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The Future of Email


Marvis Review: The Ultra-Customizable Apple Music Client

Marvis is a music player that launched on iPhone just two months ago, yet in a 3.0 update today expands its usefulness immensely thanks to a major new feature: full Apple Music integration. With today's release, Marvis joins the growing list of third-party apps that use Apple's MusicKit API to offer access to and control of your Apple Music library.

Marvis follows in the footsteps of Soor, which Federico reviewed earlier this year, in prioritizing layout customization as one of its hallmark advantages over Apple's first-party Music app. Pushing beyond what even Soor accomplished though, in Marvis customization is taken to a whole new level, with fine-grained design options that no other app can compare with.

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Connected, Episode 240: I Got No Time for Automator

The European duo covers the latest in iPad keyboards (and DIY kickstands) before they consider the future of Mac automation and Shortcuts. At the end, Myke is sad about folding phones.

This week's episode of Connected features, among other topics, a good discussion on the future of automation on macOS and the implications of Shortcuts coming to the Mac. You can listen here.

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The Bittersweet iOS Document Browser

Thoughtful, well-researched analysis of the iOS document browser by Matej Bukovinski, one of the developers of PDF Viewer for iOS, which was among the first apps to support the feature back in 2017:

It’s been about a year and half since iOS 11 was released into the wild, and with it, the long-awaited system document browser. PDF Viewer was one of the first applications that truly went all in with this new component, and we did this by fully replacing our custom solution with it on devices that were upgraded to iOS 11. This move certainly got us a lot of attention and praise from power users, but it also caused a lot of frustration for others who were unlucky enough to stumble upon the bugs and limitations of this new component. From a developer’s point of view, it was a mixed bag as well. On one hand, it allowed us to stop developing our custom document browser, thereby saving ourselves a lot of valuable development time in the process. On the other hand, it forced us to make do with a system we did not own and couldn’t even “hack” around when there were problems.

PDF Viewer will drop support for iOS 10 shortly, which will get rid of the final remains of our custom document browser, so we thought it might be a good time to take a closer look at how its system replacement is doing and go over the good, the bad, and the ugly.

File management is one of the main sections of an in-depth iPad story I'm working on right now, and the document browser is a key functionality I'm going to describe in detail. Overall, I agree with Bukovinski's take: the document browser has brought consistency and speed to a lot of document-based apps, and I'm happy to see fewer custom file managers in apps these days, but it could use more customization options for developers, and the reliability of third-party file provider extensions is still largely hit or miss.

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MindNode 6 Review: Refined Mind Mapping

When MindNode debuted its last major version, it brought a major revamping and modernization of the core app experience. The update was a resounding success in my view: adopting the document browser, an adjustable panel system, and drag and drop made MindNode a shining example of modern iOS design; at the same time, additions like quick entry mode and a slate of new, easy to decipher iconography made MindNode more accessible to the mind mapping novice.

Where MindNode 5 brought major evolution and a fresh foundation, today's version 6 for iOS and the Mac is able to build on that foundation with refinements and advancements that make the app more versatile and expand existing features in new ways. I've grouped those improvements into two categories: focus aids and efficiency aids.

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Apple Launches Dedicated YouTube Channel for Apple TV

Over the last few weeks Apple has quietly debuted a new YouTube channel dedicated to one of its services: Apple TV. The Apple TV channel is home to a variety of videos, like trailers for upcoming films and TV shows, exclusive behind the scenes clips and interviews tied to popular shows and movies, and, of course, videos highlighting Apple's own original content efforts, like an Apple TV+ trailer and Carpool Karaoke previews.

Every video on the channel appears to be ad-free, which could offer a compelling reason to watch trailers for upcoming films, such as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, through the Apple TV channel rather than a competing channel where ads are commonplace.

The launch of an Apple TV channel on YouTube is no big surprise, particularly as Apple moves further into the video and entertainment space. However, the channel does have an odd, yet interesting relationship with Apple's own TV app. While the channel serves to promote the Apple TV service, its videos by and large aren't available on that service's app. The behind the scenes clips and interviews found on this new channel are not currently available in the Apple TV app, only on YouTube – though it's certainly possible that will change in the future. Similarly, most of the trailers on YouTube are unavailable in the TV app, since unreleased films and shows don't exist in TV's content database.

Trailers for unreleased films have historically been served through Apple's iTunes Trailers platform, which is still alive though somewhat stagnant – the iOS app hasn't been updated for a year and carries many dated design conventions. However, the launch of an Apple TV YouTube channel may indicate Apple's plans to slowly shutter that service.

As Apple's redesigned TV app launches next month as part of tvOS 12.3 and iOS 12.3, and we draw nearer to the launch of Apple TV+ this fall, it will be interesting to see what kind of content Apple funnels through this new YouTube channel rather than the TV app itself. Will most videos continue to be YouTube-exclusive, simply serving to promote films and shows that can be watched in the TV app? Or will the TV app eventually house all of this content as well, with YouTube merely serving as a means of greater exposure for Apple's TV efforts? We shouldn't have to wait long to find out.



Spark: The Future of Email [Sponsor]

Email doesn't have to be difficult. Instead of letting it rob you of your precious time use Spark on iOS and the Mac to recover those lost moments automatically.

Spark is loaded with smarts starting with its Smart Inbox that categorizes messages as Personal, Notifications, and Newsletters, which makes it easy to focus on what’s important and return to what’s not later.

Intelligent search makes it simple to find messages no matter where they are too. Spark features a natural language algorithm that thinks just like you. Spark also uses Smart Notifications, so you only get notified what you need to know now.

Spark features beautifully designed card-style calendar invitations that can be accepted with just one tap, the ability to send later and set up reminders for messages that don’t receive a reply, message snoozing, and Quick Replies that let you acknowledge a message with a single tap. Spark also has customizable gesture actions and works with Dropbox, Box, iCloud Drive, and more.

As if that weren’t enough, Spark for Teams completely changes the way colleagues collaborate giving them the ability to do things like comment on and discuss messages and even write messages together. Messages can be delegated to team members for follow up too. Once you’ve tried Spark for Teams, you won’t know how you worked without it.

The future of email is now. Download Spark today for free on iOS and the Mac to take control of your inbox.

Thanks to Spark for supporting MacStories this week.


My MacStories Story: How iOS Automation Changed My Life

Six years ago I was a senior in high school – a laughably short timeline compared to the immensity of growth and change which took place within it. Graduation, all of college, and a lonely move across the country; a career imagined, pursued, and achieved; friends and relationships come and gone. Not many threads of life make it all the way from the start of your late teens through the end of your early twenties, but those that do feel special in a way not much else can. MacStories is one of mine.

This week we're celebrating MacStories' 10th anniversary, and this year marked the fifth anniversary of my first article on the site. It boggles my mind to think that I've been part of this incredible team for more than half of MacStories' life, but that's nothing compared to the feeling of when it all began.

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