Weight a Minute Progress Update

It has been 106 days since I publicly announced the Weight a Minute beta program. I’ve shipped 4 betas so far, and for a while was making excellent progress.

However, since around the end of October, I have done basically no real work on the app. I’ve hit a mental roadblock.

This isn’t the first time I’ve completely lost the desire to work on Weight a Minute. I’ve completely scrapped my code base and re-started from scratch twice already, with huge breaks in between revisions.

I’m honestly not sure what the reason is. I’ve finished large projects before, but maybe it’s because iOS development is so new. Maybe it’s because Weight a Minute is very personally important to me. I’m not sure.

As it stands, there is a lot of very tricky work left to do before I can ship a 1.0 release. I will get there, eventually. The current build (Beta 4) in the hands of testers expires in 47 days, and I will at least try to push a fifth beta before that expiration date.

That’s all for now.

Weight a Minute 1.0 Beta

After over a year of off-and-on development, restarts, refactors, frustration, joy, and learning, I am almost ready to release Weight a Minute, the first app I ever began serious work on.

I’m now accepting signups for the beta, which will start – if I stay on track with development – in the next 30 days. If you’d like to help test a new weight-tracking app, please sign up!

Click or tap here to sign up for the beta!


Also, if you have any friends or family that might like to help, please feel free to send them the signup link! The more people out there playing with the app, the better chance of catching bugs. The more the merrier, and thank you in advance to everyone that signs up. 😄

What I Want to See in the 5th Gen Apple TV

Here’s what I want to see in the 5th-generation Apple TV:

4K HDR Output

Duh. Amazon and Roku already have 4K streaming boxes that are way cheaper than the Apple TV. This, along with 4K movie rentals, seems like a no-brainer for a streaming box released in 2017.

Smaller, Simpler Design

The Apple TV already has USB-C. USB-C provides power. While it’s nice that the Apple TV has a built-in power supply, I feel it’s redundant when power could be provided through the USB-C port. This would require a small wall brick (which I imagine wouldn’t have to be any bigger than the brick that comes with the iPad), but I really think that’d be fine.

Simplified Ports

Yeah, I’m suggesting removing ports. The Ethernet port on the current Apple TV is already hilariously capped at 10/100 speeds, meaning that connecting via the 802.11ac Wi-Fi is faster than running your Apple TV hardwired. There’s no need of it. Get rid of it.

Bonus Idea: Even More USB-C

Why not have two USB-C ports? Enable support for external USB storage and USB-to-Ethernet adapters for those that need them. Ship a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box and allow people to charge the Siri Remote without having to buy another power brick.

Appearance – BirchTree Podcast WWDC Recap

So, I did a thing.

I’ve had a basic recording setup (microphone, boom arm, etc) sitting in my work office for a while now, as I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a podcast. I’ve never done it though, because A. I doubted enough people would listen to make it worth it, and B. I’m super nervous when it comes to “public speaking”, which podcasting sort of is.

Well, Friday night I decided to bite the bullet, and I sent a Twitter DM to internet friend and writer of BirchTree, Matt Birchler, and pitched the idea of doing a WWDC recap episode of his podcast:

For some reason, Matt took a leap of faith and agreed.

I had a blast. I was super nervous, but Monday evening we got together on Skype and recorded our thoughts and reactions to the WWDC 2017 keynote:

(Overcast Link)

Personally, I feel like my nerves came through in the recording – my rate of speech gets very rushed at points, and there are times where I couldn’t quite articulate my thoughts the way I was trying (dear god please excuse my thoughts on the Play Store vs. the App Store – there was a point there, but for the life of me even now I don’t know what I was getting at). Overall though, I am very happy with the results, and I can’t thank Matt enough for having me.

Setting Alternate App Icons in iOS 10.3 Without Showing an Alert

UPDATE: To be clear, there is a very good chance submitting an app using this method could get you rejected in App Review. Use at your own risk. Also, this method is super buggy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

iOS 10.3 added a cool new API for changing your app’s icon. The API is limited in several ways, one of the biggest being that changing the app icon with the API causes the system to automatically display an alert informing the user of the change:

Hey look, a free sneak peak at the app I'm working on.

This is fine. There’s really nothing wrong with this. But I noticed that couple of applications – such as Bear and Scanbot have managed to change their app icon without showing that alert.

So I knew it was possible.

The system dialog is obviously a variant of a UIAlertViewController, based on it’s appearance and behavior, so I first thought there might be some method of calling .dismiss(animated:completion:) on it; alas, there was not.

I then had another idea: what if, immediately upon calling setAlternateIconName(_:completionHandler:), I created and presented a different view controller? Would that interrupt the alert showing? And if so, could I dismiss that temporary view controller quickly enough that the user would never notice?

As it turns out: yep. That’s exactly what I was able to do, with this code:

if UIApplication.shared.supportsAlternateIcons {
    let tempViewController = UIViewController()
    self.present(tempViewController, animated: false, completion: {
        tempViewController.dismiss(animated: false, completion: nil)

By presenting a temporary ViewController – without animation – and then instantly dismissing that ViewController within the completion block of the present, you end up with this effect:

Much better.

Hopefully iOS 11 will bring some maturity to this API - I’d love if this sort of workaround wasn’t needed. Personally, I think the user should be able to allow icon changes without confirmation, including updates in the background. (I’d also like to have the ability to generate these images in code, rather than supplying image files, but that opens the door for abuse.)

Unboxing a Warranty Replacement Apple Watch with the Clips App

Matt Birchler isn’t the only one that can make YouTube videos with the clips app:


watchOS 3.2 Includes New Colors for both Standard and Nike+ Watchfaces

Yesterday’s final release of watchOS 3.2 seems to of snuck some new customization colors in. I was especially pleased to see new colors added for the Nike+ watchfaces, which previously were limited to White, Volt, or White/Volt combos.

(EDIT: If you’re interested in learning what all the available colors are, and which faces they can be used on, then check out this page I threw together since writing this post.)

All standard watchfaces gain 6 new colors: Azure, Camellia, Flamingo, Mist Blue (which, oddly, isn’t even blue), Pebble and Pollen.

The Nike+ Digital Face gains 5 new colors: Blue Orbit, Indigo, Light Bone, Light Violet and Violet Dust. The Nike+ Analog Face gains those same five colors, plus one extra color: Anthracite.

More customization is always welcome, especially with the Nike+ faces. I especially like the Nike+ “Blue Orbit” color – although I have to say, I wish there was one singular color pallete shared across all watchfaces.

Full disclosure: I didn’t look through every face to see if there are any other face-specific colors; if I find something I missed, I’ll be sure to post an update. And if you find something I missed, be sure to let me know on Twitter!

A Post on a Website about Tweaks Made to That Same Website

I made a bunch of changes to the CSS and structure of this site today, including:

New, optional gradient backgrounds for pages

Now, if I define a header-color tag in the front matter of a post, that color is used to determine which of a handful of colorful gradients gets applied as the post header’s background view. These only show on standalone pages (/projects and /about for example) and in the permalink-versions of blog posts (for example, my “Hello World” post). I might remove this, or make sparing use of it – the potential for it to feel gaudy is real.

Translucency and frosted glass effect in the navigation bar

Inspired by Apple and the OmniGraffle websites, the navigation bar now includes a beautiful frosted glass effect. Sadly, this is a WebKit-only effect, and only shows up in Safari on macOS or iOS, but damnit if it doesn’t look pretty:

The home page now shows full-length articles

No more excerpts and “read more” links. This was an oddly difficult stylistic choice to make; I think I like it better, though. Before, longer posts would show the first paragraph only, and you’d have to click in to the article to read the rest. I was already showing the full contents of linked posts (due to their typically brief nature), so it’s not as big a stretch to do the same for all posts.

🔗 LG’s new phone to launch eventually, cost money | TechCrunch

At one point during the presentation, a company executive described the screen. Another talked about the camera. Both are better than the screen and camera in the previous model.

Absolute gold. 😂

🔗 BONANZA! #23: He Can Go Eat Seafood for All I Care - Relay FM

Nothing makes me happier than a new Bonanza in my Overcast queue.