Living with a MacBook keyboard is like managing a chronic condition [Opinion]

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Taking it out on your problematic MacBook butterfly keyboard will only make things worse.
Taking it out on your keyboard will only make things worse.
Photo illustration: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

At this point, we all know the MacBook’s butterfly keyboard can prove problematic. Apple recently admitted the problem is real — and even issued a rare apology.

Anecdotally, pretty much every MacBook owner I know has experienced keys sticking or repeating at one time or another. But occasionally I meet someone who seems blessed with a faultless MacBook keyboard. And Apple claims the problem only affects a small number of MacBook users.

So what is going on? I have a theory — and a tip that might keep your MacBook’s keyboard from crapping out if it hasn’t already.

Why Apple was right to scrap AirPower [Opinion]

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AirPower
AirPower wasn't ready and Apple was right to kill it.
Photo: Apple

Let me be among the first to thank Apple for killing the wireless charging pad known as AirPower.

While tech commentators try to rank this failure against other doomed Apple products, I feel grateful that Cupertino pulled the plug. AirPower, an ambitious attempt to use multiple coils to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods, was a public health hazard.

Portrait mode remains miraculous — but frustrating — on iPhone XS [Opinion]

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Portrait Mode is great, until it’s not. Fix failed focus with Focos.
When it works, Depth Control lets you dial in just the right amount of blur.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Portrait mode on the iPhone XS is pretty amazing — when it works. I gave it a good, hard workout after the device’s launch in September 2018, and found it to be an almost miraculous trick to fake the optical depth of photos taken on a bigger camera.

But after using it for half a year, does Portrait mode still seem so great? No. While it’s still just as impressive, sometimes it’s so frustrating to use that I just give up, quit the Camera app, and don’t bother to take a photo at all.

With Apple TV+, Tim Cook peddles an antidote to toxic TV [Opinion]

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Tim Cook talks up the potential of Apple TV+ to change the world.
JP Morgan is particularly concerned about Apple TV+.
Photo: Apple

At a time when critically acclaimed TV shows serve up a steady stream of sex and violence, the upcoming Apple TV+ service proffers an unusual prescription for success: optimism, inclusion, creativity and inspiration.

Touting its upcoming streaming video service as “the new home for the world’s most creative storytellers,” Apple is carefully framing its upcoming Apple TV+ day as a healthy antidote to Hollywood’s toxic hellstew of nudity and mindless gore. The company even suggested its original shows could act as a tonic to heal a nation divided by the bitter partisan politics of the Trump era.

Are AirPods 2 worth the price of an upgrade?

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AirPods 2. AirPods S, more like.
The second-gen AirPods are like an "S" upgrade.
Photo: Apple

Will you buy Apple’s new AirPods? They look fantastic. They offer longer battery life, quicker connections, “Hey Siri” support, and there’s even an optional wireless charging case. But are all those extras enough to make you upgrade if you already own first-gen AirPods?

The new iPad Air is Pro enough for most people [Opinion]

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In some ways, the iPad Air is better than the Pro.
In some ways, the iPad Air is better than the Pro.
Photo: Apple

The new iPad Air is a monster. It’s practically as powerful as the top-of-the-range iPad Pro, but costs around $300 less. You lose a few features — the magnetic Apple Pencil 2, ProMotion, etc. — but for most people that probably doesn’t matter.

In fact, the new iPad Air is so good that it’s probably good enough for most people. And for some folks — professional musicians, for example, or people who hate headphone dongles — it’s even better.

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iPhone survey
I wanted a Galaxy S10, but I'm stuck with iPhone.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

iPhone SE 2 could be the savior Apple needs [Opinion]

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iPhone SE
Apple desperately needs an updated iPhone SE.
Photo: Sam Mills/Cult of Mac

iPhone sales are down, especially in emerging markets. The reason is simple: Apple’s devices cost too darn much. And the solution is equally simple: Apple must make a new budget model. In short, it needs a successor to the iPhone SE to ensure short-term profits as well as long-term viability.

This device has to have a low, low price. Even if that means a phone so bare-bones that most Americans turn up their noses at it.

Nobody wants a folding phone anyway. But folding iPads? [Opinion]

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Folding iPhone 2
Is that a folding iPhone? Or a folding iPad?
Photo: Foldable News

At this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, phone-makers are demonstrating their folding phones. These range from the laughable (Samsung) to the desirable (Huawei), but none of them is really plausible. Why? Because nobody is going to buy a folding phone. Not now, and not in the future. At best they will be a niche product, like ruggedized laptops are now, for example.

No. The folding phone will probably never happen. But what about foldable tablets?

How gesture controls could replace 3D Touch and bring multi-touch to the Mac [Opinion]

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Hovering your finger over an icon could bring up more options
Hovering your finger over an icon could bring up more options
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, LG looks set to unveil a revolutionary new smartphone with gesture controls. In a brief teaser video, the South Korean tech giant boldly promises the end of multi-touch — the way we’ve all been interacting with smartphones ever since the iPhone launched in 2007.

A gesture sensor could pick up hand movements in front of the device, rather than requiring physical interaction with the screen itself. So, for example, you could point at a button from a distance, rather than actually needing to tap the glass screen to select it.

In reality, I doubt that gestures will replace multi-touch anytime soon. However, I do think Apple could make intelligent use of this new tech. It could replace 3D Touch (which Apple looks set to scrap), and it could serve as a clever way to finally bring multi-touch to the Mac.