Ap­ple in­no­va­tions that you can’t live with­out

Dan Moren has a few ex­am­ples of Ap­ple fea­tures and ca­pa­bil­i­ties that make life much eas­ier.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY DAN MOREN

As a tech­nol­ogy colum­nist, it’s tempt­ing to spend a lot of time not­ing the places where Ap­ple can im­prove its prod­ucts. There are al­ways glitches, bugs, and de­sign trade-offs to pick on.

But, on the flip side, it’s worth call­ing out the places where Ap­ple has made great strides, not just in terms of in­tro­duc­ing new fea­tures, but also for those ca­pa­bil­i­ties that ac­tu­ally im­prove our ev­ery­day lives, or even just re­fin­ing the tech­nol­ogy that al­ready ex­ists to make it that ex­tra lit­tle bit bet­ter.

So to shift gears a bit in this week’s col­umn, I’d like to men­tion a hand­ful of

Ap­ple in­no­va­tions that I’m pretty thank­ful for—even if they could oc­ca­sion­ally still use a tweak here and there.


Ap­ple Pay ( go.mac­world.com/aply) is one of those tech­nolo­gies that it seems ev­ery­body should be us­ing. To my mind, it might be one of the sin­gle best in­no­va­tions to come out of Ap­ple in the last few years, but it also has one of the most chal­leng­ing up­hill climbs ahead of it: the way peo­ple pay for things is deeply en­trenched.

But my Ap­ple Pay ex­pe­ri­ences have, by far, been a de­light. The sim­plic­ity of us­ing my iphone or my Ap­ple Watch to pay at the gro­cery store has elicited more than one im­pressed “ooh” from an em­ployee. This is Ap­ple at its best, be­cause not only is Ap­ple Pay a pretty seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence, but it im­proves upon the con­ve­nience and se­cu­rity of our cur­rent pay­ment sys­tems— the lat­ter of which, let’s all agree, has a pretty spotty record in re­cent times.

If I’m not yet quite to the point where I’m ready to ditch the phys­i­cal cards in my wal­let in fa­vor of my phone and watch, that’s largely due to the slow adop­tion on the re­tail side. It’s cer­tainly got­ten much bet­ter over the past cou­ple years, but I still en­counter a de­cent num­ber of places that don’t sup­port con­tact­less pay­ments at all. But I imag­ine that adop­tion will only con­tinue to in­crease as re­tail­ers up­grade their equip­ment over time. And hope­fully that will en­cour­age more and more peo­ple to ditch the old way of pay­ing as well.


When Ap­ple de­buted ( go.mac­world.com/ dbad) its Airdrop sys­tem back in 2011, it was a bit of an an­ti­cli­max: most sig­nif­i­cantly, the ini­tial ver­sion didn’t work be­tween IOS and

Mac de­vices, ar­guably the place

that it was needed the most. It was also cum­ber­some on the Mac side, re­quir­ing you to specif­i­cally ac­ti­vate it be­fore some­body could send you a file. When it did work, it could be very slow, and some­times it failed al­to­gether.

But Airdrop has been re­fined over the past few years and Ap­ple has turned it into an in­dis­pens­able tool. I use it to quickly trans­fer screen­shots and other pho­tos to my Mac. I once used it to trans­fer a PDF I down­loaded to my girl­friend’s phone, which didn’t have cell ser­vice while we were on the sub­way. Dur­ing a re­cent trip to Ice­land, the tour guide from our glacier hike used Airdrop to send us all the pho­tos she took.

Yes, you could do some of these tasks with other fea­tures, like imes­sage, but Airdrop’s seam­less na­ture, abil­ity to eas­ily send files to peo­ple whose con­tact in­for­ma­tion you may not have, and flex­i­bil­ity makes it a real win­ner.


This one might seem a bit mi­nor, but it’s a life­saver. The other day, the Mac mini con­nected to my TV wasn’t boot­ing. Upon fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, I de­ter­mined that I needed to start in macos’s Re­cov­ery Mode and re­in­stall the op­er­at­ing sys­tem. How­ever, I was hav­ing trou­ble with the mini rec­og­niz­ing my Log­itech Blue­tooth key­board. I could have dug out a USB key­board from some­where, but I wasn’t sure where I might find one in the mess of my of­fice.

So I grabbed the Magic Key­board from my imac and a Light­ning ca­ble and plugged it di­rectly into the Mac—voilà, in­stant con­nec­tion, and no wor­ry­ing about pair­ing. When I was done, I just took it back over to the imac again, plugged it in once again, and it was re-paired. No muss, no fuss.

I know it’s a lit­tle ironic to be prais­ing a wired con­nec­tion in this era of wire­less, but some­times there’s no re­place­ment for just plug­ging some­thing in. And it’s not only for key­boards, mice, and track­pads— the Ap­ple Pen­cil uses a sim­i­lar fea­ture when you want to pair it with an ipad. Plus, in each of those cases it dou­bles as a way to charge the pe­riph­eral, so it’s kind of killing two birds with one stone.


A last, short one: The best part of IOS 11 is un­ques­tion­ably the fea­ture that lets you quickly share a Wi-fi pass­word with an­other de­vice, whether it be one of your own or one be­long­ing to some­one in your con­tacts. Heck, this has saved me so much time and so many headaches that I might nom­i­nate it for Ap­ple fea­ture of the decade. ■

Airdrop has come a long way since its in­tro­duc­tion in 2011.

Ap­ple Pay could be one of Ap­ple’s best in­no­va­tions in re­cent his­tory.

The wire­less Magic Key­board uses a Light­ning con­nec­tor to charge.

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