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Zac Hall


Zac Hall is 9to5Mac Editor-at-Large with a focus on technology news, product reviews, and analysis. Zac previously served as 9to5Mac Editor-in-Chief, hosted over 400 weekly episodes of the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and has been a member of the 9to5Mac family since 2013. Zac has over a decade of experience in technology journalism, including as a tech columnist for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, part of the USA Today network.

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Apple Vision Pro is already making the Meta Quest 3 better

You don’t need to own an Apple Vision Pro to appreciate it. Just having competition from the high end is pushing Meta to improve its mainstream mixed reality headset.

Meta Quest 3 hit the market last year for $499. That’s $3000 shy of Vision Pro, but with the same goal of colorized passthrough for mixed reality. The only problem was that Meta’s version of passthrough was hardly comparable to Apple’s. My own evaluation is that Meta Quest 3 passthrough is usable but not convincing.

That appears to be changing now. In a Quest software update called v64, Meta says that it has improved passthrough quality for the Meta Quest 3 headset. Here’s a summary from the release notes:

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Apple Watch Ultra 2 ‘instant lifeline’ to runners trekking from Santa Monica to Las Vegas

Apple Watch is an essential runner’s companion, and Apple Watch Ultra takes it to the next level with longer battery life and more. That’s why participants of this year’s The Speed Project call it an “instant lifeline” during a grueling relay race from Santa Monica to Las Vegas.

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Apple releases first betas for iOS 17.5, macOS 14.5, visionOS 1.2, and more

iOS 17.5

Update: Public beta versions are starting to roll in. Have fun!

Miss living on beta? All aboard the iOS 17.5 beta train. After a few too many weeks with no developer beta, Apple has released the first iOS 17.5 beta for testing. The full list of beta releases today includes Apple’s other platforms as well:

  • iOS 17.5
  • macOS Sonoma 14.5
  • visionOS 1.1
  • watchOS 10.5
  • tvOS 17.5
  • HomePod 17.5

Enjoy the fresh beta bits, and let us know what you find!

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Best Apple CarPlay retrofit options for your car

Apple CarPlay is the safest way to interact with your iPhone in the car. You never need to touch your iPhone while driving – something you should never ever do anyway. Instead, you control navigation, communication, and entertainment with voice control and a simplified interface on your car’s screen.

What if your car doesn’t have a built-in display? What if it has one that doesn’t work with Apple CarPlay? The good news is you don’t have to go out and buy a brand new car. In most cases, you can have a really good in-dash system installed for anywhere from $200 to $1,000. Picking the right solution before you make the investment is important.

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Exclusive: Beats Solo4 headphones will pack USB-C, re-engineered sound, and 50 hour battery for $199

Beats Solo 4

Update: We’re told May 2 is the release date for Beats Solo4 headphones. Early May sounds busy. No word on when this guy makes a come back.

It’s been a few days since Apple announced new Beats Solo headphones. 2,764 days and counting to be exact. The day counter is clearly about to reset, however, as more and more signs point to Beats Solo4 hardware launching soon.

The clearest sign yet? 9to5Mac has exclusively received the full rundown on Beats Solo4 specs from trusted sources. The TL;DR is this: Beats is about to deliver a big upgrade to the on-ear headphones for the same price as their predecessors from 2016. That translates to a great value in 2024 dollars, plus they’re USB-C. Here’s what we’re told to expect from Beats Solo4 headphones…

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Alleged iOS 18 design leak promises the visionOS-like redesign everyone wants [U: Likely fake]

Update: MacRumors has updated its piece with this: “We’ve received information from several sources indicating that the image is fake.”

Apple Vision Pro’s greatest contribution to humankind in year one may just be inspiring the iOS 18 redesign everyone wants. Our friends at MacRumors have published what they describe as an “iPhone frame template from an anonymous source who claims they obtained it from an iOS engineer.” It could be nothing, or it could be the first glimpse at a return to realism in iPhone software design.

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Apple AI researchers boast useful on-device model that ‘substantially outperforms’ GPT-4

Apple AI features iOS 18

Siri has recently been attempting to describe images received in Messages when using CarPlay or the announce notifications feature. In typical Siri fashion, the feature is inconsistent and with mixed results.

Nevertheless, Apple forges ahead with the promise of AI. In a newly published research paper, Apple’s AI gurus describe a system in which Siri can do much more than try to recognize what’s in an image. The best part? It thinks one of its models for doing this benchmarks better than ChatGPT 4.0.

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These are the best CarPlay apps for iPhone

CarPlay is Apple’s feature that brings communication and entertainment functions to the built-in screen in your car using iPhone apps. The feature appears on a lot of aftermarket displays and new cars that you can buy today.

As CarPlay support is now available from most manufacturers, we’re also seeing more CarPlay apps. Once you install these apps on your iPhone, they appear on your CarPlay-enabled display when you connect your iPhone. Read on for the growing list of iPhone apps that support CarPlay.

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Siri in iOS 18: An AI revolution, or a sometimes useful dumpster fire?

Siri launched with the iPhone 4S in October 2011, replacing Voice Control with a more capable virtual assistant. A dozen years later, Siri has evolved into the primary way we interact with our Apple products.

Wait, no, I’m being told Siri sounds more natural but the core technology is roughly the same. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence now means generative AI and chat bots are based on large language models.

Siri and the rest of iOS 18 will join the AI revolution in June, ending our long national nightmare of Siri being somewhere between hot garbage and kinda useful sometimes. At least that’s what’s being reported, but we don’t really have a great sense of what to expect yet.

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Visioneers: Music technology with Geert Bevin (Animoog Galaxy, MIDI Widgets)

In this episode of Visioneers, Zac Hall of 9to5Mac sits down with Geert Bevin, the Director of Software Development at Moog Music, for an insightful conversation. Together, they delve into the fascinating world of music technology, focusing on Moog Music’s latest creation, Animoog Galaxy for Apple Vision Pro. Additionally, Bevin sheds light on his innovative app, MIDI Widgets; his history with computers and music creation; and how Apple Vision Pro is meshing with work life and leisure so far.

Sponsored by Things 3: Zac’s all-time favorite task manager for iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, Mac, and Apple Vision Pro! Try it today!

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Three more Apple Arcade games coming to Apple Vision Pro including spatial Spire Blast

Update, March 27: In an email, Apple confirmed that these three games will launch on Apple Arcade on March 28.

Apple Arcade brings high quality games to Apple Vision Pro on day one. Apple highlights that over 250 titles are available with 12 specifically designed for a spatial experience on visionOS. Apple Vision Pro will soon gain three more games through Arcade including Spire Blast in spatial.

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