Federico Viticci

8149 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’s Moment

Astute take by Ben Thompson on Twitter Moments:

What is exciting is that Moments isn’t close to fulfilling its potential: imagine a tweet-based newspaper drawn not only from the best sources in a mobile-friendly format, but one perfectly customized to you. This is what Twitter is already like for power users, but again, getting to that state is simply too difficult. Figuring out how to do this systematically on users’ behalf should be Twitter’s chief aim.

“Should” is probably a bit superfluous: the incentives for Twitter to focus on this type of customization are massive. Twitter is uniquely positioned to understand what its users are interested in, something that at least theoretically rivals Facebook’s imposing demographic information, SnapChat’s youth advantage, or Pinterest’s grasp of my aspirations. The reason customized Moments matter is because there are two payoffs: the user experience is better, and the advertising that will undoubtedly be sold in Moments will be better targeted and more effective.

After Tweetbot 4, Moments are one of the few features (next to search and images/big emoji in DMs) which justify keeping the Twitter app installed. Hopefully, the international rollout won't be too slow.


Connected: Driving on a Vespa in a Landscape of Pastel Colors

This week on Connected: Apple’s new Watch ads, cell phone carries and the return of #ConnectedQA.

A lot of interesting reader questions in this week's Connected. Make sure to stay until the last one. You can listen here.

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Beats Announces New Beats Pill+ Wireless Speaker

The first new Beats product under Apple has been announced today, and it's a new version of the Beats Pill speaker called Beats Pill+.

The Beats Pill+ is slightly larger than the original Beats Pill speaker, allowing for a bigger and fuller sound. The stereo active 2-way crossover system creates an optimized sound field for dynamic range and clarity across all genres of music. Tweeter and woofer separation uses the same acoustic mechanics found in professional recording studios around the world.

The Beats Pill+ can charge devices with USB and Lightning ports, and the refreshed look has an Apple-like feel to it. Sean O'Kane, writing at The Verge, likes its sound:

Whatever it's doing, it works. I listened to a handful of different tracks from a few different genres: one from The Weeknd and his alt-R&B, some bassy hip-hop from Kendrick Lamar, a standard rock-and-roll track from Tom Petty, and some punk rock from PUP. Everything came through full and clear, and all the music sounded much better than I expected from yet another portable Bluetooth speaker. The bass in Lamar’s "Swimming Pools (Drank)" didn’t muddy up his vocals. I could hear piano parts in Petty’s "Here Comes My Girl" that would be inaudible on most cheap speakers. For lack of a better way to describe it, there was space in between all the sounds coming out of the speaker, whereas most others tend to crush all the different frequencies together.

In addition to the speaker itself, there's going to be a companion app:

There's a DJ mode that'll allow multiple phones/tablets/etc. to pair with the speaker so more than one person can control the playlist. It also helps you add a second Pill+ to either make the overall sound louder or to use 'em as a stereo setup with left and right channels. If you've already opened your wallet to buy Dr. Dre's latest, you'll have to wait until next month to drop $230 at an Apple store and other places Beats' goods are sold.

I'm a happy Bose SoundLink Mini user, but I'm intrigued by the Pill's look and software features.


Fantastical 2.5 Brings watchOS 2 Complication, iPad Multitasking on iOS 9

Despite my appreciation for Apple's updates to the Calendar app on iOS 9, I still find Flexibits' Fantastical to be the more powerful, flexible Calendar and Reminders client we deserve. Fantastical is an app which I've loved covering over the years because of Flexibits' unwavering commitment to quality. Today's 2.5 update continues to confirm the indie studio's penchant for new versions that truly take advantage of what iOS has to offer.

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Disney Artists Test iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Chance Miller, writing for 9to5Mac on the iPad Pro's latest appearance:

Disney’s team of designers used the iPad Pro to sketch a variety of different characters from Disney classics, including Olaf from Frozen and Mickey Mouse.

The testing seemingly went well for Disney. “Let’s order a bunch,” product manager Paul Hildebrandt said at the end of a Periscope stream showcasing the device. In a separate Periscope steam, Disney animators Jeff Ranjo and Jeremy Spears used the iPad Pro to draw caricatures of each other.

Videos shared by Disney employees (via Periscope) show that palm rejection when using the Pencil appears to be as impressive as Pixar artists described it. You can view one of the videos here and take a look at some drawings below.


Twitter Launches Moments

Twitter has officially launched Moments: previously known as Project Lightning, Moments is a new section of the Twitter app that aggregates collections of tweets in a custom layout which contains pictures, GIFs, Vines, and more. You can browse Moments, subscribe to one temporarily and have tweets belonging to that Moment show up in your timeline, and act upon individual tweets in a Moment, which are laid out with swipeable full-screen cards.

Casey Newton writes at The Verge:

A big week for Twitter just got bigger. A day after announcing co-founder Jack Dorsey would return to the company as its CEO, the company is rolling out the product formerly known as Project Lightning to a worldwide audience. Moments, as the new product is called, surfaces the day’s most talked-about stories in a new section of the app. It’s a magazine-like view of Twitter that works even if you’ve never followed a single person. It represents Twitter’s best — and maybe last — hope of attracting a large new base of casual users who want to enjoy the service without having to figure out its unique quirks and lingo.

From Twitter's blog post:

Every day, people share hundreds of millions of Tweets. Among them are things you can’t experience anywhere but on Twitter: conversations between world leaders and celebrities, citizens reporting events as they happen, cultural memes, live commentary on the night’s big game, and many more. We know finding these only-on-Twitter moments can be a challenge, especially if you haven’t followed certain accounts. But it doesn’t have to be.

Moments helps you find the best of Twitter as easily as tapping an icon – regardless of who you follow. Just visit the new tab called Moments, where you will discover stories unfolding on Twitter.

Interestingly, Twitter has assembled a dedicated team of curators to sift through the best tweets for each Moment, but they're also partnering up with various media companies to provide their own Moments. Somewhat reminiscent of Snapchat Discover, Twitter Moments won't likely appeal to the power users who constantly check their timelines with Tweetbot, but it could help in bringing new people to Twitter by simplifying the process of following news.

If done well, I'd argue that even power users could derive some value from temporarily following tweets curated by Twitter for events like football games, tech events, conferences, and more. The highly visual format also reminds me of Facebook Paper, and the richness of modern Twitter features such as Vines and GIFs really shines in Moments thanks to full-screen playback and gesture-based interactions.

Sadly, Twitter Moments appears to be a staggered rollout: the Moments tab is launching in the US first; users outside of the US will be able to view Moments shared via links, but they won't have the dedicated tab to browse all of them, which is coming "soon".

To start, we’re introducing Moments to people in the US across Android, iPhone, and the desktop web. But as with Tweets, a Moment can be shared anywhere: if you discover a link to a Moment in a Tweet or DM, or embedded elsewhere, those of you outside the US can enjoy the same experience we’re rolling out today. And we’re hard at work to bring this same functionality to more places in the coming weeks and months.

I don't understand Twitter's decision to prevent users from browsing Moments in English (is it because of US-based ads and partners?), but I think the feature is a good first step to better explain the value of Twitter and expose its information-rich nature to more users. I'm curious to actually try it on a daily basis.

See also: BuzzFeed's guide to Twitter Moments and the company's guidelines.


Fixing Safari View Controller

Dan Provost has a simple fix for the 'Done' button of Safari View Controller that is in an annoyingly awkward position to reach:

The hard-to-reach-and-sometimes-hidden Done button makes browsing links in Tweetbot way slower. I have even turned Reachability back on in an effort to make things a little easier. The horror.

Thankfully, I think there is a pretty easy fix that I hope Apple would consider.

I like his idea. I hope Apple comes up with a better way to dismiss Safari View Controller that doesn't involve stretching my thumb all the way to the top.


Tweetbot 2.1 for Mac

Today, Tweetbot for Mac has been updated to version 2.1, which brings the same Activity page seen in Tweetbot 4 for iOS, better support for quoted tweets, in-app video playback, and several other improvements. Notably, you can now view images shared in Direct Messages (you'll still have to share them from the official Twitter app, though), the search popover for users has been simplified, and you can now select and define words in tweet detail views. A good update for Mac users, with some welcome parity with the iOS version.