The Future-Of-Tools Edition Thursday, August 31, 2017

iOS And macOS Automation: What Does The Future Hold?, by Jason Snell, Macworld

But in the past year, two events have occurred that call into question the future of tools to boost our productivity on both macOS and iOS. Longtime Automation product manager Sal Soghoian had his position at Apple eliminated, and Apple bought the leading iOS automation app, Workflow.

So Apple’s left hand swipes away automation tools while its right hand acquires them. It’s confusing, right? While the future of productivity-boosting tech on Apple’s platforms is in flux, I’m pretty confident that the future is bright.

The 10,000 Track Limit: Why I Switched From Spotify To Apple Music, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

Spotify never explains why changing an arbitrary number in the code from 10,000 to 50,000 (Google Play Music’s limit) or 100,000 (Apple Music’s limit) would somehow hurt the experience for those who don’t want to add that many tracks. A Spotify music collection is just a list of tracks, so it’s hard to imagine how allowing that list to exceed 10,000 could cause any problems. Regardless, many people in that discussion (and the many other related threads) have said the limit is why they’re leaving Spotify, and it was the key reason for me to pay Apple instead of Spotify for music.


Remote Access To Your Mac With Screens 4, by David Sparks, MacSparky

Screens combines reliability with a pleasant user interface that make it hard to replace. One of the nice features in the latest version is the ability to hide the screen on your Mac while you are remotely accessing it in what they call “Curtain Mode”.

Facetune Maker Launches Quickshot Camera With Auto Adjustments, Batch Editing, More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Quickshot features four AI-powered modes with auto adjustment features as well as a photo gallery with batch editing tools.

First Look: Eradicate The Adapters And Dongles With Plugable's Lower-cost Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Plugable has thrown its hat into the Thunderbolt 3 ring with a pair of new docking stations, and the lower-cost TBT3-UD1-83 appears to be a good option for most at first glance.

Twelve South Curve Desktop Stand For MacBook Is A Beautiful And Ergonomic Work Of Art, by Steven Sande, Apple World Today

Twelve South has just released the $49.99 Curve for MacBook, a stand that places the screen of modern MacBooks at the precise height for comfortable viewing.

ETA Update Automatically Calculates Calendar Event Travel Times, by John Voorhees, MacStories

If you’re not familiar with ETA, it’s a beautifully-designed utility that calculates your arrival time to destinations based on your mode of transportation. [...] What’s brand new to ETA is its ability to access your calendar to tell you when to leave for an event.


Mathematicians Race To Debunk German Man Who Claimed To Solve One Of The Most Important Computer Science Questions Of Our Time, by Daniel Mützel, Motherboard

What do curable cancer, fair capitalism, and the perfect game of Super Mario Bros. all have in common? Per a mathematical theory, the solution to any one of these problems would allow us to quickly solve the others. All that's needed are better algorithms to prove that complicated questions—such as protein folding, efficient marketplaces, and combinatorial analyses—are merely variations of simpler problems that supercomputers are already able to solve.

But how can one algorithm simplify extremely complicated problems? That depends on another question: What if complicated problems are really just simple problems in disguise? This riddle remains one of the biggest unsolved questions of modern mathematics, and is one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems, for which every accepted answer is rewarded with one million dollars.


Here's The Email Apple CEO Tim Cook Just Sent About Hurricane Harvey, by Ryan Mac, BuzzFeed

Apple CEO TIm Cook addressed the effects of Hurricane Harvey in an email to employees on Wednesday afternoon and said that the company had helped raise more than $3 million for relief efforts.

"Because Texas is home to more than 8,700 of our coworkers, the storm’s impact is felt by all of us," he wrote in a message obtained by BuzzFeed News, adding that the iPhone maker has a global crisis management team on the ground that is helping to move some employees and their families.

Group Of 17 Apple Auto Engineers Join Startup Zoox, by Alex Webb, Bloomberg

A group of automotive engineers has left Apple Inc. for self-driving car startup Zoox Inc. after the world’s most valuable technology company backed off plans to build its own vehicle, according to people familiar with the situation.

The 17 engineers specialize in designing elements present in both traditional and autonomous vehicles, such as braking and suspension systems, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the moves aren’t public. Many of them originally joined Apple from Detroit carmakers and suppliers.