Tweetbot Update Brings Image Support in DMs, New Compose UI for Replies ➝

Federico Viticci, writing on MacStories:

Similarly to Twitter’s iPhone app, Tweetbot 4.6 doesn’t count usernames against the 140-character limit. To present this change in functionality, Tapbots has opted for a Twitter-like design where usernames aren’t displayed in the compose box upon starting a reply. Instead, a “Replying to…” banner at the top of the screen highlights the tweet’s original author and other participants in a conversation. […]

Unlike Twitter’s official apps, usernames are still displayed in the body of a tweet in both the Timeline and Mentions views, providing a familiar format that doesn’t force you to tap on the “Replying to…” banner from every section of the app.

This is why I continue to use third-party clients — I can actually trust them to do the right thing with their user interface decisions. The same can’t be said about Twitter itself.

Pour Some Out for the Sites That Aren’t Here ➝

Tim Carmody, on the death of Google Reader:

It had a lightweight social graph component, but it was really oriented around news and stories and blog updates that people shared. Everything that people wanted online comments to be, Google Reader was. And when it ended, it took all of that away, leaving social media networks — which were really never designed to do content distribution — as the only game in town. I honestly don’t know if we’ve ever recovered.

The first RSS app I used was Google Reader and it felt like magic to me. I could throw a bunch of URLs at it and I’d be able to read my favorite sites without having to load all of their webpages individually. The technology had an incredible impact on me and I continue to use RSS today because of how easy Google Reader was to use.

It was a devastating blow to the online community when Google decided to shutter it. And I believe that decision was an enormous contributing factor to the downfall of the open web and the astronomical rise of social networks. Imagine how many more interesting and innovative things would be taking place on the web if everything didn’t have to get funneled into social networks in order to find an audience.

But the death of Google Reader was also a detriment to the confidence that some of us place in Google’s services. Ever since Reader’s demise I’ve made an effort to avoid using Google’s services wherever I can. In most instances, I’d rather pay for an alternative than risk Google getting bored or deciding that it’s no longer financially viable for them to continue supporting a service that I rely on.

There are a handful of exceptions — Google Photos, YouTube, and an old Gmail account, to name a few. But the number of Google services that I rely on has never been lower and I wouldn’t mind it being even less. I expect I’m not the only one who feels this way, too — there’s probably quite a few former Google Reader users out there that still feel burned by their decision to kill such a beloved service.

Apple Celebrates Earth Day With New Apple Watch Activity Challenge ➝

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

Apple is challenging Apple Watch owners to complete a 30 minute outdoor exercise activity on Earth Day, which is Saturday, April 22. For finishing the challenge, Apple Watch owners will be rewarded with an exclusive Earth Day award and stickers that can be used in the Messages app.

Whether you own an Apple Watch or not, today’s a good day to go outside, get some fresh air, and exercise.

Overcast Now Lets You Load Podcasts Directly Onto Your Apple Watch ➝

Matt Birchler, on Overcast’s recent app update:

This update added the ability for users to load podcast episodes directly onto the Apple Watch. This is a big deal, and is something I’ve been waiting years for at this point. This means I can finally bring my Apple Watch with me on runs, and keep my iPhone at home! […]

Playback from the Apple Watch is solid, and easily the best experience I’ve had with any solution that plays podcasts directly on the Apple Watch. Overcast’s advanced audio features like smart speed and voice boost do not seem to be possible on the Apple Watch, so playback is a little less silky smooth than it is on the phone, but it’s basically in line with apps like Castro and Apple’s own Podcasts app that don’t do as much to smooth out audio at more than 1x speed.

This is a really neat feature that I expect to get a lot of utility from when I take walks over the summer. The episode transfer is painfully slow, though, and there’s no progress bar to indicate how long it will take to complete. But having it as an option is much better than not and I don’t expect it will be too difficult to plan ahead when I expect to use the feature.

High End iPhone Could Be Limited in Supply at Launch ➝

Mark Gurman and Min Jeong Lee, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple is preparing three iPhones for launch as soon as this fall, including upgraded versions of the current two iPhone models and a new top-of-the-line handset with an overhauled look, according to people familiar with the matter. For the redesigned phone, Apple is testing a new type of screen, curved glass and stainless steel materials, and more advanced cameras, the people said. Those anxiously awaiting the redesigned iPhone, however, may have to wait because supply constraints could mean the device isn’t readily available until one or two months after the typical fall introduction.

Apple seems to be hitting a bit of a manufacturing wall, as of late. They have to produce units in such a large quantity that it’s difficult for any manufacturer to build products with a reasonable yield. And that’s setting aside the fact that Apple’s designs push materials to their limit. This is why we’re seeing such long shipping times for AirPods and why two of this year’s iPhone models will likely retain the same industrial design for the fourth year in a row.

If they want to build something truly revolutionary, they have to sell it at a premium price to limit the quantity necessary to manufacture.

What Kickstarter Can Teach Us About iPad Hardware Needs ➝

Ben Brooks:

However, there is one good thing about Kickstarter: it shows you what people want. Create a project, get a prototype, put it on Kickstarter (or Indiegogo, I am using those interchangeably here) and you’ll instantly know if there is a market for your product. With that in mind, I searched both services with the phrase “iPad Pro”.

Oh my.

My goal was simple: to figure out what people feel is missing, from a hardware perspective, with the iPad Pro. Surprisingly, I can lump almost all the products I found into three categories: Pencil accessories, cases, and speakers. Let’s take a look at some of what I found, and why there is (or isn’t) a market for such things — and see what we can glean from all of this.

What a brilliant idea. I never would have thought to take this approach when looking at untapped potential in the iPad accessory market. And I think accessory makers would be wise to use this strategy when determining what products would be worth developing in the future.

Clips Is Fun to Use ➝

Steven Aquino:

For as much as video has eluded me, there’s no denying Clips is fun to use. There’s a playfulness about it that makes me want to open the app and explore its depths. Clips is well-polished (more on the UI later) and more obvious (to me) than something like Snapchat. Whereas Snapchat’s features and layout feel completely alien to me, Clips has a decidedly straightforward feel to it that I grok instantly. This isn’t to say the interface is perfect, but that I feel more or less comfortable with Clips is a critical aspect of why the app has appeal. I’m drawn to it because it’s approachable.

My wife and I spent this past weekend visiting family in Pennsylvania. During our trip, we shot a lot of video with the Clips app. We made silly five second joke videos, one minute videos documenting our afternoon playing miniature golf, and everything in between. My admiration for this app has not subsided since I first launched it ten days ago — Clips is fantastic.

‘Apple Podcasts’ ➝

Jason Snell, on Apple rebranding the iTunes Podcasts Directory to “Apple Podcasts”:

Looking at the larger picture, though, I have to assume that this is one part of a long, inexorable de-branding of iTunes. It proved to be a brand that was capable of having all sorts of non-tune-related things stuffed inside of it, but it was always an awkward fit and at some point it needed to be addressed.

The bigger question is what happens on the desktop, especially the Mac. Will the iTunes app finally be replaced? I discussed the long, painful history of iTunes with Allen Pike on the Úll Radio podcast this week in Ireland, and it couldn’t have been more clear to both of us that Apple needs to rethink the entire thing. But the question is, does Apple have the will to allocate the resources to create new Music, TV, and Podcast apps for macOS?

The end of iTunes is inevitable, but why is it taking Apple so long to begin the process of unbundling its features into standalone apps?

This type of question seems to be cropping up a lot lately.

Getting Free HBO With Your AT&T Unlimited Plus Account Without Paying for DirecTV Now ➝

If you’re interested in AT&T’s free HBO deal, but don’t want to pay for DirecTV Now, it is possible. And Thaddeus Hunt does a great job of running through the steps necessary to make it happen. From his piece on the subject:

There was still the elephant in the room though – how do you get a login account for a video service without paying for another subscription?

The good news is that you can, but it sure as hell isn’t obvious.

I’ve been on AT&T’s true unlimited data plan since the iPhone launched in 2007. That is, until just a few days ago when my wife and I switched to this new Unlimited Plus plan. It was mostly financially motivated — over the past year or two the old unlimited plans went from $30 a month to $40. All told, moving to this new plan should save us about $25 on our cellular bill.

Having the Unlimited Plus plan also means that we can finally use tethering on our iPhones — a feature that has been around for years, but AT&T never enabled it for unlimited data customers. On trips with questionable Wi-Fi access, I’ll now be able to share my iPhone’s data connection with my iPad, which reduces the likelihood of me ever owning an iPad with cellular connectivity to nearly zero.

Before signing up for the new plan I made a list of a small handful of question and called AT&T for some clarification. The biggest question I had was about the free HBO that they had been advertising — will I have to subscribe to DirecTV Now in order to receive it?

I had the same experience as Thaddeus — the representative lied, telling me that I had to subscribe to one of AT&T’s video services in order to receive the free HBO deal. Disappointed, I ended up switching my plan anyway — I really wanted access to tethering and the cost savings was just too high to ignore.

After mentioning the decision on Twitter, my buddy Matthew Lanier walked me through the process of signing up for DirecTV Now without having to pay for a subscription. I still can’t believe how terrible AT&T’s messaging has been about this deal, but I’m glad to have some new features tied to my cellular service and save some money along the way.

Workflow Team Has No ‘Further Updates Planned’ ➝

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

Via iGeneration, it seems that the Workflow app is in maintenance mode and unlikely to gain any new features in the foreseeable future. According to an email reply a user received from Workflow support, there are no ‘further updates planned’ for the automation app although they will continue to maintain its existing functionality — presumably with occasional bug fix releases.

I had unreasonably high hopes that Apple would continue to develop the Workflow app into something much more powerful than it is today. But unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case. We shouldn’t expect anything more than bug fixes going forward.

I don’t think most Workflow users will turn to alternatives anytime soon, though. Primarily because there aren’t any other good options. Launch Center Pro and Pythonista immediately come to mind, but one of them is too underpowered while the other has a high barrier to entry.

The last remaining hope for iOS power users is that the team behind Workflow are currently working on a replacement, built from the ground up within Apple, that will ship before Workflow no longer functions. We won’t be seeing any new features until then, but as long as what we have now continues to work, I think it’ll turn out okay.

TotalMount for Apple TV ➝

I bought this mount for the Apple TV in my bedroom a few weeks ago. It was a snap to set up with everything you need to accommodate a variety of television sets and mounting situations. Just a few minutes after unboxing, the Apple TV was adhered to the back of my television — out of sight and no longer taking up precious space on our dresser. This is a great product.

The iPad Turnaround Is Coming ➝

Jean-Louis Gassée:

Without fanfare, new iPads were announced last week. There were no changes to the Pro devices, but the standard line was simplified: No more Air, just plain iPads, with a slightly lower $329 starting price (or $309 at the Education store).

This was preceded by a new advertising campaign. Neatly and cleverly done (a matter of opinion of course), the newer iPad ads have a point of view that conjures Apple’s attitude during the early-80’s PC wars […]

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference is just a couple months away; new hardware will emerge in the Fall. Perhaps I ought to stick to predicting the past, but there [are] too many signs pointing to more muscular iPads taking business away from conventional PCs.

The iPad turnaround is coming.

I’m very bullish on the future of the iPad.

The Platform’s Ceiling Is Irrelevant

Shawn Blanc, on the anniversary of the iPad’s initial release:

It’s now been seven years since the original iPad shipped. And the basic landscape hasn’t changed all that much. This is simultaneously good and bad.

…bad because the iPad is [a] fantastic device, and yet it’s not the go-to platform for the best apps and innovations.

But good because it means the iPad is still full of simplicity and promise.

Unlike the iPhone, I didn’t wait in line to buy the original iPad. Instead, I preordered a cellular model and had to wait until the end of the month for it to ship. Since then, I’ve only owned one other model — the iPad Air 2 that I’m currently typing on. It’s one of the most powerful computers I’ve ever used. And I’m not just talking about its computational abilities.

The iPad has become a platform that’s near and dear to my heart because its a device that has unlocked a great deal of potential within me. It wasn’t until I went full time on iOS and started using apps like Workflow, Coda, and Ulysses that I really began to understand what I was able to do with computers. Building complicated workflows to improve my productivity, writing more efficiently with Markdown, and redesigning my site from the ground up — it’s coming soon, I promise. This is the type of stuff that just never clicked for me until I started treating my iOS devices as first-class citizens.

This might sound odd given that the Mac is thought of as the more capable operating system. But despite my best efforts, I was never able to get the most out of macOS. I’ve used Quicksilver, Automator, and just about every other power user app you can think of, but the habits didn’t materialize — beyond using control+space to launch applications and open webpages.

What I’ve learned from the iPad over these seven years — an important lesson that everyone in this community should consider — is that it doesn’t matter what the absolute potential of a platform is. It only matters what you are capable of while using it. I think we can all agree that, as of right now, the Mac is able to perform a much wider range of tasks, but if I am capable of more on iOS, isn’t it the better option for me?

The iPad might not be the industry’s go-to platform for innovation, but its the machine that has enabled me to find the most creativity and innovation within myself.

Twitter Is Unifying Their API Platform ➝

Andy Piper, writing on Twitter’s weblog:

Later this year, we’ll be launching a new developer experience that combines the free and easy access of the standard REST and streaming APIs with the enterprise-grade power and reliability of Gnip. The goal is to create an integrated Twitter API platform that serves everyone, from an individual developer testing a new idea to Twitter’s largest enterprise partners. This will simplify and strengthen our developer platform so that anyone building with us can confidently create and scale their applications, products, and businesses.

I believe developer relations is a crucial component to the long-term sustainability of Twitter as a business. I just hope they manage to make this happen without pissing off too many developers.

Why Pro Matters ➝

Sebastiaan de With, writing on Medium:

Without a truly top-tier workstation, Apple will miss out on a huge segment of digital creatives that can craft the future of human-machine interaction — something way beyond tapping a piece of glass. It would lack a Mac workstation with the raw computing power to prototype VR and AR interactions, build game worlds, simulate complex models and render the effects of tomorrow’s great feature films all the while offering those same creatives a platform to create for its own mobile devices.

The build up to the above quote is absolutely fantastic — running through a brief history of how professional Mac users helped Apple get to where they are today.

If You Like Indie Weblogs Then Share Them ➝

Gabe Weatherhead, in an excellent piece on the slow decline of independent online publishing:

Is this it then? Is this the last gasp of independent blogging as everyone moves to micro transactions of half considered thoughts? Will Tweets eat WordPress? It sure seems like the indie blogs are thinned down to a small collection of ideas and opinions. Worse, it feels like the only sites that receive attention are the ones with interstitial ads or pop-up lectures about ad blocking. I know a lot of people are worried about indie blogging because The Deck is going away. But I worry that it’s just the tail end of the sinking ship. Most of the indie blogging spirit feels long lost to me.

Gabe goes on to recommend some of the indie weblogs that he reads. And in that spirit, I thought I’d do the same:

I’m sure there are plenty that I’m leaving out, but this was compiled after a quick glance through my RSS reader.

On a related note, I’ve been making an effort to share links to more indie weblogs lately. Not just because of my own, personal interest in this whole independent online publishing thing, but also because I truly get the most satisfaction from reading those sites. Larger publications have their role and I will continue to read and link to them, but I think Initial Charge would prove more useful if it was helping to surface more obscure writers with interesting ideas.

If you browse through the first few pages of the Linked List, you’ll see that I haven’t exactly been doing a great job at this, there’s a lot of room for improvement. But I hoping to slightly shift my focus towards sharing more ideas rather than quite so many news items. I don’t exactly have any sort of quota, or anything similar, that I’m trying to attain, this is just something I plan to keep in the back of my mind when I’m deciding who and what I link to when publishing.

Clips, Now Available in the App Store ➝

I haven’t spent too much time using the application, but I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Clips marries this new social video trend with the kind of design sensibility that I can get on board with. The app is easy to use and has just enough wacky features to keep the younger crowd interested.

My hope is that Apple will continue developing this application — I’d start with an icon redesign — into something that could feel like a peer to their other media creation apps, albeit with a stripped-down feature-set.

The Cheese Grater Mac Pro ➝

Stephen Hacket takes a look back at the “cheese grater” Mac Pro that Apple first introduced in 2006 and continued iterating until the release of the most recent, “trash can-style” design in 2013.

DirecTV Now, Four Months Later ➝

Eric Schwarz, in a follow up to his piece from several months ago, on DirecTV Now:

The big issues that had me looking at alternatives were reasonably fixed after the first month or month and a half. Streaming had been almost flawless and there was a brief stretch where frame rates and resolutions were dropped on some channels, but that’s appears back to normal levels.

Next, the service has added quite a few other network app logins, so this mitigates the poor on-demand library by letting you just use someone else’s app. The lineup is getting more extensive and if the app in questions offers a live stream, that’s an easy way around the two-stream limit with the DirecTV Now app.

Why Couldn’t Apple Have Done This Sooner? ➝

Nick Heer, on this morning’s Mac Pro news:

I’m not surprised that it has taken this long to even get a whiff of an updated Mac Pro to suit the needs of all of their customers. But why would the development of an all-new Mac Pro preclude them from doing today’s spec bump update a year or two ago? I think that users’ concerns would have been assuaged by even slightly more regular updates. […]

The news of a new display is some pretty fantastic icing on the cake, as far as I’m concerned. I expected that Apple had left the display business behind; their partnership with LG seemed to confirm that. After the fiasco with the 5K displays, I couldn’t be happier to read that external displays are still in Apple’s plans.

As I wrote earlier today, I’m very hopeful about the future of pro-level Macs. But I’m with Nick on this, why didn’t Apple release minor speed improvements sooner? Why did it take them four years to do something, anything, to the Mac Pro?

And, even as someone who has never owned a standalone Apple display, I’m ecstatic about them being in development again.