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February 26 2017

Lowest price anywhere! Space Gray 15" MacBook Pro (2.7GHz, 16GB, 512GB, 455) with AppleCare for $2,799

February 25 2017

Review: CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 TS3 Lite dock for MacBook Pro

Game Day: Evergrow

Many of the best games I've played on iOS recently remix elements of existing genres in new and unexpected ways. Evergrow by Imagility does just that, mixing puzzle, action, and tower defense elements into a fun, colorful game that keeps things interesting by throwing new details at you throughout the game.


You control a cheerful block floating through space. The goal is to grow your character as big as possible by dragging other squares of the same color that float by into position, so they attach to your original block. If a different colored square approaches, you need to swipe it away before it collides with you and causes damage.

Color matching forms the foundation of Evergrow, but there a lot more going on in the game. The physics of the squares adds a layer of complication and weight to Evergrow. As your square grows, its gravity increases pulling everything toward it and making it harder to avoid obstacles. The physics of the squares also means that you need to carefully drag matching ones into position to prevent a collision that pushes your block into harm's way.

The physics also adds to the immediacy of Evergrow making your swipes on the screen feel like they are moving physical objects through space. On the iPhone 7, that tactile feeling is enhanced by one of the best implementations of the Taptic Engine that I’ve tried in a game. It’s a little thing, but one that tipped the balance so that I prefer to play Evergrow on my iPhone instead of my iPad.

There are other obstacles to avoid in Evergrow too, like meteors and mines. Meteors zoom across the screen and can inflict serious damage if they hit your block. Meteors can be sent on a different trajectory by swiping them away, but often, there are too many approaching too quickly. That’s when Evergrow’s special blocks come into play. Shield, zapping, and other blocks that appear periodically throughout the game can help you defend against enemies but have to be strategically placed.

Two other facets of Evergrow keep it engaging. Coins can be collected as you float through space and later exchanged in an in-game workshop for blocks with special powers. There's also a challenge element that grants star ratings based on whether you accomplish certain goals in each level.

I’ve enjoyed Evergrow a lot. The smiling face on your block that greets you when you start to play is a cute, playful touch that also serves the purpose of making you feel invested in its survival. Also, the pace at which Evergrow adds new gameplay elements and challenges feels just right, keeping the game interesting without getting confusing or frustrating. Evergrow started as a relaxing exercise in growing my block and deflecting a few enemies, but as I reached higher levels, the pace became frenetic with an almost constant onslaught of obstacles and enemies. The result is a fun and absorbing game that’s easy to get lost in for long stretches.

Evergrow is available on the App Store.

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The iPhone H8: Gonna be so boring

The Macalope is sorry to report that Apple will be shipping another iPhone this year. Ugh. Sorry.

Writing for the Forbes contributor network and cut-rate bar mitzvah DJ training academy, Ewan Spence tells us how the “Disappointing iPhone 8 Leaks Are Key To Apple's Boring Success.” (Tip o’ the antlers to SamT, David V, Philip Speicher and @JonyIveParody.)

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


The Week in Apple News: iPhone 8 rumors, March iPad events rumors, Apple Park opening in April, and more

Apple headlines for the week ending Feb. 24, 2017 The week in Apple news

Image by Apple

There are rumors of an iPad event next month, and we’re seeing more speculation about the next iPhone as the year progresses. But besides anything i-related, there are plenty of Apple-related headlines in this week’s roundup. Check them out in this slideshow. Just click on the link to get more information.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

This week on AI: 3D facial recognition for 'iPhone 8,' Apple Park opening in April & more
Apple board member Al Gore sells $29.5M of company stock
Apple Inc. valuation now more than $134 billion greater than Alphabet's Google

February 24 2017

Third-party iPhone screen repairs no longer void warranty, Apple says

Cloudflare data leakage doesn’t reveal 1Password secrets

Researchers discovered just a few days ago that the content-distribution network (CDN) Cloudflare sometimes returned garbled Web pages that could contain private and secret information instead of the cached data that it was supposed to. CDNs speed up the Web by allowing sites to push pages and media to Internet nodes closer to a user requesting them. (PCWorld has the full story.)

Among the sites mentioned by Tavis Ormandy, a Google Project Zero security researcher who uncovered the fault, was AgileBit’s 1Password.com, though Ormandy referred to it just as “1Password.” AgileBits’ 1Password password and data safe apps can be used as standalone products, synced via Dropbox and other methods, or linked to paid accounts at 1Password.com for business and family purposes to share passwords, documents, and other data. (Macworld has contacted Ormandy for clarification.)

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71% off Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ Angle 3 PLUS Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - Deal Alert

Designed and Engineered by Cambridge SoundWorks to deliver richer fuller bass; the PLUS delivers surprising bass from such a small speaker, excellent bass performance across each type of music genre.  The PLUS battery technology and power saving design allows this speaker to play up to 30 hours from a full charge with volume set up to 2/3 of maximum playing volume.  IPX5 water resistance makes the unit splashproof, rainproof, dustproof, and sandproof.  Check out the dramatically discounted OontZ Angle 3 PLUS from Cambridge Soundworks now on Amazon.

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Google shuts Spaces, the content-sharing app you probably never heard of

Last year Google announced a new app called Spaces with a simple goal: simplify the way we share things with people online. Sort of like a virtual room where you could connect with people to engage in specific topic of conversation, the experimental service was one of many in Google’s catalogue that failed to gain many users.

To the surprise of no one, Google has now announced it will be shuttering Spaces. In a post on Google+, product manager John Kilcine broke the news, saying that while Google has “learned a lot about how people come together to share ideas and content around any topic,” Spaces will be moving into read-only mode in the coming weeks before shutting down its iOS and Android apps completely on April 17.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


RAW Power Review

RAW Power is a powerful image editor reminiscent of Aperture that takes Apple’s discontinued pro photo editing tool a step further than Apple ever did. Whether you use RAW Power as a standalone image editor or as a Photos extension, what strikes me most about it is that with a little experimentation and patience, it’s accessible regardless of whether you consider yourself a pro user.

Before Photos, Apple had two photography apps: iPhotos for average consumers and Aperture for pros. In 2014, Apple discontinued Aperture. Around the same time, Apple evolved iPhoto into Photos, bringing the macOS and iOS apps that go by that name closer together from a feature set standpoint. That left pros and ‘prosumers’ who relied on Aperture in a bind. There are alternatives like Adobe’s Lightroom, but if you preferred Aperture, you were out of luck, until now.

RAW Power, by Gentlemen Coders, has a stellar pedigree. Its lead developer, Nik Bhatt, was Senior Director of Engineering for Aperture and iPhoto, so it’s safe to assume he understands Apple’s RAW engine. What sets RAW Power apart from something like Aperture, though, is its flexibility. Images can be edited non-destructively either in the standalone RAW Power app or from within Photos because RAW Power’s full functionality is also a Photos extension.

Like many people, my photo library is a mixture of thousands of images taken over many years that were shot with a variety of hardware, including old point-and-shoot digital cameras, a variety of iPhones, and a Sony NEX-5N I got in 2011 for a trip to Patagonia. I enjoy photography and have improved beyond taking simple snapshots, but I’ve never gone too deep into the technical side of it. Nonetheless, for special occasions I still shoot RAW images on my Sony camera to give myself maximum editing flexibility when I process my photos. RAW Power’s Photos extension fits my mix of photos and approach to editing perfectly by offering pro tools that are available on my command as an extension from within Photos when I need them, but stay out of the way when I don’t.


Accessing the RAW Power Photos extension.

Accessing the RAW Power Photos extension.

After you install RAW Power, you’ll need to add it as an extension in Photos. That’s done by clicking the Extensions button from Photos’ editing mode followed by the ‘More’ button, which opens Systems Preferences where you can tick the checkbox to activate the RAW Power extension. The process is a little fiddly, but you only have to do it once.

When the extension is set up, if you open a RAW file in Photos’ edit mode and choose the RAW Power extension, RAW Powers’ tools will open in the editing panel on the right side of the window. If you have previously edited a RAW image in Photos, you will see a warning indicator at the top of the RAW Power panel. RAW Power's RAW editing tools only work with unedited RAW files and the warning means you will only be able to use the app's non-RAW editing tools, unless you revert to the original RAW image. That was the case with some of the shots that I experimented with for this review. My solution was easy: I just duplicated the RAW image and reverted one of them to its original state.

RAW Power will warn you if you previously edited a RAW image.

RAW Power will warn you if you previously edited a RAW image.

The RAW Power panel includes many of the same tools for adjusting RAW images that were found in Aperture, plus some nice additions. Along the top of the panel are clockwise rotation, flip, before and after previewing, and zoom controls. The histogram is next in the stack of tools and will be familiar to anyone who has used image editing tools before. One unique aspect, though, is the row of four round buttons above the histogram that correspond to the luma, red, blue, and green channels. If one is illuminated, it means that color is being clipped; an indication that adjustments may be necessary. Click on the illuminated button, and it shows you the hot pixels for that channel overlaid on your photo.

RAW Power's clipping indicators.

RAW Power's clipping indicators.

The next section of the panel handles RAW processing through a series of sliders. One thing you will notice right away is that all of the adjustments are applied in real time, which provides immediate feedback as you edit an image. RAW Power uses GPU acceleration to achieve real-time adjustments. The first tool exposed is Boost, an Apple-specific RAW image processor. Often, turning Boost down makes it easier to manually adjust other aspects of your image because it reduces the amount that Apple’s processing tries to automatically correct the image for you, which can sometimes work at cross-purposes to the look you are trying to achieve.

The Tone controls are another interesting section of RAW Power’s tools and include sliders for Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, and Recovery, all of which work on any image format, including JPEGs. If you hold down the Command key while adjusting the Tone controls, RAW Power provides a visual indication of clipping by highlighting with a color the portion of your image that is clipped. Recovery is a particularly useful tool because it operates to adjust exposure only on the brightest portions of an image, allowing you to reduce the exposure on the blown-out parts of your photo without affecting the parts where the exposure is fine.

Curves is a feature that Aperture fans will recognize that lets you adjust color visually. There’s an automatic button, or you can adjust color channels individually by dragging portions of the curve that are overlaid on the histogram for that color. You can even sample a color from your image with an eyedropper to hone in on exactly the color you want to change.

RAW Power also has tools for adjusting white balance, brightness, contrast, saturation, and vibrancy as well as a tool to sharpen images, all of which are fairly common features of photo editors. The same feature set found in RAW Power’s Photos extension is also available in its standalone app, which is a nice alternative if you want to use RAW Power’s tools to adjust your photos and then send them to an app other than Photos for further editing, organization, or storage.

RAW Power helps fill the pro tool void left when Aperture was discontinued by Apple. For fans of that app, RAW Power is a great solution because it will be familiar and extends the functionality previously available in Aperture.

RAW Power isn’t just for pro users, though. I don’t consider myself a pro user and prefer the simplicity of Photos, notwithstanding its occasional rough edges. In cases like mine, RAW Power offers the best of both worlds: I can stick with Photos’ simple editing interface for snapshots I take on my iPhone, but when I use my Sony NEX-5N for a special occasion, I can call on RAW Power’s extension to touch up my best shots.

If you ever shoot in RAW, RAW Power is a tool you should have, and it’s especially attractive right now at 50% off for a limited time on the Mac App Store.

Support MacStories Directly

Club MacStories offers exclusive access to extra MacStories content, delivered every week; it’s also a way to support us directly.

Club MacStories will help you discover the best apps for your devices and get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Plus, it’s made in Italy.

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Apple is investigating an iPhone 7 Plus that ‘blew up’

A Twitter video of a smoking iPhone 7 Plus has gone viral, prompting Apple to investigate.

On Friday, Apple said that it was working with Brianna Olivas, who shared the video of her iPhone 7 Plus after it “blew up,” to try to find out the cause of the explosion. Olivas wrote that her rose gold iPhone 7 Plus, which she purchased from Sprint in January, “caught fire” while she was sleeping on Wednesday morning.

Her boyfriend moved the iPhone from the bed to the dresser before going to the bathroom. When he came back, the iPhone was “steaming” and making a “squealing noise” so he tossed it in the bathroom. That’s when the iPhone 7 Plus “blew up and more smoke started coming out.”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


Report: New 12.9- and 10.5-inch iPad Pro models may ship in May or June

Spring is just around the corner, which means we’re likely getting close to another Apple event—and the rumor mill is starting to churn. As first spotted by MacRumors, Japanese site Mac Otakara recently claimed that Apple will host an event in March with its new iPad Pro lineup in the starring role.

From now until then, rumors about that lineup will swirl, and we’ll collect them all here and add our two cents, right up until the moment the new models are unveiled onstage.

What’s the latest?

The rumor: Previously, we’ve heard that Apple will expand the iPad Pro to four sizes, including a 7.9-inch version (the same size as the iPad mini), the current 9.7- and 12.9-inch versions, and a new 10.5-inch size. On Friday, MacRumors reported on a DigiTimes claim that the 10.5- and 12.9-inch models could ship in May or June, while the 9.7-inch version would be ready soon after the event in March.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Jeep & Porsche reveal new vehicles equipped for Apple's CarPlay
How to cancel an App Store subscription using your iPad or iPhone

iOS 10.2.1 might be the cure for your iPhone 6 and 6s battery woes

If your iPhone 6s, 6s, 6 Plus, or 6s Plus randomly shuts itself off, you probably thought a faulty battery was to blame. Widespread reports of this problem led to Apple launching an iPhone 6s Battery Replacement Program, but not all iPhones were eligible for the free battery replacement. That’s because the battery issue was a separate one. The random shutdowns plaguing previous iPhone versions are caused by a software bug, one that Apple says it fixed with iOS 10.2.1.

The problem didn’t affect the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, but some owners of 6, 6s, 6 Plus, and 6s Plus models were forced to plug their iPhones into a power outlet to get the devices to turn back on after a random shutdown.

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Killer Deals: 13" MacBook Pro for $1,329; 15" MacBook Pro (Apple refurb) for $1,399; 2TB G-Drive Pro $239
Amazon considering office suite to pilfer enterprise customers from Microsoft, Google
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