Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac reports that Instacast has been discontinued due to the simple fact that its parent company Vemedio ran out of money. Since the specifics are unknown at this time, I can only assume the main problem was lack of profitability. I could probably write many words on the subject of business models and so forth, but that horse has been beaten to death in various places on the internet many times in these past few years. What I would prefer to focus on are two subjects that I have already mentioned here.
Marek Moi, the developer behind the great PointOut, updated his app to 1.1 a few hours ago. The new version includes some great new functions and he also managed to squash some bugs at the same time. I spoke with him regarding the future roadmap of his latest baby and while he asked me not to speak of it, I can mention that it will be impressive. I’m also trying to convince him to start working on an OS X version.
I’ve been traveling these past few weeks, having a wonderful time in Morocco, and I didn’t have my MacBook with me—I went iPhone only and I didn’t regret it until two days ago, when the wonderful folks at Tapbots announced Tweetbot 2.0 for Mac [App Store]. This has been my goto Twitter client ever since the iPhone version gained notifications back in … a long time ago. This is also my favourite piece of software. Ever.
Marek Moi created something truly wonderful last year and I got a chance to join him on a fantastic journey experiencing the creative process behind Bison Bonasus. This year he invited me on the beta of his secret project—his new iOS app which had something to do with the word ‘Deetl’ …
I use a lot of various apps on both my iPhone and iPad. I paid for most of them, while some were free. Years ago! Yet I use them each and every day. David Smith’s Pedometer++ app [App Store] is but one example. Tweetbot [iPhone, iPad, Mac] is another—for iPhone, iPad and OS X. I don’t even recall when I bought the last two, but it was obviously some time ago (updates are in the works!). What alerted me recently was Panic’s 2014 report on the state of their apps.
Federico Viticci wrote a
post review as close to a book as you can get about Twitter clients. He really does get down into the specific details of each one. Since Twitter is one of my favourite ways to waste spend my time, I jumped in with gusto. A few paragraphs in, I noticed the following words, which tie in exactly with my own thoughts.
I’m a Twitter completionist. Because I’ve always used the service to discover interesting new apps and links, I’ve developed a habit of trying not to miss a single tweet that is shared or retweeted in my timeline, with the only exception for the weekends.
Particularly after launching better linked posts on the site and starting our MacStories Weekly newsletter with a dedicated Links section, discovering stuff on the Internet has become essential to my livelihood, and Twitter is the best (and most diverse) service for this. I know that I haven’t missed cool apps, links, and news thanks to my dedication to reading my entire timeline every day, and for this reason, in spite of strong evidence suggesting that Twitter doesn’t intend timelines to be consumed this way, I won’t change how I read Twitter.
This behavior makes timeline gaps and timeline sync one of the most prominent aspects I have to consider in a Twitter client. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and start reading my timeline from where I left it the night before; and, I want to know that I can close Twitter for a couple of hours in the afternoon without losing my place in a stream of tweets. More importantly, whenever a timeline gap occurs I need the ability to load tweets without making the timeline scroll and lose my position.
Unfortunately, the official Twitter app doesn’t support sync and leaves much to be desired for timeline gaps.
I read or skim my whole timeline, sometimes curating it as as I go up and up, on my way to Tweet Timeline Zero. I know of people who, upon seeing a few hundred tweets, prefer to scroll up and then go down the other way, just to catch up on the last hour or so. This is not something I am comfortable with, nor is it something that I can do with with a clear conscience. I did try to use the Twitter’s own app1 at one point, but the fact that the app would sometimes reload the whole timeline and scroll me all the way up killed it for me. In fact, Federico makes note of this…
In practice, the Twitter app results in several minutes I spend scrolling and trying to find the last tweet I saw when I closed the app. Every morning and whenever I leave the app for a couple of hours, Twitter either completely reloads the timeline (pushing me to top to see the latest tweets) or inserts a timeline gap that occasionally fails to load new tweets above my position.
In 2013 I wrote an open letter to Twitter, which included the following:
What is important to me is reading my timeline. My whole timeline. I follow some two hundred sources. A bit too many perhaps, but I carefully curate my list to allow me to quickly read that which satisfies my interests in chronological order, as events unfold. The only reason I am still doing this is because of developers like Tapbots, Iconfactory and all the other great Twitter clients out there.
2015 is almost upon us and Twitter is still lacking, especially for “completionists”, as Ticci put it. I cannot fathom how Federico can use Twitter’s app despite his strong motivation to read his whole timeline—I’m still on Tweetbot and when it finally dies, so will most probably my love for Twitter. In the meantime, I’m still waiting for Tweetbot 3 for iPad…
- I believe this was when I was playing around with Android a bit. ↩
Having discovered Markdown completely by accident many years ago, I quickly got hooked on the concept and dropped Apple’s Pages and other apps to focus on plain text documents. The most important feature for me wasn’t Markdown itself—it was the knowledge that I’ll be able to read and access my files in the coming years without issues. It might seem ridiculous that we should worry about such things, but I have a set of 3.5” floppy disks with my school projects in various obscure formats which are completely unusable today.
My wife and I are currently on vacation in India, lounging on the beaches, eating fresh shrimp every evening and having a great time. Before we left though, two things happened—I changed my writing workflow and spent some time with Dan Counsell of RealmacSoftware, talking about Markdown writing tools.
I returned home this evening, away from the cold weather outside, glad to finally let my bones absorb some warmth. Having a few minutes to spare before dinner, I started browsing my Twitter timeline and saw something extremely sad—my heart goes out to James Thomson. He must be truly crestfallen.
I’m extremely proud (and a little frightened) to present our first photography album and travel guide for the iPad written in English. The idea first came to me after using my webpage to show my photography and talk about our family’s travels — it was a sub par experience and I didn’t have full control over the layout. Since I use Adobe Creative Cloud for various other things, I decided to try to leverage their tools and create the whole album in InDesign, to my exact specifications.
I had the opportunity to beta test the wonderful PCalc by James Thomson for these past few weeks and I’ve really come to love it, especially on the iPhone. You can read my short review about the iOS version here.
The two other new features that got me hooked are support for Handoff and PCalc’s widget. Handoff — one of iOS 8’s new features — means that I can start my calculations on my iPhone and should I choose to pick up my iPad, a little icon will appear on the lockscreen, allowing me to continue where I left off. I’ve actually had a few situations where this worked out perfectly. The only downside is that Handoff support in iOS 8 is still a little bit finicky — sometimes it just refuses to work.
I’ve also been using the OS X version and unfortunately, Handoff only worked correctly between iPad and iPhone – I just couldn’t coax anything useful out of it on OS X on either of my computers. James rolled out the update in the Mac App Store a few days ago and I just updated it a few minutes ago. At first it didn’t work at all with my iPhone 6 and iPad mini 2… and then I had the idea of turning on Bluetooth on both devices, to test it again (this did not work earlier during the betas). The PCalc icon appeared in the lower left hand corner of my lockscreen immediately. And it worked the other way too!
Tweetbot and I have been having an affair since its inception. From iPhone, to iPad and Mac, I simply cannot fathom using another app for my daily Twitter fix. And I’ve tried. A lot of them. Most of them? Probably not, but near everything available for iOS and OS X. And none of them come close.
PCalc has been available in various forms and on different platforms for more than two decades — James Thomson, the man behind it, has taken care to keep it updated over the years, transitioning quickly to new operating systems when they came out. It was in the App Store on day one and it did very well, according to its maker. I’ve been lucky enough to beta test it for a while now and I can quite frankly say that the new 3.3 build, which supports iOS 8 and it’s new features, is my favourite version.
As you may or may not know, photography is one of my favourite hobbies. As soon as I heard that Marek Moi was working on a new app, I reached out to him to get me on the beta program. Thankfully, he obliged and provided me with some unique insight into the design process. My enthusiasm was based on his earlier project — Dearest Bialowieza Forest [App Store link] — which featured Jaroslaw Chyra’s photography from that beautiful region of Poland. Marek rewrote his entire engine for Bison bonasus and the results do not disappoint — it offers a truly immersive experience into the work of photographer Krzysztof Onikijuk.
I currently use two fitness trackers — a personal Jawbone UP24 and a Garmin Vivofit review unit. I’ve worn them daily at the same time, on the same right wrist for over two months now, comparing their step counts. Their final tallies tend to differ and it seems that the UP24 has the better algorithm of the two. I do however also carry an iPhone 5S in my pocket throughout the day and the built-in M7 coprocessor allows for another reference point. I started using David Smith’s (yes, Underscore-David-Smith) Pedometer++ [App Store link] a few days after it was released and despite it being extremely simple, I’ve grown to like it — it’s my current go-to app. I’ve also tipped him on occasion, hoping he’ll keep on working on it. I must note that I also have a Withings scale at home — a gift from my father a few years ago …
I use RSS readers on a daily basis. In fact, I cannot imagine functioning without one and I haven’t found anything that could replace them in the near future. Twitter? I would need a seperate account or perhaps a carefully tailored list. Flipboard? Doesn’t suit my preferences. Anyway — I use various devices to follow the feeds I subscribe to and I spent hours customizing my lists to suit my needs, the one labeled ‘must-read’ especially.
I’ve been using FruitJuice [Mac App Store Link] for the past few months on a daily basis on my 2013 MacBook Air. It launches at login and lives in my menu bar, discreetly notifying me how long I should remain disconnected from my charger to retain optimum battery capacity. Although it appears to suggest the same scheme each and every day, it does so depending on your Mac model — the suggestions differ greatly on my friend’s Retina MacBook Pro for example.
I’ve long been a fan of distraction-free writing tools, ever since admitting to myself that I’m a Markdown addict. Writing in plain text, with just the most basic formatting, is something I started believing in ever since I started having issues with my documents between various… versions of Microsoft Word. I don’t know what will be the standard in the next five or ten years but I do know that I want to be able to access my data without any hassle.