This is the nineteenth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, Nathan Greenstein, and Mike Bradshaw.

  • We’d like to welcome a new co-host to the Ask Different Podcast, Mike Bradshaw! Mike is the #1 user on Ask Different by reputation, and worked in an Apple Stores for 4 1/2 years. Thanks for being on the show, Mike!
  • Last Friday, Apple opened a new retail store in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The store looks beautiful, and quite different than many other Apple Stores. Some of Stack Exchange’s CHAOS team members got a chance to visit (and promote Ask Different!), and posted some photos and info on our Ask Different Blog.
  • One of the interesting notes in that post is mention of Apple employee with an Android phone in his pocket leads to a discussion of how the hardware in Apple Stores has changed. We recall the old Windows CE-based point of sale devices, the transition to the iPod touch-based checkout, and the recent self-checkout options. We consider how Apple controls theft with the new system.
  • Kyle thinks self-checkout is great because he wants to get in and out of the store quickly, without extra interaction with the sales people. We share experiences with launch day traffic and Apple’s ability to scale for that kind of event, and how we feel about Apple’s decision to spend lots of time with a smaller number of customers.
  • Twitter has recently updated it’s flagship iOS app and web interface. Twitter is putting more emphasis on discovering content and facilitating the “global conversation”. Like many users, we’re not big fans of these changes that seem to put emphasis on featuring promoted accounts and topics, and less on usability.
  • Additionally, some visual and interface changes to the iOS app make Twitter feel less like a native app. Kyle likes Tweetbot, Mike likes Twitterific. For someone like Nathan, who is a read-only Twitter user, Jason recommends TweetDeck. Kyle and Mike love the TweetMarker service, which lets you synchronize what you’ve read between supported clients.
  • Conversation turns to iTunes Match. Kyle and Jason both use it frequently and enjoy it, especially the abilities to upgrade lower-quality songs and to free up space on your hard drive. iTunes Match is the logical conclusion of Apple’s cloud and music offerings, and it’s very well executed.
  • While Kyle and Jason are enamored with iTunes Match’s 20-second download time, Nathan is skeptical. He uses Spotify to stream music and play downloaded music, and it’s performance seems considerably better than iTunes. After selecting a song, music starts nearly instantaneously over Wi-Fi, and with a 2-3 second delay on 3G.
  • Talk of streaming music and storing things in the cloud leads to a discussion of being a ‘digital packrat’. Our habits vary from keeping everything possible to deleting when things get in the way to deleting whenever something is unlikely to be useful. One manifestation of this is Gmail’s archive vs. delete. We share our practices there, as well as with general file retention.
  • The next product that we have to fall head over heels for is the Nest Thermostat. This device automatically programs itself based on how you use it, so eventually you don’t even have to use it at all. We hope that this marks the beginning of a big expansion in home automation that spreads to other things, beyond heating. Nest was founded by ex-Apple iPod SVP, Tony Fadell
  • Our question of the week is Is there a real benefit to removing applications from the iOS multitasking bar?, asked by estephan500 on December 9th. This question asks whether or not there is a benefit to removing apps that you’re done with from the multitasking bar. Does it save memory or improve performance? Generally, this does little and you’re okay to just let the OS manage memory. In some situations, however, it can help clear old things out.
  • Our app of the week this week is Skitch. Skitch is an app that allows you to easily take and annotate screen captures, or any other photo on your Mac. It’s principle benefit is that the drawing tools are very vivid, and take no time in producing beautiful, explanatory edits. It has seen lots of use in both questions and answers on Ask Different! Skitch is available for free on the Mac App Store.
This episode was recorded on December 10th, 2011. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. We would appreciate it if you could take a second to give us a rating on iTunes. We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at Thanks for listening.