Convert Articles to a Custom Podcast with Listen Later (Sponsor)

This week, I’m welcoming a new sponsor to MacSparky, Listen Later. It’s always nice when a new sponsor arrives for which I’m already a paying customer, and that’s the case with this one. Listen Later is a service that converts stories and articles you send them to a personalized podcast feed using their AI-based (and very believable) reader. You can take that long-form article you’ve meant to read and listen to it on your next drive. It’s a great service, and I’ve been enjoying it.

Their state-of-the-art AI not only narrates but brings life to the articles with a quality that I’d never heard before from an AI voice. You really should try it. Access your personalized podcast episodes on all devices through any podcast app. Stay connected with your preferred content anytime and anywhere, ensuring you never miss out on insightful articles.

Beyond articles, Listen Later can also convert emails and PDFs into podcasts. This feature is perfect for transforming work documents, newsletters, or any textual content into listenable formats.

Listen Later not only converts but can also translate content into multiple languages, making global content accessible and enjoyable in your preferred language.

Sign up for the service today, and you’ll get $2 of free credit. That’s an easy way to try it out for yourself at no risk. Go check it out.

The State of visionOS Content

We’ve had some nice Vision Pro content announcements over the last few weeks. There is a new adventure experience, Parkour in Paris. I watched it and realized halfway through that I must be developing a fear of heights because many shots terrified me. We also got Demeo, a role-playing game that now works on Vision Pro, and that has several interesting twists. At some point in the next few days, Disney will release the Vision Pro version of What if…, an ongoing Marvel series that looks at alternative timelines and ideas. The Vision Pro version is supposed to be both immersive and interactive.

I’m calling all this out because it is simultaneously promising and overdue on the Vision Pro. I expected more frequent releases like this when the hardware became available, and there hasn’t been enough of it. People talk about Vision Pro as if it’s a dud, and I don’t see it this way. I regularly watch videos on it and write on it. And yet…

There has been a dearth of content taking advantage of what makes the Vision Pro special. There are many great clips in the demonstration. I expected more like that to show up sooner on the device. I think a regular diet of content like this (along with more immersive sports and concerts) would help generate excitement for the platform and satisfaction for existing owners. One of the primary reasons to buy the Vision Pro is for content, so more exclusive content that takes advantage of the hardware would be welcome. What’s unclear is how invested Apple is in paying for that kind of content. I’m not sure if WWDC is the place for such an announcement, but a public declaration from Apple and promises of regular releases of future content Vision Pro would be welcome.

About this Folding Mac Rumor

There is a new rumor that Apple is working on a foldable, keyboard-less Mac for release in a few years, which will get a 20-inch display in something resembling a 13-inch MacBook Air footprint. That would be impressive, but it would also raise many questions.

First, what about the keyboard? Once you take away a keyboard, is it still a Mac? I’d say it is so long as it’s running macOS. A lot of folks tend to like their keyboards. At the same time, voice-to-text dictation is moving rapidly as artificial intelligence kicks into high gear. I also can’t help but note the irony that I am typing this out on a virtual keyboard on my 13-inch iPad Pro without any trouble.

Second, if Apple released an all-screen Mac, wouldn’t it make sense to include a touch screen and maybe even Apple Pencil support?

Something different, for sure.

Mac Power Users 746: All About iMessage

iMessage is one of the stickiest parts of the Apple ecosystem, and on this week’s episode of Mac Power Users, Stephen and I discuss some of its features, explore its security credentials, and share some tips for making it run smoothly.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • NetSuite: The leading integrated cloud business software suite.
  • Ecamm: Powerful live streaming platform for Mac. Try it for free today.
  • Indeed: Join more than 3.5 million businesses worldwide using Indeed to hire great talent fast.

Brett Terpstra’s Conductor

I’m a little late with this one, but I wanted to congratulate my friend Brett Terpstra on the release of Conductor. This new command line utility is an add-on for Brett’s successful Marked app. As the name implies, this utility acts as a train conductor for Marked 2, allowing you to set up and run custom processors to make Marked 2 even more powerful and automation-friendly.

Brett goes deeper into Conductor in this post. He even added some functionality a few days ago.

Fix Your Photos with PowerPhotos 2.0 (Sponsor)

We’re heading into a new year, and I’m guessing over the holidays you took a few pictures. How’s your Photos library doing? If it’s anything like mine, it’s a mess right now. 

Did you know there is an app to help you out with that? PowerPhotos is here to the rescue.

PowerPhotos works with the built-in Photos app on your Mac, providing an array of tools to help you get your photo collection in order. Find and eliminate duplicate photos, split up your library into smaller ones, merge libraries together, open libraries in separate windows, export photos/albums, and more. 

Best of all, PowerPhotos 2.0 is now available! There are some great new features in version 2.0: 

– Convert your old iPhoto or Aperture library to an equivalent Photos library
– Advanced export of photos/albums
– Full support for iCloud Photos
– New visual duplicate detection engine library groups
– Global menu bar item
– Multiple windows 

PowerPhotos adds all the features to Photos that Apple never will. You can download PowerPhotos for free to check it out, and purchasing a license will unlock all the features of the program. MacSparky readers can get a 20% discount with the coupon code MACSPARKY23, and existing iPhoto Library Manager and PowerPhotos 1.0 users can also use their old serial number to receive upgrade pricing, 50% of the normal price.

So make the Photos app work harder for you with PowerPhotos 2.0. You can get it today.

MacWhisper 8 Improvements

MacWhisper has been updated to version 8 with some new features, including a video player. Multiple apps use the Whisper model to perform transcription. I bought a license for MacWhisper early, and I’ve been using it a lot ever since.

MacWhisper application icon featuring a close-up of a white microphone in vertical orientation, on a stand, against a blue gradient background in the shape of a round square.

One example: We use a Notion database to manage all the MacSparky content (this blog, the MacSparky Labs and Field Guides, etc.). With the addition of Notion AI, we’ve found value in keeping text transcripts of released content in the database. This allows us to ask questions like, “When is the last time I covered MacWhisper?”

MacWhisper 8 adds new features:

Video Player

A new inline video player has been added that allows transcribing video files. The video player can be popped out into its own window. Subtitles display directly on the video, and translations appear as separate subtitles, too. This will make the above Notion workflow even easier

WhisperKit Support

You can now choose different Whisper engines like WhisperKit for your transcriptions. WhisperKit offers distilled models for faster transcription speed, and transcriptions stream in real-time. WhisperKit can be enabled in Settings → Advanced.

There are a bunch of other improvements keeping MacWhisper at the top of my list for transcribing audio on my Mac.

I will be curious to see if Apple incorporates the Whisper technology into the Mac operating system at WWDC. It seems like it should be built into the operating system. Moreover, if they incorporated it onto the chip, it could really scream. But it’s too early to tell exactly what Apple’s vision is for incorporating AI into macOS, and this may be a bridge too far. In the meantime, I’m very happy to have MacWhisper around.