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Facebook SDK for tvOS

Chris Pan, writing on the Facebook developer site:

The new Apple TV brings the App Store to the big screen, and today we're introducing the Facebook SDK for tvOS beta to help you build immersive social experiences on that platform.

The key feature of the Facebook SDK for tvOS apps is an easy way to log into apps without having to type emails and passwords with the Siri Remote:

A fast and easy way for people to log into your app and for you to provide rich, personalized experiences. To log into an app with their Facebook account, people can simply enter a confirmation code displayed on the TV into their smartphone or computer, rather than entering their username and password with the remote.

For developers who don't mind adding Facebook code to their apps, this seems like a decent stopgap solution until Apple builds something similar for iPhone users (as I assume it would be nice to log into apps with iCloud Keychain and Touch ID).


iPad Pro in the Classroom

Karan Varindani has a great story about the role of the iPad Pro in his college studies, and how he's been consolidating his textbooks, notes, and more into a portable, digital workflow:

I saved writing about my experience doing Linear Algebra homework for last because it is, by far, my favorite anecdote about the iPad Pro. I usually have the assignment sheet open on my Mac in front of me, the textbook open on my iPad to my left, and sheets of A4 paper scattered everywhere else on my desk. I first go through the assignment, making lots of mistakes along the way, then rewrite everything again neatly on the second run. Next, I scan the 10–15 pages to my Mac, merge them into a single PDF document, and upload them to the course server. The entire process takes about 3–4 hours depending on the number of questions assigned and leaves me with a pulsing wrist every time. Last week, I did the entire assignment on the iPad Pro. I had both Notability and PDF Expert open in Split View; the former was a blank canvas where I wrote down my answers and the latter had both the assignment and textbook open in tabs. I was able to erase mistakes as I made them and I didn’t have to scan anything afterwards, both of which saved me a tremendous amount of time. I uploaded the document in Safari using iCloud Drive when I was done.

Almost immediately after I got the confirmation email, I decided that I wasn’t going to be returning the iPad Pro.

A good primer for those who argue that the iPad is only being used by tech bloggers – with a fair assessment of the Pro's portability trade-offs.


The Worst App

An odd App Store story by Allen Pike:

One of the various things I do at Steamclock is provide support for our apps. Our music apps don’t require much support, and much of the email we get is positive, so tending to support is generally pleasant.

Or at least it was pleasant, until recently. On September 30 I received a very concerning support email.

I don't know what the solution to these App Store problems is, but it doesn't seem right to me that developers have to spend time dealing with them over the course of several weeks.


Connected: Being in Charge of a Space Rocket

This week, Federico talks about how he is changing his automation workflows with 1Writer and Workflow, and Myke talks about his Apple Pencil review.

This week's episode of Connected is all about changes in my workflow (including posting articles to WordPress) and Myke's thoughts on the Apple Pencil from his unique perspective. You can listen here.

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How Readdle Launched Their First Mac App

Readdle's Denys Zhadanov has put together a good article detailing how Readdle launched PDF Expert for Mac (which Graham likes) and got to #1 in the Mac App Store. I particularly liked this bit on how they positioned the app in the research stage:

Many people told me that it doesn’t make sense to build a product that already has some decent alternatives. But honestly, I like competition. Healthy competition indicates that there is a good addressable market out there. Having a superior product that does things better and is differentiated enough can lead to a successful and sustainable business.

Thanks to our research and preparation, we were able to position PDF Expert for Mac really well. It steps in where Apple Preview is too basic and Adobe Acrobat is too cumbersome. With PDF Expert, people can actually do their PDF work much faster and easier, including reading, annotating, form filling, and signing documents.

As I argued on Connected last week, too many developers think that making a good app is all it takes to achieve "success". Preparation, research, and understanding the position of an app beforehand are just as essential. Denys has some other practical tips and fascinating stats, so make sure to check out his post.


Tokens Adds Support for Apple TV Apps

From the Tokens blog:

Today, we’re proud to launch Tokens 1.5. This update brings support for Apple TV apps and marks an interesting point in the development of the app.

iTunes Connect (iTC) has changed a lot in the years since we first launched Tokens. The first version interacted with iTC entirely by scraping HTML. This technique was inherently slow and fragile. A chain of page requests were required for every query and minor text changes on iTC could break our scraping code. Over the last two years, iTC has improved dramatically in this respect; it is now almost entirely a modern front end web application backed by a JSON API.

If you're a Mac or iOS developer, Tokens is a must-have. With the latest iTunes Connect changes, the app can even work for users limited to Marketing roles. Tokens is only $29 – a steal considering the time it'll save you for generating and saving promo codes.


Email to 2Do

2Do is the task manager I've been using since August. I'm planning to write about it – the app is just so feature-rich, I'm still exploring all its possibilities. In the meantime, 2Do's developer has announced today an optional $2.99 add-on that will soon enable 2Do users to capture emails directly from the app.

Email to 2Do is an optional one-time-only purchasable add-on that you’ll be able to buy ($2.99) and configure in zero time, starting v3.8. For those unconvinced, we’re so sure you’ll love it that it’ll come with a free trial period of 14 days (which other iOS app does that?). The possibilities are endless. You could create a special email address for 2Do and remotely forward or send emails to this address for 2Do to pick up behind the scenes and convert to tasks. You could even use this with IFTTT! Currently we plan on supporting all major IMAP service providers, including but not limited to: iCloud, Google, Outlook, Yahoo! and of course your very own custom IMAP server.

2Do has always remained true to its core goals – which has been to provide you with tools that work with services you choose for yourself, not the other way round. 2Do syncs with the service you’re comfortable with, and will now integrate seamlessly with an email address from your service provider of choice.

No todo app has ever really perfected the email capturing experience – the disconnect between email clients and apps on iOS is too big to overcome it with URL schemes or IFTTT workarounds. 2Do's email feature sounds like an integrated approach – an actual email plugin into the app that checks for messages saved in a certain way, transforming them to tasks.

I'm curious to check this out. In the meantime, you can request access to the beta here.

Permalink Goes Open Source, Launches Mac App

Big news from the WordPress community today: has relaunched with a brand new interface to manage blogs and Jetpack-enabled websites, a new codebase (called Calypso) and API based on JavaScript, and an open source foundation:

A little over a year and a half ago, we challenged ourselves to find a fresh way to interact with WordPress, and now we're ready to unveil what we've been working on. The new interface is built from the ground up as a single JavaScript application that relies on the REST API to communicate to the WordPress core.

I took the new management interface for a spin with MacStories, and it looks great. Clean, responsive, faster than ever. The people who worked on Calypso clearly put a lot of thought and willingness to start fresh into this.

As for existing WordPress users (both .com and self-hosted versions):

If you’re an existing user, you already are! Elements of the new have been progressively launched over the past eighteen months. If you run your own self-hosted WordPress site, you can install the Jetpack plugin to use the Calypso-based editing and management tools. Your site will be ready to go once you log in to

A new Mac app has been released to manage all WordPress sites on the desktop, and Automattic told me the mobile apps have already been built on this backend as well.

Last, make sure to check out Matt Mullenweg (CEO of Automattic) on today's launch and decision to go open source:

A lot of people thought we should keep this proprietary, but throughout my life I’ve learned that the more you give away, the more you get back. We still have a ton to figure out around plugins, extensibility, contributions, Windows and Linux releases, API speed, localization, and harmonizing the API and WP-API so it can work with core WordPress. Thousands more PHP developers will need to become fluent with JavaScript to recreate their admin interfaces in this fashion. I’m also really excited to revisit and redesign many more screens now that we have this first version out the door.

This is a beginning, not an ending. (1.0 is the loneliest.) Better things are yet to come, as all of you dig in.

WordPress is such a great success story. I'm very happy I chose to use it over six years ago.


The Pen Addict’s Apple Pencil Review

Of all the Apple Pencil reviews I've read over the past few weeks, very few of them offered examples of actual handwriting – which is perfectly understandable, as most of us don't use physical pens and pencils for writing anymore.

This is why I recommend reading Myke Hurley's review of the Pencil for The Pen Addict – he knows what he's talking about:

The second issue these weights attempt to solve is to stop your Pencil rolling off your desk. The Pencil is completely cylindrical – there are no flat edges and no clip – so it's prone to fall victim to gravity and non-level work spaces. But with the weights inside the Pencil, as soon as you set it down, it rolls a little and then stops itself. The weights appear to have been designed to balance it and take over. In most instances this works out great, but I have observed that if you place the Pencil down with any force, say if it is not gently put down on a desk, but maybe dropped from a few inches (I love my implements, but I use them too...), the Pencil will likely roll a couple of times in the process.

When this happens the weights actually seem to give it momentum, and will propel it forward further and faster than it would have otherwise. Each time as the Pencil turns, it acts against itself as it is moving to quickly to balance, and on it goes, off the table.

Myke makes some good points in his review, which I haven't seen anywhere else.