Tag Archive for ‘OS X’

iOS and Patience ➝

Ben Brooks:

Using iOS full time takes patience, but don’t misconstrue that as a statement that things are not as easy, or fast, as on a Mac. Patience because iOS requires you to retrain your natural instincts of how you should go about things on a traditional computer.

This perfectly encapsulates my thoughts on using an iPad, rather than a Mac, as a primary machine. The key point is that most tasks require a different set of tools and a new way of thinking in order to accomplish. Claiming that things are strictly easier or strictly better on iOS is a fallacy, they’re just different.

Perhaps you prefer to use OS X to get your work done because you’re more comfortable with the tools — that’s fine. But arguing that one platform or another is better suited is just foolish. I like iOS more because it fits my lifestyle and offers tools that I typically enjoy using more than their desktop counterparts. And that shouldn’t impede your enjoyment of OS X — there’s no reason we can’t both coexist harmoniously.

I do think most iPhone and OS X users should give the iPad an honest try, though. It might not work out for you, but at least you’ll know for sure rather than passing judgement based on hearsay. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a few tasks that you actually end up preferring to do on the iPad.

Roadblock, a Powerful Content Blocker for Mac ➝

From the application’s product page:

Roadblock has a comprehensive and optimized built-in block list for blocking and hiding different types of content. You can easily block ads, tracking, social media, and web resources.

Custom Rules provide a powerful yet simple way to create, manage, and share your own rules. You can create custom rules to block resource and website loads, hide webpage elements, strip cookies from web requests, and whitelist websites.

This is a great looking content blocker for the Mac. If I used OS X on a regular basis, this would be an insta-buy.

WWDC Wishlist

I’ll be watching the WWDC live stream on Monday from my Apple TV. I’ll do my usual sparse bits of commentary on Twitter and will be taking notes in order to publish my thoughts later in the week. I expect we’re in for a good event given Apple’s decision to announce major App Store changes in the week leading up to it.

Today, though, I thought I’d share my wishlist for the event. None of these are particularly groundbreaking, but all of them would improve my experience with Apple products in one way or another. The list isn’t in order of importance, but simply written as the ideas came to me and then sorted based on the devices it relates to.

Rename OS X: The writing’s been on the wall for quite some time — OS X will be receiving a name change and will soon be referred to as macOS. There is still the question of how Apple will differentiate between versions, though. I hope they simply call it by its California-based codename in all of their marketing material and only mention the version number in technical documentation. For example, the current version of OS X would be referred to as “macOS El Capitan”, saving the “10.11” for knowledge base articles and the like.

Improved Apple Watch Efficiency: This is the one and only thing I want for the Apple Watch. watchOS is just too darn slow to be useful for anything other than actionable notifications, glances, and complications. The biggest pain point for me is replying to text messages. After tapping the dictation button, why does it take so long to transition from seeing the words I said on the screen to sending it as a message?

tvOS Dark Mode: Although the latest Apple TV interface has grown on me, I would still prefer the home screen to be a bit dimmer. I don’t watch television in a dark room very often, but when I do, that home screen is blindingly bright. I don’t think Apple needs to go full-on black background, as they did with previous iterations of the Apple TV, but just a few shades darker might go a long way towards improving the user experience.

tvOS Picture-in-Picture: Imagine you’re nearing the end of your favorite YouTube show, you know there’s only a minute or two left and you’d like to start browsing the Hulu app to find what you’re going to watch next. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could throw the current video into one of your television’s four corners and open another app while it finishes?

Apple TV Management App for iOS: I’d like to see Apple release an iOS app that allowed you to remotely control and manage your Apple TVs. The application would be similar in function to iOS’s Watch app, letting you adjust settings, install applications, and share links to tvOS apps from within the application’s App Store tab. But unlike the Watch, the Apple TV app could take advantage of the set-top-box’s always-on internet connection to perform these actions even when you’re away from home.

Force Touch “Clear All” in Notification Center: Every few days I find that I have dozens of items sitting in Notification Center. I typically go through the dance of tapping the “X” then tapping “Clear” for each day, but why can’t I Force Touch the list to reveal a “Clear All” button like I can on the Apple Watch. Apple’s wearable had it at launch, why didn’t the iPhone 6s?

Improved iPad Split View: The Split View app switcher needs to change. It’s too darn difficult to find the application you’re looking for in that giant list of icons. Maybe it would be better if they were displayed in a grid with a search bar along the top, as Federico Viticci suggested in his iOS 10 Wishes piece from April. And While we’re on the topic of Split View, why isn’t there a gesture available that will left-to-right swap the two active applications?

Xcode for iPad: I understand that this might be a little ambitious, perhaps a more slimmed down IDE would be more appropriate, at least at first. But if you want everyone on board with iOS as the future of computing, developers need to live on the platform.

iOS Trackpad Support: I use my iPad with a bluetooth keyboard regularly and the experience is great. That is, until I have to touch the screen for anything at all. I just wish that, on the occasions when I have my iPad propped up in TwelveSouth’s Compass, I could move the cursor, tap interface elements, and scroll without having to lift my arm up and interact with the display. Specifically a trackpad would be ideal because it could support some multi-touch gestures. Truthfully, I doubt Apple will ever add trackpad support to iOS, but I really wish they would.

Siri API: I would love if third-party developers were allowed to increase the scope of Siri’s abilities. I’m sure there are countless examples of what would be possible if this was the case, but I can’t get past how convenient it would be if I could say “Hey Siri, run Launch Ulysses in Workflow.”

Siri Text Input: Speaking out loud to your device isn’t always appropriate. I wish there was an option to initiate a Siri query by, instead, typing out questions or commands — turning Siri into more of a Quicksilver for iOS rather than a strictly voice-based assistant.

Customizable Default Apps: When I tap on an email address in a webpage, I want iOS to launch Dispatch not Mail. It’s that simple.

Control Center Improvements: I wish I could Force Touch the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi buttons along the top to reveal controls for selectively connecting or disconnecting from devices or networks. And I wish iOS gave me the option to customize which shortcut icons appeared along the bottom.

Clipboard History API: I use a third-party clipboard manager for iOS — Copied — but the app isn’t able to catch every item that makes its way into my clipboard. Apple doesn’t allow applications to run indefinitely in the background in order to track changes like this. But if iOS kept a hidden clipboard history — say, the last ten items or so — Copied would be able to grab that information periodically and display it in its user interface.

Siri Integration Will Be Key Feature in OS X 10.12 ➝

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

Rumors have indicated Siri integration will be one of the key features coming in OS X 10.12, and new screenshots of a Siri menu bar and Siri app icon suggest Apple is indeed working on bringing Siri to the Mac in its 2016 operating system update. The screenshots were shared with MacRumors by a source who has provided us with reliable information about Apple’s software plans in the past.

I’m going to assume that the menu bar icon is a placeholder for now — the word “Siri” inside of a rounded rectangle doesn’t seem at home alongside OS X’s other menu bar icons. As for the dock icon, it’s stunning. I like the waveforms, I like the color scheme, it’s all great.

The biggest mystery with this, though, why has it taken so long? Is it just a simple implementation — working just as it does on iOS — or was Apple waiting until they were able to build something bigger that integrated more deeply into OS X somehow?

Quitter, Marco Arment’s First Mac App ➝

Marco Arment:

Quitter is a Mac app that automatically hides or quits apps after periods of inactivity, inspired by my Automatic Social Discipline method. It’s great for minimizing distraction from social apps like Twitter and Slack, news readers, or even your email app.

I don’t spend much time on the Mac these days, but when I did, this is the kind of app I would have loved.

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.

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.

Previously Downloaded OS X Installers No Longer Work ➝

Josh Centers, writing for TidBits:

The Apple Worldwide Developer Relations Intermediate Certificate is required for all apps in the Mac App Store, including OS X installers. When used to sign an app, the certificate enables OS X to confirm that the app has not been corrupted or modified by an attacker. This certificate expired on 14 February 2016, causing error dialogs and preventing some apps from launching. Most apps affected have already been updated with the new certificate. But if you downloaded an OS X installer in case of trouble, you may be in for a surprise the next time you try to use it.