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.


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.

¶ Downcast for Mac | Review

I'm pretty sure I've been an avid podcast listener since Apple first integrated it into iTunes and the iPod. Many would likely agree Apple kicked podcasts into mainstream use.

After the debut of the iPhone and then the App Store, third party podcast apps started to appear for movie listening, but I stuck with Apple's iTunes and the iPhone's iPod app, since I was syncing all the time anyway, because untethered sync still wasn't around for the iPhone. And I kept on this way until Apple released its Podcasts app partway through iOS 5's life cycle.

And boy did that app suck.

Podcasts was gorgeous at its debut, sure. I loved the reel-to-reel animation, superfluous as it was. But actually using the app was downright awful. So that left me with a decision to make between the two biggest names I had heard about. Instacast and Downcast. Both were iOS only at the time, but I didn't mind because I was doing most of my listening on my iPhone, anyway.

I chose Downcast. It didn't take long using Downcast and seeing how easily it synced over iCloud with my iPad to realize it was the app that Podcasts should have been.

From my review of Downcast for iOS:

Apple’s Podcasts app is slow, buggy, and lacks the typical polish and refinement we’ve all come to expect. This app does not feel like something Apple made. It doesn’t even use iCloud to sync the subscription list between your iPhone and iPad, instead making you go through the subscription process twice.

So here’s what you should do. Buy Downcast. It is every bit the caliber you would expect Apple to make, but Apple didn’t make it.

The only role Downcast didn't fulfill was being able to listen from my Mac. At first this didn't really bother me until I started being in front of my desk more and more. Sure, I've fired up my podcasts on my iPad and kept it playing on my desk, and that's fine and all. But I had been wanting podcast listening on my Mac again.

Today, my want is fulfilled. Downcast for Mac is now available on the Mac App Store. As soon as I installed and launched it, I simply clicked a little cloud icon, and checked four boxes. Immediately, my settings, episode list, podcast subscriptions, & playlists all came in via iCloud.

Aside: Downcast is one of the few apps using iCloud that really seems to just work without hassle. Many others I have don't work entirely well and I use Dropbox instead.

Downcast's interface is plain and simple in a refreshing way. It's very focused. You select your podcast and play. I do think it needs some refreshing over time. For instance, there are three different refresh buttons in the main window. One that refreshes all feeds, one to refresh a specific feed list, and another that seems to refresh everything in iCloud.

Aside from an abundance of things to refresh, Downcast for Mac is a faithful interpretation of what Downcast is in a Mac app. Downcast for Mac is available on the Mac App Store at an introductory price of $9.99.

Pixelmator 2.1 Cherry

I don’t do a great deal of work with images, but when I need something a little more beyond what iPhoto or Aperture can offer, or if I need to make something from scratch, I turn to Pixelmator.

I’ve been using Pixelmator for a few years, and it has always been a better experience than that other pixel-pushing tool from Adobe.

Today, Pixelmator 2.1 Cherry was released, making an already easy to use image editor even easier. It’s ready for both Mountain Lion and the Retina display, includes iCloud document storage support, and features a new effects browser and alignment guides.

Effects always intimidated me because they resided by name only in a menu. I didn’t know what each one did. With the new effects browser I can see what an effect will do before I apply it.

As for alignment guides, this is something I have wanted for a while. Now it is super easy to center or align objects in an image amongst each other. This makes Pixelmator a precision tool.

The Pixelmator team has some great walkthroughs of the new features on their site.

The best part of Pixelmator is the price. It’s just $29.99 $14.99 on the Mac App Store.

¶ Ruminating on Updates

Just a little late night ruminating on the eve before OS X Mountain Lion hits the App Store.


I’d say my Applications folder is pretty evenly split between App Store apps and non-App Store apps (hereafter referred to as direct apps), once you take away the system apps.

Of the direct apps, I honestly haven’t seen as many as I thought I would gain Mountain Lion and/or Gatekeeper support. Gatekeeper is Apple’s new security system in Mountain Lion that ensures a developer of a direct app is known by Apple. And, if a direct app does anything nefarious, Apple can shut down that app’s developer ID, stopping the spread of malware cold.

Here’s the thing: Gatekeeper is on by default. And if developers have not updated for Gatekeeper yet, users will either have to exempt each non-Gatekeeper app one by one, or disable Gatekeeper entirely, rendering this new layer of security moot.

That isn’t good.

If users disable Gatekeeper, they will likely never reenable it. I guess they compute at their own risk, huh?

The far greater risk, however, is users becoming used to allowing any direct app that asks to circumvent Gatekeeper to do so. If they develop a Pavlovian response to clicking Allow every time an app wants through the Gate, they will have a false sense of security if a malicious app does someday surface. The trained response should be to say no to such prompts.


Another thing that has been bugging me is Apple’s lack of showing off any truly significant updates to iWork — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. We know iWork will be gaining iCloud’s Documents in the Cloud feature with Mountain Lion, so the apps will need to be updated in some fashion.

My concern is whether this will just be yet another bolt-on update to the current versions of iWork — which have been around since January 2009 — or whether iWork will truly get a proper update for 2012.

Furthermore, Apple only allows App Store apps to take advantage of Documents in the Cloud. Like I said, iWork has been around since 2009, well before the App Store existed on the Mac. My copy of iWork came on a DVD.

Now, Apple certainly has the right and the ability to give the non-App Store versions of iWork access to iCloud, much like my non-App Store version of Aperture can use Photo Stream. But I can’t help but feel like iWork has been deprived of a significant rethink for too long. I’d like to see iWork 2012 (or 2013, or just plain iWork) in the App Store tomorrow.

Transitions are always awkward. The transition to Gatekeeper will take some time. I just thought more developers would have been ready for it.

I’d also like to see Apple start wrapping up the transition from the apps that were sold on physical media to App Store versions by putting iWork ‘09 to rest, and giving the trio of apps a much needed update in this era of refinement.

‘The App Store is for the Average User’

There’s been some kerfuffel over TextExpander leaving the Mac App Store because of Apple’s recent enforcement of sandboxing, which doesn’t allow TextExpander to work within its scope.

Ben Brooks brings some sanity to the issue:

The App Store is for the average user. Apps that don’t fit in the App Store guidelines are simply not for the average user. That matters because the apps that don’t fit those guidelines can/will/could cause a massive support headache for not only Apple, but for the resident family geek. Users should be able to make the reasonable assumption that anything they download from the App Store cannot and will not mess up their computer in any way that uninstalling the app won’t fix their computer.

I am one such resident family geek. Let me tell you that I cannot wait to start flipping the dial on family members’ Macs to only allow Mac App Store only apps in Mountain Lion.

As for myself, I am a geek, and I know how OS X works. I have no fears nor quibbles with installing stuff from outside the App Store. That said, if an app is available in the App Store, I am likely to favor getting it from there instead of directly from the developer. Why? Because the App Store is easier. It keeps all my apps archived in the Purchases section. I don’t have to remember serial numbers.

Now, if an app is only available directly from the developer? That’s fine. I can handle it. But for the majority of people, the App Store is tailor made for them.