Federico Viticci

8073 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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Quartz Analyzes a Month of Beats 1 Tracks

Fascinating findings by Quartz after collecting a month worth of songs played on Beats 1:

To get a sense of the station’s tastes and habits, we analyzed data on more than 12,000 songs played on Beats 1 from early July to early August. The song data was collected by Callum Jones, a programmer at Nitrous, who has open-sourced his tool over on GitHub. Jones also has a Twitter bot that automatically tweets whatever song is playing.

And:

Beats 1 has something that is rare in the world of digital music: scarcity. Listeners can’t choose a song and play it over and over. (They can do that elsewhere on Apple Music.) But curation doesn’t mean songs aren’t repeated. We counted 12,445 tracks but only 3,371 unique songs, meaning each track was played an average of 3.7 times. Eighteen of the 20 songs in the table above were played over 50 times.

“Edgy enough” seems like a fitting description. I'm an avid listener of recent releases, but I discovered a lot of new stuff with Beats 1 so far.

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Twitter Removes 140-Character Limit From DMs

Twitter also removed the 140-character limit from direct messages today (as promised). Surprisingly, this will be rolled out to the seemingly forgotten Twitter for Mac as well:

We’ll begin rolling out this change today across our Android and iOS apps, on twitter.com, TweetDeck, and Twitter for Mac. It will continue to roll out worldwide over the next few weeks. If you can’t wait to try out longer Direct Messages, be sure you’re using the latest versions of our apps so you get the update right away. Sending and receiving Direct Messages via SMS will still be limited.

I tried to send a long DM from Twitter for iPhone and iPad, but I'm still stuck on the 140-character version there. However, sending a 600-character DM from Tweetbot for iPhone worked fine.

As I wrote in June:

The strength of Twitter DMs is, for me, the existing graph between users (people I'm interested in), speed, and the lack of baggage from email. Lately, I've come to like the ability to easily share links and pictures in DMs as well. I don't know if raising the character limit to 10k characters will by itself improve DMs, but Twitter is wasting an opportunity with DMs, so maybe their new CEO could use this as a starting point.

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Twitter Rolls Out Full-Archive Search API

Twitter has added support for full-archive search to their API, allowing – in theory – third-party clients to retrieve every tweet ever posted on the service. From their blog:

The Full-Archive Search API combines the best aspects of two of Gnip’s most popular offerings to solve enterprise business needs with user experiences not previously possible. By pairing instant accessibility with the full archive of historical Tweets, we’ve created a new premium solution for our ecosystem of partners to deliver historical social data to their own clients.

Since Twitter added full-archive search to their app last year, I've been using the feature every day to find old stuff I or others tweeted in the past. There's no word on pricing for Gnip customers, but hopefully apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific will be able to take advantage of it. Developer documentation is available here.

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Igloo: An Intranet You’ll Actually Like [Sponsor]

Igloo is an intranet you’ll actually like.

It’s a cloud platform that can help you do your best work – share files, blog updates, coordinate calendars, and manage projects. It’s easy-to-use and easy to configure – even for the most non-technical of users. And it’s built using responsive design, which means that everything you can do at your desk, you can now do on the go, on your phone or tablet. The responsive design is meant to look great on all of your devices.

Whether you’re a large enterprise stuck using SharePoint or a fast-growing business overwhelmed by apps, create an intranet that matches your brand’s look and feel, simplifies how you work, and is accessible on your phone.

Sign up now and try it for free at igloosoftware.com/macstories, and invite up to ten of your favorite co-workers to try it with you.

Our thanks to Igloo for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Twitterrific Update Brings Early iOS 9 Features

San Francisco, Safari View Controller, and Safari Reader in Twitterrific 5.13.

San Francisco, Safari View Controller, and Safari Reader in Twitterrific 5.13.

The latest version of Twitterrific, released today on the App Store, brings a number of nice improvements such as hashtag autocompletion, better support for Handoff, and some welcome fixes for quoted tweets and the media viewer. What's even nicer is that, if you're running the iOS 9 beta, Twitterrific for iOS 8 already supports Safari View Controller and the San Francisco font thanks to some clever coding by The Iconfactory.

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Apple Posts New ‘Photos & Videos’ iPhone Ad

Apple aired a new commercial as part of their "If it's not an iPhone, it's not an iPhone" campaign, this time focusing on the device's camera for photos and videos.

The entire ad showcases full-screen photos and videos taken on the iPhone 6, noting that "every day, millions of amazing photos" are shot with iPhone. Unlike other ads in the campaign, there's no mention of third-party apps – just the iPhone's camera and animations generated by photos and videos. Previously, Apple had featured iPhone photography with the "Shot on iPhone 6" initiative, which was later expanded to ads, films, and billboards across the world.

You can watch Apple's latest iPhone commercial below.

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Apple Redesigns Website, Integrates with Store Pages

Apple launched a redesign of their website today, integrating the product presentation and shopping experiences into one and tweaking the navigation bar with different menu items and icons.

Notably, the separate store.apple.com website is no more, as it now simply leads to apple.com with store pages available at apple.com/shop/ URLs.

As John Gruber writes:

Knowing what I know about the old online store, this was a massive behind-the-scenes undertaking, but the result looks and works like what most people would have expected all along. (Someone should count the instances of “finally” in the headlines about this change.) The old two-site approach was like having separate rooms in a physical retail store — a showroom up front, and a sales room in the back. Now it’s just one room. (And in another subtle parallel to the physical Apple stores, the website now uses a shopping bag instead of a cart.)

Speaking to TechCrunch, an Apple spokesperson explained why the company decided to make this change:

“We redesigned Apple.com knowing that our customers want to explore, research and shop in one place,” said an Apple spokesperson in a statement. “The new Apple.com takes the very best of our existing site and our online store to give customers one simple destination to learn and buy without navigating between two different sites. We’ve also improved several of the site’s features to make shopping easier than ever for our customers.”

The updated website will likely make for an easier shopping flow – especially on smartphones – as there's less switching contexts between viewing and buying because everything's integrated. It'll be interesting to see if updating the store with new products will still require Apple to bring the store down, or if they will appear and propagate for everyone across the world like the new website did today. Probably a good change, but let's pour one out for Is The Apple Store Down.

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How Apple Watch Got Ken Robson In and Out of Hospital Fast

MedCity News has shared the story of Ken Robson, Apple Watch user who was able to correctly self-diagnose a heart ailment thanks to Apple Watch heart rate data:

When he got to the hospital, Robson told staff that he had been tracking his heart rate on the watch, and had two weeks of back data. “Going in with the data certainly reduced my stay by a couple of days,” he told MedCity News. It also assured that he could have the operation nearly immediately.

Because the hospital could check his Apple Watch data, Robson did not have to wear a heart monitor for a week before the medical team at Scripps Mercy could confirm the diagnosis of sick sinus syndrome.

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Apple Updates TestFlight with Support for iOS 9 and watchOS 2 Betas, App Thinning

Apple has updated its official TestFlight app for iOS today, bringing support for iOS 9 and watchOS 2 betas, plus a new App Thinning feature that will allow developers to deliver slimmer apps in iOS 9.

Version 1.2 of TestFlight supports, according to Apple, "upcoming iOS 9 features". The first beta of iOS 9 was first released in June, and, following the launch of the fourth developer beta, several members of the developer community were wondering when Apple would start allowing developers to distribute iOS 9 app betas to external testers. The release notes of the update don't mention external testers, so it's still fair to wonder when Apple will actually let developers expand their beta pools beyond internal testers.

Update: As confirmed in an email by Apple, TestFlight's iOS 9 features are currently limited to watchOS 2 apps and App Thinning for internal testers only.

In addition to iOS 9 and watchOS 2 support, the TestFlight app has been updated with new notification settings. You can now turn off email and notification updates on a per-app basis – a welcome addition for those testing dozens of different apps.

TestFlight 1.2 is available on the App Store.