Federico Viticci – 7069 posts on MacStories – @


Carousel, a new gallery app released today by Dropbox, aims at providing an integrated solution for all photos and videos stored in a Dropbox account, unifying them in a single interface that automatically sorts files by time and location. As someone who relies on Dropbox and a custom workflow for photo backup, management, and viewing, I followed today’s announcements with curiosity and anticipation – the company’s previous photo products weren’t the most advanced or versatile ones on the App Store, but they showed an interest for turning Dropbox into a cloud-based Camera Roll, which is where Apple is struggling with its confusing Photo Stream.

I’m still exploring various possibilities for my photo management workflow (I played around with Everpix, Loom, Picturelife, Unbound, and many other services and clients) and Carousel offers an interesting take on the problem: it’s photo and video archival based on Dropbox storage, but it’s also a separate iOS app with sharing options that include messaging and public links on the web.

I took Carousel for a spin[1] this afternoon, and I collected some first impressions below. They’re not exhaustive, but I believe they’re fairly indicative of the app’s current state and limitations. (more…)

Alongside Carousel, today Dropbox also announced an update to Mailbox for iOS and showed the first screenshots of a Mailbox beta for OS X. In Mailbox for iOS, Dropbox is introducing a feature called Auto-Swipe, which will let the app learn a user’s patterns for archiving, deleting, or snoozing emails containing certain addresses or subjects and try to perform the same action automatically in the future:

Today, we’re proud to announce a new service built directly into Mailbox that learns from your swipes and snoozes to automate common actions. Mute that thread you don’t care about, snooze messages from your friends until after work, and route receipts to a list — automatically. We call this service Auto-swipe.

According to a post on the Mailbox blog, Auto-Swipe is made possible by the service’s new infrastructure, likely helped by resources made available by Dropbox (the company was acquired by Dropbox in March 2013). In a feature story at The Verge, Ellis Hamburger has shared details on how Auto-Swipe will work and even integrate with Mailbox for Mac:

If you want to manually archive any thread for good before waiting on Mailbox’s suggestion, you can open it up, and then tap and hold on the archive button. Similarly, if you keep snoozing your Groupon emails until after work, or your club soccer emails until Friday afternoons, Mailbox will notice your actions and offer to do them for you for incoming emails of those kinds. Or you can manually invoke action by tapping and holding on the snooze button. The goal is to remove all the clutter you didn’t even know existed — the messages that you assumed needed to stay in your inbox because they showed no signs of stopping.

Mailbox for Mac will sport a design inspired by the popular iOS app, with support for quick gestures and snooze (two of the app’s marquee additions to classic email) and a clean widescreen layout to manage accounts and lists. The Mailbox Mac app isn’t available today, but Dropbox is letting users apply for a beta invitation here.

At a press event held in San Francisco this morning, Dropbox announced Carousel, a new dedicated gallery app that combines all of a user’s photos and videos from all connected devices in a single interface. Carousel will be available both as an iOS and Android app, separate from the main Dropbox client but based on the same storage space.

During the event, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston announced that the company has now 700 employees and over 275 million users, who rely on Dropbox to store a variety of personal and work files, documents, and media. With Carousel, Dropbox allows users to look at photos and videos stored in their accounts, which are automatically sorted by time and location: large thumbnail previews group related items together by location, while a timeline scrubber at the bottom allows users to quickly navigate through time to view and select old photos.

According to Dropbox, Carousel is faster than Apple’s built-in Photos app when dealing with hundreds of files even though they are stored in the cloud, and not on a user’s local device. Carousel is built with sharing in mind: the app makes it easy to select multiple photos and send them to another person directly from the app alongside a message; the recipient can then view the full-resolution photos, and optionally save them to Carousel.

Dropbox has long enabled users to automatically upload new photos from their devices through the official Dropbox client, but Carousel marks the company’s debut into the photo and video management space with a dedicated app that’s been specifically created for upload, management, and sharing outside of the Dropbox client.

From the Dropbox blog post:

It combines the photos in your Dropbox with the photos on your phone, and automatically backs up new ones as you take them. Carousel sorts all these memories by event so you can easily travel back in time to any photo from any date. And unlike other mobile galleries, the size of your Carousel isn’t constrained by the space on your phone, which means you can finally have your entire life’s memories in one place.

Carousel will be available for free on the App Store later today. We’ve embedded the official promo video below.

Nuclear Throne, the upcoming game from Vlambeer (Super Crate Box, Ridiculous Fishing, Luftrausers) currently in development and available through Steam Early Access, will receive native Mac support today. Previously, the game was only playable through Early Access on Windows machines.

Nuclear Throne is now live and should be stable on Mac. It’s also live for Linux, but we can’t promise stability (or even functionality) just yet, but rest assured we’re working closely with YoYo Games to make sure the Linux build will be up to speed. If you own the game on Windows, the Mac and Linux builds should show up on Steam right around now, and the Humble builds will be uploaded later.

Nuclear Throne is an action roguelike title from the award-winning studio that can be played during the development process thanks to Early Access; Vlambeer is regularly hosting live streams on Twitch to offer a glimpse into the game’s creation and showcase the latest additions.

You can more on Vlambeer’s “performative development” of Nuclear Throne at Edge and watch Polygon’s demo and interview with Vlambeer from last month’s GDC. The Mac build of Nuclear Throne will be available today on the game’s Steam page.

This week, Myke and Federico are joined by Shahid Ahmad, senior business development manager at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. They talk about Shahid’s role at PlayStation, indie games and PS Vita, passion for game development and video games, and the importance of human curation.

Shahid Ahmad is widely regarded as the man behind Sony's indie revolution, and we had a fantastic chat on Directional about his career and the work he does to bring great indie games to PlayStation. You can get the episode here.

Brought to you by:

Pete Warden:

I am totally convinced that deep learning approaches to hard AI are going to change our world, especially when they’re running on cheap networked devices scattered everywhere. I’m a believer because I’ve seen how good the results can be on image recognition, but I understand why so many experienced engineers are skeptical. It sounds too good to be true, and we’ve all been let down by AI promises in the past.

That’s why I’ve decided to release DeepBeliefSDK, an iOS version of the deep learning approach that has taken the computer vision world by storm.

A fascinating demo, especially in how the prototype app Pete built starts recognizing his cat in real-time – through the camera – towards the end of the video. Developers can check out DeepBeliefSDK here.

Drafts, Agile Tortoise’s note-taking app for iOS with support for customizable actions and workflows, has been updated to version 3.6 today, adding Google Drive integration, new clipboard actions, and a handy option to automatically back up a user’s action library to Dropbox every few days.

Google Drive joins Drafts’ existing Dropbox and Evernote actions as it’s based on the same concept: the app can now create text files in your Google Drive account, append/prepend text to existing files, or replace text; every tag that is normally supported by Drafts (such as placeholders for timestamps, date, draft line, or clipboard) will work with Google Drive actions that you can create in the Settings. In my tests, I was able to quickly send text from Drafts to Google Drive by adapting some of my old Dropbox actions, which created a new .txt file in Google Drive and inside a specific folder (Drafts has preference to specify a parent folder for Google Drive actions); overall, if you’ve ever wished you could easily send plain text to notes stored in Google Drive, the addition is welcome.

Append and prepend actions have also been added to Drafts’ iOS clipboard integration: just like with built-in third-party services, Drafts can now append or prepend text to the contents of the clipboard — a feature that may not seem immediately useful, but that could open some interesting possibilities when using the clipboard as a workaround for the lack of automation features in iOS apps.

Aside from adding background refresh support for iOS 7 (for notes stored in the app across the iPhone and iPad versions), Drafts 3.6 also adds a setting for auto-backup: if activated, the app will save actions every few days to Dropbox without having to remember to export an action’s library manually.

Drafts continues to be a must-have utility for text automation on iOS, and version 3.6 is available now on the App Store for the iPhone and iPad.

Hider 2

I try not to be too paranoid about the security of files I keep on my Mac, but I do enjoy the peace of mind provided by encrypting some work documents when necessary, hoping that there will be an extra layer of security for those files in case of disaster or device loss. For the past week, I’ve been trying MacPaw’s Hider 2, a new app that wants to unify and streamline the process of hiding and encrypting files in a single, intuitive interface. (more…)

In my review of Fantastical for iPad, I didn't mention some of the gestures supported by the app. Gabe Weatherhead has collected all these handy gestures and shortcuts in a single post.

Gabe also created an Editorial workflow to use with Fantastical and TaskPaper, and Pedro Lobo offers a similar solution that works with entire TaskPaper documents.