Ben Brooks on "It Just Works"

Nice analysis on what it means for a product to "just work" for consumers:

For me ‘just works’ comes down to three factors:

  1. Understanding how customers use your product. This is likely helped by the ‘support emails’ Marco mentioned.

  2. Using your own product often.

  3. Not adding stuff, for adding stuff’s sake. (Feature bloat.)
Personally I agree most with #2, although they're all great points. Some of the best applications I've ever used have been developed by people who aren't just out to make a quick buck; they had a need for a particular tool or service, and (perhaps for lack of better alternatives) decided to come up with their own instead. Marco Arment's Instapaper app seems to be a great example of this, although I can't speak for him personally.

Gruber on Twitter's OAuth implementation for 3rd-party apps

"Twitter's Shit Sandwich":

OAuth is complicated and hard to summarize, but in a nut, Twitter currently offers third-party developers two ways to do authentication,OAuth and xAuth. xAuth allows the developer to simply ask the user for their Twitter username and password. If you use any of the popular third-party Twitter clients for the Mac or iOS — Twitterrific, Tweetbot, Hibari, etc. — you’ve seen xAuth in action. You launch the app, the app shows you a dialog box with fields for your Twitter username and password, you enter them, and then you’re in. Behind the scenes, the apps using xAuth do not store your username and password. Instead, they use them once to authenticate with Twitter’s API, and in return they receive from Twitter a key granting that app authentication for your account. The app needs only to store that key.

With OAuth, on the other hand, authentication must take place through a web browser and a session on The app forwards you to a web page at Twitter, you sign in to your Twitter account on the website, and then you’re prompted, by Twitter on their website, to grant permission to the app in question to access your account.

I completely agree with his assessment and I sincerely hope that Twitter will rethink this decision. And since this ONLY affects 3rd-party apps and not their own, this just seems like another step in their recent campaign to destroy the 3rd-party app ecosystem altogether, which I find sad because that's the very thing that helped propel them to where they are.



For quite a while now, most people have considered Podcaster to be the definitive app for listening to podcasts, followed closely by Stitcher Radio, but newcomer Instacast has quickly become my top choice due to its ease-of-use and slick interface. Cody Fink put up a nice overview of the features over on MacStories right after Instacast released back in March, and although the app has gone through a few updates since then, his points are still valid and I agree with all of them.

If you like podcasts at all, you really can't go wrong here and at $2 it's cheaper than Podcaster anyway so I highly recommend giving it a try.

Instacast [iTunes]


Shine - great weather app or greatest weather app?

I've tried out lots of weather apps in the years that I've owned an iPhone, but they rarely hit the sweet spot between excess information and minimalism. With the release of AppThat's new weather app, Shine, I may have finally found exactly the app I've been looking for. The design aesthetic here is excellent, and in fact reminds me a lot of a Tapbots-style app.


It's fast, slick, and only costs 99 cents.

Shine [iTunes]


The Tweetdeck [Windows] Desktop Experience

I'm jealous of Mac users because they have so many great choices when it comes to Twitter desktop apps. Why? Well, here's what tends to happen when I use Tweetdeck on my Windows 7 PC:

  1. I'm forced to close/reopen the app because it starts acting very strangely, usually in the form of allowing me to scroll up endlessly through infinitely-repeating copies of the top two tweets in my timeline.

  2. When I reopen Tweetdeck, the app loads completely, and then I get a popup asking me to update Adobe Air (the platform that Tweetdeck was created on). For some reason I cannot update Adobe Air while Tweetdeck is running, so I close the app again, which allows the 'Update Now' button to be clicked. Why it doesn't just ask me to do this before the app loads is beyond me.

  3. After the update finishes, I'm assuming that Tweetdeck will open itself back up like any other normal application does, but no--that would make too much sense. I go and open the app again myself.

  4. Use Tweetdeck some more (in the meantime wondering why it does silly things like highlight entire tweets when I simply click a link within one), and then go through this whole process again whenever the app next decides to stop functioning properly.
Is this really supposed to be the desktop Twitter app of choice for Windows? The whole thing reeks of amateur hour.

Tapbots introduces 'Tweetbot'

As a long-time fan of Tapbots' previous apps, including Calcbot and Convertbot, I was excited to hear that they were finally releasing their highly-anticipated Twitter client, Tweetbot. Tapbots are known for their attention to detail and knack for creating beautiful interfaces that are intuitive-yet-functional. I expected no different with this latest app, and they certainly didn't disappoint!

Click to read more ...


R.I.P. Michael Gough



iPhone app "Word Lens" translates languages on-the-fly via camera

There are days when you come across something cool and you think, "Wow, we really are living in the future!" I got that feeling today because of a new iPhone app called Word Lens.

What the app allows you to do is point the iPhone's camera at text in a foreign language, and it will translate that text into your native language in real-time and transpose that information where the foreign text used to be. It's a bit hard to explain, so check out their promo video to see it in action:

Pretty neat, huh? What's even nicer is that the app itself is free, but you will have to pay for language packs via in-app purchase. Currently the app only has language packs for Spanish-to-English and vice versa (both of which are 50% off until Dec. 31st, 2010) but they are sure to include more in the future.

There are also some other fun built-in features if you don't feel like buying any language packs at all, such as the ability to take the text you're looking at and have it spelled backwards.

The developer (Quest Visual) gives a disclaimer in the app's description that this technology is not perfect and is meant to be used only on clearly-printed words instead of someone's personal handwriting. Still, this technology has huge implications for international communication and travel in the future. It could also be a very useful learning tool for you budding polyglots out there.


Artwork for 'the social network' soundtrack released

Rob Sheridan (graphic artist known for his collaboration with Nine Inch Nails) has released a gallery of images he created for the critically-acclaimed soundtrack to the social network, scored by none other than Trent Reznor himself. Very cool stuff, and his process for creating the image distortions is pretty interesting. Check it out.



Evernote 4.0 for Windows Touts Increased Speed and Improved UI

As a longtime user of Evernote, I can say without a doubt that it has become an integral part of my daily life and workflow, right alongside Dropbox. I won't waste space here explaining what it is or cataloging its myriad uses, because plenty of others out there have already done that. What I want to discuss is my experience thus far with the latest version that released today, Evernote 4.

Click to read more ...

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