Federico Viticci

8850 posts on MacStories since April 2009

Federico is the founder and editor-in-chief of MacStories, where he writes about Apple with a focus on apps, developers, and mobile software. He can also be found on his three podcasts – Connected, Canvas, and Remaster.

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Workflow’s New File and Ulysses Actions

In a seemingly minor 1.7.2 update released over the weekend, the Workflow team brought a few notable file-based changes to the app.

Workflow's existing support for cloud storage services has been expanded and all file actions have been unified under a single 'Files' category. You can now choose files from iCloud Drive, Dropbox, or Box within the same action UI, and there are also updated actions to create folders, delete files, and get links to files. Now you don't have to switch between different actions for iCloud Drive and Dropbox – there's only one type of File action, and you simply pick a service.

Interestingly, this means that Workflow can now generate shareable links for iCloud Drive files too; here's an example of a workflow to choose a file from the iCloud Drive document provider and copy its public link to the clipboard. (Under the hood, Workflow appears to be using the Mail Drop APIs for uploads. These links aren't pretty, but they work.)

There's also a noteworthy change for Ulysses users. Workflow now allows you to easily extract details from Ulysses sheets using their ID. After giving Workflow permission to access your Ulysses library (which, unfortunately, still has to be done using a glorified x-callback-url method), you'll be able to chain Workflow and Ulysses to, say, get the Markdown contents of a document, extract its notes, or copy its title to the clipboard. The new 'Get Ulysses Sheet-Get Details of Ulysses Sheet' combo makes Ulysses automation much easier and faster.

If you work with files in Workflow on a daily basis, and especially if you're an iCloud Drive user, you'll want to check out the new actions and rethink some of your existing workflows. You can get the latest version of Workflow here.


Canvas, Episode 31: Note-Taking with Apple Pencil

This week Fraser and Federico take their Apple Pencils in hand and share some notes on taking notes with the iPad Pro.

We've covered some excellent Pencil-based note-taking apps for iPad on this week's Canvas, and also explained why the Pencil is a must-have accessory for iPad Pro owners. You can listen here.

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Connected, Episode 133: The Italian Word for Spoon

Apple has a new ad, Casey has an iMac, Ticci watches TV and everyone has workflows.

On today's Connected, we covered a lot of the automations we've created with Workflow, as well as some custom workflows I've built for MacStories. You can listen here.

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Remaster, Episode 30: Nintendo Switch Review

Our review of the Nintendo Switch, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (with no story spoilers).

On this week's Remaster, we share our first impressions of the Nintendo Switch after a week of play, and I spend 30 minutes going through my notes on Breath of the Wild. This is a good one. You can listen here.

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iPad Diaries: Optimizing Apple Notes

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).1

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.

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Dropbox, Twitter iOS Apps Gain Option to Clear Cache

In the last two days, updates to the official Twitter and Dropbox apps for iOS have added an option to clear the contents of their caches.

Cache management has always been an issue on iOS: some apps can accumulate several hundred MBs of cached data and there isn't an easy way to purge all these separate app caches, which is why companies are implementing their own custom solutions. Currently, Facebook has a cache of 534 MB on my iPhone; Twitter and Instagram have 365 MB; Super Mario Run, GIPHY, and Google Maps have 340 MB stored in cache.

These numbers add up, particularly if you don't buy Apple's highest-capacity iPhone models. I appreciate that developers are fixing this problem themselves, but Apple should add a native option in the iOS Settings app to clear app caches more easily.

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Connected, Episode 132: Fun Conjecture Hour

This week, Stephen talks about a possible iMac Pro while his co-hosts play Zelda. They come back to round robin some things that they find frustrating about working from iOS and the iPad.

On this week's Connected, we share some more thoughts on USB-C and describe the areas where iOS is still lagging behind the Mac. You can listen here.

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Apple Pay Launches in Ireland, Coming Soon to Italy

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

As we reported exclusively last night, Apple Pay is now live in Ireland. The service allows iPhone and Apple Watch owners to use the NFC chips in their devices to pay for their shopping at contactless terminals in retail stores across the country.

Apple Pay requires iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, or any Apple Watch, and is launching with support for Ulster Bank and KBC in Ireland. Apple has also announced that the service is coming soon to Italy.

I've been waiting for Apple Pay to launch in Italy, and I'm glad to see Apple has confirmed the service will roll out "soon". However, as I feared, my bank – despite being one of the largest banking groups in Italy – is not going to be supported at launch. This has happened with 14 other countries (including Ireland) before, though, and I hope Apple will quickly get other major Italian banks on board.

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