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.
It’s been about a year and half since iOS 11 was released into the wild, and with it, the long-awaited system document browser. PDF Viewer was one of the first applications that truly went all in with this new component, and we did this by fully replacing our custom solution with it on devices that were upgraded to iOS 11. This move certainly got us a lot of attention and praise from power users, but it also caused a lot of frustration for others who were unlucky enough to stumble upon the bugs and limitations of this new component. From a developer’s point of view, it was a mixed bag as well. On one hand, it allowed us to stop developing our custom document browser, thereby saving ourselves a lot of valuable development time in the process. On the other hand, it forced us to make do with a system we did not own and couldn’t even “hack” around when there were problems.
PDF Viewer will drop support for iOS 10 shortly, which will get rid of the final remains of our custom document browser, so we thought it might be a good time to take a closer look at how its system replacement is doing and go over the good, the bad, and the ugly.
File management is one of the main sections of an in-depth iPad story I'm working on right now, and the document browser is a key functionality I'm going to describe in detail. Overall, I agree with Bukovinski's take: the document browser has brought consistency and speed to a lot of document-based apps, and I'm happy to see fewer custom file managers in apps these days, but it could use more customization options for developers, and the reliability of third-party file provider extensions is still largely hit or miss.
This week, in the absence of adult supervision, Myke and Federico discuss their new favorite time zone app and consider some recent iOS 13 rumors before Ticci talks about what arrived in his mailbox.
On this week's Connected, in addition to CalZones and iPad keyboards, we talk about some recent iOS 13 rumors, including something I heard about mouse support on iPad a few months ago. You can listen here.
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The Touchtype Pro is a clever new accessory created by Salman Sajid that aims to combine the iPad Pro with Apple's Magic Keyboard using a flexible cover case and magnets. Sajid launched a campaign for the product earlier this month on Kickstarter, where you can check out more details about pricing and the design process of the Touchtype Pro. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early production unit before the Kickstarter went live and I've been using the Touchtype Pro with my 2018 12.9" iPad Pro for the past few weeks. After sharing some first impressions on Connected, I wanted to post a few more thoughts here, along with some photos.
I've always struggled to find apps that understand how people work across multiple time zones. In the 10 years I've been writing MacStories, I've come across dozens of time zone conversion utilities (and I even created my own with Shortcuts), but as someone who works remotely with people all over the globe, I know there's more to time zone management than just performing a quick conversion. Perhaps you're planning a Skype call with three more people, each living in a different time zone; maybe you have to coordinate a product launch and need to know at a glance what "3 PM GMT" means for your customers in New York, San Francisco, Rome, and Sydney. CalZones, the latest app by _David Smith, is the first iOS app I've ever used that fundamentally gets how people work and schedule events across multiple time zones. It's almost like CalZones was made specifically for me, and it's an app that speaks directly to my heart.
CalZones, available today on the App Store as a Universal app, is based on a simple, ingenious concept that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been done on the App Store before: the app combines a time zone viewer with a calendar client, enabling you to compare times across multiple cities as well as view and create calendar events that display start/end times in multiple formats. By fusing time zone comparisons and calendar events into one product, Smith was able to create an app that is greater than the sum of its parts because it solves a problem that neither traditional world clocks nor calendar clients could fix before.
Later this week on Saturday, April 20, MacStories will turn 10 years old.
It was Monday, April 20, 2009 when, fresh out of a job from which I had gotten fired, I decided to publish the first official post on my self-hosted blog after a few weeks of running a free WordPress.com website. I was 21. My English was terrible and, at the time, MacStories was written in two languages, English and Italian – probably to hide my discomfort as a non-native English speaker. If you want to hear this story (and my entire background) in much greater detail, John interviewed me on this week's special episode of AppStories.
Since that first post about web browsers, MacStories has been on my mind every day and it remains the most important thing I've ever built in my adult life. In many ways, MacStories has come to define me.
As you might guess, I've struggled to come to terms with the meaning of this anniversary. I don't like celebrating work-related anniversaries. I don't think our readers appreciate excessive self-congratulatory content and I'd rather focus on getting work done every day. I prefer to let other people compliment us if they ever feel compelled to do so; otherwise, I just want to focus on providing a service to our audience, because that's what I'm ultimately here to do: to make sure that MacStories and our related properties can be useful and inspiring for our readers around the world.
Ten years, however, does feel like an extremely long time in Internet years. For this reason, when I started thinking about this looming milestone sometime last year, I knew I had to do something special for this anniversary – just this once – to look back at the past decade of MacStories, reflect on the things I've learned along the way, and plan ahead for the future.
Here's the short version: this week is going to be extra special on MacStories. We're launching our first official merchandise today (macstoriesmerch.com) and there will be a series of retrospectives published on MacStories throughout the week (keep an eye on this tag). In addition, we will be launching a couple of new perks exclusive to Club MacStories members.
Now, allow me to share some thoughts about creating MacStories and what this website has meant for me over the past 10 years.
Federico has discovered something terrible about his childhood, Stephen had an accident and Myke wants a new TV. After all of that is taken care of, the trio talk about a new iPad case that uses the Magic Keyboard and using macOS as an iPad app.
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.
In the first part of my ongoing experiment with controlling and accessing a Mac from the iPad Pro, I covered FileExplorer – the app I use to open Finder locations from iOS' Files app – and shared a collection of shortcuts to control certain macOS features via Siri and the Shortcuts app. I also described my podcasting setup and how I've been taking advantage of Keyboard Maestro to automate window resizing across my two displays connected to the Mac mini. Today, I'm going to cover one of those two external displays – the iPad Pro running the Luna Display app – and how I've been using it to have "macOS as an app" on my iPad Pro. If you find this idea of reducing macOS to an app that runs on the iPad upsetting, the rest of this article likely isn't going to make you happy. If you're intrigued, however, strap in because I have a lot to share.