USB4 expands Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to everyone

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A Thunderbolt 3 cable is also a USB4 cable.
A Thunderbolt 3 cable is also a USB4 cable.
Photo: Caldigit

Just a week after USB 3.2 was unveiled, the USB Promoter Group went ahead and took the wraps off the follow up. But if the specs of USB4 sound familiar, that’s because they’re based on the Thunderbolt 3 standard already implemented in most Macs.

So users of other types of computers can finally benefit from the faster connection speeds that Apple devices have been enjoying for years.

USB 3.2 update gets faster and maybe less confusing

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USB-C cable
You can’t tell which version of the USB standard a cable uses just by looking at it.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) today released a description of the next version of USB.  This brings welcome improvements in data transfer speeds, and USB 3.2 also attempts to remedy some of the confusion the public experiences trying to understand what USB products offer.

How to use your iPad Pro as a display for your Mac mini

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Luna Display gives you a touchscreen Mac.
Luna Display gives you a touchscreen Mac.
Photo: Luna Display

Even the most committed iPad user still needs a Mac occasionally. You might need to add music to your iTunes music library, or get files off an SD card, or use BitTorrent, or keep local backups of your photo library. Or you might just like using a Mac, but you don’t want a huge iMac, and what’s the point in buying a MacBook if you have an iPad already?

The obvious choice is a Mac mini. And with this tip, you can use your iPad Pro as a display for the Mac. That means you won’t need an extra monitor, but it also means that you can quickly turn your iPad into a Mac when you need to.

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Take remote control of your Mac with handy app Remote for Mac.
Take remote control of your Mac with this handy app.
Screenshots: Remote for Mac

Roli Songmaker Kit GarageBand Edition adds touch control to Mac

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Any Songmaker Kit can be turned into the GarageBand Edition.
Any Songmaker Kit can be turned into the GarageBand Edition.
Photo: Roli

Roli makes touch-sensitive controllers for music apps, and they come in Blocks, little modular units that can be snapped together via magnets to form bigger, better controllers. They’re kind of like Transformers for music. Now, Roli will now sell you a GarageBand-friendly version of its amazing Songmaker Kit, optimized for use with the Mac version of GarageBand.

But what if you already bought a Songmaker Kit? Should you return it and buy the new one? Nope. The hardware is exactly the same, all you need is a software update.

Today we’ll see what the Songmaker Kit GarageBand Edition can do, and find out how to update your own Blocks to use it.

Here’s a labeling system for all those white Apple cords. You’re welcome. [Review]

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Make no mistake. This cord has been tagged with a Buoy Tag.
Make no mistake. This cord has been tagged.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Buoy Tags, in a nutshell, are labels for cables. Apparently, some of us could use them.

I didn’t know this until my little box of Buoy Tags arrived. But once I saw the little clip-on tags, I could see how they might solve a common problem in households with multiple devices, or in communal offices where everyone plugs into power strips.

Score a sweet deal in the big Apple Shopping Event [Deals & Steals]

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iPhone 7
Save a small fortune on prepaid iPhones at Best Buy.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Best Buy is running another big Apple Shopping Event, with impressive discounts on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It’s just one of the awesome offers in today’s Deals & Steals roundup. We also have Apple-certified Lightning cables at a bargain price, and $20 off a great USB-C hub for MacBook.

Plus, you can save $60 on the Astro A20 gaming headset for Mac, and there’s still time to save $55 on the Belkin Valet charging stand for Apple Watch at B&H Photo.

This 1000X microscope connects straight to your computer [Deals]

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This USB-connected microscope lets you get up close and personal with any object.
This USB-connected microscope lets you get up close and personal with any object.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Digital cameras sure have come a long way, but they’re limited by the realities of glass and plastic. So if you want to capture far-off subjects, you need a telephoto lens. If you want to photograph something close up, you get a macro lens.

If you want to get really close, you want a microscope.

Best Mac accessories for gift-giving [2017 Gift Guide]

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These best Mac accessories are perfect for any Mac owner on your gift list.
These accessories are perfect for any Mac owner on your gift list.
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

2017 Gift Guide bug Christmas creeps up on you quickly, so if you haven’t already started your shopping, it’s time to do something about it. Cult of Mac can help! In this guide, you’ll find a selection of stellar gifts that are perfect for the Mac lover in your life.

We have killer keyboards, stunning stands, super speakers and more!

Best Mac accessories of 2016

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Best Mac accessories 2016
From dongles to docks, these are the year's best Mac accessories.
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

2016 Year in Review Cult of Mac We value our Mac computers. Whether on a desk or in a lap, they help us complete many life tasks. But you and your machine wouldn’t make it without reliable accessories — especially now that we live in the USB-C era.

Storage drives, hubs with extra ports, a good pair of headphones, maybe a bag to carry your tech — all these Mac accessories play important roles. They often remain unsung, but sometimes come through to help us avoid a devastating loss of hardware or important work.

So if you are looking to bolster your Mac support team, look no further than this list of some of Cult of Mac’s favorites accessories from 2016 for iMacs, MacBooks and MacBook Pros.