Zac Hall


Editor at 9to5Mac + 9to5Google

Zac covers Apple news and product reviews for 9to5Mac. Zac also contributes to 9to5Google.

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Zac Hall's Recommended Gear

November 25

AAPL: 118.03

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Satechi’s new Type-C USB Hub announced in October at first glance looks like the perfect solution for using single-port Retina MacBooks with wired accessories and SD cards. It adds three traditional USB 3.0 ports like MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros so you can plug in flash drives, Lightning cables, and most other USB accessories. It also reads SD cards and Micro SD Cards, just not at the same time. And the sleek hub is offered in Mac-matching colors that look almost official…

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Apple Watch benefits from deeper blacks and greater energy efficiency thanks to OLED technology

Apple is expected to begin shifting iPhones from LCD displays to improved OLED screens starting in 2018, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Currently the display technology is only used by Apple to produce Apple Watch displays while iPhones and iPads use older LCD technology. OLED benefits from greater contrast levels and much deeper blacks as the display only illuminates to present color. This offers energy efficiency that leads to improved battery life compared lighting up the entire display each time. expand full story

Just one day before Thanksgiving in the US and a month before Christmas, Apple has shared its annual holiday ad on YouTube.

From our family to yours, Andra Day and Stevie Wonder perform his 1967 holiday classic, “Someday At Christmas.

The video spans about a minute and a half, featuring legendary artist Stevie Wonder (a known Apple fan) performing with Andra Day, with various Apple products including MacBooks running GarageBand and Apple Watches in view. At the start of the video, Wonder, who has been blind since shortly after birth, uses OS X’s built-in VoiceOver accessibility features to mix a song in the audio editing software that comes with each Mac. The holiday ad wraps with a “Love, Apple” sign off. Check it out below: expand full story


November 24

AAPL: 118.88

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Aside from its larger 12.9-inch display and faster A9X processor, the iPad Pro stands out from all other iPads to date thanks primarily to a new accessory: the Apple Pencil. For now, the Apple Pencil can only be used with the iPad Pro, and offers quantifiable differences in both good and bad ways compared with third-party styluses that have previously been sold for iPads.

While Pencil is not required to use the iPad Pro, it’s especially interesting because it’s Apple’s first official solution for handwriting, drawing, and precision input on iPads beyond finger touches and gestures. By contrast, Apple’s Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro is the company’s second or third typing solution for iPads; the company offered an official solution for physical keyboard input on iPads way back when the original iPad launched in 2010 with the short-lived Keyboard Dock, and has sold Wireless/Magic Keyboards as well. What does Apple’s first digital stylus bring to the iPad? Read on…

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Apple TV users should notice several new App Store categories when browsing for new content on tvOS. After initially launching without a dedicated categories section live in late October, Apple pushed the new section to new Apple TVs without a software update earlier this month. The latest expansion brings the total number of tvOS app categories to seven, up from five initially, which should further improve new app discovery. expand full story

November 23

AAPL: 117.75

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Earlier this year around WWDC, Square announced that it would be selling new hardware that will allow small businesses to easily accept Apple Pay later this year. Now Square is setting up 100 small businesses around the US with their new Apple Pay-ready contactless card reader. These allow customers to pay merchants using Apple’s mobile payment service through iPhones and Apple Watches securely and without sharing credit card information. expand full story


November 20

AAPL: 119.30

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Yesterday I mentioned a useful tip for using physical keyboards with iPads in my guide to unlocking the full potential of the iPad Pro. The tip actually works with all iOS 9 iPads connected to external keyboards over Bluetooth, Lightning, or the Smart Connector: hold Command (⌘) to see a list of supported keyboard shortcuts for the Home screen or app you’re in.

This works in most of Apple’s built-in apps and plenty of popular third-party apps as well, but it can be monotonous prompting that sheet in each app to get a sense of what keyboard shortcuts work. Instead, I’ve compiled a cheat sheet of which keyboard shortcuts work in all the system apps and several popular third-party apps. Whether you’re using Apple’s Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro, Magic Keyboard, Logitech’s excellent K811, or any other physical keyboard, these will make you more efficient when working on your iPad.

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November 19

AAPL: 118.78

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If you haven’t mastered iOS 9 and all its new tricks introduced in September, then it’s easy to find yourself using the iPad Pro as just a jumbo iPad Air or iPad mini. But new multitasking features like Picture in Picture, Split View, and Slide Over transform the iPad Pro experience and shine on the larger display if you know how to use them and which apps work. And while the iPad Pro doesn’t have 3D Touch like new iPhones, there’s a similar keyboard cursor gesture to now about. All that plus much more on unlocking the full potential of the iPad Pro below: expand full story

With the iPad Pro now available and shipping around the world, the artisanal Apple accessory makers at Pad & Quill have introduced three new high-end cases to hold and protect the larger tablet. Whether you’re looking for a book-style carrying case that holds Apple Pencil or a nice leather bag that adds room for a keyboard, Pad & Quill’s three new accessories are worth checking out for iPad Pro owners. expand full story


Two months after the introduction of the rose gold iPhone 6s and Apple Watch Sport, Apple has refreshed its Beats Solo 2 Wireless headphones and urBeats in-ear headphones with matching rose gold color options. If you’ve already got Solo 2 Wireless or urBeats, the only difference here is the new color option, but they do look good especially if you want to match your hardware. Apple now offers iPhone and Apple Watch color-matching versions of both headphone models with gold, rose gold, silver, and space gray. expand full story

November 18

AAPL: 117.29

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There’s a new software update awaiting Apple TV developers today. tvOS 9.1 beta 3 is now available for registered developers testing apps against the upcoming software update to Apple TV. The initial iOS 9.1 beta for developers was released a couple weeks ago, but no visual changes have surfaced yet aside from Siri support for Apple Music, which Apple promises will be available early next year for all Apple TV 4th-gen owners. expand full story

Just a week after the last version, Apple has released iOS 9.2 beta 4 to testers for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The first iOS 9.2 beta appeared alongside Xcode 7.2 beta in late October. We’ll dive into the latest beta and update with any changes we discover. expand full story

Tweetbot for Mac has learned a handy new feature with the latest update just released. Tweetbot for Mac now supports OS X’s full screen mode, including El Capitan’s new Split View feature that lets you run two full screen apps side-by-side. This works a lot like the split view multitasking features on the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4. Tweetbot 2.2 also brings a few other changes to the Mac… expand full story


Apple’s massive new iPad Pro is only available with built-in cellular connectivity in the pricey 128GB configuration, but all four of the major carriers in the US are offering the $1,079 tablet at discounts on contract or through installment plans. Here’s where you can find the iPad Pro 128GB + Cellular and how much you should expect to pay: expand full story

November 17

AAPL: 113.69

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If you have a new iPad Pro and have had issues using the new software keyboard, you’re probably not alone. Aside from following the iPhone 6/Plus lead and adding new keys in the space around the QWERTY keyboard, iPad Pro includes a full sized shift key and half-height number keys which in theory require fewer taps to access more characters.

In practice, the new layout requires an adjustment period, to put it mildly, as the keys most frequently accessed are surrounded by targets that you have to avoid tapping accidentally. I’m on day four and getting better, but there’s one embarrassing keyboard bug that had me convinced I was crazy. Turns out I may not be. Here’s the deal: expand full story


Apple has launched a new campaign to highlight both the new Apple TV and the many games and entertainment services on its App Store with a new series of short video clips. Each 15 second video starts with the same Apple TV graphic, then promotes a popular game or video service app on the new Apple TV with some gameplay or a popular show available on the service, and ends with the same multicolor graphic. So far these clips promote Netflix, HBO NOW, Asphalt 8, Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition: Star Wars, and Crossy Road. You can view each one below: expand full story

Apple is continuing to develop the upcoming OS X El Capitan 10.11.2 update, and today released the latest test version. OS X El Capitan Update Developer Beta 4 is now available in the Mac App Store. Public beta testers can also find the new version today. Check the Updates tab to download, install, and restart your Mac if you’re testing the latest beta version.  expand full story

In addition to a going live in Canada and adding two more banks in the UK, Apple Pay has seen a giant expansion of new bank partners in the United States today as well. If you’re still waiting for your bank to work with Apple Pay so you can use the mobile payment service, check the list below to see the latest: expand full story


November 16

AAPL: 114.18

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When I reviewed the 12-inch MacBook with Retina display earlier this year, my one question was this: could I possibly use such a low power machine reliably for work? For blog posting and editing, switching between chat apps and email, and keeping up with a few Twitter accounts, the single-port MacBook is totally fine, and the Retina display was an upgrade over the dated one on my old MacBook Air.

While I’d like to apply that same question to the iPad Pro, which has a slightly larger display and effectively twice the battery life of my MacBook, the difference in how iOS and OS X handle multitasking and window management currently limit my ability to apply my same workflows from the Mac to the iPad. That didn’t stop me from lusting after the iPad Pro when it hit stores last week. Despite the Pro in its name, I think the new iPad is the best content consumption tablet on the planet.  expand full story

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