Wallpaper: Traces by AR72014
I live in Italy, but because of my work I communicate with friends and colleagues in English. All my devices are set to English, including Siri on our HomePods. As a multilingual iOS user, the addition of multilingual typing to the QuickType keyboard was, by far, one of my favorite changes in iOS 10. Besides being aware of the language used in each iMessage conversation, since 2016 the QuickType keyboard has been able to jump between multiple languages on the fly without switching keyboard layouts – which is amazing when you have conversations with people who live in different countries. I can’t believe there was a time when I was constantly switching between the Italian and English keyboards hundreds of times each day. For international users, it was as bad as not having copy and paste before iPhone OS 3.0.
With the release of Shortcuts and the ability to send iMessages in the background (without showing the Messages composer), I had an idea: what if instead of typing I could use dictation (also improved in Shortcuts) to quickly send a message from a widget? A shortcut to accomplish this seemed relatively easy to build, so I got to work. However, after a few minutes of tests, I realized that Shortcuts’ dictation didn’t support automatic language recognition – which meant I had to consider a more creative approach.
Andrew Cunningham, writing for Ars Technica:
I’ve been testing iOS on old devices for six years, and I’ve never seen a release that has actually improved performance on old devices. At best, updates like iOS 6, iOS 9, and iOS 10 didn’t make things much worse; at worst, updates like iOS 7 and iOS 8 made old devices feel like old devices. Anyone using an older device can safely upgrade to iOS 12 without worrying about speed, and that’s a big deal. You’ll notice an improvement most of the time, even on newer devices (my iPad Air 2, which had started to feel its age running iOS 11, feels great with iOS 12).
As I noted in my review, I was hoping someone would run actual measurements for different system features on older devices running multiple versions of iOS. Cunningham did exactly that, going all the way back to iOS 10 on the iPhone 5S.
It’s been a busy week of app updates. We’ve already covered many of them, but there are always more good examples of apps that show off feature of iOS 12 like Siri shortcuts or watchOS 5’s new functionality. So, we’ve collected some additional favorite updates from this past week from Federico, John, and Ryan.
I previously covered HomeCam, a HomeKit utility by indie developer Aaron Pearce, as a superior way to watch live video streams from multiple HomeKit cameras. In addition to a clean design and straightforward approach (your cameras are displayed in a grid), what set HomeCam apart was the ability to view information from other HomeKit accessories located in the same room of a camera and control nearby lights without leaving the camera UI. Compared to Apple’s approach to opening cameras in the clunky Home app, HomeCam is a nimble, must-have utility for anyone who owns multiple HomeKit cameras and wants to tune into their video feeds quickly. With the release of iOS 12, HomeCam is gaining one of the most impressive and useful implementations of Siri shortcuts I’ve seen on the platform yet.
Today developer and writer Benjamin Mayo launched his latest iPhone app on the App Store: Daily Dictionary. From the app’s website:
One word every day. Words that you have known but long forgotten. And some that are entirely new.
Daily Dictionary is written by real people, not machines. No technical jargon or esoteric science terms. Just words you can use to improve your writing and expand your speaking vocabulary.
Get a word of the day with a push notification, lock screen widget, or ask Siri using iOS 12 Siri Shortcuts.
I’ve been testing Daily Dictionary over the last month, and it’s a beautiful app with a design language that feels like a preview in some ways of where Apple could take iOS in the future. There’s lots of big text, buttons that are easy to press, and gestural navigation of the app which works great one-handed. These things are all perfect fits for increasingly larger iPhones.
Regarding the app’s functionality, all it really does is provide a different interesting word each day, including pronunciation, definition, example sentence, and list of synonyms. But it does offer that word through a variety of means, which I appreciate: Siri shortcuts, notifications, or the app’s widget can all feed you each day’s word.
In many ways Daily Dictionary reminds me of ‘sodes, the podcast client by Jared Sinclair that I wrote about earlier this year. It’s light on features compared to competing apps, but its interface is a delight to use. And sometimes, a simple app that puts a smile on your face is all you need.
Daily Dictionary is available on the App Store.
We all know that it’s important to regularly learn new things, but often the busyness of life crowds out that learning and we settle into routines that make learning unnecessary. Fortunately, one of the things made possible by iOS 12 and the new Shortcuts app is that you can create your own custom “routines” of sorts with the help of Siri, and integrate daily learning into those routines.
In that vein, the excellent dictionary app LookUp was updated this week to version 5, which takes advantage of Siri shortcuts in iOS 12 to offer access to the word of the day via Siri. The update also brings a new Collections feature, additional shortcut options, and more.
Among the actions that didn’t make the transition from Workflow to the new Shortcuts app for iOS 12, built-in support for triggering IFTTT applets (formerly known as “recipes”) is perhaps the most annoying one. With just a few taps, Workflow’s old ‘Trigger IFTTT Applet’ action allowed you to assemble workflows that combined the power of iOS integrations with IFTTT’s hundreds of supported services. The IFTTT action acted as a bridge between Workflow and services that didn’t offer native support for the app, such as Google Sheets, Spotify, and several smart home devices.
Fortunately, there’s still a way to integrate the just-released Shortcuts app with IFTTT. The method I’m going to describe below involves a bit more manual setup because it’s not as nicely integrated with Shortcuts as the old action might have been. In return however, you’ll unlock the ability to enable IFTTT triggers using Siri on your iOS devices, Apple Watch, and HomePod – something that was never possible with Workflow’s original IFTTT support. Let’s take a look.
Extensive, nicely formatted guide for the new Shortcuts app, published directly by Apple today.
If you’re absolutely new to the Shortcuts app and never played with Workflow before, this is where I’d start. The guide goes into great detail about what shortcuts are, how you can organize them, and what types of input are supported in Shortcuts. There’s also an Advanced section where – and I never thought I’d see this – Apple explains x-callback-url and web APIs. Some of these sections have been adapted from the old Workflow documentation, but it’s a fantastic resource regardless. And once you’re done reading through Apple’s materials, I’ll be waiting here.
Released today in version 4.2, Apple’s iWork suite of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers now supports Siri shortcuts in iOS 12. Additionally, each app scored a handful of new features and improvements, many of which are available across all three apps, while others are app-specific, such as animated drawings in Pages and Smart Categories in Numbers.