Why you should add a second screen to your iPhone

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Connect your iPhone to a second screen for fun... and maybe even productivity.
Connect a big screen to your iPhone to watch movies and play games. And maybe even be productive.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Your iPhone is already one of the most useful things you own, but it can do even more if you hook it to a large second screen. Making the connection simply requires an adapter, and doing so opens up quite a few entertainment — and even some productivity — options.

iOS and iPhone are surprisingly powerful, and are being held back by the small display. Here’s what you get with a bigger one.

Tiny WeMo smart plug makes trying HomeKit so easy [Review]

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Belkin Wemo WiFi Smart Plug review
The Wemo WiFi Smart Plug can be your ticket to easy home automation.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Home automation is convenient and even kind of fun. And a smart plug is the easiest way to get started. The redesigned Wemo WiFi Smart Plug from Belkin lets you find out if you really want to be able to control your lights or other appliances from your iPhone, without making a big investment.

A couple of weeks of testing this pint-size HomeKit accessory went into this review. Here’s what I found out.

Get more productive with Vissles’ attractive portable display [Review]

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Vissles-M review
Easily expand your working space, or enjoy a movie on a larger display, with the Vissles-M.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

A portable monitor makes you more productive on the go. And the 15.6-inch Vissles-M is a thin and lightweight LCD screen that easily connects to a Mac or iPad Pro through its USB-C port.

I tested this affordable external display in a variety of conditions, and used it for both for work and fun. Here’s how it held up.

Ted Lasso’s heart is too big to bench [Apple TV+ review]

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Jason Sudeikis is the titular Ted Lasso
Jason Sudeikis is the titular Ted Lasso in the mostly winning comedy series.
Photo: Apple TV

Created for a diverting if not particularly funny web short, Jason Sudeikis‘ clueless coach Ted Lasso now has his own Apple TV+ series. The question is: Is there enough meat on the bones of the premise to support a comedy series?

Like the NBC Sports promos that spawned the character, Ted Lasso is about an American coaching football in England — and being sorta kinda unfit for the demands. Fish-out-of-water, culture-clash comedies are as old as film comedy itself. And there’s certainly potential in the idea of an old-fashioned Southern gentleman dropped into tough-as-nails, hyper-masculine soccer culture. But ultimately, the high-concept stuff isn’t what works in Ted Lasso’s favor. You must get past the show’s premise to get to the good part.

Plugable’s very affordable HDMI adapter connects your Mac and TV [Review]

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Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter review
Using an external display with a MacBook is a breeze with the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

MacBooks don’t have HDMI ports, but the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter makes it easy to connect your laptop to an external monitor. Even better, this accessory is inexpensive and very portable.

I tested the adapter for work, watching video, and playing games. Here’s how it held up.

SmartDesk 2 lets you sit or stand at a stellar price [Review]

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SmartDesk 2 full setup with monitor and light
The SmartDesk 2 can turn your boring desk into a versatile workspace.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Until very recently, I never spent a lot of mental energy thinking about the desk I worked at. As long as there was enough space for whatever I was doing, and it wasn’t getting in the way, I was pretty flexible.

As I’ve started spending more time working and taking meetings from home, I have started to notice when certain “desks” don’t work as well. Sitting on the couch, standing at the bar in our kitchen, or working from the dining table are all OK from time to time, but none are particularly comfortable long-term. Some of this comes down to having a desk at the proper height, and some of it is the lack of flexibility I get in those situations.

That why, when the folks at Autonomous asked if I wanted to check out their SmartDesk 2 adjustable standing desk, I saw it as an opportunity to see if the hype about standing desks is all it’s cracked up to be.

watchOS 6.2.8 brings digital car keys to Apple Watch

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watchOS 6.2.8 is out now!
Digital car key support in watchOS 6.2.8 has the potential to make Apple Watch much more useful.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Starting Wednesday, an Apple Watch can be used to unlock a car, replacing the key, thanks to the release of watchOS 6.2.8. But it’s early days yet for this feature, as it doesn’t yet have wide support.

In addition, this software update enables people in a handful of additional countries to take advantage of the ECG in Apple’s wearable.

Easily control outdoor lights with Meross waterproof HomeKit outlet [Review]

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Meross Smart WiFi Indoor/Outdoor Plug review
Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night bothers this Meross smart outlet.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Add Siri voice control to your outside spotlights with the Meross Smart WiFi Indoor/Outdoor Plug. It’s waterproof and actually offers two plugs, each separately controllable with Apple’s HomeKit.

I tested this home-automation accessory around my house. Here’s how well it lives up to regular use.

Dear… is a timely reminder that we can do better [Apple TV+ review]

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Oprah Winfrey reads a letter from a fan in Apple TV+ show Dear...
One episode of Dear... focuses on Oprah Winfrey.
Photo: Apple TV+

So far, the Apple TV+ shows affiliated with Oprah Winfrey (or approved by her) represent some of the streaming service’s safest offerings. And her spirit, to say nothing of her face, is all over the inspiring series Dear…

Each episode focuses on a single celebrity and the moving fan letters they receive highlighting the star’s impact on regular people. A such, it takes the form of part-biography, part-tribute to its famous subjects.

Dear… certainly does not stand out as one of the most hard-hitting journalistic exercises you’ll see. But as puff pieces go, the episodes prove both persuasive and reasonably inspiring. The show plays like a MasterClass with lessons about community building and standing up for yourself.

Why Apple still refuses to give the iPad a calculator

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Craig Federighi explained today why there’s no iPad Calculator app.
Apple exec Craig Federighi helped unveil iPadOS 14 at WWDC 2020, but there was still no Calculator app.
Screenshot: Apple

Apple software chief Craig Federighi just answered a question that’s puzzled people for years: Why doesn’t the iPad come with a calculator app?

In a video posted Friday, he also explained why the iPad lacks a weather app.