Instapaper

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.

Marco Arment releases public beta of his podcasting tool, Forecast

From Jason Snell’s Six Colors blog...

Forecast: A must-have tool for Mac podcasters—>

Marco Arment’s Forecast is a newly released (into a public beta) Mac MP3 encoding and tagging tool for podcasters. It’s a tool that Marco built a couple of years ago to serve his own needs, and for the last 18 months or so I’ve been using it (in a private beta) to encode most of the podcasts that I create. Here’s an overview of how Forecast works and what it does.

I have been waiting for this for a long time.

Marco is behind Tumblr, Instapaper, and now the great podcast app, Overcast. He is an avid podcaster and really knows his stuff. I can’t wait to take this for a spin while editing my next show. The feature I am perhaps looking the most forward to is the ability to import Logic markers as chapters.

What is the killer Apple TV app? (Suggestion included)

Something that has struck me about the new Apple TV is the fact that I have not seen any apps that truly innovate the way users interact with content. You know what I mean...there is no "killer app" for it yet that compels people to buy the device. So far everything is just a port of a game or video streaming app from iOS. I haven't seen any apps yet that do anything...

 

A. a previous streaming box could not already do

and

B. that takes unique advantage of the strengths of a TV (plus the remote input) 

 

What are the strengths of a TV? A few things that come to mind are:

 

- It is large and central to the room it is placed in.

- It is communal. Everyone in the room can see it at the same time.

- It is always plugged in. Information on it can be left visible indefinitely, be seen from far away, and not threaten the battery life of the device. 

- It is dedicated. TVs are intended to consume our field of view and attention. Apps have the potential to be very focused in this respect, occupying the entire screen and not allowing distractions like notifications and multitasking.

- Like a touch screen, apps can take any shape they want at any time. Sure, they can feed the user a video stream, but they can also be as interactive as a developer is willing to make them. Let's not forget that the remote to manipulate the device has an accelerometer, microphone, and touch screen. This does not even include the fact that third party game controllers, mobile phones, and Bluetooth keyboards can be used as additional inputs. 

- Fill in the blanks here. I am probably missing a few...

 

The promised MLB.com At Bat app coming in 2016 supposedly challenges this ideas by allowing you to watch multiple games side by side, call up contextual stats about players, and view scores to other games without interrupting the video feed. Apparently the QVC app allows the user to interact with the video feed by buying items displayed on the screen from right within the app. I do not use either of these apps but this is the kind of forward thinking that I am talking about.

I thought of a very specific problem earlier today that only a TV app could uniquely solve.

The app market is saturated with "read it later" style services like Instapaper and Pocket. These apps allow you to quickly clip web content into an app where you can read it later distraction free. This makes digging through links on Twitter and Facebook feeds a lot quicker. What I have noticed though is that I clip a lot of videos into my Instapaper account that I never actually go back and watch. There is a reason for this. When I am on a mobile device, I am usually in public or at work. There is rarely a moment when I have time or privacy to watch loud videos. They also take up the entire screen and demand a level of attention that I am often unable to give while mobile.

At the end of each day, I do usually end up in front of a TV, even if it is to do something like watch an episode of The Wire before bed. I have a different attitude about watching video when I am in the living room. I crank it up loud, tune out all work, and am ready to be entertained. What better time and place to conveniently watch through a feed of all the video I clipped from the web that day, only on a huge screen, without annoying anyone in public, and when I am relaxed?

So, there you go. Feel free to steal that idea for a "watch it later" app! To be honest, Instapaper and Pocket have great video support on iOS. It is a surprise they have not already made video only versions of their apps for Apple TV.