Federico Viticci

7492 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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The Utility of Twitter Cards

The Audio Card is the latest entry in Twitter’s line-up of interactive cards. The feature was announced earlier this week by Twitter, with SoundCloud being the first partner:

The world’s most influential musicians and media producers already share unique audio content through Twitter every day. Today we’re introducing a new way for you to experience audio directly on Twitter.

With a single tap, the Twitter Audio Card lets you discover and listen to audio directly in your timeline on both iOS and Android devices. Throughout your listening experience, you can dock the Audio Card and keep listening as you continue to browse inside the Twitter app.

Musicians, podcasters, and other producers of audio content are on board with SoundCloud cards that can be played without leaving the Twitter app. In a separate blog post, Twitter also announced compatibility with iTunes Music:

Now, when you listen to music from select iTunes artists, it’ll only take a few taps to pre-order unreleased music and purchase your favorite songs directly from iTunes.

Foo Fighters are already using the Audio card to promote their new song, Something From Nothing.

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Retina iMac Questions Answered

There's a lot to consider about Apple's new iMac with Retina 5K Display. Marco Arment has a comparison of the new iMac vs. the Mac Pro (on paper) – here's what he writes about 4K and 5K displays:

This difference is much bigger than it sounds. It’s the same, proportionally, as the difference between typical 21- to 24-inch and 27- to 30-inch monitors: “4K” computer monitors have 8.3 megapixels, while “5K” has 14.7 megapixels. Without software scaling to simulate higher density, the “right” size for a 4K monitor tops out at 24 inches, while a 5K monitor looks right at 27 to 30 inches.

It’s a huge difference.

Make sure to read the entire post as he makes some solid points with interesting technical observations.

Christina Bonnington also published a great FAQ on the new iMac at Wired, and I liked her explanation of why 5K is actually useful:

For most of us, a 5K display is just an extravagance, a high-end computing machine with specs that make our friends’ jaws drop. But for professionals in some industries, such a high pixel density is quite important.

For example, 5K resolution is great for those working on 4K content. “You can view all of the images at their true native 4K resolution, which is very important, and then have a fair amount of leftover screen space all around it for controls, icons, and even a generous 3.2-inch high text area at the bottom for commands and text input,” Displaymate’s Ray Soneira told WIRED. This actually ends up being better and more efficient than using a second monitor because you can keep your eyes on the images while working on them, instead of having to glance off to the side.

IHS Technology’s Rhoda Alexander points out that in addition to those in graphics-related fields like CAD and CG, healthcare imaging (like radiology) also has need for displays with a very high resolution.

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A Look at the New Mac mini

Brian Stucki of Macminicolo:

For home users, the increased Graphics will be a very welcomed upgrade. In a data center, that will be useful for those who process a lot of images and will likely help when screen sharing. (Speaking of screen sharing, these HDMI adapters have been very useful. I’ll be interested to see if they’re still needed for the 2014 Mac mini.)

We've been running MacStories on Macminicolo for two years now – one of the best decisions we ever made. Once properly configured, the Mac mini can be a little beast of a machine – I was so happy with our setup at Macminicolo, I now use a second Mac mini just to automate tasks remotely. And with yesterday's refresh, it looks like I may have a serious candidate for my next Mac.

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“Aqua’s All Grown Up”

I don't agree with all of it, but Stephen published a great review of Yosemite's interface changes today.

At this point, I’m not sure referring to Yosemite’s UI as Aqua is even correct. If Aqua defines the structures and underlying philosophies that shape OS X, then it’s still present, despite the ever-growing number of changes from those original lickable buttons. However, if Aqua is just a collection of colorful buttons, windows with title bars and a predictable color scheme, it may have died the second Craig Federighi showed off Yosemite this summer.

Don't miss the GIFs showing how transparency and vibrancy can cause readability issues on the desktop (not a problem for me, but I see why this may be an issue).

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New iPads and the Apple SIM

A major change in the new iPads that Apple didn't mention on stage today is the Apple SIM, which will come preinstalled on the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. As we mentioned in our overview, the Apple SIM will be initially limited to the US and the UK.

Ina Fried writes:

The cellular-equipped versions of the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 can be bought with a single SIM card that supports multiple carriers, meaning that customers don’t have to decide at the time of purchase which cellular carrier they want. Customers buying previous versions of the iPad were bound to one carrier from the outset, since the SIM card was only compatible with that service.

Over at Quartz, Dan Frommer argues that the Apple SIM could potentially be a big deal on the iPhone and even disrupt the wireless industry:

It’s early, but it’s easy to see how this concept could significantly disrupt the mobile industry if Apple brings it to the iPhone. In many markets—especially the US—most mobile phones are distributed by operators and locked to those networks under multi-year contracts. People rarely switch operators, partially out of habit and satisfaction, but mostly because it’s annoying to do so.

There have always been rumors (see: 2010) of Apple setting itself up as a MVNO to change the way customers “interact” with carriers. It's interesting that Apple has started to experiment with Apple SIM on the iPad and I'm curious to see if and how this will expand worldwide.

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iOS 8.1 and Apple Pay Launching Next Week

Earlier today, Apple confirmed that Apple Pay – the company's new payment system based on Touch ID – will be launching on Monday alongside iOS 8.1.

From the press release:

Apple Pay will be available in the US starting Monday, October 20 with iOS 8.1. For shopping in stores, Apple Pay will work with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and with Apple Watch, upon availability. For online shopping within apps, Apple Pay is available on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. Users should contact their bank to determine their card’s eligibility, some banks may not support all card types. Apple Pay will be available in select retailers and apps in 2014.

Apple also announced that more than 500 new banks from across the US have signed up for Apple Pay, which will also work with the following apps:

Apps with the ability to use Apple Pay at launch include: Apple Store app, Chairish, Fancy, Groupon, HotelTonight, Houzz, Instacart, Lyft, OpenTable, Panera Bread, Spring, Staples, Target and Uber. Many more will support Apple Pay by the end of this year with popular apps such as Airbnb, Disney Store, Eventbrite, JackThreads, Levi’s Stadium by VenueNext, Sephora, Starbucks, StubHub, Ticketmaster and Tickets.com, among others.

During the keynote, Apple's Craig Federighi noted that Apple uses the release of major iOS updates such as iOS 8 to collect “feedback” (with literal air quotes from Federighi – read: criticism) and quickly improve upon them.

iOS 8 has been criticized for its various bugs and inconsistencies, but, as I noted in my article, I don't believe its technical problems were as severe as iOS 7 last year. Still, iOS 8.1 will bring various design refinements, extension and HealthKit fixes, and it'll see the return of the Camera Roll in the Photos app.

For more on Apple Pay, you can read our original overview.

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OS X Yosemite Apps I’ve Been Trying

OS X Yosemite, first announced at WWDC in June and released today by Apple, brings a major redesign of OS X and a variety of new features such as widgets, extensions, Handoff, and Continuity. While I don’t use OS X as much as I did a few years ago, I still rely on the system for tasks that I can’t complete on iOS alone.

Below, you’ll find a roundup of the third-party Yosemite apps I’ve been testing over the past couple of weeks, which should give you a good idea of the design changes and new functionalities Yosemite is bringing to OS X.

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