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The Practicality of Art in Software

I’ve been following with great interest this series of articles by John Gruber (and Matt Birchler’s related story) about the chasm between iOS and Android apps. I have some thoughts since expanding my app knowledge beyond iOS and iPadOS is one of my goals for 2023.

About a month ago, during my holiday break, I purchased a Google Pixel 7 as a way to re-familiarize myself with Android.1 To say that I found the ecosystem worse than I remembered would be an understatement. It’s not just about the fact that – as Gruber and Birchler noted – most Android apps suck compared to their iOS counterparts; it’s that the entire OS lacks cohesiveness.

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AppStories, Episode 314 – Mastodon Clients for iOS and iPadOS

This week on AppStories, we cover the iPhone and iPad Mastodon apps we’ve been testing and share what we like and don’t about each.

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On AppStories+, I share my latest experiments with HomeKit lighting and the Loupedeck Live S.

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Social Media Management Utility Buffer Adds Mastodon Support

One of the things I immediately missed when I moved to Mastodon was the ability to schedule posts. This isn’t something I do a lot. However, with a busy editorial calendar at MacStories, I’ve used a variety of services over the years, including Buffer, to allow me to set up draft posts in advance when we’ve got a big story or episode of AppStories coming up. Losing that convenience wasn’t the end of the world, but it introduced friction I hadn’t had to deal with in years.

That’s why I’m glad to see Buffer has added Mastodon support to its web and iOS apps today. I’ve been testing Buffer’s beta for the past day, and the best part of the update is that there’s not much to say about it because it’s so easy to use. If you’ve used Buffer before, the process is similar to any other scheduled post you’d create: draft the post, add any media and hashtags you want, and then schedule it. If you want, you can also use Buffer to cross-post to other services.

Scheduling a Mastodon post with Buffer.

Scheduling a Mastodon post with Buffer.

Managing posts for multiple accounts has always been the sort of thing that can disrupt my other work. It’s too easy for me to get distracted and wind up browsing my timeline after I post something from one of our company accounts. With Buffer’s new Mastodon integration, I’m looking forward to creating those posts as part of our production workflow and avoiding getting sucked into my timeline when I have more pressing tasks.


Last Week, on Club MacStories: Things and PDF to JPEG Conversion Shortcuts, MacStories Unplugged, and Apps

Because Club MacStories now encompasses more than just newsletters, we’ve created a guide to the past week’s happenings:

MacStories Weekly: Issue 353


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Our thanks to SaneBox for sponsoring MacStories this week.



Things 3.17 Overhauls the App’s Shortcuts Actions

Things 3.17 is out for iPhone, iPad, and Mac with greatly expanded support for Shortcuts. That opens up a much wider variety of possible automations than ever before. It’s a lot to take in at once, but I’ve been playing with these actions since the end of last year, so I thought I’d highlight what each does and share a few shortcuts that I’ve built with them.

At the highest level, these are the kind of Shortcuts actions I like best. They work across all of Apple’s platforms and include parameters and predicate filtering, which allow users to build fine-tuned shortcuts that either weren’t possible before those features were added to Shortcuts or would have required users to jump through many more hoops to achieve.

When you start exploring Things’ Shortcuts actions keep in mind that they operate on more than just tasks. When you see ‘items’ referred to in the actions, that could any of the primary components of the app, including projects, headings, tasks, areas, or checklists. Not all actions support all item types, and each item has a unique set of properties that can be accessed depending on the action, so it’s worth experimenting to understand everything that can be accomplished.

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The Mac’s 30th Anniversary Icon Font Shared As SVG Images

In 2014, for the 30th anniversary of the Mac, Apple celebrated with a mini site featuring the stories of the people behind the computer and its users. As part of that event, Apple created a special font of line-drawn versions of every Mac from its introduction on January 24, 1984 through 2014.

Robb Knight, my co-host on the Ruminate podcast, has had that font sitting on his Mac for years until yesterday when he released it as a series of downloadable SVG images with the help of friends Keir Ansell and Josh Calvetti.

The Mac's 30th anniversary website.

The Mac’s 30th anniversary website.

I love this sort of project. The line drawings of these Macs look great and, as SVGs, are suitable for a wide range of projects. Robb has a long list of other interesting projects worth checking out on his website, including Alfred workflows, a Mastodon bookmarklet, a Mac utility to eliminate trackers from URLs, and a set of tools for Micro.blog to name a few.

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