Loom joins Dropbox

Loom, the start-up with this mission statement:

Loom keeps all your photos and videos at your fingertips while saving you space.

has joined Dropbox. Another day, another acquisition…

The announcement came this afternoon in a blog post that will make many people unhappy.

Loom entered the crowded store-all-my-pictures-in-the-cloud market soon after Everpix went out of business. At the beginning, it seemed that Loom had a solid business plan, but nine months later they have decided to cash (lucky them) and join Dropbox.

Advice: Keep your stuff with reputable and well known companies. Things like this happen all the time. It’s business, so everyone is – rightly so – trying to make money. The downside is that your precious memories might end up with a company that either you don’t trust or don’t like as a result of a merger.

As for Dropbox what should I say. Well, their transforming their feature into a platform. From the IT industry point of view this is interesting but it’s the only way to remain relevant.

Classy Samsung

A Samsung executive in the days following Steve Jobs’ death:

Steve Job’s [sic] passing has led to a huge wave of press coverage of Apple’s and iPhone’s ‘superiority,’ all created by the, ’passionate, tireless, perfectionist…

Sorry to continue to push this issue, but I have seen this far too long and I know this is our best opportunity to attack iPhone.

Via Appleinsider

How to store your home movies in iCloud

In this post I’ll show you how to store your home movies in iCloud, in order to make them available on all your Mac’s and iOS devices.

The only software you need is iMovie for Mac and iOS, both of them freely downloadable from the App Store. The iMovie feature you are going to use is Theater.

To move the home videos stored on your hard-drive into iMovie and make them available on iCloud follow these steps:

  1. Open iMovie
  2. Click on the Theater tab on top of the screen
  3. Drag your home videos from a Finder window to iMovie
  4. Let your Mac consolidate its library and upload the movies to iCloud. This could take a while depending on your broadband speed.
  5. Go to any other device you own and open iMovie. In the Theater section you will see the videos you uploaded in the previous steps.

The catch here is that you can only upload movies up to 15 minutes long. In my experience that is more than enough but be aware of this limitation in case you want to upload longer videos.

For more information on this feature check this Apple KB article.

One of Apple’s problems

I am not sure if it is the problem or one of the problems but it seems to me that the constant excellence of Apple products directs customers towards an addiction path.

The typical conversation with a relatively recent Apple user (usually iPhone) goes like this:

Me: So how do you like your new iPhone 5s? It must be leaps and bounds better than your older iPhone 4 (or 3GS).

User: Sure it’s great, the Twitter (or Instagram) app is faster as well as Safari, but other than that it’s the same.

Me: Surely you’ve noticed that the camera is greatly improved, it’s faster to activate too. How about Touch ID, and the fact that thanks to iCloud all your data was already there when you logged into your phone? How about AirPlay? And the M7 motion processor, have you tried it?

User: Yeah, that’s cool. But anyway, after a few days the new iPhone feels like the old one…

This type of conversation has the ability to ruin my day because I realize that most people are not sensitive enough to appreciate how costly it is to make sure that the transition to a new device is seamless and painless.

The fact that Apple takes care of the transition and ensure that your muscle memory works across devices is undervalued and under appreciated.

This reasoning takes me back to the holy wait of the next big thing and Apple is doomed bullshit. Like a smoker who first needs one cigarette to feel good and end up smoking a pack a day, so the average tech user is waiting for the next greatest product to fill a void that no matter how innovative that product is, will never be able to satisfy the emptiness of his addiction.

Apple’s greatest advantage over other products is consistency, let’s not undervalue it.

Move your iWork files to iCloud for ubiquitous access

Useful article on iMore on how to move your iWork files to iCloud. Reading the article, it occurred to me that if you need to move a large number of files to iCloud, there’s a faster way to achieve the same results.

In fact, the drawback of the clear steps listed, is that you need to repeat the process for each file. It’s easier than you think to move all your Pages, Numbers or Keynote files to iCloud in one go.

For example, if you have a bunch of Pages documents in a Finder folder, this is what you need to do:

  1. Open Pages
  2. If you don’t see the Open file window, press Command + O. Make sure that on the top left corner of the dialog box, iCloud and not On My Mac is selected (marked in yellow in the image above)
  3. Go to Finder and navigate to the folder that contains your Pages documents
  4. Select them all with Command + A
  5. Drag them to the Open file window that you opened in Step 2
  6. Congratulations, all your files are now stored in iCloud

If you only want to copy those files to iCloud – and keep the original files in the Finder – in step 5 you need to drag them while pressing the Option key.

Reeder for Mac beta available

Reeder for Mac is back, at least as a beta release. Its developers opened in fact a public beta for what used to be the best RSS reader in the market.

After almost a year without news about Reeder for Mac, it’s great to see that the developers still want to invest in it.

As long as I liked the previous version of Reeder, I don’t think I am going to migrate to it, not yet at least. I’m perfectly happy with ReadKit on my Mac, which was one of the few RSS applications ready for OS X Mavericks when it was released late last year. Back then, I really appreciated their timing and the fact that my productivity didn’t suffer as a result of the upgrade to Mavericks.

I still love Reeder on my iPhone, but at the moment that is the only device where I still use it.

Were you a Reeder for Mac user? What application do you use now and are you going to migrate? Let’s hear from you in the comments.

OS X Dashboard, the forgotten application

Depending on how many Desktop Spaces you have, if you swipe three fingers on your Mac’s trackpad to the right a few times, you’ll end up in Dashboard.

Surprised? Did you forget about it? Or maybe, for new Mac users that is a new thing altogether.

Introduced with much fanfare in OS X Tiger in 2005, Dashboard’s initial goal was to give users an easy way to check the weather, take notes, check the time in different timezone and in general free users from complex applications to achieve simple tasks. The widgets, developed in a mix of HTML, CSS and JavaScript were meant to be small applications, that consume only a small amount of CPU.

In Mountain Lion, Apple further developed Dashboard by allowing users to arrange Widgets in folders similar to iOS, and to access it as a Space instead of a semitransparent layer on top of the current working space.

In OS X Mavericks, Apple hasn’t given much love to this almost forgotten application and even the Dashboard page on the Apple website seems in need of a revamp.

The default Widgets are still Weather, Calculator, Calendar, Contacts, Dictionary, ESPN, Flight Tracker, Movies, Stickies, Stock, Tile Game, Translation, Unit Converter, Web Clip, World Clock and Ski Report. In case you want to get new Widgets you can find them on this page.

I have to admit to not having touched Dashboard in months, but it was a pleasure to rediscover this forgotten part of OS X. If you don’t need highly customizable applications and don’t want to spend money on them try Dashboard and maybe download one of the thousands still available from Apple. For example, I have discovered that the Translation widget is pretty good and don’t use Google Translate. In a similar fashion, the Unit Converter is extremely useful if you don’t want to use a complex app.

Have you ever used Dashboard? Still do?

Drop Dropbox now online

Some users of the popular cloud storage and file sharing solution Dropbox are not happy with Condoleezza Rice’s appointment to be in the Dropbox Board of Directors.

Someone has even started an online petition. The site named Drop Dropbox lists the reasons why Dropbox’s decision is the wrong one considering all the fuss about wiretapping, data spying etc.

The one page site ends with the invitation to send Drew Houston this message:

Unless you remove Condoleezza Rice from the Dropbox Board, I, and/or my organization, will stop using Dropbox and move to an alternative cloud storage provider.

Stay with OS X apps or use 3rd party ones?

Eight compelling reasons to leave Apple’s OS X apps in favour of 3rd party applications by John Martellaro at the Mac Observer.

I invite you to read the article because John’s arguments are extremely valid and well documented. I can see where John is coming from being an old Mac user like myself.

My skepticism with that approach is due to the fact that in today’s Apple world, you cannot talk about OS X without taking into account iOS. The two operating systems are complementary of each other, so it’s important that data can seamlessly transfer between the two operating systems and interfaces be as similar as possible.

If I were working exclusively on OS X I would probably change to some 3rd party apps to do my work. As it stands, I prefer to work with slightly less powerful apps, as long as they are well integrated into iOS too.

A Home For Life, a Dropbox event

Today’s Dropbox event in San Francisco had the theme A Home For Life, only to forget that quite often that means prison.

I am not blown away by today’s announcements and actually see them as a way to catch up with the competition. Dropbox is painfully trying to build an ecosystem starting from a feature, rather than starting with a product. Today’s event is just proof of that.

It is evident that whatever Dropbox is trying to create is a poor attempt at achieving what Apple, Google and Microsoft have been developing for years.

Dropbox today announced Carousel, new features for Mailbox and new features for enterprise.

Carousel

It’s a new way to collect, store, display and share pictures from all your devices from one single bucket hosted with Dropbox:

Carousel is a standalone app, powered by Dropbox, that aims to solve that problem. Houston said the company has been working on it for years.

Well, if this is the result of years of work then Dropbox investors should be worried, and I am not trying to sound sarcastic.

And unlike other mobile galleries, the size of your Carousel isn’t constrained by the space on your phone, which means you can finally have your entire life’s memories in one place.

Poor attempt to jab at Apple, if you ask me. Yes, iOS Years, Collections and Moments is constrained by the storage of your device but if I were a company, I would not go there and fight with the big boys when promoting a new product that is far from being revolutionary.

Mailbox

It’s a nice app, but I cannot see how a OS X, iOS or Android user would ditch the stock email app for Mailbox. Again, this seems to be just a way to create a poor ecosystem from products that have nothing in common and rely on hacks to work together (see the next section).

Mailbox still relies on your iCloud and Gmail email to host your email. At the end of the day it is still – albeit nicely executed – another email client.

Enterprise

Dropbox has announced:

  • A functionality that allows personal and enterprise accounts to live side by side on the same device
  • Remote wipe capabilities
  • A collaboration tool called “Project Harmony”

Companies that are serious about giving their employees a dropbox have already chosen. They have either deployed SkyDrive Pro, Google Drive, Box or more likely developed their in-house solutions (ask around if you think I’m wrong). Dropbox (the product) is again catching up with the competition.

The collaboration tool, nicknamed Project Harmony that Dropbox announced relies, as Dropbox itself, on some hacks that allow Microsoft Office (that’s the only software supported so far), to notify users when two people are working on the same file.

How long is it going to take for Microsoft to render that unusable? How long till Apple or Microsoft itself implements a deeply integrated notification system of the same kind in their products?

My argument is not that that is not a good idea, but that neither Microsoft nor Apple have any intentions of letting Dropbox take control of their backyard. They will always find a way to make sure that Dropbox needs to catch up once again.

Conclusions

In today’s event, Dropbox has not answered two basic questions:

  • How they are going to compete with the fact that the competition is lowering prices of cloud storage to an unsustainable level for their own business model (Google storage prices are about a fifth of Dropbox)
  • How they are going to become independent from Amazon S3, which is still the backend that Dropbox runs on.

Dropbox is caught in a no man’s land that forces them to create an ecosystem without actually making any products, only exploiting commoditized features. Tough position to be in.