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Posts tagged with "iOS"

Creating Lock Screen Widgets for Specific Notes via the Apple Notes URL Scheme

All I wanted was a widget.

All I wanted was a widget.

A few days ago, as I was playing around with my Lock Screen on iOS 16, I wondered: would it be possible to use the hidden Apple Notes URL scheme to create widget launchers to reopen specific notes in the Notes app?

That led me down a fascinating rabbit hole filled with hidden Shortcuts tricks and discoveries I thought would be useful to document on MacStories for everyone to see.

You know, for posterity.

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CARROT Weather 5.8: A Beautiful New iPad Layout, Lots of Lock Screen Widgets, and More

If you use CARROT Weather and have an iPad, stop. Go update CARROT, dig into its Layout settings, and pick the Multi-Column Layout Style before you read any further. I’ll wait.

It’s good, right? Even if you don’t customize it at all, CARROT’s new three-column layout will excite your inner weather geek. The layout is a natural extension of the card-like interface of CARROT’s iOS app, expanded to multiple columns. It’s a terrific update that makes much better use of the iPad’s bigger screen.

Picking Multi-Column from CARROT Weather's Layout settings.

Picking Multi-Column from CARROT Weather’s Layout settings.

The app’s signature card-like customization scheme is the perfect fit with the iPad, allowing users to pick and choose the data that’s most important to them, adjusting each component to fit nicely onscreen. In narrower Split View configurations, CARROT Weather falls back to the single-column, Plain style layout.

CARROT Weather's columns are completely customizable.

CARROT Weather’s columns are completely customizable.

The update also adds another 10 sections of weather data that can be displayed in a variety of ways, including as line and bar charts. With the existing sections, which we’ve covered before, there are more than enough data points and display choices to fill three-columns to your personal tastes.

Apple itself has headed in a similar direction, designing the new Weather app for iPadOS and macOS as a grid of tiles that offer more details when tapped. However, I prefer CARROT Weather because it lets me choose what to display and where. CARROT also lets me save multiple layouts, which opens up the option to customize layouts for each season or for different activities.

Examples of CARROT Weather's rectangular Lock Screen widgets.

Examples of CARROT Weather’s rectangular Lock Screen widgets.

A few of CARROT Weather's circular Lock Screen widgets.

A few of CARROT Weather’s circular Lock Screen widgets.

In addition to the new iPad design and new sections available in the iPhone and iPad versions of the app, CARROT Weather now comes with a whopping 20 Lock Screen widgets for the iPhone. Four of those widgets, Snark, Custom Conditions, Hourly Forecast, and Daily Forecast, are the larger rectangular variety. The remainder of the widgets are circular ones that offer a long list of data points like the current conditions, the current temperature along with the forecast high and low, the change of precipitation, wind speed, UV Index, Air Quality, and more. Whatever is most important to you, there’s bound to be a widget for it in CARROT Weather.

Finally, CARROT Weather has added another weather data provider: Apple’s own WeatherKit service. All weather data providers seem to be strong in some parts of the world and weaker in others, including WeatherKit, but it’s good to have another choice, especially since Dark Sky will no longer offer forecasts beginning next year.

I’ve been spending a lot of time pairing Lock Screens with Focus modes, and CARROT’s weather widgets have been a staple when I head out for a long walk or bike ride. Along with the redesign of the iPad app, version 5.8 is another excellent update from CARROT that I encourage everyone to check out.

CARROT Weather 5.8 is available for download now on the App Store. Some of the app’s features require a subscription, the details of which you can learn about on the App Store.


The 2022 MacStories OS Preview Series: Everything New Coming to Apple Mail

Email isn’t going anywhere anytime soon despite its flaws. Tools like Slack have replaced the lion’s share of internal communications at many companies, and a long list of messaging apps have chipped away at conversations among individuals. Still, email has proven resilient.

One of email’s many problems is how hard it can be to manage the volume of messages so many of us receive. Over the years, developers have come up with innovative tools layered on top of the core email protocols to improve the experience. However, few of them are with us anymore. Remember Sparrow? How about Mailbox or Acompli? Notice a trend? There are still some bright spots, like Mimestream on the Mac and Spark, but with so few survivors, having a strong choice from Apple has never been more important.

That’s why the situation with Apple’s Mail app has been so distressing in recent years. Mail sat, barely touched on any platform for what seemed like forever. However, this fall, across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, Apple is finally bringing many of the features pioneered by others to its own Mail app. You won’t find every cutting-edge modern email feature in Mail. Message collaboration and back channel chat about email messages among team members, which Spark and other apps offer, is a good example of a feature Apple has left to others. However, I expect most individuals and teams that aren’t looking to use email as though it were Slack will like what they see in Mail, so let’s dig into the details.

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Shortcuts in iOS 16: The Potential of App Shortcuts for Everyone

App Shortcuts in iOS 16.

App Shortcuts in iOS 16.

A note from Federico: This year, I’ve decided to try some new things for my annual iOS 16 review. Some you’ll see on Monday. One of them is previewing small excerpts from the review in the OS Preview series on MacStories and MacStories Weekly for Club MacStories. Today, I’m posting a preview of a section of the Shortcuts chapter here, and a section of the Everything Else chapter in MacStories Weekly. I hope you enjoy these. I’ll see you for the full story – and more reveals – on Monday.


In iOS 16, the Shortcuts app hasn’t undergone a major redesign or technical rewrite; instead, Apple’s efforts have focused on adding more actions for system apps, extending the developer API, bringing more stability, and making Shortcuts more approachable for new users.

The last point is both important and likely the reason why some Shortcuts power users will be disappointed by this year’s update. There isn’t a lot for them in this new version of the app: as we’ll see in my iPadOS review, there’s no integration with Files quick actions, no support for Stage Manager actions, and no system-wide hotkeys still. If you’re an advanced Shortcuts user and were wishing for more system-level enhancements in addition to stability this year: I hear you, but we’ll talk about this later on.

What we do have in iOS 16 is a fascinating new feature to get newcomers started with the Shortcuts app, a grab bag of useful new actions for Apple apps, and some solid developer-related enhancements that will make third-party actions much better than before. Let’s take a look.

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Captionista: Simple, Flexible Video Subtitling for the iPhone and iPad

One of the tradeoffs I see a lot in the apps we cover is between simplicity and flexibility. Simplicity has its virtues, but often apps designed to make things as easy as possible for users end up being inflexible, resulting in cookie-cutter output. The flip side is that maximum flexibility can get out of hand fast, leading to a steep learning curve. Striking the right balance is hard, but the apps that do are always among my favorites because they work so well for a wide audience. That’s exactly how I feel about Captionista, an iPhone and iPad app for adding text to video. It’s simple to understand but includes the kind of depth that epitomizes what it means to do one thing well.

I don’t work with video a lot, and when I do, my needs are pretty simple. Often, I want to demonstrate something with a screen recording, which isn’t always easy to follow without some sort of explanation. That’s where Captionista comes in.

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Pixelmator Photo Switches to Subscription Pricing and Provides a Sneak Peek at the App’s Upcoming Mac Version

Source: Pixelmator.

Source: Pixelmator.

The Pixelmator team announced today that its iPhone and iPad photo editor, Pixelmator Photo, has moved to subscription pricing, and a Mac version of the app is on the way.

Existing Pixelmator Photo users won’t have to subscribe to continue using the app and should be able to add the Mac version at a discount when it’s released. New customers can subscribe for $4.99 per month or $23.99 per year after a 7-day free trial. There’s also a lifetime purchase option that costs $54.99. Pixelmator says that the subscription pricing will increase for new subscribers when the Mac app is released, so now is a good time to subscribe if you were hoping that the team would add a Mac version.

Pixelmator Photo for iPad.

Pixelmator Photo for iPad.

There are a lot of reasons for Pixelmator Photo’s move to a subscription model, which are explained in detail in the team’s blog post. As with any move from paid-up-front to a subscription, some users will be left behind, which is a shame, but I’m not surprised by Pixelmator’s move. I’m more surprised that the switch didn’t occur earlier. Pixelmator Photo is a top-notch, high-quality app that is continuously developed to keep up with advances in Apple’s photo editing frameworks and hardware updates. That’s not the sort of app that can be offered for a set price indefinitely, as demonstrated by the many other sophisticated apps, including other photo editing apps, that have made the leap to a subscription model. Hopefully, the switch to subscriptions will allow the Pixelmator team to continue to develop Photo for a long time to come.

There aren’t many details about the Mac version of Pixelmator Photo to share except for the image at the top of this story, but I like what I see. If you’ve used the iPad version of Pixelmator Photo, the Mac app will be immediately familiar with its spare UI and focus on the image being edited. There’s no word yet on when the Mac version might be released, but when it is, we’ll have a complete review.

The Pixelmator Photo update that adds its new subscription pricing model is available on the App Store now.


Safari Extension Noir Adds Theming and Deeper Keyboard Shortcut Support

Last year, we awarded Noir Best New App of 2021 as part of the MacStories Selects Awards. Jeffrey Kuiken’s Safari extension for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, which can apply a custom dark mode to websites that don’t offer their own, is a fantastic example of an app that implements a new technology – the native Safari extensions introduced with iOS and iPadOS 15 and earlier on the Mac – in a way that is simple to use but also provides advanced customization for users who want that. Noir immediately became a MacStories favorite on launch, and it remains an app that I rely on every day.

The latest update to Noir takes the app’s original concept a step further with new theming options, theme sharing, and extensive keyboard shortcut support. It’s an excellent update that anyone who likes to tweak the colors used in their apps will appreciate. Let’s take a closer look.

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Pestle 1.2: The MacStories Review

One of the greatest strengths of the App Store is its abundance of choice. For every app category, there are always multiple excellent options from which to pick. That’s never been more true for the recipe app category. Paprika was my long-time personal favorite until Mela came along, but there are other great options like Grocery and Crouton too. Another app that belongs on that list is Pestle, an iPhone and iPad app by Will Bishop.

At its core, Pestle is a recipe manager, but it also integrates with Reminders to create shopping lists, offers a way to discover new dishes, and integrates meal planning, making it a well-rounded solution. The app also features a modern design that works well in the kitchen and some clever details like hands-free voice control for moving between recipe steps while cooking, making it worth a closer look.

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Android Users Can Now Migrate Their WhatsApp Data to iPhone

WhatsApp announced beta support today for migrating the app’s data from Android devices to the iPhone using Apple’s Move to iOS app, which is available on the Google Play store. Move to iOS is an Android app that could already move contacts, messages, photos, videos, email accounts, and calendars.

With WhatsApp’s update, which is being released as a beta to a limited number of users to start, users with Android devices will be able to use Move to iOS to transfer their WhatsApp message history to iOS. Losing your message history in apps like WhatsApp has been one of the biggest downsides of jumping from one mobile device platform to another. By adding a way to migrate WhatsApp’s message history to iOS, it should be significantly easier for users of the messaging service to switch to iOS going forward.

WhatsApp has also added a support page to its website to walk users through the process of moving their message history from Android to iOS and a help document for anyone who has trouble with the process.