Clips Update for Disney and Pixar Media

Apple’s Clips app came out several months ago. It’s a great app that I’ve seen almost nobody using. I like the app but it has a bit of a learning curve. There’s a lot more power in there than you’d think. The trick is to pick your asset (video, photo, title card, etc...) and hold down the record button to add it to your Clips composition. The best tutorial I’ve seen on the app is this one over at 9to5 Mac.

Today Apple released an update to the application that adds a lot of new media assets including some familiar Disney and Pixar characters. The animations are cute and easy to use. It’s really well done and when I showed it to a few Disney fans in my life, they immediately put time in learning the Clips app. There's a small sample Mickey animation in the video below. (That right. I met Michael Giacchino.)

Clips is an interesting (and powerful) app. The fact that they can update the app to add new media content without an iOS update is exactly the type of feature I think Apple should be adding to Messages.

The New Transmit

Transmit is the undisputed king of file transfer applications on the Mac. It's been around for 20 years, and if you need to send files to servers, there's nothing better. I was frankly surprised yesterday when they released Transmit 5. It seems like just yesterday I was buying Transmit 4 but it turns out that was actually seven years ago.

While I don’t use Transmit every day, when I do need to perform a file transfer operation from my Mac, there's nothing better. This is an excellent tool to have in your belt. They have a discount on the new version (from $45-$35) but it's only good for a week. If you ever need to perform file transfers, get in on the discount now. I already did.

Entering the US with Technology

Jeff Richardson did a nice job summarizing the latest from US Customs and Border Protection concerning what it can and can’t do with your digital devices upon entering the country. Even if you are a US citizen, If you refuse to unlock your device you’ll be delayed and your device gets confiscated. If you’re not a US citizen, they send you back. I keep trying to put this into the context of my parents' generation. If my dad was entering the US after a trip abroad in 1960 and customs wanted to make a copy of his diary, what would he have said? Most likely he'd have a few choice words about getting shot in Korea so this sort of thing didn't happen.

Privacy continues to erode.

Timing — the Automatic Mac Time Tracking App

Time is your most precious resource. You need to know how you are spending it. But time tracking is hard. Having to throw a switch somewhere every time you change tasks or projects never works and is super-distracting. As a result, you end up with bad data. 

The brand new Timing fixes that. Timing automatically tracks which apps, documents, and websites you use — without start/stop timers.

  • See how you spend your time, eliminate distracting activities, and improve your client billing.
  • Timing lets you stop worrying about time and focus on doing your best work instead!
  • Timing also understands that your time tracking data is super sensitive, so Timing keeps it safe on your Mac.

I use this app on my Mac every day, and it’s helped me learn a ton about where I'm spending my time. This data is very useful in becoming more productive. 

Try it yourself with the free 14-day trial and get 10% off until the end of July with the links in this post.


The Disneyland Star Wars Experience

I spent part of today at the Disney D23 convention where they've got an entire section devoted to the Star Wars Experience at Disneyland. I spoke with lots of Imagineers and learned a lot of information. The Saturday sessions will disclose a lot more about this expansion and I'll write up what I learned more afterward but I thought you may want to start out by looking at pictures of this remarkable model. These images are lightboxed so clicking on them will blow them up. Enjoy.

The Next iPhone Hardware

I don't write much about Apple rumors because generally, I don't see the point. We're going to get to see the new iPhone in September, and there is no reason to get all bent out of shape about rumors about the new phone when we'll get to see the actual phone in just a few months. Also, I don't necessarily want all the spoilers. Apple products (at least the good Apple products) tell a story and need a proper introduction, not some shady back-alley blurry photos.

This year's crop of "Apple/iPhone is doomed" rumors seem to have a lot of oxygen. While I don't have any idea whether or not there will be a fingerprint sensor or some new-fangled authentication technology, I do know – for certain – that all the hardware decisions that the Internet thinks Apple is struggling to solve right now were locked down at Apple months ago. They ship millions of those phones on Day 1. There's no way they'd still trying to figure out what to put in the phone at this point. I was all set to post on this issue at length, and then John Gruber went and did it for us.

Dr. Drang's Toothbrush

Occasionally, Apple geek and scientist Dr. Drang has some bit of household paraphernalia fail on him. While most folks might just throw the broken pieces in the trash, Dr. Drang photographs, documents, and explains the finer points of what exactly went wrong.

Most recently, his toothbrush broke and we get a lesson in tensile stresses and fatigue. Some days, I love the Internet.

Fantastical 2.4 for Mac Gets Travel Time and More

Today Fantastical for Mac released a significant update with several new features:

  • You can now view, create, and edit attachments on iCloud and Exchange
  • Travel Time! Receive notifications when you need to leave to reach an event on time
  • Fantastical will now combine identical events that are on multiple calendars
  • Undo and redo got a lot more powerful

There are quite a few more new features. Indeed so many updates that I made a few videos for the Flexibits team showing off the new features. Below is the “What’s New” video. I’ve been running this update since its early betas, and it’s solid. Head over to Flexibits to learn more.

Game Recommendation: Monument Valley 2


I had a little down time this week and wanted to play a game on my iPad. I settled on the recently released Monument Valley 2 from ustwo Games. I enjoyed this sequal even more than the orginal. Monument Valley 2 puts you in charge of guiding a mother and her daughter through a variety of optical illusion style puzzles. They get difficult towards later levels but are absolutely solvable on your own. There are no zombies or killers with machine guns. Just a mother and her daughter and some satisfying puzzles. I found the game a perfect way to relax and recommend it to you for this weekend.

Productivity Apps and Subscription Pricing

Day One, the best diary app for iOS and Mac is transitioning to a subscription model and they are taking a beating for it. Gabe Weatherhead wrote a post about this and I agree with every word.

I spoke with a developer friend that makes legal-related apps. He explained the transition of his app to a subscription model as a last resort to keep the lights on but also “the worst two months of my life”. This new app economy has been particularly rough on quality productivity apps. Those apps take a lot of time and attention to do right while at the same time consumers are not used to paying subscriptions for them. Nevertheless, that is probably the best model available to them at this point.

My fear, as someone who really likes quality productivity apps is that all this will end up driving productivity apps out of business.

Being friends with (and representing) app developers for years, I can tell you this also has had a chilling effect on productivity app development. I know several app developers that had a great idea for a productivity app but didn’t pursue it because it’s “too hard to make money” in that space.

The traditional model for productivity apps was the upgrade price, where developers released a new version every year or so and everyone paid a reduced fee upgrade price. I know the App Store has made improvements over the last few years but, having zero inside knowledge, I can’t help but feel we will never see upgrade pricing in the App Store. In the meantime expect more quality apps to go to the subscription model and, if they are apps you love (or even like), I’d encourage you to support them through the transition.