Federico Viticci

9346 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, iPad, 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, and Dialog, a show where creativity meets technology.

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

| Instagram: @viticci |

THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

CleanMyMac

Your Mac. As good as new.


Connected, Episode 289: Let Me Remember My Opinion

On this week’s episode of Connected:

This week, Myke talks about a sell on Cinema Displays, then the guys move on discuss Federico’s recent iPad article on modularity, the possibilities of widgets in iOS 14 and Stephen’s Mac Madness winner and picks.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

0:00
01:26:18

Connected, Episode 289

Sponsored by:

  • Pingdom: Start monitoring your website performance and availability today, and get instant alerts when an outage occurs or a site transaction fails. Use offer code CONNECTED to get 30% off. Offer expires on January 31, 2021.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code CONNECTED at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • Boll & Branch: The Softest Organic Sheets & Luxury Bedding. Save $50. Try them for 30 days in a risk free trial.
Permalink

Modular Computer: iPad Pro as a Tablet, Laptop, and Desktop Workstation

My iPad Pro desktop setup.

My iPad Pro desktop setup.

When I started my iPad-only journey in 2012, I was stuck in a hospital bed and couldn’t use my Mac. It’s a story I’ve told many times before: I had to figure out a way to get work done without a Mac, and I realized the iPad – despite its limited ecosystem of apps and lackluster OS at the time – granted me the computing freedom I sought. At a time when I couldn’t use a desk or connect to a Wi-Fi network, a tablet I could hold in my hands and use to comunicate with remote colleagues over a cellular connection was all I needed. Over time, however, that state of necessity became a choice: for a few years now, I’ve preferred working on my iPad Pro and iPadOS (née iOS) in lieu of my Mac mini, even when I’m home and have access to my desk and macOS workstation.

The more I think about it, the more I come to this conclusion: the iPad, unlike other computers running a “traditional” desktop OS, possesses the unique quality of being multiple things at once. Hold an iPad in your hands, and you can use it as a classic tablet; pair it with a keyboard cover, and it takes on a laptop form; place it on a desk and connect it to a variety of external accessories, and you’ve got a desktop workstation revolving around a single slab of glass. This multiplicity of states isn’t an afterthought, nor is it the byproduct of happenstance: it was a deliberate design decision on Apple’s part based on the principle of modularity.

In looking back at the past decade of iPad and, more specifically, the past two years of the current iPad Pro line, I believe different factors contributed to making the iPad Pro Apple’s first modular computer – a device whose shape and function can optionally be determined by the extra hardware paired with it.

The original iPad Pro showed how Apple was willing to go beyond the old “just a tablet” connotation with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. Three years later, the company followed up on the iPad Pro’s original vision with a switch to USB-C which, as a result, opened the iPad to a wider ecosystem of external accessories and potential configurations. At the same time, even without considerable software enhancements by Apple, the creativity of third-party developers allowed iPad apps to embrace external displays and new file management functionalities. And lastly, just a few weeks ago, Apple unveiled iPadOS’ native cursor mode, finally putting an end to the debate about whether the iPad would ever support the desktop PC’s classic input method.

The intersection of these evolutionary paths is the modern iPad Pro, a device that fills many roles in my professional and personal life. Ever since I purchased the 2018 iPad Pro1, I’ve been regularly optimizing my setup at home and on the go to take advantage of the device’s versatility. I’ve tested dozens of different keyboards, purchased more USB-C hubs than I care to admit, and tried to minimize overhead by designing a system that lets me use the same external display and keyboard with two different computers – the Mac mini and iPad Pro.

At the end of this fun, eye-opening process, I’ve ended up with a computer that is greater than the sum of its parts. By virtue of its modular nature, I find my custom iPad Pro setup superior to a traditional laptop, and more flexible than a regular desktop workstation.

So how exactly did I transform the iPad Pro into this new kind of modular computer? Let’s dig in.

Read more


Connected, Episode 288: The God of Beginnings, Gates, Transitions and Duality

On this week’s episode of Connected:

Mac Madness is down to the final two machines, and Myke explains why it is all Stephen’s fault. Then, Federico takes everyone on a tour of high-resolution audio apps for the iPhone and iPad … which are all wild. Lastly, we check the temperature of the room on Apple’s Dark Sky acquisition.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

0:00
01:32:05

Connected, Episode 288

Sponsored by:

  • PDFpen, from Smile : The ultimate tool for editing PDFs on the Mac.
  • Pingdom: Start monitoring your website performance and availability today, and get instant alerts when an outage occurs or a site transaction fails. Use offer code CONNECTED to get 30% off. Offer expires on January 31, 2021.
  • Ahrefs: SEO Tools & Resources To Grow Your Search Traffic. Get a 7-day trial for just $7.
Permalink

Adapt, Episode 22: Cursors and Keyboards in iPadOS 13.4

On this week’s episode of Adapt:

It’s been a big two weeks for iPad news. Federico and Ryan discuss the new iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard, then go deep on mouse and trackpad support and full keyboard access in iPadOS 13.4.

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.

0:00
01:11:46

Adapt, Episode 22

Sponsored by:

  • Pingdom: Start monitoring your website performance and availability today, and get instant alerts when an outage occurs or a site transaction fails. Use offer code ADAPT to get 30% off. Offer expires on January 31, 2021.
  • Sanebox: Clean up your inbox in minutes. Sign up for a two-week free trial and a $25 credit.
Permalink

Connected, Episode 287: Rub a Dub Dub, My Friend

On this week’s episode of Connected:

The early reviews of the 2020 iPad Pro and new MacBook Air are in, and Myke treats the group with an unboxing experience. Federico asks the world for help, while Stephen is bringing joy — and pain — to the Mac community. Also, our impressions of iOS 13.4 and some media we’re enjoying while being stuck at home.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

0:00
01:52:29

Connected, Episode 287

Sponsored by:

  • Pingdom: Start monitoring your website performance and availability today, and get instant alerts when an outage occurs or a site transaction fails. Use offer code CONNECTED to get 30% off. Offer expires on January 31, 2021.
  • TextExpander, from Smile: Unlock your productivity with TextExpander. Get 20% off with your first year.
  • Hover: Make a name for yourself. Get 10% off any domain name.
  • Mack Weldon: Smart underwear for smart guys. Get 20% off your first order with the code WEIRDFISH.
Permalink

Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines on Pointers for iPadOS

Speaking of the design considerations that went into iPadOS’ cursor, I suggest reading Apple’s new HIG document on the dynamic/adaptive pointer:

iPadOS 13.4 introduces dynamic pointer effects and behaviors that enhance the experience of using a pointing device with iPad. As people use a pointing device, iPadOS automatically adapts the pointer to the current context, providing rich visual feedback and just the right level of precision needed to enhance productivity and simplify common tasks.

The iPadOS pointing system gives people an additional way to interact with apps and content — it doesn’t replace touch. Some people may continue to use touch only, while others may prefer to use the pointer or a combination of both. Let people choose how to interact with your app, and avoid condensing your interface or making changes that require them to use the pointer.

And this part on “pointer magnetism”:

In addition to bringing focus to elements through pointer transformations and content effects, iPadOS can also help people target an element by making the element appear to attract the pointer. People can experience this magnetic effect when they move the pointer close to an element and when they flick the pointer toward an element.

When people move the pointer close to an element, the system starts transforming the pointer’s shape as soon as it reaches an element’s hit region. Because the hit region typically extends beyond an element’s visible boundaries, the pointer begins to transform before it appears to touch the element, creating the illusion that the element is pulling the pointer toward it.

Thoughtful, detailed read (as usual per Apple’s HIG) with illustrations that help get a sense of what’s possible with pointer customization (it doesn’t look like the Keynote update with cursor support mentioned in the document is out yet). Reading this, it’s clear that Apple didn’t simply bring the Mac’s cursor to the iPad – they started from the basic idea and redesigned it around a different platform.

Permalink

In Praise of the iPadOS 13.4 Cursor

Jason Snell:

I want to take a moment to appreciate the delicate and whimsical animated appearance of the cursor in iPadOS 13.4, which was released today.

It’s delightful. It’s like a little cartoon character, the plucky dot who is up to any challenge, even if it means contorting itself into whatever form is required.

Consider the animation when it enters and exits an existing button. The circle oozes out into a curved rectangle, like it’s some sort of sticky blob. When it’s over the active area, the whole button tilts as if the blob is pulling it around. Move far enough, though, and the blob breaks back off of the button and returns to its traditional shape as a simple circle.

After playing around with the cursor for a few hours last week, I noted that it felt instantly natural – like it had been part of UIKit for years. Those first impressions still hold true. The iPad’s new cursor is whimsical and useful at the same time – a rare combination these days. And like all feature additions that feel “obvious” in hindsight, it’s clear that a lot of consideration went into rethinking the traditional cursor for a platform where touch control also exists.

Permalink

Connected, Episode 286: The iPad G4

On this week’s episode of Connected:

Apple has announced new iPad Pros with a new keyboard and trackpad case, as well as the addition of cursor support in iOS 13.4. Myke takes it for a spin as Federico waits for his download to finish. Then, a tour of Apple’s updated Macs and Stephen’s new project, Mac Madness.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

0:00
01:21:13

Connected, Episode 286

Sponsored by:

  • Clean My Mac X: Your Mac. As good as new.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code CONNECTED at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • Bombas: Super comfortable socks. Use this link for 20% off.
Permalink

Adapt, Episode 21: iPadOS File Management

On this week’s episode of Adapt:

It’s time for an iPad file management primer. Federico details iCloud Drive, CloudKit, file bookmarks, open in place, file providers, the document browser, and more, then Ryan shares his spreadsheet app findings.

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.

0:00
01:05:43

Adapt, Episode 21

Sponsored by:

  • Pingdom: Start monitoring your website performance and availability today, and get instant alerts when an outage occurs or a site transaction fails. Use offer code ADAPT to get 30% off. Offer expires on January 31, 2021.
  • Sanebox: Clean up your inbox in minutes. Sign up for a two-week free trial and a $25 credit.
Permalink