October 27, 2014

Article: A Week With Apple Pay

I’ve been using Apple Pay for about a week, and apart from the general attitude that it “isn’t any easier than swiping a physical card” that most of the dismissive folks have said, I think it shows great promise. Although he footprint of retailers that I visit who accept it quite small (at least as far as I’m concerned), the ones that do, and its use of the relative non-proprietary technology has me excited…

October 24, 2014

Link: Thoughts on Yosemite’s Look and Feel ☍

Khoi Vinh (via John Gruber):

In many ways, it feels very much like starting over again in the way that Mac OS X’s Aqua interface was a new start, over thirteen years ago. In those nascent stages, Aqua was never particularly beautiful, but it did make a point—it was a radically new kind of interface aesthetic that heralded a new approach to software. And the same ideas that informed later, much more successful iterations of the operating system were clearly present even then. […]

My biggest complaint, personally, is that this fresh coat of paint does a poor job on visual contrast. Interface elements are often so light in color and/or so close to one another in color that they “bleed” into each other all the time. The effect is a blown-out look, as if a novice photographer stepped up the exposure on her camera well beyond advisability.

Just as I wasn’t thrilled with OS X 10.0 when coming from years of OS 8/9, I agree with some of Vinh’s points, although it still works the same and shows great promise. Unlike the early releases of OS X, all my old software works and matches the new aesthetic, and my Macs don’t feel any slower. I do enjoy the more cohesive nature of the interface as a whole and how things do translate from iOS, but might have made a few adjustments if I was doing the design. I played with some of the Accessibility settings during the time I was testing the Yosemite betas—I agree with Gruber that ‘Increase Contrast’ is a neat look that does look like a modern update to the classic Mac OS, although I wish you could cherry-pick some combinations of settings (opaque menu bar with a translucent Dock).

October 22, 2014

Review: CoolStream Duo

CoolStream DuoAbout a year ago, we took a look at Auris’s freeDa, a small Bluetooth receiver that connected to most 30-pin Dock Connector-equipped accessories, allowing you to stream audio over Bluetooth. In the time since, there have been even more competitors (not that the freeDa was the first), one of which is the CoolStream Duo, a $40 music receiver that tries to do a few key things well.

October 21, 2014

Review: Dash

DashIt’s rare when an app is available for Android first, and then slowly makes its way to iOS. I was intrigued when I first heard about Dash, a longtime free favorite in the do-it-yourself car data recording world for Android users becoming available for Android a few months ago. Even though the app is free, it does require a compatible interface to connect to your car, and challenged me to give setting up my own system a try.

Link: May Contain Editorial Content ☍

Paul McAleer noticed Overcast’s Starter Kits for lack of diversity:

The Starter Kit is broken up into categories. As I was scrolling through these lists, I noticed something: there was a severe lack of gender diversity in almost every category.

I was curious if it was just me or not. So I went into each section and identified any hosts or co-hosts whose names are traditionally female, and verified those that were socially associated with either gender. If a description did not include any names, I chose to count it as not having female hosts or co-hosts. Here’s where things netted out as of August 27, 2014…

I like how Overcast sounds and brought my own subscriptions over when I started using it. I’ll admit, my subscription list skews mostly white-guys-talking-tech, so that leads me to the question: “Is it just that topics I enjoy listening to have fewer female and minority hosts, or is this a sample of podcasting as a whole?”

Link: RapidWeaver Passes the Mac App Store for Now ☍

The new version of Realmac Software’s RapidWeaver was released today with quite a few new features, including new themes, a new user interface, additional add-ons, responsive previews, and support for OS X Mavericks and Yosemite features (versioning, autosave, and full-screen). We’ll have a review coming in the future, but the most notable thing for me is that it no longer is in the Mac App Store, joining BBEdit and Coda, as mentioned in a blog post:

RapidWeaver 6 is our biggest app with a incredibly loyal following, and we’ve been making sure that RapidWeaver 6 is fully ready for the Mac App Store. However, given the size of the launch, and our desire to ensure that customers are able to easily contact us if they need help with their move to version 6, we’re not going to be offering RapidWeaver 6 on the Mac App Store just yet.

While “yet” is the operating word, it does demonstrate the frustrations many developers have faced from a feature and customer service standpoint when Apple is the middleman. There’s also upgrade pricing of $39.99 from any prior version, another thing that cannot be done on the Mac App Store.

October 20, 2014

News: Apple Reports Q4 Results

Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter ending September 27, 2014. In the conference call, Apple posted quarterly revenue of $42.1 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion, or $1.18 per diluted share…

Link: Apple Releases iOS 8.1, Turns on Apple Pay ☍

Federico Viticci:

iOS 8.1 brings bug fixes, speed improvements, and interface changes, but it also enables Continuity features such as Text Message Forwarding and Instant Hotspot, allowing iOS devices to better integrate with each other and Macs running OS X Yosemite. With iOS 8.1, Apple is opening access to its iCloud Photo Library beta – an iCloud service that stores all your photos from all your devices, in a single library that relays changes to every device. And last, iOS 8.1 marks the debut of Apple Pay, the company’s new payment service that rolls out in the US today.

I installed it on an iPhone 6 and an iPad 2 today and haven’t noticed any issues. Apple Pay looks to be the most notable and exciting feature, provided you have a supported card and the retailer supports NFC payments.