It’s the beginning of a new year, which means it’s once again time for a Rogue Amoeba status report. This post offers a look at what we did in 2018, as well as a glimpse at our plans for the future.
These guys make some of the most amazing Mac apps and it’s great to see they’re heading into 2019 with a strong roadmap.
This was one of my favourite games on iOS, on my first iPad, and it’s probably been 6 or more years since I played it last. I’m tired of waiting and will just get the PC version. Hope that one still works.
John Gruber, on Daring Fireball:
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.
Apple’s own software quality is slowly going down hill over these past few years, as if they stopped caring. There are too many examples to list, but it’s long past due to sound an alarm. Even on iOS, Apple often fails to have updates for its own apps ready in time for new screen resolutions or features.
I’ve been pestering Apple for years publicly and privately about the manipulation and outright scams going on in the App Store. Apple has made some progress here and there, but overall Apple’s strictness in some areas and hands off approach in others has disproportionately rewarded bad actors while stifling conscientious developers.
First of all, read the whole thing — some parts might shock you. These issues won’t be problematic to users aware of which developers are the good guys — there are quite a few out there — but the average consumer will have no clue which ones to trust. Apple really needs to crack down hard on the bad actors, cleaning out their own store of the garbage that has accumulated over the years.
Michael Potuck, for 9to5Mac:
While Portrait mode depth editing arrived with the iPhone XS, XR and the 2018 iPad Pro, the feature isn’t available on iPhone X, 8 Plus, and 7 Plus. Today, Google is rolling out support for the feature with Google Photos for iOS.
It’s been argued that the iPhone X isn’t fast enough to support the editing of bokeh. I called it out after the keynote. Now Google is joining in, assisting users of “old” iPhones and bringing them functionality that Apple should have provided on day one.
Lawrence Abrams, for Bleeping Computer:
Have you ever wanted to run a Linux shell on your iOS device to transfer files, write shell scripts, or simply to use Vi to develop code or edit files? Now you can, with a project called iSH that is currently available as a TestFlight beta for iOS devices.
iSH is a project that aims to bring a Linux shell to iOS devices using a usermode x86 emulator. iSH is built on the Alpine Linux distro, which is designed to have a small footprint, be secure, and easy to use with little or no distracting bells and whistles.
There’s a link to apply for the TestFlight beta there.
Icro does not serve the purpose of a showcase project. Many parts were hacked together as I wanted to ship this App as quickly as possible. From now on all development will happen in public on Github. A structure with issues, planned features will be added using the GitHub tools.
I use Icro for my Micro.blog interactions and I actually like it more than the official client — the secret is in the font.
This is one of the most beautiful games that I have every played and it’s even better than Alto’s Adventure. You can now pre-order it on Google Play and I strongly encourage you to do so — it really is that good.
The guys behind 1Blocker for iOS and macOS are launching 1Blocker X tomorrow, with support for many more rules by combining several content blockers into one app — this rewrite took them 6 months, which is why I completely understand their need to make back their investment. Salavat Khanov wrote up all the new features of 1Blocker X on their blog — it’s an interesting read — and now that I finally understand how it works under the hood, I’m upgrading tomorrow, when the app goes live. You can pre-order it today though…
★ 1Blocker X — $4.99 / €5,49 / 23,49 PLN →
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 →
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.
I’ve been meaning to write about Alto’s Adventure for the past few years, but never got around to it. This beautiful iOS game was my sole way of attaining peace in a time of huge personal turmoil.
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I still use RSS for following authors, journalists, writers, and sites or blogs that I want to read.
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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!
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.
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.
(…) 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.
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.
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.
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.
Ulysses for Mac and iOS embraced the subscription model yesterday — Marcus Fehn detailed everything on their blog, while Max Seelemann explained the reasons behind the decision on Medium.
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Dave Teare, writing about 1Password Memberships:
1Password is what it is today because we all love working here and have fun helping our customers. We are completely self-funded, independent, have turned down all offers from venture capitalists, and our board of directors consists entirely of people who work on 1Password and help customers directly each and every day.
I love indies who make it work, without outside help. That is what we’re doing with our publishing business, and it’s not easy.
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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) →
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.
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.