I'm always in search of the best possible charging solution for all my travel needs. I have some very simple requirements: it needs to be minimal and be capable of charging all my devices while on the go. It's evolved over time, and with some improvements to AirPods and MagSafe accessories, I've finally landed on what I think is the best possible solution for me. I say for me because your needs might be slightly different, but this is what works for me.
Let's start with what devices I have so we can talk about how I charge them. For my personal devices, I'm still rocking the iPhone 14 Pro, the Apple Watch Ultra, the non-USB-C 2nd Gen AirPods Pro with MagSafe Case (this is important for later), and the M1 iPad Pro 12.9".
With those devices in mind, I've settled on a scalable solution for how I work. At the center of this setup is the Anker Prime 67W charger. This has 2 USB-C ports and one USB-A. It has more than enough power to fast charge everything I have. To provide the most flexibility, I have two of these multi-end cables that are USB-A/USB-C on one end, and USB-C/Lightning on the other. Each are 6' long so that they can reach most anywhere I am in relation to a power outlet, and I still have the ability to charge via Lightning for any of those devices that are still around.
Now I could just stop there, and plug each device into a cable. But sometimes when I travel, I don't have power available and I need an external battery to charge my devices. This is where an external battery pack is a great accessory to carry. For a while, I had a separate 10k mAh battery pack, but then I looked into the OtterBox 2-in-1 Power Bank with MagSafe – and it's a game changer for me. This device is not only a battery pack, but can act as a travel MagSafe charging stand for my phone, watch, and AirPods Pro; it even does pass-through charging, so I can leave it plugged in overnight and still use StandBy like I do at home. And like I mentioned before, the AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging case makes this setup even better: I can use either magnetic charging targets on the Power Bank, or even use my second cable with Lightning to charge. I think that's a big advantage with the AirPods Pro that most people miss: the versatility of charging options.
There are some other bits that I might charge from time to time, like my Apurture light or my tactical flashlight, but everything in my charging setup can be used to charge those also. If I'm on a trip where I'm carrying a lot of peripherals or I need to bring my work laptop, I might bring bring an additional charger and USB-C cable for the added power, a black braided USB-C to Lightning cable (that came with the Magic Trackpad), and an Anker MagSafe Battery. It just depends on the bag/carry I'm using at the time.
This entire solution – starting with the charging brick, cables, and batteries – is a very scalable travel MagSafe solution for me. It's extremely versatile for my devices, especially given that the AirPods Pro are able to charge via a MagSafe, Watch, or Lightning/USB-C (depending on which case you might have). I've finally arrived at my ideal travel charging solution, and really couldn't be happier.
It's also changed my home setup, but I'll save that for another time. ↩︎
A short while ago, I created a new shortcut called Action Health to use with the Action Button on the Apple Watch Ultra. I submitted it to MacStories as part of Automation April, purely to share what had been created and hoped that others might find it useful. To my surprise, I won the Best Health Shortcut this year, something I didn't expect at all.
Truth be told: I actually had forgotten that I had entered it into the contest, as I've been using a different shortcut after putting Action Health into practice. I was finding that I wanted to have access not only to start a workout or log something, but I also several other task-oriented and messaging options at my fingertips. So it made sense to fork the shortcut from the original.
Ultimately, I created ActionCut. This takes all the good from Action Health and adds the additional features that I find myself wanting to do quickly from my wrist: create a task in Reminders, create a note in Drafts, send a quick message to my wife, or add something to our grocery list. The idea here was that it needed to be a simple tap of the button and fast entry so that I can capture quickly and move on. I also took the logging actions from Action Health and moved it into a single menu item; I don't do these as often, so tucking them into a submenu was better. For the task and note entry, I made this shortcut to use the apps I prefer: Drafts and Reminders. But you could also modify this to include other task management and note taking apps too as long as it has Shortcuts support. For each added component, I've made it so that you have to enter text via the keyboard, but you can also then quickly tap the microphone to start dictation. You could modify this to be dictation only, but there are times where doing so is inconvenient.
Now, I know what you're thinking: why not just use complications for this? And the answer here is simple: I might not always have a complication available. Just like the iPhone dock or home screen, real estate on the Watch is a premium. Sometimes I need a travel watch face with other complications, or I need a fancy watch face for a special event. And the Action Button provides me with – much like the back tap on the iPhone – a way to quickly access these little programs to do more with my watch. And as I think of more options, I can add them to ActionCut going forward, so it's very expandable. I have found that by implementing ActionCut, I'm trying new watch faces just like I tried out new home screens on the iPhone when widgets came and I removed Drafts from my dock, all thanks to this shortcut freeing up space and being tied to a button. The addition of widgets was a huge foundational shift for me on the iPhone, and I'm starting to feel that with the Action Button on my Ultra when using ActionCut.
When the Apple Watch Ultra was released, I knew I wanted it. Bigger watch face, insane battery life, the titanium finish, and the Action Button. And it really delivered on three of those things. But the biggest disappointment was the robustness of the Action Button, specifically for me surrounding the single action capability.
The Action Button can do a few things, but only one at a time: start a workout, start a stopwatch, set a waypoint, set a backtrack marker, start a dive, turn on the flashlight, run a shortcut, or do nothing. Rather than have the Action Button be a single function, I wanted it to do multiple things for me.
Shortcuts to the rescue.
I've been tracking – maybe not always successfully – a few different things with shortcuts: my weight, water intake, and caffeine intake. But I also didn't want to lose the ability to quickly start a workout. With a simple shortcut, I can do all these things. It's a simple menu action, with sub-actions inside. Think of it as a menu choice of mini shortcuts. First, you can start a workout form a list of items: upon install, you will be prompted to remove the workouts you don't want to include. It's a tedious process, but you only have to do it once. I also didn't include every workout there, but rather included around 50 of them. The full list is in a comment, so you can quickly add one that is missing. You also can move the items around in the list to have your more frequent workouts near the top of the list.
Weight is an easy one to enter. You're simply prompted for your weight, and then it gets entered – just make sure you set the right units. Logging water and caffeine were influenced based on the existing shortcuts from the gallery. Simple entry based on common units for both ounces of water and milligrams of caffeine. Nothing too complicated, but something I can quickly run from just my watch.
I know it all seems simple. But it's a little improvement to be able to have more control at my wrist. I don't have to reach for my phone for this, which feels a bit more natural to me. I'm finding that with this simple change, I'm using it more. I'm trying to be better on my health journey, and this is one simple step to making it that much better.