I was excited to discover Revisions For Dropbox, a Mac app for viewing a history of changes for any file or folder in your Dropbox account. I'd been looking for precisely this solution, and it didn't disappoint.
I first reviewed Weather Line in October 2013. As I wrote:
I see Weather Line as a combination of a casual weather app for the average user like me and a more advanced solution for the data nerd who wants to know numbers and other weather stats. By sitting somewhere in the middle of these two categories, Weather Line can appeal to both kinds of users thanks to its simple but effective design that uses a line to contextualize forecasts. I have been using Weather Line alongside Apple’s Weather, Yahoo Weather, and Today, and, while I still can’t settle on just one weather app, I have been enjoying Weather Line’s design and presentation.
Weather Line was last updated in November 2013, but, like many others, I kept using it throughout 2014 in spite of its lack of support for iOS 8 and the latest iPhones. Weather Line's visualization of forecasts and temperature was just too good and its simplicity was unparalleled.
I'm happy to see that Weather Line is back with an update that properly supports iOS 8, the latest iPhone generation, and extended forecasts with more data. Weather Line was one of the first iOS 7 apps to truly take advantage of color in its interface to display different sets of information, and the app still looks and works great.
$1.99 on the App Store, and currently on sale. Recommended.
Watch mode is where you take quick glances at information and notifications; app mode is where you go to “do something”. Watch mode is where most people will spend the majority — perhaps the overwhelming majority — of their time using Apple Watch. App mode is a simple one-level hierarchy for “everything else”.
John Gruber has a good analysis of the Apple Watch interaction model and the differences between the watch face and the app screen.
I've been reading a lot of comments on the Watch OS hierarchy and I've (obviously) been using my Apple Watch as much as possible for a variety of tasks and scenarios.
The more I read and try, the more I don't understand the criticism of those who claim Apple Watch should work like an iPhone. Yes, the multiple functions of the Digital Crown can be confusing initially, and I imagine that eventually there will be settings to customize what the side button does. But to argue that clicking the Digital Crown should always go back to the watch face seems shortsighted to me. There's a benefit in having an easy way to open/go back to the app screen to quickly do stuff with apps, and it will be even more obvious once a native SDK and faster apps become available.
To celebrate the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple has launched a section on the App Store highlighting apps that implement accessible features and technologies (via Steven Aquino).
I don't usually write about rumors, but the latest report from Mark Gurman on dual-app viewing mode possibly coming to iPad with iOS 9 is too exciting for me to resist a link.
Sources now say that Apple plans to show off the side-by-side feature for iOS 9 using currently available iPad models. The latest plans suggest that the split-screen mode will support ½, 1/3, and 2/3 views depending on the apps. When split, the screen can either display two different apps side-by-side, or multiple views of the same app. This would enable iPad users to see two separate Safari tabs, or compare a pair of Pages documents at the same time. Sources are quick to warn, however, that the feature could still be pulled before next month’s conference, as additional polish would be needed to bring it to the same level as other features that will be making their way into the first iOS 9 beta next month
A new multitasking experience for iPad was one of my big wishes for iOS 9. I had, however, many questions and doubts about the implementation of flexible split-screen on the current generation of iPads. Here's what I wrote:
My issue with requesting a new multitasking experience is that I don't know if it would be possible to make one that doesn't put too much stress on the user. I think that I'd like the ability to see parts of two apps at once, but what if there simply isn't a way to make that work well? What happens when you bring up two apps that require keyboard input – how do you understand which app you're typing into if you have one keyboard and two apps? Can two apps receive touch input simultaneously? Can you open two camera apps at once? What about audio output? I'm not sure why anyone would want to do that, but, in theory, should you be able to run two games at the same time? Would this new mode only work in landscape?
Gurman's report doesn't have any details on how this mode would actually work. How would you activate a second app – with a gesture or a special menu inside apps? Will developers get new tools to optimize their apps for new iPad layouts? Will apps be able to invoke specific apps programmatically (could it be this 'app links' API mentioned in the WebKit source code)?
As I concluded last month, the iPad needs new multitasking features. I'm curious to see what Apple does.
I've always been interested in tracking my location and how I use my time. I'm a highly visual person, and the ability to see where my time is being spent helps me optimize my schedule and tweak my habits accordingly. Unfortunately, polished and full-featured time tracking apps like Hours haven't scaled in the long run for me – the time I want to track isn't spent working for clients or freelance jobs, and I always forget to launch an app and start tracking time. The time I want to track is my personal, every day routine; the Google app for iOS can track locations and times continuously in the background, but its visualization is lackluster and not optimized for mobile.
Rewind is an automatic time tracker by noidentity (makers of the excellent Next for iOS) that I've been using on my iPhone since early March. Through location tracking and an elegant breakdown of statistics, Rewind does exactly what I want from a mobile time tracker: it tracks where I spend my time automatically in the background, every single day.
Ben Thompson, writing about Apple Watch and Siri:
Moreover, the Watch may even help Apple to rival Google when it comes to Siri and the cloud: the best way to improve a service like Siri is to have millions of customers using it constantly, and I for one have used Siri more in the last two weeks than I have the last two years. Multiply that by millions of Watch users and you have the ingredients for a rapidly improving service. Perhaps more importantly, the fact that Siri is critical to the Watch’s success in a way it isn’t to the iPhone’s may finally properly align Apple’s incentives around improving its cloud services.
Apple has been improving Siri both in terms of speech recognition and load times considerably over the past two years (they're now at the third generation of Siri). I'm finding the wrist to be a better activation point for Siri – raising your wrist to talk to a watch like a spy somewhat feels more natural than staring at a phone and speaking into it (although that may come down to cultural heritage and personal taste).
As I wrote in my iOS 9 wishes, faster interactions with all Watch apps (Apple and third-party ones) could be possible with a Siri API. I'm curious to see how Apple Watch will shape Siri's future.
At a press event held earlier today, Spotify announced a series of initiatives to bring new media content to the service with audio and video shows, a new recommendation section, and Running, a feature to help runners listen to songs dynamically matched to their pace.
This week the Europeans are joined by Sam Soffes to follow up on Redacted for Mac, before discussing Federico's thoughts on the Apple Watch.
If you're curious to hear my first impressions about the Apple Watch after six days with the device, this week's Connected is the episode you're looking for. You can listen here.