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  • Lomi review: A great countertop composter -- if you've got the space for it

    Pela's countertop composter Lomi brings the eco-friendly practice of composting out of the backyard and into your home.


    Lomi is a countertop composter for disposing of food waste, which also promises to keep your houseplants happy and reduce your carbon footprint. It was designed by Pela, a producer of a biodegradable line of phone cases and accessories for the iPhone and other Apple devices.

    Why you shouldn't throw your food waste into the garbage

    Before we get started, let's address the number one problem Lomi wants to solve: food waste.

    Most people are under the assumption that food waste is pretty safe to throw away. After all, organic material decomposes -- famously so. We've all forgotten a banana on the counter at least once.

    Believe it or not, food waste doesn't always break down in landfills, and when it does, it doesn't always do so in the best way possible.

    Landfills are anaerobic environments, ecosystems that don't have enough oxygen to undergo the "normal" biodegrading process.

    When organic materials -- especially food and yard waste -- are thrown into the landfill, they are quickly buried by layers of other garbage. Then, starved of oxygen and light, much of the organic material festers.

    When it does finally decompose, it off-gasses methane. While some landfill facilities have begun capturing methane to create electricity, many have not.

    Composting food scraps, on the other hand, is significantly better for the environment. Traditionally, composting requires a mixture of nitrogen-rich ("green") waste and carbon-rich ("brown") waste, which then breaks down over time into a nutrient-dense material that you can use to supplement your garden.

    Typically, this is done in open-air piles, regularly watered, and then turned with a pitchfork or shovel to help provide oxygen and evenly distribute heat. It's a labor-intensive process, but it significantly benefits the environment and the person maintaining the compost pile.

    But, not everyone can maintain a compost pile -- and that's where Lomi comes in.

    What Lomi is

    Lomi is a "countertop composter." Countertop composters are machines designed to simulate the early stages of composting.

    What we like best about Lomi is that it is designed with users in mind and is extremely easy to use.

    To use Lomi, you open the lid, dump your organic scraps inside Lomi's bucket, press a button, and walk away.

    Lomi's bucket
    Lomi's bucket

    It then grinds the scraps and adds a bit of heat, which helps to jump-start the composting process. The process takes between 3 and twenty hours to complete, and what comes out depends on what you throw in and what mode you use.

    Additionally, Lomi also looks better than most countertop composters. Its contemporary design is friendly and could easily be mistaken for a humidifier or similar home appliance.

    Setting up Lomi

    Setting up Lomi is extremely easy. All you'll need to do is pop open the two filter chambers, fill them with activated charcoal pellets, and put them back in.

    Lomi's filters must be filled with activated charcoal pellets every three to four months
    Lomi's filters must be filled with activated charcoal pellets every three to four months

    After that, Lomi encourages you to toss the biodegradable plastic bags that held the charcoal into your first cycle.

    Depending on use, the charcoal will need to be replaced every three to four months. Pela sells a subscription that will send you the pellets. While that is handy, we'd like to point out that it's the same charcoal pellets used in aquarium tanks, so you can find it cheaper elsewhere.

    What can and can't go into Lomi

    Many things can go into Lomi, and Pela has created a list of stuff you can chuck inside.
    • Fruit and vegetables*
    • Coffee grounds
    • Eggshells
    • Meat scraps*
    • Rinds and peels*
    • Yard and houseplant trimmings
    • Lomi approved bioplastics, paper products, and packaging
    • * Provided they follow Lomi's guidelines for individual items.
    What should never go into Lomi
    • Dairy products, like cheese, yogurt, milk
    • Chemical-treated plants or yard trimmings
    • Wax paper, glossy paper
    • Diapers
    • Animal feces
    Our first batch of compost was a mix of kitchen scraps and houseplant trimmngs
    Our first batch of compost was a mix of kitchen scraps and houseplant trimmngs

    We will note that Pela seems torn on whether or not you can compost meat in Lomi. Sometimes Pela says it's okay, but other times, it doesn't.

    To err on the safe side, we suggest not chucking meat into Lomi if you plan on using it for your indoor potted plants.

    What comes out

    Now's a great time to talk about what comes out of Lomi after it runs a cycle. Lomi has three different cycles you can choose from, each resulting in a different type of end-product.

    Eco Mode: This quick mode is designed to create a material perfect for chucking into your backyard compost pile or green waste bin. Unfortunately, it's not appropriate for adding to your houseplants, as it hasn't been broken down enough and doesn't contain enough microbes.

    Grow Mode: A longer, more energy-intensive mode that uses a Lomi Pod -- a compost probiotic of sorts -- to create nutrient-rich dirt that you can add to your plants at a 1-to-10 ratio. You can also dispose of it in your compost pile or green waste bin.

    Lomi-Approved Mode: Lomi allows you to break down approved bioplastics, paper products, and compostable packaging. This includes Pela phone cases and Pela Apple Watch bands! The end-product of this cycle is perfect for chucking into your green waste bin or household garbage.

    How well it works

    Lomi works pretty well for what it is. However, we were surprised by how quiet Lomi was, even when it dealt with hard objects like corn cobs.

    Our first batch of soon-to-be compost included avocado skins, pepper trimmings, fallen orchid blooms, golden pothos trimmings, grape stems, some old coconut coir from a repotted plant, and the occasional plate scrapings.

    After a few hours, Lomi created a pile of
    After a few hours, Lomi created a pile of "dirt" that is ready to toss in a green waste bin -- or into your back yard!

    It consisted of about three days worth of Lomi-approved materials. Larger households will probably fill up a Lomi at least once a day.

    Perhaps the best part about Lomi is its hands-off nature, as it's essentially a set-and-forget device. Once you throw your food scraps into it, you can hit the button and walk away.

    When you return, Lomi will have made quick work of your organic material, leaving behind a brown, mulch-like substance.

    We were very impressed with how well Lomi manages odors. The carbon filter helps filter out smells while running, and for the most part, it didn't even get particularly gross while we dumped scraps in throughout the day.

    Of course, if you leave food scraps in there for a few days, it will smell pretty gross whenever you open it up. There's a better solution for that, though.

    If we know we're going to take a little while before we fill Lomi's bucket up enough to run a cycle, we store our food scraps in the freezer -- make sure to let them defrost inside of Lomi for a while before you run a cycle.

    What comes out of Lomi doesn't smell bad at all. Instead, it smells mostly like organic matter. Our first batch smelled mostly like mulch and a little like vegetable soup, and the second batch smelled faintly of bananas.

    Is it really compost?

    The material that comes out of Lomi isn't the same material you'd get from a traditional compost pile. Instead, it's more of immature compost, with significant decomposing left before it becomes mature.

    That's why Lomi recommends mixing it in a 1-to-10 part ratio, one part Lomi dirt to 10 parts soil, to help feed your plants. Lomi's dirt will continue to break down as you water your plants, releasing nutrients into the soil.

    Mixing it in higher ratios can damage your plants, just like any other fertilizer.

    If you want to age the end-product, many folks have found that you can mix it with soil and leave it to age somewhere that gets moderate sunlight. Because it's already been ground up in the machine, Lomi's dirt breaks down in a compost pile, bin, or bucket very quickly -- a couple of weeks compared to an entire season for traditional compost.

    Who Lomi is for

    Lomi is designed to help reduce food waste for people who do not have access to community-supported composting programs or for those who may not be able to maintain a traditional compost pile.

    While this seems like it would be explicitly for apartment dwellers -- which certainly is Lomi's core demographic -- it's not just smaller living spaces

    For example, we don't live in an area with a community-supported composting program. We don't even have a green waste program at all -- the city expects you to dispose of your food in the garbage and your yard waste out of your pocket should it not be able to fit in a garbage bag.

    And while backyard composting isn't explicitly banned here, there are some concerns with just throwing food waste on the ground. Cats in this area tend to be free range, we have a neighborhood groundhog, and there have been -- on occasion -- issues with bears.

    So, yes, Lomi is targeted toward those who live in apartments, but it isn't exclusively for those in apartments. Plenty of homeowners and plant lovers could get use out of Lomi as well.


    There are a few drawbacks to Lomi that are worth taking stock of before purchasing one.

    First, it's not a small machine. Lomi has a substantial physical footprint, and if you've limited space in your home, Lomi may not fit. We couldn't store Lomi on our countertop without sacrificing food prep space.

    Fortunately, we've got other places where Lomi can live, which means it still fits into our lives pretty well. However, that may not be the case for apartment dwellers with limited space.

    Next, Lomi does have to use electricity to do its job. Unlike a traditional compost pile, which is heated by the sun, Lomi needs to tap into the power grid.

    As a result, Lomi has a larger carbon footprint than a traditional compost pile.

    Pela packages the Lomi in 100% compostable packaging -- including the charcoal pellet bag!
    Pela packages the Lomi in 100% compostable packaging -- including the charcoal pellet bag!

    In fact, Pela even tells people who can maintain a traditional compost pile to avoid Lomi altogether. After all -- why spend $500 on something you could do for the cost of a pitchfork and some chicken wire?

    Of course, food sent to landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas, which isn't ideal either.

    Pela estimates that even if Lomi uses non-renewable energy, Lomi can prevent 200kg of carbon emissions per year generated by sending the food to a landfill -- assuming that Lomi composts 365 kilograms of food waste per year. That's about an 80% reduction in carbon emissions.

    As a side note: if you're worried about what Lomi costs to run, it's not all that expensive. The US average electricity price hovers around 14 cents per kWh, meaning that a Lomi Grow Cycle should cost about 14 cents to run.

    The Eco Mode only costs about 8 cents to run.

    The only particularly frustrating thing about Lomi is that it isn't quiet. Not the grinding -- that's pretty easy to ignore -- but the beeping.

    Pela jokes about this, stating that "Lomi likes to talk," but we found the beeping to be a significant drawback to the unit.

    It beeps. It beeps loudly. It beeps when you open it, it beeps when you close it, and it beeps when you press the buttons. Then, when it finishes its cycle, it beeps again.

    If you spend a lot of time on calls for work, or if you have your bedroom -- or your kids' bedrooms -- close to the kitchen, this is a significant problem. So should Pela release a Lomi 2.0, we'd like to see the ability to turn off the beeping.

    Last, it's not cheap. As stated above, Lomi costs $500, which may not be in the cards for many people.

    Unfortunately, this is true of all countertop composters -- and many non-electric composters, too.

    Vitamix's FoodCycler, a similar machine, retails for around $400 but doesn't produce an end product that can be added directly to plants. You can't refill the FoodCycler's filters, and they'll cost you $40 a pop.

    We're hoping that eventually, someone comes to market with a product in the $200 range, but until then, Lomi -- and its countertop composting cousins -- may only be for certain folks.

    Hopes for future releases

    Should Pela continue to iterate on Lomi, we'd like to see some app integration. Lomi is practically begging for it!

    We'd love to have an app that offers a countdown until the cycle is finished, monitors filter health, and allows us to quickly check what items can and can't be added in which modes.

    Loud, counter-eating, but makes excellent dirt

    Lomi is a great way to prevent your food waste from going to the landfill while providing you with a valuable end product. This is true whether you solely run it on eco-mode and dump the dirt into your compost pile or green waste bin or run it in grow-mode to supplement your plants.

    While we don't think it's for everyone, we believe it's still doing meaningful work. And, if you're a plant parent, you really can't beat having your own unlimited supply of plant-ready fertilizer.

    Where to buy

    If you're in the market for a Lomi of your own, you can head to, Best Buy or Pela's website. Lomi costs $500 and is often in short supply. We encourage those interested in Lomi to purchase one as soon as they are available, as they tend to go fast.

    Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    • Very easy to use
    • Creates nutrient-rich fertilizer for houseplants, gardens
    • Reduces food waste sent to the landfill
    • Minimal to no odor
    • Can be used to supplement yard-waste composting, especially leaf mold composting
    • Easy to clean and maintain
    • Loud, frequent beeping
    • Expensive to purchase
    • Large footprint makes it difficult to store
    • Lomi pods and charcoal are an additional expense
    Read on AppleInsider
  • Midea 8000 BTU U-shaped Air Conditioner review: energy efficient without sacrificing perfo...

    Midea's brilliantly designed U-shaped Air Conditioner is a fantastic way to cool a home without central air -- provided you can survive the installation process.

    Midea U-Shaped Air Conditioner in window

    In early July, I purchased my first home, which I've been dreaming about for my entire life. But, of course, I didn't have a crazy-high budget, so I knew I'd have to purchase an older home that needed some work.

    The house I eventually bought was built in 1882, making it 140 years old as of this year. It's had some work done on it recently, but for the most part, it's still a fixer-upper.

    As it is an older home, it didn't come equipped with central air. With the heat routinely leaping into the 90s, I knew I wouldn't last long without a window AC.

    However, I didn't want to settle for just any air conditioner. I wanted something that wouldn't run up my electric bill and would work well for my space.

    I did my research and landed on Midea's line of U-shaped Smart Air Conditioners. Not only are they ultra energy efficient, but they've developed a cult following.

    So, I bit the bullet, charged my credit card, and brought one home.


    Midea's U-shaped Air Conditioners feature a unique design that allows the window to sit "inside" of the air conditioning unit. This has several advantages over the traditional style, where the window merely rests on top.

    First, it means that your unit is incredibly stable. With the air conditioner locked in place by the pane of glass, it feels more secure.

    The Midea U, viewed from the side | Image Credit: Midea
    The Midea U, viewed from the side | Image Credit: Midea

    Second, it also makes it extremely quiet. Locking the compressor behind the glass prevents you from hearing the compressor the way you would with a traditional window unit.

    Midea says it's nine times quieter than a traditional window unit running at the same level. According to my ears, it's significantly quieter than the conventional window unit in my bedroom and even more subdued than the HVAC-based central air I had at my last apartment.

    I haven't had any issues making phone calls or FaceTime calls in the same room as the air conditioner. I appreciated this, as turning off the AC to make an hour-long phone call when it's 90 degrees outside is hardly ideal.

    Lastly, it's sealed off better. With traditional window units, you'll wind up fussing with one of those plastic accordions and trying to seal off any cracks with fussy pieces of weather seal.

    With Midea's U-shaped Air Conditioner, you'll only be left with a small gap on either side at the bottom, which you can easily seal off with a thick piece of foam that Midea includes.

    The entire design seems like the logical evolution of where window units should have ended up already.


    While it's a bit of a hard sell to claim that any electrical device can genuinely be "eco-friendly," the Midea U is currently the best option for electric usage.

    When figuring out how energy efficient an air conditioner is, the US government uses a system called CEER, which stands for Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio.

    The auto mode can slow fan speeds, saving energy and prevent overcooling of your space
    The auto mode can slow fan speeds, saving energy and prevent overcooling of your space

    CEER is defined as "The ratio of measured cooling output (in BTU per hour) to measured average electrical energy input (in Watts) and measured standby/off-mode power consumption (in Watts)."

    That means the higher the CEER rating, the more energy efficient the device. For an 8,000 BTU air conditioner to be considered "good," it needs to have a CEER rating of at least 11. Energy Star models will have a CEER rating of 12.1 or higher.

    The 8,000 BTU Midea U Air Conditioner has a CEER rating of 15. It won the Energy Star 2020's Most Efficient award -- the first window AC unit ever to do so. It uses 37.61% less energy than the US Federal Standard, too.

    The estimated yearly cost of the Midea U is under $50, assuming that you're using it for 8 hours a day for three months, with the average electricity cost of 13 cents per kWh. But, of course, your mileage may vary.


    While the design is fantastic, you must work to enjoy it. Installing this type of air conditioner is not as easy as Midea would have you believe.

    I've installed window unit air conditioners myself in the past. Sure, it wasn't fun, but it's pretty straightforward.

    Installing the Midea U was not like that -- at all. Not only did it require me to read the manual from front to back, but it also required me to call in additional help from my father.

    The Midea U must sit on a bracket, unlike many other window units on the market
    The Midea U must sit on a bracket, unlike many other window units on the market

    Unlike any air conditioner we've installed before, the Midea U has a non-optional bracket that you'll need to use. This was a new experience, as it required us to assemble the bracket, attach it to the window, and place the unit on it.

    We also had to do some fiddly work in the spot where the window slots into it. It's a 10+ step process, and even if you watch the included installation video, it may not be abundantly clear how to do certain steps.

    Just keep returning to the manual because it will be instrumental in getting you through the installation.

    Overall, it took us a full hour and a half from unboxing to switching it on for the first time -- about an hour longer than it took us to install the traditional window unit upstairs.

    I advise that if you install one yourself, make sure you have at least two people, if possible. Not only did this make it easier to quickly check the manual, but the unit itself is also quite heavy -- just over 55 pounds -- and cumbersome to move around.


    I have been using the Midea's U for nearly two weeks now, and I've been incredibly impressed with how well it's managed to keep pace during a hot stretch.

    I opted to go with the 8,000 BTU unit, despite the warnings that it would be much too small to cool my downstairs.

    However, I find that it manages to keep the entire downstairs of my two-story, 2000-square foot home comfortably at 73 degrees and doesn't need to run 24/7 to do so.

    There's an app for that

    As a bonus, the Midea app is pretty decent. It's not perfect, and it has a strange issue where it logs me out every 12 hours, but unlike many other smart device apps, it's actually intuitive.

    You can change the settings on your air conditioner directly from the app, including fan speed, temperature settings, which mode you're in, the direction of the vent, and more.

    You can also set up schedules, which can be very beneficial.

    I didn't want to cool the spaces of my house that I wasn't actively using, as that would be a waste of electricity. At night, the AC turns off two hours before I go to bed, turning back on in the morning just as I wake up.

    Size matters

    Something I did not bank on was just how far the safety bracket of the air conditioner sticks out -- a full 18.5 inches from the window. While this may not be a problem for some people, it presents a huge problem for others.

    I live in a neighborhood where the houses are positioned pretty close together, and I share an alleyway with my neighbors where we store our garbage and access our outdoor spigots.

    The bracket sits a full 18.5 inches out from the window
    The bracket sits a full 18.5 inches out from the window

    If our houses were placed any closer, the air conditioner will probably obscure the path too much and would need to be moved to another window.

    These air conditioners may not be advisable for those living in apartment buildings with fire escapes. After all, it's not worth it to obstruct your safety and the safety of others, no matter how well the air conditioner works.


    The Midea U is one of the best window unit air conditioners I've had the pleasure of using. It's quiet, has fantastic app integration, and hasn't resulted in a multi-hundred-dollar electric bill.

    If central air isn't an option for you -- or if you don't particularly like central air in the first place -- it would be hard to do better than a Midea U.

    Midea 8000 BTU U-shaped Air Conditioner Score

    It can be hard to determine one rating that would work for every user in every use case. Truthfully, it falls somewhere between a 3 and a 4 and depends on several factors.

    4 out of 5 if:
    • you have standard or near-standard, double-hung windows
    • you are somewhat handy or are willing to dedicate time to learning on the fly
    • you have at least two people to help install it
    3 out of 5 if:
    • you have windows that are much more narrow or much wider than average
    • you have a unique window situation, such as overhanging a fire escape or into a shared alley
    • you plan on installing this by yourself


    • Near silent operation, even at higher levels.
    • Highly energy efficient
    • Great app integration
    • Keeps large areas cool


    • Difficult, slow installation
    • May stick out too far for certain users

    Where to buy

    Midea's U-shaped Air Conditioner is available at Amazon in 8,000, 10,000, and 12,000 BTU capacities starting at $399, though the higher capacities tend to sell out faster.

    Read on AppleInsider
  • Compared: iPadOS 16 Stage Manager vs. iPadOS 15 Split View multitasking

    Thanks to iPadOS 16, any iPad with an M1 processor has access to two distinct multitasking systems, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. Here's how they compare.

    Stage Manager and Split View offer different multitasking experiences
    Stage Manager and Split View offer different multitasking experiences

    Multitasking on the iPad has come a long way since the device was first introduced in 2010. It started with no form of multitasking beyond full-screen app switching and has evolved into a device capable of running eight active apps at once.

    There are two forms of multitasking available for iPad users starting with iPadOS 16 -- Stage Manager and Split View. However, users can only take advantage of the more advanced Stage Manager if they have an iPad with an M1 processor.

    That limitation leaves out the majority of current iPad users, so an upgrade will be necessary to take advantage of the feature. However, Stage Manager may not be for everyone and isn't used by default.

    The state of iPadOS multitasking

    When Split View and Slide Over were first introduced in 2015, it was a novel way to manage multitasking on iPad. Two apps could be placed side-by-side with only two size options for Split View.

    Split View hasn't changed much since its 2015 debut
    Split View hasn't changed much since its 2015 debut

    Slide Over allows a single app to appear as a small floating window above the interface. While elements of the apps below could be interacted with while Slide Over was active, it wasn't ideal.

    This form of multitasking mimics the Spaces feature on macOS, which creates full-screen apps that can be swiped between with a gesture. Apple tweaked the functionality but never changed how it operated at a fundamental level even through today.

    Many users clamored for a more robust multitasking system or even a recreation of macOS windowing. What Apple delivered was something in-between called Stage Manager.

    Apple first introduced the feature during its presentation of macOS Ventura at WWDC. It is a system for managing windows using stacks of app windows in a small carousel-like view.

    Adding an external monitor multiplies the number of available windows
    Adding an external monitor multiplies the number of available windows

    The feature was also introduced for iPadOS, but with some limitations. Apps couldn't be placed freely, windows have predefined sizes, and only four apps can run on an iPad at once. Four additional apps can run, but only if an external display is connected.

    Stage Manager isn't the de-facto multitasking system on iPadOS nor is it enabled by default on M1 iPads. Instead, it is a separate mode that users can enable at any time via Control Center.

    Split View is better for focused tasks

    When Apple first announced Split View, it was proud of the fact that two full-screen apps side by side on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro would display the full 9.7-inch versions when in landscape. While Stage Manager allows a single app to go full screen, additional apps cause the windows to shrink and cannot take up the same area as a Split View.

    Slide Over provides a separate multitasking window set that can be pulled in at any time
    Slide Over provides a separate multitasking window set that can be pulled in at any time

    Also, Slide Over offers its own useful multitasking tools not available in Stage Manager on even on macOS. Since Slide Over acts as a secondary multitasking system with its own set of apps, users can summon it while using any other app or Split View.

    Once you need more than two or three apps at once, Split View's limitations start to show. Sure, an app can be pulled in from Slide Over, but it isn't true multitasking at that level.

    Stage Manager allows for more complex workflows

    Increasing the number of apps on screen from three to four doesn't sound impressive, but Stage Manager is much more than the apps running in the foreground. On our 12.9-inch iPad Pro, we can see four app stacks and our main active apps, that's up to 16 total apps in view on just the iPad.

    When plugged into the 27-inch Studio Display, the iPad can have eight active apps running with four on each display. However, the available app stacks on the side go from four to nine, which means that up to 44 apps can be visible and ready to access at any moment.

    Stage Manager can have up to four apps in a set versus two in Split View
    Stage Manager can have up to four apps in a set versus two in Split View

    That number is a wild cry from the three visible apps in Split View, or even the 18 possible apps available in the app switcher without scrolling. Most users would struggle to create eleven distinct app stacks that would function in a useful manner, but the fact that it is possible is still great for iPad users.

    Having different app stacks for work, entertainment, social chats, editing, smart home, and more makes things run a little smoother. It is true multitasking without the clutter of twenty open, overlapping windows obscuring a desktop.

    Once Stage Manager is enabled, Slide Over disappears and app stacks are recreated from memory. Other multitasking features still work like picture-in-picture and Quick Note, although it doesn't seem possible to summon Quick Note without an Apple Pencil when using Stage Manager.

    Add in a PiP video and Quick Note for even more multitasking windows
    Add in a PiP video and Quick Note for even more multitasking windows

    An external display can run Stage Manager while the iPad runs a full-screen app or Split View. However, the monitor will always run Stage Manager unless the user switches to a mirrored display mode, which shifts it to a 4:3 aspect ratio.

    A toggle in Control Center activates Stage Manager and a long press on the icon gives users the ability to hide the dock or app stacks automatically. If an app window is made big enough, the app stacks and dock will hide too.

    Choosing what works best

    Even as iPad continues to evolve into a more powerful productivity platform, Apple has held onto one central belief. The iPad should be able to function as a simple tablet device and scale up based on a user's needs.

    Stage Manager offers less space for two apps side by side than Split View
    Stage Manager offers less space for two apps side by side than Split View

    That means even though the 12.9-inch iPad Pro can connect to an external monitor and run eight apps at once, it can also be held in your hand with a single app taking over the whole display. This translates to multitasking too, as Stage Manager may not fit every use case.

    For example, Stage Manager works even if the user doesn't have a mouse or keyboard attached, but it isn't as easy to manage. Also, apps take up less space, so apps like drawing apps will have less area to work with versus full-screen mode or Split View.

    Users will have to determine which multitasking system works best for each workflow. While most people will choose one system and stick with it, the ability to switch between them offers even more versatility for the iPad and its form factor.

    Read on AppleInsider
  • Compared: AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000XM5

    The Sony WH-100XM5 are a new revision of the popular headphones priced at $400, here's how they compare to Apple's AirPods Max as we go hands on.

    AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000MX5
    AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000MX5

    Sony has been an industry-leading producer of some of the most popular music devices and headphones, as has Apple. When the AirPods Max launched in 2020 many comparisons were made between them and the nearly $200 cheaper Sony XM4.

    Now, Sony has updated its premium headphones with new specs at a $400 price. The Sony WH-1000XM5 have a new design, dual audio processors, and some updated algorithm-based features.

    AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000XM5: Specifications

    Comparing the AirPods Max to the new WH-1000XM5 and previous WH-1000XM4 provides a good idea of where these headphones stand. Sony focused on software features and quality of life changes over hardware upgrades this generation.
    SpecificationsAirPods MaxSony XM5Sony XM4
    Weight13.6 ounces8.82 ounces8.96 ounces
    ProcessorApple H1Sony QN1 and V1Sony QN1
    Primary MaterialAluminumPlasticPlastic
    Noise CancellationYesYes, user configurableYes, user configurable
    Transparency ModeYesYes, user configurableYes, user configurable
    Charging portLightningUSB-CUSB-C
    Battery Life20 hours ANC on30 hours ANC on30 hours ANC on
    ControlsDigital Crown, ButtonTouch, gestures, buttonsTouch, gestures, buttons
    The spec sheet shows very little has changed for the Sony headphones, yet the new processor and driver make all the difference in feature set. The external appearance has changed too, but the design remains geared toward a classic over-the-ear headphone style.

    AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000XM5: Design

    Sony has evolved the design of its WH-1000XM series into something that looks more premium thanks to a unibody style earpiece. The headband is one continuous shape with no folds or hinges, and both the headband and pads are made with a soft leather-like material.

    Neither AirPods Max or Sony WH-1000XM5 can fold for storage
    Neither AirPods Max or Sony WH-1000XM5 can fold for storage

    Apple's AirPods Max are a unique set of headphones made of heavy materials like aluminum and stainless steel. The ear pads are cloth, but use a magnetic attachment system that allows for third-party options to easily be swapped in.

    Sony moving away from a foldable design may be a big drawback for fans of the headphone line. Many comparisons between the previous XM4s and AirPods Max drew attention to the lack of folding on Apple's headphones, so this could be poorly received.

    Sony's XM5 ear cups sit on a swivel to make them feel as if they are "floating," and the size adjustment is similar to AirPods Max with its sliding bar mechanism.

    Apple uses a stainless steel headband wrapped in rubber with a small canopy at the top. This ensures the headband is sturdy and won't be easily broken and the canopy keeps the weight of the headphones evenly distributed.

    AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000XM5: Processing & Connectivity

    There are five colors available for AirPods Max
    There are five colors available for AirPods Max

    Apple uses an H1 chip in each ear cup for audio processing. They are controlling everything from audio balancing to ANC modes and "Hey Siri."

    Sony brought back the same QN1 processor it used in the WH-1000XM4 but now it is coupled with a proprietary V1 chip. The QN1 is responsible for the noise canceling processing while the V1 chip amplifies it, meaning the ANC and transparency modes are better than ever.

    Unlike AirPods Max, the Sony headphones are capable of playing back Hi-Resolution audio wired or wireless.

    With a price tag $150 north of the XM5, AirPods Max should sound better and after hours of listening, that was our main takeaway. AirPods Max had a bit more bass while brining the music closer to you. Listening to music, we felt the AirPods Max soundstage was larger, but brought us closer to the center, creating a more immersive and intimate experience.

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 is available in black or white for $399
    The Sony WH-1000XM5 is available in black or white for $399

    Both Apple and Sony support "Spatial Audio" where music or movies play audio in a 360-degree field. Sony calls this 360 Reality Audio, but it relies upon the same technologies. However, Apple uses head tracking to let users "move" through the 3D-audio space.

    AirPods Max connects to Apple's iCloud and associates themselves with a user's Apple ID. This enables fast switching between connected Apple devices like an iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Although, you'll still need to manually connect to non-Apple devices each time.

    Sony tries to replicate this kind of functionality using multiple Bluetooth connections. Two devices can be connected to the headphones at the same time. So, if you're listening to music on your PC and a phone call comes in, they'll switch to the phone automatically. Sony also takes advantage of Android Fast Pair for Bluetooth devices.

    AirPods Max have only one connector option -- Lightning. So if you want to use them wired, you'll need a special $35 Aux to Lightning cable from Apple. The Sony WH-1000XM5 have Aux in and USB-C connectors.

    AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000XM5: ANC modes

    The AirPods Max have ANC and Transparency Modes
    The AirPods Max have ANC and Transparency Modes

    The ANC and transparency modes in the Sony headphones haven't changed, but they have been improved. The headphones will attempt to automatically set which transparency mode is active based on environmental noise, and ANC levels are controlled via Sony's app.

    For Active Noise Cancellation, both AirPods Max and Sony XM5 attempt to block environmental noise using multiple external microphones and an internal microphone. This will block any constant mid to low level noise like machinery and muffle things like voices. Apple's ANC mode is on or off, while Sony offers a slider for intensity within its app.

    Automatic ANC modes
    Automatic ANC modes of XM5

    Transparency mode is meant to let environmental sound in. On the AirPods Max, again, it is just one setting that attempts to make it feel like you're not wearing headphones at all. There is still some ANC-like features keeping droning or loud noises out, but speech, traffic, and other environmental sound gets in.

    Sony offers different levels of transparency based on what it can detect or user input. Walking mode lets traffic noise in while waiting mode will listen for announcements from intercoms and let it through.

    AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000XM5: Other features

    Sony WH-1000XM5 use beam-forming microphones for improved call quality
    Sony WH-1000XM5 use beam-forming microphones for improved call quality

    Sony includes a large number of features like tap and gesture control on the ear cups or voice detection. For example, if you're listening to music on the Sony XM5 headphones and begin speaking, the headphones will pause the music and enable transparency mode for a conversation.

    USB-C charging port on XM5
    USB-C port on XM5

    There is also a feature to enable Spotify playback with just a few taps, something AirPods would never do. Of course, both headphones allow smart assistant controls like "Hey Siri," but Sony tries to give users more control outside of voice and buttons.

    Both headphones feature beam-forming microphones for improved call quality. Algorithms will attempt to focus the microphone on the speaker and remove any external noise to varying effect.

    While both headphones offer long battery life, they also offer fast charging options for getting a short span of listening after moments on the charger. For the Sony XM5 only three minutes of charging gives you three hours of listening. However, AirPods Max only gives you 1.5 hours for 5 minutes of charging.

    AirPods Max versus Sony WH-1000XM5: What to buy

    Apple users with money to spare will likely dive on the AirPods Max, however, Sony does offer a compelling alternative. The fact that Sony's headphones can play Hi-Resolution audio will win over any audiophile, especially with all of the app configuration options.

    Sony XM5 headphones
    Sony XM5 headphones

    Sony's headphones work best in a multi-platform environment where someone might own an iPhone, Windows computer, and Sony TV. The multiple connection options and a wide variety of listening modes make them versatile headphones.

    That being said, diehard Apple fans will stick with AirPods Max for their ecosystem connectivity and Apple-specific features. It doesn't hurt that there are five color options as well.

    Where to buy AirPods Max or Sony WH-1000XM5

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are available to purchase on Amazon, as well as at B&H Photo and Adorama. The over-ear headphones retail for $399.

    Apple's AirPods Max, meanwhile, retail for $549 but are discounted to $425 at press time when you shop through this activation link and enter promo code APINSIDER during checkout at Adorama. Detailed step-by-step activation instructions can be found here.

    You can also check out the latest prices at Amazon, B&H Photo and other Apple resellers in our AirPods Price Guide.

    Read on AppleInsider
  • Apple releases new firmware for AirPods, AirPods Pro & AirPods Max

    Apple has updated the second-generation AirPods, AirPods Max, and AirPods Pro, releasing a firmware update for the personal audio accessories on Tuesday.

    Apple doesn't usually provide any release notes for AirPods firmware, making it difficult to work out what has actually changed in each release. It is likely that each update includes bug fixes and performance improvements at a minimum.

    The firmware release is 4e71, and applies to the AirPods Max, AirPods Pro, and both the second-generation and third-generation AirPods.

    There is no official method to manually update the firmware of AirPods, but instead it is an automatically-installing firmware update. This occurs when your AirPods are connected to an iOS device, and are stored in the charging case with sufficient power.

    How to check your AirPods firmware version

    AirPods users can check the current firmware for their audio accessories within the Settings app.
    1. Open the Settings App

    2. Select General

    3. Select About

    4. Select the AirPods you wish to view

    5. A menu will appear showing relevant device information
    Read on AppleInsider