Introducing Relay FM for iOS

It's been no secret that we've been working on an iOS app for Relay, and today, it's ready for everyone to enjoy.

Powered by Tapjet, the Relay FM app also gives you access to the latest episodes of our podcasts. Select your favorite shows, and the app will send you a push notification when those shows go live, letting you listen to the show right within the app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

The Tapjet engine is super cool. They've integrated with the CMS we use to power Relay, so when we take a show live, it sends a push notification automatically. When we publish a new show, the app retrieves it and displays the show notes, etc. all for us. All of the non-show pages can be edited via Dropbox, which still feels like magic, even after months of development work.

Find something new you want to check out again? Tap the Subscribe button to add it to your podcast app of choice. Want to see the show notes? They're just a tap away, too.

Steve Jobs, the myth

Nilay Patel:

Steve Jobs, the controversial new movie about Apple's late CEO, is an amazing piece of writing, acting, and directing. It is a tremendous film.

It also has very little to do with reality.

Movies about Steve Jobs are kinda screwed either way: mess with the story too much and nerds will get upset. Tell a straight biography and normal people may not go see it. I'll go see the film, and hopefully I can remember that it's not meant to be a one-to-one truthful telling of Jobs' life and work. That may not be good long term, but if you're selling a movie, I get that trade-off.

'We make things that help you make things and make things happen'

With that quote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella closed yesterday's big keynote in which the company announced a new Microsoft Band, new phones that can become computers when docked, a new Surface and its first-ever laptop computer.

The Surface Book is an incredibly interesting product. It's a convertible (with an insane hinge) that can become a tablet with the release of a button. It's built by Microsoft, something that I didn't expect from a company who has depended on a bunch of OEMs for hardware for decades.

In an interview with The Verge, Nadella didn't seem phased by the thought of going up against OEMs, saying it allowed Microsoft to push the ecosystem forward.

It and the Surface Pro 4 are more powerful then ever, with seemingly better pen technology than anyone else right now.

All of these devices – and more — are powered by the new Windows 10, arguably Microsoft's best OS to date. In addition to syncing things across devices easily, Microsoft is betting big on having a single set of development tools for all of these different screens. It's a different approach then what Apple's doing with OS X and iOS, and Google with Chrome OS and Android, but I think it can be successful, if the company can prove investing in their platform is worthwhile for developers.

There's no doubt that the company is on a roll, and these new products extend that further. Yes, the Surface is kinda weird, and yes, Windows Phone feels basically hopeless, but all in all, Microsoft products feel like they're on the right track.

As an Apple user, I'm glad to see this. Apple needs aggressive competition, and Microsoft seems to be delivering that again.

iPhone 6S Plus Review

To put it bluntly, the iPhone 6S Plus is the best iPhone I've ever owned.

There are models of iPhones that were more fun when new. I shot a ton of video on my 3GS, and of course, the 4 was a breathtaking piece of engineering and design.

Back in the spring, I wrote about switching to the 6 Plus. All the good things about the bigger phone — the display, battery life, camera and more — are just as important to me this time around.

The 6 Plus wasn't perfect, however. With just 1 GB RAM, it struggled under load. It had been years since I saw an iOS device stumble like the 6 Plus could, and it got old quickly. Those extra pixels were just too much for the internals to handle at times.

The 6 Plus was like that kid at prom who clearly just borrowed one of his dad's suits. It was passable, but not great.

With the S in the name — and in that stupid box on the back of the phone — the Plus is out of its awkward stage.

2 GB of RAM means multitasking is smooth. Audio doesn't skip when Safari tries to reload a tab. opens quickly, every time.

It's kinda insane that I just wrote that sentence in 2015, of course. But the reality is that Apple's gotten this phone right this time around.

On the outside, the 6S Plus looks like the outgoing model, but the aluminum and glass are stronger than before, and the whole thing weighs a touch more than last year.

As I wrote in my first impressions, I like the additional 20 or so grams that the new case, cover glass and display have brought. The phone isn't heavy, but it is solid. It feels great in the hand. It still fits in Apple's leather case from last year, but I'm using it caseless most of the time.

3D Touch is no gimmick. While I have adjusted the sensitivity to the lightest setting, its taken just a couple of weeks to make things like Quick Actions and the Peak/Pop combo to become part of my muscle memory. Zooming around the phone really is faster than ever, and added with iOS' new context-aware back buttons, I feel like I see the home screen less and less.

The accompanying taps from Apple's Taptic Engine are brilliant. Not only do Peek and Pop' vibrations feel great under your thumb, since the Taptic Engine replaces the old, much harsher, vibrate motor. The 6 Plus vibrator was garbage; this thing is simply great.

Live Photos are interesting. I like the context they add to them, and I like that they are playful, but the implementation needs work. The UI blurring when loading them feels really jarring, and sharing them to other apps and devices is still just broken in many cases. I know that broader support will take time, but until then, I'm almost hesitant to shoot a lot of Live Photos.

The camera itself is great, as usual. I haven't shot much in 4K, but when I have, its buttery-smooth. Still photos are better than ever; that upgraded sensor allows for a lot more details than before.

When Apple announced the iPhone 3GS, it was said that the "S" stood for speed. In my head, that's been the case ever since, and the 6S Plus continues that tradition. Past the additional RAM, the new A9 chipset is crazy fast. Things like games, applying photo filters and just navigating the UI are notably faster. While — like all performance increases — this feeling will wear off, I'm still surprised by it while doing familiar tasks.

The chipset isn't the only thing faster on the 6S Plus. TouchID is crazy fast. A simple tap is enough to unlock the phone. I have to remember to hit the power button if I want to skim my notifications, since simply bumping the home button doesn't work anymore to wake up the screen: the phone unlocks instead. While I appreciate TouchID improving, this seems a little too fast at times.

I know the Plus isn't for everyone, but it is for me. The 5.5 inch, 401 ppi display isn't just beautiful, but I find the additional space (and increased battery capacity) useful as this is the most-used device I own. Thankfully, every year, my pocket computer gets better, right on schedule.

The best Wikipedia app for iPhone

Dave Caolo on The Sweet Setup:

Wikipedia is thoroughly useable in a mobile browser. It’s quite easy to search, browse, and read this massive repository of information with mobile Safari or what-have-you. The use case for a dedicated app is in the fact that Wikipedia isn’t meant for casual reading. It’s a reference tool. To get the most out of it, you must look beyond a web browser.

Connected #60: Driving on a Vespa in a Landscape of Pastel Colors

This week on Connected: Apple’s new Watch ads, cell phone carries and the return of #ConnectedQA.

My thanks to these sponsors:

Tim Cook remembers Steve Jobs on anniversary of death

Apple's CEO:

What is his legacy? I see it all around us: An incredible team that embodies his spirit of innovation and creativity. The greatest products on earth, beloved by customers and empowering hundreds of millions of people around the world. Soaring achievements in technology and architecture. Experiences of surprise and delight. A company that only he could have built. A company with an intense determination to change the world for the better.

It's often been said that Steve's most important product was Apple itself. I think that's true.

Diagnostics & Usage Data

Joe Caiati, on iOS' built-in troubleshooting tools:

I would liken the Diagnostics & Usage Data section to the Console on the Mac. There is a lot of noise in there, but sometimes you can find important information about issues related to your device. At its most basic definition, the Diagnostics & Usage Data section is a log of system events that happen on your iOS device. This log isn’t tracking your every move, but it is creating entries whenever events like an app crash happens.

I've never spent much time looking at this data; reading Joe's post has taught me a lot about what iOS can self-report.

RSS Sponsor: Focus - Productivity and Pomodoro Timer for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac

Focus is a time manager that helps you beat procrastination and work more efficiently. Available on iOS, OS X, and Apple Watch, Focus lets you work in intervals and reminds you to take breaks regularly (based on the Pomodoro Technique).

Taking breaks regularly enables you to be more concentrated, more thoughtful, and ultimately more productive. With its simple and lightweight way to organize and manage your tasks, Focus lets you set and achieve daily goals to keep you motivated; because its task management features are unobtrusive by design, you'll spend your time working on a task instead of fiddling too much with the app.

Focus is designed to work seemlessly together across all platforms and devices. You can switch devices by using Handoff and with iCloud, so everything stays in sync. On iOS, you can see your current progress with a Today widget, and use interactive notifications to start, stops and extend your work. On the Mac, a beautiful and clear design feels natural on OS X El Capitan (including dark mode), and a menu bar item lets you see your current progress at a glance (it even works with a closed Focus app window).

Focus is available for iOS and OS X. For more information, visit

Apple Watch at night

With watchOS 2, there are two good options for what to do with an Apple Watch at night.

The first is to use the Apple Watch a bed-side alarm clock. watchOS 2 includes "Nightstand mode," which turns the watch into a tiny, adorable alarm clock when turned on its side and set on the charging puck.

As you can see from the photo, the Watch displays the time, day and date, as well as charging status. All of this is done in a nice green that's not hard on the eyes in the middle of the night. If an alarm is set, it shows as well.

The clever thing here is what Apple's doing with the display. The display stays on for several seconds after the Watch detects that it can enter Nightstand mode, then goes to sleep.

Thankfully, you don't have to interact with the Watch to see the time. Thanks to the built-in accelerometer, Apple Watch will wake up and display the time for several seconds with just a bump of the table its sitting on.

If you have an alarm set, the Watch uses a tone that's actually nicer than anything built-in on the iPhone. Press the side button to turn it off or the Digital Crown to snooze.

I'm using ElevationLab's Night Stand to keep my watch horizontal at night. It sticks to the surface it sits on, so it's not going anywhere, which is nice, but I've found that I need to strap my sport band together to keep the Watch from wobbling on the stand.

As nice as Nightstand mode is, David Smith has made the Watch a lot more useful at night with a new app called Sleep++ which can track how well you sleep at night.

David even wrote a blog post about how to make your Apple Watch battery work overnight:

The TL/DR is to charge your Apple Watch in the morning while you get ready for your day (take a shower, get dressed, etc) and then again in the evening while you get ready for bed (brush teeth, put on pajamas, etc). Then put your Apple Watch in Airplane Mode while you sleep.

I've been using Sleep++ for several nights now, and I have to say, I really like it.

Launch the app and tell it you're going to sleep. After that, at David's suggestion, I've been putting my Watch in Airplane mode. Here, you can see that I set it to go to bed at 10:09 last night, because I'm an old person.

The Watch's screen will still light up when moved, even at night. I found turning that option off to be more problematic — I'd wake up and worry that my Watch had died — so right before bed, I've been knocking the screen brightness all the way down and selecting this variant of the Modular face I've setup to show just the time in red. Now, if I do turn over, the Watch's display shouldn't be bright enough to be an annoyance.

In the morning — waking up with a silent Watch alarm is nice — tell Sleep++ you're awake, and the app will analyze the night's information and put it on a chart shared between the Watch and iPhone app.

While I don't love the feeling of sleeping with my Apple Watch on, I'm already getting used to, and Sleep++ makes it worth it. How I sleep is an important part of my health, and one that I haven't been tracking since putting my Fitbit in the drawer. This app remedies that, and thanks to Nightstand mode, at least I have another use for the Watch at night if I want to skip a night or have goofed up the charging regime.