Federico Viticci

9163 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.

| Instagram: @viticci |

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Apple’s New iPad Pro Ad

Fun new iPad Pro commercial by Apple. The ad follows the company's recent marketing strategy to establish the iPad Pro as "a computer unlike any computer". That may be a difficult message to get across, but Apple used a mix of features that highlight the unique nature of the iPad well: power, apps, portability, multitouch, and Apple Pencil.

Of these five categories, it is pretty obvious which is the one that Apple should focus on more going forward.

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Connected, Episode 218: My Thumb Is Now Useless

Federico and Myke thoroughly review the iPad Pro and its accessories – while eschewing the typical podcast format.

On last week's Connected, Myke and I shared more thoughts on the new iPad Pro after a week of usage. You can listen here and treat this episode as a complement to my ongoing iPad Diaries column about the new devices.

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Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik on Drawing on the New iPad Pro

Mike Krahulik, writing on the Penny Arcade blog:

The previous Apple Pencil had a little lightning adapter where its eraser would be. This was covered by a tiny plastic cap about the size of a child’s tooth. In order to charge the pencil you removed this cap and plugged the pencil into the lightning port on the bottom of your iPad. This was dumb for a lot of reasons.

For one thing, it meant you could not charge your iPad while the pencil was charging. You also had to try not to lose this tiny little pencil cap. It also was an incredibly fragile connection that always felt like it was about to break. It also looked incredibly stupid. But now! The new Apple Pencil attaches to the side of your iPad thanks to the magic of magnets! This is also how it syncs and charges. I will be honest with you and admit that after using my old iPad for eight solid months every single day, I had no idea how to check the battery level of the pencil. I never knew it was low until it was time to charge the damn thing. Now when you snap your pencil onto the side of the iPad, a little bubble shows you the battery life. Brilliant! The Pencil itself also feels better in my hand and has a touch sensor on it. You can now double tap the pencil with your finger and this functionality can be customized.

The machine feels lightning fast now as well. I can’t believe some of the multitasking I’ve been able to pull off. I sent this pic to Kiko the other night because I was drawing in Clip Studio while I had a show running in a floating window off to the side.

Great reminder that professional work on iPads doesn't necessarily mean typing or coding. I also discovered Clip Studio through his post, which looks like a powerful, desktop-class manga drawing app that's already been updated for the 2018 iPad Pros. Make sure to check out Krahulik's work on Instagram too.

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iPad Diaries: Typing on the iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio

iPad Diaries is a regular series about using the iPad as a primary computer. You can find more installments here and subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.

I have a love/hate relationship with Apple's Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro.

On one hand, I've always been a fan of its small footprint and ability to almost become part of the device itself from both a hardware and software perspective. The Smart Keyboard snaps itself into place and attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro; it doesn't require you to even think about charging it as the Smart Connector takes care of it; thanks to the trivial magic of magnets, the keyboard and cover stay attached to the iPad as you carry it in a bag, but can be easily disconnected at a moment's notice should you need just the iPad's screen. The software experience is equally intuitive and exquisitely Ive-esque: the Smart Keyboard requires no pairing because it eschews Bluetooth altogether, and it integrates with all the keyboard shortcuts supported by iOS and apps. In the latest iPad Pro, the Smart Keyboard is even Face ID-aware: you can double-tap the space bar to authenticate from the lock screen instead of extending your arm toward the screen to swipe up – a welcome enhancement for those who work with their iPad Pro constantly connected to a keyboard.

There's plenty to appreciate about Apple's Smart Keyboard – an accessory designed on the premise of integration between hardware and software, following the same core principles at the foundation of AirPods, Apple Pencil, and (even though some liked to make fun of their peculiar design) Smart Battery Cases. But since its debut in 2015, I've been saving a series of small complaints and bigger annoyances with the Smart Keyboard that I'd like to revisit now that Apple has shipped its evolution for the new iPad Pro – the Smart Keyboard Folio.

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Front-End Web Development on an iPad Pro in 2018

Fascinating deep dive by Craig Morey on whether it's possible for a front-end web developer to get their work on an iPad Pro in 2018.

It's a highly technical read, and ultimately Morey doesn't believe an iPad Pro is ready for this task yet, but it's worth pointing out that many of the issues outlined by Morey are applicable to anyone who uses an iPad as their primary computer today. For instance, the problem with Files APIs, introduced in iOS 11 and still not widely adopted by third-party document-based apps:

I’ve already posted about the messy landscape of options for moving and accessing files in iOS. The only way apps should be doing it currently is with iOS 11 style file APIs, but many apps have either legacy file solutions, bespoke (ie, confusingly different — and differently-abled) file pickers or would rather pull you into their own cloud platform.
[...]
Apple need to evangelise the right way to do this before basic file management turns off the potential users before they get to the inspiring parts of iPad usage. But to really make it work, app developers need assistance to update older apps to the latest APIs. Many app devs spent huge amounts of time building custom solutions before any good options existed, only to see little in terms of revenue to encourage them to rewrite their app as new APIs came along. The iPad Pro marketplace needs to be turning a corner in terms of viability to bring these apps back into the modern iOS world.

Make sure to watch the videos in Morey's piece – I love how he detailed every single step of the workflows he tried to build on his iPad Pro.

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Connected #217: A Brief Moment in 1995

Federico looks back on his PowerBook 165, Myke sends a tweet and Stephen goes for a drive with Siri. The three also have a conversation about working on the iPad Pro, and how people respond to it.

On last week's episode of Connected, we shared our first impressions of the new iPad Pros. We're going to go more in depth on the new devices this week, but in the meantime you can catch up here.

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Broadway Ditches Age-Old Processes To Run Shows with iPads

On last week's episode of Connected, I mentioned having heard from a couple of MacStories readers who work at different Broadway production companies, who told me they're increasingly switching their workflows to be portable and iPad-only. Here's Samantha Murphy Kelly, writing for CNN (via David L. Jones):

Several shows, including Kinky Boots and Pretty Woman: The Musical, are shifting to a paperless system that packs the script, lyrics, videos, and costume and prop notes, into one spot for the director, crew and cast members.

The productions are leaning on an app from startup ProductionPro, which is already used at companies such as Walt Disney Studios to help produce film and TV shows.

During a recent rehearsal of Pretty Woman: The Musical attended by a handful of reporters, production stage manager Thomas Recktenwald ran lines with three cast members subbing in for an evening performance. Swiping through the ProductionPro app on an iPad Pro, Recktenwald showed off recent changes made to the script. It had notes scribbled into the margins via an Apple Pencil, and he tapped his way through videos that highlight blocking, broken down scene by scene.

Also interesting: ProductionPro can be tried for free, but unlocking the complete feature set (which includes collaboration and bigger file sizes) requires a $19.99/month subscription.

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Getting the iPad to Pro

Thoughtful essay by Craig Mod on the limitations and virtues of working from an iPad Pro. This point about breaking the flow of getting work done while moving across apps is extremely relatable:

Switching contexts is also cumbersome. If you’re researching in a browser and frequently jumping back and forth between, say, (the actually quite wonderful) Notes.app and Safari, you’ll sometimes find your cursor position lost. The Notes.app document you were just editing fully occasionally resetting to the top of itself. For a long document, this is infuriating and makes every CMD-Tab feel dangerous. It doesn’t always happen, the behavior is unpredictable, making things worse. This interface “brittleness” makes you feel like you’re using an OS in the wrong way.

In other writing apps, the page position might remain after a CMD-Tab, but cursor position is lost. Leading to a frustrating circus of: CMD-Tab, start typing, realize nothing is happening, tap on screen, cursor inserts to wrong position, long-press on screen to get more precise input, move cursor to where it needs to be, start typing. This murders flow. It creates a cost to switching contexts that simply doesn’t exist on the macOS, and shouldn’t exist on any modern computing device.

This stuff has been broken on iPad for years (essentially since 2015, when Split View was introduced in iOS 9). Don't even get me started on figuring out which app in a Split View pair is the "active" one receiving keyboard input (and therefore listening for keyboard shortcuts). These small interaction annoyances might have been okay three years ago as we all sort of imagined Apple was just getting started with bringing serious multitasking to iPad; now that we've reached this generation of iPad Pros, they're just downright inexcusable.

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iPad Diaries: My First 48 Hours with the New 12.9″ iPad Pro

Two days ago, I walked into my local Apple Store and bought the new 12.9" iPad Pro along with a Smart Keyboard Folio, second-generation Apple Pencil, and LG's UltraFine 4K display (plus, of course, AppleCare+ because these iPads don't come cheap). As I shared on Twitter and the Connected podcast on Wednesday, I went for a 1 TB configuration (with cellular) in Space Gray, and the display is the monitor I'll primarily use with a new Mac mini I also plan on buying very soon. It's been a busy couple of weeks in our apartment: we've been doing some renovations and buying new furniture, including a larger desk for my "office" (read: a section of our bedroom). As I've shared on my various podcasts for the past few months, getting a bigger desk with a Mac mini and 4K display that would support both macOS and iOS was always part of the plan.

While in previous years I was able to offer reviews for the new iPad Pros before launch day, that wasn't possible this year. For this reason, I decided I didn't want to wait several weeks to prepare an in-depth review of the new iPad Pro and avoid questions from MacStories readers until the story was finished. So in a break with tradition, I'm trying something different this time: as part of my semi-regular iPad Diaries column here on MacStories, I'm going to share a collection of shorter and more topical articles about the new iPad Pro over the next few weeks.

I believe this generation of iPad Pros is one the most exciting changes to the iPad line in years, and I want to jump straight into the discussion by detailing, step by step, my ongoing experience with the new iPad Pro from the perspective of someone who's been using an iPad as his main computer for the past five years. I plan to write about iOS, apps, and my iPad Pro workflow soon, but today I'd like to start by explaining my purchase decision and sharing some initial impressions about the iPad's hardware. Let's dive in.

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