Darkroom is a terrific photo editor for the iPhone and iPad that leverages iCloud Photos with a robust set of editing tools and filters. With the release of version 4.6 today, Darkroom adds video to the mix. What’s impressive about the update is that it manages to apply the same set of tools and filters available for photos to video in real-time, which results in a fast, efficient editing workflow.
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On this week’s episode of AppStories, we each pick an aspect of our MacStories work and break down the apps, workflows, and processes we use to accomplish it.
- Yoink - Simplify and improve drag and drop on your Mac, iPad and iPhone, and speed up your daily workflow.
- Linode – High-performance SSD Linux servers for all of your infrastructure needs. Get a $20 credit.
Apple shared five new videos on its YouTube channel today, all of which center around working on an iPad Pro. Each video covers a different iPad workflow, as described by the following titles:
- A new way to host your own podcast
- A new way to create a presentation
- A new way to go paperless
- A new way to take notes
- A new way to design your space
What I love about these videos, each of which are just over a minute long, is that they demonstrate the actual apps and workflows you can use to accomplish these tasks on the iPad Pro. For example, the podcast hosting video features Anchor for recording, editing, and publishing the podcast, Files for adding audio from an external source, and GoodNotes for holding your speaking notes. The video on taking notes features Notability exclusively, highlighting the app’s versatility for handwritten and typed notes, drawings, and audio recordings.
Each of the five videos ends the same way, by stating that the video was filmed, edited, designed, and made entirely with the iPad Pro. I can’t imagine a better way Apple could push the message that the iPad is a device for getting real work done.
No matter how tech-inclined a person may be, no one sits down at their first computer and instantly finds themselves at home with the device. We all have our own tales of computing learning curves – figuring out how menus, file systems, and other traditional software elements work. Similarly, when making the move from one type of computer to another, there’s an adaptation cost in acquainting yourself with all that’s new. This is true when switching from a PC to a Mac, and also a Mac to an iPad.
Before the iPad Pro debuted in late 2015, transitions from Mac to iPad were extremely scarce. The iPad’s hardware and software were both far too limited to compel many switchers. The software has advanced since that time – thanks to Split View, drag and drop, and Files, it’s far easier to work on an iPad than before – but there’s plenty more progress still to be made. The hardware, however, is where the iPad has shined most, especially with the newest iPad Pros.
Compare the iPad Pro’s hardware to Apple’s modern Mac lineup and the difference is striking. The iPad has Face ID, while Macs are stuck with Touch ID; the iPad has a Liquid Retina display with ProMotion, and Macs are still Retina only; the iPad Pro benchmarks comparably to the most powerful portable Macs; iPads can include LTE, while Macs cannot; and where Mac keyboards are vulnerable to specs of dust, the iPad’s Smart Keyboard Folio can endure any crumbs you throw at it – plus, with the iPad you can choose the keyboard that’s best for you. To top off all these advantages, the iPad Pro is also more affordable than most Macs.
Software limitations aside, the iPad clearly has a lot going for it; the iPad Pro is a more attractive Mac alternative than ever before. But moving to the iPad still involves some growing pains. The longer you’ve used a traditional computer, the harder an iPad transition can be. There are a few key things, however, that can help make your iPad adoption a success.
For the past couple of years, I (and the rest of the MacStories team) have used Working Copy to store and collaborate on Markdown drafts for our articles. As I explained in a story from late 2016, even though Working Copy is a Git client primarily designed for programmers, it is possible to leverage the app’s capabilities to perform version control for plain text too. Each MacStories team member has a private GitHub repository where we store Markdown files of our articles; in the same repository, other writers can make edits to drafts and commit them to GitHub; this way, the author can then pull back the edited file and use Working Copy’s built-in diff tool to see what’s changed from the last version of the file and read comments left by whoever edited the draft.1
As I mentioned two years ago, this system takes a while to get used to: GitHub has a bit of overhead in terms of understanding the correct terminology for different aspects of its file management workflow, but Working Copy makes it easier by abstracting much of the complexity involved with committing files, pushing them, and comparing them. This system has never failed us in over two years, and it has saved us dozens of hours we would have otherwise spent exchanging revised versions of our drafts and finding changes in them. With Working Copy, we can use the text editors we each prefer and, as long as we overwrite the original copies of our drafts and keep track of commits, the app will take care of merging everything and displaying differences between versions. From a collaboration standpoint, using Working Copy and GitHub for file storage and version control has been one of the best decisions I made in recent years.
In a follow up of sorts to last year’s Mac roundtable, Matthew Panazarino of TechCrunch was invited back to Apple HQ for an update on the long-awaited Mac Pro, which Apple shared will not launch until 2019:
“We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product. It’s not something for this year.”
Other than the 2019 date, the lone detail about the new Mac Pro was confirmation that it will be a modular system. Though what exactly that means, we still don’t know.
The other main interesting note from Panzarino’s report is that Apple has assembled a new internal Pro Workflow Team (not to be confused with the iOS app Workflow) which aims to guide and improve Apple’s pro-targeted products. The team is under the oversight of John Ternus, Apple’s VP of Hardware Engineering, and a great deal of its focus is learning the workflows of real pro users so it can optimize its hardware and software to make those workflows better. Panzarino writes:
To do that, Ternus says, they want their architects sitting with real customers to understand their actual flow and to see what they’re doing in real time. The challenge with that, unfortunately, is that though customers are typically very responsive when Apple comes calling, it’s not always easy to get what they want because they may be using proprietary content. John Powell, for instance, is a long-time logic user and he’s doing the new Star Wars Han Solo standalone flick. As you can imagine, taking those unreleased and highly secret compositions to Apple to play with them on their machines can be a sticking point.
So Apple decided to go a step further and just begin hiring these creatives directly into Apple. Some of them on a contract basis but many full time as well. These are award-winning artists and technicians that are brought in to shoot real projects (I saw a bunch of them walking by in Apple park toting kit for an outdoor shoot on premises while walking). They then put the hardware and software through their paces and point out sticking points that could cause frustration and friction among pro users.
This work has started in the specific areas of visual effects, video editing, 3D animation, and music production, and Apple plans to expand it out from there.
The efforts of the Pro Workflow Team serve to benefit all of Apple’s pro-related hardware and software, and even popular third-party software as well. It’s one way Apple is showing its commitment to serving professional users.
In the last year, Apple’s output for pro users seems to have made a complete turnaround. Back then we were wondering if the company had become content focusing on the average consumer and letting pros leave for other platforms. That’s certainly not the story anymore. With the iMac Pro, continued updates to Apple’s pro software, and now the forthcoming Mac Pro and the ongoing investment of the Pro Workflow Team, Apple is positioning itself again as a company committed to serving the pro market.
One of Workflow’s least known functionalities is its ability to get details about the hardware it’s running on and control some system features. Among these, Workflow can both retrieve an iOS device’s current volume level and set the volume. A few days ago, I realized I could make a workflow to quickly adjust my iPhone’s volume when streaming music to one of our HomePods. Unlike other automations I’ve crafted over the years, this workflow was quite a success in our household and I felt like it was worth sharing with the wider MacStories audience.
In the first update since November 2017, Apple today released version 1.7.8 of Workflow, the powerful iOS automation app they acquired last year. The latest version, which is now available on the App Store, introduces a brand new Mask Image action, adds support for Things’ automation features, and improves the ability to extract text from PDFs using the company’s PDFKit framework, launched in iOS 11. While the unassuming version number may suggest a relatively minor update, Workflow 1.7.8 actually comes with a variety of noteworthy changes for heavy users of the app.