iOS 8.1.3, OS X 10.10.2 Released

Apple today released software updates for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, bringing bug fixes and stability improvements alongside some welcome enhancements to the iOS update process and Yosemite's iCloud Drive.

In the iOS 8.1.3 changelog (pictured above), Apple notes that they have reduced the amount of storage required to perform a software update. This is an important change as Apple has been criticized for releasing OTA (over-the-air) software updates for iPhones and iPads that required users to free up too much storage on their devices. Notably, iOS 8.1.3 also includes fixes for Spotlight, which often failed to find results for apps previously downloaded and installed.

In OS X Yosemite, Apple resolved a series of issues with WiFi connections, slow performance in loading webpages, and a security issue with loading remote Mail content in Spotlight. iCloud Drive content can now be browsed in Time Machine, the company's local backup solution for OS X.

Both iOS 8.1.3 and OS X 10.10.2 are now available in Software Update.


Alfred Remote

Very nice addition to Alfred for Mac released today: Alfred Remote lets you control Alfred and even trigger workflows from an iOS device. I've been testing the app and, while not for me (I work on my iOS devices), I think it's a great solution for those who get work done at a Mac and wouldn't mind keeping an iPhone or iPad next to it to offload some shortcuts.

The app is easy to use, with large touch targets and a page-based UI to organize and launch shortcuts. Besides files and folders, I like how you can trigger workflows from an iPhone – nice, say, to wake up in the morning and prepare your Mac for work before you sit down.

Now this is where things get really fun! Add a “Remote Trigger” to a workflow to allow you to launch it from your Remote. A single tap can launch multiple things; For example the “Morning tasks” action launches all of my essential websites and apps to start the day at once.

Alfred Remote is $4.99 on the App Store and requires Alfred 2.6 for Mac.

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Vine Is a Window

Speaking of video on Twitter, Mat Honan has an excellent take on two years of Vine:

That’s not to say there isn’t a performance element to most of the year’s best. There very much is. Vine’s best is still largely dominated by dancing and singing and sports and music and gags. And I would argue that the best stuff on there is still mostly people performing.

But increasingly the popular clips have a documentary element; a human element. I’m guessing there will be quite a few really beautiful Vines of the Juno snowstorm, and part of what will be so gorgeous about them will be the futility of man in the face of nature.

You can find the best Vines of 2014 here.

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Legacy TestFlight Service Shutting Down on February 26

Apple has informed developers that the legacy TestFlightApp.com beta testing service will shut down on February 26:

The services offered at TestFlightApp.com will no longer be available after February 26, 2015. To prepare for the TestFlightapp.com closure, developers and team leaders are recommended to transfer their testers to the all-new TestFlight Beta Testing in iTunes Connect.

The legacy TestFlight website has continued working in spite of Apple's acquisition of TestFlight last year and subsequent integration in iTunes Connect. Apple is providing developers with instructions to migrate existing testers to the new TestFlight service, with more details available here.

As I wrote last week, the new TestFlight is not perfect, but its native presence on iOS 8 offers a superior solution for testers and developers thanks to the reliance on Apple IDs. Notably, the legacy TestFlight website allowed developers to release betas for devices running older versions of iOS, whereas the new TestFlight is only available for iOS 8.

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Twitterrific 5.9 Brings Media Improvements

Multiple images in Twitterrific 5.9.

Multiple images in Twitterrific 5.9.

In my in-depth look at Twitter clients for iOS from December 2014, I noted Twitterrific’s fantastic support for iOS 8 extensions and thoughtful design touches, but lamented the app’s lack of integration with modern Twitter media features. In particular, Twitterrific didn’t support multiple images in tweets and animated GIFs; compared to Tweetbot, Twitterrific didn’t have inline playback for popular third-party sharing services such as Vine and Instagram either.

With today’s 5.9 update, The Iconfactory has considerably improved their client’s media preview capabilities by bringing native integration with the aforementioned services and support for Twitter’s GIFs and multiple images. Furthermore, Twitterrific has gained minor but welcome changes such as the ability to save source tweets to Pocket and show a user’s mentions by long-tapping a profile picture.

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From System 1.0 to OS X Yosemite

From Steven Troughton-Smith's fascinating (and successful) attempt to write a Mac app capable of running from System 1.0 all the way up to Yosemite:

The more I dug into it, the more I came to the conclusion that Carbon was probably one of the most important things Apple did in building OS X. Even today it provides source compatibility for a huge chunk of the classic Mac OS software base. It kept the big companies from ditching Apple outright when they were needed the most, and gave them a huge runway - 16 years to port perhaps millions of lines of code to OS X while still being able to iterate and improve without spending thousands of man-years upfront starting from scratch. Over time, of course, Carbon has improved a lot and you can mix/match Carbon & Cocoa views/code to the point where you can’t realistically tell which is which. I appreciate what a monumental effort Carbon was, from a technical standpoint. That Cocoa apps always felt ‘better’ is more to Cocoa’s credit than Carbon being a bad thing - it’s a lot easier to see that in hindsight.

Part of me wonders if, in 2039, someone will try to write an app that runs on iPhone OS 2 and whatever version Apple's mobile (if “mobile” will still be a concept) OS will have reached. Let's check back in two decades (hopefully?).

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App Developers: Try TestFlight

From the Supertop blog (makers of Castro and Unread):

Shortly after iOS 8 was released, Apple opened this new beta testing service to iOS developers. When compared to the previous testing process, it is a major improvement and I am grateful to the team behind it. It is a sign that Apple cares about third party developers and about helping us improve the quality of the software we provide.

In the past few months, I've been testing about 50 apps with TestFlight, and, as a user, I think the system is way better than the old days of beta testing with Hockey and the original TestFlight. I don't need to give developers my device UDIDs; all my betas are in the TestFlight app; I get notifications for updates; and, I can easily unlock In-App Purchases in beta builds with my Apple ID. Apple has built the new TestFlight with simplicity in mind, and I appreciate the time it has saved me so far.

It's not perfect. Developers have reported various issues with uploading builds and automatic crash reporting hasn't been integrated yet. When TestFlight sends you an email for a beta update, the build's changelog isn't reported in the email, forcing you to open the TestFlight app (an extra step). You can't view a beta's version history (like you can on Hockey). And, as Supertop mentions, betas expire after 30 days, and that's never fun.

Still, I think TestFlight is, from a user's perspective, a great start from Apple. Developers need a solid, easy, and reliable way to let people test their upcoming apps. TestFlight already hits all the basic points of this process.

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Connected: Total Dude, with His Surface Hub

This week Federico and Myke talk about Windows 10, Windows Holographic and unsubscribing from web services. The boys also consider the effect that old browsers are having on the show.

I wouldn't have thought I'd have fun discussing a Microsoft event, but I'm actually intrigued by their announcements this week (especially for gaming). You can listen to thr episode here.

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