Data detectors are a feature of Apple’s OSes that recognize information like phone numbers, addresses, and airline flight information and make them interactive. For instance, clicking on a flight in Mail or Notes on a Mac opens a pop-up window with a map of the flight path, whether the flight is on time, departure and arrival times, and other information.
Developer Josh Parnham reverse-engineered the private APIs Apple uses for its flight status data detectors and built a macOS Today widget called TodayFlights. The widget displays the same interface and information as Apple’s data detector but in macOS’s Notification Center. To enter an airline name and flight number, all you do is click the info button at the top of the widget and enter both. Like Apple’s data detector, you can click on one of the cities to zoom in on that portion of the map. In addition, clicking on the bottom section of the widget cycles through departure and arrival times, remaining flight time, and flight duration.
It’s surprising that Apple hasn’t implemented flight tracking as a Today widget. As TodayFlights demonstrates, it’s the perfect sort of glanceable information for which Notification Center was created. Because TodayFlights is built on private APIs, the widget could break if Apple changes those APIs without notice, but until that happens, TodayFlights is a handy addition to Notification Center.
TodayFlights is a free download on Josh Parnham’s website.
Balance is a macOS menu bar app that tracks the balances and transactions in your bank, investment, and online financial accounts. The app supports thousands of financial institutions and takes advantage of some of Apple’s latest innovations on the Mac like the Touch Bar and Touch ID. If you want immediate access to balance and transaction data across multiple accounts at your fingertips, Balance is worth a look.
MacPaw, makers of CleanMyMac, Gemini, and other apps, launched a public beta subscription service of hand-picked Mac apps last December called Setapp. Today the service, which aims to become the ‘Netflix of apps,’ was officially launched with a stable of 61 Mac apps.
For a flat subscription fee of $9.99 per month, customers can download any of the 61 apps and use them as long as they continue to make monthly payments. After MacPaw receives a 30% cut of customers’ subscription fees, developers who participate in Setapp are paid based on a formula that accounts for the price their apps are sold for outside the service and whether customers use the apps each month, which MacPaw tracks.
"The Mac mini is BYODKM," Steve Jobs said, in front of a crowded and slightly confused audience at Macworld 2005.
"Bring your own display, keyboard and mouse," he continued. "We supply the computer, you supply the rest."
The Mac mini was designed to lure switchers to the platform. A new customer could simply unplug their desktop PC and hook a new Mac mini up to their existing peripherals.1
The original machine started at just $499, making the Mac mini the lowest-cost Mac Apple has ever sold.
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.
In anticipation of the Chinese New Year, which begins January 28th, Apple commissioned wallpapers for the Mac, iPad, and iPhone from five artists. Apple describes the wallpapers, which are available on its websites in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, as ‘new interpretations of traditional Chinese New Year Nianhua folk art.’
Each of the wallpapers was created using a variety of Apple products, including the MacBook Pro, iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple Pencil and third-party apps, like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Procreate. The artists who designed the wallpapers will also be participating in ‘Meet the Artist’ programs at Apple Stores in China and Hong Kong.
The wallpapers are available to download here.
Great video by Jason Snell, revisiting Steve Jobs' old metaphor of cars and trucks in a modern context. (A transcript is available here.)
What becomes a favorite app is personal, complicated, and evolves over time. Favorites can be brand-new apps that debuted this year, old standbys that you go back to over and over, or newly-discovered apps that have been around for a while. With the end of the year in sight Alex, Jake, and I got together and each picked a handful of our favorite Mac apps that we used in 2016 to share with you.
Douglas Queneua of Campaign US has put together an extensive oral history of Apple's famous "Get a Mac" ad campaign. Written in two parts, the history is told by actors Justin Long (Mac) and John Hodgman (PC), as well as many of the creative minds that birthed the campaign.
In September 2005, Steve Jobs gave his advertising agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day, an assignment: Come up with a campaign that clearly demonstrates the Mac's superiority to the PC. There was no deadline.
Seven months, dozens of tense meetings and countless discarded ideas later, the agency produced "Get a Mac." It would go on to become one of the most succesful and admired ad campaigns in Apple's history, no small feat when "1984," "Think Different" and "Silhouette" are the competition. Among those legendary ads, "Get a Mac" stands out as the most overtly comedic and one of the most expansive: The team shot 323 spots over three years just to get the 66 that made it on air.
To mark the 10-year anniversary, Campaign US asked members of the creative team, the crew and the actors to share the untold stories of how the campaign came to life. What follows is their recollections—inconsistencies, errors, biases and all—lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
There are plenty of great stories shared here from a memorable campaign.
One of my favorite tidbits from the article is that Justin Long initially assumed he would be playing the PC role, because up until then he had been playing primarily nerdy parts. "Nerdy parts," he says, "suited my natural personality."