Archive for July 5, 2021

Monday, July 5, 2021


Jason Kottke (also: David Pogue, Hacker News):

A new iOS app called Brickit has been developed to breathe new life into your old Lego pile. Just dump your bricks out into a pile and the app will analyze what Lego bricks you have, what new creations you can build with them, and provide you with detailed build instructions. It can even guide you to find individual pieces in the pile. View a short demo — I’m assuming they’re using some sort of AI/machine learning to do this?

This is a great idea. I wasn’t able to really test it out because most of our bricks are Duplo, which it doesn’t support. It was able to count the loose Lego bricks but didn’t have any suggestions for what to make with them.

Brave Search Public Beta

Yan Zhu:
the new search engine we’ve been working on at @brave is now in public beta!
  • we don’t track clicks or queries
  • we don’t profile you
  • for localized results, we only use IP and don’t store it
  • we show you what % of results are served from our own index
Brave Search uses its own index, but also ensures fully anonymous search, is transparent in how search results are ranked, and integrates with a privacy-preserving browser on desktop and mobile – an across-the-board combination of independence and privacy which no other provider offers. For a detailed comparison of Brave Search versus other search engines, please see our side-by-side chart here. […] Brave Search is not displaying ads during this early part of the beta phase,
John Gruber:
Biggest thing I dislike about Brave Search is the font. It’s a typeface called Poppins that, almost unbelievably, is a free font from Google.
That and it feels slow. The search results seem OK, though. Not as good as Google, but at least in my early testing it’s comparable to DuckDuckGo/Bing, which is a promising start. The main issue for me is that there’s no built-in way to set Brave Search as the default in Safari, though you can use it as a secondary serach engine or via LaunchBar. Previously:

Update (2021-07-09): Adam Engst:

Put bluntly, Ecosia failed. It’s not that it didn’t work, nor did it always provide poor results. But too often, I’d find myself questioning its results or knowing they weren’t what I wanted. Ecosia relies on Bing, just like DuckDuckGo (which I’ve tried and discarded in the past as well), so I gave up and went back to Google. I’m all in favor of privacy, but not at the expense of frequent search failures. […] When Brave first released Brave Search in private beta, I jumped at the chance to try it. And you know what? It was pretty darn good. Now and then, I’d find myself sending a search directly to Google after Brave Search didn’t find what I wanted, but it passed the annoyance test that Ecosia and DuckDuckGo had failed. […] The Goggles proposal is interesting and worth a read. In essence, it offers a way to create a plurality of rankings rather than require users to submit to a single ranking, even one that attempts to personalize itself to their desires. […] We can hope that Apple adds Brave Search to Safari’s search engine list soon—I’ve submitted it as a suggestion via Apple’s Feedback Assistant app, and I’d encourage others to do the same.

PDFpen Acquired for $6 Million

Sam Chandler:

Today, I’m excited to announce Nitro’s acquisition of PDFpen, the much-loved suite of PDF productivity apps for Mac, iPad and iPhone developed by Smile, Inc.


With the acquisition of PDFpen, we have found the perfect complement and addition to extend the Nitro Productivity Platform to even more customers and users. The PDFpen team has deep roots in developing intuitive, easy-to-use and highly popular apps for Mac, iPad and iPhone users, and we’re thrilled to be adding their expertise to expand Nitro’s core capabilities across those platforms. And, we’re just as excited to welcome the phenomenal PDFpen team to the Nitro family. Together, we share common values, an intense focus on the customer and a relentless passion to transform how the world works with documents.


We are excited to announce the acquisition of PDFpen by Nitro. We at Smile believe Nitro is well placed to take the PDFpen product to the next level.

I don’t really understand what this means for Smile, since I thought they had some of the same people working on both PDFpen and TextExpander.


Update (2021-07-13): Adam Engst:

Nitro will pay $6 million in cash for PDFpen, and the entire PDFpen team will be joining Nitro. Sam Thorpe noted that Nitro was extremely interested in the team’s roadmap for PDFpen and appreciation of the nuances of developing for Apple-focused customers, so it seems safe to say that we shouldn’t expect to see significant technical or interface changes. The name will also remain the same, though likely with some Nitro cobranding. What may change eventually is the licensing model, with subscriptions being offered after a few more major releases.


The recurring revenue generated by the subscriptions will help pay for developing the integrations with other systems—document signing, analytics, SDKs, and so on—that large organizations find compelling.


From Smile’s perspective, the PDFpen acquisition allows the company to focus on its TextExpander business, which has been growing in terms of employees and platforms.

Gaia GPS Acquired

Kristin Hostetter (via Matt Stoller):

Pocket Outdoor Media (parent company to SNEWS, Backpacker, and nearly 30 other active living brands) announced news that will catapult the Boulder-based company into a powerful position in these industries: It has purchased Outside Magazine, Outside TV, Gaia GPS, Peloton Magazine, and athleteReg.


As the world’s leading backcountry mapping app, Gaia GPS will provide mapping, route finding, and navigation across the Outside platform, benefiting readers of Backpacker, Trail Runner, Climbing, and SKI.


But perhaps what excites Thurston the most is how these brands will come together to fortify the powerful value proposition of its membership program, Active Pass.

This doesn’t sound like good news for fans of the app.