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CloudMagic Adds Share Extension, Share Sheets in Email Messages

CloudMagic, an email client I mentioned in my article on Mail and extensions on iOS 8, has been updated today with a share extension and support for saving messages elsewhere with share sheets.

I use CloudMagic on the iPad because I need an email client capable of saving messages to Todoist. With the update, CloudMagic gains support for any app that provides an action/share extension, and, for the most part, everything works well. From the app, I can now save message text to Clips, the native Todoist extension, Drafts, and NoteBox. There are some inconsistencies (some apps insert data received by CloudMagic in the wrong field of their extension; subject lines aren’t always used to fill title fields), but it’s a solid start.

The share extension is also a nice addition. You can bring it up in Safari to send a webpage over email, use it in the Photos app to attach an image to a new message, and, in general, you can rely on it as a replacement for Mail system sharing (too bad it can’t save drafts).

CloudMagic is free on the App Store.


Personal Search Results In Google with CloudMagic and Evernote

Personal Search Results In Google with CloudMagic and Evernote

Following my decision to switch back to Google Chrome as my default desktop browser, I have installed two extensions that are making Google search results more useful for me.

Last week, I installed the Evernote web clipper for Chrome, which was capable of displaying my own Evernote notes alongside Google’s search results. This means I can look for, say, “AppleScript iTunes” and likely find something that I had already clipped in Evernote in the past. It is a powerful addition when combined with Evernote’s new Related Notes feature; it also allows me (in the extension’s options) to make the thumbnail results open directly with the Evernote Mac app when clicked. Evernote announced yesterday the possibility to have the same kind of inline results with Safari.

The second addition is CloudMagic’s new extension, which I discovered today thanks to TechCrunch. MacStories readers know why I like CloudMagic:

CloudMagic is fast: it can search across thousands of indexed items in seconds, with results updating in real time. It is astonishingly accurate, even when it has to match a couple of words with, say, hundreds of tweets from last year or an Evernote PDF inside a nested notebook. I use CloudMagic on a daily basis to retrieve old tweets (as reference material), email messages, or notes; in fact, I would say the app has better search than Evernote’s iOS app. Which, by the way, is supported with an URL scheme – so you’ll be able to search notes and open them directly in the Evernote app.

The new CloudMagic extension is exactly what you think it is. Once installed, it’ll find results for your Google query by looking inside the accounts you’ve already configured with CloudMagic. By using both Evernote and CloudMagic, I can get Google results in an instant (the main Google search results load first), then get relevant results from my email inbox, Twitter accounts, Dropbox and Evernote notes, and more Evernote related notes thanks to Evernote’s different algorithm. I would say that 50% of my searches are for items that I have already saved in the past but that I have also likely forgotten about. CloudMagic and Evernote results in the browser allow me to keep using Google but also have my own results show up alongside the normal search I’m used to.

The updated CloudMagic extension is available here.

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CloudMagic

CloudMagic

I, like others, am a fairly passionate proponent of preserving digital memories and information for the future. I believe the amount of information we have today – tweets, blog posts, emails, or notes – needs a unified standard to ensure it won’t get lost – forever – decades from now.

From my review of Day One:

Where the human mind can’t get, I think software can help. In the connected and post-PC era we’re living in, I believe the devices and apps we use play an important role in enabling us to create memories. But just as relevant as “content creation” has become to this discussion, we have to ensure the memories we create today will be preserved digitally for the future.

And from my personal blog:

That’s why we, today, need to invest on open standards for data conservation, hardware interoperability, and cross-platform cloud storage. In my recent article for Read & Trust, I explained how, going forward, technology makers and trend-setters will have to figure out ways to preserve and standardize how information is archived online. On the same level, we need to make sure we are creating our memories on devices, apps, and services we know we’ll be able to operate a decade from now. I don’t want to end up with another dead Nokia phone in my drawer.

This is a long-term project, but we need to invest in tools to preserve our digital lives now. I think it starts with search: there should be a platform to automatically index and archive the data from services and apps we use every day. Earlier this year I started using Cue (née Greplin) and CloudMagic, two web services that try to do exactly this – indexing and searching your “digital life” for any sort of information.

Today’s CloudMagic update for iOS made me realize I never properly mentioned the app on MacStories. CloudMagic is a free service that can index (using OAuth) a variety of other services including Twitter, Gmail, Dropbox, and Evernote. They have a human privacy policy, a clean interface, and, fundamental for my workflow, a universal iOS app. They don’t have a premium product yet, which is too bad because I would pay even a monthly fee just to guarantee the long-term viability of their product.

CloudMagic is fast: it can search across thousands of indexed items in seconds, with results updating in real time. It is astonishingly accurate, even when it has to match a couple of words with, say, hundreds of tweets from last year or an Evernote PDF inside a nested notebook. I use CloudMagic on a daily basis to retrieve old tweets (as reference material), email messages, or notes; in fact, I would say the app has better search than Evernote’s iOS app. Which, by the way, is supported with an URL scheme – so you’ll be able to search notes and open them directly in the Evernote app.

The CloudMagic app isn’t perfect – for instance, it could use an URL scheme itself and I’d love to be able to save recurring searches or, generally, have faster access to Twitter and Email filters (there are, however, advanced search operators).

CloudMagic for iOS is free on the App Store.

Update: I’m told that CloudMagic does actually have a URL scheme to start new searches: cloudmagic://search?query=foo. Useful.

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Newton Mail to Shut Down Service September 25th

Newton, which began life as CloudMagic in 2013, will shut down its email subscription service on September 25, 2018. According to the company’s CEO, Rohit Nadhani:

We explored various business models but couldn’t successfully figure out profitability & growth over the long term. It was hard; the market for premium consumer mail apps is not big enough, and it faces stiff competition from high quality free apps from Google, Microsoft, and Apple. We put up a hard and honest fight, but it was not enough to overcome the bundling & platform default advantages enjoyed by the large tech companies.

CloudMagic was relaunched as a subscription email service and renamed Newton in 2016. According to Nadhani’s post, the company, which offered iOS, Mac, Android, and Windows versions of its email client, served over 4 million customers, 40,000 of whom signed up as paying subscribers.

In anticipation of the shutdown, the company has disabled signups to its service and is working with the App Store and Google Play Store to offer pro-rata refunds to annual subscribers whose subscriptions are set to expire after September 25th. Nadhani says that CloudMagic will continue to work on new projects.

Email is a tough category in which to compete. Default applications like Apple’s Mail app don’t give most users a reason to look elsewhere, and users that do want to try a different email client have many excellent free options from big companies like Google and Microsoft. For the remaining users willing to consider a paid email service or app, the competition is fierce with excellent choices like Airmail and Spark. The end of Newton is a reminder that no business model is a safe bet and even those apps and services you may be willing to pay for can’t last if others don’t feel the same as you.


#MacStoriesDeals Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2016: The Best Deals for iOS and Mac Apps & Games

Every year, thousands of iOS and macOS app deals are launched for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. At MacStories, we handpick the best deals for iOS and Mac apps and collect them in a single roundup with links to buy or share discounted products directly. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by app deals; we take care of finding the best ones for you.

Bookmark this post and come back to find updated deals starting today through Monday. Updates will be listed as new entries at the top of each section; iOS apps are organized in sub-categories for easier navigation.

For real-time updates, you can find us as @MacStoriesDeals on Twitter.

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iOS 9: The MacStories Review, Created on iPad

With iOS entering the last stage of its single-digit version history, it’s time to wonder if Apple wants to plant new seeds or sit back, maintain, and reap the fruits of the work done so far.

Last year, I welcomed iOS 8 as a necessary evolution to enable basic communication between apps under the user’s control. With extensions based on a more powerful share sheet, document providers, widgets, and custom keyboards, I noted that iOS had begun to open up; slowing down wasn’t an option anymore.

In hindsight, many of the announcements from last year’s WWDC were unambiguous indicators of a different Apple, aware of its position of power in the tech industry and willing to explore new horizons for its mobile operating system and what made it possible.

Following the troubled launch of iOS 6 and subsequent rethinking of iOS 7, Apple found itself caught in the tension between a (larger) user base who appreciated iOS for its simplicity and another portion of users who had elected iPhones and iPads as their primary computers. Alongside this peculiar combination, the tech industry as a whole had seen the smartphone graduate from part of the digital hub to being the hub itself, with implications for the connected home, personal health monitoring, videogames, and other ecosystems built on top of the smartphone.

WWDC 2014 marked the beginning of a massive undertaking to expand iOS beyond app icons. With Extensibility, HealthKit, HomeKit, Metal, and Swift, Tim Cook’s Apple drew a line in the sand in June 2014, introducing a new foundation where no preconception was sacred anymore.

iOS’ newfound youth, however, came with its fair share of growing pains.

While power users could – at last – employ apps as extensions available anywhere, the system was criticized for its unreliability, poor performance, sparse adoption, and general lack of discoverability for most users. The Health app – one of the future pillars of the company’s Watch initiative – went through a chaotic launch that caused apps to be pulled from the App Store and user data to be lost. The tabula rasa of iOS 7 and the hundreds of developer APIs in iOS 8 had resulted in an unprecedented number of bugs and glitches, leading many to call out Apple’s diminished attention to software quality. And that’s not to mention the fact that new features often made for hefty upgrades, which millions of customers couldn’t perform due to storage size issues.

But change marches on, and iOS 8 was no exception. In spite of its problematic debut, iOS 8 managed to reinvent how I could work from my iPhone and iPad, allowing me – and many others – to eschew the physical limitations of desktop computers and embrace mobile, portable workflows that weren’t possible before. The past 12 months have seen Apple judiciously fix, optimize, and improve several of iOS 8’s initial missteps.

Eight years1 into iOS, Apple is facing a tall task with the ninth version of its mobile OS. After the changes of iOS 7 and iOS 8 and a year before iOS 10, what role does iOS 9 play?

In many cultures, the number “10” evokes a sense of growth and accomplishment, a complete circle that starts anew, both similar and different from what came before. In Apple’s case, the company has a sweet spot for the 10 numerology: Mac OS was reborn under the X banner, and it gained a second life once another 10 was in sight.

What happens before a dramatic change is particularly interesting to observe. With the major milestone of iOS 10 on track for next year, what does iOS 9 say about Apple’s relationship with its mobile OS today?

After two years of visual and functional changes, is iOS 9 a calm moment of introspection or a hazardous leap toward new technologies?

Can it be both?

eBook Version

An eBook version of this review is available to Club MacStories members for free as part of their subscription. A Club MacStories membership costs $5/month or $50/year and it contains some great additional perks.

You can subscribe here.

(Note: If you only care about the eBook, you can subscribe and immediately turn off auto-renewal in your member profile. I’d love for you to try out Club MacStories for at least a month, though.)

Download the EPUB files from your Club MacStories profile.

Download the EPUB files from your Club MacStories profile.

If you’re a Club MacStories member, you will find a .zip download in the Downloads section of your profile, which can be accessed at macstories.memberful.com. The .zip archive contains two EPUB files – one optimized for iBooks (with footnote popovers), the other for most EPUB readers.

If you spot a typo or any other issue in the eBook, feel free to get in touch at club@macstories.net.

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Spark Review: Smart Email

I’ve had a complicated relationship with email over the years. Part of the problem has been the Sisyphean effort of third-party apps that tried to modernize email: the more developers attempted to reinvent it, the more antiquated standards, platform limitations, and economic realities kept dragging them down. I’ve seen email clients for iOS rise and fall (and be abandoned); I’ve tried many apps that promised to bring email in the modern age of mobile and cloud services but that ultimately just replaced existing problems with new ones. Sparrow. Dispatch. Mailbox. CloudMagic. Outlook. Each one revolutionary and shortsighted in its own way, always far from the utopia of email reinvention on mobile.

Spark by Readdle, a new email app for iPhone released today, wants to enhance email with intelligence and flexibility. To achieve this, Readdle has built Spark over the past eighteen months on top of three principles: heuristics, integrations, and personalization. By combining smart features with thoughtful design, Readdle is hoping that Spark won’t make you dread your email inbox, knowing that an automated system and customizable integrations will help you process email faster and more enjoyably.

I’ve been using Spark for the past three weeks, and it’s the most versatile email client for iPhone I’ve ever tried. It’s also fundamentally limited and incomplete, with a vision that isn’t fully realized yet but promising potential for the future.

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My Must-Have iPad Apps, 2014 Edition

For the past four years, I’ve been running a series called My Must-Have Apps that, once a year, collects all the apps I find indispensable to get work done on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Considering changes to my daily life and workflow, this year will only feature my must-have iPad and iPhone apps. As with last year, I want to start from the iPad.

Over the past two and a half years, my workflow has become increasingly iOS-centric. Changes in my personal and professional life have convinced me that iOS is the best platform for me, with a rich ecosystem of apps that allow me to work faster and more efficiently no matter where I am. This year, my iPad has essentially replaced my MacBook Air, which I now primarily use to watch movies and record podcasts.

There’s a few tasks that I still can’t get done on an iPad, but the list is shrinking, and, thanks to iOS 8, developers are coming up with new ways to make working on iOS more feasible and pleasant. I don’t use my iPad as a computer just to prove a point or because it’s a popular topic among readers and listeners of Connected: I need my iPad, the apps it runs, and the workflows I’ve created to automate what I do on iOS.

It is with extreme seriousness, then, that I take a look at the apps I consider my “must-haves” each December and compile them in a list for MacStories. This allows me to sit down and calmly evaluate how I use my devices, the software I depend on, and how much the way I use apps has changed in 12 months.

This year, I’ll only cover iPad and iPhone apps, starting with the iPad. In the list below, you’ll find apps organized in eight sections:

  • Work Essentials (apps that I need and use for work every day)
  • Social
  • News & Links (apps to read and discover interesting news)
  • Audio (apps for music and podcasts)
  • Calculators
  • Images
  • Extensions, Widgets, and Keyboards
  • Everything Else

At the end of the article, you’ll also find a few statistics about this year’s collection as compared to last year’s and my iPad App of the Year. Each app has a direct iTunes link, and, where possible, I’ve included links to previous MacStories coverage as well.

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