John Voorhees

487 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John joined MacStories in 2015. He is a regular contributor to MacStories and the Club MacStories newsletters, co-hosts AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps, with Federico, and handles sponsorship sales for MacStories and AppStories. John is also the creator of Blink, an iTunes affiliate linking app for iOS.

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This week's sponsor

SaneBox

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


Apple Opens iOS 11 Public Beta

Apple has released the first public beta of iOS 11. The first developer beta of iOS 11 was released at WWDC on June 5, 2017. iOS 11 includes many new features such as a new Files app that makes navigating files on iOS devices easier than in the past and adds several iPad-only features like drag & drop, an app Dock, and enhanced multitasking.

You can sign up for the beta program here, but be sure to follow the instructions, which include backing up your iOS device, because it’s still early in the iOS 11 beta release cycle. There will be bugs and running a beta always runs the risk of data loss.

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

What if you had someone who would sort through your email and find only the important messages? That is exactly what SaneBox does. After you set it up, SaneBox 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 the 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 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.


The Wall Street Journal’s Mini-Documentary on the Creation of the iPhone

The Wall Street Journal released a short documentary called Behind the Glass to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone’s release on June 29, 2007. The almost ten-minute long documentary cuts between interviews with Greg Christie, former Vice President of Human Interface, Scott Forstall, former Vice President for the iPhone Operating System, and Tony Fadell, former Senior Vice President of the iPod division. The three describe the struggle over whether to base the iPhone’s hardware on a multi-touch interface versus the iPod and the ensuing 2.5-year effort to create the first iPhone.

The interviews are short but recount several anecdotes, including the attempts to find a way to adapt the iPod’s interface to work as a phone and the predictive software used to make the touch keyboard accurate. Even ten years later, the retelling of the stories behind the iPhone’s birth is captivating.

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Game Day: Newton

Casual puzzle games that you can pick up and play for a few minutes are a great way to kill time when you’re bored. Since the earliest days of the App Store,1 games have taken advantage of the iPhone’s sensors to create puzzles with realistic physics. Newton, by Binary Games, is a fun and challenging addition to the genre with unique mechanics and gameplay that I’ve enjoyed playing this week.

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Sega Forever Brings Sonic and Other Classics to iOS

Sega has been out of the hardware business for a long time, but still, has some of the most beloved video game franchises around. Today, Sega began releasing classic Sega games under the banner Sega Forever.

The first titles released are Sonic the Hedgehog, which was already available on iOS, Comix Zone, Altered Beast, Kid Chameleon, and Phantasy Star II. The games, which are standalone downloads, are free and include ads that can be removed with a $1.99 In-App Purchase. The Sega Forever website indicates that the next title in line for release is Virtua Tennis Challenge, which is currently $4.99 on the App Store and hasn’t been updated since 2013. For iMessage sticker fans, each game also includes a handful of animated stickers of game art.

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John Markoff Interviews Original iPhone Engineering Team Members and Scott Forstall

Last night, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California hosted a two-two hour interview program. The event was split into two parts. The first half is an interview moderated by John Markoff who spoke with former iPhone team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra, and Scott Herz about the development of the original iPhone. The three engineers recount what it was like to be recruited to the secret project and detail the team’s efforts to bring the phone to market.

The second half of the program, which begins at about 1:07:00 in the video below, is a one-on-one interview by Markoff of Scott Forstall who led software development for the iPhone. The interview with Scott Forstall is his first public comment about the iPhone and Apple since he left the company in 2012 and covers a broad range of topics from early iPhone prototypes to demonstrating the iPhone to Cingular, the first carrier to offer the phone.

Both interview segments are full of entertaining anecdotes about the iPhone’s development and well worth watching by anyone interested in what it took to create the iPhone. Forstall is particularly engaging as a storyteller displaying the same enthusiasm and excitement that he used to show onstage at Apple keynotes.


Apple Posts Two Videos Highlighting Photos Memories

Apple posted two videos highlighting the Memories feature of its iOS Photos app. One, called ‘The Archives,’ is part of Apple’s ‘practically magic’ series of videos and features an elderly man creating a film called ‘Together.’ When the man pulls a photograph out of a cabinet with dozens of drawers, it comes alive with a short snippet of video like a Live Photo.

After gathering a cart-load of photos and film, the man begins the laborious process of splicing them together into a film. The heartwarming spot captures the time, care, and attention needed to painstakingly create a movie from analog photos and videos, making the unstated point of how easy it is to do the same thing in Photos.

The second spot is in stark contrast to the first. It demonstrates the three steps to using Photos’ Memories feature:

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Go to the Memories Tab
  3. Choose a Memory

The two spots, which both feature Memories called 'Together,' are a clever one-two punch intended to convey how simple Photos has made it to create photo and video montages that once would have taken hours of work.


iPhone App Size Is Increasing at a Breakneck Pace

According to a Sensor Tower report, the total space required for the top 10 most installed iPhone apps has increased more than 1000% since May 2013, increasing from 164 MB to a whopping 1.8 GB. During that period, Apple has raised the maximum app size from 2 GB to 4 GB and the minimum storage capacity of iPhones to 32 GB, but the size of the most popular iPhone apps has far outstripped those increases. iOS 11 will address the issue in part, with a feature that can offload apps that aren’t used often, while saving settings and user data.

Sensor Tower explains that,

We see the often sudden growth in size exhibited by apps such as Facebook and Snapchat as directly tied to the intense competition between them, which necessitates a steady rollout of new and more space-intensive features. Of course, some apps have likely grown in size simply due to a reduced need (or perception of a need) for optimization.

I'm sure that competition and perception play a role in the increases noted by Sensor Tower, but it would also be interesting to see how deep this trend extends beyond the ten most popular iPhone apps. I suspect it runs deeper than many people realize. Scrolling through the Update tab of the App Store, I have many recent updates on my iPhone that exceed 100 MB, including Apple’s own Keynote, which is 675 MB.

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