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
Apple is evolving its in-store shopping experience with signage and display fixtures that remove ambiguity and encourage increased hands-on interaction with products. New designs that have been spotted in multiple locations reflect the changing requirements of busy stores and appear to address common customer needs.
He mentions things like signs indicating checkout zones, a new table guide spelling out differences between iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max, and more customer-friendly Watch displays.
The new retail design language Apple began rolling out in 2015 brought visual simplicity by deemphasizing signage, logos, and extraneous store fixtures. While more aesthetically pleasing, some customers have found contemporary stores challenging to navigate. These new fixtures and signs show that Apple is willing to fine-tune the balance between appearance and function.
Normally these changes might go overlooked, particularly since they’re currently only in a handful of stores, but they’re noteworthy for reasons of timing. Apple’s former head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, was recently succeeded by Deirdre O’Brien, and while all signs point to Ahrendts’ departure being amicable, one common complaint regarding her tenure is that Apple Stores became less functional shopping places despite growing unquestionably more beautiful and lavish in design. These few scattered signs of change spotted by Steeber indicate an early priority shift coming from Apple’s new SVP of Retail.
For the past seven years, I've considered the iPad my main computer. Not my only one, and not the most powerful one I own, but the computer which I use and enjoy using the most.
I've told this story on various occasions before, but it's worth mentioning for context once again. My iPad journey began in 2012 when I was undergoing cancer treatments. In the first half of the year, right after my diagnosis, I was constantly moving between hospitals to talk to different doctors and understand the best strategies for my initial round of treatments. Those chemo treatments, it turned out, often made me too tired to get any work done. I wanted to continue working for MacStories because it was a healthy distraction that kept my brain busy, but my MacBook Air was uncomfortable to carry around and I couldn't use it in my car as it lacked a cellular connection. By contrast, the iPad was light, it featured built-in 3G, and it allowed me to stay in touch with the MacStories team from anywhere, at any time with the comfort of a large, beautiful Retina display.
The tipping point came when I had to be hospitalized for three consecutive weeks to undergo aggressive chemo treatments; in that period of time, I concluded that the extreme portability and freedom granted by the iPad had become essential for me. I started exploring the idea of using the iPad as my primary computer (see this story for more details); if anything were to ever happen to me again that prevented being at my desk in my home office, I wanted to be prepared. That meant embracing iOS, iPad apps, and a different way of working on a daily basis.
I realized when writing this story that I've been running MacStories from my iPad for longer than I ever ran it from a Mac. The website turned 10 last month, and I've managed it almost exclusively from an iPad for seven of those years. And yet, I feel like I'm still adapting to the iPad lifestyle myself – I'm still figuring out the best approaches and forcing myself to be creative in working around the limitations of iOS.
On one hand, some may see this as an indictment of Apple's slow evolution of the iPad platform, with biennial tablet-focused iOS releases that have left long-standing issues still yet to be fixed. And they're not wrong: I love working from my iPad, but I recognize how some aspects of its software are still severely lagging behind macOS. On the other hand, I won't lie: I've always enjoyed the challenge of "figuring out the iPad" and pushing myself to be creative and productive in a more constrained environment.
In addition to discovering new apps I could cover on MacStories, rethinking how I could work on the iPad provided me with a mental framework that I likely wouldn't have developed on a traditional desktop computer. If I was in a hospital bed and couldn't use a Mac, that meant someone else from the MacStories team had to complete a specific, Mac-only task. In a way, the limitations of the iPad taught me the importance of delegation – a lesson I was forced into. As a result, for the first couple of years, the constrained nature of the iPad helped me be more creative and focused on my writing; before the days of Split View and drag and drop, the iPad was the ideal device to concentrate on one task at a time.
Over the following couple of years, I learned how to navigate the iPad's limitations and started optimizing them to get more work done on the device (I was also cancer-free, which obviously helped). This is when I came across the iOS automation scene with apps such as Pythonista, Editorial, Drafts, and eventually Workflow. Those apps, despite the oft-unreliable nature of their workarounds, enabled me to push iOS and the iPad further than what Apple had perhaps envisioned for the device at the time; in hindsight, building hundreds of automations for Workflow prepared me for the bold, more powerful future of Shortcuts. Automation isn't supposed to replace core functionality of an operating system; normally, it should be an enhancement on the side, an addition for users who seek the extra speed and flexibility it provides. Yet years ago, those automation apps were the only way to accomplish more serious work on the iPad. I'm glad I learned how to use them because, at the end of the day, they allowed me to get work done – even though it wasn't the easiest or most obvious path.
When Apple announced the iPad Pro in 2015, it felt like a vindication of the idea that, for lots of iOS users – myself included – it was indeed possible to treat the iPad as a laptop replacement. And even though not much has changed (yet?) since 2017's iOS 11 in terms of what the iPad Pro's software can do, the modern iPad app ecosystem is vastly different from the early days of the iPad 3 and iOS 5, and that's all thanks to the iPad Pro and Apple's push for pro apps and a financially-viable App Store.
Seven years after I started (slowly) replacing my MacBook Air with an iPad, my life is different, but one principle still holds true: I never want to find myself forced to work on a computer that's only effective at home, that can't be held in my hands, or that can't be customized for different setups. For this reason, the iPad Pro is the best computer for the kind of lifestyle I want.
However, the iPad is not perfect. And so in the spirit of offering one final update before WWDC and the massive release for iPad that iOS 13 will likely be, I thought I'd summarize seven years of daily iPad usage in one article that details how I work from the device and how I'd like the iPad platform to improve in the future.
In this story, I will explore four different major areas of working on the iPad using iOS 12 system features, third-party apps, and accessories. I'll describe how I optimized each area to my needs, explain the solutions I implemented to work around the iPad's software limitations, and argue how those workarounds shouldn't be necessary anymore as the iPad approaches its tenth anniversary.
Consider this my iPad Manifesto, right on the cusp of WWDC. Let's dive in.
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.
In the first part of my ongoing experiment with controlling and accessing a Mac from the iPad Pro, I covered FileExplorer – the app I use to open Finder locations from iOS' Files app – and shared a collection of shortcuts to control certain macOS features via Siri and the Shortcuts app. I also described my podcasting setup and how I've been taking advantage of Keyboard Maestro to automate window resizing across my two displays connected to the Mac mini. Today, I'm going to cover one of those two external displays – the iPad Pro running the Luna Display app – and how I've been using it to have "macOS as an app" on my iPad Pro. If you find this idea of reducing macOS to an app that runs on the iPad upsetting, the rest of this article likely isn't going to make you happy. If you're intrigued, however, strap in because I have a lot to share.
Any time a new app launches in the same category as a first-party, pre-installed app, there's always a lot to prove. It's one thing to find new customers in a market limited to third-party options, where prospective users have to pay one way or another to access an app in that category. But when there's a free, built-in option, third-party apps not only have to prove that they're good apps, they also have to offer enough extra benefit above and beyond what the Apple-designed default provides. The bar for such apps is raised higher in many ways.
Facing that challenge today is a new app from Flexibits, Cardhop for iOS, which serves as the iPhone and iPad companion to the contacts app launched for Mac in late 2017. Powered by a convenient natural language input system, Cardhop includes a host of features that differentiate it from Apple's Contacts app and pose a strong threat to the iOS default.
This morning at Apple's special event in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park, Vice President of Apple Pay Jennifer Bailey took the stage to announce Apple Card. These "Apple" name prefixes are growing tedious, but Apple Card is looking to reduce the tedium which permeates the credit card industry. Apple is championing its credit card as a new industry leader in a variety of areas, including privacy, security, transparency, lack of fees, and fair interest rates. Apple Card gives rewards in cash rather than points, and these "Daily Cash" rewards are distributed to your Apple Cash account every day. If Apple Card can deliver on its promises, it shows real potential to be a disruptor in the often exploitative credit card industry.
On this week's episode of AppStories we interview Yarrow Cheney, whose animated feature film credits include directing The Grinch and The Secret Life of Pets and production design for the Despicable Me movies and The Lorax, about the role the iPad plays in his filmmaking process.
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