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After Retesting, Consumer Reports Recommends the MacBook Pro

Two days ago, Apple issued a statement disputing battery life tests run on the new MacBook Pro by Consumer Reports. Based on those tests, Consumer Reports concluded it couldn’t recommend the laptop. After retesting, Consumer Reports now recommends the MacBook Pro. In a new article explaining the retesting, the publication says:

Consumer Reports has now finished retesting the battery life on Apple's new MacBook Pro laptops, and our results show that a software update released by Apple on January 9 fixed problems we’d encountered in earlier testing.

With the updated software, the three MacBook Pros in our labs all performed well, with one model running 18.75 hours on a charge. We tested each model multiple times using the new software, following the same protocol we apply to hundreds of laptops every year.

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Apple in 2016: The Six Colors Report Card

Jason Snell:

As we close the door on 2016, I thought it would be useful to look back at the year gone by and ask a panel of my peers who pay attention to Apple and related markets to take a moment and reflect on Apple’s performance in the past year.

This is the second year that I’ve presented a survey to a group of writers, editors, podcasters and developers. The survey was the same as last year’s. They were prompted with 11 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5, as well as optionally provide text commentary on their vote. I received 37 replies, with the average results as shown below.

I participated in this year's edition of the Six Colors Apple report card, which features average scores and answers on a variety of Apple topics. It's a good overview of where Apple stands today and where it could be going next.

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Switch Your AirPods Connection Easily with Tooth Fairy

It’s become no secret that I, along with countless others, am absolutely in love with my AirPods. I’ve only had them for a couple of weeks, but I’ve already built a habit of keeping them in my ears for hours on end, switching between my iPhone and Mac to catch up on podcasts, listen to music, and watch YouTube videos.

And while one of the best parts of AirPods is that they are already set up on all your iCloud devices after the first pairing, the need to dive into the Bluetooth menus to connect them on the Mac can waste a frustrating few seconds. For a much quicker and more convenient switching process, I’ve been using Tooth Fairy on the Mac.

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Tony Fadell Says Teams Did Not Compete to Design the iPhone

The conventional wisdom is that two teams competed inside Apple to build the original iPhone. One team's design was based on the iPod, and the other's was based on the Mac OS X. Those stories resurfaced with the tenth anniversary of the iPhone’s unveiling and a video showing what appears to be a prototype click wheel-based iPhone interface.

Tony Fadell, who was a key player in the development of the iPod and iPhone, spoke to Nilay Patel of The Verge to dispell the accepted belief that separate teams competed to design the iPhone:

So there were two different types of prototypes. There's one, a prototype for the UI team, and typically, because UI teams are using Director — back in the day — and quickly mocking things up on a screen. One team is doing it like it's an iPod, and another team is doing it like it was a touchscreen. The teams were working together. So it wasn't like there were two different people trying different things. And then there was the development board prototypes where we’d rewrite the UI on the hardware to try things like touchscreen and hardware buttons. So there were two tracks in hardware and software UI development running at all times. And so the thing that you're seeing [in that video] was just what the UI guys were doing, devoid of any hardware, doing it on a Mac.

According to Fadell, what is seen in the video is a Mac app that was later ported to an iPhone.

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Why a 10.5″ iPad Would Make Sense

Dan Provost:

Rumors have been swirling about Apple working on an iPad that falls inbetween the 9.7" and 12.9" sizes they currently offer in the Pro lineup. John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple briefly discussed this on the latest episode of The Talk Show, with Gruber saying: “It doesn’t make any sense to me.” (discussion at 1 hour 41 minute mark). There is, I believe, one explanation that makes too much sense not to be true.

His numbers check out. An iPad with the same footprint of the 9.7" iPad Pro but a bigger display with the same pixel density of the iPad mini sounds like a very compelling iPad to me.

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Terminology: A Comprehensive Research Tool for Words

I've been a fan of Terminology by Agile Tortoise since it debuted in 2010. There are a lot of dictionary apps on the App Store, but most are bloated messes that foist multimedia experiences and games on me when all I want is a definition or synonym. Terminology has alway been just about words. With today's update, the app has been redesigned from the ground up with new features that make it a must-have research tool for anyone who writes.

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Astropad Studio Enters the Professional iPad App Market

Astropad originally launched on the iPad in February 2015 as a drawing tool that pairs with your Mac. It serves as a second screen, allowing you to interact with Mac apps using multitouch on the iPad. The standard Astropad app remains available for a one-time payment of $29.99.

The iPad has changed a lot since February 2015. The introduction of two iPad Pro models, paired with multitasking features in iOS 9, enables more professionals than ever before to get their work done with an iPad. To better address the pro segment of the iPad market, today the makers of Astropad launched a new app called Astropad Studio.

Astropad Studio is a separate app from the original Astropad Standard.

Astropad Studio is a separate app from the original Astropad Standard.

Astropad Studio is focused on providing artists with customization options that tailor the app to their preferences and workflows. Central to this greater flexibility is the ability to perform special gestures that are customizable. This makes possible an assortment of two-handed workflows that are similar to what can be done with Microsoft's Surface Studio. One hand can use touch gestures for things like erasers and right-clicks, while the other hand can continue drawing with an Apple Pencil. Pencil use is also improved due to the option to customize pressure sensitivity to fit your preferences. The transfer speed from iPad to Mac has been bumped to a 40 MB/s max speed versus the 5 MB/s supported by the original Astropad app, helping create a more seamless iPad-to-Mac drawing experience. Another exclusive feature in Studio is its support for keyboard use, which adds to the workflow options available to users.

Two-handed workflows made possible by customizable gestures.

Two-handed workflows made possible by customizable gestures.

Astropad Studio follows a different business model than the original Astropad app, now dubbed Astropad Standard. It is a free download, but using it beyond the 7-day free trial requires a subscription: $7.99 monthly or $64.99 annually.

Though Astropad Studio isn't made for a casual Apple Pencil user like me, I'm always excited to see developers address professional users with their iPad apps. Because paid up front apps still can't offer free trials of any kind, my hope is that Apple's opening of subscription options to apps of all types will continue to expand options for pro users in the iOS App Store.


HealthView Review: Your Customized Health App

When it comes to health information on my iPhone and Apple Watch, I’m about as mildly interested as it comes – while I enjoy glancing at the metrics and measurements displayed on the Apple Watch, I usually stay away from the iPhone’s Health app.

There are two primary reasons for this: the Health app is pretty cluttered; and Health often gives me information that I really don’t care about. I’d like a “less is more” approach.

HealthView offers exactly that – rather than providing you information scattered throughout the app, you choose what you want to see, how you want to see it, and when it appears. Although it’s not as robust as Apple’s Health, HealthView may just be a better fit for your needs.

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App Extensions Are Not a Replacement for User Automation

Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s imagine that Apple decided to combine their engineering resources to form app teams that delivered both iOS and macOS versions of applications.

In such a scenario it may seem logical to retain application features common to both platforms and to remove those that were perceived to require extra resources. Certainly Automation would be something examined in that regard, and the idea might be posited that: “App Extensions are equivalent to, or could be a replacement for, User Automation in macOS.” And by User Automation, I’m referring to Apple Event scripting, Automator, Services, the UNIX command line utilities, etc.

Let’s examine the validity of that conjecture, beginning with overviews of App Extensions and User Automation.

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