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).
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.
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.
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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!
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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.
[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.
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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.
Friday, October 10
On this week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly, I share about how and why to prioritize quality above all else in the work we do. Sometimes you need a medium that is super simple and hyper focused, and sometimes you need something that is media rich and very versatile. Whatever your foundation and whatever your frequency, always prioritize quality.
But no, seriously. This is solid advice from Mike Monteiro. (Via Zeldman.)
We just published our most-recent app review over on the Sweet Setup and it’s for document scanning apps on the iPhone:
It’s the 21st century, and yet there’s still so much paper flooding into our lives: receipts, office forms, bills, letters home from our children’s school, and on and on. Owning a dedicated document scanner can help, but it’s not always nearby when we need it. Luckily, ever since the iPhone’s camera gained sufficient resolution to capture crisp text, there have been a number of document scanning apps that have put the possibility of going paperless much more in reach. After testing a number of these apps, our pick for the best document scanning app on iOS is Scanbot.
There are quit a few excellent apps in this space — PDFpen Scan+ and Scanner Pro, for example — but what I personally like about Scanbot is the whimsy and personality it has. It’s easy and fun to use.
Wednesday, October 8
If one podcast wasn’t enough, good news. I was a guest today on Myke Hurley’s world-famous interview podcast, Inquisitive. Among other things, we talked about the whole history of Tools & Toys, including the how and the why behind yesterday’s re-launch.