My favorite calendar app for iOS is Fantastical, but I never bought into the menubar-only Fantastical for Mac. Lo and behold, the second coming, Fantastical 2 from Flexbits, is the full fledged calendar app many of us have been eagerly awaiting. It fits perfectly in with the aesthetic of Yosemite while, not surprisingly, offering a familiar look anyone accustomed to its iOS counterpart. If you’re in the market for a solid calendar app, you can’t go wrong with Fantastical 2 for both iOS and Mac. If you need some nudging, here are a couple of great reviews from MacStories, Macworld, and The Verge.
Inspiring. I strive for this level of thought and attention with every project I take on.
Apple announced a new trackpad, the Force Touch Trackpad as part of the details of its new ultrathin MacBook during its Spring Forward event last week. Highlights of the new trackpad are pressure sensitivity and haptic feedback, provided by what Apple calls its Taptic Engine. Both features, headliners in their own way, work together to provide click-like feedback from a piece of glass that doesn’t actually “click”.
Although early reactions seemed to indicate Apple nailed it, I was skeptical. After all, I use a Microsoft Touch Mouse every day at work, and every smartphone I’ve ever used with haptic feedback left me wondering what purpose it really served. So, I had to try it for myself and I did just that yesterday. I went to a local Apple Store, immediately found a 13 inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display and tried it. Color me fooled. I had to do a double take to make sure I was testing the right model. My honest first impression was that it felt like a click, but not quite as deep as the click feels on my 2010 MacBook Air. Taptic Engine fooled me but it isn’t that good.
I was about to walk out when an Apple store employee walked over to the MacBook Pro next to me with a customer he was helping. He started talking about the new trackpad and he directed the customer to press normally to feel the “click”. I couldn’t see the customer’s reaction, but it felt like “so what?”. Then the Apple employee told him to press harder. So I did it. WHOA. Like Joey Lawrence WHOA.
Not only does the deeper press activate the new force press gesture, it also registers the more familiar deep click feeling I’m used to with my MacBook Air and Magic Trackpad. Mind irrevocably blown.
So what does it all mean? Well there’s some low hanging marketing fruit that Apple will be quick to tout. If the previous click trackpad ever stood in the way Apple delivering its new MacBook in that super thin form factor, it no longer does. There’s also a new gesture that Apple can add (the Force Press) which, depending on the context, can perform a variety of functions like word lookups or varying the seek/rewind speed in QuickTime. The third and final piece of low hanging fruit is that the feedback and pressure sensitivity can be tuned to your specific tastes and clicky strength. Nothing revolutionary there, just fine tuning an already delightful experience.
But maybe gestures are the key. Except, maybe it’s not about adding more input gestures that our fingers perform, but instead gestures performed by the Taptic Engine that our fingers perceive? A recent update to Apple’s own iMovie hints at the future of such feedback, signaling the end of clip with a slight bump to the user through the new trackpad. On last week’s episode of The Talk Show, Serenity Caldwell posits that similar technology could be used for accessibility enhancements. Clever.
Windows PC trackpads still haven’t caught up to Apple’s venerable trackpad and, gimmick or no gimmick, the Force Touch Trackpad puts Apple that much farther ahead.
When 9to5mac first broke the rumor of the single port MacBook, I too began lamenting the alleged demise of the MagSafe adapter. Though it’s only saved my devices a handful of times, it is one of those delight in the details features of a MacBook that makes the hardware such a joy to use. My reaction to the news spanned the range of denial, mourning, revelation and acceptance. The revelation and acceptance phases are best represented by Ben Brooks’ take a few days after the official announcement:
USB-C won’t cause more crashing MacBooks, just as long as you use the MacBook as it is intended: on battery power. That’s the direction computing is headed in: devices that only need to be charged while you sleep.
Some have been clamoring for the convergence of iOS and the Mac, but they don’t recognize when it’s right under their nose. That’s because they’re thinking about it in terms of software, when in reality the true innovation will come with the hardware convergence.
When Microsoft’s Project Spartan finds its way to market, it will not bear the Internet Explorer brand. Good riddance, I say. I stepped away from Windows as my preferred computing platform seven years ago, but I encounter it every day in my Apple-averse workplace. With every release of IE, I had high hopes for something better. And with every release I was left disappointed by the same ol‘, same ol’. IE11 seems better, but yet still too familiar. I don’t think a name change alone signals better things to come, but Project Spartan sounds like a step in the right direction and maybe the brand refresh is symbolic of a much needed deeper philosophical shift within the Microsoft team responsible for its web browser.
What’s next … Duck Hunt on Apple TV?
Sapper’s design was unparalleled in 1992, but times have changed. We have touchpads and touch screens that can distinguish how many fingers you’re clicking with.
Wilson’s primary beef is with Lenovo’s insistence1 of keeping the red nub around despite the proliferation and popularity of more modern pointer input methods.
First, the functional irrelevance of a particular feature of the design doesn’t necessarily detract from its timelessness. Being replaced by other, arguably superior, forms of input doesn’t retroactively dismiss the achievement of the original design or implementation. Second, I still find trackpads on non-Apple hardware to be “ludicrous”2, so I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the value of the red nub on today’s Thinkpads.
I’m not a daily reader of Co.Design, but I’ve enjoyed checking in at least once a week or so. Lately, though, it seems like they’re just trolling for clicks.
This is undoubtedly the one that I want, but I’m fairly certain it’s not the one I can reasonably afford. For now, I plan to resist the temptation to even get the Apple Watch Sport; but man if that thing ever gets GPS, watch out, wallet.
But we didn’t design the new WIRED to be perfect. We designed it to be perfected.