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The iPad at 10: Emerging from the Shadow of the iPhone

The trouble with looking back over a long period is that time has a way of compressing history. The clarity of hindsight makes it easy to look back at almost anything and be disappointed in some way with how it turned out years later.

We certainly saw that with the anniversary of the introduction of the iPad. Considered in isolation a decade later, it’s easy to find shortcomings with the iPad. However, the endpoints of the iPad’s timeline don’t tell the full story.

It’s not that the device is short on ways it could be improved; of course, it isn’t. However, the path of the iPad over the past decade isn’t a straight line from point A to point B. The iPad’s course has been influenced by countless decisions along the way bearing consequences that were good, bad, and sometimes unintended.

The 10th anniversary of the iPad isn’t a destination, it’s just an arbitrary point from which to take stock of where things have been and consider where they are going. To do that, it’s instructive to look at more than the endpoints of the iPad’s history and consider what has happened in between. Viewed from that perspective, the state of the iPad ten years later, while at times frustrating, also holds reason for optimism. No single product in Apple’s lineup has more room to grow or potential to change the computing landscape than the iPad does today.

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Pixelmator Pro 1.6 Released with New Color Picker and Improved Way to Select Multiple Items

Pixelmator Pro 1.6 has been released with an all-new color picker that streamlines color management in the app, plus an improved way to select multiple objects in an image.

The lion’s share of Pixelmator Pro 1.6 is focused on the app’s new color picker that consolidates multiple tools in one place. The color square section of Pixelmator Pro’s color picker allows users to pick a hue, adjust its saturation and brightness, displays HEX and RGB values, provides for the creation of color swatch collections, and displays the six most recently used colors.

Pixelmator Pro features a brand new color picker.

Pixelmator Pro features a brand new color picker.

There’s also a dedicated color picker tool at the bottom of the tools on the right-hand edge of the app’s window. With the new tool open, the eyedropper remains active, improving the process of picking colors. The new color picker tool also keeps your swatches and color-picking settings available in the sidebar.

Pixelmator Pro 1.6 includes a number of other refinements too. Among them, multiple objects can also be selected now simply by dragging over them, and there’s a new tool for replacing missing fonts in a project more easily.

I’ve only spent a short time with Pixelmator Pro 1.6 so far, but even with my limited use, the new color tools a clear improvement. By consolidating everything into a custom picker, selecting and managing colors is vastly simpler than in the past. To learn more, check out the Pixelmator team’s post that additional details about the update.

Pixelmator Pro is available as a free update on the Mac App Store.


Concepts: Where Ideas Take Shape [Sponsor]

Concepts is a powerful creative ally to help you think, explore, and sketch your ideas. Stretch your mind past the limits on an infinite canvas, using fluid pens and brushes in designer COPIC colors. Used by creative professionals for note-taking, mind mapping, drawing, storyboarding, graphic design, product iteration, and architectural planning, Concepts lets you sketch, communicate and present your ideas with a flexible, customizable workflow.

Built from the ground up for iPad’s touch sensitivity, Concepts combines vectors with natural finger gestures to maximize your creativity. Everything you draw can be edited, moved, and reorganized, allowing you to interact with your ideas at a deeper level. Drag+drop images and objects for fast ideating and mood boards, use layers, and grid layouts to organize your work and apply shape guides, measurement, and scale features for more precision drawing.

Concepts comes with a free, built-in presentation mode that lets you connect via AirPlay or cable to a large display for graphic discussion and sharing during events. It works with apps like Zoom or Reflector for instant virtual whiteboarding. Once final, export and share multiple file types (JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF, DXF, PSD) for flexible work between teams and apps.

The app comes free as a basic sketching tool, with the ability to unlock 200+ libraries of brushes, objects, and services via subscription or one-time purchase. Sketch, explore, and share your ideas infinitely with Concepts.

Download Concepts today for free and give it a try. To learn more about how Concepts can help you explore your ideas, visit concepts.app.

Our thanks to Concepts for sponsoring MacStories and the iPad at 10 series this week.


Apple Releases Free COVID-19 App and Website

Apple has launched a new app developed in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency called Apple COVID-19. The company released the app with a press release:

Apple today released a new screening tool and set of resources to help people stay informed and take the proper steps to protect their health during the spread of COVID-19, based on the latest CDC guidance. The new COVID-19 website, and COVID-19 app available on the App Store, were created in partnership with the CDC,1the Coronavirus Task Force and FEMA to make it easy for people across the country to get trusted information and guidance at a time when the US is feeling the heavy burden of COVID-19.

Apple's COVID-19 website.

Apple’s COVID-19 website.

In addition to a coronavirus screening questionnaire, the app and website include other resources from trusted information sources:

The app and website also offer access to resources to help people stay informed and get the support they need. Users will receive answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19, including who is most at risk and how to recognize symptoms. In addition, they will learn the most up-to-date information from the CDC like best practices for washing hands, disinfecting surfaces and monitoring symptoms.

Users can also ask Siri “How do I know if I have coronavirus?” to access further resources and a collection of telehealth apps on the App Store.

The Apple COVID-19 app is available as a free download on the App Store, and the website is located at apple.com/covid19.


Apple Music Debuting New Album Banners in Library Tab

Source: MacRumors

Source: MacRumors

Mitchel Broussard at MacRumors reports on a new Apple Music feature that’s been spotted rolling out to a limited set of users:

Apple today is rolling out a new feature to Apple Music users, prominently displaying new albums, EPs, and videos from their favorite artists at the top of the Library tab in iOS.

The new feature first appears as a splash page in ‌Apple Music‌ on iOS, telling users that they can “see new music from artists you like.” This will let you get updates about new releases from artists you listen to, with notifications appearing above your library of albums and playlists.

Apple Music has long offered push notifications for new releases from artists you enjoy, but for me and everyone else I know, those are wildly inconsistent. Because of that, I’ve grown to depend on the excellent app MusicHarbor instead, which is much more trustworthy.

I like the idea of seeing new releases right inside the Library tab, but will wait and see whether they prove reliable or not. Based on my prior experience with Apple Music notifications, I wouldn’t be surprised to see banners for new albums show up even after I’ve saved those albums to my library. I’d happily be proven wrong, though, so here’s hoping this new method of music updates means Apple has also paid attention to the engine running the feature.

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Connected, Episode 287: Rub a Dub Dub, My Friend

On this week’s episode of Connected:

The early reviews of the 2020 iPad Pro and new MacBook Air are in, and Myke treats the group with an unboxing experience. Federico asks the world for help, while Stephen is bringing joy — and pain — to the Mac community. Also, our impressions of iOS 13.4 and some media we’re enjoying while being stuck at home.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

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01:52:29

Connected, Episode 287

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AppStories, Episode 155 – Stuck at Home

This week on AppStories, we talk about how the global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we relax, work, and approach their days.

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Arcade Highlights: Crossy Road Castle

Anti-gravity rainbows, cute animal characters, prize machines, co-operative play, and endless tower platforming: if this all sounds like the perfect diversion during a long stay indoors, you’re absolutely right.

Crossy Road Castle is a long-awaited sequel to the original Crossy Road and one of the newest Apple Arcade titles. But don’t let the word ‘sequel’ mislead you – Crossy Road Castle offers an entirely different gaming experience than its predecessor. Think less “crossing the road” and more “climbing an endless tower, one micro-level at a time.”

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Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines on Pointers for iPadOS

Speaking of the design considerations that went into iPadOS’ cursor, I suggest reading Apple’s new HIG document on the dynamic/adaptive pointer:

iPadOS 13.4 introduces dynamic pointer effects and behaviors that enhance the experience of using a pointing device with iPad. As people use a pointing device, iPadOS automatically adapts the pointer to the current context, providing rich visual feedback and just the right level of precision needed to enhance productivity and simplify common tasks.

The iPadOS pointing system gives people an additional way to interact with apps and content — it doesn’t replace touch. Some people may continue to use touch only, while others may prefer to use the pointer or a combination of both. Let people choose how to interact with your app, and avoid condensing your interface or making changes that require them to use the pointer.

And this part on “pointer magnetism”:

In addition to bringing focus to elements through pointer transformations and content effects, iPadOS can also help people target an element by making the element appear to attract the pointer. People can experience this magnetic effect when they move the pointer close to an element and when they flick the pointer toward an element.

When people move the pointer close to an element, the system starts transforming the pointer’s shape as soon as it reaches an element’s hit region. Because the hit region typically extends beyond an element’s visible boundaries, the pointer begins to transform before it appears to touch the element, creating the illusion that the element is pulling the pointer toward it.

Thoughtful, detailed read (as usual per Apple’s HIG) with illustrations that help get a sense of what’s possible with pointer customization (it doesn’t look like the Keynote update with cursor support mentioned in the document is out yet). Reading this, it’s clear that Apple didn’t simply bring the Mac’s cursor to the iPad – they started from the basic idea and redesigned it around a different platform.

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