535: State of the Platform: Apple Services

Good episode, and I like the after show idea. Agreed that Apple Arcade is the the shining star, though I’m more optimistic about TV+ than most it seems. I keep finding good shows on it, and it’s not as overwhelming as other services with endless content to choose from. iCloud Storage is another area where I feel I’m against the norm…I’d love it to be free, but I also don’t feel like it’s egregious to pay. The prices feel okay (though I’m sure there’s folks who need more than 2TB who are SOL).

Anyway, good listen!

Great episode!
My biggest gripe with iCloud is contacts syncing, wich of often takes several days for me.

Really like Apple TV+, Mythic Quest, For All Mankind, Morning Show and Dickinson are my favorites! Was surprised, that Mythic Quest didn’t get a shout out, since it’s my favorite show on the service.

As per Copied substitutes, I’ve been using Paste (part of SetApp) on both Mac and iOS devices. While it does not have the transformations, it does the sync and sorting nice and looks really good on macOS.

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I’ve been happy with Copied – with one big exception – and see no reason to switch, even though I agree that it seems to be abandoneware.

I like the text transformations. On the Mac, my fingers know the app very well. And on the iPhone, it’s great for those late-night sessions where I cruise Reddit and Tumblr looking for retro ads and old photos and posting a lot of my finds to micro.blog and social media.

The one big exception to my overall continued satisfaction with Copied: Sync between my Mac, iPhone and iPad is badly broken. Always has been for me. This has not proven to be a dealbreaker.

At some point, I’ll probably explore options. Or at least look into figuring out why sync won’t work!

I really enjoyed this episode (and the whole “State of Apple in 2020” series). Regarding the Dropbox vs. iCloud Drive debate, one thing that keeps me on Dropbox is that some of the Shortcuts file actions remain sandboxed in the /Shortcuts/ folder on iCloud Drive, whereas selecting Dropbox allows me to save files anywhere without having to choose the destination folder manually each time. I hope that iOS/iPadOS 14 will fix this.

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Copy 'Em Paste is not cheap, but it offers screenshots, text transformations, saved favorites, favorites folders, transformations (drag-and-drop images out to preferred image format) and more. I’ve been using it for years. Syncable iOS app is currently in beta too. Paid for itself many times over, one of my must-have macOS add-ons. The only thing close to it is PasteBot.

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Been loving Paste too! Only thing that I wished it had is ordered pastes (copies several things in a row, then paste them in that order).

Please, please, do the show on email apps that you mentioned in this episode. I agree with David that there isn’t an ideal mail app. I jump from Apple Mail to Airmail to Spark (and maybe another 2 or 3 along the way), and move on because of some frustration that pops up. I have accounts in iCloud, gmail, yahoo, for a total of probably 6-7 accounts. I’d like to know what others think.

Also, speaking of browsers, that could be a show (I haven’t checked to see if it’s been done lately). I agree that Safari works the smoothest, but I have gone to MS Edge. Safari’s got a couple of missing features that really irks me. First is tab width. I don’t want a tab to go across the app if it’s the only tab that’s open. Give me fixed widths unless there are too many to accommodate them. The other is no option to close all tabs to the right. I use this all the time. Oh, yeah. Extensions (or lack thereof) in Safari is a big drawback.

As far as clipboard, Copy’em Paste works well. It’s Mac, but there’s an iOS app in TestFlight. I’ve had very good luck with that app, moving clips between platforms.

A couple of thoughts.

Tony

It was interesting to hear that Apple Notes uses its own synchronization technology. Perhaps this explains why there isn’t more pressure to fix some of the odder little synchronization issues that have persisted so long (although losing your folder structure doesn’t feel so little).

I was the one who posted about using text expander to do multi line text replacement on iOS. My 1-minute of fame!

So if one opens text replacement on the Mac and unfolds a multi-line snippet into it then it syncs as a multi line snippet to iOS, which is sadly otherwise impossible to do on the Mac or iOS: multi line text replacement. I am sure it will be added within the decade

I wish @ismh and @MacSparky had more significant experience with Spotify. I think they may have a lesser opinion of Apple Music based on how awesome Spotify’s discovery engine is and how Apple Music’s is severely lacking. I’ve switched over for multiple reasons to Apple Music but I’ve given up on using their discovery engine in finding actual new music because of how disappointing their recommendations are.

I’m in a slack with a bunch of music fans who are split 50/50 between the two services and everyone on AM says the same thing about how bad their discovery engine is, and its more the integration with everything else is why we use it.

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I would agree with Apple Music being a B close to an A, but my biggest issue is the feature parity from The Mac to iOS. I would love to see smart playlist creation on iOS.

I agree Spotify is better at its discovery UX on the homepage/initial view. I don’t think its actual recommendations are better although Spotify’s higher volume of recommendations give it more room to be divergent, at the expense of confidence in the picks. It’s hard to closely compare since both get smarter as you put time into the service.

That seems to be the problem with iCloud. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t. And the problems don’t appear to be the same for all users.

I can’t remember the last time I had a problem with iCloud syncing applications. Safari bookmarks, Calendar, Contacts, Keychain, Photos, and Reminders are all working OK. I can make a change on one device and it normally shows up on all my others within minutes. But I can put some small files in an iCloud folder and they may not even start to sync for hours.

I hate to do this, but I really love Spotify… Here are some personal “Spotify does it better than Music” things for the macOS clients, beyond the mostly-agreed-upon better discovery:

  • Less ‘dead space’ in the UI than Music (and thus, better utilization of the space)

  • The app’s window is still perfectly usable at a much smaller size than Music can be used

  • Each artist has twenty “Fans Also Like” (related artists) to Music’s ten “Similar Artists”

  • The artist “About” page is tidier and contains clickable links to any bands / musicians in the bio, in addition to being able to include a gallery of band images

  • Shows monthly listener data, followers data, and how many “plays” every song has had (global play count, not just your personal play count)

  • Shows the top five cities people are listening to the artist from

  • Browse categories are almost always laid out in a gallery view rather than in a carousel like Music, and there are more genre and mood categories on Spotify that are accessible through less mouse clicks

  • The “Top X” songs charts have icons to show whether songs are moving up or down the charts, plus there are additional “Viral Songs” charts

  • Built-in concert listings that include the lineup of the concert with links to the other bands playing and some other information

I’m sure there are a few other things here and there I’m missing… And sad to say, but I can’t really think of things Apple Music does better than Spotify than being much more integrated into the ecosystem / Siri controls / etc.

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Agreed. When I subscribed to Apple Music after the Beats purchase I primed it with many tracks of eclectic interests (Medieval, Balkan, Mali-Blues, French Bistro, etc.). It couldn’t generate anything of interest. Spotify has provided a steady stream of artists much-aligned with my interests.

Apple Music has stronger integration with Siri and Shortcuts.

But I subscribe for content; not ease-of-control.

One thing that keeps me in the Apple Music realm: I have a bunch of previously-purchased music (some of it that I purchased on CD and then ripped). Access to that music wherever I want it is one place where Apple Music beats Spotify. On Spotify, I can use that music — but only locally on a device. With Apple Music, I can stream it anywhere I like.

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@MacSparky So the promised photo of the desk? :wink:

@MacSparky, it’s great to know that other people are using iCloud mail as their backend. I miss aspects of Gmail, but it’s proprietary pseudo-IMAP implementation made MailMate syncing a bit painful. Sanebox is good, and I figure - as a 9-5 worker - if my email is becoming too hard to manage in iCloud mail, then I need to simplify my system rather than look for a new tool. But that’s just me.