Monthly Archives: January 2023

Whatever happened to the Apple oriented news media

I just realized something about the Apple oriented “press”: I don’t think it really exists anymore. We’ve got lots of podcasts and websites… but jiminy, go to any of the big Apple oriented news websites and the content is increasingly just garbage hot takes on the latest rumors, hot deals, and general fluff designed to with the primary purpose of driving affiliate links.

Just a few minutes ago  John Voorhees on Mastodon posted about the current episode of Appstories podcast was about peering “into the future to try to imagine the apps that will define Apple’s rumored VR headset.” Okay, well, that fits in with months of speculation by all of the Apple sites and podcasts that this rumored headset is coming.

My reaction was to comment back asking why they’ve not done a show on the Affinity 2.0 updates, a very real product released recently and arguably important for the Mac and iPad. Especially given the attention that Affinity has paid to the iPad I expressed my disappointment that a website/podcast known for highlighting the iPad would not have at least mentioned it. I’m not sure they’ve mentioned or discussed DaVinci Resolve or LumaFusion either. Interestingly Federico commented back that they haven’t covered it because they haven’t used it. Yet they haven’t used this non-existent product from Apple either.

Now, I’m not trying to pick on Federico or MacStories. It just struck me that the Apple news oriented press is not what it used to be. My next thought was to wonder, has MacWorld covered the Affinity apps? It’s been ages since I visited so I hoped over. No. No mention of it at all that I could find using their site search. In fact, I found a 2018 review of Affinity Photo but only minor mentions of of Affinity Designer and no mention of Affinity Publisher at all.

It just got me to thinking about the Apple press of 1998 or 2000 or 2002 or 2004. I guess the decline was gradual. But what a bummer that we apparently no longer have an Apple oriented press that’s willing to actually sort through actual important news. I remember the above mentioned time period and discussions and reviews and articles about Quark and Adobe. And actual attention paid to the important software and why it mattered. Real reviews of real products. I did a search on Quark and the results from pre-2012 painted a picture of an Apple press that fits my memory. Namely that they took the issue of important software and software categories seriously.

I think might be one of the only remaining Apple sites that still properly covers this stuff. Are there any others?

HashPhotos Review

One of those tasks I’ve never been consistent at doing is culling duplicate or near duplicate images from my Photos library. It’s been on my mind recently that I need to tidy up and bring in some older photos stored on a backup drive in my old Lightroom and old Aperture libraries.

HashPhotos was mentioned on a recent episode of the iPadPros podcast and it’s proving to be a fantastic compliment to Apple’s Photos app. I’m not a fan of Adobe’s subscription model so I don’t use Lightroom which many use for this kind of management.

A screenshot showing an app window which shows the user two nearly identical images side by side for the purpose choosing the better image. In the particular example the photos are of a small mushroom in moss.

HashPhotos is an ideal tool for finding exact duplicates and very similar, near duplicate images. The app will scan your photos library then present what it found allowing you to browse through with similar images side by side with the option to enlarge them for magnified comparison. It works very well for zooming in both images to the same spot and same magnification at the same time allowing you to determine, for example, which images have the sharpest focus.

HashPhotos can also be used alongside of Photos with it’s own, additional metadata options such as Memo and keywords. Unfortunately this metadata seems somewhat limited in usefulness. The keywords assigned are not written to the photos database so it will only work in HashPhotos. But it is very easy to add keywords to batches and navigating the library with keywords in the app is helpful. I’m not sure what the memo field is useful for.

What is far more useful is batch metadata editing for location and photo date. Perfect for older digital or scanned photos and easy to apply to large numbers of photos at once.

In general the HashPhotos provides a helpful and enjoyable alternative Photos browsing experience. It’s also worth mentioning that the app offers photo editing though I’ve not explored this yet.

What I wanted was an app that would help me work more quickly to find and remove duplicates as well as a way for adding location data and for changing image dates and HashPhotos does exactly this. I’m satisfied!

Celebrating 20 Years of Apple’s Safari and Keynote

Screenshot of Apple's website page for Safari in June, 2003

On January 7, 2003 Apple introduced two new apps, both of which proved to be significant steps for the still young Mac OS X platform. The apps were a surprise to the public and press and were important steps in a much larger process of Apple building it’s own ecosystem of applications which it continues today.

Of the two, Safari was likely the most significant. Apple’s press release:

MACWORLD EXPO, SAN FRANCISCO—January 7, 2003—Apple® today unveiled Safari™, the fastest and easiest to use web browser ever created for the Mac®. Safari’s highly-tuned rendering engine loads pages over three times faster than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for the Mac and runs Javascript over twice as fast. Safari’s innovative features include Google search capabilities integrated directly into the toolbar; SnapBack, a new way to instantly snap back up to search results or the top level of any website after browsing down one or more levels; a completely new way to name, organize and present bookmarks; and automatic “pop-up” ad blocking.

Safari began it’s life at Apple with the WebKit project which was a fork of the open source KHTML layout engine. Don Melton started the WebKit project at Apple on June 25, 2001. He’s got a great post about Safari on his blog, published 2013.

Apple’s Safari Page on Web Archive

Safari on Wikipedia.

I remember being very excited as I’m sure many were. The significance of Apple releasing its own web browser was pretty clear to Apple users. My take-away at the time was that Apple didn’t want to depend on Microsoft for what was becoming one of the most important apps on a computer. 20 years later and Safari continues and is now the second most used browser largely due to the introduction of the iPhone and iPad. While I tried various browsers over the years Safari remained my primary browser and today is the only one I use for day-to-day browsing.

But their big app announcements for that day were not finished.

A screenshot of the Keynote application running on Mac OSX. The screenshot is a pie chart with the title Market Share about the chart

The other significant surprise of the day was the release a new presentation application: Keynote. This release seemed to further underscore Apple’s intention to become more self-reliant in it’s app offerings. As a user of the Appleworks suite of applications I was very excited at the new release as it filled a gap. Though we were unaware at the time it would prove to be the first of a new suite of applications that Apple would release over the next few years called iWork.

The app was originally designed as presentation software for Steve Jobs, Keynote originally retailed as a stand alone application for $99. Pages was added in 2005 and Numbers in 2007. While Microsoft continued to provide its Office apps, Keynote quickly became a favorite of Mac users due to the ease of use and quality of the presentation. I’ve used Keynote many times over the years and it’s been a pleasure to create presentations with it.

“Using Keynote is like having a professional graphics department to create your slides,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “This is the application to use when your presentation really counts.”

Keynote includes 12 Apple-designed themes featuring coordinated backgrounds, fonts, colors, bullets, tables and charts. Users can change the theme of their presentation any number of times, modify an existing theme to their liking, or create custom themes to give their presentations a totally unique look.