How to expand a (potentially dangerous) shortened URL on your iPhone

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Wiggly yellow road sign
Take a shortcut.
Photo: John Gibbons/Unsplash

Someone sends you a link that looks like this:

https://youtu.be/rZdrlpz3MOo

What do you do? Well, that one is probably safe, as it uses YouTube’s own URL shortener. But what about all those other shortened URLS you see in emails, on Twitter and everywhere else? They could link to anything. A cautious person never clicks on links in emails. And only an insane person would click on shortened links in emails. That’s why you need today’s shortcut, which lets you expand a URL, preview the actual link, and then tap a button to either open it or dismiss it.

iPhone 12 design secrets supposedly spilled in new drawings

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iphone 12 cad design
Comparing the iPhone 12 with the iPhone 11.
Photo: EverythingApplePro

Want a glimpse at the (possible) new iPhone 12 Pro Max? YouTube channel EverythingApplePro and Max Weinbach have posted what they claim is a leaked design for the new handset, based on supposed CAD drawings.

As expected, they suggest that the new iPhone will borrow design cues from the squared-off, boxier iPad Pro redesign. It also looks set to sport a slightly thinner profile, just 7.4mm thick next to the 8.1mm of the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Oh, and notch-haters might be pleased by the smaller notch on the device.

Check out the video below.

Yes, you can train Face ID to unlock while wearing a mask

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train Face ID with a mask
Face ID will let you train it while wearing a folded mask.
Photo: Xuanwu Lab

Face ID is great, as long as your iPhone can see your face. A mask — like the ones we all should be wearing to slow the coronavirus pandemic — blocks the iPhone’s Face ID sensor from seeing your face. That means you either need to remove the mask (bad) to unlock your iPhone, type in your passcode every time (annoying), or disable the passcode entirely (a terrible idea).

But, according to in-depth research from China’s Tencent Xuanwu Lab, you can train Face ID to work while you’re wearing a mask. It needs some careful setup, but once it’s done, it works reliablly and quickly. You can even wear glasses.

Using Zoom? Take these steps to protect your privacy [Updated]

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yoga class zoom
Zoom lets you keep attending your local yoga class, but at what cost?
Photo: Anupam Mahapatra/Unsplash

Video-conferencing tool Zoom is seeing a surge in use during the coronavirus pandemic, due to people being stuck at home and unable to meet in meatspace groups. I’ve read about people using Zoom to drop in on yoga and pilates classes, as well as for more usual business-related activities.

Apple Watch might get Touch ID for easier unlocking

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Apple-Watch-Touch-ID
Is Touch ID really necessary?
Mockup: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple is working to bring Touch ID to Apple Watch for the first time, according to new reports out Friday. The company is said to be exploring two methods of integrating the technology into its wearable for easier unlocking.

The new model may prove particularly interesting to Apple Watch Series 2 owners, who are expected to miss out on Apple’s upcoming watchOS 7 update this fall.

2020 MacBook Air review roundup: Magic Keyboard makes all the difference

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2020-MacBook-Air
Still the kind of ultraportables.
Photo: Apple

The first reviews of Apple’s new and improved MacBook Air are out just days after its official unveiling. It will come as no surprise to fans of the machine that each one has great things to say about Apple’s most popular notebook.

New configurations, increased storage, a reduced price, and — most importantly — and brand-new Magic Keyboard make this a stellar MacBook Air upgrade. Still not sure? Here’s what the critics have to say…

How to use Apple Watch’s fantastic nightstand mode

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Zzzzzz. The Apple Watch's nightstand mode even has snooze.
Zzzzzz. The Apple Watch's nightstand mode even has snooze.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Have you heard of the Apple Watch’s nightstand mode? I knew about it from digging through the settings in the iPhone Watch app, but I never tried it out. I wear my watch while sleeping, mostly so I get a nice haptic alarm in the morning instead of an audible iPhone alarm. But if you charge your watch overnight, you should almost certainly be using nightstand mode, aka bedside mode.

COVID-19 virus means tough decisions about WWDC and rumored Apple keynote

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Apple faces tough decisions about a potential March product event and WWDC 2020 as COVID-19 virus spreads.
Apple faces tough decisions about a potential March product event and WWDC 2020.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

With COVID-19 spreading in the San Francisco Bay Area, and at least one upcoming event at a critical planning stage for the high-tech giant, Apple must make some tough decisions about how to proceed, according to conference experts contacted by Cult of Mac.

Apple faces mounting pressure to decide whether to cancel, delay or change the format of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, typically held in June. The same holds true, although to a lesser extent, for Apple’s rumored March product keynote.

“There’s a lot to consider for Apple and it won’t be easy,” said Ian McGonnigal, marketing executive with Experiential Executive, who has consulted on conference and convention planning with more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies. “Reputation is a huge challenge here and that’s part of it. Companies don’t want to appear tone-deaf to what’s going on out there.”

Add a one-tap web search button to your iPhone Home screen

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Add a custom search button to your Home screen on iPhone or iPad.
Super-charge your web searches with this customizable Home screen shortcut.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This fantastic shortcut makes searching the web with your iPhone faster than ever. It places an icon on your Home screen, and you just tap it, type a search into the box that pops up, and hit enter. Your search will then open in Safari.

This customizable search shortcut proves speedier than pretty much any other method, including iOS’ built-in Spotlight search.