‘We Change Every Day’

Fast Company published a great interview with Tim Cook earlier this week. I liked the sections on life at Apple after Steve Jobs, initial response to the Apple Watch, and remembering to keep core values intact. And especially this bit:

Are there any fundamental ways in which you are letting go of parts of Steve’s legacy?

We change every day. We changed every day when he was here, and we’ve been changing every day since he’s not been here. But the core, the values in the core remain the same as they were in ’98, as they were in ’05, as they were in ’10. I don’t think the values should change. But everything else can change.

Yes, there will be things where we say something and two years later we’ll feel totally different. Actually, there may be things we say that we may feel totally different about in a week. We’re okay with that. Actually, we think it’s good that we have the courage to admit it.

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Blink: Effortless Affiliate Link Generation on iOS

Launching today, Blink is a new Universal iOS app from Squibner that quickly generates affiliate links for content from the App Store, Mac App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store. If you’re a member of the iTunes affiliate program you’ll know that you don’t want to be manually editing iTunes links with your own token and campaign tag – Blink automates that process on iOS, making it quick and effortless.

A Brief Introduction to Affiliate Links

Before I continue, a quick introduction to the world of affiliate linking for those that are unaware. Essentially, anyone can register for the iTunes affiliate program and they will receive their own affiliate token (a series of letters and numbers). If they generate an iTunes URL that includes this affiliate token and share that link with others that click on it, they will receive a (small) percentage of any iTunes sales that flow from any clicks. For many small and independent sites, such affiliate programs are a valuable source of income (and yes, MacStories uses affiliate links). Apple’s website has more details if you’d like to learn more about the technical details of affiliate linking and perhaps even sign up.

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After Six Months of Rejections, Launcher Returns to the App Store

When Greg Gardner, an independent developer based in San Francisco, released Launcher for iOS last year, he didn’t think his handy utility would make headlines around tech blogs and push other developers to approach widgets for iOS 8 differently. And yet, after months of not being available on the App Store despite being originally approved in September 2014, Launcher is about to be covered (and used as an example) by the press again. Launcher has been re-approved by Apple, and it’s coming back to the App Store today with the same feature set from six months ago.

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Skala Color 2: A More Functional and Beautiful Color Picker for OS X

Bjango is a small development studio, probably best known for the (very handy) iStat Menus utility. For the past few years they’ve also been hard at work on Skala, which will be a UI and icon design tool that Bjango promises to have ‘phenomenal rendering quality and a unique blend of vector, bitmap and 3D abilities’. But in the interim, they’ve released Skala Preview (which lets you preview Photoshop documents on your iOS device) and Skala Color (a new color picker for OS X).

Marc Edwards, founder of Bjango, explained why they've created Skala Color and Preview in a brief interview with Khoi Vinh:

When we began work on Skala, we decided it could be good to break out some features into separate apps. Doing so helps ensure those modules are well tested, and creates awareness Skala is coming (we’re a tiny company, so we can’t afford expensive ads).

Late last week Bjango released version 2 of Skala Color which brings a revamped user interface, support for copying color values for use with Swift, random color generation and improved format parsing.

For those that aren’t familiar with Skala Color, it adds a tab to the system color picker window in OS X. The key features you get from using Skala Color is the ability to easily copy color values in a wide variety of formats (full list here), and really fine control over selecting a color thanks to the new user interface in version 2.

Skala Color 2 may just be a little utility, but it is full of great little design touches. For example, you don’t necessarily have to use the color sliders, you can also hover your mouse over the ring of the magnifying glass and cycle through the 360 degrees of hues. Another is how Skala Color will recognise if you have a color value on your clipboard and let you select that color with one click.

One thing to keep in mind is that Skala Color is a 64-bit app, so it won’t show up in an app that is 32-bit. That shouldn’t be a problem for the vast majority of apps on OS X these days, but I did run into it with Microsoft Office Preview.

Skala Color 2 is a free utility for OS X.

 

 

 


Feeling the Interface

Interesting thoughts by Alex4D on the new Force Touch trackpad and its possible implementation on iOS:

When I dragged the clip to its maximum length I did feel a little bump. Without looking at the timeline and looking at the viewer, I could 'feel' the end of the clip.

This feature presages the ability for UI pixels to be 'bumpy' - for user to feel the texture of application UIs without having to look at where the cursor is. This means that seemingly textured software keyboards and control layouts will be able to be implemented on future trackpads, iPhones and iPads.

Here's what I wrote about iOS 7's design refresh when iOS 8 came out:

What I realized in using extensions is how necessary last year's redesign of iOS was. Imagine if Apple didn't ship a new design with iOS 7: today, we'd have sheets of stitched leather or shiny metal on top of apps that look like agendas or little robots. The cohesiveness and subdued style that iOS 7 brought with its precise structure and hierarchy allows extensions to integrate nicely with apps, feeling like extra actions rather than eerily realistic objects.

Assuming Apple's plan is to let users feel the interface on all their devices going forward, can you imagine doing that with UIs that have rugged leather, plastic buttons, and other physical textures close to each other? If that's the case, I'd wager that Apple's focus on clarity also applies to tactile feedback for on-screen elements.

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Virtual: Entertainment Lessons

This week Myke and Federico discuss the reviews for Codename S.T.E.A.M, Kotaku's revisit of the Metroid Prime Trilogy and why Federico cannot play video games on airplanes.

And when you're done with the Apple-related part of my trip to America, you can join Myke in his disbelief over what I do on airplanes. You can listen to Virtual #30 here.

Sponsored by:

  • Hover: Simplified Domain Management. Use code 'KICKFLIP' for 10% off your first purchase.
  • Bushel: a cloud-based mobile device management solution for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.
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Connected: To America and Back

On the heels of Apple’s Spring Forward event, the boys talk about Federico’s trip to San Francisco, the new MacBook, the Apple Watch and more.

On last week's episode of Connected, we discussed my trip to San Francisco for Apple's event and our first impressions of the announcements. Good addition to my article about it (and great show notes). You can listen to the episode here.

Sponsored by:

  • Swift Summit: A two day conference on the State of Swift.
  • Hover: Simplified Domain Management. Use code 'TIMEZONES' for 10% off your first purchase.
  • Sanebox: Clean up your inbox and spend less time on email.
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How the iPhone’s Slo-Mo Is Helping Dancers

Fascinating story by Christina Bonnington at Wired:

Before the advent of high-quality smartphone shooters, slow-motion was largely left to movie montages, pro-sports instant replays, or pricey camera rigs. The idea that dancers, particularly freelancers and students, would have access to that sort of technology was unthinkable. When you’re making under $30k a year, that money is going towards food and rent, not a high-end DSLR. But now that a smartphone has become practically standard issue, previously high-end camera technology is accessible to almost everyone. And slow motion, while initially more of a gimmick, has slowly matured into a mainstay for some people.

For dancers, it’s become an incredibly useful tool for honing their craft. The newfound affordability of slow motion has enabled them to improve their technique, spruce up their audition reel, and isolate aspects of their performance that were once intangible.

My girlfriend is a dancer, and she can relate to this. Another testament to the iPhone's transformative effect and how everyday tasks are empowered by new mobile technology.

Don't miss Dancers of New York, Tristan Pope's short film mentioned in the article. From Pope's blog:

For slow motion I used Apple’s stock camera app and for timelapse I used Hyperlapse by instagram. The built in image stabilization made it ideal for quick shots without having to worry about keeping my hands still. If only the stock camera app could utilize this same technology to give the iPhone 6 the same stabilization as the 6 +. You may wonder why I didn’t just get the 6 plus… well, I enjoy my skinny jeans and have girlishly small hands, just ask my piano teacher from middle school.(Although they are rather soft…) Regardless the screen was the perfect size for viewing.

You can watch a preview below.

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Automatic: Your Smart Driving Assistant on Your Smartphone [Sponsor]

There’s a mountain of data inside your car waiting to be unleashed, and all you have to do is plug in a quick little connector and download a mobile application.

Automatic is a smart driving assistant that plugs into your car's data port and lets you connect your smartphone (either iPhone or Android) with your car. By  talking to your car’s onboard computer and using your smartphone’s GPS and data plan to upgrade your car's capabilities, Automatic will allow you to easily diagnose your engine light, never forget where you parked your car, and save hundreds of dollars on gas.

Automatic learns your driving habits and gives you suggestions through subtle audio cues to drive smarter and stop wasting gas. Thanks to a map view available on your phone, Automatic can display a trip timeline after every driving session, showing you how you're doing with a Drive Score; the app can even track local gas prices and tell you how much you're spending.

In case of engine problems, Automatic can decipher what the "check engine" light means and show you a description of the issue with a possible solution. And thanks to a feature called Crash Alert, Automatic can detect many types of serious crashes and automatically alert local authorities as well as your loved ones when you can't.

Automatic is currently available in the US for iPhone and Android devices, with a 45-day return policy and free shipping in 2 business days.

MacStories readers can go to automatic.com/macstories to get $20 off and buy Automatic at just $79.99. For more information, check out Automatic's website.

Our thanks to Automatic for sponsoring MacStories this week.