Federico Viticci

7285 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, The Prompt and Directional.


Panic PunchClock

Panic has fun with iBeacons:

With this new technology in-hand, it wasn’t too long before I put together a brand new office In/Out tracker called PunchClock. It uses a combination of a geo-fence and iBeacon tracking, plus a simple Sinatra backend hosted at Heroku. The part that took the longest to fine-tune was figuring out the right combination of polling to provide good location information without draining the battery.

Not only does their internal app look great – it's also available on GitHub for you to play with.


Ultratext Lets You Create GIFs with Text and Selfies

Ultratext, available for free on the App Store, is a new and fun iPhone app to create animated GIFs from text and selfies, and share them with others through iMessage, Instagram, or other services. I discovered the app yesterday thanks to a tweet by Casey Newton, and I've been using it all day to send animated messages to my friends and family. The idea seems to resonate with normal people in my life and the app is indeed simple and enjoyable, hence it's worth a mention on the site.

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Inspecting Yosemite’s Icons

Nick Keppol has published a great look at the icons from the developer beta of OS X Yosemite:

When 10.10 ships this fall, your users will expect your icons to feel at home in the new system. Rather than critique the icons, I’m going to dissect the icon system and focus on the small details that will help you make icons that look great in Yosemite.

When I saw this link in my Twitter feed, I thought the article would focus on colors, gradients, and comparisons with iOS 7. Instead, Nick has inspected the tiniest details of Apple's icon design on Yosemite, such as reflections, materials, grids, and combination of shapes. If you're a designer or just curious about Apple's new dock icon language, I recommend reading this post.


Ron Johnson Recalls The Early Years

Gary Allen has a summary of Ron Johnson's talk at Stanford University:

Former Sr. VP Retail Ron Johnson told a Stanford University audience in May that store high-speed Internet connections—nearly unheard of at the time—were intended to attract visitors, allowing them to check their email or surf the Web. Johnson spoke as part of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business “From the Top” series that spotlights company executives. Johnson was an undergraduate at Stanford, and also attended Harvard Business School (HBS). Johnson recalled his close relationship with Steve Jobs, and the main lesson he learned from him—‟You have to be willing to start again.” He recounted the previously-told story of how the original Apple store design was re-done at almost the last minute in 2001, because Jobs’ trusted Johnson’s evaluation that it didn’t match up with the company’s “digital hub” philosophy.

There are a lot of lessons and details to take away from the talk, which you can watch on YouTube here.


iOS 8 Privacy Updates

Luis Abreu has published a fantastic roundup of the privacy changes in iOS 8 (via Dave Verwer):

The latest updates to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite introduce some very welcomed changes to the way Security and Privacy is dealt with on these platforms and may serve as an inspiration for others.

I’ve gathered this information by watching over 17 hours of WWDC 2014 sessions and carefully reviewing, analyzing what was said, and writing a huge number of notes on Security, Privacy, UX and other areas which I will be publishing here in the coming weeks.

Even if you're not an iOS developer, read through Luis' post to understand the updates Apple introduced to make it easier to remain in control of your data and decide which apps can access your information. I had a lot of doubts about the Health app and HealthKit data, and Luis' explanation helped.



Great follow-up by Dr. Drang on our episode about Sherlocking:

In the fall of 2005, Apple added direct podcast support to iTunes. To normal people, this was what put podcasting on the map. Instead of fiddling around with RSS URLs, third-party apps, and special playlists, users could now find and subscribe to podcasts very easily from within iTunes itself. There’s been a lot of criticism of how Apple has allowed iTunes to grow into an unwieldy behemoth of an app, but I don’t think anyone complained about the addition of podcasts. It was both useful and well implemented.

The Apple ecosystem has changed a lot since 2005, but the essence of Sherlocking is the same: sometimes Apple's solutions cover the basics, leaving room for third-party developers to thrive; other times, they really sherlock a third-party product with a much better integrated solution. As Drang notes, though, Apple's podcast Sherlocking in 2005 didn't have the same result with the Podcasts app in 2012, which has left plenty of opportunities for developers of third-party podcast clients.


Albums Down, Stream Equivalents Nearly Double

Ed Christman, writing for Billboard:

While digital streaming revenue growth continues to offset the decline in digital album and track sales, the music industry still has the same problem it has wrestled with for over a decade: physical music's decline is outpacing digital's growth.

The numbers aren't completely surprising considering the trend suggested in a report from January, but I find it interesting to think about the future of streaming services and consolidation.

Right now, the big independent players (Spotify, Rdio, and Deezer) tend to implement both on-demand and radio features; radio services like Pandora and iTunes Radio still exist, but they haven't expanded outside the US (except for Australia and iTunes Radio); Google and Apple are still working on their own streaming solutions, with Google seemingly focusing on curation and Apple now in charge of Beats Music.

If this industry trend continues on a worldwide scale and big tech companies (including Amazon and Microsoft, too) iterate on their streaming products, it will be interesting to see how many of these names will stick around and which ones will be integrated with other products, get acquired, or shut down. Will music streaming become a feature of smartphones and computers?