Federico Viticci

7505 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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Transporter: Your Own Private Cloud [Sponsor]

Transporter is your own private cloud for syncing, accessing, protecting, and sharing all your files across all your devices. A storage device that you control, Transporter starts at $99 with no monthly fees or other recurring costs and it doesn’t put your files on anyone else’s cloud.

Setting up a Transporter is easy: you create an account and create a folder on your Mac or PC to hold all the files you want to make available on multiple devices. Whether you choose the Transporter (in 500 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB variations) or the Transporter Sync (turn any USB drive into a Transporter device), your files will always be securely stored in your own private cloud that you can access with desktop and mobile apps. On OS X, unlike other sharing services, you can select any folder and set it up for syncing and sharing.

Transporter is great for storing any kind of file, especially private photos and videos. With the iOS app, you can automatically upload new photos and videos to your Transporter device, which can hold hundreds of GBs worth of media and securely share them with your friends and family. Your data is always encrypted during transfers to protect it against snooping, and images are always saved at full resolution from the iOS camera roll.

Alternatively, you can use your Transporter for work purposes and keep important documents and projects in a cloud that’s under your control. Last week, Transporter launched versioning, a feature that lets you save revisions of files automatically and restore them at any time. Think of it like Time Machine for Transporter files: it doesn’t consume too much space thanks to incremental versioning, and you can rest assured that you’ll never lose changes to a file.

Transporter lets you access everything you want, right when you need it. Find out more here.

Our thanks to Transporter for sponsoring MacStories this week.


iOS 8.1 and iCloud Issues

Since upgrading to the first beta of iOS 8.1, I started noticing that a few apps were randomly hanging or crashing at launch. I thought that the problem would be fixed for the public release of iOS 8.1, but soon after updating to the stable version, it occurred again.

I then thought that a clean install of iOS 8.1 would be the solution, but both my iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 on a clean install of iOS 8.1 (not restored from a backup) are still experiencing the iCloud hanging/crashing bug. For the past week, apps like MindNode, Twitterrific, Pixelmator, and (before the latest update) Drafts have been hanging or crashing at launch on my devices, forcing me to force-quit them, reboot (with a hard reset), or manually copy data because iCloud wasn't syncing. Each app was tested with existing document libraries as well as an empty database.

Greg Pierce has been investigating the issue with his app, Drafts 4, and he writes:

iOS 8.1 shipped with a serious bug affecting apps that use iCloud. If you have seen apps randomly hang, especially on launch, it’s likely you are seeing the effects of this issue. Many apps use iCloud for a variety of data storage needs, so even apps that you were not aware were using iCloud may exhibit issues related to this bug.

As he notes, there's little third-party developers can do to fix the issue:

There is little developers can do to avoid this problem, so if you are a user seeing this issue, please be patient waiting on a fix and do not blame your friendly neighborhood app developer for this problem. Especially, do not blame them in an App Store review.

Greg managed to ship a workaround with Drafts 4.0.3, but that's not a solution to the underlying problem of iCloud and iOS 8.1. Based on my informal polling on Twitter, the bug doesn't affect all iCloud accounts but it is common, and even when an iOS device is affected the issue is intermittent and only partially “fixed” by rebooting or logging out of iCloud (read: it'll happen again after a few hours or days). In short, there doesn't seem to be a solution for affected accounts for now.

Hopefully the issue will be fixed soon by Apple, as it is a serious problem that makes apps with iCloud features unreliable and essentially unusable. If you're developer, read Greg's post for more technical details.


What Photographers Need to Know About iOS 8.1 and Yosemite

The new OS X and iOS jive better now than ever before. Both platforms are packed with new features and I’ve only touched on the aspects that are especially significant for photographers. I’m personally most excited about iCloud’s ability to give us access to our image archive at all times and AirDrop between Mac and iPhone.

Photographer Austin Mann (you may have heard of him before) has shared a good collection of tips and tricks for taking pictures and managing files on iOS 8.1 and OS X Yosemite. I'm trying iCloud Photo Library as my main photo management solution, and I'm positively (and surprisingly) impressed so far.

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Connected: An Italian Stephen

This week, the boys discuss the ever-expanding iPad line and Stephen yells about Yosemite.

This week's episode of Connected was recorded before I got my iPad Air 2, and it includes some thoughts on moving from the iPad mini to the larger iPad as well as software we're not seeing from Apple. You can get the episode here.

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distribute()

Created by Vlambeer (the indie studio behind Apple Design Award winner Ridiculous Fishing, Luftrausers, and other games), distribute() is a new tool to help game developers keep track of a press list. From the website:

distribute() is modelled to save you valuable development hours you'd otherwise have to spend on distributing builds and maintaining press lists. Simply send out a distribute() link for your game to your press contacts, and distribute() will organise all required information into a neatly organised list the system manages and maintains for you. Furthermore, distribute() will simplify numerous public data sources into a simple Reach statistic to help you decide how to prioritise your press strategy for your new release.

There are several interesting ideas in distribute(), but this one struck me as a genius addition:

Verified press contacts help you avoid fake requests from video content creators or people pretending to be from larger websites or YouTube personalities. Verified press contacts are manually vetted and constantly updated to reflect the ever-changing games press landscape. Additionally, distribute() can be set to handle requests from verified accounts automatically, so that you can be sure esteemed members from the press can get access to your game as soon as you flip the switch.

Properly maintaining a press list is hard, especially if you have to focus on other aspects of launching a game on the App Store or other platforms. If you're a game developer, sign up for the distribute() alpha here. Vlambeer also made presskit(), a free tool to create press pages.

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Twitterrific 5.8 with Share Sheets

Twitterrific, the popular Twitter client by The Iconfactory, was updated this week with support for native iOS 8 share sheets, a new way to search for users when composing a tweet, and other improvements. I've always been impressed by The Iconfactory's commitment to Twitterrific, so this week I took version 5.8 for a spin.

I like how share sheets have been implemented in the app. Like Tweetbot, you can tap & hold on links in the timeline and you'll get action and share extensions in exchange for the ability to preview the full URL; you can also share directly from web views. What I like, however, is that you can tap & hold any tweet to instantly show the share sheet and pass its URL to extensions. I often use tweets as todos, and being able to save links to tweets with extensions in Twitterrific is fast, easy, and, overall, nice. Especially on the iPad – where Tweetbot hasn't been updated and the Twitter app doesn't support native share sheets – this aspect of Twitterrific is extremely welcome.

Twitterrific 5.8 is available on the App Store.

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Apple Launches TestFlight Beta Testing for Everyone

After unveiling TestFlight beta testing at WWDC and rolling it out for internal testers a few weeks ago, Apple has today opened up TestFlight beta testing for everyone. From the Developer News website:

You can now invite up to 1,000 testers to beta test your iOS apps by simply sending them an email invitation through iTunes Connect. Once they accept your invitation, testers can install your beta app on their iOS devices, get updated builds, and provide feedback, all within the TestFlight app.

I tried the TestFlight app (released last month), and while it doesn't have all the features (from a tester's perspective) of Hockey, it's nicely integrated with iOS. You can receive push notifications for new beta builds, and beta apps installed from TestFlight get a special orange dot on the Home screen.

As someone who installs dozens of betas every week, I'm excited to see how this works in the real world.

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Nuzzel for iPad

I fell in love with Nuzzel earlier this year: I wanted an app to quickly understand what people I followed were talking about on Twitter, and I came across this simple utility to see popular links in my timeline. As I wrote in my original review:

Nuzzel aggregates links shared by people you follow on Twitter over a specific period of time. Tweets containing the same link shared by multiple people are coalesced into a single article recommendation in the app, which displays the title, a brief excerpt, the source, and a count with the number of “friends” who shared the story alongside their profile pictures. The useful aspect of this is the way Nuzzel lets you adjust time filters: you can find the most shared links for the past 1–8 hours, the past day, a specific day in past week, or links from last week. By hitting the date button in the upper right corner, you can change the date filter at any time and “travel back” into, say, Twitter from two days ago and see what your timeline was talking about without scrolling long lists of tweets.

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