¶ Bible App 5 | Review

The Bible can seem like a pretty daunting thing to get into. It's a rather large book1, and it comes in so many translations. Which should you choose? Dost thou goeth with ye olde King James? Or something a bit more modern like the NIV? The options are endless.

I happen to like to read a few different versions to get a better idea of what is being said. I find the different viewpoints to be helpful in forming a more complete picture. The problem here is that I don't really care for having a few copies of the same book sprawled out. And I certainly don't enjoy carrying around a large book.2

That is why I have been a longtime fan of YouVersion's Bible App. It collects a metric ton of different translations into one app on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Android device. And my iPhone is a lot lighter than a book.

Today YouVersion introduced Bible App 5. It has a great new interface across the board, and even though the same interface is shared across iOS and Android, it looks right at home on iOS 7.

The best part is that the Bible App is taking the focus of the app from being solely on you and branching it out to being part of your own community of friends. The folks you add as friends can now comment and like on your notes, highlights, and bookmarks (you can choose to make any of those public or private). Here is what YouVersion says about the new focus of the app:

Up until now, the Bible App was designed mostly around you as an individual—you reading or listening to your Bible, adding your personal notes and your insights. While many people have told us that this kind of personal experience has helped them grow closer to God through His Word, we think there’s still more we can do—a lot more. The all-new Bible App 5 transforms the way you experience Scripture…from “me” to “we.”

Historically, people were only able to experience the Bible in community. Before the printing press, very few people had personal copies of the Bible. But movable type changed everything. For the first time in history, anyone who could read could experience God’s Word with their very own printed Bible. In more recent times, audio Bibles in several languages invite even more people to enjoy God’s Word by listening—even if they can’t read.

Bible App 5 was designed from the ground up to bring the best of all these things together again. It draws the Scriptures back into community, without sacrificing personalized access. You can keep enjoying your own Bible, just as you always have. But now, for the first time, you can also easily experience it within the context of close, trusted friendships.

No matter what your view on the Bible is, it is amazing that a text as old as it is has transcended so many mediums throughout history. From scrolls that were largely shared verbally and copied by scribes to the printing press and to the digital age.

Over the years I have found that the best part of my church is the community. Yes, the worship service and my pastor's sermons are important, but the real growth happens in small groups, with people coming together and sharing their views.

While likes & comments in an app is not a replacement for that in-person community, I think it is a great way to keep your small group connected between Sundays.

Bible App 5 is entirely free and available for iOS and Android.

  1. Well, it’s a collection of books, technically. I guess that’s what we call an Anthology?

  2. To say I am a fan of eBooks would be an understatement.


A while back my colleagues & I won an Editor's Choice Award from Macworld.

Because the folks running the company are amazing, they made sure everyone in the company received their very own Eddy. They started showing up at our doors a few weeks ago, and to celebrate, a great many of us took out our cameras to get our photo taken with Eddy.

You can see everyone's photos at the link in the title, and you can see mine below.

Cloak 2.0

The Internet can be a scary place. One thing that always makes me a little leery is public Wi-Fi. You never know what anyone else is up to on public Wi-Fi. One of the best things you can do in that situation is to use a VPN.

Unfortunately, VPNs are not something that most folks a) know about, and b) know how to use.

That's where Cloak comes in. Cloak makes using a VPN easy, as it does all the work. It even works on your iOS devices. I've been using Cloak for a year now, and today Cloak 2 was released.

The first Cloak worked fine on the Mac, but on iOS it felt very finnicky. This is where Cloak 2 really shines. Cloak 2 brings a new feature called Trusted Networks. You can tell it which networks you use that you trust, and it will disable the VPN when you are on those. Then when you venture onto an untrusted network, the VPN automagically kicks in and secures your connection.

And you only need to set this all up once, as Cloak will pass your Trusted Network settings on to all of your devices.

Cloak operates off a monthly subscription, and has a couple tiers.

I've found the mini plan to be more than adequate for my occasional afternoon working at a coffee shop, but if you are a heavy VPN user, then the unlimited plan is priced fantastically, too.

As I said, the Internet can be a scary place. Stay safe out there.

Free(mium) Ollie

Today my longtime friends at The Iconfactory released Twitterrific 5.7, and with this update they set Ollie free. Or rather, freemium.

From their announcement:

Today marks a new era for our venerable Twitter client, Twitterrific. We’re pleased to say that with the 5.7 update, Twitterrific is now free to download from the App Store. It is supported by revenue from Deck Network ads displayed at the top of the timeline and in-app purchases that unlock advanced features such as push notifications and tweet translation.

Twitterrific has been available in the App Store since day one and we’ve experimented with different revenue models in the past, including the one we’re returning to today. Our hope is that this helps get Twitterrific into more people’s hands than ever before so they can enjoy the simple beauty of reading and posting tweets once again.

If you're a longtime fan of Twitterrific, I'm sure the first thought is whether or not you need to pony up for the in-app purchase. Iconfactory is using one of the awesome new features of iOS 7 to make sure existing owners of Twitterrific 5 for iOS don't need to do that. They are smartly using iOS 7 Receipt Validation to check whether you had paid for Twitterrific 5 before, and if so, the in-app purchase is waived.

I think this is a smart change in business model for them. Exposure is everything in the App Store, and this will definitely remove the barrier to entry to get people to see how great third-party Twitter apps are compared to Twitter's own app.

The very first app I bought when I got my iPhone 3G (which was also the launch day for the App Store) was Twitterrific 1.0. The Iconfactory has always had the most sensible approach to Twitter in my mind and Twitterrific has always been my preferred app.

I'm glad to see The Iconfactory setting Ollie free so he can soar higher than ever.

iOS 7.1 is Out

This is a big update for iOS 7. It should bring quite a bit of stability and refinement to iOS, along with a few welcome features.

More than anything it is a ton of bug fixes, especially the dreaded home screen crasher that has been vexing me for the past 6 months.

It is a very welcome update, but it is a little shocking it took 6 months to fix so many of the glaring issues in iOS 7 in one big update than a number of iterative updates.

If you haven't updated yet, be sure to go and run Software Update from Settings after you do an iCloud or iTunes backup.

¶ Making Things "Right"

I have long been a fan of Realmac Software and many of their various apps over the years. They are a fantastic company and some of the most talented developers and designers in the Mac & iOS industry.

But man, do they sometimes make some strange decisions.

For context, late last year Realmac released a new version of their to-do list app, Clear. This new version brought with it an iPad interface and a few other enhancements. They released it not as an update to the existing Clear, but as a whole new app, and they were charging money for the upgrade.

I, personally, fully support this approach. Businesses need money to survive, and making great apps is not cheap. I have absolutely no qualms for paying for a great upgrade to a great app. I am even okay with paying full price for it.

That seems to be Apple's preferred approach for app makers to take in the App Store. They did it themselves with the latest major upgrade to Logic. New app, full price.1

But, it appears that I am in the minority here. Presumably Realmac felt a pretty hefty backlash with the new version of Clear. So, they updated the old app with the enhancements they had made to the iPhone side of things, left out the iPad stuff, and put the old one back on the App Store. Then they made the new app known as Clear+, and its draw was that it has an iPad interface.

I honestly thought they should have weathered the storm and stuck to their guns, and it all would have died down eventually, but, I saw this as a fair compromise, as well. Existing users of the original Clear aren't left out in the water, and those who wanted an iPad version could pay for the new app.

But the drama didn't end there. I guess users still were not satiated, and today Realmac backpedaled. A lot.

They released updates to Clear and Clear+. The Clear update made it completely like Clear+, iPad interface and all. The Clear+ update made provided a way to go back to Clear if the user wasn't using iCloud sync. And it sounds like Clear+ is riding off into the sunset.

Realmac says they are making things right. The users who supported them with Clear and Clear+ paid twice to get shuffled around over a couple months. The users who complained get a freebie.

I'm not sure I agree that was the right move.

I really don't care about the money. It was a few bucks, and I love the folks at Realmac. I'm happy to support them.

What I take issue with is that for great developers to keep making great things, it is obvious that free updates forever is unsustainable. Apple is not going to give developers a way to give previous users a discount, that is abundantly clear. 2 And Apple led the way by example with a major Pro app of theirs. That example was to release a new app and charge money. Simple.

And Realmac seemed to be on board with that, as well as many other developers. It will be rough to train the pricing model that has been used for years out of people. And I don't think it will take long if many developers charge for major upgrades. People will realize the new world order of the App Store.

All that this backstep with Clear has accomplished is reinforcing the entitled folks who complain the loudest and longest that they can guilt developers out of a livelihood.

  1. And quite frankly, software is pretty much the only industry I know of that does upgrade pricing. I've never been given a discount on a TV because I owned a previous model.

  2. No pun intended.

Indian Summer

Indian Summer
By Aaron Mahnke

My pal Aaron Mahnke has written a new novel and published it today. This isn't his first foray into literature, as he has authored fantasy novels, along with a guide to freelancing.

This time he takes a different turn into a thriller. I haven't read Indian Summer yet, but it is waiting for me on my Kindle, and I am ecstatic to dive into Aaron's latest adventure.

¶ My First Mac

My first Mac was technically not my own. It was my parents', but it belonged to the family. The year was 1990. I was 5 years old. The Macintosh Classic was its name. It sported a 9-inch grayscale screen at 512 x 342 pixels, a 40 MB hard drive, and 1.44 MB diskette drive. It was the first Mac to cost less than $1,000.

Yeah, baby.

I was enamored with it. It seemed light years ahead of the black screen and green text IBMs my school had. I could play Wheel of Fortune on it. By far my favorite thing to do was to open AppleWorks and make a new drawing document and begin using a digital canvas to create a city with that big clunky mouse. Then I'd select this tool that looked like a tornado to send pixels flying!1

That little Mac was the beginning of my love for technology. When my folks upgraded to a Power Macintosh 7100 a few years later, the Internet was also just gaining traction with the public. My folks were always early adopters, and so we of course had the Internet.2 I remember adding USB to the Power Mac, upgrading the processor to a G3 processor from Sonnet, and how lightning fast it felt when we switched out the 14.4k modem for a 28.8k.

We got a full decade out of that machine with all the upgrades, and it likely could have gone more.

Then came the eMac I got for college. This was truly my first Mac. I quickly found out that a 50-pound behemoth was not ideal at college in 2003. This was my first experience with OS X. I hopped on the bus with 10.2 Jaguar, and 10.3 Panther was released just a couple months later. Safari was at version 1.0, and I haven't changed my default browser since. I used the eMac my freshman year, then it went to my parents to replace the old Power Mac.

My sophomore year I went with the 14-inch iBook G4. I used this through most of college and wrote many papers on it.

My senior year I treated myself to the black MacBook while I still had an education discount. That thing was lovely. I still kind of miss it, as it just looked fantastic. I would love for Apple to make a black space gray MacBook Air.

A few years later I got the first unibody MacBook Pro, 15-inch. This felt like a dream computer. It had real horsepower and was the fastest & thinnest computer I had used yet.

And, just about a year ago, I went to the MacBook Air. The Air is just plain fantastic. It's fast, it's battery lasts ages, and it is light. When you want to close up and go, you can do just that.

The Mac has been a significant part of my life for the past 23 years. It sparked the curiosity of a young boy and challenged me to learn more throughout the years. And these days it is integral to my way of life, not only in how I accomplish my own goals, but also to how I am able to provide for my family. Right now, I simply could not do what I do without the Mac.

Happy 30th birthday, Mac. Here's to many more.

  1. And they were pretty big pixels when you think about it!

  2. "You’ve got mail!"

Twitterrific 5.6 Glides with Streaming

I've had the privilege to be testing Twitterrific 5.6 for iOS for the past few weeks, and it is a fantastic update. This big feature with this release is support for Twitter's streaming API.

Once you've enabled streaming in the app's settings, tweets will come in as they are posted in real-time while you are on Wi-Fi. Twitterrific will intelligently switch back to manual refresh when you drop to a cellular connection.

Streaming is one of those features that has been a long time coming for Twitterific. Streaming makes the Twitterrific experience that much more frictionless and delightful. In my opinion, the lack of streaming was pretty much the final piece of friction left in Twitterrific, and now it really feels feature complete.

Another great feature, though one I admit I have not used often, is list management. For the extremely organized among us, this is a great addition.

You will love Twitterrific 5.6, which is available as a free update to existing users, and available to new folks for $2.99 99¢ on the App Store.

Update: Changed pricing to reflect limited time 99¢ sale.

¶ The Nest Acquisition

A few weeks after moving into our first house last summer, my wife and I bought a Nest thermostat and installed it. It…didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped. In fact, it wasn't working right at all.

I had done my homework, too. I had checked and re-checked Nest's compatibility guide, and I even called in to their support, talked to a rep for a bit, and he even had me email him a picture of our current sucky thermostat and the wiring, and gave the green light that Nest was 100% compatible. So I made the order on Amazon and 48 hours later UPS dropped the box off at my front door.

It was super easy to install, but it just wasn't operating correctly. Another call to Nest, a few more pictures of the wiring, and two levels of support later, I had a workaround solution of putting certain wires into differnt terminals on the Nest, and the support rep told me Nest was going to set up a certified tech to come out on their dime and make sure it works right.

Two days later a guy from a local company that was Nest certified came out, and started testing the Nest and my HVAC system. Everything should have been working, so he investigated deeper. Turns out there was a fault in the wiring between the HVAC system and the Nest. The tech pulled out the bad wiring and ran brand new wiring through my basement's suspended ceiling and up the main floor wall.

This was not a problem with the Nest thermostat at all, but Nest footed the bill to make sure it worked. I never found out how much the job costs, but Nest paid it all. I have to imagine it was either close to, or surpassed the $250 I spent on the Nest.

This is right up there in my top 3 best customer support experiences ever. It solidified my love for Nest as a product and as a company.

Fast forward to three days ago when Nest founder Tony Fadell announced Google's acquisition of Nest. When I read it, my heart sank a little. I used to love Google, and for some things, I still think they do an exceptionally great job. But Google got a little weird when their romance with Apple took a turn. Their "don't be evil" moniker started to feel hypocritical in some aspects.

Then Google+ happened, and they became so obsessed with promoting their new social network that they became downright creepy about all the data they have on each person that uses Google services.

So here I have a service that I used to love that went mad with power, and a product/service that I love that just sold out.

Rock, meet hard place.

I have friends seriously considering ripping their Nest off their wall over the news. Let's face it, Google doesn't have the greatest reputation anymore, at least with nerds.

Will I be removing my Nest Thermostat? Not yet. It did cross my mind, though. As silly as it is when folks snark that Google now has the ability to know when you are home, when you're not, what temp you prefer, and the movements you make you're asleep — well, it sounds silly, but I can also see that totally being a reality.

I'm just not ready to give up my Nest yet, especially since there isn't a comparable product to replace it yet. But I'll be keeping an eye on it, since it isn't all that impossible that it may be keeping an eye on me. 1

  1. Funny side story: I named my Nest HAL when I installed it. Seems a little apt, now.

Twenty-Thirteen | Review

2013 was a big year for me and my family. The first part of the year was busy at work with the release of 1Password 4 for iOS.

I was ordained as a deacon at my church in February.

Then my wife and I were able to go out of country on a trip to the Dominican Republic for a week in March, which happened to be a work retreat, where I met everyone I work with for the first time.

Then the biggest event of our marriage since the birth of our son happened: we bought a house. It really is the perfect house for us as it has vintage 1940’s charm and all the modern amenities. Being a bit of a movie fanatic, my favorite part is that it has a 12-seat movie theater in the basement with vintage reclining theater seats and a concessions stand.

Promptly following that was our 6th anniversary and our son’s 5th birthday. He started Kindergarten, and we released 1Password 4 for Mac at work. Busy fall.

The year wrapped up with us hosting Christmas in our house for both my folks and my wife’s folks. And then a new addition was added to the family a couple days ago, a new niece for us to spoil.

My biggest regret with 2013 is that amongst the busyness I neglected this site too much. I haven't written nearly what I wanted to this past year. My goal for 2014 is to carve out more time to bring words here, as I do truly love it.

2013 was indeed a very big year. I can’t wait to see what is next.

Be well, dear readers. Happy New Year.

¶ The Annoying State of the Apple Wireless Keyboard

Lately I have had conversations with a couple friends after I expressed rage frustration at how quickly my Apple Wireless Keyboard chews through a pair of Eneloop AA's1. Naturally, once I began to resent one thing, I began to notice the rest of its flaws compared to the modern state of other Bluetooth keyboards. What follows are my gripes with the Apple Wireless Keyboard, and how they should be fixed.

Tim Cook, if you're reading, I would give my kingdom for this keyboard.

The Battery

AA's, while fairly universal, are ridiculous in this day & age of Apple devices. The iPad and the MacBook Air get amazing battery life. I'd like to see Apple bring their expertise in battery tech to their peripherals. Ditch the tube shape on the back that holds batteries, and go to a MacBook Air-like wedge shape with a good sized internal battery. Recharge it via a Lightning cable when needed, and have it still usable while plugged into your Mac.

Also, I imagine moving to Bluetooth 4 would help with energy usage, and every new Apple device in the past couple years has come equipped with that.

The Keys

If you've been paying attention to any of Apple's portable Macs in the last few years, you'd know that the white keys of the Apple Wireless Keyboard look like a turd compared to the elegant black keys of portable Macs. Can you imagine how mismatched this keyboard looks next to the new Mac Pro?

Another thing Apple could borrow from the MacBook line is backlit keys. My proposed wedge shape, which could accommodate a nicely sized rechargeable battery, with a more energy efficient Bluetooth 4, could hopefully handle powering backlit keys. It's darn near 2014, it is time to have black, backlit keys on a wireless keyboard.

Easy to Use Multiple Device Support

The Logitech K811 keyboard is almost the keyboard of my dreams, except it is a little on the ugly side with that black stripe across the top. It has black, backlit keys, an internal rechargeable battery (but over the sucky micro-USB), and this amazing ability to switch between a Mac, iPhone, & iPad with the press of a button. They call it EasySwitch for a reason.

When one of Apple's main goals is to get you to own a Mac, iPhone, & iPad, they should be selling a keyboard that gives extremely low friction in using it with all three devices.


There are some really great keyboards out there that are close to my dream keyboard, the aforelinked Logitech K811 being the closest, save for being a bit on the ugly side. I want Apple to step into this decade of technology with their keyboard, and utilize many of the technologies they've been pushing forward.

So let's recap what the next Apple Keyboard should be like.

  • Wedge shape, like the MacBook Air
  • Good-sized internal battery
  • Lightning port for recharging from an outlet or Mac.
  • Bluetooth 4
  • Black keys
  • Backlit keys
  • Ability to switch quickly and easily between Mac, iPhone, & iPad.

And hey, while we're at it, let's update the Magic Trackpad with the wedge shape, internal battery, Lightning port, and Bluetooth 4.

Again, I'd give my kingdom for peripherals like this.

  1. It is widely believed Apple uses relabeled Eneloops for their rechargeable battery kit.

¶ Humblebrag

It's been quite a couple days for me and my team at the old day job. Yesterday, 1Password 4 for both iOS & Mac were honored with the prestigious Eddy Award (note: there's an autoplaying video at the top of the page). And today, we were honored by Apple to stand with many other amazing apps as one of the Mac App Store's Best Apps of 2013.

I can't express how happy I am to be a part of what 1Password has become, and of the fantastic folks I work with. It's been a great year, and I cannot wait for the coming one.