Paper by FiftyThree

Lauren Goode at Wired: FiftyThree, Maker of Popular Paper and Paste Apps, Gets Acquired:

BACK IN 2012, a Seattle-based startup named FiftyThree launched a drawing app designed exclusively for iPad, with a name that sounded like it was designed specifically for an Apple crowd: Paper. Despite its simplicity and also because of it, Apple crowned it the iPad App of the Year. Tech writers described it as “the next great iPad app”, “a superbly designed sketching app,” and “a fresh canvas ready and waiting for your ideas, inspiration, and art.” FiftyThree later expanded to include an iPhone app, an optional subscription called Paper Pro, and Paste, a collaboration app.

Today FiftyThree announced its apps and team have been acquired by WeTransfer, a cloud-based file transfer company with headquarters in Amsterdam and Los Angeles.

I’ve been a Paper user off and on ever since they launched in 2012. It’s been my go-to app for a lot of drawing projects, is one of our son’s favorite apps on his iPad, and is popular with my wife, who uses it for a lot of wonderful sketches. Like with any acquisition, there’s a little hesitation as to whether or not it will be a good thing for an existing company and its products. But I’m hoping we’ll see Paper stick around for years to come.

“The Apple World, the Android/Samsung World, and the Windows World”

Re/code posted an interview with Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly in which he talked about tablets, computers, and the current tech market. The interview itself is an interesting read, especially to see inside the mind of a CEO whose company has been affected by the global technological shift that we have seen across phones, tablets, and computers over the past few years.

One item that caught my eye was his response to a question about ‘stores within a store’. For a while now, Best Buy has had dedicated areas in their stores for Apple, Samsung, and Windows devices. When asked about those areas, he responded:

What we’ve done is, we’ve made Best Buy the place where customers can discover, understand, these different ecosystems. There’s these giant ecosystems: The Apple world, the Android/Samsung world, the Windows world. And so, for the customers, it’s a very unique opportunity to see it in one place, and in the space of half an hour, to be able to talk to our various specialists, and touch, feel, experience these products.

When it comes to Apple and Microsoft, each has created a very unique and identifiable ecosystem. Interestingly, in his comment, he included Samsung right along with his mention of Android. If you walk into a Best Buy store today, what Android device manufacturer is clearly visible? I’ve only ever seen Samsung with some attention.

I also thought it was an interesting response given how Samsung has come ahead, at least in mindshare, of other Android manufacturers with their devices, including their line of Galaxy devices. For some, when they hear Android, that’s the first thing to come to their minds.

When it comes to operating systems, it very clearly is Apple’s iOS versus Google’s Android. But with the iPhone competing against Samsung’s various Galaxy S phones, it’s easy to see why even Best Buy’s CEO would remark Android’s world as belonging to Samsung.

Spring Cleaning, Tech Style

It’s that time of year where most people go through their homes and clean things up. For me, I’ve felt the need to clean up my tech, too. I don’t mean in a physical way, though that is also important. No, I’m talking about going through all of those extra files and apps that have accumulated over the past year. My goal is to simplify what I’ve got and leave myself with a more clutter-free tech experience that will improve my productivity and help me waste/spend less time on my devices.

Clean Up 

The first thing someone may notice when looking at my iPhone or Mac: I’ve got a few too many apps. I had a bad tendency of grabbing free apps and giving them a test run but not deleting them when I was through. Now, it’s time to clean those up and keep the ones that I still use.

On my Mac, I’ve been using CleanMyMac to help remove unused applications and old data. It’s been a great application that I occasionally run to keep my system clean. It not only removes the .app file but also any data that might be found in ~/Library, too. If I don’t need a certain app anymore, why would I want to keep all of the associated data?

Another big thing I did on my Mac is clean up my desktop. I don’t like a lot of icons cluttering my desktop, so it was about time for me to remove what was there. I’ve now brought it down to one folder that I’ve called “To Sort”. In there, I put the occasion download or screenshot that I don’t have a place for yet (or can’t delete yet). This folder I go through regularly to keep clean. I could probably put it somewhere other than the desktop, but I’ll figure that out later. One folder on the desktop is better than a couple dozen icons.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.12.09 PM

So what if I have a lot of apps? They’re organized!

For my iPhone, I’m trying to limit myself to productivity apps, utilities, and games that I will definitely be opening in the next month. While I do make a few exceptions, I’m trying to trim away the extras that I just don’t need. Anything that remains gets organized in my current system: 1 page of utilities and other non-game apps, sorted by category into folders; 1 or 2 pages of games, sorted by type in folders. If I’m still unsure where to put an app, it sits on my last page, a sort of miscellaneous page that I try to clear out regularly.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.13.40 PM

I’ve got a few games, too

My newest change, though, is using a mostly clean first page. My goal is to limit this page to apps that I use every day. If there are certain actions that I do repeatedly, I’m putting those into LaunchCenterPro, which has its home on my dock. I don’t want to waste time trying to find something that I need; I’d much rather save time and simplify my workflow.1

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.13.14 PM

My much simpler home page

More Cleaning to Come

As I work on my workflow and cleaning up my apps, I’ve got even more to clean up this year.2

First, I’ve got a handful of email accounts. Most are for sites that I used to manage but don’t anymore. I don’t know why I even have some of them still. But I need to take some time and reduce that number of active accounts to just the ones I need.

Second, I’ve got a few websites and services I still run, whether personal like this site or others related to my business, that I need to update and clean up. Those I’ll be systematically going through and updating.

Other things I need to clean up: iPhoto, my Documents and Downloads folders, and (low priority) my contact list.

Got any suggestions for cleaning up your computer or phone this summer? What will you be doing for your spring cleaning? Comment below or tweet me!

 


  1. This is still a work in progress, and my workflow is currently in flux while I create something that works better for me. 

  2. I’ll be talking more about my Mac and iOS workflows in a later post. 

2014’s iOS Line-Up (My Predictions)

With 2013 behind us, I thought it was time to take a look at what Apple released (in terms of iOS) and what I think Apple will do in 2014.

The first half of 2013 was very quiet with regards to Apple events. Our first public event was WWDC in June, where we finally got a glimpse at what Apple was working on in the software category. After six years of the iPhone, iOS was getting a major facelift, giving a fresh look to one of the most popular mobile operating systems. While supporting older devices like the iPhone 4 would support iOS 7, it was definitely meant to bring in a new future for Apple’s iOS devices.

In the fall, we finally started seeing some hardware, with the announcement of two new iPhones: the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. The 5c was essentially last year’s iPhone 5 but with new, colorful shells. For those upgrading from an iPhone 4 or earlier, they made an attractive alternative to the otherwise sleek but relatively-basic colors of the 5 and 5s. The 5s, meanwhile, brought a future-thinking iPhone to the market, introducing a 64-bit A7 processor to the iOS line up. Even now, I think people take 64-bit for granted on their computers. Having that power in a mobile device is incredible.

The iPad upgrades followed suit with the iPhone and received the new A7 chip, as well as other changes. The iPad was redesigned into the iPad Air, a lightweight tablet that, to me, seems like an ideal size and weight for a “full size” iPad (and is much improved over the first generation). The iPad Mini, meanwhile, was upgraded with a Retina display. I’d say the new iPad Mini is probably the best 7.9″ tablet out there. Honestly, every time I see an iPad mini, I feel like I’m living in a Star Trek world.

All of these updates seemed to make the iOS device line up even better than before. What changes could possibly come in 2014?

For one, I think we’re looking at the end of an old friend. The 30-pin connector has existed for over a decade and been a staple of iPods, iPhones, and iPads for years. Since the introduction of the iPhone 5 and the Lightning connector, however, it has become clear that a new era of connecting cables was at hand. The Lightning connector’s smaller size let Apple make the iPhone even thinner than previous generations. Given Apple’s typical quest to shrink things down, it makes sense that future devices stick to the Lightning cable.

What had not surprised me during the iPhone event was the presence of the iPhone 4S on the lineup. Typically, the phone from two years prior would be made free on contract, and this held true. But as we look ahead to 2014, if this pattern continues, we’ll see the iPhone 4S drop off of the lineup.  This doesn’t just affect the iPhone, however.

The iPad 2 has somehow held on to life, despite the fact that it is three generations older than the newest iPad model available. If the iPhone 4S does indeed get retired, then the iPad 2 would be the only device still using the 30-pin connector. But, that’s not all; The iPad 2 is one of only two iOS devices sold without a Retina display. The other? The original iPad Mini, which shared many specs of the iPad 2. When new iPads are announced, I don’t think Apple wants to present a non-Retina screen as an option anymore. It’s time to look to the future and keep all devices top of the line.

So, that being said, what will we see?

iPhone: Since the original iPhone in 2007, there has always been at least one new phone released each year. There’s no reason for Apple not to continue. Given their introduction of two new handsets in 2013, it’s possible we’ll see two more in 2014: one a high-end upgrade of the iPhone 5s with a brand new design, a new A8 processor, and other improved specs; the other could be an upgrade to the iPhone 5c, bringing the power of the 5s into a design and feel that could appeal to the more colorful (or those that miss the feel of the iPhone 3G/S). Even if the 5c isn’t updated, I foresee it remaining on the lineup.

Lineup Prediction: A new iPhone (6?), reduced price iPhone 5s, and a colorful iPhone 5c (or update to it).

iPad: The iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina will see some minor changes. Both would likely see a new generation with an A8 processor and the inclusion of Touch ID, something that they didn’t receive with the previous updates. With 2 generations of iPad Mini with Retina, it could be possible for Apple to phase out non-Retina screens in their entirety. At last, we would see an end to the iPad 2.

Lineup Prediction: iPad Air (2nd Gen), iPad Mini with Retina (2nd Gen), and reduced price iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina (both 1st Gen).

What about the iPod Touch? It was last updated along with the iPhone 5. Has Apple left it out to dry? We’ll have to wait and see. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a new iPod Touch modeled alongside a new iPhone design. But the iPod line is no longer Apple’s main money-maker, so who knows what they’ll do?

Rumors continue to circulate about Apple entering the wearable category or taking on the TV market further. Apple TV runs a modified form of iOS, but I won’t talk about it in this post. And with no official word about any iWatch, we don’t know what software it will run. Do I think we’ll see at least one of these in 2014? Definitely.

In short, these updates may not seem too revolutionary. In a way, they’re aren’t. But they also are leading the way towards a new age of iOS devices, moving away from legacy solutions and early-tech. Having every iOS device for sale containing the new Lightning connector and a Retina display will put Apple in a strong position with premium devices. They only sell their best, and in 2014, they’ll show it.

My Thoughts on NFC

For some time, there has been some talk about where near-field communication (NFC) might be going. If it is to take off, many people see it as something that people will use to pay on the go. Want to buy that cup of coffee? Purchase office supplies? Pay for your gas? Just swipe your phone.

While several companies are working on ways to do NFC payments, I don’t know if that is where NFC might take off initially. As noted in two articles I read [here and here], the option for NFC payments as a replacement for other payment forms isn’t the key. Rather, it is the features on top of that which will convince consumers and merchants to participate.

Where I think this could see some use is in marketing. More and more companies are putting themselves on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare, among other servers. Some businesses even have stickers and banners telling their customers that they are on these networks and services, too.

So why not link up NFC technology with these services?

Let’s say I want to check in to a store I enter. All I would have to do is swipe my phone near their (let’s say) Foursquare banner. My phone would bring up a dialogue asking if I want to check in or not. With one tap on the screen, I’ve checked in.

The same could be done for any number of things. Do I want to like their Facebook page? Do I want to connect via LinkedIn? Do I want to follow their Twitter account? If those options could be given to me with the swipe of my phone, I would be able to easily keep up with that business online.

If this business is using social media or location based services to offer promotions and deals or to stay in touch with their customer-base, this would be an easy way for their customers to take part and stay in touch.

Or let’s say I go into a deli but have no idea what I want. Why not let me swipe my phone and link me to a menu that I can read for myself? I wouldn’t have to bring up any QRCode app to scan/photograph a code.

In short, there are many options that can be explored with this technology. Will it see wide acceptance? Probably not for a while. Will mobile NFC payments take off? No way to know. But payments aren’t the only option for this technology, and there are many avenues that can be taken with it.

Personally, I would rather use NFC for this type of ability than payments. If someone were to steal my phone, I wouldn’t want them to be able to pay for things with it. But I would be perfectly okay with them checking me into Foursquare.

Review: iOS 4.2 Changes [PHOTOS]

Although iOS 4.2 4.2.1 has been out for over two weeks, I figured I would share some of the changes that are included in this release. Some of them are subtle, while some might find a few of these changes to be very important.

The simplest of changes is the color of the Voice Memo icon. It is now blue (formerly red). Other than that, the default home screen remains unchanged.

One of the major updates is the ability to print. Now, there are some finer points about this that prevent some printers from operating right now. However, the option to print will pop up in some familiar places.

For instance, what if you had an email that you wanted to print out? Clicking on the icon used for replying to an email now provides one other option: “Print”. This is also true with Safari, as well. The button that brings up your bookmark options now includes the print option.

Some small UI changes have come, as well, to bring the iPhone and iPad closer together. As introduced in iOS 4, double-tapping the home button will bring up the multi-task bar. Swiping to the left still displays the orientation lock button, as well as the music player controls. However, swiping over to the left reveals a volume slider, allowing for the easy adjustment of the volume level.

Other changes include the ability to change the text-tone for each contact, much like you can change a contact’s ring tone. Restriction settings now include the ability to prevent someone from deleting apps (as a separate option from installing them). The Safari search, as well, as been expanded to allow for the searching of a term within a web page itself. This feature, something many use on their desktops or laptops, now makes it easier to locate certain information within a web page.

For a full list of changes, see Apple’s Knowledgebase article.

FaceTime Beta for Mac Now Available

One of the things Steve Jobs just announced at the “Back to the Mac” event was the release of FaceTime Beta for Mac OSX. That’s right! You can now engage in FaceTime video chats with your friends that may have an iPod Touch or iPhone 4!

If you’re a Mac user running Snow Leopard OS X 10.6.4 or later, then go here and check it out: http://www.apple.com/mac/facetime/

How Do YOU Use Social Media?

I’ve been thinking about social media and how it has expanded in recent years. In the days before Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, social networks seemed to be much smaller groups of individuals. You would have your Livejournal, Xanga, or ezBoard (now Yuku) collectives, but none of them have the reach that social media seems to have today.

In today’s online world, with just under 10% of the world’s population on Facebook alone, social media is playing an important role in the modern world. Businesses are finding more and more use for social media networks to relay information and communicate with customers.

I’m curious how other individuals and businesses use social media. Please take the time to comment on this blog and answer the question: How do you use social media?

Apple’s iPad is Here! Thoughts?

It was less than just over an hour ago when Steve Jobs officially announced the iPad, Apple’s tablet PC. For anyone that hasn’t heard rumors about this device, where have you been?!

So, what is this tablet all about? Think of it as a large iPod Touch.  It has a 9.7″ touchscreen, 1GHz processor, and the same simplistic design that can be found with the iPhone and iPod Touch.

This item has been rumored for so long, yet with it here now, what kind of work could it be used for?

Given its size and the fact that it is roughly 1.5 lbs., such a device could see various portable uses. And with the same accelerometers and most of the capabilities of the iPhone, I can see this being a household item. It even has a 10 hour battery life (and a month of standby battery life?! That’s insane!). Plus, the presentation today showed a few interesting things.

First, all current iPhone apps will work on iPad as they are now. They can either run in the current size or in full screen. I personally find this to be impressive, especially given all of the apps in the app store (over 140K now!) that can help with productivity and other tasks.  That’s a large assortment of applications that users will be able to use right away on their iPad!

Second, they launched a service called iBooks, which essentially will let you buy and read books right on the iPad. Were you ever interested in the Kindle? Well, I’d save up for an iPad, instead! You can read books right in the palm of your hand. You can even flick the pages to go from page to page. Cool!

Third, with the larger screen, it looks like Apple has versions of iWork now available for this device. Personally, I’m a fan of Open Office, but if iWork can do it, why can’t Open Office? This definitely can be a productive tool in the office!

So, how does one manage the device? Apparently, you sync it up with iTunes, just like your iPhones and iPods. The device also has built in wifi, and it there is also an option to get a 3G data plan through AT&T for either $15 or $30 per month (depending on if you want a 250 MB plan or unlimited, respectively). And with it having a micro-SIM slot, I don’t see why you can’t use this on other networks, too. So long as you have the proper data plan, that is…

Price wise, these devices seemed to blow me away! Then again, seeing how they’re more like an iPod Touch than a mini-Mac, the prices made sense. The prices don’t seem bad, either.  They come in two flavors: one is purely WiFi enabled, the second also includes 3G support.  The 16GB WiFi model starts at $499, 32GB is $599, and the 64GB at $699. The 3G models are $130 more (for each size). So, for a 3G 64GB iPad, you’d be looking at spending $829.  That is much cheaper than the rumored $1000 price!

We’re also seeing a few accessories coming from Apple with this release. The first obviously makes sense. If you’re releasing an item with a 9.7″ touchscreen, you’ll have people that definitely would want a real keyboard to use instead of the touchscreen. So, here’s the Dock. It makes perfect sense as an accessory to offer right from the start.

I think that accessory alone will interest people in the iPad. You can dock up the device and type away on a report, an article, on anything you need to type up, and then just undock the device and bring it with you. That’s brilliant!

So, what do I think about it?

I think it is a very neat device. I personally don’t see an immediate need for such a device, but with all that you can do with an iPhone now, it makes sense to up the design to something that people could use for much more. Anything you could do online, whether it is getting a map, reading a news paper, reading a book, playing Sudoku, solving a crossword puzzle, paying your bills, watching a movie, downloading music, all of it will be much easier to do on the go, anywhere in your house or otherwise, in your hands with iPad.

And I think I missed so many details in this post. If you really want to get the full news about this, visit the new site Apple has set up for the iPad, or check out the full video presentation on iTunes. (I’ll post the link once it goes live).

What do you think of the iPad? Share your comments!

(Thanks to GDGT, Gizmodo, and EnGadget for their live blogs!)