Federico Viticci

8826 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 mobile software. He can also be found on his three podcasts – Connected, Canvas, and Remaster.

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Record Bird Is Apple Music’s Missing Discovery Tool for New Releases

When it comes to keeping track of new music releases from my favorite artists, streaming services have always been a disappointment. After nearly eight years of streaming music every day, I've realized that the problem lies on the two ends of the New Releases spectrum: these days, services either prioritize front page curation skewed towards new pop, R&B/hip-hop, or EDM tracks (the most popular and lucrative genres), or they algorithmically suggest new releases for artists I may like, but which I'm not necessarily familiar with.

I've tried all of the major streaming services since 2009, and only two of them have gotten close to my ideal implementation of "Here's everything artists you already know have released or are about to release".

Rdio (forever in our hearts) had a solid New Releases section featuring a mix of variegate editorial picks culled from a variety of genres, labels, and trends. Unlike the modern equivalents in Spotify and Apple Music, I remember Rdio's New Releases page1 offered a more balanced, heterogeneous mix of new songs.

Spotify, on the other hand, has invested heavily on algorithmic and serendipitous discovery of songs, but it still hasn't quite figured out how to display every new release from every artist you care about. Spotify can send emails for new release highlights, but those are only a subset of new releases from your favorite artists – usually, only the most popular ones. Other Spotify features are similarly focused on highlights.

In comparing the treatment of new music releases among different services, I realized that this is largely what Apple had set out to solve with Connect in Apple Music: a way to follow all your favorite artists and view updates for their announcements – whether they were new songs, video clips, tour dates, or photos.

Apple Music Connect, however, has faltered due to Apple's inability to scale a music-centric network (twice) and because it was predicated on a commitment from artists – both superstars and smaller acts – to post regular updates on their Connect feeds. After an initial spur of song previews and photos published on Connect, Apple Music's network has mostly turned into a ghost town of sporadic updates, often automatically cross-posted to other networks (without any exclusivity), with hashtags that can't be tapped and shortened links that open Safari webpages after multiple redirects. It's not a good user experience. Apple Music Connect is an afterthought; it's also been regarded as such by Apple itself with the removal of the dedicated page in iOS 10.

Fortunately, there are still people who understand what a music lover with a broad range of preferences wants from a tool designed to discover new music. For the past couple of months, I've been using Record Bird, a free iPhone app hailing from Austria, to check on updates from my favorite artists every day, stream songs, watch videos, and even read related stories.

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iOS 10.2.1 Has Reduced Unexpected iPhone 6s Shutdown Issues

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch following a statement from Apple:

Over the past couple of iPhone versions users have complained of “unexpected” shutdowns of their devices. Some iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus and 6s Plus devices could basically go dark unexpectedly, forcing a user to have to plug them into an outlet to get them to power back on.

Apple has been working on this very annoying bug and it says it has come up with a fix of sorts that should mitigate the problem on a majority of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices. The fix is actually already on your iPhone if you have installed iOS 10.2.1 — something that around 50 percent of iOS users have already done. After letting the fix simmer on customer devices, Apple now has statistics to share on how it has improved the issue, citing 80 percent reduction on iPhone 6s and 70 percent reduction on iPhone 6 devices.

These unexpected shutdowns were a different issue than the iPhone 6s battery recall. From personal experience, I've heard quite a few friends mention how their iPhones' serial number weren't eligible for the battery replacement program despite frequent shutdowns. iOS 10.2.1 should fix that, and Apple is also rolling out a new message in the Settings app in case a device's battery has to be replaced.

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Remaster, Episode 29: Waiting for the Switch

We are just one week away from the Nintendo Switch. What do we know?

The Nintendo Switch is launching in a week. On the latest Remaster, we go over the latest details we know about the console, the games that have been announced, and all the hardware we're buying. You can listen here.

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iPad Diaries: Clipboard Management with Copied and Workflow

One of the common challenges involving a switch from macOS to an iPad is the lack of desktop-like clipboard managers on iOS.

By nature of the platform1 and technical restrictions imposed by Apple, apps like Pastebot or Alfred wouldn't be able to adapt their Mac capabilities to the iPad. Third-party iOS apps can't constantly monitor changes to the system clipboard in the background; similarly, it isn't possible for an iPad app to register as the handler of a keyboard shortcut at a system-wide level. An app would have to at least be currently in use via Split View to listen for clipboard changes, but, even in that case, it would have to be active to receive external keyboard commands.

With these limitations, it's no surprise that clipboard managers aren't a flourishing category on the iPad App Store. However, once we accept the intrinsic differences between the Mac and iPad and if we look at the problem from a different perspective, there's plenty we can do – either with apps or automation – to go beyond Apple's modest clipboard offerings on iOS.

After years of testing iPad clipboard managers and automation/scripting strategies, this is what I've come up with.

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Connected, Episode 130: San Frosé

This week, Stephen and Myke talk about the whirlwind of iPhone rumors and where they keep their data before Myke is joined by a special guest.

I couldn't join Myke and Stephen on Connected this week, but I enjoyed listening to iPhone rumors and the very special guest in the second half of the show. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

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Overcast 3.0: iOS 10 Features, UI Changes, Easy Queuing, and an Interview with Marco Arment

Overcast, Marco Arment's popular podcast app for iOS, is defined by an interesting dualism: its essence has remained remarkably consistent with the original version released three years ago; at the same time, Arment has periodically revisited Overcast's design, features, and business model to build a superior listening environment for a larger audience.

The same judicious iteration permeates Overcast 3.0, launching today on the App Store. With improvements to episode management, visual changes aimed at modernizing the interface, and an evolution of the existing subscription-based model, Overcast 3.0 is another thoughtful combination of new ideas and old tropes, which converge in a refreshed yet instinctively familiar listening experience.

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iOS 10.3 Beta Adds ‘App Compatibility’ Screen Listing Old 32-Bit Apps

In addition to a new warning displayed upon launching an old 32-bit app for the first time, it appears that iOS 10.3 will also include a Settings page listing legacy apps that "will not work with future versions of iOS".

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors on the latest iOS 10.3 beta released earlier today:

In the Settings app, there's a new "App Compatibility" section that lists apps that may not work with a future version of iOS. Tapping on one of the apps opens it up in the App Store so you can see when it was last updated. As has been discovered in previous betas, opening one of these apps on your iOS device pops up a warning with a similar non-compatible statement. App Compatibility can be accessed by opening the Settings app and choosing General --> About. From there, scroll down to "Applications" and tap it.

It's not clear whether these warnings will make it into the final release of iOS 10.3, but they're a strong sign that developers should prepare for stricter 64-bit requirements in iOS 11.

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Life’s Too Short to Waste It on “Busy Work”. Get More Done with Daylite [Sponsor]

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Our thanks to Marketcircle for sponsoring MacStories this week.


The State of iBooks in Early 2017

Michael E. Cohen, writing for TidBITS:

iBooks is not quite as unreliable and confusing as it was when I wrote about it last year, but neither has it improved nearly as much as loyal iBooks users deserve. Moreover, what little support documentation Apple provides is sketchy and inaccurate, leaving the impression that even the support and documentation departments within Apple are ignoring iBooks.

Cohen's library may be an edge case with over 700 titles, but the problems he mentions are basic usability issues that should get fixed.

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