Federico Viticci

7555 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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More on WatchKit

Following the release of WatchKit earlier this week, I've been reading through the documentation and listened to what developers had to say about it. Here's my original roundup of links and tweets. Below, other interesting reads from around the web.

Serenity Caldwell has an excellent overview of Apple's announcements at iMore:

Tapping and swiping continue to be the primary way of interacting with all iOS apps, Apple Watch included. The watch has a few new swipe gestures, including a left edge swipe (to return to the previous screen) and a swipe up from the bottom (which activates Glances). Pinch-to-zoom and other multi-finger gestures don't exist on the Apple Watch; instead, you're presumably expected to use the device's Digital Crown to zoom in and out. There's also Force Touch, a long-press action that activates the menu or important contextual buttons within an app.

John Gruber compares WatchKit to the iPhone in 2007:

In a sense, this is like 2007 all over again. The native APIs almost certainly aren’t finished, and battery life is a huge concern. But with the Watch, Apple is ahead of where they were with the iPhone.

MG Siegler notes that the Apple Watch will be highly dependent on the iPhone:

To that end, the Apple Watch is more of a “widget watch” — that is, it displays content which are less like apps and more like the widgets found in the notifications drop-down on iOS devices. (And yes, they require iPhone apps as a base.) And that shows the importance of iOS 8, which first introduced these widgets to third-party developers. For the first couple months of iOS 8, these widgets were pretty clunky. It’s only now that developers are starting to smooth out the kinks and make these widgets more useful and performant. And this will clearly be key for the Apple Watch as well.

Craig Hockenberry posted a technical overview of the new developer technologies in WatchKit with plenty of good advice:

Once you have the PDF to give you an idea of the physical size, you can then start to see how your design works at that scale. Thibaut has already made the world’s ugliest watch and it’s doing important information design work. Here it is showing a simulated scroll view and exploring glance interactions.

These physical interactions with your designs are incredibly important at this point. Wondering why the scroll indicator only appears in the upper-right corner while you scroll your view? I was until I realized that’s where the digital crown is physically located.

In his thoughts on WatchKit, Nick Heer takes a look at the new Apple font, San Francisco:

San Francisco Text — that’s the one for smaller text sizess — has similar metrics to Helvetica Neue. Not the same, but if you squint a little, kind of close enough, and closer still to the metrics of Lucida Grande. Perhaps this is eventually the new UI font for all Apple interfaces. It certainly would be more of a distinct signature face than Helvetica, and it would be more legible, too.

And last, some early mockups of third-party Apple Watch apps.

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Connected: The Old Mac Paladin

This week, Myke escaped. Federico and Stephen talk about Twitter and WatchKit, then debate productivity for a while before realizing the irony of it.

Don't miss the show notes on this week's Connected – we mentioned some fine apps and linked to an old Power Mac G5 used as a grill (really). Get the episode here.

Sponsored by:

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CloudMagic Adds Share Extension, Share Sheets in Email Messages

CloudMagic, an email client I mentioned in my article on Mail and extensions on iOS 8, has been updated today with a share extension and support for saving messages elsewhere with share sheets.

I use CloudMagic on the iPad because I need an email client capable of saving messages to Todoist. With the update, CloudMagic gains support for any app that provides an action/share extension, and, for the most part, everything works well. From the app, I can now save message text to Clips, the native Todoist extension, Drafts, and NoteBox. There are some inconsistencies (some apps insert data received by CloudMagic in the wrong field of their extension; subject lines aren't always used to fill title fields), but it's a solid start.

The share extension is also a nice addition. You can bring it up in Safari to send a webpage over email, use it in the Photos app to attach an image to a new message, and, in general, you can rely on it as a replacement for Mail system sharing (too bad it can't save drafts).

CloudMagic is free on the App Store.



Billboard to Start Counting Streaming Services in Top Charts

Ben Sisario, writing for The New York Times:

Now Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, the agency that supplies its data, will start adding streams and downloads of tracks to the formula behind the Billboard 200, which, since 1956 has functioned as the music world’s weekly scorecard. It is the biggest change since 1991, when the magazine began using hard sales data from SoundScan, a revolutionary change in a music industry that had long based its charts on highly fudgeable surveys of record stores.

It'll be interesting to see how music streaming services will affect the position of recent and older songs in the charts. Here's how the system will work:

SoundScan and Billboard will count 1,500 song streams from services like Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, Rhapsody and Google Play as equivalent to an album sale. For the first time, they will also count “track equivalent albums” — a common industry yardstick of 10 downloads of individual tracks — as part of the formula for album rankings on the Billboard 200.

Given speculation that Beats Music will be bundled in iOS starting next year, it looks like Apple will have an even bigger influence on the Billboard 200.

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How I Track My Expenses: Next for iPhone and iPad

I was never good at managing my expenses.

It's not that I didn't believe in the usefulness of logging how my money was spent – I just used to be lazy and disorganized. But I only blame myself partially: in Italy, cash is still widely used, and, occasionally, smaller stores don't even give you a receipt, which makes it harder to remember an expense later. To make things worse, I was never able to find great expense tracking software that could work with my Italian bank and credit card – all the cool apps are limited to the US, Canada, Australia, or other European countries that aren't Italy.

Still, I should have found a way to track my expenses earlier, because growing up it became harder to tell my accountant that “I couldn't remember” how I spent my money. This is obvious, right? I reached the tipping point last year, when my girlfriend and I moved in together and, like tasks, I completely lost track of a side of my business and financials that was too important to ignore.

Earlier this year, I set out to find a good expense tracker that would work on all my devices (iPhone, iPad, MacBook) but that wouldn't be a “companion app” on iOS. Too many finance apps are developed for Mac first and ported to iOS as an afterthought with limited functionality, and I'm not okay with that.1

In March, I started using Next, developed by indie studio noidentity and available on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. I've refrained from writing about Next not only because I like to take my time with reviews (which is usually the case), but because I believe that an expense tracker needs to fit in your daily habits and prove itself in scenarios that can't be tested in traditional ways. How can you tell if your expense tracker works while you're on vacation? You need to go on vacation. Does it work at IKEA while you're in a hurry at the checkout line and you want to save your expenses quickly? Well, you need to buy some furniture first (which I did).

So I began using Next and I didn't write about it. I've been using the app religiously for the past eight months: this summer, my friends made fun of my obsession with saving expenses while we were on vacation in Sardinia, but I didn't budge. If I wanted to truly test Next, I needed to stick to it and test its flexibility over time.

Next is on my Home screen on my iPhone and iPad. I use the app every day, and I log every expense (whether it's cash or an expense from my bank account) as soon as I can. My perspective of my spending habits has considerably changed since I started using Next, and I'm making more informed decisions thanks to the overview that this app offers and its elegant design combined with astounding ease of use.

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David Smith’s Initial WatchKit Impressions

David Smith comments on today's launch of WatchKit for developers:

Apple took a clever approach to handling the extremely constrained power environment of the Watch (at least initially). To start with 3rd Party apps will run in a split mode. The Watch itself handling the UI parts of the app with an iPhone based app extension doing all the heavy lifting and computation. This is architected in such a way as to enhance interactivity (it isn’t just a streamed movie) while still keeping the Watch components very lightweight.

As he notes, Apple enabled more than he was expecting for this first release.

What's impressive after reading some documentation and thoughts from developers today is the technology that's powering WatchKit remote apps – Extensions. Initially, many of us assumed that extensibility in iOS 8 would just be about sharing files between apps, but it's turning out to much more.

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