Trending February 2024 # Apple Releases Macos 12.1 Rc, But Universal Control Is Still Missing # Suggested March 2024 # Top 4 Popular

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A week after seeding developers and public testers with macOS 12.1 beta 4, Apple has released the 12.1 RC ahead of a public launch. Notably, the macOS 12.1 release candidate doesn’t include support for the highly anticipated Universal Control feature.

The macOS 12.1 release candidate is appearing now via OTA for developers with build number 21C51. You can also download it from Apple’s Developer website if you’re not running the beta yet (full guide here).

With the first macOS 12.1 beta, we saw Apple bring back SharePlay support. However, Universal Control didn’t show up with any of 12.1 betas or with this RC build.

Apple previously said Universal Control would be coming “later this fall” but that deadline may end up being pushed back.

Here are the full release notes from Apple on the macOS 12.1 RC:

macOS Monterey 12.1 adds SharePlay, an entirely new way to have shared experiences with family and friends in FaceTime. This update also includes the Apple Music Voice Plan, new safety features for children and parents in Messages, redesigned Memories in Photos, and other features and bug fixes for your Mac.

SharePlay

SharePlay is a new way to share synchronized experiences in FaceTime with content from the Apple TV app, Apple Music, and other supported apps

Shared controls give everyone the ability to pause, play, rewind or fast forward

Smart volume automatically lowers the audio of a movie, TV show or song when you or your friends speak

Screen sharing lets everyone on a FaceTime call look at photos, browse the web, or help each other out

Apple Music Voice Plan

Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri

Just Ask Siri suggests music based on your listening history and likes or dislikes

Play it Again lets you access a list of your recently played music

Photos

Memories has been redesigned with a new interactive interface, new animation and transition styles, and multiple image collages

New Memory types include additional international holidays, child-focused memories, trends over time, and improved pet memories

Messages

Communication safety setting gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity

Safety warnings contain helpful resources for children when they receive photos that contain nudity

Siri and Search

Expanded guidance in Siri, Spotlight and Safari Search to help children and parents stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations

Apple ID

Digital Legacy allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your iCloud account and personal information in the event of your death

TV App

Store tab lets you browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place

This release also includes the following enhancements for your Mac:

Hide My Email is available in the Mail app for iCloud+ subscribers to create unique, random email addresses

Stocks allows you to view the currency for a ticker and see year-to-date performance when viewing charts

Reminders and Notes now allow you to delete or rename tags

This release also includes bug fixes for your Mac:

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Nokia N900: Powerful, But Missing Some Key Features

The Nokia N900 is ideal for techies who want a lot of customization and power; anyone looking for apps and aesthetics may want to go with a more mainstream smartphone.

Nokia fans disappointed by last summer’s N97 smartphone, get excited: The Nokia N900 ($570, unlocked; price as of December 18, 2009) delivers on its promises of fast performance and excellent Web browsing. It also offers solid multimedia features, as well as one of the best cameras I’ve used on a smartphone. But the N900 isn’t for everyone: Some people might find the Linux-based Maemo (MAY-mo) platform confusing and not as user-friendly as other platforms. The handset is also missing some crucial features, such as app-store support and MMS messaging, as well as full Exchange support.

Buttonwise, the N900 is pretty minimalist. The front face has no keys–not even Talk/End keys. The top spine (when you hold the phone in landscape mode) has a volume rocker, a power button, and the camera shutter button. A hold switch, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a stylus can be found on the right spine, while the micro-USB port is on the left. The camera lens and flash are on the back, as is a kickstand for propping up the device to watch videos.

The N900 has a gorgeous 3.5-inch, WVGA, 800-by-480-pixel touch display. Because the phone has no navigation buttons, you have to rely on the touchscreen to get around the interface. The display is resistive touch, so you have to press a little harder than you would on a capacitive-touch display. Fortunately, I found the N900’s display quite responsive in my hands-on tests, though sometimes I had to tap a few times to get an application to open.

The slide-out full-QWERTY keyboard is a little cramped, as the keys are fairly close together and the bottom of the display is quite close to the top row of keys. While typing, I found my fingers knocking against the bottom of the display. The keys have a nice texture, however, and are comfortable to press. Among them is a Back key, as well as four navigational keys (up, down, left, right) for those times when you don’t feel like using the touchscreen. Oddly, like the N97, Nokia has placed the space key off-center–a counterintuitive design decision that I will never understand.

I tested the Nokia N900 over T-Mobile’s 3G network, and was very pleased by the overall call quality. My contacts sounded loud and clear, and they could hear me perfectly–even while I was standing on a busy street corner. Though the phone supports standard SMS text messaging, it does not support MMS photo and video messaging.

The N900 supports POP3 and IMAP accounts for your Web-based e-mail, as well as Exchange. Other reviewers have pointed out that the handset syncs only Exchange 2007, not 2003, so if your company hasn’t updated its servers, the N900 might not be your best option.

The N900 handles media quite well. It plays a wide array of file types, including MP3, WMA, AAC, M4A, and WAV formats, and it supports album art and ID3 tags. You can also create playlists on the go, as well as listen to songs in shuffle and loop modes. In my tests, the audio quality was very clean, with an ample amount of volume.

Video is excellent on the N900, too. It supports AVI, WMV, MPEG-4 (and MP4), Xvid, 3GP, H.264, and H.263 video files. It even has a 3D graphics accelerator for games. When I tried it, video playback was smooth and looked stunning on the N900’s gorgeous display. Also, you have no need to worry about clogging up your phone with media: The N900 has a generous 32GB of space, plus expandable storage of up to 16GB with a microSD card.

Motorola Droid 2: Enhanced Design, But Camera Still Stinks

The Droid 2 is a big improvement over its predecessor, but if you take a lot of pictures with your smartphone, you might want to opt for another Droid.

Design-wise, the Droid 2 is essentially a more polished, modern version of its predecessor. Its angles are smoother, the dimensions are slimmer, and it has a more attractive look, overall. The Droid’s black edges have been upgraded to sculpted chrome, and the raised buttons along the spines of the phone are flatter and less obtrusive to the phone’s profile. The backing is made of a soft-touch material that feels really nice to the hand. As a whole, the Droid 2 feels a class above the original model.

The Droid 2’s keyboard is a big improvement over the original’s, which felt shallow and uncomfortable. Gone is the clunky four-way directional pad to the right of the keyboard that allowed room for wider keys. If you liked the d-pad on the original Droid, don’t fret: There are still four arrow keys for extra navigation options. The keys are raised, which is a relief, as the original Droid’s keys were too flat for my liking. Another improvement? No more dummy keys! The Droid had two completely useless key taking up precious keyboard real estate.

Unfortunately, the keyboard still isn’t perfect: The top keys are very close to the ledge of the display, so your fingers are constantly knocking against it. Additionally, the keys felt mushy and not as tactile as I prefer for physical keyboards.

The display seems to be the same as the original Droid’s, measuring 3.7 inches and having a resolution of 854 by 480 pixels. I’ve been spoiled by the 4.3-inch displays of the HTC EVO 4G and the Droid X, so 3.7 inches felt a bit small at first. But it is a perfectly fine size for Web browsing and watching video; and to be fair, it is larger than the iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen.

MotoBlur: Hit-or-Miss

This version of Motoblur has Android 2.2 running beneath it. Android 2.2 adds an overall speed boost to the OS, improved Exchange support (including Exchange calendar support–yay!) and camera and gallery tweaks.

Additionally, you’re stuck with the Motoblur camera interface; you don’t get the refined interface that comes with Android 2.2. For example, in order to bring up your shooting options in Motoblur, you have to touch the right side of the screen. And when you tilt the phone/camera, the controls don’t rotate. With Android 2.2, these controls are always exposed on your screen. It is a tiny detail, but why adopt a custom skin on certain apps only to make them worse?

Of course, you get all of the standard Google Android applications: Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Talk for instant messaging. There’s an annoying amount of bloatware, like NFL Mobile, NFS Shift, and some Verizon-branded apps, but a few useful apps are thrown in there, such as Skype Mobile.

Mediocre Camera

The Droid 2 is a total upgrade from the original Droid, with one exception: the camera. The Droid’s camera was bad, and the Droid 2’s camera isn’t much better. The 5-megapixel snapper took decent shots outdoors with bright, natural looking colors, but details weren’t as sharp as photos taken with the Droid X or the iPhone 4.

Another strange omission is the lack of support for 720p-quality video capture, which is pretty much the default for high-end cameras these days. The Droid 2 captures at 480p, and there’s no dedicated “narration” mode for capturing your own musings via video. Video quality was decent, although a bit pixelated when capturing fast-moving objects. Despite the missing narration mode, the Droid X did capture audio pretty well. Another plus: one of the treats in Android 2.2 is the ability to use your camera’s flash as a light for shooting video in dimly-lit environments.

Performance

Despite the sometimes slow-to-scroll browser, pages loaded pretty quickly over Verizon’s 3G network. Call quality was also very good in San Francisco. I experienced no dropped calls, nor did I hear any static or hissing. Callers’ voices sounded clean and natural.

Zepp E Circle Review: All The Beauty But Missing Some Brains

Zepp E Circle review notes: I used the Zepp E Circle for nine days, running firmware v2.6.3.01. I paired the watch with my OnePlus 7 Pro for the duration of this review. Amazfit/Zepp provided Android Authority with the Zepp E Circle review unit. The smartwatch is compatible with both Android and iOS, via the Zepp app available on both platforms. However, we only tested it on Android.

Zepp E Circle

A beautiful smartwatch for the buyer who cares mostly about that.

The Zepp E Circle is one of the prettiest smartwatches we’ve ever used. However, its beauty far outshines its smarts, making it the kind of product we would only recommend to buyers who prioritize looks over everything else.

See price at Amazon

Design and hardware: It doesn’t get much better than this

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Let me just get this out of the way: the Zepp E Circle is not only one of the nicest smartwatches I’ve worn, but one of the nicest watches I’ve worn in general. It’s thin, light, and elegant, and its rounded infinity edges make it look way more expensive than it really is.

Related: The very best smartwatches you can buy

The 42mm case is only 9.1mm thick, making it much thinner than most competitors out there. For the sake of comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is 13mm thick, the Fossil Gen 5 is 12mm thick, and even the Apple Watch Series 6 is 10.4mm thick.

The model I received for this Zepp E Circle review is the Polar Night Black version with a real leather band. The band is a bit flimsy for my taste so I wasn’t too big a fan of it, but it still felt great on my wrist. Thankfully, the bands are interchangeable with any 20mm bands you can find online.

The bottom line is that if all you care about is the look of your smartwatch, you can’t go wrong here. If you don’t like the rounded look of the Zepp E Circle, you could get the Zepp E Square instead, which has nearly all the same specs and features but in a more Apple Watch-like design.

The Zepp E Circle has all the basic features you would expect, but that’s not all it takes to be competitive nowadays.

There’s also a simple weather app, an alarm system, a compass, and a “Find Mobile” app that will ring your smartphone. Granted, these are all basic things you would find on any smartwatch.

The watch also offers a notification system that allows you to check smartphone alerts on your wrist. Unfortunately, there’s no way to respond to text messages from the watch. There’s no speaker or microphone, so voice responses are out. There’s no keyboard system, so typing is also out. Your notifications are read-only.

Now, those are all the things that the Zepp E Circle didn’t quite slam out of the park, but it did nail quite a few things. There are a ton of watch faces on offer here (all free during my review period), which is always nice to see. There’s an always-on display option you can use, although that will drain the battery a bit faster than if you don’t. You will also find a customizable hardware button, customizable widgets, and a battery-saving “Basic Watch” mode that Zepp says could double your battery life.

Death Stranding: Director’S Cut Impresses On Ps5, But It Still Isn’T For Everyone

Death Stranding: Director’s Cut impresses on PS5, but it still isn’t for everyone

Death Stranding was one of the strangest games of 2023. It was also one of those games that could not please everyone, not that it ever really wanted to anyway. It certainly elicited a range of reactions from players; “divisive” almost feels like the right descriptor, but it doesn’t really fit because I can’t remember any toxicity in the discourse surrounding this game.

I didn’t play Death Stranding back when it was released for PlayStation 4 because all of the pre-release media made it pretty clear that it wasn’t the game for me. I was still curious about the Death Stranding, so I checked out a good amount of gameplay on Twitch. While I was intrigued by the game’s premise and setting, I have to say that watching Death Stranding on Twitch confirmed my suspicions that it wasn’t my type of game.

Ahead of release, I’ve been able to spend some time with Death Stranding: Director’s Cut on PlayStation 5. Unfortunately, I haven’t spent enough time with it for a full review, so that’s not what this is. With that said, even though I don’t think my opinion of the game will change too dramatically, I’m starting to see the appeal.

For starters, this game is beautiful in a somewhat depressing, post-apocalyptic way. It was a beautiful game on the PlayStation 4, so that shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but the PlayStation 5 gives it that little extra bump to fidelity with support for 4K and HDR. In particular, the enviornments look great, and while the character models look good as well, it’s with those that it’s obvious Death Stranding started out as a PlayStation 4 game.

The PlayStation 5 additions are welcome ones, too. Death Stranding: Director’s Cut adds support for the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller, making use of haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers. I’ve yet to encounter a game where those don’t add to the experience, though as I play more and more on this PS5, I realize that I’m actively noticing when the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers kick in less often.

There don’t seem to be any dramatic changes to the core game in the Director’s Cut. There is some new content, to be sure, and while it adds things like new mini-games and travel options that might make traversal easier (or at least a bit more fun), the core gameplay loop and story seem like they’re largely intact. Again, I haven’t played enough to feel comfortable saying this is a review, but there does seem to be enough new content to justify that $10 upgrade fee for PlayStation 4 owners.

The story, of course, is still abstract and can be difficult to get a handle on. While somewhat new and definitely experimental, the gameplay is not going to grab everyone right away – and possibly not at all – but I do understand why people dig it. Being a delivery person who has to carefully traverse dangerous terrain with an eye for keeping packages undamaged doesn’t seem like it would make for exciting gameplay, but as I play more of the Director’s Cut, I realize that it does have some charm to it.

While we’re on the topic of gameplay, Death Stranding has made it apparent how much Facebook and social media have broken my brain. As silly as it is to have clients giving me likes for delivering their packages, my monkey brain loves it. It’s so satisfying to see those likes rack up after making a delivery, and I hate it.

In any case, one thing I’ll say for Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is that it has an undeniable atmosphere to it. As I was playing the Director’s Cut for this article, I distinctly remembered so many moments just from when I watched the game on Twitch more than a year ago. Even if you don’t like Death Stranding all that much, it has such a unique, unsettling feel to it that it sticks with you for a long time. Not a lot of games can do that, but Hideo Kojima seems to be a master of it.

I view Death Stranding: Director’s Cut much like I view Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut. Both games look great on the PlayStation 5 and give those who played the original games some reason to care about their updated versions, but they both get me really excited to see more games that don’t have roots on previous-generation consoles. If PS4 games like Death Stranding and Ghost of Tsushima look this good on PS5, then I’m excited to see more games made specifically for the console.

Everything Apple Announced Today (And What We’re Still Waiting For)

Apple may not have held an event for its latest announcements, but it has certainly been an eventful morning in terms of rumored products launching. There’s also a lot left in the product pipeline that didn’t get announced (and would warrant an event). Here’s what we learned from today’s announcements:

For starters, we now know that Apple actually will pre-announce when the Apple Online Store is going down for several hours of ‘maintenance’ to update product pages. I was skeptical but optimistic yesterday. The mystery created hype like a small-scale Apple event, although anyone waiting for an iPad Pro 2 was disappointed.

Shortly before the store came back online, we saw the still rumored red iPhone teased by a Chinese retailer without confirmation one was coming today. Then came this year’s March iPhone announcement: Product RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in 128GB and 256GB capacities.

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Last year it was the iPhone SE in 16GB and 64GB capacities that got revealed in March. This year the iPhone SE doubles in storage to 32GB and 128GB without any other changes.

The red iPhone was first rumored to be coming as a new iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus model later this fall, before later being rumored to be a mid-cycle iPhone 7 option alongside a 128GB GB iPhone SE.

Apple also announced six new iPhone case colors.

Then there are the iPad announcements. Apple discontinued the iPad mini 2 (which uses the same A7 chip as the iPhone 5s) and increased the storage for the iPad mini 4 to 128GB at the same $399 price (or $529 for cellular). That’s easy enough to follow.

The 9.7-inch iPad announcement requires reading a little closer to get. Simply called iPad, this new 9.7-inch iPad replaces the originally priced $499 iPad Air 2 and starts at $329 (or $309 with education pricing). It drops the Air name but returns to the first iPad Air dimensions which means it’s thicker and heavier than the iPad Air 2.

iPad upgrade options include cellular for $459, 128GB for $429, or 128GB and cellular for $559.

The iPad Air 2 that it replaces in the lineup featured an A8X chip while the new iPad uses an A9 chip. For comparison, the iPad Pro models both use an A9X with better graphics performance (and both work with Apple Pencil and Smart Connector accessories unlike the new, cheaper iPad).

The year-old 9.7-inch iPad Pro and year-and-a-half-old 12.9-inch iPad Pro remain the flagship tablets in the lineup for now. An all-new 10.5-inch iPad and a spec-upgraded 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 are still rumored to be in the works. We’ll have to see which of the four device identifiers belong to the new budget iPad.

For now, the iPad lineup includes iPad mini 4, iPad, and iPad Pro in two sizes.

Apple Watch got updates in the form of new bands and default configurations. There’s a new Woven Nylon band style, Classic Buckle gets new colors and its second redesign, and Sport Band now includes three new colors.

Apple also sells Nike Sport Bands separately for the first time, and there are new colors in the collection. Along with these changes, Apple has reduced the options for which bands you can buy with new Apple Watches to only include Sport Band and Milanese Loop. All other bands including Classic Buckle and Link Bracelet are now sold separately.

Finally, Swift Playgrounds for iPad got multi-language support with five additional languages and other new features. Apple also unveiled a new video editing app coming soon called Clips to go along with the new iPhone announcements. Bloomberg reported that the new app was in development last year.

Clips doesn’t have a release date yet, but the fine print mentions that it requires iOS 10.3 which is still in beta:

Clips is compatible with iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation), iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, and iPod touch (6th generation) and requires iOS 10.3 or later.

Speaking of iOS 10.3, none of Apple’s software betas were released today. Current betas include iOS 10.3 with Find My AirPods, macOS 10.12.4 with Night Shift for Mac, tvOS 10.2 with SDK updates, and watchOS 3.2 with Theater Mode which should be ready any day now based on previous beta cycles.

And here’s the state of the Mac line:

13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar launched in October

11-inch MacBook Air discontinued, 13-inch MacBook Air still on sale with 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar also in the lineup since October

12-inch MacBook turns year old next month

iMacs rumored to be updated with USB-C and AMD graphics this year

No one remembers the last time the Mac Pro and Mac mini were updated but they’re still for sale

The one thing that is set in stone is WWDC 2023 which kicks off on June 5th in San Jose this year, where we’re expecting to see iOS 11, macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11.

So ‘meh’ may be winning the plurality of our poll on today’s announcements (probably because flagship hardware wasn’t announced), but there are definitely a lot of new products from Apple today.

Last year it was the iPhone SE (mostly iPhone 6s specs in an iPhone 5s casing) and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro (similarly spec’d to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a better camera and True Tone Display) which marked tweaks to existing hardware. This year the spring tweaks are even more minor, but it’s a change in Apple’s product portfolio no less.

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