Federico Viticci

8918 posts on MacStories since April 2009

Federico is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of MacStories, where he writes about Apple with a focus on apps, developers, and iOS productivity. He founded MacStories in April 2009 and has been writing about Apple since. Federico is also the co-host of AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps.

He can also be found on his three other podcasts on Relay FM – Connected, Canvas, and Remaster.

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Slack for iOS Gains Quick Replies for Notifications

The latest update to Slack’s iOS app introduces a feature I’ve been waiting for since we started using the service for daily communications at MacStories: quick replies to notifications. Now when you get a Slack message, you can pull down on the notification banner – or, if you’re viewing an old notification, press on it – to send a reply without opening the app. I’ve tested this feature in the Slack beta over the past week, and it’s considerably reduced the number of times I have to open the app.

The fact that Slack’s native iOS app still feels so slow when loading and switching between channels makes this addition all the more welcome. It would be nice to have both quick replies and emoji reactions as options upon expanding a notification, but this will suffice.

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Embracing the Notch

Max Rudberg played around with some ideas for a future iPhone with a notch in the status bar and a virtual Home button:

Apple’s accidental release of the HomePod firmware prompted Steven Throughthon-Smith’s to go digging through and uncovering a lot of exciting pieces on the upcoming high-end iPhone, codename D22. Allen Pike then had an interesting take on what that new form factor could mean for the UI.

Allen’s idea of how the UI will change on the new phone match many of my own thoughts. iOS 11’s large navbars seems like the biggest hint of upcoming change, and moving the left and right navbar items next to the home button allows for a much more convienient bottom oriented navigation. And everything just seems to fit.

I wanted to explore how this could look with a little more graphical polish, to try and figure out which way Apple would be most likely to go. I’ve used the same App Store Top Charts-screen as Allen did.

His mockups encapsulate why the next few weeks are going to be so fun – we think we know what the next iPhone is going to be like, but we also know nothing of its software. And an all-screen iPhone is, by definition, all about the flavor of iOS it runs.

I prefer the mockups that embrace the notch with a seamless transition of the title bar into a split status bar, but I could see a return to the old-school black status bar too. I haven’t felt this excitement around the new version of an iPhone from the design and developer community in years.

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HomePod’s Firmware and the Next iPhone

Brian Barrett, writing for Wired on the biggest iPhone scoop in months:

When developer Guilherme Rambo saw that Apple had released firmware for the upcoming HomePod speaker, he thought it must have been a mistake. The HomePod doesn't come out until December, after all. Curiosity piqued, he started digging through the code, where he found perhaps the last thing he expected: Apple's next iPhone.

While some details regarding Apple's redesigned, high-end iPhone—called the iPhone 8 or iPhone Pro, though no one outside Cupertino knows the official name yet—had previously leaked, Rambo found in the HomePod not rumors or hints but Apple's own documentation of one of its biggest releases in years. It confirms a new look with a slimmer bezel, the death of the home button, and a powerful new face-recognition feature. It's the biggest bombshell Apple leak in years—and it came from Apple itself.

If it was an accident, this is a remarkable slip-up for Apple – not only was a glyph depicting an unreleased iPhone found in the HomePod firmware uploaded to Apple’s public servers – itself quite a curious story – but Rambo and the ever-proficient Steven Troughton-Smith are finding all kinds of references by digging into the software. From face unlock with support for facial expressions and an infra-red camera to major changes to the status bar (which is going to support a split mode) and the expected removal of the Home button, it sounds like the next iPhone is going to change the most basic iPhone interactions we know. We’re far from rumor territory at this point: we’re looking at references and APIs scattered throughout a firmware file uploaded on Apple’s servers.

Beyond changes to the core of iOS though, I’m interested to see how much iOS 11 was designed with this next iPhone in mind. The large title bars and new safe area inset APIs always seemed like obvious hints; I think Allen Pike is on the right track with his idea of title bar controls being docked at the bottom, next to the virtual Home button (which follows the theme of thumb-friendly navigation this year). But what about ARKit with the addition of a 3D-capable front-facing camera? And will a possible function area around the Home button be programmable by developers to add custom buttons and shortcuts, à la Touch Bar/iPad Shortcuts Bar?

As always, hardware leaks and rumors only tell one half of the future iPhone story, and to me that’s not even the most interesting part anymore. It’s all about the implementation of the hardware and software together, the constraints Apple faced, and the trade-offs they chose. This has never been more apparent than this year: we all seem to know what the next iPhone is going to look like, but nobody knows how iOS will work on it. The next Apple event is going to be a fun one.

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Connected, Episode 152: British Man in a Van with a MacBook

Stephen tries to help Myke with his laptop as The Rock is having a great day with Siri. Then, Federico breaks down Siri changes coming this fall.

On this week’s Connected, we talk about Siri – both as an assistant for The Rock and in terms of what’s coming with iOS 11. You can listen here.

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Remaster, Episode 39: Selfish Follow-Up

Some upcoming games for the Switch, thoughts on the Zelda DLC, and a discussion about PlayStation PlayLink.

On Remaster this week, we discuss the experience of playing with the first DLC for Breath of the Wild; Shahid also explains why Sony’s PlayLink is an interesting approach to bridging the gap between the PS4 and smartphones. You can listen here.

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Connected, Episode 150: The Turtle Anniversary

This week, faces are authenticating phones, iOS 11 is shaming apps for using location data and Federico is hard at work on his review.

On the 150th episode of Connected, I go over the current state of my iOS 11 review and we take a look at other changes coming to iOS later this year.

You can listen here.

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Connected, Episode 149: Caramel

Will the next iPhone eschew Touch ID for facial scanning? Is Stephen keeping his Echo Show? Can Ticci explain CoreML in a way that normal humans can understand?

On this week’s Connected, we cover some of the latest iPhone 8 rumors and try to explain what Apple is doing with machine learning in iOS 11. You can listen here.

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