Editorial

Activity app: Challenges and leaderboards please!

Health and fitness are their own reward... but there's nothing like shoving those rewards in the faces of your friends!

The Apple Watch has a built-in Activity app that tracks the calories you've burned, the brisk activity you've engaged in, and the frequency of your standing up and moving around. Do well and you're rewarded with an achievement. It's a great way to motivate people, and a type of gamification that feeds us the same sense of accomplishment we get when we solve a puzzle and make it to the next level. In classical terms, it's us against ourselves.

Some people, however, aren't as self-motivated or self-disciplined. Some people are competitive and they don't just want to do well — they want to do the best. That's where challenges come in.

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iPad Air 2 review: Six months later

Apple's iPad Air 2 has been in our lives for six months now. Here's how it's faring.

We've had just over half a year to test and use Apple's latest iPad — to feel out if the company's tablet is settling in as a valued device in our lives, or just another paperweight. Here's what the iMore team had to say about the iPad Air 2, six months later.

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NSFW: Learning and unlearning, Taptic panic

Something interesting happened to me this past year: My Mac ceased to have any use for me as a document scanner. The iPhone took it over.

Now, in fairness, I don't do any really high-resolution scanning. For me scanning is pure utility: Needing to legibly digitize real-world documents. But it's an evolution. And so much of how we use our devices is about evolution.

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How the Apple Watch gave developers a second chance to win me over

After just a week, over 3500 apps are already optimized and available for Apple Watch.

That's a pretty incredible number, and one that will no doubt continue growing rapidly. I've only had my Apple Watch for a week so far and I'm quickly realizing that not all Watch apps are created equal. While I expected Apple's smartwatch to change my usage habits, I didn't expect it to make me completely rethink what apps I used and depended on regularly — but here I am.

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If you're a designer in town for WWDC, check out the Layers design conference

Learn from the iOS and Mac community's top designers and personalities right in the heart of San Francisco.

I love being in San Francisco during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference: It's a great way to catch up with friends and other awesome folks in the community, and there are always so many interesting events outside of Moscone West that make it possible.

It's one of the big reasons I'm thrilled to say I'll be presenting at Layers, Jessie Char and Elaine Pow's new conference centered around iOS and Mac design.

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We need VIP for all messaging, not just Mail

VIP — very important person — lets you create a separate group and notification priority for the contacts that matter the most to you. Sadly, it's currently limited to Mail.

*Update: Now that Apple Watch has shipped, having VIP as a system-level feature that not only Mail but Messages, Phone, FaceTime, and even App Store communications apps can filter through feels even more essential. * Mail's VIP feature is great. I can "star" the people most important to me, thus enabling sound, vibration, and Lock screen notifications solely for them. It's a great way to make sure I'm alerted when I get email that matters, and avoid being interrupted when it doesn't. Sadly, VIP currently only exists as a feature in the Mail app. There's no way to do the same for Messages or any other communication app I have installed.

For iOS 9, I'd love to see VIP moved from Mail's settings to the system level for Contacts proper, so that I can make sure the people who are literally "very important" get through more easily, no matter how they choose to communicate with me.

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Max out your privacy with Apple

These days Apple is one of the only (if not the only) global-scale consumer tech companies that seems to prioritize customer privacy.

Apple doesn't merely keep your personal data private, they increasingly make it harder for them (or anyone) to even collect it in the first place. Yes, even including those snoopy government agencies.

Although Apple deeply embeds privacy features across its products and services, many of them only work if you turn them on, and perhaps change a few habits. As an incredibly paranoid security professional who sometimes travels to more... hostile... environments, here are my favorite Apple-centric privacy tips and tricks.

Much of this advice comes from knowing how criminals, and even digital forensics experts, recover private data in the real world.

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How to make Apple Watch sketches that don't suck

Are your friends showing you up with their fancy Apple Watch sketching ability? We've got a few tips to improve your finger-painting game.

Rene and I are not-so-secret hobbyist cartoonists, and we've been trading sketches on the Apple Watch all weekend. Here are some of the tips I've been using to beat his ridiculously awesome-looking Batmans, Hulks, and random robots — hopefully they may help your burgeoning sketching efforts as well.

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OS X 10.11 wish list: Better Instant Hotspot support

Ever get the sense that OS X Yosemite isn't quite fully baked?

That's how I feel especially when I depend on Continuity features like Instant Hotspot. Continuity in Yosemite and iOS 8 makes the experience of using a Mac and iOS device much more fluid and seamless. You can take and make phone calls from your Mac, continue composing an email on your phone with a swipe, read a web page on your Mac that you started on your iPad and more. I still feel like it's a work in progress, however.

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We're going to need a bigger Friends interface...

Friends is a new communications interface on Apple Watch, important enough that it's assigned to a single press of the Side button.

Laid out like a clock, you have twelve Friends slots — one for each hour position — that you can assign to your contacts on the Apple Watch and cycle through using the Digital Crown. Apple offers to populate Friends with your iPhone Favorites during set up, but you can easily assign or reassign Friends at any point using the Apple Watch for iPhone app. While the clock position interface is fun, and twelve sounds like a lot, the limitations can assert themselves quickly and... awkwardly.

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