Widgetsmith

The latest episode of Under the Radar is worth a listen. David Smith talks about how his application ‘Widgetsmith’ blew up in popularity when iOS 14 was released. Widgetsmith takes advantage of the new Widget feature of iOS 14, enabling users to customise their home screens.

Within a few days it became the number one free app on the App Store worldwide, which is crazy when you consider it is developed by one guy. I’d like to hear more about the numbers behind it.


The Story of Dalton’s Third Bond Outing

By May, 1990, Michael G. Wilson and Alfonse Ruggiero had completed an outline treatment that contained a detailed story, descriptions of locations, key characters and major concepts — all of those ingredients that are essential to making a Bond movie special. Set to be released in the same year that James Cameron brought Terminator 2:Judgement Day to our screens, a ‘Bond 17’ treatment preface promised ‘robotic devices’ that were ‘complex and exotic machines designed for specific tasks’, devices that would be created ‘especially for the film for maximum dramatic and visual impact’. There was even a detailed opening sequence involving a malfunctioning robotics device at a chemical weapons factory in Scotland, one that resulted in a deadly explosion and a full investigation by the British Prime Minister.

From there, the movie would venture from Hong Kong to Japan to mainland China after a typical briefing from MI6’s HQ. According to the treatment, Bond’s nemesis would be ‘a brilliant and handsome thirty-year-old British-Chinese entrepreneur’, a new-age tech geek with a loose screw and a penchant for nuclear ‘accidents’, in this case a robotics device going doolally at a Chinese atomic plant in Nanking.

Interesing read about that might have been for Timothy Daltons third Bond film. I think Dalton was great in the role and would have been really hitting his stride by the time a third film rolled around.


iOS 14 Public Beta 3 Is A Buggy Look At Apple’s Best Operating System Yet

Anthony Karcz:

iOS 14 has been an eventful beta so far, but overall it’s surprisingly stable. Not everything works the way it should, yet, but that’s to be expected. Even though they’re a bit of a pain, I’ve really enjoyed the new widgets. In fact, I like them so much, I’ve completely blown away my carefully arranged Home screen and replaced it all with widgets! I’ll talk about that more next week.

I don’t recommend installing iOS 14 on your main device (and if you do read my guide first). If you do, expect instability and partial functionality from core apps until late in August. Even then, at least one of the keynote features will likely be delayed or disappear altogether. Early betas are notorious for culling weak-performing features.

As with all iOS betas, it’s a good idea to avoid them if you can.


Moonraker - Rio de Janeiro Locations

Last year, I visited Rio de Janeiro on the last leg of a trip to South America. One of the main sights to see in Rio is Sugarloaf Mountain which features in the 1979 Bond film “Moonraker”, so naturally I was keeping an eye out for any familiar spots along the way when I paid it a visit.

In the film, Bond takes the cable car up to the top of the mountain in order to get a better view of the airport where Drax is shipping out supplys from the Rio warehouse to the Moonraker launch site. The airport looked immediately familiar, and planes even take off in the same direction as they do in the film.

Rio Airport
The airport where Drax Air Freight shipped out

Next, Bond meets Dr Goodhead and they decide to take the cable car back down the mountain. The cable cars have naturally been upgraded since 1979, but I was glad to see that they still have old ones on display from decades gone by. I spotted one from the film straight away!

Original cable car (excuse the blurry photo)

While Bond and Dr Goodhead are on their way back down in the cable car we cut to Jaws, who has followed them to the mountain and devised another elaborate attempt on Bonds life. He uses his teeth to break the cable and stop the cable car from moving. There are a number of the orange cable wheels similar to the one in the film within the cable car station. Looks like the colour hasn’t changed over the past 40 years.

Cable Car Cog
Jaws stops the cable car

Another less notable Moonraker location that I visited was Avenida Atlântica (Portuguese for Atlantic Avenue) which is the road that runs alongside the famous Copacabana Beach. Bond is driven along this road when he arrives in Rio en route to his hotel.

Sugarloaf View
The view from Sugarloaf Mountain

I also drove past the grand stands that are used for the Rio Carnival which are briefly seen in the film when Bond and Manuela are investigating Drax’s warehouse.


The Value of Using Stock Apps

Matt Birchler:

I was chatting with Andy Nicolaides recently about task managers (as you do), and he was telling me how he tried using Things again after my recent article about how I use the app, and he said it didn’t work for him and he’d gone back to using Reminders. He also mentioned how he sometimes feels like his preference for using stock apps for as much as possible might be keeping him from enjoying some great third party apps. As someone who tends to prefer third party apps, Andy and I are approaching things from completely different angles.

That said, there are some definite advantages to using stock apps and I wanted to give those reasons a quick shout out here.

Matt basically covers all of the reasons for using stock apps on your devices over third party apps.

I never stray too far away from stock apps on my devices for a lot of these reasons. Apple have made significant improvements to most of the stock apps on iOS over the past few years (compare Notes on iOS 13 to Notes on anything pre-iOS 9), to a point where there are few third party apps that can match them.


The 2019-2020 Bondathon

What better way to lead in to No Time To Die than to watch every Bond film out of order?

Film Watched
Dr No 1st December 2019
From Russia With Love 13th December 2019
Goldfinger 16th December 2019
Thunderball 4th December 2019
You Only Live Twice 1st December 2019
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
5th July 2020
Diamonds Are Forever 25th May 2020
Live And Let Die 2nd May 2020
The Man With The Golden Gun 8th August 2020
The Spy Who Loved Me 18th May 2020
Moonraker 7th June 2020
For Your Eyes Only 4th April 2020
Octopussy 18th April 2020
A View To A Kill 13th September 2020
The Living Daylights 12th July 2020
Licence To Kill 25th April 2020
GoldenEye 9th May 2020
Tomorrow Never Dies 23rd August 2020
The World Is Not Enough 26th January 2020
Die Another Day 31st March 2020
Casino Royale 17th October 2020
Quantum Of Solace 14th November 2020
Skyfall 26th December 2019
Spectre 17th December 2020
No Time To Die

In praise of the iPadOS 13.4 cursor

Jason Snell gives a good overview of some of the UI details of the new cursor introduced in iPadOS 13.4.

From Apple’s perspective, the easy thing would have been to mimic the mouse on traditional computers. What they have done is created a really clever little cursor that looks at home on iPad.


I've Taken My Watch Off

Chris Hannah, on the Apple Watch:

I haven’t worn my Apple Watch in about two weeks. There was no big decision when I stopped wearing it, but I’ve noticed that over the past month or so, I would just be less bothered about wearing it.

No music/podcasts are being controlled on the watch anymore, because I have AirPods that can do that. I don’t track workouts because they were never real workouts anyway. I don’t play Field Day or Pokémon GO anymore. And if I want to check anything like the weather, football scores, text messages, I just take my phone out of my pocket.

I’ve started to actually like not having my wrist being the interface between myself and the internet. And I’ve grown tired about being notified about things that I just don’t care about.

It’s interesting to see how people use the Watch in their day to day. Chris has worn a watch for a number of years and is beginning to find it less useful in recent times.

Since the Watch launched I was always a bit skeptical of some of the features, particularly ones related to notifications. I’m far too addicted to my phone as it is, so having a device physically attached to me that opens up more possibilities of staring into a screen never really appealed to me.

I recently picked up a Fitbit Charge 3 to help me track my fitness and heart rate 1. Having this information has renewed my interest in the Apple Watch, but I have to remind myself that there is a big difference between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch. Matt Gemmell wrote a piece a few years back on moving away from the Apple Watch and back to a Fitbit. Similarly, David Smith wrote this article on his hopes for a more fitness focused Apple Watch.

I’m going to see just how useful I find the Fitbit in the coming months and whether or not I like wearing a watch full time. If I find myself wanting a bit more from it I may look into the Apple Watch or more functional Fitbits.

  1. So far I’m really liking it. Great iOS application and excellent battery life. 



Must-have iOS apps, 2019 edition

In keeping with tradition, here are my must have iOS apps that match Federicos.

Overcast

A daily podcast driver for me and an app that I rarely even notice I’m using with the advent of Siri Shortcuts. It’s been rock solid since I started using it, and I’ve no intention of switching from it any time soon.

Instagram

I’m not a heavy user of Instagram, but I like the app and it’s one of far too few that has embraced dark mode. Still waiting on iPad support though..

Twitter

Same as above. I’d imagine I’d have more complaints about it if I wrote more than one tweet a year.

WhatsApp

Even if I was lost in Antarctica I’d still be confident that I’d be able to send and receive WhatsApp messages. It’s yet to let me down since I started using it.

1Password

I’m getting a strong sense of deja vu while writing these entries. The fact that 1Password is still on this list shows how good it is. If you aren’t using a password manager yet then look no further.

Netflix

Netflix have gotten this app just right. The interface looks great and is easy to navigate. Progress syncs well between devices, and the ability to download makes it essential. Zero complaints.

YouTube

Much like the Netflix app, the YouTube app is solid. Picture in picture is something I would love, but I’m guessing Apple isn’t too keen to give too much power to Google on that one..

Google Maps

This needs no introduction. Still the king of navigation.