iOS apps I would love to see come to the Mac, a musician’s perspective

There has been a lot of buzz lately around ‘Marzipan,’ a set of developer tools that Apple is making to help third party developers more easily port their iOS apps to macOS. It is heavily rumored that Apple will detail this initiative at their developer conference, WWDC, this June (during the keynote on June 3rd).

Last year at WWDC, Apple unveiled four Mac apps that use this new set of tools to bring iPad-like versions of iOS apps to the Mac. The apps launched were Home, Stocks, Voice Memos, and News. The apps have been met with much criticism for their lack of Mac-likeness. For example, when you double click a news article in the News app, you can't see an article in a separate window, a behavior you would expect from the Mail app or Notes app on Mac. Likewise, the Home app, when setting up a time based automation displays they iOS style date picker, with scrollable numbers, rather than the calendar like interface that you would see when selecting a date in traditional Mac apps.

I agree that these four Mac apps are garbage, but I would much rather have the utility of them than not. Even if all these Mac apps do are act like iPad apps that accept input from a cursor instead of a finger, I would still kill to have any of the following on macOS:

-Tonal Energy Tuner. There are no tuning drone based apps, even on the web, that do 1/100th of what this iOS app does. My Mac is my primary device for sharing audio and visuals with my students during class. This would get used every single day.

-forScore. I have a weird way of managing my digital sheet music using the file system of my Mac, but then importing duplicate copies into my iPad’s forScore library. It would be really nice to have one place where this is all managed across all devices. Of course, this would require forScore to sync a library across devices, which the team has told me is too difficult a task to prioritize currently.

-Twitter. Twitter killed their Mac app recently and as someone who recently started using their app on iOS (Tweetbot is still far better but Twitter no longer provides the proper APIs for them to stay up to date on modern features), I would really prefer to not use the web browser on the Mac.

-Apollo. To my knowledge, there has never been a good Reddit client on any non-mobile device. Apollo is great.

-Facebook Messenger. I hate Facebook but it is a necessary communication tool. I would love to use it for that without going to their stupid website ever again.

-Overcast. My favorite podcast player. Would love to have it on Mac.

-Health. An app that excels in showing me data on graphs and charts sure would be useful on the big screen of a Mac.

-Due. My favorite reminder app is already on Mac but it looks gross.

-Instapaper. I use ReadKit on the Mac as an Instapaper client on Mac now, but would not mind something more minimal. Instapaper is the perfect candidate for a Marzipan app for its simplicity.

-Instagram. Who wouldn’t want this on Mac?

-Tempo. There is only one good metronome app on the Mac (Dr. Betotte). Opening up UIKit to Mac developers would bring a whole lot of competition in this space. Frozen Ape’s Tempo would be my first choice to get ported over.

-AnyList. Their Mac app is already just a gross port of their iOS app. Using Apple’s tools would surely make it prettier and more responsive.

-Ferrite Recording Studio. My podcast audio editor of choice is only on iPad. It sure would be cool to use these tools on a bigger screen with keyboard and mouse.

App of the Week: Sleep Cycle

From the moment I walk into school, chaos surrounds me. Tasks begin, busses arrive, students transition the halls, and classroom lessons never stop. It is important to take frequent steps back to monitor my physical and mental health as it relates to my stress and energy levels throughout the week.

In an ongoing effort to stay healthy, I have continued to explore health apps on the App Store that will help me collect data on my body. I one day plan to blog about this in detail. But for now, here is an app that I have used on and off for a while, but have recently been experimenting with again.

Sleep Cycle is an alarm clock app that is based on the following premise: that you will wake up the most refreshed if it is during your least deep sleep. Sleep Cycle allows you to set a time you need to be up by, and a wake up window. Using the microphone of the phone, Sleep Cycle uses advanced technology to listen to your movements during your sleep and wake you up within that window of time when you are in the least deep sleep. Sleep Cycle then records your movement (much like a Fitbit but without wearing anything) and presents it to you on a graph.

Sleep Cycle has many features. Amongst my favorites are: 

- Soothing alarm sounds

- Inegration with Philips Hue light bulbs. I can link it to the lightbulb in my bedside lamp so that it slowly turns on with a red tone as my alarm goes off. This way, my wife is not disturbed but I am gently woken up. 

- Integration with Apple’s Health app. Sleep Cycle records my hours in bed and hours asleep to the Health app so that I can see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. How do activity and water intake influence my sleep? How does my sleep influence my weight? Etc... 



Last minute holiday gift guide

Looking for some last minute holiday gift ideas? Here are some things I have had positive experiences with in 2017.


Echo Dot:

These are so cheap and useful that we have one in almost every room of the house. In the kitchen it sets timers and does measurements. In the living room it turns lights on and off, plays music, turns on the tv, and changes the HDMI input for us (in combination with other home automated tools). In my music studio, it sets timers for student practice. They are just all around useful.


Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Red Subscription:

These days I am using Apple Music because of its rich integration with Siri and my iTunes library. But I sure do yearn for some of the features of Spotify that I lost in the switch. Things like the weekly music discovery playlists, native integration with my Sonos speakers, and all of the social features. YouTube Red ain’t bad either. It takes away YouTube ads, allows you to play YouTube while the app isn’t in the foreground on mobile devices (which it should do for free IMO), and comes with access to Google Play Music (which is an offering similar to Spotify and Apple Music).


Spire Stone: Stress Management and Activity Tracker for iOS and Android:

You likely own or have heard of a smart watch. These devices are great for tracking workouts, steps, and heart rates. But I have found that more often than not my breathing is more immediately relatable to my health. Spire is a wearable device that tracks your respiratory rate. It comes with a companion app that shows you your breathing trends. Calm is for streaks of slow consistent breathing, Focus is for consistent but elevated breathing, Sedate for moments of inactivity, Active for movement, and Stress for moments of inconsistent breathing. The app displays when during the day you are encountering these streaks and even tells you which events in your calendar are happening during those times. A lot of interesting insight can be gained by this. For example, my stress often occurs during moments of transition, like getting into the car. Spire has helped me to be more more mindful of that. The companion app even comes with guided breathing and meditation exercises. Your active minutes meditating, and respiratory rate, can sync to the Apple Health app so you can see it alongside your steps, heart rate, etc...



If you like games, and a little bit of strategy, this is one of my all time favorites. Dominion is easily a party favorite for us, even amongst our friends who do not care for strategy-rich games. Dominion is a deck building game. Over the course of a game, you try to balance a hand of victory point cards (that win you the game but do nothing when you have them in your hand), money (which can buy you things but is otherwise useless in your hand) and action cards (which can be strategically purchased to allow advantageous chain reactions.) The game is fast paced once you learn it. And by omitting offensive cards it is almost a game you feel like you are playing against yourself, but with others at the table also doing the same.


Anker Quick Charge 3.0 63W 5-Port Wall Charger:

When I pause to think about it, this might be my most used device on the list. This thing provides charge to my watch, phone, and tablet each night. When I travel, gone are the days of packing every charging brick in my surge protector. Just one brick, and I am ready to charge all of my devices in one outlet.



Looking to up your coffee game? The Aeropress is my favorite method of brewing. It consistently makes the most flavorful, balanced, cup of coffee I am capable of making. Of course, your coffee is only as good as your beans and the rest of your process, but as for the brewing, I have not found a better way. The Aeropress is also fast and easy to clean. The only downside is that it produces a small amount. If you are looking to solve that problem, you could try the Chemex, my second favorite coffee brewing method (and also a great gift.)


Philips Hue Light Bulbs:

I love controlling my house with these. I can operate them in the Home app on my phone, command them with Alexa and Siri, and create powerful automations. My favorite one includes waking me up in the morning by raising a subtle red toned light on my night stand lightbulb. It is a natural color to wake up to, and doesn’t bother my wife.


Intelliroll Terxtured High Density Foam Roller for Muscler Trigger Point Massage, Physical Therapy and Exercise:

The past few years have marked a more health conscious version of myself. Rolling out troubling muscles every day has gone a long way to help me battle some problems I am having with inflammation. Everyone has their favorite roller. This one is becoming mine. The shape conforms to the spine for easy back rolling. The shape also allows for infinite options for getting to all of the difficult spots. The one I linked here is not for the faint of heart. It is VERY hard. But the blue version is much more accessible.


Tile Mate Key Finder:

This thing has saved me so many times. Tile goes in your wallet, bag, keys, whatever, and connects to your phone over Bluetooth. While on a WiFi network, Tile remembers its geolocation. When you misplace something of yours, you can open the app, and Tile will tell you where it was last connected to the internet on a map.