25th April 2017

If like me, you’ve got a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, you may get yourself in a situation where the ports just aren’t enough.

With the MacBook Pro, the ports you have access to are:

  • 4 x USB C / Thunderbolt
  • 1 x 3.5mm Headphone Jack

This is all perfect, until you need to plug in an external display, or have an old USB A drive you want to use. For sure, there are adapters everywhere, and you can literally find any combination of dongles.

The problem arises when you have adapters that break over time, or when using multiple adapters, they tend to get lost.

Well, a while ago I backed something on Kickstarter called HyperDrive. It’s an adapter that is more of an extension, as it just slots on to the side of the Mac, and turns 2 USB C ports into a lot more.

I was going to make a video for this when I first received it, but that just never happened. But ever since Apple released Clips for iOS, I’ve been making small videos.

So I’ve created one for this. I won’t share here what the actual details of the HyperDrive is here, because I don’t want to spoil the video!

You can’t get a HyperDrive from Kickstarter anymore, but they are now running an IndieGoGO campaign where you can find them.

It’s truly a game changer for me.

24th April 2017

A few days ago I started to use Pinboard, which if you didn’t know, is a personal archiving service for links/notes.

I’ve known about the service for a while now, and it seems to be rather helpful to people, and while finally checking it out, the philosophy behind it really resonated with me. It’s a paid (only $11 per year) service, that has a huge focus on the actual content that you save, and letting you do whatever you intent to do. Nothing gets in your way.

I was looking into the various different settings of Pinboard, and then of course, had a look at the API. It sort of resurrected the idea in my head, where I would send out a regular newsletter to people, simply containing interesting links from around the web.

So I got creating a workflow, and in about 15 minutes I had a rough draft on a workflow that exported the days links, that featured a certain tag. My idea was I could then use this content in a super minimal email, and send it out at the end of every week.

This then evolved quite a lot, with the workflow being able to ask for user details, and then return the links (still for a specific tag) since a given date. It would then put it in a simple Markdown format, and convert to Rich Text for export purposes. I made a few cleanups, so if you want to try it for yourself, you can download my workflow.

The Newsletter

Starting this Friday, I will be using my fancy workflow to compile a list of my most interesting (hopefully) links, and send them out that night. I chose Friday, because then there’s always something to read over the weekend!

You can either head to the direct newsletter sign up page, or subscribe below:

powered by TinyLetter

I’m going to keep it as simple as possible, with a complete lack of images, or over the top HTML styling. By subscribing to this, you will receive a lost of what I find to be interesting, every week.

23rd April 2017

Being at home on the internet, I tend to read a lot of interesting things. So I’ve created this page to share my pinned links from Pinboard. I also have a very minimal newsletter, where I share my most interesting links from the past week.

A maximum of 10 links will appear on this page, for a full list you can view my Pinboard profile.

22nd April 2017

Joe Cieplinski, on the way iOS handles review prompts, and the way developers have to implement them:

While working on my latest update of Fin, I spent a bit of time playing with Apple’s new SKStoreReviewController API.

For those unfamiliar, this new API was announced with the early betas of iOS 10.3, and it went live with the 10.3 release last month. Though it isn’t the only approved way to prompt a customer to rate your app on the App Store yet, that is Apple’s ultimate intention. Like it or not, you’ll have to learn to work with this thing eventually, in other words. Unless you never prompt for reviews.

If you’re interested in the way apps now ask for reviews on iOS, or maybe just want to find out a developers perspective, Joe explains the pros and cons very nicely.

20th April 2017

There’s been a load of hints about something new coming to the MacStories family for a while, and it’s finally been announced. It’s called AppStories!

AppStories is a new podcast by Federico Viticci and John Voorhees, which focusses on apps, notable updates, and also the stories behind them.

I actually listened to the first episode a day early, due to me doing a bit of preemptive searching on Overcast, and actually finding out the secret project before it was announced!

From the first episode, I can tell that it’s going to be a podcast for me. With Connected currently being my absolute must-listen show, AppStories is going to be joining it. I’m super interested in apps, as you can probably see by my writing here, and also from the fact that I am also an app developer.

Hopefully this new podcast can lead me to more of the great apps, that are constantly being released on Apple platforms. And I can also see it being beneficial from a developer perspective, as AppStories will also be featuring interviews with developers, which for me sounds amazing! It’s not often I get to hear how other developers work, so that’s one segment I’m looking forward to.

However, if you’re still thinking that this big announcement was a new podcast, you’re only half correct. Because the podcast also has it’s own website, that has been custom built to allow for the best podcast experience. Which is evident when you see the custom audio player, that can also be embedded rather easily. I have embedded the first podcast below, so if it’s enabled on your browser, you’ll be able to see it.

I’ve also been told that, in true MacStories fashion, the website has it’s own API, and therefore there is a lot of automation happening. Which isn’t really a surprise!

You can find more information about the AppStories podcast, the first episode, and also links to subscribe on the many podcast apps, directly on the AppStories website. And in usual fashion, Federico has written an introduction article, “Introducing AppStories“, which details how the idea has finally come to fruition. It’s been around for a lot longer than you may think!

AppStories will be a weekly show, lasting around 30 mins each, and will be published on Mondays, starting on the 24th April. Except of course this first episode, which was released as part of MacStories 8th birthday celebrations! 🎉

14th April 2017

It’s been reported by MacRumors, that the Workflow team have confirmed there will no longer be any updated for Workflow, however bugs will still continue to be fixed. It was in a customer support email, where they wrote the following:

But just so you know, we have no further planned updates for Workflow. That being said we are continuing to support Workflow’s current functionality and have no plans to end support, so let me know if you run across any bugs or crashes.

This news comes under one month since Apple acquiring Workflow, and the team working on the app.

When news initially broke of the acquisition, there was various different theories, and ideas on what would happen to Workflow. Whether it would continue, be integrated deeper into the OS, or just slowly killed off.

With Workflow being such a fundamental part to many professional users, that get their work done on iOS, I’m still trying to see the good side of this. Especially as I can’t imagine Apple buying an app that is so vital to people, and then simply getting rid of it.

As David Sparks writes for MacSparky:

Whatever Apple is working on, I find it highly unlikely that it will ship with iOS 11 that gets announced in just a few months. So my guess is we’ll wait until iOS 12 to get the Workflow replacement, which is most likely 14 months from announcement and 17 months away from release. Will Workflow still function up until that time? I sure hope so.

I agree with the timing aspect, it’s not really a perfect fit for any big iOS update. It’s obviously too soon to see any integration in iOS 11, but there’s a huge amount of time until iOS 12.

I can only hope that Workflow in it’s current form, is slowly going away. And that there is either a deeper version of Workflow being worked on, or that the automation features are going to be implemented at the system level, while also building a much better automation system for iOS.

The best outcome in my opinion, would be that there’s a significant update to how automation, and communication between apps on iOS happens. Because if you boil Workflow down, it’s simply an interface, for super complex URL schemes, and maybe a bit of computation in between. You can kind of tell when you’re pushing these a bit too far, when you have to convert images into Base64 encoding to transfer the data to a new application.

What I want to see are better ways apps can communicate with each other, and open themselves up to a more generic automation system, similar to Automator, that everyone can make use of.

12th April 2017

I’m currently on the way home from a little trip to Ireland 🇮🇪, where I have been in Killarney for this years Úll conference. It’s the first ever conference I’ve been to, and from what I’ve heard (and seen for myself), the bar is now set pretty high.

If you haven’t heard of Úll, then it’s best by described by the little introduction on the website:

Úll is a conference for people who build and love great products. We focus on great product stories, presented through an Apple-shaped lens. We treat the conference itself as a product: with a deep emphasis on the attendee experience.

It’s not exactly a tech conference, with the content focussed on personal stories, and thought provoking sessions, that do in-part relate back to technology.

This year the theme was “The Future”, and we certainly experienced that in the Banquet dinner. Where the dessert was a Deconstructed Apple Pie, with the Crème anglaise (yes I googled the spelling) served in a toothpaste-like tube, and some very vibrant Green Apple juice served with dry ice. It certainly all fitted the theme.

I was asked a few times, what my favourite talk was. But honestly, I really liked every single one I got to see. But if I got to choose the absolute fewest that really got my attention, I would choose:

  • Ben Norris’s talk on sketchnotes, regarding why, and how to use them effectively.
  • Jeremy Burge’s talk about Emojipedia, where it started, and a few stories about the growth.
  • Allen Pike’s great presentation about iTunes, and the many errors it harnesses.
  • Matt Bischoff’s talk about how everything we build is an Ice Sculpture, and why we need to pay attention to how products will end, and what that means for users and their data.
  • Quinn Rose’s thought provoking talk about you should put people first, and what your legacy will really be.
  • Alex Cox’s robot-cat inspired talk about machines that take care of their owners.
  • Alicia Carr’s experience with starting to develop an iOS app at the age of 51, starring in a documentary, and then even featuring in a WWDC intro video.
  • Daniel Steinberg’s thoughtful talk on why what we do, doesn’t necessarily determine who we are.

That’s certainly one hell of a list, and it still doesn’t show the great talks that I got to experience at Úll.

It wasn’t just the talks either that interested me. Jason Snell hosted Úll Radio, which I think I saw about 90% of the interviews. There was also a live recording of Clockwise, which was hosted by Jason Snell, Marco Arment, Myke Hurley, and Alex Cox.

To top it off, it was packed full of great people, and held in one of the nicest locations I’ve ever been to. I’m coming away with a lot of thoughts and ideas, and a new found love for conferences.

I’d love to come back next year.