A collection of 29 posts

A new website for Dialog

I've been under the weather for the past couple days so I took the time to redesign a few older projects and get them pushed up to Gitlab.

Namely, I updated the Dialog landing page and moved it over to my site as a subdomain. While I was doing this, I took the time to update the app icon to the new spec Google introduced last year. I know it's not the update many were hoping for, but it's something.

I'd love to continue work on the app if I found the right partner to join me, so anything is possible. For now, this will have to do.

Good artists copy, great artists steal

Raymond Wong for Input:

There used to be a time and place for pointing fingers and bashing one company for blatantly copying another’s ideas. But now it feels juvenile. Who really cares? “Good artists copy, great artists steal” as the saying goes. Everyone borrows. Everything is inspired by something before it.

‘Nuff said.

macOS: Big Sur

macOS: Big Sur

There's almost too much to unpack from the update but I wanted to touch on a couple things that I've had a chance to take a first-hand look at so far. Specifically, the updates to Safari, the addition of Control Panel, and the new system sounds and icons. Read more


HEY email by Basecamp
HEY, a new email service by Basecamp

I was lucky enough to secure an invite (Thanks, Jason!) and have been taking HEY for a spin this afternoon — well, as much as one can take an email service for a spin I guess. First impressions? It's quite nice, easy to set up, and packed with features.

As I was explaining the service to my wife, it dawned on me that I don't exactly dislike email, it's just not great. Between the screening feature, a unified place for all attachments, no ads, and the peace of mind knowing the gang at Basecamp aren't scraping my messages, maybe HEY could be great for me.

We'll just have to see how the trial goes.

Apple's Migration Assistant

Colin Devroe:

My plan was to use [Migration Assistant] to migrate from my 13-inch MacBook Pro to the new 16-inch MacBook Pro and be up and running in the same day with every single app, preference, setting, dependency, file, password, and even session. My fear this time was if Migration Assistant did a terrible job at this, I’d have to format the computer and start over from scratch.

I’m happy to report though, that it went pretty smoothly. There were one or two apps that simply wouldn’t open (Visual Studio Code being one that comes to mind). So I simply trashed the app and reinstalled and it worked.

After reading about Colin's positive experience, I decided to give Migration Assistant a shot myself. My wife and I reorganized our office, and moved my Mac mini (previously a media server). While I love the portability of my iPad Pro, I wanted to have a consistent place in my house to get some work done on a desktop.

To that end, having no use for my aging MacBook, I decided to use Apple's Migration Assistant to move whatever work wasn't useable on my iPad to the Mac mini and, much like Colin, my experience was painless. One thing to note, as he does, is that you should definitely use a cable to complete the transfer. While I had the option to do it over wi-fi, the speed was more than doubled when I connected the two machines.

Having never been through the process before, I was surprised at how much was copied from the MacBook. For example, I had Node.js and Ghost installed on the machine via the command line and the Mac mini picked it all up without issue. I was able to jump right into Terminal and get my dev environment booted up in seconds.

I never once went back to the old Mac and ended up formatting it the same afternoon that I received the new one.

It went so well for me too, in fact, that I was able to wipe the MacBook after the transfer was complete without a fear of having missed anything.

Prime Video adds in-app purchases, bypassing the App Store cut

Apple on Wednesday confirmed the existence of a program for streaming video providers that allows those platforms to bypass its standard 30 percent App Store fee when selling individual purchases, like movie downloads and TV show rentals.

This is great news and it makes me hopeful we’ll see similar deals applied to other App Store categories in the future. Specifically, I’d love for in-app purchases to return to ComiXology’s iOS/iPadOS apps.

Full disclosure: While I work at Amazon, I have no inside knowledge of this or any other deal. I’m saying this as a fan of comics and a user of ComiXology.

Dark Sky by Apple

Dark Sky blog:

Dark Sky has joined Apple.

Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy.

The Dark Sky apps are unavailable here in Canada so I’m optimistic that their purchase by Apple will bring the features and functionality I’ve heard so much about to us finally. Secondarily, it’s nice to see Apple bringing even more services like this under their own roof instead of relying on others to fill in (and access) the data.

In terms of what Apple’s Dark Sky will look like, I imagine an evolved version of the current weather app with specific features from Dark Sky where it makes sense. I have a feeling that people looking for a radically different experience will be disappointed.

Google Podcasts app now available on iOS

Google Podcasts on iOS

Ben Schoon for 9to5Google:

Google Podcasts has been built out in beta on Android and the web over the past several months, and now it’s getting some big updates. Today, Google is releasing an official Google Podcasts app on iOS as it officially reveals a redesign for the service.

After months of flip-flopping on podcast players, I ended up settling on Apple’s and abandoning my desktop listening entirely. The issues syncing episodes between devices was just too common with most other apps and services.

It looks like Google’s app is rolling out to the App Store now so I’ll be giving it a try shortly. Assuming the syncing hold up, it’ll be nice to again have the option of listening from the web player or desktop in situations where that’s more convenient.

As an added bonus, Google’s podcast service plays well with Home devices so we’ll be able to play episodes that way. On the flip side, I’m not sure it supports CarPlay yet, which could be a deal-breaker. Only time (and testing) will tell.

iPadOS 13.4 adds support for mice and trackpads

iPadOS 13.4 adds support for mice and trackpads

Brad Bennett for MobileSyrup:

Apple revealed this feature by showing off a refreshed Magic Keyboard for the new iPad Pro, but this will work on all iPads that support iOS 13.4 and with all mice, including Bluetooth and USB models.

Considering I just ordered the updated Smart Keyboard, I’m glad to hear I can still connect a Bluetooth mouse and take advantage of the new functionality. Though, having played around with mouse support a bit already, it’s interesting that Apple’s own Magic Mouse isn’t fully supported on iPadOS 13.4. The device connects and offers basic functionality but some of the more advanced gestures don’t work unfortunately.

On a sidenote, as is the case with stuff like this, it's only natural that Apple announces a new iPad Pro just days after I buy the current one. That said, I’m really happy with the one I have and I'm glad the new Magic Keyboard supports the previous gen Pro.

The iPhone XR was the best-selling smartphone of 2019

Aisha Malik for MobileSyrup:

Apple’s iPhone XR was the best-selling smartphone in the world in 2019, according to new data from London-based research firm Omdia. The research firm reports that Apple shipped 46.3 million iPhone XR devices last year, which is more than double the 23.1 million shipped in 2018.

And for good reason. It’s a great phone. I switched to the XR after years of Android devices and — in the year since I got mine — I’ve been really impressed. The battery lasts forever, the system is still snappy and smooth. I’m not surprised it’s done so well.

Essential is shutting down

Essential is shutting down

Brian Heater for TechCrunch:

But bad timing, broader industry issues and a founder embroiled in some pretty troubling allegations of sexual misconduct contributed to a company that has struggled to make it far beyond the launch of its first handset. Today, Essential announced that it would be ceasing operations and shutting down.

While it wasn’t without its flaws (dear god, the camera), the PH-1 was a solid device that few even considered. With its impressive build quality, the speed and frequency of software updates, the near-stock Android experience, Essential’s phone was able to deliver one of the better non-Pixel experiences.

Byte launches on iOS and Android

Nick Statt for The Verge:

Dom Hofmann, the co-creator of Vine who has been quietly working on a successor to the short-form video platform, says the new app, called Byte, is available now on iOS and Android. The app has been available in beta form for quite some time, but its launch late on Friday afternoon came as a complete surprise.

I’ve downloaded the app and played around with it a bit. I love the amount of polish that’s gone into it. The art for the categories, the vibrant colours and icons, the options for different app icons, etc. The UI is simple and easy to wrap your head around quickly.

If you’re using the app, I’m