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Episode 37 | 32 iPhone & iPad Apps That We Use


Show Notes

iPhone & iPad Apps


  1. Google (with voice search)
  2. Online Banking Apps
  3. MailChimp (account management)
  4. Dropbox (access your Dropbox files)
  5. GoDaddy (register domains)
  6. Todo for iPad (to do list management)


  1. Skype
  2. FTP on the Go
  3. SSH Terminal (SSH client)
  4. RDP (Windows remote desktop access)


  1. Word Lens (real-time translation)
  2. Instapaper (bookmark and read web pages offline)
  3. Atomic Lite (tabbed browser)
  4. Analytics HD (Google Analytics iPhone client)

Content on the Go

  1. Kindle
  2. Entrepreneur Magazine (read every new issue for free)
  3. Evernote
  4. GoodReader & QuickReader
  5. QuickOffice (edit Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents)


  1. Paypal


  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook
  3. Netflix (stream movies)
  4. PhoneFlix (manage your Netflix queue)
  5. Pandora (stream music for free)
  6. Type ‘n Talk (say anything like a robot)
  7. TED (watch TED talks)

Screw the Retailer

  1. Snaptell (find books & DVDs by taking a photo)


  1. Walt Disney Wait Times
  2. Lose it! (weight loss tracking)
  3. White Noise Generator


[00:00] Rob: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 37.

[00:03] [music]

[00:12] Rob: Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.

[00:20] Mike: And I’m Mike.

[00:21] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s going on this week Mike?

[00:27] Mike: I’m just reviewing some of the comments that you had sent to me based on the sales site that I put up for Audit Shark. So just kinda going through that and giving some thought to things that I need to change.

[00:40] You know, I haven’t finished going through what you sent over, but there are some things that I know that I’ve got to change. Like there’s images that I have to add. You made some comments about the logo and I know that that’s got to change a little bit. He does look a little devious. But then there’s the Buy Now price, the Buy Now page that I’ve gotta kinda replace with a pricing page, and a few other things. But it’s coming along pretty well so far, and the code is definitely moving in the right direction.

[01:05] Rob: Good, good. Well, nothing really new for me.

[01:07] [music]

[01:10] Mike: So why don’t we get started on today’s podcast topic? I believe we have 33 iPhone and iPad apps that we use, correct?

[01:17] Rob: That’s right. To give the listeners an idea, Mike and I had a list of about…what do we have, maybe a dozen? And you’re like, “That’s perfect.” As we were chatting, I was like, “Oh, let me add a few.” I added like 20. You’re like, “Come on, man! There’s too many!” So we are going to zip through these because we normally have 30-35 minute shows. Let’s get rollin’!

[01:34] Mike: OK. We’ve split these up into a bunch of different categories. They first category is Productivity. You want to start with that?

[01:40] Rob: Yeah. So one of the first apps I downloaded is the Google app. I’m sure everyone has this, but this thing, I use this five times a day at least. The voice search is crazy.

[01:51] Mike: I’ll be honest, I’ve never even heard of it.

[01:53] Rob: What?!

[01:54] Mike: I’m serious, I’ve never heard of it.

[01:56] Rob: No! Yes you have!

[01:57] Mike: For the iPhone?

[01:57] Rob: Yes!

[01:58] Mike: Really?

[01:59] Rob: Are you serious?

[02:00] Mike: Maybe I installed it and I just ignored it.

[02:02] Rob: Oh, man! I thought you were kidding me!

[02:04] Mike: No! I think I installed it and just ignored it. I was like, “Oh, this is dumb.” [laughs]

[02:08] Rob: So, it’s crazy. So there’s a couple things. One is it has voice search. So you hit the little microphone and then you just speak something, and it works really well. I use that particular feature of it a few times a week, typically when we’re talking with people. We’ll have people over for drinks and they’ll be like, “What year was Home Alone released?” And we’ll get into this big discussion about it. Which, I know, that’s how exciting my dinner parties are.

[02:32] Mike: [laughs]

[02:33] Rob: But this exact question came up.

[02:34] Mike: Yeah, sign me up! [laughs]

[02:35] Rob: And I was like, “Oh, I think it’s 1990.” And I jumped on, “Home Alone, IMDB” and it pops up. But anyways, that’s one of the crazy things. And the other one is you can use pictures to search the web, so it’s Google Goggles, and there’s just a little photo button there and you just take a picture of anything. Like you take a picture of the Eifel Tower, you could take a picture of a book cover, and it searches the web for it and tries to match it and say like, “That’s the Eifel Tower” and give you the page relevant stuff for it. It’s crazy.

[03:02] So that’s just a search. You can also just do manual search. And then there’s the apps, which are basically just hyperlinks. But I go there to open my Google Reader and to open a few other things, like Google Earth you can open from there. So yeah, it’s pretty powerful; it’s just search.

[03:19] Mike: That’s crazy! I’ve never…honestly, I don’t remember every stumbling across this.

[03:23] Rob: So when you want to do a Google search, do you just open Safari and go to and search?

[03:27] Mike: Yeah!

[03:28] Rob: OK. So this just saves you a couple steps. I mean that’s all it is, right? You could do this through the other stuff.

[03:33] Mike: Yeah, I mean if I’m in my car or something like that it’d be a lot more useful, but…

[03:37] Rob: Yeah, it is. You still have to look down at the screen, though, is the problem.

[03:39] Mike: Hmm. Interesting.

[03:40] Rob: Well, cool. So that’s number one.

[03:42] Mike: So the second one is online banking apps. If you look at any of the different banks, most of them have their own banking application that they can use. But you can use these, generally, to check into your bank account, look at your balances, maybe make some payments, things like that. I know Bank of America has one. Can you think of any others that have them?

[04:02] Rob: Yeah, I think Chase, Wells Fargo. I mean all the major banks have them. And even some smaller banks. I searched for “bank” one time and there were these local banks, like statewide banks, that had them. So a lot of them have them. I probably use mine once a week for checking balances, or transferring funds, or doing small things like that.

[04:20] So as lame as it sounds, I remember originally thinking, “I’ll never use that,” but I actually do. I use it pretty regularly.

[04:27] Mike: I downloaded one a while back for Bank of America and I just stopped using it. I mean it didn’t give me anything extra that I didn’t already have. And I was a little bit concerned about, you know, what happens if I lose my phone and somebody is able to get in there? I’m sure that they have to log in and everything. But then I read something, I think it was on Wired or some news site some place where it said that, basically, most of the banking applications suffer from a pretty severe security vulnerability because they were transmitting some information that was unencrypted that really should have been. So I decided to just stop using them after that.

[05:02] Rob: Oh, nice. I didn’t hear about that one. Yeah, they definitely have to log in, but it’s a good point, right? I mean there’s certainly going to be more vulnerability on such a mobile device like an iPhone.

[05:12] All right. App number three is the MailChimp app. I have to admit I’ve only used this a few times, and I typically use it when I’m trying to monitor how many people have signed up for a list when I’m doing kind of a launch when I’m sending people to a form, and I’m out and about, and it’s purely like a check-in thing.

[05:29] I haven’t sent emails through it. I don’t even know if you can. But as you know, MailChimp is just a really well done app, and the iPhone app leaves nothing to be desired. I mean it really is a nice, well-written and easy to use app.

[05:43] Mike: The so the next one we have is Dropbox. I’ve talked about Dropbox a few different times in the past. I use it on my iPad, my iPhone, my laptop and on my desktop. And it basically allows me to keep all of my files in sync. No matter what application I’m using them from, I can usually open up the files that I need. And because everything goes out to their servers, you can also, if you’re at a machine that does not have Dropbox on it and you’re not logged into it, you can go to their website and you can download the files that you want to work with through Dropbox.

[06:13] It works really well. It integrates with a lot of different other applications. So, for example, there’s another application we’ll talk about later on called Quick Office that allows you to open up files from Dropbox on your iPad or your iPhone. And there are several others that have that Dropbox integration as well.

[06:30] Rob: Love Dropbox. I use it all the time, especially now that I have the iPad and the iPhone and the computer. Yeah, it’s just the easiest way to move things around. But the whole free plan, I think they give you way too much space. I would totally pay for this app. But I have used…I’m at like 50 megs of usage and I think it’s free up to 2 gigs. I don’t know if I’ll ever pay for it.

[06:51] Mike: I understand what you’re saying. If you’re only using it for documents, yes. But I put things…and I know there’s other people who do it as well, but they put like MP3s and stuff out there, and that’s actually how I started transferring the files that we record this podcast on and sending them to our virtual assistant. I just put them in the Dropbox folder and they just show up.

[07:11] Rob: I don’t do that with any media. Like with MP3s, I just put them up to my web server and let her download them. So I could totally see someone using 2 gigs worth, but just the way I use it I don’t. I would have no problem paying them, but I feel like they could have a lot more users if they lowered that limit. But hey, they’re smart guys. They certainly…[laughs]

[07:29] Mike: I’m sure they’re making money from it.

[07:31] Rob: I’m sure they’re doing fine. Yep. Hey, one other thing I wanted to mention about that MailChimp app that I forgot is if you run that on an iPad, you can actually flip the iPad into keyboard mode and put it at the end of like a display table, and you can just put a signup form for your mailing list right there.

[07:46] I saw some people do this at 59 Days of Code, this event that I judged for last year. And so basically, you come up and they’d say, “Want to join my mailing list?” And right there’s an iPad and you just type your email in and bam, it puts you on their MailChimp list.

[07:57] Mike: That’s cool.

[07:58] Rob: Yeah. So that was the one other benefit I wanted to mention. App number five is the Godaddy app. And yes, I’ve actually registered domain names on the go. I registered one at a friend’s house last week. She was mentioning something and I popped it open and I registered the domain.

[08:13] You can also do, I think, some minor domain management through it, but mostly it’s for checking availability and registering stuff. So not something everyone needs, but I happen to buy a lot of domains, so it actually is worthwhile for me.

[08:28] Mike: Very cool. So the sixth one on our productivity list, and the last one for this particular section, is To-Do for iPad. And it’s from This is more or less your standard to-do list management software. They do have integration with a web-based version, which I don’t actually use that. But I’ve installed it on my iPad and I basically just use it as my list of things to do on different projects. It allows you to categorize things, it allows you to put due dates on things, prioritize them, add notes, tag them.

[09:01] There’s a lot of different things that you can do with it. It’s fairly inexpensive. I think it’s like four or five dollars. It’s a great app. Like I said, I use it constantly. I pretty much use it probably every day. So it’s definitely well worth it if it’s something that you’re going to spend the time to actually use.

[09:16] I use it more for short term stuff. I don’t really put giant projects in there, although it does have the capabilities to do that. But because it prioritizes things in terms of when you put due dates on them, if you run up past this point where you’ve got all these different things upfront because you just haven’t finished them in time, you get a lot of things that are front-loaded onto your list and you don’t necessarily see the things that have a specific due date on them.

[09:42] [music]

[09:45] Rob: Our second category is Communications and we have four apps in this category. The first is Skype. Of course, I’ve used this quite a bit. In fact, at my house my service, my AT&T service is so bad that I log onto my wireless network through my iPhone and I use Skype to do my iPhone calls. It is so much more reliable.

[10:06] Now, the insanity of that is ridiculous, right? I have a phone and I’m now using Skype to do it, and actually paying, what, two cents a minute to call out. But if I want a good phone call, that’s how I do it. And it works pretty well. Actually, you and I recorded a podcast. What, episode 26.5 or whatever at Business of Software? I was on my Skype client on my iPhone. So that’s been really cool.

[10:30] Mike: Yeah.

[10:31] Rob: And the other communication app that I use quite a bit is called FTP on the Go, and it allows you to FTP stuff to and from a server. And I’ve found it to be super valuable, specifically on my iPad, because I’ve tried to use my iPad as a netbook replacement and it allows me to fix things. You can actually log onto a server and it has a little text editor built in, so it’s not something you want to write a lot of code. But if you really need to fix something that’s crashed or make a small mod to something, it allows you to edit PHP files and any text file on a server.

[11:01] And, FTP on the Go has Dropbox integration. So you can grab a file from Dropbox and upload it to a server, which is pretty cool, or vice versa.

[11:09] Mike: Back to Skype just for a second, I’ve actually made calls through wifi. Earlier this year when I spent a couple weeks in Germany, I made some Skype calls back to the US through my iPad and it worked great. It was dirt cheap as well; that was the best part, because obviously calling from Germany through a cell phone, or even a landline, is going to cost you an arm and a leg from a hotel room. It was amazing how well it worked and the quality of it.

[11:32] The next couple of applications—SSH Terminal, very similar to FTP, except it gives you SSH capabilities instead of FTP capabilities. And obviously, using SSH, if you have a Linux server you can get into your server, you can just hop right into VI and edit whatever files you want and then save them, pop right back out.

[11:52] And the last one in the communications category is RDP, which is basically a remote desktop application. If you were to go to the command line on your Windows box and type MSTSC.exe, it will pop open a remote desktop and you can get into any Windows machines that are on your network, or even out in the cloud if you have something that’s co-located out there and you have already Penabled.

[12:15] It’s really interesting that you can do this from a Mac. And I saw a while back when I bought a Macbook that there was a tool released from Microsoft that allowed you to RDP from a Macbook into a Windows box. And there’s a lot of different tools that are out there now, both on the iPhone and the iPad, that allow you to use the RDP protocol to get into your Windows machines.

[12:35] But it can be very useful, expecially on the iPad, because you’ve got this 1024×768 screen that gives you a good view of what that desktop really looks like. On the iPhone it’s a little cramped. You have to scroll around a lot and it’s kind of a pain in the neck. But it works really well on the iPad.

[12:52] Rob: I’m going to have to check that out. I’ve heard of it but I haven’t used it. That’s a good tool.

[12:55] [music]

[12:58] Rob: Our next category is Utilities. The first one is called Word Lens. And I have to admit, this one had a big buzz last week, or maybe it was a couple weeks ago. Basically, you can just view text through your iPhone camera and in real-time, as you’re looking at it, it translates it into another language.

[13:16] I’ve only used the demo, and all the demo does is it actually reverses the full word; it will just reverse it in English. But if you pay for it, then you can do the translation. And they show you doing street signs and other things.

[13:30] It’s insane. I thought it was a hoax when I saw the video of it. But it’s crazy. It works. And I don’t even know what it costs. But I could see totally using it when I’m going overseas to read street signs. I couldn’t imagine reading a whole document with it. It’s kinda shaky, you know? You’re holding your camera and trying to look at things and it’s hard with small text. But a small group of text I could see it working well with.

[13:50] And then, Instapaper, I bet a lot of people out there use this. Instapaper is basically a system where if you have something, you stumble upon a webpage and you have this bookmarklet in your browser, and you can click the “Read Later” icon. And all it does is it grabs the whole page, grabs the text from it, and it stores it on the cloud for you.

[14:10] So later, if I’m on my iPhone or my iPad, I can go to the Instapaper app and it just has all those bookmarks. But it’s not just bookmarks. They don’t even have to be online. Like, once it downloads them, it actually downloads the raw HTML. And so I can just read it there. And as long as there’s no outgoing links that I want to follow, I can just read articles offline.

[14:28] So it’s pretty cool. And you can also install that on your iPhone and iPad so that you’re adding bookmarks from there. But it’s just kind of an aggregator of all the things that you want to read later.

[14:37] The next one is called Atomic Lite and it’s just an alternative browser to Safari. And I was using it because there was a webpage that was crashing Safari. And Atomic Lite has tabbed browsing, so it’s really good for the iPad, not so much for the iPhone. It’s just an alternative and it’s actually a pretty solid browser with a lot more features than Safari.

[14:54] And then the last one in Utilities is Analytics HD. And this app is $7 or $8, so it’s fairly expensive compared to other iPhone apps. But it allows you to view Google Analytics data on your iPad. And I view Google Analytics data a lot, at least once a day. And obviously, without Flash you can’t use Google Analytics; can’t use the interface. So that’s what this does. It just uses the API, pulls it down, and puts it into a different interface.

[15:23] [music]

[15:26] Mike: So the next category is Applications for Getting Content on the Go. And the first one we have is Kindle. Kindle is offered on a number of different platforms. It’s on Windows, Mac. You can get the application on your iPad or you iPhone. And then, I believe they also have them for Blackberry as well, don’t they?

[15:44] Rob: They have it for Android. I’m not sure if they have it on Blackberry.

[15:46] Mike: Yeah, you’re right. I think it was Android, not Blackberry. And then, obviously, there’s the Kindle itself that if you have a Kindle you obviously have access to all of your Kindle content. But it’s really nice to be able to buy your books, your magazine subscriptions, or what have you and get them directly in the Kindle, because you can get all those and they get updated and sent to you pretty much immediately. I remember the last time I bought a book it was on my iPad in not more than 10 or 15 seconds. I mean it was pretty amazing.

[16:12] But being able to carry around a bunch of different technical books, being able to access those from pretty much anywhere is really pretty convenient.

[16:20] Rob: Yeah, I agree. I can’t go back now. I just have to buy everything electronically. I haven’t bought a paper book in, what, five months, four months since I bought my iPad. And I’ve actually started selling some of my older books and replacing them. I really enjoy the form factor. I like that you can reverse the text so that it can be white text on a black background, black text on a white background. You can make it bigger, smaller.

[16:41] Since I’m not reading stuff with a lot of diagrams, because I think that could be kind of a pain, I love having my whole library on my iPad through this Kindle app. I highly recommend it. If you’re not using it, you really need to think about it.

[16:53] Oh, the other two things I experimented with, I downloaded iBooks, which is Apple’s store, and the Nook app. And I toyed with them a little bit, and they seem to have similar selections, prices are a little higher. I mean I’m sure it’s case by case, but from what I see, Kindle is the leader, as you would expect, right? They came out first and it’s Amazon, so they just have the book advantage.

[17:14] One other thing that is cool is I started by kids’ books through the app. And on the iPad they look great. And so my son now, when we read books at night, he’s like, “Read books on the iPad!” And so he gets to pick from a few of the books that we have on there. I think it’s the future, man, as these things get cheaper.

[17:28] Mike: I’ve actually seen books that are sold outside of Kindle that are their own application. So, for example, my kids love Toy Story, and there are a couple of Toy Story books that you can get which, if you play them on the iPad, basically, they read the story to the person. And as the text is being read to you, it gets highlighted. So it actually helps them read as well.

[17:52] Rob: Yeah, that’s nice.

[17:53] Mike: My kids love it. They always want to hear the Buzz Lightyear story, which is funny. [laughs]

[17:57] Rob: Yeah. No, that’s cool. So the next app in the Content on the Go category is the Entrepreneur Magazine app. I don’t read a lot of magazines anymore, but I wanted to bring this one up because I’m wondering if magazines are going to go this route, where they have an app and you get the magazine each month, or if it’s going to go the Kindle subscription route. Because you can’t get the Entrepreneur Magazine on the Kindle app.

[18:22] But you do get it for free. I mean you basically download the Entrepreneur Magazine app and then you get the issues for free. You don’t even pay for them. It’s kinda cool. I mean an Entrepreneur Magazine subscription is only $10 a year anyways, but I would totally pay $10 a year for all of my magazines. I read Time, and I would pay the subscription fee I pay now just to get them on my iPad and not have to deal with the paper, which I recycle anyways within a week of getting it. And I like to read them on airplanes, and I hate lugging four or five magazines.

[18:51] So if magazines go this route, I would pay the same amount that I pay now, or even a little more, frankly, to get them in electronic format. So I wanted to bring up Entrepreneur because it’s the one of all of those that has an iPad app that actually allows you to get new issues. Time you have to buy them one-off $5 a piece, whereas for a year subscription I pay a buck a piece of something.

[19:13] Mike: Do they still have the advertisements and stuff in it?

[19:15] Rob: They do. It’s the full Entrepreneur Magazine. Yeah, it’s the whole magazine in a nice format. I’ve heard people complain when magazines are just kind of transitioning from basically putting print on the iPad. You know, where it’s you just flip the page like it’s a print magazine. People complain and say, “Oh, there should be more interactivity, blah, blah, blah.”

[19:34] To me, it’s great 1.0; it’s a great version 1.0 for this stuff. The color is nice. It’s just a rich user experience. And I don’t need some fancy stuff yet. I prefer that they get it on quickly and get it on now, and then if they need multimedia later, then do it. But I’d rather have it. I mean there’s so many magazines that are not on the iPad that either don’t have the iPhone app or that, you know, you can’t get it on the Kindle app. And I’m just wondering, “What are you doing? This is where everything’s going.” I just don’t see paper magazines having a future.

[20:01] Mike: Yeah, I wonder about the future of magazines myself. My wife was an associate art director at a national magazine. And I don’t know how they’re doing now because she left there probably three years ago. But magazines are having a tough time. So it’s interesting to see the way things are going with them, and I wonder how the magazine she used to work for, how they’re doing these days and if they’re going to be able to continue.

[20:23] The next application is Evernote. And if you haven’t used Evernote before you should definitely give it a try. Evernote allows you to take notes for different things on your iPad. And there’s also an Evernote application that you can put on your desktop. That’s really nice because it synchronizes between them automatically. So changes that you put into your iPad will then be reflected onto your desktop once your iPad goes online.

[20:47] So if you’re on a bus or a subway or something like that and you’re taking notes and jotting down ideas and stuff, those things will automatically go over to your desktop whenever you get there.

[20:56] I’m told that there’s also a lot of additional functionality within Evernote. So, for example, you can email it photos and tag different things and it will help you keep all those different things organized. You can email it webpages. And it will allow you to organize and tag all that content and make it easily searchable for you. But I’ve never really gotten into most of that stuff. Most of what I use it for is taking notes on my iPad and then just synching them back to my desktop.

[21:20] Rob: The next app we have for Content on the Go is actually two different applications. And one is called Good Reader, and it’s a really solid PDF reader . It also integrates with Dropbox. So that’s how I read PDFs on the iPad. I drop them into Dropbox and then you just click a link and it opens in Good Reader. And it’s got all kinds of nice features and stuff. It is a couple bucks; I think it’s $2 or $3. But I’ve enjoyed that.

[21:46] Mike: Totally worth it. Yeah, I totally use it all the time. And there are certain PDFs which I have to refer to which are upwards of a thousand pages long because they’re product documentation PDFs. And Good Reader handles them without sweating at all. It’s amazing how quick you can go from one end of a PDF to the next. I mean it seems to me like it’s, in many cases, faster and better than Adobe PDF Reader.

[22:11] Rob: Yeah, I haven’t even downloaded Adobe PDF Reader, which is funny. All I’ve used is, in Dropbox there’s a built-in PDF reader and it doesn’t hold a candle to Good Reader. I mean to pay $3, you make that up the first time you save five minutes. You know what I’m saying? It’s ridiculous. So yeah, I highly recommend it.

[22:28] The other one that I use is called Quick Reader, and that’s actually from Patrick Thompson, who is a Micropreneur Academy member. And he has several iPhone apps out there. Quick Reader is cool. The real core advantage of Quick Reader is that it helps you improve your reading speed.

[22:43] So you want to read at 160 words per minute and set some other variables, and it will scan through it and actually go through a book and highlight the words, and it trains your eyes, essentially, to just read faster.

[22:58] And there are a bunch of built-in books, a bunch of public domain stuff, like whatever you can think—Sherlock Holmes, and Frankenstein, and Dracula, and all that. And then there’s a bunch of other books that you can add into it.

[23:08] So I definitely recommend it. Again, it’s like $1 or $2, but I’ve used it and it just trains your eyes and your mind to process the information quicker. It’s totally cool. Totally works on the iPhone. I haven’t even tried it on the iPad. But it works well on the iPhone when you’re sitting on the subway or just sitting there waiting for something just to spend a few minutes to zip through a book.

[23:28] Mike: The next one in the Content to Go category is an application called Quick Office. If you go take a look at Quick Office, you are going to find that it’s probably one of the more expensive applications. It’s about $12. It is well worth the $12 because you can use it to open and edit Word documents, Excel documents, and they recently added the ability to create PowerPoint documents all on your iPad or your iPhone. It’s amazing how it works. And it actually even supports things like password protected documents. So I use it sometimes for password protecting certain Excel files if I want to keep a small subset of my passwords on there that I can access from anywhere.

[24:08] I can’t say enough good things about it. It doesn’t support, obviously, the full features set of what Microsoft Office does, but it’s enough that you could certainly get by just using that. I own both that and the Pages application from Apple, and Quick Office is by far much better than what I found Pages was capable of.

[24:28] Rob: I’m looking at the screenshots of Quick Office because I haven’t used it, and it’s insane. The PowerPoint editor is crazy! This is really impressive what you can do on an iPad.

[24:37] [music]

[24:40] Rob: All right. Our next category is Finance and there’s two apps in the finance category, except one of them is a duplicate. It looks like I had online banking in two places. Oops!

[24:51] Mikes: Oops! [laughs]

[24:52] Rob: Yeah, the title of the show may soon be 32 iPhone apps. The one finance app that I’ve used quite a bit is the PayPal app. And again, it’s a limited functionality, but it allows you to check balances, send money. I think you might be able to withdraw money. But there’s a few things you can do, and I’ve done them several times on the go. So it’s not something that I use on a regular basis, but it is nice. It’s a lot faster than using the PayPal website. That’s the real advantage of it.

[25:16] Mike: The next category is the Entertainment category. So the first application in this category is for using Twitter. Personally, I use Tweet Deck. There are a lot of different Twitter applications that you can use, and it’s more or less a matter of preferences. Rob, I think you said that you use the actual officially sanctioned Twitter application, correct?

[25:37] Rob: That’s right.

[25:38] Mike: Yeah. So what I found is I actually downloaded a bunch of different ones before I decided to just go with TweetDeck, and that’s what I decided on. But if you have a Twitter account, definitely check into some of the different Twitter options that are available to you through the different applications.

[25:52] Most of them aren’t going to cost you very much. A lot of them are actually free or have lite versions. So you can at least check out the lite version before you decide you’re going to sink a couple dollars into the full-blown version for whichever one it is that you decide that you like.

[26:05] Rob: Is TweetDeck free?

[26:06] Mike: I don’t remember. I’ve had it for so long I just don’t remember.

[26:10] Rob: Yeah. I think it might be. It’s free on the PC. So yeah, TweetDeck is solid and the Twitter built client is solid. I know both of those.

[26:18] The next app is the Facebook app. And obviously, this is pure entertainment.

[26:23] Mike: Really? You don’t use that for work? [laughs]

[26:25] Rob: Yeah, I know! Remember, it was funny, I was going to put these in the productivity category and Mike’s like, “No, no, no.” [laughs] He’s like, “These are not productivity!” And I was like, “Yeah, you’re right. I don’t even know what I was thinking.”

[26:35] I don’t have much to say about the Facebook app. It works. It allows you to update, upload photos. What I like is on my iPhone I can take a video. We were at the snow last week and I took just a 10 second video. And then you just click the Facebook app, you can upload it, make a comment, and bam, it’s there. I mean that’s cool that I don’t have to go home and put it on my computer and upload it and all that.

[26:55] Mike: My one gripe about the Facebook app though…actually, I guess I have two. One is they don’t have an iPad native version. And the second is that chat does not work.

[27:05] Rob: They do have an iPad native version. I think it just came out.

[27:09] Mike: They do?

[27:10] Rob: Yep. I was just looking today for this show, and it’s called Facepad. So I haven’t even installed it. It says release date was December 29 th . I don’t know if that was the first release or what. But if it’s called Facepad, then I wonder if it’s released by Facebook or if it’s a third party developer?

[27:28] Mike: Yeah, there was a Netflix application a while back called Phoneflix.

[27:33] Rob: Yeah, that’s actually on our list.

[27:35] Mike: Actually, yeah. Well, why don’t we just talk about them now, Phoneflix and Netflix? Phoneflix was actually made by somebody other than Netflix. And Netflix I guess forced them to change the name. And when I realized that it was not actually Netflix, I basically stopped using it.

[27:51] Rob: Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, because see, I’ve used it to manage my queue for months since I got my iPhone, which is what, 18 months ago? Because Netflix didn’t have an app until very recently. I don’t even know if you can manage your queue through the Netflix app. Can you? Can you add and remove stuff?

[28:06] Mike: I don’t recall. I don’t think so.

[28:10] Rob: Yeah, use it just to stream. Whereas I use Phoneflix to do all my queue management. Which, again, it’s one of those things where you’re like, “How often are you going to do that?” But when I’m talking with people and they’re like, “You’ve gotta see this movie,” that’s what I do. I get out my iPhone and I punch it in right there, because otherwise I’m not going to remember it.

[28:26] Mike: Yeah. I remember looking at it a while ago, and I looked at Phoneflix and I was like, “I don’t think this is actually released by Netflix.”

[28:35] Rob: No, it’s definitely not. Nope, it’s not.

[28:38] Mike: OK. I don’t know why, that bugged me.

[28:39] Rob: Yeah. No, because it had “flix” at the end and you thought it was developed by them…

[28:44] Mike: Oh, yeah.

[28:45] Rob: …and that makes you feel a little like they’re pulling one over on you or something.

[28:48] Mike: Not really so much that, because who knows what they’re doing under the covers with that information? I mean I guess what’s the worst they can do, sign me up for some new service that Netflix has? I mean big deal.

[29:00] Rob: Yeah.

[29:00] Mike: But it bugged me a little bit. I mean I’ve got a background in security, so it’s just like, “Eh, I don’t know.”

[29:05] Rob: Sure. So most of the apps though, like the Twitter app that you’re using, you use “Tweet” Deck, right? So they could Tweet on your behalf.

[29:13] Mike: Um, yeah. But I think that they have to use the API…well, I guess you’re right. You’re right.

[29:19] Rob: And the same thing with the FTP on the Go app that I buy, the SSH terminal, the RDP. Like, all of those are not developed by any particular person.

[29:25] Mike: No, you’re right.

[29:26] Rob: Anyways, so I’m not saying right or wrong. I use Phoneflix. I certainly can’t vouch for the security of it. But no one has added items to my queue yet.

[29:34] [laughter]

[29:35] Rob: And just to confirm, I did look at the Netflix app. And really, all the Netflix app is, is a frame around their website. So you can just search and add stuff if you want. But as you said, all I’ve used it for is just to stream stuff instantly. And the cool part is you can stream it to your iPad or your iPhone. Whenever I’m on wireless now and I need some entertainment, I totally watch and stuff.

[29:57] Mike: Right, right.

[29:59] Rob: So cool. Our next app in the Entertainment category is Pandora. If you haven’t used Pandora, it is phenomenal. Basically, you enter either a band name or a song name. It has something in it called the Music Genome Project where they categorize a bunch of music based on all these factors, and it really can predict and provide music that is very similar to that song or band you’ve entered. And people had tried to do this before and no one had succeeded like Pandora. Like, Pandora actually works.

[30:27] I actually pay $36 a year for the paid service because it doesn’t have commercials, it allows you to listen to more music for a stretch, and, you know, a couple other things. But the free version is perfectly adequate.

[30:39] If you’re into music and just having background music on either while your coding, or maybe while you have folks over to have dinner and wine or something, you can just enter a nice smooth jazz or an acoustic guitar person and it just picks a bunch of songs.

[30:52] It was also great around the holidays when we had our Christmas party. I entered like a single instrumental Christmas song and hit play and it just played, for five hours straight, instrumental Christmas music. It was really cool. And I, of course, put my iPhone into my iPhone dock to listen to the music, but you could listen to it via headphones as well.

[31:10] Mike: You didn’t have the headphones on while you’re people were over?

[31:12] Rob: Christmas music? Yeah, that would have been great, huh?

[31:14] Mike: [laughs]

[31:15] Rob: But the cool thing is it works over 3G and wireless. So you can do it out and about as well.

[31:19] Mike: Got it.

[31:20] Rob: The next app, because Mike, I don’t think you use this, it’s called Type and Talk. And this is purely kind of a gag app. But it’s pretty cool. I’m actually going to whip it out. So rather than try to describe what Type and Talk does, I’m just going to play a little snippet.

[31:34] Computer Voice: Hello Mike. I hope you finish Audit Shark in 8-10 weeks.

[31:40] Rob: So if you could make that out, it was a computer voice saying, “Hello Mike. I hope you finish Audit Shark in 8-10 weeks.”

[31:46] I basically come up behind my wife and have it say things to her while she’s cooking dinner. I don’t know, it’s just a crackup to hear it say stupid things.

[31:54] Mike: There’s another application called Talking Tom and one called T-Rex or something like that. It’s basically…Talking Tom is this cat and you can abuse the cat, which my kids like to do. You can pull its tail and smack him in the head. But if you talk, he will repeat what you said back to him. And the T-Rex does a similar thing, but if you grab his tail he’ll try to bite you and things like that.

[32:16] Rob: That’s nice. Good for kids.

[32:18] Mike: Yep, good for kids.

[32:20] Rob: All right. The last one in the Entertainment category is the Ted application. You’ve heard of the Ted Talks. It’s just an interface to search and watch the Ted videos and listen to the audios. So it’s something that I found useful for when I’m sitting around waiting for things.

[32:35] [music]

[32:38] Rob: Our next category is Screw the Retailer. Mike came up with that name!

[32:41] Mike: [laughs]

[32:42] Rob: There’s basically this app that’s called SnapTell, and I use this all the time at Barnes & Noble and Borders, because I see a book I want, I don’t want a physical book, I want the kindle version. So on my iPhone, I open SnapTell, take a picture of the cover and it indentifies the book. And I think it might use Amazon Mechanical Turk and actually send it out in real time to a person. That’s what I’ve heard. And then someone then identifies the book.

[33:05] And then it brings back and it’s like you click to view all the stores in the area that carry it and their pricing, or click to go online, and you can just click and it shows you it’s at Amazon, does a big comparison. And I typically go and add it to my Amazon wish list and later come back and buy it as a Kindle version.

[33:22] So it’s pretty cool. It keeps you from having to type in the whole title and stuff while you’re standing there in the store.

[33:27] Mike: So the last category we have is a personal applications category. The first one, I found this really useful when I went to Disney World over Thanksgiving vacation. It was an application called Walt Disney Week Times. And essentially, what it does is you tell it which of the Disney them parks you’re at and it will show you a list of all the different rides and different things that they have going on there, and at least roughly what the wait time is for you to get onto that ride from any given point.

[33:58] And you can use that to kind of figure out where it is in the park that you want to go. So if you’re on one side of the park and you see that nearby there’s a ride that the wait time is only 20 minutes versus something else that’s 90, you might go to the one that’s 20 minutes instead of 90. You can use it to help you decide where you’re going to go. Their Fast Pass things are nice, but they don’t tell you several hundred yards away exactly how long the wait is until you actually get over there.

[34:22] And it relies on user feedback, so it’s nice to kind of contribute back to it and say, “OK, this is what the actual wait time is at a particular ride.” And it seems to me like there’s enough people using it that it seems fairly accurate.

[34:35] The next application is a program called Lose It. And what Lose It is, is it’s essentially…I don’t want to call it a weight loss product, but you can certainly use it for that. You can use it mainly to help keep track of the different things that you are eating and keep track of your calorie intake for the day. You can also use it to keep track of how much you’ve exercised and that will tell you what your calorie intake is for the day and, based on your weight loss goals, whether or not you’re over your calorie intake for the week. It’s very helpful if you’re actually trying to keep track of that.

[35:08] What I did find was if after using it for several weeks, if you stop using it, you tend to stop paying attention to what you’re eating and how much your exercising, and you’ll kinda go off of whatever diet it is that you are trying to maintain.

[35:22] Rob: And the last app on our list is called White Noise. And it’s basically a white noise generator. And I’ve used this via headphones on an airplane. I’ve used it all the time when we travel. I turn it up and put it on the floor of our hotel room so that my child doesn’t get woken up by the drunk guy next door or the person lighting firecrackers in the parking lot. Seriously, this has saved…I know it’s saved my kid from getting woken up from stuff.

[35:46] [music]

[35:49] Rob: Well I think that about wraps us up for today. I hope we’ve offered some good suggestions for your iPhone and iPad consumption, both for business and personal and entertainment use. And if you have any apps you’d like to suggest, feel free to send them to us via the info that Mike’s going to give you now.

[36:05] Mike: Or you can post them in the comments of this particular podcast. If you have a question or comment, you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690. Or you can email it in MP3 or text format to .

[36:20] If you enjoy this podcast, please consider writing a review in iTunes by searching for “Startups”. You can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or via RSS at

[36:29] A full transcript of this podcast is available at our website: Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons. We’ll see you next time.

Rob and Mike discuss 32 iPhone and iPad Apps that they use.

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about 1 year ago

Episode 547 | Private Podcasting, Apple’s Announcement, and Accelerating Growth with Craig Hewitt

Episode 547 | Private Podcasting, Apple’s Announcement, and Accelerating Growth with Craig Hewitt

In Episode 547, Rob Walling chats with Craig Hewitt about private podcasting, Apple’s announcement around their subscription podcast offering as well as the accelerating growth of Castos.

The topics we cover

[1:22] Focusing on private podcasting at Castos

[15:50] Mobile app for private podcasting

[20:21] Apple’s big announcement

[28:08] Castos MRR growth

Links from the show

If you enjoyed this episode, let us know by clicking the link and sharing what you learned.

Click here to share your number one takeaway from the episode.

If you have questions about starting or scaling a software business that you’d like for us to cover, please submit your question for an upcoming episode. We’d love to hear from you!

Subscribe & Review: iTunes | Spotify | Stitcher


Rob: Welcome once again to Startups for the Rest of Us. I’m your host, Rob Walling. This week, we’re talking with another ambitious, bootstrap, or mostly bootstrap startup founder, in this case, it’s Craig Hewitt. He’s back on the show. You’ll remember him from season one of TinySeed Tales and he also hosts a couple of his own podcasts as well as being the founder of Castos. Today, we talk about private podcasting. We dig into Apple’s announcement around their subscription podcast offering, I’ll call it because it’s not private podcasting. It kind of is, but it’s not really. You’ll hear us dig into the differences in this episode, as well as the accelerating growth of Castos. We dig into that in the last five, six minutes. It’s really interesting to hear Craig talk about why that’s happening. With that, let’s dive in to my conversation with Craig Hewitt.

Craig Hewitt, thanks for coming back on the show.

Craig: Hey, Rob. Thanks for having me.

Rob: It’s always good to have you, man. I get positive feedback about our episodes. Folks will remember you, of course, from TinySeed Tales Season One, where we walked through your journey back in—I’m trying to think of it now. It was the bulk of 2019, I think, and a little bit of 2020. TinySeed batch one, where you run Castos, which is podcast hosting, podcast production, and now private podcast hosting.

Craig: That’s it.

Rob: I’m really interested to dig in today to start off with this private podcasting stuff because, for years, you started a productized service that was podcast editing and production. Then, you started a podcast hosting company called Castos and you piggybacked on the back of a WordPress plugin you owned. Within the last six months, nine months, Castos leaned heavily to this idea of private podcasting, so much so that the H1 on your homepage now says, “Public podcast to grow your audience & Private podcast for exclusive content”. That’s literally at the top of the page.

I would call that a positioning shift from what you’ve traditionally been. Walk me through, maybe this thought process and how this has evolved to the point where maybe nine months ago, private podcasting was—I know it was in the back of your mind because we had little conversations about it, maybe there was some code being written or something. Today, my product is doubling down on both of these things and really leaning into private podcasting.

Craig: Yeah. Just for definition purposes, public conventional podcasts like this one, you want everyone to listen, and you want as much exposure. It’s a marketing tool to grow your brand and get people into an email list and to buy things, and whatever for your brand. Private podcasting is like a membership site for your podcast. The applications for it with the maker crowd are online courses and membership sites, and communities that want to offer podcast content only to their students or members or community members, and companies that want to offer podcasts as an internal communications tool to their employees.

Think about new employee onboarding or messages from the C-Suite or sales enablement material for field sales folks, really using the concept of podcasting to drive information throughout the company. You have internal memos, emails, and webinars. We’re all tired of all of those. A lot of companies are coming to us and saying, hey, we want to connect with our team members, but we don’t want them to be stuck at the computer anymore. We want them to be able to consume this asynchronous mobile-first audio-only. Just seeing a lot of interest and a lot of new ways that people are using this as a communications tool, whether they’re a company or they’re a brand doing this with their online worlds.

Rob: Got it. Companies and folks with audiences. With those two use cases in mind, if I was the CEO of a hundred or a thousand-person company, I would offer that private podcast for free, because obviously, I’m not going to charge my employees. It’s really a communication mechanism versus if I were, let’s say we started a private MicroConf podcast or Startups for the Rest of Us started a private podcast, we’d more likely be charged for that. It would be premium content that we essentially would probably charge a monthly subscription for. Is that the idea?

Craig: Yeah. As it stands today in Castos, you can integrate either via native integration with a tool like a member space that we’re directly integrated with. You have member space that controls the membership platform, and there are privileges and charges of everything on your membership site, that then adds those people automatically to a private podcast that you host in Castos or via Zapier. Then Zapier opens up to everything and everybody—all sorts of membership tools, all sorts of LMS and course platforms—and everything where you can gate the access and the people there and make money and then bolt-on Castos to expand the way you reach out to those folks in podcast format. Then the next step for us logically is doing all of that natively within the platform, allowing our customers to charge directly for content right in our application. That’s something that we’re actively working on now.

Rob: How did this come about? Was this something customers were requesting or was it something you and your team came up with, or a third option I’m not thinking of?

Craig: Yeah. The analogies to this right in the membership and course world have always been there and have always been something that I and a lot of other people see. It’s just taken a bit of timing. We’re mostly bootstrapped. It just has taken a bit of time to get the core product to where we want it to be to where we can expand our focus to build this. It’s always been in the back of my mind because the problem that this solves is that the way that people can make money directly from podcasting without having like, if you think of Startups for the Rest of Us as a brand, you have MicroConf that this podcast serves as a marketing channel and lead gen, for now, both TinySeed and MicroConf.

I think you’re very happy to not make money directly from this podcast. There’s a lot of people out there that say, I just want to be a podcaster. I don’t want to do a fund. I don’t want to have a conference. I don’t want to have to sell a course or whatever. I just want to make really awesome podcast content and make money from it. To date, the only native podcast-only way to do that has been ads. It’s just a garbage-like monetization method for a lot of people who have, or, or whatever, as a person that’s sponsoring your show. Why not let people make money directly from their content? That’s where we’re going.

Rob: Got it. When I think of podcast hosting, I think of it as a commodity business. Any type of hosting becomes a commodity. Remember in 1999, web hosting, there were all these web hosting startups, and then it just consolidated. I remember when WP Engine started in 2011, 2012. It was also one of those like WordPress, focused hosting, app-based hosting, where it’s really optimized for that. Even now, there’s just a lot of low-cost WordPress hosting. I think podcast hosting in my mind is traveling the same cycle where it over time becomes more of a commodity as more people get into it. For you as a founder in the launch and private podcasting, is this a way to stay ahead of that curve and to innovate yourself into not being a commodity player?

Craig: Yeah. That’s a big one. It allows us to shift where we stand with our customers from being, say, a liability on their mental balance sheet to an asset. If we are allowing our customers to make money every month, they’re very happy to stay with us for as long as they can. We hope to participate in the upside of that in terms of things like revenue sharing or being able to charge a little bit more than we can charge for. I agree with what is a commoditized piece of software, which is hosting which is cheap and relatively easy to build. A way for us to enable our customers to make money or expand the other way that they make money online and make that more valuable is really valuable in their eyes. That’s what we’re betting on.

Rob: What’s interesting is, let’s imagine an alternate history or an alternate present. We’re in the Marvel Cinematic Universe here, where we forked timelines. Podcasting doesn’t exist, that term doesn’t exist. If you were to still come up with the idea of sending audio files to a team privately, we didn’t call them private podcasts. We called them private asynchronous audio communication. It’s a private audio broadcast.

Craig: Such a better term.

Rob: Isn’t that great? Naming is the best. While they’re both asynchronous audio, it’s really a different animal in my mind. I know the mechanism is the same because it’s an RSS feed with audio being downloaded. I guess getting jobs to be done is maybe a better way to think about it. When I think of the job to be done of Startups for the Rest of Us, it is mass consumption. As many people that can get value from this, spread the word bootstrapping, and mostly bootstrapping is a viable strategy versus venture capital.

Private podcasting, as soon as I put a wall around it, whether I charge for it or not, becomes this very almost intimate, exclusive. It’s premium if you’re paying for it or it’s intimate communication if you’re not if I’m just sending it to my company. I guess I’m imagining there are people out there who never want to record a podcast. They don’t want to be a podcaster. They don’t want to be a radio personality or something. It’s like I have no aspiration to do that, but they’re the CEO of a 150-person company, and jumping on the mic to talk to their team, I bet, is much more appealing.

They don’t have to perform. They can say, hey, this is the state of our company this week, so and so, we have a new employee in this department, this person got promoted, three more new hires coming through, this is our MRR, whatever. I can just imagine giving either weekly or monthly updates. It’s a completely different approach than what you and I think of as podcasting.

Craig: Yeah. A lot of people and even Matt Maderos on our team talks about it. It’s so much easier to create an episode for our private podcast that we have with our audience, our most engaged fans. We have a private podcast that we share with them. He says I love making those episodes because I know it’s going out to a few hundred people and not the thousands of people that our audience podcast goes out to. We absolutely see whether it’s for a company internally. They say the same things that the CEO is comfortable hopping on the mic because it’s only going internally. It’s not going to the SEC or something where they have to worry about all of the things you have to worry about with your material being out there for everyone in the world to consume and criticize.

We’re having a lot of people come in and say, I want to have a podcast for the parents of my local soccer club or something. It’s like, all you’re wanting to do is just control who has access to that content because when you record this podcast, anyone in the world can listen. If you know that only 20 people are going to listen to this podcast, your approach to it changes a lot when it comes to creating the content. The biggest hurdle for any new podcaster to get over is, what the heck is an RSS feed? How do I upload my podcast to Apple, which is not what happens?

All of the distribution stuff is, even today, like a nightmare, for people to understand. What if you just create a podcast and then put someone’s email address in, and they get it? That’s so much easier. We’re seeing a lot of people build them and say like, I don’t care how many people listen. I’m going to invite the people I want to listen to this private podcast, and they will get it. It’s just not hard. It’s really streamlined. We’re seeing it used in a lot of different ways, which is super exciting. I think we’re at the very leading edge of how people utilize this as a communication tool.

Rob: Yeah. That’s what I like about what you’re saying, it’s what I was trying to communicate, but did poorly a couple of minutes ago when I was talking about the asynchronous intimate audio or whatever. This is a completely different thing than a podcast. We’re going to call it a podcast because that’s what we’re familiar with, but I think this is an entirely new and very massive market. I can imagine communicating with my extended family. There’s a Facebook group with 20 of us, all the cousins, aunts, and uncles. We post periodically, this and that, but that could be interesting.

I can imagine communicating with my team. I can imagine communicating with TinySeed founders. What if some of these Slack groups were just replaced by people podcasting? You and I are part of a small, exclusive group of founders who have this private podcast already. While there is Slack conversation going on as well, I think the bulk of the information is conveyed via podcast. For me, it’s more time-efficient, because I can do the dishes. I can be taking the trash out or whatever and listening to it at 1.5x versus sitting there and trying to type on my phone or whatever. That does raise a question that I have about it. This private podcasting feature, is it broadcast only? Where if I set it up, maybe me and my co-founder or my CEO, COO can get that out to everyone? Can you set it up such that anyone can participate in posting audio into it? It’s almost like a group audio experience.

Craig: Today, it is you as the account holder who is the only one who can publish new content to it. In that respect, it is more like a traditional podcast, where this is your podcast. You record the content and push it out and everybody else listens. I do think there, very well, could be a day where it is more like a community, where everyone can contribute podcast content to the feed or whatever you use, and then it goes out to everybody. To be honest, the question that we have is, what’s the best way to handle that?

Rob: Yeah. That’ll be a product decision at some point because I’m sure some folks will ask for it. When I think about it, again, we come back to the example of TinySeed, and whether we’d probably do it maybe within a batch. Today, Tracy and I could set up a private podcast and we could broadcast. Hey, batch three, that’s starting next week. Here’s new info, here’s an update this week, here’s this and that. Longer-term, it could be really interesting for each company to give updates. But then they would need the ability to basically upload audio somewhere, have the permission to have it distributed to everyone.

We’ve obviously had some conversations about it. It’s funny how the lines are drawn. I listen to a bunch of podcasts. I’m like, yeah, I would do that. Anyone who just doesn’t listen to podcasts is like, that’s a terrible idea. We already have Slack. It’s always that the lines are just drawn. It’s like, you either like podcasts or you don’t. Of course, for me, I can’t get enough of them. Wrapping up this idea of a private podcast, I’ve heard you’ve talked on Seeking Scale, which is your new podcast with Andy Baldacci that started four or five months ago.

If folks haven’t heard that, I highly recommend it. You’re later-stage SaaS founders as so many of the two people talking about their bootstrap, mostly bootstrap startups are early stage, and that’s cool. You’re one of the very few podcasts where I’ll say millions of dollars in ARR are being thrown around. The two of you are just more advanced. You’re thinking about the not later stage, but you think about mid-stage stuff. The team is now 8 or 10. It’s not, how do I get my first 10 customers?

Anyway, Seeking Scale is the podcast, folks. You should check out. The reason I bring it up is, you mentioned on there that you are actually building mobile apps as well for the private podcast side because folks haven’t seen this. Once you upload an mp3, whether it’s a private or public podcast, that mp3 is there, and if someone downloads it to their phone, even if you were to say terminate that employee, they still have those mp3s. They still have essentially what could be proprietary information. If you have a mobile app, where that’s the only place they can listen through it, you can control their ongoing access. They can never get the raw mp3 out. Am I understanding that correctly?

Craig: Yeah. I mean, there are a lot of reasons that we’re developing the mobile apps, and they will be for iOS and Android. It’s the reason a react native. First and foremost, is security, because the first, and second, and third question that we get from our corporate clients is, how is this controlled and who has access? Can they download the file, and all this? We made a very conscious decision in the first iteration of this that it will be streaming only. There will be no file downloaded to the phone. It can never be taken with an employee afterward.

There is no visibility to the RSS feed at all. They can’t copy it and share it with someone else. All of that is vertically integrated from our system into these mobile apps. The other reason we did it, and actually the reason we started it is, you talked about this line in the sand of people that are podcast fans and people that are not, there are a lot of people that get added to a private podcast and they receive from us like a special unique RSS feed just for them. They copy this and they go put it in Overcast or Apple podcast or whatever for someone that’s not a podcast listener, and even people that have no idea how to do that. We said, well, what if we just have an app? The call to action is to download this app, put in your email address, you get a magic link, authenticate into that, and you automatically get all your stuff.

To a lot of people, that is an easier ask for a brand or a company to say, hey, download the Castos app, put in your email address, and voila, you’ll get all of your stuff right away. From a technical perspective, it’s just so much easier than to understand an RSS feed. Don’t click on that because it won’t open in mobile Safari, because it’s just a mess. If you do open it, it looks like a jumbled mess of code. Download the app, and you’ll get all your content once you log in. Then the obvious next step for us is like, hey, instead of just one-way communication, what about quizzes, surveys, announcements, and other things we can allow our customers to do to interact with their audience members in the app?

The downside of podcasting to a large extent is it is a one-way street. You publish this, it goes out, you have no idea what happens right after it goes out. You have no way to get feedback directly in the place where people are listening. We, having our own app only for private podcasting, are going to allow us to enable our customers to communicate and get feedback and dialogue with their listeners much more, not to mention a lot more analytics. We control the playback mechanism.

Rob: Yeah. It sounds like it’s security, it’s certainly the ease of use, usability, analytics. There are a lot of things that are going to go into that to make it a better experience. Since I’m a web person, I’m web first. I think SaaS and building apps and this and that, but when I think of building a mobile app, I think oh boy, now we have another codebase to maintain where it’s a different skill set, all this stuff. Has that been difficult for you and your team to tackle?

Craig: Yeah. It’s been wonderful. Victor from Trustshoring, he’s been to a lot of MicroConfs. He’s a friend. He runs an agency that connects companies like ours with specific dev shops, mostly in Eastern Europe connecting us with the folks who are developing our mobile app. They are amazing. They’re a react-native shop. That’s all they do. We were able to pretty easily say like, okay, this is what we want. This is what we have from our end. These are the APIs that we need to build. You guys need to go build all the front-end stuff in the player. They’re amazing.

Rob: That’s cool. I’m glad it hasn’t been this struggle that made it out to be in my head.

Craig: In hindsight, the thing we did right is we didn’t try to peel off one of our developers that is a PHP developer to go and learn react native is. We just said, hey, let’s go spend the $20,000 that this will cost and hire the specialists.

Rob: Yep. Not your core competency.

Craig: Yep.

Rob: I’m glad that you’re coming on this week. It’s a bit fortuitous. Apple made their big announcement. I know they didn’t invent podcasting because it was open standard stuff, but they effectively popularized it 15 years ago now, or whenever it was. Then they just let it languish, and then they’re like two or three years ago, yeah, we’re going to give analytics, finally. I don’t think those are that great when I log in, but it’s like they fit and start.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. The only reason Apple cares about this at all is because the space has heated up because Spotify is now dropping $200,000,000 to acquire Joe Rogan’s podcast. Apple is like, we really dropped the ball on this. Now, they’re launching paid subscriptions on Apple podcasts, which is something that in my opinion should have launched a decade ago. I don’t know why this is a very logical next step. It’s almost like they pulled Internet Explorer, who just won the whole market, and then just stopped.

They took everybody off the IE browser, and just let it languish. That’s what Apple podcast feels like to me. They announced, okay if you’re a creator, you pay $20 a year. You’re part of the Creator program. There’s no ability for you to see who has subscribed to your premium content or to contact those subscribers except, of course, through the podcast. You can price subscriptions based on subscriber location. I believe there are monthly subscriptions. There is no RSS feed. There is no connection to your other podcast.

Apple takes a 30% cut of revenue of the first year and 15% in subsequent years, which I think is interesting, and the content has to be manually uploaded to Apple’s platform on an individual episode basis. My editor or Castos Productions, your team, would upload it into your WordPress or your Castos account, and then they have to go and upload it into Apple. I’m actually reading this all from the blog. It was a post from April 21st. It says, welcome Apple to the private podcasting movement. You have thoughts. What does this mean for you? Do you want a standalone tool? Blah, blah, blah. Walk us through how you think about this as someone who has been knee-deep in podcasting, running a podcast production and hosting company for the past several years? You’re as close to the metal on this as anyone I know.

Craig: Yeah. We always try to be really honest, Rob, going back to TinySeed Tales. I think part of me, I’m kicking myself a little bit because you and I have had conversations about this concept for years. While I am a bootstrapper at heart, and I’ve enjoyed being a bootstrapper seeing this, I say, […] what if we’d raised like $5 million three years ago and built this? We could be the standout leader in this space. We didn’t and we’re not, I think we’re at the very edge of this with what we’re doing.

But Apple offering it natively on their platform is really different from what we do. As I look back over my thoughts around this in the past, podcasting 6 ½ years, I could have done this earlier. I don’t have regrets but definitely, that is something I take away. It’s like, the next time I have a hunch like this, I probably will just jump on it because I don’t want to look back and say, oh man, I could have, should have, would have. That being said, this is not for everybody. This is for the creator who won the majority of their audience is based in North America, I would say.

Apple podcast is the most popular listening platform in North America by far, but for the younger generation and outside of the US, it’s Spotify. It’s not like this being available on the Apple podcasts is going to reach even half of your audience these days, depending on who your audience is. I think that for certain people, this is really great because they’ll take 30% just like the App Store does, and then 15% in subsequent years. But selling on Amazon versus having a Shopify store, you have no concept of who your customers are. You can’t follow up with them afterward. You can’t do nurture sequences and up sales and coupons, and all that stuff afterward.

For the person that, we use the term, you want the easy button to make some money from your podcast, this is a good first step maybe. If you have a more sophisticated brand, funnel, upsells, and cross-sells and things that you want to do with your podcasts and folks that listen to your podcast afterward, then I think this is not the thing to do, because it is just like a siloed thing. Spotify certainly will come out with their own version of this at some point and it will be the same. This is in its own walled garden. It doesn’t talk to anything else. It certainly wouldn’t integrate with your membership platform. That’s how I feel about it. It’s like, if all you want to do is make a few bucks off your podcast, this is a fair thing. If you have different goals or aspirations or plans for your brand and your content, then this is not the tool for you.

Rob: Yeah. The deal-breaker for me is that you don’t know who your subscribers are. That right there as a serial entrepreneur who has run many businesses, the long-term value is in those relationships. It’s in having access to be able to contact people. I mean, that the old internet marketing expression was, the money’s in the list. It’s like having a large email list or having a large, back in the day, it was addresses, physical mailings before the internet. Well, I don’t think of it as like the money’s in it. I think the long-term relationship and the long-term value is really knowing who your customers are.

That’s why, I think, selling my book directly versus selling on Amazon, I’ve always really struggled with this decision because I want Amazon to fulfill it, but I also really want to know who’s buying my book. It’s been the same thing. It’s not a perfect analogy, but I think of it as the difference between Vimeo and Wistia. They both host videos, and they’re both private in terms of they’re not like massive YouTube distribution because they’re all private in one way or another. Vimeo is $100 a year or something, $100 or $200. Wistia is $100 or $200 a month, it’s way more expensive. Vimeo is for filmmakers to go on there for the experience. It’s like, I’m a maker, I want the easy button, and I want to get stuff out there and it’s inexpensive.

Wistia is for, I don’t want to be more sophisticated or just more business-oriented or more people who are thinking about the business, not just about the act of creation, and maybe there’s a parallel there. Did it feel like a punch in the gut when this announcement came out? Was it pretty quickly like, our use case is that what we’re supporting at Castos is so different from this anyway that I don’t know that it’s going to have a major impact?

Craig: Yeah. Mostly the latter. Mostly currently, and even in the future with our product plans around like premium podcasting, being able to charge for your content directly in the platform, we serve a different type of customer to a large extent than folks that would really want to jump on this bandwagon with Apple. That’s definitely how we feel this is different from what we do. The really good thing is that this legitimizes a lot of what I’ve been saying for a while like hey, ads are not the only way to make money from your podcast. This concept of private podcasting or premium paid access to a private podcast is a thing. Then the biggest player in the space just made it a thing. We can go around and talk about private podcasts in email, and everyone’s going to know what we’re talking about in between that in this episode. Everyone’s going to know what we’re talking about. I think that’s a huge win for the industry.

Rob: Yeah, big time. I was waiting for Spotify to come out with this, to be honest. I don’t know, maybe they will. I guess you’ve hinted, you’re like, you think they’re going to come out with it as well, but I just thought that would beat Apple to the punch. Apple really has not innovated in the podcast space for so many years. I’m surprised.

Craig: Yeah. They’ve talked about it, but it’s not available as of today. Yeah.

Rob: Right. As we move towards wrapping up, I’m looking at your MRR graph. Most people listening know that you’re in TinySeed batch one. Of course, we have graphs of all the revenue of the companies. The last three months, bravo, man. It’s a rocket ship, very strong three months of growth in terms of just raw MRR and there’s a nice little kick upward and to the right. You already had solid growth going and then it’s accelerated. What’s happening there? There are a lot of listeners who obviously want to know, how can I grow faster? I’m curious, what learnings have you taken away that I think have helped you achieve this growth?

Craig: Yeah. It’s tough to know exactly just because there are so many moving parts to a business even our size, we’re 12 people. The one thing that I can pretty solidly point to is, we have been focusing from a product perspective over this year, the last four months, on I’d say quality, but like fine-tuning aspects of the platform, revising onboarding, UX fixes, updates to things, and spending half of our development time on that these days. It’s really all that’s changed. I have to attribute this to that shift. Anyone who knows me well is like, it’s not me. I’m just not a super detailed person.

I’m definitely not a designer like we work with an absolutely fantastic designer, who has helped us a lot with all this. I think the lesson I would take away is, my inclination is always to build more features. We have a lot more features on our platform than a lot of other hosts. It’s because I’ve just been beating this drum of like, we need transcriptions. We need YouTube republishing. We need integration with Headliner. We need video support. We need multiple users. We need WordPress integration.

We have a really complex platform compared to even a lot of market leaders for as old as the company is. We’ve been driving hard for new feature creation for a long time. We said, hey, we need to not take a step back, but focus some of our efforts on really perfecting certain aspects of the product. That’s all that’s really changed where I have to attribute the growth. It’s like, we’ve increased growth by 50% versus the other months. We’re growing about 50% faster in the last few months.

Rob: Yeah. That is an easy trap to fall into, more features because it feels like the features are the headline. The features are what you can read a blog post about. You can’t write a blog post about, we improve the usability of the screen. We improved our onboarding. No one cares. Yet, they move the needle perhaps more than the splash. When you think about the marketing or sales funnel for a SaaS app, there are a number of visitors coming to your website, then there’s how many start a trial or request a demo. Then there’s how many go from there to pay, then there’s churn.

How many sticks around? There’s the sheer volume of them coming in, and then there’s also the percentage drop off at each base. So many of us just want more at the top of the funnel. In this case, you’re basically saying, when you say you’re focused on improving, is it a lot of usability and user experience improvements?

Craig: Yeah. Just like, what I would consider edge case bugs, they don’t exist anymore.

Rob: Right. Obviously, with Drip in my experience, when Derrick and I were running a product there, it was always a balance. To be honest, Derrick and I are pretty picky and we’re a little pretentious about the products we use, I’ll just say that. When I use a product that’s half-ass, I get pissed off. I’m like, these people don’t know what they’re doing. I’m the wine expert who’s drinking Merlot or the coffee expert who says, well, Starbucks is so bad. I’m that way with the usability of apps.

I think if anything, Derrick and I tended to veer in that direction, where we would—you can be too perfectionist about it, and you can make every little piece work so amazingly well, but then you’re not moving fast enough on other fronts, perhaps, or you’re not doing enough marketing, or you’re not doing enough sales, or whatever. You neglect other areas of the business. That’s where I think it is this balance. Whether you think of it as a pendulum swinging back and forth. With one Sprint, if you do Sprints, we’re building features. In the next one, we’re fixing bugs and improving usability.

Whether you’re doing both of those at the same time, it would just be so easy as founders if you could just focus on one thing. Don’t you just want to focus on one thing and have that be the only thing? Yet, there are 10 things and they all need to be focused on at the right time, or maybe all at once. You don’t know what the incomplete information is. It’s like, […] which one do we do next? Which one moves the needle the most?

Craig: Yeah, absolutely. There are two additional data points there. One is from a metrics perspective, the thing that is improved is churn. We’ve always had very good churn, but we’re having close to 0% churn in the last two months, which makes growth really easy because we’re having customers upgrading now, which is going back to private podcasting. We have an expansion revenue built into the product now. We’re getting close to 0% churn, which is amazing. We were at 2% before.

The other thing from a team perspective is for about the last six months, we’ve gone into this practice of having one of our developers beyond what we call support rotation each week. That developer is the only contact that our support team can have when they need to escalate a ticket. That developer spends about a third of their time chatting with customers and advanced troubleshooting things, and the rest of their time fixing bugs for that week. That’s really how this focus on squashing bugs, and product and quality stuff came about. I think it’s both products and squishing those bugs and getting those things resolved within that week, but also just having everybody be more clear on what customers are saying and taking care of them better. From a process perspective, it’s been a really cool thing to see happen.

Rob: Yeah, that’s really nice. The way that we structured it at Drip, too, although we didn’t rotate. Are you rotating through your engineers?

Craig: Yep.

Rob: They take a turn. We had a dedicated—usually, it was a junior—software developer, a junior engineer that we hire, and we’d say, you are the technical support escalation. When Andy, our support guy, would dig in as much as he could. But truly he was like, it’s a bug, or I just can’t, it’s code, someone needs to look into it, then they escalate to the junior. The cool part about that junior is they would dig into the bowels of the app, of every part of it. They learned it really, really well. They learned all these little esoteric areas because they’d have to dig into API one day.

Then the next hour, they’re over in the park that sends emails or schedules. Then the next part, it’s just completely dealing with SendGrid or whatever. They became really well versed in the app. By the time they start burning out on that roll, which is about 12 months, they’re a pretty solid developer in terms of being able to get into Drip and build it into the codebase and such. We’d hire and rotate into an end. The other approach that I’ve seen is exactly what you’re talking about where each engineer takes a stint whether it’s a week or a few days, usually, it’s a week and you just rotate through it, and they have to be. That’s the week you’re getting interrupted a lot because you have to respond. You have to write code and respond to these tickets.

Craig: Yeah. I think it’s nice breaking the cadence, too. They work hard on features. We’re five developers, so four out of five weeks, and they get a week of different work. Yeah.

Rob: Makes sense. Well, sir, it’s always a pleasure having you on.

Craig: Yeah. Likewise, Rob. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Rob: Folks who want to catch up with you—normally I say Twitter handles, but you don’t really hang out on Twitter. You’re the Craig Hewitt if folks want to ping you. Thank you for coming to the show. Really, Seeking Scale, I think would be where they can hear from you every week. Then Rogue Startups, you record with Dave Rodenbaugh a couple of times a month, it seems like.

Craig: Yep. Either of those are great places. Yeah.

Rob: Awesome, man. Thanks again.

Craig: Thanks, Rob.

Rob: Thanks again for joining me this week. If we’re not connected on Twitter, please reach out, @robwalling. If you’re a bootstrap, or mostly a bootstrap founder, and you want to be part of a community of more than 2000 other founders and aspiring founders, go to It’s totally free. You can apply there, and we’ll let you in. It’s our Slack group, where we hang out and we talk about all the things—jobs and hiring, marketing, we talk about coffee, whiskey, and just whatever you can imagine. Whining on the Yacht I think is one of the channels in there. It’s a good group of people, really positive and supportive, and you should check it out, Thank you again for joining me this week, and I’ll be back in your earbuds again next Tuesday morning.

In Episode 547, Rob Walling chats with Craig Hewitt about private podcasting, Apple's announcement around their subscription podcast offering as well as the accelerating growth of Castos. The topics we cover [1:22] Focusing on private podcasting at Castos [15:50] Mobile app for private podcasti

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about 1 year ago

Apple and Podcasting – Matt Mullenweg

I’ve been on Overcast for over a year; it’s some of the best £4 I’ve ever spent. Best features: – Your podcasts sync between devices – You can go to to play podcasts from there or Delete shows/individual episodes or subscribe to new shows – On paid, there are about 8ish speeds you can run the podcast on and you can even set the amount of time a Quick rewind or Quick forward will do (7 sec, 15 sec, 30 sec etc.) – Attractive, clean interface that I found far easier to use than Apple’s own Podcasts app – If you are listening with headphones that have a remote attached, you can set it so that, for instance, 2 clicks fast forwards, 2 clicks and a long click goes to the next track…

I have 2 children under 5 and a wife in full time university. In other words, I’m inundated with chores. As long as I have my podcasts on, I can keep going even when it’s 10pm and my body is saying PLEASE STOP MAKING ME MOVE I AM VERY TIRED.

With many of the podcasts, to me, it feels like I’m hanging out with a good friend. I look forward to their show popping up in my feed. They keep me in a good mood, they make me empathise, they make me laugh, they make me learn – my life is enriched by them. We’re incredibly spoiled for choice.

I am happy to talk about this endlessly and offer recommendations to anyone that asks.

Matt, if you’re in the mood for a cool and motivating distraction, you’ll want to check out Bob Reynolds’ amazing VLOG. It provides a very candid look into the day-to-day life of a professional touring saxophonist and composer. Bob loves to share productivity hacks and even references the Pomodoro Technique in this video at 2:57: . I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this and had to send it to you for a laugh…

He is also rocking WordPress in a major way with ! It’s an elegant, subscription-based music education site. The amount of videos and printed material is blowing my mind and I nominate his site for the WordPress Showcase, if nominations are currently being accepted.

Marco Arment has a great take on how the decentralized nature of podcasting is a feature, not a bug, and Apple being more proactive there would be harmful to the ecosystem. As an aside, since I&#82…

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Apple Podcasts Matt Mullenweg
about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

TC on Apple Watch – Matt Mullenweg

The John Biggs article on Why I’m Still Wearing My Apple Watch almost perfectly describes how I’m feeling about the watch right now. It is a very personal device, I’ve gotten attached to the little fellow, and I should probably start selling all my mechanical watches.


The John Biggs article on Why I’m Still Wearing My Apple Watch almost perfectly describes how I’m feeling about the watch right now. It is a very personal device, I’ve gotten attached t…

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macbookmacbook I’ll start by saying I’m writing this on a 12″ Macbook in space grey. The screen, weight, size, and weird keyboard have captured my heart and I’m enjoying using the machine. It has replaced a 15″ Retina Pro as my primary laptop for about 2 weeks now, with most of that being on the road.

For better and worse, it’s a lot like an iPad — the size and weight feel very natural in your life, and the screen is really gorgeous. It’s also not worth plugging anything into it besides its charging cable. It feels great to open and pick up right where you left off. The speed feels more than adequate for everything I’ve thrown at it so far, though I haven’t tried video editing or photo management outside of the new Apple Photos app. If there was a perfect iPad and keybard combo, it would feel and look like the new Retina Macbook.

The second thing I’ll say is I wouldn’t recommend this laptop for everybody yet. There are some trade-offs, for example I can get 5-6 hours from the battery but it’s a little shorter than I expected. It’s refreshing to have a computer that’s totally silent with no fan, and I’ve only had a heat warning once when it was sitting in hot direct sunlight for about 20 minutes. I moved into the shade because I was also wilting a bit from the direct LA sun.

The main reason I’m not sure if I’d recommend this Macbook right is hopefully ephemeral: USB-C. One of the very coolest things about the new Macbook is it charges (quickly) with a new standard called USB 3.1 with a Type-C connector, which is open for anyone to use, is reversible, and I think is going to be the future as I’ve written about on this blog before .


Today, however, USB-C is bleeding edge. I actually have one other device that uses it, Google’s new Chrome Pixel laptop, but when you search on Amazon for “USB-C” there are almost no results except sketchy or not-in-stock generic things, and Apple doesn’t have any USB-C stuff in stock, even in their stores. (Perhaps related to the general stock issues I ended up writing about last time I tried to pen this Macbook review .) I was able to get a cable that had male old USB and male USB-C on Amazon, that was pretty much it. The promise of USB-C is incredible: standard cables for charging everything super-quickly, a battery pack that could charge your phone or laptop, smaller power bricks, a next-gen Thunderbolt display with one cable for all data, display, and charging. You can see and imagine a really perfect ecosystem around USB-C, but it doesn’t exist today. Some cool stuff has been announced but isn’t coming until the summer , even thumb drives .

The problem in one sentence: it is impossible to buy a cable, from Apple or otherwise, that let’s you plug an iPhone 6+ into the Macbook. They’ve announced but not shipped (to me at least) an adapter for old USB stuff (Type-A), but the last thing I need in my life is another dongle.

I thought I would miss this but in practice it has been a surmountable problem. Instead of using my laptop as a battery, I’ve been using a battery to recharge miscellaneous electronics on-the-go , and everything else including transferring photos from phone to computer is now happening wirelessly.

apple-line-upapple-line-up I think the most perfect tech combo in the world right now might be a 5k iMac at home , an iPhone 6+ as your phone, and the Macbook as an on-the-go device. (The iPad isn’t in my must-have list anymore.) The strengths of each of these products complement each other, and as Apple gets better about the cloud with things like photos, tethering, keychain sync, and continuity it’s really becoming a pleasure to use these products together. I also have an Apple Watch in the mix, but still forming my thoughts on that one.

The thing I might be most excited about is when some of the new tech in the retina Macbook around the keyboard, screen, trackpad, and battery is applied to their “Pro” series, which will probably be a bit more in my wheelhouse.


I’ll start by saying I’m writing this on a 12″ Macbook in space grey. The screen, weight, size, and weird keyboard have captured my heart and I’m enjoying using the machine.…

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about 1 year ago

Apple Loyalty Program – Matt Mullenweg

So I finally got my hands on a the new Macbook , finally resorting to Craigslist to find someone who had pre-ordered and pay them a small premium. I was going to write a review, and still will, but ended up writing a bunch on the process of buying things from Apple as a loyal customer.

I have done the second-market Craigslist dance with probably 90% of new Apple tablets and phones before, but never for a laptop. I’m sure every ounce of effort has been expended to capitalize on the hype of the announcements and ship as many of these as possible, but this Macbook/Watch roll-out still seems especially rough with the stores having zero inventory or knowledge of if/when they’re getting anything in, and ship dates now slipping into the summer. There’s a deeper issue though: it speaks to a lack of Apple’s knowledge and connection to their customers, even though they have all the data.

A great restaurant will track every time you’ve eaten there, how much you spent, your preferences , and use that to prioritize reservations and tailor service on subsequent visits. Airlines, for their terrible reputation, actually are decent at this too with their loyalty programs. On United I’m a Global Services level flyer and get some really nice perks as a result, with the knowledge that if I don’t fly a certain amount of miles and spend a certain amount of dollars with them in a calendar year I’ll lose those perks (as I did for a few months earlier this year) and so when choosing between two flights to somewhere I’m more likely to pick the United one. (Also I think some of airlines bad rep is undeserved, they are flying human beings miles in the air inside tin cans where the cost of an error is catastrophic, everything is highly regulated, and many service factors are literally dependent on the weather.)

I am an unapologetic, unrepentant Apple customer ever since I could afford it. One of the first things I did when I got my job at CNET in 2005 was upgrade my Mom from the inexpensive Linux box I built for her (all I could afford) to a Mac Mini. I get almost every new version of everything, including usually 4-6 phones a year (myself and family), at least a dozen laptops, iPads, Thunderbolt displays, iMacs, Mac Pros… at this point I’m probably a cumulative $100k customer of Apple, in addition to the millions we spend on Apple hardware at Automattic (everyone gets a new computer when they join, and we refresh them every 18-24 months, and a special W version at after 4 years of tenure ). And I’m late to the game! There are Apple customers today who bought their first product decades ago.

However when pre-orders creak open at midnight, or people start queueing, the order of access to the latest and greatest from Apple is by whoever shows up first, or now online it’s essentially random depending on how lucky you are to load and complete the checkout process. In some ways there’s a beautiful equality to that, but for example when I went with Om in London for the 2013 iPhone release , 95% of the line was people just there to buy and flip it, either locally or ship overseas — the very front of the line was Apple lovers, but in the rest of the line I saw people using Android.

There is some sort of rank ordering inside Apple — Karl Lagerfied and Beyonce have Apple Watches already, reviewers from Gruber to Pogue get devices a few weeks early to test — but imagine if there was an Apple Loyalty program for the rest of us? More than almost any other company Apple has been sustained through tough times by the belief and devotion of their best customers. It would be great if you could earn status with monetary (dollars spent) and non-monetary (impact on the world) points that give you priority ordering access, faster Genius bar appointments, maybe even access to events.

Maybe the truth is Apple doesn’t need to do that, I’m going to keep using them because they make the best products, and when things are rough in the early days (like with the new Macbook, a few recent versions of OS X and iOS) I stick it out because I know it’ll get better. To my knowledge no other tech product maker has done a great loyalty program before, though there are hints in Asian players like Xiaomi and OnePlus . Most luxury brands from Hermes to Patek are also bad at this, because they don’t understand technology and data. But how cool would it be if Apple did reward, or even just recognize, their most loyal customers?

So I finally got my hands on a the new Macbook, finally resorting to Craigslist to find someone who had pre-ordered and pay them a small premium. I was going to write a review, and still will, but …

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about 1 year ago

Apple Watch Horror Story – Matt Mullenweg

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Read through this amazing horror story constructed of actual sentences (with links) from reviews of the Apple Watch. (Hat tip: Laughing Squid.) As for me? I tried on the Watch yesterday and was ver…

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about 1 year ago

WordPress iOS WYSIWYG – Matt Mullenweg

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It’s been a long road, but the WordPress mobile apps are finally making some major strides. WordPress iOS version 4.8 includes a visual editor so you won’t see code anymore when bloggin…

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Wordpress Apple Matt Mullenweg
about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Life Hack – Matt Mullenweg

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Life Hack: Put leftovers on top of your Mac Pro to keep them warm.

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Funny Apple Matt Mullenweg
about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Retina 5k Mac – Matt Mullenweg

imac-retina-step1-hero-2014imac-retina-step1-hero-2014 To me one of the most meaningful shifts in computing the past few years has been how the resolution of displays is getting higher and higher, and interfaces are starting to become resolution independent. I feel like when pixels disappear there’s less of a wall between people and the technology, it starts to blend and meld a bit more. It’s something I’ve been personally passionate about since the first retina iPhone, tirelessly beating the drum at Automattic to make everything we do shine on hi-DPI screens, or leading the WordPress 3.8 release that brought in MP6 project to make WordPress’ aesthetics cleaner and vector-based.

I’m sitting in front of a Retina 5k iMac right now typing this to you. (It was supposed to arrive on Friday but came a few days early.)

It’s the most gorgeous desktop display I’ve ever seen, breathtaking at first and then like all great work becomes invisible and you forget that there was ever a time when displays weren’t this beautiful. (Until you look at some lesser monitor again.)

I’ve been using 4k displays, the Sharp and the ASUS , with Mac Pros for a few months now, and to be honest they come close, but this takes the cake in every possible way, including the design and aesthetics of the computer/display itself which is laptop-thin at the edges. If you’ve been on the fence, and you’re okay with the tradeoffs an iMac has in general , get one. I can’t wait for them to do a 5k Thunderbolt display (but it sounds like it might be at least a year away ).

P. S. If you’re looking for a gift for the iMac that has everything, consider a slipper to keep its feet warm .

To me one of the most meaningful shifts in computing the past few years has been how the resolution of displays is getting higher and higher, and interfaces are starting to become resolution indepe…

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Apple Tech Tools Matt Mullenweg
about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Simplenote for Linux – Matt Mullenweg

We have a great Simplenote for Mac client, and a super clean web version, but nothing first-party for Linux. If anyone is experienced with Linux desktop development and would be interested in creating something extremely minimalist like our Mac app please get in touch!


We have a great Simplenote for Mac client, and a super clean web version, but nothing first-party for Linux. If anyone is experienced with Linux desktop development and would be interested in creat…

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about 1 year ago

New mac software - Leo Babauta

These are really just notes for myself, because I always have to remember what to install when I get a new Mac (I pass old ones down to my wife and kids when they are no longer fast enough to run my business).

I share this list with the hope that it will be useful to a few people who get new Macs.

These are the first pieces of software I install on a new Mac, in order:

  1. Google Chrome . Much better than Safari, and I use it for almost everything.
  2. 1Password . I store all my passwords here, so I need this asap when I get a new computer. Use this or a similar password manager (Lastpass, KeePass) so you never forget your password again, and don’t have to re-use passwords, a practice that is very insecure.
  3. Dropbox . To sync my important files. Once I install this, I have almost everything I need.
  4. Launchbar . Makes it super fast to launch files and other things I use a lot. Installing Launchbar means I move a lot faster on the new computer.
  5. TextExpander . Turns little snippets of text into commonly used code, emails, signatures, urls, etc. Makes my work so much easier, and I find myself wishing I had already installed it, almost immediately upon getting a new Mac.
  6. nvAlt . My note-taking app (a fork of the great Notational Velocity), I throw all bits of text and other info in here, put to-do and idea lists, things to try, wishlists, bucket lists, etc. I sync my Notational data via Dropbox, so as soon as I install this and point it to the Notational data in Dropbox, I have all my info at my fingertips. [ Update : As of 2017, I’ve been using the Notes app that comes with Macs and iPhones.]
  7. Skype . This isn’t as crucial as the above items, but I use it on a regular basis for interviews and meetings, so I usually need it within a day or two of getting a new computer.
  8. Transmit . I use this for uploading via FTP and to Amazon S3, two things I do on a regular basis to manage various websites and courses (including this site). Indispensable.
  9. Byword . My main writing app these days, mainly for its Markdown support and full-screen mode. [ Update : I’ve been back to use Ommwriter as of 2017.]

And that’s it! Really, the first 5 are most essential, and the others are just needed within the first few days. I hope you find this useful!

Update: Here are some more that I find really useful, as of 2017 …

  • Ommwriter
  • VLC
  • Slack
  • Anki
  • Fantastical
  • Zoom

[ more articles ]

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Tech Tools Apple Leo Babauta
about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

‘Jump’ ad for Apple AirPods Pro is amazing - The Reformed Broker

Joshua M. Brown

I’m a New York City-based financial advisor at Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC . I help people invest and manage portfolios for them. For disclosure information please see here .


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Joshua M. Brown

I’m a New York City-based financial advisor at Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC . I help people invest and manage portfolios for them. For disclosure information please see here .

Diversified portfolio is how you weather the markets, says Tiffany McGhee from CNBC. Final Trades: Live Nation, Kinder Morgan, Marriott & mor

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Clips From Today's Halftime Report - The Reformed Broker

Joshua M. Brown

I’m a New York City-based financial advisor at Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC . I help people invest and manage portfolios for them. For disclosure information please see here .

Apple could be game-changer in the electric vehicle battery space: Investor from CNBC. Bernstein calls Uber the New Year’s resolution stock to

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"Can you imagine trying to submit an app for a new system called the web today? If the web hadn't existed prior to the iPhone, there's no way in hell Apple would ever have approved a browser with unfettered, unfiltered access today. No way."

about 1 year ago
You can spend up to $1,399 on an iPhone 12 Pro Max in the US, but even though the button to commit to this extravagant purchase says "buy", the transaction isn't really a sale in the traditional sense. Because even if you pay lavishly for this magnificent pocket computer, it's never truly yours. The Right To Repair You'd think that after spending such an extravagant sum on a new pocket computer, you should be able to have fixed if it breaks by whomever you chose. But that isn't so. Apple's repair program is severely restricted, and prevents many independent shops access to critical spare parts. That means you can only get your issues fixed through the official stores, which often is a cumbersome, slow process – and that's if you're so lucky as to have one nearby! Consumer groups have long been on about this with not just Apple, but a whole host of computer manufacturers. But it's Apple that's fighting back most ferociously. They're hiring armies of lobbyists, propping up fake industry groups, and buying off opposition with sleazy side deals, all to prevent legislation that would enshrine the right to repair from passing state legislatures. Read Mark Bergen's in-depth report in Bloomberg for all the gory details on Big Tech's fight against The Right To Repair, which is led by Apple. The Right To Install Since the dawn of general-purpose computers, their function has been to execute programs that they were technically capable of running. That's why people would buy them! Not to marvel at the chips and circuitry, but to run software. Spending $1,399 on an iPhone is a means to an end: running software on a computer that fits in your pocket. That was the revolution. But the iPhone doesn't let you execute whatever program you see fit to run. It only executes programs that Apple has approved, and if they don't approve it, you can't run it. That might sound obvious, but it's a startling reversal of computing history. Microsoft got in a world of trouble back at the turn of the millennia with the infamous "cut off their air supply" approach to Netscape. But that was a competitive approach, not an exclusionary one. Microsoft gave away their browser and preinstalled it. They didn't prevent Netscape from running on Windows. Even that was beyond the pale for one of the most ruthless monopolists in the history of computing at the time. Yet that's where we are now. When Apple kicked out Fortnite from the App Store , they not only prevented the game from being installed by new customers on future iPhones, but also took the game away from existing players who wanted to install it on another device (this is how my kids ended up switching to Android and PCs!). That's barely one step removed from Amazon yanking a book you've bought on your Kindle off your device because "buy" doesn't mean "yours", it just means "you have a license we might revoke at any time". It didn't used to be this way Apple has been so successful for so long now that it's easy to forget that not really owning the pocket computers they sell is weird. That it didn't used to be this way. Not just in computing, but in many adjacent industries as well. Imagine if the Sony Walkman could only have played music that Sony approved? And demanded a 30% licensing fee for? Or the RAM in your pentium PC could only be installed by authorized Compaq mechanics? Or a Panasonic VHS player couldn't play your porno tapes because the company didn't approve of the content? Actually, let's take that last example, and explore it a little further. In 1967, Denmark became the first country in the world to legalize pornography. Soon after, you could purchase pornographic magazines in convenience stores, and rent such movies in video rental shops. All VHS players would play those tapes, regardless of whether the CEOs of Sony, Panasonic, or Phillips personally approved of that content. It was legal, people wanted to do it, and so it was. Today Pornhub is such a force that they found it necessary to limit the quality of the streaming service during the early days of corona, such that networks wouldn't be overloaded, just like Netflix and other streaming giants did. One unverified estimate that's been throw around is that porn accounts for something like 20-30% of internet bandwidth, and another that 20% of internet searches revolve around porn. So clearly there's enthusiastic user demand. But can you install a Pornhub app on your iPhone? No. Why? Because Apple said no. THAT'S WEIRD. It's also wrong. The web would never be approved today The only loophole here in the web. Apple hasn't (yet?) taken to censor what parts of the web you can access using your pocket computer, but they could. Tomorrow. Because one of the categories that Apple doesn't allow any competition within is browsers!! Sure, you can install Chrome and Firefox, but they're just skins on Apple's own Safari browser. If Apple changes what Safari is able to access, every browser on the iPhone will automatically comply. Can you imagine trying to submit an app for a new system called the web today? If the web hadn't existed prior to the iPhone, there's no way in hell Apple would ever have approved a browser with unfettered, unfiltered access today. No way. Just try to imagine the description in the app submission: Application that lets users access any type of content, hosted in a decentralized manner around the world, with no preapproval. DENIED. The freedom to own what you buy If you ask most people whether they think that they should be able to have their computers repaired by whomever they choose or be allowed to install whatever software they want, it's not exactly a grand morale dilemma. OF COURSE WE SHOULD. There's a completely intuitive and correct line from "I bought it" to "I own it". It's a basic instinctual response, and no amount of market dominance can suppress that forever. Even if Apple does its outmost to keep the question out of sight, and then wrap it in convoluted, scary, safety arguments when it does pop up. It's a computer. It's my computer. Whether it fits in my pocket or sits on my desk just doesn't matter.

You can spend up to $1,399 on an iPhone 12 Pro Max in the US, but even though the button to commit to this extravagant purchase says "buy", the transaction isn't really a sale in the traditional sense. Because even if you pay lavishly for this magnificent pocket computer, it's never truly yours. The Right To Repair You'd think that aft...

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about 1 year ago

“Now the problem is that Apple is defacto an accomplice to fraud. They knowingly aided and abetted scams.. They were alerted and warned, specifically and repeatedly, about these scams, and not only did they do nothing, they continued to profit!”

about 1 year ago

Apple’s trade-in program that’s run by Phobio keeps enticing consumers with high offers, then lowballs them when they have the device over fictional issues. Both Apple and Phobia refuses to answer any questions about the shady program. What the hell?

about 1 year ago

Apple's review regime is at once infinitely and randomly pedantic while also being completely incapable of catching actual scams. Just like all security theaters! Total hassle for anyone just trying to get on with it, absolutely no hinderance for anyone up to something nefarious.

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Apple David Hannemeier Hansson
about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago