The Best Apple-related accessories at CES 2021

[VIDEO] There’s a lot of gear here, but what grabbed my attention was the look at that new 31.5″ OLED LG display right at the beginning of the video.

LG has been steadily improving their display lineup, with each new generation seemingly custom made with the Mac in mind. Take a look. Video embedded in main Loop post.

How to save audio attachments from Messages on iPhone & iPad


Have you received audio files or audio messages from any of your contacts on iMessage? If so, you may sometimes want to store them permanently on your iPhone or iPad so that you can listen to them later at your convenience, and save the audio attachment as a file directly. Fortunately, you can do this pretty easily, and we’ll show you how you can manually view and save audio attachments from iPhone and iPad.

As advertised, follow the sequence. Pretty low discoverability there, but not a widely used feature, I’d suspect.

Oh Samsung

Samsung’s official US mobile Twitter account uses an iPhone to promote today’s Galaxy S21 Unpacked event:

Other folks using Apple gear to promote non-Apple products seems to happen a lot. Reminds me of the year Microsoft sponsored the NFL and gave Surface tablets to all the teams. Then, when the games played out, there were lots of shots of teams using iPads instead.

Any examples of Apple events being promoted on, say, Samsung phones?

Is AppleCare+ worth it for Mac?

William Gallagher, AppleInsider:

In theory, Apple offers the same AppleCare+ insurance for Macs that it does for iPhones, yet the details are so different that it’s harder to determine the value to you.

Once you understand just what AppleCare+ actually offers, and what it costs, then in principle the decision is straightforward.

The value of this post is not so much in answering the headline question, but in walking through the differences between AppleCare+ for Mac and iPhone.

Take a read through, note the costs involved in repairing the various Mac models.

App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile” report

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch, digs through the annual App Annie mobile report. There’s a ton of fascinating trend data in the linked post, worth a scan.

One chart I found particularly interesting was the top social media apps in the US chart (about 1/3 of the way down). Facebook usage grew (pandemic?), but was overtaken by TikTok. 2020 was a huge year for TikTok.


App usage in the U.S. surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours on their mobile device.

This seems a clear trend, exacerbated by the pandemic. I watch live TV for breaking news and sports. Otherwise, it’s on-demand streaming content. Obviously, this is only possible with high bandwidth net access.

Interesting read.

A simple Shortcuts project

If you’ve read about Shortcuts, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the learning curve, here’s a great, simple project, perfect for dipping your toes in the water.

In a nutshell:

  • Fire up the Shortcuts app on your iPhone
  • Tap the Automation tab at the bottom of the screen
  • Tap “Create Personal Automation”
  • Scroll to the bottom and tap “Charger”
  • Make sure “Is Connected” is selected
  • Tap “Next”
  • In the search field that appears (bottom of screen), type “Speak”. The action “Speak Text” should appear. Tap on it.
  • Tap the “Text” area and type some text to speak, like “Charging”
  • Tap “Next”
  • Tap to turn off “Ask Before Running”.
  • Tap “Done”

That’s it. Now plug in your iPhone and it will speak the text. Let the pranks begin!

One last note: To delete the shortcut (on the off chance that the novelty wears off), drag it to the left and tap Delete.

Apple launches major new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative projects


Apple today announced a set of major new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. These forward-looking and comprehensive efforts include the Propel Center, a first-of-its-kind global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); an Apple Developer Academy to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit; and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs. Together, Apple’s REJI commitments aim to expand opportunities for communities of color across the country and to help build the next generation of diverse leaders.

Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson:

“Every individual deserves equal access to opportunity regardless of skin color or zip code,” said Jackson. “For too long, communities of color have faced gross injustices and institutional barriers to their pursuit of the American dream, and we are proud to lend our voices and resources to build new engines of opportunity that empower, inspire, and create meaningful change.”

Props to Apple for putting its money where its mouth is. While this is clearly not going to solve racism, it is a targeted use of funds that will help those underrepresented communities on the receiving end. A step in the right direction for sure.

Amazon’s “brushing” scam

NBC, Washington:

Seventeen Amazon packages have been delivered to Catherine Mayfield’s home in Temple Hills, Maryland, since October. She didn’t order any of them. Some of the packages included cheap items, such as scissors, a foot cushion and an eyebrow trimmer. Others contained pricier items, like a steam iron.

So what’s going on? One likely possibility: Mayfield is a victim of what’s called a “brushing” scam.


Sellers do this to boost their ratings. They make a fake account using a real name and address they can easily find online. The seller buys the product from themselves and sends it to the address.

“In order for you to have a validated purchase so that your rating carries more weight, they actually have to ship something,” said Hamerstone. The seller then writes a fake review and gives themselves five stars.

So when you see those “verified purchaser” labels on Amazon reviews, dig a little deeper. When I buy something on Amazon, I start by looking at the percentage of 1-star reviews. Any percentage above 6% gives me pause, no matter how many 5-star ratings a product has. I read those 1-star ratings. Often there’s a clue there, a red flag that goes beyond, “dead on arrival” (bad units happen with all manufactured goods), something on the order of “this product was shoddily made, and here’s why I say that”.

Unfortunately for those receiving these packages, there’s really nothing they can do about it except to just wait for it to stop. It’s just too much for sites like Amazon to track these sellers down.

And that’s where we differ. Amazon created this process. Surely they could tweak their system so verified purchases are actually “verified”. Make it easy to report unordered packages, then have Amazon note on the product pages that the product has an active brushing scam.

UPDATE: Check out the site Fakespot. Copy the link to an Amazon product you are looking at and paste it in the Fakespot search field (upper left of the page). Fakespot will tell you all sorts of things about that product and, perhaps, help you avoid buying a dud.

There’s also a Chrome extension, if Chrome is your thing. No Safari extension, sadly. [H/T, Kirk McElhearn]

Facebook revamps their ‘Access Your Information’ tool

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

Facebook today is rolling out an update to its Access Your Information tool with the goal of making the tool easier to both use and navigate, as well as better explain how and why that data is used. The new version of the tool has been visually redesigned, and now further breaks down the viewable information across eight categories instead of just two.

Grudging credit to Facebook for sliding towards transparency. But hard to reconcile this move with the bruising fight against Apple advertising transparency efforts. Facebook is clearly for transparency as long as it does not impact their revenue stream.

Side note: Just me, or do you automatically downgrade any information source when it is passed along via a Facebook link?

Apple CEO Tim Cook joins ‘CBS This Morning’ ahead of ‘big announcement’ coming Wednesday

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Apple CEO Tim Cook joined CBS This Morning for an interview today, touching on the events that occurred at the US Capitol last Wednesday.

Notably, CBS This Morning host Gayle King also teased that more of the interview will air tomorrow, as Apple is expected to make a “big announcement” of some sort – but it’s “not a product.”

Big announcement, but not a product. Hmmm. Well I’m hooked.

iTunes at 20: How one app changed Apple’s course

Kirk McElhearn:

On January 10, 2001, Steve Jobs went on the stage at Macworld Expo in San Francisco and presented a new app that would change the course of Apple. iTunes would become Apple’s most important app, not only because it was the companion of the iPod that would be released later that year, but also because it would become the framework for all of the company’s future online stores.


Jobs explained the process of ripping and burning CDs, since, for many, this was new. He ripped a CD – the B 52s’ Time Capsule – then he imported a folder with 1,000 songs to his library. He then showed how to play music, how to sort the library, how to search for songs, and how to create a playlist; all of these were techniques that were new for most people.


As Jobs said in his presentation, there were a number of programs that could play MP3s, and, on the Mac, there were two main options: SoundJam, sold by Cassady & Greene, and Audion, from Panic. Both of these apps were simple, focusing more on the player aspect, even though they offered features such as playlist creation, ripping CDs, and syncing music to MP3 players.

Apple approached both companies, and eventually purchased SoundJam, along with its three developers (who still work for Apple).

This is a fascinating, detailed look at the history of iTunes, an app that still exists. On Windows.

Interesting that there are lots of people who have never even seen iTunes, came on board after iTunes was split into pieces, have entirely missed this major chapter in Apple’s history.

LG teases ‘World’s first rollable smartphone’

Follow the headline link, scroll down to the animated GIF. At first glance, it looks completely fake, a smartphone that slowly changes size.

But if you scroll down a bit further, you’ll see an old Apple patent drawing that gives a hint of what’s likely going on here. The screen “shrinks” by rolling up inside the case, the two sides of the case slide together, seemingly all driven by some sort of motor.

Interesting but gimmicky. But worth a look. Can’t imagine this as a successful new smartphone design trend.

Exploring a virtual CES 2021

Jeff Porten, TidBITS:

Having attended the show roughly 20 times, I can scan several hundred booths in an hour, giving each one a brief opportunity to strike me as novel and worth more time. Compare that to the screenshot below, which appears to be the booth experience this year.

Here’s a link to the exhibitor directory. Unless you know what you are looking for, there’s very little info here, nothing to tease you, arouse your curiosity.

Beyond that, so much of the value of CES is tactile. Whether it’s getting hands-on with a production model that won’t be released until April, seeing a prototype under glass, or just getting a sense of whether a company has their act together—even if it’s just two guys in a garage—nothing beats being there in person.

Wondering if the CES folks thought COVID would pass and they’d actually have an in person show, didn’t have the time to create a truly virtual experience.

That aside, Jeff does follow with some CES items that caught his attention. Take a look.

Apple TV+ brings Andy Samberg, Ben Stiller together on concept from ‘BoJack Horseman’ creator

Hollywood Reporter:

Andy Samberg and his Palm Springs writer Andy Siara have teamed up with Noah Hawley and Ben Stiller for a untitled sci-fi comedy-drama that has landed at Apple Studios.

Apple finalized the deal over the weekend, picking it up in a competitive situation.


The project also joins the growing list of homegrown projects that Apple Studios is developing and will be part of the Apple Original Films banner. The latter last year released On the Rocks, Greyhound and Wolfwalkers, all of which are part of this year’s awards conversation. This year it will release Joe and Anthony Russo’s drama Cherry and go into production on Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon.

Andy Samberg will star in the series. Noah Hawley was the show creator behind the series Fargo. Definitely looking forward to this one.

Ted Lasso cast, in a virtual conversation with Patton Oswalt

[VIDEO] Fan of Ted Lasso? This is a lot of fun to watch, a chance to get to know the actors who brought these characters to life, some Apple TV behind the scenes stuff.

If you want to skip the introductions, jump to about 4 minutes in. Video embedded in main Loop post.

Every deleted Parler post, many with users’ location data, has been archived

Dell Cameron, Gizmodo:

The researcher, who asked to be referred to by their Twitter handle, @donk_enby, began with the goal of archiving every post from January 6, the day of the Capitol riot; what she called a bevy of “very incriminating” evidence.

In a nutshell, Parler was hacked before it was taken down, all the posts, including deleted posts, were downloaded and archived. I can’t help but imagine the FBI will be interested in getting their hands on that data.

Here’s a link to an alleged description of how this all was done.

Software fix for M1 Mac Bluetooth connectivity issues reportedly on the way

Tim Hardwick, MacRumors:

When the ‌M1‌‌ MacBook Air, ‌‌M1‌‌ MacBook Pro 13-inch, and ‌‌M1‌‌ Mac mini models arrived in customers’ hands, a number of owners almost immediately began reporting various Bluetooth problems ranging from intermittent disconnects of wireless peripherals to completely non-functional Bluetooth connections.

This is great news. I’m hoping that same team is working on a fix for the broken Big Sur, Safari iCloud tabs that make it a bit of a nightmare to share pasteboard and iCloud tabs between machines.

100% reproducible for me, have heard from a fair number of people with the same issue. Feedback submitted.

The magic of BBEdit

Jason Snell:

A recurring game on Incomparable’s Game Show podcast is a modern take on Family Feud, a show where contestants guess the answers that people gave in a survey. (We did a version of this, with Apple themed questions, for the Relay FM 5th anniversary show.) Last summer I fielded a survey with Star Wars questions—but never wanted to do the hard work of compiling the answers.

The problem with these sorts of surveys is, they’re all based on free-form text boxes. And people don’t answer in a consistent fashion—they misspell things, phrase responses differently, you name it. And yet at the end, I need to say “38 people said Han Solo, 24 people said Luke Skywalker.”

This is where BBEdit saved me an enormous amount of time, and I thought I’d share what I did so that you don’t have to waste your time in the future.

This is just one example of the incredible power of BBEdit. There are so many times when I need to do some sort of data or text manipulation and after a bit of digging, turns out BBEdit has a tool to do what I need.

Jason does an excellent guided tour here, showing exactly how BBEdit solved a knotty problem.

As I’ve mentioned many times, when I get a new Mac, the two apps that I install first are BBEdit and Keyboard Maestro.

The brilliant new Burger King mini-logo

Hidden in the massive new Burger King branding redesign is a charming mini-logo.

Though it does get a mention in the branding link above, a better showcase is via the headline link. It’s such an excellent little mini-design: A capital “B” eating a “K”, the whole thing, unmistakably, a Burger King burger.

Using your Apple Watch as an iPhone video viewfinder

Mitchell Clark, The Verge:

The Apple Watch’s ability to act as a camera remote for your phone got a mention in its announcement keynote, so it’s been around a while, but I’ve only ever used it once or twice to take group pictures. Twitter user @PeterSciretta, however, has pointed out that you can also use it as a vlogging aid.

Here’s a tweet video showing this remote viewfinder in action:

Elon Musk surpasses Jeff Bezos to become world’s richest person


Elon Musk, the outspoken entrepreneur behind Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, is now the richest person on the planet.

A 4.8% rally in the electric carmaker’s share price Thursday boosted Musk past Inc. founder Jeff Bezos on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people.


Over the past year his net worth soared by more than $150 billion in possibly the fastest bout of wealth creation in history. Fueling his rise was an unprecedented rally in Tesla’s share price, which surged 743% last year on the back of consistent profits, inclusion in the S&P 500 Index and enthusiasm from Wall Street and retail investors alike.

“The fastest bout of wealth creation in history”.

The pandemic has been very good to Elon Musk and to Tesla stock.

Apple launches limited-edition AirPods Pro to celebrate Chinese New Year

Parker Ortolani, 9to5Mac:

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, Apple has introduced a limited-edition pair of AirPods Pro available in multiple Asian countries, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia. This coming new year is the Year of the Ox, and Apple has created an adorable new emoji character to celebrate. On these countries’ home pages, Apple has also added a new custom logo to commemorate the occasion.

Here’s a link to the product page, if you want to check it out for yourself.

And follow the headline link, check out the image with the box and AirPods Pro, check out the box design and “Year of the Ox” icon.

I’m a fan of custom Apple gear, like a rare, event-specific Apple Watch band, or a custom color iPhone.

Ordered Apple product through Best Buy, deemed “lost in mail”. Got full refund , a month later package arrived. What should I do?


I ordered an Apple product off of Best Buy and was shipping overnight through FedEx. After a week and a half of checking the tracking number and seeing no update on the FedEx site, I contacted Best Buy and they determined it was lost in the mail and I received a full refund. I used the refund to buy another Apple product from Best Buy at a better deal (opted for pick up this time). A little over a month later the original package arrived at my door.

Is it wrong to right it off as Best Buy/FedEx’s problem and keep the original item?

Read the comments, points made to keep the item. First, that the effort to return it to Best Buy will be a huge hassle, especially mid-COVID. I’ve not got experience with this, hard to say, but I do know that both Apple and Amazon make it very easy to return purchases.

There are arguments that Best Buy is a huge corporation, don’t care about you. They can afford the loss, means nothing to them. And they have insurance.

Can’t get past this. At the very least, I’d notify them, let them decide if it’s worth the hassle to process the return. Depending on the item value, I’ve often been told to keep the mistake, more than it’s worth to return it. Am I naive here?

Just a bit of food for thought.

Facebook’s email to businesses on life with Apple and privacy

Stephen Warwick, iMore:

Facebook has continued to warn its business users of upcoming privacy changes to iOS 14 that will ask users to opt-in to tracking through the use of a device identifier for advertising for IDFA.

In an email sent to businesses seen by iMore, Facebook has again reiterated that it disagrees with planned upcoming privacy changes to advertising and tracking in iOS 14. Apple isn’t actually changing tracking, instead, users will have to opt-in to tracking.

And the email itself:

Apple’s requirement that all apps in the App Store show a prompt to iOS 14 users in accordance with their AppTrackingTransparency framework will have hard-hitting implications across targeting, optimization, and measuring campaign effectiveness for businesses that advertise on mobile devices and across the web. Apple’s changes will benefit them, while hurting the industry and the ability for businesses of all sizes to market themselves efficiently and grow through personalized advertising. We believe that personalized ads and user privacy can coexist.

Take it one sentence at a time. That first one is definitely on the money. Not sure how you could argue that it is anything but good for users.

The second sentence starts with “Apple’s changes will benefit them”. Feels a bit disingenuous. This benefits users. If it benefits Apple, it’s only that it makes their gear more attractive for folks who value privacy.

And the last sentence, about coexisting, sure, I’ll buy that. After all, didn’t advertising and computing coexist before all the invisible tracking come into being?

Apple patent for Qi charger built into MacBook

Follow the headline link and scroll through the images. The first one shows an open MacBook, with an iPhone and Apple Watch laid on either side of the trackpad. Both devices were wirelessly charging.

True, the devices would get in the way if you were trying to actually type on your Mac, but if you were doing something else and wanted a quick charge, your open MacBook would make a convenient Qi charger. And would mean one less thing to pack for a road trip (when road trips become a thing again).

The second image is even better. It shows a bunch of Apple devices stacked on top of a closed MacBook. Presumably all of them were charging, though I’d assume multiplestacked devices would slow down the charge time proportionately. But it looks like there are multiple coils, so maybe not?

It’s a patent, not necessarily something in the works, but I do think it’s an interesting idea.

Deleting apps from inside the App Store update page

On the off chance you didn’t know this, you can delete an app from inside the App Store update page.

In a nutshell:

  • Launch the App Store
  • Tap your profile pic (upper right corner) to get to the update page
  • Scroll down to the UPDATED RECENTLY section
  • Swipe left on an app to reveal the Delete button

Not a big deal, but I do find this useful, an easy way to scroll through apps and delete the ones I no longer use. An alternative to hunt-and-peck in jiggle mode.

How Apple Store closures impact your Apple product return window


For products purchased online, including online purchases that were picked up at a store, curbside or express location, you can start a no-contact return at For purchases made at an Apple Store, you can return your product within 14 days after the store reopens. Stores that are open for curbside pickup only are unable to complete returns at this time. If your local store has only curbside pickup available, you can return your product within 14 days of the store fully reopening.

If you bought something at your local Apple Store and the store closed or was reduced to curbside pickup only, your return window just got extended.

Go to to check your local Apple Store’s status.

A look back at Apple services’ highlights from 2020


As the world navigated an ever-changing new normal of virtual learning, grocery deliveries, and drive-by birthday celebrations, customers relied on Apple services in new ways, turning to expertly curated apps, news, music, podcasts, TV shows, movies, and more to stay entertained, informed, connected, and fit.

Follow the headline link and just scan through the long scroll. An interesting look at some of the major wins for Apple services, starting with the App Store:

As a result of their efforts, developers selling digital goods and services — which is only a small fraction of the overall commerce the App Store facilitates — have now earned more than $200 billion since the App Store launched in 2008.

That “small fraction of the overall commerce” is just a gigantic number. And (assuming 30% take, not quite exact, but close) if my math is correct, if devs took home $200 billion, Apple’s take was about $86 billion. No small thing. Again, this is all time, since 2008.

The post also digs into Apple Music, Apple TV (huge year for Apple TV+), Apple News, Fitness+, Apple Pay, Apple Books, and Apple Podcasts, with a brief mention of iCloud right at the end.

Interesting read.