Posts tagged with "video"

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.

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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.

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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


Behind The Scenes of “Sh*t Apple Fanatics Say”

Behind The Scenes of "Sh*t Apple Fanatics Say"

Ken Segall (author of Insanely Simple) has posted an article detailing the story behind "Sh*t Apple Fanatics Say", a viral video that ironically collects many of the things Apple fans typically say when "defending" the company and its (sometimes questionable) choices.

Produced by Scott Rose, Mac consultant and FileMaker Pro developer, the two videos of the series (Part 1, Part 2) have been viewed over 900,000 times on YouTube. Interestingly, the video started as a side project that should have been completed in a couple of days, but eventually the "team" behind it spent "one day of location scouting, one day of writing, 2.5 days of shooting and five days of editing".

The pair wrote over 100 lines and recorded all of them at each location, and improvised as well. That resulted in over eight hours of video that had to be whittled down to just a few minutes.

Make sure to check out the full interview over at Ken Segall's Observatory.

"Apple can totally survive with Tim Cook, as long as he keeps hiring great people like John Browett". 

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The Story Behind The “Steve Jobs as Franklin Delano Roosevelt” Video

The Story Behind The "Steve Jobs as Franklin Delano Roosevelt" Video

Michael Markman has published an interesting blog post detailing the backstory behind the rare Apple video featuring Steve Jobs as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

I called Chris in L.A. to outline what we were thinking. War movie. Stock footage from the D-day landings. Chaplin as Adenoid Hynkel hanging on the wall. Mac marketing team in cameo roles. And the topper: Steve as FDR. He said he'd start looking for a director (or maybe he had one in mind).

Glenn, Mike, and I marched into Steve's office to give him the pitch. Pretty much the way I outlined it in the previous paragraph. Steve's eyes were sparkling through it all. By the time I got to, "and you as FDR," I had made the sale. In the binary universe of Steve Jobs, something is either a zero or a one. This was a one. Instantly. Definitively.

The “1944″ video was aimed at rallying Apple’s sales troops and the Mac division against IBM, which was taking the majority of PC market shares back at the time. Check out the full story here, and the video on YouTube.

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Concept Video Shows New Text Selection Method for iPad

Remember how, before the iPad was unveiled in January 2010, speculation was running wild as to whether Apple would simply use a larger virtual keyboard on the device? Back then, some rumors claimed the bigger nature of the device would force Apple to come up with some crazy and revolutionary way to type text on screen. As it turned out, Apple simply replicated the iPhone's soft keyboard on the initial version of iPhone OS 3.2, making it almost laptop-size. In fact, the biggest change to the iPad's software keyboard only happened with iOS 5.0 last year with the introduction of the split keyboard.

That's not to say everything related to the iOS keyboard is perfect and Apple should stop improving on it. As the plethora of Dropbox text editors have showed, there is a need for different, possibly customizable keyboards that give better access to text selection tools.

In my list of wishes for iOS 6, I forgot to mention I really would like to see easier, faster text selection coming to the iPhone and iPad. I believe iOS' text selection method is one of the best around, yet Apple could do better. For writers, selecting text -- not typing it -- simply isn't nearly as fast as on a laptop. And the problem is not the keyboard -- the issue persists with external Bluetooth keyboards -- it's the design of iOS itself that forces you to get your hands off the keyboard to manipulate text.

iDownloadBlog has posted an interesting concept video by YouTube user "danielchasehooper", showing an interesting possible take on text selection on the iPad. By allowing users to tap and swipe on the keyboard, this system could, in theory, allow for faster selection, also in combination with keys like Shift. Almost every area of iOS now supports taps and swipes: why not the keyboard?

Concepts are what they are -- ideas -- but sometimes Apple seems to consider them. I don't know if this video will turn out to be a feature Apple will evaluate -- albeit it really makes a lot of sense in my opinion, design-wise -- but I sure hope something's cooking for iOS 6 in regards to text selection.


Rare Video Of Steve Jobs as Franklin Delano Roosevelt Surfaces

Rare Video Of Steve Jobs as Franklin Delano Roosevelt Surfaces

Network World (via MacRumors) managed to obtain a copy of an old internal inspirational video for Apple employees titled "1944", starring Steve Jobs as U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Serving as an in-house alternate version of Apple's iconic 1984 commercial, "1944" was allegedly aimed at rallying Apple's sales troops against IBM.

Set as a World War II tale of good vs. IBM, it is a broadcast-quality production (said to have cost $50,000) that was designed to fire up Apple's international sales force at a 1984 meeting in Hawaii. A copy of "1944" was provided to me by one-time Apple employee Craig Elliott, now CEO of Pertino Networks, a cloud-computing startup located two blocks from Apple in Cupertino.

Make sure to check out the full video, backstory, and transcript of the entire video at Network World.

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