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Posts tagged with "iOS"

On Multiple App Views for iPad Multitasking

Clayton Miller thinks that iOS should offer a way to view multiple documents from the same app side by side in iPad multitasking:

It’s not too hard to imagine a solution that can leverage the app-centric paradigm of iOS into something supporting multiple documents from the same app. Apps and documents both share the metaphor of the window on the desktop, so why not let them share the iOS pane model?

In an application that supports it, the slide-over menu gains a new option at the bottom for the current app. Tapping that instantiates another view of the app, defaulting to the document management or “open” view. The underlying iOS process model would likely need an overhaul for this to become a reality, but it’s a necessity.

I like the concept he came up with, using the lower section of the Slide Over app picker to open a second pane for another document. But I'd go a step further and argue that users should have the ability to pin any view from the same app next to the current view, not just documents.

As I argued in my review:

One of the key aspects of Slide Over and Split View is that they cannot show two sections of the same app at once. Only individual apps can be displayed concurrently on screen: you can't split Safari in multiple views and display both views on screen at the same time. If you were hoping to manage multiple Safari tabs or Pages documents in Split View, you're out of luck.

Splitting apps into multiple atomic units for standalone views and documents seems like an obvious next step going forward.

If Apple brings the ability to split the current app in multiple instances for Slide Over and Split View, I hope they'll do it for any view available in the app. Documents are ideal candidates for this, but all apps would benefit from such addition.


Workflow 1.3 Brings Powerful Widget, Sync, Health Actions, and More

Since its debut on the App Store last year, Workflow has established a new paradigm for automation on iOS.

By deeply integrating with iOS apps, device hardware and sensors, an array of web services, and advanced actions for scripting and control flows, Workflow has shown how automation – for many an area of computing that evokes thoughts of old desktop apps and arcane scripting languages – can be reimagined for the iPhone and iPad while being fun and powerful. Workflow is one of the reasons behind my decision to go all-in with the iPad as my primary computer, and the Apple Design Award it won in June is testament to the amazing work by the app's young and prolific team.

Workflow 1.3, launching today on the App Store, is another major step forward for the app, bringing a powerful Today widget, sync between devices, new Health actions, and more.

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1Password 5.5 Brings UI Tweaks and Improvements to Touch ID, Apple Watch App, and Security

Released today on the App Store, the latest update to our favorite password manager brings some nice minor adjustments. Most of the changes improve the flow and ease of use of the app, and while there aren't any game changers here, numerous tiny annoyances that have been frustrating me for a while have been wiped out.

The first feature mentioned in the release notes is the ability to switch between multiple vaults with only two taps using their new vault switcher. I personally only use one vault with 1Password so I don't have much to say here, but I'm always a fan of doing things in fewer taps so this feature gets a thumbs up from me.

My favorite changes have to do with Touch ID and security tweaks. There have been quite a few times when I've accidentally canceled the Touch ID dialogue, and until now that meant that I was then required to type my password back in before the app would unlock. With version 5.5, there is now a very nice looking fingerprint button that will show up beneath the password input box. If you accidentally cancel Touch ID before unlocking the app, you can now tap the fingerprint button to bring the Touch ID prompt back up and unlock without typing. The feature of course still respects your Touch ID timeout settings, so if you're trying to unlock when Touch ID has been disabled until the next time your password is typed, tapping the fingerprint button won't do anything.

Next on security, in regard to the 1Password extension, the extension and the main 1Password app now share unlock settings. This means that if you unlock the app, the extension is unlocked, and vice versa. If you, like me, have experienced typing your password into the extension (which should then enable Touch ID) and then going to the main app and discovering that you now need to type the password again, then you'll be happy about this feature as well. Timeout settings are still respected on the extension as well, also of course.

Another small but appreciated security improvement: if you fill your login credentials on an unsecured website (think http://) when the saved URL for the login is secure (think https://), 1Password will warn you that this is about to happen. This is one of those features that you hope you would never need anyway but if you do it could save you a lot of trouble.

Finally, among some other various and very minor changes, the Apple Watch app has been updated to allow you to see the PIN numbers on your credit card entries. Convenient if you're into that sort of thing.

Overall, 1Password 5.5 is a solid update. Mostly polish, but polishing shiny things just makes them shinier, and who doesn't like that? If you don't have 1Password yet then I'm not sure why you read all of this, but you can find it in the App Store, and you should go buy it right now.

Billings Pro Adds Mobile Estimates and Apple Watch Features

I've used Billings for invoicing and time tracking since shortly after I first started freelancing years ago. I recently (finally) upgraded to Billings Pro, and I've been testing out the most recent update to the apps for Mac and iOS. The latest version brings Apple Watch support, mobile estimates, and seamless integration of all of the Billings Pro features across all my devices.

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Apple Releases iOS 8.4

Apple's new Music app.

Apple's new Music app.

Apple has released iOS 8.4 today, bringing a redesigned Music app with Apple Music support, audiobook listening features for iBooks and CarPlay, and iBooks Author textbook support on iPhone.

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Editorial 1.2 Brings Powerful New Text Editing Features, More iOS Automation

If I had to pick one iOS app I couldn't live without, that would be Editorial.

Developed by Berlin-based Ole Zorn, Editorial was the app that reinvented text automation in 2013 and that pushed me to start working exclusively from my iPad. Editorial is a powerful Markdown text editor that combines visual Automator-like actions with a web browser, text snippets, Python scripts, and URL schemes to supercharge text editing on iOS with the power of automation. I spend most of my days writing and researching in Editorial, and my workflow depends on this app.

Editorial also has a slow release cycle. Zorn likes to take his time with updates that contain hundreds of changes: Editorial 1.1, released in May 2014, brought an iPhone version and custom interfaces, making Editorial feel like an entirely new app. The same is happening today with Editorial 1.2, which adds support for the latest iPhones, iOS 8 integration, custom templates, browser tabs, folding, and much more.

Editorial 1.2 with iOS 8 support is launching right after Apple's announcement of iOS 9, but the wait has been worth it. The new version builds upon the excellent foundation of Editorial 1.1, and the enhancements it brings vastly improve the app for users who rely on its automation features and Python interpreter.

Rather than covering every single change, I'll focus on the 10 new features that have most impacted the way I get work done with Editorial on a daily basis.

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Mobile First

Second, a smartphone knows much more than a PC did. There’s an old computer science saying that a computer should never ask you a question that it should be able to work out the answer to; a smartphone can work out much more. It can see who your friends are, where you spend your time, what photos you’ve taken, whether you’re walking or running and what your credit card is. The sensors, APIs and data that are available (with permission - mostly) to a service you want to use on a smartphone are vastly greater than for a website isolated within a web browser on a PC. Each of those sensors and APIs creates a new business, or many new businesses, that could not exist on a PC.

Benedict Evans has an interesting take on the growing divergence between the modern mobile landscape and the PC environment.

The quote above struck a chord with me as it's something I notice on a weekly basis when I sit down to record podcasts at my Mac. After working on the iPad and relying on the iPhone 6 Plus as a companion device, the amount of information and workflows that I can't have on OS X is striking. Beyond entire apps such as Health, Workflow, and Editorial or utilities like the Meet keyboard and Siri, the fact that a mobile OS does everything for me at this point makes the PC obsolete and a legacy model for what I need (with the exception of podcast recording over Skype, but I bet that will be solved on iOS eventually).


iOS 8.3 and Desktop File Managers

I missed this when reports first came out last week: with iOS 8.3, file managers such as iMazing and iExplorer can no longer access the document libraries of iOS apps over a USB connection.

Joe Rossignol writes:

Apple has changed security settings in iOS 8.3 that prevent file managers and transfer utilities such as iFunBox, iTools, iExplorer, iBackupBot and PhoneView from gaining access to app directories on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The change breaks current versions of transfer utilities for OS X and Windows, forcing many developers to release new versions of their software with workarounds that restore at least partial sandbox access.

If Apple's argument is that the ability to access app files has been disabled for security concerns, I may understand that position. But that doesn't change the fact that, while some apps can still pass along files over USB to the aforementioned file managers if they support iTunes File Sharing, other apps are now cut off from USB file transfers if they don't support iTunes.

Or, if they can't support iTunes File Sharing.

Case in point: Pythonista. Due to rules that prevent Python scripts from being manually copied with iTunes File Sharing from a computer to Pythonista (that's a whole other topic worth arguing), Ole Zorn's app doesn't show up in iTunes. And because of other Apple rules (App Store Review Guidelines, 2.8), Pythonista can't sync scripts with iCloud or other services across devices either.

Still, before iOS 8.3, I could transfer Python scripts from my Mac to my iPad (and vice versa) using iMazing; now I get this error:

I wanted to save a backup of scripts I created on my iPad over the weekend (as I always do), but I couldn't access them over USB anymore due to iOS 8.3. Instead, I ended up having to copy and paste code as plain text, create text files in Dropbox, and sync everything back to my Mac.

I don't know what would be better for Apple's users – whether it'd be preferable to reinstate USB access to all app directories through third-party file managers, let users decide which kind of files they want to sync between devices, or open up iTunes File Sharing (even if Apple doesn't recommend it anymore) to more file formats.

A basic question remains: if I program on an iPad and I want to access my script files within reasonable security measures, why shouldn't I be able to?