This week's sponsor

SaneBox

Clean Up Your Inbox Today (and Keep It That Way Forever)


Tweetbot 4.6 Brings Image Support in DMs, New Compose UI for Replies

The new compose UI for replies in Tweetbot 4.6.

The new compose UI for replies in Tweetbot 4.6.

In an update released today on the App Store, Tapbots has started taking advantage of Twitter's more flexible third-party API to allow users to send images in private conversations (DMs). The feature – which has long been available in Twitter's official app – is limited to static images for now (no videos or animated GIFs), although the Twitter API could make more attachment types possible in the future.

Perhaps more notably, Tweetbot 4.6 comes with a redesigned compose interface for replies. Similarly to Twitter's iPhone app, Tweetbot 4.6 doesn't count usernames against the 140-character limit. To present this change in functionality, Tapbots has opted for a Twitter-like design where usernames aren't displayed in the compose box upon starting a reply. Instead, a "Replying to..." banner at the top of the screen highlights the tweet's original author and other participants in a conversation. Tap the banner, and, like in the Twitter app, you'll be a shown a popup with a list of users you're replying to. The author at the top of the list can't be de-selected; other users in the conversation can be removed by tapping on the blue checkmarks.

Twitter (left) and Tweetbot 4.6.

Twitter (left) and Tweetbot 4.6.

While this design is similar to Twitter's, it should be noted that Tweetbot limits this presentation to the compose view for replies. Unlike Twitter's official apps, usernames are still displayed in the body of a tweet in both the Timeline and Mentions views, providing a familiar format that doesn't force you to tap on the "Replying to..." banner from every section of the app. Personally, I believe Tapbots adopted a better solution than Twitter itself: the compose UI is nicer and usernames are easier to remove, but the timeline retains the familiar @usernames that add context to inline conversations.

I'm curious to see how Twitter's new API roadmap will impact third-party clients such as Tweetbot over the next few months. Tweetbot continues to be my daily Twitter client on every platform, and I hope Tapbots will be able to add even more native Twitter features in future updates (I'd love to have support for polls in Tweetbot).

Tweetbot 4.6 is available on the App Store.


The Talk Show with Apple’s Lisa Jackson

Special guest Lisa Jackson — Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives — joins the show for an Earth Day discussion of the state of Apple’s environmental efforts: climate change, renewable energy, responsible packaging, and Apple’s new goal to create a “closed-loop supply chain”, wherein the company’s products would be manufactured entirely from recycled materials.

I enjoyed John Gruber's interview with Apple's Lisa Jackson on the company's approach to various environmental initiatives. It's a fascinating, eye-opening discussion. Take an hour of your time to listen to it. It's obvious that some incredibly smart and talented people are working on these issues at Apple.

Permalink

Vignettes Review: I Need a Moment

Vignettes is, without a doubt, the most bizarre game (and app) I’ve ever purchased in the App Store.

The goal of the game – I think? – is to turn one object into another by twisting, rotating, tapping, and shifting your perspective of the object. If done correctly, you’ll transform a phone into a bowl, a light bulb into a lamp, and your brain from a completely functioning organ to a steaming pile of gray mush.

That’s about all there is to Vignette. The more you discover new objects, the more objects you'll want to find. As you proceed through the game, you’ll begin to unlock keys that will start you at different points in the game, reveal secrets, and let you interact with more objects.

That probably sounds incredibly generic, but that’s because it's incredibly difficult to put the concept behind Vignettes into words. It’s an experience, one that feels halfway between a game and an art project where the end object is to trick you to spinning your real-world chapstick around, hoping it transforms into something else (and yes, I did this!). There are almost no in-game instructions, either, so you’re left to your own devices from the outset.

However, there’s something really intriguing about the whole experience; although Vignettes is one of the most frustrating games I’ve played this year, the reward of discovery keeps me coming back the app even when I don’t think I want to. I get lost in its worlds, unable to comprehend exactly what puzzles I’m solving, but solving them nevertheless. Each puzzle is its own super weird and fun journey. I haven’t been so entranced by a iOS game in a long time.

Vignettes is available on the App Store for $2.99.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lie down.



Nike Announces New, Limited Edition Apple Watch Dubbed ‘NikeLab’

Nike has news out today concerning the latest fruits of its partnership with Apple. A new model of Apple Watch called 'Apple Watch NikeLab' is coming soon:

The limited edition, neutral-toned Apple Watch NikeLab maintains the beloved features of its predecessor: deep integration with the Nike+ Run Club app, exclusive Siri commands, GPS, a two-times-brighter display and water resistance to 50 meters, all made possible by a powerful dual-core processor and watchOS 3. ​

I don't understand why Nike felt the need to give this Watch a new name rather than releasing it as an extension of the Nike+ line. Perhaps it's simply a marketing angle, as they are presenting the NikeLab as a limited edition model.

If you'd like to get your hands on the Apple Watch NikeLab, it goes on sale April 27th on nike.com, at NikeLab stores, and at an Apple Tokyo pop-up in Isetan. Assuming this is a comprehensive list of sellers, it means you won't be able to get the Watch from the Apple Store. It also appears unlikely that the band will be available for separate purchase, though that remains unclear.


Live Photos Can Now Be Embedded on the Web

Apple's developer site details a new API that makes it possible to embed Live Photos on the web:

This new JavaScript-based API makes it easy to embed Live Photos on your websites. In addition to enabling Live Photos on iOS and macOS, you can now let users display their Live Photos on the web.

Live Photos were first introduced in September 2015 alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Since then, their adoption across major social media platforms and other parts of the web has been slow.

Today's news is welcome, as it will hopefully help expand the reach of Live Photos beyond the sandbox of photo apps on iOS.

Permalink

Apple Sets Goal of Making Products Without Mining the Earth

Arielle Duhaime-Ross writes for VICE News about an ambitious new goal for Apple:

Apple has one of the most aggressive sustainability and recycling programs in tech, but it still pulls plenty of metals and toxic rare-earth materials out of the ground to make iPhones, iPads, Macbooks and other products.

That’s about to change. The company is set to announce a new, unprecedented goal for the tech industry, “to stop mining the earth altogether.”

The announcement, part of Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report released Wednesday, will commit the company to making devices entirely from recycled materials such as aluminum, copper, tin, and tungsten. But there’s one hiccup: Apple doesn’t know exactly how it’s going to make that happen.

Setting ambitious goals seems to be part of Apple's culture, but speaking about such goals publicly before the team has reached them – or before they even know how to reach them – is very different from the company's norm.

VICE's photo of AirPods and Apple Watch cases in artificial sweat.

VICE's photo of AirPods and Apple Watch cases in artificial sweat.

Aside from this announcement, the piece also features interesting details about some of Apple's other environmental efforts. One of the stranger tidbits is that Apple soaks certain products in synthetic human sweat to test their durability over time – a fact also highlighted in the company's new environmental videos.

Permalink

Apple Shares New Videos Highlighting Environmental Efforts

Four new videos were released by Apple this morning, each focusing on a different aspect of the company's environmental efforts. The videos feature different Apple employees who have roles focused on the environment, and they all share a similar artistic style and comedic tone.

One video shares how Apple creates artificial sweat to test the durability of its Apple Watch bands, another discusses how Apple Park was designed with a high level of "breathability," a third covers Apple's ambitions to produce zero waste company-wide, and the final video is about how solar farms can co-exist with traditional farming.

Video embeds after the break.

Read more


Apple Announces New Activity Challenge for Earth Day

This morning Apple notified Apple Watch users that the company's third activity challenge was coming up soon. Following challenges for Thanksgiving (U.S. only) and the start of the new year, the latest challenge is in celebration of Earth Day on Saturday, April 22nd.

This new challenge encourages Apple Watch owners to complete a 30-minute or longer walk, run, cycle, wheelchair, or swim workout on Earth Day. Doing so will earn a special Achievement in the Activity app, as well as unlock a few new iMessage stickers.

My wife and I are two-for-two on prior activity challenges, so I'm sure we'll aim for the trifecta and complete the Earth Day challenge as well. If Apple pushed these challenges more frequently, they might be less motivating, but so far I think the company has struck a healthy level of frequency by centering challenges around special occasions.