In a recent episode of Connected, we rounded up some of our favorite "iOS little wonders" and Myke was surprised by one of my picks: the ability to launch individual notes on iOS through shared links. The ensuing discussion inspired me to assemble a list of tips and tricks to improve how you can work on an iPad with iOS 11.
Even though I covered or mentioned some of these suggestions in my iOS 11 review or podcast segments before, I realized that it would useful to explain them in detail again for those who missed them. From keyboard recommendations and shortcuts to gestures and Siri, I've tried to remember all the little tricks I use to get work done on my iPad Pro on a daily basis.
After several years of being iPad-only for the majority of my work, I often take some of these features for granted. And admittedly, Apple doesn't always do a great job at teaching users about these lesser known details, which have become especially important after the productivity-focused iPad update in iOS 11. I hope this collection can be useful for those who haven't yet explored the fascinating world of iPad productivity.
Let's dig in.
Matthias Hochgatterer, in a blog post detailing the invoice scanning feature he brought to Finances for iOS with an update released today:
I’ve just recently worked on invoice scanning for Finances. It lets you scan invoices on iPhone or iPad and add them as a PDF document to transactions. In this post I will show you how I’ve implemented that feature using the frameworks available on iOS.
Let's start by looking at the final result. You can see the invoice scanning in the Finances trailer. The user interface looks very similar to the document scanning UI in Apple’s Notes app on iOS 11. That’s not a coincident. I’ve reimplemented the exact same user interface, because most iOS users are already familiar with it. Also I found it an interesting challenge to implement it myself.
I've been considering Finances (which is available both on Mac and iOS and is on sale for both platforms today) as a replacement for the system I built in Numbers last year, which isn't scaling anymore (my accountant now wants me to upload PDF receipts to a Trello board, and traditional spreadsheets do not support inline file attachments). I'm intrigued by the cross-platform nature of Finances, its double-entry bookkeeping system, and this new Notes-like scanning mode built using Vision technologies in iOS 11. I haven't seen other apps publicly advertise scanning functionalities built using Vision and the implementation in Finances looks extremely well done.
I will be playing around with Finances over the weekend (I know; usually, this isn't what I do with my weekends but I also need to keep my accountant happy). You can take a look at Finances' new trailer below.
Mikah Sargent, writing for iMore, on the importance of software-based authentication for HomeKit devices that Apple officially rolled out with iOS 11.3 last week:
Up to this point, commercial accessories were also required to incorporate Apple's hardware-based Authentication Coprocessor in order to obtain HomeKit certification. The coprocessor handled Apple's strict rules for encryption and security for HomeKit-enabled accessories. Apple takes HomeKit security seriously — the company says all HomeKit sessions are end-to-end encrypted and mutually authenticated (authenticated by all parties). Each communication session also includes something called "perfect forward secrecy," meaning that encryption keys aren't reused — a new key is generated for every session.
These strict rules meant most companies had to build accessories specifically with Apple's HomeKit requirements in mind. It was a beneficial rule for consumers in terms of privacy and security, but it also meant — at least at the beginning — fewer available HomeKit-enabled accessories. Companies who already had smart home products on the market would need to rethink their products if they wanted to offer HomeKit-enabled accessories. That changes as of iOS 11.3.
I was under the assumption that HomeKit software authentication was already available since Apple announced it at WWDC '17 (in fact, I covered it in my iOS 11 review here). As Sargent notes on Twitter, however, accessory makers only received support for software authentication with iOS 11.3, which explains why we haven't heard of major "HomeKit software updates" yet. Assuming that Apple's certification process for HomeKit accessories is still going to take weeks, I'm curious to see if software authentication will at least make it easier for third-party manufacturers to consider HomeKit integration.
Great overview by Maximiliano Firtman on progressive web apps, which are now supported on iOS 11.3 thanks to new web technologies Apple adopted in Safari 11.1.
I wouldn't call progressive web apps a "replacement" for native software from the App Store (just read the list of technical limitations from Firtman's article), but they are indeed a remarkable improvement over how Safari used to save web apps to the Home screen. I recommend checking out these two lists to try some progressive web apps and see how they work on iOS. I spent way too much time playing around with Web Flap, a Flappy Bird clone that runs as a progressive web app and even supports offline mode on iOS 11.3.
Today Apple released the latest update to iOS, version 11.3, which adds the previously promised iPhone battery health settings, along with four new Animoji, ARKit 1.5, a new Music Videos section in Apple Music, and more.
We first reviewed Halide, the powerful third-party camera app by Ben Sandofsky and Sebastiaan de With, when it debuted in the summer of 2017, providing a powerful and elegant alternative to Apple's Camera app that fully embraced RAW photography and advanced controls in an intuitive interface. We later showcased Halide's iPhone X update as one of the most thoughtful approaches to adapting for the device's Super Retina Display; to this day, Halide is a shining example of how the iPhone X's novel form factor can aid, instead of hindering, complex app UIs.
While Halide was already regarded as an appealing alternative to Apple's stock app for professional photographers and RAW-curious iPhone users (something that designer de With covered in depth in his excellent guide), it was lacking a handful of key features of the modern iPhone photography experience. Sandofsky and de With want to eliminate some of these important gaps with today's 1.7 update, which focuses on bringing the power of Portrait mode to Halide, supporting the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera system, and extending the app's integrations via a special ARKit mode, new export options, and native integration with the popular Darkroom photo editing tool.
Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:
Apple today sent out a notice to developers letting them know that starting in April of 2018, all new apps submitted to the App Store must be built using the iOS 11 SDK, which is included in Xcode 9 or later.
Furthermore, Apple says that all new apps designed for the iPhone, including universal apps, must support the iPhone X's Super Retina display.
"Must be built", unfortunately, doesn't mean apps have to support new features like drag and drop. Speaking of which, I don't think supporting the native resolution of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a requirement yet, and the device launched in November 2015.
I first covered FileBrowser in an iPad Diaries column from January about finding a replacement for Transmit on iOS. As I noted in the story, FileBrowser didn't have the prettiest interface (to be fair, I still have to find a file manager that looks as nice as Transmit), but it offered superior integration with iOS 11 features such as drag and drop and Files.
What FileBrowser gets right is support for iOS 11's drag and drop and Files app. With drag and drop, you can import items into FileBrowser (and thus upload them to any configured location) as well as export files from a server you're browsing in FileBrowser. The app supports multi-item drag and drop so you can pick up multiple files in a single drag session and drop them into another iPad app, and it correctly implements lazy delivery (asynchronous transfers) for large files. For instance, I was able to drag a .aif song (30 MB) and a .zip archive (160 MB) from FileBrowser and drop them into Gladys and, while it took a few seconds (particularly for the 160 MB file), it worked just fine; as the file was being copied after I let go of it, I could continue using Gladys as normal.
Something else I should have noted: the FileBrowser team is extremely receptive to criticism and new ideas. Over the past few weeks, I've been testing an updated version of FileBrowser (in the Business flavor) that addresses several limitations I covered last month.
At the end of last year in my annual Must-Have Apps roundup, I covered lire, an RSS client for iPhone and iPad that, despite having been around for several years, had flown under my radar until its iOS 11 update.
I settled on lire, an RSS reader that's been around for years and that never grabbed my attention before. lire has been fully redesigned for iOS 11, taking advantage of Apple's large title design style to neatly indicate different folders and sections. In addition to a clean design that feels good on the iPhone X and iPad Pro, lire has two peculiarities: it supports all the most popular RSS services (including Inoreader) and it comes with its own text extraction tool to load the full text of truncated stories. The full-text option can be enabled on a per-site basis, and it works well in combination with caching for read articles. lire looks native to iOS in a way that the official apps by Inoreader, NewsBlur, and Feedly don't, and it's actively supported by its developer with frequent updates.
I've been using lire in combination with Inoreader since November; four months later, I still haven't found any other RSS reader that mixes iOS 11's aesthetic with support for all the most popular RSS services. Unlike other apps, lire looks native to iOS 11 and it lets you choose the sync service you prefer. Plus, the ability to load specific websites in full-text mode and a pure black theme make lire a fantastic reading experience on the iPhone X as well.
With today's 3.0.32 update, developer Kunal Sood has brought deep integration with iOS 11's drag and drop to lire, shipping one of the best implementations of the feature on both the iPhone and iPad. Which isn't surprising considering that lire's drag and drop enhancements have been directly inspired by Bear – already a terrific example of what developers can build with drag and drop in iOS 11.