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» Twitch Extensions & musing on interactive livestreams

This piece Inside the Future of Twitch: Watching Is the New Playing caught my attention this weekend, with Michael Andronico of Tom’s Guide covering the ways Twitch is changing video games and livestreaming thanks to deeper interactivity from the viewers.

Twitch for iPhone

Watching people game online has been around for years, but I hadn’t thought much about where platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming could take the experience next.

Not only will people be viewing, but they’ll be part of the gameplay too and have more to do while they’re tuned in thanks to Twitch Extensions:

As of this writing, there are roughly 150 Twitch Extensions, and according to Twitch, more than 2,000 developers have signed up to create more.

Some extensions consist of simple stat overlays that let you get a better look at a streamer’s performance in games like Fortnite and Destiny 2. Others, like Darwin Project’s Spectator Experience, allow viewers to become active participants in the games they’re watching. But they all share the common goal of making Twitch more than just a place to seek out passive entertainment.

“I think, at the end of the day, we want every game to have an official extension,” Shevat said, adding that a lot of the content you see on a streamer’s Twitch page — including links to social media channels and personal websites — will become more interactive over time.

There are already a few live examples of these types of add-ons, including a Spotify extension that lets you see what music a broadcaster is rocking or an Amazon extension that makes it easy to buy your favorite streamer’s preferred PC parts right from their channel.

The most intriguing part comes at the end, where he frames playing with interactive viewers against the progression of computers up to now (emphasis mine):

“There is — and this is a very conservative approximation — 20 times more people watching people play, than people playing any game,” said Darveau.

Playing without viewers involved will eventually feel like nowadays when you go on a computer, and there’s no internet.”

Anyone up for a Workflow livestream?

Categories
Apps Gear Siri Shortcuts

Writing about Shortcuts/Workflow (and HomePod) on the Web

I’ve had the privilege to write for The Sweet Setup the last few months and now iMore, so I wanted to share some of the links here.

Primarily I’ve been writing about Shortcuts/Workflow, trying to get some of the ideas in my head out and into the world so other people can take better of the app – especially now that it’s free. But I’m also dabbling in product reviews & photography, a new challenge that’s proving lots of fun and hard work.

Categories
Apps

Controlling your HomePod volume with iTunes and a simple Mac app

If you’ve picked up Apple’s HomePod in the past few weeks and tried to use iTunes on your Mac to Airplay something to the speaker, you probably got blasted with the music playing at full volume.

This occurs since HomePod uses iTunes’ in-app volume slider to adjust its levels rather than your Mac volume, and iTunes is usually at 100% because the hardware keys are used control my computer’s overall sound instead1. Plus, if I want to change the volume on HomePod after the music starts, I have to go into iTunes and drag the slider – you can’t turn it down that quickly.

Screenshot of iTunes Volume Control running in a Mac menu bar

To get around this, I installed a Mac app called iTunes Volume Control that’s available on GitHub. Created by Andrea Alberti, it’s an app that lives entirely in your menu bar and changes the Mac’s hardware volume keys to control iTunes instead. When it’s running, it can entirely take over mute, volume up, and volume down – or, you can set it so you have to hold a modifier key like Command before hitting the keys. I use the latter option, so I can control my Mac volume with the keys normally and then use ⌘ + or ⌘ – to adjust iTunes when I need to.

Once you’ve installed the app, you’ll find it’s much better experience playing music from iTunes with HomePod as your speaker. I set iTunes Volume Control to launch at login, so it’s basically always running when I use my computer and I never have to turn it on when I need it2. I’ll usually open iTunes, use ⌘ – to turn down the volume, then pick my song and AirPlay to my HomePod.

iTunes Volume Control also provides an option to change the step size for each press, so the volume can be changed in more specific intervals – you can set it go up 3% each time, for example, rather than the default 10% at a time. This gives you fine-grained control of the HomePod volume, right from your keyboard.3

I could see improving this setup using iTunes and AppleScript – you could set up a command to launch iTunes already set to 30% and set to AirPlay to the HomePod, avoiding the setup process each time I want to listen from my Mac on my HomePod. However, I have no experience there and that’s a project for another day.

The best part of this setup is that iTunes Volume Control is entirely free to download and use. Check out the documentation first, but use this link to get the app and start controlling your HomePod from your Mac.


  1. Instead of adjusting the levels in iTunes and on your Mac separately, it’s much more common to leave iTunes at 100% and change the volume on the whole computer instead. 
  2. I normally hide it in the menu bar using Bartender, so I can click on the Bartender icon to reveal it but keep it away from view otherwise. 
  3. I do the same thing with HomePod normally by using my Apple Watch. Once you change the source in Control Center on your iPhone to the HomePod, the Now Playing controls show up on Apple Watch and let you control the smart speaker from your wrist. 
Categories
Siri Shortcuts

Quickly Saving Web Pages to my Notes

I’ve been doing more research on iOS lately as my iPhone is the device I use the most, so capturing full web pages quickly saves me a lot of time. While I really like Apple Notes’ latest iterations, it’s not easy to clip websites there – so I adopted Bear for notes, which has support for Markdown, images, and a handy Get URL function.

Bear’s ability to download websites as a note is killer, but it’s usually easily available for most people via their Action Extension. Rather than limiting my access to the share sheet, I’ve been taking advantage of the Shortcuts action Get Bear Note From URL1 to save web pages from anywhere on iOS.

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Siri Shortcuts

Get real-time BART departures in your widget

(Image modified from original source: https://goo.gl/yuBhyf)
(Image modified from original source: https://goo.gl/yuBhyf)

Getting around with BART is one of the great benefits of living in the Bay Area. Whether you’re in San Francisco, headed across the Bay to Berkeley or Oakland, or coming in from close by, many choose to take the train instead of toughing it through in the nation’s second worst commute.

Categories
Gear

Getting a better angle on my iPad Pro

I’m a huge fan of the 10.5” iPad Pro and have been using it every day since I bought it.

Categories
Siri Shortcuts

Three WordPress workflows

After setting up my blog last night, I decided to create a few workflows to make the process easier.

Categories
Gear

Getting in gear with new gear

Now that I’m wading into video a bit more, I quickly realized that I’d need more storage and a better way to transfer files.