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The App Store Adds Weekend Deals Feature

Apple has introduced a new feature in the Today tab of the App Store called 'This Weekend Only.' Each Thursday, one app will offer an exclusive deal to users that lasts through Sunday.

The new feature is being kicked off with five deals instead of one:

The new promotion strikes me as a good way to help drive traffic to the App Store on weekends, which are slow sales days for many developers. It also makes sense to kick off the App Store’s new feature with apps from relatively large companies with broad appeal, but I hope that in the long run, smaller independent development shops are included too.



SuperDuper! Updated for macOS High Sierra and APFS

High Sierra introduced APFS, Apple’s first entirely new file system on the Mac in decades. Today, Shirt Pocket Software announced an update to its backup utility SuperDuper! that is compatible with APFS. In fact, the app can create a bootable clone for any Mac running Mac OS X 10.9 and later.

Supporting a brand new file system is a tall order. As Dave Nanian explains on the Shirt Pocket blog, APFS volumes are handled differently by macOS than HFS+ ones were. That complicated the update of SuperDuper!, but as with earlier OS updates, Shirt Pocket has solved the issues and is ready with an update that works with Apple’s latest version of macOS.

If you’re not already making a bootable backup of your Mac’s drive, the update to SuperDuper! is the perfect time to download the app and get started.


Tweetbot for iOS Adds 280-Character Tweet Support

Yesterday, Twitter extended the character limit of tweets to 280. Unlike some features, Twitter has made the new tweet length available to all third-party developers.

First out of the gate is Tweetbot by Tapbots. Less than 24 hours after Twitter’s announcement, Tweetbot users can use a full 280 characters in tweets. I expect we’ll see additional updates from other Twitter client developers soon.

Tweetbot is available on the App Store.


Twitterrific for macOS Adds Poll Support and Other Refinements

The Iconfactory is on a tear with Twitterrific for macOS updates. Version 5.0, the crowdfunded rebirth of the app, launched less than a month ago. A couple of weeks later, Twitterrific 5.1 added muffles and mutes, which we discussed on AppStories this week. Then yesterday, Twitterrific 5.2 dropped, with support for polls and and an enhancement of its user search functionality.

Poll support is notable because third-party developers don’t have access to Twitter’s polling APIs. Instead, users of third-party Twitter clients have had to go to the official Twitter client or the web to vote in polls, which I rarely bothered to do. Lack of API support hasn’t stopped The Iconfactory from implementing a workaround to make polls available to its users though. The feature isn’t perfect, but in my preliminary testing, I’ve been impressed with how well it works.

Twitterrific detects tweets that include polls by looking for clues like whether ‘#poll’ or the graph or ballot box emoji are used. The app also looks at the format of the question posed. If a tweet looks like a poll, Twitterrific displays a button below the text of the tweet. When the poll button is clicked, a popover with a mini-browser opens the poll so you can vote and see the results. If you want to monitor a poll, drag the popover away from your timeline to transform it into a standalone window that will stay put and can be refreshed with the latest results.

Poll creation still requires Twitter’s app or website, which cannot be avoided. Nonetheless, I can already tell that being able to open a poll, vote, and view results all from Twitterrific is going to increase my participation in them. For now, the feature is available on macOS only, but it is under consideration for the iOS app depending on how well it is received by users on the Mac.

Use the Cmd+U keyboard shortcut to search for a Twitter user quickly.

Use the Cmd+U keyboard shortcut to search for a Twitter user quickly.

Twitterrific also added fast user searching via the Cmd+U keyboard shortcut and has improved syncing of your timeline position between iOS and macOS. Next up for both versions of the app is support for Twitter’s new 280-character tweet limit, which, unlike polls, is available to third-party developers.

If you’re interested in trying a new Twitter client, Twitterrific is an excellent choice. The handful of gaps in the macOS version’s original feature set are being addressed rapidly and innovative approaches to things like polls set it apart from its competitors.

Twitterrific 5.2 is available on the Mac App Store.


Twitter Adopts 280-Character Tweet Limit

Twitter extended the 140-character limit of tweets to 280 characters for a test group of users in September. In a blog post today, Twitter’s Aliza Rosen proclaimed the test a success noting that the additional characters have been used where needed, but that most tweets remain under the previous 140-character limit.

As a result, Twitter has begun to roll out the new feature worldwide for every language where ‘cramming’ was an issue. The company describes cramming as:

the deviation of the actual length distribution from the theoretical log-normal distribution near the character limit — “cramming,” as it likely reflects people’s attempts to “cram” their Tweets within the character limit.

In plain English, cramming is when your tweet is just a little long, and you spend time editing it to fit into 140 characters. According to Rosen:

Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending. With the expanded character count, this problem was massively reduced – that number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit. Since we saw Tweets hit the character limit less often, we believe people spent less time editing their Tweets in the composer. This shows that more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before.

Cramming is a bigger problem for some languages than others. At the other end of the spectrum are languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, which can express more in fewer characters and will continue to have 140-character limits.

The new tweet length limit is still rolling out to users. If you don’t have 280 characters to work with yet, check the official Twitter again later because it will undoubtedly take a while to propagate to all users.



Introductory Pricing Coming to App Subscriptions

Earlier today, Apple released iOS 11.2 beta 2 to developers. The release notes accompanying the beta include the following announcement:

Soon, you’ll be able to offer new customers a discounted introductory price for your auto-renewable subscriptions on the App Store. iOS 11.2 introduces new classes … and new properties … to provide details on the introductory pricing and billing period you’ve selected for your auto-renewable subscriptions. You’ll be able to configure introductory pricing on your in-app purchase page in iTunes Connect soon.

Auto-renewing subscriptions were made available to all app developers with iOS 10 and already include the option to offer a free trial. With iOS 11.2 though, developers will have added flexibility to help them attract customers.


Balance Is a Wallet for the World’s Currencies [Sponsor]

We are on the cusp of a financial revolution fueled by crypto-currencies and Balance makes it easy for everyone to get involved. You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin, one of the earliest crypto-currencies, but there are others like Ethereum. Balance connects to the most popular crypto-currency exchanges like Coinbase along with traditional financial institutions bridging the gap between the old financial world and the new one.

Balance for macOS.

Balance for macOS.

Balance is a menu bar app for macOS. The app connects with crypto-currency exchanges as well as traditional bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, and online services like PayPal using Plaid, a super-secure platform that works with financial institutions around the world.

When you set up accounts in Balance, the app automatically updates them periodically with new transactions, so you’re always up to date. You can click through the app’s tabs to view balances, transactions, notifications and gain insights about your spending. Soon, Balance will release an iOS version of their app too.

Balance for iOS is coming soon.

Balance for iOS is coming soon.

Balance is ready for the future. The current financial system is based on outdated, legacy software. Blockchains are the bedrock of a more secure and open system based on cryptocurrencies, but not many people are using them yet. Balance is poised to change that by becoming a single destination for traditional financial accounts and crypto-currency exchanges.

Balance has a great offer for MacStories readers who want to see what crypto-currencies are all about. Just go to bal.money/macstories and you’ll get $2 worth of Ether in a Coinbase account that you can link to Balance and track with its menu bar app. It’s a great way to see for yourself what the financial world’s future looks like.

Our thanks to Balance for sponsoring MacStories this week.