Federico Viticci

8045 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 on his two podcasts – Connected and Virtual.

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Google Starts Showing Busy Times for Places in Search

Here's a clever addition to Google search results announced by the company today: you can now view busy times for places listed in search results. Google writes:

Now, you can avoid the wait and see the busiest times of the week at millions of places and businesses around the world directly from Google Search. For example, just search for “Blue Bottle Williamsburg”, tap on the title and see how busy it gets throughout the day. Enjoy your extra time!

This is already working in Safari for iOS (see screenshot above), and I'm going to use it a lot – my girlfriend and I are constantly checking out new places in Rome, and it helps to see the best times so we can avoid queues and possible parking issues around a store. I assume this uses the location shared by the Google app for iOS (which can keep track of where you go as it's always running in the background) as well as Google Maps. Very cool, and I'd like to see it inside Google Maps as well.

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IFTTT Launches Spotify Channel

This is an interesting idea by IFTTT: a Spotify channel to create automated recipes for the music service so you can connect it to other apps. Triggers include new saved tracks and tracks added to a playlist (the same are available as actions). I haven't kept my Spotify account since switching to Apple Music, but this is the kind of integration that likely won't ever come to Apple's service, and it seems like you can create some pretty cool recipes with it. Worth checking out if you're a Spotify user and are into web automation.

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VideoBlocks: Royalty-Free Stock Footage Downloads [Sponsor]

VideoBlocks is an affordable, subscription-based stock media site that gives you unlimited access to premium stock footage.

One of the main benefits of VideoBlocks is its unlimited download model: with a library of over 100,000 HD video clips, plus After Effects templates and motion backgrounds (for a total of 250,000 graphics), VideoBlocks subscribers pay on average less than a dollar per download over the course of a year. VideoBlocks offers the same content you would find on more expensive stock sites with a great variety of time lapse, aerials, US and international locations, nature shots, and more.

VideoBlocks is continuously adding new content to their library so it stays fresh all the time. Everything on VideoBlocks is 100% royalty-free, with unrestricted usage rights for personal or commercial projects: keep what you download and maintain usage rights forever.

Want to know more? Visit videoblocks.com/promo/macstories and start your subscription today.

Our thanks to VideoBlocks for sponsoring MacStories this week.



Kids React to First iPod

Kids React is one of my favorite YouTube shows. It's always interesting to see how new generations react to old products and technologies, commenting on aspects that they now take for granted but that actually took years of evolution and cultural changes to happen.

Their latest video is about kids reacting to the first iPod. There are many great moments in the video, but the part about touching the screen really shows how tech has changed since 2001. You can watch it below.

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Craig Hockenberry on the Mac App Store

Craig Hockenberry on the many limitations of the Mac App Store when compared to its iOS counterpart:

I think the thing that bothers me most about this situation is the inequality. Mac developers aren’t getting the same value from the App Store as their counterparts on iOS. We all pay Apple 30% of our earnings to reach our customers, we should all get the same functionality for that fee.

It's not fair to developers to keep the Mac App Store like this. Developers should be able to test and track performance of Mac apps just like they can on iOS. Instead of improving the Mac App Store for developers, things are only getting worse the more it's neglected – this isn't right, and it should be fixed.

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Connected: The Year of Now for You

This week, the Connected gang talk about the iOS 9 beta, new iPods and what the future may hold for the iPad.

On this week's Connected, we elaborated on Apple blocking App Store reviews on the iOS 9 beta and Stephen's usage of iPods in 2015. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

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YouTube and Full-Screen Playback of Vertical Videos

YouTube has added support for full-screen playback of vertical videos in their latest iOS app update. The new version follows a mobile web redesign and new Android features that will soon come to iOS as well.

While I understand that many people are deeply against vertical videos, the reality is that vertical video makes sense for some cases in the age of smartphones. The ergonomics of big phones make it easier to start shooting in portrait mode without having to rotate the device and wait for the interface to adjust. On the iPhone, for instance, there's no landscape Lock screen, and a camera shortcut is right there in the portrait Lock screen. Vertical video is ideal for framing people or faces with the front-facing camera – just see how people are watching videos in Snapchat, and you'll get the idea.

On iOS, FaceTime, selfies, and the majority of the iPhone UI are mostly portrait experiences, and that has changed how people approach media content created on mobile.

TVs and computer monitors are horizontally oriented and horizontal video is how movies and other videos are best experienced – I get that. But, like it or not, we live in an era where a lot of video content is also created by people with phones oriented vertically because it's faster, easier, or simply better to record that way in some scenarios.

For this reason, I welcome YouTube adding support for full-screen vertical video playback on their platform.