Years ago, I bought a BenQ ScreenBar with Dial. It sat perched on top of my display, bathing my desk in light. I loved it, except for the cables that snaked down the back of my monitor: one to power it via USB-A and the other leading to a knob for turning it on and off and adjusting brightness and light temperature.
I stopped using the BenQ ScreenBar when I moved my desk to an area of my old house where the back of my screen was exposed. The wires hanging off of the ScreenBar were just too messy looking, no matter what I did.
Not long ago, I pulled the ScreenBar out of storage and began using it again. I still wasn’t a fan of the wires, but with my Studio Display facing a wall, it was usable again. That’s why I was interested in trying the ScreenBar Halo when BenQ offered to send me one to test. It’s similar to the older model I was using but with a couple of crucial differences.
ScreenFloat 2.0 is a Mac-only screenshot utility from Matthias Gansrigler of Eternal Storms Software. As Gansrigler explains, the app is like Picture-in-Picture for screenshots, allowing you to float screenshots or screen recordings above other windows to use as reference material on your Mac. That’s a great explanation of one of the core use cases for ScreenFloat 2.0, but the update opens up exciting new possibilities that go even further, which I think anyone who works with screenshots will like a lot.
Every time I open the Memories tab in Apple’s Photos app, I feel disappointed. The memories it surfaces always seem to rehash the same events in my life, and they never really achieve to put my photos back in context. This is a big reason why, for so many years, I’ve been keeping a personal journal in Day One, which lets me revisit my journal entries by looking at a map of everywhere I’ve recorded a memory. Likewise, the ‘Places’ section in Apple Photos is my favorite way to browse through my older photos.
Globetrotter is a delightful new app created by indie developer Shihab Mehboob that embraces this idea of revisiting your photo memories by looking at them on top of a world map. The app does so in a beautifully-designed interface, with a focus on your travel memories. Let’s take a look.
A few weeks ago on AppStories, I mentioned to John that I was looking for the “Things of read-later apps”. What I meant is that I wanted to find an app to save articles for later that felt native to Apple platforms, had a reliable text parser, but, more importantly, featured deep Shortcuts integration to let me create automations for saved items. As I followed up after a few episodes, I realized the app I’d been looking for was the excellent GoodLinks, which we’ve covered on MacStories several times before.
Today, GoodLinks developer Ngoc Luu released a small update to the app that, however, cements it as the premier solution for people who want a read-later utility for iOS and iPadOS that also features outstanding Shortcuts support.
A couple of weekends ago, after we put up our Christmas tree, I broke out Hue’s Festavia lights, which the company recently sent me to test. Ever since we moved in late 2022, we’ve had a generic string of big-bulb white lights hanging around the perimeter of the second-floor balcony that I controlled with the help of an outdoor smart plug. The setup provided a little extra light and atmosphere whenever we sat outside in the evening, which I enjoyed. However, I was also curious to see how I could take the setup further and add some holiday cheer with a set of the Festavia lights. So, instead of putting the lights on our tree, I replaced our existing balcony lights with the Hue lights.
I’ve been keeping a journal in Day One since at least 2015, and I’ve got to say, the practice has become very engrained in my otherwise chaotic daily routine. Whenever I get asked about journaling, I always say that it’s a habit that can take any form you like. It can take place in a paper journal, in an app as written entries, as voice notes, or even as captioned photos in a photo diary. The reason I stuck with Day One over the years is because the app is incredibly flexible. It kept up with me during periods of my life when it was harder to write down my daily thoughts, and easier to type a couple of bullet points every day instead. I believe the best journaling tools are those that can adapt to you, not the other way around. But still, when Apple announced they were building their own Journal app, built right into iOS 17, I was excited by the prospect of switching things up in this little habit of mine.
This week, Apple released the Journal app as part of iOS 17.2. As expected, the app is unfortunately only available on the iPhone. Nevertheless, Apple’s first entry in this category is very interesting, to say the least, as it revolves almost entirely around a system of smart journaling suggestions and prompts. I’ve been using it alongside Day One for a couple of weeks now, to both get an idea of what Apple’s approach to journaling is like, and to see how it intends to bring journaling to a wider audience.
Let’s jump in.
Screens, the remote screen-sharing app for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac by Luc Vandal of Edovia is one of those apps that I feel like I’ve always used. It’s installed on all of my devices, letting me lazily check on the Mac in my office from my couch or grab a file that I forgot to put on my laptop when I’m working remotely. It’s also the app that makes working with my headless Mac mini server that’s humming away in a closet feel like it was sitting right on my desk.
The last time I reviewed Screens was in 2017 when version 4 was released. In the years since, the app has received regular updates, refining the workflow of connecting to remote computers and keeping up with the latest changes to Apple’s OSes. However, as an app that’s designed to be a window to another system, the UI hasn’t seen a lot of change until today’s update to version 5, which adds a bunch of refinements to how connections are organized and makes significant improvements to the app’s toolbar.
I have recently been working on a personal web project that involves a lot of testing on my iPhone. While I would usually just have my iPhone to the side on my desk to test my changes in real-time and take screenshots, I was looking for a solution to mirror my iPhone’s screen directly on my Mac’s desktop. This is where I stumbled upon Bezel.
Bezel is a fantastic utility from Nonstrict that allows you to start capturing your iPhone immediately after connecting it to your Mac. The app is both simple and extremely convenient.
To start using Bezel, all you need to do is allow the app to start at login. Then, plug in your iPhone when you want to start mirroring your screen. That’s it. Bezel will automatically display your iPhone on your desktop. Similar to Federico’s Apple Frames shortcut, the app will frame your iPhone’s display with a bezel that matches your iPhone model.
Marcos Tanaka’s Play has become the way I watch YouTube, which isn’t something I expected would happen as much as I’ve enjoyed the app since its launch early last year. The app, available on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, started as a way to save YouTube links to watch later. That made Play indispensable for keeping track of videos in a way that is similar to how I save articles I want to read later in Matter.
With version 2.0, Marcos has transformed Play from a utility where I save links for later to how I find videos and watch them in the first place. The big difference is that Play now allows users to manage YouTube channels inside the app. I still come across YouTube links on social media, iMessage conversations, on the Club MacStories Discord server, and elsewhere that I add to Play using its excellent share sheet integration. However, with support for YouTube channels, I now have a chronological list of everything published by my favorite channels delivered to an inbox where I can quickly pick the ones I want to watch, which is wonderful.
If that sounds a lot like RSS, that’s because it is. That’s how I prefer to scan my favorite websites for articles to read, and now, it’s how I’m watching my favorite YouTube channels.