previews Stories June 23, 2015

At this year’s WWDC, Apple devoted a lot of onstage attention to a revamp of the Notes app in both iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan. One of my favorite additions is inline web link previews. Just paste a URL, and Notes will turn the link into a preview bubble with a thumbnail for the page, as well as a title and description.

This got me thinking about the possibility of applying the same functionality to other apps. The most obvious place to start, in my opinion, is Messages. I’m constantly sending and receiving links through iMessage throughout the day, whether it’s to a web page, an image, or even just a tweet. Having to flip back and forth between Safari and Messages just to see what the link I’ve been sent is removes me from the conversation and slows down my workflow.

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previews Stories April 15, 2015

Skype 7.7 for Mac adds web link previews, fixes

Skype today released version 7.7 of its Mac app and with it is rolling out a new web link preview feature that will automatically provide snippets of web content in chats when sharing links.

With web link previews, you no longer need to type the: “check out this funny cat video” alongside the actual link to the cat video. When you send the link in chat, a rich visual preview of the web page is automatically displayed, making it much easier to see what’s been shared. Finding a link in your chat history also becomes quicker, saving precious time to let you focus on the conversation.

The previews will only show up if a link is the only thing in the message, so it won’t break up long blocks of text that happen to include a URL (an annoyance with similar web previews in other chat apps). Skype also notes that it puts “extra focus on optimizing for video and image content, so we encourage you to try links to video, image or even gifs first.”

The update also includes a couple bug fixes:

  • Fixed an issue where some users cannot start Skype due to a corrupted index
  • Fixed an issue preventing some users from disabling “User XYZ went offline” notification

You can access the feature by downloading the latest version of Skype for Mac, version 7.7, here.

previews Stories July 11, 2014

Many (most?) iTunes song previews have reverted back to 30 seconds – likely glitch

MacRumors notes that many iTunes song previews have reverted back to 30 seconds. Previews were increased to 90 seconds in the U.S. back in 2010 with the increased time rolled out internationally the following year.

It’s not immediately clear what is behind the change, nor what is determining which tracks are affected, but as we’re finding different people are seeing different length previews for the same tracks – even when both are in the same country – some kind of glitch may be the most likely explanation.

Apple apparently presented labels with a fait-accompli when it first extended previews to 90 seconds, writing to representatives to advise them of the change, rather than specifically seeking agreement.

Some labels objected to this, with extended previews delayed for some albums.

We’ve contacted Apple to ask for a statement, and will update if and when we get a response.

On the topic of iTunes, Germany is now seeing Rotten Tomatoes ratings with some movies, along with a new price button in the status window while previewing music or films.

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