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Pages, Numbers, and Keynote Add Scribble Support, and Other Features

Apple has updated Pages, Numbers, and Keynote with Scribble support, new editable shapes, along with a variety of app-specific updates.

Scribble is the new iPadOS 14 feature that allows you to use the Apple Pencil to handwrite text into a text field that the app then converts into text. The feature also allows you to do things like scratch out text with the Pencil to erase it.

On the iPad, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote now all support the feature using a custom version of the PencilKit markup tools found in other apps like Notes and some third-party apps. The first tool in the palette, which is marked with a capital ‘A,’ is the Scribble tool. Selecting it allows you to handwrite in any of the three iWork apps, which then convert your handwriting into text. The other tools include pens for drawing, one for creating color-filled shapes, and selecting images. Pages’ toolset includes an annotation tool too.

A particularly nice touch included in Pages that Numbers or Keynote doesn’t have is a message that appears in the body of your document explaining what the selected tool does. Also, one Scribble feature that doesn’t work in the iWork suite is the ability to create perfect shapes by pausing before lifting the Pencil after hand drawing one.

Keynote and the other iWork apps support new editable shapes.

Keynote and the other iWork apps support new editable shapes.

All three apps also come with new editable shapes and the updated iOS and iPadOS image and video picker that incorporate search functionality and album support. I’m delighted that the photo and video picker has been updated and gained new ways to find the images for which you’re looking. The picker hasn’t changed in a long time, and the latest version is light years better than before.

I'm going to use the new customizable forms in Numbers a lot.

I’m going to use the new customizable forms in Numbers a lot.

Each app also gained some features unique to it. Pages adds new report templates. Numbers has made it easier to create and customize forms, which are fast ways to enter data into a table. Keynote added the most features, gaining an outline view for quickly editing the content of slides without distraction, the ability to embed YouTube and Vimeo videos, new movie export options with more formats and frame rates, and the ability to Option-drag objects to duplicate them.

I haven’t used Scribble a lot yet, but it’s nice to see it implemented in the iWork apps. All three apps combine text with other media, so it’s only natural to use the Pencil for text input alongside drawing and other uses. If you haven’t tried Pages, Numbers, or Keynote in a while, especially on the iPad, they’re worth another look. All three apps support deep, sophisticated functionality that rivals their desktop competition.



Weather Line Offers Personalization through Beautiful Themed Weather Widgets

One thing has proven clear since iOS 14 released last week: every app has its own unique take on widgets. Among all the new widgets we’ve covered, there really isn’t a common theme that can be drawn. Perhaps over time certain best practices will emerge, but right now apps are all doing their own thing, including weather apps. Last week we reviewed a weather app that offered fine-grained control of all the different data types contained in its widgets; today I want to cover an app that takes an entirely different approach to personalization.

Weather Line doesn’t provide any options to choose which data a widget will display. You get the data it gives you: nothing more, nothing less. However, the app has gone all-out with personalization in an entirely different way: widget themes.

Weather Line’s widgets display the same beautiful visuals found inside the full app, with charts mapping either an hourly forecast spanning the next 10 hours or a daily forecast covering the next 10 days. The hourly widget is available in small, medium, and large sizes, while the daily flavor is limited to medium and large, making a total of five widget options.

Once you’ve selected the widget(s) you’d like on your Home Screen or in your Today view, it’s time to personalize them with one of Weather Line’s themes. By tapping on an installed widget while in jiggle mode, or by long-pressing a widget and choosing ‘Edit Widget’ from the menu, you can open the widget configuration screen. There are only two options to configure: location for the widget’s weather data, and your preference of widget theme.

There are a total of 20 theme options to choose from, offering a diverse array of looks for matching your Home Screen setup. These include 18 different color themes ranging from Milennial Pink to Neon, Dracula, or Emoji, plus there are two additional options you can choose instead of specifying one of these 18 themes: Dynamic Background and Match System Appearance.

Widgets that offer extensive settings to fiddle with are great, especially for power users. But there’s something special and perhaps even more broadly appealing about being able to personalize a hyper-aesthetic Home Screen, and for that, Weather Line is an excellent choice.


Drafts 22 Review: Widgets, Scribble, and More

One of my favorite times every year is right around the beginning of August. Not because of the weather – summer where I live – but rather it’s when beta season is in full swing. Apps are putting polish on features, the full update scope is set, and everything starts to feel stable. And there’s nothing better to me than a new Drafts update to coincide with new OS features, bringing new uses of the app to my répertoire.

With the release of iOS and iPadOS 14 this year, it might seem on the surface that the updates to most apps are minimal. Widgets are the hot new feature of the operating systems, along with the visual changes of macOS Big Sur. While most apps will benefit from these changes, the productivity category will be greatly helped. And like Shortcuts, Scriptable, and others, Drafts benefits greatly from these new changes. It might take you a bit of time to see how this will fit your use cases, but once you give that some thought, it will open up new opportunities for you to use the app.

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Introducing WallCreator: A Shortcut to Create iPhone and iPad Wallpapers with Solid Colors and Gradients

WallCreator for iOS 14.

WallCreator for iOS 14.

Two years ago in our MacStories Weekly newsletter for Club MacStories members, I shared a shortcut that enabled creating wallpapers for iPhone and iPad featuring solid colors or gradients of your choice. Given the newfound popularity of the Shortcuts app and the amazing custom Home screens people are putting together with widgets in iOS 14, I thought I’d play my part and revisit the shortcut by simplifying it and adding new features. The shortcut is now called WallCreator and you can download it for free (alongside 220 other shortcuts) from the MacStories Shortcuts Archive.

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One Week After Launch, Users Already Have Several Options for Alternative Browsers and Email Clients on iOS and iPadOS 14

iOS and iPadOS’s 14’s customization options don’t end at widgets. The OS updates also let users change their default email and browser apps for the first time. The feature is a little buggy in iOS and iPadOS 14.0, but I wanted to share how to set it up and explain what your current options are for anyone looking to switch away from the default Safari and Mail apps from Apple.

Switching is simple. The first step is to download a browser or email client that has been approved to serve as an alternative to Apple’s defaults. Developers must request permission to offer their apps as an alternative browser or email app, meeting certain requirements for each type of app. It’s an extra step in the app submission process, so not all browsers and email apps can be swapped in for Safari and Mail from the get-go. Still, less than a week after the public release of iOS and iPadOS 14, users have several options.

Microsoft Edge, Outlook, and Google Chrome are all default browser and email client options now.

Microsoft Edge, Outlook, and Google Chrome are all default browser and email client options now.

New alternatives are being released all the time, but so far, it’s possible to swap out Safari for:

Probably the most popular browser that hasn’t been approved as a Safari alternative yet is Brave, the privacy-focused browser, although The Verge reports that the feature is coming.

Email apps available include:

Between the two quartets of alternatives, a significant portion of the browser and email markets have been covered already.

Picking a new default browser or email client from the Settings app.

Picking a new default browser or email client from the Settings app.

Getting back to the process of switching apps, once you’ve installed one of the approved alternatives, go to the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad. Scroll down to the entry for the app you’ve just downloaded, and tap it. There you’ll find a new entry for ‘Default Mail App’ or ‘Default Browser App,’ depending on which you’re changing. Tap it and pick the alternative you want to use, and that’s it.

As easy as the process of switching is, though, the feature is not bug-free. I have been unable to get iOS or iPadOS to recognize my new default email client after I switch it. I’ve tried several apps and email links in multiple apps and on the web, but every time I tap one, the system Apple Mail-based compose sheet opens. Federico has had the same issue. I read somewhere that switching email apps only works if you change your browser first, but that didn’t work for me either. Perhaps MacStories readers will have better luck than I’ve had, but at the moment, I cannot change email clients.

9to5Mac also reported last week that if you restart your iPhone or iPad, any default browser or email changes you’ve made are lost. It’s not hard to reset your defaults, but it’s an annoying bug that I expect will be fixed in a later update to iOS and iPadOS 14.

Personally, I use both Safari and Mail and am happy with them, though I wish Mail would adopt some of the modern features of apps like Spark. Still, I’m glad users have been given greater choice when it comes to the default app experience.


Widgets and a New Sidebar Design Make Anybuffer a Standout Among Clipboard Managers

I use clipboard manager apps in a couple of different ways on my iPhone and iPad. The first way is as long-term storage. I stash documents, snippets of text, and URLs that I need to send to people over and over, which is easier than digging around in the Files app or Dropbox.

Second, I use clipboard managers as a short-term holding pen for all sorts of information. Sometimes I’m combining an image, some text, and a URL from different apps. Other times, I find something I want to send to someone later, and I don’t want to lose track of it. Lately, I’ve been using Anybuffer for both situations. The app has been great, but with the latest version that supports widgets and the new iPad sidebar design, Anybuffer has taken a significant leap forward.

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Creating Your Own Widgets: A New Category of Apps Emerges

This summer, when Apple detailed iOS 14 and the Home screen changes it would bring, the company highlighted personalization as one of the key features of the new widget-populated Home screen. Rather than just containing an assortment of apps, iOS 14 Home screens can feature the information that matters most to you. Whether that’s your Activity rings so you can stay on top of your health, the current weather forecast, your task list, a memory from the Photos app – there are an abundance of options for personalizing your Home screens now.

I’ve tried a ton of Home screen widgets from third parties over the summer, and developers are doing lots of creative things with their apps’ widgets. One of the most exciting trends I’ve seen is the emergence of a new category of apps entirely centered around widgets. While most widgets will come built in to the apps you already know and love, some developers have built brand new apps for the sole purpose of enabling users to create and customize widgets in a hyper-personalized way. The best widgets I’ve tried offer configuration settings so you can tailor them to your exact needs, and these new apps take that idea even further, offering widget creation tools relating to a variety of traditional app categories – like weather, photos, health and fitness, productivity, and more – but in a single centralized app.

Leading the pack in this regard is Widgetsmith from David Smith, which not only covers one of the widest array of different widget types, but also features a power user-friendly scheduling option that sets it apart. The App Store hosts a growing number of other widget creation tools too, such as Widgeridoo, Widget Wizard, Glimpse, and Health Auto Export.

Because each app specializes in providing its own custom set of options, there’s no limit to the number of apps worth trying. Widget needs can be highly personalized, so it’s no surprise that the apps designed for creating widgets all offer their own takes too.

Get ready to upgrade your Home screens.

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Our thanks to Tara AI for sponsoring MacStories this week.