Federico Viticci

7650 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.


Boom 2 – The Root of All Good Audio [Sponsor]

Boom 2 is a pro-audio app for Mac that offers a system-wide volume booster, advanced equalizer control and presets, amazing audio effects and much more. This indispensible app was built from scratch and is designed especially for Yosemite. Boom 2 is tailored to calibrate itself to suit your Mac as no two are the same.

With personalized and customized sound to suit every occasion, it also gives you the power to fine-tune and control every single element of audio coming out of your Mac. Spotify, Netflix, YouTube, iTunes and every other service out there is about to sound a whole lot better. Boom 2 can be tried for free from the website and is now also available on the Mac App Store.

For more information, visit Boom's website to check it out for yourself!

Our thanks to Boom 2 for sponsoring MacStories this week.

A Brief History of User Interface

Every day, people all over the world are clicking, tapping, typing, and touching and dragging things on glass screens. Our ability to use all this fancy technology with ease didn’t happen overnight. So how did we end up here?

I enjoyed Dave Wiskus' video on the history of user interfaces and how we went from keyboard input to the first PDAs, skeuomorphic interfaces, and multitouch. A great complement to Neven Mrgan's video. You can watch it below.


“Quietly Doing Just Fine”

Well, I think a lot of us are out there, quietly doing just fine. HoursTracker had its best year ever in 2014, and five years of best ever years before that. If you can solve an important problem in a way that resonates with a sizable group of people, you can find success. There’s always room for a fresh take on an already well-served problem, too.

We often hear about the frustrations of indie developers who are trying to make a living on the App Store, which has essentially become the default narrative for many (I often talk about this topic, too). Carlos Ribas, developer of HoursTracker, has a good article about the opposite scenario and how he managed to turn his app into a profitable business. Well worth a read to get a fresh and different perspective, and a good reminder that there are indie developers who are doing fine after years on the App Store.


Why Skeuomorphism Is Like a Classic Car

We could sit and listen to Neven talk forever. Like so many of our interviewees, the guy has insight for days and the work to back it up. We knew this gem in particular would be a great addition to the ongoing conversation around design aesthetic. So we’re letting it fly the nest early for your enjoyment.

One of the projects I'm most excited about is App: The Human Story, which I covered last year.

I believe this is a project that matters because the stories of people behind apps go largely unnoticed. Covering the details and stories of apps has always been one of my personal motivations behind this site, but a blog can only do so much to expose the general public to what it means to be an app maker.

The team has posted a short clip featuring Panic's Neven Mrgan today, and it's about the transition from skeuomorphic design to simpler and modern UIs. I love the comparisons and the style of the video, which further confirms that this documentary is going to be extremely important for the indie iOS development community.

You can watch the clip below and pre-order App: The Human Story here.


Virtual: Ticci Mansion

This week Federico and Myke talk about the New 3DS Ambassador Edition and theorise a mobile strategy for Nintendo.

And don't miss the last part of the show where I mention the odd mix of Python and Nintendo Miiverse in my workflow (seriously). You can listen to the episode here.

For context, you can watch the Nintendo smartphone app concept below.

Sponsored by:

  • Hover: Simplified Domain Management. Use code 'CREEPER' for 10% off your first purchase.

A Teenager’s View on Social Media

Andrew Watts has an excellent take on modern social media from a teen's perspective:

Those are some reasons why many people my age tend to use Instagram more than they do Facebook. Everything about the application makes it less commercialized and more focused on the content, meaning more teens are inclined to visit it. When we do visit the application it is a much more pleasant experience so we are more inclined to Like and interact with the posts more. This increases our interaction with the application, meaning we will use it more, etc.

Facebook gets all of the photos we took — the good, the bad, etc—while Instagram just gets the one that really summed up the event we went to. It is much more selective, and honestly people spend more time on the captions to make them relevant/funny. On Facebook we just throw up everything we got so people can tag each other and show our family members that we're still alive.

Do not dismiss this article, as Andrew makes some astute observations about how apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are used. Most of my non-geek friends are slightly older than Andrew's (they're under 25), but I also see the same behaviors mentioned in the article. WhatsApp is obviously huge in Italy (as he notes), but everything from Facebook Groups to Instagram's massive popularity and Twitter's struggle to become huge is true for my circle of friends as well. Recommended read.


Pixel Picker iOS 8 Extension Picks Colors from Images in Any App

The Pixel Picker action extension in Apple's Photos app.

The Pixel Picker action extension in Apple's Photos app.

I sometimes need to pick specific colors from screenshots I take on my iPhone and iPad, and while I’m aware of the existence of more powerful color pickers for iOS, I’ve been using and liking Pixel Picker.

Developed by Muse Visions, Pixel Picker is a simple and free app for iOS 8 that uses an extension to bring up a color picker in the Photos app. Through an action extension, you can bring up Pixel Picker for any image in your library; the extension will take the selected image, put it in a popup, and display a picker you can move over the pixels you want to know the color of. Because the extension works for any image that can be passed to the iOS 8 share sheet, you can run Pixel Picker in any other app that can share images, such as Messages or Twitterrific.

You can pick pixels more precisely by zooming and panning on the image, and the extension will display the RGB code of the recognized color in the upper left corner of the popup window.

Unfortunately, Pixel Picker doesn’t come with a button to quickly copy the RGB value to the clipboard, nor does it offer additional options besides picking one color at a time. It’d be nice to save colors into personalized palettes, have different output values, or perhaps have a history of colors saves from the extension.

Pixel Picker is decidedly not for designers and developers who need a serious tool for web or app design. In spite of its limitations and barebones UI, Pixel Picker gets the job done for me. The action extension is simple enough and it works, and, while the app is free, you can unlock a $0.99 In-App Purchase to remove ads in the app (you never see them in the extension) and support the developer.

Pixel Picker is available on the App Store.

Apple Announces New App Store Numbers and Milestones

With a press release, Apple today announced new App Store numbers and milestones, as well as updated statistics on job creation in the United States and globally.

From the press release:

Apple today announced that the first week of January set a new record for billings from the App Store with customers around the world spending nearly half a billion dollars on apps and in-app purchases, and New Year’s Day 2015 marked the single biggest day ever in App Store sales history. These milestones follow a record-breaking 2014, in which billings rose 50 percent and apps generated over $10 billion in revenue for developers. To date, App Store developers have earned a cumulative $25 billion from the sale of apps and games. The introduction of iOS 8, the most significant iOS update ever, gave developers the ability to create amazing new apps and offers innovative features which proved wildly popular with App Store customers around the world.

In the press release, Apple announced that 1.4 million apps are now available on the App Store, with 725,000 of them made for iPad. Apple estimates that the “iOS ecosystem” has created 627,000 jobs in the US, and, in an updated job creation webpage, they put that number at slightly over a million for jobs “created or supported” by Apple. The same mini-site includes other numbers related to the company's future Campus 2, US-based customer support, and more.

The App Store numbers come at an interesting time for Apple – the company has been criticized for some of its App Store practices over the past few months, but the stats shared today appear to paint a more positive picture in terms of overall growth and health of the market. Below, I've included some tweets by Horace Dediu for further context and analysis.

Read more