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What's The Max?

Should anybody pay $549 for these? No, not really.

These days you can find AirPods Max on Amazon frequently for $100 off. So are they worth it for $449? The answer to that is most likely still no - but I’ll concede these are some awesome sounding, premium headphones. They are well made and have a great feature set, but they exist in an awkward space where they are priced above their capabilities and getting into the range of much higher end headphones. You are paying a lot for the Apple design sense and attention to detail here, with one exception that we’ll get to later. That being said, it is a compelling package but one that I feel like $399 is probably the sweet spot.

Like most Apple products the design and material quality is top notch. The ear cups are made from metal instead of the plastic commonly found on head phones even more expensive than these. Even the headband has a sturdy feel. The The only downside is with that hefty premium feel, these have a little more weight than most headphones. After wearing AirPods Max during a multi-hour coding session, I can definitely feel it afterwards. Also the internal ear pads are removable and super comfortable. They have a super nice magnetic attachment that is strong but yet easy to remove. Fun fact here - you are actually supposed to replace the ear pads on headphones every so often, which I did not know. Apple just engineered a crazy elegant solution to accomplish that. It does let you mix and match colors which is cool.

So how do you get these fancy headphones hooked up to your device? The AirPods Max will connect over Bluetooth or you can connect to a standard audio 3.5mm jack. Wired connections do require an additional purchase of a lightning to 3.5mm cable for about $35, available from the Apple Store. I think most people in the market for the AirPods Max are going to take advantage of the H1 chip to get all the fancy Apple goodies. That gives you Spatial audio (which sounds crazy good), auto device switching via iCloud, one tap pairing, transparency mode and noise cancellation mode and access to Siri. The AirPods Max borrow the button and digital crown from the Apple Watch and they work out really well. That gives you some fairly precise volume control and a also a quick way to toggle your sound mode. Holding down the crown will trigger Siri. The transparency and noise cancellation modes are stellar. I can’t stress this enough. I have used some other br...

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The Master of Unlocking

When the iPhone X was announced I was relieved. You see I always upgrade my iPhone every two years. Luckily last year was not my year, so I had some time to sort out my feelings about Face ID. I have always been a huge Touch ID fan and I frequently use my phone laying on my desk. Needless to say I was very nervous about this year’s iPhone lineup, which adopted Face ID across the line.

Let me preface this with an acknowledgement that I know some people had issues with Touch ID and for them Face ID was a drastic improvement. I’m attempting to convey my experiences, based on my particular use cases in this article.

I do like Face ID – in fact I really like it. When it works, it’s very convenient and flat out futuristic. Just looking at your phone and watching things unlock does have a very Apple-like “magic” quality to it. Overall it’s still not better than Touch ID though, and it all comes down to one simple metric – the failure rate is way too high.

That’s not to say it ruins the iPhone XS or is unusable. Quite the opposite, it’s a unique feature that even with its shortcomings is tolerable. However I just spent over $1,000 on a phone. The thought has occurred to me more than once that for a product with that price, is “tolerable” the best we can expect? I certainly hope not. Apple loves money, as we can see by their prices jumping across the board as of late. I feel like as Apple fans we tend to give the company a pass based on accumulated goodwill or warm memories of those moments where Apple innovation made our jaws hit the floor. I’ll come out and say it – the iPhone XS is a damn good phone. It’s a great phone. It feels super premium and ticks off a lot of boxes. It’s not however one of those products that makes your jaw hit the floor.

The first time Face ID works its impressive. You can’t help but smile at your phone. Then you’re sitting at your desk and tap the screen to wake your phone – but it can’t see you, which triggers the phone to ask for your passcode. “No problem, it’s a new phone and I probably did something wrong” you say. It happens a few more times during the day as you’re still getting used to the phone. That night you’re laying on your side and Face ID fails. Even though you’re playing the break-your-neck game to align your head with the Face ID camera it still doesn’t work – which means enter your passcode again. After a few days of this you come to realize that you’re not the on...

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What is wrong with iTunes Connect?

Before I begin a tirade, I want to make a few things clear. Being an Apple developer is great. I love the platforms and Apple’s dedication to continually improving them. They build awesome new features for us to implement in creative ways. I adore the user base who is willing to pay for quality software and help support people like me who enjoy developing apps. I enjoy the benefits of an ecosystem where reliability and dependability of the OS and hardware is an important feature. With all of these wonderful things, you would think Apple’s most important connection to developers and the health of their apps would be spectacular.

That connection to developers is iTunes Connect – and it is one of the worst apps I have ever used.

For reference, I am speaking of the abysmal iOS app; the website has it’s own odd quirks but it is, for the most part, useable. Apple only makes one in-house app that is targeted at developers. iTunes Connect is the place to check how your app is doing. It features important information for developers such as stats about downloads, updates and sales. It also is essential in letting you know when one of your app’s updates is under review or, in unexpected circumstances, rejected and for what reason.

Unfortunately, iTunes Connect seemingly gets worse with each update that it receives. If you read the reviews on the App Store, they are overwhelmingly 1 star. The app is riddled with bugs. Many developers rightly comment that if this were an app submitted to Apple for review it would most certainly be rejected. I’m going to condense the rest of this article in to my three main gripes with iTunes Connect. These are the unforgivable sins that have driven me to use App Annie, which is only marginally better.

1. 7D vs Week View / No 1D

For reference, previous versions of iTunes Connect had a 1D view, which was actually the default. The 1D or 1 Day view showed information from the previous day. It was because the reason 90% of developers open this app every morning is to check their sales from the previous day. In an update this summer, Apple switched the 1D totals to a rolling 7 day total. The tab still displayed 1D, so many developers were rightly worried about iTunes Connect giving them incorrect sales numbers.

To fix this, Apple updated the label to say 7D. Changing the label doesn’t fix the lack of functionality. I don’t recall there being a huge (...

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Caffiend : Year One
So while today obviously belongs to HBO (Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley premieres anyone?) I couldn’t help but write a quick thank you to everyone who has been involved in Caffiend over the past 365 days. One year ago today, day and date with the Apple Watch release, we released our little caffeine tracker into the world. Even I couldn’t have guessed what an adventure it would become. We’ve added lots of features (many of them at YOUR request) and expanded how Caffiend looks, works and connects. Here is a quick rundown of things that have been added AFTER we shipped 1.0 until today : Caffiend Home 1.0Caffiend 1.4 Home• The Journal (1.1) • Favorites, Recents (1.3) • Hydration Tracking (1.3) • Set Date/Time of Drink (1.3) And for a visual comparison, here is the home screen from 1.0 and from 1.4. Thank You We have sold many more copies than we ever could have dreamed. I personally love hearing from Caffiend users, some telling me how much they love the app and others feeding input in to help us make it better. To everyone who has written us a review on the App Store, send feedback through the app or the Creative Ave website, or emailed a member of the staff – THANK YOU! Your feedback, good and bad, is what has helped us to make Caffiend better. We are wrapping up development of Caffiend 1.5 and I can’t wait to get it out to you. It’s by far our biggest and most refined release yet. We have so much in store for Caffiend : Year Two, but I’ll wrap this up so everyone can get the chips and dip ready for Game of Thrones. Special thanks to the following people who have helped along the way : Ty, Amanda, Flavio, Virginia, Paul, David, John, Richard, Jenn, Vince, Charles, Hope, Michael, Garrett, Peter, Alex, Mike, Ashton, Peter T., Joe S. and Michael F. – you guys have been amazing. Read Full Story

Thoughts on Adobe XD

As promised, Adobe has unleashed a preview of Project Comet, henceforth known as Adobe Experience Design (XD) CC. For now, the preview is OS X only, but a Windows 10 release is scheduled for the end of 2016.

It’s easy to like what you see – Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign can all be used for mockups in a pinch, but a program that can focus solely on that one task has lots of appeal. Sketch has made lots of inroads here on the Mac and has won many designers hearts. However, if Adobe can deliver a competent UX design tool that is bundled with Creative Cloud that is a compelling offer. Sketch would be in the unenviable position once held by QuarkXPress, who found themselves matched by a program designers were getting gratis when they bought Photoshop and Illustrator.

Quark REALLY drug their feet on adding new features and most importantly at the time – updating XPress to run natively on OS X. They were most certainly half responsible for their own demise. To Adobe’s credit they were also working on InDesign at a breakneck pace. The rest is history.

For those who’ve downloaded XD – what do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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