Federico Viticci

8934 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 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.

He can also be found on his three other podcasts on Relay FM – Connected, Canvas, and Remaster.

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iOS 11: The MacStories Review

For the second time in three years, the iPad isn’t following in the iPhone’s footsteps. With iOS 11, the iPad is going in its own direction – this time, with no cliffhanger.

iOS 9 marked a significant milestone for the iPad platform. In contrast with previous iPhone interface adaptations, iOS 9 did away with longstanding preconceptions and allowed the iPad to reach beyond the comfort of familiarity with the iPhone’s experience.

Shedding the vestiges of intrinsic iPhone OS notions – namely, single-tasking through one app at a time – the combination of more capable hardware with features such as Split View and Picture in Picture inaugurated a new beginning for the iPad’s post-PC endeavors. iOS 9 reset the iPad’s expectations and potential, providing millions of disenchanted users with the modern, powerful PC replacement they’d been envisioning since 2010.

But in many ways, iOS 9 wasn’t enough. The productivity enhancements that set the iPad on a new course felt, in hindsight, like first attempts at reviving its software and app ecosystem. Key aspects of iOS 9 were evidently unfinished, possibly hinting at future optimizations and fixes.

That future didn’t arrive with last year’s iOS 10, which only added to the sense of wondering when the iPad’s next shoe would drop. Amidst consistently declining unit sales and following another bland (at least iPad-wise) mid-cycle update to iOS, the legacy of iOS 9 gradually shifted from a first step packed with promise to a bittersweet one-off effort to infuse new life into the iPad.

With iOS 11, Apple’s iPad vision feels resolute again. Multitasking is blending with multitouch, giving drag and drop a new purpose; the Mac’s best features – from file management to the dock – have been rethought, simplified, and extended specifically for iOS. The iPad’s mission is to reimagine the very concept of a portable computer by empowering a new generation of users to do their best work wherever they are, whenever they want.

If anything, iOS 9 was merely the iPad’s overture.

The iPad, however, is only one part of the broader iOS story, which has been – and most likely always will be – characterized by the iPhone’s evolution and impact on our society.

From that standpoint, not only did iOS 10 deliver with upgrades to core iPhone apps such as Photos, Messages, Music, and Maps – it showed how Apple was judiciously planting the seeds for technologies and human interface guidelines that are blossoming in iOS 11. The two-pronged approach of iOS 10 – updates to consumer apps along with the first signs of native iOS machine learning – resulted in an iPhone update that felt impactful without the need for a ground-up redesign.

For the most part, iOS 11 follows the playbook of last year. The transition to a new design language is still in flux, with a progressive remodeling of iOS 7’s divisive aesthetic and the adoption of friendly UI elements that can guide users across the system. iOS 11’s most notable redesigns, including the App Store and Control Center, lay new foundations and fix what didn’t work before. Refinements – in some cases, reversals of ideas that didn’t pan out – are one of iOS 11’s overarching themes.

iOS 11 also reaps the rewards of investments Apple made in iOS 10 and 2016’s iPhone line. From the upcoming wave of augmented reality apps to deeper computational photography and new responsibilities for iCloud, iOS 11 epitomizes – with remarkable accomplishments and a few missteps along the way – the focus and priorities of the modern Apple.

But perhaps more importantly, unlike iOS 10, iOS 11 presents a cohesive narrative for both the iPad and iPhone. A story where, for the first time in years, the iPad is informing some of the design principles and features of the iPhone’s software. Even from different angles, and each with its own past struggles, both acts in iOS 11 end up asking the same question:

Where does the modern computer go next?

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    Remaster, Episode 43: Surprising Games

    News of Shahid's first VR game, thoughts on upcoming and recent Switch releases, and an interview with Mike Bithell to discuss Subsurface Circular.

    On this week's Remaster, we cover some upcoming Switch games, then Shahid interviews Mike Bithell on his latest release. You can listen here.

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    Connected, Episode 158: The EchoSystem

    Everyone is back, and it’s a good thing, because there’s lots of news: Siri has moved in with Craig, Alexa and Cortana are hanging out and the Apple September event looms large on the horizon.

    On this week's Connected, we discuss our usage of voice assistants and smart speakers as we prepare for next week's Apple event. You can listen here.

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    Connected, Episode 157: Your Legacy Chooses You

    Federico is back from the Genius Bar and joined by Stephen to discuss Time Machine and iCloud Backups, Apple's push with Swift education and SMS filtering in iOS 11.

    A fun collection of topics on this week's episode of Connected. You can listen here.

    Sponsored by:

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    • Crimson Mesa: Announcing Shokem Nimai, The Ancient Game of the River.
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    Remaster, Episode 42: What Is Crunch?

    Pre-order systems fail because of the SNES Classic, Microsoft readies sale of the Xbox One X, and arguments for and against 'Crunch'.

    On this week’s Remaster, Shahid explains the concept of “crunch” in the videogame industry and how it differs between teams and individuals working on large projects. You can listen here.

    Sponsored by:

    • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code INSERTCOIN at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
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    Connected, Episode 156: Planet of the Podcasts

    Myke and Federico discuss Apple's supposed budget for original content, reviews of the Essential Phone, Apple's iOS 11 marketing videos, and Federico's unexpected trip to the Genius Bar.

    A fun episode of Connected this week as the summer season keeps giving us new betas of iOS 11. You can listen here.

    Sponsored by:

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    Slack for iOS Gains Quick Replies for Notifications

    The latest update to Slack’s iOS app introduces a feature I’ve been waiting for since we started using the service for daily communications at MacStories: quick replies to notifications. Now when you get a Slack message, you can pull down on the notification banner – or, if you’re viewing an old notification, press on it – to send a reply without opening the app. I’ve tested this feature in the Slack beta over the past week, and it’s considerably reduced the number of times I have to open the app.

    The fact that Slack’s native iOS app still feels so slow when loading and switching between channels makes this addition all the more welcome. It would be nice to have both quick replies and emoji reactions as options upon expanding a notification, but this will suffice.

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