Airmail Adds iPad Support ➝

Federico Viticci, writing for MacStories:

Airmail showed that it was possible to build an email app for power users on mobile devices – asking for a fair price in the process – but I couldn’t switch to it as my full-time client yet.

That’s changing with today’s update to Airmail for iOS, which I’ve been using as my only email client on the iPhone and iPad for the past several weeks. In addition to an iPad app – which mostly follows in the footsteps of its iPhone counterpart in terms of UI and navigation choices – Airmail 1.1 brings powerful new features such as saved searches, customizable keyboard shortcuts, support for send later and read receipts, and more.

I also switched to Airmail on all of my devices after iPad support was added in version 1.1. But I’ve realized that I’m not in love with the app. It’s good and I continue to use it, but only because there isn’t anything better on the market. And I’ve tried everything from Dispatch to Outlook — Airmail is as close to great as I’ve been able to find.

Finding Your MacBook’s Battery Cycle Count ➝

A great tip by Jeff Benjamin showing how to determine if your Mac’s battery is within its normal cycle count lifespan.

Rex, a Home for Things I Love ➝

Matt Mazzeo, writing on Medium:

We have places review what we’re eating, good and bad. Places to review where we’re vacationing, good and bad. Places to discuss what we’re watching, good and bad. But where do we share the things we love? I dare anyone to review their 10 year history of “likes” on Facebook and tell me that it’s a good representation of the things they love. And yet, the world needs a home where people can share and discover the things that inspire us — that are too good to keep to ourselves, without making it feel like work. REX is that place.

The user interface reminds me of Instagram and the functionality reminds me of Pinterest — I expect Rex will find a sizable, dedicated user base.

Twitter Quietly Retires Magic Recs ➝

Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:

Twitter confirmed to TechCrunch it had stopped sending Magic Recs. It is now channelling recommendations through only one channel — native push notifications on your phone.

I’ve been following Magic Recs for nearly a year and I would typically receive one or two direct messages each week with a suggestion of a new user for me to follow. That ended in early March after it recommended Apple’s new support account. I hadn’t realized that Magic Recs went offline until a couple weeks ago when it dawned on me that I haven’t been receiving DMs from it. This is an especially unfortunate change for users like myself who use third-party clients to interact with Twitter — I’ll never see these push notification recommendations.

What Does Apple Look Like Without the iPhone? ➝

Jason Snell, writing for iMore:

Sometimes I worry that iPhone gets the lion’s share of Apple’s attention — and by the numbers, it really should. But I’m encouraged by the fact that Apple still commits to innovation in Mac hardware (albeit at a slower pace than some Mac fans might like), and has taken steps the last year to really upgrade the iPad, both hardware and software. But when you look at the size of the Mac and the iPad, that decision doesn’t seem like charity, but like good business sense. And as someone who relies on the Mac and iPad, I’m grateful that Apple gives due attention to those product lines.

We often forget how large Apple’s other businesses are. But if you were to take the iPhone completely out of the equation, Apple would still be a wildly successful company.

This by Tinrocket ➝

Patrick Dean:

So yes, there are times when only a big neon orange arrow and baby blue text highlighting will do when it comes to image and screenshot annotations (and for this I still use Skitch, but Pinpoint works too). For all of those other times though, like when you actually want markups and labeling that don’t advertise your sense of aesthetics has been left in the trunk of a car currently on fire on the side of the highway, try This — because beautiful annotations do exist.

I had been using Pinpoint for the occasional image annotation, but I switched to This after reading Patrick’s review. The app has some limitations, but nothing I can’t put up with.

Anker PowerPort 4 ➝

I decided to purchase this four-port USB charger after spending a few nights in a hotel room for my wedding. With my purchases of an iPad Air 2 last year and an Apple Watch last fall, I now travel with three devices which charge over USB. But the hotel room didn’t have enough power outlets where I needed them to accommodate all of my single-port USB chargers.

I’ve been using this unit by Anker for a couple of days and it does the trick. I can charge my iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch at the same time with only a single power outlet. And when we travel on our honeymoon this summer we can also use it to charge her iPhone, if need be.

I’m not too keen on the LED that remains illuminated while plugged in. But it’s not bright enough to disturb me while sleeping and the positives vastly outweigh this one little annoyance. If you’re in the market for a multi-port USB charger, I highly suggest putting this one under consideration.

Apple Watch and the Future ➝

Joe Cieplinski lists the changes he’d like to see in future Watch hardware and versions of watchOS. I agree with all of his points except for the last one — Joe thinks Apple should get rid of Time Travel. I completely disagree. I use Time Travel everyday to see what the temperature is forecast to be at different times. Time Travel is faster than launching an application and usually offers more granularity. It should stay.

Apple and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Drop in iPhone Sales ➝

John Gruber:

In chart form, you can see what an anomaly last year was with the iPhone 6. But given that you can almost draw a straight line connecting the other four points in the chart, I’m not willing to call it a peak yet. But even if we see a return to growth, it might take several years before we see another Q2 with over 60 million units sold.

Going based on the trend line of iPhone sales from 2012-2014, I’d guess the next Q2 with over 60 million units sold will be in two or three years.

‘Nothing Twitter Is Doing Is Working’ ➝

The most important thing for Twitter to do is improve the sign-up process. New users have no idea how to find good people to follow or why they should be using the service in the first place. If I was running Twitter, I’d start there.

Demand for iPhone SE Is ‘Very Strong,’ Exceeds Available Supply ➝

Tim Cook, from yesterday’s earnings call:

We’re thrilled with the response that we’ve seen on it. It is clear that there is a demand there even much beyond what we thought. That is really why we have the constraint that we have.

I called a few local AT&T stores yesterday to see if they had any iPhone SEs in stock. My wife planned on purchasing a 64GB model in rose gold if any were available. Unfortunately, none of the stores had any SEs at all. One of the employees I talked to noted that his store had only ever received one single iPhone SE since launch — a 16GB model in space gray.

Apple iPhone Sees First Year-Over-Year Sales Dip ➝

Jordan Crook, reporting for TechCrunch:

For the first time in its history, the iPhone is experiencing a drop in sales.

In 2015 at this same time, Apple sold 61 million units of the iPhone. This year, for the period ending March, Apple only sold 51.2 million units, representing a 16 percent YOY drop.

This is to be expected. As smartphone hardware matures, there’s less of an incentive to upgrade to the latest model — all of the compelling features have already been built. Folks like you and I might upgrade every year or two, but I expect it will become increasingly common for average users to continue using their handset until it doesn’t work anymore.

‘I Do’

This past Saturday, I married my best friend. We had a beautiful ceremony, surrounded by our loved ones, in the Peterson Chapel at Elmira College. The reception that followed featured dinner, drinks, and dancing. The best man and matron of honor shared wonderful, heartfelt words with the room — there were tears of joy, laughter, and new memories that will last lifetime.

I couldn’t be happier to finally call the woman I love, my wife.

The App Store and Retail Co-Op ➝

A great piece by John Gruber where he equates paid App Store search results to paid placement on grocery store endcaps. Very clever.

Looking at the Future of Color Management ➝

Craig Hockenberry, writing on Iconfactory’s weblog:

As with most things released by Apple, there is an amazing amount of underlying technology that makes this new display shine. This new product is also a glimpse of how our screen technology will evolve over the coming years, so now is a good time to start understanding how these changes are going to affect our products.

As a developer, you’ll quickly realize that the scope of these changes will make your update to Retina graphics look like a walk in the park. At the end of this piece, you’ll also learn how I can help guide you through this process.

The MacBook Doesn’t Need More Ports ➝

Peter Cohen:

While I understand the argument in favor of increasingly the expandability of the MacBook – yes, that single USB-C port is maddening – I’m willing to accept that Apple has a very different concept of what this computer should do than people who criticize it. The MacBook, unlike any other Mac laptop, is designed to be as wireless as possible.

I’m not discounting that some Mac users need wires to connect things like external hard drives, displays and other peripherals. Using a port replicator or the devices offered by Apple and other third parties, you can expand the MacBook’s connectivity. You can attach an external display. You can hook up an external hard drive. And so on. But ultimately, you’re trying to wedge a square peg in a round hole – the MacBook simply isn’t made with that in mind.

If you need more ports than the MacBook offers, don’t buy it — no one’s forcing you to. And there’s no sense in getting mad about one particular notebook line when the MacBook Pro and Air are both perfectly suitable alternatives.

Federico Viticci’s iOS 10 Wishlist ➝

I immediately saved this to Instapaper — I’ll be reading it the first chance I get after this weekend.

The Dream Setup

There’s a common discussion in tech circles that usually finds its way into my Twitter timeline a few times each year — “what’s your dream setup?” It’s asked by The Sweet Setup in their interview series and by Daniel Bogan on The Setup. I’ve even heard it discussed on a podcast or two throughout the years.

I completely understand why the dream setup is brought up so often — it’s normal to think about what you would buy if you had access to unlimited funds. But this isn’t a topic I typically chime in on. I think I put my thoughts best when I wrote about my own setup in fall 2010:

My dream setup isn’t too different from what I have now. A second monitor, an iPhone 4, and a new MacBook Pro would be nice. But to be honest, I can’t imagine my dream setup making me any more productive. And if I’m not any more productive then what’s the point?

I never really found much benefit in contemplating these hypotheticals. Not only was I unable to afford my dream setup at the time, but I didn’t think it would make much of a difference if I could. The software I use wouldn’t change and, because I spend most of my time living in text, the impact of improved performance would be minimal.

I do think about my dream setup occasionally, though, it’s hard not to. And I’ve realized something about mine — it has changed a lot in the past year. Two years ago, if you were to ask me what my dream setup was, it wouldn’t be all that different from the one I wanted in 2010.

The latest iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, and iMac with a second monitor has been my dream setup for as long those products have been available. But if you ask me today, you’ll get a much different answer:

  • iPhone 6s
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • Mac mini
  • 27-inch Apple Cinema Display
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Magic Trackpad 2

The most obvious difference between my previous dream setups and this one is the omission of a portable Mac. That’s because I’ve experienced a major transition over the past year — from OS X as my primary operating system to iOS for nearly everything.

I just don’t need a notebook computer anymore. It’s been weeks since I last used my MacBook Air and I haven’t missed it. The tasks that used to have me reaching for it are now all performed on my iPad.

The most common, previously Mac-only, task was manually updating the site’s WordPress installation. I’m well aware that WordPress offers an automated update system, but it’s been broken for years (at least for me). Every few months, without fail, I’d have to download the necessary files and upload them to my server with Transmit.

I had always done this on my MacBook until last week’s release of version 4.5 when I decided to see if I could get the job done from my iPad. After clicking the download link on WordPress’ website, iOS asked what application I’d like to open the file in. I chose Transmit, naturally, and was able to decompress the Zip file and begin uploading its contents. Within minutes I was updating the site’s database to complete the process. Everything worked without a hitch.

I’ve also recently completed another, previously Mac-only task when I published Push to Ulysses Workflow last week. Typically when I would publish an article which included images, I would eventually move to my MacBook to optimize — with ImageOptim — and upload the files. This time I produced the entire piece on iOS.

I used LongScreen to combine the two iPhone screenshots into a single image and ran the lot through Kraken.io to optimize file sizes. Then I uploaded them to my server from WordPress’ web interface and copy and pasted their URL into Ulysses before publishing.

That’s two more tasks that were previously Mac-only and can now be performed, from start to finish, on iOS. I wish my process for dealing with images was a bit more streamlined, but I suppose that will come in time. Luckily, I rarely publish images on Initial Charge, and when I do, there’s usually not more than two or three.

I haven’t gone entirely iOS-only, though. As you can see from my dream setup above, there’s still room in my life for a Mac. I currently have a Mac mini in my office closet that acts as our home media server, iOS backup target, and the location of our photo library. I also occasionally perform Mac-only tasks on the Mac mini. The only common one is downloading audio files from a couple of pay-walled podcasts and uploading them to Overcast.fm. This way I can listen to them on my favorite podcast client using Smart Speed to save a bit of time.

I don’t interact with the Mac mini directly, though — it operates headless and I use Screens for iOS to control it. There are instances where I use Screen Sharing on my MacBook instead, but that’s only when I plan on working with a ton of images in Apple Photos.

It’s becoming an extremely rare occurrence for me to use my MacBook, but given that my dream setup doesn’t include a portable Mac, I thought it was best to include a Cinema Display, keyboard, and trackpad. I don’t expect I’ll use it anymore than I currently use my MacBook, but I’d rather be safe than sorry in case I find myself in an unexpected situation in which some oddball task requires the use of a traditional computer.

It’s still astounding to me how my perceptions about high-end computing hardware have changed. I used to dream about owning thousands of dollars worth of Macs to perform the same tasks that I now do almost exclusively on a 9.7-inch slab of glass. And this relatively minuscule tablet features more hores power than nearly every computing device I’ve ever owned.

My need for traditional computers has declined significantly over the past year and I expect that trend will continue. I wouldn’t be surprised if I only ever buy one or two more Macs in my lifetime — eventually, I won’t need to use them as a crutch anymore. I’ll be able to live a more simple and minimalistic computing lifestyle where my dream setup is just an iPhone, an iPad, and maybe a Bluetooth keyboard.

Apple Should Give Customers Free iCloud Space to Match Their Devices ➝

Susie Ochs, writing for Macworld:

In the fall of 2014, Apple cut the prices on iCloud storage to fall more in line with competitors like Amazon and Google. But the best thing Apple could do is recognize that we’re already paying a lot to play in its garden, and throw in free iCloud storage that matches the capacities of our Macs, iPads, and iPhones.

Susie suggest that Apple should offer this extra storage for two years after the purchase of a new device. I doubt it’s going to happen for free, but what if this extra storage was another perk that came with AppleCare+?

macOS Naming Conventions ➝

Rene Ritchie wonders what identifier Apple would use alongside their rumored desktop OS rebranding — macOS. My hunch is they’ll stick with the “locations in California” theme and attach the operating system’s proper version number in instances where differentiation is necessary. That means Apple’s current OS would be referred to as macOS El Capitan (10.11).