Is Apple prepping big Mac updates for an October event? Catch our discussion on The CultCast

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CultCast 357 MacBook Pro
Almost the entire Mac line is due for an update.

This week on The CultCast: Is Apple preparing to dump a bunch of much-needed Mac updates on us? We discuss. Plus: Something very strange is going on with the Mac — we fill you in. And is MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar actually useful? We give you our brutally honest opinions. And stay tuned for another episode of CultCast 2nd Hour. This time: Siri Shortcuts, explained!

Our thanks to Squarespace for supporting this episode. It’s simple to accept Apple Pay and sell your wares with your very own Squarespace website. Enter offer code CultCast at checkout to get 10% off your first hosting plan or domain.

Mac sales declined in Q3, despite new MacBook Pros

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2018 MacBook Pro
Even the shiny new 2018 MacBook Pro models couldn't save Mac sales last quarter.
Photo: Apple

The third quarter of this year wasn’t a particularly good one for Apple, with Mac sales dropping a significant amount. That doesn’t say positive things about sales of the 2018 MacBook Pro models that debuted this summer.

Still, the company held onto its place as the world’s fourth-largest PC maker.

Mac software locks will hit third-party repair shops

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Repair shop
New rules affect Macs with the T2 chip.
Photo: Streetpho/Flickr CC

In the event that your 2018 MacBook Pro or iMac Pro runs into problems outside warranty, would you try and save money by going to third-party repair shop? If so, Apple seemingly has some bad news for you.

According to a new report, Apple has introduced new software locks that will brick these machines if they’re operated on by anyone not using Apple’s proprietary diagnostic software. Failing to do so will, “result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair.”

Smartphones are killing laptops and desktops, but tablet sales grow

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ipad ios 11
More Americans own tablet than did two years ago. The same can't be said of laptop and desktop ownership.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The number of Americans who own an iPad or other tablet computer increased marginally in the past two years. However, ownership of a laptop/desktop has dropped significantly in the same period.

Smartphone ownership stayed at the high rate it’s held since 2016. And that’s what’s really cutting into sales of traditional computers.

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.

PlugBug Duo makes your MacBook charger twice as useful

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With PlugBug Duo, you can simultaneously charge your MacBook, iPhone, and iPad from one plug.
With PlugBug Duo, you can simultaneously charge your MacBook, iPhone, and iPad from one wall socket.
Photo: TwelveSouth

Everyone wants to tote around less stuff, so add-ons that make your current gear more useful are welcome.  And that’s just what the new PlugBug Duo by TwelveSouth does: it clips onto your MacBook charger and adds a pair of USB ports.

It’s especially handy for people who have a MacBook Pro with a USB-C port, but need to charge gadgets that take a traditional USB port.

2018 MacBook Pro owners complain of crackling speakers

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Apple MacBook Pro keyboard
How’s the sound on your 2018 MacBook Pro?
Photo: Apple

Apple’s latest MacBook Pro lineup has bigger and better speakers than previous machines, but some users haven’t been enjoying improved sound.

Instead, they hear crackling when they play music or watch videos. The issue appears to be affecting both 13- and 15-inch devices, and it’s not yet clear what’s causing it.