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AppStories, Episode 6 – Interview: The Making of the CARROT Apps with Brian Mueller

On this week's episode of AppStories, we interviewed Brian Mueller, the creator of the CARROT series of apps, about how he got started, the origins of CARROT, a corgi with a top hat and monocle, and his new CARROT game, Artificial Superintelligence.

You can listen to the episode below.

Sponsored by:

  • Setapp – An app for every job, already on you Mac.
  • SaneBox – Clean Up Your Inbox Today (and Keep It That Way Forever)
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Anker Is Building an Electronics Accessory Empire

Nick Statt of The Verge has a profile of Anker, the company known for selling quality portable chargers, USB charging hubs, cables and other items for reasonable prices. Anker, founded by a former Google software engineer, is a great example of a company that has found a niche that’s underserved by bigger companies like Apple and Samsung. As Statt’s profile explains, deep knowledge of how to sell through Amazon effectively combined with setting up shop in China to closely manage his supply chain helped founder Steven Yang build Anker into a trusted brand.

Anker’s PowerIQ technology has helped too:

Most Anker charging products have one signature: the PowerIQ logo. Launched in 2013, the company’s proprietary charging standard is now present on nearly all of its batteries and wall plugs. The technology, carried by a small chip inside each charger, identifies whatever device is being plugged in, be it an iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel, or an iPad Pro 9.7-inch, in order to detect and deliver the maximum current the product allows. Anker says the technology can shave hours off the amount of time it takes to reach a full charge. A next-generation version of the chip, called PowerIQ 2.0, is slated to start shipping in new Anker charging products this month, allowing for smaller and lighter accessories.

Earlier this year, I bought Anker’s largest portable battery to power my Nintendo Switch and Apple gear on long flights and extended trips. The PowerIQ feature is fantastic, letting my family and me simultaneously plug into one big battery to charge multiple devices quickly. Looking through my Amazon order history, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. A couple of other recent additions are a 60-watt USB-A and USB-C wall charger and USB-C to USB 3.0 braided cables. Anker has become my go-to brand for cables and charging accessories, and Statt’s profile makes it easy to understand why.

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Apple’s New Switch to iPhone Ad Campaign

Apple posted a series of five short videos to YouTube today encouraging consumers to switch to the iPhone. The spots, which are each just 16 seconds long, take place on a two-tone stage. The left side of each set is a plain gray color and represents ‘your phone.’ The more colorful, right-hand side of the stage is the iPhone.

The ads make the case that:

  • It’s easy to move your photos from another phone to the iPhone;
  • Moving to the iPhone from another phone is straightforward;
  • The iPhone is faster than your current phone;
  • Your privacy is protected by the iPhone; and
  • Switching to get a better music experience is simple.

None of the ads have any dialogue. Instead, they use humorous skits and music to make each point.

You can check out all five spots after the break.

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Nike Announces New Collection of Apple Watch Bands

Nike has announced a new collection of "Day to Night" Apple Watch bands going on sale soon. The four new Nike Sport Bands match up with the designs of a collection of Nike shoes: the Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit "Day to Night" collection. This marks the first time Nike has directly paired Watch bands with a shoe line.

The "Day to Night" collection celebrates runners whenever they choose to run – at twilight, sunset and everything in between. Each of the colors is inspired by a shade of the sky, from dawn to dusk, and allows runners to – for the first time – make a statement by matching their Apple Watch Nike+ bands to their footwear.

Each band will be priced at $49.00 when they go on sale next month. They'll be available from nike.com and select Nike retail stores on June 1, and shortly thereafter from apple.com, Apple Stores, and other retail partners.


Clean Up Your Inbox Today (and Keep It That Way Forever) with SaneBox [Sponsor]

What if you had someone to go through your email and find just the important messages? SaneBox does exactly that. Once set up, it leaves your important messages in your inbox and moves the rest to a SaneLater folder for reviewing later. That initial inbox purge is powerful because it reduces your inbox to a manageable number of messages. With additional training to tell SaneBox what’s important to you, it only gets better at dealing with your daily deluge of messages.

There’s much more to SaneBox than shuffling unimportant messages into a designated folder, though. If there’s something you never want to see ever again, send it to the SaneBlackHole, which is much easier than unsubscribing to unwanted messages.

You can also set up SaneReminders by sending messages to an address that sends a reminder to you at a later date if the recipient of your message hasn’t responded after a certain amount of time. Or forward messages to SaneReminders to have it pop back into your inbox at a later date when you are ready to deal with it.

SaneBox works on top of your existing email setup. There’s no particular app to download or new email account to set up. It all works server-side so you can use any email client you want.

Sign up today for a free 14-day SaneBox trial to take back control of your email. MacStories readers can receive a special $25 credit automatically by using this link to sign up.

Our thanks to SaneBox for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Connected, Episode 142: A Trip to Barcelona

Federico has published his iOS 11 wish list, and the group goes deep on what Apple should do with the iPad’s software. Stephen manages to sneak in a confession.

On this week's Connected, we discuss my iOS 11 wish list and concept video and we consider where Apple could take the iPad next. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

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Game Day: Old Man’s Journey

Old Man’s Journey by Vienna-based Broken Rules is equal parts game and story. You play as an old man who receives a letter that seems to upset him. He immediately grabs a backpack and walking stick and sets out into the countryside on a journey. Along the way, you clear a path for the traveler by manipulating the landscape to solve a series of puzzles. The puzzles aren’t difficult, but they help draw you into the beautiful interactive environment and pique your curiosity about the man’s story. Before long, I found myself completely absorbed by Old Man’s Journey.

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iOS 11: iPad Wishes and Concept Video

iOS 11 for iPad concept.

iOS 11 for iPad concept.

(Full-res)

Once heralded as a promising sign of Apple's renewed commitment to the iPad, iOS 9 has begun to feel like a one-hit wonder.

iOS 9 represented a profound change for Apple's approach to the iPad. After years of stagnation and uninspired imitation of iPhone interface paradigms, iOS 9 allowed the iPad to explore the true potential of its large canvas; for the first time since the original tablet, Apple was creating new iPad-only features rather than adapting them from the iPhone. Split View, Slide Over, and Picture in Picture were drastic departures from the classic iPad interaction model that, however, perfectly fit the device.

As I concluded in my iOS 9 review:

This year, the iPad is getting the first version of iOS truly made for it. After too many unimaginative releases, Apple has understood the capabilities of the iPad's display and its nature of modern portable computer. Free of dogmas and preconceptions of what an iPad ought to be, iOS 9 fundamentally reinvents what an iPad can become going forward.

In a span of six months, the one-two punch of iOS 9 and iPad Pro redefined the concept of portable computer again, setting Apple on a new path for the iPad ecosystem. Or, at least, it seemingly did.

Since late 2015, Apple hasn't had too much to show for the iPad. A smaller version of the iPad Pro was released in early 2016, though the new device mostly adapted features from the bigger version to a more compact form factor, introducing inconsistencies to the iPad line in the process, such as the True Tone display (still exclusive to the 9.7" iPad Pro). iOS 10, while a solid upgrade overall, focused on iPhone users and lifestyle enhancements; for iPad users, iOS 10 was a disappointment that failed to build upon iOS 9. The first iPad Pro – launched in November 2015 – has lingered without updates, raising questions on the actual need for one of its marquee features – the Smart Connector that only Apple and Logitech have supported so far. And amid consistently declining sales, the company's only "new" hardware after the iPad Pro has been a lower-priced and rebranded iPad Air – a solid entry model, but another adaptation.

We haven't seen something truly new, bold, and transformational happen on the iPad platform in nearly two years. It's time for Apple to step up their game and continue pursuing the vision for the future of computing set forth in 2015. There's so much more work to be done with iOS, multitasking, and the redefinition of computing for the multitouch era. The iPad Pro can be a computer for everything, but it needs another leap forward to become the computer for everyone. And that can't happen without a serious reconsideration of its software.

The iPad needs another bold, daring step towards the future. With iOS 11, Apple has an opportunity to pick up where they left off with iOS 9, forging a new direction for the iPad platform.

Every year ahead of WWDC, I collect some of my thoughts about the current state of iOS and consider where Apple could take their software next. I've been doing this for the past several years going back to iOS 6 in 2012. I've referred to these stories as "wishes" because they encapsulate all the aspects I'd like Apple to improve in their mobile OS. Last year, we added a concept video to the mix. This year, I wanted to prepare something different and more specific.

iOS for iPhone is, I believe, at a point of sufficient maturity: aside from particular feature additions, I don't think there's anything fundamentally missing from the iPhone.1 The iPad now bears the proverbial low-hanging fruit of iOS. There are obvious areas of improvement on iOS for iPad, which is, effectively, two years behind its iPhone counterpart. The iPad's lack of meaningful software advancements allows us to explore deeper ideas; thus, in a break with tradition, I decided to focus this year's iOS Wishes exclusively on the iPad and where Apple could take its software next.

Like last year, I collaborated with Sam Beckett to visualize my ideas for iOS 11 on the iPad with a concept video and detailed mockups. This time, instead of showcasing our ideas as standalone concepts, we imagined a "day in the life" theme for the video, showing how enhancements to iOS for iPad would work in practice. Rather than showcasing random bits of possible features, we imagined an underlying task to be accomplished (planning a vacation in Barcelona) and how better iPad software could help.

I've been thinking about some of these ideas since iOS 9 (you can see a thread between my iOS 10 concept and this year's version), while others would be a natural evolution for iOS on the iPad. Once again, Sam was able to visualize everything with a fantastic concept that, I believe, captures the iPad's big-picture potential more accurately than last year.

Below, you'll find our iOS 11 for iPad concept video, followed by an analysis of my iPad wishes with static mockups. I focused on foundational changes to the iPad's software – tentpole features that would affect the entire OS and app ecosystem.

This isn't a prediction of what Apple will announce at WWDC; it's my vision for what the future of the iPad should be.

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Jimmy Iovine Shares Frustrations Over Free Music Streaming, Signals Greater Push into Video

Tim Ingham of Music Business Worldwide reports on a wide-ranging interview with Jimmy Iovine about Apple Music. One recurring theme is how wrong Iovine believes it is that artists are encouraged to give their work away for free on services like YouTube and Spotify:

The fact is that ‘free’ in music streaming is so technically good and ubiquitous that it’s stunting the growth of paid streaming.

Two things have to happen: free has to become more difficult or restricted, and the paid services have to get better.

It blew my mind that the day after I walked out on stage [to announce Apple Music at WWDC in 2015], YouTube mobile was licensed.

Iovine also indicates that the Apple Music team has moved away from doing as many album exclusives and is now focusing more heavily on video content:

We tried it. We’ll still do some stuff with the occasional artist. The labels don’t seem to like it and ultimately it’s their content.

But we’re doing exclusive video content now, and putting a lot of money into that.

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