This week we collaborate on songs in the “Google Docs for music,” edit video in Darkroom, block the Touch Bar from accidental taps, and gain other essential tools. These are the best apps and updates of the week.
Apple has released Speedometer 2.0, a benchmark that lets you test your browser’s web app responsiveness. The tool is part of Apple’s contribution to WebKit, a collaboration between Apple, Adobe Systems, Google, KDE, and others.
Speedometer 2.0 works by simulating “user interactions.” Essentially, it runs 480 tasks and then measures how long it takes your browser’s speed in carrying these out, before providing you with a report.
These days you can easily share data and collaborate on almost anything, from Rdio playlists to photo streams. But when it comes to plain old written text, your options are terrible. You’re pretty much caught between working on a shared file in Google Docs or shuttling versions of your work back and forth via email. Add more than one collaborator and this becomes a total nightmare.
Thankfully, tools exist to smooth the process of collaborating on writing projects. I’m currently editing the second draft of a novella, and I’m looking for a way to work with “beta” readers. I’m testing several pieces of software, and so far one called Draft is in the lead. Not only does it let you share a document with other people, it lets the team comment on any part of the source document and also allows them to edit a copy. Then, when they submit their versions, you can preview any changes before accepting or rejecting them.
Better still, because Draft can sync with a document in Dropbox (as well as several other cloud services), you can sync the edits from your beta team with a local app, like Scrivener. Here’s what you need to make the collaborative magic happen.
Over the last couple of years, Google has been trying to turn its mobile Chrome browser into a sort of meta-operating system in its own right, by allowing Macs and PCs to run dedicated cross-compatible ‘apps’ right within Chrome. It’s actually a cool idea, but because of Apple’s closed iOS ecosystem, it’s been functionality that iPhone and iPad owners can’t take advantage of. But no longer. Google has just brought Chrome apps to iOS.
Fastmail, a mail device which really is fast, has just gotten even faster, and even slicker. The best alternative to Gmail just launched a brand new mobile interface that is so good that you might even ditch the native mail app on your iPhone and iPad.
Pixa is our favorite alternative to iPhoto for the Mac, and it just got a solid v1.1 update. In addition to lots of polish (some of which you will have already seen in the recent 1.0.x updates), Pixa now makes snapping images and searching hem a whole lot easier.
Apple rarely buys other companies, so when the Cupertino giant makes an acquisition, it’s worth noting. CNET is reporting that Apple has recently purchased Particle, a small creative consulting company based in San Francisco that specializes in HTML5 development. Particle is a relatively small firm, but it has done some big projects for companies like Google, Sony and even Apple.
What does the acquisition mean? While the reason behind the deal remains unknown, Apple likely wants the web talent from Particle.
The USDA is working its way through an ambitious iPad deployment that may come to serve as a model for a range of government agencies within the U.S. and around the world. The challenge was to develop a simple, intuitive, and effective field survey and data collection system.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is a division of the USDA that is charged with surveying and reporting agricultural data across the country. NASS operates in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico. With a staff of around 3,000 enumerators NASS conducts thousands of survey each year about agriculture across the country. The service has been operating since the mid-1800s and, until the iPad, it conducted surveys and collected data in pretty much the same way that it had back in the 19th century – with paper forms filled out by hand and mailed to various field offices. Although various technology initiatives have been tried by NASS since the 1980s, none was a successful fit before the iPad.
A new discovery suggests that Instagram is working on improving its experience on the web. The popular photography network added the ability to comment on and like photos from the browser several weeks ago, and a “View Profile” option was spotted in the wild today by web designer Cole Reinke. While the new menu option returned a 404 error, the finding reveals that Instagram is indeed developing a more full-featured web app for its users.
There’s a plethora of third-party web apps like Webstagram, but as the largest mobile-only social network in existence, an official Instagram web app would be huge.
When Apple announced the terms for Newsstand and digital subscriptions, many publications felt that the company was being too hard on them. Apple’s requirement that publishers offer the same deals through the App Store that they do elsewhere while still taking its typical 30% cut of the income ruffled a lot of feathers in the publishing world. While there was a lot of angry discussion about the policy when Apple announced and implemented it, many publications decided to accept the policy – at least initially.
Since then, however, a handful of publications have decided to abandon their presence on iOS devices. Some are planning to build a web app as their only iOS or mobile presence. Others are looking to create deals with various news aggregators. Regardless of their plans, Apple’s terms are one of the key reasons that publishers are getting out of the App Store.