Federico Viticci

9088 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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New ‘Music Videos’ Section Appears in Apple Music

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac, notes that a new 'Music Videos' section has appeared in the Music app this morning, likely ahead of the public release of iOS 11.3.

Music videos have been part of the Apple Music service since its inception, with unlimited ad-free video playback included in the monthly subscription.

The updates take the content that was always available and make it more prominent with recommendations and continuously updated editorial, akin to the New Music page for singles and albums.

Users could always make their own playlists of music videos but now Apple is tailoring its own for customers to play and subscribe to. This feature will be especially useful on Apple TV, now you can simply setup Apple Music on your TV to play top songs with the accompanying videos.

It'll be interesting to see how personalized this section will be over time. Right now, it's primarily focused on exclusive videos and curated playlists (such as the new Today's Video Hits and The A-List: Pop Videos). One of my favorite aspects of YouTube is how its front page can reliably recommend new videos based on my music preferences; I wonder if this Apple Music section is going to do the same, either via personalized suggestions or push notifications for new videos.

(Something else I would have liked to see for video playlists: right now, if you start a playlist and enable Picture in Picture on iPad, the floating video popup closes as soon as the current video ends. I'd love to see a persistent Picture in Picture mode that remains enabled throughout an entire video playlist.)

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Connected, Episode 186: I Move My Arms Around

The crew is back together, just in time to talk about the big questions around Apple’s education event, Apple Watch rumors and the frustrations of troubleshooting iCloud issues.

On this week's Connected, we talked about the big topics from yesterday's Apple event and considered what an improved Apple Watch could bring. You can listen here.

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Comparing the 2018 iPad and iPad Pro

In the wake of Apple's spring iPad and education event, I've received a lot of questions about how the base-model 2018 iPad fits in next to the 10.5-inch and second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro line — does giving Pencil support to the base-model iPad eliminate the need for a Pro-level iPad?

In short, no. But why? Here's how the two models compare, and why you'll probably want to stick with a Pro for more high-level work.

Great guide by iMore's Serenity Caldwell that covers all the key differences between the new 9.7" iPad and the iPad Pro line (including the first-generation models). I should call out two of them specifically: the first-gen Touch ID (it's worse than the second-gen not only because it's slightly slower, but because it fails more often), and the lack of three interactive apps at once when using Slide Over and Split View together.

As I noted yesterday, I think the new iPad, thanks to the A10 chip and Pencil, is a fantastic choice for users who want a solid iPad experience without the extra power of the Pro models. Arguably, True Tone, the Smart Connector, ProMotion, and a four-speaker system aren't absolute must-haves for someone who doesn't need the most powerful iPad experience; the Pencil is a natural complement to the iPad with a broader consumer appeal than other Pro-only features. It makes sense for the Pencil to trickle down into the iPad line.

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Where’s the iCloud Storage Bump for the Rest of Us?

Dan Moren, writing for Six Colors on today's announcement of 200 GB of free iCloud storage for schools:

Look, it’s lovely that Apple has decided to give 200GB of free iCloud storage to any Apple ID associated with a teacher or student. It’s a nice gesture, and one that probably makes things a lot easier for those in school environments.

But, come on, Apple—you’re really going to leave the rest of us at 5GB?

The standard 5GB of free iCloud storage has been in place for years now, and, frankly, it’s starting to wear thin. When most iOS devices come in 32GB configurations at the smallest, and many start at 64GB, 5GB feels pretty paltry. Especially when the next step in the upgrade tier is to pay $0.99 for 50GB of storage space. I realize Services has become a moneymaker for Apple, but it just feels cheap.

I hope that increasing free storage for education is the first step towards more free iCloud for everyone this year. I wouldn't expect non-education customers to get 200 GB for free, but the measly 5 GB of free storage have become just as user-hostile as 16 GB iPhones used to be. There has to be a better solution in between.

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Pages Is No iBooks Author Replacement

Stephen Hackett took the updated Pages for a spin and compared its digital book creation features to the existing iBooks Author app for Mac. As it turns out, the new functionality isn't a replacement for what iBooks Author can do:

It cannot open my iBooks Author file for my book on the iMac G3 and history of Mac OS X. I’m not super surprised by that, but as the future of iBooks Author is unknown, I’d like a way to know I can edit this file using Pages in the future.

The options when creating a book in Pages are currently more limited than what is available in iBooks Author. There are fewer templates available, and the hierarchy of chapters and sections are nowhere to be found. iBooks Author includes tools for a Table of Contents and Glossary, and these are missing from Pages as well.

Pages also lacks iBooks Author’s widgets. These can be used to add Keynote files, pop overs, review questions, videos and even HTML content to books. This is a pretty big oversight, as these tools can add real interactivity to a book.

iMore's Serenity Caldwell has also clarified with Apple that the eBook creation feature in Pages is not a replacement for iBooks Author, which is still "continuing development" – whatever that means, given its erratic update schedule and lack of an iPad version.

I was hoping to be able to create rich, interactive iBooks using Pages for iPad, but unfortunately this isn't possible with today's update. Still, I'm going to experiment with the feature to generate EPUBs for my longform reviews directly from iOS.

See also: AppleScript support for eBook creation in Pages for Mac.

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The New 9.7″ iPad: Our Complete Overview

At their education event held in Chicago earlier today, Apple announced an update for the 9.7" iPad model that, while not adopting all the features from the more powerful iPad Pro line, brings support for the Apple Pencil and includes the A10 Fusion chip.

“iPad is our vision for the future of computing and hundreds of millions of people around the world use it every day at work, in school and for play. This new 9.7-inch iPad takes everything people love about our most popular iPad and makes it even better for inspiring creativity and learning,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Product Marketing. “Our most popular and affordable iPad now includes support for Apple Pencil, bringing the advanced capabilities of one of our most creative tools to even more users. This iPad also has the power of the A10 Fusion chip, combined with the big, beautiful Retina display, advanced cameras and sensors that enable incredible AR experiences simply not possible on other devices.”

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Connected , Episode 185: The Myke Hurley School of Excellence

Federico has taken over San Jose line watching, so Stephen gets to join Myke to talk about the long-rumored Beatles iPod, laptop cart repair and the eMac.

I wasn't on last week's episode of Connected, but I really enjoyed the discussion about old Apple rumors and the potential for a new education iPad. You can listen here.

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Erasing Complexity: The Comfort of Apple’s Ecosystem

Every year soon after WWDC, I install the beta of the upcoming version of iOS on my devices and embark on an experiment: I try to use Apple's stock apps and services as much as possible for three months, then evaluate which ones have to be replaced with third-party alternatives after September. My reasoning for going through these repetitive stages on an annual basis is simple: to me, it's the only way to build the first-hand knowledge necessary for my iOS reviews.

I also spent the past couple of years testing and switching back and forth between non-Apple hardware and services. I think every Apple-focused writer should try to expose themselves to different tech products to avoid the perilous traps of preconceptions. Plus, besides the research-driven nature of my experiments, I often preferred third-party offerings to Apple's as I felt like they provided me with something Apple was not delivering.

Since the end of last year, however, I've been witnessing a gradual shift that made me realize my relationship with Apple's hardware and software has changed. I've progressively gotten deeper in the Apple ecosystem and I don't feel like I'm being underserved by some aspects of it anymore.

Probably for the first time since I started MacStories nine years ago, I feel comfortable using Apple's services and hardware extensively not because I've given up on searching for third-party products, but because I've tried them all. And ultimately, none of them made me happier with my tech habits. It took me years of experiments (and a lot of money spent on gadgets and subscriptions) to notice how, for a variety of reasons, I found a healthy tech balance by consciously deciding to embrace the Apple ecosystem.

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