Archive for September 6, 2021

Monday, September 6, 2021

Tweetbot 6.3 for iOS

Joe Rossignol:

Tapbots today released version 6.3 of Tweetbot for the iPhone and iPad, with the key new feature being a “Behaviors” menu in the app’s settings that contains several toggle switches for fine tuning your Tweetbot experience.

I like the option to turn off “Tap to Top,” as I often accidentally scroll to the top and then lose my place in the timeline. In theory, I can tap the top again to scroll back down, but sometimes by the time I realize I’ve gone to the top it’s too late.

What I’d really like to see is more behaviors, e.g. being able to configure a swipe to share with OmniFocus in a single gesture. Currently, it’s a multi-step process: tap to show the buttons, tap the Share button, wait for the animation, tap OmniFocus, wait for the panel to show up, tap Save, and wait for the panel to close.

It does let you configure a swipe to add to Safari Reading List, though, which was not previously possible. This also requires a confirmation alert each time, apparently because iOS was designed that way. Apple doesn’t explicitly say so, but I assume that Reading List is considered part of Bookmarks rather than History and so is not end-to-end encrypted.


Powering Your Mac: Power Filters and UPS

Howard Oakley:

Providing your Mac with a reliable filtered AC supply is very important to protect it from sustaining damage during electrical storms, when there’s utility maintenance underway, or some idiot trips a circuit-breaker or pulls the mains plug.


Most Macs are well-protected if the UPS keeps them going long enough to allow an orderly shutdown – a minute or two at most. It’s far better for a Mac to be given that chance than to have no UPS at all.


When that’s connected to your Mac, the Energy Saver pane should recognise it and offer both display options and Shutdown Options, which determine how quickly your Mac shuts down when mains power is lost and it’s running off the battery in the UPS.


There’s an important fact which can sometimes be forgotten: the USB interface on a UPS can only be connected to one Mac. If you’ve got two Macs to protect, they each need their own UPS, as one UPS can’t tell two Macs to shut down, except by SNMP, which is considerably more complex to use.

I used APC’s Back-UPS LS for many years with success, but eventually the units (not just the batteries, which I’d replaced many times) failed, and APC discontinued the design that I liked. Lately, I’ve been using a Tripp Lite, which is great except that starting with Catalina the Mac always thinks it’s out of power and needs to shut down. Now the USB connection is useless, and it’s no longer a good solution for a Mac that will be running unattended.

Some other things to consider when getting a UPS:

Update (2021-09-07): Although I think an extension cord will work in practice, the Tripp Lite manual specifically says that doing this will void your warranty.

Callin 1.0

David Sacks:

Today is the public launch of Callin, the first app to offer a new experience we call “Social Podcasting.”


Callin lets you create, discover, and consume live and recorded audio content in one place. It combines the best aspects of social audio — live conversations and social discoverability — with the best aspects of podcasting — creating a lasting library of shows that users can listen to anytime.

This seems like a non-ephemeral version of Clubhouse. I was going to compare how it handles the privacy of phone numbers, but somehow Apple approved this app even though both the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy links 404.

Our goal was to bring the barriers to podcasting down to zero by turning your iPhone into a studio.


One of the most magical features of Callin is that recordings are turned into a transcript which you can edit. Callin recompiles the audio based on the edited transcript so the creator never needs to touch an audio file.

Jason Snell recently described a very different workflow:

This week’s episode of Upgrade was a “call-in show,” in which we answered audio questions sent in by listeners. I’ve heard from a few people who wondered how we put the show together, so I thought I’d provide some of the details.

This likely produces a much higher quality result, but with a lot more time and expertise required. He’s also posted a video of his workflow using Ferrite Recording Studio on an iPad.

Tim Hardwick:

Clubhouse, the online audio app that this year became a social sensation, is rolling out spatial audio support for iOS users.


In the example, individual speakers on a Clubhouse call can be heard as if their voices are in separate locations within a three-dimensional space around the listener, making it seem like everyone is situated in different places in the same a room.


To be clear, this isn’t Apple’s version of spatial audio, which includes head tracking to make it sound like the sound is coming from your iPhone or iPad, but it shows just how much spatial audio has caught on since Apple began touting the concept.


The Persistent Gravity of Cross Platform

Allen Pike:

Each time a cross-platform app has found itself in the crosshairs of the internet, I hear a variant of this question: “What is it about enterprise companies that make so many of them abandon native apps, when they could surely afford to develop one app for each platform?”


At the highest level, cross-platform UI technologies prioritize coordinated featurefulness over polished UX.


Where things get interesting is when you look at customer-facing software. Products where the experience is a big contributor to success or failure, and the higher “UX ceiling” that platform-specific UI code enables can help retain paying users. It seems, conceptually, that a big company willing to spend big money to build really nice native Mac and Windows apps would be in a position to outcompete the Electron-based Slacks, Figmas, and Spotifys of the world. Right? So why isn’t that happening?


When you’re rapidly hiring, rapidly adding client features, and adding support for a third, fourth, and fifth platform, things start to get dicey. […] Hiring more engineers makes for a non-zero improvement, but the exponential – or at least super-linear – nature of coordination overhead means the additional product velocity per new hire can get disturbingly low.

Gus Mueller:

More and more apps written with web tech (such as Electron) are showing up on the Mac desktop everyday. I understand why, but I don’t have to like it.


Update (2021-09-14): Fred McCann (Hacker News):

The obvious question is if Electron is so bad, why do companies keep shipping Electron applications? There’s a set of common theories, which do have merit, but I don’t think they explain why Election is gaining so much traction. Before I give you my take, let’s break these down.


With some notable exceptions, most awful Electron apps are clients of network services. Why does that matter? Haven’t there always been terrible cross-platform applications that were clients of network services?


The interesting question to me is not whether developers, companies, or users are to blame. It’s not how we could expect a single company to be able to develop applications on multiple platforms with feature parity. The question is what fundamentally changed? Why are internet applications today more often than not controlled entirely by a single company which carries the burden of creating client applications for every user on every platform?


When protocols are open, there’s more innovation and more choices. If anyone can make a client, every popular internet application will have a high quality native application because there will be a market for people to make and sell them. Not only that, these competing developers are more likely to add features that delight their users. When one company controls a service, they’re the only one who can make the software, and you get what you get.