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Posts tagged with "iPad"

How I Modded My iPad Pro with a Screen Protector, iPhone Holder, and Magnetic Stereo Speakers

My new, modular iPad Pro 12.9" setup.

My new, modular iPad Pro 12.9” setup.

Those who have been reading MacStories for a few years should know something about me: I love modding things. Whether it’s customizing the silicone tips of AirPods Pro or adding kickstands to iPad covers (which I don’t do anymore), there’s something about the idea of taking an object and modding it specifically to my needs that my brain finds deeply satisfying. I’ve done it with videogame consoles; I’ve done it with IKEA furniture1; and I’ve done it – once again – with my 12.9” iPad Pro.

A new generation of iPad Pros and Airs is rumored to launch in the near future, and with the Vision Pro coming in a few weeks, what better way to wrap up my usage of the M2 iPad Pro than covering the mods I’ve been using?

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The iPad Is Like Roadwork

Zac Hall, writing for 9to5Mac, has a great analogy about the iPad platform that I wish I thought of before:

Here’s the thing about the iPad line: it’s always being worked on, and that work is never complete. You know, like roadwork. As a kid, I recall thinking Atlanta was only under construction for a few weeks. Oh, the naïveté.


The awkward thing about this never ending construction project is when a lower-end model get a “new” feature before a premium model. That’s what happened with the iPad 10 and the iPad Pro in 2022. The awkwardness was compounded by the fact that Apple released no new iPads in 2023. Instead, Apple introduced a third (but not third-gen) Apple Pencil. More roadwork.

I think this is a perfect encapsulation of the state of the iPad. For better or worse, it’s always being worked on. Not like how the Mac and iPhone are always “being worked on” (of course they are), but more in the sense that there’s always something that obviously needs to get fixed and we’re waiting for it.

And the funny thing is, I’ve been using the iPad as my primary computer for long enough now, I find its “current” state kind of charming at this point. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but why would you get a reliable computer that does the same reliable things for a good number of reliable years when you can experience the thrill of a platform that still feels like it launched two years ago when it is, in fact, 14 years-old and that perennially feels like it’s waiting for the next shoe to drop? Why join the navy when you can be a pirate? I’m only half-kidding with this. Besides the fact that, for me, no other computer Apple makes is as flexible as an iPad, part of the enjoyment is (again, for me) its quirky nature, constantly on the verge of improvement. (Please don’t send me this page.)

If there’s one thing you can say about the iPad line is that it’s never boring, for better or worse. If anything, we’re still blogging about it – 14 years later.


Globetrotter: Your Photos and Memories on a World Map

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.

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Introducing the New MacStories Setups Page

Federico's setup (left) and John's (right).

Federico’s setup (left) and John’s (right).

Setup optimization is a never-ending journey at MacStories. We’re always looking for the fastest, most efficient, and often, most portable way to do everything in our lives. The result is constant change. Hardware and apps are swapped in and out of our systems and workflows frequently.

We write or talk about our setups in a bunch of different places, which we realize can make it hard to keep up with the most current version of what we’re using. That’s why we’ve dedicated to our setups. That way, the next time you wonder, what was that pair of headphones Federico mentioned on AppStories or that giant battery pack John wrote about for Club MacStories, you’ll have a place where you can quickly find the answer. You’ll find a link to the new Setups page in the navigation bar at the top of the MacStories homepage, too.

Our new Setups page is what Apple might call ‘a living document.’ We’ll update it periodically throughout the year with changes we make with links to everything that’s still being sold somewhere.

Speaking of links, many of the ones you’ll find on the Setups page are affiliate links. If you buy something using those links, MacStories, Inc. will receive a small commission. You can learn more about how MacStories uses affiliate links in our privacy policy.

Also, if you have any questions about the gear and apps listed on the Setups page, feel free to reach out on Mastodon using @viticci or @johnvoorhees, or ping us on Discord.

Procreate Dreams First Impressions

Artwork source: Procreate.

Artwork source: Procreate.

I’ve been playing with Procreate Dreams for about a week. The brand new animation app from Procreate shares a lot of DNA with the company’s flagship drawing and painting app. As a result, despite my limited time and scant artistic talents, I expect Procreate Dreams will be a hit.

Procreate made a name for itself with artists with its gesture-driven, hands-on approach to art. By focusing on gestures, the company’s first app puts your artwork front and center, providing the maximum context for what you’re working on and reducing distractions. The approach also encourages interacting with the app’s canvas in a natural, fluid way.

Artwork source: Procreate.

Artwork source: Procreate.

That same approach is the hallmark of Procreate Dreams. The app tackles animation in much the same way Procreate reimagined drawing and painting on an iPad. The tools at your fingertips are deep and sophisticated but get out of the way of your creation. At times, the discoverability of features suffers a little as a result, but after spending some time tapping UI elements, long-pressing to reveal context menus, and experimenting with multi-finger gestures, Dreams reveals itself, rewarding the curious who take the time to learn what it can do.

All of the familiar Procreate brushes and tools are available in Dreams. Artwork source: Procreate.

All of the familiar Procreate brushes and tools are available in Dreams. Artwork source: Procreate.

Procreate Dreams, which has been in development for five years, offers multiple ways to create 2D animation. The full suite of Procreate brushes and tools is available to artists. For anyone who has used Procreate before, this is the perfect place to start with Dreams because it will immediately feel like home. However, underlying those familiar brushes is a new and more powerful painting engine that allows for larger canvases and more complex artwork, giving the app room to grow into the future.

Dreams also introduces a new way to animate called Performing, which allows artists to record the movement of their creations using touch. Tap record and drag a selected item on the app’s stage, and Procreate Dreams will add keyframes and paths automatically, simplifying the process of bringing your artwork to life.

Artwork source: Procreate.

Artwork source: Procreate.

Other edits can be accomplished from the timeline, which supports multiple layers, manual keyframing, cel animation, video editing and compositing, and more, all using gestures to access features and select content. When you put it all together, there’s a lot going on, but it works smoothly thanks to Apple’s Metal framework running on Apple silicon.

You’re not limited to hand-drawn animation on a blank canvas, either. Dreams supports video, to which you can add an animation layer and edit, crop, zoom, pan, and more. Separate audio tracks can be added, too.

I plan to spend some quality time in Procreate Dreams over the holidays. Drawing apps has never been my forté, and drawing on a timeline adds an additional element of complexity. However, Dreams isn’t like any other animation app I’ve tried before. My familiarity with Procreate gave me a head start, easing me into unfamiliar territory. That’s a big advantage for the app and an even bigger one for anyone who has ever wanted to try their hand at animation.

Procreate Dreams is available on the App Store as a one-time purchase for $19.99.

Using the iPad Pro as a Portable Monitor for My Nintendo Switch with Orion, a Capture Card, and a Battery Pack

Tears of the Kingdom on my iPad Pro.

Tears of the Kingdom on my iPad Pro.

Those who have been reading MacStories for a while know that I have a peculiar obsession for portable setups free of the constraints typically involved with working at a desk or playing games in front of a TV.

It’s not that I don’t want to have a desk or dislike my 65” OLED TV: it’s that I don’t want those contexts to be my only options when it comes to getting work done or playing videogames. This is why I’ve spent the better part of my career fine-tuning my iPad-first lifestyle and why I’m so excited at the prospect of a giant screen that can always be with me. Modularity, portability, and freedom from a desk or TV are the driving factors in everything I use or buy these days.

For these reasons, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I embraced the ability to use the iPad Pro as a portable monitor for videogame consoles thanks to UVC support. As I covered in my iPadOS 17 review, this feature was primarily conceived to let iPad users connect external webcams to their computers, but that hasn’t stopped developers from re-using the same underlying technology to create apps that allow you to display a video feed from any accessory connected via USB.

It’s a very intriguing proposition: the 12.9” iPad Pro has a gorgeous mini-LED display; what if you could use that to give yourself a little extra screen real estate when playing Super Mario Bros. Wonder or Tears of the Kingdom without having to pack a separate portable monitor with you?

In my review, I mentioned the Genki Studio app, which I used to play games with my Nintendo Switch and ROG Ally and output their video feeds to the iPad Pro’s display. Today, I want to explain how I took my setup a step further by enhancing the picture quality of the Nintendo Switch when viewed on the iPad Pro and, most importantly, how I created a fully-portable setup that allows me to play Switch games on the iPad Pro anywhere I am.

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Astropad’s Rock Paper Pencil Delivers A No-Compromise, Simple Paper-like Experience on iPad

It’s been years since I took a serious run at handwritten notes on the iPad. However, that changed with my recent experiments with the Boox Tab Ultra, which led me back to the benefits of jotting down handwritten notes as a quick capture system while I work. That’s why Aspropad’s new Rock Paper Pencil bundle of a nano-textured iPad screen protector and replacement Apple Pencil tips that mimic the feel of paper caught my eye. I’ve had bad luck with screen covers that feel like paper in the past, but as I’ll explain below, Astropad has created a unique package that offers the closest experience to writing or drawing on paper that I’ve ever tried while also being easy to use.

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Home+ 6.2 Adds a Battery Smart Section and Widget

Matthias Hochgatterer’s Home+ 6 for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch is one of the most powerful HomeKit apps around, offering automation based on functionality exposed by Apple’s HomeKit framework that its own Home app doesn’t even use. The app also does a terrific job of surfacing sensor data that is buried deep in the Home app, like details about the air quality in your home if you have a sensor that monitors that.

Home+ 6.2 includes a new Smart Group dedicated to battery health.

Home+ 6.2 includes a new Smart Group dedicated to battery health.

With version 6.2 of Home+, Hochgatterer has added a new section to the app that reports the remaining charge for any battery-operated HomeKit accessories, such as window and door sensors. The new section, which color codes its battery icons according to the remaining charge, is accompanied by a new set of small, medium, and large-sized widgets that can be customized to show all of your battery-operated devices or a subset picked by you. Like the smart section in the main app, the rings around each device icon are color-coded, making it easy to pick out any with low batteries.

The accessories and scenes widget has added room identifiers.

The accessories and scenes widget has added room identifiers.

Home+ also offers device widgets that have added the name of the room to which they’re assigned, making it simple to tell accessories apart in the widget. However, the accessory and scene widgets are not compatible with iOS and iPadOS 17’s new interactivity. Tapping an accessory or scene will trigger it, but the Home+ app opens in the process. Having gotten used to iOS and iPadOS 17’s interactivity, I hope Home+ adds support for it in the future.

Version 6.2 is a small update for Home+, but one I appreciate all the same. Battery data is too buried in the Home app, and with Home+’s new widget and smart section, I now know I have a Hue dimmer switch that needs my attention. Plus, if you haven’t checked out Home+ in a while, it’s worth exploring its automation tools, which are some of the best available in any HomeKit-based app.

Home+ 6.2 is available on the App Store for $9.99, which is a 30% discount from its usual price.

Apple Announces a New, More Affordable Apple Pencil That’s Coming in November

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple unveiled a new, more affordable Apple Pencil that charges via USB-C and supports many of the features of the two previous-generation Apple Pencils, but not all of them.

The new USB-C model looks a lot like the second-generation model, except it doesn’t charge wirelessly. Instead, the end of the Pencil can be pulled back to reveal a USB-C port for charging. However, like the second-generation Pencil, the new model attaches magnetically to the side of compatible iPads, which puts the Pencil into sleep mode to preserve battery power.

The latest Pencil also supports tilt sensitivity and hover, which was introduced with the latest iPad Pro models, but pressure sensitivity and double-tap to switch tools are not supported. Apple isn’t offering free engraving, either.

The new Apple Pencil is $79 ($69 for education) and will be available beginning in early November. According to Apple’s press release, the accessory is compatible with all iPad models that have a USB-C port, including iPad (10th generation), iPad Air (4th and 5th generations), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th generations), and iPad mini (6th generation).