John Voorhees

2594 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John, MacStories’ Managing Editor, has been writing about Apple and apps since joining the team in 2015. He also co-hosts MacStories’ podcasts, including AppStories, which explores of the world of apps, MacStories Unwind, a weekly recap of everything MacStories and more, and MacStories Unplugged, a behind-the-scenes, anything-goes show exclusively for Club MacStories members.



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Apple Details Vision Pro’s Launch Day Entertainment Options

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Apple has revealed new information about the entertainment that will be available when Vision Pro launches on February 2nd.

One of the highlights will be 3D movies. There will be more than 150 3D movies available, including Avatar: The Way of WaterDuneSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie, all of which can be watched from a simulated personal theater environment or immersive Environments, including Yosemite, Haleakalā, and Mount Hood. Also, Apple Vision Pro users who already own a movie for which a 3D version becomes available will have access to it at no additional cost. Apple says streamers like Disney+ will offer 3D movies as part of their services, too.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Those same streaming services will also offer other unique experiences. For example:

With Disney+, subscribers can watch thousands of TV shows and films from four iconic environments with vivid details: the Disney+ Theater, inspired by the historic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood; the Scare Floor from Pixar’s Monsters Inc.; Marvel’s Avengers Tower overlooking downtown Manhattan; and the cockpit of Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder, facing a binary sunset on the planet Tatooine from the Star Wars galaxy.

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Tom Coates on Integrating Threads with the Fediverse

Just before the holidays, Meta held a meeting at its San Francisco offices with members from the fediverse community about its plans to use ActivityPub to integrate Threads with Mastodon. Last week, Tom Coates wrote a detailed post about everything covered during the meeting from Meta’s roadmap for Threads to Meta’s motivations, content moderation, and Threads’ algorithm, which is lengthy but well worth reading in its entirety.

Coates described Threads’ roadmap as follows:

  • December 2023 – A user will be able to opt in via the Threads app to have their posts visible to Mastodon clients. People would be able to reply and like those posts using their Mastodon clients, but those replies and likes would not be visible within the Threads application. Threads users would not be able to follow or see posts published across Mastodon servers, or reply to them or like then.
  • Early 2024 (Part One) – the Like counts on the Threads app would combine likes from Mastodon and Threads users

  • Early 2024 (Part Two) – replies posted on Mastodon servers would be visible in the Threads application

  • Late 2024 – A “mixed” Fediverse and Threads experience where you will be able to follow Mastodon users within Threads, and reply to them and like them

  • TBD – Full blended interoperability between Threads and Mastodon

The schedule struck Coates as both optimistic given the complexities involved and likely to be controversial because the early stages are lopsided in favor of integrating Threads into Mastodon and not the other way around. As Coates explains, there are technical, legal, and regulatory reasons for that, but that won’t make it any less contentious.

Scale is quite literally another huge problem for Meta that could easily lead to unintended consequences that cause problems for Mastodon users no matter what Meta’s intentions are. As Coates explains:

The community that Threads is planning to participate in is that of Mastodon servers federating with one another via Activity Pub. The estimates of this community are that there are about 9,500 separate mastodon instances participating in this ecology, with roughly 1.5 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs). This is a fairly substantial number but of course it pales in comparison to Meta more generally, which has closer to three billion active users. Or to put it another way, Mastodon users represent about 1/2000th of the number of people using Facebook/Instagram/Threads/WhatsApp etc. worldwide.

Threads itself has only been around for a few months now and it still towers over the rest of the Mastodon community in terms of users. It’s based on the Instagram user base, and Instagram users can opt in to use Threads with a single tap. Because of that—as of a recent earnings report—Meta can currently claim around 160 million total users and about 100 million MAUs for Threads alone. So, again, maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about Threads ‘integrating’ with the fediverse and instead think about Threads attempting to engage with the Fediverse without entirely crushing it in the process.

The entire post is worth reading because it explores interesting ways to deal with distributed content moderation, identity, public education about federation, and all the other large-scale problems that Threads will bring with it into the fediverse by virtue of its size and commercial goals as an ad-funded company. None of these issues will be easy to solve, and the meeting happened before an upturn in objectionable content served by the Threads algorithm to many users. However, I’m still encouraged by Coates’ overall reaction to the meeting and the teams at Meta who are working on integrating Threads with the Fediverse:

But I can report that in my opinion the teams building it and the integration seem to be decent people, trying to build something they’re excited by, wanting to be part of something new and truly federated, and wanting to be respectful and careful about how they do it. And whether or not you think their arrival in the space is a good thing, that apparent good faith and care has mitigated at least some of my concerns.


AppStories, Episode 366 – Magic Rays of Light Joins MacStories, Plus Our Favorite Media Tracking Apps

This week on AppStories, we are joined by Sigmund Judge and Devon Dundee, the hosts of Magic Rays of Light, a weekly show that explores the world of Apple TV and Apple Arcade, which has joined MacStories, to discuss the show’s move to MacStories as well as tvOS and the apps we use to track media.

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On AppStories+, Federico shares tips on how he’s worked around some of the limitations of Apple Podcasts’ queueing system.

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To learn more about the benefits included with an AppStories+ subscription, visit our Plans page, or read the AppStories+ FAQ.


Magic Rays of Light Joins MacStories

We’re pleased to announce that starting today, Magic Rays of Light, the podcast hosted by Sigmund Judge and Devon Dundee is joining MacStories. Federico and I couldn’t be happier to be adding Sigmund and Devon’s expertise in all things Apple TV+, tvOS, and Apple Arcade to MacStories. It’s a fantastic show full of thoughtful insights on one of Apple’s most interesting platforms.

You can subscribe to Magic Rays of Light using the buttons below:

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A Glimmer of Hope for Thread at CES

Thread has a problem. It was supposed to be the low-energy, wireless protocol that lets all of your smart home devices talk to each other no matter who built them. However, in practice, devices from different makers don’t play very well with each other, often resulting in multiple Thread networks, largely defeating the purpose of the standard.

The good news is that Jennifer Pattison Touhy reports for The Verge that the Thread Group has a solution:

Thread Group’s plan to fix the multi-network problem is to standardize how border routers share credentials with border routers from different manufacturers. In a blog post released at CES this week, the group says these changes should make it easier to add a new Thread border router or Thread device to an existing network. The result will be “a single, larger ranging Thread mesh network, including multiple Border Routers, which in turn can increase the reliability of all the devices in it.”

That sounds great, but like any standard, it’s likely to take a while to filter through to the devices you use in your home. Still, it’s progress and a reason to be optimistic that eventually, your smart home devices may play nice with each other no matter who makes them.


MacStories Unwind: Federico’s New Year Surprise


This week on MacStories Unwind, Federico surprises John with his big holiday videogame project in the first part of what promises to be a fun Unwind miniseries.

  • Kolide – Kolide ensures that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta. Watch the demo today!

Federico’s New Year Surprise

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CES 2024: ASUS Rules CES, A Grab Bag of Other Announcements, Plus More Weird and Wonderful Gadget Finds

Source: CES.

Source: CES.

We’re only two days into CES 2024, and something occurred to me in the aftermath of ASUS’s packed presentation. We’re in a new golden age of gadgets, the likes of which we haven’t seen in many years. The world seems ready for something new after spending more than a decade cramming everything imaginable into our phones. An awful lot of companies seem to think the next big thing will be powered by artificial intelligence. Perhaps it will be, but even if it isn’t, we’re seeing a breadth and depth of gadget innovation at CES that’s exciting.

Yesterday, the gadget that stuck with me the most was the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid. I love the flexibility and modularity it promises. ASUS’s ROG Phone 8 line of mobile phones was a close second with its beefy, game-friendly specs. But neither captured my imagination quite like one of the accessories ASUS saved for yesterday’s presentation.

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CES 2024: More Gaming, Laptops, Hybrid Computers, NUCs, and Smart Home Devices

Source: CES.

Source: CES.

After what already feels like a week of CES, it’s the official day one of the conference. There have been a ton of announcements already. As anticipated, gaming is very big this year, with new handhelds, laptops, and other devices announced. Interesting new approaches to hybrid computers, ASUS’s first NUC, and a handful of smart home devices have been announced already, too, so let’s dig into the latest.

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CES 2024: Gaming, Laptops, TVs, AR and VR, Batteries, and a Couple of Oddities

Source: CES.

Source: CES.

Every year, I dig into the press releases and reporting coming from the CES show floor, so you don’t have to. The pandemic took the wind out of CES’s sails for a few years, but the show and interesting gadgets have made a comeback for 2024, with a wide range of announcements made in the days leading up to the show, which doesn’t even officially start until tomorrow. I’ll be back with more updates throughout the week, but here are some of the announcements that have caught my eye so far.

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