Linked List Entries

December Home Screens Update ➝

This month I’ve adjusted the order in which I discuss each device’s home screens to better reflect the frequency with which I use them. But within the update I cover a meditation and deep breathing app, a new note taking app, a new white noise app, and more.

On a sort-of programming note, I failed to publish a home screens update in November and am quite a bit late for this month. The future of these is a bit in flux at the moment. I’d certainly like to continue doing them, but my time has been at a premium lately.

Between my new job — where I’m having a blast — and social engagements around the holidays, I haven’t had much time for writing. While this is something I plan on spending more time on in the new year, I’m not sure what form it will take exactly. My highest priority is to start publishing link posts and feature articles more regularly again while additional projects like the home screens updates are quite a bit lower on my list.

That doesn’t mean that these are going away entirely, I just need to make sure everything else that I have on my plate is going smoothly before I jump back on these sorts of projects. My hope is that this temporary hiatus will be short, but I think it’s also worth considering whether these updates are something that continue to add value to my life and yours. If you have any feedback regarding this — good or bad — I would very much appreciate you dropping a note in my Twitter mentions to share your thoughts.

AutoSleep ➝

I started using this app recently to track my sleep habits. I had previously used Sleep++, but as far as I know, that app requires you to wear your watch in order to record data. When testing the app, I determined that I really don’t like sleeping with a watch on.

AutoSleep is much more flexible, letting you choose whether you prefer to wear your watch to sleep or not. If you do, it uses the data collected by your watch to track your sleep. But more importantly for me, if you don’t wear your watch to sleep, it keeps track of when your watch is placed on its charger and combines that with data from your iPhone’s motion tracking chip to intelligently guess when you’re sleeping.

While I don’t expect this method is quite as accurate as tracking your sleep entirely from your watch’s data, it can certainly give you an idea of your sleep trends and offer suggestions about how you can improve. If you’re looking for a sleep tracking app, AutoSleep seems like the absolute best in the market.

Electron and the Decline of Native Apps ➝

John Gruber:

The Mojave App Store app certainly isn’t written using Electron. But the problem with Electron apps isn’t really Electron — it’s the decline in demand for well-made native Mac apps. And that is ominous. The biggest threat to the Mac isn’t iPads, Chromebooks, or Windows 2-in-1’s — it’s apathy towards what makes great Mac apps great.

I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for Mac apps to be un-Mac-like. But if the way that an app differs from the norm creates a worse experience for the user, that is bad. I can understand why some companies are building apps on Electron — it allows them to quickly develop desktop apps using the same codebase as their web app.

For a lot of application categories, you need a web app. And the rise of Electron is in no small part due to the economics of software development — building a single app that works on a number of platforms is significantly less costly than building native apps for each. But I wish that these companies would more seriously take into consideration the vastly superior user experience that can be achieved by embracing each platform’s strengths through native APIs. Doing so would result in software that users are excited to launch and truly enjoy using.

We Should Replace Facebook With Personal Websites ➝

I’ve been a huge fan of personal websites as an alternative to social networks for years and I think there’s never been a better time to jump in. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon social networks entirely, but I think the world would be a much better place if we all occasionally took the time to fully form our ideas and write them out in a longer format before sharing.

There is a bit of a barrier to entry, especially when you start buying domains, configuring DNS, and installing weblog software. But services like WordPress.com makes things quite a bit easier. And since WordPress.com is built on WordPress, you’ll always have the option to export your content and move to self-hosted if you decide that it’s a better fit for you down the line.

Full disclosure: I work for Automattic, providing support to users of WordPress.com. But I would have recommended it regardless. I’ve used WordPress for nearly twelve years now and WordPress.com is the easiest way to get a site up and running on the platform.

Deleting Apps From the App Store Update Tab ➝

John Gruber, on Twitter:

I wish you could delete apps right from the App Store Updates tab. When I see an update is pending for an app I never use, I just want to delete it right there.

This is a good idea, but I think a better solution would be the ability to “Reveal in SpringBoard”. This would give users a quick way to find the app for deletion, but could also be used when you want to move the app out of a folder after an update adds new content to a beloved game or a new feature is introduced in a productivity app that might increase usage.

Darkroom for iPad ➝

Darkroom for iPad has been announced and is currently in beta. I don’t use the app too often on iPhone — usually the editing features built into the Photos app are sufficient. But when I need something more, Darkroom is my go-to.

My current workflow for processing photos with my Canon PowerShot G9 X always involves importing those photos into my iPad for editing. This is fine most of the time, because as I said, the Photos app is usually sufficient. But when I want to edit with a bit more power, I have to AirPlay the photo to my iPhone for Darkroom. I look forward to a future when that’s no longer necessary.

The New Mac Mini ➝

This is a great review by Marco Arment of the new Mac Mini — a machine that I’ve had my eye on since Apple announced it last month. This seems like the perfect replacement for my 2011 model that has been humming along as our home server for the last seven years. It has lots of I/O, a great CPU, and super fast storage. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

October Home Screens Update ➝

It’s a little late, as I mentioned earlier this month, but it’s here.In this update, I discovered a great cooking show app for tvOS and made some major changes to my Apple Watch setup.