Tag Archives: iPad

Touch ID after 8 hours

A previously undocumented requirement asks for a passcode in a very particular set of circumstances: When the iPhone or iPad hasn’t been unlocked with its passcode in the previous six days, and Touch ID hasn’t been used to unlock it within the last eight hours. It’s a rolling timeout, so each time Touch ID unlocks a device, a new eight-hour timer starts to tick down until the passcode is required. If you wondered why you were being seemingly randomly prompted for your passcode (or more complicated password), this is likely the reason.

(via Glen Fleishman for Macworld)

Makes sense that I seldom bump into this on my iPhone, since I only sleep about six hours most nights. But I’ve often wondered why my iPads, which I don’t necessarily pick up first thing in the morning, need a passcode so often. I assumed it was a bug.

Fin on a Big(ger) Screen

Bringing Fin to the big screen was easier than I thought it would be. Certainly easier than developing for Mac, and probably even easier than Apple Watch in many ways.

I still think the Apple TV app market is going to be a tough place to make a whole lot of money short term, but I do find myself thinking quite a bit about the long term potential of this new platform.

In any case, I figured it was worth the effort just to wrap my head around a new device. Three weeks of spare hours here and there to get myself familiar with the HIG, the UI challenges, etc. was well worth the effort, as far as I’m concerned. And now I get to see if any of my users find the TV app useful, or if I pick up any new attention as a result of being there.

How often do people need a giant countdown clock in their living rooms? I don’t know. But as with all of the iOS devices, I tend to try and see the possibilities for professionals and prosumers. And there’s where I think an app like Fin can be rather beneficial.

Music and video studios, live events, classrooms — there are all sorts of places where having a big screen showing the time remaining in a session would be very helpful. In fact, I think there are all sorts of possibilities to provide other benefits in those environments as well. And those are the places I want to spend more time thinking about, rather than the living room, which is likely to be crowded and dominated by giant names like HBO and Netflix for a long time.

How much does a basic HD TV go for these days? A couple hundred bucks? Add an Apple TV at another $150, and you have a pretty cheap solution for all sorts of things in professional environments. The question is, will people start picking up Apple TVs for these purposes, or do the apps need to be there first? Time will tell.

Meanwhile I think the UI for Fin translates well to the big screen and remote. The app isn’t quite fully featured yet, but it does the main job of keeping you on schedule quite well. I plan to enhance it as users start giving me some feedback.

If you’re a Fin user and you have a new Apple TV, the app should show up in your purchased tab. If you buy it on your TV, you’ll get the iOS version as well. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Extras, Indeed

While everyone else in the community is still losing its mind over the battery bump, I thought I’d offer a change of pace and criticize something a little more concerning about Apple’s recent endeavors. It didn’t take much effort to find something less controversial, at least.

Let’s take, for instance, the experience of watching iTunes Extras material on an iPad.

iTunes Extras are like DVD bonus features for the movies you buy on iTunes. Some movies only offer an alternate commentary track. Others get quite elaborate, with tons of deleted scenes, interviews, mini-features, the whole nine yards. I’m a big fan of the concept. I am a huge nerd, after all.

A few years ago, you could only watch this bonus stuff on your Mac, which was stupid. Then in 2014 Apple gave iOS the ability to view them again, which was welcome news indeed. Why would I want to watch several hours of video content on my Mac instead of my TV or iPad? Seemed like a no brainer, so I was glad Apple was going to correct this silly omission.

So what’s the problem, Joe? Apple gave you what you wanted, right?

I’ll just make a bulleted list, to keep it simple:

  • iTunes Extras are streaming only. Can’t download them to the iPad. So, no broadband Internet connection at the time you want to watch, no Extras. You can forget about queuing those 90 hours of Hobbit Appendices for your flight to New Zealand, even though you ponied up the extra cash for a 128GB iPad.[1]
  • Where do I find the Extras? There’s no Extras button on the main movie launch screen. First hit play on the movie, then, if you happen to have an Internet connection, and you happen to notice before the controls fade away, there will be a button for Bonus Features on the bottom of the screen below the playback controls. It’s as if Apple is afraid you might actually want to watch this stuff.
  • Enter the Extras, use the menu system, hit play on one of videos. About two minutes in, it’ll pause, as the connection struggles to keep up. This will happen several times while you’re watching no matter how good your broadband is. All part of the experience.
  • Pause the Extra, put the iPad to sleep. You’ve now lost your place. You’ll have to start the entire process over and guess where you were in the video you were watching, if you can remember which one you were watching, that is.
  • Tap on a notification to jump to another app really quickly. You’ve now lost your place. See above.
  • This one is my favorite: Rotate the iPad so that you change orientation.[2] You guessed it, you’ve now lost your place. The video will switch over to the main feature movie and play that. Because that makes perfect sense.
  • Pause the Extra and hit the home button. It’s okay. You can say it. You’ve lost your place yet again. Only it gets even more interesting. Now, the audio of the main movie feature will begin to play, in the background. Ironically it’ll start where you left off the last time you watched the actual movie, just as an extra kick in the nuts. Open up the video app, and sure enough, the main feature movie is now playing. Hit pause, go do whatever you wanted to do, then come back and start all over again.
  • Try scrubbing through the Extra you were watching, and the experience makes the old AppleTV scrubbing seem fluid by comparison. Slide to 8:42, the playhead will jump to 6:23 for no reason. Try to push it back to 8:42, it’ll jump to 11:47. Push it back again, let it jump to 5:50. At this point you’ll just watch it again from the beginning until you get back to where you left off.

I suppose all of this is better than having no ability to watch the Extras at all on mobile, but not by much. After all, if you have a perfect Internet connection, and you want to watch the Extras all in one shot without pausing or getting interrupted for any reason, then it’s just peachy, as long as you don’t mind the occasional pause for the connection to catch up. I’m sure this is how it was tested before being approved for release.

These are not hard bugs to find. They have been present for a while. Either no one is watching iTunes Extras content on their iPads except me, or Apple considers it a super low priority. Which is fine. But it is an embarrassment. Much more so than an ugly iPhone case, at any rate.

  1. I went back to 64GB on my iPad Air 2 for this reason alone. Unfortunately, with the Pro, the only option, if you want the broadband necessary to watch iTunes Extras, is to also get 128GB of storage that you won’t be able to use to store those Extras.  ↩

  2. This is something that happens unintentionally sometimes, like, you know, if you happen to be watching in bed and forgot to lock orientation as you change positions. That’s only happened to me about six thousand times so far, so it’s no big deal.  ↩

x2y version 4

It was all the way back at WWDC 2014 that my friend Hans vershooten suggested what eventually became the marquis feature of x2y 4.0: Percentages.

x2y has always been able to calculate x or y dimensions for you automatically. It would be nice, Hans suggested, if it could also tell you the percentage difference between the original image and the new one. So if you want, for instance, a rectangle that’s exactly 245% of the original, x2y should be able to calculate both the x and y dimensions for that.

And now it does. (Sorry it took so long, Hans.)

Other new features in this update include 3DTouch shortcuts on the home screen, for devices such as the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. You can jump straight to a particular aspect ratio with one gesture. To customize which aspects end up in the shortcuts, simply put them at the top of your customizable common aspects list.

Also new in this update, two new color themes. I have fun changing up the look of x2y on occasion, so I wanted to add a few more options. Also, all themes are now unlocked by default, so no more hunting around looking for ways to get all the themes to unlock.

I’m a bit surprised that years after this app was first released, I still find myself using x2y several times a week. This was my first app, and I never imagined that I could take it so far. Once again, I can say with confidence that I’ve spent more time thinking about aspect ratio calculators than anyone else on iOS.

x2y an invaluable tool for any designer or developer who needs to resize images often, particularly in code. You can download it on the App Store here.

Setlists 2.0

Setlists 2.0 finally hits the App Store today. It’s a huge update that involved not only tons of under-the-hood improvements to take advantage of Apple’s latest iOS technologies, but also the addition of a large number of our most requested new features. To say it was a massive undertaking is an understatement. The team really outdid themselves on this one.

Setlists 2

I can’t wait to use it on stage during the next few Airplane Mode gigs.

The most interesting aspect of this update for most of my readers, I’m guessing, is the change we’re making to our pricing strategy. For years, Setlists has always been a paid-up-front, “premium” app at $9.99 USD. This time around, though, we’ve decided to experiment with making the app free to download, with a single in-app purchase to unlock the app’s full potential.[1]

Will this make Setlists a better business for us? We’ve looked at a lot of other apps that have similar strategies, and we’ve tried to avoid the pitfalls others have warned us about—but time will tell what the results of our experiment will be.

One interesting way to look at this switch is that our marketing no longer has the burden of making the sale. Our web site, our screenshots, whatever press we get, whatever ads we buy—all of that now only needs to convince people to download and try the app. Still not an easy task, but it’s easier than asking them to fork over money for an app they’ve never used.

The app itself now has to make the sale. And that sits better with me. I’d rather be judged by the app than the ads we place for the app or how pretty our screenshots are. Whatever the downsides of freemium (and there are many) that one change is certainly a good thing.

We’re confident once musicians try Setlists, a large number of them will find it suits their needs. So much so that we made the price to unlock $14.99 rather than $9.99. This might not be a “free trial” officially, but as with a free trial, our buyers aren’t being forced to take as great a risk, and thus we can charge accordingly.

In any event, everyone at Bombing Brain is looking forward to much smaller, incremental updates for a long while after this.

  1. I know, we’re late to the freemium party, but we’re still not at all convinced that freemium is right for every app out there.  ↩