I was trying to update my two Apple TVs (a 4K model and a 4th generation one) to the latest tvOS 11.2.5 beta earlier today to test AirPlay 2 (more on this soon) and, because I remembered there was a way to install tvOS betas without a USB-C cable, I was attempting to download Apple's tvOS beta configuration profile using Safari on iOS. However, as soon as I tapped the Download button on Apple's developer website, I got this message instead of a new tab showing the downloaded configuration file:
I don't know when Apple changed this behavior, but I recalled that Safari wouldn't try to install tvOS configuration profiles on an iOS device. Without a way to manually fetch the .mobileconfig file and save it to my Dropbox, I was going to unplug my TVs and connect them to my MacBook Pro (which usually sits in the closet until it's recording day for AppStories or Relay) to finish the process.
iCab has long been one of the most powerful third-party browsers for iOS, pioneering features such as extensive integration with x-callback-url for automation, sync through iCloud and Dropbox for bookmarks and a proprietary Reading List, and integration with many third-party services for read-later and bookmarking functionalities.
Last week, iCab was updated to version 8.0, which has brought a redesign for iOS 7 and a reorganization of the app's Settings; according to developer Alexander Clauss, the app has also been completely rewritten, resulting in native support for 64-bit devices, background downloads (iCab's download manager is one of the app's marquee features), and overall faster performance under iOS 7.
iCab Mobile is one of the oldest third-party browsers for iOS, and, even though Chrome is my go-to browser on the iPhone and iPad, I was intrigued by a feature introduced in the latest iCab update, version 7.1. In short, iCab now lets you launch other apps using URL schemes and multitouch gestures. I had to play around with it. Read more
You can download my wallpaper here.
The new year is always an opportunity for me to take some time off work and better understand how I use technology and, more importantly, what I want from the devices I write about. Historically, that meant I would take a short break over the holidays and come back to MacStories with a handful of recommendations for new apps I wanted to test throughout the year, from text editors to finance management utilities and health apps.
This time, the break lasted a little longer. Last year was a particularly stressful one for me, and I felt that I needed to take at least a couple of weeks off all my work projects to clear my mind and make a plan for the year ahead. That turned out to be a fantastic idea: not only was I able to finally relax (to the point where I was craving the website and feeling the urge to write again) – the extended break also allowed me to identify areas of my life that I wanted to act upon immediately and improve in 2018.
This is why, when Myke Hurley asked me on Analog(ue) which big project I was working on for the new year, my first answer was "myself". My plan for 2018 is to take better care of myself – from multiple perspectives – so I can avoid the stress of 2017, feel more inspired, write more, and, ultimately, be happier. I don't have a single big "work project" for 2018; my goal is to improve every aspect of my daily routine, in big and small ways, so everything I do can subsequently grow as well. Essentially, I need to fix the foundation before I can build on top of it again.
In addition to new habits (which I detailed in last month's issue of the MacStories Monthly Log for Club members; you should subscribe if you haven't yet), this effort involves new apps I'm using to help me along the way. I decided to wait a full month after I came back to work because I wanted to see which ones would actually stick around; what you'll find below is a collection of apps I'm now using on my iPhone and iPad on a daily basis.
While this type of story isn't new to longtime MacStories readers, I feel like the 2018 version is more personal and pragmatic. These aren't advanced automation apps or utilities I'm just experimenting with for the mere sake of geekery; from mental health to time tracking, each of these apps is having a tangible, positive impact on my life that I'd like to highlight.
DuckDuckGo, the popular search engine for privacy-conscious users, today launched major updates to its browser extension and mobile apps in an effort to grant users data protection no matter where they are on the web.
The browser extension – available for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox – joins the revamped DuckDuckGo app on iOS and Android in providing a set of privacy features that affect your full browsing experience. In addition to the existing private search feature DuckDuckGo is known for, the extension and app now offer built-in tracker network blocking, smarter encryption, and a Privacy Grade rating for sites you visit.
DuckDuckGo's privacy features work seamlessly in the background for those using the extension or mobile app. Any hidden trackers detected by DuckDuckGo will be blocked, and users will be able to see a full list of exactly what has been blocked. If a site offers an encrypted version but doesn't automatically send all users to it, DuckDuckGo will perform that routing itself.
The Privacy Grade ratings are an interesting feature designed to give users a quick, easy understanding of each site's privacy practices. Each site receives its grade based on several factors – whether it offers an encrypted connection, what, if any, tracker networks are detected, including major tracker networks, and whether the site has published privacy practices that DuckDuckGo has vetted. Based on all of this information, each site contains a unique privacy grade ranging from A to F. The site will also receive an 'enhanced grade' where applicable, meaning the grade for the site after DuckDuckGo has deployed its blocking technology. Sites can only receive a perfect 'A' grade if no trackers were detected and the site's privacy policies have been reviewed by DuckDuckGo.
I've been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine for nearly a year, and have had a great experience with it. It will be interesting to see what difference, if any, DuckDuckGo's vetting and grading of sites will make in shaping future privacy practices.
Just before the annual holiday shutdown of the App Store, Apple has revised its App Store Review Guidelines to address new App Store functionality like Pre-Orders and clarify or expand a handful of existing guidelines, including the creation of apps from templates and how ’loot boxes’ and VPNs should be handled. Below is a summary of the major changes to the Guidelines. To see all the changes, check out Rich Hong’s App Store Review Guidelines gist on GitHub.
I received my iPhone X earlier today, but because I didn't add AppleCare+ to my shopping bag when the preorders opened (I wanted to be as quick as possible, and I was sleepy), today I had to buy it separately.
AppleCare+ came in handy earlier this year when I (inexplicably) bent my 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the repair's cost ended up being €49 instead of €550. After Stephen Hackett pointed at the more expensive repair costs for the iPhone X, I was even more convinced to add the extra coverage to my new iPhone. Buying AppleCare online is surprisingly easy: you receive an email from Apple with a link, which takes you to iOS' built-in diagnostics app that verifies your device's eligibility with Apple's servers. It takes a couple of minutes, after which you can continue with the checkout in Safari. I never did this myself before because I thought driving to the Apple store just to buy AppleCare was easier; it's not. The diagnostics app has an iOS 11 large title design, too.
If you also have a new iPhone X without AppleCare, Apple has a support document that explains how you can purchase it here.
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.
I've been using Apple Notes every day since its relaunch with iOS 9 in 2015.
Apple's refreshed note-taking app landed with impeccable timing: it supported the then-new iPad Split View in the first beta of the OS released in June, and Apple deftly positioned Notes as a nimble, multi-purpose tool that many saw as a much-needed escape from Evernote's bloated confusion. I almost couldn't believe that I was switching to Apple Notes – for years, it had been derided as the epitome of démodé skeuomorphism – but the app felt refreshing and capable.
Notes in 2017 isn't too different from its iOS 9 debut. Apple added integration with the Pencil in late 2015, private notes with iOS 9.3, and they brought sharing and collaboration features in iOS 10, but the app's core experience is still based on the foundation laid two years ago. Unlike, say, Apple Music or Apple News, Notes has remained familiar and unassuming, which gives it an aura of trustworthiness and efficiency I don't perceive in other built-in Apple apps (except for Safari).
I keep some of my most important documents in Notes – from bank statements to health records – and anything I want to save for later tends to be captured with Notes' extension. Apple Notes is my brain's temporary storage unit – the place where I archive little bits of everything before I even have time to think about them, process them, and act on them. Some of the content I save in Notes is eventually transformed into DEVONthink archives or Trello cards; other notes live in the app and they're continuously edited to reflect what's on my mind. I rely on Apple Notes and it's one of my most used Apple apps (again, along with Safari).
Apple Notes, however, is not a great pro iPad app. Notes falters where other Apple software falls short: it's entrenched in iPhone paradigms at the expense of more advanced controls and customization options for iPad users. While Apple showed some promising steps towards "power-user features" with the three-pane layout added in iOS 10, I've long wished for a deeper degree of personalization in Notes for iOS. And given Apple's reluctance to tweak Notes' structure and functionality, I've come up with my own workarounds.
Today as it launched version 2.1 of Outlook for iOS, Microsoft announced a new feature for the app: add-ins. Add-ins are a form of integration with both third-party and first-party services that provide multiple new ways to manage your email, and they're available only to Office 365 customers.