Federico Viticci

8652 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.


Stolen iPhones and Identity Theft

Joonas Kiminki got his iPhone stolen in Italy last month. After a couple of weeks, he received an email saying that the device had been found. The email turned out to be a well-designed, meticulous phishing attempt:

What strikes me the most is that everything seemed very “right” and professional. The email and the website content looked great, my phone really was an iPhone 6 and they even got the timezone right in the email.

The email raised no alerts on any email client I use, including Google Inbox, mail.google.com and Apple Mail. No web browser, mobile or desktop, show any alarms on the fake site. Google.com knows virtually nothing about the site, the email address or the (probably fake) US phone number the SMS was from. Very well done.

This is exactly what happened to my mother last week. Her iPhone was stolen in Italy in June, and after a month she received an email and SMS (in Italian) telling her that the iPhone had been located. Fortunately, she called me before entering her Apple ID credentials (she was about to).

Clearly, a criminal organization in Italy has set up an entire system to scam owners of stolen iPhones. I'm surprised that both Apple and Google are failing to recognize these email messages as spam.


Ulysses 2.6

Fantastic update to my iOS text editor of choice, Ulysses, released today on the App Store. Version 2.6 adds native WordPress publishing, support for external Dropbox folders, and typewriter/focus mode in the editor, among other features.

I haven't had enough time to test the beta of Ulysses 2.6 (I'm busy working on a big project in Scrivener), but I want to point out that I'm not going to be switching to Dropbox sync again. Ulysses' iCloud sync has been rock-solid – I haven't run into a single data loss/conflict once – and it has the added benefit of supporting notes and images attached to sheets. Dropbox only works with text sheets, and I've been relying to the ability to save images inside my text documents for Club MacStories and other app reviews at MacStories. Having image attachments live alongside sheets is what sets Ulysses apart from text editors I've used before, and it's only possible with iCloud.

I'm also going to consider Ulysses' WordPress publishing instead of my workflow. I like how Ulysses lets me preview a post with custom CSS, and there's even a way to create linked posts by setting the title at the top of a sheet to a link (it automatically applies a custom field under the hood). It's incredibly clever, with just the right amount of options to check before publishing.

Ulysses 2.6 is available on the App Store.


Remaster, Episode 15: The Power of Nostalgia

How do videogame companies use nostalgia to repackage and remaster games for new audiences? Are established and well-loved characters a strength or weakness? And what are the latest hardware rumors on the Nintendo NX?

If you've ever felt like nostalgia makes for good business in videogames, the latest Remaster is for you. You can listen here.

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Connected, Episode 102: Zwidge

This week: new iPad keyboards, old ways of listening to music and a lot of emoji talk.

You know those new emoji that Apple added to iOS 10 beta 4 yesterday? There are some interesting details about them that we cover in the latest Connected. You can listen here.

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Logitech’s CREATE Keyboard for the 9.7″ iPad Pro

Logitech's CREATE keyboard case, which I reviewed when the 12.9" iPad Pro launched in November, has received a new version for the 9.7" iPad Pro today. Logitech was able to fit all the features of the larger CREATE in this model – it's a case that protects the front and back of the iPad, it's got mechanical scissor keys with a full row of iOS-specific shortcuts, and it's backlit.

Unlike the first CREATE, the 9.7" edition comes with an Apple Pencil holder that will allow you to carry an iPad Pro and a Pencil together with a physical keyboard in one package.

I wasn't a fan of the original CREATE when it launched, but I feel like a smaller footprint and Pencil support could make the new version a much better deal for 9.7" iPad Pro users.

The new CREATE keyboard case is available today at $129.99 from Logitech's website.


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Apple Airs New iPad Pro Commercial, Asks “What’s a Computer?”

Apple posted a new iPad Pro commercial today, highlighting the nature of the device as a new kind of computer.

The ad follows a simple model: it showcases common usage of an iPad Pro with accessories, apps, and system features that aren't available on traditional computers. The video jumps from showing the Apple Pencil to mentioning the iPad's touch screen, the detachable Smart Keyboard, and apps like Office and Procreate that offer unique functionality on iOS 9. At the end, iMessage in Split View and Picture in Picture (also two features of last year's iPad-focused iOS 9 update) make an appearance.

In the narration of the ad, Apple explains:

Just when you think you know what a computer is, you see a keyboard that can just get out of the way. And a screen you can touch and even write on. When you see a computer that can do all that, it might just make you wonder – "Hey, what else can it do?"

The video closes with the tagline "Imagine what your computer could do if it was an iPad Pro".

The iPad Pro's new commercial comes at an interesting time for Apple. The company announced its latest iPad, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, as the "ultimate PC replacement" for Windows switchers, but its upcoming iOS 10 update only includes minor iPad changes – a departure from iOS 9's iPad breakthroughs. On the other hand, the iPad line recently returned to revenue growth after several quarters, likely thanks to the iPad Pro and its higher selling price.

Explaining to consumers how an iPad can be a PC replacement and, at the same time, a new take on desktop computing has always been one of Apple's toughest propositions. This new iPad Pro commercial seems to start from the basics again, asking what a computer truly is and how it can be different. It'll be interesting to see if a wider marketing campaign and more commercials will follow.

You can watch the video below.

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An Ode to the iPod Classic

Lindsay Zoladz, writing for The Ringer, has a great story on the role of the iPod Classic in today's music streaming landscape. I understand where she's coming from, and I found this passage on the paradox of choice particularly accurate:

“When I’m searching for something to listen to on Spotify, I feel like I end up listening to the same albums and artists again and again,” my friend Becca wrote in an email, after I asked a handful of acquaintances about their post-iPod listening habits. “My brain by itself isn’t good at cataloguing everything I love.”

The psychologist Barry Schwartz has written (or, if you don’t have too much time on your hands, has TED-Talked) about a related phenomenon he calls “paradox of choice” — the notion that, although we tend to think of freedom of choice as an inherently good thing, too much choice can leave us feeling paralyzed and anxiety-ridden. “With so many options to choose from,” he says, “people find it very difficult to choose at all.” I personally have proven this theory many times over in the past few months, when I’ve stared for a few moments at the infinite void that is the Apple Music search bar and decided, “I guess I will just listen to Pablo or Lemonade again.” Another friend I emailed summed up the Paradox of Digital Music Listening succinctly: “With device-bound listening, I absolutely feel limited by [storage] space. With streaming, I feel limited by my own memory.”

This is why I often buy videogames from a small shop in my hometown. I could open the App Store, or the eShop, or the PlayStation Store, and buy anything I want. But there's just so much stuff. There's too many games and too many reviews and too many Let's Plays to choose from. Sometimes, it's nice to have fewer options.