Alto’s Odyssey Is Available for Pre-Order!

February 12, 2018 · 09:54

I wrote a short piece on why I loved Alto’s Adventure so much a few months ago:

These weeks were incredibly taxing, ultimately driving me into severe depression, which took me over two years to shake. I did find one way to keep sane at the time, during those long hours in the halls of the hospital my mom was in — by playing Alto’s Adventure [iOS / Android] when my stress levels were particularly high or there was just nothing else to do. I would completely lose myself in the wonderfully calming music, various sound effects, and flowing gameplay, while skiing down the slope of the endless in-game mountain. At one point Alto’s Adventure was the only experience that would calm my frayed nerves.

I don’t know what I would have done without this wonderful game, but I would like to deeply thank the team behind it — Snowman — for their efforts. They will always have a special place in my heart.

This was partly done in anticipation of Alto’s Oddysey — the sequel to that fantastic title. Well, it’s up for pre-order today, which I did, and I can’t wait until February 22, when it’s scheduled for release.

Alto’s Odyssey — $4.99 / €5.49 / 23.99 PLN


Transmit iOS Development Suspended →

January 9, 2018 · 13:03

Cabel Sasser, from Panic:

Hello. Here’s an update on Transmit iOS that I promise will not use the words “sunset” or “journey” […]

Transmit iOS made about $35k in revenue in the last year, representing a minuscule fraction of our overall 2017 app revenue. That’s not enough to cover even a half-time developer working on the app […]

My optimistic take: we hope that as iOS matures, and more and more pro users begin to seriously consider the iPad as a legitimate part of their daily work routines, Transmit iOS can one day return and triumph like it does on the Mac.

This is terrible news. I don’t often use Transmit iOS, but when I do, I love it and wish I had reason to use it more often.


PCalc’s 25th Birthday →

December 23, 2017 · 07:48

James Thomson is currently celebrating the amazing history of his scientific calculator:

25 years sounds like a really long time. A quarter of a century sounds even longer. Yet, that is how long it has been since PCalc 1.0 was released […]

PCalc was my first ever application. I started writing in the summer of 1992 and it took me around six months to get it into a state where I was happy to show it to the world. Some of that code still runs today, deep at the heart of the machine.

That is both amazing and terrifying.

This means that both the iOS and Mac versions are on sale — down to $0.99 from the usual $9.99.

If you need a really good programmable calculator, do one of two things:

  • wait for the sale to end and buy it at full price (it’s totally worth it)
  • buy it now, go into the About screen, and drop a few coins into the Tip Jar

Wishing you as many more years of PCalc as you want James!

P.S. Don’t forget to play the AR game hidden in the About menu!


Users Report Battery Drain With YouTube App on iOS 11 →

November 13, 2017 · 22:20

Benjamin Mayo:

There are many reports to the YouTube customer support account on Twitter complaining about battery drain when running the app on iOS 11. The company is apparently ‘actively working to fix this’.

The YouTube app appears to have some bugs on iOS 11, affecting all iPhones and iPads, causing the devices to run very warm when watching videos.

This is happening on my iPad Pro 10.5”, but it doesn’t get warm at all — the battery drain is through the roof though. Using YouTube through Safari solves this problem though.


DJI Removes JPush Plugin From Their App for Collecting User Data Without Approval →

August 29, 2017 · 08:04

This is yet another example of third-party libraries, plugins, or add-ons, which do things they aren’t supposed to:

DJI has removed a third-party plugin called JPush, which was introduced in March 2016 for iOS and May 2017 for Android. We implemented the plugin as a way to push notifications when video files are successfully uploaded to DJI’s SkyPixel video sharing platform. JPush assigns a unique JPush ID to each user and informs SkyPixel of this ID when the user chooses to upload a video. After uploading is complete, SkyPixel sends the user’s unique JPush ID back to the JPush server, triggering an “Upload Complete” notification on the user’s DJI GO or DJI GO 4 apps. By using JPush’s third-party plugin, DJI has allowed users to multitask while uploading large video files to SkyPixel occurs in the background of their app.

As a third-party company, JPush only needs to send and receive a minimal, narrowly-defined amount of data in order for this function to work properly. Recent work by DJI’s software security team and external researchers has discovered that JPush also collects extraneous packets of data, which include a list of apps installed on the user’s Android device, and sends them to JPush’s server. DJI did not authorize or condone either the collection or transmission of this data, and DJI never accessed this data. JPush has been removed from our apps, and DJI will develop new methods for providing app status updates that better protect our customers’ data.

I still don’t quite understand how and why developers and companies would choose to go down this route without a detailed check of what the used third-party code does precisely. Laziness, I guess.


DarkSky Comments on AccuWeather, Location Tracking, and Privacy →

August 28, 2017 · 13:12

Adam Grossman:

(…) we also believe that Apple and Google should do more to prevent this sort of behavior. They should set — and aggressively enforce — clear App Store rules forbidding the sharing of location data for any purposes not directly relevant to the app’s core functionality. If an app is caught breaking this rule, it should be removed from the store. This won’t stop all abuse, but it would, at the very least, put many of these data monetization companies out of the business of tracking where you go.

I completely agree and have much respect for the DarkSky team for their declarations. Especially since Adam also posted many examples of companies, such as Reveal Mobile, contacting them and offering to pay for their data. In the meantime, AccuWeather’s response on the matter was a non-answer.


AccuWeather Caught Sending User Location Data, Even When Location Sharing Is Off →

August 23, 2017 · 14:33

Zack Whittaker:

Popular weather app AccuWeather has been caught sending geolocation data to a third-party data monetization firm, even when the user has switched off location sharing.

AccuWeather is one of the most popular weather apps in Apple’s app store, with a near perfect four-star rating and millions of downloads to its name. But what the app doesn’t say is that it sends sensitive data to a firm designed to monetize user locations without users’ explicit permission.

Delete this crap and never install it again.


Removing “Send to Watch” from Overcast →

August 12, 2017 · 14:48

Marco Arment:

I’ve spent many months of development on Overcast’s Apple Watch app, especially implementing standalone “Send to Watch” playback. Unfortunately, I now need to remove the “Send to Watch” feature.

I tried it once, soon after it debuted in Overcast. The transfer of a single podcast episode was so slow, that I never bothered again. Apple needs to fix the Watch’s biggest bottleneck.


One Other Thought on Ulysses’ Subscription Model →

August 12, 2017 · 08:59

From Ulysses’ FAQ:

What happens after my subscription or trial ends? Can I still access my texts?

Definitely. Ulysses is in read-only mode, meaning you can still access all your sheets and export them using any export format.

I strongly believe that to alleviate concerns over “renting software” instead of owning a copy, Ulysses (in this example) should still be fully functional when a user ceases paying their subscription, but it would stop receiving updates and new features. If a developer was feeling extra generous, they could support new OS versions and security updates.


2017 Apple Design Award Winners

June 13, 2017 · 12:25

Apple announced its 2017 Design Award winners a few days ago and I was quite surprised — I try to keep up with the best apps and games, but I was completely unaware about some of them. Oh well — time to go spend some money.

Blackbox – iPhone – $0.00
Splitter Critters – iOS – $2.99
Mushroom 11 – iOS – $4.99
Old Man’s Journey – iOS – $4.99
Severed – iOS – $2.99
Lake – iOS – $0.00
Bear – iOS – $0.00
Bear – Mac – $0.00
Kitchen Stories – iOS – $0.00
Things 3 – iPhone – $9.99
Things 3 – iPad – $19.99
Things 3 – Mac – $49.99
Elk – iOS – $0.00
Enlight – iOS – $3.99
AirMail 3 – iOS – $4.99
AirMail 3 – Mac – $9.99


Things 3 for iPhone, iPad, and Mac — Quick First Thoughts

May 21, 2017 · 21:39

Cultured Code has finally released Things 3 for iOS and macOS — the next edition, rewritten from the ground up, of one of the most popular GTD systems for iPhone, iPad and Mac. I have been using it for the past day or so, hence I cannot make any solid statements at this point in time, but I was a long-time Things 1.0 user, right up until my tasks overwhelmed me and it was easier to delete the app than to actually complete everything that I had jotted down in it. I’m hoping that this time I’ll make it work — Cultured Code really seems to have the UI down pat and while not perfect, it fits my needs. I do have a few niggles that I will address in the future, but nothing truly major. Having said that, Things 3 is not cheap, but they do have a launch sale going currently — each app is 20% cheaper and there are a few days left to pull the trigger. I can’t say that I’m a fan of their pricing methods (I would prefer a single, universal iOS app, even if it cost more), but if you need a well thought out GTD system for a single user, give Things a try (there’s a trial of the Mac version of the app).

Things 3 – iPhone – $7.99 (20% launch sale) →
Things 3 – iPad – $15.99 (20% launch sale) →
Things 3 – Mac – $39.99 (20% launch sale) →


Moom Removed from Sale Due to Patent Violation →

May 13, 2017 · 13:37

Rob Griffiths and Peter Maurer:

Tonight we received notice that Moom is in violation of US patent number 8434019, Apparatus and method for positioning windows on a display. Yes, someone has patented positioning windows on a screen via a grid. Given we’ve been notified of a patent violation, we have no choice but to remove Moom from sale, effective immediately.

Sometime patents make sense. Most of the time however, they don’t. This is as absurd as you can imagine anything can be.


Apple Has Acquired Workflow, a Powerful Automation Tool for iPad and iPhone →

March 23, 2017 · 08:54

Matthew Panzarino:

This is not a ‘pure acquihire’ in that Workflow — not just the talent — is being purchased in this deal. This makes sense and I’m glad to see it because Workflow itself was a prime meat example of how to find a need in the iOS ecosystem, tackle it in an interesting way and execute it with cleverness and attention to honoring the platform. Simply put it’s super smart, really well designed and works very well.

Wow! This is something I did not expect.

I use Workflow every single day and I just hope it won’t go away and will continue to be updated. I actually just used it to create this post.


Confide: A Quick Look →

February 16, 2017 · 13:05

Jonathan Zdziarski:

My inbox has been lighting up with questions about Confide, after it was allegedly found to have been used by staffers at the White House. I wish I had all of the free time that reporters think I have (I’d be so happy, living life as a broke beach bum). I did spend a little bit of time, however reverse engineering the binary and doing a simple forensic examination of it. Here’s my “literature in a rush” version.


Magic Variables in Workflow 1.7 Are Magic →

February 10, 2017 · 11:54

Federico Viticci:

Magic Variables mostly remove the need to manually save variables. They leverage Workflow’s Content Graph engine to automatically keep track of variables in the background, allowing you to access them at any time with the ability to change their type (format). It’s a novel idea, and it’ll take a few minutes to fully grasp, but it’s drastically superior to Workflow’s old variables. Magic Variables will change how you build workflows.

I started using the new Magic Variables this morning, trying to rework one of my older workflows. The one which I am in fact using to create this post. Thanks to the new system, I’m down to 6 steps instead of close to 20. There are two huge benefits: quicker workflow creation and much more readable workflows.

Awesome work!


App Store Deals — 15/09/2016

September 15, 2016 · 13:06

Apart from the surprising amount of deals on Mac games, there are a few good iOS apps available for a lower price too. I especially like the Kingdom Rush series — played through them all (Frontiers is pretty hard in comparison to the regular one).

Big Action Mega Fight! – iOS – Games – €2.99 > €0.00
Civilization: Beyond Earth – Mac – Games – €39.99 > €19.99
Civilization IV – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
Civilization V: Campaign Edition – Mac – Games – €29.99 > €14.99
Command & Conquer: Generals Deluxe – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
Evel Knievel – iOS – Games – €1.99 > €0.00
Fighting Fantasy: Starship Traveller – iOS – Games – €2.99 > €0.99
Kingdom Rush Frontiers HD – iPad – Games – €3.99 > €2.99
Kingdom Rush Frontiers – iPhone – Games – €2.99 > €1.99
Kingdom Rush HD – iPad – Games – €2.99 > €0.00
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €4.99
The Secret of Monkey Island: SE – Mac – Games – €9.99 > €4.99
Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
SimCity: Complete Edition – Mac – Games – €29.99 > €14.99
Star Wars: Empire At War – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast – Mac – Games – €9.99 > €4.99
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy – Mac – Games – €9.99 > €4.99
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy – Mac – Games – €9.99 > €4.99
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Mac – Games – €9.99 > €4.99
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – Mac – Games – €9.99 > €4.99
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
Symmetrica – Minimalistic arcade game – iOS – Games – €0.99 > €0.00
The Sims 2: Castaway Stories – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
The Sims 2: Life Stories – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
The Sims 2: Pet Stories – Mac – Games – €19.99 > €9.99
The Sims 2: Super Collection – Mac – Games – €29.99 > €14.99


Geekbench 4 Is Out →

August 31, 2016 · 09:18

John Poole:

I’m excited to announce that Geekbench 4 is now available. You can download Geekbench 4 for Windows, macOS, and Linux from the Geekbench website. You can also download Geekbench 4 for Android from Google Play, and Geekbench 4 for iOS from the App Store.

Geekbench 4 is currently free on iOS, so grab it now if you don’t want to pay.


Vesper Open Source Plans →

August 31, 2016 · 09:16

Brent Simmons:

We plan to do all of the below by the end of 2016, but we can’t make promises. (Life may intervene.)

Q Branch’s existing open source code — DB5 and QSKit — will be moved to my personal GitHub account. I will continue to maintain DB5 (I continue to use it). QSKit will not be maintained, but will be made available as historical artifact.

We will make Vesper for iOS, Vesper for Mac, and Vesper’s JavaScript sync service open source on my personal GitHub account. This code will also be provided as historical artifacts: they’re not intended as active projects. They’re also not intended as examples of how to write apps these days.

The licenses will be public domain or something roughly as non-restrictive. However: the name Vesper and the app icon remain the property of me, Dave, and John. If you build anything based on this code, you must pick a different name and different app icon.

I wonder if anyone will try to use this to build their own ‘Vesper’… What am I saying? Of course they will. Question is: will it be any good?


Import Your Vesper Notes Into Ulysses →

August 27, 2016 · 09:41

Götz Fabian:

A few days ago, the creators of the notes app Vesper announced to end its development and eventually shut down the sync server. Being in this industry ourselves, we can understand that making this move isn’t easy, and we’re sorry for both the developers and the Vesper users who grew fond of the tool. If you’re a Vesper user and considering Ulysses as a future replacement, this post is for you. To ease migrating your notes from Vesper to Ulysses, we’ve created a small tool which lets you do exactly that.


John Gruber Says Goodbye to Vesper →

August 24, 2016 · 08:28

John Gruber:

I really enjoyed working with Brent and Dave. When we were on a roll I could tell that we were doing good work, and it was fun. I’ve spent the better part of my career working solo. It was great to be on a team. I don’t remember who came up with the names “Q Branch” (I think that was Brent), or “Vesper” (I’m pretty sure that one was Dave), but in both cases, as soon as the name was proposed, the whole team said, Yes, that’s the name. That’s it.

With “Vesper” we were thinking things like beautiful, smart, clever, strong. In the end, the name was more apt than we knew, because it also carries heartbreak.

John also points out the mistakes they probably made while working on Vesper. Looking back on my years of using Vesper, he’s probably right. It’s a good example of how your love for your product can blind you from the seemingly obvious.

Even though I had absolutely nothing to do with Vesper, I am very sad that the app is now officially dead. It’s still on my home screen and though I haven’t been using it for a while, it did provide a very specific function in my workflow. One that I will miss greatly. There aren’t many apps out in the world with which I had developed something more than just a passing fancy. Truly, there are only two pieces of software that I can say that I loved. One of them is Tweetbot [iOS / Mac], which will keep me pinned to iOS for as long as it exists — I already dread the day when Tapbots call it quits — and the second is Vesper [iOS]. While Tweetbot completely replaced my need for the official Twitter app, I as hoping Vesper would do the same for Evernote and Notes. Unfortunately, it didn’t and seeing how sad this whole situation makes me, I can only imagine the pain that Brent, Dave, and John are going through.

Cheers, Vesper. We had a good run, you and I.


2016 Apple Design Award Winners

June 15, 2016 · 12:17

None of the winners disappoint and I can personally recommend Ulysses and Lara Croft GO. I use the former for my Markdown writing, while the latter is a great procrastination tool.

Dividr – iPhone – Games – €0.00
Linum – iPhone – Games – €0.00
djay Pro – iPad – Music – €19.99
Auxy Music Creation – iPad – Music – €0.00
INKS. – iOS – Games – €1.99
Lara Croft GO – iOS – Games – €4.99
Chameleon Run – iOS – Games – €1.99
Ulysses – Mac – Productivity – €44.99
Frame.io – iPhone – Photography – €0.00
Zova – Personal Trainer – iPhone – Healthcare & Fitness – €0.00
Streaks – iPhone – Productivity – €3.99
Complete Anatomy – iPad – Medical – €0.00


Best Apps to Mark Up and Annotate Images for iOS →

June 4, 2016 · 15:01

Allyson Kazmucha:

One question I’m asked on a regular basis is “What apps are you using to mark up and annotate your images?” A few years ago, I would have told you that it wasn’t an easy task on iOS and you were better off using a Mac app, such as Napkin. Luckily, that not only isn’t the case anymore, it’s actually easier to mark up and annotate images on iPhone nowadays.

PointOut [App Store] is my tool of choice. Ally has some more suggestions though, if you’re looking for more.


How Frank Underwood Helped Monument Valley →

May 21, 2016 · 09:14

Andrew Webster:

When the third season of House of Cards debuted on February 27th last year, it included a curious cameo: in one episode, newly-inaugurated president Frank Underwood was relaxing with an iPad, playing the gorgeous game Monument Valley. Two days later, the game had its second biggest money-making day to date, raking in close to $70,000 over the span of 24 hours, thanks to being featured in the show.

This is one of my favourite mobile games and one of the best I’ve ever played. The whole team truly deserves their success.