John Voorhees

2488 posts on MacStories since November 2015

John, MacStories’ Managing Editor, has been writing about Apple and apps since joining the team in 2015. He also co-hosts MacStories’ podcasts, including AppStories, which explores of the world of apps, MacStories Unwind, a weekly recap of everything MacStories and more, and MacStories Unplugged, a behind-the-scenes, anything-goes show exclusively for Club MacStories members.





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MacStories Unwind: A Game Boy Webcam for iPad, Grits, and Plane


This week on MacStories Unwind, Federico explains his UVC device journey that naturally ended with using a Game Boy Camera as an iPad webcam, and I embrace the South by cooking grits, and I recommend Plane, a 2023 action-thriller movie.

  • Kolide – It ensures that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta. Watch the demo today!

Federico’s Game Boy Webcam for iPad

John’s Picks:

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AppStories, Episode 349 – Bookmarking Apps Revisited

This week on AppStories, we look at the history of bookmarking apps, their relationship to read-later apps, how our use of bookmarking apps has changed, and our favorite modern bookmarking apps.

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On AppStories+, we discuss the benefits of tinkering to avoid burnout and for generating writing ideas.

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Michael Flarup Launches a Kickstarter Campaign for The macOS Icon Book

Michael Flarup has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an illustrated book about macOS iconography. The macOS App Icon Book, which has already been fully funded, is estimated to ship in January 2024.

This book is a follow-up to The iOS App Icon Book, which was also funded via Kickstarter and shipped last year, and I reviewed on MacStories. The new title includes full-color reproductions of hundreds of icons and profiles of the designers behind some of them.

Flarup’s iOS icon book was a wonderful bit of Apple history that preserved some of the best iconography produced on the platform. It’s great to see a macOS version is being added to preserve the history of iconography on the Mac, too. If you’re interested in pledging, there are multiple reward levels, including the hardback book, a PDF version, and a set of both the iOS and macOS icon books.


Details About the Apple Vision Pro App Store Announced

A new App Store will launch alongside the Apple Vision Pro, which will include apps built specifically for the headset, as well as iPhone and iPad apps.

According to an announcement on Apple’s developer website, the new store will debut in the visionOS betas this fall, allowing developers to check how their apps run on the Vision Pro via the visionOS simulator. According to the announcement:

By default, your iPad and/or iPhone apps will be published automatically on the App Store on Apple Vision Pro. Most frameworks available in iPadOS and iOS are also included in visionOS, which means nearly all iPad and iPhone apps can run on visionOS, unmodified. Customers will be able to use your apps on visionOS early next year when Apple Vision Pro becomes available.

However, if updates are needed, developers will be alerted via App Store Connect. Apple has multiple ways for developers to check how their apps work on the Apple Vision Pro too:

To see your app in action, use the visionOS simulator in Xcode 15 beta. The simulator lets you interact with and easily test most of your app’s core functionality. To run and test your app on an Apple Vision Pro device, you can submit your app for a compatibility evaluation or sign up for a developer lab.

It will be interesting to see how the Apple Vision Pro App Store experience differs from other platforms.


Binarynights Releases Forklift 4, a Major Update Its File Management and Transfer Utility for Mac

Today, Binarynights released Forklift 4, its Mac file management and transfer app. Version 4 is a complete rewrite of the app, which adds a lot of new features, a modern design, and a new business model. I’ve only spent a little while with the update, but so far, I like what I’ve seen a lot.

The new design is excellent, with a modern sidebar and preview pane, along with columns for your files and folders that snap to optimized widths for your content but can be adjusted however you like. Of course, there are multiple view options for files and folders, and the toolbar is fully customizable, too. Plus, Forklift 4 adds eight different themes that look great.

Forklift 4 includes a long list of ways to connect to your files, such as FTP and SFTP, but the update also adds cloud services, including Dropbox, Google Team Drives, and Microsoft OneDrive. Other new features include syncing favorites between Macs using iCloud and saving views on a per-folder basis. Binarynights says file syncing and other actions are significantly faster, too.

Forklift 4's default theme.

Forklift 4’s default theme.

Today’s update also introduces a new business model. Forklift 4 offers a free trial, and when you purchase a license, you’ll get the current version plus one or two years of updates, depending on which license you buy. After that, you can continue using the app as-is indefinitely or renew your license to continue getting updates. Also, to celebrate Forklift 4’s launch, Binarynights is adding an extra 100 days of updates for a limited time.

I like this business model a lot for utilities like Forklift. Light users who don’t need the latest and greatest features can pay once and wait to upgrade until there’s a new feature they need, but heavy users can pay more regularly to stay on top of the latest enhancements to the app.

There’s a lot more that Forklift 4 can do than I’ve mentioned above, so it’s worth checking out the app’s product page and the blog post covering the updates. Although I haven’t spent a lot of time with Forklift 4 yet, it makes a great first impression with its native, modern design, extensive customization options, and deep feature set. If you’re looking for a new file management and transfer app, Forklift 4 is worth checking out.

Digital Trends Interviews Apple Execs and Developers about Apple Vision Pro

Digital Trends’ Alex Blake interviewed Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of worldwide developer relations and Steve Sinclair, senior director of product marketing for Apple Vision Pro, along with several developers about the ways the company is encouraging development for its upcoming headset.

According to Sinclair:

One of the things that we’ve observed is that when people first put on Vision Pro, they’re so blown away by the new spatial experiences that they see that they oftentimes forget that they’re actually wearing something.

When we’re working with developers,” he continues, “we really try to stress the importance of creating new experiences that take advantage of all those capabilities.” That means building apps that “flex from windows to apps to being able to create fully immersive applications that transport you somewhere else. Because those are the things that customers and users are going to be excited about.”

Developer Ryan McLeod, the creator of the iOS and iPadOS game Blackbox, believes hands-on time with the Vision Pro hardware is key for developer adoption:

“It’s hard for me to imagine being inspired enough to build Blackbox for Vision Pro without having had ample hands-on time,” he notes. “I think it’s going to be critically important that as many developers as possible — especially smaller indie teams — get that opportunity and support for the platform.”

McLeod suggests that to get the Vision Pro in as many developers’ hands as possible:

Apple could help by “continuing to push beyond the traditional yearly WWDC cycle to continuously release more example apps, more API documentation, more sessions, and more opportunities to talk directly with engineers at Apple.”

Mark Gurman of Bloomberg posted on Twitter in early August that he’d heard that the Vision Pro labs were “under-filled with a small number of developers.” As valuable as the labs seem to have been to those who have attended, so far, they’ve only been held in Cupertino and a handful of large cities in a limited number of countries and on relatively short notice. Hopefully, as the weeks pass, Apple can schedule labs further out, expand the number of locations, and offer more developer kits. It’s that sort of hands-on experience that will get developers excited, drive the adoption of visionOS, and ensure there are apps for customers when Vision Pro ships next year.


MacStories Unwind: We Bought It for the Same Dumb Reason


This week on MacStories Unwind, Federico is back from Spain, unbeknown to each other, Federico and I buy the same new audio gear, and I want you to join him in his Run Across America.

Kolide – It ensures that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta. Watch the demo today!

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Longplay 2.0: An Album-Oriented Apple Music Player with Loads of New Features

Longplay 2.0 by Adrian Schoenig is out, and it’s a massive update of the iOS and iPadOS album-oriented music app.

If you’ve tried Longplay before, the update will be familiar. The first time it launches, it quickly checks your Apple Music library (about six seconds for over 1200 albums in my case), finds all the nearly complete and complete albums, and displays them in a grid of album art. I’ve always loved this interface because it does such a great job of emphasizing album art. However, what’s different is a long list of new features, but since we’ve only covered the app for Club MacStories members and AppStories listeners, I’m going to cover everything and call out the updated features as I go.

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Obscura 4 Features A Refreshed Design, New Features, and A Different Business Model

Ben McCarthy’s career as a developer coincides almost exactly with mine as a writer. As a result, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Obscura evolve from little more than an idea to one of the best camera apps on the App Store. As with so many apps, what sets Obscura apart from others is Ben’s attention to detail, impeccable design taste, and deep knowledge of the app’s subject matter – photography.

Today, Obscura 4 is out, less than two years since I reviewed version 3 with a refreshed design and a handful of new features. The update includes a change in Obscura’s business model, too. In the past, the app was paid up front, with each major release being a new purchase. Going forward, Obscura is free to download, with certain advanced features, known as Obscura Ultra, requiring a subscription.

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