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 16

AAPL: 114.18

Stock Chart

Last month the popular Waze navigation app on iPhone got a major update with a new design and improvements to reporting traffic issues and sharing arrival times with others. Now Waze is out with its next new version which brings 3D Touch shortcuts to the Home screen icon for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users. Firmly press on the updated icon to quickly look up an address, share your location with other users, or get directions to your work or home address from your current location. Waze also says the update includes the usual bug fixes and improvements.

Fantastical already features 3D Touch shortcuts from its Home screen icon, and today the calendar and reminders app is adding more 3D Touch features for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users… expand full story

November 13

AAPL: 112.34

Stock Chart

Tonight I won the Apple Pencil lottery at my local Apple Store. I made the two-hour drive over to New Orleans to pick up an iPad Pro that I’d ordered online for Personal Pickup in store, half because I wanted avoid shipping delays and half because I want to take a chance on iPad Pro accessories being in stock. That paid off thanks to some dumb luck, and now I’ve officially had some hands-on time with the iPad Pro’s digital stylus.

But first, the story of how I caught one of these rare unicorns in the wild… expand full story

Apple is reportedly planning to ship the first successor to the Apple Watch sometime next year around the second or third quarter, according to Chinese media source UDN. The report cites comments made during a meeting with Barry Lam, chairman and founder of Quanta Computer, an Apple Watch manufacturer. While it’s no surprise that Apple would be planning to introduce the Apple Watch 2 in 2016, a third quarter release would mean a launch two years after the first model was introduced and roughly a year and a half since it went on sale. expand full story


November 12

AAPL: 115.72

Stock Chart

Yesterday we shared that the popular automatic screen brightness adjusting app Flux had found a way to make it from the Mac to iPhones and iPads on iOS 9. This afternoon the developers behind Flux announced that the app will no longer be available on iOS at the request of Apple. In a blog post sharing the development, the developers behind the app said that Apple contacted them to say that the app violated Apple’s Developer Program Agreement. While the app was unofficially supported on iOS 9 as a sideloaded app and not an official App Store app, Flux did use Xcode signing to work properly on iPhones and iPads. expand full story

Two weeks ago Upthere, the cloud company co-founded by former OS X chief Bertrand Serlet, officially launched after several years of stealth development. Details were still sparse on what exactly Upthere would offer aside from being a different kind of cloud service option for your data. Now Upthere is officially launching its first products in beta: Upthere Home and Upthere Camera.

The idea behind Upthere is that data connections are plenty fast for a lot of people but local storage is a growing issue. Cloud services like Dropbox and iCloud tackle different areas of the problem is different ways, but Upthere believes keeping everything on the server then bringing it to your device on demand is the suitable approach. I got the chance to try out each of the new apps overnight, and while my data is spread across iCloud and Dropbox right now, Upthere’s new apps make a good first impression and look promising. expand full story

November 11

AAPL: 116.11

Stock Chart

So many of Apple’s products either rely on or benefit from wireless Bluetooth connectivity these days that viewing Bluetooth’s roadmap is almost like viewing features for future Apple devices and accessories. Today the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has shared details on updates planned for the wireless connectivity technology in 2016 including improvements to range, transfer speed, and smart applications. Future and potentially even current Apple devices will certainly benefit as a result. expand full story


Update: If you order an iPad Pro right now, Apple is quoting Friday delivery. The Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories are already backordered at least 5-7 business days. Some customers are seeing same-day in-store pick up options for iPad Pro.

In September Apple unveiled the long awaited larger iPad Pro to the public, and today customers can finally start placing orders for the 12.9-inch tablet before models hit stores later this week. iPad Pro-only accessories including the Apple Pencil digital stylus and new Smart Keyboard cover are also available to purchase on and through the Apple Store app. On Monday Apple announced that the iPad Pro and would be hitting Apple Stores, carriers, and authorized resellers “later this week.” expand full story

November 10

AAPL: 116.77

Stock Chart

In addition to several new software betas and new Tech Talks today, Apple has more developer news to share today. Starting today, TestFlight will now support up to 2,000 external testers for iOS and tvOS. TestFlight allows developers to easily share pre-release versions of their apps with a large group of external testers outside of their own development team. expand full story

Apple typically holds a single developer event each year, WWDC in San Francisco around June, but sometimes uses Tech Talks to bring developer events around the world at other parts of the year. With Apple TV’s App Store launching several months after WWDC 2015 and long before WWDC 2016, Apple has announced that it will host 11 Tech Talk sessions across 10 different cities around the world. Apple describes the sessions as a way to “Get in-depth guidance from Apple experts on developing and designing for tvOS, in a city near you.” expand full story


One week after the first tvOS 9.1 beta for Apple TV, developers now have access to an updated build of the software update to test. While the initial tvOS 9.1 beta contained no visual changes for users yet, Siri has since been enabled to work with Apple Music on the beta version of the software. Non-developer Apple TV users also recently saw the very first software update for Apple TV yesterday with the release of tvOS 9.0.1, which likely focused on stability and bug fixes as no visual changes were discovered. tvOS 9.1 beta 2 for developers and available to download from Apple’s developer center. expand full story

After first being announced and previewed in screenshots at WWDC in June, Apple has officially brought its subscription music service Apple Music to Google’s Android platform. Apple Music joins the iPhone maker’s other Android apps Move to iOS and the Beats Pill+ companion app on the Google Play Store.

Apple Music offers access to a large catalog of streaming music and music recommendations. Music and music videos can be saved for offline listening as well. Memberships costs $9.99/month for individuals, the same as Beats Music subscriptions which Apple Music replaces, after a three-month free trial period. Apple Music family plans for up to five different accounts is available through Family Sharing on iOS and Mac for $14.99/month. expand full story

Back in September, Sonos unveiled an impressive new feature for its wireless speakers called Trueplay. Using the built-in microphones on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, this Sonos feature lets you fine tune your speaker to the room it’s in while optimizing the sound regardless of placement. Starting today, Sonos users can use try out Trueplay using the latest version of the controller app for iOS. expand full story

Google will soon be bringing a major new feature to its Maps app for iOS: full offline support. Google Maps has some utility already when used offline, but an upcoming update will make it much more robust when used without Internet access. For example, before you could see an area on Google Maps offline but not do much else with it. Coming soon, Google will enable features including navigation and business information lookup without requiring an active Internet connection. expand full story


November 9

AAPL: 120.57

Stock Chart

When the iPad Pro goes on sale later this week, Apple won’t be the only retailer carrying the massive new tablet. Ordering from may be the most convenient way to ensure your new iPad is delivered on day one, but Apple Stores and authorized resellers including select carriers will be selling the iPad Pro as well. Here’s what we know so far: expand full story

We first reported and Apple today announced that iPad Pro will go on sale starting Wednesday with a retail launch later this week, and Apple executives are taking the 12.9-inch tablet on a media tour to hype it up. Apple CEO Tim Cook is traveling around London today, visiting Touchpress and chatting with The Independent, while CNN Money has shared its interview with Eddy Cue showing off the massive iPad. expand full story

Just days after its initial release, Apple has already prepared a software update for the new Apple TV. tvOS 9.0.1 is now available for the fourth-gen Apple TV as an over-the-air update through the Settings app. Most Apple TV users will have automatic updates enabled, but you can manually download the update by going to Settings, System, and Software Updates. expand full story


November 6

AAPL: 121.06

Stock Chart

While the new fourth-generation Apple TV advances Apple’s entertainment box in many areas including universal search, Siri  input and a whole App Store for the first time, much of week one with Apple TV 4 has been about what you lose when moving from Apple TV 2 or 3.

The list is uncomfortably packed for a device that had three years to advance since its predecessor hit the market: missing Bluetooth keyboard and iPhone/iPad Remote app support for easier text input, Apple Watch’s built-in Remote app doesn’t recognize it yet, the Podcasts app hasn’t moved over, and the Photos app is exactly the same (no iCloud Photo Library) despite the newer iCloud Music Library feature making the cut for Apple Music.

There’s also the oddity of each channel being pre-installed on older Apple TVs while new Apple TVs ship with only iTunes, Music, and Photos apps installed. If I were gifting a family member a new Apple TV — something I’m sure will be popular during the holidays — I’d prefer essential channels like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and HBO to come pre-installed, albeit optionally deletable, to make the experience friendlier. There’s also the lack of one universal sign-in process between multiple channels so that’s a big setup challenge. I had hoped Apple would tackle this with the new box but instead its just like the prior Apple TV experience.

That being said, my biggest critique and one I haven’t seen acknowledged nearly enough this week is the drop in usability of popular video apps, like the ones that used to be pre-installed on the third-gen Apple TV as ‘channels’. Simpler, list-focused versions of apps like Netflix and Hulu were just easier to use than current versions on the new Apple TV… expand full story

November 5

AAPL: 120.92

Stock Chart

Facebook is rolling out a new post format on the latest version of its iPhone app called Music Stories. The new format lets you share songs and albums from popular streaming music services, starting with Apple Music and Spotify, while friends can enjoy 30-second previews of what you share. The Music Stories format also looks rich within the app. Tapping play turns the artwork in a record-like spinning animation, and a button to listen to the whole track or album on the streaming service is presented on the right.  expand full story


Walgreens announced this morning that support for accepting its rewards card in stores through Apple Pay is now live. Loyalty cards have long been supported using QR cards with scannable barcodes, but iOS 9 enabled the ability to use loyalty cards with NFC just like Apple Pay payments. Walgreens notes that it’s the first retailer to make use of this feature. Other chains including Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread are expected to follow. expand full story

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