Headspace: A Guided-Meditation Companion

Cultures across the globe have practiced meditation in various forms for centuries. But despite its prevalence, meditation feels daunting to many. Headspace brings powerful, easy-to-follow, guided meditation to the masses through its iOS, Android, and Web apps.

In recent years, scientists have associated meditation with a wide variety of benefits ranging from improvements in memory, digestion, and circulation to reductions in stress, loneliness, and cognitive decline. Headspace has a team of scientific researchers that has published 16 studies in peer-reviewed journals about the benefits of guided meditation for focus, kindness, happiness, stress relief, and more.

I have found meditation to be profoundly beneficial for regaining focus when my mind wants to wander, falling asleep when my thoughts won’t stop, and alleviating stress and anxiety when life gets difficult. 

At its core, Headspace is a content subscription service. The iOS app (which I use), Android app, and Web app are important for the quality of experience you recieve, but the real value is in the company’s content—audio recordings of guided meditations.

Getting Started with Headspace

The Headspace Basics course is a good place to start for anyone who hasn’t spent much time meditating. It provides ten guided meditations. When starting each installment, you can select a 3-, 5-, or 10-minute version and pick between a male or female guide. Each installment begins with a short lesson about meditation concepts and then transitions into the guided meditation.

Once you’ve completed the Basics course, or if you’re already comfortable with the foundational concepts of mindfulness meditation, try out Headspace’s everyday meditations. These are good for users who want to create a consistent meditation practice. 

If you find the idea of meditating with other people appealing, Headspace provides an option called Everybody Headspace, which offers are guided meditations that begin regular times throughout the day and night. You can either wait with others for the next session or join an ongoing session.

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Reviews, TechnologyTimothy Buck
Dope Wallpapers for Your New iPhone 11

Apple’s new iPhones have been released and in the next year over a hundred million people around the world will be buying them. If you’re one of those people, this resource is for you. I’ve put together some of my favorite backgrounds that look great on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Paint-Mock.png
Red-Wall-Texture-Mock.png

Red Wall Texture

Download the Background

Striped-Wall-Texture-Mock.png

Striped Wall Texture

Download the Background

Evening-City-Bokeh-Mock.png

Evening City Bokeh

Download the Background

Plant-Shaddows-Mock.png
Pure-Bokeh-Mock.png
Autumnal-Colors-Mock.png
 

These backgrounds come from Unsplash.

 

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Analogies in Product Management

When I approach a new product problem, after I’ve interacted with users, dug into the data, researched the market, and built a clear problem statement, I've found it incredibly valuable to set aside time to look for analogies.

Studying your competition can be quite valuable, but that's not what I mean in this case. I'm talking about researching analogous problems in other fields that have already been solved (or have failed to be solved) by companies in those markets.

In my experience, these analogies are hugely beneficial for two primary purposes: storytelling and solution design.

Storytelling

Analogies should always take a back seat to a clear, compelling, empathy-inducing problem statement, but as a product manager pitching or explaining the problem you're solving, analogies can be powerful frames of reference for others. This can be true in a wide variety of situations such as:

  • Pitching your work to executives, investors, managers.

  • Getting buy-in from non-product groups who may be necessary to fully solve your problem statement or are impacted by the solution.

  • Building excitement in the product, engineering, design teams who will be working on this problem.

Solution Design

Analogies have the potential to be either beneficial or detrimental to solution design. It’s important to make it clear to your product team that the analogy is not the solution but a jump-start for the solution design process. Without calling that out up front, analogies can stifle creativity and put the team in a copying mindset. When used correctly, analogies will provide the product team with a launching point for conversation and permission to think outside the box.

The Best watchOS Review Around

Every year Matt Birchler writes the best watchOS review around. This year is no different.

He wrote in great detail and clarity, covering everything you need to know about watchOS 6 from health to watch faces to the calculator.

And he concluded with an adroit position on the state of watchOS overall:

watchOS continues to grow up, and each year it gets objectively better than the year previous. The team behind this product have done a fantastic job of maintaining its simplicity all while adding on genuinely useful features that don’t always feel like much at the time, but have added up to an improved platform in almost every way.

That said, the techie in me feels like the Apple Watch is kind of in need of a complete rethink. watchOS 1 was the result of a company who didn’t know exactly what that product was and they threw everything against the wall to see what stuck. A few things like activity and workout tracking, watch faces, complications, and communication ended up being the biggest hits, and they’ve evolved those from their initial incarnations very well. But I feel more than ever like we’re getting to the point of diminishing returns and each update is proving less and less impactful on the product as a whole.

watchOS 6: The BirchTree Review →

Technology, ReviewsTimothy Buck
Before and After the 2019 iPhone Keynote

As part of my UNCO interview series, The Future of Apple, I interviewed Guilherme Rambo and Benjamin Mayo, both from 9to5Mac.

Before the Keynote: One More Thing with Guilherme Rambo

Before the event, Guilherme Rambo and I nerded out about what we expected Apple to announce—iPhones, watches, and one (or two) more thing(s). It’s still worth listening to, especially if you want to know what we got wrong!

Apple Podcasts, Overcast

After the Keynote: The Green with Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin Mayo sat down with me and chatted about Apple’s services strategy, Apple Watch Series 5, and of course the new iPhones.

TechnologyTimothy Buck
Services Strategy at Apple’s iPhone Event

Apple spent an hour and forty minutes presenting a slew of product updates across their lineup of hardware, software, services, and even stores. As the day passed and I let Apple’s keynote hype machine fade into memory, a few strategic moves in Apple’s services announcements stood out to me as particularly interesting.

Apple Arcade

For those of you who may not know, Apple Arcade is a new “Netflix for gaming” service from Apple, launching September 19. It’s priced at $4.99 a month and provides access to 100+ ad-free games that require no additional purchases to play.

  1. This is a direct response to the incredible popularity of iOS games that use casino-informed designs to cause addiction and get users to spend large amounts of money or watch ridiculous numbers of ads.

    As these types of games have taken over the App Store’s top charts, beautiful indie games have become less financially viable and horror stories of people spend huge amounts of money on “coins” have become more common.

    Although the details aren’t fully public, Apple is funding the development of Apple Arcade games up front and continuing to pay creators on an ongoing basis. For studios who want to build great games without having to focus on in-app purchase conversion metrics and who are selected by Apple to build Apple Arcade games, this may provide financial viability.

  2. The $4.99 per month price point is reasonable for an individual, but it gets quite interesting for families with kids. That same price gets up to five family members access to all of those games within their own accounts.

  3. In the end it comes down to the quality of the games within Apple Arcade. If the games are good, I think it will be successful.

Ann Thai reveals Apple Arcade’s launch on September 19

Ann Thai reveals Apple Arcade’s launch on September 19

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is Apple’s new streaming video service coming November 1. Apple isn’t renting a back catalog of content from any of the large content companies. Instead they’re filling the service entirely with original content. They’ve already announced content from big-name stars like Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell to name a few.

This streaming service was originally teased in the spring, and in the time since then, at least in my circles, the excitement for Apple TV+ dropped precipitously, especially after Disney announced their Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle for $12.99 a few weeks back.

Two things in today’s Apple TV+ announcements brought back the excitement for me.

  1. Apple TV+ is priced at $4.99 per month for a whole family. This is a competitive price at the low end of the market.

  2. Apple TV+ will be free for 1 year to anyone who buys a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch starting September 10.

    Apple sold 217 million iPhones in 2018. If we assume Apple will sell a similar amount over the next 12 months and we ignore the tens of millions of people buying iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch over the next year, that still puts Apple TV+ in the hands of hundreds of millions of people for free.

    People like free.

Tim Cook premieres the trailer for “See,” debuting November 1.

Tim Cook premieres the trailer for “See,” debuting November 1.

Over the next week or so I’ll be releasing two new podcast episodes that will dive deeper into what Apple has announced.

  • Accessible: Steven Aquino and I will talk about the accessibility impacts of everything Apple announced as well as what it was like for Steven to be at another Apple event.

  • UNCO: As a follow up to my pre-event interview with Guilherme Rambo and another episode in my The Future of Apple series, I’ll be sitting down with another 9to5Mac writer, Benjamin Mayo, to discuss what this event’s announcements mean for the future of Apple.

TechnologyTimothy Buck
Sip: Smart Color Management for Your Mac

If you work with color on the Mac, you’re probably painfully aware that the macOS Colors palette hasn’t changed in years. It offers several different types of color pickers, an eyedropper tool for sampling a color from the screen, and wells for storing color swatches. It’s functional for occasional use but becomes clumsy quickly—try remembering which red is which when you’ve saved multiple similar versions. Many graphics apps offer their own color tools, but they’re useless as soon as you need to work in another app. Luckily, there’s a solution: Sip.

Sip is a $10 menu bar app that allows you to pick colors anywhere on your Mac, quickly organize them into palettes, and smartly use those colors in other apps. Brothers André Gonçalves and Rui Aureliano designed Sip with advanced features for professional developers and designers, but its core functionality is simple enough that any Mac user might find it useful for color management.

Sip Basics

The first thing you’ll do with Sip is pick some colors. You can open the color picker—which is a circle that magnifies a small portion of the screen underneath it—by clicking the menu bar icon or pressing a keyboard shortcut (Command-Option-Control-P). Sip provides plenty of shortcuts, all of which you can change in its settings.

Sip Color Picker

To pick a color, position the color picker over the desired hue, wherever on the screen it may be, and click. That adds it to Sip and copies the color to your clipboard. Press a modifier key while picking a color to add additional tweaks:

  • Shift: Adds multiple colors in a row.

  • Option: Automatically creates a new palette and puts each color you pick in that palette.

  • Control: Creates a new palette with the colors you’re picking.

  • Command: Sends the color directly to the app in which you’re working, if it’s one of the 17 currently supported apps, including Web development apps like Coda and Espresso, and Adobe’s Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.

For more precise color picking, use Sip’s keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease the zoom of the color picker, to make the color picker’s grid larger or smaller, and to move the color picker around in 1- or 10-pixel increments. This is great for grabbing a 1-pixel border color or the color of small text.

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Terminology: Where Word Explorations Begin

When I hear a term that’s new to me or I’m struggling to find the perfect word for a sentence, I turn to Terminology. It’s a powerful utility app for iPhone and iPad from Agile Tortoise, the creator of Drafts.

In much the same way that Drafts gives you a place to start writing, Terminology gives you a launchpad for your word explorations, and its extensible actions are powerful enough that you will usually find what you need.

Terminology Basics

Terminology is, first and foremost, an offline dictionary and thesaurus. After tapping through a quick first-launch guide and searching for a word, it will present you with instantaneous results containing definitions, synonyms, and antonyms. 

On top of this, Terminology’s thesaurus results show more and less specific words. For example, with the term “dive”, a less specific word result is “swim” and more specific word results include “belly flop,” “jackknife,” and “swan dive.”

Terminology makes it incredibly simple to tap into any related words to view their results, arrow back and forth through your history, and, most importantly for me, follow the skein of terms wherever it leads. With the speaker, pencil, and heart icons in the upper right, you can have any word pronounced out loud, add notes to it, and favorite terms you want to revisit later. I find myself mostly relying on my search history in lieu of favorites. Your notes, favorites, history, and settings all sync between your devices using iCloud, so there is no need for an account.

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Great Wallpapers for iOS Dark Mode

Now that iOS is getting dark mode, I thought it would be cool to share a bunch of wallpapers I like. Each of these will be stunning on your iPhone and iPad running dark mode.

 

Vertical Backgrounds for iPhone and iPad

 

Horizontal Backgrounds for iPad

These wallpapers all come from Unsplash.

 

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