Category: General

Is Apple working on a Photoshop competitor?

Apple graphics patent

Patently Apple reports on recent Apple patent filings that indicate Apple is working on a graphics application with a new fancy-pants GUI. Now I don’t doubt that Apple is (or was) working on a graphics package. But I HIGHLY doubt that this graphics app was meant to compete with Photoshop – unless you feel like iWork actually competes with MS Office. That being said, a fourth app added to iWork would be nice, no?

Very interesting patent filing, nonetheless.

Adobe Exchange returns: Search, discover, install

Adobe Exchange Panel

The Adobe Exchange panel provides a new way to search, discover, and install plug-ins, extensions, and other content for Creative Suite products. With this preview of the Adobe Exchange panel, you can browse through items that are available for your CS6 applications; download and install those items; and update acquired items when new versions are available.

For those who’ve been around a while, you may recall that Adobe Exchange was previously available only from the web – and it was an absolutely horrible web experience. This new Panel is a huge improvement!

OS X and Mac App Store signals the death of desktop customization

Back in the day of Mac OS 7, 8 and 9, Apple didn’t make it too terribly difficult to customize the OS with themes and custom icons. Theming your desktop was so popular that it was nearly its own sub-culture. Theming websites sprout up almost weekly, offering window themes, icons, and other theming items. There were literally thousands of options. But that all changed when Apple released Mac OS X.

Candybar

Mac OS X was a top-to-bottom change to the system architecture, and theming was infinitely more difficult. It took a long time before creative developers figured out a way to bring customization to OS X. There were themes, if only a few dozen, and of course you could still customize icons. But it was never to the extent that you could in Mac OS 9.

Eventually (I don’t remember if it was OS 10.4 or 10.5), theming became nearly impossible. But when Apple released the Mac App Store, customizing your Mac desktop all but died. Because of the code signing of all apps sold through the Mac App Store, altering files contained in individual apps (such as icons) rendered them either useless, or at the very least prevented you from updating them in the Mac App Store.

Between code signing, recently implemented Sandboxing rules, and the release of OS X Mountain Lion (which prevents theming of the Dock), it’s all but a dead art. If you need any more evidence, Panic Software recently announced they were sunsetting their icon customization tool, CandyBar. For many years, CandyBar was the gold-standard of customizing icons. Thankfully, Panic made CandyBar freely downloadable, and updated it for Mountain Lion. For those like me who used CandyBar for it’s icon collection organizing feature, and the ability to quickly and easily export app icons as PNG images with transparency intact, the fact that it still works is a bit of relief. But it’s future is most decidedly in doubt. It surely won’t be long before it can no longer customize System icons.

It’s sad to see theming and customization fade off into the sunset. But to be honest, Apple has improved the appearance of the OS to the point where even the most avid themed simply preferred the clean look of the standard theme. And right now, you can get an absolutely fantastic icon customizing and organizing app for free.

Replug: Save your jack!

Replug
Replug saves your headphone jack
Replug

Replug saves your headphone jack

Replug is one of the most useful gadget accessories I’ve seen in a long time. At only $13, Replug protects your iPhone or computer headphone jack by turning it into a sort of mag-safe adapter like you find on Apple’s laptop line. Put simply, when you jerk your headphone cord by accident, rather than the jack breaking off in the mic jack, it safely just pulls away. Very cool!

Design advice: Know your target audience

Lost on most of the design talent coming out of portfolio school is the fact that all the talent in the world won’t make you successful unless you learn how to target your desired audience with your design and messaging. Design is about communicating the message in a way that your target finds it easy to read and desirable. Great design isn’t always successful, but success is always due in part to great design.

Here’s a case of great design that isn’t remotely successful. The email below is one I received from Network Solutions recently. It’s not that it looks bad, it’s not that the information in the email isn’t accurate or easy to read. The problem is that it’s certainly not targeted at someone like me. But it is rather insulting to me, and has absolutely no chance of getting results from me. Now I’ll grant you that the average consumer isn’t as knowledgable about this subject matter as I am, and it’s a mass-email sent to (presumably) hundreds of thousand of people. But they sent it to me, and it’s a great example.

Nice design

A nicely designed email advertisement? Only if I’m an Internet idiot.

As you can see above, the email’s primary message is that Network Solutions offers Cloud-based hosting. The main message is also the main problem. Can you tell me what hosting (from any Internet Hosting Provider) is NOT cloud-based? Of course not. All hosting is cloud-based, otherwise nobody but you could see it. Duh! Let’s move on to the next problem. Apparently they think I’m blind and wouldn’t notice the fact that the $5.99 per month is only for the first three months. No mention of what it is after, not even in the disclaimer. I could spend an hour listing the reliable hosting companies that offer cheaper prices than $5.99. Clearly they’re hoping I don’t do research before paying for a service. The fun doesn’t stop there… (more…)

Design tip: Choose your fonts wisely

Choose fonts wisely

A quick tip for designers who find themselves re-branding a company or designing a campaign. Choose your fonts wisely. That really cool font you download from the Internet probably looks great in the headline. But keep in mind that you’ll likely find out later on that the client wants to use it in the body copy of their brochures, posters, annual reports, etc. The last thing you want to be stuck with is a font family that has only a regular and bold font.

Try to use font families that offer a wide range of fonts. You’ll likely need a light, regular, semibold, bold and black version, as well as condensed versions of all of them.

Recent acquisitions should make you wary of buying new apps

The headline sounds a bit over-the-top, I know. But it sums-up my point best. With Google acquiring Sparrow (the extremely popular email client software for OS X and iOS), and Facebook buying out Acrylic (makers of the popular RSS reader, Pulp), and Instagram, it’s clear that no matter how small or large your favorite app or service is – it’s entirely possible that it will cease to exist at any time.

Software acquisitions

With Instagram, Facebook chose to allow it to live-on for now – but I suspect it will eventually get fully integrated into Facebook’s brand apps. Unfortunately, Google has not been as kind. They’ve made it clear that they have no intention on adding features to it in the future. It’s dead. And while Facebook only hired the developers and not purchased the apps themselves, they’re essentially dead as well.

I’m not suggesting that you should not buy apps from independent developers. They’re what makes the Apple community great. And I absolutely do not blame any developer for selling their company for large sums of money. They worked hard to create a great app or service and they deserve the rewards.

But you should take these recent acquisitions into consideration when you purchase your next app that may be a mission-critical one. Let me give you an example. (more…)

Extensis Universal Type Server updated for Adobe CS6

Extensis recently announced the immediate availability of updates for the Universal Type Server Client font management software. The updates provide plug-in based font auto-activation to teams that use Adobe Creative Suite 6 (CS6) applications.

The updates are available as a FREE download for Universal Type Client for Mac OS X, and include plug-ins for Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and InCopy.

[ilink url=”http://typeserver.com “]Click here for more information about Universal Type Server[/ilink]