27th April 2018
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Brent Simmons:

Say you write an iOS app, and now you want to write the Mac version.

Assuming there’s a data model, maybe a database, some networking code, that kind of thing, then you can use that exact same code in your Mac app, quite likely without any changes whatsoever.

I agree with Brent here. I’ve never really understood the argument that AppKit is that difficult to understand, so that’s why people don’t port native apps over. Surely the underlying logic of the app is the hard part, and linking the functionality to the interface is the easier part?

I would say I’m more of an iOS developer, simply because I’ve spent more time on it. But I’ve also made a few Mac applications. Sure, a resizing window is a bit more complex than a relatively fixed screen size, and some the interface elements are names slightly differently.

It’s just different, for both sets of people. But not as difficult as it may seem.

23rd January 2018

As you may or may not know, I’ve been building my own iOS app for Manton Reece’s Micro.blog.

A short description of Micro.blog, if you aren’t already familiar:

A new social network and publishing platform for independent microblogs, created by Manton Reece.

Development is going well, and I’m nearly ready to announce the first beta version, but I thought I’d write about the current progress, and what you can expect to see in the first beta version. This development log will hopefully become a regular thing as I add more features to the app.

b0.1 – Read Only

The codename for this version is “Read Only”, and that stems from the fact that it will not have any ability to write posts. That is something I want to spend a lot of time getting right, and shouldn’t hold back a beta version from being released.

Right now, there are 5 main sections in the app:

  • Timeline
  • Mentions
  • Favourites
  • Discover
  • Profile

The first four are pretty much the same, except they present different lists of posts. But they are what you’d imagine.

On each post in these lists, at the minute you see the name and username of the author, the posts content (of course), and the date. Each post also has a favourite/unfavourite button in the top-right corner. Swiping right to left on these cells, will show you the full conversation relevant to this post.

I currently also do some basic link detection in posts, and if there’s a @ mention with a link to their Micro.blog profile, it will navigate to their profile page. Anything else at the minute will launch inside a Safari View inside the app.

In the profile page, for yourself, or other users, you currently only see the name, username, photo, and also the number of people you are following. You cannot see how many followers you have in any case. Tapping the following will show a list of all of these users.

The app currently supports both methods of authentication, app token, and also by requesting an email that contains a link to open the app.

I started on a side menu as well, which at the minute simply shows the version number. But this will be expanded heavily in the future.

What Else

Of course one thing I need to add, is the ability to log out! It will be placed in the side menu.

I also want to expand the profile pages, by adding the bio, and also a link to their website. And also, features surrounding the user that I want to add, is the ability to tap on a users image to open their profile, and also the ability to follow and unfollow a user.

Finally, I need to make some icons for the overall app (most likely a quick draft for beta purposes), the different tabs, and also one for the menu.

Screenshots

24th November 2017
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Here’s something interesting – The guys over at iA (devleopers of the iA Writer app), have made their own font. Prevously the apps used a font called Nitti, which kind of became part of the iA brand, but they took it upon themselves to develop a more writing focussed option.

Hell just froze over. After seven years of offering no font options to write, iA Writer now comes with a choice. Next to the monospace Nitti you will now find a brand new duospace font. Duospace?

[…]

For an app that was designed as the digital equivalent of a typewriter, a monospace font is not a far fetch. But, if font choice were just a matter of style, there are better and less expensive ways to impress than leasing a high end monospaced typeface that many take for a silly Courier.

There was clearly a lot of investigastion that went into it, and I’m a fan of the results!

Read the full article on the iA Blog, and download iA Writer for iOS and macOS.

 

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29th October 2017

Just over a week ago, I really wanted to set a plain colour background to my iPad. I had a quick look on the App Store, but nothing just did the feature I wanted. So I ended up starting my own mini project.

It took a few hours to make, and I had to make it support iPhone, iPad, and all the sizes they both come in. In the end it was probably as simple as the implementation could be, but that’s what I wanted myself.

The app can be broken down into 5 elements – three sliders for the hue, saturation, and brightness, followed by a save/share button so you can save the image or do whatever you want with it. Then there’s the background of the app, which shows the currently selected colour. So you literally get to see a live preview of the wallpaper.

Shortly after making this app, I thought back to my post on clearing out my current selection of apps on the App Store. But like I said in that post, some apps don’t require much maintenance, and I this app will fit in to that category. So although I do plan on keeping it up to date, you can see yourself how simple that will be.

Of course, I couldn’t charge for an app this simple. So it is available for free on the App Store!

11th September 2017

A lot of people would like Safari to show favicons in the tab bar, just like Chrome does. And it’s been the subject on various blog posts, and podcasts. But it was a post by John Gruber, that got Timing developer Daniel Alm interested.

He then went on and made an app called Faviconographer, that doesn’t exactly add that feature to Safari, but instead analyses Safari and the current tabs, and overlays the relevant favicon where it should be.

It’s not perfect, but it does make Safari much better. I just can’t believe it’s still not an official feature.

You can download Faviconographer, and also read more about how it works, the current limitations, and also some other information on the app on the Faviconographer website.

11th September 2017

I’ve been wanting (not exactly looking for) a better way to quickly deal with screenshots on macOS for a while, and while looking over Product Hunt today, there was an app called ShotBox climbing the ranks.

It was free, and it looked interesting, so I gave it a shot. I was very pleased with what I found, and it’s such a simple utility, but it’s exactly what I need.

It’s similar to the new screenshot feature in iOS, in that when it detects a new screenshot, it opens up a small window in the bottom-left corner, so you can quickly edit and share.

There are actually only two things you can do in that window, and they are preview and edit. And of course when you close the window, you get the option to quickly delete the screenshot, or to save it.

I initially didn’t think it would work properly on my Mac, as I have Hazel move my screenshots into a separate folder, which I then have rules on archiving. So therefore they don’t just sit on my desktop. However, ShotBox lets you select a folder to watch, so this wasn’t an issue!

You can find out more information on ShotBox, and also download it for free using these links:

28th July 2017

I’ve been working on a new app for a while now, and I’ve been meaning to write about it here on my blog, but I just keep putting it off. But as the beta process has been going for a while, and I think the development has progressed to a more stable (I mean slow) development cycle. Probably not good for most of my projects, but I’m treating this as a more long-term project. More specifically, I want to do each step well, so that in the end it’s a product that I want to use myself, and potentially a lot of other people too.


So, a slight break here, so I can explain what this project actually is.

In the simplest terms – it’s a water intake tracker for iOS. Being slightly more descriptive – it’s an app where you can manage your water intake, get a quick glance on how you are doing compared to your daily goal, and also look back and see how hydrated you were in the past.

That’s not the final description however, as I have many things I want to add to the application (which I will describe below), and I’m probably also missing out features that I’ve already implemented.

Oh and it’s called Hydrate. Original, I know.


There was no big reason for the app, except that I wanted to start tracking my water intake, and as an app developer, I thought I’d put the two together. I was actually asked on Twitter about the difference between Hydrate and other “competing” apps, my answer was what I just said – I’m making it for myself. If other people enjoy it, then that’s even better!

The layout and overall design is aimed to be as simple as possible, and therefore is designed around having “Quick Add” buttons, which you can set up with default quantities, making it even easier to add water intake. Mainly because, it’s not fun entering data as boring as this, so if I can make it quick, I will.

At the moment, the current features are:

  • View daily intake.
  • Add predefined quantities via Quick Add buttons.
  • Add custom amounts.
  • Set a daily goal – Which is the basis for the main ring.
  • Support for ml and fl oz (US).
  • Dark/Light mode – I just have to have a dark mode, and the other one is for “normals”.
  • View your past water intake (last 21 days).
  • Today widget with Quick Add buttons, to do it even faster.

Of course that’s not all the features I want to add, therefore I have a basic list of future main features:

  • Watch App
  • Make the ring animate.
  • Possible reward for hitting the daily goal.
  • A way to share your progress.
  • A maybefeature – Some way to add a drink when you start drinking it, which you can then tap to add to the actual data when it’s finished.

I’m most likely going to add more to this list, but that’s what I want to definitely (apart from the last one) add before I release.

If you want to try out Hydrate, then the beta process has already started, just enter your email on the Hydrate website, and I’ll add you to the TestFlight group!

07th June 2017

My friend Cesare Forelli has just released his fourth app, and it’s a pedometer to help keep track of how far you’ve walked.

It’s a simple application, in that it’s primarily a way to view your walking data, but that’s not all it does.

It tracks your steps, the distance you actually walked, and if you’re on an iPhone 6 or newer it also shows you how many stairs have climbed.

This data is combined with a set goal, which is an amount of steps you want to hit every day. This is all presented in main ring, but if you swipe to the left you will also get to see the Stats view. Here you can find your past steps and distance walked, but also other data points such as the most steps walked, longest distance, and most floors in a single day.

There’s also a today widget, that let’s you keep on top of your walking at a glance.

I’m a big fan of the interface, and how it shows everything I need to see, and in a beautiful way.

Walk More is free to download on the App Store, but there’s also a few tip options in the settings, just in case you want to help keep the app going!

25th May 2017

With iOS 11 days from being announced, you wouldn’t expect a great deal of big updates to apps. But Readdle have implemented a feature, that most iOS users have been waiting for – Drag and Drop.

So on their iPad apps – Documents, PDF Expert, Scanner Pro and Spark, you will be able to drag items from one app to another when using Split View.

I don’t want to write thousands of words explaining this new feature, because it just wouldn’t do it justice. Instead, you can watch Readdles’s demo video.

It’s truly impressive, and it’s what I expect a native drag and drop feature on iOS would look like. Their own implementation would of took a huge amount of work, and they’ve really made it look seamless. One point I have to make though, is that if Drag and Drop is announced for iOS 11, would this custom implementation be the best way to do it?

But leaving the pessimistic thoughts alone, this is an incredible feature, and makes me want to try out even more of Readdle’s apps.

You can read Readdle’s announcement on their blog, but if you want to know more details on these updates, and see some more examples, then Federico Viticci has written a great piece at MacStories.

07th April 2017

Apple released Clips yesterday, which is their new app for creating fun videos, with various filters, music, and more. I covered this app before, but as I hadn’t played around with the app at that point, it was literally just explaining the features.

But now I’ve had over a day with the app, and I must say I’m really loving it. It’s even earned it’s place on my Home screen!

The design of the app itself is quite nice, but I’m not sure I feel the same way about the icon. And it just feels easy to use, which I guess is the main focus.

I didn’t think I’d say this, but I also like the filters! The comic book one is by far my favourite, everything looks good in it!

There’s a lot of talk about the usage of private APIs, and how the app itself doesn’t ask for permission to use things like the camera or microphone, but seeing as this is an Apple app, I’m not too worried.

Another thing I like about Clips, is the exporting options. I had wondered how Apple would select social networks that would be included, but using a (completely custom) share sheet, is a good way to avoid any issues. Because this means any app can enable support for Clips, by adding video importing. One option I’m very thankful of, is YouTube, because it’s really fast (and super easy) to upload a Clip, and have it available near instantly.

I had some interesting mail today, and this gave me the opportunity to make use of Clips title features and music. Which I think turned out pretty well!

Finally, there’s something else I must say about Clips, and the type of app/service it could be enabling. And although the app is purely a way to capture, and edit videos, I think the content that people will create in Clips could change the way people watch videos.

We all know the issues with YouTube, there’s advertisement problems, the creators seem to always be annoyed about something, and it generally lacks competition. But one thing we can take from YouTube, is that people love Vlogs. Which are essentially a video version of a blog post, it’s a visual way to understand someone else’s life.

Blogs used to be huge, and while I still really enjoy writing my own, and reading other’s blog posts. But since then, microblogging services have taken over, with Twitter being the main service.

What I’m thinking is, if Twitter took blogging and made it micro, so then more people could take part, and share more content, more often. What if Clips could make vlogging micro? It would need another service of course, but it could just make use of whatever social network they’re on. I personally think that this app, along with competing apps that will no doubt turn up soon, will be the catalyst for upgrading the type of content that is shared.