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Microsoft Outlook for Mac Undergoing Major Redesign

Tom Warren of The Verge reports on Outlook for Mac details shared at the Microsoft Ignite conference last month:

A lot of the changes look very similar to the Outlook for iOS app, with a single-line ribbon and a smaller set of default commands. Reducing complexity is one of the key aims of the redesign, to make it easier for new and existing Outlook users to navigate the email app.

A new customizable ribbon will let Outlook for Mac and Windows users control which buttons are available, so you can tailor the email interface to your own common tasks. The left navigation panel will include quicker access to folders across multiple accounts, and looks like the switcher in Outlook for iOS.

Outlook for iOS has long been among the top email clients on the mobile platform. It pairs a clean, beautiful interface reminiscent of iOS’ Mail.app with the power user features Apple appears content to ignore. Moving Outlook for Mac away from its traditional desktop roots and further into the modern era looks to be a clear win.

The full Ignite session detailing future Outlook changes is available on YouTube.

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Canvas, Episode 46: Versions

Making, accessing and using versions of files is something that has been built into some iOS apps for a while now but few know how to access the feature.

On this week’s Canvas, Fraser and I take a look at our favorite options for dealing with file revisions on iOS, including my workflow for collaborating with the MacStories team. You can listen here.

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More Great Shelf Apps to Boost iPad Productivity

Left to right: Yoink, Gladys, Copied

Left to right: Yoink, Gladys, Copied

Last month after iOS 11’s launch I pulled together a roundup of iPad apps belonging to a whole new category of apps. Dropped, Workshelf, The Shelf, and Scrawl Pouch all launched as manifestations of Federico’s dream for a drag and drop-powered temporary holding place for content on the iPad. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, here’s how I described it in my last shelf roundup:

The need for a shelf springs from the addition of drag and drop to iOS 11. It’s not always practical to drag content directly from one app to another; sometimes you know you’ll need that content soon, but you’re not ready to drop it elsewhere yet. Additionally, in some situations you may wish to drop the same data into multiple places over a short period of time, and it can be cumbersome to re-open the data’s source app to pull it out multiple times. A shelf can solve these problems: it serves as a temporary resting place for anything you know you’ll need quick access to soon. In this way it can serve a role similar to the macOS desktop, which is commonly used as a temporary holding zone.

While all the apps I originally highlighted continue to fill this role well, several additional quality apps have launched that bring new things to the table in this young category of apps.

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Motion Stills Adds In-App Motion Still and Live Photo Capture, GIF Export, and More

Google introduced Motion Stills on iOS in 2016. The app enables users to convert Live Photos into movies or GIFs applying stabilization to the video in the process. Live Photos can also be combined into moving collages.

Google has released version 2.0, which dispenses with the need to access your photo library to add Live Photos to a Motion Still. Instead, the app can now capture Live Photos and Motions Stills from within the app itself. The option to import from your photo library is still there, but having the option to shoot from within the Motion Stills app is a convenient addition. The new version also lets you delete Live Photos from your photo library with a swipe gesture and export collages you create as GIFs.

Motion Stills is available on the App Store.


Movie Studios Launch Movies Anywhere Service

Services that promise to consolidate your digital movie collection in one place have come and gone over the years, so I was initially skeptical when I heard about Movies Anywhere, a new US-only service launched by Disney and other movie studios. However, after some preliminary testing of the service, I’m optimistic that Movies Anywhere stands a chance to become the first such service to catch on.

As reported by The Verge:

The big difference here is selection. Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox have all signed on to Movies Anywhere. Along with Disney’s films, that gives the service a launch library of more than 7,300 titles.

Another differentiator with Movies Anywhere is platform support:

The promise of “buy once, watch anywhere” only works if a customer’s preferred device supports the service in question. The Movies Anywhere app will be available for iOS, Apple TV, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire devices, and as part of Roku’s offerings. It will also support Chromecast, and titles will also [be] watchable through the service’s standalone website. And while apps for competing services have usually been clunky or awkward, the brief demo we saw of the Movies Anywhere app looked sleek and well-designed.

Movies Anywhere also gives customers the choice of where to buy their movies, though not without caveats on iOS.

Movies Anywhere will let customers browse for titles they’re interested in within the app itself, then allowing them to complete the purchase with their retailer of choice at the very end. (Android users will have the ability to purchase from Google Play, Amazon, or Vudu; those with Apple devices will only be able to purchase from iTunes, unless they head to a browser to purchase from a competitor directly.)

I tried to purchase a movie from the Movies Anywhere iOS app and sure enough, the only option was to buy it from iTunes. The workaround is to log into the Movies Anywhere service in Safari or another web browser, which will present you with the full menu of purchasing options. One other limitation that affects all platforms is that Movies Anywhere does not tell you how much a movie costs on each service. If you’re looking for a bargain, you’ll have to follow the link to each service to see how much they charge.

In the limited time I’ve had to try Movies Anywhere, I’ve been impressed. Logging into iTunes and Amazon Prime Video was quick and easy, and the movies I own on both providers showed up almost instantly in the iOS app and on the Movies Anywhere website. Playback happens in the Movies Anywhere app in a player that supports subtitles, closed-captioning, AirPlay, chapters, 15-second skipping ahead and back, and the option to pick up where you left off or start over if you exit the player. If Movies Anywhere can continue to grow its library of titles, the promise of all your movies anywhere you want them may finally become a reality.

Movies Anywhere is available on the App Store (US only).

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CARROT Weather Adds New CARROT Voices, Weather Underground Improvements, and More

Within a matter of a few months, CARROT Weather has launched a major new version, then followed up with a fun AR mode, and now with version 4.2, it’s adding several key refinements to improve the overall experience.

CARROT’s snarky personality is the defining characteristic of the app, yet recent updates have seen that personality gain customization options – both for users wanting more snark, and those begging for less. With today’s update, CARROT goes through perhaps an even more drastic transformation. From the Personality screen in Settings, there are now a variety of new voices that can be set for CARROT, including both female and male options. Among these is FRED, the voice used for the original Mac. My personal favorite is JEEVES, whose smug butler tone makes me feel inferior in a way I thought only the original CARROT could.

Users of CARROT Weather’s alternative data source, Weather Underground, get a couple nice updates in this release. Now, available weather stations can be seen and selected from a map view, making it much easier to get the absolute most accurate data for your current location. Also, severe weather alerts are now available for all of Europe so you’ll be kept in the know regarding official hazards.

If you prefer your weather app to provide a little more business, a little less party, CARROT’s Professional mode has been enhanced in a couple ways. Not only will the maniacal A.I. be de-snarked when set to Professional, but now the little characters and animals in illustrations will be hidden by default as well, AR mode will present a more civilized CARROT, and secret locations can now be turned on.

Premium subscribers have a new vertical view option for daily weather info, which can be accessed from Settings ⇾ iPhone/iPad ⇾ Daily ⇾ Details. I’ve found that I prefer the vertical view over the default horizontal, and I enjoy how it still fits right in with the setting of a landscape – when details slide up from the bottom, it feels like you’re simply delving deeper below the surface.


CARROT Weather keeps getting better. The additions in version 4.2 aren’t blockbuster features, but they make for an overall more complete package. Now users with all kinds of weather and personality preferences can benefit from this top-notch app and customize it to their liking. Without losing its distinct sense of flare, CARROT Weather is quickly becoming a weather app for everyone.

CARROT Weather is available on the App Store.


Connected, Episode 163: U2 Red

Stephen’s keyboard is disintegrating as Federico explains AirPlay 2, and Sonos and Google have new products out for the holiday season.

On this week’s Connected, we also consider some of the potential problems for Sonos’ third-party integrations and take a look at the Pixel 2. You can listen here.

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Spark Adds Key Email Productivity Features: Send Later and Follow-Up Reminders

In updates to Readdle’s Spark app for iOS and macOS released today, the email client gained two key power user features: send later and follow-up reminders.

Send later works exactly as you would expect. When composing an email, hitting the send later button in the compose bar will present several default options for when you’d like the message sent: Later Today, This Evening, and Tomorrow. Perhaps the most common use case will be responding to emails late at night and wanting them to send as soon as the next work day kicks off, which the Tomorrow option is perfect for. Thankfully, you can also set a custom date and time. Once you schedule the delivery time, Spark will take care of the rest.

With follow-up reminders, there are five default options joining the custom date picker: Later Today, This Evening, Tomorrow, Weekend, and Next Week. This feature serves to stifle a key pain point I’ve regularly encountered in email management: reminding me to follow up on an email when I don’t receive a response.

In the past I’ve tackled this problem by pairing my email client with a task manager, such that after sending an important, time-sensitive message, I would assign myself a task to follow up with a second email on a certain date in the future. The problem with this approach is that it requires two apps, and that my task manager has no way of communicating with my email inbox – it doesn’t know if I received a response to the message or not, meaning I may end up with an unnecessary task on my list. Integrating this function within an email client is exactly the right move, and Spark does it well. When your set follow-up point arrives, if you haven’t received a response yet, the sent message reappears at the top of your inbox with an icon denoting it’s a reminder. It’s easy from there to open the original email and send a quick follow-up.

The team at Readdle continues adding functionality into Spark that sets it apart as a true productivity-focused email client. With third-party integrations, snoozing, deep customization options, and now the ability to send later and receive follow-up cues, Spark is growing into an email powerhouse that every power user should give a serious look.