With three children, I’ve looked at many products over the years that are designed to make learning to code fun and engaging for kids. Of all the things I’ve tried, one of my favorites is a build-your-own computer kit from Kano. The kit is a kid-friendly Raspberry Pi with tiny, bright orange wireless keyboard.
My kids are a little old for the Kano wand now, but I know that if it were available back when they were tearing through the Harry Potter series, the wand would have probably turned up at my house over the holidays.
Flexibits has released an update to the Mac version of its popular calendar app Fantastical. The feature that should be useful to most users immediately is the ability to send and receive new time proposals for events. Fantastical already could send meeting invitations and acceptances, but with version 2.5, recipients of an invitation can propose a new time. The feature works with iCloud, Google, Exchange and CalDAV calendaring services, which should cover most use cases.
Bear debuted in 2016. That’s given users plenty of time to accumulate large collections of notes, which has made managing them more difficult. With Bear 1.5, Shiny Frog takes note management head-on with an update that significantly improves the way users interact with their note libraries.
Hot on the heels of Twitter’s abandonment of its official Mac client last week, The Iconfactory announced new Twitterrific features and a price reduction.
One of the highlights of the update is enhancements to multi-account support. If you have more than one Twitter account set up in Twitterrific, right clicking on the reply, quote, retweet, or like buttons displays a popup window for choosing which account you want to use for each of those functions. Alternatively, if you are in the middle of composing a reply or quote-tweet, click on your avatar in the compose window to switch the account from which it will be sent.
The Iconfactory has added several other nice refinements too:
- Lists of a person’s followers and who they follow have been added to user profiles.
- Avatars now include verified and protected status badges, although this can be turned off in Twitterrific’s settings.
- There is a setting to turn off tweet streaming, so your timeline can only be refreshed manually.
- Georgia is a new font alternative in the app’s preferences.
Twitterrific for Mac has come a long way since the commencement of its crowdfunding campaign last winter, and many of the shortcomings of version 1.0 that I highlighted in my review last October have been addressed. It’s fantastic to see Twitterrific continue to grow and evolve, especially now that Twitter has walked away from its Mac app.
To celebrate the one year anniversary of Project Phoenix, the crowdsourced Kickstarter project that relaunched Twitterrific on macOS, the price of the app has been reduced from $19.99 to just $7.99. Twitterrific is available on the Mac App Store.
In the time honored tradition of releasing bad news at the close of business on a Friday, Twitter announced via its Twitter Support account that it was removing its Mac client from the the Mac App Store and discontinuing support for the app:
Twitter gained a native Mac client when it acquired Tweetie for Mac from Loren Brichter in 2010, but the company’s support for the app over the years has been half-hearted at best. As John Gruber explained on Daring Fireball:
Twitter dumped Tweetie’s codebase years ago, of course, and their Mac app has been garbage ever since they did. It’s all fine, really, so long as they continue to allow third-party clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific to exist. But this “Mac users should just use the website” attitude is exactly what I was talking about here as an existential threat to the future of the Mac.
Twitter’s move is not surprising given the history of the app. Most Mac users I know moved on to third-party clients years ago. However, Gruber’s broader point is an important one. There has been an increasing trend away from native Mac apps and towards web apps and cross-platform apps based on technologies like Electron. Many of these non-native solutions are resource hogs, and even the best often fail to take advantage of OS-level features, which makes them feel out of place among native apps. Perhaps the rumored Project Marzipan is designed to reinvigorate Mac development, although it’s hard to see that working if companies like Twitter simply don’t care to provide the best experience on macOS.
Agenda is an intriguing approach to note taking on the Mac that’s organized around dates and your calendar. The app is beautifully-designed and notably feature-rich for a 1.0 but lacks an iOS counterpart, which is still in the works, and collaboration features, which will limit its appeal to some users. There are also areas of the app that lack polish, but overall, Agenda shows a lot of promise and should be attractive to anyone who juggles multiple calendar events and deadlines.
The iPad is finally starting to grow up.
Despite the device becoming an instant sales phenomenon upon launch, iPad in its earlier years of life was never a legitimate PC replacement – nor was it meant to be. From birth the iPad existed not to cannibalize the Mac, but to supplement it. Steve Jobs called it a "third category" of device, fitting snugly in the space between a laptop and smartphone.
In recent years, however, the iPad has gone through a stark transition. If you want an iPad to supplement your iPhone and Mac, you can still get one in the $329 "just call me iPad" model introduced last spring. But the bulk of Apple's iPad efforts of late have centered on making the device a capable replacement for the traditional computer. The iPad Pro and iOS 11 represent a new vision for the iPad. This vision puts the iPad not next to the Mac, but instead squarely in its place. It's a vision embodied by the question, "What's a computer?"
I made the iPad Pro my primary computer when it first launched in late 2015. The transition pains from Mac to iPad were minimal, and the device has grown even more capable since that time thanks to improvements in iOS. My need for a Mac is now extremely rare.
My desire for a Mac, however, still exists in a few specific use cases. There are things the Mac has to offer that I wish my iPad could replicate.
Now that the modern iPad has many basics of computing covered, here are the things I think it needs to take iPad-as-PC to the next level.
Apple updated its website with news that the iMac Pro is shipping beginning on December 14, 2017. The pro-level iMac features a long list of impressive specifications. The desktop computer, which was announced in June at WWDC comes in 8, 10, and 18-core configurations, though the 18-core model will not ship until 2018. The new iMac can be configured with up to 128GB of RAM and can handle SSD storage of up to 4TB. Graphics are driven with the all-new Radeon Pro Vega, which Apple said offers three times the performance over other iMac GPUs.
The desktop, which Apple touts as a solution for video editing, virtual reality development, and other graphics and processor-intensive tasks was taken through its paces by Marques Brownlee on his YouTube channel:
According to Brownlee, the machine runs quiet and cool, but suffers from the inability to upgrade components, which is uncommon for a pro-level computer. Brownlee also notes that the iMac Pro worked well on Final Cut Pro X tasks that would typically choke another iMac.
Jonathan Morrison also got an opportunity to preview the iMac Pro, showing off his setup here:
Today is the 30th anniversary of the introduction of HyperCard, a system for building interactive media. HyperCard featured database features, form-based layouts, and a programming language called HyperTalk, which made it a powerful and flexible tool that had a loyal following. To mark the occasion, the Internet Archive has built on its previous Macintosh emulation project to bring HyperCard back through emulation.
As Jason Scott describes it on the Internet Archive Blog:
HyperCard brought into one sharp package the ability for a Macintosh to do interactive documents with calculation, sound, music and graphics. It was a popular package, and thousands of HyperCard “stacks” were created using the software.
Additionally, commercial products with HyperCard at their heart came to great prominence, including the original Myst program.
The Internet Archive already has a collection of HyperCard stacks that you can try using its browser-based emulator, and if you have stacks you created, you can upload them to add to the collection. HyperCard played a big role in exposing a generation to programming and influenced the architecture of the web we use today, so it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to take it for a spin again.