Get in the habit of reading, track flights, and use iPad as a monitor [Awesome Apps]

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iPad screen showing three apps: Flighty, Reading Time and Orion.
This week’s Awesome Apps: Reading Time, Orion and Flighty.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

In this week’s Awesome Apps roundup, we have a book-reading app that will help you make reading a habit; a free app that turns an iPad into an external monitor for game consoles or cameras; and a great travel app that puts critical flight information on your Apple Watch.

3 reasons you should buy an Apple Watch Ultra

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The Apple Watch Ultra has one standout feature that alone is worth the price of admission.
The Apple Watch Ultra has one standout feature that alone is worth the price of admission.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Although I go for almost daily bike rides for exercise, I used to always forget to record the rides on my Apple Watch. I’d always record the rides on my bike computer. But when it came to the watch, I’d never remember until halfway through the workout, if at all.

That’s until I got the Apple Watch Ultra, which boasts a bright orange Action button that I set to start an Outdoor Cycle workout.

Now, I remember every time, and it’s because of the button. It’s the strangest thing, and I have no explanation. But the act of hitting a physical button makes me remember.

The versatile Action button — which you can set to turn on the watch’s flashlight, start the stopwatch or run a shortcut, among other things — is reason enough to get the Apple Watch Ultra, which I’ve been wearing since its launch last year. But there’s another great reason. Actually, two.

PNY dual Lightning/USB drive is ready for iPhone and Mac [Review] ★★★★☆

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PNY Duo Link iOS USB 3.2 Dual Flash Drive★★★★☆
PNY offers the cross-platform flash drive your iPhone needs.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Feeling jealous that iPhone 15 users can plug a thumb drive directly into their phone? Then you need the PNY Duo Link iOS USB 3.2 Dual Flash Drive. It has both a Lightning connector and USB-A connector, which makes it compatible with iPhone, iPad and Mac. Windows, too.

With it, you can copy images or other files between devices. Or backup your iPhone when you’re on the go.

I put PNY’s drive through its paces. Here’s what I found out.

Build a reading list and track your progress [Awesome Apps]

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Reading Time for iPhone
A smarter way to keep your reading list organized.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

Reading Time for iPhone and iPad lets you build a library of books, then tracks your progress as you read. It encourages reading by making everything easier and more fun.

You can easily scan books by their barcodes to add them to your library. When you start a reading session, a Live Activity will show up on your Lock Screen, in the Dynamic Island or in StandBy.

The Reading Time app keeps track of your progress with detailed stats — like your reading speed, and estimated time until you’re finished — in an organized dashboard of books.

Lift your iPhone way, way up with this very portable stand [Review] ★★★★★

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Moft Snap Phone Tripod Stand review★★★★★
Moft Snap Phone Tripod Stand does a better job of bringing an iPhone to eye level than any rival I've seen.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Anyone who watches video on their iPhone can see the advantage of a portable stand. The Moft Snap Phone Tripod Stand does more than prop up the screen — it lifts your handset up 4.5 inches so the screen is closer to eye level.

It’s not bulky at all, and it magnetically attaches to the iPhone so it can be carried anywhere.

I tested the stand out for myself. Here’s why I love it.

Make iPad into HDMI monitor with Lux Orion [Awesome Apps]

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Make iPad into HDMI monitor with Lux Orion [Awesome Apps]
Make your iPad into a screen for any device that supports HDMI output with Lux Orion and an adapter.
Photo: Lux
Awesome Apps

You can make your iPad into an external screen for your Mac, a Nintendo Switch, a camera or another device. All you need is the free Lux Orion application and a relatively cheap adapter.

Lux, the maker of the brilliant Halide camera application, made Orion just for fun. But it’s very useful, too.

Bring primo sound wherever you go with new Soundcore Motion 300 [Review] ★★★★

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If space is at a premium, bring this little guy for big sound.★★★★
If space is at a premium, bring this little guy for big sound.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Summer outdoor activities are no more, but if you’ve got a fall hike or hay ride coming up, bring Soundcore’s compact new Motion 300 portable speaker. It’s one of the best of its kind.

It’s small, it’s tough, it looks good, it sounds great and it goes on sale today for $80. Soundcore got it right with the Motion 300, a 30-watt speaker with Wireless Hi-Res Certification and 13 hours of playtime.

Best accessories for Apple Watch

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These are the best accessories you can buy for Apple Watch, including screen protectors, charging stands, wireless earbuds, and more.
Make Apple Watch even greater.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Got a new Apple Watch? The spending doesn’t stop there. It’s time to pick up some awesome Apple Watch accessories that will make using your device even better.

You’ll want a charging stand to enjoy Nightstand mode (and maybe even StandBy on your iPhone), a portable battery for top-ups on the go, a screen protector to keep your display free from scratches, and more. We rounded up the best options for you, so all you have to do is grab your wallet.

Hit the slopes, amuse your dog, and run a freelance biz [Awesome Apps]

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Jolly Pet dog game running on an iPad with dog looking on.
Jolly Pet is popular iPad game for canines -- and some humans too.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

This week’s Awesome Apps include a comprehensive skiing and snowboarding app with a ton of features, an app for running every aspect of a freelance business, a social network for photographers that isn’t Instagram, and a simple iPad game for dogs that also helps some humans with their anxiety.

The ultimate in pet entertainment: Jolly Dog [Awesome Apps]

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Jolly Pet dog game running on an iPad with dog looking on.
Jolly Pet is popular iPad game for canines -- and some humans too.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

Jolly Dog, an iPad game for dogs, is rapidly climbing the App Store charts, thanks to viral gameplay clips on social media.

Originally released in 2016, the app currently ranks No. 27 on the top free iPad apps in the United States, according to App Figures, a market research firm that provides app analytics.

I couldn’t get our dog interested in it, but plenty of pet owners say it provides lots of gameplay fun — and not just for their furry friends. Some humans enjoy playing it, too.

Hands-on with Spigen’s iMac-inspired iPhone 15 case [Review]

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Three of Spigen's limited-edition Classic C1 MagFit cases, inspired by 1998's iconic iMac G3.
Spigen's limited-edition Classic C1 MagFit case is inspired by 1998's iconic iMac G3.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

One of my favorite iPhone cases of all time is Spigen’s Classic C1 MagFit case. Inspired by the iconic iMac G3, the translucent case is strong, protective, easy to get on and off, and inexpensive.

I used a similar Spigen case all last year to protect my iPhone 14. The case now looks worse for wear, but the iPhone remains pristine.

Spigen updated the case in a limited run for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, and in my hands-on testing, it’s as good as ever.

Best bands you can buy today for Apple Watch Series 9

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Graphic showing various best Apple Watch bands for Series 9 and previous.
These are the best bands for Apple Watch in any situation.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

One of the best things about Apple Watch is the insanely wide range of awesome bands to go with it. If, like me, you’re addicted to buying bands for your Apple Watch, we’ve rounded up some of the best you can buy today to help you out.

All our picks work with Apple Watch Series 9, as well as previous versions of the device. Just be sure to pick the right size.

Why Glass is a great social network for photographers [Awesome Apps]

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Glass social network
I don't miss Instagram since moving to Glass.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

Glass is a return to the simplicity of Instagram circa 2012. It’s a social network specially tailored for looking at and posting beautiful photography. I have a thing for niche social networks, I guess.

I was an early adopter of Instagram, which initially was a picture-first social network. It’s lost focus in the years since, getting crowded with Stories, Reels, shopping and countless more half-baked features that don’t make sense. I now avoid it at all costs.

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to use it — although you do need $30/year.

Skiers and snowboarders, hit the updated Slopes app [Awesome Apps]

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The Slopes tracking app for skiers and snowboarders is now updated for iOS 17 and watchOS 10.
The Slopes tracking app for skiers and snowboarders is now updated for iOS 17 and watchOS 10.
Photo: Slopes
Awesome Apps

As fall rolls toward winter in much of the world, it’s time for skiers and snowboarders to get ready to hit the slopes. And major updates in the popular Slopes tracking app offer a lot of great new features for just that.

The app’s slogan is “Track your edge,” and the new version gives you plenty of ways to do it with iOS 17 and watchOS 10.

Kingston’s tiny new external SSD is quick and budget-friendly [Review] ★★★★

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Kingston XS1000 External SSD review★★★★
Add up to 2TB of storage to your Mac or iPad with this pocket-size SSD.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Kingston XS1000 External SSD is about the size of pack of gum but holds up to 2 terabytes of data. And it can transfer files at high speed, too.

I put the petite but powerful and affordable solid state drive to the test and came away impressed.

Apple Watch Series 9 is a surprising package of new features [Review] ★★★★☆

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Apple Watch Series 9 with Mulberry Sport Band on desk★★★★☆
Apple Watch Series 9 is a fine watch, but some of its best features won’t come until later.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch Series 9 is the biggest year-over-year leap in recent years. It has not one, not two, but a whopping four new features, most powered by its updated chip. Apps load faster, voice dictation is near instant and the display gets both brighter in the sun and dimmer in darkness.

A couple of the best features I haven’t been able to test — double tap promises to make tapping the screen with your nose obsolete; improved connectivity with your phone will make it easier to find, if paired with a new iPhone. And with this release, Apple dips their toe into more sustainable manufacturing practices.

The Apple Watch Series 9 a good product. In the end, with big releases like this so few and far between, I can’t help but wonder if it’s close to reaching its potential.

Portable new iPhone game controller is ready to play wherever you go [Review] ★★★★

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Turtle Beach Atom Controller for iOS review★★★★
Don't struggle with on-screen controls when gaming on your iPhone. The Turtle Beach Atom Controller is the way to go.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Clip the Turtle Beach Atom Controller for iOS on either side of an iPhone to add the physical buttons and sticks that make high-end gaming much more fun. It mimics the brilliant design of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con with the controls set on either side of the display.

It’s ready for Apple Arcade games and cloud-gaming services, too. And don’t forget the console games Apple has promised to port to the iPhone 15 Pro.

I spent hours testing the controller (it’s a hard job I have) and I really like it. Here’s why.

Why CleanMyMac X is essential Mac-cleaning software [Awesome Apps]

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MacPaw CleanMyMac X update better monitors your Mac's health
CleanMyMac X offers 30-plus tools for keeping your Mac in tip-top condition.
Photo: MacPaw

Awesome AppsOne piece of software I consider indispensable for keeping my Mac running clean, quick and clear is CleanMyMac X by MacPaw.

CleanMyMac X packs more than 30 tools for keeping your Mac in tip-top condition, but is especially useful for clearing disc space, freeing up RAM, and deleting malware and adware. The latest version has a new, unlimited seven-day free trial, and Cult of Mac readers can get an exclusive 10% discount.

iPhone 15 and 15 Plus: Pro features for less [Review]

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iPhone 15 and 15 Plus review: Pro features for less
A brighter screen is just one of many improvements in the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Those who were jealous of the Dynamic Island and 48MP camera in the iPhone 14 Pro can relax — the just-launched iPhone 15 and 15 Plus include the best features of last year’s Pro models. This makes them significant upgrades for anyone with an older handset … even one from 2022.

And dumping the old Lightning port in favor of USB-C is icing on the cake.

Great ways to find the movies, songs, eSIMS and beers you need [Awesome Apps]

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Awesome Apps for the Week: App icons for Untappd, Numero eSIM, Callsheet and BBC Sounds.
These apps will thrill movie buffs, music fans, frequent flyers and beer fanatics.
Image: Cult of Mac

Awesome AppsIf you love movies, TV, music, beer or international travel, the apps in this week’s Awesome Apps roundup will knock your socks off. If you happen to love all those things … well, first off, congratulations on being a person of many and varied interests.

Secondly, you’d better get downloading so you don’t spend another precious moment without these apps.

Best MagSafe cables and chargers for iPhone 15

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These are the best MagSafe cables and chargers for iPhone 15.
MagSafe is the best way to charge your new iPhone.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

There’s no better way to charge your new iPhone 15 than with MagSafe. Sure, it might not be the fastest charging method, but it’s certainly the simplest and most convenient. And, let’s face it, plugging in a cable is nowhere near as satisfying as that snap you hear when slapping a MagSafe accessory onto the back of your iPhone.

If you’ll be experiencing MagSafe for the first time with iPhone 15, it’s time to stock up on cables, charging stations and battery packs. Here are the best available right now.

Best USB-C cables and chargers for iPhone 15

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These are the best USB-C cables and chargers for iPhone 15.
You can never have too many cables.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

One of the best things about iPhone 15 is arguably its USB-C port, which makes connectivity a whole lot simpler. It means you can finally charge your iPhone with the same cables and chargers you might use for other devices, like iPad Pro, MacBook Air, Nintendo Switch and lots more.

If you don’t own any of those and you need to stock up on USB-C accessories, fear not. We rounded up the best USB-C cables and chargers you can buy right now for iPhone 15.