When did Apple’s built-in apps get so good?

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Look at this blank home screen. Just look at it.
Who needs third-party apps anyway?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

It used to be that the first-party iOS apps were only used by people who didn’t care enough to download something better. Mail, Notes, Contacts, the Calendar — all of these were immediately dumped into a junk folder by experienced users, to be replaced with a proper app. But something happened along the way to 2018. Now, Apple’s apps are every bit as good as third-party apps. (Well, mostly. The Contacts app is still awful.)

Today we’ll take a look at a few of Apple’s surprise hits.

See just how awesome Apple Pencil can be in Notes

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iPad

Photo: Apple

Apple is making sure new iPad owners know all about the tablet’s new tricks with its series of educational how-to videos that keep coming out with updates.

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s new how-to videos, Apple has published a new video showing how to use Apple Pencil on the new iPad to draw handwritten notes in the Notes app. With the new cheap iPad, now students can write and sketch as they follow along in class. Handwritten notes are also searchable.

Watch and learn:

ShotBox brings instant screenshot markup to the Mac

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shotbox
If you've used screenshot markup on iOS, you already know how ShotBox works.
Photo: Josh Parnham

If you like Instant Markup on iOS, then you’re going to love ShotBox. It’s a free app, available from the Mac App Store, that automatically pops up a panel of markup tools whenever you take a screenshot. It’s almost exactly like the Instant Markup tools built into iOS 11.

Streamline your calendar, charging, coding skills, and more [Week’s best deals]

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This week's best deals include tools for keeping all your passwords safe, all your devices charged, and lots more.
This week's best deals include tools for keeping all your passwords safe, all your devices charged, and lots more.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

To celebrate the start of a new week, we do what we do every week: gather up some of the best deals on gear, gadgets, and more. This round, we’ve got a comprehensive course in iOS 11 coding, and a ‘Hiffecient’ USB charging hub. We’ve also got a tool for streamlining online form-filling, and an upgrade for your Mac’s calendar. Everything is discounted by more than 40 percent. Read on for more details:

Apple’s helpful new videos show how to get the most of iOS 11

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iPad Pro
We're in love with the iPad Pro.
Photo: Apple

iPhone and iPad owners can finally enjoy iOS 11 starting today and Apple’s got some spanking new videos to help you dive right in.

Apple published a series of new how-to videos on iOS 11 that cover a range of topics like converting handwritten notes into type and editing photos. The helpful new videos also cover some cool third-party apps that take advantage of the software update’s new features.

Watch them all right here:

How to pin notes and use stationery in iOS 11 Notes app

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The iOS  Notes app is now even more powerful than the Mac version.
The iOS Notes app is now even more powerful than the Mac version.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

iOS 11’s Notes app is fantastic, and can probably replace apps like OneNote or Evernote for many people. In iOS 11, it mostly catches up with the Mac version — and adds a bunch more neat features only possible on the iPad, like sketching with the Apple Pencil.

Today, we’re going to see how to pin notes to the top of the list; how to swipe to delete, password-protect or move a note to a folder; and how to pick a stationery background for a new note.

The evolution of iOS: From iPhone OS to iOS 11

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Original iPhone running iOS 1
A lot has change since 2007.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

iPhone turns 10 The operating system that powers the iPhone has undergone radical changes since Apple launched the device 10 years ago.

As part of Cult of Mac’s collaboration with Wired UK to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, we took a look at the evolution of iOS, from a simple touchscreen operating system lacking key features into a true computing behemoth with more tools than any one user could possibly need.