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Apple Stores Showing Signs of Change Under Deirdre O’Brien’s Leadership

Michael Steeber reports for 9to5Mac on some interesting developments he’s observed in certain Apple Stores recently:

Apple is evolving its in-store shopping experience with signage and display fixtures that remove ambiguity and encourage increased hands-on interaction with products. New designs that have been spotted in multiple locations reflect the changing requirements of busy stores and appear to address common customer needs.

He mentions things like signs indicating checkout zones, a new table guide spelling out differences between iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max, and more customer-friendly Watch displays.

The new retail design language Apple began rolling out in 2015 brought visual simplicity by deemphasizing signage, logos, and extraneous store fixtures. While more aesthetically pleasing, some customers have found contemporary stores challenging to navigate. These new fixtures and signs show that Apple is willing to fine-tune the balance between appearance and function.

Normally these changes might go overlooked, particularly since they’re currently only in a handful of stores, but they’re noteworthy for reasons of timing. Apple’s former head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, was recently succeeded by Deirdre O’Brien, and while all signs point to Ahrendts’ departure being amicable, one common complaint regarding her tenure is that Apple Stores became less functional shopping places despite growing unquestionably more beautiful and lavish in design. These few scattered signs of change spotted by Steeber indicate an early priority shift coming from Apple’s new SVP of Retail.

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Nintendo Announces Dr. Mario World Coming to iOS July 10

Today Nintendo announced its latest mobile venture coming to iPhone and iPad: Dr. Mario World, which is available to pre-order now and will launch July 10th.

Dr. Mario World is a match 3-style game in the vein of Candy Crush, whereby you try to match your limited quantity of colored capsules with the various virus creatures on-screen to clear the game board. Fitting the Mario theme, the board in each stage will feature not just viruses, but also fan favorite power-ups such as a red shell or bomb that can knock out more viruses at once when activated. Based on early details, the game appears to stray very little from the classic match 3 formula, complete with hearts that determine whether you can start a stage, and diamonds that enable things like extending your turns. Match 3 games are a guilty pleasure for me, and I love Nintendo, so while some may prefer more originality, I’m excited to try a Mario-themed spin on a classic game mechanic.

When Dr. Mario World launches, it will be a free download with optional In-App Purchases for things like diamonds – a common business model for this type of game. There will be five worlds at launch, consisting of a variety of stages, and more worlds will be added over time. And following the tradition of other Nintendo titles such as Super Mario Run, gameplay will require a persistent Internet connection.

You can pre-order Dr. Mario World now.


I Won’t Sit Down: Songwriting with Frank Turner (Part 1)

In the fall of 2013, I sat in the first row balcony of The Vic theater on Chicago’s north side. I was there to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls for the first time. Can you see me stage left in the baseball cap?

Today, we published the latest interview of Dialog Season 1 featuring musician and songwriter Frank Turner.

You can find the episode here or listen through the Dialog web player below.

There's something about Turner's songs that grabbed hold of me in 2013 and has brought me back to several live shows since. Aside from Turner's music, which I love, part of the draw was his abrupt break with his musical past. I found Turner's jump from post-hardcore band Million Dead to a folk-inspired, acoustic guitar-based solo career inspiring as I contemplated a career departure myself.

There’s also something in Turner’s autobiographical, personal style of songwriting that connects with listeners and transcends differences in their experiences, which I find intriguing. It reminds me of the discussion Federico and I had in episode 1 about writing personal stories. Those are often the hardest stories to write, but they can also be the most rewarding when, despite different backgrounds, others draw something useful from them. In today's episode, we explore that aspect of Turner's music, his relationship with fans, and the interpretation of his lyrics.

We also trace Turner’s early years of constant touring and how he's managed to find the time to write new songs and books while on tour. We talk about social media's dual nature as a useful tool and destructive force in society too; a topic that has become a common theme among Dialog guests. Finally, we touch on the evolving music industry and how it's affected Turner's career as a musician.

Photo Credit: Nicole C. Kibert

Photo Credit: Nicole C. Kibert

The title of the episode is drawn from Turner's song Photosynthesis:

I won’t sit down,
And I won’t shut up,
And most of all I will not grow up.

The lyrics reflect a stubborn defiance of authority and expectations combined with a restless energy that I think captures Turner's musical career and the mindset of many of the other writers we have already interviewed and will interview soon.

I hope you enjoy the interview. When we sat down to plan Dialog, Frank Turner was precisely the sort of guest I had in mind: someone working in a creative field affected by many of the same technological issues other writers face, but with a unique perspective on them. Be sure to check out the show notes for the episode to learn more about Turner and his music, and stay tuned for the conclusion of our interview next Tuesday.

Also, we’d appreciate it if you would rate Dialog in Apple Podcasts, recommend it in Overcast, or simply tell a friend about it.


AppStories, Episode 116 – Notes in iOS 13 and macOS Catalina

On this week's episode of AppStories, we start a series of episodes on the new and updated apps coming to iOS and macOS Catalina in the fall starting with Notes.

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Connected, Episode 247: You Never Want the Egg

With the dust settling from WWDC, the boys go through Apple’s major platforms and talk about what they are excited about seeing in these releases.

On last week's episode of Connected, we went over our favorite announcements from WWDC. You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

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Connected, Episode 247

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Adobe Previews New iPad Drawing and Painting App, Fresco

Last year around the time Adobe began detailing its forthcoming Photoshop for iPad, the company also shared word of another iPad app it was working on, then called Project Gemini. Today in a blog post, Scott Belsky of Adobe announced Adobe Fresco as the official name of the new drawing and painting app, and detailed one of the features that will make the new app special:

The result is Live Brushes, which use the artificial intelligence of Adobe Sensei to recreate the behavior of oils and watercolors in an amazingly lifelike way. When you paint with a watercolor Live Brush, you’ll see the color bloom into adjacent areas of the paper. Use red and yellow next to each other and they’ll naturally blend into orange at the border. You can even recreate painting with water to dilute some colors and encourage tints to mix.

With an oil Live Brush, you can slather on a thick coat of paint and see the ridges and brush strokes that give the painting dimension. And you can mix different oil colors together to create a varied swirl of color that no digital color wheel could ever provide.

Live Brushes can be seen in action in the video embedded below. Adobe’s aim with Fresco is to provide a tool that scales well in serving users who want a simple drawing tool to those who need the power of features like layers, masking, brush creation, and more. While it’s expected that Creative Cloud subscribers will receive full access to Fresco’s full feature set, Adobe seems to be considering its full spectrum of target users when it comes to pricing. In today’s announcement Belsky notes “anyone with the right hardware will be able to draw and paint in Fresco for free.”

No update was given on Fresco’s release date, other than that it remains “later this year.” With iPadOS 13, Fresco, Photoshop, and the iPad app improvements that are hopefully to come alongside Catalyst projects, it’s going to be an exciting end of the year for iPad.

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Tumult Hype Professional 4.0: Create Stunning Web Animations Without the Code [Sponsor]

The web is a visual medium, so it pays to make the most of what it has to offer with beautiful, interactive animations. With Tumult Hype Professional 4.0 for the Mac, you can create stunning animations without writing a single line of code.

The app uses a powerful key-based animation system combined with an easy-to-use record button that couldn’t be simpler. That’s because under the hood of Tumult Hype’s elegant UI is a sophisticated interactivity system that can trigger symbols and multiple timelines.

With the recent release of version 4.0, Tumult Hype introduced vector shapes with shape morphing for more advanced animations. You can also incorporate physics into animations, ease into and out of animations, bring line drawings to life, create snapshots to use with browsers where JavaScript is disabled, and use Hype with external editors and tools like BBEdit, Photoshop, Affinity Photo, and Astropad.

Tumult Hype’s visual environment the perfect way to create animations because it eliminates the guesswork letting you see exactly what the visitors to your site will see. Whether you’re building ads, which require a small export footprint, infographics, banners, animated lessons, interactive experiences, or books, Tumult Hype has you covered. Then when you’re finished, the app outputs state-of-the-art HTML5 and CSS3 driven by JavaScript, which is compatible with everything from IE 6 to the latest Chrome, iOS, and Android browsers.

To get started making responsive, flexible documents that accommodate all device layouts, download and try Tumult Hype today. For a limited time, MacStories readers can buy Tumult Hype Professional for 20% off on the Tumult store by using this link or the coupon code ‘MACSTORIES’ at checkout.

Our thanks to Tumult Hype Professional for supporting MacStories this week.


Adapt, Episode 3: iPadOS First Look and Voice-Only Computing

Before diving into the newly announced iPadOS 13 and its Files improvements, Ryan shares how he cheated on his challenge using a powerful new iPadOS feature.

In this week's episode of Adapt, Ryan explains how he tackled my dictation challenge and we start discussing the changes in iPadOS. You can listen below (and find the show notes here), and don't forget to send us questions using #AskAdapt and by tagging our Twitter account.

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Adapt, Episode 3

We've got a lot of ground to cover with iPadOS and the new Shortcuts app on Adapt this summer, and it's going to be a fun ride. Make sure to subscribe to the show using one of the links below so you'll never miss an episode when it drops.

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Soulver 3 for Mac: The MacStories Review

The strength of Soulver lies in its flexibility. Full-fledged spreadsheet apps like Numbers and Excel have their place. However, day-to-day life requires calculations that don't demand that level of horsepower and benefit from contextualizing numbers with text. It’s the kind of math that happens in notebooks and on the back of envelopes. By combining elements of a text editor, spreadsheet, and plain English syntax, Soulver commits those easily-lost notebook scribblings to a format that allows for greater experimentation and easier sharing.

During WWDC last week, Acqualia Software released a major update to the app. Soulver 3 for Mac features an updated design and substantial new functionality that I love. The app has never been easier to use, and its implementation of a sidebar to corral sheets is fantastic.

However, unlike its predecessor, version 3‘s file format is incompatible with the iOS version of the app and earlier Mac versions. Soulver also saves its data as a single ‘sheetbook’ file now, which means it can no longer save or manage sheets as individual files saved to arbitrary locations on your Mac. Both changes will be problematic for some users who may want to wait for future updates that the app's developer has said are in the works.

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