The Clock 4, Bigger than Ever (Part 3)

So the big part is finally coming. Let’s tell the story about how new The Clock 4 came to be.

2 years ago, I wanted to bring The Clock to iOS, but there was many challenges and I needed to overcome these challenges.

The first challenge being, The Clock is mainly a menu bar app, how to bring The Clock to an iPhone or an iPad without doing this kind of thing?
Don

I wanted an iPhone/iPad full experience. Not a simple macOS port. You should be able to turn your iPhone and use the landscape view for something more, for something different. I definitely did not want the iPad view being a simple stretch of the iPhone portrait view. So as you can see many questions raised at the time.

The second challenge, I wanted to minimize the difference of code between macOS and iOS. The 2 platforms core development kits are similar but different enough to lead to a huge amount of works. So I needed to find a solution for this too.

These 2 challenges, took me time, before finding a solution which I think is today working well. Many trials and errors. Coding, designing, going back to the board and many back and forth. This was a big part of the first 6-8 months. Because I was never happy with my choices, I was maybe not ready to go all the way.

It is when I had to make a choice take the blue pill or the red pill 🤪
Matrix

So, you guess which one I took… Yes I went all the way down the rabbit hole.

My focus was to keep a familiar interface, as The Clock is used by tens of thousands of you on daily basis. While creating a complete new kind of “responsive app” which should react and adapt to any window or device size. And all being supported by Core Animation, Auto-Layout and other recent powerful Apple frameworks to leverage the best UI experiences.

When I took this direction for the new The Clock 4, I realised that I had found a nice solution and that at the same time I could bring many features that customers wanted but could have never being incorporated in the previous versions, due to the static window size.

Here is a little video of the result. Hope you like it.

Few examples. As the design should react and adapt the any window size, this means that obviously you should be able to resize the window 😉.

  • Resizing the window will solve the issue of long city name.
  • It means as well that I could implement a similar iOS Dynamic Type to the macOS.
  • It means as well you could have a horizontal display of the world clocks. for the users having big external display and who want to see this kind of view.
  • It means that you can enjoy working with The Clock in a Split View or FullScreen.
  • It means I could create an additional extended meeting planner.

So yes The Clock 4 has in its core being designed fully responsive. This way it can gracefully adapt to any device size or any window size.

I always thought The Clock has being structured as a Russian Dolls. Meaning you have everything working when you open it, nothing to tweak or complicated.
Russian Dolls

But if you want, you can go further and activate more features which are suitable to you. This new version bring the concept to a all new level.

With of course a beautiful meeting planner for the Touchbar, where you can set your meeting, select the cities. Or simply quickly view the time of the different cities.

TouchBar

More in the last and final blog post next week.

The Clock 4, Bigger than Ever (Part 2)

Before to enter the big part (Part 3) of this blog series, I will show you for this second part some nice new goodies coming in The Clock 4.

The first features will be macOS only.

The Menu Bar date/time

One of the nice feature that users wanted for a while was the ability to define their own date and time format in the menubar. No more waiting. The Clock 4 in macOS is coming with this feature.

Custom format

Simply enter in the custom format any date/time with the RFC 3339 date/time format, and The Clock will display it.

Custom format

The Touch Bar

I wanted The Clock 4 to leverage this new interface provided in the recent MacBook Pros.
First, I had to buy one of those baby 🤪. I could have developped this part without buying one and tested it in a simulator, but I wanted to be able to experience properly the Touch Bar, in order to deliver the best experience for The Clock 4.

So here is what the main Touch Bar looks like

Main Touch Bar

As you can see you can access all the functions of The Clock.

  • Add World Clocks
  • Delete World Clocks
  • Show/Hide the different views
  • Directly turn ON/OFF the Take a Break feature
  • Set a meeting for the Meeting Planner
  • Look for dates and events

The idea being, you need to be able to control all the part of The Clock from the keyboard shortcuts and as well from the Touch Bar. With a strong emphasis on the Accessibility.

Touch Bar delete world clock

Touch Bar calendar

NB: The meeting planner will be shown in the next blog post as part of it is part of a big new feature.

Of course all the design of the icons are in line with the menu on the iPhone/iPad version, for a seamless experience accross devices.

iPhone/iPad menu

Notification Center Widget

The notification center widget was as well a long time request, and is finally coming too 😁😎.

Here under are what it looks like in macOS and iOS.

macOS Notification Center Widget

iOS Notification Center Widget

And of course as everything in The Clock you can fine tune what to display in the Notification Center.

macOS The Clock Widget Preferences

iOS The Clock Widget Preferences

BTW, as you can see below all the features are cross devices. 🧐😍🤪

iOS The Clock Preferences

Backup/Restore

Following my last blog post users asked me if iCloud was coming a long side with DropBox backup in this new release. Answer: Yes. Here is the new Backup/Restore interface.

macOS Backup/Restore

iOS Backup/Restore

These are few of the new goodies part of The Clock 4. I hope that you love what is coming. More to come in the next blog posts. The next one will be revealing the next “Big new thing” in The Clock 4…

Stay tuned for part 3.

The Clock 4, Bigger than Ever (Part 1)

After 2 years in the making The Clock 4 is finally here.

Over the next few days, I’m going to take you to a journey, unveiling the biggest update ever of The Clock, which leaded to The Clock 4.

I have a lot to cover. How much to cover you say? To give you an idea, The Clock 4 has around 100 optional settings to match your need.
Of course, I will not detail all of them, but I will unveil the major ones over the course of the next few days (~1 week). With at the end of this journey the release of the beta.

Before to describe all the redesign processes, struggles, issues, many times the rewrite of the code. In this first post, I will simply start slow. I will show the small UI differences between The Clock 3 and The Clock 4.

Big clarification before to start this journey. The Clock 4 refers to either the macOS version either the iOS version. As for a seamless experience, there is 99% features compatibility. Obviously not the menubar part 😉.

As you probably know The Clock is designed to be beautiful & simple yet a powerful productivity tool all at the same time.

Small Differences

The Clock is composed of 4 parts.

  • The Calendar.
  • What’s up next complication.
  • The World Clocks area.
  • The Meeting Planner Slider.

And these parts can be shown or hidden as per your need.

The Clock 4 of course retains this long time useful and loved UI, as you can see in the picture. But with small differences…

  • The themes have a better color contrast. The font differents sizing are more inline with what you could see with the iOS Dynamic Type font sizes. The selected day is now with a nice rounded square.
  • While the calendar is shown, you can now expand/collapse the calendar with 6 weeks (as before) or 1 week. Usuful for the smaller screens if you want still to see the calendar but do not want it to take too much space.
  • The Go to Today button action has now its own Today button with the current date displayed. Previously you had to click on the month 🙁
  • The world clocks complications (more than before) can now be placed on the left or right. The full complications list is avaiblable for both sides.
  • The meeting planner slider panel now display the date/time directly in the panel. And the panel now have a share button clearly shown, to share your meeting information. Previously you had to click to get the contextual menu. Which was maybe not obvious.
  • The gear button has been replaced by a “more” button for a consistent UI between macOS and iOS.

These are the major visual differences that you may notice when you open The Clock 4.

On the macOS version, you may not notice the following one…

Custom format

Yes, on macOS, in the menu bar, now you can set your own custom format!

A little bit more:

  • While panning to set a meeting, you are not limited anymore to +/- 24h. The Clock 4 will automatically continue and change the date in the calendar.
  • You may not have noticed, but you can now change the analog clock design.
  • And few other goodies such as the new redesigned World Clock settings for a consistent experience across your devices.

World Clock settings

  • Or the new redesigned calendar events.

Calendar Events

The World Clock settings and Calendar events are now shown with a double click/double tap, in order to better align the gesture between macOS and iOS for the display of a popover panels.

These are really only a tiny part of the nice updates coming to The Clock 4. Be reminded that these blog posts will run for ~1 week. So I have far more to cover about this Bigger than Ever release.

Oh! before I forget. All this nice UI has been completely rewritten and is now driven 100% by Core Animation and Auto Layout for smooth animations and optimum rendering 🤪. And is macOS 10.14 Mojave and iOS 12 ready.

Little Game: A visual detail of The Clock 3/The Clock 4 macOS first screenshot has not been described yet, and it is a major one. Can you spot the differences between The Clock 3 and The Clock 4 macOS and tell me which one? 🤔.

Part 2 post to follow soon…

seense news, long overdue status update ;)

Yes, it has been a long time since my last post 😉 I feel like it is an overdue. If you were wondering when seense lovely app are going to receive major updates, do not worry more…

After 20 years in the Telecom Business, travelling the world, as Chief Technical Officer consultant, my heart sent me a warning, 2 years ago, that it was time to change something. So after a little surgery it was time to think about the future.

So what could I do? After 20 years in the same business, I thought it could be good to try something else. To challenge myself professionally, to have less traveling, and to be, at the same time, closer to my kids.

seense, my hobby, is running nicely with thousands of customers enjoying my apps every day, and this since many years. But seense was not making near enough money to be sustainable and to provide for my kids (going soon to university). But the seense path was an interesting one. It was time to investigate further this path.

So basically I spent the last 2 years to transform my hobby into a business, to be able to live from it. As of today I’m on track with my objectives. So the world of software become as of today my sole source of revenue. Let’s make everything to continue on this new adventure that I love. I will give you more details on what seense has become sometime in the future.

Another big part of the last 2 years was to work on the next major update of The Clock and at the same time to lay the foundation for the other apps update such as MenuBar Stats and more. I will give you more info about this part in my next blog post coming in the next few days. As it is a big one, it will need it’s own blog post…

But just a tease… It is so big of an update, that for the first time in 7 years of The Clock updates, I will need to run a really strong beta, as for the first time The Clock has been re-written to be on macOS and on iOS.

The Clock 4, coming soon

Stay tuned…

Barsoom, MenuBar ReArranger2, and macOS Sierra

One of the less advertised feature of macOS Sierra is the ability to re-order any items in your menu bar. Yes, you read correctly.

Previously, if you didn’t have an extra app such as Barsoom or MenuBar ReArranger, only the Apple Menu Extras could be moved around with the simple cmd+drag action.

Now Apple has finally implemented this feature to ALL third party apps in your menu bar. And it works quite nicely. It works exactly the same way as Barsoom works. Smoothly, with nice animation and Apple solution can manage as well multi menu items apps such as MenuBar Stats. Very nice indeed. So now, without any third party app, you can finally keep your menu bar in order!!

So what does it means for the future of Barsoom and MenuBar ReArranger for the post macOS Sierra era?

As the main feature of Barsoom and MBRA2 is now handled natively and nicely by macOS Sierra, it is time to consolidate Barsoom and MBRA2.

As the Apple solution is very similar to Barsoom, it makes sense to continue to develop the consolidated solution around Barsoom. This in order to have a nice integration with your Mac. So I decided that MBRA2 last version will be for El Capitan, and Barsoom will continue to grow.

MBRA has been around for more than 4 years, and started in the Mac App Store. It was one of my first app and MBRA is loved by many customers. So it is with a heavy heart that I take this decision.

I decided as well to give access to Barsoom to all the customers of MBRA2.5. So MBRA2.5 owners can use their license to activate Barsoom 2.5 onward!

Barsoom will integrate few exclusive feature of MBRA2. For example Barsoom 2.5 include now the possibility to add spaces between group of icons. And the future version will consolidate other exclusive features.

Barsoom is very useful to declutter your menu bar. You can hide all your items in 1 click. Or only few of them.

Barsoom give you a very convenient and fast access to all Apple Menu Extras for a quick Activation/Deactivation. No need to look for them all over the system to find where to activate them.

And more features are coming to Barsoom.

So starting today, September 24 2016, Barsoom 2.5 is the new version for macOS Sierra and is available for download at seense/barsoom

The Clock 3.1 – Go even further Release

The new summer 2016 release of The Clock is here. And what a great release!

The Clock was introduced back in 2012, as a very simple World Clock. After 4 years of free upgrades, The Clock, the Best World Clock for Mac, has grown a lot and is now speaking more than 8 languages.

For each major release, it is always an exercise for me to keep The Clock a simple and beautiful World Clock and at the same time to make it more and more powerful. This release was no exception 😉

This new release is coming with around 15 new gorgeous features, plenty of little small bugs fixed, improvements and a new planet 😉

I will focus on 2 of the gorgeous features on this blog post.

Accessibility

The first great feature is Accessibility. Starting from version 3, The Clock introduced slightly different icons to help the color blind community. Today I’m going even further in Accessibility.

As announced on my last post, from now on, I’m going to make sure that my popular apps The Clock, MenuBar Stats are supporting VoiceOver .
So, I’m pleased to announce today, that The Clock is the first seense app to fully support VoiceOver on a public release (thanks to Scott H. for the idea and testing).
For the ones who read my last post, The Clock is a far more advanced app (hundreds of features) than MenuBar Stats, and it took a little bit longer to implement the VO feature properly. But it is now implemented, and working wonderfully.
As of today VO speaks only in English, but everything is ready for more languages in the future releases.

Another feature to improve the Accessibility, is the font size of the time displayed in your menu bar. By default the size is exactly the same as the Apple stock clock. But now you have the option to increase the font size.

Dreamers

The second great feature, I want to talk about today, is for the Dreamers.
Most of you are using The Clock to improve your productivity at work. Would it not be nice to dream a little bit as well?

In The Clock 3.0 special cities, time zones were introduced for our navy friends. Today I’m going further with a new planet, Mars.

I have included in The Clock database, all the major Mars sites from NASA Mars24. So now you will know easily the local time on Opportunity, Curiosity, Olympus Mons and other Mars sites.

1 hour on Mars is not exactly the same as 1 hour on Earth so for this I especially developed new code to manage this part. This new code is based on Dr Michael Allison and Dr. Robert Schmunk algorithms.

As you know, The Clock comes with watch Complications. One of the Complication is sunrise/sunset. Would it be nice to know when the sun is going to rise on Curiosity?. This is now possible, with The Clock.

These new “cities”, or I should say Mars sites, are fully seamlessly integrated to The Clock. So you can use the Meeting Planner ;), and other features as you would do with any other cities on Earth.

This is an introductory feature, it will grow. If you have suggestions or corrections to be done on this new feature email me, Tweet,… as always I’m listening.
NB: The mission time and mission sol are not yet part of this version.

And More

So this was the 2 major features I wanted to talk about.
But as mentioned previously, there is plenty of new features. Such as Go to Date panel, Share menu, new Complications, Open your Calendar from The Clock events, simple Notes taking for a world clock, and more.
You have as well plenty of fixes for small bugs reported these last few months. And around 100 new cities in the database, and some cities time zone updates…

The new macOS Sierra came out yesterday for the developers, I will start to test The Clock on this new release soon. For the next free major update this fall.

If you like or love The Clock do not hesitate to write a nice review on the Mac App Store. It is helping me a lot. And as usual, if you have some suggestions or bug reports send me an email, it is more efficient for me to work on them.

seense and Accessibility

All started this week with the Mac Geek Gab Podcast 604 from The Mac Observer. John F. Braun & Dave Hamilton mentioned MenuBar Stats during their podcast. Thanks to them by the way for this.

Few hours later, a podcast listener Scott contacted me about the possibility to add VoiceOver to MenuBar Stats .

As I’m always open to new suggestion to improve my apps, I was ready to have a look.

I honestly, never looked at this Apple feature by the past, and didn’t know what to expect. I was busy with the next release of The Clock, and I needed a break. So I started to poke around and play with VoiceOver. It looked quite interesting and powerful. I then tried VoiceOver with MenuBar Stats , and of course it was not working.

Ok, let’s Google it, StackOverflow it, and try to find the basic concept for the VO programming. Few hours later, I started to have a fairly basic idea of the inner working of VO.

It was time to open MenuBar Stats source code to see what was possible to be done. Lucky me, the brand new coding of MenuBar Stats from version 2, was perfect to implement VO easily. After few hours of coding and testing the first version was ready. I sent it to Scott for testing. I was on the right track. Almost everything was now accessible by VO. Good. Let’s finalize the last remaining missing things, some back and forth for testing and after 1-2 days the final MenuBar Stats version with VO was ready.

This experience revealed to me that my leading apps The Clock and MenuBar Stats are not VoiceOver friendly, and this could be improved. So the next release of The Clock and MenuBar Stats will be VoiceOver ready to improve the Accessibility of my apps.

As of today, I’m proposing a special version of MenuBar Stats with VoiceOver implemented. This version is the exactly the same as the current release but with VoiceOver. I’m not making an official upgrade of the regular MenuBar Stats yet. I will merge this new feature with the regular MenuBar Stats on the next release of MenuBar Stats.

For the people out there interested by an Advanced System Monitor app with Voice Over fully implemented, you can get MenuBar Stats at seense.com

“Huge” number of Mac apps vulnerable to hijacking, and a fix is elusive

What’s this?

This is the title of a recent article from Ars Technica, and MacRumors.

Basically the article is talking about vulnerabilities for man-in-the-middle attacks for apps using Sparkle framework. This framework is used by many developers to manage the update process of an app.

At seense, I’m, of course, using this amazing framework for my apps sold outside the Mac App Store (The Clock, Barsoom, MenuBar Stats,MBRA2….).

HTTP to HTTPS global trend

First of all, the group of developers behind the current Sparkle framework, pornel and the others, are very commited developers. Always trying to maximize the security of the product. This can be witnessed by the discussion on Github. This is why few months back they started to push for HTTPS a lot, to almost today deprecate the HTTP connection in their framework.

And they are not the only ones. Last autumn 2015, Apple with their last OS X release, El Capitan, implemented what is known to the developers as App Transport Security (ATS).

What is this? Basically an app compiled recently, by default cannot connect through HTTP to a server with El Capitan. This protection is not related to the sandbox. It is an extra protection. So today for a developer to release an app with HTTP connection, the developer must authorize it. Host by host or fully, which obviously increase the security risk.

seense apps

Now let’s talk about seense apps? Are they impacted?

All my apps are stored on seense servers, the same server as my website.

Last October 2015, I have announced that I moved seense.com to HTTPS. One of the main point was more secure app upgrade.

Since last October 2015, all the apps from seense connect with seense server through HTTPS. And I leverage the ATS new security system to reinforce this on El Capitan.
On top of this all the apps are signed with my Apple certificates.
All the apps simultaneously sold on the Mac App Store and seense Store are sandboxed.

So, the short answer is, seense apps are not impacted by this issue!.

Why this post?

I did this post, because I started receiving emails from concern customers following the Ars Technica article.
I guess, more of you may be concerned too. So, I want to say that seense apps are not impacted by this issue!. I take very seriously the security issues. And as explained previously, it was already anticipated last year.

Added 20/02/2016: You can test yourself if your apps are vulnerable to the Sparkle framework by using the following script, proposed by the Sparkle developers.

The Clock 3

Back in August, I wrote that I had decided to re-write The Clock from the ground-up.
I said that this decision was a big risk, due to the rule : Do not fix something which is not broken.

Thousands of users, all over the world, rely on The Clock on daily basis for their work, or personal life. And I didn’t want to impact their work flow.

Just 1 week before the release, as this was not risky enough, I decided to make this upgrade a free upgrade. Nice for my existing users, all existing users would be able to upgrade in 1 click.
But if someting was wrong with this brand new version, all customers would have been immediately impacted.

It was some worrying days. I went from beaking 1 big rule to let’s increase the risk even further!

I can tell you that when I decided to push the button to release #tc3 on the Mac App Store, my heart was beating fast. I was worried. Scared to have missed something which could have impacted so many people. The adrenaline rush 😉

I didn’t sleep a lot the hours after. I was waiting to see if I missed something, waiting the customer reviews, the emails…

Almost 1 month after the #tc3 release, and a small maintenance release, for minor bugs. I’m relieved.

After so may hours of designing, drawing, coding, and a finish line of adrenaline rush, I’m glad to see so many positive feedback from you. Either by customer reviews, either by email. Thanks.

All this hard work paid off. Not by selling hundred of thousands of copies, this never happens for me, as I don’t make ads 😉 But paid off with your positive reviews and words by email. Which is my goal, and will always be my goal for my apps.

Let’s now think about the new features that will come to The Clock in the future, and about my other apps…

Once again, Thanks.

The Clock in time…

I was going through my backups today, looking for an old document. And I was surprise to find the first version of The Clock.  
I launched it, and was surprise that it was still working, after so many years, after so many new releases of OS X.  
I open the preference panel, … oh boy! What a long way from this to the today new version 3.  
So I thought, let’s try to find the different versions and see the evolution in time…

Going from a version with almost no feature, to a full featured app today. But always following the style of OS X.

image