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1Blocker Adds Easy Page Element Hiding

1Blocker is one of our favorite content blockers on iOS and macOS. The app has been continuously updated and refined on both platforms, syncs between the two, and has an extensive list of blocking rules.

On iOS, 1Blocker made Federico’s list of ‘Must Have’ apps for 2015 in part because he could create custom rules with CSS overrides to hide individual elements on a webpage. That’s a powerful feature, but the developer of 1Blocker found that too many people didn’t want to be bothered inspecting webpages on a Mac and typing in a blocking rule manually. Other users simply weren’t comfortable with using Safari’s inspector.

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iPad Diaries: Working with Zip Archives

iPad Diaries is a regular series about using the iPad as a primary computer. You can find more installments here and subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.


Compressing files into archives and extracting them into a specific location is one of the most common desktop tasks that is still surprisingly tricky to adapt to the iPad.

Unlike macOS, the iPad doesn't come with a built-in Archive Utility app that takes care of decompressing archives, nor does iOS include a native 'Compress Files' system action to create and share archives. I'd wager that anyone who works from an iPad deals with file archives on a regular basis, whether they come from email clients, Dropbox links shared by colleagues, or uploads in a Slack channel.

Archives – and the popular .zip format – are a staple of document-based workflows and file management, but the iPad isn't well-equipped to handle them. Working with .zip files on iOS is among the most frequent questions I receive from iPad-first users every week; effectively, Apple only offers basic integration with iOS' Quick Look when it comes to file archives. Fortunately, just like advanced file management, we have some solid third-party options and automation to help us.

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Super Mario Run 2.0 Arrives

On the heels of Super Mario Run’s debut on Android, Nintendo released a big update to the iOS version of the game that adds new features and refines gameplay.

Parts of Super Mario Run are free to play. Unlocking the remaining levels requires a one-time In-App Purchase. Nintendo has been criticized by some for making too few levels available for free. Version 2.0 addresses that criticism by letting players unlock courses 1-4 after completing one of Bowser’s challenges. Clear courses 1-4, and new Toad Rally courses are unlocked too.

You can now play Toad Rally with different colors of Yoshi, which will unlock Toads of that same color. Also, Nintendo’s release notes say that new buildings will be available in an upcoming event. The remainder of the updates to the game consist of tweaks to gameplay such as an expansion of the availability of Easy Mode and changes that make it easier to earn Rally Tickets for Toad’s Rally.

The update to Super Mario Run is free and available on the App Store.


Apple Acquires Workflow

Workflow, the popular automation app for iOS and one of my major areas of focus on MacStories, has been acquired by Apple.

Matthew Panzarino, reporting for TechCrunch:

Apple has finalized a deal to acquire Workflow today — a tool that lets you hook together apps and functions within apps in strings of commands to automate tasks. We’ve been tracking this one for a while but were able to confirm just now that the ink on the deal is drying as we speak.

[...]

Apple confirmed the deal, and has said the following about Workflow:

“The Workflow app was selected for an Apple Design Award in 2015 because of its outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, in particular an outstanding implementation for VoiceOver with clearly labeled items, thoughtful hints, and drag/drop announcements, making the app usable and quickly accessible to those who are blind or low-vision.”

According to Panzarino, Workflow's Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Nick Frey, and Ayaka Nonaka are joining Apple; the Workflow app will continue to be available on the App Store, and it'll become a free download later today.

Workflow doesn't need an introduction on this website. I've been covering the app since its debut in 2014, and have been following every update until the last major version, which brought the fantastic addition of Magic Variables. You can catch up on over two years of Workflow reporting and tutorials here, and access even more advanced workflows in our dedicated section on the Club MacStories newsletter.

At this stage, it's not clear what Apple's plans for Workflow in the long term might be. I have a few theories, but this isn't the time to speculate. I'll say this, though: Workflow has been the driving force behind my decision to embrace the iPad as my primary computer. Workflow is a shining example of the power of automation combined with user creativity and its underlying mission has always been clear: to allow anyone to improve how iOS can get things done for them in a better, faster, more flexible way. Workflow is the modern bicycle for the mind. There's nothing else like it.

I want to personally congratulate the Workflow team for building a beautiful product that has enabled thousands of people to be more productive from iOS every day. I hope that Apple will continue to believe in the vision behind Workflow's automation. If Apple takes Workflow seriously, its automation – now deeply integrated with iOS and private APIs – could fundamentally reinvent iOS for power users, especially on the iPad.

It's an exciting time for iOS productivity and automation. I can't wait to see what Apple's newfound interest in automation is going to produce.


Connected, Episode 134: Minimum Viable Keynote

Federico is wandering the wilderness in search of new iPad Pro hardware, so Stephen and Myke break down today’s news before apologizing to everyone.

I couldn't find new iPad hardware during my trip, but I enjoyed listening to the latest Connected following Apple's announcements this week. You can listen here.

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Google Maps Introduces Location Sharing Features

Announced today and rolling out soon to all users, Google Maps is adding two new sharing features to its iOS app.

The first feature allows for Find My Friends-style location sharing. From the app's menu you can select 'Share Location,' which presents options for how long your real-time location will be shared, and who it will be shared with.

The second sharing feature is the more interesting one in my mind. It allows you to share your Google Maps trip information. Daniel Resnick provides the details:

Next time you’re on your way or running late, you can share your real-time location and trip progress from navigation as well. During your next trip, tap the “More” button on the bottom on the navigation screen, and then tap “Share trip.” When you share your trip with people, they’ll see your expected arrival time and can follow your journey as you head toward your destination. Sharing automatically ends when you arrive.

Although the two sharing features perform mostly the same function, this kind of trip-specific sharing seems the cleaner, simpler solution for many scenarios. The example of running late and wanting to provide real-time updates to those you're meeting is a good one. In that situation, you won't want to fiddle with choosing a specific period of time for your location to be shared – you might overestimate and need to manually turn off sharing, or underestimate and have your location stop being shared before you reach your destination. Trip-specific sharing seems like just the right solution, and it's a feature I'm eager to try out.


Pixure 2.2 with PanelKit

Pixure is Louis D'hauwe's excellent pixel art studio app for iOS that lets you create retro-styled illustrations. Pixure was already best suited for the iPad's bigger display, but the latest version 2.2 adds PanelKit – a UI framework created by D'hauwe himself to turn traditional iPad popovers into floating panels.

Popovers are a staple of the iPad's interface, and I was skeptical when I saw the first details of PanelKit in February. After testing Pixure on my 12.9" iPad Pro, though, I think D'hauwe is onto something – when the app is in full-screen, it's nice to be able to re-arrange a palette of tools so it doesn't hide your content. The best part, in my opinion, is that panels can be converted back to sidebars by snapping them to the edge of the display, which is a fantastic use of the iPad Pro's large screen. There's an argument to be made about PanelKit bringing the cognitive load of desktop window management to the iPad, but I believe that, for some apps (such as graphic editors like Pixure), floating controls that you can re-arrange around the canvas are necessary.

I'm testing a few iPad apps that try to optimize for the iPad Pro's screen with additional popovers and sidebars, and none of them feel as flexible or as intuitive as D'hauwe's app. If you're an iPad user, you should check out Pixure.

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iTunes Adds Rent Once, Watch Anywhere Feature

In the aftermath of Apple’s announcements earlier today, it released an update to iTunes with a new feature described as rent once, watch anywhere. The release notes for iTunes 12.6, which is available as a free upgrade on the Mac App Store, say:

Now you can enjoy your iTunes movie rentals across your devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

With this new feature, you should be able to start a movie rental on an iOS device and finish it at home on an Apple TV for example, which is a welcome change to what was an overly inflexible system.

iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 are currently in beta but are expected to be released soon, at which time this new feature will be available to everyone who upgrades to those versions of the OSes.


Interact Scratchpad for Mac Takes the Pain Out of Adding Contacts

Last year, Agile Tortoise introduced Interact for iOS, a powerful app for managing contacts. One of the most popular features of that app is the scratchpad that parses contact information, making quick work of turning a block of text into a new contact. Agile Tortoise has ported that functionality to the Mac in the form of a menu bar app called Interact Scratchpad.

Adding information to contacts is tedious. Too often I find myself switching back and forth between a webpage and the Contacts app typing information into field after field or copying little bits of text and pasting them into those fields. Scratchpad does the monotonous part for you by automatically recognizing all kinds of contact information.

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