Have you seen these pictures of the solar farms Apple built in North Carolina? It looks like Apple is most certainly putting its money where its mouth is with respect to clean energy. While I have no basis for such an opinion, I feel Tim Cook's hands all over this.
I’m surprised people aren’t making a bigger deal out of the new feature in iOS 7 that allows hardware manufacturers to develop game controllers for the iPad and iPhone. I think there is room here for someone to make a really great controller and I’m sure if they did, game developers in the super-competitive world of iOS game development would quickly adopt it. I also think it would usher in a whole different breed of joystick and button-mashing games that we really aren’t currently getting on iOS. Touch arcade recently reviewed the MOGA Ace Power controller, which doesn’t appear to be the killer controller we are looking for.
I've been doing a nerdy sort-of press junket to talk about the Email book. As a result, I'm on the latest episode of Systematic with Brett Terpstra. Brett got me talking about all sorts of divergent things. I'm not sure if he knows it or not, but Brett is really good at taking interviews in interesting directions.
Did you know that in addition to returning to a sane user interface, the Mavericks Contacts application also adds the ability to paste a full address in one step? Just paste an address (single or multi-line) into a contact's street address field and the application parses it for you. It doesn't pull the contact name or phone number but the days of individually pasting street address, city, state, and zip are over. David Chartier over at Finer Things Mac even has some sample links to try this out.
This week there is a new sponsor at MacSparky.com, DreamShot. I take a lot of screenshots and it is a complete pain in the neck. First you have to shoot the image. Then you have to go to some app (like email, photo processing app, Evernote, or whatever) and then you have to get your screenshot into that app and do something with it. DreamShot fixes all of the madness. When you take a screenshot with DreamShot you immediately get a menu with multiple options for how to deal with that image. You can see the options I get with the below image.
Tapping on any of these options, I can immediately email, message, tweet, or otherwise process my screenshot. The list is dynamic and changes depending on what apps you’ve got installed on your Mac. You get all of that for just $4.99. I use this app every day. If you are still not sold, the developer has a free 30-day preview available for download from their website.
The initial reception for the new Email Field Guide has been fantastic. I’ve already received some great emails from readers explaining how the book has changed their game and feedback like that pushes every single one of my buttons.
There is an error in the book with respect to Screencast 4.20. I’ve posted the missing screencast on Vimeo and I’ve got it at the bottom of this post. I’ll fix this problem with the 1.1 update that will ship in December. If you haven’t bought the book, watch the screencast anyway so you can get an idea of its content. There are 36 separate screencasts in the book showing how to use different email technologies.
Over the weekend, the Mac Power Users published a new episode about email. I promise it’s not a one hour commercial for the book but instead some real practical tips for making email easier.
I honestly believe the MacSparky Field Guides are some of the best work I’ve done in my life. Thank you again everyone for supporting me in this.
The Great Discontent did a great job on this interview with Merlin Mann. There is a lot worth quoting here but this passage really resonates with me.
"Over the years, I’ve learned to be a little bit easier on myself while simultaneously trying to be more realistic about what I can actually do. I think a lot about do-ability with whatever silly project I want to do next. I don’t think about whether something is easy or not: I think about what trade-offs I have to accept in order to do it well, on time, and on budget."
I still find saying "no" and making hard decisions about what projects to take on extremely difficult. Merlin was the first person that confronted me on this issue and I'm grateful for that. My own neurosis aside, this is a great read.
I’ve not said or written much about it but 20 years ago, I had the good fortune to marry into a Filipino family. I’m not bragging when I say I have the best in-laws in the world. Filipino culture is amazing. There is great food, and love, and compassion for one another without reserve. We celebrate each other’s victories and cry each other’s tears. Don’t believe me? Here is my mother in law last Christmas, who decided to jump on the coffee table to model her new jacket.
I just published the fourth MacSparky Field Guide. This one is all about email. I've spent most of the past year looking very closely at email and how it works. This new book explains the best methods, technologies, services, apps, and workflows to make email work for you.
There are over 300 pages and nearly 1.5 hours of video screencasts and 200 screenshots as I walk you through. I've also included several audio interviews with friends including Serenity Caldwell, Rob Corddry, Merlin Mann, Fraser Speirs, Jeff Taekman, Aisha Tyler, David Wain, and Gabe Weatherhead, that provide even more perspective on the best ways to tackle email.
The book features a new craftsman-style design and is illustrated by Mike Rohde. In a lot of ways, this book feels like the culmination of everything I've learned along the way. I'm really proud of this book and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it. It is available in the iBooks Store and PDF for $9.99.
You may not know it but there is a mailing list for the MacSparky Field Guides. My goals is for it to be one of the lowest volume mailing lists on the Internet. All that being said, if you are interested in learning about new Field Guides and big updates, today would be an excellent day to sign up for it.
I got to spend some time this evening with an iPad mini with retina display in the local Apple Store. The store was slow enough that I could take my own personal iPad mini and compare it side-by-side. I spent about 20 minutes putting the new iPad Mini through its paces and here are some initial impressions.
The Retina Screen
The retina screen is obvious and gorgeous. It's everything you expected. Because it has the same pixel count as the larger size iPad packed into a smaller display, it's actually sharper than the iPad air. All that being said, looking at the iPad mini with retina display and iPad air side-by-side, I couldn't tell any difference. Pixels were invisible on both devices. As an aside, I never noticed before how Apple cranks up the brightness to maximum on in-store devices. That's smart because they looked really great.
I could not tell a difference between the weight of the two devices. I understand the iPad mini with retina display is slightly heavier than my existing iPad mini. I thought I could perceive a slight difference between the two until I had an Apple Store employee hand them to me with my eyes closed and I guessed the wrong one of the two as heavier. If you're afraid about increased weight with the upgrade, you shouldn't be.
The new iPad Mini with retina display is a lot faster than its predecessor. Even doing silly little things like jumping between applications are noticeably quicker. It renders webpages faster, loads complicated applications faster, does Garage Band tracks faster, and generally kicks some serious ass. Having used an iPad mini for the past year, this upgrade was much more obvious than I expected it to be.
First World Problems
This truly has come down to the question of how big do you want your iPad. Whether you want large or small, there is an excellent option for you.
Bringing processor speed, weight, and retina screen parity between the two devices means everybody has a good option without having to compromise something. That's right. I said it. This is the Apple version of "no compromises". I suspect it's going to be a very happy holiday for Apple.
I recently wrote about the release of Pixelmator version 3.0. Today Pixelmator announced they've had over 1 million downloads. I'm thrilled for their success. Pixelmator truly is a disruptive product bringing powerful imaging tools to your Mac for just $30. I used it extensively in the new Field Guide I'll be announcing very shortly.
Speaking of Fraser Speirs, he wrote up his new iPad Air and is impressed.
"I don't want to bury the lede here: the major story about the iPad Air is not the reduction in size and weight but the increase in performance. It is, to put it simply, an utter delight to use. "
I've heard a similar version of this from all of my friends driving iPad Airs. What is even more interesting than how fast the A7 is making existing apps, is what kind of new apps developers will create to harness this power.
This week Fraser Speirs joined us to update us on the progress of the 1 to 1 iPad program he has been administering for several years. Fraser has unique insight on the iPad and education and this one is a great listen for that alone. We also talked at some length concerning his impressions and thoughts on the new iPad Air.
This week I'd like to thank Rocket Matter for sponsoring MacSparky.com. This week Rocket Matter is giving away a free ebook, 60 Apps Every Lawyer Needs to Know. The book has some great app recommendations for anyone that works in a profession where their time is their stock-in-trade.
Rocket Matter is the innovative leader in cloud-based legal services. If you run or work in a law firm and you are tired of dealing with all of the hassles, go check out Rocket Matter that gives you calendaring, document management, billing, task management, and all the other bits it takes to practice law in one gorgeously designed web interface and a really spiffy iPhone application. Thanks Rocket Matter.
Cleartones remain my favorite ringtones for my iPhone. They've now released their new Pure series of ringtones and notification tones. I really like the new tones and it is nice having quality ringtones and notification sounds that nobody else in the room is using. They've got samples on the website so go check it out.
Mike Vardy (Twitter) (website) speaks and writes about managing your time better. How appropriate then that Mike released a book this week about how we use our calendars, The Now Year, A Practical Guide to Calendar Management. In addition to being prolific, Mike’s a really kind fellow and agreed to share his home screen. So Mike, what’s on your home screen?
What are your most interesting home screen apps?
One of them is 1Password because I’m actually using it as my main browser app now. It has all of my passwords stored in it, and the new version sports a much better browsing component. I rarely browse the Internet on my iPhone, but when I do (other than when it comes from a prompt within Dispatch, which defaults to Safari), I use 1Password.
30/30 is also an interesting choice because while I use it sparingly, it’s nice to have it there when I want to use a modified version of The Pomodoro Technique. If it wasn’t on my home screen I’d probably not use it as much.
YNAB and Neat are there for the same reason. I want to keep on top of my finances and my scannables, so having these apps front and center really helps. In fact, most things on my home screen are there because of that. And if the Reviewables folder (where all of my beta testing apps are) then I’d not put the apps through the paces nearly as often…or as well.
What is your favorite app?
Drafts, with Dispatch being a close second. I’m a big fan of “gateway” apps — apps that allow you to get in the door with something and then place that thing where you need it most with as little friction as possible. Drafts and Dispatch (along with Launch Center Pro) are the best gateway apps I’ve come across. They’re the reason I am getting so much more use out of my iPhone than ever before.
Which app is your guilty pleasure?
I’d say that’d be the Untappd app. I don’t use location check-in apps other than this one. Untappd is essentially a social networking app for beer drinkers, and ever since I started getting into craft beers (I’ve even started cellaring them and have been using Evernote to help out with that process) I have been using Untappd to indicate when I have a beer and what beer I’m having. Other than listening to the Mikes on Mics back catalog, it’s the only other way I track the beers I’ve had.
What is the app you are still missing?
With Drafts, Dispatch, and Launch Center Pro in my arsenal, I don’t really find myself wanting for any particular app. What I think is missing is the fact that I can’t choose to change my default mail app from the stock app to Dispatch, or the stock browser to 1Password if I want. I understand why that’s the case (or at least I think I do), but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, right?
How many times a day do you use your iPhone?
Far more often than in the past – I’d say upwards of 10 times per day since I’m actually using Dispatch as my primary email app (yep, even over the one on my MacBook Air). The ability to quickly capture and shift things to where I need them to be (email tasks to OmniFocus or Asana, email information materials to Evernote, quick capture of ideas to Drafts, etc.) is what makes iOS (and my iPhone) the operating system I’m using more and more these days.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?
I’d say the new Control Center feature introduced in iOS 7 is my favourite. I love that I can quickly swipe up with my thumb and activate Airplane Mode, open the calculator, and fire up the flashlight. It’s a small thing, but it’s a classic example of great UI and UX – something Apple knows a thing or two about.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
Other than the ability to choose my own “sensible defaults” — hat tip to Patrick Rhone for that phrase — not much. That said, the default thing is pretty important (but I don’t see it changing anytime soon).
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you’re not using Drafts, Dispatch, and/or Launch Center Pro do yourself a favour and start. Any of these apps (when you take the time to set them up to meet your needs) will really change the way you use your iPhone.