Screens, developed by Canadian indie studio Edovia, has long been my favorite VNC client for iOS, and over the past two years I’ve been using the app more intensively as I need fast and intuitive access to a Mac mini server I keep at Macminicolo.
Last year, we covered Screens’ major update for iOS 7 and, earlier this year, I pointed out how the addition of trackpad mode made the app significantly easier to interact with on the iPad. Today’s Screens 3.5 builds upon the redesign launched in September 2013 and adds several iOS 8-only features that make Screens more integrated with iOS and third-party apps.
Before iOS 8, I used to keep a Launch Center Pro action with shortcuts for driving directions to my favorite places. ETA, developed by Australian studio Eastwood, puts travel times directly in Notification Center and is quickly becoming one of my most used widgets in iOS 8.
Earlier today, I shared my thoughts on custom keyboards in iOS 8 and how I’ve struggled to use a custom keyboard as my primary input method on the iPhone and iPad.
All these limitations can be easily overcome by setting preferences in each custom keyboard and accepting the fact that iOS will often default to the system keyboard due to privacy concerns. And that is absolutely fine: I appreciate the secure model that Apple built to protect customer data as much possible and I like that Internet access needs to be granted manually to custom keyboards.
But from a user’s perspective, this lack of deep system integration, little trade-offs, and increased friction add up over time when trying to use a general-purpose custom keyboard as your only keyboard. At least in my experience, I’ve found it easier to switch to simpler custom keyboards when I needed them rather than keyboards meant to be used all the time.
In addition to the limitations I mentioned in my article, custom keyboards have taken a while to get used to for two main reasons: performance and novelty.
Since I got serious about trying to get work done on an iPhone and iPad in mid–2012, I’ve constantly come across a roadblock that required me to set up complex workflows and scripts: uploading images to my server. Transmit for iOS 8, released by Panic today on the App Store, provides a solution to the problem of managing transfers to and from your own server with a feature set that, thanks to extensions and secure authentication with Touch ID, makes Transmit a first-class citizen on iOS.
Developed by Pragmatic Code, Linky is a handy Universal app to share links on Twitter and Facebook. I first reviewed the app when it came out in 2011 as Tweet It; today’s version has been updated to take advantage of iOS 8 with a share extension that’s become one of my most used tools on the iPhone and iPad.
Instapaper is an app that lets me read more. For the work that I do on this website, Relay, and, lately, a weekly newsletter, I have no shortage of links with interesting facts or opinions that I want to consume and absorb. The problem isn’t quantity; it’s attention and time. And Instapaper, thanks to a thoughtful design based on a clear focus and goal, makes me want to read more and carve out time for reading because it is designed for one element: text. Instapaper respects text and the person who reads it.
In addition to action and share extensions, document providers, custom keyboards, and Today widgets, iOS 8 is bringing support for photo editing extensions. I didn’t have a chance to test this type of extensions over the summer due to a lack of compatible betas, but I’ve been using updated versions of Camera+ and Fragment for the past couple of days and I thought they deserved a mention.
When I reviewed iOS 7 last year, I took a different approach and tried to consider Apple's redesigned OS from the perspective of someone who uses iPhones and iPads for work and personal tasks on a daily basis. I noted that a new structure enabled developers to make more powerful apps, and I concluded hoping that Apple would “consider revamping interoperability and communication between apps in the future”.
With today's release of iOS 8, Apple isn't merely improving upon iOS 7 with minor app updates and feature additions. They're also not backtracking on the design language launched last year, which has been refined and optimized with subtle tweaks, but not fundamentally changed since its debut in June 2013.
Apple is reinventing iOS. The way apps communicate with each other and exchange functionality through extensions. How status awareness is being brought to iPhones, iPads, and Macs with Handoff and Continuity. Swift and TestFlight, giving developers new tools to build and test their apps. Custom keyboards and interactive notifications.
There are hundreds of new features in iOS 8 and the ecosystem surrounding it that signal a far-reaching reimagination of what iOS apps should be capable of, the extent of user customization on an iPhone and iPad, or the amount of usage data that app developers can collect to craft better software.
Seven years into iOS, a new beginning is afoot for Apple's mobile OS, and, months from now, there will still be plenty to discuss. But, today, I want to elaborate on my experience with iOS 8 in a story that can be summed up with:
iOS 8 has completely changed how I work on my iPhone and iPad.
Today the Omni Group released the third and final installment of OmniFocus – OmniFocus 2 for iPad. I call it an installment because although OmniFocus is a standalone product for both Mac and iOS, it truly excels when used as a cross-platform task management solution. Current OmniFocus users like myself have been paitently waiting to replace our overly textured iOS 6-reminiscent iPad versions with something more suitable for the ecosystem of iOS 7 and beyond.