109 posts with category “Tech”

Finally, two new, modern Pinboard apps

Pinboard has been, as far as I know, the de facto online bookmarking tool for nearly a whole decade, which is why I’ve been baffled at how the Pinboard app marketplace has languished for so long. The two frontrunners — Pinner and Pushpin — were last updated 4 years ago and 1 year ago, respectively, and Pushpin has always been slow and unstable for me. Both seemed to have stalled on maintenance and the addition of any new features. I started to assume Pinboard was just too niche of a tool to warrant any serious app development, and that people had maybe just just moved on to a combination of Pocket and Chrome bookmarks.

Every few months, though, my frustration with Pushpin would lead me to search the App Store for alternatives, and finally this weekend I got some! They are both already huge improvements over their predecessors, have both iOS and macOS versions, and for all the tech blogs I read, I hadn’t heard anything about them.

Pinstachio (App Store) by Francisco Cantu is fast and capable, and feels very at-home on both iOS and macOS. Its feature set is relatively limited, and it charges a subscription fee (though an extremely modest one at $7 per year) rather than a one-time purchase, but it’s definitely one to try out and keep an eye on.

Pins for Pinboard (App Store, Twitter) (not to be confused with Pins for Pinboard.in) is by Quang Anh Do, maker of the (now-defunct?) Writing Kit. With clever, unique features — like browsing by domain, “On This Day,” “Random 20” — tag and metadata suggestions, preview images, a development blog and Twitter, and a one-time purchase price, Pins looks like the clear winner to me.

Here’s a quick comparison table:

PinstachioPins for Pinboard
Mac appYesYes
Suggested tags / metadataNoYes
Preview imagesOnly on detail viewYes
Token loginYesYes
Price$7/yr$14 one-time
Data collectionData not linked:
– purchases
– diagnostics
Data not linked:
– purchases
– diagnostics
– usage data
Rating4.3 with 21 reviews4.9 with 192 reviews
First releaseNov 24, 2020Jan 22, 2021
Latest releaseOct 28, 2021Dec 3, 2021
All data as of Jan 3, 2022

Let me know in the comments if I’m missing any feature comparisons or if there are any other Pinboard apps or tools you’d like to recommend.

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Even Mark Gurman doesn’t actually think the Apple TV is “pointless”

The click-baitiness of Mark Gurman’s much-linked piece today — titled alternately “Apple’s TV Box Is Now Mostly Pointless” and “Why Should I Buy an Apple TV Instead of Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast?” — is quickly given away when he writes: “In recent years, the Apple TV has become a less obvious purchase for many Apple fans and content junkies.”

Is it “a less obvious purchase” or “pointless”? Or is it indeed “useful,” as per this later line:

“Integration with HomeKit, Fitness+, AirPods and the iOS remote app is useful.”

But for the sake of argument, I’ll assume he really does believe the Apple TV is “pointless,” and I’ll boil down his argument into what I see as his three main points, paraphrased by me.

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It’s never too late for SharePlay

Twice now I’ve seen the sentiment that SharePlay might not make much sense in the near future, since COVID Is Over™.

Federico Viticci on MacStories:

SharePlay is neat but can feel already dated now that more countries are rolling out vaccinations and returning to a semi-regular social life.

Victoria Song on Gizmodo:

Listen, this would’ve been great at the height of the pandemic, but it’s still useful to watch videos and listen to music with your buds on a FaceTime call.

As though now that pandemic restrictions are lifting, everybody’s going to come over and watch movies with me? I don’t know about you but my friends have kids and lives and aren’t going to schlep across town on a Tuesday night just to watch a movie with me, much less a single episode of a TV show — let alone several friends! (Is this a brutal self-own? Do people really just have hoards of friends swinging by all the time?)

And doesn’t anybody have friends in, like, other cities?

I use Plex regularly to watch things with friends remotely, and it’s a flawed experience. Hulu and others started rolling their own “watch together” solutions that frequently required watching from a browser and other hassles. That SharePlay will be a system-wide API that streaming services can tap into is huge, pandemic or not.

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“Spatial Audio” and “Dynamic Head Tracking” are two separate things

Ever since Apple brought “Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking” (emphasis mine) to the AirPods Pro, there has been a lot of conflation between these two distinct features. Recently two Apple experts talked about this with regard to Apple TV. It’s often assumed that Spatial Audio is not possible on Apple TV, because the Apple TV doesn’t have a U1 chip, but this is due to a misunderstanding of what Spatial Audio is.

Spatial Audio mimics having the multiple speakers of a surround sound system by running a 5.1, 7.1, or Atmos audio source through some algorithms to create a binaural audio effect. This is similar to using ear-shaped microphones to capture sound so that when played back on standard headphones, the audio sounds like it’s coming from different directions. Also known as “holophonic sound,” Disney did this at Epcot with an attraction called “Soundsations”:

This is separate from Dynamic Head Tracking, which is what most people seem to think Spatial Audio is. Dynamic Head Tracking is what makes it sound like the audio is coming from the device that is playing the video, even as you turn your head.

Just as it would be possible to have Dynamic Head Tracking without Spatial Audio — basically a flat stereo sound that remained “stationary” while you moved your head — it would be possible to have Spatial Audio without Dynamic Head Tracking.

In fact, for accessibility reasons, you can turn off Dynamic Head Tracking while leaving Spatial Audio on:

By default, spatial audio makes it sound like the audio is coming from your iPhone, even when your head moves. You can change this behavior so that the audio sounds like it’s following your head movement.

What this means is that there seems to be no technological reason that existing Apple TVs couldn’t do Spatial Audio, or that if there is, it’s because they’re not powerful enough to process the surround sound data through the necessary algorithms, which seems unlikely.

Honestly, I don’t know why Apple TV doesn’t support Spatial Audio, but it’s not the lack of a U1 chip.

And as long as I’m talking about Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking, I’m a bit surprised that things like Apple Fitness+ and Apple Arcade don’t feature them.

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Apple’s celebrity worship mangles their “Time to Walk” Fitness+ feature

The Apple Watch can be a great motivator for fitness. Closing rings and the hourly stand reminders can be just enough to nudge you into getting off of your ass once in a while, and that’s great. Since watchOS 4, there’s even been an end-of-day reminder to close your rings if you haven’t already:

If needed, toward the end of the day, they’ll be told exactly how long they should walk to close their Activity Rings before the day is over.

This notification will say something like, “You’re so close to closing your Move ring. A brisk, 11-minute walk should do it.” (Often, to many people’s chagrin, this will happen at 10:45 PM while it’s raining outside.)

What’s nice about this is that walking doesn’t seem as miserable as maintaining a 160 BPM heart rate while a Peloton trainer screams at you. It’s inviting! Why not take a walk around the block? The habit of daily walking is probably easier and more beneficial for most people than doing 20 minutes on a treadmill once a month.

I was excited when the reports of Apple Watch’s upcoming “Time to Walk” Fitness+ feature started circulating, and that they’d feature audio content. Cool! I need an excuse to listen to more podcasts anyway.

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