Thursday July 24, 2014

CocoaLove

A three-day, 150-person conference in Philly, October 24-26. A great lineup of speakers, including yours truly and Brent Simmons talking about how we leverage the community to help us build Vesper.

CocoaLove is focused on the people rather than the technology, a trend I’m thrilled to see carried on from Çingleton and Úll. This promises to be a good one.

Wednesday July 16, 2014

Overcast

A new iPhone app from Marco Arment, Overcast is the podcast app that makes me listen to podcasts. Marco has excellent taste; nothing here feels over-baked. From the minimalism of Overcast’s UI to its reliance on color and typography for branding (Concourse, by the way, is a perfect choice), this feels like home to me.

(And a writeup from Marco himself.)

Tuesday July 15, 2014

Emoji Among Us

Monday July 14, 2014

The Dogist

“Can I take a picture of your dog?”

Friday July 11, 2014

“An Absolute Requirement”

Marco Arment, when linking to the previous item:

Apps with full-time designers can turn out amazingly, but a designer is no longer an absolute requirement to make a good-looking app. And that’s better for everyone: small developers can ship more apps, faster, for less money, and designers can focus on more interesting problems than making your table cells look passable.

Emphasis mine.

I agree with Marco, but his phrasing is dangerous, and conflates ‘design’ with how it looks. You no longer need to hire a visual designer to make an app look at home on iOS 7, true, but interaction design is still very much design. Marco covers this base in the second half of the quote, but I worry that developers will focus on the first half as encouragement (or, if I’m being cynical, an excuse) to do everything themselves. Especially when the suggestion is coming from Marco Arment, a popular developer with extraordinary interaction design chops.

Design is how it works. If you were only hiring a designer to make your app pretty, you were already focused on the wrong problem.

Standard Controls

Brent Simmons:

The things to concentrate on are what an app does, how it works, how it feels to use it, and how responsive and fast it is — which does not include doing built-from-scratch components except when absolutely necessary.

And it is still necessary at times. I’m not saying it isn’t. I’m saying that the reflexive attitude that tells us that nothing can be standard needs to become something we remember and laugh at, like pet rocks and bell-bottom jeans.

Thursday July 10, 2014

Capo Touch

Capo touch is the iOS version of Capo, an already impressive piece of software on the Mac. That Chris Liscio has squeezed so much power onto an iPhone is nothing short of staggering. The short pitch is that Capo will help you learn to play any song, which is pure magic if you’ve ever tried to transcribe (or just figure out) a song on your own.

My thirteen-year-old self would have killed for this. My present-day self only had to spend $4.99.

Tuesday July 1, 2014

Diddling Your Feeds

I’m the guest on The Talk Show this week, talking about Yosemite’s UI, Google I/O, and wearables.

We also talked a little about my role as editor on the show. My approach to cutting Unprofessional has always been about making the show as listenable as possible. The Talk Show is (to my ear) a little more relaxed in pace, and I’m curious to know if anyone has noticed me subtly punching things up a bit over the last several weeks.

Getting to be involved in the production of one of my favorite shows is a real treat. Being invited as a guest, doubly so.

Tuesday June 17, 2014

Vesper: Year One

John, over on the Vesper Blog:

We’re hard at work on Vesper for Mac, which is where sync is really going to shine. We’ve got a ton of great ideas on the board for Vesper on iOS too.

We’ve only just gotten started.

Oh, and Vesper is currently on sale for $2.99.

Monday June 16, 2014

Layover

This was going to be a straightforward rock song, but when I went to record it I couldn’t find my cable. So I said screw it and decided to see how far I could get without a guitar.

Sunday June 15, 2014

Don't Go To College

Marco is right, kids. I skipped college and turned out more or less okay. But I’d likely be better off if I’d had the opportunity.

Community

Rene had a moment while recording tomorrow’s The TV Show.

Wednesday June 11, 2014

Ride North

My friend Sebastiaan de With is Kickstarting a photo book of an upcoming motorcycle trip from San Francisco to Alaska. The funding is for the book, not the ride.

I can’t speak for the weirdly shirtless Stuart Philkill, but Seb is a great designer and a talented photographer. If you like photos, nature, or motorcycles, this is worth checking out.

Sunday June 8, 2014

• Design Diary 1: Groundbreaking

Today is my birthday. I celebrated in the best way I could think of: I broke ground on vesper-mac.psd.

This isn’t quite true. The ground for this particular document was broken over a year and a half ago, in the early days of Vesper work. This document has been maintained to some degree all along. I like to check my design assumptions on other platforms sometimes; if an idea works well for iPhone but makes no sense on Mac it may still be a good idea, but I like to put myself through the process.

But today was different. The framework is there — windows, chrome, note lists, tags, stoplight buttons — but Yosemite feels like a whole new kind of OS X. Things that John described as my accent are now native UI, endorsed by Apple.

I’ve worked on Mac apps before. I was project lead on Kaleidoscope 2 for about a year. But I got into this business by doing iPhone apps, and Mac has never quite felt like home. In fact, a lot of our crazier (read: better) UI ideas for Kaleidoscope had to be thrown out because they were too quirky or required nonexistent APIs. Like that old vesper-mac.psd, many of those ideas would look at home on Yosemite.

There’s no precognition at play here. I’m not some visionary who saw exactly where the puck was headed. I just happen to have a very iOS-centric sensibility about design. A sensibility it seems Apple now shares. This feels like the OS X I would have made. As a designer, I feel overwhelmingly lucky right now.

I’m excited not because the work will be easy; Mac is still not my core strength, and this will likely be the hardest work I’ve ever done. I’m excited because for the first time, the three of us — Brent, John, and myself — are all speaking the same language on the Mac.

For the first time, it feels like this could be home. Happy birthday to me.

WWDC 2014

I wrote an article over at Macworld about the interesting turn of events on the stage at Moscone last week. This year’s WWDC keynote felt like a three-act play, with act three being — twist ending — all about me. It felt good to get this kind of love from Apple, and I think it bodes well for the next generation of apps.