Big Screens, Even Bigger Lessons & Learning to Make Tough Calls ›

This is a really insightful look into the process behind making an iPad app from an established iPhone app. As a designer I have some knowledge of designing for different screen sizes, but the behaviour of an app is very different to the behaviour of a website, albeit with some similarities. Before I begin any future web design projects I’ll definitely be giving this piece another read or two.

Airfoil 5.5: Now Playing on Chromecast! ›

One of my favourite Mac utilities has just been updated to add some excellent functionality. Airfoil now supports Chromecast and it works very well.

I’ve never understood why AirPlay from an iOS device only allows you to send audio to one speaker at a time, Airfoil is the perfect way to fix that. My MacBook Pro is normally on and so I AirPlay to Airfoils sister app Airfoil Satellite and then using the iOS Satellite app send the audio to what ever speakers I want. Since I have a Chromecast in my little studio I can now easily send Apple Music to my speakers without faffing around with cables. I put it to good use this morning streaming to both my studio speakers and kitchen speakers while I moved between the two rooms.

App Store 2.0 ›

News broke last night of some changes to the App Store. Chief among them was the availability of subscription pricing to all types of apps. Many people seem to see it as a positive for developers, and I agree to some extent, but it all depends how those subscriptions will be used.

This quote from The Verge’s coverage of the news is exactly what I’m concerned about.

Tsiddon says his company makes around $10 million a year from its premium apps, which are sold for a one-time purchase fee of $3.99 or $4.99. Lightricks has sold 8 million app downloads to date. Tsiddon hasn’t fully committed to a subscription model yet, only saying that he’s “excited to experiment with the business model,” but based on back-of-the-envelope math he believes if his company saw 4 million downloads while charging a $4 monthly subscription fee, he could make 10 times his current annual revenue. 

If developers start to shift to pricing like this, I and many others, will stop using their apps. I simply can not afford, and even if I could I would not be able to justify, paying $4 a month to use an app. Especially when it’s multiplied by the 12 independent apps on my iPhone homescreen. That’s not sustainable.

My Homescreen: May 2015

With this week completely focused on finishing phase one of a client project, I completely missed that it was the 1st of the month yesterday. So now that the working week is over and I’m sat back relaxing it’s time to sort out this month’s edition of my homescreens. I’ll tackle both iPhone and iPad at the same time, since the changes to both are identical and for the same reason. 

iPhone

iPhone May 2015

Dock

The Rest

iPad

iPad My 2015

Dock

The Rest

What’s New?

  • OmniFocus – Since the start of the year I’ve been using Things to manage my tasks, in the last month I’ve ended up switching back to OmniFocus. Partly because one of the porjects I’m working on has needed breaking down further than Things can cope with, and partly because of OmniFocus MailDrop.
  • Outlook, Gmail, Inbox by Gmail and Mailbox – Recently I’ve been having some issues with the provider of my email, lots of servers down and unreliable delivery. As a self-employed person I need to be able to rely on my email never failing, and so my work email has now switched to Google Apps. I’m still deciding on my personal email setup.

One of the advantages of moving to Google Apps for Work has allowed me to test out a few email apps I couldn’t use previously, and also to combine my email with IFTTT so that it works harder for me. Part of that IFTTT integration has been to combine the Gmail channel with the email channel and my OmniFocus MailDrop address. I’m still refining things and trying to decide which apps to use, but I hope to be able to explain further how I’m making my email work for me rather than having to work to keep on top of it.

NeuBible. A Bible app designed for you ›

This post is a bit of a rarity, it’s the first link post I’ve posted since the reboot of this blog and I think it’s a fitting one.

I’m a big fan of my bible being a paper one, it’s great to be cut off and focused from the world while I’m reading it. I do however, like the utility of having the Bible on my phone and this new app called NeuBible looks absolutely stunning. It doesn’t yet include my preferred translation (ESV for those interested) but I will be certainly giving it a try. If you’ve never read the bible, this seems like a beautiful place to start.

Evernote 5 for iOS ›

I’m finding myself more and more drawn to the Evernote world. This coming update looks like it could be really nice to use and finally push me into using the app more regularly. The only thing that’s not show is the home screen icon, hopefully they’ve improved that as well, the current one is ugly.

Things Cloud and Local Push ›

The cloud sync that is now finally in Cultured Code’s Things is fantastic. This little addition has made it even more awesome, best of all it works like the video shows it does.

That’s where Local Push comes in. Now, every time you make a change on one device, Things sends an encrypted notification of that change across your local network. All your other devices on the same local network pick this up and request the changes from Things Cloud.

In other words — you can have Things open on all your devices, make a change on one of them, and see that change applied on your other devices almost immediately.

AirFoil’s Menu Bar Access

I seem to have this strange affinity for the menu bar. Well really it’s for little icons in the menu bar. If an app can run in it in someway, chances are it is doing so on my Mac.

Recently the excellent AirFoil from Rogue Amoeba was upgraded to version 4.7. It brought with it the ability to run an icon in the menu bar instead of the dock. Instantly I turned it on, AirFoil is always running and it bugs me to have too many icons in the dock of my MBP1. It’s a brilliant idea and one which, in my opinion, should’ve been available much earlier than it has been. A simple click shows me what song is playing in either iTunes or Spotify, which speaker I’m streaming too and the ability to add more should I wish. It’s almost like the universal AirPlay icon in the multitasking tray on iOS.

That’s all great, except, it feels kinda half finished.

The greatest thing about AirFoil is that I can stream from any source on my Mac. I mainly use it for Spotify or iTunes, but occasionally I play something in Safari like the a live 5by5 podcast. It baffles me that I can’t select what source AirFoil is transmitting from the menu bar. Logic, at least to me, dictated that this would be the chief function.

Imagine the scene. I’m sat working away, I realise via Twitter, that the B&B Podcast is about to start live on 5by5.tv. I click the link in the tweet I just read and I’m switched to Safari. Since I already have music playing from iTunes, using Alfred I can pause it instantly and then I’m free to start the live stream. The only thing is I have to click show AirFoil, then find the window and click the drop down. Then I have to select my source, and then I can close the window. It all seems kinda long winded and like I should be able to switch source on the fly from the menu item. A “source” menu below or above my speakers containing only the apps I have open and available to be used as my source would be fantastic. It’d reduce the clicking and thus the friction in changing a source for my AirFoil broadcast. Hopefully they will add this ability soon, it would complete the app as far as I’m concerned.

  1. I’m a dock on the side guy (left bottom) and so vertical space is limited.

OopsieFocus Script by Shawn Blanc ›

This happens to me on a semi-regular basis: I hit the hotkey to bring up the OmniFocus Quick Entry Pane but nothing happens.

I do this and it drives me nuts. Thankfully Shawn has a fix in the form of OopsieFocus. I just installed this handy little applescript triggered by the ever useful Alfred.

Reeder for Mac ›

Reeder for Mac is now out of beta. I’ve been using this app since it went into public beta and really love the trackpad gestures it’s got built in. I use it on my iPad as well, and I can really see how iOS has influenced the thinking of the developer. Go check it out on the App Store.

A Not Quite Full Review, of a Not Quite Great Twitter App: Twitterrific ›

Ben Brooks' review of Twitterrific 4 finishes with this little comment.

It doesn’t feel finished — it feels like a version 1.0 product. If this was a version 1.0 then I would be excited for its future, but given the version 4 nature I am hardly impressed.

A fair assessment, but essentially this is a version 1. It's so different to the previous versions and I believe that the Iconfactory actually started again like they did on iOS with the new version. Still, some of the decisions they've made are odd.

As a side note:

You can’t close image windows (Twitpic and the like) with the keyboard.

Try pressing escape and you'll find this comment incorrect. I was being driven mad until I stumbled across this though, so I can see where Ben is coming from.