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.



Tracking TV Shows with iShows 2: Welding Great Design with Extensive Customization

I watch a lot of TV – almost certainly too much TV. Years ago I used to keep track of the TV shows I watched mentally and through a TV guide from the Saturday newspaper. But as I started to watch more TV it became harder to keep track of when shows air. Fortunately, I started to use iPhone TV tracker apps, which make it effortless to keep track of your favorite TV shows. I’ve probably used 4 or 5 different apps for a solid period of time, and this February I switched to what I think is the latest and greatest TV tracker app: iShows 2, which officially launches today in the App Store.

I had briefly used the original iShows app, but I never permanently switched to it. Whilst the design was quite good, it had this very odd layout that left a gap on the side of the screen which (as petty as it sounds) I couldn’t get over. Somewhat embarrassingly the other issue I encountered was that I never discovered some of the gestures, without which the app was a lot harder to use. Some of those gestures persist in iShows 2, and I’ll discuss them shortly.

Prior to switching to iShows 2 whilst it was in beta, I had been using iTV Shows for around a year. It never looked quite as good as iShows or TeeVee 3 (another popular and very pretty app), but I preferred the way iTV Shows worked. I’m still a fan of iTV Shows, but I’ve been convinced (after months of use) that iShows 2 is the better option for me.

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Apple’s 2015 Back to School Promotion

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

Apple is today launching its Back to School promotion for 2015. This year, it will give away a free pair of Beats Solo2 headphones with the purchase of an eligible Mac. Customers must either purchase an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro with education pricing to qualify, including build-to-order configurations. The Mac mini does not participate in the deal.

Somewhat curious that Apple isn't including iPad purchases in this year's promotion (they have in previous years). An iPad is, in theory, a great device for students and education purposes. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see more of a push next year after new iPads and iOS 9, and the cheapest Mac starts at $899, not $299 like an iPad mini 2. Beats headphones are a pretty good deal.

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Chrome for iOS Gets ‘Physical Web’ Support for Beacon Discovery

Chrome for iOS has been updated today with support for Physical Web, an initiative aimed at interacting with beacons based on the new Eddystone protocol through webpages instead of apps. Now, Chrome's Today widget on iOS (previously used to open tabs and voice searches) can scan beacons broadcasting URLs nearby and offer to open them in Chrome directly.

From the blog post:

When users who have enabled the Physical Web open the Today view, the Chrome widget scans for broadcasted URLs and displays these results, using estimated proximity of the beacons to rank the content. You can learn more about the types of user experiences that the Physical Web enables by visiting our cookbook and joining the open source community on GitHub.

This is Google's attempt at improving upon one of the biggest shortcomings of Apple's iBeacon: app discoverability. iBeacons can achieve great utility if an associated/compatible app is already installed on a user's device and sends a notification, but iOS doesn't have a simple, consistent way to browse nearby beacons and start interacting with them right away. With Eddystone and Physical Web, Google is hoping that the transition from OS to discovered beacon and beacon functionality (for the smart device) can be smoother thanks to the web. Here's how they explain it:

The Physical Web is an approach to unleash the core superpower of the web: interaction on demand. People should be able to walk up to any smart device - a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car - and not have to download an app first. Everything should be just a tap away.

Essentially, Google wants to give every smart device a web address that doesn't require an app store. This plays in favor of Google's strengths and, potentially, core business model, but it also sounds like a superior solution for some cases if the overhead of app discovery is out of the equation altogether (for more on the differences between iBeacon and Physical Web, see this). The Physical Web implementation in Chrome for iOS looks clever and well done, and I'm hoping that I'll get to play with it at some point. Seems crazy that all this is available in an iOS widget.


Gestimer: Effortlessly Set Timers on a Mac

When I think about what makes a great app, I don't think it needs to be packed full of every imaginable feature. It doesn't need to be as precisely and extensively engineered as Editorial or Tweetbot. A great app can just as easily be an app like Pedometer++ or Blink, apps which enable users to accomplish a specific task in a way that is delightful and useful. Which brings me to Gestimer, a Mac App that launched in late June.

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