Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the TidBITS Content Network for Apple consultants.

While all the articles in each mailed edition of TidBITS are available as individual articles, we also archive each edition in three forms (substitute an issue number for number):

Previous 25 issues | Next 25 issues

TidBITS #1183 on 2013-07-22

Students may not be thinking about school over summer break, but we are. Recent graduate David Rabinowitz looks back on the technology he used throughout his years of education and talks with a pair of innovators who are building the iPad into the everyday educational experience in their schools. The major cellular carriers want to revolutionize how often you upgrade smartphones, but are these programs worth the asking price? Josh Centers investigates, and also reviews a new iOS image annotation app from Marco Arment called Bugshot. You’ll read about how Apple’s Developer Center was compromised by a Turkish security researcher in ExtraBITS, but Adam Engst looks at a vulnerability in the Tumblr iOS app that likely affects more people. Jeff Carlson’s streamed “Take Control of Your Digital Photos” continues, offering advice this week on how (and why!) to judge, rate, flag, label, and cull photos. Finally, Josh wraps up with a look on how to take your Mac on a challenging romp across the galaxy in FTL: Faster Than Light. Notable software releases this week include MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update 1.0, TextWrangler 4.5.3, BBEdit 10.5.5, and Logic Pro X 10.0.

TidBITS #1182 on 2013-07-15

The Apple ebook price fixing verdict is in, and it’s bad news for Apple. Judge Denise Cote has found Apple guilty of violating antitrust laws, and TidBITS publisher Adam Engst has a comprehensive explanation of the whole saga. As John Gruber of Daring Fireball said, “If you read only one take on yesterday’s ebook price-fixing lawsuit judgment, make it Adam Engst’s.” In more cheerful news, Dropbox is celebrating a new data-syncing API for developers, but can it compete with iCloud? We asked a couple of leading developers in the Apple ecosystem. Are you a fan of LaunchBar, but don’t think you’re making the most of it? Well, good news. Kirk McElhearn’s “Take Control of LaunchBar” is here, with tasty tidbits that even most seasoned users aren’t aware of. Apple blogger and LaunchBar fan Shawn Blanc said, “If you use LaunchBar, you’re going to want this book. I’ve been reading through it over the past few days and have learned several new things that I’m putting to good use already.” In additional Take Control news, we’ve published Chapter 4 of Jeff Carlson’s in-progress “Take Control of Your Digital Photos” for TidBITS members — check it out for a set of best practices for importing photos to reduce organizational work later on. We wrap up the issue with the latest installment of FunBITS about Desert Bus, which gives you the thrill of a summer road trip from the comfort of your couch, all for a great cause. Notable software releases this week include ReadKit 2.2, Instacast 1.0.2, AirPort Utility 6.3.1 for Mac, Cloud Mate 1.5.6, DEVONthink and DEVONnote 2.6, and PDFpen and PDFpenPro 6.0.4.

TidBITS #1181 on 2013-07-08

Will you be wearing technology in a year or two? We don’t know, but it seems increasingly likely, so we have a pair of articles about the possibilities. Jeff Porten leads off by investigating Google’s restrictions on its Glass eyewear — and the possible ramifications. Closer to home, some of Apple’s recent actions have squeezed the iWatch rumor bellows, and Josh Centers puts the pieces together to analyze what Tim Cook might be thinking. In a sad turn of events, computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart has passed away, but be sure to watch his Mother of All Demos to see the genesis of modern computing unfold before your eyes. Returning to the present, Adam Engst reviews RocketDocs, which encapsulates Google Docs in a native Mac app, and Josh Centers examines ReadKit, the only Mac-native RSS syncing client remaining after the death of Google Reader. In our latest edition of FunBITS, we take a look at the classic iOS app Star Walk — a great option for summer night fun. Finally, we’ve published Chapter 3 of Jeff Carlson’s in-progress “Take Control of Your Digital Photos” for TidBITS members — take a look to learn how to pick the best photo-management app for your needs. Notable software releases this week include Twitter 2.3, Keyboard Maestro 6.1, LaunchBar 5.5.2, Mailplane 3.0.1, CloudPull 2.4.2, and Security Update 2013-003 for Mountain Lion, Lion, and Snow Leopard.

TidBITS #1180 on 2013-07-01

As you read this issue of TidBITS, Google Reader is approaching the bit bucket. The popular RSS reading and syncing service is set to be shuttered after 1 July 2013, but the good news for RSS fans is that Josh Centers has a roundup of the best alternatives. If keeping up with Internet headlines isn’t your idea of fun, perhaps you’d prefer to try your hand at the Battle of Britain, in Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders, which brings World War II dogfighting action to your Mac, iPhone, and iPad. For those favoring more thoughtful pastimes, Michael Cohen delves into the role of footnotes in ebooks, Steve Aquino examines how the Markdown language has enabled him to become a freelance writer despite being legally blind, and we look at how iOS 7 promises to open up access to Apple’s educational online services to children under the age of 13. Finally, we’re publishing Jeff Carlson’s next book, “Take Control of Your Digital Photos,” as a series of articles for TidBITS members — check it out! Notable software releases this week include Transmit 4.4 and PopChar X 6.3.

TidBITS #1179 on 2013-06-24

Details surrounding recent allegations that the NSA can spy on users of online services continue to emerge, but in the meantime, TidBITS security editor Rich Mogull analyzes how much of your Apple data is actually vulnerable to government spying. Big Brother may be watching you, but will we be watching Big Brother? Jeff Porten looks at the social implications of wearable computers, ranging from smartwatches to Google Glass. Meanwhile, back in the present, Michael Cohen takes another look at the now-improved Marvin ebook reader, and Josh Centers runs down the recent channel additions to Apple TV — HBO and ESPN, notably — and clarifies the old-world catch that will prevent cord cutters from watching. Lastly, Josh wraps up the issue with the latest installment of FunBITS, featuring the Apple Design Award winner Badland for iPhone and iPad. Notable software releases this week include Mellel 3.2.1, Java for OS X 2013-004 and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 16, TweetDeck 3.0.2, and Hazel 3.1.1.

TidBITS #1178 on 2013-06-17

With the smoke having cleared from Apple’s WWDC keynote, Glenn Fleishman looks deeply at Apple’s claims about the 802.11ac technology featured in the new AirPort base stations and MacBook Air models. Is it as fast as Apple says? One thing has gotten faster for Apple developers: app sales and transfers, which are finally possible in the App Store. Could you control your electronics by dancing through your house? It may soon be possible, as researchers have invented a way to use existing Wi-Fi signals for gesture control. That is, unless there’s a patent involved. The patent system has gotten so out of hand that even lawyers from firms that work for Apple have been implicated in patent lawsuits against the company. While there’s little you can do to fix the patent system, you can relocate folders inside your Dropbox folder to another disk — Camera Uploads is the poster child here — and Jeff Carlson shows you how. To fill up that Camera Uploads folder, check out Analog Camera; Josh Centers reviews the clever, gesture-based photography app for the iPhone. Also new for the iPhone is Duolingo, an app and Web service that turns language learning into a game, and Chris Armstrong has all the details in our latest installment of FunBITS. Notable software releases this week include LaunchBar 5.5.1, Keyboard Maestro 6.0.1, Mellel 3.2, and AirPort Utility 6.3 for Mac.

TidBITS #1177 on 2013-06-10

Apple made some big waves on the first day of WWDC, announcing a new Mac Pro, new MacBook Air models, new AirPort base stations, iWork for iCloud, and — most notably — the surfing-inspired OS X 10.9 Mavericks and the redesigned iOS 7. The TidBITS team has been pushing hard the entire day to bring you all the juicy details, so read on! While you’re waiting for the fall release of Mavericks, note that Apple has updated Mountain Lion to version 10.8.4, finally fixing an annoying bug in Messages, along with a variety of other minor issues. Looking past Apple, the technical drawing and illustration app Canvas is returning to the Mac after a long hiatus; the developers of the popular Instacast podcast app for iOS have brought it to the Mac, with some interesting syncing features; and Jean MacDonald of Smile has launched the nonprofit App Camp for Girls to teach girls how to code. Finally, we wrap the issue with another edition of FunBITS, featuring Nimble Quest for iOS and Mac, which turns the classic game Snake into a fantasy adventure. Notable software releases this week include LaunchBar 5.5, Aperture 3.4.5, iTunes 11.0.4, BBEdit 10.5.4, TextWrangler 4.5.2, and Security Update 2013-002 for Snow Leopard and Lion.

TidBITS #1176 on 2013-06-03

We’re back from our Memorial Day hiatus with a giant-sized issue of TidBITS! Since your last email issue, Apple was grilled by the U.S. Senate about its tax practices, but is the company doing anything wrong, or even unusual? Josh Centers digs into the issues, which are far more subtle than the headlines would have you believe. The Keyboard Maestro 6 macro utility debuted in a major new revision, and Adam Engst takes you on a tour of its new features. Adobe responds to complaints about its switch to the subscription-based Creative Cloud, and Smile has updated TextExpander touch for iOS with powerful new capabilities that bring the text-expansion utility closer to the Mac version — Michael Cohen runs down the details. In security news, Glenn Fleishman explains how Twitter has added two-factor authentication and how Apple’s two-factor authentication has come under fire for not being sufficiently comprehensive. Glenn also looks at how Google is taking a page from Apple’s iMessage playbook by switching away from the open XMPP chat standard for Google Talk and the new Hangouts. Lastly, Josh rounds out the issue with an installment of FunBITS that reviews the Marvel Unlimited comic subscription service. Notable software releases this week include Napkin 1.1, Evernote 5.1, and KeyCue 6.5.

TidBITS #1175 on 2013-05-20

Perturbed by Adobe’s move to Creative Cloud? You’re not alone, and this week we have a rundown of the most significant concerns, along with suggestions for how Adobe could resolve them. Plus, Michael Cohen examines the question of whether or not it's realistic to replace Photoshop with Pixelmator. Also this week, Agen Schmitz reveals the MiniPlayer-related changes in iTunes 11.0.3, Matt Neuburg takes a look at the TouchFire keyboard overlay for the iPad, Josh Centers returns with another installment of FunBITS featuring the addictive iPhone game Dots, and Adam Engst adds some much-needed context to several of the big number announcements from last week. Finally, if you’re a PDFpen user, check out Michael Cohen’s latest ebook, “Take Control of PDFpen 6.” Notable software releases this week include MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.0, Skype, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 6.0.3, iMovie ’11 9.0.9, Sandvox 2.8, and BusyCal 2.0.5.

TidBITS #1174 on 2013-05-13

Adobe stunned the creative world this week by dropping boxed versions of Adobe Creative Suite 6 in favor of the subscription-based Creative Cloud. Josh Centers digs into the details to see if Creative Cloud is good or bad for users. In other news, Glenn Fleishman profiles the new Passport iOS app, which is a directory of apps and users, and as a bonus, we’re giving away free accounts! On a practical note, Michael Cohen tells you what to do when your Web browser won’t display PDFs, and he examines Marvin, a new ebook reader for iOS with some amazing features but an Achilles heel. Matt Neuburg wraps up the issue with a review of Cloud Mate for iOS, which brings even more of the power of Dropbox to iCloud. Notable software releases this week include Thunderbolt Firmware Update v1.2, Alfred 2.0.3, Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.4, and Fission 2.1.3.

TidBITS #1173 on 2013-05-06

Big things are happening at TidBITS this week, as we welcome Josh Centers as our new managing editor! Meanwhile, not so big things are happening with iOS, which saw a minuscule update aimed exclusively at the iPhone 5. In other news, the Web site is up for sale for anyone with an entrepreneurial itch, a bug in our commenting system could lead to an identity crisis for some users, we discuss why Apple is concerned about stock price on a staff roundtable, and David Rabinowitz digs into some of Apple’s recent financial twists. Lastly, Joe Kissell strikes again with another must-read edition of FlippedBITS, in which he explains all about Java and why Apple is deprecating it so. Notable software releases this week include Cyberduck 4.3.1, Postbox 3.0.8, Little Snitch 3.1, Transmit 4.3.4, SpamSieve 2.9.7, and GraphicConverter 8.6.

TidBITS #1172 on 2013-04-29

We hope you weren’t planning to attend Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference, since it sold out all 5,000 spots in 2 minutes! In other Apple news, the company reported second-quarter revenues that were higher than a year ago, but profits were down. Michael Cohen and Adam Engst run down the details, and Glenn Fleishman takes a hard look at the overall technology industry to see which companies will remain household names in the future. Further afield, Glenn also shares news of the popular Instapaper read-it-later service being taken over by venture-capital firm Betaworks, and Agen Schmitz passes on details of Apple’s latest move to protect Mac users from Java exploits in Safari. Back at home, we’re pleased to announce our latest ebook — Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Dropbox” — and Adam tells the story of how we built it using a new publishing service called Leanpub. Notable software releases this week include PDFpen and PDFpenPro 6.0.2, CloudPull 2.4.1, DEVONagent Lite, Express, and Pro 3.5, and Typinator 5.5.

TidBITS #1171 on 2013-04-22

You saw this week’s news coming, didn’t you? We’re talking about the 23rd anniversary of TidBITS! Adam Engst shares a few milestones related to the anniversary along with some thoughts about the role a 23-year-old publication can play in today’s modern Internet. Also this week, David Rabinowitz reviews the Divvy window management utility for Mac OS X, Agen Schmitz covers the initial open-source release of LiveCode 6.0 after its successful Kickstarter campaign, and Matt Neuburg waxes poetic about the iPod shuffle after searching through Apple’s iPod lineup for a suitable replacement for his second-generation iPod nano. Notable software releases this week include Mailplane 3.0, Things 2.2, CloudPull 2.4, Aperture 3.4.4, and iPhoto 9.4.3.

TidBITS #1170 on 2013-04-15

While it has been hard to concentrate during the tragic events at the finish of the Boston Marathon (for which we point to online resources for tracking affected runners), we still have a solid issue of TidBITS for you this week. Adam Engst shares details about WWDCBlast, a service that promises to alert developers hoping not to get shut out of this year’s WWDC, and reviews the Type2Phone app that turns a Mac into a Bluetooth keyboard for iOS devices. Matt Neuburg explains how to create personalized tracks on Google Maps with a GPS tracker, and Joe Kissell’s latest FlippedBITS column delves into common misconceptions surrounding IMAP. Notable software releases this week include Audio Hijack Pro 2.10.7, LaunchBar 5.4.3, and DEVONthink and DEVONnote 2.5.2.

TidBITS #1169 on 2013-04-08

If you’ve been planning to attend Macworld/iWorld in early February next year, think again, since it’s moving to late March. And if real-world conferences are too much trouble these days, check out what’s possible with the free Google+ Hangouts On Air, which we’ve used for TidBITS Presents and Take Control Live — Adam Engst explains how to use it for both giving and attending presentations. Adam also looks at how to take advantage of the new gestures in version 2.1 of the Gmail iPhone app; Matt Neuburg reviews Cloud Mate, which makes iCloud’s Documents in the Cloud work more like Dropbox; and David Rabinowitz shares his real-world experiences with electronic textbooks in today’s college environment. Notable software releases this week include Snapz Pro X 2.5.2, TextWrangler 4.5.1, and BBEdit 10.5.3.

TidBITS #1168 on 2013-04-02

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Josh Centers explains how Apple has updated Find My Friends to provide customizable geofences, Marshall Clow reviews the Sydnee device charging station, and Adam Engst passes along suggestions for both preventing Word document corruption and fixing it if it happens. Glenn Fleishman anchors the issue with a look back at his history with cameras, starting with a Canon AE-1, moving on to the first Kodak DCS 100, and ending up with the Sony NEX-6 mirrorless camera. Notable software releases this week include Final Cut Pro X 10.0.8, PDFpen 6.0.1, and ChronoSync 4.3.7.

TidBITS #1167 on 2013-04-01

Apple news once again takes center stage in our issue this week, even though Apple didn’t see fit to feature any of it in one of the company’s special media events, now apparently reserved for significant hardware releases. Which of the changes will resonate most depends on your situation. Parents will appreciate the features in iCloud for Families, thoroughly detailed by Rich Mogull. For professional users, Joe Kissell runs down the specs of the Mac Pro’s replacement, and Matt Neuburg explains why Snow Leopard holdouts now have one less reason to avoid Mountain Lion. On the developer side of things, Michael Cohen covers why the quick sell-out of WWDC slots shouldn’t be as much of a problem this year, and Adam Engst outlines three welcome changes to Apple’s App Store policies. Finally, rumors are flying about Apple attempting once again to acquire Dropbox, and we announce our latest Take Control experiment, an in-progress book called “Take Control of Crowdsourcing.”

TidBITS #1166 on 2013-03-25

“You’re not paranoid, they really are out to get you.” That’s the lesson of this week’s issue, which — we swear we didn’t plan this — focuses largely on security issues. First, Glenn Fleishman explains how a vulnerability in Apple’s iForgot password-reset page made it possible to reset someone’s password knowing only their date of birth. Apple fixed it immediately, but who knows how long it has been available? Apple also released iOS 6.1.3 to fix a month-old bug that allowed someone who gained access to your iPhone to bypass the passcode and get into the Phone app. Going proactive, Apple last week implemented two-factor authentication for Apple IDs to prevent unauthorized password changes, purchases, and support requests — Glenn Fleishman has all the details and necessary instructions. And with the last word on security for the issue, Joe Kissell contributes a FlippedBITS column that thoroughly debunks four common password myths. Beyond security, Glenn also passes on news about RSS reader NetNewsWire’s future, and Adam Engst shares the results of his testing of PDFpen 6.0’s new export-to-Word feature. Notable software releases this week include Skype 6.3 and PopChar X 6.2.

TidBITS #1165 on 2013-03-18

The big news this week came from Google, not with something new, but with the cancellation of something old: Google Reader. Josh Centers offers some suggestions for alternatives, if you’re accustomed to reading RSS news feeds via Google Reader or syncing them between devices with other RSS apps. And Adam Engst takes advantage of the opportunity to look more deeply into what the shuttering of Google Reader means in terms of tools versus platforms, publishers versus distributors, and the infinitude of Internet information. Bringing things back down to earth, Adam also looks at the OS X 10.8.3 update, and Joe Kissell introduces FlippedBITS, a new column aimed at correcting technology misconceptions, with the first installment aimed at explaining what to watch out for when booting from a duplicate of your hard disk. Notable software releases this week include Security Update 2013-001 for Snow Leopard and Lion, MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update 1.1, Pear Note 3.1, LaunchBar 5.4.2, Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.2 and 2008 12.3.6, Default Folder X 4.5.8, and Dropbox 2.0.

TidBITS #1164 on 2013-03-11

What’s it like to be a computer science major in college these days? David Rabinowitz joins us to share his story of studying at the University of Virginia. But we have lots more this week, including Alicia Katz Pollock’s explanation of the different ways to let Dropbox and Time Machine interact, and Joe Kissell’s amusing tale of gaining flash Twitter celebrity for a 10-minute iPad hack. Also, if you’ve ever missed an email issue of TidBITS, read on to learn how you can now resend issues to yourself. Finally, we just published “Take Control of Your iPad, Second Edition” and we want you to share your copy with a friend. Seriously! Notable software releases this week include CloudPull 2.2, Default Folder X 4.5.7, Transmit 4.3.3, DEVONthink and DEVONnote 2.5.1, Evernote 5.0.6, ScreenFlow 4.0.3, GraphicConverter 8.5.3, and Java for OS X 2013-002 and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 14.

TidBITS #1163 on 2013-03-04

Frustrated by passwords? We have the solution in our latest ebook, Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Your Passwords” (complete with a “Joe of Tech” comic and a funny intro video). In other TidBITS news, listen to the staff roundtable discussion about our email strategies and be sure to check out the New Republic article that keys off a previous staff roundtable, along with Adam Engst’s interview on KCRW radio. But enough about us! Jeff Carlson covers the flap over the buggy Kindle app, Adam examines the re-approved DataMan Pro, and Glenn Fleishman explains how you can join for free. Feature articles include Josh Centers’s review of the visual communication app Napkin and Matt Neuburg’s look at what’s new in our TidBITS News app, complete with a trip back through iOS history. Notable software releases this week include Scrivener 2.4, CrashPlan 3.5.2, DEVONthink and DEVONnote 2.5, and PDFpen and PDFpenPro 5.9.5 — all apps that, coincidentally, we’ve covered in Take Control books.

TidBITS #1162 on 2013-02-25

Lots of great stuff for you this week, leading off with Agen Schmitz’s look at iOS 6.1.2, which fixes a serious bug communicating with Microsoft Exchange Server. Josh Centers and Joe Kissell team up for a pair of email-focused articles, with Josh reviewing the much-heralded Mailbox app for the iPhone and Joe suggesting kindly that if you’re having trouble staying on top of your email, it’s not email in general or the app you’re using that’s the problem; it’s you that needs to change. Adam passes along the news of additional Microsoft accreditation for consultants at MacTech BootCamp events in 2013, and examines the popular but controversial Kickstarter campaign to create an open-source version of the HyperCard-inspired LiveCode development environment. Notable software releases this week include TextWrangler 4.5, Adobe Acrobat XI and Reader XI 11.0.02, Transmit 4.3.2, KeyCue 6.4, Java for OS X 2013-001 and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 13, iTunes 11.0.2, Firefox 19, and BusyCal 2.0.3.

TidBITS #1161 on 2013-02-18

If you’ve been thinking about getting a new MacBook Pro, you’ll be pleased to learn that Apple has improved a few specs and dropped a few prices, making the laptops even more compelling. Much of the rest of the issue skews toward opinion this week, with a staff roundtable discussing why we all continue to support Apple despite massive changes in the company and the industry, Adam’s minor rant about how multimedia-enhanced ebooks aren’t about to replace titles that rely solely on plain text and static graphics, and a number of ExtraBITS links to articles worrying about the decline in Apple’s software quality. For those looking to set up a new Web site, Josh Centers anchors the issue with a detailed look at the design-driven Squarespace hosting service. Finally, we’re pleased to welcome as our latest long-term sponsor Metadot, makers of the clicky Das Keyboard. Notable software releases this week include Fission 2.1.2, Mailplane 2.5.11, Skype, MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.7, Mellel 3.1.3, BBEdit 10.5.2, Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.1, and BusyCal 2.0.3.

TidBITS #1160 on 2013-02-10

This issue brings you the second set of our picks from Macworld/iWorld 2013, but that’s only the beginning. In the news, we recommend that iPhone 4S users avoid iOS 6.1.1 unless you’re already having problems with iOS 6.1, and Rich Mogull explains the best way to protect yourself against the latest Flash vulnerability without losing complete access to Flash Web sites. Glenn Fleishman looks at the significant price hikes from in-flight Internet provider Gogo, and Steve McCabe puts the different English dialects of Siri to the test. Finally, we’re pleased to welcome our latest sponsor, Connected Data, makers of the Transporter social storage device. Notable software releases this week include Sandvox 2.7.6, AirPort Utility 6.2 for Mac and OS X Server 2.2.1.

TidBITS #1159 on 2013-02-04

We’re pleased to bring you our first look at cool new products from last week’s Macworld/iWorld trade show, along with Adam Engst’s thoughts about the real problems that Apple faces, which aren’t the same as those the mainstream media seems to focus on. Adam also examines what’s behind Apple’s emphasis on the professional user with the new 128 GB iPad. Lastly, Joe Kissell looks at the ioSafe Solo G3 hard drive, which is waterproof, fireproof, and theft-resistant, and even comes with free data recovery in case of damage — the question is if it’s worthwhile. Notable software releases this week include Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 12; SMC Firmware Updates for MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air; and Microsoft Office 2011 14.30.

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