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Home builds bigger in dispiriting second season [Apple TV+ review] ★★☆☆

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Home review Apple TV+: A sprawling 17th-century home in France gets remade on the inside.★★☆☆
A sprawling 17th-century home in France gets remade on the inside.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ documentary series Home returns Friday for a second season of wonky architecture and human interest stories. The streamer is banking on the beauty of accessibility as spectacle and drama to bring audiences back for more feel-good TV.

The houses the series showcases look glorious, to be sure. But the stories are meant to be as much of a hook as the sight of impossible angles and cozy nooks nestled in wondrous corners of the earth.

Home sick: Snap judgments on new Apple TV+ architecture docuseries [Review]

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Apple TV+ Home review:
Apple's new architecture docuseries is half-inspiring, half-insufferable.
Photo: Apple TV+

Home, the new Apple TV+ docuseries about unconventional structures designed by unorthodox architects, is — surprise, surprise — as much a mixed a bag as anything else on the streaming service.

The nine-episode series, available to watch Friday, provides a window into homes and the ethos, hardship and breakthroughs that lead to their creation. It would be an understatement to say that some episodes prove more interesting than others.

5 Apple original shows finish filming ahead of March 25 event

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Apple TV Siri Remote
But they won't be ready for streaming for a while.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Five of Apple’s original TV shows have now finished filming, according to a new report. They have entered post-production ahead of the company’s March 25 event, but they’re not expected to be available until the fall.

Apple is said to be working on around six other shows that are still in production. The company is also developing lots more original content that is planned to debut in 2020.

Control Ikea’s new blinds with HomeKit

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Ikea’s new blinds work with your iPhone via homekit.
Ikea’s new blinds work with your iPhone via HomeKit or a dedicated app.
Photo: Ikea

Too lazy to get up and close the drapes? Then you need Ikea’s new HomeKit-enabled blinds, Kadrilj and Fyrtur. These new powered blinds have already launched in Germany, and can be integrated with your home hub, your Alexa, or your Google Assistant.

Up your mobile audio, photo and charging game [Deals]

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This roundup of gear and gadgets includes awesome audio, video, and charging goodies.

Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Feel like spicing up the digital dimensions of your life? If so, today is your lucky day. That’s because we’ve rounded up massive deals on top shelf accessories, from Bluetooth speakers and headphones, to an awesome digital camera and portable power pack. It’s all discounted by nearly half off or more. Plus, you can get an additional 15 percent off when you use the coupon code “SAVE15” at checkout. Read on for more details:

Google takes on Echo Dot with cheaper Home Mini speaker

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Google Home Mini
Google Home Mini launches this month.
Photo: Google

Getting acquainted with the powerful Google Assistant is now more affordable than ever before, thanks to the new Home Mini speaker.

It has all the power of the regular Google Home, but it’s smaller and much more affordable to take on devices like the Echo Dot. You can pre-order yours today ahead of its official launch on October 17.

Watch Google unveil its new iPhone rivals right here

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Pixel 2 XL
Google's new Pixel 2 XL will be made official today.
Photo: Evan Blass

Google’s popular Pixel smartphones turn 1 today. To celebrate the birthday, the company plans to unveil two new models that will compete with iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be confirmed during a special event that kicks off at 9 a.m. Pacific today. You can watch the whole thing live right here.

Here’s how you’ll activate Siri on the new iPhone

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Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

We might have a brand new way to activate Siri on Apple’s next-generation iPhones, according to one iOS developer.

References in Apple’s source code hint at a new gesture using the physical sleep/wake button, which will enable us to access the virtual assistant in situations where using the “Hey Siri” command isn’t ideal.

Samsung will fight HomePod with Bixby smart speaker

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Phil Schiller gives the world a sneak peek at the HomePod during WWDC 2017.
We'd love to see Apple lavish some more attention on the HomePod.
Photo: Apple

There isn’t an Apple product Samsung doesn’t have an answer to, so it’s not surprising to hear the South Korean company is developing its own HomePod rival.

It will be powered by Bixby, the Galaxy S8’s new virtual assistant, but it’s likely to be a while before it’s ready to hit the market.

Steve Jobs demanded Android-style back button for iPhone

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iPhone could have looked a lot different had Steve Jobs had his way.
iPhone could have looked a lot different had Steve Jobs had his way.
Photo: Apple

Since it made its debut in 2007, the iPhone has relied on just one physical button for returning to the Home screen. But if Steve Jobs had his way, it would have had two.

The Apple co-founder and former CEO tried to convince other executives that the iPhone also needed an Android-style back button for navigation.

Optimize your Wi-Fi, fix bad typing habits and more [Week’s Best Deals]

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collage-2017-06-06
This week's best deals include a time saving typing assistant, a Wi-Fi optimizer, and lots more.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

It’s finally starting to get hot out there, but few things are as hot as the new deals in the Cult of Mac Store. The best of this week’s batch include a game-changing tool for mapping and optimizing Wi-Fi connections, and an app that’ll save you time by shortcutting your typing habits. There’s also a massive certification bundle covering all of Microsoft Office, and a top shelf Bluetooth speaker. Everything is discounted by 60 percent or more, read on for more details:

Apparent iPhone 8 dummy unit is super-confusing

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iPhone-8-dummy-1
Is this the real iPhone 8?
Photo: Benjamin Geskin

Thanks to recent leaks, we thought we had a good idea what the iPhone 8 might look like. But forget what you thought you knew about Apple’s next-generation smartphone.

This apparent dummy unit blows all our previous conceptions right out of the water and leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions.

Should Apple make a standalone Siri device? [Friday Night Fights]

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Would you buy a smart speaker powered by Siri?
Would you buy a smart speaker powered by Siri?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple might have popularized virtual assistants, but Siri has fallen behind in recent years as rivals like the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and even Microsoft Cortana pull ahead with greater capabilities and unique features.

Friday Night Fights bugOne area in which Siri is lacking is in standalone devices like smart speakers, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. Isn’t it about time Apple caught up with a smart speaker of its own powered by Siri?

Join us in this week’s Friday Night Fight as we throw punches over a Siri speaker.

How to change the feedback strength of iPhone 7’s Home button

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iPhone 7 Home button
iPhone 7's new home button is awesome.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus deliver an all-new Home button that uses the Taptic Engine inside your device to simulate clicks. It doesn’t actually move in and out like a traditional iPhone Home button, but that’s not a bad thing.

Not only does it make your iPhone more reliable (without a moving button there’s no need to worry about it failing), but it also makes it more water-resistant. It’s also customizable; you can adjust the strength of the haptic feedback to make your clicks more noticeable.

Here’s how.

iOS 10 review: It’s the little things that matter

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iPhone
Don’t miss out on iOS 13. Ditch your old iPhone now.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s iOS 10 update for iPhones and iPads is the biggest software refresh the iPhone-maker has launched in years, adding a host of major and minor new features that completely change the iOS experience.

I’ve been using beta versions of iOS 10 on my iPhone 6s and iPad Pro since June. While some of the high-profile additions to Messages, Photos, Apple Music and Apple News aren’t totally mind-blowing, the smaller tweaks make all the difference. With iOS 10, using Apple’s devices is easier, faster and far more enjoyable than ever.

This is the big iOS update you’ve been waiting for, but not for all the reasons Apple thinks.