Gear News

Apple Pencil Pro Lets You Run A Shortcut With A Squeeze

Apple’s newly-launched Apple Pencil Pro for the M4 iPad Pro includes a special squeeze gesture that activates a special palette or unique commands depending on your app – in a new change for Apple Pencil, “Shortcut” has been added to the list, letting M4 iPad Pro activate a shortcut from anywhere by squeezing the Pencil.

Chris Lawley, iPad expert on YouTube, shared the demo in this clip from his M4 iPad Pro review:

This update is super exciting for iPad Pro users who take advantage of Shortcuts, letting them map any command to the Apple Pencil and trigger it with a quick gesture – and more than one action can be assigned using Scripting actions like Choosing From menu or If to change the purpose depending on certain conditions.

As YouTuber Stephen Robles quipped on his podcast Primary Technology, “It’s an Action Button for iPad!” – the first time iPad users have universal access to a hardware control to trigger Shortcuts, a feature that’s been available on Apple Watch Ultra and the Pro lines for iPhone in recent years.

Assigning the squeeze gesture to a shortcut is a great update for Apple Pencil with the new Pro line and definitely gives power users a reason to upgrade – I’m looking forward to playing around with shortcuts from my Shortcuts Library and seeing what clever techniques I can come up with.

Learn about the new Apple Pencil Pro and M4 iPad Pro from Apple.



Switch to iPhone 15? You’ll need this cable for CarPlay »

From Zac Hall on 9to5Mac:

Unfortunately, Apple didn’t make a first-party USB-A to USB-C cable for this situation. Instead, the company sells a $29 USB-C to Lightning adapter as its official solution.

My advice? Don’t spend $30 on a dongle when you can just replace the cable. Even though Apple doesn’t sell one, USB-A to USB-C cables are easy to find.

Zach’s recommendations are great for more reliable brands, but I was looking for a super-short cable and landed on these “OneKer” cables that are only 1 foot long (and only just now noticed the pun in their name 🤣).

View the story on 9to5Mac.


Elevation Lab Introduces TagVault: Pin Mount for Attaching AirTags to Your Kids’ Shirt

The folks at ElevationLab have launched an interesting new product for AirTags called the TagVault: Pin designed to pin to a backpack or a shirt, specifically marketed as “the best AirTag mount for kids.”

The TagVault: Pin works with two safety pins and a brightly-colored (or black) faceplate that sits low-profile on your shirt and won’t dangle around – making it perfect for your kids’ shirt as they run around and play. In addition, the safety pins make it easy to attach and remove as needed – I might just have to get one for my nephew.

They come in a single pack at $12.95, a 2-pack for $19.95, or 4-pack for $29.95, plus there’s a launch sale of up to 52% savings on the 4-pack.

This products joins their TagVault Keychain, Pet, Wallet, Bike, Surface, Strap, Ghost, Mountain Bike, Magnetic, and Fabric lines that provide all types of secure and waterproof mounts for AirTags – they’ve definitely got the AirTag mount market cornered.

Plus, they’re from Portland too 🙂

Get the TagVault: Pin from ElevationLabs or on Amazon.


Humane launches Ai Pin hardware for voice, camera, and laser-based personal computing

Today, Humane announced their new Ai Pin, a $699 cellular-enabled wearable powered by artificial intelligence. The Ai Pin cleverly attaches to your clothing using a hot-swappable battery, plus utilizes a combination of microphones, camera, and a laser to enable users to interact with computing and artificial intelligence capabilities without the use of a smartphone or traditional computer.


On their website, a 10-minute video features Humane CEO Bethany Bongiorno and chairman/president Imran Chaudhri demonstrating the product, which comes with an array of accessories and colorways (a specific nod to Humane’s fashion-forward branding and vibe – this is a product you will be wearing, after all).

The demo, product page, and tech details cover all the unique ways you’ll interact from tap-to-speak, scanning with the camera, and projecting with a laser onto your hand (and controlled with gestures). All of this is tied together with an artificial intelligence-based OS, meaning there’s no apps per-se – but definitely services you’ll be tapping into (and a list that will surely grow over time with new partners).

Available to order on November 16, this product is admittedly intriguing to me – it seems executed with a level of polish that you might expect from a company that heavily emphasizes being run by ex-Apple employees, and the hardware/software combination appears robust enough at version 1 that no part should be a dealbreaker.

Whether or not an AI-enabled voice wearable fits into my life, however, remains to be seen – something I can only ever understand by testing this product myself. Right now, it appears to be a complement to my already robust Shortcuts-powered computing experience, but an addition that’ll surely be uniquely personal to me and how I operate.

I am definitely excited to find and explore those new opportunities with this unique technology – something I’m grateful there are companies like Humane out there striving to make possible in new ways.

Check out the Humane Ai Pin.

Gear Links

Apple posts full video “Behind the scenes: An Apple Event shot on iPhone” »

Apple has posted a behind-the-scenes video to YouTube for yesterday’s Mac keynote, which was entirely filmed on an iPhone 15 Pro Max:

The video demonstrates the breadth of potential for iPhone as a primary camera, especially when supplemented with all the normal filmmaking gear that’s used to accompany every other “real” camera when shooting.

I think this line from the video sums up the point: “One of the most exciting and interesting things to see is how not different it’s been on set” – definitely me want to integrate the iPhone more thoroughly in my own video setup.

Watch the video on YouTube.



iOS 17’s StandBy mode is great with this Belkin 2-in-1 MagSafe charging mount for iPhone and AirPods

Ever since the iOS 17 developer betas, I’ve been experimenting with StandBy mode for iPhone to turn it into a smart display, showing me widgets and notifications in a passive always-on status board.

I’ve been using StandBy on my Belkin 2-in-1 charger, an iPhone and AirPods charger that works with MagSafe, letting you mount the iPhone onto a floating stand much like the iPhones at the Apple Store.

Because it’s MagSafe, the phone can easily be turned sideways into landscape mode and stay there – I originally purchased this so I could easily watch YouTube videos in landscape while at my desk.


Set Up Your Shortcuts on Stream Deck with This Plugin from Sentinelite

Since my original coverage of how to use the Stream Deck with Shortcuts, other methods have popped up – most notably, the Shortcuts plugin for Stream Deck from developer Sentinelite.

With Shortcuts for Stream Deck, users can select from their shortcuts folders, set a specific shortcut using a dropdown menu, and run their shortcut with a tap of a button.

Gear Guest appearances Offsite Tips & Tricks

Using Apple Pencil to edit audio with Ferrite

Last Monday night, I streamed on Twitch for about a half hour on the topic of Ferrite for iPad with my friend Alec Pulianas, a computer engineer and podcast editor at AMP Creative Studios.

Watch How to edit podcasts with Apple Pencil in Ferrite (ft. Alec Pulianas) from matthewcassinelli on

We both edit podcasts and audio using Ferrite, a purpose-built audio editing app designed primarily for spoken word content (as opposed to Logic Pro or Garage Band which were built for music). It works on both iPhone and iPad, enabling a very natural touch input paradigm for editing your audio that both Alec and I prefer to use.

In our stream, we talked about the additional benefits when you edit on the iPad, including how using the Apple Pencil in this app feels like a remote control and which custom settings we use to edit.

We also covered details like Ferrite templates, the keyboard shortcuts, and a few of the downsides as well – it doesn’t have the same speed-changing capabilities as Logic, for example.

I really enjoyed talking with Alec—he’s a great guy—about this tool we both enjoy, especially because it’s changed how I edit audio and opened up where I can do my work.

Check out the clip on Twitch and follow my channel if you want to see future streams like this.1

  1. I’ve saved the entire stream as a “highlight” so it lasts past Twitch’s normal 30-days, but doing so unfortunately removes the live view count and chat comments. 
Gear Links Offsite Podcasts

Smart Tech Today #14: Loads of Smart Tech at CES 2020

On episode 14 of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about what I saw at CES 2020.

But before I get to what we covered in the show, I have exciting news – Smart Tech Today is now available as a video show in addition to our regular podcast feed!

We’ve always had the cameras on for our livestream, but the show’s been doing well enough to add in video production as well.

So, make sure to subscribe on YouTube if you want to watch along afterwards, or add the video podcast feed to get them delivered directly in Apple Podcasts.

Gear Siri Shortcuts

4 types of NFC tags to buy for your Siri Shortcuts automations

In iOS 13.1, the Shortcuts app added Automations, a feature that lets you use contextual triggers to show notifications for shortcuts you want to run or, for a subset of the option, run a shortcut entirely in the background. I’ll be covering those updates in the future, but I wanted to share links to NFC tags that I’ve bought and tested.

See, one of the Automation triggers lets you use “Near-Field Communication” tags that look like little wires printed onto stickers or stashed in cards like your credit cards, transit cards, or even in the Apple Watch or payment terminals for things like Apple Pay.

Thankfully, the new NFC tag automation trigger is one of the Automations that lets shortcut run “without asking” – they can fire off immediately when the trigger is detected, performing its operations in the background instead of requiring you to confirm via a notification first.

In iOS 13.1, this lets you run almost any shortcut just by tapping your iPhone to a small tag you’ve set up with Shortcuts, bringing the power of your apps and smartphone into the physical world with simple, cheap NFC tags.

So naturally, I bought a bunch, stuck them all over my house, and started testing them:


Playing around with the 2x Zoom on iPhone

Even though I've had the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone X, I haven't nearly taken advantage of the 2x zoom lenses on both. I default to using the wider iPhone's lens since that's what I've always had before, plus years of training against using digital zooms makes it feel unnatural to zoom in with a phone.

Instead, I've been trying to switch to the 2x camera lens right away each time so I could get better use of it and see if there were any places I hadn't realized it would be helpful beyond Portrait Mode.

Here are a few spots the iPhones with the double lens hardware makes getting the right shot easier:

  • Taking pictures of tiny text: getting into tight spaces is easier when you zoom in, plus you don't lose quality – for example, taking a photo of the lid of my AirPods in order to capture the serial number (which inspired this post 1).
  • Capturing documents: instead of leaning over and getting the phone up close to frame up the paper, zooming in and just pointing the phone down can help you get through a lot of pages without breaking your back
  • Getting shots that are out of your reach: if your arms are fully extended and you're trying to get a photo that's above your head or on top of something, the 2x lens can help you get that additional bit of perspective that you might otherwise miss. I've found it can be super handy to stick your arm up and get a zoomed in photo of what's just out of view.
  • Taking photos that match your eye's perspective: the default 28mm lens on the iPhone is much wider than the way you see things normally – the 2x zoom's 56mm lens is closer to the perspective we see ourselves (albeit more cropped in).

    The wider lens can also distort vertical lines, especially if they're up close. Shooting with the longer lens also helps prevent as much warping, although you may need to stand further back. That being said, it doesn't work very well in low light.

  • Taking sample photos for a bigger shoot later: when I was preparing to make the photography for my HomePod review, I went around first with my iPhone X to scope out how I wanted my photos to look without needing to lug around my full camera.

    The 2x lens more closely matched the "in your home" perspective I was trying to achieve, plus I could zoom in and out further to mimic the full range of my 12-60mm lens. I got sample shots so I could properly integrate the imagery into how I wrote the piece, then later did a proper photoshoot with lights and my camera to get the highest quality photography.

Some of these aren't particularly innovative ways to use a camera, but if you hadn't thought of one before it might be helpful2.

Many of the shots won't be up to par for crisp, clear focus or high quality levels of photography, but for quick memories and productive use cases it does the job well.

Next time you open up the camera app on an iPhone X/Plus, try switching to 2x and just looking through the viewfinder for a while – it may help you see things in a different way.

  1. No, that's not the complete serial number of my AirPods. ↩︎
  2. If you have any other suggestions, let me know on Twitter and I'll add them here & credit you. ↩︎
Apps Gear Siri Shortcuts

Writing about Shortcuts/Workflow (and HomePod) on the Web

I’ve had the privilege to write for The Sweet Setup the last few months and now iMore, so I wanted to share some of the links here.

Primarily I’ve been writing about Shortcuts/Workflow, trying to get some of the ideas in my head out and into the world so other people can take better of the app – especially now that it’s free. But I’m also dabbling in product reviews & photography, a new challenge that’s proving lots of fun and hard work.


Getting a better angle on my iPad Pro

I’m a huge fan of the 10.5” iPad Pro and have been using it every day since I bought it.


Getting in gear with new gear

Now that I’m wading into video a bit more, I quickly realized that I’d need more storage and a better way to transfer files.