Be the ‘King of Digital’ with cool new synth app [Awesome Apps]

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AudioKit King of Digital synth app
Retro-obsessed audio mavens: Don't miss this one.
Photo: AudioKit
Awesome Apps

If you love the synth sounds of the ’80s, we have something for you. AudioKit Pro launched a brand-new hybrid synthesizer app for iPhone and iPad Wednesday for those who love the sounds of the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s.

And while the developer said the synth app usually costs $19.99, right now you can get it for $3.99. And by the way, it’s currently rated #1 in Music on the App Store.

Why iPhone videographers need this hard drive test app [Awesome Apps]

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OWC Drive Speed app for iPhone
This simple tool could be a life-saver. Or, at least, a video-saver.
Image: Other World Computing/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max can record ProRes video at 4K and 60 fps, but only if the handset is connected to an external drive that’s fast enough to handle it. To find out if your SSD is up to the job, there’s OWC Drive Speed.

This new app verifies transfer speeds between your iPhone and external drives. It displays the maximum frames per second a drive can handle. Because you don’t want to find out on the day of the shoot that the SSD you’re counting on is a dud.

Find Italy’s best restaurants with this must-have foodie app [Awesome Apps]

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Osterie d'Italia app on an iPhone with a fork.
The just-updated Osterie d'Italia app showcases Italy's most soulful slow-food restaurants.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

The best Italian restaurant app just got better. Osterie d’Italia 2024, the latest app version of Slow Food Editore’s killer guide to Italy’s most authentic restaurants, now serves up its piping-hot recommendations in English for the first time.

Plus, a much-improved search functionality makes it easier than ever to find a great place to eat in Italy. And a new feature lets you store your notes and photos about particular restaurants in the cloud so you can access them in subsequent versions of the annually updated app.

Keep your old NVMe SSD useful with this rugged enclosure [Review] ★★★★★

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HyperDrive Next USB4 NVMe SSD Enclosure review★★★★★
Quickly repurpose an NVMe SSD into a Mac external drive with this enclosure from Hyper.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Have an M.2 NVMe drive you want to use with your MacBook or iPad? Put it in the HyperDrive Next USB4 NVMe SSD Enclosure and you can access the contents at speeds up to 40Gbps.

I plugged a solid state drive of mine into this very rugged enclosure to put it to the test.

New USB-C Apple Pencil is lower in price but not usability [Review] ★★★★

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Apple Pencil (USB-C)★★★★
The first budget Apple Pencil is the iPad stylus students and businesspeople have been looking for.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The just-launched Apple Pencil includes USB-C charging, making it easy to use with the budget iPad. While top quality, the new model doesn’t have all the features of Apple Pencil 2 but costs $50 less.

I tested the stylus with my iPad and found reasons to like it even more than the premium version.

A high-quality, EDC band for your Apple Watch [Reviews] ★★★★☆

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All three Mifa nylon Apple Watch bands together.★★★★☆
The same high-quality velcro Apple Watch band comes in these three variants. (A new green model comes with a different NASA logo.)
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you’re looking for a hardy velcro EDC watch band for your Apple Watch, Mifa has you covered. Mifa’s Nylon Sports Leather Apple Watch Band is sturdy, the velcro is strong and the stitched leather is high-quality.

It’s a nice band for daily wear.

It comes in five different styles. The gray-on-black NASA-inspired design is my favorite. Two other designs in brown and black emphasize “EDC-34 Essential Series” with the Mifa name. And two new versions (in green and orange) sport NASA’s classic “meatball” insignia.

This solid metal boom arm mounts your microphone and more [Review] ★★★☆☆

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Kuxiu X36 boom arm with a RØDE NT-USB+ microphone positioned in front of a Mac★★★☆☆
The Kuxiu X36 is a good boom arm for your audio-video equipment.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The Kuxiu X36 Boom Mic Arm is a solid metal piece of gear for mounting a microphone to your desk. It has a clean, logo-free design that blends in with any setup.

Unlike other boom arms, the Kuxiu X36 isn’t free-floating and adjustable with a single finger — it’s a firm stand that will hold its position. It’s split into three segments, not just two, so it’s nonetheless highly adjustable.

After some months of testing, I was surprised to find a much better use for it than mounting my microphone. Read on to see what it’s best for.

2023 iMac reviews: Speedy M3 chip makes all the difference

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2023 iMac M3
The 2023 iMac is intended for use in the home, not the office.
Photo: Apple

Fans of all-in-one desktops are about to get the improved iMac they’ve been waiting for. The first reviews of the 2023 version are out and they’re full of praise for performance gains that that come with the new Apple M3 processor.

“The 2023 edition of the 24-inch Apple iMac is a real pleasure to use, and arguably the best all-in-one desktop when it comes to the amount and variety of tasks it can accomplish,” said the PCMag reviewer.

This brilliant iPad stylus also works with iPhone [Review] ★★★★

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Zagg Pro Stylus 2 review★★★★
Zagg's new iPad stylus is just right for students and businesspeople.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Zagg Pro Stylus 2 is ready to help you take handwritten notes on an iPad and sketch out your ideas, too. Or you can use it on your iPhone — don’t try that with Apple Pencil.

It wirelessly charges on the edge of an Apple tablet, and that’s just one of the tricks it can do.

I tested the Pro Stylus 2 with my iPad Pro and iPhone 15 and came away pleased.

MacBook sleeve streamlines daily carry with iPhone and AirPods charging [Review] ★★★

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As you can see, you have to push the other gear around if you want to use Nexa as a mouse pad.★★★
As you can see, you have to push the other gear around if you want to use Nexa as a mouse pad.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Journey recently unleashed an odd-but-useful beast — “the world’s first 4-in-1 laptop sleeve” with wireless charging, aka the Journey Nexa.

Journey Nexa Laptop Sleeve with Wireless Charging is a 4-in-1 device — MacBook sleeve, wireless charger for iPhone and AirPods, mouse pad and desk mat. But I found space limits it when you try to use it four ways at once, and it could benefit from some other improvements.

The 15 best shows on Apple TV+

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Best shows on Apple TV+
Looking for something to stream? Check out the best shows on Apple TV+.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s programming slate seems like a crazily oscillating slate of highs and lows. But the highs thus far prove dizzying indeed.

Directors like M. Night Shyamalan, Rupert Wyatt and Kim Jee-Woon, writers like Min Jin Lee, Paul Theroux, Emily Dickinson and Isaac Asimov, high-concept premises and legendary ensembles all meet on Apple’s streaming service.

The result is a collection of art worth signing up for. On the fourth anniversary of the service’s launch, here’s a look at the best shows on Apple TV+.

Hate stuff in your ears? Try Soundcore’s new open-ear wireless buds [Review] ★★★★☆

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Soundcore's AeroFit (left) and AeroFit Pro open-ear buds keep the hardware out of your ear.★★★★☆
Soundcore's AeroFit (left) and AeroFit Pro open-ear buds keep the hardware out of your ear.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Some people just hate having anything in their ears, like earplugs or earbuds that insert in the ear canal. Others love having music during workouts, but despise sweating all over their earbuds or headphones. For them, Soundcore rolled out the bold-sounding AeroFit and AeroFit Pro Open-Ear True-Wireless Earbuds Wednesday.

The new buds are good at what they do, but they’re not for everyone. I tried out both sets.

M1 vs. M3 24-inch iMac comparison: What’s changed?

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M1 vs M3 iMac Comparison
How is the 2023 iMac better than its 2021 predecessor?
Photo: Rajesh

Apple unveiled the 24-inch iMac with M1 chip way back in April 2021, and while the rest of the company’s Mac lineup got an M2 upgrade since then, the all-on-one desktop missed the boat. To make up for it, Apple announced the M3-powered iMac at its ‘Scary Fast’ event.

How does the 2023 iMac compare to its predecessor? Does it pack any other improvement besides the faster chip? Read this comparison to find out.

The Enfield Poltergeist documentary brings eerie Halloween chills [Apple TV+ review]

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"The Enfield Poltergeist" is an eerie way to spend a Halloween-ish evening.
Image: Apple

TV+ Review The Apple TV+ documentary The Enfield Poltergeist goes in-depth on “the most famous poltergeist haunting in history.” The events inspired The Conjuring 2 and are creepy Halloween fun, though unlikely to convince anyone that ghosts are real.

I suspended my disbelief for a few hours and enjoyed the show for what it is.

Tiny new earbuds bring mighty sound, decent noise cancellation [Review][Updated] ★★★★☆

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If you like compact, stemless earbuds with good sound, these are worth a try.★★★★☆
If you like compact, stemless earbuds with good sound, these are worth a try.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Don’t want to spend hundreds on great-sounding earbuds? Affordable earbud and speaker maker EarFun unveiled its updated stemless earbuds Monday, EarFun Free Pro 3. They check a lot of quality boxes at a low regular price of $80, or $60 with current discounts (see below).

Like previous EarFun releases, the new buds nail high-quality sound and offer an array of premium features. But in this case, I found the active noise cancellation (ANC) unimpressive — that is, until EarFun sent out firmware update VO.2.1 in early November, and it improved noticeably. 

Your iPhone needs this luxurious leather wallet case [Review] ★★★★

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Mujjo Full Leather Wallet Case with MagSafe★★★★
You don't need a separate wallet with this handsome leather iPhone case from Mujjo.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple dropped its leather iPhone cases, but the Mujjo Full Leather Wallet Case with MagSafe is a brilliant alternative. It protects your valuable handset while also providing an easy way to carry credit cards and drivers license. Plus, it looks gorgeous while doing so.

I carried my iPhone 15 Plus this case on holiday, to restaurants … everywhere I went for weeks. Here’s why I love this case for my iPhone 15 Plus, despite a notable drawback.

Get better Bluetooth controls with AirBuddy [Awesome Apps]

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AirBuddy for macOS
Wrangling Bluetooth should work this way out of the box, but luckily, there’s AirBuddy to help.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Awesome AppsAirBuddy is a handy Mac app that lets you monitor all your nearby Bluetooth devices and AirPods. You can check battery life, switch them back and forth between multiple Macs on your desk, and best of all — get the same beautiful AirPods animations that you see on your iPhone.

It offers granular Bluetooth controls that Apple should build right into macOS.

Add a calculator widget to your Home Screen [Awesome Apps]

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Calcullo is a simple calculator widget for your Home Screen.
Calcullo is a simple calculator widget for your Home Screen.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Awesome AppsNew in iOS 17 are interactive widgets on the Home Screen — that is, widgets that can do things, not just passively show information — and a handy one is Calcullo.

Calcullo is a $1.99 calculator widget for your Home Screen that makes it easy to tap out quick calculations on the fly.

This cellular home internet comes with truly unlimited data at a good price [Review] ★★★★☆

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EZ Internet Solutions router sitting on a cable box★★★★☆
This router has a few tricks up its sleeve. It has an AT&T SIM card — but best of all, it didn’t come from AT&T.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

EZ Internet Solutions is a rural internet service provider that can give you a solid cellular internet connection that’s truly unlimited — no data cap, no speed throttling. If you live in a spot without any internet infrastructure, but you do have a cell connection, it is a solid option you should consider.

EZ Internet Solutions offers cellular home internet in places AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile don’t. Contrast that with HughesNet, a popular satellite internet provider, which charges an arm and a leg only to give you a fraction of the speed.

I truly live in the middle of nowhere, and yet I’ve been using EZ Internet to live stream a video podcast every week for months without a hitch.

Apple TV+ movie Killers of the Flower Moon is grueling but important [Review] ★★★★★

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Jesse Plemons and Robert De Niro match wits in Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon★★★★★
Jesse Plemons and Robert De Niro match wits in Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ Review As far back as I could remember, Martin Scorsese has been synonymous with the movies. Now Apple TV+ has financed his latest work, an adaptation of David Grann’s true crime novel The Killers of the Flower Moon about the death of a native American community and the birth of the FBI to the tune of $200 million.

Killers of the Flower Moon will go down as one of the director’s boldest and most furious statements in a career full of them.

Swing into hack-and-slash fun with Dungeon Hunter 6 [Awesome Apps]

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Choose your character and get ready to fight in Dungeon Hunter 6
The new Dungeon Hunter 6 is loads of fun and free (sort of).
Image: Gameloft/Goat Games

Awesome AppsDungeon Hunter 6, the new installment in the long-running RPG series, offers heaps of fantasy-themed battle. It’s a mix of real-time fighting and strategy, and offers a fun look to its characters and many, many monsters.

It’s a free to play game for iPhone and iPad, with in-app purchases.

Samsung T9 portable SSD offers big, fast storage in a tiny package [Review] ★★★★

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Samsung T9 portable SSD review★★★★
The Samsung T9 puts terabytes of storage in your pocket.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Samsung T9 solid-state drive is small enough and tough enough to go almost anywhere. And it’s available in capacities up to 4 terabytes.

I put the recently launched SSD to the test with a range of Apple devices and came away pleased with the design and performance. That said, Mac users can’t take advantage of one of its best features.

Get your news, blogs, YouTube and webcomics all in one place [Awesome Apps]

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NetNewsWire on iPhone and Mac
Keep up with everything from NetNewsWire.
Image: Roland Unger/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Awesome AppsNetNewsWire is a delightfully simple RSS reader for Mac, iPhone and iPad that syncs over iCloud. What’s an RSS reader? It’s the best way to keep up with your news, read blog posts, get YouTube videos, read webcomics and follow anything online.

NetNewsWire is an app I leave open perpetually on my Mac and open dozens of times a day on my iPhone. Since its relaunch a few years ago, it’s become one of the most important, core apps for my work and relaxation. Best of all, it’s totally free and open-source with no ads or tracking.

Best rugged bands for Apple Watch Ultra

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These are the best rugged bands for Apple Watch Ultra
Bands built to be as strong as Apple Watch Ultra itself.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

You can give your new Apple Watch Ultra a quick and easy makeover by slapping on a brand-new band. There are plenty of awesome, rugged-looking options to choose from that go great with Apple’s most robust smartwatch.

We rounded up the best Apple Watch Ultra bands in this buying guide to make your shopping easier.

Know Apple Music’s next song at a glance with LivePod app [Awesome Apps]

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LivePod iOS app for Apple Music
With LivePod, you'll never have to open Apple Music to know what song is coming.
Photo: LivePod

Awesome AppsWish you didn’t have to open the Apple Music app to see what song will play next? The new iOS app LivePod turns your Apple Music Up Next queue into a Live Activity on your Lock Screen. And with newer iPhones, it shows up in the Dynamic Island.

You can use it for free on a limited basis.