Category Archives: Apple

How to boot a MacBook without its internal display

I discovered this trick while repairing a MacBook Air with a broken screen. Mine additionally had a software problem that meant it wouldn’t start up far enough to recognize the display I had connected via Mini DisplayPort. To fix this, you have to:

  1. Power off the MacBook
  2. Connect an external keyboard, mouse and display
  3. Press the power button on the MacBook and immediately close the lid!

The MacBook will now show its EFI boot screen and all (mac)OS output on the external monitor, allowing diagnosis and software restore, as well as enabling normal usage as a “clamshell” Mac.

HDR Movies on iPad Pro

In my previous post I told you about my favorite film bundle on iTunes. The bundle is remarkeable because it includes “4K Dolby Vision” versions of all included films at no extra cost compared to the HD version. I was able to enjoy the higher quality video on my iPad Pro and I go into a few technical details of the experience below.

Supported devices

Apple’s support document ↗︎ about movies with ” 4K badgeHDR badge, or Dolby Vision badge ” reads:

iPhone 8 and newer, iPad Pro (2017), and Apple TV 4K can play HDR10 and Dolby Vision content.
Apple TV 4K, connected to a 4K-compatible television, can play 4K content.4 4K video, especially with HDR10 or Dolby Vision, requires an HDMI cable compatible with these formats.

iPad Pro 2nd Generation, iPhone 8/X and Apple TV 4K. That’s right, iTunes for Mac doesn’t (as of this writing) let you download or stream the “4K” versions of films even on iMac 5K!

Additionally, a swift internet connection is required to stream 4K content:

Apple recommends a minimum speed of 25 Mbps for 4K streaming.

If your internet connection doesn’t meet this requirement, your device will stream lower resolution video automatically. Oddly enough, Apple doesn’t permit downloading 4K content to watch later – the download is maxed out at 1080p:

You can download a local copy of an HD movie to your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC, and you might be able to download HDR and Dolby Vision versions to your iOS devices, but you can’t download a 4K version.

My experience of HDR on iPad Pro

I watched five Mission: Impossible movies in “4K Dolby Vision” on my iPad Pro 12.9” (2017). The video quality is impressive! I haven’t found mention of how the HDR effect is achieved on the iPad, so I decided to find out myself. I filmed my iPad Pro that was playing a Dolby Vision movie in 240fps using my iPhone 7. Watching the slowed-down clip confirms that there’s no interlacing used to create a fake HDR perception, this is native HDR thanks to the iPad’s exceptional display. Bonus: ProMotion technology allows the iPad to display the 24fps movie at native 24 Hz, which eliminates tearing produced by conventional displays that run at fixed 60 Hz refresh rate. Awesome!

The best movie experience in the home

Using “Apple TV 4K” connected to a 4K TV with Dolby Vision support using proper HDMI cable, you can actually achieve full 4K (3840 x 2160) HDR playback quality as demoed by Apple on stage during the “Apple TV 4K” announcement keynote.

A few technical limitations that should be mentioned:

  • iPad Pro and iPhone are limited to 1080p Dolby Vision renders of the movie, not 4K as advertised in the store both on iOS and macOS. On the flip side, the difference in resolution is probably not noticeable even on the 2048p display of my iPad Pro 12.9″.
  • “iTunes Extras” content is in SD for older movies and HD for more recent ones – no 4K/1080p HDR, a downgrade that is immediately noticeable after viewing the full blockbuster in 1080p HDR!
  • Interruptions of HDR: anything displayed outside of the video playing will temporarily prevent HDR from working its magic. The transition is mostly smooth. However even subtitles and notifications caused my iPad to briefly switch to non-HDR mode.

Funny enough: the brief interruptions of HDR allow you to consciously notice the added video quality.


iTunes “4K Dolby Vision” offers a truly cinema-grade visual experience, both on Apple TV 4K and on iPad Pro (2017). The team behind the Apple ProMotion display deserves highest praise! 👏

Apple proudly presents: they missed the boat again.

When Tim Cook went quiet after having talked more than enough about the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, I felt a nearly forgotten sensation building up in my stomach. I’m too young to have witnessed Steve Jobs’ keynotes in pixelated live streams, but I’ve watched enough replays of those legendary events to recognize this deliberate pause towards the end of the presentation. Or so I thought, because my excitement for “one more thing…” was ripped to pieces seconds later when Mr. Cook shamelessly missed the opportunity and over-emphatically invited the press representatives to get their fingers dirty on the fancy new Touch Bar. Continue reading Apple proudly presents: they missed the boat again.

My first iPhone app: Selfie Stickers for Messages

Selfie Stickers for Messages App Icon. Shows an emoji of a person who is taking a selfie. Only the right arm and smartphone are visible.After a few weeks of quiet research and development (no pun intended), I have launched my first app on the Apple App Store!

It’s called “Selfie Stickers for Messages”.

Quoting the App Store description:

Add a personal touch to any messages you send or receive with – wait for it – your own face! Selfie Stickers allows you to easily create your own stickers out of your selfies and other photos!

It’s as simple as 1-2-3:
1. Tap to take a selfie or select an existing one from your photo library
2. Crop the image to get the subject centered (a circular mask will be applied afterwards)
3. Done! Peel your facial expression of amazement away and stick it onto any message of your choice. Or tap to send the sticker as a photo for others to re-use!

Are you excited to try the new sticker feature in iOS 10’s Messages app?
Don’t like the existing, pre-built and emotionless stickers?
This app was made for you. It works with any picture you take and with all the photos you already have in your camera roll.

Turn that frown upside-down and send all the facial expressions your selfie camera can capture to your friends today!

Stay tuned for more features as I continue to enhance Selfie Stickers.

You can find it on the App Store for free:

Download Selfie Stickers for Messages on the Apple App Store

It was a fun challenge and a refreshing departure from StarGame development and I hope you enjoy it as well. StarGame is also coming to the App Store pretty soon, so stay tuned for that!

How to tweak your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch without jailbreaking


This is a very nerdy and complex post about how to modify your mobile Apple device using custom iTunes backups. This is especially relevant in a time when there’s no jailbreak and thus no way to break out of Apple’s restrictive App Store ecosystem to truly customize your device.

This post was made due to a request on Reddit. It is intended for medium to very tech-savy users though I will try to explain most things in layman terms. Please note that in case you (or I) screw up, you can always use the original backup of your device to undo any changes you made and get things working again.

Please read how to make an iTunes backup of an iDevice and how to restore an iDevice from a backup before attempting any of the below.

What you will need:

  • iDevice (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).
  • USB cable to connect your device to your computer.
  • A Mac or Windows computer that meets the system requirements here.
  • An internet connection.
  • iTunes application installed on your computer.

Continue reading How to tweak your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch without jailbreaking