Link Posts

A few weeks ago Michael Steeber wrote an article on 9to5Mac about bringing the Apple Watch’s Home screen interface over to the iPhone:

Here we are in 2014, and the iOS home screen is essentially the same as it was in 2007. Plenty of arguments have been made that the home screen looks “dated” or needs certain features, but I’m proposing not change for the sake of change, but change that unifies, modernizes, and redefines the home screen as we know it. What would happen if the Apple Watch home screen came to the iPhone?

Yesterday, Lucas Menge posted a video of a springboard-esque app that does just that. His video showing off the prototype app is very cool and interesting. It looks fun and modern, and it could definitely help with reachability issues on the Home screens of the bigger phones. But I also can’t help but think how cluttered and busy it looks — that is a lot of icons all in one place, even when zoomed in.

A fantastic Yosemite update to Droplr for Mac. The utility app now has better screen recording sharing (you can save your screen recording as a GIF if you want). Speaking of GIFs, you can record a “reaction GIF” of yourself to share with others. And, of course, it takes advantage of Yosemite’s share extensions, making it super easy to take a whole-site screenshot and more.

Most items I write reviews of are items that I personally buy to use. But, every once in a while, a new gadget shows up that’s just so interesting and enticing that I buy it with the business card for the sole purpose of reviewing it. Such is the case with the Aether Cone.

I got an email at the end of August from Rdio announcing that the Aether Cone was now shipping and that, as an Rdio member, I was eligible for a percentage discount for every month I’d been a subscriber, up to 45-percent off. I was intrigued by the design and the functionality. You don’t need a separate device to stream music to the Cone, it connects to Rdio all on its own and you can talk to it to request a song.

This is the review I was originally planning to publish on launch day with the new Tools & Toys, but I was able to get the E-M10 review out the door in time instead.

Monday, October 27

Lionheart Software is an independent software studio that designs and builds delightful products for startups and small teams. Our focus is building great products because we’re passionate about our work and our commitment to our customers.

If it’s a custom website or web application that you need, you can trust us to care about creating simple, beautiful interfaces that work well and stand above the crowd. Check out some of the work we’ve done in the past with our partners.

We’ve also created some iOS apps of our own, including Tweet Seeker and the popular Pushpin app for iOS.

Ready to build an amazing website or application that can take your business to the next level? We’d love to help.

* * *

My thanks to Lionheart for sponsoring the site this week and for being one of the sponsoring Launch Partners for the new Tools & Toys. These guys make one of my favorite iOS apps: Pushpin. It’s arguably the best Pinboard client for iOS, and its iOS 8 update is just stellar. And that’s just a sample of the work they do; Lionheart is truly does some top-notch design and development work.

Friday, October 24

On today’s episode of The Weekly Briefly, I share my first Impressions of the new Retina iMac, as well as my first impressions of the new Kindle Voyage (and how it compares to the Kindle Paperwhite).

Sponsored by:

Thursday, October 23

It took a good long time for me to find an iPad case/sleeve that I liked, and the Felt Case Mini is just that (though I suppose if it were made out of leather and printed $100 bills it’d be a bit nicer, but other than that I think it’s pretty great).

Wednesday, October 22

Tons of great tips from Austin Mann:

Apple’s sharing all kinds of software updates with us these days, and a few of them are especially exciting for power user iPhone photographers. Here are my thoughts on how the new features affect how we create and share images with our iPhones.

This is like the computer screen’s version of how in the old days our parents had to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both ways.

John Gruber:

Everything Apple is promoting about the Air 2 is true, both in terms of what you can objectively measure, and in terms of how it feels to use it. It’s thinner, lighter, faster, and has a better display and better camera. And, yes, Touch ID is great, especially if you’ve been using it for the last year on your iPhone.

I don’t think I’m going to buy one, though.

Last year after spending three months using both the (then) new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina, I switched from being a hard-core proponent of full-sized iPads to being a fan of the iPad mini. And I can’t imagine going back.

There is more to it than just that the mini is lighter and easier to hold with one hand. The screen size didn’t impact the way I create or “consume” content at all. Moreover, the smaller footprint of the iPad makes it easier to fit in my bag, or to carry around by itself in a sleeve.

It’s unfortunate that it looks like the iPad mini is now going to be one year behind in hardware innovation, but that’s okay. I mostly use my iPad for reading, writing, research, and basic communication. Though, now that I’m switching to a desktop Mac as my main machine, who knows… perhaps the amount of work I do on my iPad will spike in the upcoming year.

Tuesday, October 21

This review has been on our list since the beginning. But we knew major updates of Wunderlist, OmniFocus, and Things were all in the pipe. And, now that they’ve shipped, we’ve spent time with the apps and written up our official pick for what is our favorite productivity and GTD app suite: OmniFocus (of course).

On the outside so many of these apps all seem like the same type of app with the same functionality: projects, tasks, due dates, tags, sync.

But, in working on this review, it struck me just how much different OmniFocus truly is from pretty much every other productivity app out there. OmniFocus goes far beyond the feature set that most other apps have with its use of contexts, defer dates, custom perspectives, forecast view, and review mode.

The most common arguments against OF are price and learning curve.

Regarding price, first off: you get what you pay for. OmniFocus is not overpriced, it’s priced according to its feature set. There are a lot of things OF can do with your tasks and projects that these other apps cannot.

Not to mention, the Omni Group has a decades-long history of making apps for the Mac, and they currently have some of the world’s best Mac and iOS developers working for them in Seattle. If there is a GTD app out there today that has a chance of being here in 2025, OmniFocus is at the top of that list.

And regarding learning curve, it’s true — OmniFocus takes time to discover and figure out. But there are so many resources, tutorials, and guides out there that if you’re willing to take the time and learn the app, you’ll reap the dividends for years to come (literally).

Monday, October 20

Backup is important! Half of all computer users lose data each year. Back up all your data with Backblaze online backup. It’s unlimited, unthrottled, uncomplicated, and at $5/month per computer, it’s a no-brainer.

How does Backblaze work? It natively backs up your music, movies, photos, and whatever you’re working on or editing for just $5/month. Backblaze continuously and securely backs up all the data on your computer and external hard drives.

Accessing backed up files is easy. Download and share your files with the iPhone and Android apps, use any web browser to download your data, or have Backblaze FedEx you a flash key or USB hard drive.

Data loss happens all the time. For $5/month, Backblaze will back up all the data on your Mac or PC. Stop putting it off. Start a risk-free trial, and get your backup started today!

* * *

My thanks to Backblaze for again sponsoring the site this week, and for being one of the sponsoring launch partners for the new Tools & Toys. I’ve personally been a Backblaze customer for several year and continue to be very happy with their service. They are arguably the best off-site backup service out there.

And speaking of setup interviews, over on Tools & Toys we just posted a hyper-nerdy interview with Mike Rohde (of Sketchnote fame) regarding his everyday carry gear.

I really enjoyed reading over this week’s sweet setup interview with Nate Boateng. Nate’s got some personality. And, you’ve gotta hand it to the dude, he’s still rocking Sparrow. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?

Friday, October 17

On this week’s episode of my podcast, The Weekly Briefly, I give a one-month report of life with iOS 8 and the iPhone 6, share my initial thoughts on yesterday’s Apple event, spill the beans about why I’m still not on Yosemite yet, and the what and why of my next Mac.

Brought to you by:

Thursday, October 16

On the new iPads:

I love my iPad mini with Retina Display, which has now apparently been retconned into the iPad mini 2. But what we saw Thursday was indisputable proof that the iPad mini is once again a second-class citizen in the iPad line. Last year, the two models were pretty much the same guts stuck inside bigger and smaller bodies. This year, the iPad Air got a faster processor, a thinner and lighter body, and Touch ID.

The iPad mini 3, on the other hand, got a Touch ID sensor, a gold color option, and a hearty handshake for a job well done.

To me, the most exciting hardware upgrade to the iPad line is the Air 2′s optically bonded screen. It’s the finishing touch which makes a Retina display really pop. It’s too bad the iPad mini didn’t get much of the new (not even an updated Wi-Fi card?). Touch ID is great for sure, but for me it’s certainly not worth upgrading my current iPad mini Retina, and I don’t even think it’s worth paying the extra money for when buying a new iPad mini.

And Jason again, this time on the new Retina iMac:

This iMac really has to make us all question what an iMac is. When the iMac was introduced, it was the new “computer for the rest of us,” a consumer-friendly all-in-one device. This 5K iMac has the power to edit 4K video in Final Cut Pro with room for a timeline and other interface elements. It’s a screen so good, people who have Mac Pros are going to want to replace them with an iMac.

Let’s step through that one again. People will forsake their Mac Pros for this iMac, until there comes a day when a screen like this is available as an external display option for the Mac Pro. For $2500 or less. People who would never have considered buying an iMac will buy this iMac.


Another excellent overview, this one from Federico Viticci, outlining a lot of the new features of Yosemite.

Stephen Hackett’s written a great review of the new visuals found in Yosemite.

A handsome set of (Retina ready) OS X icons for Adobe Creative Suite with (hopefully) more apps in the pipe. Nice work by long-time icon king, Sebastiaan de With.

Getting an all new operating system with a ton of massive new features and an all-new visual design? $0.

Having many of your favorite and most-used apps be simultaneously updated to match the new design and take advantage of the new features? Priceless.


Nice update to Things for the Mac, that sports a Yosemite-native design and takes advantage of the new Notification Center as well as Handoff and has an “Add to Things” extension. The folks at Cultured Code may have a reputation for being slow at shipping updates, but when they do ship, they ship quality work that is polished and deeply thought through.

If you buy things online and have them sent to your house, you probably want Deliveries. I’ve been using it for years, and it’s a mighty fine iOS app with an OS X Dashboard Widget. That is, until now.

The folks at Junecloud just shipped an official OS X Deliveries app and talk about an upgrade from that Dashboard widget.

Because Yosemite will be available today, so they say.

Speaking of Offscreen, I just came across this 10-minute documentary that the folks at Envato did to share the story of how Kai got the magazine off the ground and what he’s learned over the few years of self-publishing a printed publication.

p.s. Over on Tools & Toys, we’re giving away a copy of issue 7 of Offscreen.

Apple will be live streaming today’s event for the new iPads, Yosemite, and hopefully a little bit more. I’ll be watching (I hope) via the Apple TV Special Events channel, from the comfort of my couch, with a sandwich and a notebook.

For more event coverage, check out MacStories and Six Colors.

Tuesday, October 14

Josh Ginter wrote an absolutely fantastic review of the iPhone 6 Plus for Tools & Toys.

As an aside, I could not be more happy with the new Tools & Toys. For one, the site’s design is just incredible. I love how well it lends itself to photo-rich, in-depth reviews like Josh’s iPhone 6 Plus review, while also looking so great for our tried and true posts about new and cool paraphernalia. And the content itself has gone up a level in the past week as well.

They say write the internet you want to read. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with The Sweet Setup and with Tools & Toys. I’m doing everything I can to put my money where my mouth is. These sites prioritize quality and integrity over everything else, we sweat the details, and we’re having a lot of fun in the process.

Seth Godin:

[Y]ou’ll need to work hard to create something magical, and a big part of that hard work is relentlessly eliminating all magical thinking from your projections and your expectations of how the market will react.

In today’s installment of “the more you know”, Sarah Laskow writes for Slate about the history of snowboarding and how it got its name.

Sherman Poppen — the man who invented the first type of snowboard — called it the Snurfer. But when Jake Burton Carpenter invented his own brand of board, he called it a Burton Snurfboard. But Poppen had “Snurf” trademarked, and so Burton changed the name to snowboard and the rest is history. Fascinating.

Monday, October 13

TextExpander touch from Smile saves you time and effort by expanding short abbreviations into frequently-used text.

Whether it’s a simple email signature or several paragraphs of a standard response, you’ll love how easy it is to use TextExpander to avoid typing the same thing over and over.

With the new TextExpander touch 3 on iOS 8, there’s a TextExpander custom keyboard so that you can expand abbreviations in all your apps on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Over 60 apps offer enhanced TextExpander support, including Byword, Day One, Drafts, Fantastical, Launch Center Pro, OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, and more.

See the TextExpander touch custom keyboard in this great video from David Sparks.

TextExpander touch is available on the App Store.

* * *

My thanks to Smile Software for again sponsoring the RSS feed this week, and for being one of the launch partner sponsors at the new Tools & Toys.

‹ Previously