On iPhone and iPad, you can quickly rotate a video stored in Photos with iMovie’s app extension. Many video apps simply don’t offer this option, so it’s nice to have for those quick fixes while browsing videos.
To use this (and most) editing app extensions for Photos:
- In Photos, tap a video to view it full size
- Tap Edit
- Tap the (…) app extension button, usually next to the play button
- In the menu of app extensions that appears, tap iMovie
- (Optional) If iMovie isn’t an option yet in that menu, swipe all the way left, tap More (…), and enable it
- Once the iMovie extension loads with your selected video, place two fingers on the video and twist them left or right
- When you’re happy with your rotated video, tap Done
Credit to Serenity Caldwell for this tip
This is a good, real-world explainer of a core philosophy behind Mastodon and the greater fediverse of connected, interoperable services, like PixelFed. I’m a big fan of this grown platform of content and social platforms, especially their underlying design and mission.
Eugen, a core developer behind Mastodon:
Decentralization is biodiversity of the digital world, the hallmark of a healthy ecosystem. A decentralized network like the fediverse allows different user interfaces, different software, different forms of government to co-exist and cooperate. And when some disaster strikes, some will be more adapted to it than others, and survive what a monoculture wouldn’t.
Last but not least, decentralization is about fixing power asymmetry. A centralized social media platform has a hierarchical structure where rules and their enforcement, as well as the development and direction of the platform, are decided by the CEO, with the users having close to no ways to disagree. You can’t walk away when the platform holds all your friends, contacts and audience. A decentralized network deliberately relinquishes control of the platform owner, by essentially not having one. For example, as the developer of Mastodon, I have only an advisory influence: I can develop new features and publish new releases, but cannot force anyone to upgrade to them if they don’t want to; I have no control over any Mastodon server except my own, no more than I have control over any other website on the internet. That means the network is not subject to my whims; it can adapt to situations faster than I can, and it can serve use cases I couldn’t have predicted.
“That’s the way I live my life.”
I took some time off from running the Finer Tech Newsletter for both personal and professional reasons. But I’m back at it (check out issue 47 and issue 48), and I think I’ve figured out a schedule that should help me give you something genuinely useful on a regular basis.
Starting this coming Saturday, I want to take the newsletter bi-weekly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe now (it’s free!) so you’re on board. This weekend’s issue will have some extra tips and recommendations for those of you who are making your Annual Tech Support Trek home for the holidays.
A bi-weekly schedule should give me proper time to write and collect helpful tips for your Apple stuff and a broader variety of apps, as well as find truly interesting, non-news things to read. I’m also going to explore packing a little more into some issues, so we’ll see how that goes.
Speaking of Saturday, I’m also not married to it long term for a publishing day. I’d love to hear your thoughts on which day(s) you’d like to receive this collection of tips and good reads. You can also reach me on social media.
Finally, I still welcome your support on Patreon for running the newsletter and this site. I don’t have tiers or extra perks yet, but I’m working on those too and again welcome your thoughts.
As always, thanks for reading.
Mastodon is a relatively new social media service, but I’ve grown to like it quite a bit. Of course, any new service these days will need good apps if it’s going to get anywhere. Thankfully, the iOS apps are getting pretty good.
If you need a primer on Mastodon, how it works, or why I think it’s important, I wrote a simple, plain-language overview of Mastodon’s mission and advantages. I also maintain a Dropmark collection of Mastodon guides, links, tips, and tools. But if you want my elevator pitch: Mastodon is a social network run by and for its users. “Community-owned and ad-free,” says the landing page.
You can post all the typical stuff publicly or keep it private to your followers. There is no advertising or tracking, and none of the insidious, destructive incentives that come with it. There is also no central company to ruin things, and it has a growing, open API that welcomes apps and even other services.
I’m on Mastodon at toot.cafe/@chartier. And speaking of apps, let’s get to them.
Mast for iPhone
Mast launched just last week and has the best design in my opinion. It supports all the big features I can think of, including Direct Messages and Content Warnings to hide spoilers and sensitive posts. It also has an impressive amount of customization such as long-press gestures, themes, always displaying all sensitive content, and lots of other good stuff.
One caveat though: Mast can be a little buggy at times, though its developer has been quick with bug fixes and responses. Also, an iPad version just entered beta testing.
Toot for iPad and iPhone
I helped test Toot in beta for a while before it too launched last week. Toot also supports all the main features I can think of and takes a more whimsical approach to its interface. There are subtle and less subtle animations in various places. Toot also has a unique wheel on the right of the tab bar for switching between accounts and instances—basically, different communities of Mastodon users.
Tootdon for iPad and iPhone
Probably the most traditional in terms of interface, Tootdon is also a full-featured Mastodon app with a unique approach. Its UI is in the ballpark of Twitterrific and it has a good amount of customizability. But Tootdon is also good for exploring a little bit of what’s going on across the “fediverse”—other instances, hashtags, and users you might not otherwise see in your normal feed and searches.
It’s worth noting that there are plenty of other iOS apps for Mastodon available, but I haven’t tried them all. At the least, I think it’s great to see a service embrace an open API and a community starting to mature around it.
As you might have noticed, iCloud has been having a number of hiccups lately. Apps like Tweetbot and Bear (a client of mine) have had to alert users because it’s affecting sync.
I could be stretching, but I hope that these multiple hiccups this close to a major event next week means that iCloud will finally get some attention. It’s a solid bet that new iPads and maybe even new Macs appear next week. But iCloud is long overdue for things like storage upgrades, some performance improvements, and surely some additions for industries Apple is trying to compete in, like education.
One can hope.
I’ve had my Series 4 for all of 48 hours, but I am happy and a little surprised to say: Watch apps finally feel usable. The new power and speed in Series 4 feels like a huge leap forward, which is important because I’m trying to cut down on how often I keep my iPhone directly on me.
I’ve owned a Series 0, 2, and now this 4 (space gray aluminum, 44mm, cellular but it isn’t hooked up for now). If it matters, I also upgraded this year from an iPhone X to a XS Max. Since the original Watch, the sentiment about Watch apps has generally been “if it takes longer than a second or two to launch and let me do the thing, I’ll just reach for my phone.” Third-party apps have generally performed poorly on the Watch, causing many people to give up trying and even some companies to scrap their apps entirely.
This Series 4 feels like a breath of fresh air. Third-party apps like Streaks, Carrot Weather, Bear, Things, Drafts, Day One, and Fantastical both launch and are immediately useful for me. I often use Siri on my Watch for a handful of tasks, but it too has always felt sluggish. Now, Siri is instantaneous.
A lot of friction has been removed from the Watch apps experience. Over the weekend, I’ve really liked using my Watch to create and complete tasks, check the Carrot Weather app, save thoughts and article ideas for later, and send messages, all with pleasantly fast feedback and performance.
To be clear, not all apps perform well. But I suspect that is a function of their need of an update or simple poor design, rather than a problem with the Series 4 or watchOS 5.
Developers: if the Watch hasn’t had the performance you want in the past, you might want to check out Series 4. For everyone else: if you gave up or just never tried Watch apps, I definitely recommend giving them a look on a Series 4.
Ars covers an interesting experiment from a “high-resolution” weather mode: if the US switched entirely to wind turbines, what is the trade-off?
Matthew Green at Slate, after Google changed a default Chrome feature to automatically log users into the browser if they log into any Google service. This means all browsing history now gets sent to Google, and at rollout there wasn’t even a way to shut it off:
This pattern of behavior by tech companies is so routine that we take it for granted. Let’s call it “pulling a Facebook” in honor of the many times that Facebook has “accidentally” relaxed the privacy settings for user profile data, and then—following a bout of bad press coverage—apologized and quietly reversed course. A key feature of these episodes is that management rarely takes the blame: It’s usually laid at the feet of some anonymous engineer moving fast and breaking things.
We are way, way past time to start holding these companies and their lame, ‘anonymous engineer’ management scapegoat accountable for their awful approach to our privacy.
To quote this YouTube essayist I just found:
Opinions need refreshing every now and then. There are some movies whose reputations are so seemingly universally agreed upon, good or bad, that we stop questioning them. We take it as a given. But the great thing about art is that, while it stays the same, you don’t. And when you look back at something you thought you knew, it feels like waking up to a new reality. When all you ever knew was the illusion.
With that, grab a beverage and give this a look.