Federico Viticci

7763 posts on MacStories since April 2009

Federico is the founder and editor-in-chief of MacStories, where he writes about Apple with a focus on apps, developers, and mobile software. He can also be found in the iBooks Store and on his two podcasts, Connected and Virtual.

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Redesigning Twitter Profiles

Over at the Twitter blog, Sana Rao has an interesting post on the design process of Twitter profiles for mobile devices and desktop. Some fascinating numbers:

On web we saw a 6x increase in the number of Tweet impressions from logged-out visitors browsing profiles and a 2x increase in the number of logged-out visitors who saw an impression of the profiles.

On iOS, the most remarkable change was a 38% increase in people visiting the new profiles and a massive 6x increase in users visiting the media timeline. Similarly, on Android we saw a 128% increase in people visiting profiles and over 2x increase in people visiting and scrolling on the media timeline.

I like Twitter profiles on the iPhone. The profile view (and many other features) could use some love on the iPad, though.

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Apple Opens Watch App Submissions for All Developers

After approving Watch apps from select developers last week, Apple has begun accepting submissions for Watch apps from all registered iOS developers. From the company's developer blog:

It’s time. Apple Watch will be in the hands of customers on April 24. Get your WatchKit apps ready and submit them for review now.

Apple has also created a new webpage titled 'Preparing Your App Submission for Apple Watch' with details on what developers should do before submitting an Apple Watch app to the App Store. There are some interesting tidbits on this page, such as limitations for app previews, which must show only iPhone apps:

Your app preview may only use footage of your iPhone app, and footage must stay within the app. Do not change your preview to show your WatchKit app.

And a note that suggests apps from third-party developers will be approved before April 24 and therefore used by people with a pre-release Watch unit:

Once your WatchKit app is approved and released by Apple, your existing iPhone users will receive the app update and customers will see your WatchKit extension icon and description on the App Store. A small group of people who currently have an Apple Watch will be able to use your WatchKit app before April 24, so make sure your back end systems are ready.

As I wrote last week, releasing Watch apps before the April 24 launch is a smart move from Apple:

For the first time in several years, a new Apple product will be reviewed by people who have access to third-party apps from the App Store. When the iPhone launched, there was no App Store; when the iPad launched, reviewers didn't have access to public downloads from the iPad App Store.

That won't be the case with Apple Watch, and this is a clever choice from Apple. Because the Watch is many things, it needs apps to offer a more complete picture of its potential. By approving the first Watch apps this week, reviewers (and customers at the try-on sessions in the retail stores) will get access to a selection of third-party apps that can show how the Watch will integrate in everyday life through the apps they already use.

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Todoist 10 Brings Intelligent Input, Themes, and New Gestures

Last November, I wrote about my decision to switch from iCloud Reminders to Todoist as my task management app of choice. I concluded:

Todoist strikes a good balance of powerful features and clever implementation that doesn’t push me to customize everything all the time. I’m not writing scripts for task management, I’m not changing icons and themes – I set up a few filters and I’m just focusing on doing stuff. The Todoist app for iOS integrates well with iOS 8, and, overall, I’m thoroughly satisfied with my decision to switch from Reminders to a professional-grade todo system to manage my life.

Over the past five months, I've kept using Todoist every day and I've enjoyed its reliability and integration with other apps and services. Everything from my original review still stands: while I don't rely on all of Todoist's features, its flexibility allows me to scale my tasks and projects at any time. If a big new project comes in and I need to take care of it with my team and have a deeper visualization of my responsibilities, I know I can count on Todoist. If I have to jump from a couple of tasks each day to a few dozen, I can rest assured Todoist can do it.

In spite of my appreciation, though, I've been critical of Todoist's iOS app before, and I'm happy to see the company addressing some of my major complaints in Todoist 10, launching today for iPhone and iPad.

I upgraded to a beta of Todoist 10 a few weeks ago, and, while it doesn't profoundly change the capabilities of Todoist on iOS, the new version brings some powerful (and long-needed) functionality that will help users be more efficient and spend less time managing todos.

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Automatic: Your Smart Driving Assistant on Your Smartphone [Sponsor]

There’s a mountain of data inside your car waiting to be unleashed, and all you have to do is plug in a quick little connector and download a mobile application.

Automatic is a smart driving assistant that plugs into your car's data port and lets you connect your smartphone (either iPhone or Android) with your car. By  talking to your car’s onboard computer and using your smartphone’s GPS and data plan to upgrade your car's capabilities, Automatic will allow you to easily diagnose your engine light, never forget where you parked your car, and save hundreds of dollars on gas.

Automatic learns your driving habits and gives you suggestions through subtle audio cues to drive smarter and stop wasting gas. Thanks to a map view available on your phone, Automatic can display a trip timeline after every driving session, showing you how you're doing with a Drive Score; the app can even track local gas prices and tell you how much you're spending.

In case of engine problems, Automatic can decipher what the "check engine" light means and show you a description of the issue with a possible solution. And thanks to a feature called Crash Alert, Automatic can detect many types of serious crashes and automatically alert local authorities as well as your loved ones when you can't.

Automatic is currently available in the US for iPhone and Android devices, with a 45-day return policy and free shipping in 2 business days.

MacStories readers can go to automatic.com/macstories to get $20 off and buy Automatic at just $79.99. For more information, check out Automatic's website.

Our thanks to Automatic for sponsoring MacStories this week.


‘How My App Ended up in an Apple Ad’

Robleh Jama is the founder of Tiny Hearts, an indie iOS development company that ended up having one of their apps, Quick Fit, featured in an Apple commercial (this one). In an article for Fast Company, he shares some details of the selection process as well as good advice for developers. I liked this bit about localization (which is reflected in the app's performance in international markets):

One of the best decisions we made early on was to support multiple languages with Quick Fit and Wake Alarm. We focused on the key regions Apple recommends in its internationalization guidelines. Apps are a global phenomenon with millions of non-English-speaking users. We didn’t want to limit our goal of helping people get fit to just English speakers, so we localized our app's interface, description, and even screenshots.

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1Password 5.3 Improves iOS 8 Extension

With version 5.3 of 1Password for iOS, the team at AgileBits has shipped considerable improvements to the app's action extension, launched alongside iOS 8 back in September. In the updated app, the extension is now almost on par with the browser extension found in 1Password for desktop computers, which means I'll no longer wish for the “real” 1Password extension whenever I'm logging into websites or setting up new logins on my iPhone and iPad.

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Virtual: Attract the Clickers

This week Federico shares stories of his new PS4 and The Last of Us.

Fun episode of Virtual this week, especially if your definition of fun involves listening to someone who hasn't owned a PlayStation in years gush about modern games and controllers. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

  • Harry's: An exceptional shave at a fraction of the price. Use code VIRTUAL for $5 off your first purchase
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Connected: I Misplaced That Civil War

This week, Stephen, Myke and Federico talk about some Italian history, TeleText’s current state in Sweden and then answer listener questions.

Q&A episodes are always fun, and you can listen to this week's Connected here.

Speaking of Connected, we launched our new t-shirts earlier today. I love the new design – longtime listeners will instantly get the inside joke – and we're doing a limited run. Get yours here and make sure to beta test it for a few weeks before any judgement.

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First Apple Watch Apps Available on the App Store

Ahead of the Apple Watch release next month, Apple has begun approving the first wave of Watch apps from a selected group of developers. Here's Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

As of today, several popular iOS apps have been updated with built-in Apple Watch apps, including Evernote, Dark Sky, Things, and Target.

Additional apps with Apple Watch support will be rolling out over the course of the day, giving us a first look at how many of the apps on the device will function. We'll be updating this post with a list of Apple Watch apps that are available as they come out in the App Store.

See iDownloadBlog for a running list of the updated apps.

I received two Watch app updates on my iPhone – Evernote and Lifesum. In both cases, the apps are indicative of the kind of functionality that will be enabled in the initial group of Apple Watch apps. Evernote will let you dictate new notes, view existing ones, set reminders and receive notifications, and even search for notes in your account. Lifesum will bring “simple” food tracking to your wrist, plus suggestions, exercise reminders, and daily tips to live healthy. I'm curious to see how iPhone apps will bring a subset of their functionality to the Watch, and especially how quickly I'll find a balance between useful notifications and annoying interruptions.

I also think timing is interesting. For the first time in several years, a new Apple product will be reviewed by people who have access to third-party apps from the App Store. When the iPhone launched, there was no App Store; when the iPad launched, reviewers didn't have access to public downloads from the iPad App Store.

That won't be the case with Apple Watch, and this is a clever choice from Apple. Because the Watch is many things, it needs apps to offer a more complete picture of its potential. By approving the first Watch apps this week, reviewers (and customers at the try-on sessions in the retail stores) will get access to a selection of third-party apps that can show how the Watch will integrate in everyday life through the apps they already use.

Smart move, and good timing.

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