Twitterrific 5.12

The past year has seen The Iconfactory really take twitterrific to the next level, building out the feature set and continually refining the overall experience. Today's release of Twitterrific 5.12 is no exception.

Twitterrific now adopts Twitter's new Quote Tweet feature, and it is really great. I've been using a lot while testing this new version these past weeks. Simply tap & hold on the regular Retweet button to compose a quoted tweet.

For anyone who has a tough time reaching the top navigation, you can now optionally move the navigation to the bottom of the screen. Doing so awards you an extra customizable navigation tab. This is honestly quite nice for the iPhone 6, and I imagine even more so for the iPhone 6 Plus.

In-app notifications are less terse, color coded for tweet type, and actionable. Tapping one will open the tweet it references.

Even Twitterrific for Apple Watch saw some speed improvements, and the ability to use Emoji in replies and a list of canned tweets to use, much like you can have in iMessage. You can configure those in the Apple Watch app on the iPhone.

Twitterrific continues to be my Twitter app of choice, and I love that The Iconfactory is making so many quality improvements to it, and I am boggled at how quickly they have been iterating this past year.

You can grab the terrific new update to Twitterrific on the App Store. Be sure to grab the Premium features via in-app purchase, so The Iconfactory can continue to make Twitterrifc the best way to experience Twitter.

ByeTunes

Last night I saw a tweet from my friend Dave Chartier that got me thinking a bit:

There's a lot of rumor about Apple introducing a new music service tomorrow at WWDC. When I saw Dave's tweet, I wondered if this may be the end of the iTunes name.

Let's be honest, does anyone really even respect the iTunes name anymore? For years I've loathed whenever I have to use it. I know a lot of folks who carry the same sentiment. iTunes has been a cumbersome app for a half decade or more.

And then I am reminded of iPhoto. How much that was being bogged down by its past and how Apple essentially scrapped it and rolled out Photos for OS X. A new, refreshed take on photos brought a new name. And I'm now wondering if the same is due for iTunes. A new, refreshed take on music with a new name.

If I were to pick a name for it, I see one of two possibilities. First, simply Apple Music. It fits the trend of Apple leveraging its own name with the general purpose of the app. Second, I could see them using the Beats name they acquired last year.

We'll see what happens tomorrow, but I sure wouldn't be surprised if Apple said bye to the iTunes name.

¶ The Companion

A watch can tell you a lot about a person. Do they care more about utility or fashion? Are their tastes modest or lavish? Even how adorned the watch face is can tell you a lot about a person. A more complete & complicated face can tell you whether the person cares greatly about punctuality to the second, whereas a blank face, such as a Movado or Guess, can tell you that the person is only interested in the general estimate of the time.

I doubt many people take notice of such things. In my observations, most people register another person's watch. I've taken notice of this more than usual the past six weeks when I took off my Seiko 5 and put on my 42 mm Space Gray Apple Watch Sport.

I honestly expected strangers to notice and ask me questions about it. My friends, of course, knew I was getting it and naturally asked about it. But it took a solid three weeks before a stranger noticed, and it was when I pulled up Passbook for the local theater's rewards program. The clerk immediately noticed then, but, really, how could he not? It was obvious. Likewise, the only other times anyone has noticed have been for times I have used the Watch for Apple Pay or Passbook.

Outside of those obvious contexts, the Apple Watch is just another watch to almost everyone out there.

And it really is a fantastic timepiece. But it is also more than that.

It's a companion.

Timekeeping

Let's start with the basics. The Apple Watch is an excellent watch, and it is priced comparatively to other great watches. Being digital, it is intensely accurate — ± 50 milliseconds of the global time standard.

It's also a handsome and fashionable timepiece. I'm really glad I went with the Space Gray model, as I love the darker toned metal, and the black band it came with. It honestly works with any style of wardrobe I choose. And when you are not using the Watch, the cover glass is pitch black. It draws no attention to itself. It is humble and unassuming.

One feature of the Apple Watch that traditional watches cannot replicate is that it truly can fit for any occasion. It comes with a myriad of choices of watch faces, and a number of them offer a great level of granular customization. You can adorn the face with as little or as much complication as you want, and even change the colors of some elements to match what you are wearing. My favorite is the Utility face, and I generally have the accent color for the date & second hand set to orange, my personal favorite color.

The Utility face is greatly customizable. It can be set to show numbers for all twelve hour positions, or just the four cardinals, or none at all. Another favorite is the Color face, set to either a bright blue or orange, which reminds me a bit of Tron.

No matter the occasion, the Watch is a companion to your style.

Complications

A great deal of the watch faces have little bits of data you can add called Complications. They are like little widgets. You can set things such as activity level (more on that later), the weather, timer, calendar, sunrise/sunset, moon phase, and the time of various cities via the World Clock.

The standards I keep on my beloved Utility face are Activity, Timer, and Weather. Tapping one of them will switch you over into the corresponding app. I love this in the morning as I am getting ready. I'll glance at my Watch to see the current weather, and with a tap on that Complication, I can check the hourly forecast for the day. Sometimes I take a peek at the 10-day forecast to build a mental picture of how the week looks. It seems Monday will be an opportune time to mow the lawn.

Fitness

It turns out mowing the lawn is quite the workout. I have the data to prove it thanks to the Watch. Of course, I'm the one using an old school, Chris-powered reel mower, so it better be a workout.

Fitness is one aspect where the Watch has been shining as a companion. The three activity rings — pink for active movement, green for exercise at a brisk walk or above, and blue for 1 minute of standing movement per hour — are genius and provide a great deal of motivation for me to move more.

The pink Move ring, as Apple calls it, measures your active caloric burn throughout the day. By default, it starts you off with a rather attainable daily goal. When you meet that every day for the week, the start of the next week will prompt you to increase your goal and suggest a new goal. You can adjust that up or down. I've become a bit obsessive about completing my Move ring each day. I had a 34 day streak going until I missed it by 15 calories when my wife & I were watching something. Don't worry, I'll get it back.

The green Exercise ring is the bane of my existence right now. For the past two months I have gone on a daily walk during my lunch break from work. At first I could log only about a half mile in 20 minutes. Now I can do about 1 to 1.25 miles in that time. Yet at my new normal walk pace it isn't enough to budge that dang green ring. I don't know what speed Apple considers a brisk walk, but I have to be near jogging to get the ring moving. I hope this gets adjusted in a software update, because it feels a bit off.

That said, it logs perfectly when I go for a run or a bike ride, or when I mow the lawn of all things. I have a feeling a great deal of the Exercise ring is due to heart rate, and I must not be getting my heart rate up enough when walking to count. But mowing the lawn does the trick quite well. Oh, did I mention that the back of the Watch is a heart rate monitor? Well, it is.

Finally, the blue Stand ring is changing my health for the better, and I love it. It's not only helping my physical health, but also my mental health. I'm the type of person who will get tunnel visioned on my work and I will sit at my desk for four hours straight before standing. And when that happens it hurts to stand up. And my eyes hurt from being so focused on a screen.

Now, if I have been sitting from the top of the hour to fifty minutes past, the Watch will give me a tap on the wrist. It's hard to ignore. I glance at the screen and it says it is time to stand up and move around for at least one minute. I obey, rise from my chair, and walk about the house. I say hi to my wife, give her a kiss, and ask her how she's been the past hour. We connect for a moment, and I get myself something to drink. Another tap, the minute is up.

It's now a new routine. I get a mental break from my work. A brief moment to unplug and step away. My eyes thank me for the change of scenery. My legs appreciate the movement.

Now, if I have not been sedentary for those 50 minutes into an hour, the Watch logs that and credits the hour to my Stand ring, and forgoes the nudge on the wrist. I also appreciate that, too. I rarely feel a tap to stand up & move on a weekend.

The Watch has become my fitness companion.

Assistant

The single greatest thing about the Watch has been that I am looking at my iPhone less.

It used to be that my phone would vibrate and make a sound, and I would instinctively pull my phone out from my pocket, and swipe on the notification to deal with it. But I wouldn't stop there. The next thing I knew I was checking another app, then maybe another. And ten minutes have passed. I never really noticed this as a problem, but in retrospect it wore on me.

Some of the first things I did when setting up my Apple Watch was to silence it, and limit which things I'd allow the phone to send over as notifications. Now, my phone doesn't explicitly notify me for most things, and my watch gives me gentle taps on the wrist instead.

The beautiful part is that I've gained more restraint in whether or not to act on a notification. My wrist is tapped, I glance to see a short preview of the notification, and often I just turn my wrist away to queue the notification to be acted upon later. Most things don't require my immediate attention, and now I can tell that in seconds with little effort.

It's almost like having a well-known assistant who can give you non-verbal cues as to whether your attention is really needed or not.

I'd be remiss to make a comparison about the Watch being like an assistant with mentioning Apple digital assistant Siri. I'll admit I was pretty bearish on Siri for the Watch as Siri has never been all that stellar on iOS. But somehow, Siri is really good on the Watch. This is important, because Siri is the main way you interact with the Watch. Dictation is almost always spot on with the Watch, more so than it ever has been (or still is) with the iPhone. I've even found Siri to be responsive to a near whisper if I hold the Watch a little closer.

She also doesn't talk to you, at least, not out loud like she does on iPhone. Instead, Siri on Apple Watch communicates solely via text. And I kind of like that. It almost feels more personal since it is unlikely for someone else to be looking on, whereas the verbal aspect of Siri on iPhone can be heard by anyone around you.

Between the subtle approach to notifications and a faster, more accurate, and — dare I say — more intimate Siri, the Watch makes an impressive companion as an assistant.

The Little Things

Apple Watch wouldn't be an Apple product if it didn't make us appreciate the little things. And there are many of them to be appreciated.

In no particular order:

  • The ability for the Watch to easily change bands is amazing. With the simple press of a button on the underside the strap slides off the case, and a new one can slide right in. It's amazing other watches have never done this.
  • The Sport band is extremely comfortable. I didn't expect it to be. I expected it to feel plasticy or rubbery, but it feels like neither. It is soft & feels fantastic. I can see why Apple insists on using the mouthful of a word fluoroelastomer instead of simply rubber, as it is a totally different grade of material warranting a higher expectation.
  • I love using the Digital Crown. The crown on traditional watches is something you use maybe twice a year to set the time for daylight savings. On Apple Watch, the crown is used constantly. It's how you scroll a text view or longer notification or zoom in and out of maps (and it is so smooth when scrolling. It glides like it is greased with butter). Pressing it is akin to the iPhone's Home button. Double pressing it switches you between the last two apps used. Pressing & holding manually activates Siri.
  • I was impressed by how compact the Watch is, even the larger 42 mm. The pictures on Apple's site don't do it justice here. The pictures make it look rather thick & cumbersome, and it is anything but. In fact, it is the same thickness as my Seiko 5, and has about the same height x width footprint. It really does feel like a watch, not a miniature wearable computer.
  • This is the first Apple device to be water resistant, and it is really water resistant. It appears to surpass Apple's very cautious recommendations. I've seen videos of folks swimming with it, or leaving it at the bottom of a pool for an hour without problem. I've personally ran with it in the rain, done the dishes numerous times, and even wore it in the shower once, all without issue. It's a very rugged little watch.
  • Sending my heartbeat to a friend is fun because it weirds them out. Receiving a heartbeat from a friend, well, weirds me out. I do think it'd be a great feature if my wife ever decides she wants an Apple Watch, especially on the rare times one of us is traveling without the other. I can see having an appreciation for sending & receiving heartbeats with her, much like I appreciate FaceTime in that regard.
  • Don't worry about battery life. I have rarely had it dip below 30% charge, even with higher usage on a family trip to Chicago, where I was getting directions. It truly is all-day battery. And, since I am looking at my iPhone less frequently, my battery life has been better day-to-day on that, as well.

The fact that the Apple Watch is a watch first and foremost — and an excellent watch at that — makes it an excellent companion with regard to style and daily utility. Add to that an amazing fitness tracker that measures many aspects of my health, and improving on aspects I didn't expect it to, makes it a companion on the journey to a better me. Finally it is my companion as a well-timed assistant, keeping me focused on the things that carry greater importance, and leaving the chaff to be dealt with at a later time.

I was skeptical about how the Apple Watch would fit into my life. I questioned whether I really needed yet another device. But Apple Watch is not just any other device. It is my new watch for any occasion, in pretty much any environment, helping me be healthier, and helping form a new habit to be intentional in my interactions with my devices and with other people.

Please Let Me Pay For My App

Carley Knobloch makes a case for paying for apps:

Here’s how I see it: You know where you stand with a company that makes a paid app. It’s an honest exchange: Company creates a product or service, and I pay you for it, much like I would someone who washes my car or makes me a smoothie. It’s how things have always been done. It just makes sense.

When Company creates a product or service that it gives to me for free, I have to do a lot of thinking about why Company is choosing to do that.

[…]

Companies like Google, Facebook, Snapchat and Apple aren’t altruistic, of course: They’ve built genius services we use every day for free, and while we don’t pay with money, we pay with a major invasion on our privacy. One that we signed up for (go back and read the Terms & Conditions). So, in essence, the business model is you.

Side note: I disagree with her inclusion of Apple there. Apple has proven time & again they are very privacy focused. And they make their money from hardware. Their software and services are something that are value-adds to drive hardware sales.

Beyond privacy reasons alone, is the fact real human beings make software. A developer making an app you love and asking for money is trying to make a living. Paying them supports their lifestyle, and also, frankly, enables further development of the app you love.

If you are unwilling to pay for that app, don't be surprised when it disappears because the developer can't afford to keep working on it.

Now, linking to Carly's article is slightly self-serving in that she uses 1Password as an example, and I make my living from 1Password's success. So yeah, I'm very biased on the paid software front. But please, support your favorite apps and their developers by paying for apps.

¶ The Seiko 5 Automatic Watch

I first wore a watch in elementary school. I was nearly obsessive about time as a young child. When was recess? Lunch? End of the school day? When did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come on? I was always looking forward to what was next in my day and a watch kept me informed. I'm sure I annoyed my teachers by reminding them of what should be coming next in the day.

Over the years I wore many different types of watches. I had the Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. My Dad passed down his Casio G-SHOCK watch when he got a newer model. I love that watch, because of all the timers and gizmos it had. I envied Dad's newer model because it looked almost futuristic.

As I grew into my teens and became fascinated by the newer James Bond movies of the time (ah, GoldenEye), my taste in watches mimicked the class of Bond. I desired stainless steel. I eventually got a Pulsar that was stainless steel with a blue bezel that made me feel like 007.

After a number of years, the ratcheting bezel on the Pulsar broke and I got a very nice looking Seiko stainless steel watch that I still have to this day, though it needs a new battery. But a few years into wearing it, I decided to stop wearing watches entirely.

I remember exactly why, too. I was in college, and had upgraded from the eMac to the iBook G4 for my sophomore year. It was the thickness of the iBook combined with placing my wrist on its wrist rest that discouraged me from my watch. The angle made the buckle of the watch dig into my wrist, and it wasn't long before I started having shooting pains in my left hand. I started taking off my watch when I'd be typing for a bit and, over time, it just remained on my desk. I started checking the time on the small external display of my Motorola RAZR.

I stopped wearing a watch.

Fast forward about ten years and watches are quite popular to talk about again, the topic is not the watches of your father's or grandfather's time. That's a story for a different day. Needless to say, the interest of those I follow on Twitter and read articles of has had a halo effect renewing my interest in timekeeping. So I put a watch on my Amazon wish list about a year or so ago, and figured I'd see what happens.

I could have simply replaced the battery in my stainless steel Seiko, but it is a watch that is not likely something one would wear day-to-day with a t-shirt and jeans. I wanted to wade back into timekeeping with something simple and unobtrusive. I picked the Seiko 5 Automatic watch.

The Seiko 5 is a simple watch in that it tells the current time and shows the day and date. That's all. It has an aluminum body, a clear back, and a simple black canvas strap. Its second hand moves in such tiny yet quick increments it appears as if it were a sweeping second hand. It's a nice touch that I enjoy quite a bit.

It's also an automatic watch. It will never need a battery. The momentum of wearing it keeps it going. This is where the clear back of the watch is fascinating. You can see the weight move around and keep the springs wound tight. It's also a neat way to observe the inner workings of a wristwatch. Everything is so small and delicate, it amazes me any of it even works.

My favorite characteristic of the Seiko 5 is when I bring my arm up to rest my head upon my hand, leaning on my desk or the arm of the couch. That's when I can hear the mechanics of the watch as it is close to my ear. Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick. It's rapid and almost hypnotic. The steady rhythm is relaxing and brings peace.

The Seiko 5 is both simple yet elegant in appearance. It can be worn casually in your most comfortable clothes, but also pairs well when dressing up, as it doesn't stand out in any way. Not too plain, not too eye-catching. Just right.

On blogs

Matt Gemmell:

Instead of a blog, let your site be a site. Or a journal. An online anthology. Your collected works. Your essays, to date. Your body of writing. A blog is a non-thing; it’s the refusal to categorise what you produce, and an implicit opt-in to the disappointing default.

Instead of posts, you have articles. Pieces. Essays. Stories. Poems. Briefs. Tutorials. White papers. Analyses. Even thoughts, if you like. Actual works, crafted and presented for the reader, instead of just being punctured by a push-pin, and affixed to a bulletin board, beside lost dog, and roommate wanted.

Instead of posting, you’re publishing. If you were a blogger, maybe you’re a journalist.

Instead of blogging, you’re writing.

Try those words on for size. See how they feel.

Matt's article on his disdain of the terminology surrounding blogging is an absolute must-read. I know I needed it. As I've alluded to recently, I've been wallowing in a lot of doubt as a writer. Matt's words were a great reminder to keep writing.

I remember very distinctly a few years ago when I decided I wanted this site to be more than a blog. When I traded blog in the navigation for articles. When I started calling myself a writer.

My readership is not fantastically large. But it isn't insignificant, either. But the number of eyeballs reading these words does not detract from the value of my words. I greatly value the time you take to read this site, dear reader, but to be frank, I'm not necessarily writing for you. I'm mostly writing for me.

I encourage you to read all of Matt's article. It is excellent. He is a very gifted writer. And finally, I want to leave you today with a final quote from his passage, one you should jot down in a notebook, or Evernote, or wherever you keep quotes to look back and reflect upon.

Language is a surgical tool in the right hands, and a blunt instrument otherwise.

Exclusive Apple Watch Sport band colors

When it comes to the Sport band for Apple Watch, there's only a few color to choose from. The standard white and black, and then very bright pink, blue, and green. That's it. None are ugly, but the three bright colors are very sporty.

My wife is a navy blue kind of girl, and she frowned when she saw there wasn't a navy blue sport band. And then Jony Ive goes and shows off some exclusive Sport band colors in Milan, and there it is…navy blue.

I showed the photo to my wife and she said, "I hope that's available for version 2."

Your move, Apple.

¶ Welcome to Full City Press

Here it is. The new chapter of my writing. Full City Press. For years, I've written about tech — primarily Apple — and it's been incredibly fun. Over the past year, however, I started to feel like I was in an echo chamber, and just murmuring the same thoughts as everyone else writing about Apple. And it burned me out to where I stopped writing publicly.

Writing is something I must do. It's almost a compulsion. If I don't put words to page every now and then, a negative effect takes root in just about every part of my life. Over the past months where I couldn't bring myself to write one more word on this site about technology, Day One became my rescue. There I could write freely about any topic. But I longed to share that here.

The former name of this site, techese, became a mental barrier for me. It just didn't feel right to write about non-tech stuff here under that name. So I did some soul searching and came up with a new name. Full City is a degree of coffee roasting (it's delicious, by the way). And Press has dual meaning as I press coffee each day, and also the link to writing. It's a perfect name for my future endeavors as a writer.

Writing about technology is still going to happen. It is too large a part of my life for it to not happen. But I'm going to take the liberty to write about any topic I choose. So let's grab a cup of coffee and get to writing again.

¶ Brewing Something New

Lately my creativity & drive for writing on this site has suffered.

I've felt like I am standing in an echo chamber. This site has been focused on tech and tech alone for its entirety. It's even in the name. And the name somewhat holds me back when I've considered broadening the scope of topics I write about here. I know this is my site and I can write whatever I want, no matter the name. But it still gives me pause (for all the wrong reasons).

I'll still write about tech, as it is a huge part of my life, but I'm done being confined to it. I'm branching out to new topics — observations and opinions about things such as productivity, leadership, growing relationships, service, family life, and even my faith. I am not a professional on any of those subjects but I want to exercise mental muscle of creativity by exploring topics I find occupying my mind.

It's time for change. I came up with a new name, registered the dot-com & snagged a twitter name, and hired a designer for a snazzy logo. Now it is time to push some pixels around on this site and flip some switches for the new hotness.

With this fresh start for the site I'm giving myself permission to write the way my heart wants to write. To venture into topics which strain my comfort level and hopefully allow me to grow as a writer.

No matter how you follow the site, everything will redirect just fine. You should not need to adjust your RSS reader, re-follow on Twitter, or anything like that. And of course, all the previous content from over the years will remain.

While I have loved the name techese it has been mentally holding me back. Say hello to Full City Press, brewing now, and being served up soon.