Why Ulysses subscription pricing is good for the App Store [Opinion]

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Ulysses subscriptions hero
Not all apps should use subscriptions, but for some, it’s the best choice.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The next Apple Watch could empty my pockets — in a good way

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Hopefully I won't have to carry this stuff around with me thanks to Apple Watch Series 3
Hopefully I won't need to carry this stuff around after Apple Watch Series 3 arrives.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The latest rumors about the next-generation Apple Watch indicate it might come with LTE cellular data in a slick new design. But Apple Watch already offers data connectivity via iPhone, and Cupertino’s marketing tends to focus on benefits, not features. So how will Apple craft a new product story around built-in cellular?

My guess is it will all be about replacing the need for a very old technology: pockets. Apple Watch Series 3 will move all the contents of our pockets into the cloud.

Hey, Apple! Thunderbolt isn’t the answer to everything

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The 2017 iMac family.
Want to run VR on a new iMac? Get ready to spend big money on an external GPU with a Thunderbolt connection.
Photo: Apple

The new Macs that Apple unveiled Monday bring welcome upgrades to Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors. However, if you want to use the latest Apple computers for virtual reality, you’ll need to add an external graphics card in a pricey Thunderbolt 3 enclosure.

It’s yet another problem “solved” by Thunderbolt connectivity, but the do-it-all USB-C connector Apple is forcing down our throats isn’t the answer to everything.

Will Trump be good for Apple? [Friday Night Fights]

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How will Apple fare in the Trump era?
How will Apple fare in the Trump era?
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac. Original photo: Michael Vadon/Flickr CC

In case you hadn’t noticed, the United States has a new leader — and President Donald Trump has a bone to pick with Apple. Several, actually.

Will Trump’s “America first” stance and pro-business policies help Apple or give Tim Cook a series of premium headaches? Cult of Mac editors Leander Kahney and Lewis Wallace come out swinging in this week’s edition of “Friday Night Fights.”

How the MacBook Pro’s Magic Toolbar can cast a spell on the world

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MacBook Pro
The Magic Toolbar will change depending on the app being used.
Illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple faces a serious challenge when it rolls out the rumored OLED “Magic Toolbar” on new MacBook Pros tomorrow: It must convince the world that the new adaptive touchpad is more than a gimmick.

Offering customizable function keys that work in different ways depending on which apps are running, the Magic Toolbar could make the new MacBook Pro one of Apple’s most exciting laptops in years.

But to be more than a gimmick, the Magic Toolbar needs to improve the way we interact with our Macs, not simply add another confusing control element to the laptops. The Magic Toolbar needs to make it easier to perform tasks that we now do using keyboard shortcuts or on-screen toolbars. If it can’t do that, the Magic Toolbar will go down in the history books as a failure.

Luckily, there’s one simple step Apple can take to ensure that the Magic Toolbar becomes a success.

Forget the Galaxy Note 7 and buy an iPhone 7 Plus

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Galaxy Note 7
R.I.P., Galaxy Note 7.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Still thinking about making the Galaxy Note 7 your next smartphone? Forget about it.

I gave Samsung’s latest flagship a glowing review last month. But amid reports that supposedly “safe” replacement devices are overheating and exploding, there’s no good reason to buy a Galaxy Note 7 anymore.

Do yourself a favor and get the iPhone 7 Plus instead.

The future is AI, and Google just showed Apple how it’s done

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Under CEO Sundar Pichai, Google is betting big on AI.
Under CEO Sundar Pichai, Google is betting big on AI.
Photo: Google

After decades of showing us the best ways to interact with computers, Apple is lagging on the UI of the future — voice controls powered by smart, conversational AI.

Google, on the other hand, is placing artificial intelligence, in the form of Google Assistant, at the center of its new Pixel smartphones and Google Home smart speaker.

Cupertino’s mastery of the user interface is legendary: Macs, iPods and iPhones made the GUI, the mouse, the scroll wheel and multitouch mainstream. But Apple needs to get into the AI conversation if it’s serious about securing a place in our gabby future.

Is Siri still steps behind Google’s virtual assistants? [Friday Night Fights]

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v2
Which virtual assistant gets your vote?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has taken big strides to make Siri even greater in recent years, like bringing it to Apple TV and macOS, and opening it up to third-party developers. In that time, Apple’s virtual assistant has also gotten more accurate and more reliable.

Friday Night Fights bug But some might say third-party alternatives — particularly those from Google — are still a step ahead, with greater features and more flexibility. So, is Apple doing enough to make Siri just as stellar as Google Now and the new Google Assistant?

Join us in this week’s Friday Night Fight as we go head-to-head over virtual assistants.

Why Apple is the new NASA

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Apple Watch swimming app
Apple analyzed the performance of 700 swimmers to develop new Workout app routines.
Photo: Apple

Thirty minutes into Apple’s special event last week, one tidbit of information blew my mind.

Onstage, Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams was talking about the Workout app on the new “swim-proof” Apple Watch Series 2 and the effort the company put into advancing the software that makes the fitness device tick. The amount of research deployed, all in the pursuit of updating a segment of an app many Apple Watch wearers will never use, offers a peek into the enormous resources that Apple R&D commands.

It paints Apple, with its enduring emphasis on developing new materials, manufacturing processes and sophisticated software, as a scientific force to be reckoned with — a new NASA for the 21st century.

Apple’s secret strategy: Underpromise and overdeliver

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iPhone 7 colors
Why the critics are wrong who think Apple's lost its touch.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s always been the company that promised us the world. Steve Jobs’ genius was his ability to convince us that every single thing Apple did shifted the Earth on its axis.

Recently, that feeling of magical futurism has faded. Apple events have been preceded by a feeling of “been there, done that.”

Forget the “wireless future” that Apple talked up at yesterday’s iPhone 7 event as it tried to convince us that we really want AirPods and a dongle rather than a headphone jack. If Apple has a strategy in 2016, it’s underpromise and overdeliver.

And it’s working great!