Federico Viticci

7760 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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Behind the Scenes of Apple’s Secret Health and Fitness Lab

Apple, known for keeping its product developments under the strictest of lock-and-key, gave ABC News exclusive access into its top secret health and fitness lab, where only Apple employees became test subjects for the new Apple Watch.

Apple engineers, managers and developers have been secretly volunteering for the past year in this state-of-the-art lab to participate in rowing, running, yoga and many more fitness activities in order to collect data for the Apple Watch’s inner workings.

ABC News got exclusive access to Apple's secret fitness lab, where the company tested the fitness and health functionality of Apple Watch and iOS for years. I needed to watch the video with a VPN (ABC is regionally restricted to the U.S.; YouTube version embedded below), and it was worth it: Apple has set up an entire facility with equipment and machinery worth millions of dollars to accurately calculate calorie burn and the response of the human body to various conditions – this includes special climate chambers, breathing masks, and even yoga tests.

This is impressive, and it reinforces the idea that health and fitness are going to be a big deal for Apple going forward. The video makes me even more excited about the potential of Apple Watch as a daily fitness companion.

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Connected: They’re My Clapping Phones

This week, the boys talk about Apple Watch apps, Force Touch Trackpads, the Apple Store and Apple’s past (and possible future) moves in television. Oh, and Teletext.

I enjoyed our discussion on upcoming Apple Watch apps on this week's Connected (see Apple's webpage).

And, obviously, the underappreciated beauty of Teletext. You can listen to the episode here.

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‘We Change Every Day’

Fast Company published a great interview with Tim Cook earlier this week. I liked the sections on life at Apple after Steve Jobs, initial response to the Apple Watch, and remembering to keep core values intact. And especially this bit:

Are there any fundamental ways in which you are letting go of parts of Steve’s legacy?

We change every day. We changed every day when he was here, and we’ve been changing every day since he’s not been here. But the core, the values in the core remain the same as they were in ’98, as they were in ’05, as they were in ’10. I don’t think the values should change. But everything else can change.

Yes, there will be things where we say something and two years later we’ll feel totally different. Actually, there may be things we say that we may feel totally different about in a week. We’re okay with that. Actually, we think it’s good that we have the courage to admit it.

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After Six Months of Rejections, Launcher Returns to the App Store

When Greg Gardner, an independent developer based in San Francisco, released Launcher for iOS last year, he didn’t think his handy utility would make headlines around tech blogs and push other developers to approach widgets for iOS 8 differently. And yet, after months of not being available on the App Store despite being originally approved in September 2014, Launcher is about to be covered (and used as an example) by the press again. Launcher has been re-approved by Apple, and it’s coming back to the App Store today with the same feature set from six months ago.

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Feeling the Interface

Interesting thoughts by Alex4D on the new Force Touch trackpad and its possible implementation on iOS:

When I dragged the clip to its maximum length I did feel a little bump. Without looking at the timeline and looking at the viewer, I could 'feel' the end of the clip.

This feature presages the ability for UI pixels to be 'bumpy' - for user to feel the texture of application UIs without having to look at where the cursor is. This means that seemingly textured software keyboards and control layouts will be able to be implemented on future trackpads, iPhones and iPads.

Here's what I wrote about iOS 7's design refresh when iOS 8 came out:

What I realized in using extensions is how necessary last year's redesign of iOS was. Imagine if Apple didn't ship a new design with iOS 7: today, we'd have sheets of stitched leather or shiny metal on top of apps that look like agendas or little robots. The cohesiveness and subdued style that iOS 7 brought with its precise structure and hierarchy allows extensions to integrate nicely with apps, feeling like extra actions rather than eerily realistic objects.

Assuming Apple's plan is to let users feel the interface on all their devices going forward, can you imagine doing that with UIs that have rugged leather, plastic buttons, and other physical textures close to each other? If that's the case, I'd wager that Apple's focus on clarity also applies to tactile feedback for on-screen elements.

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Virtual: Entertainment Lessons

This week Myke and Federico discuss the reviews for Codename S.T.E.A.M, Kotaku's revisit of the Metroid Prime Trilogy and why Federico cannot play video games on airplanes.

And when you're done with the Apple-related part of my trip to America, you can join Myke in his disbelief over what I do on airplanes. You can listen to Virtual #30 here.

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Connected: To America and Back

On the heels of Apple’s Spring Forward event, the boys talk about Federico’s trip to San Francisco, the new MacBook, the Apple Watch and more.

On last week's episode of Connected, we discussed my trip to San Francisco for Apple's event and our first impressions of the announcements. Good addition to my article about it (and great show notes). You can listen to the episode here.

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How the iPhone’s Slo-Mo Is Helping Dancers

Fascinating story by Christina Bonnington at Wired:

Before the advent of high-quality smartphone shooters, slow-motion was largely left to movie montages, pro-sports instant replays, or pricey camera rigs. The idea that dancers, particularly freelancers and students, would have access to that sort of technology was unthinkable. When you’re making under $30k a year, that money is going towards food and rent, not a high-end DSLR. But now that a smartphone has become practically standard issue, previously high-end camera technology is accessible to almost everyone. And slow motion, while initially more of a gimmick, has slowly matured into a mainstay for some people.

For dancers, it’s become an incredibly useful tool for honing their craft. The newfound affordability of slow motion has enabled them to improve their technique, spruce up their audition reel, and isolate aspects of their performance that were once intangible.

My girlfriend is a dancer, and she can relate to this. Another testament to the iPhone's transformative effect and how everyday tasks are empowered by new mobile technology.

Don't miss Dancers of New York, Tristan Pope's short film mentioned in the article. From Pope's blog:

For slow motion I used Apple’s stock camera app and for timelapse I used Hyperlapse by instagram. The built in image stabilization made it ideal for quick shots without having to worry about keeping my hands still. If only the stock camera app could utilize this same technology to give the iPhone 6 the same stabilization as the 6 +. You may wonder why I didn’t just get the 6 plus… well, I enjoy my skinny jeans and have girlishly small hands, just ask my piano teacher from middle school.(Although they are rather soft…) Regardless the screen was the perfect size for viewing.

You can watch a preview below.

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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.