My Use Cases #1: Reset Launchpad with Keyboard Maestro
Inspired by Philip Baeten’s awesome post on how he uses Keyboard Maestro from last week, I’m planning to start a new series of posts here at huwmart.in, simply, and aptly called: My Use Cases. The plan is to cover use cases for great productivity app’s like Alfred, BetterTouchTool, Keyboard Maestro, Hazel, MercuryMover and hopefully many more, one use case at a time. Because, knowing from personal experience, it’s pretty tough to actually get to grips with some of these great app’s until you find some (hopefully) interesting things to do with them.
So thats going to be my job during this series. And to get the ball rolling I want to talk about one macro i’ve set up in Keyboard Maestro myself. Some of the best uses for Keyboard Maestro are when you find yourself going through the same process over and over, and really don’t want to go through that anymore, and it’s stuff like that i’m going to try and highlight during this small series.
Since the swich to Mac OS X Lion one of the new features I was expecting to hate but actually rather enjoy now is Launchpad, the only problem i’ve found is that it doesn’t play particularry nice with non-App Store applications - meaning that if you uninstall an app that wasn’t downloaded from the Mac App Store, Launchpad won’t register the change and you’ll end up with an ugly mess like this one where the icons stick around but aren’t linked to anything.
Fourtanately it was found pretty quickly that you can reset Launchpad by deleting a database file found in ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/ and then running the Terminal command killall Dock, both of which can actually be condensed into one Terminal command rm ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db; killall Dock to delete the file and kill the Dock forceing Launchpad to reset. And although thats all well and good i’d rather not have to open the Terminal every time I want to reset the Launchpad, so, naturally, I threw together this really short and simple Keyboard Maestro macro where it’s triggered by the hot key ⌥⌘L to execture a shell script containing the aforementioned Terminal command:
rm ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db; killall Dock
And that just deletes the file and forces Launchpad to create a new database with your current list of applications, it’s also worth noting that it’s best to set Keyboard Maestro to “ignore results” from the shell script to completely annoy the Terminal.
If you thought this webOS fire sale weekend couldn’t get any crazier, think again. Best Buy has made an about-face and is now selling the TouchPad, limited to one per customer. Meanwhile, reports on Twitter and our tipline suggest that some of HP’s servers are starting to buckle under the load of new TouchPad activations.
I’d love to see the sales charts for the TouchPad since HP dropped the price like a stone. They seem to be flying off the shelves everywhere, which suggests they’ve flooded the market with upto 245,000 new tablets.
Of course, here in the UK, the best price you can get the 16GB Wi-fi model for right now is £349 - “Save £50.00” - what do they take us for?
My MessagePad keeps me portable and on target the way no modern computer can. I can’t browse the internet with my MessagePad, I can’t use Twitter, IM, or iTunes. There are no preferences to get in the way of my writing. With my MessagePad I don’t need to be sitting at a desk to be productive.
A really nice little tweaklet which allows you to hide certain applications and folders from appearing in Launchpad. I personally won’t be using it, if i’m going to use Launchpad I wan’t to use it as intended, that and i’m running a pretty tight ship in terms of applications so it isn’t much of a problem.
This week on the Scatterbrain podcast, I talk about fear and doing, talking about productivity, I consider when it’s time to set aside the to-do list and just take the leap.
I also briefly discuss my workflow for writing, and making this podcast, both of which definitely aren’t ideal but work for me.
I also give a mention to my new pet project over at Take An Ad’ Break where in the coming weeks and months you’ll be able to find commentary from me on some of the most awesome and most appalling adverts on television plus coverage of advertising in other mediums.
That title is not garbled. Fujitsu did not announce the release of its Windows Phone 7 handset today, but instead its Windows 7 phone. All of a sudden Microsoft’s naming system is a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? The phone will be released on July 23rd.
The handset, named the F-07C Mobile Phone, runs a full, complete build of Windows 7, and can be, according to the Fujitsu copy, used “as a PC.”
It’s really painful to watch these huge companies flailing, trying to stay relevant by breaking into the mobile space, and doing it entirely wrong. Stick with the enterprise guys.
This week on the Scatterbrain podcast, I talk about my first impressions of Google+ and how it compares to Facebook and Twitter, I consider what I like about it and where I think they need to make changes discussing the design, privacy and integration with other services. I also talk about how I foresee it fitting into my social graph.
Mark Striebeck, Google’s Engineering Manager for Gmail, left a public note in Google+ yesterday letting everyone know that Google is already working on integrating Google+ into Gmail. Specifically, he cites “several Gmail / Google+ integrations” in the works. At the same time, he wants to use Google+’s new Hangouts group chat feature to get ideas and feedback on how the integration should work. Tomorrow on Google+, Striebeck’s team will hold a brainstorming session.
Awesome. But why are the Reader team not doing this? It seems like a natural fit with Google+. Maybe Sparks is their supplement for the time being.
So Richard pointed out this excellent post about using HTACCESS files on a server to redirect domain.com/+ to your Google+ account. In his post, he lamented the inability to do is with his domain as it’s hosted on Tumblr, just like this blog is.
However, with Tumblr you can actually hook this up so that it works. Give nikf.org/+ a go. Here’s how to set this up with Tumblr:
1. Head to the Tumblr Customize page for your blog.
2. Choose the ‘Pages’ menu item on the Customize page.
3. Create a new page, configure it as below and hit save.
Very nice idea by Nik, i’ve just set it up (you can hit me up on Google+ now, at huwmart.in/+), but it simply acts the same way as gplus.to, just with a better looking URL address. It still doesn’t solve the problem that my Google+ ‘username’ out of the box is 107419002725667151057.
From Google’s perspective this is obviously a good move, they’re rebranding Blogger and Picasa as Google Blogs and Google Photos respectively, apparently as a big push to “unify its brand” ahead of the launch of Google+. I think it’s terrible though, on the same vein of Google trying to “unify its brand”: people want to be part of a brand.
Maybe not in the beginning, but now i’m sure one of the big things that brings people to Flickr is the name. It’s known as that huge beast of a photo sharing site, and if you want to share photos, you obviously go there. What Google have done by rebranding Blogger and Picasa is null the brands behind them. ‘Google Photos’ and ‘Google Blogs’ might do just fine based on their large existing user base to make people want to be part of that, but there’s less of a pull.
Having a brand like Picasa is good, there’s a name to it - you can ask “Are you on Picasa?”. Instead now people will be asking “Are you on Google Photos?”, and the average Joe will have no idea what they’re talking about, they might even assume you’re talking about image search! People want to be associated with a brand, and being associated with a search leviathan like Google doesn’t exactly tug at the heart strings.
Although I had to laugh watching the demo video which felt comical and completely rehearsed, I do think Microsoft are on to something. The idea of taking advantage of multitouch by circling words to copy them to the clipboard is really straightforward, the implementation though, still looks half baked, you have to tap a button first before dragging a marquee of an oval over the chosen words. If Microsoft manages to get it right (eventually) it could be awesome and it’d be something i’d love to see in Windows and Windows Phone which would add to the whole “get in, get out, get back to life” concept they adopted for Windows Phone 7 to make the overall experience quicker and more seamless. Right now though it isn’t doing it for me.
If there’s one thing Google seem to do really well, it’s search, that and user guides. Having got a lovely new email address at firstname.lastname@example.org, I wasn’t loving it, the GoDaddy mail interface is the most distraught interface i’ve ever laid eyes on. To escape UX hell I signed up for a free Google Apps account and then went from there, after following the user guide to the letter and waiting for the changes to process now I can access my mail account through Gmail. Perfection.
What a lovely idea for a (guest) blog post by Lisa Rivero over at Write It Sideways:
Regardless of how often or even whether we are published or how much (if any) money we make from our writing, all of us have a love for written communication and at least some skill with words, and we can use that love and skill in valuable ways, big and small.
Lisa provides a few suggestions for how you can use your writing skills to benefit others without expecting anything in return. This is my favourite:
Write short book reviews or reading lists (with or without a byline), and ask if you can make copies for distribution at your local library.
I could do that. You could do that. What a smashing idea.
This week on the Scatterbrain podcast, I talk about my main motive for jailbreaking my iPhone: Poof. I also discuss some of the other great tweaks in Cydia, why I think people develop for Cydia and how it influences Apple and iOS.
Listary actually looks to be the closest to what i’ve been looking for for a long while: I really just want to make shopping list’s for books, clothes, software etc. and Listary seems to provide an elegant solution, with most shopping list apps the interfaces are garish, and almost comical - the interface the Listary really look bare-bones and clean. It inspiration obviously comes from the UI of Simplenotes, which it sync’s to as well so you can access lists as plain text from the Simplenote web interface or the app. I didn’t see the benefit myself at first, but that also means it sync’s to Notational Velocity in turn, making it a relatively capable productivity app as well, you can set up an inbox as well as lists for current projects on the go in simple list form, which is awesome since it’s all i’ve ever needed from a to-do app and nothing more.
I can’t help but link to this, Hard Graft just keep churning out classics, I would sell my soul for this bag, seriously. Handmade in Italy, made from “hand-picked hides of premium Florentine vegetable tanned leather”, the 3Fold is a thing of beauty.
I well and truly love the design direction Google are going in, since the launch of Google+, we’ve seen a reboot of the interface for Google search, GCal and now Gmail as well. What Google are producing are elegant web app’s which people will want to use, that people will get pleasure from looking at for the first time, rather than an archaic looking app thats redeemed by its functionality - anybody that has tried Gmail will tell you its a great service, better than Hotmail at least, but design like this is the icing on the cake, and it’s very much appreciated on my end.
Fascinating teardown of the new Thunderbolt cable from Apple by iFixit revealing that the true value might be closer to the $49 price tag than anyone expected. The cable contains “a total of 12 larger, inscribed chips, and tons of smaller electronic components”. I’m not an engineering type but I still find the teardown’s like this intriguing and I’d love to hear the first estimates of what the cable costs to make. People have an expectation of Apple that they overcharge for cables and peripherals, but it’s already been reported that the inclusion of Thunderbolt could cost as much as $100 to add to hardware.
I might be the only one who doesn’t think this is good for HP. It’s not that i’m against them licensing the OS, I’m all for that, and I’m a big fan of webOS, but I think they way they want to do it - wanting to have a strong relationship with a single manufacturer, rather than being “one of 5 or 6 OSs” - is short sighted and won’t pay off as they hope it will.
HP already have a huge amount of reach, and if they can’t make webOS succeed on their own, getting one other company distributing webOS with them won’t make a difference. They would be relinquishing control: for a deal like that of Microsoft and Nokia to be made in the first place they would have to hand over a lot, and although it sounds like HP actually want another company to shape webOS with them, too many cooks spoil the broth. Having two companies controlling the vision and progress of the OS I feel could really damage it.
It’s been proven by RIM that going it alone in this market now is a hard slog, Apple contradict the rule, but the reason for that is that they have an ecosystem, something which HP have in terms of hardware big time: they’ve got phones, tablets, with netbooks, printers on the way. They simply haven’t gained the traction (or the cool apps) to make people buy into that ecosystem though. For HP to maintain complete control of the OSs progress but hand it over to manufactures for the distribution side would be a great thing for consumers, manufactures would really have to compete on hardware.
If HP were to licence webOS though, i’d like to see them mimic what Microsoft did with Windows Phone 7 - finding a middle ground between Apple and iOS and Google with Android. Having several manufactures working with them to push the OS could do wonders to put traction and numbers behind it, so that webOS is something people want to own and developers want to build for. Of course, Windows Phone 7 hasn’t gained a huge amount of traction from doing this but webOS is a really phenomenal experience, people really do like it, it’s just that the scarce lack of hardware is hard to love. Because that’s where they’re hitting a brick wall. webOS is awesome, and once people use it they love it, getting it in the hands of those people is the hard part, and the only way to get past that is with multiple manufacturers.
This week, I talk about my plans for the podcast - its release schedule, its subject, and its aim. I also talk about my beautiful iPhone 4.
Credits to Myke Hurley of Enough, The Bro Show, 11 Minutes and The Hurley Bird - all under the umbrella of 70 Decibels and Ian Broome who does a podcast called Chat Broome for inspiring me to start doing this.
I’d like to announce my fun new project, the Scatterbrain podcast - a short form podcast about technology. It’s got a temperary home over at scatterbrainpodcast.tumblr.com.
This is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time and now, I’ve finally got my hands on a beautiful new iPhone 4 and I thought now would be a good time to just go ahead and do it. I’m currently using the built in voice memos app so I apologize if the sound quality isn’t completely satisfactory.
There’s no clear release schedule for the show, the plan is to record whenever I have something to say. I’m intending to cover a lot of technology stuff, but also design and advertising amongst other things.
The podcast is hopefully going to act as a portal to just get thoughts and opinions out of my head, just like the blog, but like I discuss briefly in episode 1 of the podcast, I think some of that could be done better with spoken word.
Since i’ve now found the knack to hosting the podcast using a combination of Dropbox and Tumblr1 it’s up and online, you can follow here and simply click the link at the start of each episode to listen, you can also subscribe via RSS or in iTunes, apologies for the lack of artwork and other metadata, something has gone amiss on the Feedburner end and it will hopefully be sorted soon. If you’re the type who likes to have the artwork, for the time being you can download it here, it should be easy to add by going to Get Info > Artwork.
If you’re one of those cool guys like myself who uses Instacast though, the feed seems to be working perfectly through them, so if you’re wanting the full monty with metadata and all, add the feed: pcast://feeds.feedburner.com/scatterbrainpodcast and try to enjoy.
Twitter is looking to start placing ads into users timelines, reports the Financial Times. The publication cites ‘people with direct knowledge’ of Twitter’s plans that the company will begin placing “promoted tweets” into the main stream of user’s Twitter accounts.
In addition to placing ads right into the stream, other options that are being considered include a local deals option that would rival Groupon. This would pull information from user conversations and trends to offer limited-time offers. Twitter is also looking at introducing enhanced profile pages for brands and giving advertisers the ability to pre-schedule Tweets, a feature that many Twitter clients already feature.
Adam Bain, Twitter’s head of revenue, and other executives, have been meeting with potential client firms at the Cannes Lions event this week.
Hopefully Twitter have finally figured stuff out, and it sounds like they’re doing it in a fresh new way by integrating deals right into the service, leveraging all the geo-tags and information we post about ourselves every day to provide relevant offers and valuable information. Not only will it help pay for the service, but I think it might actually improve upon it. It’s also rumored Twitter will start adding sponsored tweets into the timeline, probably the most popular suggested method of monetization from people. It does feel slightly hypocritical to start including sponsored tweets in the timeline when they made the move last year to ban app’s from injecting paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API, although they did say from the start that promoted tweets were to be included right in the timeline eventually and of course they have to make money somehow.
We have announced Promoted Tweets. These tweets will exist primarily in search and then in the timeline, but in a manner that preserves the integrity and relevance of the timeline. As we have announced, we will use innovative metrics like Resonance so that Promoted Tweets are only shown when they make sense for users and enhance the user experience.
The mention of Resonance is also interesting, I think it would be interesting and conceivable for the aforementioned ‘local deals’ to be the sole ad’s featured in the timeline as they’re about as relevant as you could get and would actually build on the user experience rather than being an annoyance. I’m actually interested to see what Twitter come up with as their big monetization plan, because damn it they need one. If all else fails I guess they could try a lemonade stand.
Today, more than 400,000 apps are available fort the iPhone. Yet, only little public research is available on how people use all these apps. I am working on this! Especially, I am interested in how people customize and organize their devices. This study aims on exploring how people arrange icons on their devices. To take part please perform the following steps. Depending on your iPhone skills, this may take a few but not more than 10 minutes.
This sounds like a pretty interesting research project, I’d love to see the results found from it eventually - looking at my icon layout it feels pretty obvious that I just like it to be a checkerboard of colours, but i’m curious to see what’s found beyond that. If you’re interested in helping out and contributing as well follow the link or hit up email@example.com, for every 100 participants a €20 iTunes coupon will be raffled off as well to sweeten the deal.
Inspired by the cool stuff going on over at Mac Menu Bars I thought it wouldn’t hurt to share my menu bar setup. Although its relatively short and concise compared to other peoples, it works perfectly for me and it actually helps me to get stuff done.
Sparrow: Super simple email client, the closest (and best) thing you can get to native Gmail on the Mac. Its got a one up on Mail.app as well since it actually has a menu bar icon. A well designed one at that.
Adium: MSN is still my protocol of choice and since Microsoft Messenger is horrible on the Mac I use Adium, fitted out with a nice iChat style menu bar icon which you can find over at adiumxtras.com.
Tweetie: I’m still stuck on PowerPC, so Tweetie is my best option. Pity me. It may not be the best, but it’s still a solid choice even now. Every once and a while i’ll look up and see that little icon shining blue at me, to this day its still one of the most well implemented notification systems out there. Minimal genius.
Dropbox: Self explanatory super sync’y goodness, I only use the menu bar item to get an idea of the syncing status, my percentage usage and for quick links to the web interface. It’s more of an access portal than anything else.
Keyboard Maestro: A powerful macro program i’m playing with the trial for to see if my workflow can benefit from some automation. I use an amazing alternative menu bar icon made by Jono Hunt over at Iconaholic.
Pastebot Sync: More super sync’y goodness. Lets me get copied items to and from my iPod Touch and my Mac easily.
Built in stuff: LsSaAlerter (I have no idea how to get rid of it), Wi-fi1, Volume, Time and Spotlight (I can’t get rid of it either so it just sits there, Alfred is my launcher of launcher instead).
Wi-fi in my house is actually rather temperamental, having a solid connection (like today) is like finding a sack of gold dust, so it’s good to stay aware of how its doing.
In a new study done by the Pew Research Center, collections of data from thousands of participants showed that people who use social networking services are now not only likely to have larger networks than those who don’t, but also have more close friends. The authors of the study don’t cite technology as the cause of our newfound friendliness, but those inclined toward social connections are now more likely to be online and networking than not.
I don’t even think it’s an issue of the average consumer comparing the offerings and then making an educated decision that they want an iPad instead of a Xoom or a PlayBook or a Samsung Galaxy Tab. The average consumer likely doesn’t even know about all the other tablets that are out there. To them there is the iPad and there are some knockoffs they saw zip-tied to a cardboard end cap at Best Buy while they were buying a printer.
Completely true, I think as well the way Apple is promoting the iPad is perfect, they churn out a new advert every few weeks with a new focus to appeal to brand new people each time and constantly keep it fresh in peoples heads. It’s also very telling that when there is a new iPad, damn do people know about it, it’s on the news the very same day and it’s the first thing people talk to me about when they next see me. In contrast, the PlayBook has recently gone on sale in the UK and BackBerry have started running ad’s as well, I haven’t heard a peep from anyone about it. Apple have already captured the complete mind share on tablets, and no-ones going the get it back.
The Clear Black AMOLED display is truly a sight to behold, with stunning viewing angles, a curved Gorilla Glass front, and some pretty excellent (for AMOLED) performance out in the sunlight. We compared it side by side with a Super LCD-equipped Incredible S and the N9 more than held its own. The screen is easily one of this new phone’s great strengths, though we’d argue the intuitive UI, responsiveness, and eye-catching industrial design are pretty high up on that list too.
I’m actually in love with the hardware design of the Nokia N9, although I think the colours devalue it the unibody polycarbonate and curved screen sound amazing, the polycarbonate is the same colour all the way down as well, I don’t know if this is a common feature of polycarbonate but it means scratches won’t be as noticeable which is interesting and thoughtful. I would have preferred if they had opted for an aluminium unibody but admittedly the design suits the more colourful OS which I’ll get to in a second.
From the demo the UI and animations in MeeGo look silky smooth. The OS looks really fresh, swipe to navigate is a proven concept with iOS, Android, although Ben Brooks has already raised concerns in his latest post:
Lastly they interface works in a way that a swipe from the left or right edge into the middle will put you into an app launcher or switcher — which is great, right up and until the point and iPhone/Android/WP7 user comes along and tries to “swipe” through their pictures only to find that it keeps kicking them to the homescreen.
What I got from the demo video was that if you swipe from the very top or side of the display, the multitasking or swipe function will be initiated, if you swipe within the interface you will be interacting with the app itself - be it the browser or Photos. I think it’s doubtful you’ll ever mix the two interactions either as it seems you use the top of the screen as a run up to initiate the multitasking swipe, we still don’t know if this changes in practice though if you were viewing photos in landscape orientation. I think there’s still a lot we don’t know about the functions of the OS and creases in the UX that Nokia need to clarify and/or iron out - such as multitasking and swiping and which function takes priority in normal use. All in all though the multitasking interface looks nice, very expose esque incorporating pinch to zoom and close all, it also seems better implemented even than Apple’s previous beta implementation. App switching by swiping vertically looks elegant and easy to pick up as well.
The main app that was actually demoed during the video was Camera, the UI for it looks great, I really like the ‘softness’ of the icon and UI design in general with curved edges to everything which they’ve gone with, it looks like its been inspired inspired by what Nokia have done with Symbian Anna, the look and feel of it looks like it goes perfectly with the poppy hardware. The camera itself looks solid as well as we can expect from Nokia, an 8MP 16:9 widescreen sensor producing some damn nice pixels. The only thing I was left wondering about the camera is does it have a shutter button though? It’d be wasteful if it didn’t and a missed opportunity.
The demonstration of how MeeGo works with NFC connectivity stuff is really great as well, seamless and user friendly and integrated into the Music app, again though I think Nokia need to clarify where they’re planning to go with this, obviously with NFC the phone has potential to be your eWallet which would make it a lot more compelling.
Obvious the gaping hole in MeeGo is apps, from the demo it looks like Facebook and Twitter will be available for it at launch, i’d like to see what they look like. Beyond that i’m worried that no-one but the huge players and really passionate dev’s are going to produce apps for MeeGo with the limited and cloudy roadmap which has already been pronounced dead, I think it could still be promising though - I don’t expect 4000000 apps, just a handful of good ones (such as Twitter and Facebook which we’ve already seen). Another reservation I have with MeeGo though is actually the iconography; all the icons look similar, which doesn’t make for a great user experience sometimes, yes so do iOS’ I guess, but I own a Nokia and I can vouch that the way the icons are designed makes them hard to distinguish at a glance. Even the guy appears to pause momentarily to locate the camera icon during the presentation.
The N9 does make you wonder why the company has opted against MeeGo for its primary platform, it’s a solid phone and a beautiful OS that still has a little to go. MeeGo still has a development roadmap but the MeeGo team have been put to work on the ‘next disruption’ in the mobile space. I think it would have been good for Nokia to actually have control over the direction of their primary OS, but they decided to go with Windows Phone 7, probably as a play by Elop, my feeling is that they’ll come to regret it in the long run but i’m sure getting millions from Microsoft sweetened the deal.
So Apple showed off OS X Lion again at WWDC, compared to the last time they talked about it, and the previews we’ve seen since then, they didn’t talk about anything much else - sticking to multi-touch, full screen app’s, mission control, launchpad etc. all of which is exciting to see and a nice refresh to OS X but nothing that we didn’t know already. Since then though they’ve uploaded a new page featuring all of the new features in Lion, here’s some of the small but notable features not addressed in the keynote the really stood out for me as being cool little improvements.
1. Picture-in-picture zoom - The screen zoom feature in Lion features a picture-in-picture view, allowing you to see the zoomed area in a separate window while keeping the rest of the screen at its native size. Choose to have the window follow the cursor, or keep the window in one place to show only areas you navigate.
Although this feature is categorized under Accessibility and is probably targeted at long sighted users, I could actually imagine it being really powerful and probably great for designers and others alike, it will allow you to zoom in on a certain portion of the screen - like you would with a magnifying glass. I could actually imagine myself using this to read when i’m feeling tired or for design, the fact that it will be system wide makes it even better. A feature that probably wasn’t intended to be awesome, but is.
2. Instant messaging availability - See your buddy’s availability while in Address Book.
As issue Joshua Topolsky has discussed about iOS regularly is that it doesn’t feel “alive”, in that app’s don’t interact with each other, by the looks of it though Apple are addressing this in certain areas in a really great way on the desktop. Where they can integrate services and do it in a valuable way for the user they are. I almost never use Address Book on my Mac, with the update to Lion I think it’s going to become a lot more compelling: now in Address Book if you have contacts associated with an IM account it will integrate with iChat and show you their availability. This kind of idea is actually on it’s way to fulfilling the vision from Chris Ziegler of the universal status indicator, once this is ported to iOS as well I think it will become a whole lot more exciting.
3. Social network profiles - Address Book lets you quickly access the social network profiles for your contacts, including Facebook. Press and hold an email address to select the appropriate profile.
Obviously Address Book is going through several changes with Lion to make it a far more compelling application, integrating with social networks like Facebook and from the look of the iOS preview probably Twitter as well. What’s really intriguing about this as they are really bringing Address Book into the modern age making it the hub to find the best way to contact your friends at any given time - be it via phone, email, IM, Facebook or Twitter, you’ll hopefully be able to find links to all of it in Address Book.
4. Group as folder - Instantly create a folder from selected files by choosing the “group as folder” item from the contextual menu.
In Lion it also seems like they’re taking steps to streamline certain processes to make them that little bit easier and quicker. In the past i’ve had to create a folder, highlight the files I want to put into it and drag them over there, now, i’ll simply have to highlight the files and right click select ‘Group as folder’. Little stuff like this shows true attention to detail.
5. Keep both files - When you attempt to add a file to a folder that contains a file of the same name, the Finder now offers to keep both files, appending the word “copy” to the name of the new file.
Another really well thought out little feature which streamlines a process, i’ll often be presented with the option to ‘Stop’ or ‘Replace’, I don’t want to do either. I think this will also be great for new users, not just new to the Mac, but computers in general, people who have been brought over from the halo effect of the iPad where they didn’t even have to deal with a file system and are now confronted with the option to ‘Stop’ or ‘Replace’. They wont have to deal with that anymore.
6. Service plug-ins - Service plug-ins from third-party developers let you add new chat services to iChat. Installing a plug-in is simple. Once it’s downloaded, double-click it. Plug-ins run in a separate process to help ensure that they won’t damage your system.
Although it will probably go unnoticed this is a fundamentally huge feature with so much potential allowing iChat to support protocols other than AIM, Jabber or Gtalk. As long as someone takes the time to create a plug-in. This not only opens up the gate to finally have MSN in iChat but also beyond that any other protocol someone is interested in making a plug-in for. Where I could imagine this would really come into it’s own is with plug-in’s for cross platform messaging services like LiveProfile or PingChat, maybe even iMessage is someone manages to reverse engineer the service so that even if Apple don’t choose to bring it to the Mac we would have access to it. A really exciting prospect.
7. Bind application to a space - You can now bind an application to a particular space or make it available in all spaces right from the Dock. Press and hold the icon in the Dock and make a selection from the contextual menu.
This feature really builds on classic Spaces and goes beyond its functionality to bring it in line with Mission Control, allowing you to pin certain applications to certain spaces. I really think this will be an immensely powerful feature alongside full screen app’s once people figure how to incorporate it into their workflow to make them even more productive and allow them to focus.
8. Capture a region of the screen - QuickTime Player lets you record part of the screen, such as a specific window. It’s perfect for creating a video tutorial of an application.
Although the ‘Apple way’ is typically to add a new feature and do the bare minimum to make it awesome and nothing more1, it’s refreshing to see them build on a small feature like screen recording QuickTime and make it so functional that it will do just fine for the vast majority of people. Saving them a decent amount of money so they don’t have to buy a devoted app.
9. Show clicks on capture - Screen capture in QuickTime lets you show mouse or trackpad clicks, highlighting the pointer each time you click an object on the screen.
Again, a great new feature in QuickTime screen recorder that will go above and beyond what most people need and save them a tonne of money.
10. Improved auto-correction - Auto-correction in Lion displays suggested spellings below the word. Press Return to accept the change or click the X to keep the current spelling.
Another great feature obviously lifted from iOS which i’m really going to appreciate. Listed under Text suggesting it will be a system wide function. I’m terrible at spelling so having the option to correct spelling mistakes in line without having to right click will be useful for me and save me a lot of time. It looks to have been implemented in a really unobtrusive way as well which wont get in your way if you’re just hammering at the keyboard and not paying attention to the screen: Press Return to accept the change or click the X to keep the current spelling.
They’re all tiny little features which probably shouldn’t have been mentioned at the keynote, they wouldn’t have got rounds of applause the way Versioning did. They do though show a precise amount of care that has gone into this OS update, and I highly advise anyone else to read through the other 240 features like I did, because this update is going to be a big one.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will be meeting on Monday in Singapore to vote on its expansion plan for domain names. I’m not completely sure how I feel about this, there are obvious pro’s and con’s, if the notion is approved we’ll apparently be seeing domain suffixes “in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts” which would cause massive fragmentation and confusion. It’s also going to be a matter of branding, with companies applying for their own extensions including Canon:
A group of entrepreneurs in Las Vegas is vying to operate a “.Vegas” suffix. They have the city’s endorsement and consider “.Vegas” a way to unify local merchants, entertainment venues, residents and even businesses beyond Sin City.
Former professional hockey player Ron Andruff is working with international sports federations to bid for “.sport.” He expects sports leagues, teams, athletes, equipment makers and fans to want websites with a suffix that defines them better.
Big business will stake claims, too. Printer and camera maker Canon Inc. plans to apply for “.Canon”. Trade groups for bankers and financial-services companies are working together to explore bids for “.bank”, “.insure” and “.invest” for their member companies.
Again I think it’s going to be messy and confusing and not done at all in the best interest of the end user, this is going to be a complete matter of branding and vanity where the company wants to have even more control over their product. If the notion passes I don’t think the Internet Corporation will approve suffixes tastefully, it will just be about the amount of money they are getting for it, we’re going to see a flood of crazy new cumbersome domain names. Typically you could guess a domain name by adding ‘.com’ but if this becomes a trend they’ll be no chance of that happening. Those days are over.
Update: After finding out about this I was at least hopeful thats we would see some cool domain names come out of it, however the latest revelation is that it will be useless to the average person as well, like if Myke Hurley wanted to get my.ke, the application fee is $185,000, and if you’re successful you’ll have to pay $25,000 yearly after that. Obviously this is a money grab by the ICANN, and will be exclusive to large businesses unless you have money to throw around. This just proves that this isn’t in the best interests of internet users in the slightest.
I don’t know what it says about Yahoo that they have directed developers to use Ovi Maps considering Yahoo use Bing behind the scenes, it’s at least an interesting move. To another point though Yahoo have obviously completely lost their direction, and I respect them for having to make tough choices like this one, but at this point they’re well off course and I don’t think they’ll ever manage to find their way back.
Since Google’s Inside Search event i’ve been trying to figure if the new Google search stuff is groundbreaking or just convenient. With five new additions to Google search on the desktop and on mobile it’s obviously a great improvement but it’s still left me feeling a little cold.
Without a doubt, image search seems insane - allowing you to perform a Google search with and image, I can’t figure how it would work in practice with a genuine use case though, typically when you have a photo, you took it, so you will know a decent amount about it, more than Google will. All I can entertain is the idea that it will help you identify “mysterious creatures” as the demo video suggests. It would be great for identifying animals, places, people you can’t remember the name of, however Google reports that it simply ‘compares pixels’ and works best with things well documented on the web1, personally I think it’s a bit of a gimmick with no really useful purpose, will it make people use Google over Bing? Hell yeah, like I said it’s a gimmick but it’s not particularly blowing my mind.
Google is launching Google Instant for Mobile, which is very similar to Google Places, but right on the Google Mobile homepage. The next time you’re out and about, simply launch Safari and visit the homepage to access location based shortcuts that’ll help you find food, drink, fuel, and more with simple tap based navigation. The results are integrated with Google Maps, so you can location based results closest that are ranked closest to you. On top that, you’ll have access to phone numbers, reviews, and directions from a pull down menu under each result.
This sounds and looks slick, to find locations around you, you don’t even have to type, it looks similar to what Microsoft is doing with Bing on Windows Phone 7 with local results, it allows you to get in, get out and things done quicker. I think thats really what we need in the mobile space and is awesome to see Google pushing it. As another addition to Google Mobile search they’ve also made it easier to “to build longer, more complicated searches” which basically allows you to build on your existing search with suggested phrases to refine it, again adding to the get in, get out and things done quicker style that Google Mobile search is going with it means you can simply tap to refine your search rather than spending time typing.
Everything else just feels like a convenience, Google also announced Voice Search on the desktop which seems strange to me, it obviously works well on Mobile devices because you’re mobile, but on a desktop when you’re going to be using the keyboard and mouse a second later anyway, it feels out of place. They also announced Instant Pages:
Instant Pages can get the top search result ready in the background while you’re choosing which link to click, saving you yet another two to five seconds on typical searches.
Although Instant Pages may be a technical feat, it just makes you get places quicker and users wont even pick up on it unless they’re told explicitly it’s Google doing it: they’ll just think its their internet connection.
I respect Google for innovating and releasing this stuff that will put them ahead of Bing, and I really want Google to be “the third half of my brain” but Instant Pages, image, and voice search aren’t doing that for me. I would love to see them keep innovating on mobile search and I think thats where Google can grow in terms of search intelligence, knowledge and logistics with them knowing where you are and what you’re doing, and I know they’ll get there in the end, but i’d prefer it now.
For example, a famous building like the Eiffel Tower would bring up other photos of the Eiffel Tower.
Obviously, apps are going to be more popular than songs since many are free. And obviously songs are going to be more popular than books because many are much cheaper.
But painting this picture with price is only a rough sketch. The ways that these media are consumed (and consumable) fills in the details. The amount of energy needed to enjoy each varies greatly. The “digestibility” of the material is different. In a way, these are the same factors which are drawing consumption toward tweeting, blogging and browsing and away from paper based media.
I have to give it to Horace, the way he breaks down the data in graphs is nothing short of magical and he went over it further in the first episode of The Critical Path with Dan Benjamin. He is a genius.
The curve for application downloads is ludicrous and really mind boggling to me, not the numbers, but the rate at which its caught up with music. It’s astonishing.
I’m not an analyst of any sort but I think it’s also interesting what this suggests about the lifespan of content; books are more expensive but they also take longer to consume1, as with music you’ll tend to spend a lot of time listening to songs, but not as much time as you would spend reading a book2. For app’s, as Horace says many are free, and with the sheer influx of app’s since the launch of the App Store (recently reaching 400000) app’s are far easier to buy because they’re so cheap and far more disposable than music, their lifespan is short, they last until you find a better alternative at which point the former app gets deleted and you buy a new one. I can vouch for that, I’m writing this on my phone right now using Notesy, before that I used Note & Share! The accessibility and quality of app’s coming out every day in the App Store is making them ever more replaceable.
I guess we also re-consume books as well. We do that same with music and app’s as well, probably more often, it’s also more accepted with music to listen over and over, but the investment of time with books makes it a lot more notable, the more time spent also justifies the monetary investment.
Unless the song is a classic, you just have to love The Killers.
Now that sounds extraordinary. The big way Apple can really trounce Android and others in the mobile OS space is to figure out the big stuff; notifications, multitasking, but also make it do insanely cool stuff right out of the box that you don’t see on any other platform, and to do it in a seamless way. Stuff like Twitter integration, editing in the Photos app, makes iOS really stand out above the rest because of the sheer amount of cool stuff it does, and people like cool.
Today, fewer than 1% of iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch owners are Instapaper customers, despite Instapaper spending a lot of time (including today) at the #1-paid-app spot in the App Store’s News category for both iPhone and iPad. The potential market is massive, but most people don’t know that they need it yet.
When iOS 5 and Lion ship, Apple will show a much larger percentage of iOS-device owners that saving web pages to read later is a useful workflow and can dramatically improve the way they read.
If Reading List gets widely adopted and millions of people start saving pages for later reading, a portion of those people will be interested in upgrading to a dedicated, deluxe app and service to serve their needs better. And they’ll quickly find Instapaper in the App Store.
I was curious to hear how Marco thought Reading List would affect his business, he’d previously speculated that Reading List wouldn’t do much damage, but at that time it was only on the Mac. Now after the grand reveal at WWDC that it would sync with your iOS devices as well, he’s put up another post.
I have to admit I undervalued how many features Instapaper has over the new Reading List, I completely forgot about it’s new social aspect, offline caching1 and social sharing (which I use a tonne to forward stuff to Tumblr and Twitter) all of which is stuff we’ll probably never see added to Reading List because it’s just the Apple way. I started out thinking he would really struggle but now i’m on the opposite side of the fence, I can see where he’s coming from and it might actually hell his business surprisingly even if he does lose some of his existing users to Reading List along the way who opt for the free service instead. You can also hear him talk about it in the latest episode of Build and Analyze.
An epic shortfall of Reading List. It’s castrated without it.
In my humble opinion, one of the best features announced for iOS 5 was Twitter integration: making it “easier to tweet from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch”. You sign in once in Settings, and can then tweet directly from Safari, Photos etc. as well as Twitter integrating with Contacts allowing for quick @ messaging. It’s also the most worrying feature as well though, I would bet good money Twitter approached Apple to incorporate the functionality, not the other way around - and i’m thankful that they’ve taught Apple to do social - but I also that it’s also intended to stifle to Twitter client community on iOS.
iOS has produced some of the best Twitter clients out there: Twitterrific, Tweetbot, Weet, Tweetie, I could go on, but Twitter obviously feel threatened for some reason I don’t understand by third parties and have told them they plan to own the client space and that it would be a better idea for developers to focus their resources on plug-in’s to Twitter rather than clients. Twitter baked in is a move which shows they’re serious about this.
Admittedly the Twitter integration is as separate from other clients as the official Twitter app is and the integration will never really be shoved in your face unless you’re looking for it, but I would guess a lot of new users new users (and a lot of average ones) will probably use the baked in Twitter functionality and not much beyond it to share content when they’re on the go, removing the need for any Twitter app at all. You don’t have to go into your Twitter client for anything, just double tap, select ‘Send to Twitter’ and your done. Rather than going into the client, imputing the photo or URL you want to link, tweeting, and going back to what you were doing. Although your not using Twitters client, you are using the Twitter experience. And that’s what they want.
If these people did feel the need for a true client though, I’d assume the large majority of these average users would get the free official app and not pay for one of the other offerings. People will trust the interface (and the branding) and go straight to it before any other. Twitter have managed to work their way into the default system and will earn the users trust. Third part clients will now have to do really phenomenal stuff in UI and features (Tweetmarks maybe?) to stand out above the default.
I’m ever the optimist though, I am hopeful it will benefit the third parties somehow, the new integration could cause something similar to the Starbucks effect1 and actually make people aware or Twitter for the first time and cause people to look further for a better client once they outgrow the functionality of the baked in services. I’m also hopeful that authorizing Twitter when you first set up the phone might rid the OAuth woes third parties are having to go through at the moment, if clients could access the date in the Twitter settings you could conceivably authorize once and never have to again, making it a better experience for users and developers.
Update: There’s a silver lining for developers, and it’s rock solid.
See Marco Arment’s post about what Safari Reading List means for Instapaper, the ‘Starbucks effect’ is why he’s so confident Instapaper wont be effected by the new feature Reading List and that sales might actually improve for him.
Similar to when Joshua Topolsky and Engadget reported on the rumor of an iPad with an SD slot from a source, I think the source was correct, but it was probably a next generation iPad, not the iPad 2.
The Elusive Five Star Review is a podcast focused on the successful design and development of iOS and Mac applications, hosted by two developers. In each episode, Cameron and Mike will discuss Apple news and interview successful developers about their development strategies.
In our first episode, Cameron and Mike sit down to interview Neven Mrgan. Neven’s a designer at Panic and also worked on The Incident for iPhone, iPad and the Mac. Neven discusses his design process, working full-time at a Mac software studio, and what he hopes to see at WWDC.
Really, really psyched to hear more from this new podcast, they’re off to an amazing start having Neven Mrgan on and it’s a really insightful interview with him about how he got into the whole design lark and other stuff. Can’t wait to hear more.