor [Setups]

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NuPhy mechanical gaming keyboard
The user describes the key caps on his NuPhy Halo75 mechanical gaming keyboard as "fire."
Photo: mcaputo023@reddit.com

Mechanical keyboards are all the rage for folks who love their nuanced typing feel, customizability and all that clickety-clackety noise.

Today’s featured Mac Studio and dual-Studio Display setup boasts a great mechanical gaming keyboard, the NuPhy Halo75, with custom keycaps.

Today in Apple history: Apple and Cisco settle over ‘iPhone’ name

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The InfoGear iPhone was definitely a bit ... different from current models.
The first iPhone was definitely a bit ... different from current models.
Photo: Bob Ackerman/Wikipedia CC

February 21: Today in Apple history: Apple and Cisco settle over 'iPhone' name February 21, 2007: Apple comes to an agreement with Cisco over the iPhone trademark, which Cisco legally owns but Apple wants to use.

Under the agreement, both companies get to use the iPhone trademark on products throughout the world. The two businesses also dismiss outstanding lawsuits against one another, and agree to “explore opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, and consumer and enterprise communications.”

It’s a classic bit of Steve Jobs steamrolling the opposition.

World’s top 7 bestselling smartphones are iPhones

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iPhone 14 in a MagSafe case
iPhone 14 is the world's top-selling smartphone.
Photo: MagEasy

For the first time, iPhones captured the top seven out of 10 spots on a list of bestselling smartphones worldwide, according to Counterpoint Research.

And guess what? iPhone 15 series handsets enter the list not at the top, but at No. 5. Many markets place a greater value on less expensive handsets.

New Apple Sports app gives fans scores and stats for free

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New Apple Sports app
Apple has a new iPhone application for sports fans of all types.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

The new Apple Sports app for iPhone gives fans access to real-time scores, stats and more for their favorite teams across a wide range of sports leagues. The free app launched Wednesday on the App Store.

“We created Apple Sports to give sports fans what they want — an app that delivers incredibly fast access to scores and stats,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, in a statement.

Apple’s 2024 OLED iPad Pro could be crazy thin

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OLED iPad mockup
OLED iPad Pro could stand out with its slim design.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple’s rumored OLED iPad Pro will reportedly be significantly thinner than existing models. The switch to slimmer Organic Light-Emitting Diode panels will make this possible.

Besides the thinner chassis, the 2024 OLED iPad Pros will have slightly bigger dimensions than its predecessors.

iPhone 15 battery doesn’t wear out as fast as Apple thought

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iPhone 15 Battery Health and charge cycles
iOS 17.4 will bring in a new Battery Health screen for iPhone showing the number of charge cycles.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The batteries in the iPhone 15 series are even better than Apple realized. It takes twice as many charge cycles to wear one out than previously thought, greatly expanding the time before the battery needs to be replaced.

We already knew Apple’s latest goes a long time without needing a recharge. And now we know the battery itself is good for years of heavy use while remaining healthy.

Just the sound of a touchscreen swipe can give away your fingerprint

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Fingerprint biometic security
It's not like your fingerprint is being read off the screen. It's recreated from sound and friction.
Photo: Pixabay@Pexels

New research suggests attackers can use the sound of a user’s finger swiping on a touchscreen to recreate their fingerprint pattern, according to a report Tuesday. And that biometric security risk could lead to trouble, of course.

All it takes is casual swiping in popular apps while a device microphone is on.

Great. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, biometic-security-wise.

Apple Music Replay 24 debuts with fun new feature

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Apple Music Replay 24 with new monthly archive
"See, I told you I loved that album. Here it is with 1 minute of listening in May, 2021!"
Photo: Apple

Tuesday is the first day Apple Music users can see their Apple Music Replay 24 favorites so far for the new year — but that’s not all. There’s a fresh new feature to help you obsess over past listening.

Apple Music Replay now gives you monthly stats, including month-by-month lists of your top artists, albums and songs going back to through your history with Replay. So now you have even more proof of your listening habits (good or bad).

Apple chipmaker moving ahead toward 2nm processors in 2025

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TSMC looks ahead to super-speedy 2nm processors
2nm processors made by TSMC will be faster while using less power than today's 5nm iPhone and Mac chips.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Getting 2nm processors into Mac and iPhone is reportedly proceeding as scheduled, and TSMC will begin making these in 2025.

The on-schedule progress report comes as very good news. Especially considering that the Taiwanese chipmaker ran into significant delays developing the 3nm processors currently in use.

Clock ticks on killer iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods refurb deals

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Deals on Apple refurbished gear - iPhone 13 Pro
On the deals list: iPhone 13 Pro (and various minis!)
Photo: Apple

Amazon bargain site Woot! is quietly offering some fantastic refurbished Apple gear deals, including iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods.

Woot refers to its deals lineup as “basically an Apple soup.” It’s your chance to slurp up bargains (if you don’t need the newest gadgets).

The sale ends Monday, February 26, at 10 p.m. PT.

Get Mifa’s cool tactical Apple Watch band in orange or green

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Now you can pick from five colors, including orange and green.
Now you can pick from five colors, including orange and green.
Photo: Mifa

Mifa’s Every-Day-Carry (EDC) Nylon Sports Leather Apple Watch Band is a favorite item in the Cult of Mac Store for its cool, tactical look. And now you can get it in two eye-catching new colors — orange and green.

It doesn’t matter if your Apple Watch is made of aluminum or stainless steel, Mifa’s rugged EDC band can be a great complement to it.

Today in Apple history: iPod mini is ‘world’s smallest music player’

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iPod mini launch lineup in 2004: Five small music players in five different colors (silver, gold, pink, blue, and green).
The iPod mini quickly became a big hit for Apple.
Photo: Apple

February 20: Today in Apple history: iPod mini launch shows off 'world's smallest music player' February 20, 2004: Music goes small as the iPod mini launch brings the reimagined digital audio player to Apple stores.

Released with 4GB of storage and in five colors, the diminutive device features a new “click wheel” that integrates control buttons into a solid-state, touch-sensitive scroll wheel. It also showcases Cupertino’s growing fascination with aluminum, which will become a hallmark of Apple design.

Despite its small size, the new music player’s market potential looms large. In fact, the iPod mini soon becomes Apple’s fastest-selling music player yet.

The Ai Pin demo that Humane should have made

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Humane's AI Pin projector in action.
Humane's AI Pin projector in action.
Photo: Humane

So far, all the demos of Humane’s supposedly iPhone-killing Ai Pin have been underwhelming.

Humane pitched the small, screenless device — which ships next month — as a successor to smartphones. However, it is garnering almost no buzz at all, no thanks to its lackluster marketing. The Ai Pin’s first introductory video looked especially bad. It proved so head-scratchingly awful, it made you wonder if the company wants the device to bomb, like some kind of high-tech The Producers investor/insurance scam.

But a new video just emerged that actually makes the device look cool. It’s the demo Humane should have made.

M3 Pro and Max MacBook Pros hit Apple’s refurbished store

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M3 MacBook Pro in space black
Buy refurbished and save big on your new M3 Pro/Max MacBook Pro.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s Certified Refurbished store in the US is now selling MacBook Pros with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips. Refurbished models are available in 14-inch and 16-inch displays.

Buying a refurbished unit can help you save up to $300 on the M3 Pro MacBook. On laptops with the M3 Max chip, the savings can be as high as $530.