A Brief History of The Prompt and Connected »

This week marks the 10th anniversary of MacStories, and John asked me to write a column to help mark the occasion. His entire pitch to me was: “You’ve known Federico the longer than anyone else who writes on MacStories,” so I opted to write a bit about the history of Connected and its forerunner The Prompt:

“I think we should talk to Federico about joining the show.”

With that, my podcasting career – and life – got a lot better.

This was the spring of 2013. Myke Hurley and I were packing our bags at Myke’s original podcast network, heading over to 5by5. He and I had been publishing a weekly Apple show named “The 512 Podcast,” but we wanted to do something bigger and better, and Myke had the idea to wrangle Federico into things.

The Prompt was a life-changing project for all three of us; Relay FM exists because that show was the success that it was.

CalZones »

It seems like a rarer and rarer occurrence that a new iOS app can make a big difference in my daily work, but Underscore’s new “timezone savvy calendaring” app has done it. Here’s Smith, introducing the app on his blog:

CalZones is a calendaring app built from the ground up to be smart about managing timezones. It starts by letting you choose a list of the zones that are relevant to you and then all aspects of the app tailor themselves into making it easy to coordinate between those timezones.

I think I have tried every single timezone app I’ve found for iOS, but this one gets it right, as Federico Viticci writes:

Perhaps you’re planning a Skype call with three more people, each living in a different time zone; maybe you have to coordinate a product launch and need to know at a glance what “3 PM GMT” means for your customers in New York, San Francisco, Rome, and Sydney. CalZones, the latest app by _David Smith, is the first iOS app I’ve ever used that fundamentally gets how people work and schedule events across multiple time zones. It’s almost like CalZones was made specifically for me, and it’s an app that speaks directly to my heart.

CalZones is on the App Store now for $4.99. If you work across multiple time zones, it’s going to make your life a whole lot better.

Kbase Article of the Week: iMac Software Update 1.2.1 (Tiger) »

Apple Support, writing about a very specific software update:

This update is for 20-inch and 24-inch aluminum iMac computers with 2.0, 2.4, or 2.8 GHz processors running Mac OS X Tiger.

It improves the performance and reliability of graphics-intensive games and applications and fixes an issue that some customers encountered when installing Mac OS X Leopard after applying iMac Software Update 1.2.

9to5Mac Spills the iOS 13 Beans »

Guilherme Rambo has brought the heat this Monday morning, reporting that iOS 13 will include a system-wide dark mode, a new universal undo gesture, a more robust version of Safari and better font management. Then there’s this:

There are many changes coming to iPad with iOS 13, including the ability for apps to have multiple windows. Each window will also be able to contain sheets that are initially attached to a portion of the screen, but can be detached with a drag gesture, becoming a card that can be moved around freely, similar to what an open-source project called “PanelKit” could do.

These cards can also be stacked on top of each other, and use a depth effect to indicate which cards are on top and which are on the bottom. Cards can be flung away to dismiss them.

All of this sounds great, and if Apple can unleash the iPad to do more at once, it could be a big year for the device, which still feels too chained to its iPhone roots.

Mac Power Users #478: Journaling with Day One »

This week on MPU, David and I dive into the excellent journaling app Day One:

Journaling can be an excellent way to collect your thoughts and reflect on the events of the day, and Day One makes it easy to do so with your Mac, iPhone, iPad and more.

I was afraid that David was going to go all California on me here, but I think I ended up being the bigger hipper on this episode.

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On iTunes, Marzipan and Expectations 

With Marzipan expected to bring new apps to the Mac to replace venerable programs like iTunes, I think now is the time to talk about our expectations of what these new apps may be like. My thoughts break down into a few different areas:

Quality

There’s no denying that the four Marzipan apps in macOS Mojave — News, Home, Stocks and Voice Memos are bad. They don’t act or look like Mac apps, and in some places, barely function at all with a cursor.

I am sure that Apple is well aware of this, but I think that hoping that the “for realsies this time” version of Marzipan is going to make iPad apps feel more at home on the Mac is probably foolish.

I hope for some improvements,1 but I think the truth is that these apps are going to feel weird compared to old-fashioned AppKit ones. My expectation is that Apple is working as hard as it can to improve things, but I think we may be in a “minimal viable product” situation here; just getting the tools in the hands of developers seems like a massive amount of work to ship this year.

Hoping that these new apps will be good may be too big a dream for 2019.

Features

There have been a lot of conversations about the differences between iTunes and Music.app as we know it on iOS 12.

Zac Hall did a great job contrasting the two, and Dan Moren pointed out some of iTunes’ power features that are nowhere to be found on the iPad.

When Music.app shows up in our Docks this fall after installing macOS 10.152 I expect it to be way closer to the iPad version than many are hoping for. There will be features that go down on the burning S.S. iTunes.

Here’s Michael Tsai on the matter:

I’m not looking forward to this because, while I agree that iTunes needs work, I don’t have confidence that Apple will preserve its functionality (or even its desktop-optimized design) in the new apps. I expect that iTunes will remain the only way to sync music that you didn’t buy from the iTunes Store. Apple’s track record is to remove features from AirPort Utility and QuickTime Player 7 and let the dead versions hang around for years until eventually sunsetting them, without ever reimplementing what was lost.

I hope he isn’t right, but I am afraid he may be.

Future Development

If I’m right, and these new Mac apps are more or less clones of what we see on the iPad today, than we have to look beyond iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 to the future.

Here’s the question I keep rolling around in my mind:

Will Apple go the Final Cut Pro X route with all of this, slowly adding features back over time, making the new app as powerful — but also more approachable — than the old?

I would love to see this happen with Music.app. It could adopt the best parts of iTunes, and leave the cruft behind, especially if Podcasts.app and TV.app are there to share the load.

If this year is all about porting iPad apps to the Mac, without massive changes, that will be a bummer, but I will not be surprised. If that comes to pass, making these apps better over time won’t only benefit the Mac, but the iPad and iPhone as well, and that’s good for everyone.

At least until things get so good on the iPad they can replace the Mac with it and move us all over to iOS.

(Just kidding.)3


  1. I’m looking at you, date and time picker in Home.app. 
  2. For once, I’d like a macOS name reveal to happen on the WWDC stage without a “macOS Weed” joke, Craig… 
  3. Probably. 

Snell, on the 2019 iMac »

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

The 2019 iMacs are a contradiction. They are brand-new computers that somehow feel like the last members of a dying order. They are shells designed in 2012 that somehow contain 8th- and 9th-generation Intel processors. They represent Apple’s broad-appeal entry-level Mac desktop, but can also offer power to rival the performance of the base-model iMac Pro. They are part of a legacy that once represented the core of the Mac market, but now fills specific niches in a world devoured by mobile technology.

I had a chance to spend a couple of weeks with a top-of-the line 5K iMac with a 9th-generation Intel processor, and its performance was impressive. There’s no denying that the iMacs is better than ever, just as there’s no denying that this is a product line that’s in need of reinvention after years of stasis.