I got married this week, and these five iOS apps helped reduce our stress levels

April 14 was the day that I became a married man. And during the two years spent arranging it, there were a few apps on iOS 15 that we constantly used to make sure everything was paid for, and perfectly scheduled to play its part on the day.

Planning a wedding involves tasks that you would never expect to have to sort out – from agreeing on the music that would play while you sign the marriage certificate, to checking if the right tree logs for the table have been picked up by the best man.

If we didn't have our iPhones and apps at hand, we may have had to hire a wedding planner to avoid the multiple moments of stress we would have inevitably had.

But thankfully, there were five apps that helped us manage big chunks of the wedding that I was not expecting when I proposed back in 2020.

Notes

iOS 15 Wedding Notes

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple's Notes app is one I've relied on since the first version of iOS. It's simple, useful, and has always helped remind me of what's needed to be done for certain tasks.

For the wedding, its usefulness went to another level, thanks in part to the ability to manage notes with someone.

Having both of us add and remove checklists across the two years helped a bunch, especially when an update can appear as a push notification.

Things 3

Things 3 Wedding list on iOS 15

(Image credit: TechRadar)

While we had been arranging the wedding since 2020, tasks didn't really ramp up until the beginning of this year, which is where a to-do app came in.

Having tried other apps in this category, such as OmniFocus, Things 3 won out thanks to the quick actions of its Today screen. I could add and remove sudden jobs, and they'd also display in a helpful widget on my iPhone.

It's not just available on your iPhone for $ 9.99 / £9.99 / AU$ 11.99, it's also available on the iPad for $ 19.99 / £19.99 / AU$ 24.99, and on the Mac priced at $ 49.99 / £29.99 / AU$ 59.99.

Being reminded to pay for a photo booth or to decide on types of flowers in Things was a big help. In fact, it was so helpful I've expanded it to other aspects of my life, including my job at TechRadar, and hobbies like, embarrassingly, weekly Fortnite challenges.

Shazam

iOS 15 Shazam Playlist

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Spotify and Apple Music are two apps I've constantly used for the last decade. I still pay for iTunes Match, which is a yearly service that allows me to host all the music content that I owned on my iPod.

For the wedding itself, we found Spotify useful in arranging the entire playlist from start to finish, mainly due to the ability to have collaborative playlists.

This allowed us to add and remove songs in a playlist as we pleased, with our initials letting each of us know who added the most embarrassing song of the evening.

However, Shazam was most useful in helping us discover artists and tracks that we never would have considered. Going to wedding fayres and shops we heard a lot of music and by using Shazam to discover what the titles were, we could add them to our Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

It's a handy app that can help bolster your music library on whichever music app you use, without being intrusive.

A recent update also allows Shazam to be set up as a shortcut in Control Center on iOS 15, which saves you time before the track stops playing.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds Classic on iOS 15

(Image credit: TechRadar)

For me, managing a wedding is the equivalent of spinning 50 plates while standing on one leg, and reciting the alphabet backward in Spanish.

And that can lead to moments where you just want to escape the planning and the picking, and the paying, and just play a game instead.

This is where I decided to revisit some games thanks to Apple Arcade, and I rediscovered Angry Birds. It was an ideal pick for alleviating some of the frustration that occurred with some suits in February.

The game's maker, Rovio has also re-released the original game on iOS and Android, which I promptly downloaded. Flicking the irate fowl across four worlds on my iPhone 13 Pro turned out to be a great stress reliever while I was on a train to sort out the suits again or deciding on the right type of chairs for the reception.

Monzo Pots

iOS 15 Monzo Pots

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Weddings cost money – lots of money. If you want to make sure that the location or items you had your heart set on for years can be part of your special day, you're going to hear the word deposit a lot until the big day arrives.

It's also a great lesson in managing your funds, which is where a feature from Monzo came in handy for us. Pots are a way of moving money into sections that can't be used by your debit card. They're essentially saving methods without creating a savings account.

You can lock a pot to stop you from withdrawing any money from it, alongside naming it whatever you wish and setting it with a picture. If you want, you can set any transactions to round up the payment to the nearest unit, with the spare change being sent to this pot.

It removes a worry about how much you have ready for the wedding or other saving goals, alongside making sure it's safe from temptation.

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I got married this week, and these five iOS apps helped reduce our stress levels

April 14 was the day that I became a married man. And during the two years spent arranging it, there were a few apps on iOS 15 that we constantly used to make sure everything was paid for, and perfectly scheduled to play its part on the day.

Planning a wedding involves tasks that you would never expect to have to sort out – from agreeing on the music that would play while you sign the marriage certificate, to checking if the right tree logs for the table have been picked up by the best man.

If we didn't have our iPhones and apps at hand, we may have had to hire a wedding planner to avoid the multiple moments of stress we would have inevitably had.

But thankfully, there were five apps that helped us manage big chunks of the wedding that I was not expecting when I proposed back in 2020.

Notes

iOS 15 Wedding Notes

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple's Notes app is one I've relied on since the first version of iOS. It's simple, useful, and has always helped remind me of what's needed to be done for certain tasks.

For the wedding, its usefulness went to another level, thanks in part to the ability to manage notes with someone.

Having both of us add and remove checklists across the two years helped a bunch, especially when an update can appear as a push notification.

Things 3

Things 3 Wedding list on iOS 15

(Image credit: TechRadar)

While we had been arranging the wedding since 2020, tasks didn't really ramp up until the beginning of this year, which is where a to-do app came in.

Having tried other apps in this category, such as OmniFocus, Things 3 won out thanks to the quick actions of its Today screen. I could add and remove sudden jobs, and they'd also display in a helpful widget on my iPhone.

It's not just available on your iPhone for $ 9.99 / £9.99 / AU$ 11.99, it's also available on the iPad for $ 19.99 / £19.99 / AU$ 24.99, and on the Mac priced at $ 49.99 / £29.99 / AU$ 59.99.

Being reminded to pay for a photo booth or to decide on types of flowers in Things was a big help. In fact, it was so helpful I've expanded it to other aspects of my life, including my job at TechRadar, and hobbies like, embarrassingly, weekly Fortnite challenges.

Shazam

iOS 15 Shazam Playlist

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Spotify and Apple Music are two apps I've constantly used for the last decade. I still pay for iTunes Match, which is a yearly service that allows me to host all the music content that I owned on my iPod.

For the wedding itself, we found Spotify useful in arranging the entire playlist from start to finish, mainly due to the ability to have collaborative playlists.

This allowed us to add and remove songs in a playlist as we pleased, with our initials letting each of us know who added the most embarrassing song of the evening.

However, Shazam was most useful in helping us discover artists and tracks that we never would have considered. Going to wedding fayres and shops we heard a lot of music and by using Shazam to discover what the titles were, we could add them to our Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

It's a handy app that can help bolster your music library on whichever music app you use, without being intrusive.

A recent update also allows Shazam to be set up as a shortcut in Control Center on iOS 15, which saves you time before the track stops playing.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds Classic on iOS 15

(Image credit: TechRadar)

For me, managing a wedding is the equivalent of spinning 50 plates while standing on one leg, and reciting the alphabet backward in Spanish.

And that can lead to moments where you just want to escape the planning and the picking, and the paying, and just play a game instead.

This is where I decided to revisit some games thanks to Apple Arcade, and I rediscovered Angry Birds. It was an ideal pick for alleviating some of the frustration that occurred with some suits in February.

The game's maker, Rovio has also re-released the original game on iOS and Android, which I promptly downloaded. Flicking the irate fowl across four worlds on my iPhone 13 Pro turned out to be a great stress reliever while I was on a train to sort out the suits again or deciding on the right type of chairs for the reception.

Monzo Pots

iOS 15 Monzo Pots

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Weddings cost money – lots of money. If you want to make sure that the location or items you had your heart set on for years can be part of your special day, you're going to hear the word deposit a lot until the big day arrives.

It's also a great lesson in managing your funds, which is where a feature from Monzo came in handy for us. Pots are a way of moving money into sections that can't be used by your debit card. They're essentially saving methods without creating a savings account.

You can lock a pot to stop you from withdrawing any money from it, alongside naming it whatever you wish and setting it with a picture. If you want, you can set any transactions to round up the payment to the nearest unit, with the spare change being sent to this pot.

It removes a worry about how much you have ready for the wedding or other saving goals, alongside making sure it's safe from temptation.

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iPadOS 16: Five features I’d like to see as we head towards WWDC 2022

When iPadOS 15 was announced back at WWDC 2021, I was disappointed to find that it was more of a catch-up to iOS 14, with widgets on the home screen.

While the new Focus feature and better multitasking options were welcome, they didn't go far enough in improving how I used the iPad at the time. As these updates felt so minor to me, I decided to switch to a MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), and I've been happy with it since.

However, with WWDC 2022 confirmed for June 6, there's a good chance we'll see iPadOS 16. Hopefully, we'll see the operating system set itself apart from iOS, with features that are not only exclusive to the iPad but justifies the 'Pro' in iPad Pro.

With this in mind, here are five features that I'd like to see for iPadOS 16.

iPad home screen with widgets in iPadOS 15

(Image credit: Future)

1. External monitor support

This is a feature that many iPad users have been wanting, myself included when I owned one. While you can connect an iPad to a display, it only mirrors what's being shown on the tablet, and worse, in a resolution that doesn't adapt to the monitor.

We're in a time where completing your work on two or three monitors is normal. You can swap apps and windows between these displays and macOS or Windows 11 handles them fine.

But in iPadOS, that's not possible. Let's see an additional multitasking window show when an iPad is connected to a display. This way, you can swipe an app to another display, and let it display in the full resolution that the monitor is capable of.

2. Redesigned lock screen

There are parts of iPadOS where it looks as though it's an iPhone feature but supersized. Siri was guilty of this for years, where it would cover the entire screen, but thankfully this was resized in a compact menu in iPadOS 13.

The lock screen should be next to benefit from this. While we were given refined notifications in iPadOS 15, there's plenty of space being wasted, especially on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Let's see a widget displayed at least – perhaps weather as the default, followed by the choice of adding another. While you can swipe to the left and have some widgets display, having them show as soon as you wake the screen would be a nice touch.

3. Record more than one person in a call

This has been a bugbear of content creators, especially those who record podcasts. While you're able to take part in calls and group calls thanks to FaceTime, Skype and others, there's been no way to record everyone separately.

This is how many people capture the recordings for a podcast, as it enables audio editors to place separate audio files to make an episode.

Currently, on iPadOS, there's no way of doing this.

So, let's see an easier way to record multiple people on a call and be able to save them all as separate files, ready to edit into a podcast.

This one change could open up the iPad as a portable podcast machine – from recording a guest, to placing the file into Garageband or Ferrite, then saving it as a finished podcast file, ready to upload to a provider.

4. Final Cut

While there are apps like iMovie and Luma Digital that can edit your video projects, some content creators want the extra power and features that an app like Final Cut provides.

This is Apple's pro version of its video editing apps and has only been available on macOS. But with the Mac and iPad both running on Apple Silicon, users have been wishing to see Final Cut on the iPad.

Seeing this as part of iPadOS 16, along with widgets and shortcuts, could really appeal to pro users. And being able to carry on with their Final Cut projects from Mac to iPad would improve workflows, no need to use a different app on an iPad.

5. Better picture-in-picture support

This is a feature that was once exclusive to the iPad, before moving over to macOS, then iOS 15. However, its features have stayed the same since its debut in iOS 9 on iPad. It's time for some improvements.

To have a timeline slider would be a great benefit, as you currently have to go back to the app that's originally playing the video and press the slider to switch to a different part of what's playing.

Another welcome feature would be the ability to place the video anywhere on the display. While you can do that to a point now, the video has been known to place itself below menus or obstructed by an app. On macOS, you can solve this by holding down the command button and dragging the video anywhere on the display.

If these two improvements arrived on iPadOS, there'd be an increase in its use, especially with YouTube's decision to bring the feature to its app for Premium users.

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Five new features that iOS 15.4 brings to your iPhone and iPad

With Apple announcing its Mac Studio, the iPhone SE 3, the Studio Display, and more at its March 2022 event, the release for iOS 15.4 has followed a week after, available for your iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, and above.

iOS 15 was released in September 2021, and it brought SharePlay, widgets to iPadOS, Focus modes, and more, all focusing on a theme of productivity.

But Apple has been full steam ahead with .1 updates since then, as 15.1, 15.2, and 15.3 have all brought bug fixes and refinements to your iPhone and iPad.

With this in mind, here are five features that you can get acquainted with as iOS 15.4 downloads to your device.

1. Face ID with a mask

iOS 15.4 FaceID Mask

(Image credit: Future)

While Apple introduced a feature that would allow your Apple Watch to authenticate you by unlocking your phone, it wasn't helpful to those who didn't own a watch.

With iOS 15.4, you can enable an additional feature where you will be asked to scan your face while wearing a mask. The Face ID hardware will then recognize your eyes and facial features to unlock your phone instead.

2. Universal Control with iPadOS 15.4

Universal Control

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

This is something that was announced at WWDC in 2021, Apple's yearly developer conference, but it was delayed from the latter half of 2021 to the release of iPadOS 15.4.

As long as you have a certain iPad model and a Mac running macOS 12.3 Monterey, you can use your mouse cursor across both devices, so you can drag and drop your content seamlessly.

If you're struggling to set Universal Control up, we've got a guide to help out with that.

3. New Emoji

iOS 15.4 Emoji

(Image credit: TechRadar)

A new update wouldn't be the same without new emoji, and this time there's a bunch you can use.

From a salute to different genders being pregnant, alongside many new hand gestures, there's plenty to choose from for your WhatsApp and Twitter messages.

4. Better anti-stalking measures for AirTag

iOS 15.4 AirTags

(Image credit: TechRadar)

When you set up a new AirTag in iOS 15.4, you will be greeted with a pop-up explaining that it's a crime to use it to track people, making users aware of its misuses across the world so far.

There's also better ways to manage its Notifications through the Find My app, so you can configure when the time-tracking alerts will arrive, alongside deciding whether to deliver all of its notifications right away or at a certain time of day.

5. Notes in iCloud Keychain

iOS 15.4 iCloud Keychain

(Image credit: TechRadar)

You've been able to save and sync your passwords in iCloud since 2019 with the release of iOS 13. But 15.4 allows you to add notes to your custom iCloud passwords through iCloud Keychain.

While it sounds like a small feature, it's significant due to other password apps having this for a number of years, and the ease of adding some extra reminders in these sections can help, especially if you have multiple accounts for the same site.

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Five new features that iOS 15.4 brings to your iPhone and iPad

With Apple announcing its Mac Studio, the iPhone SE 3, the Studio Display, and more at its March 2022 event, the release for iOS 15.4 has followed a week after, available for your iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, and above.

iOS 15 was released in September 2021, and it brought SharePlay, widgets to iPadOS, Focus modes, and more, all focusing on a theme of productivity.

But Apple has been full steam ahead with .1 updates since then, as 15.1, 15.2, and 15.3 have all brought bug fixes and refinements to your iPhone and iPad.

With this in mind, here are five features that you can get acquainted with as iOS 15.4 downloads to your device.

1. Face ID with a mask

iOS 15.4 FaceID Mask

(Image credit: Future)

While Apple introduced a feature that would allow your Apple Watch to authenticate you by unlocking your phone, it wasn't helpful to those who didn't own a watch.

With iOS 15.4, you can enable an additional feature where you will be asked to scan your face while wearing a mask. The Face ID hardware will then recognize your eyes and facial features to unlock your phone instead.

2. Universal Control with iPadOS 15.4

Universal Control

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

This is something that was announced at WWDC in 2021, Apple's yearly developer conference, but it was delayed from the latter half of 2021 to the release of iPadOS 15.4.

As long as you have a certain iPad model and a Mac running macOS 12.3 Monterey, you can use your mouse cursor across both devices, so you can drag and drop your content seamlessly.

If you're struggling to set Universal Control up, we've got a guide to help out with that.

3. New Emoji

iOS 15.4 Emoji

(Image credit: TechRadar)

A new update wouldn't be the same without new emoji, and this time there's a bunch you can use.

From a salute to different genders being pregnant, alongside many new hand gestures, there's plenty to choose from for your WhatsApp and Twitter messages.

4. Better anti-stalking measures for AirTag

iOS 15.4 AirTags

(Image credit: TechRadar)

When you set up a new AirTag in iOS 15.4, you will be greeted with a pop-up explaining that it's a crime to use it to track people, making users aware of its misuses across the world so far.

There's also better ways to manage its Notifications through the Find My app, so you can configure when the time-tracking alerts will arrive, alongside deciding whether to deliver all of its notifications right away or at a certain time of day.

5. Notes in iCloud Keychain

iOS 15.4 iCloud Keychain

(Image credit: TechRadar)

You've been able to save and sync your passwords in iCloud since 2019 with the release of iOS 13. But 15.4 allows you to add notes to your custom iCloud passwords through iCloud Keychain.

While it sounds like a small feature, it's significant due to other password apps having this for a number of years, and the ease of adding some extra reminders in these sections can help, especially if you have multiple accounts for the same site.

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Windows 12 – five features we want to see from Microsoft’s rumored upgrade

There's been much speculation that Microsoft is already hard at work on the successor to Windows 11, likely to be called Windows 12.

Some of us at TechRadar are all for a swift follow-up to Windows 11, and would like to see Microsoft matching the regular update schedules of macOS and other operating systems.

So what improvements and new features might Windows 12 bring with it? Users have been peppering Microsoft with feature requests, with some of these wishes set to be granted in upcoming updates to Windows 11, tentatively called Sun Valley 2.

The TechRadar computing team has come up with its own wish list of five features we'd like to see in a Windows 12 release, no matter how unlikely some of them may be.

Windows 12 release date rumors

This is still very early days for Windows 11 – we're not even at the one-year anniversary of the update having been announced. However, going on past releases, we'd expect to see Windows 12 arrive in late 2025, just as support for Windows 10 is ending.

Windows 12 supported devices

When Microsoft announced availability for Windows 11, the main requirement was for machines to have a hardware feature called TPM enabled, which is a security feature that can be found on most motherboards.

While the same requirement will most likely be requested by Microsoft again, it may be at a point where almost every PC has TPM enabled anyway.

Other than that, it will likely have similar requirements to Windows 11:

  • 64-bit processor
  • 1Ghz clock speed
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB drive
  • UEFI, Secure Boot capable
  • TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module)
  • A display larger than 9-inches with HD Resolution (1366×768)
  • DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x 
  • Internet connection

What we want to see

We don't know much about Windows 12 yet, or whether the rumored upgrade will even become a reality, but we do have a good idea of what we want from it, with the following features topping our list.

1. Merge Skype and Teams into MSN Messenger 12

MSN Messenger in Windows 11

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It's no secret that Microsoft's efforts on video calling and collaboration through messaging apps have been less than stellar in recent years. In a time when people needed to communicate remotely more, it was Zoom that took the lead and Skype was bafflingly left by the wayside.

While there have been some new features brought to both Teams and Skype, there's still an air of confusion as to which one you should use. If you need to take part in a job interview that's on Teams, for example, chances are you'll quickly need to install the app and make sure it works.

Instead, let's see them both retire and mark a fresh start for Windows 12, with the return of MSN Messenger to do the job these two apps have limped on with.

Not only to see the return of nudges, winks, and classic sounds if users want, but powerful features to make it go toe-to-toe with Zoom, Google Meets, and FaceTime. Perhaps have integration with Slack, so if a video meeting is needed, it can prompt in a channel and with one button, MSN Messenger will launch with the required invitees.

Microsoft needs to reboot how it perceives itself for messaging apps, and the return of MSN Messenger could be a great start to that.

2. Live Wallpaper

Wallpaper Engine app, available on Steam.

(Image credit: Wallpaper Engine)

A request by TechRadar's Senior Computing Editor Matt Hanson, and an intriguing one at that. There have been similar features in iPhones and Android phones for some years, with animations moving across these devices. But for PC and Mac, they've been relegated to third-party apps, such as Wallpaper Engine, to be able to have animated wallpapers with the ability to display information from your PC.

To have something similar from Microsoft for Windows 12 could further push its efforts in themes, something that's seen improvements in Windows 11, thanks to its dark themes.

Having a dedicated section for wallpapers where you can place static bytes of information on the desktop that works with an animated live wallpaper, could appeal to all kinds of users.

Microsoft could also bring back previous wallpapers, such as the hillside of Windows XP but have it animated, alongside some clouds displaying battery status or the weather.

This can update the desktop substantially and make it much more up to date, without having to rely on widgets or a taskbar to showcase changes.

3. Dedicated Podcast app

Apple Podcasts

(Image credit: Primakov / Shutterstock)

While it's been great to see the return of Windows Media Player from Microsoft, having additional features such as podcasts feels irrelevant for what Media Player is for.

macOS has had its own podcast app since Big Sur in 2019, but if you wanted to use a similar app on Windows, it's not clear where to start, as Microsoft doesn't offer a dedicated podcast app.

This is why Windows 12 should include a dedicated podcast app that could also be used on other platforms, such as iOS and Android, so your subscriptions could sync across all your devices.

Podcasts are a great way of listening to interviews or the latest news that involve your interests, and managing them all in a first-party app would be great for Windows users. It's something that could really help spur the company's effort to make content available on almost every device.

4. Dedicated Streaming app

Game Streaming

(Image credit: Razer)

A storming idea by our resident Computing writer Jess Weatherbed, as there is yet to be an integrated option in Windows to stream what you're playing.

For years there have been apps such as OBS and Twitch that offer ways to stream what you're playing or watching with others. However, these apps have always required extra effort to make sure that you're streaming to viewers in good quality, with low latency.

Then there's the additional aspect of the peripherals that streamers use to help show them in a better light, or Stream Decks to easily control their setups with shortcut keys.

It can be overwhelming to manage multiple apps just to control all of these, which is why Windows 12 could benefit from having one app that can manage your streams and the peripherals.

Microsoft has been pushing gaming in Windows 11 since its announcement in June 2021, with a redesigned Xbox app and HDR support. But countless gamers also stream these games through Windows, so there's a big opportunity here.

Having one app to control, say, ring lights and the streams for viewers is appealing, shifting the heavy lifting to one app. It could automate streams based on the schedule and the games being played, alongside different lighting scenarios for the different times of the day.

This could encourage more gamers to see Windows as a service, as the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella has been stating since the release of Windows 10 in 2015, while also making Windows 12 an enticing prospect for streamers to earn more followers and income for their careers.

5. Companion app for Android

Samsung DeX

(Image credit: Samsung)

A suggestion by our Editor-in-Chief at TechRadar Pro, Desire Athow – this can be an expansion of Your Phone, Microsoft's effort to sync your phone to Windows. But when you open this new app in Windows 12, it has a layout reminiscent of Windows Phone and its tile layout that can enable a desktop experience from your phone.

This would be similar to Samsung DeX, where you can transform your S22 or Tab S22 Ultra into a desktop once it's connected to a peripheral.

This new app would go beyond DeX and Microsoft's Your Phone efforts. When you connect to a monitor, it becomes a fully-fledged Windows 12 desktop, showcasing everything from your main PC. And when you click on an icon, it downloads the content from the cloud and displays it in its native resolution.

It would be an innovative extension of the cloud, where you can access your files wherever you are. Here, you're carrying your desktop with you and all you need to do is to connect your smartphone to a monitor, either with touchscreen features or a keyboard and mouse.

This would also further Nadella's plans again, similar to the streaming feature, of seeing Windows as a service. Having your PC in an app is an enticing thought, and could help for those situations when you have a short window of opportunity to do some work with a spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse somewhere.

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Got a new M1 Mac? Here’s five great games to play on Parallels Desktop

Since Parallels Desktop 17 was released earlier this year, we’ve been inspired to try out many games on Apple’s M1 Macs in how they run through virtualization.

With many tests impressing us so far, such as Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes running at full speed in 1440p on high settings, we’re still testing more games from other storefronts to see how far these Macs will go.

But you may have already received a new Mac this Christmas, and you’re already trying out Apple Arcade or games from the Mac App Store.

With this in mind, we’ve curated five games that will run great on your new Apple Silicon Mac, but are also perfect to play during the Christmas holidays.

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair, on a MacBook Pro through Parallels Desktop

(Image credit: Future)

Released in 2019 by Playtonic, a team of ex-Rare veterans and more, this is the second entry into the Yooka Laylee series after the first game had a successful Kickstarter, and was released to positive reviews.

This entry is 2D based, which is inspired from the Donkey Kong Country games of Rare's past. Here, you run through a series of worlds and levels to collect quills and T.W.I.T. coins, as well as to free a member of the 'Beetalion' crew. These will grant Yooka and Laylee additional 'hit points' to use when you reach the final level.

While you can play this game on Steam, we also saw no issues in playing the game on the Epic Games app within Parallels as well. Everything played well on high settings on both the M1 Mac mini and M1 Pro MacBook Pro, so if you want a great 2D platformer to pass the holidays with, Yooka and Laylee can greatly help with that.

Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain

Playing Ground Zeroes on a M1 Mac mini

(Image credit: TechRadar)

To date, an entry from the Metal Gear series has not seen a release on the Mac, but thanks to Parallels, you can play the fifth game with little issues.

Released in two parts – Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain that are available on Steam, you control Big Boss, or Phantom Snake as he's called here, where you need to infiltrate certain bases to rescue or recruit crew members to build out an army at a base called Outer Heaven.

While there are rumors pertaining to this day of the final game being unfinished, due to a missing chapter at the end, that doesn't make the game feel any less fun. The story, while confusing, is made up of the amount that you can do during a mission, You can drop in or be picked up in certain areas, and complete the tasks in different ways.

On the M1 Macs, you can easily run the game at a 1440×900 resolution at medium settings and have a great time. However, if you have a Mac with the M1 Pro or Max chip, you will be able to run the game on its highest settings with no issues.

Everything runs as expected, and over the holidays, it's a great game to lose yourself in.

Grand Theft Auto IV

GTA 4 on a MacBook Pro in Parallels Desktop

(Image credit: Future)

While many are waiting to hear about a Grand Theft Auto VI, the fourth entry is one that gets overlooked the most from the series.

The first in the 'high-definition' series, its purpose was to remake Liberty City, the location from the third game, into this wide-sprawling city.

You control Eastern European war veteran Nico Bellic this time, where you're on a mission to help your family and friends by working with the local Mafia. Across four districts, you're soon flying helicopters and arranging dates to build up your reputation across the city.

The control is arguably better than Grand Theft Auto V, where driving has a better feel here, with more heft and better variation when you drive different vehicles across the city.

While the multiplayer mode was removed in 2020, the single-player mode available on Steam is still a lot of fun. On an M1 Mac, you can expect to play the game in high settings with no issue, but with an M1 Pro/Max Mac, you'll be able to play the game at a 2540×1440 resolution with no issues.

Tomb Raider: Legend

Tomb Raider Legend on Parallels Desktop 17 on an M1 MacBook Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

With 2021 marking the 25th anniversary of the Tomb Raider series, you may have a favored entry that you go back to for some Lara Croft nostalgia.

However, while you can play the first three Tomb Raider games in Parallels with no issue, the seventh game, released in 2006 on Steam, is worth a playthrough over the holidays.

It's the first entry created by Crystal Dynamics, where Lara receives a soft reboot in her story and appearance, but with the gameplay being updated for the mid-noughties.

The controls here are much looser here than before, where you can play the game with a keyboard and mouse and have a good time.

Sprawled across 10 levels, from Bolivia to Kazakhstan, you're on a quest to find King Arthur's Excalibur in order to find Lara's missing Mother. It's a simple story, but it's where the gameplay shines. You're given a grappling hook that can attach to ledges and blocks to solve a variety of puzzles, alongside finding secret treasures that can unlock costumes for Lara.

For a game released in 2006, it still plays well today, and especially so on an Apple Silicon Mac. You can play the game at high settings, on a high resolution with no issues here.

Sonic Generations

Sonic Generations running in Parallels Desktop 17 on an M1 Pro MacBook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

This was a game that was designed to celebrate Sonic's 20th anniversary back in 2011 on Steam. Sonic Generations is one of the few 3D Sonic games that's fondly remembered, mainly due to how it honors the series' past.

Every level here is a remake of what came before, from Green Hill Zone in Sonic 1, to Sky Sanctuary Zone in Sonic 3. There are nine stages, with an additional stage of Casino Night Zone, from Sonic 2, where you merely collect enough rings in a pinball machine to complete the level.

Every level is as entertaining as the last, where you play a 3D and a 2D version of it, depending on the type of Sonic you pick. There's also plenty of collectibles that you earn by finding hidden red rings across the stages, which can unlock music, skills and more.

Running the game on an M1 Mac, it can stutter if all settings are on high, especially with the shaders. But when running in medium settings on a 1920×1080 resolution, you'll be running across Chemical Plant Zone with no issues.

However, playing Sonic Generations with an M1 Pro / Max Mac, you can easily play with high settings at a 2560×1440 resolution with rarely any stutters.

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