Twitterrific for macOS: A Phoenix from the Ashes

For me, Twitterrific has always been synonymous with using Twitter. I used it first on the Mac in March 2008. I even downloaded the app first, then signed up for Twitter to use it! And Twitterrific was the first app I installed from the App Store on iOS when it launched in July 2008. I tried a couple other clients when they came around, namely Tweetie and Tweetbot, but Twitterrific’s unified timeline always brought me back to the nest.

For the past several years, the Mac version has fallen by the wayside, and I got used to only using Twitterrific on iOS. Then, earlier this year, the Iconfactory set up a Kickstarter to resurrect Twitterrific for Mac as a fresh, modern client. I couldn’t sign up fast enough. The campaign was successful, and all summer I have been enjoying the weekly beta releases as the new Twitterrific took shape.

Twitterrific_macOS_logo.png

Today, Twitterrific 5.0 for macOS is available for everyone on the Mac App Store. It packs a ton of features into the new app, stays in sync with the iOS versions using iCloud, has fantastic keyboard and accessibility support, delightful sounds, and a few nostalgic Easter eggs from past incarnations.

Beyond any feature, though, is the care that the folks at the Iconfactory put into Twitterrific. It is clearly a labor of love, and the people behind it are genuinely fantastic. I suggest you follow a few of them on Twitter, and say hi. The best part about the Apple community isn’t just the apps we use to change our life and work, it’s the people and friendships made along the way.

In a sea of one-off money-grab apps, there are a precious few with a human story behind them. Twitterrific is one of them. And that’s why it is well worth supporting the team by purchasing Twitterrific for macOS.

Twitterrific for macOS re-hatches with Project Phoenix

I’ve been using Twitter for nearly a decade now and Twitterrific for Mac was what first got me hooked on the service. Over 72,000 tweets later and I still use Twitterrific (on iOS) every day. It’s safe to say that this app is my most used app.

I loved Twitterrific on the Mac, and while I understand why it was put in the parking lot of development to focus on iOS, I have always missed it. And I know its creators at The Iconfactory have missed it as well.

That’s why I’m excited to see that they want to bring it back with Project Phoenix on Kickstarter.

If funded, The Iconfactory plans to have a minimal app ready around August 2017 with t he following features:

  • Unified home timeline
  • Multiple account support
  • Composing, replying, and quoting tweets
  • Muffles and mutes
  • Streaming
  • Themes
  • Delete and edit your own tweets
  • Sync timeline position with iOS
  • VoiceOver Accessibility
  • Keyboard control
  • Attaching images to tweets
  • Timeline search (text filter/find)
  • Open links to other tweets, profiles and media in your browser

If they reach the stretch goal, they’ll add these in a major version release:

  • Direct messaging
  • Read, create, delete saved searches
  • Read lists
  • Built-in Twitter search
  • Built-in quick media viewer (images, GIFs, videos)
  • Built-in conversation and threaded tweet viewer
  • Built-in viewer for user profiles
  • Alt-text attachment when tweeting images
  • Searching for and getting suggested users while composing

And finally, if they reach a victory lap goal, they’ll add:

  • Simple list management (create, edit, delete)
  • Manage drafts and sync them with iOS
  • Dock-less mode
  • Built-in profile editor so you can change your bio, avatar and more
  • Trends
  • Video upload
  • Geolocation

That would pretty much bring it to feature parity with the amazing iOS version of the app. I chipped in, and if you love using Twitter and want to support a team that truly cares for the platform, you should too.

Iconfactory's Spooky Sticker Packs

Halloween has always been a favorite festivity of mine. My parents would go all-out for Halloween parties for me and my friends when I was a kid. I loved dressing up, gathering up a horde of candy, and going to local science museum which transformed into a haunted house every year. Halloween carries a lot of traditions for me.

One tradition I have come to appreciate over the years is when The Iconfactory dresses up its website to celebrate the spookiest of holidays. This year the gang has gone further by dressing up iMessage with a trick-or-treat bucket’s worth of Spooky Sticker Packs.

Ravenswood, Macabre, & Spook On

First up are Ravenswood, Macabre, & Spook On. These packs feature ghastly portraits from Ravenswood Manor, familiar faces of this frightening holiday, and spooky stickers that are eerily realistic with their peeled edges.

All three packs are 99¢ when purchased separately, or $1.99 when purchased in a bundle. As of this writing, the bundle was still in review with iTunes.

BoneHeadz

Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the yellow skin of the smiley emojis? BoneHeadz goes beneath the surface to reveal the horrors and hilarity underneath! This pack makes no bones about it and can be yours for 99¢.

Hack-O-Lantern

As I mentioned before, I love traditions around this time of year and there isn’t a tradition more well known than carving a Jack-O-Lantern. It is something my family does every year and it is a fond memory of carving out a pumpkin with my mom.

I don’t always get to see mom around Halloween, and now we can have fun long distance with Hack-O-Lantern. It’s easy as pumpkin pie to do: pick a pumpkin and get hacking with various carvings and accessories. Scooping out the guts of an innocent pumpkin will run $1.99, which is cheaper than going to the pumpkin patch.

Lore

I think I’ve saved the best for last. One of my favorite podcasts the past year or so has been Lore. Each episode is thrilling and draws you in deep right before…the end, mwahaha! Seriously, though, Lore is amazing and you should listen to it. The Iconfactory and Lore have teamed up for hunt of the peculiar with a special Lore sticker pack. The artwork is amazing and fits right in with the podcast, so be sure to get this pack for $1.99…before it gets you.

Wallpapers

Each of these sticker packs comes with an wallpaper for your iPhone. To get the wallpaper, scroll down in the sticker pack and tap the pack’s name, then Save Wallpaper. These wallpapers are the perfect decorations for your home screen.

Vanishing Like the Invisible Man

It’s worth noting that most of these sticker packs are limited editions. When October is gone, they will no longer be available to purchase. That said, when you purchase them, you can use them year-round, as they’ll still be available on your device and for re-downloading.

BoneHeadz and Lore will be "sticking" around all year long.

The Iconfactory is making all sorts of amazing Stickers for iMessage, so be sure to grab these limited edition packs, and check out their other packs, as well.

¶ Ulysses 2.5

When I get the urge to write something I either reach for the closest instrument I can or, if available, the one that provides the most comfort. My iPhone is almost always with me and I'll write there if I must, though I much prefer my iPad when lounging in a recliner or my Mac if at a table or desk. Maybe I'm a bit overly particular, but I prefer my writing environment of choice to be as similar as possible across my three devices. This is one reason I love Day One for journaling and why I loved Byword for most anything else.

Yes, I said loved. Past tense.

There are a number of reasons why my beloved Byword fell out of favor with me. The frustrations were mainly with iOS. It started to feel buggy, and sync often bogged down the app, or ended with conflicted copies of files. In short, it became unreliable.

Now, I don't mean to disparage Byword. It will always hold a special place for me. But sentiment isn't something that should keep a tool around of it is no longer working well. It is ultimately only a tool.

Enter Ulysses. I bought Ulysses for Mac some time ago and experimented with it a bit, but I never committed as the story on iOS was only for iPad, and I often start my ideas on iPhone. It felt like an incomplete tool for my writing process.

Of course, hints and rumors have circulated for a while that The Soulmen, the makers of Ulysses, were working on an iPhone version. When they announced a beta, I quickly signed up, and, thankfully, was quickly accepted.

To put it briefly, Ulysses has captured my heart and the words pouring from it.

The Experience

The best apps are the ones that offer an experience. They have a story to tell when you use them, and that story is expressed consistently on each device. Ulysses is such an app. It aims to encourage writing. It has all the tools one could want whether you are jotting a note or penning the next great novel.

Ulysses is powerful when it comes to organizing your writing. First up is the Library, where you create groups, sub-groups, add icons to groups for context, and more. The Library is as sparse or detailed as you want it to be. I use several overarching groups to separate writing for this site, work, and a few other things. Under each of those I typically have some sub-groups for additional context, such as Drafts and Published in my group for Full City Press.

Once you delve into a group you have the Sheet List. Think of Sheets as separate documents. Like a sheet of paper, it is a blank canvas. It doesn't need to have a title or a file name. It just needs words.

Once you create or select a sheet you're in the Editor. This is where the magic happens, and the true joy of writing with Ulysses is found. The Editor is clean, putting your words first. But it also places every tool you'd want within reach, kind of like Batman's utility belt. You can add keywords, set a writing goal, add a note, or even an image via the attachments sidebar. I make use of the writing goals to ensure I don't go overboard on words, and I love using notes to drop links I want to reference without mucking up my main text. I could see a novelist keeping notes about a scene or characters there, as well.

The best part is Ulysses is familiar whether you use it on a Mac, an iPad, an iPhone, or any combination of the three. Every tool you use on one device is found on another, in a sensible place for the size of screen being used.

Write. Anything. Anywhere.

I love the Ulysses’ slogan of Write. Anything. Anywhere. For the 2.5 release The Soulmen focused on the anywhere aspect of it. Bringing Ulysses to the iPhone is easily the capstone feature of this release. As I mentioned earlier, most of my writing starts on my iPhone while I am out and about. An idea hits me and I quickly jot it down, usually with a working title and attaching some notes to capture my general stream of thought. If the occasion permits, I may even tap out the first paragraph or two right there on my iPhone.

Ulysses, by default, leverages Markdown for styling text, which I have long held is the markup language every writer should learn and use. The various symbols you use for Markdown are easily accessible on a hardware keyboard, but can be a bit of a chore when using the on-screen keyboard on iOS. Ulysses again keeps the tools you need close by with the Shortcut Buttons that reside with the iOS keyboard.

Shortcuts are separated into three categories:

  1. Blocks: Headings, Lists, Quotes, Comments, and the like.
  2. Inline styling: Strong emphasis, regular emphasis, links, and more.
  3. Special characters: All the special characters you could shake a stick at.

Ulysses keeps all of these a single tap away while writing, instead of having to toggle the keyboard to symbols and maybe tap and hold on a key to reveal further options, as one would normally need to do things. These are located right in the QuickType Bar on the standard iPad keyboard, and are elegantly placed just above the keyboard on iPhone.

It is astounding how much attention to detail there is to keeping you focused on writing and not worrying about where things are at. Ulysses simply steps out of your way when writing while keeping any tools you may need within reach. To make another superhero reference, Ulysses is the Jarvis to your Tony Stark.

Keeping It All Together

Ulysses can be the one-stop shop for all your writing if you want it to be. It keeps everything organized. And when you use it on more than one device it also keeps everything in sync. Ulysses does this all through iCloud, and requires zero setup. It really just works.

Now, iCloud sometimes gets dirty looks when it comes to sync. Those aren't unwarranted as iCloud has definitely had quirks in the past. That said, I can't say I have had any trouble with iCloud sync in Ulysses. It has indicators in the Sheet List to show whether a particular sheet is uploading or downloading, and everything has always come across on all my devices. I don't even think about it. Ulysses has proven trustworthy that when I close it on one device, my work is there when I open it on another device.

Get to Writing

You don't need a fancy text editor to write. You can use paper, you can use TextEdit, Pages, or any number of tools. Ulysses is not needed for you to write or to write well. I don't think The Soulmen would disagree with that.

That said, when you set out to accomplish something, the caliber of the tool you use matters. There's a tremendous difference between using a generic tool and a precision instrument. Ulysses is the latter. It is designed to make a difference in your writing by taking care of all the things that typically steal away your attention while trying to focus on your writing. While it cannot create focus for you — that part is up to you — it does not create distraction.

Ulysses is the tool I whole-heartedly recommend to serious writers. Whether you write poetry, short stories, reviews, quips, thought pieces, or novels, Ulysses can handle it.

Write. Anything. Anywhere.


Ulysses is available on the iOS App Store as a Universal app for iPad and iPhone for $19.99. The Soulmen told me that price will be going up soon, so now is a great time to buy it. The Mac version of Ulysses is available on the Mac App Store for $44.99.

These apps are worth every penny, and I applaud The Soulmen for pricing them to be sustainable so Ulysses can continue to be the best writing tool for ages to come.

Pedometer++ 2.3

Today Underscore David Smith released an update to Pedometer++ that I've been waiting a while for. Thankfully, I've been beta testing it for a while.

Version 2.3 is entirely focused around building a rich and robust integration between the Apple Watch and iPhone. Letting you track your steps and reach your step goal in a much more complete way. The update focuses around 3 main features: data sync, complications and a workout mode.

David has created a clever system that intelligently merges step count data between the Apple Watch and iPhone based on which device is giving the best data in a given moment. This is in contrast to how Apple does it, where the Health app goes by device priority, falling back to the second device in a list only if the first is unavailable.

In my testing, David's approach seems to paint a terrifically accurate picture of overall step data in a day.

The watch face complications can be nice, but I find I prefer other complications and still don't mind swiping up the app's Glance to get a peek at my progress.

Finally, Pedometer++ adds a workout mode as an alternative to the Watch's included Workout app. It works well, and the only thing I'd like to see added is a mileage goal, as I use that in the Workout app to receive a tap at the halfway point, so I know when I should turn around and head home.

Pedometer++ is free on the App Store and is ad-supported, but David includes a tip jar with varying price points in the settings to remove the ads. Any tip amount will remove the ads. I suggest going for the Amazing tip, because the app is just that good.

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.

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.

Paper by FiftyThree makes tools free

Paper by FiftyThree is a lovely drawing and sketching app for the iPad. I like to dabble in it now and then, and my son loves it (when he remembers anything besides Minion Rush exists on an iPad).

For a good long while, Paper has had basic tools for free, and an expanded toolset for an in-app purchase. Now this free app has made its tools completely free, as well. I immediately wondered how they are making money, but then I remembered Studio Neat's little experiement.

Studio Neat took an app that wasn't seeing much for sales, made it free, and put an ad in it for their own smartphone tripod mount, the Glif. Let software sell hardware. It's what Apple itself does, right?

It just so happens that FiftyThree makes a stylus named the Pencil. And it was handcrafted for use with Paper. Maybe this is the way to let the software sell the hardware.

As I said, Paper is a wonderful app. If you like to doodle, sketch, or even make artistic masterpeices, and you have an iPad, then I highly recommend grabbing it.

And hey, maybe check out the Pencil, as well. I know I'm thinking about it a little more.

1Password 5.2 for iOS & 5.1 for Mac

Speaking of app updates, today we at AgileBits released a couple awesome updates for iOS and Mac today.

1Password 5.2 for iOS brought home the awesomesauce by adding a nifty Login Creator to help build Login items properly. It also added a Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) feature for Pro owners helping strengthen up security for sites that offer. Two-step verification is a great thing and 1Password is aiming to make it easy to use and understand.

1Password 5.1 for Mac focuses on sync — both behind the scenes and on stage. A lot of code was optimized to make sync the best it has ever been (iOS benefitted from this in shared code, as well) and the Sync interface in Preferences has been completely re-done to make setting up sync as easy as selecting a vault and choosing a service from a drop down list.

Both updates are free to existing owners of 1Password 5 on the respective platforms. Everyone on the team poured a lot of effort into these releases, so if you see any of us on Twitter, be sure to send an emoji high-five.

Twitterrific 5.9 — The Photography Update

Twitterrific is an app that is near and dear to my heart, as I have been using since day one of being on Twitter (nearly 7 years!). Over the years I have developed a wonderful friendship with some of the folks at The Iconfactory. As such, I've been a beta tester for a good long while, and the 5.9 update has been particularly difficult to keep quiet as I've just wanted to scream about its awesomeness from the mountains.

Yeah yeah, there aren't mountains in the Great Plains, so maybe just a small hill. I digress.

I love photos. Twitterrific 5.9 is all about photos. You can now add mutliple photos (up to 4) using Twitter's photo service, and you can view photos (even multiple photos) from just about any service you can link to. Best of all, Instagram photos now load in Twitterrific's photo viewer without having to load the mobile site.

Videos also get a nice treatment with an improved viewer with playback controls, as well as animated GIFs. My colleagues at work and I basically live off GIFs, so this is extremely welcome.

Twitterrific 5.9 is a free update in the App Store, and it really is the most delightful Twitter app out there. If you love simplicity without sacrificing features, you need to get acquainted with Twitterrific.

Be sure to check out The Iconfactory's feature overview video for Twitterrific 5.9, and either leave or update a review on the App Store.