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AppStories, Episode 112 – Behind the Scenes of Federico’s iPad Story

On this week's episode of AppStories, we discuss the process of creating Federico's story, Beyond the Tablet: Seven Years of iPad as My Main Computer and some of the topics from the story; later, we are joined by Brian King who worked with Federico on the introductory animation and 3D-rendered images throughout the story.

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(Don’t Fear) The Reaper

Apple needed to show developers that Carbon was going to be a real and valid way forward, not just a temporary stopgap, so they committed to using Carbon for the Mac OS X Finder. The Carbon version of Finder was introduced in Mac OS X Developer Preview 2, before Aqua was revealed; it acted a bit more like NeXT's, in that it had a single root window (File Viewer) that had a toolbar and the column view, but secondary windows did not. At this stage, Apple didn't quite know what to do with the systemwide toolbars it had inherited from NEXTSTEP.

[...]

It had taken Apple four years to find the new 'Mac-like', and this is the template Mac OS X has followed ever since. Here we are, eighteen years later, and all of the elements of the Mac OS X UI are still recognizable today. So much of what we think of the Mac experience today came from NEXTSTEP, not Mac OS at all. AppKit, toolbars, Services, tooltips, multi-column table views, font & color pickers, the idea of the Dock, application bundles, installer packages, a Home folder, multiple users; you might even be hard-pressed to find a Carbon app in your Applications folder today (and Apple has announced that they won't even run in the next version of macOS).

Fascinating read by Steve Troughton-Smith on how Apple transitioned from NeXTSTEP to Mac OS X between 1997 and 2001. The purpose of this analysis, of course, isn't to simply reminisce about the NeXT acquisition but to provide historical context around the meaning of "Mac-like" by remembering what Apple did when the concept of "Mac-like" had to be (re)created from scratch.

Apple is going to be facing a similar transition soon with the launch of UIKit on the Mac; unlike others, I do not believe it means a complete repudiation of whatever "Mac-like" stands for today. The way I see it, it means the idea of "Mac-like" will gradually evolve until it reaches a state that feels comfortable and obvious. I'm excited to see the first steps of this new phase in a couple of weeks.

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Panic Reveals Plans to Sell a Handheld Gaming System Called Playdate in 2020

Panic, well-known for its thoughtfully-designed Mac and iOS apps, has announced that it's entering the hardware market with a portable gaming system called Playdate, which will ship in early 2020 and cost $149. This isn't Panic's first foray into the game industry. With the release of the hit indie game Firewatch in 2016, the company became a game publisher. Later this year, Panic will publish the highly-anticipated Untitled Goose Game on the Nintendo Switch. Still, creating hardware is something altogether different for Panic.

Playdate is a diminutive handheld device with hardware and software features that distinguish it from any other handheld on the market. The bright yellow handheld system is just 74mm  ×  76mm  ×  9mm, which is roughly three inches square and a little thicker than an iPhone XS.

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GIFwrapped 2 Offers Redesigned, Streamlined GIF Management with Universal Search and iCloud Drive

GIFwrapped has long been one of the best ways to store and access your GIF collection on iOS. Five years after our initial review of the app, developer Daniel Farrelly's GIF utility has received a big update today: version 2.0. GIFwrapped 2 completely rethinks the app's UI, streamlining it from tab-based to panel-based, while also adding support for two key new features: universal search and iCloud sync.

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Apple Updates WWDC App in Advance of Conference

On the heels of sending invitations to the press for the 2019 WWDC keynote that will be held beginning June 3rd, Apple has updated the WWDC app.

Much of the app's UI is similar to the version released around this time last year, but now, the app's icon can be changed between eight neon-themed Apple logo icons. There are also fourteen new animated iMessage stickers included many drawn from the artwork the company used for the initial WWDC announcement and the invitations sent earlier today. In years past, pins were distributed to attendees at check-in for the conference and during sessions that resembled stickers from the app.

The WWDC app can be downloaded for free from the App Store.


Apple Sends Press Invitations and Confirms June 3rd WWDC Keynote

In mid-March Apple announced that WWDC 2019 would take place the first week in June, and today the company confirmed that, following past tradition, the keynote for that conference will take place on June 3 at 10:00 am Pacific.

Apple is expected to unveil the latest versions of its major operating systems at WWDC, including iOS 13, watchOS 6, and macOS 10.15. We may also see hardware products announced too, like the long-anticipated modular Mac Pro. A live stream for the keynote has not yet been confirmed, but it remains likely since WWDC is one of the prime Apple events of the year.


Vignette: Easily Update Your Contact Photos Without Sacrificing Privacy

I’m the type of person who tries to add a photo to each of my iPhone’s contact listings. I can’t stand having grey, initial-laden photo bubbles in Messages; while contact photos can be disabled in Messages’ settings, I’ve never done that because once photos are added, it gives the app so much extra beauty and utility. For years I’ve done the manual work of choosing contact photos from my own photo library or, more often, finding images for contacts online via social media, then adding them to my contacts from there.

Based on the times I’ve peeked at someone else’s Messages app, most people never bother to go through the trouble of manually configuring contact photos; I don’t blame them, because it’s a nuisance. However, a new app called Vignette, from developer Casey Liss, aims to eliminate the pain of adding contact images by sourcing the web and social media for you, and updating your contacts’ photos accordingly – all in a privacy-conscious way.

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Apple Updates Its MacBook Pro Line with Faster CPUs and New Keyboard Mechanisms

Apple updated its MacBook Pros today with new, faster processors and changes to the notebook line's keyboard mechanism. According to an Apple press release:

The 15-inch MacBook Pro now features faster 6- and 8-core Intel Core processors, delivering Turbo Boost speeds up to 5.0 GHz, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar features faster quad-core processors with Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.7 GHz.

Apple says that the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with an 8-core processor is up to two times faster than the previous top-end quad-core model. To put that performance in perspective, Apple claims that:

  • Music producers can play back massive multi-track projects with up to two times more Alchemy plug-ins in Logic Pro X.
  • 3D designers can render scenes up to two times faster in Maya Arnold.
  • Photographers can apply complex edits and filters up to 75 percent faster in Photoshop.
  • Developers can compile code up to 65 percent faster in Xcode.
  • Scientists and researchers can compute complex fluid dynamics simulations up to 50 percent faster in TetrUSS.
  • Video editors can edit up to 11 simultaneous multicam streams of 4K video in Final Cut Pro X.

Interestingly, Apple's press release makes no mention of the MacBook Pro's keyboard. However, the company spoke to Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch who was told:

  1. The MacBook Pro keyboard mechanism has had a materials change in the mechanism. Apple says that this new keyboard mechanism composition will substantially reduce the double type/no type issue. Apple will not specify what it has done, but doubtless tear-downs of the keyboard will reveal what has been updated.
  2. Though Apple believes that this change will greatly reduce the issue, it is also including all butterfly keyboards across its notebook line into its Keyboard Service Program. This means that current MacBook Pros and even the models being released today will have keyboard repairs covered at no cost, in warranty and out of warranty.
  3. Apple tells me that repair times for keyboards have been longer than they would like. It is making substantial improvements to repair processes in Apple Stores to make repairs faster for customers with issues.

According to Panzarino, failing third-generation keyboards will be replaced with the new fourth-generation keyboard found in these updated MacBook Pros.

It's not unusual for Apple to release product updates shortly before a major event that don't make the cut for the keynote presentation. Notebooks with faster CPUs fall squarely into that category. With the company's annual developer conference just around the corner, today's announcement is likely also be designed to try to satisfy one its biggest pro user groups that the company is trying to put keyboard issues behind it. However, only time will tell whether this version of the MacBook Pro's keyboard is more reliable than prior iterations.


Beyond the Tablet Extras: eBook, Special Episode of AppStories, and Making Of Essays

Today, Federico published Beyond the Tablet: Seven Years of iPad as My Main Computer, a comprehensive evaluation of the advantages and shortcomings he’s experienced using an iPad as his primary computer. Weighing in at around 50,000 words, Beyond the Tablet rivals Federico’s annual iOS reviews in scope and depth of coverage. As a result, it felt appropriate to release the same sort of extras for this story that we’ve provided for iOS reviews.

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