iPhone X preview – Macworld UK

It’s ten years since the iPhone was first unveiled and Apple has marked the occasion with a new iPhone that doesn’t just jump one generation, it jumps six generations! Yes, Apple has leaped straight from iPhone 7 (via the iPhone 8, previewed here) all the way to iPhone 10, bypassing the iPhone 7s and leapfrogging the iPhone 9 altogether.

To confuse everyone even more, iPhone 10 is written as iPhone X. Just like Mac OS X was Mac OS 10. The company likes Roman numerals. Unfortunately people tend to say what they see, so we expect there will be a lot of confusion about what this new iPhone is called.

Naming conventions aside, how does the new flagship iPhone shape up? Is it going to revolutionise the smartphone again like the iPhone did, or is Apple just playing catch up with the rest of the industry. Here are our first thoughts, plus the opinions of our US colleague Jason Snell who was at the launch event and was able to get his hands on the device.

Design & Build quality

The first thing that will strike you about the iPhone X is that this is the first iPhone without the trademark Home Button. Does that mean it looks less like an iPhone?

When you see the iOS home screen (which will be iOS 11 by the time the iPhone X ships) there will be no mistaking the fact that it’s an iPhone. On the side you’ll see the familiar volume control buttons and on/off switch, plus the Apple logo on the back of the device is another giveaway.

The phone is also still available in the very Apple Silver and Space Grey. No Gold or Rose Gold to be seen though. There’s no such frivolity, this is a serious phone.

The Home Button had to go because Apple has given us a display that stretches across the entire front of the phone. Apparently it has always been Apple’s vision to “create an iPhone that is entirely screen”, and it’s finally done so.

It’s not only the front of the device that’s glass. The iPhone X also has a glass back to enable it to be charged wirelessly. The iPhone X (and the iPhone 8 models) will offer wireless charging using the Qi standard. This doesn’t mean that they will magically charge over the air, you will need to buy a Qi compatible charging pad to lay them on. We’ll talk more about wireless charging later.

The screen

Back to that screen. There is one key benefits to having a screen that covers the face of the iPhone. It means Apple can pack a 5.8in display into an iPhone that is actually smaller than the iPhone Plus (which has a 5.5in screen).

The iPhone X measures 143.6mm by 70.9mm, while the iPhone Plus is 158.4mm by 78.1mm. We love the bigger screen of the iPhone Plus, but we do feel that the phone can be a little cumbersome to use, so this could be a real benefit.

If you fancied the bigger screen but were put off by the size of the iPhone Plus then the iPhone X may be the answer to your prayers. The bigger screen is much more suited to watching videos and reading books, we’re even written the odd article in Pages on our iPhone Plus. Beware though, there is no going back once you start using the bigger screen, the standard iPhone display will end up looking so cramped.

It’s not only the size of the screen that is a benefit here though. The iPhone X is the only iPhone to feature a OLED screen – and it’s a beauty. It has a million-to-one contrast ratio, is HDR, features True Tone – which means that it will adjust the white balance to match the surrounding light, and offers wide colour support.

Apple has called the display Super Retina. Marketing terms aside that means it offers 2,436-by-1,125-pixel resolution at 458 ppi. That compares to the Retina HD display on the iPhone 8 Plus that offers 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution at 401 ppi.

That’s not the highest pixel density smartphone you can get though. We’re not wanting to steal Apple’s thunder here, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 offers a 522 ppi screen.

If we were being really picky, our only real criticism of the screen would be the fact that there is a notch taken out of the top where the camera, speaker and microphone live. It’s a shame because the notch spoils full screen images, they are always going to have a chunk taken out of them. (It leaves less space for carrier branding too, but that will matter more to them than us).

The presence of the notch matters most when it comes to watching video. As our US colleague said after his hands-on time with the new device: “Apple has built the TV app to properly frame a video without the notch – when holding the phone in landscape orientation, the video is sized so that the side that’s on the same side as the notch ends right at the notch. If you want to make the video bigger, you can double tap as usual, and it will fill the screen – which means that part of the film’s image will be masked off by the sensor area. You get to choose if it bothers you.”

We imagine that if we were watching a movie on the iPhone X we’d be a little put off by the chunk of missing screen.

No Home Button

The other thing that we think we might struggle with is the fact that there is No Home Button on the iPhone X. Not only was the Home Button a trademark of the iPhone design, as we said above, it’s what we are used to.

To accommodate the lack of Home Button Apple has redesigned iOS in order to replace its functions. You will need to swipe down from the upper right corner of the screen to reveal Control Center, rather than swiping up from the bottom, for instance.

It means we are going to have to completely re-learn the iPhone interface after a decade with the Home Button. Perhaps we’ll be able to adapt to new ways of doing things but I predict that we will experience a lot of frustrations as we get use to the interface changes.

Maybe it won’t be as bad as we are anticipating though. Our colleague over at Macworld US said that while they kept reaching down instinctively with their thumb to click the home button, which wasn’t there, they found that on remembering they were using an iPhone X they quickly redirected their thumb to swipe up from the bottom of the screen, just as they would today to call up Control Centre.

Doing so would hide the current app and reveal the home screen. He said that the new gestures are intuitive, we’re not so sure but we are willing to be convinced once we get our hands on the new phone.

Face ID

It’s not just the interface that has to adapt to the removal of the Home Button. Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint recognition system introduced with the iPhone 5s in 2013 as a way to secure your iPhone, and paving the way for Apple Pay, has vanished from the iPhone X too.

We think that this is a failing on the part of Apple and a real shame. Apple says that it’s replacement Face ID is more secure than a fingerprint but we just feel that it is sure to be prone to error. We just don’t feel confident about Face ID working right now, and the fact that when Apple’s Craig Federighi tried to perform his live demo on stage at the keynote he had to go to his backup iPhone X because the first one didn’t recognise his face properly.

We have so many questions about Face ID and how it will be implemented. For example, how util Face ID work when we are using Apple Pay at a payment terminal or on the tube? We’ll have to wait until we can test it in the real world to find out.

InN the mean time our US colleague has at least been able to see Face ID in action. He said that while he couldn’t set up Face ID to recognise his own face, he saw an Apple employee use Face ID to unlock the phone and it worked when she looked at the screen.

However, he said, she experienced some quirks. “Sometimes the screen would go to sleep before she unlocked the phone, and more than once she accidentally pressed the side button and triggered Siri,” he said.

Of course by the time the iPhone X launches in November this will most likely have been fixed as these would have been early models.

A few words on how Face ID works. It creates a precise depth map of your face, which means that it’s not just recognising a 2D image of you but a 3D image of you. This, we assume, is why Face ID doesn’t recognise photos or masks (so don’t bother printing out a photo of your other half to hack into their phone, it won’t work).

On the other hand, if you are an evil twin looking to get into your sibling’s new iPhone you’ll be laughing.

Wireless charging

The other feature we touched on earlier is wireless charging. This one isn’t unique to the iPhone X though – the iPhone 8 will get it too.

To charge your iPhone wirelessly you will need to buy a Qi compatible mat. Apple’s planning to release its own AirPower mat – but that won’t arrive until 2018.

It’s worth noting here that if you want to wirelessly charge your iPhone you can actually do so now. You just need to buy a specially designed iPhone case or a device that plugs into your iPhone and a pad or mat on which you place your iPhone to charge. We have an article on how to get wireless charging on your iPhone here with some recommended products.

We’re not that sure we care that much about being able to charge our iPhone wirelessly though. Sure it can be fiddly trying to plug in the lightening cable (and they are notorious for fraying around the plug which is a bit of a concern), but at least you can plug your iPhone in at your desk at work, or charge it in your car, and, crucially, plug your phone in and look at it while its charging. If you are wirelessly charging your iPhone it is actually tied down to one spot, rather than tethered by a cable. We can’t see how this is actually better.

Camera

The iPhone X camera, and for that matter the iPhone 8 camera, offers 12MP, just like the camera in the iPhone 7 generation did. However there are some improvements.

The 12MP camera in the iPhone X (and that in the iPhone 8 Plus) has a new Portrait Lighting feature, with five different lighting styles to enhance your photos taken in Portrait Mode.

Like the 7 Plus the portrait photo poker effect is made possible by the fact that there are two lenses, but the telephoto lens has a faster aperture in the newer models. With a ƒ/2.4 aperture joining the wide-angle ƒ/1.8 aperture, rather than the ƒ/2.8 aperture of the previous generation.

The main distinction between the cameras in the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus is the front facing camera in the X. Here we have a 7MP TrueDepth camera which offers it’s own Portrait Mode along with the Portrait Lighting feature. So you will be able to take spectacular selfies, as long as you are looking spectacular.

There’s also improved video stablisation, with the iPhone X and iPhone 8 cameras all offering 4K up to 60fps (rather than last generations 30fps). And there’s 1080p slo-mo up to 240fps.

Tech specs

In terms of processor, RAM, storage and battery the iPhone X will offer the following. We’ll list the specs here for now, but when we get our hands on the new phone we will be benchmarking it fully.

  • A11 Bionic chip
  • Six-core CPU (Apple says this is the smartest and most powerful ever seen in a smartphone)
  • An Apple-designed GPU (which has three cores and is capable of powering AR at 60fps, as well as enabling new machine learning and 3D games.)
  • Storage of 64GB or 256GB
  • Battery life that’s two hours more than the iPhone 7

Software

The new iPhone X will run iOS 11, which is due to launch on 19 September.

There are a few software features that will only be available on the iPhone X. These include the new Animoji. These are emoji that can mimic your own expressions. They are possible on the iPhone X because the TrueDepth camera on the front of the device (the one used for Face ID) can analyses more than 50 different muscle movements to mirror your expressions. There are 12 Animoji to choose from.

Animoji I a fun feature, but we’re suspicious that it will be one of those use it once for a laugh and never again types of things. Like the Apple Watch emoji. But maybe that’s just us.

You’ll also be able to enjoy some AR features thanks to the new gyroscopes and accelerometers that are incorporated for motion tracking. The TrueDepth camera in the iPhone X will enable some additional AR features.

Release date

You’ll be able to order the iPhone X from 27 October. The official release day is 3 November, although we are expecting supplies to be constrained initially.

Pricing

The iPhone X will cost $999 / £999 for the 64GB model. For the 256GB model you will be looking at paying $1,149 / £1,149.

Best Mac games 2017 – Macworld UK

Mac gamers, contrary to popular belief, have plenty of top games titles to choose from these days – indeed, the most difficult part is narrowing down the options, and then finding the money to buy and time to play them. Read next: Best free Mac games

We can’t help with the latter, but the first problem is right up our alley. We’ve collected the 144 best Mac games for your delectation, dividing them for the sake of convenience into seven categories. Select your favourite genre from the list above and jump in.

Here, then, are the greatest Mac games out there, together with, where available, links to in-depth Macworld reviews and entries on the Mac App Store or Steam, so you can buy them right away. (And if you want some help finding good apps on the Mac App Store, try this tutorial: How to find the best apps on the Mac App Store.)

Read next: 10 ways to stop games crashing on Mac | How to set up a gaming Mac

Roleplaying games (RPGs)

7 Mages

Company: Napoleon Games
Where to buy: Mac App Store or Steam
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.8, 1.6GHz dual-core Intel processor, 512MB VRAM
Price: £13.99 (Mac App Store) or £10.59 (Steam)

Released for Macs, PCs and iOS devices all at the same time, 7 Mages is one of many recent releases that harks back to the days of old-school RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate. To be honest, the slim storyline lacks the depth of those old classics, but 7 Mages still works as a fun dungeon crawler that gives you plenty of monsters, puzzles and loot to play with.

The farmers who live on the island of Roven are beset by raiders, so they hire you and your pals to protect them. It’s the classic story of the Seven Samurai, of course, but with wizards, warriors and rogues replacing the samurai.

The first-person point of view is unusual for a role-playing game like this, and there were times when we would have liked a more traditional overhead perspective to help us organise our party during some of the big battles. Fortunately, the game uses a turn-based combat system, so you can take your time planning your strategy, and selecting each character’s spells or combat abilities. And while some of the initial dungeon corridors that you explore can seem a bit dull, there are also some striking and atmospheric locations, such as the City Of Bone and the Temple Of Night, that draw you into the action. Throw in some adventuresome point-and-click puzzles, and you’ve got an enjoyable slice of old-school roleplaying to sink your teeth into.

The Mac version of the game costs a little over £10, but the iOS version lets you play some of the early sections for free and then buy the full game for £6.99, so you can always try it out before deciding if you want to go further and explore all the mysteries of Roven. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: 7 Mages

Best Mac games: 7 Mages

Read next: Best board games

Albion Online

Company: Sandbox Interactive
Where to buy: Albion Online
Requirements: Mac with OSX 10.7, Intel or AMD graphics, 4GB memory
Price: From $30

At first glance, Albion Online sounds like just another ‘open world’ game, where you’re free to wander around and explore to your heart’s content. And that’s true enough – but the game also takes that ‘sandbox’ approach to an extreme that we’ve seldom seen before.

Starting out as a new character who has just arrived on the mythical island of Albion, you’re then left on your own, completely free to get on with crafting, exploring dungeons or getting stuck into player-versus-player battles, just as the mood takes you.

The entire economy within the world of Albion is controlled by players – and that includes building entirely new towns, roads and supply routes. Money-minded players can spend all their time working as a tailor, blacksmith or some other type of merchant. But if you want to do a bit of fighting then the game’s open-ended character system allows you to switch from wizard to warrior simply by picking up a magic wand or a sword.

There are dungeons to explore and treasure to be found, but you can also join a guild and battle other guilds for control of important territory or natural resources. There are also ‘hellgate’ zones for straightforward player-versus-player combat, and even MOBA-style arenas where groups of five players can team up and work together.

But, unlike many MMOs these days, Albion Online isn’t free to play. You’ll need to buy a starter pack, which can range from $30-$100, and that will give you some gold coins so that you can buy some basic equipment to get you going. You can also pay a monthly subscription that will boost your crafting and other skills, but that’s not compulsory, so you can play for as long as you like once you’ve got your starter-pack.

The game’s graphics won’t win any awards for their 3D graphical splendour, but that does mean the game will run on a wide range of Mac models. And they’re even planning an iOS version for the iPad soon as well. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Albion Online

Best Mac games: Albion Online

Animal Gods

Company: Still Games
Where to buy: Steam
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.10, dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 256MB graphics card
Price: £6.99

Animal Gods has had mixed reviews following its launch on Steam this month, but that’s possibly because the game’s developers refer to it as an ‘action RPG’, which suggests a fast-paced sword-swinging/spell-slinging dungeon crawler like Diablo.

There is some combat in Animal Gods, but the game actually reminds me more of iOS games such as Limbo and Botanicula [both also available on Mac], as the slim storyline and combat elements are very much secondary to the experience of just soaking up the atmosphere created by the distinctive 2D artwork and soothing soundtrack.

The story is wafer-thin. You play a warrior called Thistle – who is apparently female, although her animated figure is unfortunately too small to create any real sense of character. Thistle sets out to rescue three ancient animal gods who have been trapped in a series of temples, so you have to explore each temple and overcome the enemies within, as well as solving some simple puzzles along the way.

If you’re looking for a hack-and-slash action game then you’ll definitely be disappointed, as neither the combat nor puzzle-solving elements of the game are particularly challenging. However, the gently ambient soundtrack and distinctive design – with artwork that looks rather like primitive cave drawings – do have their charms.

To be honest, Animal Gods would probably work better on handheld iOS devices than on a Mac or PC, but it might be worth checking out if you like games that can help to calm you down after a stressful day at work. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Animal GodsBest Mac games: Animal Gods

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition

Company: Beamdog
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: OS X 10.6 or later
Price: £14.99

Baldur’s Gate was a landmark roleplaying game of the late 90s, and set the standard for every RPG that followed. The graphics may be dated, and the game’s interface isn’t exactly streamlined, but the complex storyline and eccentric cast of supporting characters are still very enjoyable and can provide many hours of enjoyable monster-bashing. The game is huge, covering dozens of locations around the area known as the Sword Coast, and it often seems like there are people just queuing up in the local tavern to offer you additional quests and rewards in return for your help.

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is a genuine golden oldie (on the iPad as well as on Mac). Younger players, raised on 3D epics such as Dragon Age, may wonder what all the fuss is about, but anyone who can remember the good old days of role-playing games will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to go adventuring on the Sword Coast once more. Cliff Joseph

Read the full Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition review

Best Mac games: Baldur's Gate

Best Mac games: Baldur's Gate

Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition

Company: Beamdog
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.7, dual-core Intel processor, 4GB RAM, 2.5GB hard disk
Price: £14.99

The original Baldur’s Gate II was released way back in 1988 by the role-playing gods at Bioware, and its 2D graphics will look pretty dated to anyone that has played modern role-playing games such as Bioware’s Dragon Age series. Even so, it’s an essential purchase for anyone that has even the slightest interest in role-playing games, and the sheer size of the game means that it’s excellent value for money.

It’s a shame that this updated Enhanced Edition couldn’t be brought right up to date with more modern 3D graphics, but it does get a cosmetic makeover with high-def versions of the original artwork, so it doesn’t look too bad on modern computer screens. Besides, whether in 2D or 3D, Bioware’s great strength has always been its story-telling skill, and Baldur’s Gate II is as captivating now as it was nearly 30 years ago. It’s very much traditional fantasy fare – with you taking on the role of a warrior, wizard, rogue or cleric – but it’s done on a truly grand scale. Your character is just one of many mortal offspring spawned by the evil god Bhaal, and the game pits you against several of your own brothers and sisters as they vie to succeed Bhaal and claim his power as their own.

There are hundreds and hundreds of quests along the way – around 300 hours worth if you try to complete them all – including power struggles within the guild of Shadow Thieves, and an epic battle with the wizard Irenicus, played in full scenery-chewing mode by Brit character actor David Warner. Throw in the return of bonkers barbarian Minsc and his giant space-hamster Boo, and BGII is a real retro treat for RPG fans. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Baldur's Gate IIBest Mac games: Baldur's Gate II

Read next: How to play old games & run classic software on macOS | What’s the best Mac for gaming?

Darkest Dungeon

Company: Red Hook
Where to buy: Steam
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.9, dual-core Intel processor
Price: £18.99

In many ways, Darkest Dungeon is a throwback to the early days of role-playing games. Its two-dimensional sideways-scrolling graphics are stylishly drawn, but definitely rather retro when compared to most modern 3D games. The turn-based combat is also fairly leisurely and unlikely to win over fans of more action-oriented RPGs such as the Diablo series (below). It does, however, have a few modern twists up its sleeve that will appeal to RPG veterans.

The game starts off in conventional role-playing fashion, sending you and one companion to explore the countryside around your ancestral home. There are a few early skirmishes that act as a kind of tutorial – which you’ll need, as there are a lot of stats to absorb as you develop your character’s skills – and also allow you to recruit additional members to your team.

You then set off to explore the aforementioned darkest dungeon, which lurks somewhat inconveniently beneath your old family pile. Each character has his or her own special skills to master, and there are some fun character classes that you can experiment with, such as the creepy Plague Doctor and shape-shifting Abomination. And, as well as facing down all sorts of monsters and undead ghouls, your heroes also have to cope with the game’s Affliction system, which measures their stress levels during combat. Some characters will rise to the challenge, but others may turn tail and run for the hills at the first sign of trouble.

It’s pretty hardcore, too – there’s no Quick Save option, so if your team dies you’ll just have to return to town and sign up some new raw recruits. Not everyone will have the patience for this sort of slow, thoughtful action, but if you’re a hardened role-player then Darkest Dungeon will offer a satisfying challenge, and its novel Affliction system makes a nice change to the clichéd heroics of traditional role-playing games. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Darkest Dungeon

Best Mac games: Darkest Dungeon

Diablo III

Company: Blizzard Entertainment
Where to buy: Battle.net
Requirements:
OS X 10.6.8, 10.7.x or later; Intel Core 2 Duo; nVidia GeForce 8600M GT or better; ATI Radeon HD 2600 or better; 2GB RAM; 12GB available HD space
Price: £32.99

Twenty years after the events of the last game, a meteor strikes the much-troubled town of Tristram, opening up a gateway into the depths of the earth and paving the way for the return of the demon lord Diablo. As always, it’s up to you to gird your loins and turn back the forces of darkness before they unleash untold nastiness upon the earth.

This time around you can choose from five different character classes – barbarian, demon hunter, monk, witch doctor and wizard – each with its own unique skills and abilities. The graphics have been updated too, and now provide a true 3D view of the action.

There’s no denying the addictive grip that Diablo III exerts, even if Blizzard could have been more ambitious in updating from Diablo II. If you have any interest at all in sword and sorcery action games this is simply irresistible.

Read the full Diablo III for Mac review

Best Mac games: Diablo 3

Best Mac games: Diablo 3

Divinity: Original Sin

Company: Larian Studios
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion or later; 4GB RAM; Intel HD Graphics 3000/4000; 10GB available HD space
Price: £29.99

There are a lot of good things to say about Divinity: Original Sin. Epic fantasy-RPG: a rich world to explore, humorous writing and characters, unique co-op mechanics, intriguing story and great combat. What more could you want?

The world of Divinity is a complex one. Practically every object can be interacted with in some way, whether for pure amusement (you can wear pumpkins on your head) or practicality, such as harvesting herbs to craft potions. Almost any NPC can be killed, thus altering quests and progress. Most events have multiple solutions requiring thoughtful decision-making.

The turn-based combat is very satisfying and features a depth you would be hard pressed to find in other games. This largely stems from the way elements interact with each other. Cast a rain spell to create puddles and these can then be turned into ice for enemies to slip on or electrified traps to stun foes. Oil will slow, but also can be set on fire. If your heroes are cold they are more susceptible to be frozen and if they are wet they’ll take more damage from lightning spells. Full friendly fire is in effect so watch your spell-casting, especially in co-op mode.

Should your AI or co-op partner disagree on something, you play a game of rock-paper-scissors to determine the winner. This allows players other than the host to decide on story and quest outcomes. Expect to spend a lot of time in Divinity’s world, as each play-through will take you 50-100 hours. Jon Carr

Read our colleagues’ full review of Divinity: Original Sin for the PC

Best Mac games: Divinity: Original Sin

Best Mac games: Divinity: Original Sin

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Dragon Age II

Company: Electronic Arts
Where to buy: Origin Store
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.2, Intel Core 2 Duo, graphics card with 256MB
Price: £3.99

Like its predecessor, Dragon Age II is set in the fantasy world of Thedas, but it introduces an entirely new cast of characters and a new storyline as your hero – known only as Hawke – rises from obscurity to become a mighty champion.

The focus on politics and intrigue means that DAII lacks the epic good-versus-evil story of the original, but other aspects of the game are genuinely improved. The graphics are even more spectacular, and the combat is fast and furious, with characters leaping around the screen, waving their swords and firing spells all over the place. There are also two expansion packs that you can download for about £6 each.

Best Mac games: Dragon Age II

Best Mac games: Dragon Age II

Dungeons And Dragons Online

Company: Turbine
Where to buy: Steam
System requirements: Mac with OS X v10.7.5, 2.0GHz Intel Core i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 3000, nVidia GeForce GT 650M
Price: Free-to-play

This online version of the classic Dungeons And Dragons game has been around for an entire decade now, and has undergone many changes, including the inevitable switch to free-to-play. Somewhere along the way a Mac version appeared with very little fanfare, and only recently caught our eye on Steam. Read next: Best free web browser games for Mac

The original Dungeons and Dragons defined the modern fantasy role-playing genre, although – rather ironically – the age of its online counterpart means that it now looks rather unoriginal when compared to some of the more modern MMOs that have appeared in recent years. You start out by choosing your preferred style of play – fighter, spellcaster or rogue – and the game then offers a series of class options that should suit you. Then you dive into the game and quickly find yourself washed up on an island after a storm at sea, with this island acting as an introductory tutorial zone to bring newcomers up to speed. Once you’ve got the hang of the basics you head off to the city of Stormreach, where it’s dungeons and quests galore.

Despite its age, the game does have some interesting twists of its own. Instead of always starting at level 1, you have the option of creating an ‘iconic’ character who already has a few experience levels under their belt – not to mention a decent belt, armour and weapons, so that you can leap straight into the dungeon-crawling action without wasting time on killing spiders and other low-level chores.

The game also puts much of its emphasis on group action, so if you’re a lone wolf kind of player who likes to go solo while exploring World Of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online then you might find Dungeons And Dragons Online a little restrictive. However, it does a good job of recreating the comradely ‘band of brothers’ feel of the original D&D, and could be a good (and inexpensive) introduction to MMO gaming for newcomers. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Dungeons & Dragons Online

Best Mac games: Dungeons & Dragons Online

Elder Scrolls Online

Company: Zenimax
Where to buy: www.elderscrollsonline.com
System requirements: Mac OS X 10.7, Intel i5 processor with nVidia GT 650M or Radeon HD 5770 graphics, 80GB hard disk
Price: £49.99

None of the previous, single-player games in the Elder Scrolls series has ever been released for the Mac, so we were pleasantly surprised when the massively multiplayer Elder Scrolls Online was simultaneously launched on both Mac and PC in April 2014.

In many ways, Elder Scrolls Online – ESO to its friends – is a stereotypical swords-and-sorcery game, with a storyline about the demon prince Molag Bal who is attempting to invade the fantasy world of Tamriel. But that’s just background stuff and, like most massively multiplayer RPGs, ESO is all about completing quests, killing monsters and generally hoovering up as much loot as you can.

Like World Of Warcraft and other RPG rivals, ESO lets you play as a warrior, wizard or rogue, but you can also join one of three warring factions known as the Daggerfall Covenant, the Ebonheart Pact and the Aldmeri Dominion. The power struggle between these three groups adds an enjoyable element of player-versus-player combat to the more routine quests and tasks, and the game does a good job of creating the atmosphere of a world at war.

The launch of the game was marred by a horde of bugs, but the game has had a year to settle down now, and ESO has also recently dropped its monthly subscription fees (although there is an optional premium membership plan for the most dedicated players). This means that you just need to buy a copy of the game and you can then play for as long as you want without a subscription.

Best Mac games: Elder Scrolls Online

Best Mac games: Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

Company: Bethesda
Where to buy: Steam
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.9, Intel Core i5 processor, discrete graphics card with 1GB VRAM
Price: £19.99

The single-player games in the Elder Scrolls series have never been available on the Mac, so it was a pleasant surprise when the massively multiplayer Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) appeared on the Mac back in 2014. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t exactly a runaway hit, and ESO was forced to scrap its subscription fees in 2015. The Mac version also had a few technical problems and many Mac users reported problems simply trying to install the game (including me, when I bought a new iMac last year).

However, ESO has been given a second lease of life with a major revamp called Tamriel Unlimited. As well as being available to download from Steam – and now working perfectly well on my iMac – Tamriel Unlimited brings a number of major changes to the original ESO. There are many new dungeons to explore, and it’s now a lot easier to find other players to group with so that you can explore and tackle many of the larger quests and challenges. Alternatively, you can try out the new duelling system for a spot of one-on-one combat with other players.

However, the key feature of the updated ESO is ‘level-scaling’ which enables your characters to automatically adjust their level as they enter different areas. This means that even newcomers with lower-level characters can now explore dungeons and other areas that would previously have been off-limits. A lot of people argue that this removes the challenge of having to level up your characters and learning how to use your skills properly, but there are still plenty of quests and boss mobs that will give you a hard time. And, as with most MMORPGs, the real fun in ESO comes from joining groups and guilds so that you can work with other players to tackle the big ‘world bosses’ that are the game’s greatest challenges. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

Best Mac games: Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

Final Fantasy XIV

Company: Square Enix
Where to buy: Final Fantasy XIV
Requirements: iMac from late-2013 or above, with OS X v10.10, discrete graphics card with 512MB VRAM or Intel Iris Pro
Price: £40 for first 30 days, then £8.99 monthly subscription

Final Fantasy XIV has had a troubled history on all platforms – but especially on the Mac. In fact, the Mac version of the game that was released in 2015 was withdrawn and the developers took the unprecedented step of actually offering refunds to Mac users. Even now, the high system requirements for this updated Mac version, not to mention the annoyingly convoluted registration and installation process, and monthly subscription on top, mean Final Fantasy XIV is not a game for casual players.

There is, however, a pretty good game waiting for the more seasoned MMO fan. The fantasy world of Eorzea has been devastated by a terrible war, known as The Calamity, so you enter the game as a lowly adventurer and learn the basics by performing tasks and quests that help the people of Eorzea to rebuild their society. As you gain experience and power you can tackle more demanding quests and team up with other players in ‘active events’ that take place spontaneously in different regions throughout the game.

It’s pretty standard role-playing fare, but the class system in FFXIV is very versatile, allowing you to switch from a wizard to a fighter simply by dropping your magic wand and picking up a sword instead – although you do still need to spend some time training up both your melee and magic skills in order to use them properly.

The Mac version is a bit pricey, but it does include the Heavensward expansion pack that adds major new areas and dungeons that you can explore, as well as a higher level cap, and even the ability to fly around on a variety of new mounts. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Final Fantasy XIV

Best Mac games: Final Fantasy XIV

Guild Wars 2

Company: NCSoft
Where to buy: www.guildwars2.com
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.7, Intel i5 processor with nVidia GT 320M or Radeon HD 6630 graphics, 25GB hard disk
Price: Free (Heart of Thorns expansion – see below – costs £34.99)

Guild Wars 2 was originally launched on the PC only and the Mac version appeared a little while later with very little fanfare, which means that GW2 hasn’t attracted that many Mac gamers so far. It’s a lot of fun, though, and the Guild Wars games have always been subscription-free, so GW2 is a good way of getting some online role-playing action without having to pay a monthly fee.

It is, admittedly, very routine fantasy fare, with warriors, wizards, and rogues, and lots of quests, monsters and loot. However, GW2 gets all the basics right, including a really flexible skills system that gives you different powers and abilities depending on which weapons you choose. You can even carry different sets of weapons with you and switch between them depending on which weapons seem best for the task at hand.

The storyline that props up the game is instantly forgettable fantasy fare, but the real heart of GW2 is the player-versus-player combat. I spend most of my time in the smaller arenas, where two groups of players fight it out for control of specific landmarks and objectives. However, there are also huge World-versus-World battles in which three armies of players wage war across large battlefields, and in battles for last for days at a time.

There’s also an expansion pack on its way, called Heart Of Thorns, which will introduce a new character class and new abilities – including hang-gliding! – as well as a new player-versus-player mode in which you try to protect the Lord of your stronghold from the enemy that is laying siege to your defences.

Best Mac games: Guild Wars 2

Best Mac games: Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns

Company: NC Soft
Where to buy: buy.guildwars2.com
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.8, Intel Core i5 processor, discrete graphics card with 256MB VRAM
Price: £34.99

The original Guild Wars 2 has been available on the Mac for quite a while, but we’ve had to wait almost a year for the Heart Of Thorns expansion to reach the Mac as well. Officially, Heart Of Thorns is referred to as an expansion pack, but – like the recent Tamriel update for Elder Scrolls Online – this online role-playing game now gets a major facelift that alters the nature of the original game.

The standard version of Guild Wars 2 is now free to download and play, albeit with the inevitable in-game store that tempts you to cough up some cash for various role-playing goodies. But if you want to enjoy all that the game has to offer then you’ll need to pay £34.99 for Heart Of Thorns. Once installed, Thorns raises the level cap for your characters, as well as introducing a new class called the Revenant, and new ‘master’ skills that you can use in battle, or even to learn hang-gliding with some of the game’s flying mounts. There’s also a new jungle zone, called Maguuma, that contains many new high-level quests and boss battles to keep you busy.

The game is a little pricey, considering that the original GW2 is now several years old, but it doesn’t require a monthly subscription fee, and the emphasis on player-versus-player action in the latest updates means that you can play online with – or against – your friends for ever and a day. The age of the core game also means that it should run well on most recent Macs, too. The only thing to note is that, officially, this Mac version is still ‘beta’ – although it’s been in beta since about 2014, and has never caused any problems during many hours of playing on our office iMac. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns

Best Mac games: Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns

Hex: Shards Of Fate

Company: Gameforge
Where to buy: Steam
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.9, 2.0GHz dual-core Intel processor, nVidia GeForce 320M, Radeon HD 2400 or Intel HD 3000 or later
Price: Free

Blizzard seems to have the trading card game (TCG) scene sewed up, with millions of people regularly playing Hearthstone. But if you fancy trying a card game that offers something different then it’s worth checking out Hex.

It’s also a good option for people who are new to card games, as Hex provides an extensive tutorial that introduces the basics of the game, including the combat cards that provide various skills and powers, and resource cards that can enhance your powers in different ways.

You start by choosing a champion, from a typical mix of fantasy races and classes, such as Humans, Orcs, and Elves, Warlocks, Clerics and Rogues. Each champion has their own abilities and style of play, so your choice here will determine the type of cards that you need to collect as you progress through the game. Like most card games, Hex is free to play, but does its darnedest to sell you additional packs of cards, with a basic starter pack costing £10.99, and the Primal Dawn pack that was released just last week adding another £9.99.

Fortunately, you can get started without spending any money at all. The developers describe Hex as the first ‘MMOTCG’, as it adds elements of the massively-multiplayer online genre to the trading card format. As well as playing against other people online, you can enter the game’s story-based campaign, which allows you to explore a number of dungeons in order to earn gold and other rewards. We like the idea of trying to play solo online, as it adds a different dimension to the standard card game format, and gives you a chance to see how far you can go without breaking out the credit cards. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Hex: Shards of Fate

Best Mac games: Hex: Shards of Fate

Marvel Heroes

Company: Gazillion
Where to buy: Steam
System requirements: Mac with OS X v10.8, 2.0GHz Intel Core i5 processor, Intel HD 4000, or discrete GPU with 512MB VRAM
Price: Free-to-play

Marvel Heroes has been around since 2014 – with the Mac version first appearing in 2015 – and it’s had a regular series of updates since then, often focusing on characters like Doctor Strange or Captain America who have had big film releases recently. However, this 2.0 update introduced in January gives the entire game a major overhaul.

The thing that Marvel Heroes does best is the way that it captures the feel of the different superpowers of each character, and the 2.0 update very much focuses on streamlining the powers system so that you no longer need 10 fingers on each hand to juggle all your powers and weapons. A new difficulty slider allows you to adjust the challenge level of each area as you enter it, making it easier for new players that don’t have a stack of high-level weapons and armour to use in combat. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s a new system of Infinity Powers – based on the Infinity Stones in the Marvel films – that allows long-time players to keep improving their high-level heroes.

It’s terrific fun experimenting with different characters and powers, but the game does have its drawbacks too. It’s still free-to-play, but you only get one character that you can play all the way up to the maximum of Level 60. You can experiment with others up to Level 10, but taking them beyond that level means that you have to spend hours collecting special Eternity Shards in the game, or cough up £7 to £15 for each character.

And the world of Marvel Heroes is nowhere near as vast as that of MMO rivals such as World Of Warcraft. It includes a relatively limited number of zones for you to explore, and many of the quests can feel uninspired and repetitive. But while it might not have the long-term addictive qualities of WoW or the Guild Wars games, Marvel Heroes can be a real blast if you just fancy a quick burst of super-hero action every now and then. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Marvel Heroes

Best Mac games: Marvel Heroes

Overlord: Raising Hell

Company: Virtual Programming
Where to buy: Deliver2
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.9, 2.0GHz dual-core Intel processor
Price: £6.99

The original Overlord was released for the PC, Xbox and Playstation way back in 2007, but it recently appeared on the Mac for the first time. And it stands up pretty well for a game that’s almost a decade old now.

Overlord is described as an action role-playing game, along the lines of the Diablo series. You take the role of the Overlord, a bad guy who sets out to reclaim his lands from a bunch of other bad guys. The Overlord wields an axe and can learn additional skills as you progress through the game, but his primary power is the ability to summon hordes of goblin-like minions to do his bidding. You can send your minions off to destroy an enemy or pick up items that you want to carry around.

As you become more powerful you can summon larger numbers of minions, and there are also different types of minions available, including fighters, archers and healers, so this adds an element of strategy to the game as you learn how to deploy your minions against different types of enemy. And the fun element of the game lies in your ability to be as evil as possible, terrorising innocent villagers or occasionally showing mercy and letting them off the hook.

The Raising Hell expansion pack included with the Mac version also includes a number of new ‘abyss’ levels that provide a really tough challenge. Unfortunately, the Mac version doesn’t have an online multiplayer mode, but there is a split-screen mode that allows two people to play together, either working together to complete a challenge, or competing against each other to destroy a particular target. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Overlord: Raising Hell

Best Mac games: Overlord: Raising Hell

Overlord II

Company: Virtual Programming
Where to buy: Deliver2
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.9, 2.0GHz dual-core Intel processor
Price: £6.99

Typical – you wait years for an Overlord game on the Mac, and then three come along all at once. Hot on the heels of the recent Overlord and its Raising Hell expansion we now have Overlord II.

The format of this sequel is very similar to the original Overlord, albeit on an even larger scale. You play as the evil Overlord seeking to regain power from the Glorious Empire, which has taken control of your lands. This gives you even bigger armies and larger territories to conquer, and you are now assisted by four different types of minions that you can use to do all your dirty work. The brown minions are brawlers who wade straight into battle, while the red minions can chuck fireballs from a distance. There are also stealthy green minions who act as hidden assassins, while blue minions can resurrect their fallen comrades and swim to explore areas that the other minions can’t reach. Your minions also have the ability to ride animals such as wolves and spiders, which give them additional abilities that you can use in combat.

This sequel also introduces two different game modes. In Destruction mode you simply destroy everything in your path, using the life force of your victims to make your destructive spells even more deadly. Alternatively, you can enslave your enemies and make them work for you, throwing them into battle as cannon-fodder or using them to develop resources that enhance your strength. It’s all good clean fun, and not too expensive at just £6.99, and the age of the game means that it runs quite well even on older Macs models. The only disappointment is that – for various technical reasons – the multiplayer options from the original PC version don’t work on the Mac. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Overlord IIBest Mac games: Overlord II

Pillars Of Eternity

Company: Paradox Interactive
Where to buy: Steam | Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.6.3, 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor, Radeon 6750M or GeForce 330M or higher
Price: £34.99 (on Steam), £25.49 (on Mac App Store)

We confess that we missed the Mac version of Pillars Of Eternity when it was first released last year, but the game was recently updated with two major expansion packs so this seems like a good time to go back and review the entire series.

One look at Pillars Of Eternity makes it obvious that the game is very much modeled on classic roleplaying games such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. The isometrics graphics are very similar, right down to the ‘fog of war’ that obscures the area you’re exploring, and the little green circles that highlight characters as they move around. The mechanics of the game are similar too, with the traditional assortment of humans, elves and other races, and the ability to train as a fighter, wizard or rogue. It does have a few ideas of its own, though, including classes such as the psychic Ciphers, or the Chanter, which is a kind of souped-up battle bard whose songs can raise the dead or summon phantoms.

You start off in Pillars Of Eternity as a humble traveller, who comes across the town of Dyrwood and discovers that it has been afflicted by a curse. Needless to say, you set off to lift this curse, gathering new companions and completing stacks of side-quests along the way. That should keep you busy for 30 to 40 hours, and if you’re enjoying the game you can buy two expansion packs – White March Part I and II – which add new zones to the main game, and a new quest to recover an ancient dwarven forge.

The reams of text, statistics, and somewhat dated graphics might not appeal to fans of more action-oriented RPGs, such as the Diablo or Dragon Age games, but the old-school storytelling of Pillars Of Eternity make it a must-have title for fans of classic roleplaying games. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Pillars of Eternity

Best Mac games: Pillars of Eternity

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic

Company: Aspyr
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5; 1.8GHz Intel processor; graphics card with 128MB VRAM
Price: £7.99

Originally launched in 2003, KOTOR has bounced back since Apple launched the Mac App Store, and is now one of its top 10 highest-grossing games.

The action is set 4,000 years before the Star Wars films, at a time when the Jedi are being hunted down by the armies of the Sith. You play one of the last Jedi Knights, leading an army of freedom fighters on a series of missions across planets such as Tatooine and the Sith home world of Korriban. Your choices affect the outcome of the game, deciding whether you save the galaxy or fall to the dark side of the Force.

Best Mac games: Knights Of The Old Republic

Best Mac games: Knights Of The Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II

Company: Aspyr
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.9.5, 2.2GHz dual-core Intel processor, 4GB RAM, 256MB graphics card
Price: £9.99

It’s more than a decade since the original Knights Of The Old Republic was first released, but that game is still selling well on the App Store even after all these years. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we realised that this sequel – originally released for PC back in 2005 – has only just arrived on the Mac for the first time.

Like its predecessor, KOTOR II is set thousands of years in the past, long before the events of the Star Wars film series. You play one of the last surviving Jedi, who have been almost completely wiped out after a long war with the evil Sith Lords. At the start of the game you wake up injured and with no memory of recent events. Even your trusty light-sabre has gone missing, so your initial challenge is to recover your memory and your Jedi powers, and then set off to try and find any other Jedi that may have survived.

There’s a wide range of skills and abilities that you can develop as you progress through the game, and you can focus on either light-sabre combat or spooky Force Powers depending on how you want to develop your character. There’s also a strong story and role-playing element, full of political twists and turns, and moral decisions that will affect the final outcome of the game. The 3D graphics look a little dated now, but the intriguing storyline and light-sabre action will soon have you hooked, and at just £9.99 the game’s a real bargain for Star Wars fans.

Best Mac games: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II

Best Mac games: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II

Tempest

Company: Herocraft
Where to buy: Steam
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.5, 2.4GHz dual-core Intel processor, discrete graphics card with 256MB VRAM
Price: £10.99

It’s not entirely accurate to describe Tempest as a sea-faring version of No Man’s Sky, as this nautical role-playing/strategy game only allows you to traverse the seas of a single planet, rather than the endless galaxies of outer space. However, the open-ended playing style of Tempest does have similarities to No Man’s Sky, as it allows you to explore an open world – or open sea – where you’re free to roam at will, fighting pirates and the occasional monster from the watery deeps, or just concentrating on trading in order to increase your wealth.

You start off by inheriting your father’s ship, the Henrietta, and a brief – and occasionally confusing – tutorial guides you through the basics of navigation and combat at sea. After that you can go into the main Map view and chart your course, perhaps aiming for the nearest trading port, or heading out to sea in search of adventure.

As you near your destination, or if you’re approached by an enemy ship, you’ll switch into the 3D view, which depicts your ship ploughing through the open seas. If you’re after adventure you can start firing on other ships in order to disable them and seize their treasure, or work on improving your influence with various factions so that you can trade freely and use the money to upgrade your ship or train your crew.

Like No Man’s Sky this is a game that you can play largely on your own, trading or fighting to develop your own style of play, but there’s also a multiplayer mode where you can team up with friends to complete quests, or just blow each other up in endless battles at sea.

Best Mac games: Tempest

Best Mac games: Tempest

Torment: Tides Of Numenera

Company: InXile
Where to buy: Steam or Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.8, Intel i5 processor, GeForce GT 700M or above
Price: £34.99 (Steam) or £43.99 (Mac App Store)

Sometimes, as the saying goes, the journey is more important than the destination. That’s very much the case with Torment: Tides Of Numenera, a game that – while not a direct sequel – comes from some of the same design team who created the classic role-playing game Planescape: Torment almost twenty years ago.

Set a mind-boggling one billion years in the future (give or take a few weeks), Torment takes place in a bizarre world where a being known as the Changing God hops from body to body in order to achieve eternal life – a bit like Apocalypse in the last X-Men film, but a lot more interesting. You play a ‘castoff’: the owner of a used body that has now been discarded by the Changing God, and who now discovers that an ancient spook called The Sorrow is hunting down all the castoffs and destroying them.

That’s bad news, of course, so you set off on quest to save your own life, and also to discover more about the futuristic world of Numenera and your role in that world. And, of course, you get to choose a class for you character, such as the Glaive warrior class, the rogue-like Jacks (of all trades), and Nanos, who use nano-technology that is so advanced it pretty much doubles up as magic.

Like Planescape, Torment puts its emphasis on story-telling rather than combat, with long swathes of dialogue, and important choices that affect how other characters react, and how the game itself unfolds. And, true to its roots, the graphics are resolutely 2D and isometric.

If you’re a fan of 3D action-RPGs like Diablo then you should probably look elsewhere – and the recent 2.5 patch for Diablo 3 turns out to be quite good fun – but if you prefer RPGs that focus on story-telling and character development you’ll find the weird and wonderful world of Torment to be a worthy successor to the original Planescape. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Torment: Tides Of Numenera

Best Mac games: Torment: Tides Of Numenera

Two Worlds II

Company: Zuxxez
Where to buy: Mac App Store (standard edition); Mac App Store (GotY edition)
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.3, 2GHz Intel processor, graphics card with 512MB VRAM
Price: £7.99 (standard edition on Mac App Store), £10.99 (Game of the Year edition on Mac App Store), £14.99 (on Steam)

The original Two Worlds wasn’t released on the Mac, so you’re kind of coming in halfway through the story in this sequel. That won’t matter too much, though, since the story isn’t particularly original. You start the game by breaking out of prison and then setting off on a quest to rescue your sister, who has been enslaved by an evil emperor.

What rescues the Two Worlds II from cliché is the sheer quality and scale of the game. The world you travel across is vast, and depicted with excellent 3D graphics. There are stacks of quests to keep you busy and help you gain in wealth and experience, and the combat and skill system gives you great freedom to develop your character.

Best Mac games: Two Worlds II

Best Mac games: Two Worlds II

Tyranny

Company: Obsidian
Where to buy: Mac App Store or Steam
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.10, 2.9GHz Intel Core i5 processor, discrete graphics card with 1GB VRAM
Price: £34.99

There’s something strangely apt about Tyranny, a new role-playing game based on the premise that “sometimes evil wins”. At first glance, Tyranny looks very much like a traditional role-playing game, with the old-school isometric graphics that developers Obsidian employed in the excellent Pillars Of Eternity. And, of course, you have the traditional selection of skills that allow you to train as a warrior, wizard or rogue as you progress through the game.

But Tyranny very much goes its own way, with an unusual set-up and storyline that really puts an emphasis on the choices that you make during the game. Rather than throwing you into the typical battle between good and evil, the story of Tyranny begins just as the evil overlord Kyros completes his conquest of the land known as The Tiers. And, rather than playing the hero who saves the world from the forces of evil, you are merely a ‘Fatebinder’, a lieutenant in Kyros’ army, who now presides over the conquered Tiers and has to juggle the competing ambitions of different factions within the army. Do you simply stab everyone in the back and grab all the power for yourself, or try to maintain a balance of power and lead some sort of benevolent dictatorship that doesn’t involve crushing too many innocent peasants underfoot?

If you’re looking for the trigger-finger combat of games like Diablo then you might be disappointed, but if you enjoy the role-playing aspect of RPG games then Tyranny will present you with tough decisions and challenges that will keep you engrossed for hours at a time. The game’s systems requirements are quite steep, though, so check them out on Steam or the Mac App Store before buying. Cliff Joseph

Tyranny

Tyranny

Victor Vran

Company: Haemimont Games
Where to buy: Steam
Requirements: Mac with OSX 10.9, 2GHz processor, GeForce 6000, AMD Radeon 5000, or Intel HD 4000
Price: £15.99

It’s hard for any action-RPG to emerge from the shadow of Diablo 3 – which is still going strong after five years, thanks to its recent Necromancer update – but Victor Vran comes up with a few ideas that help it to stand out from the crowd.

For starters, the game’s developers have abandoned the typical mediaeval fantasy setting and placed Victor’s adventures in a slightly more modern steam-punk-gothic world, where magic and science co-exist. That allows you to use a wide range of weapons and skills, with guns and grenades alongside traditional swords and hammers.

Character development is unusual too, as you don’t choose one specific class, such as a wizard or warrior. Instead, you simply choose whatever weapon seems appropriate for the next battle or enemy, and then back it up with a variety of magical skills that are powered by ‘overdrive’ energy that you build up during combat.

There’s even a card-game element too, as you can choose cards that provide a variety of different offensive or defensive bonuses. Throw in a spot of parkour running and jumping, and the game’s combat proves to be both fun and challenging, as you work out which combination of weapons and skills works best, both in the single-player and online modes.

The storyline isn’t quite so well developed. You’re summoned to the demon-infested town of Zagoravia where you simply have to kill stacks of monsters and attempt to locate an old friend who’s gone missing. The camera controls can be a bit clumsy at times, and it’s a shame that you don’t have the option of playing as ‘Victoria Vran’, but the slick combat system is plenty of fun, and there’s a number of expansions and add-ons available too – including a bizarre collaboration with head-banging band Motörhead that probably deserves a review all of its own. Cliff Joseph

Best Mac games: Victor Vran

Best Mac games: Victor Vran

Wasteland 2

Company: InXile Entertainment
Where to buy: Origin
Requirements: OS X 10.5 or later; 4GB RAM; 512MB VRAM; 30GB available HD space
Price: £14.99

Wasteland 2 is the sequel to the 1988 game Wasteland, the original post-apocalyptic RPG, and the inspiration for the beloved Fallout series of games. It also happens to be one of the several successful Kickstarter titles that was made possible with the help of more than 70,000 backers. Impressive!

The post-apocalyptic setting has always been a favorite of ours, and Wasteland 2 delivers in spades with atmosphere, colourful and engaging characters, sharp writing and lots of action. The turn-based combat is well-paced and challenging, and certain encounters will push the limits of your party.

An extensive customisation and upgrade system lets you fine-tune your parties skills and abilities to whatever you want or need. There are always multiple ways to solve a quest or bypass a locked door. Find a key, hack it, blow it up, etc.

But it isn’t all bullets and blades. This RPG is also full of great missions to fulfill, side quests to solve, characters to meet and tough choices to make. Consequences are important. Two different towns need help, and both are vital to the world – one providing food, and one providing water. Helping one will doom the other, so what do you choose? This largely freeform approach to the world and story is very appealing and provides high replay value. Wasteland 2 is just darn good fun, and RPG fans shouldn’t miss it. Jon Carr

Best Mac games: Wasteland 2

Best Mac games: Wasteland 2

The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings

Company: CD Projekt
Where to buy: Mac App Store or Origin (£7.49)
Requirements:
OS X 10.7.5 or later
Price: £7.49 (on sale at time of writing)

The Witcher 2 is undoubtedly one of the best roleplaying games of recent years and, as the name implies, it’s the sequel to the original Witcher game that was originally launched on the PC in 2007. Both games are based on the popular fantasy novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski that follow the adventures of Geralt of Rivia – a ‘witcher’ who roams the fantasy kingdom of Temeria, slaying monsters and generally being mean and moody.

RPG fans will quickly find themselves drawn into this rich – and often adult – storyline, but the combat and skill systems are quite complex so you’ll need to devote a bit of time to mastering them. Some people may find the lack of different character classes a little restrictive, too; but the vividly drawn world of the The Witcher 2 will appeal to anyone who enjoys old-school role-playing games. It’s good value, too.

Read the full The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings for Mac review | Buy The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition now

Best Mac games: Witcher 2

Best Mac games: Witcher 2

World Of Warcraft

Company: Blizzard
Where to buy: WoW
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.8; Intel Core 2 Duo; graphics card with 256MB VRAM
Price: Free (Starter Edition); £8.99-per-month subscription thereafter. Expansions vary in price

Its cutesy graphics aren’t to everyone’s taste, but World of Warcraft is still the game that rules the massively multiplayer online scene, with around seven million subscribers playing as wizards, priests, warriors and rogues. Part of that success is down to the release of regular expansion packs, such as 2010’s Cataclysm, which – quite literally – shook up the landscape, destroying some old areas and introducing new zones for you to explore. The fourth update, Mists of Pandaria, added a newly discovered continent (complete with opinion-dividing panda-esque inhabitants), while the fifth, Warlords of Draenor, came out in November 2014.

This fairly regular release of new material keeps experienced players happy, but to attract new players, Blizzard announced a Starter Edition of the game that allows you to play for free until your character reaches level 20.

Best Mac games: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Best Mac games: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

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macOS Sierra 10.12 review – Macworld UK

Welcome to our macOS Sierra review, in which we test and rate the interface, ease of use and new features of Apple’s new macOS 10.12 operating system for Macs and MacBooks. If you’d like to read about this autumn’s update to macOS, turn to our macOS High Sierra preview.

The 2016 update to Apple’s Mac operating system, macOS Sierra, has been available to download for free (assuming your Mac is new enough to run it) for almost a year now, following its unveiling at WWDC 2016. Sierra’s array of new features have grown on us in that time, and we feel even more positive about the update than we did last year.

In this article we review the strengths and weaknesses of the macOS Sierra operating system, look at its new features, and list its system requirements and the Macs that can run the software.

Read more: Best new features of macOS Sierra | macOS Sierra vs Mac OS X El Capitan

macOS Sierra’s design & interface

Design-wise, macOS Sierra is virtually identical to its predecessor, El Capitan. The ‘flattened’ visuals brought in for Yosemite and retained in El Cap last year are still present; they weren’t popular at first but I think most of us have got used to them, just like we did a little earlier with iOS 7’s removal of skeuomorphic elements.

There are a couple of differences in the user interface, however. You can use tabs, for example, in a wide range of first- and third-party apps, rather than just Safari (and other web browsers). It’s a small enhancement but a highly logical one, and should make the bulk of commonly used apps noticeably more convenient to use for multitasking.

First-party apps that support tabs from launch include Maps, Mail, TextEdit and all three iWork apps. For third-party apps, Apple pledges that no additional developer work will be needed to achieve this – it just needs to be an app that supports multiple windows.

There’s also a new picture-in-picture viewing mode, following on from the same-named mode in iOS 9 on the iPad. Picture-in-picture “lets you float video from Safari or iTunes in a window over your desktop as you work”, in Apple’s words, and you can pin this video mini-window to one corner of your screen, where it will stay even if you switch spaces.

New features

With design changes largely taking a back seat this year, the focus was instead on the new features. As usual, there are a couple of headline features (including one that we’re particularly pleased about, and will look at first), and a long list of small functions and tweaks. Often when updating the OS on your Mac it’s the accumulated small changes that make the real difference.

Siri on Mac

This is the big one. Macs can now be controlled verbally using the Siri voice-recognition engine from the iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV. It was only a matter of time, really – and it’s only fair to point out that Windows already has Cortana (and has done since Windows 8.1) – but it’s still nice to see.

macOS Sierra review: Siri on Mac

macOS Sierra review: Siri on Mac

A particularly useful and impressive feature that was demoed live on stage at WWDC was the ability to search through documents using Siri; you can use natural language, specifying various parameters to apply to the document search, and Siri’s search results sit afterwards in the Notifications pane from where they can be dragged and dropped into applicable apps, and generally manipulated at your whim. Read more: Complete guide to Siri on Mac

Apple Pay on Mac

This one isn’t quite as simple. Yes, Apple Pay has jumped from the iOS ecosystem to Mac, but since the Mac doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner, it can’t handle the verification process by itself. (It’s still possible, of course, that Touch ID will eventually come to the Mac too.)

You’ll still be tapping your iPhone or iPad to prove you are who you claim to be. It’s just that the browsing and shopping experience will previously have taken place on the more pleasantly roomy screen of your iMac.

macOS Sierra review: Apple Pay on Mac

macOS Sierra review: Apple Pay on Mac

Apple Pay icons will now appear on the buy pages of certain merchants – all you need do is verify your purchases with Touch ID on your iPhone, or using your Apple Watch. Apple Pay on Mac will be available in the UK from launch, alongside the US, Canada, Australia, China and Singapore. Read more: How to use Apple Pay on Mac

Auto Unlock with Apple Watch

Some Apple fans (including a fellow member of the UK Tech Weekly Podcast team, in episode 19 – embedded below) were looking for the ability to unlock their Mac via the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on an iPhone. Instead, Apple announced something that is arguably a lot more convenient, albeit available to a smaller market: the ability to automatically unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch.

Get within a certain distance of your Mac while wearing an unlocked Apple Watch, and the Mac will detect your approach and unlock: no more typing in lengthy passwords.

Cross-device syncing

While covering the WWDC keynote speech for Macworld, I was coincidentally struck by the need for a simple way of getting small chunks of text between the Mac and iPad I was using simultaneously, rather than the mild hassle of emailing myself or similar. Now we’ve got it.

Universal Clipboard is one of those smaller, less glamorous features mentioned further up, but it’s a great way to copy and paste data between devices. Whatever you copy on one of your devices will be sent to the clipboard on your other devices, wirelessly and seemingly instantly.

On a larger scale, macOS Sierra gives you the ability to share your entire desktop (and Documents folder) with other devices – including PCs. Files saved on the Mac’s desktop or in Documents will be accessible via your iPad or iPhone’s iCloud Drive, on the desktop or in Documents of another Mac, or in the iCloud for Windows app on a PC.

Optimised storage

Talking of non-glamorous features… Optimised Storage is a new way of helping your storage space go a bit further. It removes certain duplicate files for you, without needing to be told (caches, logs and so on – nothing you’ll miss) and automatically stores items you rarely use in iCloud.

Features from iOS 10

We’ll finish by reminding readers of a couple of major app refreshes that we discussed in our iOS 10 review and which also appear in macOS Sierra. (Bear in mind, too, that iOS 11 is on its way and should launch in September 2017.)

macOS Sierra review: Messages

macOS Sierra review: Messages

Messages in iOS 10 has been given a full-on youth makeover, with more emphasis than ever before on emoji and sometimes bizarre visual effects. And much of this will appear on Mac too: the larger emoji, for instance, and the ‘tapback’ feature, where you can respond instantly to a message by tapping one of six icons – thumbs up or down, a heart, ‘Ha ha’, or question or exclamation marks. Links in messages will be previewed in the message thread.

Photos has a new Memories feature, which automatically creates themed, easily customisable albums for you based on its ability to recognise and understand people, places and events.

And Apple Music, while seeing few functional changes, has been fundamentally redesigned visually, and this applies also to its embodiment on Mac. See our Complete guide to Apple Music article for more on this.

macOS Sierra review: Apple Music

macOS Sierra review: Apple Music

WWDC 2016 podcast

The UK Tech Weekly Podcast dissects the announcements of WWDC, including macOS Sierra, in its 19th episode. We’ve embedded the audio below in case you’d like to hear what the team have to say. The WWDC section starts at the 26:30 point.

A new episode of the UK Tech Weekly Podcast comes out every Friday. Follow them on Twitter for links to the latest episodes.

Which Macs are compatible with macOS Sierra?

Sierra is a more demanding OS than El Capitan, placing greater strains on the hardware that runs it, and some Macs that could happily run the latter won’t be permitted to install the former. Here’s a list of the Macs that can install the macOS Sierra upgrade:

  • MacBook (Late 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Air (2010 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (2010 or later)
  • Mac mini (2010 or later)
  • Mac Pro (2010 or later)
  • iMac (Late 2009 or later)

For more information about macOS Sierra’s system requirements, see: Will my Mac run macOS Sierra?

Read next: How to install macOS Sierra on older Mac

Release date

macOS Sierra was announced at WWDC 2016 on 13 June 20126, where Apple’s software VP, Craig Federighi, walked through the OS’s new features. Apple released the developer preview beta version of Sierra as soon as the keynote speech was over, and devs were soon busily downloading the OS, testing and fixing compatibility issues with their wares and exploring ways to incorporate its features into their work. In July, the public beta opened.

But ever since 20 September 2016, the final version of macOS Sierra has been available to all, for free. Here’s how to install macOS Sierra.

macOS High Sierra

Sierra has been out for almost a year now, and its predecessor has already been unveiled. macOS High Sierra is already available in beta form, and will officially launch to the public at large in autumn 2017 – most likely September. Read our macOS High Sierra review for more information.

MacBook Pro (2017) review – Macworld UK

There are three notable things about the MacBook Pro models that Apple introduced at WWDC in June 2017:

  • Kaby Lake processors
  • Improved graphics
  • A new, lower price for the entry-level model

Processor

Of those three, the introduction that matters the most – and will probably rile those who bought a 2016-generation MacBook Pro that were introduced in October 2016 – is the introduction of the Kaby Lake processor.

When Apple launched the 2016 MacBook Pro the model was somewhat limited in comparison to other laptops that were already using Kaby Lake chips.

The HP ProBook 400 range, Dell XPS 13 Touch, Acer Aspire E, and Asus ZenBook 3 all had Kaby Lake chips, while Apple’s MacBook Pro offered the earlier Skylake processors.

Eight months later Apple has updated the MacBook Pro (and the MacBook) to use Kaby Lake processors, which should result in a decent performance bump. Read on for our test results below.

So far we have tested the top-of-the-range 15-inch 2.9GHz MacBook Pro, as we get the test results in from the other models we will add them here.

The results of our tests were as follows:

15-inch 2.9GHz MacBook Pro

Geekbench 4.1 64-bit Multi-Core Score

15,719

Geekbench 4.1 64-bit Single-Core Score

4,739

Geekbench 4.1 32-bit Multi-Core Score

14,034

To get a idea of how this new model compares with the previous year’s 2.6GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (which wasn’t the top of the line model – that was the 2.7GHz version but we don’t currently have results for that model).

Geekbench 4.1 64-bit Multi-Core Score

2.9GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2017)

15,719

2.6GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (late 2016)

12,541

2.5GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2015)

13,364

That’s a notable difference (and we particularly note that last year’s model actually seemed to do worse than the one before it).

There is still one area of disappointment with regards to processors though. For a range of laptops with pro status, it is disappointing that while the 15-inch models have quad-core processors, the 13-inch models still have only dual-core processors.

The 13-inch models also only offer integrated graphics cards, begging the question: does the 13-inch MacBook Pro (which, topping out at almost £2,000 certainly has a pro price) really deserve to be called Pro. We’ll look in a bit more detail at the price later on.

Graphics

Speaking of graphics, Apple has essentially bought the graphic processors into line with its rivals, with the 15in models now offering the Radeon Pro 555 or 560 (replacing the Radeon Pro 455). But there are some encouraging changes afoot.

Apple’s forthcoming version of macOS – High Sierra – has a focus on graphics. Indeed, Apple seems keen to get onboard the VR bandwagon. Of particular interest to anyone working in the creative industries will be the fact that the new OS will support external graphics.

Geekbench 4.1 Open CL Intel Integrated Graphics Score

20,976

Geekbench 4.1 Metal Intel Integrated Graphics Score

19,225

Geekbench 4.1 OpenCL Discrete Graphics Score (Radeon)

42,194

Geekbench 4.1 Metal Discrete Graphics Score (Radeon)

26,416

Cinebench OpenGL(fps)

87.08

BlackMagic Write (MBps)

1,951.14

BlackMagic Read (MBps)

2,397.08

Looking specifically at the OpenCL (Radeon) test and the Open CL Cinebench tests gives us some insight into the improvements in terms of the graphics card.

Geekbench 4 OpenCL (Radeon)

2.9GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2017)

42,194

2.6GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (late 2016)

42,827

2.5GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2015)

28,948

Cinebench OpenCL (fps)

2.9GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2017)

87.1

2.6GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (late 2016)

70.4

2.5GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (mid 2015)

61.4

These are impressive results. Whether the MacBook Pro is really suitable for graphics is a question though. In the past Apple has made a lot of noise about the Retina display, with its 2,560 x 1,600 and 2,880 x 1,800 pixel counts depending on whether you have the 13-inch or 15-inch model. Embarrassingly, there are PC laptops that have 4K displays now, so Apple has a bit of catching up to do.

We’d like to see Apple launch a 4K 15-inch MacBook Pro next, with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, like some of its rivals.

RAM

Another area where the MacBook Pro can seem underpowered in comparison to some of its rivals is RAM.

All the 13-inch models offer 8GB RAM (although there is a build-to-order option for 16GB RAM). The 15-inch models ship with 16GB RAM as standard with no upgrade options.

There are calls for Apple to offer up to 32GB RAM in the MacBook Pro, with fingers pointing to Dell’s Precision 5520 laptop, which has a 32GB RAM build-to-order configuration.

Back in November 2016 Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller spoke out after criticism that the MacBook Pro topped out at 16GB RAM, saying that if Apple was to offer more RAM it would be detrimental to battery life. This is because the higher amounts of RAM would require a power-hungry memory controller.

Schiller said: “To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.”

Unfortunately even the Kaby Lake processor upgrade for the MacBook Pro could not increase the RAM cap of 16GB because the Kaby Lake processor doesn’t support LPDDR4 RAM either.

Touch Bar

It’s disappointing that rather than focus on features that would make the MacBook Pro a truly pro machine, Apple has instead focused on features that seem gimmicks rather than really useful.

One such gimmick, in our eyes, is the Touch Bar, which seems to be Apple’s alternative to a touch screen, but is actually more difficult to use than a touch screen as you need to have your eyes both on the keyboard and the screen.

The Touch Bar isn’t completely pointless though. Along with Touch ID capabilities, there is integration with a number of Apple apps, such as Safari, which gains forward and backwards buttons, or Mail that gains auto complete suggestions.

What really matters to pro users, though is apps like Photoshop, and Adobe is working on integrating Touch Bar controls into Photoshop. You can already use the MacBook Pro Touch Bar in Photoshop, but the features are currently only in Preview (e.g. beta).

We expect that the launch of MacOS Sierra will bring more in the way of Touch Bar integration with apps.

However, if Apple’s recent introduction of a second non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro at the 13-inch level may be in response to slower than expected sales of the new Touch Bar enabled MacBook Pro models.

There have been reports suggesting that Apple customers are picking the non-Touch Bar models over their more expensive siblings, and it may well be that Apple is responding to the interest in the non Touch-Bar equipped laptops.

It’s also been noted that Apple didn’t introduce a new Touch Bar enabled keyboard with its updated iMacs, something that had been anticipated. So perhaps the Touch Bar hasn’t been the success Apple was hoping it would be.

Ports

One other thing that could be beneficial to pro users is USB-C with Thunderbolt 3. Two ports in the case of the non-Touch Bar 13-inch models, four in the case of the Touch Bar 13-inch and 15-inch models.

For every one else this may be a bit of a hinderance because currently not many devices have USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, while existing devices that us older USB standards will require an adaptor.

Price

When Apple launched the 2016 MacBook Pro the entry-level price of the 13-inch Skylake model was £1,449/$1,499.

The company continued to sell the older 2015 Broadwell MacBook Pro though, with the older 13-inch model starting at £1,249/$1,299 (and the older 15-inch Broadwell model priced at £1,899/$1,999).

For 2017 Apple has dropped this old 13-inch Broadwell MacBook Pro offering customers a brand new 13-inch Kaby Lake MacBook Pro for the same low price. The 15-inch Broadwell model remains in the line up and hasn’t seen its price drop, however.

The pricing is as follows:

13-inch MacBook Pro

  • 2.3GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, £1,249/$1,299
  • 2.3GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, £1,449/$1,499
  • 3.1GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor, Touch Bar, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650, £1,749/$1,799
  • 3.1GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor, Touch Bar, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650,
  • £1,949/$1,999

Build-to-order options:

  • 3.3GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor + £90/$100
  • 3.5GHz Kaby Lake i7 dual-core processor + £270/$300
  • 16GB RAM + £180/$200
  • 1TB SSD + £400/$400

15-inch MacBook Pro

  • 2.2GHz Broadwell i7 quad-core processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage, Intel Iris Pro Graphics, £1,899/$1,999
  • 2.8GHz Kaby Lake i7 quad-core processor, Touch Bar, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage, Radeon Pro 555, £2,349/$2,399
  • 2.9GHz Kaby Lake i7 quad-core processor, Touch Bar, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, Radeon Pro 560, £2,699/$2,799

Build-to-order options:

  • 3.1GHz Kaby Lake i7 quad-core processor + £190/$200
  • 1TB SSD + £360/$400
  • 2TB SSD + £1,080/$1,200

Verdict

If you bought a new MacBook Pro last October you might be a tiny bit miffed. After all your machine has just been surpassed within months. Does it really matter though? Probably not because chances are you aren’t a creative professional who needs the best processor and graphics card as well as a ton of RAM. And if you are, we’ll maybe you are holding out for the hoped for MacBook Pro with 32GB RAM.

The MacBook Pro is for a demanding user who needs a decent amount of power. If all you do with your Mac is surf the web and open emails then probably a MacBook or MacBook Air will suffice (although the MacBook Air hasn’t had a significant update in a while).

If it’a the 15-inch screen that’s attracting you perhaps a 13-inch MacBook Pro, or other Mac laptop paired with a bigger display would do the job just as well.

Perhaps it’s portability you need. The MacBook Pro isn’t the lightest laptop Apple makes (that’ll be the MacBook Air) but it is a lot lighter than it was back in 2015. And if you were thinking of buying the older 2015 model that’s still on sale – that’s the £1,899/$1,999 15-inch model with a 2.2GHz Broadwell processor, bear in mind that it’s quite a bit heavier.

With all that in mind though, and despite everything we’ve written above, if it’s a Mac you want we still think that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a better option than both the MacBook and the MacBook Air currently.

And if you want a bigger screen and would benefit from a discrete graphics card, rather than one of the integrated ones (which wouldn’t be as good for things like games and creative work), then the 15-inch MacBook Pro is a great choice. We just wish is wasn’t so expensive!

HomePod Preview – Macworld UK

Following the success of the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple has joined the rush of companies producing hub speakers that respond to voice commands with the HomePod, a Siri-powered smart speaker that boasts top audio quality as well as smart functionality.

Apple first announced the speaker at WWDC 2017, sharing its specs, release date, and pricing. Here’s what we’re expecting from Apple’s much-anticipated HomePod.

Release date

The HomePod is coming out in December 2017, though will only hit a select few markets: the US, UK, and Australia.

The rest of the world will have to wait until some time in 2018 to get their hands on the device.

UK price

We don’t have an official UK price for the HomePod yet, but we do know how much it will cost in the US: $349, so we can only imagine the UK price will be somewhere around £349.

That’s a lot more expensive than the nearest rivals, in part to reflect the supposedly superior speaker quality. The Amazon Echo is priced at £149.99/$179.99, while Google Home is £129/$129.

Of course, the HomePod has the advantage that we expect its sound quality to be considerably better than either of those, which may justify the extra $200 on the price tag for some. On the other hand, most people willing to spend that much for sound quality probably already have a great sound system – and they could just hook it up to a £49.99/$49.99 Echo Dot and get smart functionality with their existing speakers for a fraction of the cost.

Design

Google Home and Amazon Echo have both gone with a cylinder design, and unsurprisingly Apple has taken a similar approach.

Standing just under seven inches tall, the HomePod is almost entirely covered in a “seamless 3D mesh fabric,” just leaving enough space at the top for a touch-sensitive display used to control the speaker and show a Siri waveform when the personal assistant is hard at work.

For the most part we like the look, although we have to admit it looks a bit squat compared to Amazon and Google’s more slender equivalents. Still, it’s attractively simplistic, and has that comfortingly Apple-y sense of meticulous design.

The HomePod will be available in two of Apple’s favourite colours: White and Space Grey.

Features

While Amazon and Google have both emphasised the smart side of their speakers, Apple has decided to take a different focus: sound quality.

The company is pushing the HomePod as a music speaker first and foremost, making a lot of noise about the sound quality, spatial awareness technology, and deep integration with Apple Music.

The HomePod comes equipped with a 4in, upward-facing woofer and seven beam-forming tweeters, each with its own amplifier, to drive what Apple calls a “breakthrough home speaker.” It also boasts automatic bass equalisation and dynamic audio modelling, all powered by an A8 chip – the same processor that powers the iPhone 6 and iPad mini 4.

That A8 chip has more to do than run an EQ though. It’s also keeping tabs on the HomePod’s spatial awareness technology, which sees it scan the space its in and optimise its audio output to take into account the size, shape, and any obstacles. This will even work if you have more than one HomePod in the same room, and they’ll work together to each output the ideal audio for the room.

Naturally, the HomePod is also built to take advantage of Apple Music. If you use Apple’s subscription service you’ll be able to tell the HomePod not just to play specific songs or albums, but also to answer a whole host of queries, including when a song was recorded, who it’s by, and even who the drummer on a track is. We’re not sure how well – or if at all – this will work with streaming rivals like Spotify though.

Siri is useful beyond music though. All of the Siri functionality you’d expect is here, from creating reminders to answering questions, but the assistant will also act as a hub for every HomeKit-compatible smart appliance you have, turning the HomePod into a hub for your entire smart home – as long as it’s all Apple-friendly at least.

That all sounds good, but there’s not really anything here that the Echo and Google Home can’t do already. If you’re committed to the Apple family of products and services, then the HomePod has the obvious advantage of integrating with all of them, but for everyone else the only real differentiating factor will be sound quality – and since we can’t test that out for ourselves, it’s hard to judge right now.

macOS High Sierra Preview – Macworld UK

We are yet to get a copy of macOS High Sierra on our Macs, but we are eagerly awaiting its arrival this autumn following Apple’s preview of its new Mac operating system at WWDC in June. This preview is based on what we have seen and heard about the upcoming software, we’ll keep updating it as we learn more. 

We have to admit, we were quite dismayed when we heard Apple announce the name of the next macOS. MacOS High Sierra is named after the region in California where the current operating system’s namesake, MacOS Sierra (after the Sierra Nevada mountain range) can be found.

Apart from the fact that such a name is likely to invite a few jokey responses, as it did on Twitter on the night it was announced (many of which seemed to revolve around drugs and getting high). The name, High Sierra, suggests that this is just Sierra with a few tweaks.

Those Mac users who remember Mountain Lion and Snow Leopard will recall that these updates to Mac OS X predominantly offered under-the-hood changes, rather than fun new features for the apps we use day-to-day.

Will High Sierra just be about the technologies hidden under the surface that make our Macs “more reliable, capable, and responsive,” to quote Apple. Or will refinements in our favourite Mac apps make this an update to get excited about?

The thing is, the new technologies being built into macOS High Sierra aren’t boring. It’s just that the majority of people just won’t know that they are there, or rather they will just end up expecting them to be there as our expectations of technology increase.

For example, Sierra brings with it improvements that will make watching (and encoding) 4K video a better experience. Apple will be supporting HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding, also known as H.265) on the Mac, which will mean these videos will stream better and take up less space as they can be compressed up to 40 per cent more than H.264.

Another way in which these under-the-hood improvements will enhance the experience of Mac users, without them necessarily being aware of it, is the addition of the new Apple File System.

APFS has already arrived on our iPhones and iPads in an update to iOS 10 earlier this year, and when it did many of us found we gained a few gigabytes of space following the update. This is because the new file system re-architects the way that your data is stored.

In practical terms, Mac users will find that common tasks like duplicating a file or finding the size of a folder should happen instantaneously.

Apple says Mac users will also benefit from built?in encryption, crash?safe protections and simplified data backup, but again, these are things we expect to have, rather than things we get excited about.

One final area where the new technologies coming in macOS 10.13 might just revolutionise our Macs, at least if you are a fan of gaming, or game developer, is VR.

Apple will be offering support for VR content creation for the first time in High Sierra, enabling developers to create immersive gaming, as well as 3D and VR content.

Whether any but the highest specced Mac will actually be able to play these virtual reality based games remains to be seen though.

Moving on the the changes that will be more noticeable to the average MacOS customer. Based on the preview of macOS High Sierra we are expecting to see some enhancements in: Safari, Photos, Mail, Siri, iCloud, Spotlight, Notes and Messages.

These changes are certainly not in the same league as the changes that arrived in macOS Sierra, but there are still a few gems that should make this a worthwhile release. We’ll go through them below and explain what excites us (and what doesn’t).

Safari

First up, Safari. This update to Apple’s web browser seems to be another nail in the advertising coffin. You won’t see (or hear) auto playing videos, you won’t see bike ads following you around just because you looked for a new bike on Amazon, and if a website supports it, you’ll see a Safari Reader version of the page you are viewing with all the ads stripped out.

We appreciate that everyone hates ads, but they are still a part of the revenue of many websites (although far less so these days). We hope that the advertising industry reflects on the fact that by making ads so intrusive they have basically caused their own downfall.

There is another change coming in Safari – you will be able to personalise your experience on a per-website basis. If there is a website you frequently visit that has text that’s too small you can set it so that site is always zoomed in a tad more than others. If you want your location settings to be turned off one website, but not others, you can do so.

There is no doubt that these changes will improve our Safari browsing, so we look forward to them with anticipation (and some apprehension as well as relief relating to the demise of the common advertisement).

Photos

There are some nice new features coming in Photos including new editing tools Curves and Selective Color and some new professionally inspired filters too join the nine that are already included. Recalling the professionally inspired filters we used to use in Aperture (RIP), we have high hopes for these.

There are also some fun options for editing Live Photos coming. The new Loop effect will make it easy to loop a Live photo, so it will be more like a gif. While a Long Exposure effect will achieve something akin to a slow-shutterspeed photo from a Live Photo, blurring water or extending light trails.

With the arrival of these new edit modes for Live Photos we might actually take some photos with Live Photos turned on (because, let’s face it, right now it’s a bit pointless).

There are lots of other tweaks coming to Photos, but the one other addition that we think is a big deal is support for external editors. As a result Photoshop will be able to launch within Photos and save edits to the Photos library. While this won’t mean anything to the average iPhone photographer, anyone with a decent camera and a love of photography will be able to take advantage of the tools offered by Photoshop while at the same time utilising the Photos interface. That’s got to be a good thing.

Mail

If, like us, your email inbox is swamped, you’ll be grateful for this new feature coming in the MacOS Mail app. Top Hits is a new section at the top of your search results that will use artificial intelligence to predict the email you were most likely to be looking for.

Top Hits are based on the the emails you’ve already read, the senders you reply to most often, and people you have designated VIP status to.

It’s a small change, but we think it will be a big help.

Siri

We’ve not really sold on the idea of using Siri on our Mac. We’re sure that it’s a useful feature to be able to ask Siri to turn on Bluetooth, or to play a particular album in iTunes, but frankly we don’t use it because the majority of the time, when we think of something to ask Siri we are in a crowded office and don’t want to look silly.

With that in mind – how about making it possible to type the question you want to ask Siri, Apple?

There are some enhancements coming to Siri in macOS High Sierra. The one that will probably get the most attention is the fact that Siri’s voice will be much more expressive and less robotic in the next version of MacOS (and iOS 11).

The new voice should give the personal assistant a bit more personality. It will be interesting to hear what Apple has in store for the UK version as so far we’ve only heard the American voices.

Siri will also become a fully fledged DJ, advising you on tracks you might like (if you are an Apple Music subscriber) and even creating playlists for you. We’re don’t have very high expectations here as in our experience the Genius recommendations in iTunes are always a little random. We’ll wait and see.

Notes

We use Notes on our iPhone for everything so we are really excited to hear that in macOS High Sierra (and of course iOS 11) Notes is getting some enhancements.

There is one change coming to Notes that we are probably more excited about than anything else in MacOS (which is very sad, I know). It’s the fact that we can Pin Notes we need to access frequently to the top. We’ve lost count how many times we’ve scrolled through looking for information we have stored in Notes. This is the answer to our prayers!

You’ll also be able to add tables to Notes. Right now this is something we would have to open up Numbers to do, which often seems like overkill when it’s just a simple list of Christmas gift ideas. We’re thinking that the To-Do lists we store in Notes could use some columns (although we do like being able to check things off thanks to the update that came in 2016’s update to the operating system).

Messages

There’s one last app update we want to mention. Messages has been annoying us for ages because no sooner have we read a message on our iPhone it pops up on our Mac. It seems ridiculous that the two devices can’t be better in sync. Well, this autumn they will be.

Messages are going to be stored in iCloud, so Messages on the Mac should know the status of Messages on your iPhone. That’s one of our grumbles solved.

Another benefit of Messages being stored in iCloud – if you lose your iPhone or accidentally wipe everything, all your Messages should be backed up in the cloud. And another bonus if you are someone with an iPhone without a lot of memory – the messages won’t take up lots of space on your phone. (Our only query here is, how will you access them if you are offline, but we’ll worry about that later as we’re talking Macs here).

iCloud

Speaking of the cloud, there are a few changes in iCloud coming that will be welcome.

It’s going to be possible to share a file stored on your iCloud Drive with others via a link. They will be able to access and edit the file you created, rather than a copy of the file, so you won’t need to worry about extra versions floating around.

In some ways, this is just a different way to collaborating on a file, something you can already do in most Apple apps – Pages, Numbers, Notes… But it’s a simpler implementation that will probably make the other person more aware of the fact that they are required to edit the document.

Also coming to iCloud is an increase in the amount of storage that will be available to you. Up to 2TB of storage is coming your way (for a price).

Siri speaker preview – Macworld UK

We’re fast approaching WWDC 2017, and Apple fans around the world are wondering what the company is going to unveil. It’s traditionally a software event, so iOS 11, macOS 10.13, tvOS 11 and watchOS 4 should get mentions; but there are strong rumours that we’ll see some new hardware too. New Macs, new MacBooks… and maybe a new voice-controlled speaker. Wait, what?

Following the success of the Amazon Echo and Google Home, it’s widely believed that Apple is going to join the rush of companies producing hub speakers that respond to voice commands. And these devices are not limited to playing music: they can search for information online, tell you the weather or the latest sport scores, set alarms, control smart-home appliances and buy things for you (the last one being right up Amazon’s street, of course).

Now bear in mind that some reports don’t agree with this rumour at all. Tim Bajarin writes: “After talking with Apple executives, I’ve come away with the impression that they’re more interested in turning Siri into an omnipresent AI assistant across devices, rather than designing a single device specifically to serve as a Siri machine.”

Let’s hope Bajarin is wrong, because the rumours suggest the Siri Speaker could be a fascinating product. Here’s what we’re expecting from Apple’s much-anticipated Siri Speaker.

Name

Siri Speaker seems the best and most widely tipped option at the moment: it’s simple and it leverages the brand of Apple’s famous and (relatively) popular voice control tech. But there are some other options:

  • Apple Home: All Home-related brands face the problem that Apple has an app called Home – one which controls HomeKit-compatible smart-home devices. Apple may be able to tie the branding together, however.
  • Beats Home: Based on Apple’s acquisition of Beats
  • iHome
  • iSpeaker
  • Siri Home

Design

Google Home and Amazon Alexa have both gone with a cylinder design, and it’s believed that Apple is thinking along those lines too.

Siri Speaker review: Google Home design

Siri Speaker review: Google Home design

Google Home

This belief is mostly based on an Apple patent spotted in May 2017: ‘Electronic device with radially deployed components’. It’s possible, of course, that this refers to a different product Apple has in mind, or is a deliberate attempt to confuse rivals (not an unknown strategy), or was an olde design that it’s since moved on from.

Features

Notorious (and often reliable) Apple leaker Sonny Dickson has claimed that the Siri Speaker may feature Beats technology, following Apple’s acquisition of the company in 2014, and could run a modified version of iOS. It may even feature a touchscreen (a feature notable for its absence from the Amazon Echo and Google Home – although Amazon’s Echo Show does include a screen).

Like its competitors, the Siri Speaker is likely to offer a range of voice-controlled interactions, from weather conditions to turning on the (HomeKit-enabled) lights. Since it’s a speaker, of course, we also imagine music – namely Apple Music and possibly Spotify – will be a big part of the package.

Release date

The internet hive mind says WWDC 2017, although this may be optimistic.

The patent referred to in the previous section has only just been granted (it was applied for in 2015) and there’s usually a longer wait than that between patent and product – it’s not impossible but would be an impressive turnaround.

What’s more, when Apple launches a new hardware product we generally expect to see leaked components and factory-line photos from the Asian supply chain: Apple’s manufacturing base is so vast and complex that it’s simply impossible to keep it sealed up. (Software is different. Even these days Apple often manages to spring surprises there) And we’ve not seen a dicky bird.

Still, WWDC 2016 was when Apple opened Siri up to third-party developers, and it would make sense for this year’s conference to see the use of Siri SDK in an upcoming speaker.

Previous launch timings make it plausible that Apple could announce the Siri Speaker at WWDC 2017, then release the product in September or thereabouts.

Siri Speaker review: WWDC 2017

Siri Speaker review: WWDC 2017

UK price

As it’s not been officially announced yet, we’ve not got UK or indeed any pricing for the Siri Speaker. Furthermore, this is a new area for Apple, so we haven’t got any similar or predecessor product to base our comparisons on.

But we can make an educated guess based on the rival devices out there already. Apple has to be competitive, and will most likely price its product close to the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The Echo is priced at £149.99/$179.99, with the cheaper Echo Dot available for £49.99/$49.99, while Google Home is £129/$129. With this in mind, we’d expect the Siri Speaker to cost somewhere in the region of £150 in the UK, or $180 in the US.

Mac keyboard shortcuts – Macworld UK

The three most important keys on your Mac can be found to the left and right of the spacebar (for right and left handed use). Unfortunately these three keys seem to cause more confusion than any others.

Using the Option or Alt key on a Mac

There is a great deal of confusion over what Apple referrs to as the Option key. If you’are using a UK keyboard chances are this is called the Alt key so it’s no wonder most people don’t know where it is.

The Alt (aka Option) key can be found between Control and Command. It has an icon that looks like a slope and a dip with a line above it.

Chances are the first time you hear mention of Option you are following a tutorial and trying to fix something on your Mac. The Alt key is the one you use if you wish to select a boot partition when starting the computer, you also press it when typing certain characters on your keyboard, such as # (Alt-3) or ¢ (Alt-4).

Here’s an overview of the hidden characters that you can type using Alt (the keys might be a bit different if you aren’t using a UK keyboard as we are).

You may be wondering whether you can use the Alt key ctrl-alt-delete to shut down an unresponsive Mac. Force quitting on a Mac is slightly different to on a PC, here’s how to ctrl-alt-delete on a Mac, aka Force Quit on a Mac.


How to type €, #, … and © on a Mac

  • Alt-2 – Euro sign (€)
  • Alt-3 – Hash sign (#) (Sometimes called the ‘pound’ sign)
  • Alt-: – ellipsis (…)
  • Alt-G – copyright ©

You can also use Alt/Option to do the following:

  • Control-Alt-Command-Power Button – Quit all apps
  • Alt-Shift-Command-Q – Log out of your user account on your Mac
  • Alt-Delete – delete the word to the left of the curser
  • Alt–Left Arrow – move the curser to the beginning of the previous word, add Shift to this to highlight the text
  • Alt–Right Arrow – move the curser to the end of the next word, add Shift to this to highlight the text
  • If you are selecting large sections of text, you can do so by moving the curser to the end of the section you wish to select and pressing Alt-Shift-Up Arrow until all the text is selected. (This only works in some apps).
  • Similarly, Alt-Shift-Down Arrow lets you highlight the text below the curser
  • Alt-Command-F will open the Find and Replace feature if your application has it
  • Alt-Command-T will show or hide the toolbar
  • Alt-Command-C is the key combo to use if you wish to copy a style, or copy the formatting settings to the clipboard
  • And Alt-Command-V will paste those formatting settings onto the text you wish to change
  • Alt-Shift-Command-V will paste and match style – so that the text you paste in has the same style as the text around it, rather
  • than the style bought over from the place you copied it from
  • Alt-Command-D will show or hide the Dock at the bottom of your screen
  • In the Finder, Alt-Command-L is a handy shortcut to open the Downloads folder
  • Also in the Finder, pressing Alt-Command-P will show the path so you can see the precise location of what you are looking at
  • Alt-Command-S will show or hide the Sidebar in the Finder
  • Alt-Command-N will start a new Smart Folder in the Finder
  • If you select a few files in the Finder, you can press Alt-Command-Y to see a full-screen slideshow of those files
  • A shortcut to the Display preferences is to press Alt-Brightness Up (or Brightness Down, aka F1 or F2)
  • While you can open Mission Control preferences by pressing Alt-Mission Control (F3)
  • To duplicate/copy an item in the Finder or on your Desktop, press Alt while dragging it.
  • To create an Alias (a shortcut to a file) you press Alt and Command together while dragging the file from the location in the
  • Finder to another location, an arrow sign will appear indicating that this is a link to the file rather than a copy of it

Using the Command key on a Mac

If you thought that the jumbling of Alt and Option was baffling, there’s even more opportuity for confusion when it comes to the Command key. The Command key (cmd) has a legacy that leads to confusion – many older Mac users will refer to it as the Apple key, because in the past there used to be an Apple logo on it, but this logo stopped appearing a while ago when if was decided that there were a few too many Apple logos on Apple products. 

The logo you will still find on this key looks like a squiggly square, or a four petalled flower. It was designed by Susan Kare for the original iMac (and based on the Scandinavian icon for place of interest).

The Command (cmd) key works in a similar way to the Control key on a PC. On a Mac you use the Command key where on a PC you would use Control (or Ctrl).

If you were wondering why Ctrl-B didn’t make your text bold, chances are you were previously a PC user and didn’t realise that Command is the new Control. You might find this useful: How to move from PC to Mac: Complete guide to switching to a Mac from a PC.

Here are a few of the key combinations that use Command:

  • Command-B – Bold
  • Command-I – Italic
  • Command-Z – Undo
  • Command-Q – Quit
  • Command-W – Close window
  • Command-P – Print
  • Shift-Command-P – Page setup (for checking how it will print)
  • Command-S – Save
  • Shift-Command-S – Save As or duplicate the document
  • Command-A – select all

How to copy and paste on a Mac

  1. Select the text you wish to copy – a quick way to do this is to place your mouse pointer over a word and click twice. Once you have the text selected you can drag your mouse across or up, or down, to select more words. Alternatively, if you are selecting a number of words or sentences, or paragraphs, you can click at the beginning of the section, then press the Shift key, and click at the end of the section.
  2. Press Command-C to copy the text (or Command-X if you want to ‘cut’ the text from where it is currently)
  3. Go to where you wish to Paste the text in and press Command-V
  • Command-C = Copy
  • Command-X = Cut
  • Command-V = Paste

There are lots more useful key combinations that use Command including:

  • Command-F – Find 
  • Command-G – Find again
  • Command-H – Hide the windows of the app you are using
  • Command-M – Minimise the current window and send it to the Dock
  • Command-N – open a New document
  • Command-W – close the current window
  • Command-Space Bar – open the Spotlight search window
  • Command-Tab – to switch between open apps
  • Shift-Command-3 to take a screenshot of the screen (more about taking screenshots on a Mac here: How to take a screenshot on a Mac)
  • Command-Comma (,) – Open preferences for the app you are using
  • Command-T show or hide Fonts window
  • Command-Left Arrow –  move the curser to the beginning of the line
  • Command-Right Arrow –  move the curser to the end of the line
  • Command-Up Arrow –  move the curser to the beginning of the document
  • Command-Down Arrow –  move the curser to the end of the document (Press shift to select the text between the insertion point and the destination in each of these scenarios)
  • Command–Left Curly Bracket – Align Left
  • Command–Right Curly Bracket – Align Right
  • Shift-Command-| – Centre
  • Shift-Command-Minus sign – Decrease font size
  • Shift-Command-Plus sign – Increase font size
  • Shift-Command-Question mark – Open Help menu
  • If you are in the Finder or in a web browser, or any other app that supports Tabs, Command-T will open a new tab.

In the Finder you could try the following:

  • Command-D – Duplicate the file
  • Command-E – Eject the volumne
  • Command-F – Search
  • Command-I – Get Info
  • Shift-Command-D – Open the Desktop folder
  • Shift-Command-F – Open the All My Files folder
  • Shift-Command-H – Open the Home folder
  • Shift-Command-G – Open a Go To folder window
  • Shift-Command-I – Open your iCloud Drive
  • Command-K – Connect to the server
  • Shift-Command-K – Browse the network 
  • Command-L – Make an alias
  • Shift-Command-O – Open the Documents folder
  • Shift-Command-R – Shortcut to the AirDrop window
  • Command-Delete – sends the selected item to the Trash
  • Shift-Command-Delete – Empty the Trash (add the Alt key if you don’t want to see the confirmation dialogue)

Using the Control key on a Mac

With the Command key doing the job of the Control key on a PC, what is the point of Control on a Mac keyboard, you may be wondering.

The most common use of Control is to mimic the right click on a mouse or when using the mouse pad (since some Apple mice don’t have the right click option).

If you want more tips about How to right-click on a Mac read this.

There are many more uses for Control when used with other key combinations, for example:

  • Control-Command-Power button will restart your Mac
  • Control-Shift-Power button – puts your display to sleep
  • Control–Option–Command–Power button – quits all your apps and shuts your Mac
  • Control-H Delete the character on the left
  • Control-D Delete the character on the right
  • Control-K Delete the text from where your curser is to the end of the line
  • Control-A Move to the beginning of the line (more here: How to find End and Home on a Mac keyboard)
  • Control-E Move to the end of a line or paragraph
  • Control-F Move forward one character
  • Control-B Move backward one character

You can also use the Control key to add a document or folder to the Dock: Go to the Finder and select the item you wish to add to the Dock (or search for it using Spotlight: Cmd-Space, or select it on your Desktop). Then press Control-Shift-Command-T.

What do the F keys do on a Mac?

There are a few other Apple specific keys (depending on your keyboard):

F1/F2 – Brightness Up and Down

F3 – Mission Control (for an overview of all running applications, grouping windows from the same application, and your Spaces)

F4 – Is a shortcut to all the Apps you have on your Mac

F10/F11/F12 – Sound

You can set other F keys to do Mission Control actions. Go to System Preferences > Mission Control and add unused F keys to do functions such as Show Desktop or Dashboard.

How to type letters with accents on a Mac

Some letters can be typed with accents on top, like this é, ä, ö. This is easy to do on a Mac:

  1. Hold the letter down on the keyboard until a bubble menu with all the different options appears
  2. Each accent option has a number below it, tap the number on the keyboard to turn the letter into that accented version, or click on the accented letter with your mouse

How to type special characters, Emoji and maths symbols on a Mac

Emoji Characters on a Mac

Emoji Characters on a Mac

You can use the Character Viewer to find special characters, Emoji and maths symbols.

Press Command-Control-Space and by default you will see the Emoji characters. To see the Character Viewer, with  special characters from any font on your Mac, click on the Character Viewer icon in the right corner of the window, or in the menu bar next to the time and date.  

Once you have the Character Viewer open, use the sidebar to view different categories, such as Currency Symbols or Maths Symbols and double-click any item in the main window to insert it into your document.

You can also search for any option using the Search field in the top-right. Enter a term like “cat” to find all the symbols that are cat-like.

The Character Viewer is placed permanently above all other windows, so you can continue typing in your app and view the Character Viewer on top of its document. You can switch between a small and large Character Viewer using the icon to the right of the Search Field.

It is also possible to add the Character Viewer as a Menu bar icon, this enables you to quickly access it from any app. Open System Preferences, choose Keyboard  > Keyboard and select the Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar option. Now you can click on the Character Viewer icon in the Menu bar and choose Show Character Viewer.


How do I add emoji on a Mac?

As we said above, just press Command-Control-Space and you will see a collection of Emoji you can use.

If you have the Character Viewer open you will find a section called Emoji in the sidebar.

Often it’s easier to use the Search field in Character Viewer to find Emoji characters.

If you want to read more about using emoji this may be useful: How to use emoji


How to view shortcuts on a Mac

Use the Keyboard Viewer to learn special characters

Use the Keyboard Viewer to learn special characters

One neat trick to learning keyboard shortcuts on a Mac is to use the Keyboard Viewer. Enable the Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar option (in System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard).

Now click on the Character Viewer icon in the Menu bar and choose Show Keyboard Viewer. A visual representation of the keyboard appears, and as you press keys they will be highlighted. If you hold down the Alt and Shift keys the Keyboard Viewer shows all the special characters on each key. You can use this to learn the special characters on each key.


Keyboard combinations for shutting down or Sleep your Mac

  • Ctrl-Eject = Show the restart / sleep / shutdown dialog
  • Shift-Control-Eject = Will put your displays to sleep
  • Command-Alt-Eject = Will put the computer to sleep
  • Command-Control-Eject = Save/Quit all applications then restarts Mac
  • Command-Alt-Control-Eject = Quit all applications then shuts down the Mac
  • Command-Shift-Q = Log out of your OS X user account (you’ll be asked to confirm action)
  • Command-Shift-Alt-Q = Log out of your OS X user account immediately (you won’t be asked to confirm action)
  • Command-Alt-esc = Force Quit
  • Command-shift-Alt-esc (for three seconds) = Force Quit the front-most application

Read next: How to lock a Mac


How to use the Application Switcher

Another handy key combo is the one that brings up the Application switcher. This is a handy way to move between different applications you have open.

  • Command-Tab = Move to the next most recently used application from your open applications
  • Command-Shift-Tab = Move backward through a list of open applications (sorted by recent use)
  • Command-~ (Tilde) = Move backward through a list of open applications (only when Application switcher is active)

If you find this sort of thing interesting, you can read definitions of more Apple-related tech terms in our Apple users’ tech jargon dictionary.

Also: How to maximise, minimise, open, close and zoom windows on the Mac OS X

Do iPhones get viruses? – Macworld UK

Many of our readers wonder if iPhones get viruses. After all, iPhones are famous for their strong security; any time rival fanboys have an argument about whether iPhones or Android smartphones are better, the superior security of the iOS platform is bound to come up. (To be fair, Android phones are pretty secure too.)

When iPhone users ask us if their device has been infected by a virus, we generally explain that this is unlikely. There are more plausible explanations for odd behaviour: you may, for example, be seeing a misbehaving advert in one or more apps you use regularly, triggering behaviour that is intended to convince you that iOS is infected and you need to download an app to fix it, or redirecting you to a dodgy web page or a dodgy app on the App Store.

However, malware of one kind or another does exist for iOS, even though it remains extremely rare.

Read next: iPhone security tips | How to remove an Android virus

How to remove iPhone viruses: iPhone 7 Plus

How to remove iPhone viruses: iPhone 7 Plus

Technically speaking, a virus is a piece of code that inserts itself into another program, whereas a worm is a standalone program; both seek to propagate themselves, usually by hijacking messaging applications or via social engineering.

The first part of this definition applies to a small number of malware attacks on the iOS platform; some apps, including a small number which are otherwise totally respectable, have suffered the insertion of malicious code or the hijacking of the developer tool used to create them, and although malware apps should be caught at the app approval stage before appearing on the App Store, those who have jailbroken their devices can install apps from other sources and may inadvertently install something dangerous.

In either case, however, iOS’s sandbox nature should prevent the malware from getting access to other applications in order to spread itself, or to the underlying operating system.

How secure is an iPhone?

It’s difficult to argue that iOS is not a secure platform – more secure than Android, for instance. iOS isn’t impregnable, and it’s very dangerous for iPhone users to assume that it is (see how to remove an iPhone virus and iPhone security tips), but far more malware is written for Android – Pulse Secure’s 2015 Mobile Threat Report put the figure at 97 percent of all mobile malware, while the US Department of Homeland Security estimated in 2013 that just 0.7 percent of malware threats were aimed at iOS – and while this is partly because Android has more users, it’s mainly because it’s simply an easier target.

The ‘closed’ platforms – iOS, Windows and BlackBerry – have very little malware written for them. It’s easier to break into Android, and malware writers will almost always go for the low-hanging fruit.

Part of the problem for Android is that its users tend to be slow or lazy at installing updates: the DoHS report above found that 44 percent were still on a version of Android that had been released two years earlier. (By contrast, after five months of availability iOS 10 was on nearly 80 percent of active devices.) There are also small differences between the flavours of Android used by the different handset makers, which makes it harder to distribute security patches, applicable to all versions, on a timely basis.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the iOS platform and Apple’s App Store are invulnerable to attack. They’re not. But they are more secure than the Android equivalents. Despite its findings, F-Secure insists that Apple’s App Store “remains a tougher nut to crack than the Android ecosystem”.

You quite often hear the logically flaky reasoning that, because Apple’s OS software products aren’t perfectly secure, they’re no better than rival products which also aren’t perfectly secure. It’s easy to explain why this is wrong. iOS (like its desktop counterpart, macOS) is very secure indeed, albeit not completely secure. Android is pretty secure, but quantifiably less secure than iOS.

The iPhone undeniably has a large security advantage over Android, its only realistic rival.

iPhone viruses and other malware

As we said, there are still dangers out there for iPhone users.

In March 2017, Wikileaks released Vault 7, a collection of documents and files which purportedly reveal methods and strategies employed by the CIA – including a range of vulnerabilities they have used to break into iOS devices. Mind you, Apple insists that most of these have since been patched.

In its 2015 Threat Report, F-Secure Labs reports on several instances of malware penetrating Apple’s ‘walled garden’ App Store. Instead of using social engineering to persuade users to download malware directly, hackers have learned to target the app developers, who then use “compromised tools to unwittingly create apps with secretly malicious behaviour”.

Multiple apps – anywhere from 30 to 300, and many of them from reputable companies – were removed from the App Store in September 2015 because they contained the XCodeGhost malware. Later that year similar situations arose with apps based on UnityGhost, a compromised version of the Unity development framework, and on the Youmi SDK.

Do iPhones get viruses?

Do iPhones get viruses?

How to find out if your iPhone has a virus

iPhones can get viruses, then – even if it’s a rare occurrence. But if you’re wondering if this has happened to your phone, here’s how to find out.

The main questions when trying to work out what has happened to your malfunctioning iPhone or iPad are these:

Have you jailbroken your device? And if so, have you installed an application from a non-official source whose authenticity is questionable? (Installing apps from non-official source is essentially the entire point of jailbreaking.) If yes, you may have malicious software on your device, and should attempt to locate and uninstall it.

Does the behaviour appear when you use certain apps only? Common behaviour exhibited by apps that have been hijacked include redirecting you to an unfamiliar web page, and opening the App Store without permission. Try uninstalling the app that’s active when these issues pop up, and see if the problem is solved.

If the problem continues to happen no matter which apps are open, your device is probably misbehaving because of a hardware problem, or because of an iOS change that you’re not used to yet, or because you or another user of the device has changed a setting, perhaps inadvertently. Or you may have a virus. Whichever of these issues it is, we would take the device to an Apple Genius Bar.

Mac OS tips – Macworld UK

Having tracked your friends down in Find My Friends, you can also make and answer calls on your Mac.

The phone call is actually routed via your iPhone. To call a friend either open the FaceTime app and choose the Audio tab, open the Contacts app and locate them there, or just search for their name using Spotlight. Once you have found the number for your friend click on the handset beside it to place the call.

You can also call directly from a webpage if you have located a number there. Just click on the down arrow that appears when you hover your mouse pointer over the number and choose to call using your iPhone.

Similarly, if anyone calls you on your iPhone you can answer the call on your Mac. For help setting this up we recommend this article: How to make phone calls on your Mac

What you might not know is that the ringtone can be changed to any of the ringtones found on your iPhone, as well as any of the classictones from earlier versions of iOS.

To do so, open FaceTime and then open its Preferences panel (Cmd+,). Then choose by opening the Ringtone dropdown list at the bottom.

You can also change the alert noise that accompanies text messages displayed on your Mac’s screen, open Messages and open its preferences dialog box (Cmd+,), then select from the options in the Message Received Sound dropdown list.

This will change the alert sound for all new messages, no matter where they originate (i.e. iMessage, text/SMS, Facebook etc.)

Talking of making phone calls, if you’re in a call using your Mac and need to enter information “using your telephone keypad”, such as when using online banking, just type the numbers using your Mac keyboard.

They’ll automatically sound as standard DTMF tones, although you may need to first click on the call window at the top right of the desktop to ensure it has focus.

(And did you know that you can turn the floating call window into a regular window, complete with close/minimise buttons, by simply dragging it away from the corner?)

That’s three tip in one go!

Read more about making phone calls on your Mac here.