Spotlight Stories April 28, 2016

flyover

Apple today has expanded its popular Apple Maps Flyover feature to a pair of new cities, while it has also rolled out Spotlight Suggestions to new countries and its traffic data to a single new location. Last month, the company expanded Maps Nearby, Flyover, and traffic data to a handful of new locations, following a more significant Flyover expansion that occurred in February of this year.

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Spotlight Stories March 3, 2016

Vimeo 6

Vimeo is out with a new version of its iOS app today that adds support for iOS 9 features, improves content discovery, makes video sharing faster, and more. iPad users will be happy to learn that Vimeo now supports iOS 9’s picture-in-picture feature for video playback when using other apps. The video service has also tuned up video discovery features and recommendations in the latest version of their iOS app.

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Spotlight Stories November 12, 2015

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The iPhone podcast app Castro has a lot more competition in the market nowadays since I first reviewed it back in 2013. Arguably, Castro is still the most visually appealing of the current crowd and the developers are currently working on the next major version of the app, Castro 2. In the meantime, the developers have released Castro 1.5 with some new features and a new pricing model. Following Overcast’s lead, Castro is now completely free for all to download. The company is moving to a patronage model.

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Spotlight Stories June 8, 2015

El-Capitan-02

As first predicted by 9to5Mac, Apple today announced a revamped version of ts Spotlight search software that will be included in OS X 10.11, called “El Capitan.” The new search system allows users to resize and move the Spotlight window, which presents new types of content.

Sports scores and other Siri data will be suppoted, and natural language search allows users to track down mail messages and documents easily. The search upgrades are also available in apps like Mail and Finder.

Keep reading for a full feature list of the new Spotlight

Spotlight Stories May 6, 2015

applebot

Rumors that Apple might be creating its own search engine started doing the rounds last fall, when webmasters started seeing web crawler visits from IP addresses starting with 17 – the IP address block owned entirely by Apple. Apple has now officially confirmed in a support document that it is operating its own web crawler called Applebot.

Applebot is the web crawler for Apple, used by products including Siri and Spotlight Suggestions. It respects customary robots.txt rules and robots meta tags. It originates in the 17.0.0.0 net block.

While the wording is clearly intended to suggest that this is just business as usual, both the fact that Apple is running its own web crawler at all, and the somewhat vague wording, are interesting …  expand full story

Spotlight Stories April 14, 2015

flashlight

Command-line fans will be happy today, as Nate Parrot’s Flashlight utility comes out of beta. Flashlight is a utility that enables you to carry out more than 160 different tasks just by typing commands into Spotlight – a kind of command-line Siri for the Mac. Functions include checking the weather, creating notes, adding calendar appointments, translating words, emailing files, sending messages, moving files, ejecting drives and performing image searches.

Apple seems impressed too: it has hired Parrot as an intern on its Spotlight team …  expand full story

Spotlight Stories January 9, 2015

OS X Yosemite Mail

Apple’s Mac operating system is generally considered to be secure, but German security researchers have discovered what appears to be an oversight in how OS X 10.10 Yosemite’s overhauled search feature, Spotlight, handles remote content loading in messages through the default Mail app.

As Ars Technica reports, Spotlight search on OS X Yosemite appears to be overriding Mail’s security feature that prevents content stored on remote servers like images from being loaded which spammers can use to track personal information including IP address and more. expand full story

Spotlight Stories November 12, 2014

flashlight

Spotlight, the search tool built into OS X, got a lot smarter in Yosemite – but one developer thinks it could go a whole lot further. He’s developed Flashlight, an app that extends the capabilities of Spotlight to include weather animations and Wolfram Alpha searches.

More interestingly, he’s intending it to act as an unofficial API other developers can use to add functionality to Spotlight …  expand full story

Spotlight Stories October 22, 2014

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At Apple’s special press event this past September, we witnessed the introduction of several new user interface paradigms, in the form of Apple Watch. Perhaps one of the most interesting was Apple Watch’s entirely new home screen. This is the first departure from the same basic concept of the home screen that Apple demoed in January of 2007 when it debuted the iPhone OS.

Apple clearly thinks that Apple Watch is the future of the company, but is the Apple Watch home screen the future of the iOS home screen? Let’s take a look at how we arrived at where we are today.

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Spotlight Stories July 31, 2014

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The popular online service Wikipedia has re-launched its iOS app with a new native version that features editing and an offline mode. The free app has some unique features other than browsing through Wikipedia entires, as Wikipedia tells us:

  • Fastest way to get into the content. Other highly-rated unofficial free iOS apps have hurdles to access the content. Either downloading some content, or just simply not being able to dive right in to it. That doesn’t happen with the official app.
  • You can edit with this app, unlike other unofficial apps. And you can do it logged out, if you choose.
  • Wikipedia Zero for developing and emerging countries. If you’re on one of the participating operators, you can use Wikipedia free of data charges.

Wikipedia also shared some other important features:

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Spotlight Stories July 27, 2014

How-to: Use Spotlight and Smart Folders to search for anything on your Mac

In OS X, Spotlight is an effective way to search your entire hard drive for a file or folder, email, or any other file. There are many other things Spotlight can do, and searching for files is just one of them. Spotlight is also capable of looking up dictionary definitions, launching apps, performing calculations, previewing audio, video, documents, and other files. This article will outline some of the benefits of using Spotlight and how to use Smart Folders, which allow you to search for a file even if you don’t know its name.

Spotlight Stories June 3, 2014

Creators of Alfred say OS X Yosemite’s Spotlight is not another case of the Sherlocks

Sherlocked. It’s a word that often gets thrown around after Apple casually integrates a feature offered by some other software into one of its operating systems. Its origin goes back to a time before OS X’s Spotlight feature when Sherlock was the Internet and file search software offered by Apple. Watson, at the time, was a third party utility by Karelia Software that offered very similar functionality, and one of Apple’s versions of Sherlock closely resembled the popular Watson.

Yesterday Apple introduced a more powerful version of Spotlight on OS X after quite a while of letting the feature remain unchanged. The easiest way to describe the updated version of Spotlight is to compare it to the popular Mac utility Alfred. For this reason, several Alfred users voiced concern about Alfred’s fate going forward, enough people that its creators addressed Alfred’s place in a Yosemite world on their blog:

A few users have voiced concerns that Spotlight in Yosemite looks more like Alfred, and wonder whether this changes anything for Alfred and his future.

What you have to remember is that Spotlight’s primary objective is to search your files and a small handful of pre-determined web sources. Meanwhile, Alfred’s primary objective is to make you more productive on your Mac with exceptional and powerful features like Clipboard History, System commands, iTunes Mini Player, 1Password bookmarks, Terminal integration, fully bespoke and customisable user-created workflows and much, much more.

Their message is very similar to last year’s WWDC when Apple introduced its iCloud Keychain which closely resembles a specific feature of 1Password and similar apps. 1Password has since shipped several updates adding new features to its software on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and it sounds like Alfred is planning to do just the same.

In fact, we’ve been working on some pretty special and truly amazing new features that you’ll hear about over the next few months. We think these will blow your mind and can’t wait to tell you more.

 

Spotlight Stories June 2, 2014

Two of the great updated features in OS X Yosemite are improved versions of both Notification Center and Spotlight, both of which have become staples on OS X. Both of these features have received substantial updates, dropping their old user interfaces entirely, and gaining quite a few new features.

In this video, we’ll take you on a little tour of the new interfaces and their features.

Apple replaces Google with Bing search in OS X Yosemite’s redesigned Spotlight?

One big change for Apple with the unveiling of OS X Yosemite today is Bing web searches in the completely revamped Spotlight feature. Spotlight, which allows users to look up anything locally on their Mac as well as perform web searches, received a redesigned user experience in Yosemite, but it might have also received a switch to Bing from Google search.

To be fair, the “web search” feature of spotlight prior to Yosemite actually just defaults to the default search engine in your browser of choice. If that happens to be Safari or Chrome like it is for most users, that meant Spotlight would typically send users to a Google search results page if they hadn’t changed their default preference. Now, Apple is listing Bing searches– but not Google– as a feature of Spotlight regardless of the default option (pictured above). We’ve yet to confirm that Bing is the only web search option for Spotlight in OS X Yosemite, as we’ve not yet been able to get the new Spotlight web search feature to work properly in the first beta.

While Spotlight is going to use Bing, Apple’s revamped search bar in Safari still uses Google as does iOS 8. Its easy to imagine Apple is only continuing to use Google search in Safari due to contractual agreements, but it’s harder to imagine it just decided to use Bing for Spotlight with no plans to possibly use it in its other products down the road.

Spotlight Stories February 11, 2014

How to: Get Spotlight processes back under control when CPU usage goes crazy

If you’re finding that your Mac fans are running a lot more than they used to, you might want to check out whether a couple of Spotlight processes are consuming more than their fair share of CPU cycles.

Ever since the latest Mavericks update, I found that my MacBook Pro seemed to be running hot a lot of the time, with fans ramping up to high levels to cool it. Checking Activity Monitor didn’t seem to be shedding much light on things at first glance. The only two processes using an unusual amount of CPU were mds and mds_stores. These are two processes used by Spotlight when indexing, so I didn’t think too much of it – Spotlight has to do its indexing sometime, right?

But several checks later, these two processes seemed to be helping themselves to significant chunks of CPU on a regular basis, at which point I did some Googling.

I started by disabling Spotlight altogether to confirm that it was the culprit. To do this, I went into Terminal and entered:

sudo mdutil -a -i off

The fans spooled down and all was back to normal. Spotlight was indeed the culprit.

I briefly considered leaving Spotlight off until the next OS X update, but that proved too much of a pain. I keep my most-used apps in the dock, but everything else I habitually launch from Spotlight. CMD-space plus the first letter or two of the app is just too convenient to give up. So I did some more Googling – after switching Spotlight back on with:

sudo mdutil -a -i on

The first tip I found was here, where it suggested deleting the Spotlight database and forcing it to re-index. You can do this in Terminal again:

 sudo rm -rf /.Spotlight-V100/*

Top tip: set this going overnight, as the re-indexing takes a while.

This helped quite a bit, but the mds process still seemed a little greedy. More Googling led me to a suggestion to remove from Spotlight’s indexing any directories with frequently-changing content, especially those used for online backup. You can do this by going into System Preferences, clicking the Privacy tab and then drag-and-dropping onto it any directories you don’t want it to index.

I added my CrashPlan, MobileSync and Dropbox folders – three specific suggestions I’d found – and then for good measure added some others with frequently-changing content.

This did the trick: my fans stayed on low, and Activity Monitor showed the mds processes consuming only tiny amounts of CPU.

I’m not sure how general an issue this – hence making this an aside – but if you’re finding your Mac running hot, it may be worth checking out.

Spotlight Stories January 18, 2012

Apple seeded its registered developers last night with a new version of Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3. The software carries a build number of 11D46 and arrives just a week following the 11D42 build. It has no known issues, indicating that public release is around the corner. Developers are asked to focus on iCloud Document Storage, Address Book, iCal, Mail, Spotlight and Safari. The Delta update weighs in at 996.98MB and combo update is a 1.26GB download. The OS X Lion Server 10.7.3 build 11D46 is also available for download (Delta:1GB, Combo: 1.34GB, Server Admin Tools: 202.59MB). Additional build notes after the break.

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Spotlight Stories December 20, 2011

Apple released OS X 10.7.3 build 11D36 to developers this evening, and it is available on the Developer Center. Apple asked developers to focus on iCloud Document Storage, Address Book, iCal, Mail, Spotlight, and Safari. The delta update of this build tops out at 986 MB and the combo update weighs in at 1.25 GB. The OS X 10.7.3 should roll out to Lion users in the coming weeks, so sit tight.

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