Some great thoughts on iOS 7′s new look and apps, and he nails it at the end regarding Apple’s seemingly non-existent aversion to leaving things behind.
Also, I like Chuck’s comment on the new Siri:
The biggest win here are tie-ins to device capabilities like “turn on bluetooth” or “increase brightness” that we saw during the keynote. It makes Siri feel more like the voice behind your phone, not just another feature.
Agreed, and I love that this is the direction they’re going. One of my favorite tidbits seen in the new Notification Center is the natural language overview of your day regarding weather and events, as well as tomorrow’s events. Presumably that information is being parsed and the sentences are being writing with the same technology behind Siri’s conversational tone.
When I ran the in-house design team for the International House of Prayer we worked in an open office. Seventeen people and their desks with no cubicles or walls. We loved it because it was open and refreshing and you felt connected to the team. And it worked because we honored a rule of no talking, and no interrupting other people at their desk.
Everyone had iChat (back then it wasn’t yet called Messages) open and if you needed to talk to someone, even if they were in the desk next to you, you’d send them an instant message. And if their iChat status was set to “away” then it meant they were busy and in the zone and you would just have to hold your horses for a bit.
In short, if you spend any amount of time using the Mac’s Messages app (R.I.P. iChat) for conversing with peers and/or co-workers, then Chatology is for you. Because a lot of useful, helpful, and random information gets shared and this app makes it a breeze to find those past chats and/or whatever links or files where passed. You can even filter your searches to only show chats with images or links.
Like Ben wrote in his review, Chatology isn’t for everybody, but those who could use it are going to love it.
The 2012 winning recipe is the one I’ve been using the most ever since I tried it over a year ago. I haven’t tried the 2013 winning recipe yet, it’s a bit more fussy — apparently it’s all the rage to hold your AeroPress at a 45-degree angle and slowly rotate it during bloom and brew time as a way to gently agitate the grounds. When I was a kid we drank drip coffee and liked it!
June 18, 2013
Last week I linked to the LaunchBar 5.5 update and commented about its new Snippets feature:
One great advantage of LaunchBar’s snippets is that you can access your whole list with a keystroke and then search for the one you want. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I forget what abbreviation I assigned to this or that TextExpander expansion (especially ones I use infrequently). And so, for some cases, I expect I’ll be using LaunchBar snippets instead.
After writing that, I received some feedback from folks about a preference in TextExpander that I’ve been ignorant to: you can set a global hotkey which will bring up a search box to search your TextExpander snippets.
Hitting the hotkey gets you this search box, which searches both the contents of the expansion as well as the shortcut:
Yes, some abbreviations are unforgettable, but not all of them. And so if, like me, you sometimes forget what abbreviation you’ve assigned to a TextExpander snippet, then this hotkey preference is for you.
Tuesday, June 18
I love this piece by Federico Viticci:
There will be apps that will mimic Apple’s Mail and Safari interfaces; there will be apps with custom UIs and personalities; and there will be apps that sit somewhere in between. But the potential that I’m excited to see this summer from developers is about the functionality of their apps, and how they will leverage new iOS 7 features to offer experiences that I’m not used to.
iOS 7 is far more than a radical aesthetic redesign — it’s the new foundation for the next era of Apple’s most popular operating system. I am becoming a fan of the more simplified look, and I look at certain screens within the operating system and I think: I can’t believe this is the operating system I get to use every day. The new Lock screen design, the magazine carousel of Safari tabs, the new Siri screen, are all gorgeous.
But what I too am most excited about are the things like the natural-language overview of the Notification Center’s Today view, the quick-access to settings and apps in the Control Center, the new APIs and how they will enable 3rd-party apps, the Z-Axis organization, and more. These are what will take iOS to its next stage of maturity.
This set pretty much sums up my week in San Francisco: drinking coffee, hanging out with friends, sharing ideas, and encouraging each other in the projects we’re working on.
All shots taken with the Olympus E-PL5 and Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 of course.
(And while you’re at it, check out the pictures I took while in jail.)
New single from John Mayer (which everyone now knows I’m a fan of). Paper Doll is a good, classic Mayer jam — somewhat laid back and in the pocket. It’s on iTunes and Rdio.
Anyway, you know he’s on tour this summer, right? I’ll be at his Kansas City show.
Monday, June 17
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My thanks to MightyDeals.com for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Matt Drance on iOS 7:
Apple has kept all the right things, and built a new experience celebrating the values behind them. iOS 7 is truly the sum of its parts. On their own, many of these new elements — parallax, translucency, animations, motion — might seem out of place, even gimmicky. Together, they put forth a clear vision, one that’s reinforced by one of the best marketing videos I think Apple has ever made.
June 17, 2013
Tweetbot shipped just over two years ago. In my review I wrote:
Tweetbot has more personality than any other Twitter client out there. Every single pixel has been hand crafted in order to build the most custom looking UI of any Twitter client I’ve seen. Moreover, the sounds, the animations, the actions — everything has been thought through with intent, care, and fun. It all adds up to create a Twitter Experience Extravaganza.
When Apple revealed its stark design changes in iOS 7, one of the things I first thought about was how 3rd-party developers would respond to the massive design changes. And one of the first apps that came to my mind was Tweetbot.
Comparing the current design aesthetic of Tweetbot to that of iOS 7, there’s more than just the contrast between the “light” design of the latter and the “heavy” design of the former. In iOS 7 most buttons have become just tappable text, whereas one of the most prevalent design elements in a Tapbots app is the custom button.
I’m using Tweetbot as an example here because it has a strong, customized design aesthetic all its own. An aesthetic that will need revisiting in order to fit in with iOS. But also, I’d hate to see Tapbots just slap on the iOS 7 skin and call it a day. Fortunately, that’s not going to happen.
Paul Haddad, during a sidewalk interview with Lex Friedman at WWDC, talked about if and how Tapbots plans to respond to the aesthetic changes in iOS 7:
I don’t think we have to match exactly what’s there, but we definitely have to take some of the cues they’re giving us and probably make some changes. [...] I’m guessing there will be some [design elements] that take the iOS 7 look and some things that take our custom look.
Obviously this is an off-the-cuff conversation, and it’s still early since the iOS 7 beta was released. However, this morning Paul tweeted that, “if you are an iOS developer and don’t think iOS 7 is the biggest opportunity in years, you need to find a new job.”
For as long as Tapbots has been making apps, I’ve been a fan of their aesthetic and style. With the entire foundation of iOS changing this fall, I am very curious about what direction Tapbots will go with their app design and how their custom look will evolve and mature.
I’ve already spoken with a few developers who are planning to go “all in” with their apps in iOS 7 by releasing a major updates that closely align with the new aesthetic of iOS 7. And I think that’s good and right. There is a lot of great change in the new version of iOS and it won’t do any one any good if apps cling to their legacy design for the sake of arguing against where Apple is going.
But it’s also fair to say we don’t want every single app to mimic the iOS 7 look and feel without adding any personality and innovation.
Jared Sinclair, designer of Riposte, in an article, “Apps are content, too“:
Here is a quote from one of the iOS 7 marketing pages:
Conspicuous ornamentation has been stripped away. Unnecessary bars and buttons have been removed. And in taking away design elements that don’t add value, suddenly there’s greater focus on what matters most: your content.
The implication here is that third-party apps that pride themselves on tasteful toolbars and easy-to-recognize buttons don’t add value for the user, that the app itself isn’t content.
User interfaces are as just as much a part of the experience of an app as the text, photos, and videos that it displays.
What makes an app great is the little things — the small details that take something normal and turn it into something extraordinary. I see iOS 7 as a blank canvas — an “un-design” if you will. The goal of a 3rd-party isn’t to copy the stock apps pixel for pixel (that wasn’t the goal for iOS 1-6, and it’s not the goal now). Rather this is Apple saying it’s time to re-imagine what mobile software should look and act like. Five-hundred million people are using iOS devices, and it’s time for the training wheels to come off.
And Tapbots, among others, are in an excellent position to set an example of custom design done right in iOS 7. They have the skill to take the designs they’ve built over the past years and merge them with the new foundation Apple has laid.
So yes, strip away conspicuous ornamentation, but don’t strip away feeling and personality and delight.
Saturday, June 15
Tom Witkin (via MacStories):
I’m elated to share that I, along with Poster, will be joining Automattic. I’ll be working with the mobile team where I’ll be both designing and coding.
Poster is one of my most-used iOS apps — it is how I post links and articles to this site from my iPad and iPhone. Its brilliant support for custom fields and URL schemes has been an incredible aid to my ability to work from my iPad or iPhone.
Alas, due to the acquisition, Poster is no longer for sale in the app store. I will of course continue to use it, and Tom has pledged to continue to maintain it. But there will be no future development of Poster.
However, on the other side of this story we see some very promising and exciting potential. It was just 6 months ago that Automattic acquired Simplenote, my most-used note taking app. And now they’ve acquired Poster, my favorite WordPress app.
Which means it’s very possible that in the future, the official WordPress iOS app will also be the best WordPress iOS app.
Thursday, June 13
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My thanks to Themeco for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Wednesday, June 12
Matt Gemmell has an excellent take on iOS 7 along with some great comparisons to iOS 6:
I think it’s an enormous improvement, and a typically opinionated move.
Speaking of setting fire to the past versions of iOS and starting afresh, Stephen Hackett’s likening of iOS 7 to the 2002 iMac G4 is a brilliant example:
If you remember back to 2002 when Apple released the iMac G4, it was a huge departure from the G3-powered machines before it. However, looking at the whole timeline, it fits with the overall direction the product was heading in. The move to the LCD was a clear forerunner to the iMac G5, whose shape is still present in the iMacs of today.
When Tim Cook said that iOS 7 was the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone, he wasn’t kidding. The UI is of course drastically different, but things like background-updating and better car integration are huge changes.
Apple has set fire to iOS. Everything’s in flux. Those with the least to lose have the most to gain, because this fall, hundreds of millions of people will start demanding apps for a platform with thousands of old, stale players and not many new, nimble alternatives. If you want to enter a category that’s crowded on iOS 6, and you’re one of the few that exclusively targets iOS 7, your app can look better, work better, and be faster and cheaper to develop than most competing apps.
See also what Mike Monteiro said to Om Malik:
It’s a breath of fresh air. Where was Apple going with the current crap? This opens up all manner of possibilities. I’m excited because it’s new. And fresh. The Forstall crap went to its logical conclusion. Any design system that can no longer be extended is death. The new stuff is a fresh start. Eventually it’ll die too. But right now I’m excited about how it can grow and be extended. It’s not perfect. But, as a designer, that excites me. As a consumer? I dunno.
Tuesday, June 11
A huge congrats to Coda 2, Letterpress, and Yahoo Weather among others.
Coda 2 on Mac and Diet Coda on the iPad are two of my all-time favorite apps. I wrote a somewhat detailed review of the them last spring when they shipped.
Monday, June 10
Matt Gemmell, almost a month ago:
iOS 7 will be unveiled soon, and rumours abound that Jony Ive’s influence will push it further along the spectrum towards a flatter, more elegant, more elemental presentation style — a ‘backlash’ against skeuomorphic overindulgence, as the press would gleefully have us believe, as if it were all simply a matter of personal taste. iOS 7 may indeed have such an appearance, but anti-skeu won’t be the sentiment behind it.
Currently, I think that there’s an inherent tension between iOS and its devices. The aesthetics of the OS have never quite fulfilled the stylistic promise of the hardware design, and I think that’s probably intolerable to Jony Ive.
Mike Rundle’s initial impressions on iOS 7:
I expected iOS 7 to be much flatter than iOS 6, but still with subtle curvatures, inset highlights and shadows to indicate subtlety and realism and that the interface was emulating some physical materials. I was very wrong. iOS 7 is as flat as a board.
Mike has some good points, and I think a lot of people agree with him — so far iOS 7 is proving to be quite polarizing. My own snap judgment, based only on the screenshots I’ve seen from Apple, is that I see a lot I really like and a lot that I’m probably going to miss from iOS 6.
Naturally, we’ll have to hold our final opinions of iOS 7 until it ships this fall and we’ve all had time to actually use it and interact with it. But also, this isn’t the end of the story. Just as OS X has been refined and improved since 10.0 shipped over a decade ago, and just as the first generation of iOS was refined and improved over the past 5 years, so too will this next generation of iOS be refined and improved. Just because it’s a radical departure and Apple’s announcement that iOS has “grown up”, doesn’t mean it will be a grand slam in every area of design and function.
There is no doubt that iOS 7 is a great looking operating system. In fact, I liked everything that I saw, except the icons on the home screen. I don’t know what it is, but they seemed kind of odd to me.
Agreed. And this seems to be the sentiment around here with those I’ve been talking to this afternoon, as well as some folks on Twitter: that the new UI design within the apps is much more mature than the new Home screen icons.
The number that most shocked me, is regarding how active the iOS App Store catalog is. Tim Cook said 93-percent of the entire iOS app catalog (over 900,000 apps) is downloaded every month. Or, put another way, of the 900,000 apps in the iOS App Store, 837,000 of them are downloaded at least once a month.
Obviously nobody is going to make a living selling a single copy of their app each month, but it’s impressive nonetheless that if you’ve got an app in the App Store, your chances are 9 out of 10 that it will be downloaded every month.
Apple’s overview page is live. Feature-wise and design-wise, iOS 7 looks absolutely stunning. The feature I’m most looking forward to? Probably Control Center.
You can watch the keynote live on Apple’s website, or through the special WWDC 2013 channel on your Apple TV.
If you aren’t able to watch the live stream but want to track in real time, I suggest you follow the live blog updates from either Macworld, Engadget, or The Verge.
John Gruber’s WWDC 2013 expectations:
The primary problem Apple faced with the iPhone in 2007 was building familiarity with a new way of using computers. That problem has now been solved. It is time to solve new problems.
Saturday, June 8
If you’re on App.net then trust me, you want this app. For event-centric communications, like, say, this week at WWDC, Whisper is the new Glassboard. It supports group messaging and uses ADN’s location API to post links to places.
I’ve been using Whisper for the past several weeks and highly recommend it. It will be in my iPhone’s Dock all next week during WWDC. (Also, a small humble brag: I was the very first Whisper user to post a message using the AeroPress sticker. The proof is in the demo screenshots.)
The app is free and you get access to 100-percent of its functionality. You can upgrade to the Pro version via an in-app purchase to get access to additional typefaces, the more-awesomer dark mode, and more.
If you don’t yet have an ADN account, I’ve got some invites for a free ADN account.
Note that when you join ADN, your new account will automatically be following me (@shawnblanc). Free accounts can only follow up to 40 people, so feel free to unfollow me if you want.
Friday, June 7
Drew Houston’s MIT Commencement address:
When you’re in school, every little mistake is a permanent crack in your windshield. But in the real world, if you’re not swerving around and hitting the guard rails every now and then, you’re not going fast enough. Your biggest risk isn’t failing, it’s getting too comfortable.
This ranks up there as one of the best 404 pages I’ve ever seen. It’s part of Bold’s new website.
Also new: Office Hours, Bold’s new podcast about running a small design studio. I’ve gleaned a lot of wisdom from Noah Stokes over the years about integrity, work-ethic, work/life balance, and entrepreneurship. His new podcast will no doubt be equal parts hilarious and helpful. I’m looking forward to it.
There’s a Fantastic update to LaunchBar today that includes a new Snippet feature, integration with Automator for custom workflows, indexing of iCloud documents, and more.
You can read all about how to create and access LaunchBar Snippets here. Snippets can include placeholder variables (such as date formats and clipboard contents) and they are accessed as easily as LaunchBar’s clipboard history.
While LaunchBar snippets won’t be all-out replacing TextExpander for me, I do suspect I’ll use both. One great advantage of LaunchBar’s snippets is that you can access your whole list with a keystroke and then search for the one you want. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I forget what abbreviation I assigned to this or that TextExpander expansion (especially ones I use infrequently). And so, for some cases, I expect I’ll be using LaunchBar snippets instead.