Version 4.7 of CARROT Weather arrived on the App Store today. The update brings a variety of small improvements, such as a new hint feature for secret locations, but the tentpole feature is a complete revamp and upgrade of the app's weather map features.
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Documents by Readdle has been on the App Store a long time. Before Apple released its Files app, Documents filled the gap with features that made it indispensable for accessing files on iOS devices and doing things like unzipping an archived folder. Although the stock Files app has taken over many of my day-to-day needs for file handling, Documents continues to evolve and adapt, providing tools that aren’t in Files.
Today, for instance, Readdle added WiFi file transfers between a Mac and iOS device to Documents. The system is easy to use and more flexible than AirDrop, making it something to keep in mind, especially when you are moving large numbers of files between a Mac and iOS device.
If you've ever used Anchor to make a podcast, you know just how easy it is. That ease of use, however, has historically meant sacrificing any access to editing tools that most podcasters need. Today that changes, however, as Anchor is introducing basic editing tools as part of the debut of its iPad app.
WhenWorks is a new iOS app (and web service) from John Chaffee, creator of BusyCal. While it's still related to calendars, it serves an entirely different purpose than BusyCal: making it easy for people to schedule time with you for meetings, lunches, podcasts, or anything else for which you'd usually do the back-and-forth availability dance.
If you're anything like me, you probably remain perpetually dissatisfied with your task management setup. You may have chosen an app and settled in with it, but some of its design choices don't quite fit with your way of working, so you're always keen to try the latest and greatest app that comes along. Realistically though, you've resigned yourself to the fact that the "perfect task manager" doesn't exist, and likely never will.
Task management is a tough problem to solve, because every option out there is optimized for specific use cases, resulting in different complexity levels. Some aim to remain simple and user-friendly, while others try to put every tool at your disposal, endearing themselves to power users while scaring off prospective customers who need a bit less. On this complexity spectrum, OmniFocus has historically been the poster child for the weightier end: if you have a lot of complicated projects that need a high degree of structure, there's no better place to start than OmniFocus; however, for lighter needs, I've always found its myriad of options too overwhelming to recommend.
OmniFocus 3, released today for iOS (and later coming to the Mac), adds even more power and options to the app's existing toolset, yet rather than growing more complex in the process, it's surprisingly become more approachable. This improved user friendliness is achieved thanks to a new level of flexibility that can, upon tweaking your ideal setup, obscure the app's complexity in everyday use. In more ways than ever before, OmniFocus provides the tools to make the app your own.
Outside of a lovely new design, where icons and fonts are bolder and everything feels more fresh, my favorite changes in OmniFocus 3 are this increased flexibility, which encompasses a lot of new and updated features, and its excellent iPad improvements. Let's dive in.
Retrobatch is a new batch photo processing app for the Mac from Flying Meat, the maker of Acorn. Batch processing of photos isn’t new. There are plenty of apps available that let you manipulate collections of photos. What’s different about Retrobatch is how it goes about processing images.
If you’ve ever used Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba, you’ll understand the power of Retrobatch immediately. The app is based on the idea of linking individual nodes together to create complex workflows. Point your new workflow at a batch of images, hit go, and Retrobatch goes about its work, delivering your processed photos to wherever you specify. The power is in abstracting complex actions into simple building blocks that can be strung together and branched as though you were building a flowchart.
That last point is the essential distinction between Retrobatch and other batch processors. Most image processors are linear, moving through a series of steps that outputs modified images. Retrobatch’s nodal structure allows you to start with a folder of images, perform actions on them, and then branch off to different actions at any point in the process.
Agenda, which launched on iOS today, is one of the most interesting note-taking apps I’ve used. The app is simultaneously structured around projects, like a task manager, and dates, like a calendar app.
Agenda immediately caught my eye with its beautiful design and unique approach to notes when it launched on the Mac in January. At the time, I was intrigued by Agenda, but the lack of an iOS version was a deal-breaker. Notes apps are one of those categories that benefit immensely from being available everywhere. When I tested Agenda in January, I found myself on my iPad wanting to refer notes that were locked inside Agenda on my Mac almost immediately, so I put Agenda away and waited for the promised iOS version.
With today’s release of Agenda for iOS, which syncs between platforms, that’s no longer an issue. The Mac and iOS versions are virtually identical in their designs, interaction models, and feature sets. I won’t repeat the details here. You can learn more about the app’s structure and design from my review of the Mac version. Instead, I want to focus on the ways I’ve begun to integrate Agenda into my work over the past week that I’ve had the beta; with an app as flexible as Agenda, concrete examples of how it can be used are more useful than a list of features.
Philips has released an update to Hue, the companion app for its line of smart lightbulbs. The user interface will be familiar to existing users, but the update introduces a refreshed design that looks better than the prior version and surfaces features that used to be harder to find. Philips has added a bunch of new built-in lighting scenes too.
Despite Apple's message that the iPad Pro can be a viable PC replacement because, among other features, it natively supports a dedicated external keyboard, its software still isn't fully optimized for keyboard control. This isn't surprising at all: iOS was designed with multitouch in mind; as long as the iPad shares a common foundation with the iPhone, it'll always be first and foremost a touch computer. The iPad Pro line, however, is nearing its third anniversary, and its external keyboard integration still feels like an afterthought that's hard to reconcile with the company's marketing.
Take multitasking for example: after three years, Split View, one of the iPad's marquee exclusive features, still can't be controlled from an external keyboard. If you buy an iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard and assume that you're going to be able to assign an app to a side of the Split View, or maybe resize it, or perhaps change the keyboard's focus from one side to another...well, do not assume. As much as Apple argued against vertical touch screen surfaces in laptops years ago, the iPad Pro ended up in this very situation: if you want to take advantage of all the great features iOS 11 offers to pro users, you will have to take your hands off the Smart Keyboard and touch the screen. There are dozens of similar instances elsewhere in iOS. For the most part, the iPad treats external keyboards as inferior, bolt-on input devices.
It's with this context that I want to cover Things 3.6, a major update to the task manager's iPad version that gives us a glimpse into what Apple could do with external keyboard control on iPad if only they understood its potential.
I've been able to play around with Things 3.6 on my iPad Pro for the past couple of weeks. This isn't another "keyboard-centric" update that only adds a handful of shortcuts to trigger specific commands. Instead, the developers at Cultured Code have focused on an all-encompassing keyboard control framework for the whole app, from task lists to popovers and multiple selections. With version 3.6, Things has the best implementation of external keyboard support I've ever seen in an iPad app.