Federico Viticci

9439 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 two other podcasts on Relay FM – Connected and Remaster.

| Instagram: @viticci |

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A Month with iOS and iPadOS 16: A New iPad Era

iPadOS and iOS 16.

iPadOS and iOS 16.

Sometimes I truly have excellent timing with my stories.

As you may recall, a couple of months ago in the lead-up to WWDC, I published an article on my experience with using the M1 Max MacBook Pro for six months. That story was born out of a desire to get to know macOS again after years of iPad-only work; as I shared at the time, my curiosity was also the byproduct of Apple’s incoherent narrative for iPad power users for the past couple of years. Great hardware held back by lackluster software had long been regarded as the core weakness of the iPad platform; I hadn’t always agreed with the Apple community’s “consensus” on this, but an M1 iPad Pro carrying MacBook Pro-like specs with no new pro software features to take advantage of it was, indeed, a bridge too far. So when I published that story just in time for WWDC, I did it because a) that’s when it was ready and b) I wanted to bring some chaotic energy into the iPad discourse and see what would happen.

Like I said, sometimes I do have excellent timing with my stories. And in this case, not even my wildest expectations could have predicted that, in one fell swoop a week later, Apple would reimagine iPadOS around desktop-class apps and a brand new multitasking with external display integration, a new design, and – the unthinkable – overlapping, resizable windows with iPadOS 16.

Today, Apple is releasing the first public betas of all the operating systems that will launch to the wider public later this year: iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13 Ventura, and watchOS 9. We’re going to have overviews of all these public betas today on MacStories.1 As you can imagine given my annual reviewer responsibilities, I installed both iOS and iPadOS 16 as soon as they became available after the WWDC keynote on my iPhone 13 Pro Max and 12.9” iPad Pro with M1, and I’ve been using them as my daily drivers for the past month.

Obviously, I have some early thoughts and first impressions to share on iPadOS 16: it is fundamentally changing my relationship with the iPad platform and my workflow, which has been untouched for years since the introduction of multiwindow in iPadOS 13. Stage Manager, while still in need of refinements in several areas, is a game-changer for people like me, and it signifies a major course correction on how Apple thinks about iPadOS for power users.

But I should also say that I’m equally intrigued by iOS 16, which marks Apple’s return – after two years – to user customization with a drastic revamp of the Lock Screen, which can now be personalized with widgets, multiple wallpaper sets, and deep integration with the Home Screen, Focus, and even Apple Watch. The new Lock Screen is the proper follow-up to iOS 14 widgets we’ve been waiting for, and it’s going to be the feature that will push millions of people to update their iPhones to iOS 16 right away later this year. Besides the Lock Screen, there are dozens of other quality-of-life improvements to built-in apps and system intelligence that have caught my attention in iOS 16 in the past month, from the welcome updates to Mail and Reminders to system-wide unit conversions based on Live Text, Safari tab groups, and more.

There’s a lot to uncover in iOS and iPadOS 16, and I can’t possibly get into all of it today with this story. All the details and final opinions will have to wait for my annual review in the fall. Instead, below you’ll find a collection of initial thoughts, impressions, and suggestions for aspects of iPadOS and iOS 16 I’d like Apple to improve this summer. As with last year’s preview story, I’m going to include two recap segments at the end of each section with a list of improvements I’d like to see in iPadOS and iOS 16 before the public release.

Let’s dive in.

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iOS and iPadOS 16: The Tidbits

iOS 16.

iOS 16.

As is always the case when Apple releases the first developer betas of new major versions of iOS and iPadOS, there are hundreds of features that don’t make an appearance in the keynote or aren’t mentioned in Apple’s marketing pages. Very often, those “smaller” features turn out to be some of the most beloved and useful tweaks to the operating systems we use every day. I installed the iOS and iPadOS 16 betas on my devices earlier this week, and I’ve collected some of the most interesting details I’ve spotted so far. Let’s take a look.

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iOS and iPadOS 16: The MacStories Overview

iPadOS 16.

iPadOS 16.

At its keynote held earlier today online and, for a limited audience of developers and media, in Cupertino, Apple unveiled the next major versions of iOS and iPadOS: iOS 16 and iPadOS 16. Both OSes will be released for free this fall, with developer betas available today and a public beta to follow next month.

After last year’s iOS and iPadOS 15, which were largely quality-of-life updates that mostly focused on improving the foundation set with iOS 14, Apple is back this year with a round of sweeping features for iPhone and iPad that are poised to fundamentally alter how we interact with our devices. From an all-new Lock Screen experience with support for widgets and personalization and a more powerful Focus mode to desktop-class features in apps for iPad and, yes, a brand new multitasking mode called Stage Manager, both iOS and iPadOS 16 are substantial updates that will rethink key interactions for average and power users alike.

As always, you can expect in-depth coverage from me and the rest of the MacStories team over the coming weeks, throughout the summer, and, of course, when the OSes will launch to the public later this year. But in the meantime, let’s dive in and take a quick look at what’s coming.

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2022 Apple Design Award Winners Revealed

Last week, Apple announced the finalists for the 2022 Apple Design Awards: 36 apps and games in six categories: Inclusivity, Delight and Fun, Interaction, Social Impact, Visuals and Graphics, and Innovation.

Today, the company announced two winners (one app and one game) in each category for a total of twelve 2022 Apple Design Award winners.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and finalists:

Inclusivity

Delight and Fun

Interaction

Social Impact

Visuals and Graphics

Innovation

We’ll have more 2022 Apple Design Award coverage soon, so stay tuned.


You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2022 hub or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2022 RSS feed.


WWDC 2022: Apple Publishes Keynote Video

Run, Craig, run!

Run, Craig, run!

Today’s keynote was a fast-paced affair that covered a lot of ground including upcoming updates to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS. If you didn’t follow the live stream or announcements as they unfolded today, you can replay it on Apple’s Events site or catch it on YouTube.

The keynote video can be streamed here and on the Apple TV using the TV app. A high-quality version will also available through Apple Podcasts as a video and audio podcast.


You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2022 hub or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2022 RSS feed.


WWDC 2022 Keynote: By the Numbers

Whenever Apple holds a keynote event, the company shares a variety of numbers related to things like user counts for certain products, software performance improvements, and customer satisfaction. With the company announcing the future of key platforms like iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, there was unsurprisingly a lot of data mentioned during today’s WWDC keynote.

We’ve collected some of the most interesting numbers shared on-stage during the keynote:

  • Apple has now opened 17 developer academies around the world
  • According to Tim Cook, “many millions of developers” engaged with last year’s online-only WWDC
  • There are now 34 million registered Apple developers
  • Dictation is used 18 billion times each month. That’s a lot of words
  • Improved Maps will launch in 11 more countries later this year
  • According to Apple, over 130 products are in the pipeline with support for the Matter home connectivity standard
  • 98% of cars sold in the United States now support CarPlay; and according to a survey, 79% of U.S. buyers would consider a car with CarPlay integration

Mac Numbers

  • The second-generation chip in the Apple Silicon family, called M2, features:
    • 20 billion transistors, 25% more than M1
    • 100 GB/s of unified memory bandwidth, 50% more than M1
    • Up to 24 GB of unified memory
    • Up to 18% better performance than M1
    • 1.9x performance compared to a 10-core laptop chip while using 1/4 of the power
    • Up to 35% better GPU performance than M1
    • Specifically, Apple says it offers 25% better graphics performance at the same power, but up to 35% at max power
    • 40% more Neural Engine operations than M1
  • The new MacBook Air with M2, announced today, comes in 4 colors
    • It’s 20% thinner, weighs 2.7 lbs, and is 11.3mm thick
    • It has a 13.6” display with thinner borders
    • The display supports 500 nits, which is 25% brighter than before, and 1 billion colors
    • It has a 1080p camera with twice the resolution and twice the low-light performance
    • The Air has a 3-mic array and 4-speaker sound system
    • It supports up to 18 hours of video playback according to Apple’s benchmarks
    • It supports 67W fast-charging, so you can charge up to 50% in 30 minutes
    • It starts at $1199
  • As for the new 13” MacBook Pro, also carrying the M2 chip:
    • It’s 40% faster than the previous model
    • Supports up to 24 GB of unified memory
    • Supports up to 20 hours of video playback
    • This is not a number, but it comes with the Touch Bar. The Touch Bar!
    • Starts at $1299
  • The M1 MacBook Air continues to be a product in Apple’s lineup, and it now starts at $999.

You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2022 hub or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2022 RSS feed.


Rediscovering the Mac: An iPad User’s Journey into macOS with the M1 Max MacBook Pro

The 14" M1 Max MacBook Pro.

The 14” M1 Max MacBook Pro.

For the past few months, I’ve been living a double life.

Most of you probably know me as “the iPad guy”. And rightfully so: the iPad – more specifically, the iPad Pro – is my favorite computer Apple’s ever made; my coverage of iPad, iPad apps, and, later, iPadOS has far exceeded everything else on MacStories for the last 10 years. I’ve long considered myself primarily an iPad user and someone who strongly believes in the platform because there’s nothing else like it. I don’t think I need to tell that story again.

For these reasons, as you can imagine, when Apple got in touch with me last November asking if I wanted to try out one of the new MacBook Pros with the M1 Max chip, I welcomed their suggestion with a mix of surprise, trepidation, and, frankly, genuine curiosity. What could I, a longtime iPad user, even contribute to the discourse surrounding the comeback of the Mac lineup, the performance of Apple silicon, and the reality of modern Mac apps?

But I was intrigued by the proposal regardless, and I said yes. I was very skeptical of this experiment – and I told Apple as much – but there were a few factors that influenced my decision.

First and foremost, as many of you have probably noticed, I’ve grown increasingly concerned with the lack of pro software (both apps and OS features) in the iPad Pro lineup. As I wrote in my review last year, iPadOS 15 was, by and large, a quality-of-life update that made iPadOS more approchable without breaking any new ground for existing pro users of the platform. As much as I love the iPad, at some point I have to face its current reality: if Apple thinks iPadOS isn’t a good fit for the kind of functionalities people like me need, that’s fine, but perhaps it’s time to try something else. If my requirements are no longer aligned with Apple’s priorities for iPadOS, I can switch to a different computer. That’s why I believe 2022 – and the upcoming WWDC – will be a make-or-break year for iPad software. And I don’t think I’m the only iPad user who has felt this way.

Second, the arrival of Shortcuts on macOS Monterey gave me an opportunity to expand and rethink another major area of coverage for MacStories, which is automation. Along with iPad and iOS, I consider Shortcuts the third “pillar” of what I do at MacStories: with the Shortcuts Archive, Shortcuts Corner and Automation Academy on Club MacStories, and Automation April, I’m invested in the Shortcuts ecosystem and I know that our readers depend on us to push the boundaries of what’s possible with it. With Shortcuts on macOS, I felt a responsibility to start optimizing my shortcuts for Mac users. That meant learning the details of the Shortcuts app for Mac and, as a result, use macOS more. From that perspective, Apple’s review unit couldn’t have come at a better time.

Third, and perhaps most important to me and least helpful for you all, is one of my greatest fears: becoming irrelevant in what I do. As a writer, I guess I shouldn’t say this; I should say that I write for me, and that I would write regardless, even if nobody read my stuff. But as a business owner and someone who’s gotten used to having a medium-sized audience, that would be a lie. I love the fact that I can write for my readers and get feedback in return. I love that I can write something that is wrong and be corrected by someone. I don’t want to lose that. Do you know what’s a really easy way to make it happen? Grow into someone who’s stuck in their ways, only writes about a certain topic, and doesn’t think anything else is worth trying or even remotely considering. In my case, I don’t want to look back at MacStories in 10 years and regret I didn’t at least try macOS again because I was “the iPad guy” and I was “supposed to” only write about a specific topic. I make the rules. And the rule is that curiosity is my fuel and I was curious to use macOS again.

So that’s my context. For the past six months, I’ve been using my MacBook Pro instead of the iPad Pro to get my work done on a daily basis. I’ve kept using the iPad Pro to test my shortcuts, read articles, and write in places where I didn’t have enough room for a MacBook, but, by and large, I’ve lived the macOS lifestyle for half a year by now.

As we head into WWDC, here’s my story on how this experiment went.

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MusicBox Review: The ‘Listen-Later’ Music App I’ve Been Waiting For

MusicBox for iPhone.

MusicBox for iPhone.

Longtime MacStories readers know how much music is important to me. I Made You a Mixtape, which I published six years ago, continues to be one of my favorite, most intimate things I’ve ever published for a simple reason: it tells the story of the importance music had in my life when I was growing up, the connections it helped me make, and the lifelong memories it created. I am not exaggerating when I say that I feel weird inside if I don’t listen to music every day. My love for music – all kinds of music – is also why I spent the past few years rebuilding a personal, offline music library and creating a setup that lets me enjoy music without distractions.

Now, I’ve covered plenty of music apps over the years on MacStories, starting from desktop utilities for music controls to Apple Music clients based on Apple’s official API, music widgets, and even Last.fm scrobblers. But there’s been one particular type of music app, which I’ve always wanted someone to build, that has eluded my coverage of apps on MacStories in over 13 years of reviews: a read-later utility, but for music you want you want to save and listen to later.

That is, until today. MusicBox, the latest app by indie developer Marcos Tanaka, is the “listen-later” music app of my dreams, the one I’ve wanted to use for years and that someone finally made as a Universal app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It’s rare for me these days to find new apps that elicit this kind of enthusiasm, but when I do, I know I’ve stumbled upon something special. MusicBox is one of those apps.

This review is going to be pretty straightforward. If you’re a music lover and use either Apple Music or Spotify, and if you feel like you discover more interesting music than you can possibly consume in a day, MusicBox is for you. Open the App Store, spend $2.99 (there are no subscriptions or In-App Purchases in the app), and you’ll get what is likely going to be one of your favorite apps of 2022. Then, if you want to learn more about what the app does, how it integrates with Apple Music, and how you can set it up on your device, come back to this story and let’s dive in.

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UI Browser for macOS to Be Retired in October 2022

Longtime MacStories readers may be familiar with UI Browser, an incredible scripting tool for macOS created by Bill Cheeseman. UI Browser lets you discover the AppleScript structure of an app’s menu system, taking advantage of Apple’s Accessibility APIs to make it easier to script UI, which is not – how do I put this – normally “fun”, per se. UI Browser developer Bill Cheeseman, having turned 79 years old, has decided it is now time to “bring this good work to a conclusion”, and the app will be retired in October.

Here’s what John Gruber wrote about UI Browser last week:

Long story as short as possible: “Regular” AppleScript scripting is accomplished using the programming syntax terms defined in scriptable apps’ scripting dictionaries. If you ever merely tinkered with writing or tweaking AppleScript scripts, this is almost certainly what you know. But as an expansion of accessibility features under Mac OS X, Apple added UI scripting — a way to automate apps that either don’t support AppleScript properly at all, or to accomplish something unscriptable in an otherwise scriptable app. UI scripting is, basically, a way to expose everything accessible to the Accessibility APIs to anyone writing an AppleScript script. They’re not APIs per se but just ways to automate the things you — a human — can do on screen.

A great idea. The only downside: scripting the user interface this way is tedious (very verbose) at best, and inscrutable at worst. Cheeseman’s UI Browser makes it easy. Arguably — but I’ll argue this side — “regular” AppleScript scripting is easier than “UI” AppleScript scripting, but “UI” AppleScript scripting with UI Browser is easier than anything else. UI Browser is both incredibly well-designed and well-named: it lets you browse the user interface of an app and copy the scripting syntax to automate elements of it.

I first covered UI Browser in 2019, when I published a story on how I could control my Mac mini from the iPad Pro using Luna Display and some AppleScript, which I was able to learn thanks to UI Browser. I then mentioned UI Browser twice last month for Automation April: it was thanks to the app that I managed to create shortcuts to toggle the Lyrics and Up Next sidebars in the Music app for Monterey. Maybe it’s silly, but I think there’s something beautiful in the fact that the last thing I did with UI Browser was bridging the old world of AppleScript with the modern reality of Shortcuts.

Gruber argued that Apple should acquire UI Browser and make it part of their built-in scripting tools for macOS; while I don’t disagree, I think it’s more realistic to hope another indie developer or studio picks up UI Browser and continues developing for as long as possible. There’s nothing else like it on the market, and I’d like to thank Bill Cheeseman for his amazing work on this application over the years. It’ll be missed.

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