Federico Viticci

8587 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 two podcasts – Connected and Virtual.

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Twitter for iPhone Gets Extended 3D Touch Support with Peek & Pop

With an update released earlier today on the App Store, Twitter has extended integration with 3D Touch in their iPhone app (previously limited to quick actions on the Home screen) to peek and pop previews in the timeline and other sections of the app.

With the latest version of Twitter for iPhone, you'll be able to press on tweets, links, pictures, and profiles to bring up a 3D Touch preview of the content. By swiping a peek upwards, you'll also gain access to shortcuts to either share via direct message and iOS extensions or, in the case of profiles, mute, block, and report a user.

Twitter's extended 3D Touch support isn't as advanced as Tweetbot – for instance, peek and pop previews don't seem to work in the Notifications tab – but it's a step forward regardless.

You can get the latest version of Twitter for iPhone from the App Store.


What Google Photos Could Do Next

Mat Honan, writing for BuzzFeed, interviewed Anil Sabharwal, vice president of Photos at Google, on the future of the service. It sounds like they're thinking of more ways to let artificial intelligence make photo management and sharing smarter:

Google refers to these auto-generated moments as “creations.” According to Sabharwal, the company has made 1.6 billion of them in the past year and has big plans to do more. “I think there’s a really great opportunity to mix the machine learning and creations together,” he said. “One [creation] we love is the concept of ‘rediscover this day’ — where we present to our users meaningful moments on a particular date in previous years. Rather than ‘here’s what happened a year ago,’ it’s here’s a set of photos from the last time you were with these people, or the last time you were at this restaurant.”

Sabharwal also said Photos might become smarter about the albums and movies it creates by giving them a stronger perspective and point of view. It might, for example, automatically select a wedding shot in which you and your partner are looking at each other for the hero shot in an anniversary album.

The success of Google Photos doesn't surprise me. Unlike other Google products, it's focused, updated often, and it distills the best of Google (machine learning at scale, speed, online backup) down to a clear, user-friendly product. I think it's the best consumer service they've launched in years.

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Canvas, Episode 11: Travelling with iOS

With summer - and WWDC - coming up, Fraser and Federico bring you advice on the equipment, apps and tweaks for your iOS devices that you need when travelling with your iOS devices.

The the travel bags are opened to reveal the essentials within. Fraser and Federico share their favourite travel accessories, techniques for getting online abroad and their preferred iOS settings tweaks and Apple Watch complications for having fun and staying safe abroad.

This week's Canvas is all about traveling. We share our favorite gear, best practices, and tips for using iOS devices and apps when you're on vacation. You can listen here.

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  • Airtable: Organise anything you can imagine.
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Workflow 1.5: App Store Automation, Trello and Ulysses Actions, Audio Metadata, Safari View Controller, and More

In seven years of MacStories, few iOS apps fundamentally changed how I get work done as much as Workflow. Pythonista, Editorial, and Tweetbot are in that list, but Workflow, with its ongoing improvements and deep iOS integrations, continuously makes me question how I can optimize my setup further.

Nearly two years (and an Apple Design Award) later, Workflow is reaching version 1.5 today, an important milestone towards the road to 2.0. Unsurprisingly for the Workflow team, this release adds over 20 new actions and dozens of improvements. Some of them are new app actions based on URL schemes, while others introduce brand new system integrations (such as iTunes Store, App Store, and Safari View Controller) and web actions for the popular Trello team collaboration service. Workflow 1.5 is a packed release that is going to save heavy Workflow users a lot of time.

After testing and playing with Workflow 1.5 for the past month, I've been able to streamline key aspects of writing for MacStories and managing Club MacStories. With a bigger team and more Club responsibilities, we've been thinking about how to improve our shared tasks and creative process; Workflow 1.5 has played an essential role in it.

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The Similarity of Differences

Seth Clifford:

Apple and Google, in the eyes of the general public and many tech bloggers, have been at war for many years, and in vague terms, both companies sell fancy mobile phones. But the implications of those businesses are so far beyond the face value of what we see. And what I’ve realized is that they aren’t zero-sum or mutually exclusive. What I’ve come to understand is that the more the two companies seem to have been battling, the more the individual directions of each company become unassailably concrete.

Different directions toward the same destination. But I would also add fundamentally different cultures and focus. This is what makes observing both companies so fun these days.

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Lookmark for Apps

Lookmark is a great utility by Claes Jacobsson to bookmark apps for later and download them when you can. Today's 2.0 update to Lookmark, which I've been testing over the past few days, adds the ability to bookmark any iTunes content and a solid extension that can add bookmarks directly from Safari.

It's quite impressive: if you try it on a website that mentions apps like MacStories, the extension will scan links on the webpage and you'll get a popup at the bottom to save apps for later.

Also new today: a Price Watch subscription service to be alerted of price changes for bookmarked apps. That's going to come in handy for @MacStoriesDeals.

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Apple, Siri, and VocalIQ

Brian Roemmele makes some interesting points on VocalIQ, a speech/deep learning startup that Apple acquired last year (via Nick Heer):

It is not a secret that Siri has not kept up the pace that just about all of us expected, including some of the Siri team. The passion that Steve had seemed to have been waning deep inside of Apple and the results were Dag and Adam Cheyer moved on and formed Five Six Labs ( A play on V IV in Roman numerals) and Viv.

Tom Gruber, one of the original team members and the chief scientist that created Siri technology, stayed on and continued his work. During most of 2016 and 2017 we will begin to see the results of this work. I call it Siri2 and am very certain Apple will call it something else.

Roemmele has been following all this for a long time, and he adds:

If Apple utilizes just a small subset of the technology developed by VocalIQ, we will see a far more advanced Siri. However I am quite certain the amazing work of Tom Gruber will also be utilized. Additionally the amazing technology from Emollient, Perception and a number of unannounced and future Apple acquistions will also become a big part of Apple’s AI future.

Between these acquisitions and reports that Apple is indeed preparing a Siri API for developers, it sounds like we should expect some notable announcements at WWDC.

See also: this fascinating talk by VocalIQ CEO and founder Blaise Thomson from last June on machine learning applied to voice interactions.

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Creating Robots on an iPad

Great story by Christina Warren at Mashable on how the iPad is being used to teach interactive problem solving in a fun, new way:

I’m sitting on the floor at The Academy of Talented Scholars (PS 682) in Bensonhurst, watching kindergarteners create robots on an iPad.

It’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, and I don’t even like children.

The exercise is part of the curriculum led by co-teachers Stacy Butsikares and Allison Bookbinder, focused on helping the 5- and 6-year-old students come up with ways to solve problems.

I often wish I had an iPad when I was in elementary school 20 years ago.

In the same story, Christina focuses on the Hopscotch programming app and kids who grow up using it:

So what happens after kids master Hopscotch? Do they continue coding? Conrad says that the team receives fan mail all the time (something she calls “really gratifying”) from kids who have parlayed their experience with Hopscotch into learning other languages too.

I wonder what Apple thinks of teaching Swift to a new generation of programmers on an iPad.

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