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OmniFocus for iOS Adds Deep Automation Features

Derek Reiff, writing on The Omni Blog:

Recently customers have been wanting to take advantage of automation apps like Workflow, Drafts, Pythonista, and others to quickly add new actions or projects or switch to different views inside OmniFocus.

With 2.14, OmniFocus now includes best-of-class support for callback URLs. At its simplest, this means that you can create a workflow that adds more than one item to OmniFocus. But we didn’t just add support for two-way communication between OmniFocus and other apps, we added support for automating a whole lot more of the powerful capabilities of OmniFocus.

Ken goes into the nitty gritty in a detailed Discourse post. But aside from doing the usual name and note additions, you can add estimates, attachments, dates, repetition rules, flags, and even set a project to Parallel.

While I won't be switching away from 2Do, I've tried the beta of OmniFocus 2.14 and the new automation features on iOS are impressive. I think a lot of people are going to reconsider OmniFocus and take advantage of callbacks for app integrations.

The examples posted by Ken Case on the forums should give you an idea of the improved capabilities. It's no surprise that The Omni Group continues to redefine what making pro apps on iOS means.

It's also great to see TaskPaper being used as a structured text communication format – I'd like to see more developers follow this route.

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Earnest: Take Control of Your Student Loans [Sponsor]

Did you know you can refinance your student loans, save thousands, and make your new loan incredibly easy to manage? Our sponsor this week, Earnest, has created the most flexible refinancing experience to help financially responsible grads take control of their student loans, at earnest.com.

Their product helps clients save an average of almost $18,000, with variable rates starting as low as 2.13% APR. Earnest never charges any fees — so no fees for origination, and no penalties for paying off your loan quickly or changing your terms down the line. They let you customize your payment to match your budget and timeline, and their simple dashboard makes it easy to manage your loan – even from your phone.

Earnest can do this because they’re a new kind of lender — one that looks at things traditional banks don’t, like your savings habits and earnings potential — to give you the lowest possible rates. And even better, their expert in-house customer service team is available via phone, email, and chat for the life of your loan.

It takes less than two minutes to find out how much you could save, and they even have a special offer for our readers: get a $150 bonus when you refinance through earnest.com/macstories.

Don’t get stuck paying more than you have to — check out earnest.com/macstories and take two minutes to see your personalized rate estimate today.

Our thanks to Earnest for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Capture Your Own GIFs with Gifstory

Gifstory makes capturing your own GIFs easy by imposing constraints. One of the difficulties with GIFs is that there are lots of variables that impact how big they are and how good they look. I like GIF Brewery on the Mac, but it is easy to get caught up in tweaking those variables endlessly, trying to get a GIF that looks perfect. Gifstory, which is iPhone-only, eliminates the fiddling by imposing limits that work. Point your camera at something, press and hold the capture button, and you can capture a 320 × 426 or 320 x 320 GIF up to sixty frames long.

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Drafts Releases MacSparky Screencasts

Agile Tortoise has teamed up with David Sparks of MacSparky.com to produce a series of screencasts introducing Drafts 4 to new users and highlighting some of its features. The first two screencasts were released today. The first video is an overview of how Drafts works, and some of the things you can accomplish with it. The second video focuses on using Drafts with Dropbox to save text as a separate file in Dropbox or append text to an existing text file.

David Sparks, who has made screencasts for companies like The Omni Group and Smile Software, does a great job of showing how easy it is to get started with Drafts, but also exposing some of the powerful ways Drafts can interact with other apps like Dropbox.

You can watch the first two Drafts videos below.

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Dropbox Project Infinite

Interesting announcement from Dropbox today – a way to download files on-demand when using the desktop client:

With Project Infinite, we’re addressing a major issue our users have asked us to solve. The amount of information being created and shared has exploded, but most people still work on devices with limited storage capacity. While teams can store terabyte upon terabyte in the cloud, most individuals’ laptops can only store a small fraction of that. Getting secure access to all the team’s data usually means jumping over to a web browser, a clunky user experience at best.

Project Infinite will enable users to seamlessly and securely access all their Dropbox files from the desktop, regardless of how much space they have available on their hard drives. Everything in the company’s Dropbox that you’re given access to, whether it’s stored locally or in the cloud, will show up in Dropbox on your desktop. If it’s synced locally, you’ll see the familiar green checkmark, while everything else will have a new cloud icon.

In a way, this makes the desktop app more similar to the mobile clients – everything is always in Dropbox, and it's downloaded locally only when you need it. Smart move.

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Logitech Introduces iPad Pro Smart Connector Charging Dock

Logitech have today introduced a new charging dock for the iPad Pro. The Logi Base is rather unique in that it uses the iPad Pro's Smart Connector to charge the device. To date, the Smart Connector has only been used by Apple's Smart Keyboard and Logitech's keyboard case.

The minimalist looking dock will work with both the 9.7" and 12.9" iPad Pro, with magnets on the Logi Base helping guide the iPad Pro into the correct position for charging via the Smart Connector. Using the 12W power adapter and no apps running, Logitech advises that it will take 7 hours to charge the iPad Pro. The stand places the iPad Pro at a 70-degree viewing angle, and it is compatible with the iPad Pro Silicone cases from Apple.

The Logi Base is available to order from today for $99 from Logitech's website. If you're looking for more information, Chance Miller at 9to5Mac has a review of the Logi Base.

I've just been using my iPad Pro Smart Keyboard as the "dock" for my iPad, but I'm really tempted by the Logi Base. It looks really elegant and just being able to drop the iPad down onto the dock, without fiddling with a lightning cable, would be great. But the lengthy charge time and hefty price are dampening my enthusiasm.

[via The Verge, 9to5Mac]


Canvas, Episode 8: Apple Mail

You might think of Apple Mail as being a slightly weak client but, as we shall see, it's more powerful than you think. We tackle some of the special smart mailboxes that exist in Apple Mail, look at notifications and composing mail.

On the latest episode of Canvas, we covered the email client that millions of users deal with on a daily basis: Apple Mail. We have an episode coming about third-party email options, but, in the meantime, there's quite a bit to discover in Mail, too. You can listen here.

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Apple Posts New iPhone 6s Ads Highlighting Touch ID, 4K Video

Apple aired two new iPhone 6s commercials earlier today, highlighting the 4K video shooting capabilities of the device, as well as the Touch ID sensor with various iOS app integrations.

In the 1-minute 4K ad, dubbed 'Onions', Apple imagines a scenario in which a young girl shoots a close-up video of her mother cutting onions that somehow turns into a movie phenomenon. In the ad, the 'Onions' movie even goes on to win an award (with a ceremony hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris) with a tongue-in-cheek tone that, presumably, wants to communicate how the iPhone's camera can be used to shoot high-quality footage – whether it's an onion or an actual movie.

In the second ad, Apple follows the style of its previous, fast paced iPhone 6s commercials to focus on what can be done with Touch ID on iOS 9. The ad shows people paying for products with Apple Pay, starting a car with Touch ID in a dedicated iPhone app, logging into bank accounts, and more.

You can watch the ads below.

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All New watchOS Apps to Be Native Starting June 1

During the weekend, Apple announced that, starting June 1, all new watchOS app submissions will have to be native – written with the watchOS 2 SDK.

This, of course, doesn't enforce existing watchOS 1.0 apps (built with the first SDK) to be updated for watchOS 2, so it'll be interesting to see how Apple will handle developers who launched a watchOS app last year, saw a muted response, and then ignored watchOS 2 due to a lack of incentives.

In my experience, the performance of watchOS 2 apps has only been marginally better than old watchOS 1.0 ones, and I haven't heard of developers rushing to support watchOS 2 as a must-rewrite-everything effort. If I had to speculate, perhaps new iPhone apps for iOS 10 or later could only support watchOS 3 – but, again, that wouldn't solve the issue for watchOS 1.0 apps currently on the App Store. Quite a curious conundrum.

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