In a scenario where many Sonos users might find appropriate use for the word, finally, today Sonos rolled out a new version of their iOS controller app that adds playback controls to the iOS lockscreen. Users can now control volume, play/pause and seek location as well as being able to see album art without unlocking their iPhones (and from the Apple Watch, too). Previously users would need to unlock their iPhones and launch the Sonos app to do any of these things. In addition to the lock screen controls, Sonos added Peek & Pop shortcuts, split view, slide over, simpler TruePlay tuning and higher quality Napster and Rhapsody streams. For this Sonos user, today's update is very much Cool Stuff Found! Version 6.3 of the Sonos iOS controller can be is available for free in the app store.
Apple is publicly moral in many ways. Apple's products are highly recyclable and Apple works to be good stewards of the planet's resources. To that end, Apple has formed a subsidiary, called Apple Energy. The goal, with approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is to sell excess solar energy to consumers and businesses via Renewable Energy Certificates. Not only is Apple setting the example for how to be green and also make money at it, but the company positioning itself for its own technical future. Of course, there are implications for Apple's (rumored) electric car as well. Forbes has a great story on this. "Why Apple Energy Is A Wake-Up Call For Businesses."
Colorado is finally getting in on the Maps transit directions game because Apple just added Denver and Boulder. That means you can get direction that include busses and light rail, and if either city ever adds subways, those would show up, too. Apple added transit direction to Maps in iOS 9 with a limited number of cities. That number is slowly increasing and includes locations such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston. More cities are coming, so hopefully yours will show up soon.
Squarespace announced support for Apple News Format this week. Squarespace is a do-it-yourself website publishing platform that specializes in gorgeous themes. The move to support Apple News Format means Squarespace customers can publish to that format directly from their site, and that means their content could be subscribed to in Apple News and be discoverable within the service, too. Apple News is a curious beast whose top quality as of this writing is that it's part of Apple's Proactive service on iOS devices. That sort of real estate ensures it has eyeballs, which in turn makes it a desirable place to be. Services like Squarespace supporting Apple News Format is not only beneficial to its customers, it increased the value of Apple News, too. I also imagine developments like this indicate that Apple's little news service is picking up steam, because supporting it is does require resources for a small company like Squarespace. Speaking of which, competitors like Wordpress require third party plugins to support Apple News Format, for now. I suspect it will eventually be built into the Wordpress engine, too.
I found one of those games. You know, the ones that look sort of interesting, so you download it. No worries, you'll just try it out a little. It's not like it's going to suck you in until you're left scrambling to understand what just happened to the last hour of your life, and ZOMG THAT REPORT ISN'T FINISHED AND YOU'RE GOING TO GET FIRED! It's called CoogyLoop, and the instructions are easy: "Tap anywhere when the ball is inside the coloured area. Easy, right?" The ball spins in a circle, and a random portion of the circle is highlighted once per rotation. Just tap the screen when the ball is inside that random area, and you're good to go (find a new job because you will probably get yourself fired after playing this all day). It's free, with an in-app purchase to remove ads if you wish. Good luck. And oh: you're welcome.
I love inspiring someone to do something really cool, and one of TMO's readers totally ran with my suggestion to get a quality chair mat instead of the plastic kind every office supply store sells. Reader Geoduck took my glass chair mat advice to heart, but went above and beyond by designing his own portable hardwood mat. It looks great, is functional, and was made from reclaimed parts that otherwise would've become just more waste in a landfill. The whole project cost Geoduck under $100, and now he has a quality office chair mat that should last pretty much for ever.
Netflix slipped out an update with a very cool feature this week: picture-in-picture (PIP) support. This allows you to watch a streaming movie on newer iPad models in a small window while another app is running. Models covered include iPad Pro, iPad Air and iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 2 and newer. To use the feature, simply press the home button while a movie is streaming—the movie will collapse into a small window that shoots to the corner of your screen. You can move it to another corner by dragging or flicking it around. Tap the movie to get the option to pause, quit it, or go back to full-screen mode. This was a feature technically added to iOS 9, but developers had to specifically implement it. I'm delighted Netflix has now done so. In the screenshot below, Supernatural is playing inside Angry Birds 2. Don't judge me*. *Go ahead and judge me.
Apple has posted the entire video of the June 13, 2016 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote. Most of the planned updates to Apple's OSes were discussed, watchOS 3, tvOS, the newly named macOS Sierra and iOS 10. The final versions of these four operating systems will be available to cutomers in the fall. Even though directed towards developers, the video reveals a lot about Apple's near-term strategy and thinking and is fascinating viewing for any Apple fan. It's about 2 hours and 4 minutes long.
My weekend productivity is either totally shot or about to go over the top because If This Then That just got a Workflow channel. To get you up to speed: IFTTT lets you link things that typically might not work together, like weather reports and WeMo switches, then trigger actions over the internet. Workflow lets you automate actions on your iPhone or iPad through scripts. Now imagine smashing the two together. IFTTT is free, and Workflow costs US$2.99. Together? Priceless.
Forget 64-bit processors and Retina Displays because 1990s 8-bit tech is the way to go. Or, at least it is if you want to snap some awesome retro photos with your iPhone. The IconFactory's BitCam lets you do just that in a totally rad Mac System 6 interface. It's got big, chunky buttons, standard and super-res 8-bit photo resolutions, and you can even upgrade to a "color graphics card" for a buck or so. BitCam is free and worth picking up because, unlike mullets, 8-bit photos won't go out of style.
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