Craig Hockenberry is the first person that I saw point out the ability to switch your Apple Watch to put the digital crown on the elbow side and he makes a pretty good case for it. Ergonomically, it's definitely better. Also, with the digital crown on the hand side of the watch, I was occasionally activating Siri when I'd bend my wrist in too far and press on the crown. I've only been trying the Hockenberry flip for a day but I think I may just keep it like this.
Today is Disneyland's 60th birthday so I though I'd pick a Disney-related jazz track. One of my favorites is Alice in Wonderland, by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. This track is on an album full of Disney tunes called Dave Digs Disney from 1957. The Dave Brubeck quartet was one of the pioneers of the West Coast Jazz movement and is one of the most distinctive in jazz with Paul Desmond's lilting melodies on Alto Sax and Dave Brubeck's harmonics on Piano. Alice in Wonderland delivers on all counts.
This week I thought I'd feature my own home screen. So here you go.
Some Apps of Note
I know Apple Maps is the whipping boy but it's got a lot better over the last few years. It's no longer "Apple Maps Bad". Also, I like using Siri with Maps. ("Hey Siri, Get directions home.")
My love of Tweetbot on iPhone just barely exceeds my disdain for the iPad version. I've been using it for years and occasionally look for something new and I always come back.
I've just recently started participating in some Slack channels and I'm hooked. The Slack app keeps evolving and that's a good thing.
This app on my home screen is aspirational. I've never been much of an Instagram user but am trying again. (I'm "MacSparky" on Instagram if you're interested.)
The Audio Row
Music, Overcast, Beats, and Sonos for my audio needs. I'm hooked on Overcast for podcasts. Before Apple bought Beats, they had a promotional price through AT&T. I tried it and it stuck. I have a lot of great playlists and like the way it works so easily with the Sonos at home.
The Productivity Row
RSS feeds are my guilty pleasure. I read through feeds every day and for awhile now, I've been doing it in Unread.
1Password is a great password management tool but it also has the ability to store secure notes behind a separate wall on my phone. I use those all the time.
I guess there's no secret that I really like the new Photos. Now it's on my home screen.
Fantastical really pushes all my buttons as an iOS calendar application. The list view of data connects with my brain and new event entry is also a breeze.
There is no faster way to get words from my brain to my phone than Drafts.
After all these years, I still love my iPhone. It is probably my most important piece of technology.
Want to See my Apple Watch Face?
Here you go. I'm definitely a "Utility" man. I keep turning the numbers on the face on and off. (Currently off.) I've tried several other faces and none of them have stuck. For complications I'm using fitness, weather, and next event.
Mark Gurman reports that iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 might very well get the San Francisco Font, currently used on the Apple Watch. If true Helvetica Neue will go down in history as the George Lazenby of Mac fonts. Given that Apple designed the San Francisco font, I would not be least bit surprised if they brought it to all of their platforms. (John Gruber points out that San Francisco is now the font used on the new MacBook keyboard.)
I like San Francisco on the watch. It is clean and clearly designed to be on a screen and not piece of paper. I have no idea how San Francisco will look on the phone and Mac, but I'm curious. I'm probably not the person to make such decisions though since I was a fan of, and actually turned in a college paper using the original Mac San Francisco font. Yes. This one.
Today is David Letterman's last show. Like a lot of people my age, Dave was one of my original stick-it-to-the-man inspirations. This week Jason Snell produced a very special episode of The Incomparable, Monkey Cam, with interviews from some very smart people and an excellent narrative about David Letterman's career and what it means. If you have any interest in this stuff, I'd urge you to listen to this one hour episode.
Since I posted my initial review of the new MacBook, I’ve received a lot of email about the keyboard. From other new MacBook owners, the feedback has largely agreed with me that the keyboard is inferior to that on the MacBook Pro or iMac with a few vocifous objectors who felt that the smaller throw keyboard is superior. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. The way a keyboard feels is definitely a personal preference thing.
Regardless, more water has run under the bridge since I put out the first review and my opinion of the keyboard has not changed. I still don’t think it is as good as the keyboard on my old MacBook Pro but it’s not so terrible that it’s a dealbreaker. Moreover, as time goes by, I think of it less and less and instead just get my work done on this amazingly light laptop with this amazingly crisp text. I sold MacBook Pro and it is now happily being used to edit video. I haven’t missed it at all.
Last year Apple announced Home Kit. It has been nearly a year now and Home Kit support in third party devices is expected to ship soon according to the Verge. I'm interested in home automation and have a mixture of WeMo switches and Hue lights throughout my house. One of the challenges is that every little ecosystem has its own app and and own idiosyncrasies. Hopefully Home Kit solves that. We'll find out soon.
This week I’m pleased to welcome back, curbi as a MacSparky.com sponsor. While the Internet can be scary for most people, it is terrifying for parents. Letting our kids enjoy the good parts of the Internet while protecting them from the scary parts isn’t easy. Not only can kids get into trouble over your local WiFi network, they can also get into trouble through a cellular connection or at a friend’s house. curbi solves this problem, giving you amazing parental controls for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. You can easily block specific types of content or add a specific site list. curbi tracks (and can block) websites through Safari or any other iOS app that has a web browser. Perhaps even more importantly, the curbi blocks will work no matter how they access the Internet, even using their Pal's home WiFi on the other side of town. Put simply, curbi lets you control you children's exposure to the Internet, no matter where they are.
curbi also lets you set boundaries. For example, you could block social networks from 3pm to 6pm and the entire Internet from 9pm to 8am. For just $6.99 a month, you can protect all of the iOS devices in your home. curbi is the only service I’ve ever seen that can protect your kids, no matter where they are. Learn more here. Below is the official Curbi video that explains the service in detail.
This week Merlin Mann returns for his annual visit to Mac Power Users. This is one of my favorite episodes every year. This year we discuss hardware and software updates and if it's necessary to keep up with the latest and greatest, Merlin's growing use of iOS over Mac OS, and kids and technology use.
Did you also know we just received a new episode of You Look Nice Today? YLNT involves Merlin, Scott Simpson, and Adam Lisagor recording their often bizarre and always funny conversations, adding a little bit of ukulele-ladden post production, and releasing it to the world.
Art Pepper was one of the most influential alto saxophonists in the 50s and 60s and considered one of the founders of the West Coast Jazz movement. As a Californian, I'm a fan of West Coast Jazz in general and Art Pepper in particular. There was a lightness to his sound that is delightful. Unfortunately, Art had a lifelong heroin problem and, frankly, a rough life including several prison stints. There is a great documentary about Art Pepper, called Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor. Over the Rainbow (iTunes) is a great Art Pepper track because he plays the whole thing solo and really stretches out.
What are some of your favorite apps?
More than anything else, I made Fantastical for myself and still use it every day.
The way I do email, Apple Mail works for me. I like the more recent feature additions, like swipe to mark as read.
I’m a calorie counter and this app makes it painless. I’ve had a running streak of counting calories every day for three years now.
This is my favorite Twitter client. I use it for both my personal account and my Flexibits account and I’m using it all the time.
I’m strangely addicted to Periscope. I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll broadcast but I really enjoy watching the broadcasts. As a communications major, I find the idea of anyone being able to stream from anywhere really interesting, a new intimate form of communication.
This is my favorite app for listening to music and I love being able to (pretty much) listen to whatever song I want, when I want it.
I most often take Instagram pictures when I travel but I check it every day.
What app makes you most productive?
Fantastical. Of course.
What app do you know you’re underutilizing?
I’m not very good at writing things down on my iPhone. I want to get better at taking notes on my phone.
How many times a day do you use your iPhone?
A lot! (laughs)
What Today View widgets are you using and why?
I use the Fantastical widget and also like Dark Sky in the Today view, which shows the forecast for the next hour very quickly. I also keep my stock information there.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?
That it all just works. Of course things can be improved but I like the ecosystem and how it all works.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
I would like to add the ability to see and use two apps side-by-side which could add the potential to do things like drag and drop.
What’s your wallpaper and why?
I’ve used the same dark perforated leather wallpaper for a long time. It was created by Adam Betts. (I originally had it on my Mac.) It looks great and doesn’t draw my attention away.
Can we see your Apple Watch watchface?
I really enjoy our monthly live shows. This past Saturday Katie and I recorded this show with a full chat room. We covered the benefits of digital meal planning, follow-up on DEVONThink workflows, our favorite RSS feeds, managing small SSDs, resources for a new iPhone user, better fonts for iOS, and my new MacBook.
I recently ran into a problem where "Hey Siri" wasn't working on my Apple Watch. I was sitting there, calling out "Hey Siri" with increasing volume and Siri had no interest in me. In fact, I said "Hey Siri" so loud that I set it off on my phone, which was in the next room charging. MacRumors published an article that shed some light.
In order for "Hey Siri" to work on your Apple Watch, the screen needs to be lit. It won't activate when the screen is dark. If the screen is lit from you twisting your wrist or tapping the screen to wake it up or pressing the digital crown to wake up the watch, "Hey Siri" works. However, if you are in a glance or in an app, saying "Hey Siri" doesn't work. The above linked Mac Rumors article explains that if you are at the watch face as a result of pressing the digital crown from another view (like the home screen or an app), "Hey Siri" also doesn't work. However, in my testing "Hey Siri" worked just fine in that scenario.
This October, there's an iBooks Author conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I won't be talking or attending but if you're are interested in iBooks Author publishing, this is the place. As an aside, I'm digging in on my next iBooks Author Field Guide now that the Photos screencast has shipped and having a great time working on a "book".
Ray Maker is the first person I've seen really test the Apple Watch's water resistence. He swam with it, jumped in off a 10M diving board with it, and simulated 40M depth water pressure with it and the Watch kept on ticking. While all of this is comforting to know, after spending $400 on a watch for the first time in my life, I still take it off before showering. (I do, however, keep it on while washing dishes.)
In this week's show, Katie and I dive deep on the new Photos app and photo management. I'm really impressed with the new Photos app and have been using it a lot. I explain my Photos workflows in this show.
This week MacSparky.com is sponsored by The Omni Group. I’ve frequently thought that The Omni Group is the most Apple-like application group outside of Apple. They are obsessive about making great products. I use all of their applications on a daily basis and they make my life better (and easier).
My favorite Omni Group app is OmniFocus. I’ve got many responsibilities in my life as a father, husband, lawyer, and geek. The only way I’m able to wake up in the morning and not feel completely paralyzed by the amount of work on my plate is through the powerful task management tools OmniFocus affords me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, OmniFocus might just solve your problem too.
This year the gang at the Omni Group has been busy turning OmniFocus for iOS into a universal application that looks great on your iPad an iPhone. They've also shipped an update that supports the Apple Watch and I'm already finding it to be one of my favorite watch glances. You can lead a complicated life and not be a flake with a little help from OmniFocus. Learn more at the Omni Group.