Federico Viticci

9495 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.

Mastodon: @viticci@macstories.net

| Instagram: @viticci |

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On the Value of Threads’ Social Graph

Jason Tate, in his always-excellent Liner Notes newsletter1, has written about the practical value of Threads’ built-in social graph and how it differs from signing up for Mastodon or Bluesky:

This is a key (and likely killer) feature for onboarding someone into Threads. Like TikTok, you don’t have to do anything else after signing up to start seeing stuff. Is all of that going to be relevant to you? Probably not. But it removes the problem of most social media platforms: a user signing up and then going, “Ok, now what?” Building on top of the Instagram social graph removes a huge barrier and gives Threads a bootstrapping head start. It’s “valuable” to any Instagram user almost immediately. The app itself is fine. It’s not what I would prefer in an app for this kind of thing (Ivory is). But it’s fine. In my playing around with it over the past few days, I have two main thoughts, the first is on what works, and the second is on what needs to change. Let’s start with what works. The people are here. Joining Mastodon and joining BlueSky, I can find maybe 5% of the people I’m looking for. On Mastodon, it’s a lot of my tech and nerd friends. On BlueSky, it’s a few joke accounts. On Threads, I’d venture almost 90% of the people I’m looking for are there. Music people and bands that never joined Mastodon are there, and they’re posting. Many of the baseball and basketball accounts I follow are there, and they’re posting during games. This is a huge use case for me in a real-time app like this. Social media, and communities, are all about who is on the platform. The value a user gets is directly tied to the people who are there posting on it. I can love Mastodon as much as I want, but if I cannot extract the value I’m looking for from it daily, I’ll use it less. And that’s why I want Threads to succeed if they follow through on their promise to federate with the Fediverse.

That’s precisely the issue with Mastodon for me. I love Mastodon, and I’ve built an amazing audience of tech enthusiasts and MacStories readers there, but the non-tech people I want to follow online just aren’t there. I’ve been on Mastodon for several months now, and so many communities I used to follow on Twitter never signed up; meanwhile, I noticed folks from music Twitter, VGC Twitter, and videogames Twitter show up on Threads within days. And they’re posting.

So far, the value of Threads2 is that it fills a hole left by Twitter that Mastodon, for a variety of reasons, never filled. I don’t know if it’ll ultimately succeed without Meta ruining it in the long run, but anything to move communities away from Elon works for me right now.

  1. If you love music and don’t subscribe to Chorus.fm, you’re missing out. I read Jason’s site religiously every week (and have been for decades, since it was AbsolutePunk). ↩︎
  2. You can find me as @viticci there. We’re working on bringing out company accounts to Threads too. ↩︎

iOS and iPadOS 17 After One Month: It’s All About Widgets, Apps, and Stage Manager

iOS and iPadOS 17.

iOS and iPadOS 17.

Apple is releasing the first public betas of iOS and iPadOS 17 today, and I’ll cut right to the chase: I’ve been using both of them on my primary devices since WWDC, and I’m very satisfied with the new features and improvements I’ve seen to date – especially on iPadOS. More importantly, both OSes are bringing back the same sense of fun and experimentation I felt three years ago with iOS 14.

I’ve already written about the improvements to Stage Manager on the iPad ahead of the public beta of iPadOS 17. Without repeating myself, I’m still surprised by the fact that Apple addressed my core complaints about Stage Manager a mere year after iPadOS 16. To describe my past year in iPad land as “turbulent” would be a euphemism; and yet, iPadOS 17’s improved Stage Manager not only fixes the essence of what was broken last year, but even eclipses, in my opinion, the Mac version of Stage Manager at this point.

I love using Stage Manager on my iPad now. There are still features missing from iPadOS 17 that won’t allow me to stop using my MacBook Air but, by and large, the enhancements in iPadOS 17 have allowed me to be an iPad-first user again. It feels good to write that. Plus, there are some surprises in iPadOS 17 that I wasn’t expecting that I’ll cover below.

iOS 17 is not a huge software update: there are dozens of quality-of-life features that I like and – best of all – terrific updates on the widget front. A good way to sum up Apple’s software strategy this year is the following: widgets are everywhere now (including the Watch), they’re interactive (finally), and they’re likely pointing at new hardware on the horizon (you know). As someone who’s been wishing for widget interactivity since the days of iOS 14, I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it’s been to see third-party developers come up with wild ideas for what effectively feel like mini-apps on the Home Screen.

I’m equally impressed by the work Apple has put into some of its built-in apps this year with features that I’ve always wanted and never thought the company would build. You can create internal links to other notes in the Notes app. Reminders has a column view. Podcasts has a proper queue. Even Reading List – of all features – has been updated this year. In using iOS 17, I sometimes get the sense that Apple went through popular wish lists from the community and decided to add all the top requests in a single release.

To quote my friend Stephen Hackett: the vibe is good this year, and it applies to software as well. Let me tell you about some of my favorite aspects of iOS and iPadOS 17 from the past month.

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Threader, a Shortcut to Open Threads Profiles from Mastodon and Twitter Directly in the Threads App

Running Threader via Back Tap on Twitter and Mastodon.

Running Threader via Back Tap on Twitter and Mastodon.

Instagram just rolled out Threads, the company’s new text-based social network that’s been advertised over the past few weeks as an alternative to Twitter. I’m trying out Threads (you can find my account at threads.net/@viticci) and in the process of setting up the list of people I want to follow, I immediately run into an annoying issue that I fixed with a shortcut.

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Tears of the Kingdom Travel Guide Is the Ideal iPhone and iPad App to Keep Track of Your Zelda Adventures

TotK Travel Guide.

TotK Travel Guide.

If your summer’s going to be anything like mine, some of these things should sound familiar: you’re going to play around with the iOS and iPadOS 17 betas and get on some TestFlights for third-party apps; you’re going to spend some time at the beach or perhaps even travel abroad; and you’ll still be playing through The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which is a ridiculously massive game well worth waiting six years for. If the latter scenario applies to your life right now and in the near future, you’ll want to install TotK Travel Guide, which came out earlier this week for iPhone and iPad.

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Faking ‘Clamshell Mode’ with External Displays in iPadOS 17

A simple setting can be used as a workaround for clamshell mode in iPadOS 17.

A simple setting can be used as a workaround for clamshell mode in iPadOS 17.

Fernando Silva of 9to5Mac came up with a clever workaround to have ‘clamshell mode’ in iPadOS 17 when an iPad is connected to an external display. The catch: it doesn’t really turn off the iPad’s built-in display.

Now before readers start spamming the comments, this is not true clamshell mode. True clamshell mode kills the screen of the host computer and moves everything from that display to the external monitor. This will not do that. But this workaround will allow you to close your iPad Pro, connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and still be able to use Stage Manager on an external display.

Essentially, the method involves disabling the ‘Lock / Unlock’ toggle in Settings ⇾ Display & Brightness that controls whether the iPad’s screen should lock when a cover is closed on top of it. This has been the iPad’s default behavior since the iPad 2 and the debut of the Smart Cover, and it still applies to the latest iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard: when the cover is closed, the iPad gets automatically locked. However, this setting can be disabled, and if you do, then sure: you could close an iPad Pro and continue using iPadOS on the external display without seeing the iPad’s built-in display. Except the iPad’s display is always on behind the scenes, which is not ideal.1

Still: if we’re supposed to accept this workaround as the only way to fake ‘clamshell mode’ in iPadOS 17, I would suggest some additions to improve the experience.

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A Developer’s View of Vision Pro

Excellent developer-focused take on the Vision Pro by David Smith, who also tested one last week at Apple Park. I particularly liked his reasoning for why it’s important to begin understanding a new Apple platform sooner rather than later:

Another reason I want to develop for visionOS from the start is that it is the only way I know for developing what I’ll call “Platform Intuition”.

This year watchOS 10 introduced a variety of structural and design changes. What was fascinating (and quite satisfying) to see was how many of these changes were things that I was already doing in Pedometer++ (and had discussed their rationale in my Design Diary). This “simultaneous invention” was not really all that surprising, as it is the natural result of my spending years and years becoming intimately familiar with watchOS and thus having an intuition about what would work best for it.

That intuition is developed by following a platform’s development from its early stages. You have to have seen and experienced all the attempts and missteps along the way to know where the next logical step is. Waiting until a platform is mature and then starting to work on it then will let you skip all the messy parts in the middle, but also leave you with only answers to the “what” questions, not so much the “why” questions.

I want that “Platform Intuition” for visionOS and the only way I know how to attain it is to begin my journey with it from the start.

As Underscore concludes, Widgetsmith will be on visionOS from day one in 2024.


AirPods Max Miss Out on Adaptive Audio, New ‘Siri’ Command, and More

Chance Miller, writing last week at 9to5Mac, notes how Apple’s most expensive AirPods model are going to miss out on two key features announced at WWDC: Adaptive Audio (which blends Active Noise Cancelation and Transparency mode) and the new ‘Siri’ command that does not require saying ‘Hey’.

As my colleague Filipe Espósito also pointed out yesterday, the new “Siri” command is also exclusive to second-generation AirPods Pro. The same also applies to the new Faster Automatic Switching upgrade.

For context, AirPods Max are powered by two H1 chips, with one located in either ear cup. AirPods Pro 2 feature a next-generation H2 chip inside. Unsurprisingly, H1 + H1 does not equal H2.

I like my AirPods Max, but they’re over two years old at this point, and the gap between them and the second-generation AirPods Pro continues to grow.

The performance of noise cancelation is vastly superior on the AirPods Pro. I just had to travel 14+ hours back and forth between Italy and California for WWDC, so I was able to test AirPods Max on a plane for the first time since I bought them. They were fine, but I ultimately preferred using AirPods Pro because they removed more noise.

I hope Apple is working on an AirPods Max revision with support for H2, a foldable design, a new case, and support for the latest software features they just announced.


On the Future of Vision Pro Inside Apple’s Retail Stores

Earlier today in my Vision Pro story, I wondered about how Apple will showcase and set up the headset for customers in retail stores in the future.

For some excellent analysis on this topic, look no further than Michael Steeber’s latest issue of the Tabletops newsletter. Michael (who’s the leading expert on Apple retail stores) put together some fascinating thoughts on how Vision Pro could marketed and demoed inside the stores, as well as how the product compares to AirPods Pro and Apple Watch from a retail perspective.

Ultimately, the onus of ushering in the era of spatial computing will be on the Specialists and Creatives. The Vision Pro retail experience must be guided from end to end. Apple Stores started as a place to educate, and as technology faded to the background, customers began to intuitively understand their tools and seek out the Apple Store as a product destination. But visionOS is a fundamentally new paradigm that thrusts the role of education front and center once again.

These are just some of the many new challenges and opportunities Vision Pro will bring to Apple Stores. The dawn of spatial computing transforms far more than just the way we interact with software. This new category of device will impel Apple to reshape the retail experience around a more immersive, personalized environment. It’s an incredibly exciting moment.

Check out the concepts and details Michael posted here.


Apple Vision Pro: A Watershed Moment for Personal Computing

Vision Pro.

Vision Pro.

I’m going to be direct with this story. My 30-minute demo with Vision Pro last week was the most mind-blowing moment of my 14-year career covering Apple and technology. I left the demo speechless, and it took me a few days to articulate how it felt. How I felt.

It’s not just that I was impressed by it, because obviously I was. It’s that, quite simply, I was part of the future for 30 minutes – I was in it – and then I had to take it off. And once you get a taste of the future, going back to the present feels…incomplete.

I spent 30 minutes on the verge of the future. I have a few moments I want to relive.

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