This week's sponsor

Remote for Mac

Turn iPhone or iPad into remote control for your Mac


Posts tagged with "iOS"

OmniOutliner 3 for iOS Review

I think in outlines. When I was in law school, that’s how I was taught to break down legal issues and structure the enormous amount of information I needed to know to pass exams. Outlines became second nature – something I still use today to organize research, write longer articles, and organize projects.

I wish I had OmniOutliner when I was in law school. Those outlines grew as the semester wore on, adding complexity that made them harder to edit. Although the word processor I used could handle outlining, it wasn’t optimized for huge outlines the way OmniOutliner is.

Today, my outlining needs are much simpler. I’m not creating 100-page outlines. If an outline is more than a few pages long, it’s only because it’s full of detailed notes. More often than not, all I need is a quick indented list, with simple formatting, and the ability to reorder sections easily.

Perhaps the greatest strength of OmniOutliner 3 for iOS is that it can handle both scenarios. That’s because OmniOutliner 3 isn’t one app, it’s two: OmniOutliner Essentials and OmniOutliner Pro. Essentials includes all the tools you need for basic outlining, and Pro adds extensive customization options, section navigation, automation, and other features.

Read more


New Apps for 2018

You can download my wallpaper here.

The new year is always an opportunity for me to take some time off work and better understand how I use technology and, more importantly, what I want from the devices I write about. Historically, that meant I would take a short break over the holidays and come back to MacStories with a handful of recommendations for new apps I wanted to test throughout the year, from text editors to finance management utilities and health apps.

This time, the break lasted a little longer. Last year was a particularly stressful one for me, and I felt that I needed to take at least a couple of weeks off all my work projects to clear my mind and make a plan for the year ahead. That turned out to be a fantastic idea: not only was I able to finally relax (to the point where I was craving the website and feeling the urge to write again) – the extended break also allowed me to identify areas of my life that I wanted to act upon immediately and improve in 2018.

This is why, when Myke Hurley asked me on Analog(ue) which big project I was working on for the new year, my first answer was "myself". My plan for 2018 is to take better care of myself – from multiple perspectives – so I can avoid the stress of 2017, feel more inspired, write more, and, ultimately, be happier. I don't have a single big "work project" for 2018; my goal is to improve every aspect of my daily routine, in big and small ways, so everything I do can subsequently grow as well. Essentially, I need to fix the foundation before I can build on top of it again.

In addition to new habits (which I detailed in last month's issue of the MacStories Monthly Log for Club members; you should subscribe if you haven't yet), this effort involves new apps I'm using to help me along the way. I decided to wait a full month after I came back to work because I wanted to see which ones would actually stick around; what you'll find below is a collection of apps I'm now using on my iPhone and iPad on a daily basis.

While this type of story isn't new to longtime MacStories readers, I feel like the 2018 version is more personal and pragmatic. These aren't advanced automation apps or utilities I'm just experimenting with for the mere sake of geekery; from mental health to time tracking, each of these apps is having a tangible, positive impact on my life that I'd like to highlight.

Read more


Letterboxd 2.0 Brings iPad Version, Support for iOS Automation Apps

I've always been fascinated by Letterboxd, the popular service to catalog and rate movies you've watched, as well as share your appreciation for the art of film with other users in a social network-type environment. My problem, however, is that dedicating serious time to watching quality movies (instead of whatever is on TV) has mostly been an aspirational effort; I never truly attempted to make a list of films I want to watch and set aside a good chunk of time every week to enjoy them.

Among various "quality of life" improvements (which I briefly mentioned in this episode of Analog(ue) with Myke Hurley), earlier this year I decided to create an Airtable database with a list of movies I want to see, trying to tick one off at least every week. Since I started testing a beta of Letterboxd 2.0 for iOS last week though, I'm wondering if maybe now is the time for me to consider using a dedicated service to collect, rate, and discover movies.

Read more


OneDrive for iOS Updated with Drag and Drop on iPad, A New Design, and More

Microsoft has released version 10.1 of its OneDrive app with support for drag and drop on the iPad and a new, cleaner design.

Drag and drop support allows users to move files and folders within the OneDrive app or drag files into and out of other apps. For example, users can drag photos from OneDrive into an email message to add as an attachment or drag attachments from messages into OneDrive. Users can also access their OneDrive files from Apple’s Files app.

OneDrive now supports drag and drop on the iPad.

OneDrive now supports drag and drop on the iPad.

OneDrive also received a significant UI redesign. File names are easier to read on all devices, the organization more closely mirrors what users expect to see on a Mac or PC, and the icons of shared files have been updated to make them easier to identify at a glance.

Before the update, file and folder actions required users to tap and hold on an item, which created discoverability issues. Now, there is a tiny three-dot button next to each file and folder that opens a contextual menu with options like ‘Share,’ ‘Delete,’ ‘Make Available Offline,’ ‘Move,’ and more. Additional file and folder actions, including ‘Copy Link,’ ‘Email in Outlook,’ ‘Send File,’ and ‘Invite People,’ are available via the system share sheet. OneDrive can now preview 130 different file types too.

Additional file and folder actions are available via the share sheet.

Additional file and folder actions are available via the share sheet.

It’s unfortunate that it’s taken so long for OneDrive to adopt iOS 11 features like drag and drop. Still, the update is a significant improvement over previous versions and brings the app’s functionality in line with many of its competitors, which makes it worth another look if you have been thinking about switching online storage providers.


iPad Diaries: Transmit Replacements and FTP Clients

iPad Diaries is a regular series about using the iPad as a primary computer. You can find more installments here and subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.

You can download my wallpaper here.

Even though I never depended on Transmit for my daily iPad file management needs, I was sad to read that Panic couldn't find a market for it on the App Store. Thousands of iPad owners use Panic's app to manage their FTP servers and Amazon S3 buckets; integration with the latter is particularly important as it's hard to find apps that combine FTP access with S3 support and aren't hindered by questionable interface choices or a lack of updates.

Transmit for iOS was (and, until it is removed from the App Store, still is) one of a kind. Its excellent Mac foundation was adapted to iOS with taste and elegance, leveraging a split-pane UI long before iPad users were comfortable with Apple's native Split View; thanks to Panic's penchant for beautiful and intuitive design married to power-user functionalities, the Mac-like approach worked surprisingly well on iPad too.

It's difficult to pin down what, exactly, made Transmit for iOS unprofitable. The iOS counterpart always lagged behind the cloud integrations from the Mac app (Backblaze B2 and Rackspace Cloud Files, for instance, never made it to iOS); Panic didn't update Transmit to take advantage of major additions to iOS 11 such as Files and drag and drop; perhaps more importantly, Transmit for iOS is a product of the pre-iOS 11 era, back when the concepts of desktop-like file management and drag and drop were alien to the platform. Ultimately, I think Transmit for iOS lived and (slowly) died because we had it too soon.

But this isn't a post-mortem for Transmit on iOS, which, according to Panic, may even relaunch as a new app on the Store someday. Instead, I'd like to take a quick tour of some of the alternatives for Transmit available on iPad today. In case Panic decides to pull Transmit from the App Store, or if the app stops working in a future release of iOS, these FTP clients and file managers should compensate for the features of Panic's app. Most of them don't offer the same sophisticated and polished UI design, but some of them may even turn out to be more flexible and better integrated with iOS than Transmit.

Read more


Panic to Discontinue Development of Transmit iOS

Panic has announced that it will remove Transmit iOS from the App Store soon. In a blog post today, Cabel Sasser explains that the revenue generated by the paid-up-front app was insufficient to justify its continued development. Sasser doesn’t rule out a return of Transmit to iOS some day, and the move does not affect the company’s other iOS apps or Transmit 5 for the Mac, but adding features to the iOS app to match those debuted in the Mac version last year would make Transmit iOS ‘a guaranteed money-loser.’

This is not Panic’s first pull-back from the App Store. In 2016, Panic pulled the plug on Status Board, its widget-style app for tracking data through web APIs. Why Transmit wasn’t sustainable on iOS is unclear:

Was the use case for this app too edge-casey or advanced? Did we overestimate the amount of file management people want to do on a portable device? Should we have focused more on document viewing capabilities? Maybe all of the above?

Although Transmit will be removed from the App Store soon, Panic updated it with iPhone X support, and existing users will still be able to download it from the App Store and use it until some future change in iOS breaks the app.

I’m sad to see Transmit go. It’s a loss for the platform, but I don’t think it’s a bad omen for ’pro’ iOS productivity apps in general. Transmit failed to get the traction necessary to sustain its further development, but there are still many examples of productivity apps that have found success on the App Store. Hopefully, Panic will find a way to bring Transmit back to iOS one day.

Permalink

Track Hyper-Local Weather Conditions With the Netatmo Weather Station

For some people, weather apps simply answer questions like ‘Do I need a coat today?’ but their appeal is much broader. Weather apps are also about science and statistics. If you enjoy the geeky data side of tracking the weather, there’s no better way satisfy that interest than by collecting measurements yourself with a weather station like the one made by Netatmo.

Weather stations, like many gadgets, run from the simple to the complex. What I like most about the Netatmo Weather Station is that it’s easy to set up and modular. That means you can start with the core system that tracks basic weather data like temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and air quality, and later, add wind speed and precipitation gauges if you want to dive deeper into tracking the weather.

Read more


Apple Addresses the Meltdown and Spectre Exploits With Additional Mitigations to Come

In a support article, Apple has acknowledged that the recently-disclosed Meltdown and Spectre exploits, which affect virtually every CPU in computers, mobile devices, and other platforms, also impact every Mac and iOS device. Although there are no known exploits of the vulnerabilities, Apple advises that users proceed with caution and download apps from trusted sources only.

Mitigations to defend against Meltdown have already been shipped by Apple in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2. watchOS is unaffected by Meltdown. Development of mitigations for both exploits is ongoing and new defenses will be released to each Apple OS as they become available.

The support article published by Apple provides a high-level explanation of how each exploit works. If there’s any good news to be found in the widespread concern caused by these exploits it’s that Apple says the recently-released mitigations have no measurable impact on performance:

Our testing with public benchmarks has shown that the changes in the December 2017 updates resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS as measured by the GeekBench 4 benchmark, or in common Web browsing benchmarks such as Speedometer, JetStream, and ARES-6.

Apple’s support document also reveals that Spectre can be exploited in web browsers, including Safari, using JavaScript. Apple is working to address the problem with an update to Safari that will be released in the coming days. Apple says that:

Our current testing indicates that the upcoming Safari mitigations will have no measurable impact on the Speedometer and ARES-6 tests and an impact of less than 2.5% on the JetStream benchmark.

The gravity of the exploits, which affect virtually all computing platforms, cannot be understated, but it’s reassuring that the initial mitigations released and those coming in the days ahead should have little or no impact on performance. It’s also worth noting that this is probably not the last we’ll hear about Meltdown and Spectre. As Apple notes:

We continue to develop and test further mitigations within the operating system for the Spectre techniques, and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. 

Permalink

AutoSleep 5 Adds Automatic Apple Watch Sleep Tracking and Much More

Slowly but surely, the Series 3 has changed my Apple Watch habits. I abandoned earlier models of the Watch for most tasks other than notifications and workout tracking because, with some notable exceptions, few apps worked well enough to be more convenient than pulling out my iPhone in most circumstances.

The Series 3 Watch is different. Not only is it faster, but the battery life is significantly better. The changes have caused me to rethink how I use my Apple Watch and look for new ways to use it. So when I heard AutoSleep, an app that Federico uses and has reviewed in the past, was getting a big update that includes enhanced Apple Watch functionality, I saw another opportunity to extend how I use my Series 3.

I haven’t been disappointed. AutoSleep 5 is a broad-based update that touches every aspect of the app, but what I like best is its Apple Watch integration, which has begun to give me new insight into my sleep patterns. Although I find the amount of data displayed in AutoSleep overwhelming at times, after spending several days with the app, I plan to stick with it as I try to adjust my schedule to get more rest each week.

Read more