Today, Federico published his iOS and iPadOS 14 review. The review comes after a busy month at MacStories in which we published Alex Guyot’s fantastic watchOS review, covered a long list of new and updated apps on MacStories, and celebrated Club MacStories’ 5th anniversary with over 70 app discounts and giveaways.
As busy as it’s been though, there’s a lot more coming. In addition to Federico’s comprehensive, in-depth iOS and iPadOS 14 review, we’ve got a bunch of perks exclusively for Club MacStories members.
Among the Club-only extras this year are three eBooks, a set of stunning, widget-friendly iPhone wallpapers, advanced shortcuts, podcast episodes, and a special edition of MacStories Weekly. Check out all of the details after the break. If you’d like to learn more about the Club or sign up to take advantage of all these extras, plus perks from previous years and our jam-packed, year-round newsletters, please visit club.macstories.net.
GoodLinks has only been out since June, but it quickly became my go-to read it later app that I dip in and out of every day. That position has only been reinforced with its frequent updates in the months following release, including its most recent update which adds a new three-column iPad layout, widgets, and new keyboard shortcuts.
The new iPad sidebar design is particularly well-suited to GoodLinks. The first column, which can be hidden, allows users to navigate between Unread, Starred, Untagged, Read, and Tags. The Tags section is collapsible, which declutters the sidebar when you don’t need to view a specific tag.
The second column is the article list that displays the favicon for each post, its title, a short excerpt, image, site and author information, and associated tags. The top of the second column features a button to sort from oldest to newest and vice versa, and one to add new links.
The modernization of Pixelmator continues apace with the addition of more iPad-friendly features in version 2.6. Earlier this year, Pixelmator 2.5 added the native iOS and iPadOS document browser along with nine categories of preset image templates.
The latest version picks up where 2.5 left off with iPadOS pointer support. Whether you’re using the Magic Keyboard’s trackpad with your iPad or another trackpad or mouse, Pixelmator 2.6 fully supports pointer interaction with all UI controls, transforming to indicate available actions when performing actions like editing an image, in which case it turns into a double arrow for resizing.
The Pixelmator update also includes a long list of keyboard shortcuts. There are over 70 shortcuts, which are catalogued on Pixelmator’s website. There’s little that isn’t covered by the shortcuts. You can enter the app’s various editing modes to do things like crop an image, use the app’s selection tools, and arrange layers. There are also shortcuts to view an image at its actual size or zoom in so it fills the screen, and when you’re finished editing, there’s a keyboard shortcut for exporting too.
Pixelmator Photo is one of my favorite image editors on the iPad, but it’s strictly a photo editing app. To composite images, I rely on Pixelmator, which is why I’m so glad to see that it continues to get the sort of updates that make working with images on my iPad easier than before.
Pixelmator 2.6 is available on the App Store and is a free update for existing users.
I’ve been on a book reading binge this year like never before. That’s partly owing to the pandemic, I’m sure, but it’s also tied to reduced time spent reading articles and social media. In a normal year I read about a dozen books, and this year I’m on pace for five times that. As a result, it’s no surprise that one of my favorite app debuts of the year has been Book Track, from developer Simone Montalto.
Book Track launched at the beginning of the year as a promising 1.0, then followed with a big update mid-year that addressed my initial problems with the app and expanded its functionality in key ways. That update was a great setup for the launch of today’s version 2.0, which introduces support for some of the top features of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14: widgets and a new sidebar design. By getting the low-hanging fruit out of the way in previous updates, Montalto was able to keep Book Track current with all the latest OS technologies right from launch day. Not stopping there, however, he’s thrown in support for Shortcuts (the app) and keyboard shortcuts in today’s update too.
Wrapping up AppStories’ WWDC coverage, we talk Apple Silicon, the macOS redesign, and dig into the many changes to Shortcuts.
- Spark – Love your email again with the best email client for professionals and their teams.
One of my favorite podcast clients, Castro, debuted a big update today that adds a host of Siri commands and strong Shortcuts support.
There are now 30 requests you can make of Castro through Siri, which can access all the world’s open podcasts. We know it can be hard to remember them all, so we made a handy reference guide in Settings → Siri where you can find what you’re looking for to make your day a little easier.
Besides the wide extent of possible commands in Castro, what’s especially impressive is the guide referenced above: Castro’s team has built an excellent Siri Guide and a related in-app Shortcuts Gallery, both of which are accessible via settings and highlight simply and beautifully what all is possible with Siri and Shortcuts.
Discovery is one of the biggest challenges I’ve found with apps that support Siri and Shortcuts, as apps seldom make a list available of all supported voice commands and actions. With both Siri and Shortcuts, I’ve struggled in the past to find great podcast-related uses for these features, but Castro solved that problem for me.
On the Siri front, skipping chapters and managing my queue via voice works great. With Shortcuts, Castro offers some great pre-built shortcuts that do things like import your full Apple Podcasts library, clear all your queued episodes, subscribe to a new show even when you don’t have a proper Castro link, and more. While it’s always nice having the tools to build something custom, as someone who isn’t a heavy Shortcuts tinkerer I appreciate the work put in by Castro’s team to offer users extra functionality with minimal effort.
This week on MacStories Unwind:
- MacStories Weekly
- Tempo for Runners
- Apple TV Channels: A Great TV Experience That’s Failing by Ryan
- A new webpage to PDF workflow from Federico
- Q&A, links, apps, and more
- Federico’s Picks:
- John’s Picks:
Whether you have hundreds of notes and are looking for a way to sift through them, or you want a quick way to create a note or add to an existing one, Shortcuts is a terrific solution. I have about 300 notes. That’s a lot, but I know people with many more. Between pinning and sorting by date modified, my notes are manageable, but often I find myself searching for a bit of information I stored away months ago. That’s why I want to kick off a pair of Shortcuts Rewind installments with two shortcuts to help you locate existing notes. In a future installment, I’ll tackle note creation.
Apple’s Notes app has built-in search, and its sorting is powerful, but with Find Notes (with Menu) and View Recent Notes, you can create a customized system that takes you to your most-used notes faster, regardless of whether you are working in the Notes app.
Aside from the utility of the shortcuts themselves, these two shortcuts are also an excellent way to dig into Shortcuts’ scripting actions. As I walk through each shortcut, you’ll see how picking from lists works and use a counting script action to tie a shortcut’s behavior to the number of items found. I’ll also briefly revisit If and Otherwise actions, a staple of many shortcuts.
This week on MacStories Unwind:
- MacStories Weekly
- Creating file launchers with GizmoPack and Shortcuts
- Member shortcut requests answered
- A research workflow using Instapaper, IFTTT, and Shortcuts
- Safari tab controls in iPadOS
- Q&A, links, and more
- John’s Pick:
- Federico’s Picks: