Pocket Adds New Typographic Controls for Premium Subscribers

It's nice to see Pocket is continuing to add new features exclusive to Premium subscribers. In the 6.2 update released today, Pocket has introduced 7 new fonts (including two of my favorites – Whitney and Ideal Sans), plus controls for line height and margin width. There's also a new Auto Dark Mode setting (which could be a nice companion to Night Shift on iOS 9.3).

I've been trying Pocket again because of Recommendations (you can follow mine, too), and I had already bought a Premium subscription last year, but I haven't found much utility in the permanent archival and auto-tagging functionalities. More typographic controls is something I deeply appreciate, and I hope we'll see more Premium features this year.

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Day One 2 Review

Day One, the well-known journaling app by Bloom Built, was an unmistakable success. On both iOS and Mac, it amassed multiple awards for both its design and quality of the experience. Through positive reviews and loyal users, Day One rose to the top of the charts and received recognition from Apple's App Store team.

Although one might think that Bloom Built would be content to sit back and let the success continue, Day One 2 shows that this assumption is far from the truth. Through some added features and fresh coat of paint, Day One 2, launching today, is definitely an improvement – but with today's App Store littered with text editors, can Day One still hold its place and purpose?

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Connected: Dreaming Is Enough

This week, Stephen and Federico talk about Stephen's 20th Anniversary Mac, Airmail, Federico's new NAS and the iPad Air 3.

If you didn't catch my thoughts on the Synology NAS I bought in the latest Monthly Log for Club MacStories members, this week's Connected elaborates on the subject quite a bit. You can listen here.

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Nintendo’s Second Mobile Game to Feature “Familiar” Character

Nintendo didn't only announce details for Miitomo and My Nintendo this week. Here's Takashi Mochizuki, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

Videogame giant on Tuesday posted a sharp drop in quarterly net profit, but it stoked the hopes of fans by promising that its second smartphone game would feature one of the company’s best-known characters.

And:

“The second game won’t be another communication app, and we plan to adopt one of our characters that fans are very familiar with,” Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima said.

Mario is the obvious choice (as is Pikachu, also given this year's 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise), but I've long argued that WarioWare mini-games would be great candidates for multitouch gameplay and, possibly, In-App Purchases. Still, Nintendo has plenty of options to choose from.

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Nintendo Outlines Launch Plans for ‘My Nintendo’ Service and Miitomo iOS App

Following a first announcement in October last year, Nintendo has revealed its launch plans for their first iOS app, Miitomo:

Starting Feb. 17, people will be able to pre-register for Miitomo by signing up for the new Nintendo Account service using their existing email, social media accounts or current Nintendo Network IDs. People who pre-register will be among the first to be notified about the availability of Miitomo when it launches in March. Nintendo will offer a special Miitomo bonus to anyone who signs up for a Nintendo Account between Feb. 17 and launch.

Previously teased as a communication service inspired by the company's Mii avatars and 3DS game Tomodachi Life, here's how the company describes Miitomo today:

Miitomo is a social experience that uses Nintendo's Mii characters, which first debuted on the Wii console, to engage friends in a lighthearted and welcoming environment.

Miitomo will be available on both the iPhone and iPad, and it'll be based on the new Nintendo Account service announced last year. Miitomo will first be released in Japan in mid-March and in 15 other countries by the end of March.

In addition, Miitomo users with a Nintendo Account will be able to take advantage of the new My Nintendo service, which promises to be more than the old Club Nintendo rewards program with a deeper integration with "Nintendo products and services". As detailed in an investor call earlier this week, My Nintendo will enable users to earn platinum points by interacting with Nintendo mobile apps and opening the eShop on a Nintendo console, while gold points will be collected by purchasing downloadable software for 3DS and Wii U. Points can be exchanged for digital content (platinum) or discount codes for eShop titles (gold).

Nintendo has offered further details on how the point system will work in an English version of their investor slides:

In the case of the previous Club Nintendo, we offered points, or “coins,” as a result of our members' purchasing and registering our products. For My Nintendo, the points are gained by members not only as the result of their digital purchases but also as the result of their activities, such as playing games and apps, and interacting with information from Nintendo.

The company notes that, after opening Nintendo Account registrations last December, they have already started providing Japanese users with access to some My Nintendo services. These include personalized game recommendations, which "are crafted for each of them based on their profile, purchase records and play records".

Details on Miitomo are still scarce despite today's announcements – it sounds like users will be able to chat and ask questions, but I'm curious to know if Nintendo is planning to add any gameplay/collectible elements to the app as well. According to Nintendo, more information about Nintendo Account, My Nintendo, and Miitomo will be released "in the coming weeks".


Microsoft Acquires SwiftKey

No productivity app seems to be safe with Microsoft. Following a Financial Times report from yesterday, the company has confirmed they have acquired SwiftKey, makers of the popular keyboard and predictive text engine for iOS and Android:

This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms. We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio. Moreover, SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control.

In the coming months, we’ll have more to share about how we’ll integrate SwiftKey technology with our Guinness World Record Word Flow technology for Windows. In the interim, I’m extremely excited about the technology, talent and market position SwiftKey brings to us with this acquisition, and about how this further demonstrates Microsoft’s desire to bring key apps and technologies to platforms from Windows to Android to iOS.

SwiftKey is one of the most popular third-party keyboards on both mobile OSes; on iOS, it's often relied upon by users who want a multilingual typing experience in a single keyboard. I'm interested to see how SwiftKey as a keyboard will continue on iOS – custom keyboards haven't received much attention in the past two years, and they're severely limited in how much they can integrate with the rest of the system.

Above all, SwiftKey is good tech for Microsoft. The acquisition gives them access to a large database of typing habits and patterns spanning 100 languages, and it'll likely help them build text features on desktop and mobile. Long term, it's hard to predict how Microsoft's string of mobile app acquisitions will play out, but, right now, it's clear that Microsoft is buying the best apps around.

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Activist Engineering

Matthew Bischoff:

You’ve been there. You’re sitting in a meeting and your boss, a product manager, or an executive is talking about Q2 goals. They’re laying out a roadmap of the features that are going to be “coming down the pike”. All of a sudden you see it. An innocuous bullet that makes your blood boil: “Auto-invite friends”, “Re-engagement notifications”, or “Disable ATS”.

The particular feature isn’t important. What matters is that you’re the engineer that’s noticed this capital-B Bad Idea. You know why it’s a problem. This time it’s not just the technical debt or the time it’d take to implement. This idea is bad because it trades a worse product for a better “business”: revenue, eyeballs, impressions, you know the drill.

You have a choice in this moment.

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The Futility of Pleasing All Users

Khoi Vinh made an interesting point in his consideration of a recent update to 1Password:

At this stage, having gone through at least six major revisions, the utility must accommodate many different usage styles—people who want strict separation among their vaults, people who want to see across all their vaults, and more. As with any software, as the number of use cases grows, it becomes harder and harder to reconcile them with a single coherent interface. That’s the unfortunate truth of creating great experiences; not all of your users are going to be happy all of the time.

I think there's a middle ground here, though it isn't often appreciated: settings.

As time goes on, I realize that apps that let me configure their behavior exactly like I want – 2Do, Fiery Feeds, and even the just-released Airmail – are what I prefer. An abundance of settings isn't necessarily the best way to build an app (in some instances, it could be seen as a cop out from a developer who doesn't know how to pick which features to ship, or as a case of feature creep), but after transitioning from OS X to iOS as my main computing platform, I tend to choose productivity apps that can scale, accomodating the needs of many users as possible.

Some people don't like that, and there's certainly a place for "opinionated" software that doesn't overwhelm the user with dozens of settings, but it's a trend I've noticed in the apps I've ended up using the most on iOS.

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Daylite: The Productivity App for Individuals and Teams, Exclusively for Mac and iOS [Sponsor]

Marketcircle helps individuals, teams, and small businesses on the Mac, iPhone and iPad be more productive with their two apps, Daylite and Billings Pro.

For those of you who don’t know about Daylite, it has been around for almost 15 years. Daylite helps you manage clients, schedules, tasks, projects, emails and new business opportunities, all in one app where they’re interconnected. From a single client you can see who referred them, emails to and from, booked or upcoming appointments, pending business deals and even future followups. Or from a single Project you can see each person and their role, the tasks and who’s responsible, meetings about the project, and notes, all in chronological order. Daylite helps you remember everything so you don't have to worry about anything falling through the cracks. And when you invite team members, you can share this information, assign tasks or check each others calendars before scheduling meetings.

And with the recent release of Daylite 6, Marketcircle has made it even easier to get started. Create an account and login from your Mac, iPhone or iPad, then works with or without an Internet connection. Daylite will sync changes between devices and teammates when a connection is available. Marketcircle includes a 30 day trial for Daylite, with monthly and yearly plans.

You can even read about other companies using Daylite here.

Our thanks to Marketcircle for sponsoring MacStories this week.