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Posts tagged with "video"

Sam Beckett’s Advanced Control Center Concept

Control Center was introduced with iOS 7 in 2013, since then, it has benefited from minor visual tweaks and the recent inclusion of a Night Shift toggle with iOS 9.3. In future updates, it would be great to see Control Center gain more hardware and system toggles, along with the ability for users to customise which toggles they require and where they are positioned. An enhanced Control Center could also add support for 3D Touch for additional options and introduce a new system-wide dark mode.

I don't typically publish iOS concepts on MacStories, but Sam Beckett's latest video is so close to my idea for a customizable Control Center (see last year), I just couldn't resist. Tasteful, well researched, and with some great ideas for integrating 3D Touch, too.


Improving the iOS 9 Videos App

I find the iOS Videos app frustrating to use. It’s almost unbelievable that in the 9th major version of the OS it’s missing what seem to be some pretty basic features. However, this also means that it should’t be hard to make it a lot better:

This is a great list of suggestions for the built-in Videos app by Michael Tsai.

The Videos app strikes me as one of the most outdated Apple apps across iOS – it was updated with a basic UI refresh for iOS 7, but its functionality largely remained unchanged. There's a chasm between the video experiences on Apple platforms – with the new Apple TV now out of the door, I think a complete revamp of the iOS Videos app should be taken in consideration this year.


Vidyo, a Screen Recorder for iOS

Vidyo, a screen recording utility for iPhone and iPad available at $4.99 on the App Store, seems like one of those apps that will soon be removed by Apple. By simulating an AirPlay Mirroring connection to the app itself, Vidyo allows you to capture your device's screen even when you're not using the app – which means you can record your Home screen as well as other apps, saving everything to a video file on your device.

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Apple Music’s Connect and Its Video Embed Option

Jordan Kahn, writing for 9to5Mac on Apple Music's somewhat hidden video embed option:

While we’ve known it has been hosting videos for artists using its own video player inside Apple Music, Apple quietly started adding an embed button to the video player that takes it out of Apple Music and makes it sharable across the rest of the web. The feature is notable for a few reasons and could mean big things to come for Apple, video, and its relationship with YouTube and other competitive music and video services…

The new sharing option began appearing sometime in recent weeks as new videos from Drake and the company’s latest Apple Music ad featuring Kenny Chesney included an embed button on Apple’s usual video player. It’s currently hidden, only appearing on the videos in some locations and only when videos are copied from raw webpage code, but it looks to be something Apple could really exploit.

I've come across Apple Music embeds a couple of times already when reading news on some music blogs I follow, and I thought they were part of special publisher or artist features (here's an example, which I can only watch on OS X). It's interesting to imagine how video embeds could signal a proliferation of ad-free music videos available anywhere, hosted by Apple.


YouTube and Full-Screen Playback of Vertical Videos

YouTube has added support for full-screen playback of vertical videos in their latest iOS app update. The new version follows a mobile web redesign and new Android features that will soon come to iOS as well.

While I understand that many people are deeply against vertical videos, the reality is that vertical video makes sense for some cases in the age of smartphones. The ergonomics of big phones make it easier to start shooting in portrait mode without having to rotate the device and wait for the interface to adjust. On the iPhone, for instance, there's no landscape Lock screen, and a camera shortcut is right there in the portrait Lock screen. Vertical video is ideal for framing people or faces with the front-facing camera – just see how people are watching videos in Snapchat, and you'll get the idea.

On iOS, FaceTime, selfies, and the majority of the iPhone UI are mostly portrait experiences, and that has changed how people approach media content created on mobile.

TVs and computer monitors are horizontally oriented and horizontal video is how movies and other videos are best experienced – I get that. But, like it or not, we live in an era where a lot of video content is also created by people with phones oriented vertically because it's faster, easier, or simply better to record that way in some scenarios.

For this reason, I welcome YouTube adding support for full-screen vertical video playback on their platform.

Instagram Video

Today, Instagram has officially introduced video. With a new camera interface, users can now take videos up to 15 seconds long, choose between 13 custom filters, and post quick videos alongside photos in the main Instagram feed. Videos can be viewed on the web and through the just-updated iPhone app; third-party apps with access to the Instagram API, like Tweetbot, will have to be updated to support inline video viewing.

Video on Instagram is obviously reminiscent of Vine, Twitter's service for 6-second videos. While there was no explicit mention of Vine at Instagram's press event, it was clear that founder Kevin Systrom was presenting a product aimed at doing mobile video sharing better than Vine -- which has been growing but isn't quite as mainstream as Instagram is. For the past couple of years, finding the "Instragram for video" has been a recurring theme on the Internet, and I find it curious that Instagram decided to tackle this just when Vine was starting to take off.

The 4.0 update to the iOS app is nicely built and put together. I like how video capture sits right next to the standard camera interface (you can tap a button or swipe to access it), and I also appreciate the options to delete clips (portions of a video) and choose a cover thumbnail -- two features that I always wanted to see in Vine. Instagram is setting a minimum duration for videos, which is displayed through segments in the video interface's progress bar.

I do wonder if, with the addition of video, some of Instagram's immediacy has been lost. Three years ago, when I first reviewed Instagram for iPhone, I predicted how it would become a new paradigm for camera apps. While the Instagram team has tried to keep the new experience as simple as possible, there is an intrinsic complexity about video that will likely be frowned upon by Instagram purists -- this is exemplified by Instagram's approach to video editing, which only allows you to delete entire clips and not individual frames. And Instagram's upload speed, a marquee tenet of photo sharing, will inevitably be affected by videos.

Overall, from what I've seen so far, I think Instagram for video is polished and nice -- an obvious addition perhaps, but it'll be popular in the short term. It'll be interesting to see how much Instagram's nature and community will change with videos.


Apple Posts WWDC 2013 Keynote, iOS 7, “Designed by Apple” Videos

For those who didn't follow a liveblog or the news as it unfolded on Twitter, Apple has now posted the keynote video of its WWDC 2013 keynote held earlier today in San Francisco.  The video can be streamed here, and a higher quality version should be made available in a few hours through iTunes (on the Apple Keynotes podcast). To avoid streaming errors, Safari is recommended for the best viewing experience.

Alongside the keynote, Apple has also posted promotional videos for iOS 7 (announced today) and "Designed by Apple", a new campaign that the company will start running today as a TV ad. The iOS 7 video, featuring an introduction by Apple's Jony Ive, is available here.

"Designed by Apple" has received its own webpage, where Apple has posted two videos. The first one was first shown today in San Francisco, before the keynote started; the second one is a TV ad that was aired at the end of the presentation. The first video features a series of animations with the following text:

If everyone is busy making everything, how can anyone perfect anything?

We start to confuse convenience with joy, abundance with choice. Designing something requires focus.

The first thing we ask is: what do we want people to feel? Delight. Surprise. Love. Connection. Then we begin to craft around our intention. It takes time…

There are a thousand no's for every yes. We simplify. We perfect. We start over.

Until everything we touch enhances each life it touches.

Only then do we sign our work.

The new videos can be watched here.

For more coverage, check out our WWDC 2013 news hub and follow @macstoriesnet on Twitter.

Miro Video Converter 3.0

Miro Video Converter 3.0

Nice update for Miro Video Converter:

Keeping with the original simplicity of Miro Video Converter that has made it popular with all of our users, the updated Miro Video Converter comes with a great new look. Just drag and drop or browse to your list of video files.

Free and open source, Miro Video Converter 3.0 notably introduces batch processing of videos (depending on the cores available on your computer), a new design, more devices and formats, thumbnail generation, and better control on aspect ratio and output sizes. It looks good; you can also add files to the queue while a conversion is in progress.

For MacStories, I usually take videos of iOS apps using Reflection Reflector and QuickTime on my Mac. In QuickTime, I export "for the web" (at broadband quality), and then use ffmpeg2theora to convert to Theora, so I can use two formats for the same HTML 5 video (it means both Chrome/Safari and Firefox users will get a native, Flash-free video player). The big downside of ffmpeg2theora is that you'll need to run it from the command line: it doesn't have a graphical user interface to go with. In that case, Miro is a good option, albeit slower: in my tests, a 49 MB .mov QuickTime file took 101 seconds to be converted to .ogv with ffmpeg2theora; it took 177 in Miro. The same file took 87 seconds to be converted to mp4 with Miro. Both tests were run on this MacBook Air.

If you need a GUI for video conversions that's not the fastest option, but still should get the job done and it's free, Miro is available here.


iOS 6 Spotlight Concept

Last week, designer Cody Sanfilippo shared (via TUAW) an interesting concept of what Spotlight on iOS could be like. Drawing inspiration from Siri’s results, widgets, and some third-party apps that already enable similar functionalities, I find Cody’s concept worth of a deeper discussion. Particularly following the release of iOS 6 yesterday and the many refinements it brings to several areas of the OS, I think Spotlight is one of the stock functionalities that could use an overhaul in the future.

Cody’s proposed design essentially breaks down Spotlight by filters, and makes it play nicer with third-party apps and their content. It is aimed at reducing taps required to perform some actions such as calling a contact, or playing a song, and, overall, it takes some of the functionalities of Siri and translates them into a text-based input.

With this new system in place, you are capable of doing things a lot quicker. For example, tap phone numbers to call from Contact results. Tap their email addresses to email them. Tap “play” on a music result to play the song without ever entering the Music app. Check calendar events, or notes, or reminders instantly. You get all this information at a glance, without ever opening the applications. Of course, tapping the entry (the arrow in Contacts, entire clipping in Notes, etc) will bring you into that application.

In Cody’s vision, Spotlight could gain “filters” to display as buttons at the bottom. So rather than searching for a string of text across your entire operating system, you’d gain the option to refine your results by restricting them to a certain application, like Contacts. Looking for “Mike” in the current Spotlight, for instance, would bring up results from your Address Book, Music, Mail, Messages, and more. If you know you just want to view Mike’s contact card, though, you could enable a Contacts filter, and display a Siri-like card with phone number, Twitter username, and email addresses you can tap on.

Perhaps contacts aren’t the best way to illustrate how such concept could help users save time (though I’m a fan of Cody’s design idea for this). Say you want to play a song: with “Spotlight 2.0”, you could hit Play directly from a search result, saving you the time to open the Music app, view the playback screen, etc. Sanfilippo thought of various implementations for this concept for several built-in apps.

In my opinion, however, the really forward-thinking idea is the possible third-party app integration. You know how Spotlight can look at the contents of your Mail messages? Imagine if it’d be able to return songs from Rdio or Spotify, or tasks from OmniFocus without opening those apps.

That’s a very powerful concept, and one that is not too dissimilar from the Siri API many developers have been expecting since last year. Such an idea – a system that can “look into apps” for certain types of content it understands and returns as results – would probably require major changes by developers to their apps, although, as we’ve seen in the past week, developers who are truly committed to their apps will always update them with support for the latest technologies and devices.

If you’re interested in Cody Sanfilippo’s concept for a better Spotlight, I suggest you head over his website, where you can find a detailed explanation of his ideas, a UI breakdown, and some thoughts on the implications of a different Spotlight. If you’re interested in reading more on the subject, I also recommend this article by Rene Ritchie, which touched upon many similar points back in June.

You can check out the concept video below. Read more