What I…

… Did

Interviewed for CreativeBloq by Craig Grannell (click)
Craig Grannell kindly included me in a recent questionnaire sent to a couple of developers regarding UI and interaction design for the different platforms Apple has to offer.

Developed SiriMote (click)
Coming from “how to pair the Apple TV Siri Remote with your Mac”, over “how to detect force touch capable devices”, I decided to look into making the Siri Remote a little bit more useful on the Mac and see if I could use it to control iTunes using the Scripting Bridge. It worked well, but wasn’t universal enough, so I decided to make it translate Remote-button-presses into media-key-events (like the play/pause-key on the Mac’s keyboard, or F8).
That opens up the app to work with any app that reacts to those media keys, like iTunes, Keynote and QuickTime, making the app much more useful, but also came with a caveat – I couldn’t release it on the Mac App Store as it uses CGEventPost, which is prevented in OS X’s sandbox (a requirement for apps available on the MAS).

TwoDollarTuesday’s Black Friday Sale (click)
With Yoink, Glimpses, ScreenFloat and Transloader I participated in this year’s Black Friday Sale, organized by TwoDollarTuesday.
I’ve been a long-time-fan of the work Mike has been doing with TwoDollarTuesday and have run several promotions on his site, always with great results, and this was no exception.

Force Touch in Yoink (click)
I’ve been wanting to get some force touch action going in Yoink, and I finally got it working.
The first stepping stone was to actually recognize force touch events in an NSTableView (which was no easy feat, see here).
The second was showing preferences for Force Touch only if a force touch capable device was actually available to the Mac (as I dislike cluttering up the interface if it has no function). To my surprise, it wasn’t as difficult as getting force touch events, but it wasn’t trivial either, like it should be (on iOS, you have a simple enum on a UIView to see if 3D touch is available. On the Mac, there is no such thing – see here).
The update will be available soon, I still need to get the new preferences translated.

Looking into Auto Layout
Yes, I’m probably very late to the party, but I never got warm with auto layout – it just didn’t do what I wanted in an easy manner, the way auto resizing enabled me to. Nevertheless, at some point, I will have to transition to using Auto Layout in my apps (I’m currently using it in none of them) and so I decided to ask around on twitter what people recommended as starting resources.
Here’s a quick list:

  • Ray Wenderlich’s Auto Layout Tutorial in iOS 9 (click)
  • objc.io’s Advanced Auto Layout Toolbox (click)
  • pilky.me’s Autolayout, Equal Spacing and Other Short Stories (click)
  • Matthew Morey’s Creating UIViews programmatically with Auto Layout (click)

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Spam Score IconSpam Score (click, $9.99 on the Mac App Store)
A new app by Christopher Atlan (@catlan on twitter) that tells you the spam score of your (or other’s) emails, and pretty impressive for a “weekend hack”, as he described it to me in a conversation about it.
From the app’s description: “A score higher than 5 may potentially cause deliverability issues while scores greater than 10 frequently developer delivery issues.”

… Read

How Apple TV Turned Me Into A Game Developer (click)
An insightful article by Alexander Repty (@arepty on twitter), where he describes how he felt the need to develop a game for the new Apple TV – something I can relate to, as I also felt the urge to bring the iOS game Reach ZEN from iOS to the new Apple TV.

Inside Apple’s Perfectionism Machine (click)
The attention to detail at Apple can be quite astonishing.

How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name (click)
In contrast to the article above, a harsh critique of some of Apple’s design decisions

A Comprehensive Guide to the iTunes Affiliate Program (click)
As I wrote last month, I joined the iTunes Affiliate Program and now there’s this (almost definitive) guide to it. If you’re part of it or planning to join, be sure to read it, it’s written by someone who knows what he’s talking about, as John Voorhees wrote an iOS app called Blink that facilitates creating affiliate-links.

How The Good Dinosaur Got Its Stunning Scenery (click)
I’m looking forward to seeing this movie next week with my girlfriend, as the articles written about it (I posted another one in last month’s “What I…”) paint a wonderful picture about it. Can’t wait.

… Watched

Steve Jobs Movie PosterSteve Jobs
As soon as you get to terms with this being about a more or less fictional Steve Jobs, it’s a good movie.
I didn’t like Fassbender in the role of Jobs. I prefer Noah Wyle. After that, Ashton Kutcher (not that I liked the JOBS movie, but Kutcher was great in it, and he definitely looked the part).

Mockingjay 2 PosterThe Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 2
A fitting conclusion to this movie series. Might even be my favorite part.

… Ate

IMG 3284For my girlfriend’s birthday, we went to our favorite restaurant (Demi Tass; indian cuisine) This is our dessert – Mango Crême. So good.

… Went to See

The Simpsons Lego HouseAlso for my girlfriend’s birthday, we took a trip to Springfield.

The Simpsons House - FiguresThe amount of details are insane and makes it so fun to build and play with.

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… Did

Interview for MacFormat about Metal (click)
Craig Grannell (@CraigGrannell on twitter) sent me and a couple of other developers a couple of questions about what we thought Metal would bring to the Mac. I’m very proud his article starts by quoting me:

Try to imagine riding a bike with square wheels. To move, more effort is required than when using ordinary wheels. This is how Eternal Storms Software founder Matthias Gansrigler describes OpenGL [compared to Metal] on the Mac.

It’s my first interview for a print magazine, my second overall (the first being this piece on the german site MacGadget a couple of years ago about OS X 10.5 Leopard).

Took part in the iTunes Affiliate Links Program (click)
I was told a couple of times now that I should set up affiliate links at least on my webpage, and I finally got around to do it. I don’t expect a lot of profit from this, but in this day and age, and as an indie developer, every bit helps. Setup is very easy and quickly done, so if you have a couple of minutes, I suggest you set up affiliate links as well.

Brought my cousin’s iOS game ‘Reach ZEN’ to the new Apple TV (click)
It’s a simple game, so the interface-conversion was done fairly quickly. Most of the APIs used are available on the tvOS as well (with the exception of social APIs – twitter and facebook).
What took the most time, though, was to make sure the game worked naturally, intuitively with the Apple TV Siri Remote.
The Focus Engine takes a little time to get used to and if you don’t use autolayout, you can forget using UIFocusGuide to aid the Focus Engine in finding the next UI element that should be focused.
Most buttons you see in ‘Reach ZEN’ are a custom class to draw the line animation, so making them focusable was fairly easy – changing the color to white if selected or a dark purple if not.
It’s a fun platform to develop for, and I’d like to implement multiplayer into ‘Reach ZEN’ at some point when I have some spare time.
The Apple TV is a very nice platform, I think, and the stuff that’s appeared on its App Store thus far looks very promising.
Anyway, ‘Reach ZEN’ is $0.99 on the App Store – and one download gets you the game for iPhone+iPad+Apple TV. I hope you enjoy – the Apple TV app will be available this or next week 🙂

Wrote about Pairing the Apple TV Siri Remote with the Mac for Testing Purposes (click)
Speaking of the new Apple TV, I figured out how to un-pair the Apple TV Siri Remote from the Apple TV and pair it with the Mac so it can be used in Xcode’s Apple TV Simulator, which is very nice if you’d like to quickly test some stuff locally.

Bought the Magic Trackpad 2 (click)
As soon as Force Touch arrived in the new MacBook, I’ve been wanting to do something with it. However, purchasing a new Mac just for a new Trackpad seemed a little over the top for me, so I kept hoping Apple would release a refreshed Magic Trackpad, which it thankfully did.
It’s a very cool device, it’s much larger than the previous one (I saw a picture online that compared its size to the iPad mini’s screen, and it’s almost identical), easy to the touch, very smooth.
I like the haptic feedback when fast-forwarding or rewinding in QuickTime – that’s just something you need to experience for yourself to really grasp how (r)evolutionary this is. I can’t see myself ever going back to a non-Force-Touch trackpad.
What astounds me is that the revised Magic Mouse didn’t get Force Touch. Just as much as it baffles me that the new Magic Keyboard didn’t get the butterfly mechanism for its keys.
So in an effort to exchange my wired equipment for wireless hardware (mouse and keyboard, primarily) I got my brother’s (old) Magic Mouse (which works just as well as the new one, just with batteries, imho) and I’m planning on purchasing the new Magic Keyboard (or the old one, if there’s a good deal somewhere). I believe I’ll miss the number pad of the USB keyboard, though. It is pretty comfortable.
The new keyboard is pretty close to what I remember the MacBook’s keyboard’s keys felt like – and I liked it (I had a chance to test it at Saturn last week). But it’s not enough to convince me to shell out 50 bucks more.

Force Touch in Yoink (click)
À propos the Magic Trackpad 2, Yoink is the first app of mine that I’d like to make use of Force Touch. In what turned out to be an odyssey of a couple of weeks, I finally found out how to receive Force Touch events from an NSTableView (something that – one would think – would be easy to do, but it’s surprisingly convoluted and opaque).
In Yoink, force touching on a file will select all files to allow for easily dragging them all out at once. For now, a double-click with the option key pressed could be used, but I think Force Touch will feel more natural.
I’m also experimenting with haptic feedback, that you feel something when your drag enters Yoink’s window. I’m not convinced completely yet, but perhaps it will be an option soon.

Updated ScreenFloat to v5.1.12 (click)
As a minor update, it fixes a potential crashing bug when opening the Shots Browser, incorporates the new About panel and adds the ability to quickly create a new shot from the menu not having to dig down to the submenu but clicking on the containing menu item instead. It’s a minor thing, but it makes it a little bit faster to take a shot when not using the keyboard shortcut.
For version 2.0, naturally, with a new device like the Magic Trackpad 2, a lot of use cases come to mind, but that’s still a little time off. Plus, Force Touch is no where near being a mainstream input possibility, so that’s always something to keep in mind. In a couple of years, sure, everyone will have it, but right now, it’s very, very ‘niche’.

Coffee Machine with FrotherBought a new coffee machine
After my coffee maker bit the dust right after it’s warranty expired, I had to get a new one, and this time, with a milk frother. It’s coffee 2.0 – so good. Makes me feel like I lived in the dark ages before.

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OS X El Capitan IconOS X 10.11 El Capitan (click)
I don’t understand why Apple’s new version of OS X currently holds an average rating of 2½ stars – that seems very low to me.
To me, this update has been nothing but a breath of fresh air and brought new life into my retina MacBook Pro from 2012. The UI is much smoother (in Yosemite, three windows open and Mission Control would lose frames any place it could).

Plex IconPlex (click)
A natural addition to the new Apple TV. Be sure to get it.

Lara Croft GO IconLara Croft GO (click)
A marvellous puzzle-platforming-game, very nicely executed. Would be interesting to see it on the Apple TV, but for now, it’ll have to do on the iPad (which is also very nice, by the way). When I first downloaded it, I played an hour straight and had a hard time putting it down.

Beach Buggy Racing IconBeach Buggy Racing (click)
Something to test the new Apple Siri Remote with and it’s just plain fun, though controlling with the remote’s tilt-control took me a while to get used to (I also never got used to tilt-controls on the iPhone or iPad – I always switched to button controls where available). For some reason, on the Apple TV, it works better for me. Probably because the screen doesn’t turn with me turning the remote. That’s what always bugged me with tilt-controls.

… Read 

This time without a synopsis on my part as I’m pressed for time – my apologies. But the titles give you the gist of it anyway.

Why Apple Is Still Sweating The Details on iMac (click)

Lessons Learned with 3D Touch (click)

How Pixar Changed All The Rules To Make The Good Dinosaur (click)

Perfect Smooth Scrolling in UITableViews (click)

On Apple’s Incredible Platform Advantage (click)

Apple TV, iPhone, iPad: Best Controllers (click)

… Watched

It’s been a busy month, movie-wise. A lot of interesting new movies came out this month here in Austria and my girlfriend and I were trying hard to catch up 😉 And it’s not over yet – The Hunger Games Finale, The Good Dinosaur, Star Wars… Pretty busy this year.

Inside Out PosterInside Out
Another Pixar masterpiece. My favorite remains Monsters, Inc. for now, but Inside Out makes for a good second, maybe third place in my personal ranking. They do try to make you cry a little too hard at the end there, but it’s a movie about emotions, so that’s to be expected. The imagery is amazing and the cast does an amazing job voicing Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger and Sadness.
I’m wondering what took them so long to release it in Austria, though. Usually, these movies are released worldwide at the same time. They seem to be able to do it with The Good Dinosaur… Weird.

Crimson PeakCrimson Peak
An OK movie with a story not strong enough to really hold my interest. The cinematography and sets were amazing, though. A lot to see, for sure.

The Visit PosterThe Visit
M. Night Shyamalan is back, with a great, pretty scary movie. And it wouldn’t be a Shyamalan movie without a twist. What it is? Go see yourself 😉

Paranormal Activity-The Ghost Dimension PosterParanormal Activity – The Ghost Dimension
The thing about the Paranormal Activity movies that made cold sweat running down my skin was you never really got to see what actually haunted people. This changes in this (apparently final) movie of the series and takes away a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. It’s still scary, but not as primal-scary as the first couple of movies. Nevertheless, it’s a good conclusion to the series.

A Developer’s Honest Take on His Team’s Failure (click)
Remember that game that would end after a certain amount of people died in-game? Hear what went wrong, and what went right.

… Ate

WokWok

Coffee Latte MacchiatoYum. Just sayin’

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This exciting installment of “What I…” features a mysterious Apple TV Developer Kit and an amazing city trip to Zurich.

… Did

Yoink IconUpdated Yoink to Version 3.1 (click)
Yoink 3.1 brings many new languages (like Simplified Chinese and Japanese, among others), performance improvements (like when waiting for so-called promised drags) and energy usage improvements (for example, Yoink doesn’t try to create QuickLook previews for folders and apps anymore as they are just icons anyway. It’s a minor thing, but it can add up), as well as several bug fixes.
I highly recommend updating if you haven’t already – it’s a free update for existing customers of the app.

Apple TV Developer Kit Box

Received an Apple TV Developer Kit (click)
Yes, I was one of the lucky ones to be chosen to receive an Apple TV Developer Kit. I’d like to know how the “choosing process” works inside Apple. Was there a contingent of Apple TV Developer Kits per country and the lucky ones were chosen per country as well or was it just a global “lottery”. I wasn’t lucky enough to be able to go to WWDC this year (because I didn’t win the lottery), but I’m very happy and glad it worked this time. I’m not supposed to show or talk about it, but I can say I do like it (<disclaimer>this is not a review</disclaimer>).
My cousin and I released an iOS game last year, Reach ZEN, and I’m currently looking into bringing it onto the Apple TV platform. It’s been pretty easy so far and I’ll be sure to post about it soon.

ScreenFloat IconWorked on ScreenFloat 2.0 (click)
I’ve been working on ScreenFloat 2.0, particularly currently the layout of the floating shots. I’m not very keen on the widgets that currently appear when you mouse over a floating shot, I’d like to change that up a bit and make it less gimicky-looking. I’ve also started doing some prototyping on possible annotations. Looking good so far, but at this point, I can not share any more. I hope I’ll be able to, soon.

Collecting Photos of my late Dad
In November 2013, my dad passed away at 63. He was a well-known and respected journalist here in Austria (working for KathPress, Die Furche, Das WirtschaftsBlatt and Kurierlogistik.kurier) and I thought it would be a good idea to make the round through their offices and see if they had any photos of him I wasn’t in possession of.
They were all very accommodating, however, I only found very few photos, I thought they had more.
I also drove to our old house in Burgenland (the country-side of Austria) which doesn’t belong to us anymore, but the new owner was kind enough to hold on to some personal objects of ours, which contained family trees, a couple of photographs and, most interestingly, letters from the battlefield (of WWII) of my granddad’s brother. I’m now in the process of digitizing them – I never knew they existed. We did have letters from my granddad, but not from his brother.

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Seabeard App IconSeabeard for iPad (click)
This is a pretty, fun and highly addictive game. I’ve already spent way too much time with it, and I’ve only had it for a week.
You’re a seafarer trying to rebuild your destroyed island. It has some Zelda elements to it, which by itself makes it a winner in my book.

… Read

Apple Pencil vs. Wacom Cintiq (click)
A blog post by Linda Dong (an Apple employee currently on a year off for personal projects) about the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil vs. the Wacom Cintiq. Very insightful coming from a person who uses this stuff every day for work and probably for personal stuff as well, but perhaps a little biased since she worked on it as well. Still, worth a read and definitely an opinion that can be trusted _because_ she uses it daily.

Pixar in a Box | Khan Academy (click)
An introduction to how things work behind the scenes at Pixar. Very interesting.

In Their Own Words: An Oral History Of Diablo II (click)
A very detailed read of how Diablo II came to be with the guys who made it. You’ll need some time to read this 😉

How Apple Built 3D Touch (click)
Just goes to show that nothing at Apple is done on a whim.

How Apple’s New Retina Flash – 5 Years In The Making – Brightens Up Selfies (click)
Another example.

Trials and Upgrades Won’t Save Independent Software Developers (click)
I’m not sure I agree with what Elia has to say, but he does offer some interesting alternatives.

We Own You: Confessions of a Free-To-Play Producer (click)
Shocking how much information about a person can be out there and fairly easily accessed.

… Watched

Supernatural Season 1 DVD CoverSupernatural (click)
My girlfriend turned me onto this show and it’s pretty great. We’ve blasted through season 1-3 already and just can not stop watching. If you’re into demon hunters and the like, give this show a try, you won’t regret it.

… Ate

Baked CroissantsBaked Croissants

… Went to See

My girlfriend Britta and I spontaneously decided to take a trip to Zurich over the weekend, and boy, was it awesome. A great city and very friendly people all around.
We hardly used any public transportation and walked through all of Zurich over the course of three days, including both Rigiblick and Uetliberg. 68.312 steps later, we were back in Vienna (by plane, not by foot :P).

View from GrossmuensterView of Zurich and Zurich Lake from Grossmünster.

View from UetlibergMy girlfriend and I, with a grand view of Zurich and Zurich Lake from Uetliberg.

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