Apple’s 2018 Event: 3 New iPhones and a New Apple Watch

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Apple has just wrapped up its fall 2018 event, with three new iPhones and a new Apple Watch available for pre-order now. The rumors were mostly true, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone by now. The company also announced the release date for the upcoming iOS 12 update, macOS Mojave, and the new version of tvOS which powers the Apple TV. We’ve crunched through the news to bring you the most important and interesting bits. We’ll also have a look at what was missing from the event. iPhone Xs With the introduction of the iPhone X in 2017 (our review), it…

Read the full article: Apple’s 2018 Event: 3 New iPhones and a New Apple Watch

Apple has just wrapped up its fall 2018 event, with three new iPhones and a new Apple Watch available for pre-order now. The rumors were mostly true, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone by now.

The company also announced the release date for the upcoming iOS 12 update, macOS Mojave, and the new version of tvOS which powers the Apple TV. We’ve crunched through the news to bring you the most important and interesting bits. We’ll also have a look at what was missing from the event.

iPhone Xs

With the introduction of the iPhone X in 2017 (our review), it made sense that 2018 was going to be an “s” year. In these, Apple traditionally refreshes the internal hardware rather than focusing on design refreshes. With the arrival of the iPhone Xs and its new larger sibling, the iPhone Xs Max, that’s exactly what we got.

iPhone Xs

Both versions come with Apple’s first 7-nanometer processor, the A12 bionic. This promises more advanced machine learning in the form of the eight-core Neural Engine. That means the new iPhones will be better at tasks like analyzing photos for recognized objects, faces, and more.

Apple also announced that the new chips use 50 percent less power than the previous version. They also come with a 15 percent boost in overall speed, and 50 percent faster GPU architecture. Overall, these improvements will result in faster Face ID, better augmented reality, improved pattern recognition (meaning improved Snapchat filters), and better gaming performance. It’s what we expect from an “s” upgrade.

A12 Bionic

Both models are also IP68 water resistant, which means you can submerge them to a depth of around 32 yards for 30 minutes. Oddly enough, Apple only markets the depth around two yards. But in order to reach the IP68 rating, the devices must comply with the 32 yard requirement.

Camera, SIMs, and More

Apple has buffed the camera technology in the new Xs and Xs Max. They pack a better image signal processor on the A12 chip, improved quad-LED true tone flash, and smarter camera technology for better bokeh when taking portraits. Both models still feature the dual-lens system, with f/1.8 and f/2.2 apertures on the wide and telephoto lenses respectively.

A new Depth Control feature lets you adjust the depth of field after you’ve taken your shot. Meanwhile, Smart HDR apparently features zero lag for better exposures with less inconsistencies. The iPhone Xs uses the same impressive OLED display as the last version. Plus, both models ship with Gorilla Glass 5 for displays that are twice as tough as last year’s model.

Depth Control iPhone Xs

Thanks to Apple’s eSIM virtual SIM technology, the new iPhones have support for two phone numbers. Another communications update means support for Gigabit-class LTE, plus improved band support for better worldwide roaming.

The iPhone Xs offers a 30 minute improvement in battery life over its predecessor, with pricing starting a $999 for the 64GB option. You can also get 256GB and 512GB versions for $1,149 and $1,349 respectively. Both phones are available in a new gold finish.

iPhone Xs colors

iPhone Xs Max

While the Xs retains the same 5.8-inch form factor as its predecessor, the Xs Max is a larger 6.5-inch iPhone. It houses a 2688×1242 display at the same 458 pixels-per-inch rating as its smaller sibling. Not only is it a bigger screen, but the iPhone Xs Max can run two apps side-by-side in landscape mode thanks to all that real estate.

iPhone Xs Max

Apple chose the “Max” name since there’s more screen space than a traditional “Plus” model iPhone. A bigger screen means more space for a bigger battery, so the iPhone Xs Max features a 90 minute boost in usage over the standard iPhone X introduced in 2017.

As expected, the Xs Max really is just a larger version of the new Xs, with a bigger price tag to match. You can pick up a 64GB model for $1,099, with 256GB and 512GB capacities available for $1,249 and $1,449 respectively.

iPhone Xr

Also rumored but still somewhat surprising for a company like Apple is the new cut-price iPhone Xr. It’s a 6.1-inch budget version of the Xs, available in a rainbow of colors: red, yellow, white, coral, black, and blue. It provides considerably more screen real estate than the iPhone 8 (our review), while only being a little bit larger.

iPhone Xr

In order to get the price down, the Xr forgoes the OLED display of the Xs model in favor of a new “Liquid Retina” LCD. Apple boasts that the display has the industry’s best color accuracy, a wide color gamut, the same “tap to wake” seen on its OLED panels, and the usual True Tone temperature adjustment.

While the Liquid Retina display is edge-to-edge, there seems to be slightly more bezel when compared with OLED models. Since it’s an LCD display and not an OLED, the blacks won’t be quite as deep. Just like the previous iPhone X, the Xr leaves the Home button behind. This marks the first time Apple has gone all-in on the design in its flagship lineup.

iPhone Xr vs iPhone 8 Plus

As you’d expect, the Xr features the same A12 Bionic chip, True Depth camera for Face ID, and a single lens rear-facing camera like that found on the iPhone 8. You get the same Smart HDR and Depth Control features, and the improved image signal processor means cleaner photos and better low light performance.

It’s a budget iPhone Xs, but it’s really a replacement for the iPhone 8. The new iPhone Xr starts at $749 for the 64GB version, with 128GB and 256GB models available for $799 and $899 respectively. Unlike the Xs models, the Xr isn’t available for pre-order until October 9.

iPhone Xr colors

Apple Watch Series 4

Also new for 2018 is the thinner Apple Watch Series 4. It features a new design with a larger watch face, and much thinner bezels than previous models. It looks more like a traditional watch and less like a piece of wearable tech. This is fitting since Apple also announced that the Apple Watch is the world’s “number one” watch (not just among smartwatches, but all watches).

Apple Watch Series 4

The Watch now features two sensors on the back. One is an Optical Heart Sensor for measuring heart rate; the other is an Electrical Heart Sensor. This generates an ECG (electrocardiogram) which you can share with your doctor. An advanced accelerometer can now detect falls, prompting the wearer to call an ambulance (which happens automatically if it senses no movement for a minute).

Apple Watch Series 4 back

Performance has been improved by double thanks to the new 64-bit processor. Apple has also brought its haptic feedback technology to the Digital Crown, which now “clicks” as you scroll. There are software improvements too, like new watch faces and a redesigned version of Apple’swatch face which makes better use of the larger display.

One thing that hasn’t improved is battery life, which still sits at 18 hours of wear. Just like the Series 3, the Series 4 is available in GPS and Cellular versions for $399 and $499 respectively. If you go for the cellular version, make sure you know what your carrier will charge to include it on your plan.

Apple Watch Series 4

The Watch Series 4 will run watchOS 5, which was announced at WWDC. It packs features like an improved Activity Tracker, Apple’s Podcasts app, new Walkie-Talkie functionality, better Siri integration, and more. You can pre-order the Apple Watch Series 4 now.

iOS 12, macOS Mojave, and tvOS 12

In other news, the updated versions of Apple’s iOS, macOS, and tvOS operating systems now have official release dates:

  • iOS 12: Available on September 17.
  • macOS Mojave: Available on September 24.
  • watchOS 5: Available on September 17.
  • tvOS 12: Available on September 17.

What We Didn’t See

Two glaring omissions from this year’s event include Apple’s AirPower wireless charging station (announced a year ago) and a revised version of AirPods. No AirPods 2 also meant no new Beats wireless headphones, though the rumor mill points to late 2018 as a release date for all these products.

Apple AirPods

Also absent was any news about iPads, particularly the iPad Pro. Apple is expected to refresh (or discount) the MacBook Air, possibly introduce a new Mac mini, and refresh a few of its other Mac models before the year is out. Thus, it’s possible we’ll see another event before the fall ends.

Make sure you keep this in mind if you want to buy new Apple gear at the right time!

Read the full article: Apple’s 2018 Event: 3 New iPhones and a New Apple Watch

8 Music Maker iPhone Apps to Create Music Anywhere

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It’s easier than ever to create music on your iPhone, even if you don’t have a musical background. You don’t need to know how to read music, play an instrument, or even understand musical concepts like chords and scales. There are apps for every skill level, every budget, and (virtually) every genre of music you wish to create. Try your hand at shiny pop songs, complex breakcore, or even string-heavy cinematic scores. Today we won’t focus on individual instruments, but all-in-one workstations, playthings, and musical tools to get the job done. 1. Auxy Auxy is the best music production app…

Read the full article: 8 Music Maker iPhone Apps to Create Music Anywhere

It’s easier than ever to create music on your iPhone, even if you don’t have a musical background. You don’t need to know how to read music, play an instrument, or even understand musical concepts like chords and scales.

There are apps for every skill level, every budget, and (virtually) every genre of music you wish to create. Try your hand at shiny pop songs, complex breakcore, or even string-heavy cinematic scores.

Today we won’t focus on individual instruments, but all-in-one workstations, playthings, and musical tools to get the job done.

1. Auxy

Auxy is the best music production app on the iOS platform. While many apps try to rewrite the rules when it comes to creating beats and loops, Auxy only tries to simplify the process. The result is a free app that’s approachable, while offering serious power to those who know how to use it.

Use the piano roll editor to write looping melodies and bass lines, and create intricate drum patterns using pre-set or custom drum instruments. You can then arrange your patterns in scenes to create finished productions. Share them to SoundCloud, or export as uncompressed WAVs for further tweaking in your desktop digital audio workstation (DAW).

Auxy is free to download, with $5 monthly subscription to unlock additional instruments, thousands of samples, and the ability to import your own sounds. There’s more than enough here to keep you happy for a few weeks while you figure out how to use the app before you open your wallet.

Download: Auxy (Free, subscription available)

2. GarageBand

GarageBand for iPhone

GarageBand is one of Apple’s best-known pieces of software. The Mac version has been used by artists like Rihanna, Justice, and Oasis as part of their creative process. It’s now available for free, in the palm of your hand, and makes great use of the touchscreen.

The app includes a great range of virtual instruments. You’ll find everything from drums and drum machines, to stringed instruments like violins, virtual pianos and keyboards, and even virtual amplifiers for use with real guitars. With these tools and the sequencer you can create songs that sound great in very little time.

GarageBand for iOS Sound Library

Then there’s Apple’s library of royalty-free samples, available to use however you see fit. You can fuse these with your own creations, record a rough vocal mix with your iPhone’s microphone, and create demos using just your phone. Learn how to use GarageBand with our step-by-step guide.

Download: GarageBand (Free)

3. Figure

Before I became horribly addicted to Auxy, Figure was my musical toy of choice. It’s an insanely easy to pick up musical plaything, and I’ve created hundreds of loops with it. I attribute most of Figure’s allure to its rigidly restrictive three instrument setup.

You get one drum machine, one lead synth, and one bass synth. There are a multitude of instruments for each element, which you can mix and match. Record synth parts by tapping, holding, and swiping the XY pads. Adjust the range of the scale, change the key, and fine-tune the sound till you’re happy.

You can free-hand the drums or use the built-in quantization to effortlessly build beats, then blend it all together. Figure used to cost $1, but it’s now a free app. Download it right now and have a play, or check out some of the mixes people have created with Figure.

Download: Figure (Free)

4. KORG Gadget

KORG’s lineup of iOS apps is almost as impressive as its range of hardware instruments. Gadget is a fully fledged audio workstation, featuring lead and bass synthesizers, analog and sample-based drum machines, and a sampler for recording external sound. The app was previously iPad-only, but now works flawlessly on the small iPhone screen too.

The app includes a powerful sequencer to tie all your gadgets together, with full automation and MIDI support. There’s also a built-in community, allowing you to share your creations and listen to what others have made for inspiration.

KORG Gadget is a full-featured iPhone and iPad musical workstation, and it’s not cheap. Fortunately there’s a light version to sample before you buy, though it limits you to three gadgets over three tracks. Advanced features like MIDI export, exporting to Ableton, Audiobus support, and more are disabled until you upgrade.

Download: KORG Gadget Le (Free) | KORG Gadget ($40)

5. SunVox

If you’re interested in creating chiptune, SunVox is the best iOS app for the job. Fair warning though: this app isn’t for the faint of heart. SunVox is a fully fledged pattern-based sequencer that uses a tracker interface.

The app includes numerous modular synthesizers and effects processors, including an analog generator, a drum synthesizer with 120 built-in sounds, echo, distortion, reverb, vocal filter, and a module for building your own synths and effects.

If you’re going to jump into SunVox (and there’s a lot to get stuck into) be sure you familiarize yourself with the user manual. You can also download SunVox for Windows, Linux, and macOS for free.

Download: SunVox ($6)

6. KORG iKaossilator

Just like Figure, iKaossilator is a musical tool that breaks down the boundaries. It’s based on KORG’s pricey Kaossilator hardware, which uses an XY touchpad to manipulate the 150 built-in sounds to create weird and wonderful pieces of music.

The provides you with five channels of sound, which you can toggle at will. You can then take these channels, remix them across your projects, and control your loops in real time. iKaossilator is as much of a performance tool as it is a creative one.

It’s probably most valuable when generating ideas, rather than creating finished productions. It’s possible to export your creations, or upload them directly to SoundCloud if you’re into that.

Download: iKaossilator ($20)

7. AudioBus

AudioBus isn’t a music making app, but it’s instrumental in many productions. The app allows you to route audio from one source to another, so you can take the output from a synthesizer or drum machine, add effects with an audio processor, then record it in your workstation.

AudioBus 2 is the cheaper, more linear version, but it hasn’t seen an update since 2017. Meanwhile, AudioBus 3 is currently maintained and does everything AudioBus 2 does. It has more options for routing multiple apps, plus full support for MIDI.

Many apps on this list, like GarageBand and KORG Gadget, already support AudioBus. Check out the full list of AudioBus-compatible apps on the AudioBus website. Check out AUM ($19) if you’re looking for a similar app with baked-in recording abilities.

Download: AudioBus 2 ($5) | AudioBus 3 ($10)

8. Loopy HD

Loopy is the original looping sampler app for iPhone; Loopy HD works on the iPad too. The app’s premise is incredibly simple, and it’s won praise over the years for its reliable construction and low-latency approach to recording audio.

Loopy offers six, nine, or 12 blank loops, onto which you can record and layer sounds. These can come from your device’s microphone, other apps using AudioCopy and AudioBus, or recording interfaces like guitar inputs.

You can then manipulate and tweak your sounds, chance the tempo, merge tracks together, and overdub recordings on top of others. There’s MIDI control for using Loopy with a foot pedal, making it an ideal tool for live musicians and street performers.

Download: Loopy ($3) | Loopy HD ($4)

Get Started Making Music on iPhone

This is a small sample of the huge number of apps that enable you to use your mobile device to create music. We’ve avoided dedicated synthesizer and instrument apps in favor of apps that make creating music more accessible.

If you’d rather spend your time programming beats, check out our favorite iOS drum machines and groovebox apps too.

Read the full article: 8 Music Maker iPhone Apps to Create Music Anywhere

The iPhone Cheat Sheet: Every iOS Shortcut You Should Know About

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The more you use iOS, the more you get used to its time-saving tricks—and the more you take them for granted. That’s why we’ve produced a cheat sheet that will help you get acquainted with both touch-based and keyboard-based shortcuts for iPhone and iPad.Unlock the free “iPhone and iPad cheat sheet” now!This will sign you up to our newsletterEnter your EmailUnlockRead our privacy policy You don’t need an iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard to make use of keyboard shortcuts on iOS. Both the regular iPad and iPhone models also support shortcuts, though you’ll need to find a Bluetooth keyboard…

Read the full article: The iPhone Cheat Sheet: Every iOS Shortcut You Should Know About

The more you use iOS, the more you get used to its time-saving tricks—and the more you take them for granted. That’s why we’ve produced a cheat sheet that will help you get acquainted with both touch-based and keyboard-based shortcuts for iPhone and iPad.

Unlock the free "iPhone and iPad cheat sheet" now!

This will sign you up to our newsletter

Enter your Email

You don’t need an iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard to make use of keyboard shortcuts on iOS. Both the regular iPad and iPhone models also support shortcuts, though you’ll need to find a Bluetooth keyboard first.

iOS and Keyboard Shortcuts

Most of the keyboard shortcuts you’re used to using on your Mac will work on your iPad Pro, iPad, and iPhone. Some apps have specific keyboard shortcuts. You might want to check any official manuals for third-party apps not mentioned here to further speed up your workflow.

If you’re using the iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, or an iPad and wireless Apple keyboard, you’re all set to go. If your Bluetooth keyboard is aimed at Windows use, you’ll need to get used to substituting particular keys.

The two most common substitutions are Ctrl in place of Apple’s Cmd, and Alt in place of Option. The layout may also be different, depending on your localization. Apple keyboards place the @ symbol on Shift + 2, for example. This is different than the standard UK layout.

Some of these shortcuts may not work, or may only work on the iPad Pro. In particular, the iPad Pro has a useful shortcut where holding down the Cmd key shows all available shortcuts for a given app. Try it in Safari, on the Home screen, or even in a third-party app like Slack.

Touch-Based iOS Shortcuts

Touch ShortcutDescription
Navigation Shortcuts
Tap time/status barQuickly scroll to the top of the page or list
Swipe from top of screenAccess Today screen/Notification Center
Swipe from bottom of screen (not iPhone X)Access Control Center
3D Touch and swipe from leftAccess the app switcher
 
Typing Shortcuts
Double-tap SpaceInsert space with period
3D Touch and scroll keyboardMove cursor with precision
Tap and hold keyAccess alternate symbols or characters
Double-tap ShiftEnable caps lock
Tap and hold emoji/language keyAccess keyboard settings, orientation, and languages
3D Touch "Send" buttonAccess "Send with effect" menu (iMessage only)
 
Browsing Shortcuts
3D Touch link/imageOpen link or image to preview
Tap and hold link/imageAccess context menu
Tap and hold RefreshQuickly access Request Desktop Site option
Tap and hold Tabs buttonAccess tab context menu to close or open tabs
Tap and hold Bookmarks buttonQuickly add item to Reading List or Bookmarks
Tap and hold Reader Mode buttonEnable Automatic Reader View for specific websites
 
Home Screen Shortcuts
Swipe down on home screenSearch iPhone
Swipe right on home screenAccess Today screen and widgets
Tap and hold appMove or delete apps
3D Touch appJump to app function or share App Store link
3D Touch folderRename folder
 
iPhone X Shortcuts
Swipe up from bottom of the screenGo to Home screen
Swipe up from bottom and flick rightAccess App Switcher
Pull down from top-right corner of screenAccess Control Center
Pull down from top-left of screenAccess Today/Notification Center
 
iPad Shortcuts
Four finger swipe right/leftSwitch apps right/left
Five finger pinchAccess Home screen
Four finger swipe upAccess app switcher
Pull keyboard apart to left and rightUse split keyboard mode

Keyboard Shortcuts for iOS

Keyboard ShortcutDescription
Global iOS Shortcuts
Alt + TabSwitch apps using the App Switcher
Cmd + HGo to the Home screen
Cmd + SpaceSearch for something
Cmd (Hold)Display list of available shortcuts (iPad and iPad Pro only)
 
Text Shortcuts
Cmd + CCopy
Cmd + VPaste
Cmd + XCut
Cmd + ZUndo
Cmd + Shift + ZRedo
Cmd + ASelect all
Shift + Left/RightSelect with cursor
Option + Left/RightMove cursor to previous/next word
Option + Shift + Left/RightSelect previous/next word
 
General Shortcuts
Cmd + NCreate new (e.g. Contact, Reminder)
Cmd + FSearch within app
Cmd + IShow information
Cmd + B/I/UBold/Italics/Underline formatting
 
Safari Shortcuts
Cmd + TOpen new tab
Cmd + Shift + TReopen previously closed tab
Cmd + WClose current tab
Cmd + Shift + Show tab overview
Cmd + LOpen location/search bar
Cmd + RReload current tab
Cmd + FFind on page
Ctrl + TabNext tab
Ctrl + Shift + TabPrevious tab
Cmd + ]Forward
Cmd + [Backward
Cmd + Shift + DAdd to Reading List
Cmd + Shift + LShow sidebar
 
Mail Shortcuts
Cmd + NNew message
BackspaceDelete message
Ctrl + Cmd + AArchive message
Cmd + RReply
Cmd + Shift + RReply to all
Cmd + Shift + FForward message
Cmd + Shift + JMark as junk
Cmd + Shift + LFlag message
Cmd + Shift + UMark as read/unread
Cmd + Shift + NGet new mail
Option + Cmd + FSearch mailbox
Cmd + LFilter mail
 
Calendar Shortcuts
Cmd + NNew event
Cmd + FSearch events
Cmd + TShow today's events
Cmd + RRefresh
Cmd + Left/RightGo to previous/next day, week, month, year
TabGo to next event
Shift + TabGo to previous event
Cmd + 1/2/3/4Go to day/week/month/year view
 
Notes Shortcuts
Cmd + NNew note
EnterEdit note
Cmd + EnterFinish editing
Cmd + FFind in note
Option + Cmd + FSearch list of notes
Cmd + B/I/UBold/Italics/Underline formatting
Cmd + Shift T/H/B/LTitle/Heading/Body/Checklist formatting
Option + Cmd + TCreate table
Cmd + ]Indent text right
Cmd + [Indent text left
 
News Shortcuts
Cmd + RRefresh news
Cmd + FSearch
Cmd + UpGo to top of page
Cmd + 1/2/3/4/5For You/Spotlight/Following/Search/Saved tabs
TabNext story

Once you’ve mastered these tricks, take a look at our ultimate iOS beginner’s guide for an in-depth look at your device’s various functions. You’ll learn how to back up your device, privacy essentials, and making the most of Apple mainstays like iCloud and Siri.

Read the full article: The iPhone Cheat Sheet: Every iOS Shortcut You Should Know About

Adobe XD: The Free UI and UX Design Tool You Can Use Right Now

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It’s not often you associate Adobe with “free” downloads, but that’s exactly what that company has done with Adobe XD. It’s a rapid interface prototyping app for mobile devices and websites, allowing designers to quickly come up with designs for specific platforms. The best thing about Adobe XD is how easy it is to use. Even if you have little experience designing anything, there’s only a very gradual learning curve to hold you back. Even the UI is refreshingly stark, without all the tools and panels that put so many people off apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom. In this…

Read the full article: Adobe XD: The Free UI and UX Design Tool You Can Use Right Now

adobe-xd-ui-ux

It’s not often you associate Adobe with “free” downloads, but that’s exactly what that company has done with Adobe XD. It’s a rapid interface prototyping app for mobile devices and websites, allowing designers to quickly come up with designs for specific platforms.

The best thing about Adobe XD is how easy it is to use. Even if you have little experience designing anything, there’s only a very gradual learning curve to hold you back.

Even the UI is refreshingly stark, without all the tools and panels that put so many people off apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom. In this article, we’ll introduce you to Adobe XD and explain what you can and can’t do with it.

What Is Adobe XD?

Adobe XD is a design tool. It won’t build your app for you, but it will help you present a vision or a prototype for what you want your next mobile or tablet app, website, or other user interface to look like. The app uses art boards—essentially screen mockups—to provide a visual representation of your app design.

Creating mobile apps and websites that work can take a lot of technical know-how. Adobe XD provides you with the tools to turn an idea into a proof of concept. When you’re finished you’ll have a blueprint from which to work from, and one you can tweak endlessly until you’re happy with the design.

Adobe XD CC

In the same way that concept art is so important in creative endeavors (see this beautiful video game concept art as proof), a proof of concept for your desired interface design is important when it comes to software and website construction. Providing programmers with a concept that so closely matches the finished product is a great way to align your expectations with what is possible.

Best of all the app is designed in such a way that anyone can use it. Whether you’re a seasoned designer, a programmer, or someone who lacks both of these skills; Adobe XD can bridge the gap between your vision and technical knowledge. You don’t even have to learn to code to design an app.

What Can Adobe XD Do?

Adobe XD is designed with a few specific applications in mind, but you can also think outside of the box. The app makes things easy by including templates for:

  • Smartphone apps: From iPhone 5 and SE through to the very latest models; and a generic Android template too.
  • Tablet apps: With templates for iPad, both sizes of iPad Pro, Surface Pro 3 and 4, and a generic Android tablet template.
  • Websites/web apps: With a few presets to choose from, including Full HD.

You don’t have to stick to these templates, they’re just there to make your life easier. You can also specify a completely custom interface (i.e. screen) size, and start designing for just about any platform you can imagine.

Adobe XD Startup Options

If you’re designing a mobile app, you can download the free Adobe XD app for your platform and export your designs for a live preview on your device.

UI Kits Make Life Even Easier

If you are thinking of designing for iOS, Android, Windows, or another well-established platform; you can use UI kits to get a helping hand. These are essentially project templates maintained by Apple, Google, Microsoft and others, downloadable in Adobe’s .XD file format.

With UI kits you can speed up production, allowing you to design your app within the constraints and common elements seen in your platform of choice. Since they’re maintained by the platform developers, they’re generally always up-to-date and thorough.

Adobe XD and iOS UI Kit

For example, Apple’s iOS UI kit includes blank screen dimensions for a range of devices, examples of the iOS keyboard, navigation elements like the ribbon at the top of the screen, the iOS toggle buttons, and more. You can easily copy and paste elements into your design artboards, and create accurate prototypes.

Adobe also maintains a few other UI kits, including watchOS-compliant smartwatch samples, an e-commerce website kit, and a set of examples for creating digital currency smartphone apps. You’ll need to download the appropriate UI kits for iOS, Google’s Material design and Microsoft Windows separately.

A Simple Set of Built-In Tools

Unlike Adobe’s other complex graphics and design apps, XD has a nice clean UI with only a few simple tools. You’ve got your basic shapes: rectangles, circles, lines, and a pen tool for creating custom shapes. There’s also a simple text tool, with access to the Typekit font library (but not all of it).

You can then change various attributes relating to these elements, like opacity, fill color, borders, shadows, and scrolling behaviour. Finally there’s a magnifying glass and an artboard tool for expanding your design.

Adobe XD Object Properties

Adobe XD helps you place elements in aesthetically pleasing places by “snapping” into place around the edges of the screen, the center point of the canvas, and to other elements. You can override this if you want by holding down a button (on the Mac version it’s Cmd).

Along the top edge of the app you’ll see two toggles: Design and Prototype. Design is where you’ll spend most of your time creating your vision. Switch to Prototype mode to add various interactions between elements on-screen. You can trigger events and switch to different artboards, providing a simple user experience run-down without writing a line of code.

Adobe XD Prototype

This is done via a simple drag and drop interface, for example: create a button with the circle tool, create a new artboard with the desired result of that button press (e.g. a different tab in your app), switch to the Prototype mode and drag the arrow from the button to your new artboard. Hit the “Play” button or preview on your live device to see how it plays out.

You can even specify transitions and effects to make it look fancy. There are some pretty big limitations to Prototype mode. You can’t really get too in-depth with it, but it serves a purpose and it’s simple implementation makes it easy to use.

How Limited Is the Free Version of Adobe XD?

Being a free product, Adobe XD is designed to get you hooked to its simple workflow and user-friendly tools without spending a penny. The biggest drawback to the free version is the inability to have more than one active shared prototype or set of design specifications at one time.

So for your first design or project, the free version may suffice. When it comes to sharing more designs or projects with your team or app developers, you’ll quickly hit a wall. You can always export your various artboards as .PNG files for free, forever via the File > Export option.

Adobe XD Compare

However the shared prototyping and interactivity between artboards is one of the standout features here. The app is still useful without it, just not to the same extent. You can’t build a fully realised prototype, but you can quickly lay down your design.

The other limitations of the free version include a limited number of Typekit fonts, and 2GB of cloud storage (as opposed to 100GB) for Creative Cloud subscribers. If you do decide to stump up the cash for the paid version, Adobe XD will cost you $9.99/month for this app alone or $52.99/month for the full Creative Cloud suite.

We think Adobe Creative Cloud is worth the money, provided you’re able to get enough use out of it.

Adobe XD Is a Surprisingly User-Friendly Tool

Adobe XD is a useful tool, whether you intend to pay for it or not. In some instances, you might get away with the free version for working on small personal projects. When it comes to serious work and sharing with teams, you’ll need to upgrade.

Adobe XD is not the be-all and end-all of UI design. Designers have been using graphics tools for years to create mockups for websites, app designs, and more. Check out the best Mac vector graphics tools for designers on a budget to see some capable alternatives.

Read the full article: Adobe XD: The Free UI and UX Design Tool You Can Use Right Now

The Best Free Linux Music Production Apps for Beats, Loops, Recordings

linux-music-players

Some people believe that you need the latest MacBook Pro and a suite of pricey commercial software to make music, but even on macOS there’s plenty of free software for making music too. Money can’t buy talent, and talented individuals can often make great use of free tools. Sure, dropping a couple of thousand on a high-end synth engine or workstation might make life easier, but it’s not a pre-requisite when you can use free music production software instead. Linux is home to some very powerful and flexible music production applications for beginners to professionals. Let’s take a look at…

Read the full article: The Best Free Linux Music Production Apps for Beats, Loops, Recordings

Some people believe that you need the latest MacBook Pro and a suite of pricey commercial software to make music, but even on macOS there’s plenty of free software for making music too. Money can’t buy talent, and talented individuals can often make great use of free tools.

Sure, dropping a couple of thousand on a high-end synth engine or workstation might make life easier, but it’s not a pre-requisite when you can use free music production software instead. Linux is home to some very powerful and flexible music production applications for beginners to professionals.

Let’s take a look at the best free music making applications for Linux musicians!

Linux Digital Audio Workstations

Ardour

Ardour is probably the best free digital audio workstation (DAW) available for Linux. It’s a complete set of tools for home recording and bedroom production, whether you’re recording directly from microphones, using MIDI controllers such as these, relying on plugins for synthesis, or a combination of all three.

Not only can you record and edit waveform audio, you can arrange audio and MIDI to control hardware and software with an unlimited multi-track audio sequencer. There’s support for AudioUnit (AU), LV2, LinuxVST, and LADSPA plugins with full automation. Ardour also has support numerous hardware controllers, video support for soundtrack creation, in-depth routing thanks to JACK, and comprehensive export options.

Put in the time to master Ardour and you’ll be amazed what you can achieve for free.

Download: Ardour

LMMS

Previously known as Linux Multimedia Studio, LMMS is now a cross-platform project with Windows and macOS versions too. While LMMS lacks some of the features seen in Ardour, it’s still a powerful suite of audio tools for home recording and production.

LMMS comes with 19 built-in software instruments including synths and drum machines, more than 1000 samples, support for MIDI instruments and hardware interfaces, and an intuitive interface. The multi-track sequencer makes it easy to work with VST instruments, samples, and MIDI sources and there’s enough included to let make music right out of the box.

It’s perfect for newcomers since it lacks some of the complexities seen elsewhere, and it’s a lot of fun to play around with.

Download: LMMS

Tracktion T7

Tracktion T7 has no stripped-down free version, though it is a feature-restricted version of Tracktion’s Waveform 9 and 8 DAWs. It’s a cross-platform workstation with support for 64-bit versions of Linux, and unlimited audio and MIDI tracks.

There’s a full range of MIDI tools at your disposal, including automation, MIDI learn functionality for external controllers, and a simple MIDI editor too. The professional time-stretch feature makes working with samples a breeze, and there’s extensive support for software instruments and plugins in VST, AU, and LinuxVST format.

Tracktion is worth a look at the unbeatable price of $0, though familiarize yourself with its limitations before you dive too deep.

Download: Tracktion T7

Qtractor

Another solid choice for home studios and bedroom production is Qtractor, a Qt C++ app developed from the ground-up for Linux. It’s a multi-track audio sequencer and recorder that uses JACK for audio, and also supports MIDI via ALSA for non-linear audio editing.

Like Ardour it features an unlimited number of tracks per session, as well as its own mixer and monitoring controls. It also has a simpler interface than Ardour, which may be less intimidating for complete newbies. Plugin support includes VSTi, LV2, DSSI and LADSPA, and there’s a robust set of MIDI tools for sending and receiving instructions to and from hardware instruments.

It’s another great place to start, though you’d best read up on the Qtractor documentation for best results.

Download: Qtractor

MusE

MusE is an even simpler multi-track audio and MIDI sequencer, complete with realtime recording and playback, automation, and an easy to grasp drag and drop interface. Edit MIDI parts via the piano roll, drum editor, and score editor; and host software plugins in DSSI, VSTi, LV2, and SoundFont format.

The interface is a bit old-hat, but don’t let that put you off. MusE covers most of the basics without bogging you down with features you don’t need or aren’t ready for. You can use it with JACK to control (or be controlled by) multiple applications, so it might be a nice supplement to your existing workflow.

Download: MusE

Rosegarden

Rosegarden is a sequencer with a difference. It’s heavily weighted toward MIDI editing, with a particular focus on musical notation. If you know how to read music, and you’re looking for intuitive ways to write and edit MIDI instructions then Rosegarden should be high on your list.

You could use it to write and proof your compositions, then print them out to use as regular sheet music. There’s also support for recording, mixing and triggering samples; as well as hosting synth plugins in the DSSI format. It should be said there are more robust tools for this if that’s your primary focus though (check out a few of the entries above).

Download: Rosegarden

Instruments, Plugins, and Synthesis

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a free, open source drum machine for Linux, Windows, and macOS. It’s a pattern-based sequencer focused entirely on triggering samples, of which there’s a healthy library of sounds included in the FLAC compressed format. You can also import your own samples, and edit them in-app.

What makes Hydrogen so powerful is the ability to have an unlimited number of instrument tracks and patterns, with individual volume, panning, muting and solo capabilities. You get time-stretching and pitch shifting, support for MIDI control and MIDI learn, multiple layers for each instrument (up to 16 samples) and JACK, ALSA, PortAudio and OSS drivers.

There’s also a robust mixer, with support for effects using LADSPA plugins. It’s a beast, but is best used alongside another DAW or sequencer via JACK for best results.

Download: Hydrogen

Guitarix

If you know how to play guitar, you’ll love Guitarix. It’s a Linux-only virtual guitar amplifier for use with JACK. It runs as a separate standalone program, and isn’t available as a plugin (though it can make use of LADSPA and LV2 plugins for even more guitar processing fun). The app takes a guitar’s mono signal via a sound card, processes it, and allows you to route it to your speakers or into an app of your choice.

It’s the processor of choice for Linux guitarists using DAWs like Ardour to create finished productions. Guitarix includes more than 25 different built in modules to create truly unique riffs and melodies, including reverb, phasers, auto-wah, flangers, overdrive, fuzz and more. Developers promise a latency of around 10ms on a properly set-up system.

For best results, pair Guitarix with a low-latency Linux kernel or audio-focused distribution like AVLinux.

Download: Guitarix

LinuxSampler (QSampler, Fantasia)

LinuxSampler with Fantasia Front-End

LinuxSampler is a highly stable and low-latency modular sampler for triggering samples. In its barebones form, LinuxSampler lacks a graphical user interface (GUI) but you can download the Qt-based QSampler or Java-based Fantasia (screenshot above) front-ends for controlling the app.

Linux users can host VSTi, DSSI, and LV2 plugin versions of LinuxSampler in their favorite DAW, receive MIDI input from ALSA, JACK and MidiShare sources, and send audio to ALSA or JACK for use alongside other audio software.

Download: LinuxSampler

FluidSynth (Qsynth)

FluidSynth is a SoundFont 2-compatible real-time software synthesizer, and Qsynth is a GUI front-end that allows you to control it from a Qt-based interface. FluidSynth has found its way into many modern applications including LMMS, MusE, and VLC among others.

The synthesizer requires the use of SoundFont files, which are sample-based instrument sounds found on websites like Hammersound. Combine the Qsynth with SoundFont files, JACK, and your choice of DAW to vastly expand your instrument options.

Download: Qsynth | FluidSynth

amSynth

amSynth is an analogue modelling synth designed to emulate classic analogue synths like the Minimoog. It’s a polyphonic synthesizer available in VST, LV2, DSSI, JACK, ALSA, and OSS formats for Linux (and also as an AU for macOS).

The plugin includes dual oscillators, monophonic, polyphonic, and legato keyboard modes, dual envelope generators and LFO modulation on the oscillators, filter, and amplitude. There’s also distortion and reverb for creating even more wacky sounds. You will need a DAW or sequencer that can host the plugin to make any use of it.

Download: amSynth

TerminatorX

terminatorX Scratch Synth

TerminatorX is a unique app that allows you to scratch audio files just like you would on a real turntable. It’s a standalone piece of software rather than a plugin, with multiple turntables, real-time effects (and LADSPA plugin support), sequencer, and MIDI support.

You can use JACK to route audio to other apps, so you can record scratches for use in production or even perform real-time. Control is done using the mouse, but there’s also support for MIDI instruments and a number of dedicated fans who have built their own virtual turnable interfaces.

Download: terminatorX

Bristol Audio Synthesis

Bristol Audio Synthesis

Bristol Audio Synthesis is a synth emulation package that emulates some of the most famous digital instruments of all time. These include Moog synths like the Voyager, minimoog, and Sonic-6; ARP’s Odyssey, Roland’s Juno-6, the KORG MS-20 and Polysix, Yamaha DX, and the Commodore 64 SID chip.

The package works as a standalone app with both JACK and MIDI support for routing to other apps and control via hardware interface. There’s no Windows or Mac version and even getting it working on BSD will prove quite a challenge.

Download: Bristol Audio Synthesis

Linux Audio Editors and Other Tools

Audacity

Audacity

Audacity is the cross-platform multi-track audio editor that everyone loves. And that’s because it’s one of the most simple yet essential tools to have at your disposal. Whether you’re just looking to trim a sample down to size, apply compression, or remove ambient noise from a track, Audacity can do it all.

Among the standout features are simple audio recording from multiple sources, post-processing and mixing of audio (in some cases whole albums), and support for LADSPA and VST plugin hosting. Check out our tips for getting the most out of Audacity.

Download: Audacity

Cecilia

Cecilia

Cecilia is a powerful audio signal processor that lets sound designers create custom interfaces. It’s an advanced tool with which you can achieve some spectacular results if you know what you’re doing. The app is cross-platform, with an extensive user manual aimed at bringing newcomers up to speed.

Not only can you apply effects to existing audio, but Cecilia is also capable of sound synthesis. This includes time-stretching, delay, reverb, and particle generators. Check out the rest of AJAX Sound Studio’s tools including modular synth Zyne and granular synth engine Soundgrain.

Download: Cecilia

JACK

JACK Audio

JACK is intermediary software that allows many of the apps listed here to communicate with each other. It facilitates the processing of audio with effects, recording into a DAW, and even live performance. Some of these apps (like Ardour) will install JACK for you, while others may not, so you might want to download it yourself.

Either way it’s an essential tool for anyone thinking of using Linux for audio production.

Download: JACK

Cadence

Cadence

Cadence is a set of tools aimed at producing audio. It includes simple additions like the JackMeter for monitoring peaking, to a capture tool for rendering audio through JACK called (unsurprisingly) Render. Other tools include Catia, a patching app for linking JACK sources, and audio plugin host Carlia for running LADSPA, DSSI, LV2, VST2/3 and AU plugins on Linux.

Download: Cadence

Start Making Music on Linux

You can, and should, use these tools to get started making music with Linux today. But if you’re still searching for that perfect distribution, check out our roundup of Linux distros aimed at creative types for audio, video, and media production.

Read the full article: The Best Free Linux Music Production Apps for Beats, Loops, Recordings

The Best Chiptune Players for iPhone, Android, and Web

best-chiptune-players

Who doesn’t love free music? The chiptune and demo scene that accompanied the rise of the home computer in the 80s and 90s spawned a vibrant community of bedroom producers and what essentially become a new genre of modern music. Thanks to the wonders of hardware emulation, we can now enjoy original chiptune on just about any modern device. Through archiving, the lively demo scene has sought to protect hundreds of thousands of creations, and it’s all available to freely download and enjoy. So what better way to enjoy it than on your iPhone or Android phone? What Makes Chiptune…

Read the full article: The Best Chiptune Players for iPhone, Android, and Web

Who doesn’t love free music? The chiptune and demo scene that accompanied the rise of the home computer in the 80s and 90s spawned a vibrant community of bedroom producers and what essentially become a new genre of modern music.

Thanks to the wonders of hardware emulation, we can now enjoy original chiptune on just about any modern device. Through archiving, the lively demo scene has sought to protect hundreds of thousands of creations, and it’s all available to freely download and enjoy.

So what better way to enjoy it than on your iPhone or Android phone?

What Makes Chiptune so Special?

Early computers used synthesis chips to generate audio, which programmers could take advantage of through the use of trackers. The result were small files ideal for the limited storage mediums of the time: cassettes, cartridges, and disks.

Like MIDI, trackers use a set of instructions to produce sound and music. Musicians can customize their “instruments” with various waveforms, define notes, apply effects, create arpeggios, and more in order to create original music using the hardware of their choice.

Some of the most famous platforms include the Amiga with its famed ProTracker software, and the Commodore 64 with its SID audio chip. These days we don’t need the original hardware to enjoy chiptune—just the files and use of a player that emulates the synthesis chips.

Chiptune is ideal for mobile play since the files are tiny. You can store thousands on your device and download an endless supply of them even if you’re away from a Wi-Fi network. They won’t sound exactly like the original hardware, but they’re close enough.

Both iOS and Android make it easy to download and open these files in your desired player. Some players even include app integration with the biggest archives of chiptune on the web.

Apps for Chiptune Playback

1. Modizer (iOS)

Modizer is the best $2 I’ve spent on my iPhone this year. It’s a highly capable multi-format MOD player for iOS, with support for over 600 formats including Amiga, Atari ST/Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, SNES, Game Boy, Nintendo 64, and even Dreamcast and arcade files.

By far my favorite feature is direct integration with the vast Modland, ASMA, and HVSC databases. You can search or browse the archives and play songs almost immediately, saving them to your library with a tap. There’s also support for other databases through the built-in browser, though these aren’t quite as pleasant to use.

In addition to a wide variety of formats, Modizer includes an old-school visualizer with a variety of effects. It only works on the Now Playing screen, but it’s a lot of fun. You can stack multiple effects on top of another, or hit the power button on your iPhone to listen in the background.

Other features include local FTP support, wireless audio via AirPlay, the ability to create your own playlists and rate tracks, customizable playback engines and plugins, and online world chiptune charts. It’s still updated and current as of mid-2018, and requires a device running iOS 8.0 or later.

Download: Modizer for iOS ($2)

2. ZXTune (Android)

ZXTune is a lot like Modizer for iOS, except it’s completely free to download. Like Modizer, the app supports a huge range of formats including ZX Specture, PC modules, Amiga, Atari, Commodore 64, SNES, Game Boy, TurboGrafx-16, and more recent consoles like the PlayStation 1/2 and Dreamcast, among others.

The app integrates with no fewer than eight music catalogs: ZX Tunes, Modland, HVSC, ZX Art, Amiga Music Preservation, Josh W Catalog, AY Great Original Resource, and the mighty MOD Archive. With these resources you can effortlessly play and add chiptune in a variety of formats to your device, wherever you are.

You can search these archives, create your own playlists, and use the home screen widget to control the app. There’s no visualizer, but it is possible to set chiptune tracks as your ringtone. The app is optimized for a variety of Android resolutions, including tablets.

The app still receives updates as of mid-2018, and you’ll need Android 4.0.3 or better in order to run ZXTune.

Download: ZXTune for Android (Free)

3. GaMBi (iOS)

GaMBi is a specialized chiptune app for iOS. It’s a chiptune player with support for eight formats, including Game Boy, NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and Commodore 64. While this might sound poor compared to the likes of Modizer above, GaMBi isn’t just a player. It’s also a remix engine!

The app allows you to tweak tracks by toggling various channels (e.g. drums, lead melodies, bass), adjust instrument parameters, sample your work, and further change the sound with the built-in equalizer. You can export your creations to iTunes when you’re done.

There’s no integration with online catalogs, so you’ll need to use the Open in option in Safari or iTunes File Sharing to get music into GaMBi. To make up for this, GaMBi includes a few tracks to get you started, including classics like Cybernoid by Jeroen Tel.

Two of the biggest features are AudioCopy and Audiobus support. Audiocopy allows you to copy a rendered (audio) version of the current track to the clipboard, so you can paste it into other AudioCopy-compatible apps. Audiobus support allows you to route the audio directly into another app, like an effect processor or audio workstation.

The price is a bit steep, but there’s nothing else quite like it on the App Store. It’s also great for smartphone DJing, if you’re into that!

Download: GaMBi for iOS ($6)

4. Modo (Android)

If you’ve got an Android device that can’t run ZXTune, you might want to give Modo a look. It’s nowhere near as accomplished as the former, but it only requires Android 2.2 or later.

There’s decent support for a number of formats, including Commodore 64, Atari, Amstrad CPC, TurboGrafx-16, Game Boy and SNES, Master System, and various tracker modules (including ScreamTracker, ProTracker and others). It’s not quite on the same level as ZXTunes though.

The app also lacks integration with online catalogs, so you’ll need to provide your own collection of module files (and make sure they’re compatible too). Fortunately there’s support for ZIP archive browsing, and a few nice playback features like silence detection and a sleep timer too.

Download: Modo for Android (Free)

Web-Based Chiptune Players

Web players might not be ideal for use on your smartphone, but the few I’ve tested on an iPhone X worked pretty well overall. There’s some unexpected behavior with progress bars not updating correctly, but the music played fine even when exiting Safari.

5. muki

An elegant web player with a fantastic interface, muki is like a jukebox full of chiptune classics. You can’t actually load your own chiptune files into it; instead you specify a playlist, platform, genre, or mood and let muki take over from there.

The web app then raids the archives of freely available chiptune tracks to match up the music to your preferences. It worked wonderfully on iOS, and even includes a few snazzy visualizations to boot. You can vote for songs that float your boat while you listen, and contribute to the weekly charts while you’re at it.

If you’d like to try this radio format for more video game music, check out the best video game music radio sites.

Listen: muki.io

6. DeepSID

DeepSID is a web-based Commodore 64 chiptune player, with full access to the HVSC catalog of music. The app is surprisingly stable, with a great library of tracks to pick from and built-in playlist support.

Chat and view information from the Commodore 64 Scene Database depending on what track you’re listening to. You can also choose from a number of Commodore 64 emulators for playback—try building your own mini C64 if you’re a big fan of the system.

Listen: deepsid.chordian.net

Build Your Collection in Minutes

With the vast number of module files that have been ripped from games and arcade machines, as well as original creations from musicians all over the world, it’s possible to amass hundreds of tracks in no time thanks to fast modern internet connections.

For more retro music goodness, check out musical genres all gamers will love, and the best video game soundtracks for studying.

Read the full article: The Best Chiptune Players for iPhone, Android, and Web

7 Most Annoying iPhone X Problems and How to Fix Issues

iphonex-problems

The iPhone X (our review) introduced a few big new features to Apple’s smartphone lineup when it released in late 2017. Unfortunately, it also debuted a few new issues specific to the redesign. Fortunately there are workarounds and fixes for most of them. Some will depend on which version of iOS you’re running, while others require workarounds or intervention from Apple. So let’s take a look at some of the frustrations, design flaws, and defects that iPhone X users can encounter, and attempt to solve them. 1. Face ID Won’t Work Probably the most common complaint about the iPhone X…

Read the full article: 7 Most Annoying iPhone X Problems and How to Fix Issues

The iPhone X (our review) introduced a few big new features to Apple’s smartphone lineup when it released in late 2017. Unfortunately, it also debuted a few new issues specific to the redesign.

Fortunately there are workarounds and fixes for most of them. Some will depend on which version of iOS you’re running, while others require workarounds or intervention from Apple.

So let’s take a look at some of the frustrations, design flaws, and defects that iPhone X users can encounter, and attempt to solve them.

1. Face ID Won’t Work

Probably the most common complaint about the iPhone X relates to the TrueDepth camera and Face ID. Just like Touch ID on older devices, Face ID doesn’t work properly all the time.

To prevent issues, make sure to wipe the “notch” on your iPhone X regularly (an important part of iPhone cleaning). There’s an array of sensors, cameras, and projectors in that small space, and they must be able to see you clearly in order to work.

Secondly, scan your face in a well-lit area. Scanning in low light isn’t as accurate as scanning in daylight. If you’ve changed your appearance significantly, or you’re having persistent Face ID recognition issues, head to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and choose Reset Face ID. You can then set it up again.

iPhone X TrueDepth "notch"

When Face ID fails and prompts you for a passcode, it attempts to learn and adapt to your appearance to prevent the same problem happening again. But if someone else unlocks your phone with your passcode, it may lead to unwanted changes to your Face ID profile. We don’t know for certain how Face ID works, but resetting your profile from time to time may help.

Some users have reported that Face ID refuses to work altogether. This is an issue that Apple has acknowledged, prompting replacements of the camera unit (both front and rear-facing) on affected devices. Some users have had their devices replaced entirely.

If you have persistent problems with Face ID, head to Apple Support to arrange an appointment at a retail store or a mail-in return.

2. Accidentally Taking a Lot of Screenshots

The iPhone X doesn’t have a home button, which means you can’t take screenshots using the conventional Home + Power button combination. Instead, you need to press Volume Up + Side Button, a shortcut that’s easy to trigger in your pocket or when holding the device.

QuadLock iPhone X Bike Mount

There’s no way to change the shortcut, which means the only fix is a workaround. You’ll need to get a case with a recessed side button, which prevents you from unwittingly triggering the shortcut. The Quad Lock case (above) that I use on my iPhone X is one of the many quality iPhone X cases to incorporate this into the design.

3. iPhone X Hair Pulling

According to some user reports, the gap between the iPhone X chassis and screen bezel is a magnet for hair. Whether you have long flowing locks or a bushy beard, Apple is even offering to replace your iPhone X if this is posing too much of a problem.

iPhone X Swipe Up

It’s not clear whether that means some models of the iPhone X are worse for this. A snug case that covers the bezel gap should fix the issue (while protecting your device at the same time).

4. Screen Issues: Color Shift, Screen Burn, and Green Lines

The iPhone X uses the first OLED display ever seen in an iPhone. Though Apple has used OLED displays before in both the Apple Watch and MacBook Pro Touch Bar, the iPhone X represents a leap forward in iPhone screen technology. Unfortunately, it’s not without its share of issues.

Some users (myself included) have noticed a slight shift in color hue when moving the display. I notice this most on an off-white background, with a slight blueish hue visibly “moving” across the screen as the device is tilted. On its website, Apple says:

“If you look at an OLED display off-angle, you might notice slight shifts in color and hue. This is a characteristic of OLED and is normal behavior.”

Screen burn is another OLED “expected behavior” listed on Apple’s website. As the name suggests, this refers to a persistent image getting stuck on-screen, even after that image is no longer being displayed. Apple recommends a few tips to avoid screen burn:

  • Ensuring Auto-Brightness is enabled under Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations.
  • Choosing an Auto Lock time of 30 or 60 seconds under Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto Lock.
  • Avoid displaying static images for extended periods, particularly at maximum brightness. Use Control Center to manually adjust your device brightness if necessary.

The final display issue relates to vertical green lines appearing on the screen over time. This is not normal, and Apple has replaced affected units as the issue appears. It seems this was related to early iPhone X models. The fix here is to contact Apple for a replacement.

5. Phone Call and Touch Screen Delay Issues

Two (unrelated but similar) issues occurred on earlier versions of iOS 11. The first was an issue with calls: the screen would light up and your ringtone would play, but the answer/decline call prompt never appeared.

Meanwhile, the other issue mostly affected users in cold climates. The iPhone X touchscreen would become unresponsive when encountering a sudden drop in temperature.

iPhone X Lock Screen

Apple fixed both of these issues via a software update, so if you’re encountering either make sure you’re running the latest version of iOS under Settings > General > Software Update. If you encounter any other issues like this after updating, it’s time to talk to Apple.

6. Wireless Charging Issues

The iPhone X isn’t Apple’s first smartphone to use wireless charging, but it is susceptible to issues from interference. In particular, if you’re wirelessly charging the iPhone X in a folio case, and have credit cards or other cards that use contactless technology, you may encounter interference.

Apple AirPower

Try removing the cards if you’re having charging issues. If you’re not using a folio case (or you’ve already removed the cards) then make sure you’re using a high-quality wireless charger. Check out our recommended wireless chargers for ideas.

7. Speakers Crackling at Loud Volumes

Both the iPhone X and iPhone 8 have had reports of crackling speakers, particularly at high volumes. If you haven’t tested your iPhone’s maximum volume yet, it’s a good idea to test it out now to see if you’re affected. Some have described this as a “buzzing” sound.

iPhone X Speaker Array

If you do encounter the issue, try updating your software to the latest version. If you don’t see an improvement, let Apple know so a technician can repair your device.

Other Crashes, Freezing, and General Responsiveness

Performance issues aren’t iPhone X specific, but solving them requires an approach specific to the iPhone X. If you want to soft reset your device because it’s unresponsive due to a crash: press volume up and release, press volume down and release, then press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo.

That’s just one of the new shortcuts you’ll need to get used to if you’re new to the iPhone X. To find out what else is new, check out our guide to using the iPhone X.

Read the full article: 7 Most Annoying iPhone X Problems and How to Fix Issues

What Is SIP? macOS System Integrity Protection Explained

macos-sip

macOS changed significantly with the release of 10.11 El Capitan and the introduction of System Integrity Protection, or SIP for short. It’s a security measure that had some pretty big implications for the operating system back in 2015. These days, most of us have adapted to a post-SIP macOS. But you might still wonder what it is, what exactly it does, and why you’re best off leaving it alone. So let’s take a look at SIP, what purpose it serves, and why it came about in the first place. What Is System Integrity Protection? Put simply, System Integrity Protection is…

Read the full article: What Is SIP? macOS System Integrity Protection Explained

macOS changed significantly with the release of 10.11 El Capitan and the introduction of System Integrity Protection, or SIP for short. It’s a security measure that had some pretty big implications for the operating system back in 2015.

These days, most of us have adapted to a post-SIP macOS. But you might still wonder what it is, what exactly it does, and why you’re best off leaving it alone.

So let’s take a look at SIP, what purpose it serves, and why it came about in the first place.

What Is System Integrity Protection?

Put simply, System Integrity Protection is a security measure Apple introduced to protect certain parts of your macOS installation and core processes, and to vet third-party kernel extensions. It actively protects parts of your system from modification, and blocks installation of insecure extensions.

While you have SIP enabled, certain areas are entirely off-limits in the name of (unsurprisingly) protecting the integrity of your system. You can gain certain privileges via Apple’s developer program, allowing signed software to take actions like installing drivers.

macOS Gatekeeper

SIP is invisible, and works entirely in the background. It’s not the same as Gatekeeper, Apple’s other security feature that blocks installation of unsigned third-party software. But it’s certainly part of the security-conscious trend that saw Apple introduce the technology, previously known as File Quarantine.

Why Is System Integrity Protection Necessary?

SIP protects your Mac from unwanted meddling. It’s a security feature that appeared in the face of an increasing macOS malware threat. Gone are the days of Apple’s “I’m a PC” marketing slogans that claim the system is virtually bulletproof.

Mac malware exists; there have been many documented cases from simple JavaScript “ransomware” to pervasive malware that attempts to steal your admin password. SIP and Gatekeeper only go so far in protecting against these threats. Mac dangers are a real issue, particularly when it comes to browser technologies like the Java plug-in and Adobe Flash.

Apple noted that much of the threat to macOS (then OS X) came from the fact that most Apple computers use a single user account with admin privileges. Having admin (root) access to your computer provides autonomy, but prior to SIP, this led to some users unwittingly approving the installation of malware.

In short: your Mac isn’t safe, even from yourself. By limiting what root access can do, Apple effectively builds a barrier between you and the most sensitive parts of your system. The side effect of this approach is that you no longer have complete control, particularly with tweaking appearance and application behavior.

This tightening of Apple’s grip over macOS has led some users to complain that the platform is following too closely in the footsteps of Apple’s mobile platform, iOS. On the upside, iOS is the most secure mobile platform on the market, so the approach has some merit.

Which Parts of macOS Does SIP Protect?

SIP affects directories, processes, and kernel extensions. That means you cannot make changes to the following directories:

  • /System
  • /usr
  • /bin
  • /sbin

Most of these directories aren’t even visible, so the protection is mainly aimed at preventing third-party programs from writing to these areas. This also includes the ability to make changes to core system files, which means less customization than pre-SIP macOS.

Users and third-party apps can still make changes to the following directories:

  • /Applications
  • /Library
  • /usr/local

macOS Applications

SIP also protects most applications that come installed with macOS from interference too.

Finally, third-party kernel extensions (including drivers) must now be signed with an Apple Developer ID. Your Mac won’t boot if unsigned kernel extensions are present.

How Does SIP Affect Mac Software?

In the few years since SIP was introduced, developers and users alike have adjusted to the lockdown of certain system components. Many developers rewrote apps from the ground up to work alongside SIP. Lots more have since launched that already accommodate Apple’s restrictions.

All apps in the Mac App Store must work with SIP in order to gain Apple’s approval. The vast majority of third-party apps work just fine too. There are a few exceptions like Winclone, which still requires the disabling (and then re-enabling) of SIP in order to perform its function as a Boot Camp cloning tool.

Install or Buy App Mac App Store

While there are plenty of small handy Mac tweaks for fixing just about everything still available, deep system tweaks are mostly no longer viable. For example, theming apps designed to change the colors, look, and feel of Finder relied on code injection, which you can’t do anymore. These apps are no longer viable without building something new from scratch.

Ultimately, though, software is not affected unless the developer specifically points it out. If that’s the case, it might be worth looking for a different app to perform the same task. SIP exists to protect you. For the vast majority of users who see macOS as a functional base with which to get work done, it’s well worth living within these constraints.

How Do You Disable SIP on macOS?

If you really want to disable SIP, you can do so by rebooting into your Mac’s recovery partition (hold Cmd + R at startup), then using the csrutil command line utility. Check out our full guide to disabling SIP, but we’d recommend you re-enable it when you’re done tinkering.

It’s also worth pointing out that your computer will re-enable SIP every time you update your OS, or upgrade to a new version of macOS. You might as well leave it on and work around it, since it’s here to stay.

System Integrity, Protected

Apple’s efforts to secure macOS have led to it enjoying an excellent security record. Built on a Unix base, macOS provides signature Apple user-friendliness and approach to user privacy. It’s completed with a rock-solid foundation and a focus on security.

Since new software is built with SIP in mind, only old software, deep system-level tweaks, and the odd niche third-party app will ever require you disable it.

In the end, it’s a security feature, and one that follows Apple’s design sensibilities for the macOS platform. Since the use of Apple’s OS is one of the primary motivators for buying a Mac, it doesn’t make much sense to disable a feature like this.

Read the full article: What Is SIP? macOS System Integrity Protection Explained

The Best Nintendo Switch Games You Can Buy Today

nintendo-switch-games

It’s official: the Nintendo Switch is a resounding success. Most third party publishers who abandoned Nintendo’s last console, the Wii U, have embraced the new hardware, and many new indie publishers have jumped on board too. So where do you start with the swelling library of games the Nintendo Switch boasts? In this article, we take a look at the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy today, including first party blockbusters, multi-platform third parties, and indies. This list is presented in no particular order. 1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the best local multiplayer…

Read the full article: The Best Nintendo Switch Games You Can Buy Today

It’s official: the Nintendo Switch is a resounding success. Most third party publishers who abandoned Nintendo’s last console, the Wii U, have embraced the new hardware, and many new indie publishers have jumped on board too.

So where do you start with the swelling library of games the Nintendo Switch boasts?

In this article, we take a look at the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy today, including first party blockbusters, multi-platform third parties, and indies. This list is presented in no particular order.

1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the best local multiplayer games on the Switch And you can play it online too. It’s the definitive edition of the Wii U’s best racer (which you can be forgiven for missing first time round) with all the downloadable content on the cartridge.

Nintendo also addressed one of the game’s biggest criticisms by completely reworking Battle Mode into a much-improved version with several different game types and an all-new Splatoon-themed arena. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a must-have title you’ll play again and again.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Launch titles are rarely this good, nor do they remain must-buys for this long, but Breath of the Wild still holds up to the hype. Breaking with convention, this is the first Zelda game to open the entire world up to the player from the very beginning.

Not only is it a technical masterpiece thanks to its gorgeous art style, it also redefines many aspects of open world adventure. You really can go anywhere, climb any ledge, and as you can see in our beginner’s guide to Breath of the Wild you’ll be left to your own devices to complete quests through exploration rather than following markers on your map or HUD.

3. Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is one of the best Mario games ever made. It’s also somewhat of a sequel to Mario 64, featuring the same open-level design that focuses on collection rather than completion. The bulk of the action surrounds new character Cappy and the hat-throwing game mechanics he unlocks.

There’s a real emphasis on exploration, with hours of content to work your way through and more to unlock once you’ve finished. This takes the heat off having to find everything on your first run, because you’ll definitely want to go back and explore more once the credits have rolled. Don’t miss it.

4. Golf Story

Golf Story is what happens when you fuse top-down RPG elements with the mechanics of a golf game. It’s a Switch exclusive, and it’s super cheap, so you’ve got little reason not to jump in and enjoy it for yourself.

Not only do you play the odd round of golf, you’re tasked with using your golfing skills to solve puzzles, complete side quests, and find secrets dotted around the world. It’s all presented with a cheeky sense of humour and retro art style that suits both portable and docked mode.

5. Steamworld Dig 2

Steamworld Dig 2 is the sequel that improves on the first game in almost every way, most notably the brand new art style which looks gorgeous. It’s still got one of the best gameplay loops around: descend into the mines, loot and explore, then head back to the surface to deposit and upgrade.

It might not sound like much, but it’s fiendishly additctive and it suits portable mode play perfectly. My only gripe is that the game doesn’t last longer, nor does it feature a new game plus mode.

6. Stardew Valley

The cross-platform farming simulator that found fame on the PC is possibly most at home on the Switch. It almost feels like it was designed with portable mode in mind, and the pixelated top-down SNES inspired art style pops on the console’s 720p screen.

Grab a buddy and team up for co-op fun via local wireless or online multiplayer, which was added as a free upgrade in early 2018.

7. Celeste

If you’re looking to ease yourself into the frantic Metroidvania genre of progression-based platformers, look no further than Celeste. It’s not quite as brutal as other titles in the genre, but it features all the optional teeth-grinding difficulty settings that veterans could ever want.

There’s a positive message about dealing with mental illness here too, wrapped up in a pleasing pixel art style. Celeste nails the “simple to pick up, difficult to master” mark of a satisfying 2D adventure.

8. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Hyrule Warriors isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for an exhaustive hack and slash title you can play on the go then this is your best bet. Fans of the Zelda series will appreciate the Hyrule theme, but ultimately this is a Dynasty Warriors (or Musou) game with a different coat of paint.

It’s worth mentioning the insane volume of content included, featuring everything from the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS releases. Unlike the latter, Hyrule Warriors runs buttery smooth on the Switch whether you’re playing handheld or docked.

9. Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

The turn-based tie-in that nobody expected, and many came to love. Take one-part rabbids silliness, one-part XCOM 3D turn-based strategy, and one-part Mario license and you’ve got yourself a hit.

There’s a surprising amount of depth and variety in Kingdom Battle, and a new Donkey Kong DLC features a whole new campaign if you want more. It’s one of the cheaper Switch games you’ll find on the shelves, and it’s worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre.

10. Fortnite

Fortnite is a free to play phenomenon that kids can’t get enough of. Hence our parent’s guide to Fornite. And this game fits right in on the Switch. It lacks the high resolution and 60 frames per second you’ll find on the PS4 and other platforms, but Nintendo’s portable box of tricks gets the job done.

It’s also worth noting that unlike Sony, Nintendo doesn’t bind your account to its console. So if you play the PC, Xbox One, or smartphone version; you can login on the Switch and keep your progress.

11. Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon isn’t your average turn-based dungeon crawler. It’s a roguelike that tasks you not only with winning battles, but also managing your army and all the emotional baggage and flawed personalities they bring to the table.

Darkest Dungeon is a game that works best in portable mode, thanks the Switch’s touchscreen. In fact, the touchscreen helps so much that this is possibly the definitive version of Red Hook Studios’ turn-based roguelike.

12. Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

First released on the Wii U, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker began life as a game mode in Super Mario 3D World on Nintendo’s previous console. It was such a hit that Nintendo gave Captain Toad his own game, with 82 levels (including four platform-specific bonus levels).

Manipulate the camera and guide toad around tricky mazes, along mine cart runs, and through perilous boss battles. For the most part though it’s a slow-paced brain teaser, wrapped up in a fluffy Toad aesthetic that’s a must-buy for puzzle box fans.

Be warned: if you enjoyed Treasure Tracker on the Wii U, there’s probably not much reason to double-dip.

13. Octopath Traveler

With Octopath Traveler, Square Enix has delivered what so many JRPG fans have wanted for so long: a story-driven roleplaying game with turn-based combat that gets right back to the genre’s roots. Explore eight separate stories in any order you like, though don’t expect too much interaction between them.

Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, Octopath Traveller takes advantage of many of the graphical advancements we’ve come to expect from modern titles. This Switch exclusive JRPG looks stunning, with its trademark art style and heavy use of shallow depth of field that adds some much-needed polish to what can be a very flat looking genre.

14. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight started life as a crowd-funded Metroidvania game for the PC and then Mac, before arriving on the Switch in June 2018. It quickly became one of the best indie titles on the platform for its silky smooth platforming action, detailed environments, and unique atmosphere.

So far Hollow Knight hasn’t made it onto any other console, but since it’s such a perfect fit for portable mode play the Switch feels like the perfect home for it. There’s a tricky learning curve, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re new to the genre (you might want to start with Celeste instead).

15. Lumines Remastered

Lumines was one of the best PSP games of all time. It comes from the creator of Dreamcast classics like Space Channel 5 and Rez and it’s a perfect fit for the Switch.

This fiendish puzzler involves rotating 2×2 blocks of two colors to create 2×2 squares of a single color, which then disappears when the timeline passes over them. It sounds easy (and there’s more to it than that), but a constantly shifting aesthetic, score, and sound bank keeps it fresh and challenging.

16. Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 is probably the closest thing the Switch has to a triple-A first person shooter. The big difference is an emphasis on dominating the environment with your paintbrush, spray gun, or roller rather than eliminating your adversaries.

There’s not a huge difference between the Wii U version of Splatoon and its Switch sequel, and for anyone who loved the game the first time round that’s only a good thing.

17. Dead Cells

The “rogue-lite” genre of fusing permadeath with gradual progression has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. Dead Cells is a prime example of the genre done well, with procedurally generated levels, chunky combat system, and bloodstained pixel art style to boot.

It’s up to you to break out of your cell, venture into the city, and collect permanent buffs that will aid you in future run-throughs. You’ll die a lot—each time starting back at the beginning—but before long you’ll be dispatching those enemies with ease and worrying about the next hurdle.

18. Sonic Mania Plus

Sonic Mania Plus is a long overdue return to the series’ roots, embracing the slick 60 frames per second 2D sprite-based adventure that boosted the blue hedgehog to fame when the Genesis was king.

If you have fond memories of playing the original Sonic games, you’ll love what Sega has done with Sonic Mania. Sonic Mania Plus is the official title of the retail release, also available digitally and as an upgrade to anyone who purchased Sonic Mania when it was first released in 2017.

19. Snipperclips Plus

Snipperclips was released alongside the Switch, and quickly became one of the must-buy Switch launch titles. It’s a co-operative local multiplayer game that takes advantage of the fact that every Switch console sold comes with two separate controllers.

Work with (or hilariously against) a team mate to solve puzzles by “snipping” your characters down to size, in order to complete brain tickling puzzles. The Plus expansion adds more levels and sees the first physical release, all for an extra $15.

20. DOOM

DOOM might seem like an odd choice, but it’s astounding that DOOM even runs on the Nintendo Switch at all. The ability to take id Software’s hugely popular 2016 shooter on the go makes it worth a purchase for die hard cacodemon hunters everywhere.

The game lacks the silky smooth framerate and high resolution of its PC and home console counterparts, but that doesn’t really matter when you’re tearing hell-spawn limb from limb while sitting at a bus stop.

Enjoy Gaming on Your Nintendo Switch!

These are the best Nintendo Switch games you can play today, but there are many more Nintendo Switch releases that we couldn’t fit on this list. If you’re reading this because you’ve just taken the plunge on Nintendo’s hybrid console, make sure you familiarize yourself with all the tips and tricks for new Switch owners.

Read the full article: The Best Nintendo Switch Games You Can Buy Today

The 6 Best Linux Distros to Install on a Mac (Depending on Your Needs)

linux-distros-mac

Believe it or not, Apple hardware is popular with many Linux users. Even longterm Mac users sometimes feel like a change, and while Windows 10 is an option, Linux can also freshen up your workstation. But with so many different versions of Linux available, it can be difficult to know where to start. The answer will depend on your level of skill, what you value from an OS, and what you’re going to be using your computer for. So here are some different distributions for the Linux-curious Mac user. 1. Ubuntu You might call it boring, but Ubuntu is easily…

Read the full article: The 6 Best Linux Distros to Install on a Mac (Depending on Your Needs)

Believe it or not, Apple hardware is popular with many Linux users. Even longterm Mac users sometimes feel like a change, and while Windows 10 is an option, Linux can also freshen up your workstation.

But with so many different versions of Linux available, it can be difficult to know where to start. The answer will depend on your level of skill, what you value from an OS, and what you’re going to be using your computer for.

So here are some different distributions for the Linux-curious Mac user.

1. Ubuntu

Ubuntu Desktop

You might call it boring, but Ubuntu is easily the most accessible flavor of Linux out there. The other reason I’m recommending it above all else is that it’s one of the most well-supported versions of Linux in terms of driver support.

For Apple users, that means all of their hardware (including the frequently problematic wireless adapter) should work right out of the box. There’s no need to dig out an Ethernet adapter and hunt across the web for a Wi-Fi driver that works.

Ubuntu is also well-catered for in terms of software support, with a rich repository of software built right into the base install. The OS feels like it was built with the intent of breaking down many of the barriers that make the OS prohibitive to many, and just like macOS there’s a ton of great software included to get you started.

Also consider Ubuntu GNOME if you like the look of the GNOME desktop environmental and aren’t too fussed about the latest and greatest release. The official GNOME release of Ubuntu is currently around a year out of date, but it looks and feels more like the macOS interface Mac owners are used to.

Download: Ubuntu

2. elementary OS

elementary OS

If you’re considering trying out Linux on your MacBook and value desktop aesthetics above all else, elementary OS might be just the ticket. macOS users will immediately feel right at home since the desktop environment shares a lot in common with Apple’s own operating system.

At the bottom of the screen you’ll find a dock, not dissimilar to the one found in macOS. At the top of the screen is elementary’s menu bar, and there’s a Spotlight-like search interface for launching apps, accessing settings, and running commands from a text prompt.

AppCenter is the elementary OS equivalent of the Mac App Store (though many other distributions feature a similar system), with built in support for pay-what-you-want software contributions to support developers. The team behind the OS even encourage a contribution upon downloading.

Even the system icons have that bright, colorful Apple glow. Software support is also great, with anything built for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS capable of working with elementary OS 0.4 “Loki.” Retina display support is good, though your wireless adapter and MacBook webcam may require a bit of driver hunting.

Download: elementary OS

3. Manjaro

Manjaro Linux

Arch Linux is known among Linux enthusiasts for its speed and performance, but its primary audience are the more experienced users out there. Based on Arch, Manjaro attempts to provide the many benefits that have earned Arch its reputation in a user-friendly package.

It does this by building upon the powerful Arch Linux core, with access to the Arch User Repository, and the same rolling release development model. But Majaro holds your hand as much as possible, including a vastly simplified installation process and pre-installed codecs for easy playback of media.

Among the standout features is the ability to detect your computer’s hardware, with automatic installation (where supported) of software and drivers for your particular system. This is particularly useful to Mac users, where support for drivers can be hard to come by. There’s also access to Manjaro-specific software repositories to ensure that software is stable and tested before you install it.

There are four official flavors of Manjaro using three separate desktop environments: Xfce (for older machines), KDE, GNOME, and an architect version for custom setups. You can also download Community Editions, including one that uses Chrome-like window manager Budgie. There’s a thriving user support forum in case you get stuck, and the emphasis on user friendliness is truly refreshing.

Download: Manjaro

4. Lubuntu

Lubuntu

Got a crusty old MacBook? Maybe Apple has discontinued support for your machine, and you’re not too thrilled about it. Is your Mac even crustier than that? Those of you still rocking PowerPC hardware can inject new life with the right distribution.

Lubuntu is a solid choice. It’s an unashamedly lightweight version of Ubuntu that uses the minimal LXDE desktop environment. In place of the usual Ubuntu fare are a suit of similarly lightweight applications with very low hardware requirements.

On top of this, it’s frequently updated with 32-bit and 64-bit version available for most PCs built in the last 15 years. There are also PowerPC LTS (longterm support) builds for older Mac models, and a Raspberry Pi optimized version too.

If you want to turn your ageing old Mac into something useful like a word processor, file server, or simple web browser for office use, give Lubuntu a whirl. Compatibility with Ubuntu software and hardware optimizations make it a great choice for newbies too.

If you’re rocking an old PowerPC Mac and are looking for something else, check out the Linux on PowerPC Mac Facebook group.

Download: Lubuntu

5. Ubuntu Studio

Ubuntu Studio

If you’re using your Mac primarily for creative endeavours, it makes sense to opt for a creative Linux distribution. Ubuntu Studio is focused on creating art, whether it’s music and audio, graphic design and photography, videography, or publishing. Yes, it’s another flavor of Ubuntu, but one that includes a ton of tools to get you started quickly.

While you could track down and install all of these tools on virtually any version of Linux, Ubuntu Studio includes them out of the box. For audio work there’s the excellent Audacity for simple audio editing, the extensive digital audio workstation Ardour, and low latency audio routing and MIDI solution JACK ready to rock out of the box.

If you’re a visual artist you can get going right away with powerful 3D modelling tool Blender, vector graphics workhorse Inkscape, Photoshop alternative GIMP, and graphics tablet-ready painting tool MyPaint. Photographers can edit their RAW images using Darktable, then manage them in a Shotwell library.

Simple video editor Openshot is also included, alongside video powerhouse FFMPEG for converting, decoding, encoding, muxing, and playing virtually every video format under the sun. The whole thing is backed up with LibreOffice 3, PDF creation tool Scribus, and open source eBook app Calibre.

As with other Ubuntu releases, it’s compatible with Ubuntu’s unbeatable repository of software. If you’re looking for something similar but don’t fancy Ubuntu, check our Fedora’s Design Suite.

Download: Ubuntu Studio

6. AVLinux

AVLinux

AVLinux is aimed at multimedia content producers looking to edit video or create music on their Linux systems. Unlike Ubuntu Studio, AVLinux is based on Debian and ships with a customized kernel designed with low latency audio production in mind.

The idea is to squeeze as much performance out of your computer as possible, which is why developers opted for a modified lightweight Xfce desktop environment. This is one distribution that sacrifices everything in the name of reducing the strain placed on your computer from simply running the OS.

As a result, it’s super barebones though it does come with a smattering of audiovisual tools. These include Ardour for creating music, Audacity for simple audio editing, Guitarix for guitar amplifier simulation, and open source drum machine Hydrogen. You’ll also find video tools like Blender, Cinellerra, Kdenlive and Openshot installed, along with LibreOffice, Firefox and GIMP.

Interestingly, legendary audio console manufacturer Harrison of Nashville, Tennessee recommends AVLinux for use with their Mixbus digital audio workstation. Expect to be hunting for drivers (depending on your hardware) if you’re opting for AVLinux.

Download: AVLinux

How to Boot Linux on Your Mac

Installing Linux on your Mac is a lot easier than it once was, since you no longer have to open up Terminal and create your installation medium using command line prompts. Simply download the USB image of your choice, grab a spare USB drive (make sure there’s nothing on it you want to keep) and download Etcher.

Etcher USB Drive Creator

This wonderful piece of open source software allows you to create a bootable USB drive with your choice of Linux distribution on it in around three clicks. Select your Linux image, choose the appropriate thumb drive, and click Flash! to get started.

Now reboot your Mac and hold the Option key while it starts. Choose the USB drive you created from the list (avoiding Macintosh HD) and wait for your chosen OS to boot. Most live distributions include installation wizards either in the bootloader or the OS itself to install Linux permanently.

These Linux distributions aren’t the only alternative operating systems for your Mac. If your Mac has enough power, you could run some of them just fine under VirtualBox on top of your existing macOS setup if you want!

Read the full article: The 6 Best Linux Distros to Install on a Mac (Depending on Your Needs)