Cool Stuff

A 5-post collection

Trying out Ulysses

Screenshot of Ulysses on Mac
Screenshot of Ulysses on Mac

I came across Ulysses after asking on Twitter if there was a better way to write blog posts on my iPhone or iPad, instead of relying on the Ghost web interface.

It appears there is – it’s called Ulysses and it’s what I can only describe as a delightful native app for iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS.

It’s so great, the (rather talented) developers would rather you paid for a subscription.

Subscribe to an app for writing? Really?! It’s a very reasonable subscription (£5 / month), but it still feels weird to pay a monthly fee for an app to write when so many free options exist.

I took the plunge and I am going to see how it performs – if I write more because of Ulysses then it’s easily worth the 2 coffees a month for the experience.

I’m writing this in Ulysses right now and the writing experience on both iOS and on my Mac is just delightful. I love Markdown and I love the balance they've found between complexity and simplicity to make an overall experience that is easy to get started with, but advanced enough to cater to every need I've had so far.

The best laptop hinge ever designed

iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard

I haven’t used it yet – as far as I’m aware, no one outside Apple has.

But the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro looks fantastic.

Sure, it has the trackpad that many have been clamouring for for many years, but it’s the hinge that blew me away.

I felt the previous keyboard covers for the iPad were some of the most confusing products Apple has ever made – the hinge and flaps were so complicated. They always reminded me of when you have a large map and you try to fold it back up to put it away and can never quite fold it exactly as it needs to be.

This new hinge – with the ability to adjust the screen on multiple axes – appears to give the user more options in viewing angle than any current laptop.

It begs the question – if it's great for the iPad, would a "floating cantilever" not be great for MacBooks too?

A first look at Pitch

I am so excited for this product. What a beautifully made, perfect teaser video.

I really want to get my hands on this – I get the feeling it's going to make Keynote and Powerpoint feel like they're from the stone age.

Their full post has some more information about a few features, and the rollout of Pitch – a rethink on presentation software.

General Magic

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to see one of the first screenings of General Magic in London.

Since seeing the movie, I've been telling everyone I meet about it.

It’s a story of one of the greatest teams of product, engineering, marketing, and leadership people coming together to build a device eerily similar to the iPhone, but in the early 90s.

Sketches of the original Genral Magic device

The movie pieces together with original footage how this incredible team came together, worked their socks off, and ultimately failed to deliver what they set out to achieve. It’s a story that makes you question the definition of failure – a ridiculous number of people from General Magic went on to practically define the world we live in now, and the ideas behind the device were spot on – they just took longer to get here than orignally thought.

Just a few of the people who were involved with General Magic:

  • Tony Fadell – joined General Magic as an intern, co-inventor of iPod and iPhone, founder of Nest.
  • Marc Porat – the CEO of General Magic, and visionary of the original device.
  • Megan Smith – became CTO of US, and VP at Google.
  • Andy Hertzfeld – member of original Macintosh team, also co-created Google Circles.
  • Joanna Hoffman – another member of original Macintosh team.
  • John Sculley – former Apple CEO, also launched the Newton to compete with Genral Magic.
  • Kevin Lynch – former CTO of Adobe, creator of Dreamweaver, VP of technology at Apple.

Huge thanks to Emma Sinclair for arranging a screening of this movie, and to Sarah Kerruish and Steve Jarrett for the fascinating Q&A after the movie.

If you're interested in the history of computing, you want to see a wealth of on-the-ground footage from one of the most influencial teams of people in technology, or you just want to be inspired by the willpower and hard work of an incredibly smart group of people, you have to watch this movie.

Learn more about General Magic the movie