Tame cord spaghetti with Function101’s Cable Blocks [Review]

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Function 101 Cable Blocks cord management
Function 101's rubbery magnetic Cable Blocks are my favorite cord management system.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Almost every day, our robot vacuum tangles itself in charging cables, which the kids toss cavalierly across the floor. Snaking from behind the couch, the cords wait like baited fishing lines to ensnare our unsuspecting Roomba. It’s an unmitigated cable management disaster.

Luckily, we just got some Cable Blocks from Function101. Cable Blocks are rubbery little magnetic blocks that sit on your desk or nightstand and hold cables out of the way. It’s a simple and clever design.

Here’s why Cable Blocks are my favorite cable management system.

Shocker: Apple commits to RCS for better texting with Android users

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iMessage bullying
But we don't yet know if blue and green bubbles will remain.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

In what is apparently an enormous change of direction, Apple reportedly plans to add support for Rich Communication Services to the iPhone Messages app in 2024. This will enable iPhones and Androids to communicate more effectively, with more of the bells and whistles associated with Apple’s proprietary iMessage platform.

It also could be the end of the green bubble versus blue bubble controversy, though not necessarily.

Block all YouTube ads with the best Safari extension ever [Awesome Apps]

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Vinegar running on iOS
No ads. Picture-in-picture. Background play. All in one extension. Perfect, no notes.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

If you love YouTube but hate YouTube ads, Vinegar is the best Safari extension you can download. It blocks all ads on YouTube and restores many iOS-native features like playing videos in the background, picture-in-picture, and more on iPhone, iPad and Mac alike.

YouTube ads are freaking insufferable. But if you don’t want to put down the dough for YouTube Premium (currently $13.99 per month), you can pay a one-time fee of just $1.99 to buy Vinegar for all your Apple devices.

If you ever watch YouTube, Vinegar is life-changing. Get it now on the App Store for iOS, iPadOS and macOS.

How to get the latest USB-C Apple Pencil firmware update

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Apple Pencil (USB-C) firmware update
Yes, you might need to think about updating the software on your Apple Pencil.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Just about everything electronic requires firmware — Apple’s iPad stylus is no exception. With software comes updates, and there’s new one for the recently released version of the Apple Pencil with a USB-C port.

Here’s how to check what firmware version your Apple Pencil is currently running, and a suggestion on how to get the new update.

Wireless record player makes vinyl fun again

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Enjoy analog music anywhere with the RokBlok 2.0, now under $80.
Give a vinyl fan analog listening anywhere with the RokBlok 2.0, on sale ahead of Black Friday for less than $80.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Anyone who loves vinyl records will tell you that the physicality of the medium is half the fun. Still, those precious platters aren’t exactly the most portable way to bring music to the party, to say nothing of the equipment you need to play them — until now.

The RokBlok 2.0 is a compact, self-contained record player that spins around while the record stays still, and it’s on sale now with early Black Friday pricing. Now through December 3, you can grab it for yourself or a loved one for only $79.97 (regularly $99).

This kid-friendly 3D printer cranks out tons of toys

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This kid-friendly 3D toy printer might be the coolest gift of the holiday season, now under $330.
Score this 3D toy printer as seen on Shark Tank for less than $330 before Black Friday.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Toys make fantastic gifts, but printing unlimited toys on demand? That may just be the coolest thing anyone could ever receive. With the Toybox 3D Printer Deluxe Bundle, kids and kidults alike can make their toy dreams a reality.

Ahead of Black Friday and the holiday gift-shopping craze, Cult of Mac readers can get a kid-friendly Toybox 3D printer, bundled with eight printer food colors, for only $329.97 (regularly $439). This hot deal only lasts until November 16, though.

Modern fashion rises from flames of WWII in The New Look drama on Apple TV+

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Ben Mendelsohn stars as Christian Dior.
Ben Mendelsohn stars as Christian Dior in "The New Look" on Apple TV+.
Photo: Apple TV+

Legends Christian Dior and Coco Chanel launched modern fashion design amid the horrors of Nazi occupation in Paris, according to the first look Apple TV+ provided Wednesday for The New Look.

Boasting a star-studded cast, the 10-episode historical drama series premieres February 14.

Find the perfect monitor riser for your desk [Setups]

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Mac mini setup Studio Display on monitor riser
Though most monitors come with adjustable stands, adding a monitor riser provides benefits to any computer setup.
Photo: zipzag@Reddit.com

Whether you call them monitor risers, desk shelves or display stands, finding the right one for your desk’s size can be a huge boon to your computer setup. Today’s featured Mac mini workstation benefits from a compact Balolo stand sitting toward the back of a small desk.

You can see that choice desk shelf and several other options below, along with all the setup’s gear, including a Studio Display and marvelous high-end headphones.

Today in Apple history: Apple’s last mechanical keyboard is a winner

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The Apple Extended Keyboard II might be Cupertino's finest keyboard of all time.
This could be the best Apple keyboard ever.
Photo: University of Chicago

November 15: Today in Apple history: Apple Extended Keyboard II is Apple's last (and greatest) mechanical keyboard November 15, 1990: Cupertino wins a design patent for the Apple Extended Keyboard II, arguably the greatest computer keyboard of all time.

Delivering the perfect combination of durability, feel and a pleasing click-clack sound, the Extended Keyboard II will become a mainstay of pro-grade Apple setups during the early 1990s — and perhaps the best-loved keyboard in Apple history. Courtesy of an ADB-to-USB adapter, some people continue to use them today.

Why MacBook buyers should choose M3 Max chip over M3 Pro

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Why MacBook buyers should choose M3 Max chip over M3 Pro
It might be worth going with the M3 Max for the huge performance gain.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Professionals looking for a more powerful MacBook will get really significantly more performance by upgrading to an M3 Max processor instead of the M3 Pro.

It’s no surprise that the Max version of one of Apple’s new chips is faster than the Pro, but many people might not be aware how very much faster it is.

Streamline your travel kit with this 3-in-1 wireless charging station

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Pick up this 3-in-1 wireless charging station compatible with Apple products for less than $45.
Score pre-Black Friday savings on this 3-in-1 Apple-compatible wireless charging station, now only $43.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

When you’re traveling, nothing beats a single, small charging station that can power up multiple Apple devices simultaneously. Enter the MagStack 3-in-1 wireless charging station, which can juice up your iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods without cluttering up your desk or bedside table.

This remarkably portable power station resembles Apple’s MagSafe Duo. However, it proves even more useful than that now-discontinued device, which retailed for a hefty $129.

For a limited time, the MagStack is on sale for just $42.97 (regularly $74), making it surprisingly affordable. (You can save even more on a two-pack.) It even comes with the 20W power adapter you’ll need to plug into the wall!

Find electric car charging stations in Apple Maps

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Where Can I Plug In?
Find charging stations from Apple Maps.
Image: Ank Kumar/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Find electric car charging stations from Apple Maps while you’re on the road to figure out where you can top up your EV. Apple Maps added some powerful new features in iOS 17 to make it easy: you can see charger availability, charging speed and connector types for your vehicle.

Here’s how it works.

Start your cybersecurity career with this $40 CompTIA superbundle

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Take steps towards a cybersecurity career with this CompTIA bundle, now under $40.
These courses will help you prep for the CompTIA certifications you need for an IT career.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

As cybercrime becomes more prevalent, so do employment opportunities for people with the skills to battle hackers, phishers and other online baddies. The Complete 2023 CompTIA Course Super Bundle offers 13 courses that can help you earn the certifications you need to tap into this increasingly lucrative career path.

Ahead of Black Friday, you can gain lifetime access to these cybersecurity-focused courses from iducate for only $39.97 (regularly $195). Don’t delay — that’s the best price online!

Get Microsoft Office for Mac for just $49.99

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An iMac with a screensaver that says
Microsoft Office is the go-to software suite for millions around the world. Get a lifetime license for just $49.99.
Photo: Carl Heyerdahl/Unsplash License

Owning a copy of Microsoft Office is simply essential in today’s remote and hybrid working world. Set yourself up to work from home or anywhere with a lifetime license for Microsoft Office Home & Business 2021 for Mac, on sale now for just $49.99 (list price $249.99).

For PC fans, the Windows version of MS Office is available — but the deal’s not quite as sweet.

Store and charge Apple gear with the super-cool BentoStack

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You can use the BentoStack to neatly store you Apple accessories (and charge them).
You can use the BentoStack to neatly store you Apple accessories (and charge them).
Photo: Function101

Ever order a bento box from a Japanese restaurant, with sushi and other foods in separate little compartments? The Function101 BentoStack Charge 8000 is like that  — except it holds Apple accessories you want to store at your desk or tote around. Plus, it charges them.

The BentoStack comes with four useful compartments that you can use as trays. And it features a rechargeable power bank.

Today in Apple history: iPods take to the skies

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The first iPod went from pitch to shipped product in 7 months
Goodbye, in-flight magazines!
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

November 14: Today in Apple history: Apple partnerships land iPods in airplanes for use with in-flight entertainment systems November 14, 2006: Apple teams up with a slew of airlines to offer the “first seamless integration” between iPods and in-flight entertainment systems.

A special dock will let iPod owners use the devices to play music and videos on planes’ seat-back displays. The plan promises to rid the world of old-fashioned in-flight movies and airline magazines.

Grab this Nintendo Switch docking station for just $19

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Take advantage of limited-time savings on this Nintendo Switch docking station, now only $19.
Pick up a portable Nintendo Switch docking station for only $18.99 before Black Friday!
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

You may think you’re getting the most out of your Nintendo Switch, but don’t be so certain. There’s an instant upgrade that will bring expanded portability and power to all your Nintendo Switch gaming.

For a limited time, you can pick up a Nintendo Switch-compatible mini docking station for just $18.99 (regularly $24). Take advantage of this deal for a personal gaming upgrade, or pass it along as a present!

Coming ‘ultrasonic’ revolution could change wireless earbuds forever

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xMEMS Cypress
The Cypress ultrasonic speaker promises a leap in digital sound quality.
Photo: xMEMS

xMEMS Labs is bringing what it calls breakthrough technology to the wireless earbuds market late next year after a CES 2024 debut — the Cypress ultrasonic speaker. It turns ultrasonic waves we normally can’t even hear into full-frequency, hi-res audio with remarkable detail, the California-based semiconductor company said Tuesday.

The solid-state microspeaker, which will find its way into various companies’ earbuds and headphones — hello, AirPods? — generates low-frequency sound pressure for a full bass response, according to xMEMS Labs.

That makes the ultrasonic speaker a true replacement for legacy speaker technology that has only been refined, not replaced, since your great-grandparents rocked the Victrola.

Use Live Voicemail and Silence Unknown Callers together for call-free bliss

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Talk After The Beep
Don’t want to miss those important calls about my Lightning cable wholesaling business.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

With Live Voicemail, a new feature in iOS 17, you don’t need to pick up your iPhone midcall to see who’s calling or what they want. You can see a transcription of their voicemail message as it’s being recorded — and pick up at any point, if the call turns out to be important. This feature proves transformative for introverts who only want to answer a phone call if strictly necessary.

Even better, Live Voicemail pairs very well with another iOS feature, Silence Unknown Callers. With both of these turned on, unwanted calls will be far less intrusive, but you will still be able to pick up the important calls as they come in.

Here’s how to use Live Voicemail to avoid phone spam and other annoyances without missing crucial calls.

Secure a lifetime of affordable travel with this Dollar Flight Club Premium twofer

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Spend less on airfare with a huge savings on a 2-pack of Dollar Flight Club Premium, now under $760.
Travel the world for less with a two-pack deal on Dollar Flight Club Premium, now only $59.97.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Don’t wait for Black Friday deals to start planning your next vacation. Pick up a two-pack of Dollar Flight Club Premium for only $59.97 (regularly $1,104) through November 16 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. The service helps you find cheap flights so you can afford to fly where you want, when you want, without maxing out your credit cards.

You could travel for less this holiday and beyond!

Beautiful workstation serves up double the fun with dual everything [Setups]

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Want a highly functional and symmetrical setup? Get two of most things.
Want a highly functional and symmetrical setup? Get two of most things.
Photo: rapgamejordan@reddit.com

A New York City-based magazine editor showed off a beautiful computer setup that serves up twice the fun because it boasts two of everything. Well, not everything.

But it doubles up on a lot of the main gear — two M3 MacBooks Pro, two Studio Displays, two sets of Philips Hue smart lights, a pair of Yamaha speakers on stands and, believe it or not, two Magic Trackpads and a Magic Mouse.

Read more about the setup’s whys and wherefores below, and check out that gear list of links at the bottom of the article.

Today in Apple history: Apple demands big damages from Samsung

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samsungvapple
The never-ending battle between Apple and Samsung takes another turn.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

November 13: Today in Apple history: Apple demands big damages from Samsung for copying iPhone November 13, 2013: Apple and Samsung head back to court to determine how much the Korean company must pay for copying the iPhone.

Cupertino asks Samsung for $379 million in damages for ripping off key iPhone technical and design features. Apple arrives at that number based on estimated lost profits, royalty rates and the $3.5 billion worth of copyright-infringing devices Samsung sold during the period in question.

At just $70, this sleek 4K drone with dual cameras is an early Black Friday score

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This 4K camera drone with dual cameras is now under $70 before Black Friday.
Get pre-Black Friday savings with this limited-time deal on a 4K drone with dual cameras and obstacle-avoidance tech.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Talk to drone enthusiasts, and you’ll hear enough technical jargon to make an actual pilot’s head spin. And while it’s true that drone technology has come a long way in the last 10 years, let’s not forget that these things are just plain fun to fly.

If you or a loved one ever wanted to experience drone flying firsthand, this 4K beauty with dual cameras, obstacle avoidance and other beginner-friendly features is a perfect starting point. And it’s only $69.97 (regularly $119) through November 16!

Today in Apple history: Cupertino salivates over the restaurant biz

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cafe2
Apple Cafes were set to sweep the world. They didn't.
Photo: Apple/Mega Bytes International

November 12: Today in Apple history: Apple wants to get into the restaurant business with Apple Cafes November 12, 1996: Apple lays out a wild plan to get into the restaurant business, saying it will open a chain of Apple Cafes with a touchscreen point-of-sale system.

A bit like future Apple retail stores — but without the computers and iPhones for sale — the restaurants would open in cities around the world. The first, Apple says, will be a 15,000-square-foot restaurant in Los Angeles, opening in late 1997.

Spoiler alert: None of this happens.