I Built a Mac App

While most everyone has been trying to figure out what the deal is with Marzipan, I decided to learn (a very tiny amount of) AppKit and built my first Mac app.

It’s called Downlink, and it brings real-time satellite imagery of Earth right to your desktop. You can get it today—for free!—on the Mac App Store.

Downlink MacBook Pro

I am and always have been massively into space (as my space-focused side project, Main Engine Cut Off, can attest to), and I was pretty excited to see a new generation of GOES satellites go up over the last few years. They produce ridiculously beautiful imagery, and do so at a much higher rate than previous generations did, with new images downlinked every 10 minutes or so.

A few months ago, I was browsing the GOES Image Viewer, and had an idea to take that near real-time stream of images and update my Mac’s desktop background with the freshest one every few minutes. I hacked together a quick script to test the idea and refine some bits of the workflow, and ran that for a few weeks as a trial.

It was as rad as expected.

I had been looking for a small project to take on to learn the basics of building a Mac app, and this was perfect for it. So a handful of weeks later, I’m thrilled to release it into the wild for all to enjoy the beauty of having a real-time window to Earth on your desktop.

There are 8 different views of Earth to choose from in the first version of Downlink, including full disk images from GOES-East, GOES-West, and Himawari-8. Real time views of Earth (and other planets) are only going to get more popular, so the idea is to keep the app updated with the newest image sources in the future.

Head over to the Mac App Store, get Downlink for free, and let me know what you think!

By the way, AppKit really isn’t that scary.