This is the twenty-first episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein. We also have a special guest today: Ask Different user and TUAW editor TJ Luoma!
- We’ve wanted to have TJ on the show for some time now, but this week was perfect because of an upcoming contest on Ask Different with support from TUAW. We kicked things off with a flood of new users from TUAW, thanks to TJ’s recommendation.
- The contest begins on Monday, January 16th. Full details on the contest can be found here, but here’s what you need to know:
- All questions asked between Monday, January 16th and Friday, January 27th, tagged with the iOS tag, will be eligible.
- The grand prize winners will be the question with the most views and the question with the highest score.
- There will be additional prizes for questions asked by users that recently arrived on Ask Different from TUAW.
- The prizes are: your choice of a 16GB iPod Nano, or up to $150 of Apple accessories of your choosing.
- So, go ask some great iOS questions! Don’t forget to boost your question’s views by sharing it with your friends!
- TJ’s mother and mother-in-law have both recently exchanged their PCs for iPads. Both use the iPad as their primary device, and between the Camera Connection Kit, FaceTime, and iMessage, they can do just about anything they want. The limitations they’ve encountered so far have been printing without AirPrint-compatible printers (Printopia helps, but only if there’s a Mac on the network), and poor support for advanced Gmail configuration changes such as creating new labels on messages.
- As a professional writer, TJ’s tried quite a few iPad text editors. In the search for the perfect editor, he’s evaluated 39 apps, with varying feature sets. He’s still looking for an app that he loves, with the perfect blend of Dropbox support, TextExpander support, and Markdown previewing. For now, he predominantly uses WriteRoom, but also likes Elements and Simplenote.
- Text editors’ Dropbox support leads us to a discussion of Dropbox security. Jason points out that despite Dropbox’s excellent idea and support for forcing apps to work only in a specified sub-directory of your Dropbox instead of granting whole directory access, this decision is made by the developer, with no ability for the user to change it.
- Talk of Dropbox security in turn leads us to a discussion of Apple’s App Store review process. Since Apple reviews binaries instead of source code, there is always a possibility that an app with hidden malicious intentions could sneak by and be listed on the store. Apple is generally good about removing malicious apps from the App Store when they are discovered, but they are interestingly the only company that has not used their ‘remote wipe’ capability to remove apps directly from users’ devices.
- We also note that the same sandboxing requirements that iOS apps face are about to become required for apps listed in the Mac App Store as well. Beginning in March, all Mac App Store apps will be required to run from within the unprivileged sandbox. This is potentially a bit of a time bomb, as many apps will need to have existing functionality removed or scaled back. Such ‘updates’ are generally unpopular with users, and we can all think of good apps that would probably be negatively impacted by the new restrictions. The transition will present some interesting challenges for both users and developers, but we hope that not too much of value will be lost. TJ recommends Andy Ihnatko’s article on Macworld: “App sandboxing risks eroding the Mac’s identity“.
- Our Question of the Week is, “What are some best practices for a family sharing a single Apple ID?” asked by user16653 on January 11th. This question asks about good ways to handle sharing an Apple ID with a family while keeping some data separate and others together. The solution is to take advantage of the ability to use different IDs for different things. Use a shared ID for things that you want to share, like purchases, and a personal ID for things you don’t want to share, like email. TJ also recommends Spanning Sync for managing both Google cloud services and Apple cloud services.
- Our App of the Week this week is Startupizer, by Gentle Bytes. Startupizer gives you powerful control of your Mac’s login items. You can control the order and timing of login items, and set conditions based on the time/date your system is turning on, power options, such as restricting apps from starting up automatically when only on battery, and when holding modifier keys after login. Ultimately, you’ll be able to reduce the ‘traffic jam’ that occurs when you boot up your Mac and speed up login performance. Startupizer has a free Lite version, and the full version is $6 on the Mac App Store.
- Talking of apps leads us to talking of our thresholds for impulse buying on app stores. We discuss our various limits, and what kind of research (if any) we do before buying an app.
This episode was recorded on January 15th, 2012. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. We would appreciate it if you could take a second to give us a rating on iTunes. We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening.
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