THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Backblaze

Astonishingly Easy And Unlimited Cloud Backup


Posts tagged with "iPad"

Apple Marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day by Announcing Upcoming Accessibility Features

Thursday is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To mark the occasion, Apple has announced a long list of accessibility features coming to its products later this year and shared other ways it is celebrating the day through its apps and services.

Apple’s press release sums up the features coming to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch as follows:

Using advancements across hardware, software, and machine learning, people who are blind or low vision can use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection; users with physical and motor disabilities who may rely on assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control can fully control Apple Watch from their iPhone with Apple Watch Mirroring; and the Deaf and hard of hearing community can follow Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple is also expanding support for its industry-leading screen reader VoiceOver with over 20 new languages and locales. These features will be available later this year with software updates across Apple platforms.

Door Detection will be part of the Magnifier app later this year. The feature helps blind and low vision users find and navigate doors when they arrive somewhere. The feature will judge the distance to the door using LiDAR, describe the door’s attributes, like whether it opens by pushing or using a doorknob, and read signs and symbols next to doors.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

The Apple Watch will add several Physical and Motor accessibility features too. Apple Watch Mirroring, which is built on AirPlay in part, will allow users with physical and motor disabilities to control their Watches from an iPhone using Voice Control, Switch Control, voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, and Made for iPhone switches. The Apple Watch will also add a new double pinch gesture for controlling, like answering and ending phone calls and taking photos.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

For Deaf and hard of hearing users, Apple will add Live Captions on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple says captioning will work with video calling apps like FaceTime, streaming video services, video conferencing apps, and in-person conversations. Live Captions occur on-device to preserve privacy, and on the Mac, users will be able to type a response that will be spoken aloud.

VoiceOver will get an update, too, adding the following languages:

  • Arabic (World)
  • Basque
  • Bengali (India)
  • Bhojpuri (India)
  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • Croatian
  • Farsi
  • French (Belgium)
  • Galician
  • Kannada
  • Malay
  • Mandarin (Liaoning, Shaanxi, Sichuan)
  • Marathi
  • Shanghainese (China)
  • Spanish (Chile)
  • Slovenian
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Ukrainian
  • Valencian
  • Vietnamese

VoiceOver on the Mac will also gain Text Checker that will discover formatting issues.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Apple previewed several other upcoming accessibility features across its products, including:

  • Buddy Controller, the ability for someone to use a second game controller to assist with playing a game as though the two controllers were one
  • Siri Pause Time, which will allow users to customize the period Siri waits before responding to a user
  • Voice Control Spelling Mode, for dictating words letter-by-letter
  • Customizable sound recognition of the sounds in your environment
  • New themes and text adjustments in the Books app for a more accessible reading experience
Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Also, Apple has announced that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is being celebrated with Apple Store sessions, an Accessibility Assistant shortcut in the Shortcuts app, special Fitness+ sessions and Time to Walk or Push episodes, an accessibility-oriented Maps guide, and highlighted content on the App Store and in Apple Books Apple Podcasts, Apple Music and Apple TV.

We’ve seen Apple announce accessibility features coming to future versions of its OSes before, but today’s announcement is unique given the number of features revealed. I’m eager to try these features out. Based on what Apple has said, there seems to be a lot here that will make meaningful impacts on a lot of users’ everyday lives.


Adobe Announces Major Updates to Fresco and Photoshop for iPad

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

Today, Adobe announced substantial updates to Fresco, its drawing and painting app for the iPhone and iPad, and its image editor, Photoshop for iPad. I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with these updates yet, but based on Adobe’s announcement, the changes promise to be among the most significant releases yet.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

Fresco is adding a magic wand selection tool that allows selections to be made based on color. A slider adjusts the color that defines the selection, which gives artists fine-grained control over what is selected. As with magic wand tools in other Adobe products, the purpose of the new tool is to eliminate tedious manual selection methods where possible.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

The app has also added a liquify tool that blends colors on Fresco’s canvas as though they were paint. Liquify, which is part of the Transform set of tools, allows users to push, pull, and mix adjacent colors in a way that looks quite natural in Adobe’s demonstrations.

Fresco first added tools that brought compositions to life with motion last year. Today’s update adds the ability to adjust the opacity of motion frames from the Frames action menu and move, resize, and rotate motion paths. Fresco’s update includes several other new features, including a recent brushes list, new vector manga brushes, and the ability to define reference layers, a handy way to separate line work from color fill work, and capture a perspective grid from an imported image.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

The Photoshop update has added a new AI-based Content-Aware Fill tool that can use surrounding parts of an image to remove and fill unwanted sections of an image with a single tap. Content-Aware Fill is one of the marquee Photoshop features on the Mac, so it’s nice to see it added to the iPad now too. The app has also added a single-tap background removal and replacement tool, which relies on Adobe’s Select Subject technology.

Source: Adobe.

Source: Adobe.

To make quick adjustments to an image, Adobe has introduced auto-tone, color, and contrast tools to Photoshop too. Adobe says these are three of the most frequent actions taken by users on the desktop, so bringing them to the iPad should make it a much more attractive platform for editing images. Adobe’s font browser with over 20,000 fonts is available on Photoshop for iPad too.

I continue to be impressed with the pace at which Adobe apps, but especially Fresco and Photoshop, are advancing on the iPad. Both have grown into some of the most sophisticated iPad apps available and feel natural and native to the platform in the way they implement the equivalent of desktop features on the iPad.

Fresco and Photoshop are available as free downloads on the App Store and offer In-App Purchases to unlock certain features.


Paper’s 10th Anniversary

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a decade since the drawing app Paper was released on the iPad. Andy Allen, a co-founder of FiftyThree, the company that released the app in 2012, marked the anniversary with a post on Andy Works that recounts the app’s origin story during the early days of the iPad.

According to Allen, Paper was born from the ashes of Microsoft’s prototype device called the Courier, which was never released:

While Paper was born in 2012, its roots go back a few years prior when we co-founders first met at Microsoft working on the idea for a new device called Courier. Before the iPad, this was a two-screen digital journal + pen with an entirely new OS and apps designed for a very un-Microsoft customer—creative types. Despite internal excitement for the product, Ballmer shut down Courier in 2010, and if it wasn’t for a leaked prototype video that caused a stir online, things might’ve ended there.

Allen’s post also describes the unconventional design decisions that drove Paper’s unique look and interaction model, which anyone interested in the history and process of app design will love. What really struck me, though, was Allen’s observations about the Paper’s resilience, which is more an exception than a rule:

Most apps from the early App Store-era that were hailed for their design are no longer with us (Path). Yet Paper is still here. And in much the same form as when it was first released having weathered the many tides of changing UI trends (flat design) and iOS updates. The same principles continued guiding it through new features, experiments, and even full rewrites. Every part replaced, yet its soul intact.

Yet, despite Paper’s longevity, even it isn’t immune from the impermanence of modern apps:

In writing this article, I wanted to get the original version of Paper 1.0 running on an old iPad. I tried for a full day but failed. A reminder that our work is transient—here for its moment and then gone.

I’m glad Allen shared these stories about Paper. Too many of the tales of the early App Store have already been lost, and Paper is an important milestone in that history that illustrates the kind of creativity and innovation that the iPad made possible.

Permalink

ComicTrack: A Beautifully-Designed, Flexible Way to Organize Your Comic Book Reading

ComicTrack is a new app from Joe Kimberlin for tracking and organizing the comic books you’ve read, are currently reading, and want to read. The idea is similar to his excellent videogame tracking app, GameTrack, but applied to comics. I’ve been using ComicTrack for a couple of weeks now, and it’s excellent. Of course, you’ll also need a separate app to read your comics, but having a dedicated app to organize what I’m reading and plan to read has single-handedly gotten me back into reading comics more regularly.

ComicTrack on the iPhone.

ComicTrack on the iPhone.

For context, I’ve always been a very casual comic book fan. I have Comixology and Shonen Jump installed on my iPad mini, but I often go weeks or months without touching either. It’s not a lack of interest, so much as a combination of not knowing where to start and having limited free time. ComicTrack hasn’t magically granted me more free time, but it has made getting started much easier by reducing the friction of picking something to read.

ComicTrack on the 12.9" iPad Pro in dark mode

ComicTrack on the 12.9” iPad Pro in dark mode

I’m going to focus on the iPad version of ComicTrack because that’s where I read most of my comics, but the app also works and looks great on the iPhone and Mac, as you’ll see in the screenshots below. Everything syncs over iCloud too. Also, although I spend most of my time using the iPad version of ComicTrack, I find the iPhone and Mac apps indispensable for collecting new ideas of things to read. I run across comic books all the time via RSS, Twitter, podcasts, and friends’ recommendations. That doesn’t just happen when I’m using my iPad, but with ComicTrack on all the platforms I use, it’s easy to add something that catches my eye.

Read more


iPad Air 2022 Review: Refined Balance

The new iPad Air.

The new iPad Air.

The last time I wrote about the iPad Air in October 2020, I explained how its fourth-generation model intrigued me again. A year and a half later, here I am, once again fascinated by the iPad Air, captivated by its hybrid nature caught between a base model iPad and the aspirations of an iPad Pro.

Here’s why: while the new iPad Air, which goes on sale this Friday starting at $599, doesn’t break any ground for the Air line, I believe it has reached its most balanced state yet.

The new iPad Air catches up with the iPad Pro and iPad mini in supporting 5G networking; it’s the final iPad in the lineup to get Center Stage; like the iPad Pro, it now comes with an M1 chip and the same 8 GB of RAM. The 2022 iPad Air refines what Apple started with the relaunch of this model in 2020 and achieves a balance of features, size, and price that makes it the ideal iPad for most people.

The iPad Air and the features it adds compared to its previous-gen model are, at this point, known quantities. The design, 10.9” display, and implementation of Touch ID are unchanged from the 2020 version; I covered Center Stage (we even built a custom app for it), the M1, and 5G in my 2021 iPad Pro review; the Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil, and Smart Folio covers are the same ones we’ve been using for years.

The same is true regarding how I see Apple’s pitch for the iPad Air as a product: it’s a distillation of the most essential traits of the Pro line, made accessible to more customers at a lower price point. I wrote this in 2020, and it still applies to the new iPad Air:

While the 10.9” Air won’t replace the 12.9” iPad Pro as my primary machine, I’ve been impressed by this iPad for a different reason: the iPad Air democratizes the notion of “pro iPad”, bringing key features of iPad Pro to more customers, while at the same time looking ahead toward the future of iPad with hardware not seen on the current iPad Pro lineup. The iPad Air sits at the intersection of old iPad Pro features trickling down to the rest of the iPad line and new ones appearing on this model first.

If the “new” features of the iPad Air aren’t new at all and if the strategy behind this product hasn’t changed since 2020, I could reasonably wrap up this story here, right?

Well, not quite. Something happened recently that allowed me to evaluate the new iPad Air from a fresh perspective: Silvia started using my iPad mini and fell in love with it. So when I received a review unit of the new iPad Air from Apple last week, I asked myself: could I use the iPad Air as my secondary iPad, replacing the iPad mini for reading, chatting on Twitter and Discord, and watching YouTube videos, plus doing the occasional note-taking and having a small extra monitor for Universal Control?

I had been feeling like the iPad mini was a bit too small for my hands anyway (hence why I was okay with Silvia taking it); perhaps the new iPad Air could be a good opportunity to reassess its capabilities as a general-purpose tablet for people who want just one iPad in their lives as well as folks who, like me, work on a 12.9” iPad Pro but also want to complement it with a smaller, more focused iPad.

So that’s the experiment I’ve been running for the past six days. Let’s see how it went.

Read more


macOS 12.3: The Magic of Universal Control and More

macOS 12.3 Monterey has arrived, delivering Universal Control, the long-awaited feature that allows users to transition between Macs and iPads with a single set of input devices. Federico is covering the feature from the perspective of iPadOS 15.4, so I’ll focus on the Mac. In addition to Universal Control, macOS 12.3 includes other smaller features, which I’ll cover at the end of this story.

I’ve been using macOS 12.3 as my daily OS throughout the current beta cycle for a couple of reasons. First, Shortcuts has been steadily improving ever since Monterey’s fall introduction, so I wanted to stay on top of those improvements in real-time. Second, I’ve been fascinated by the possibilities created by Universal Control since it was announced at WWDC last year. I’m pleased to report that the feature hasn’t disappointed me and has quickly found a place as part of my core computing setup.

Read more


Pok Pok Playroom Releases Major Town Toy Expansion

Pok Pok Playroom, the delightful collection of digital toys that won an Apple Design Award earlier this year, got a big update today that expands the app’s town toy significantly. In the months since the app’s launch, the Pok Pok team has been hard at work adding to and refining the app’s digital toys, but today’s update is particularly noteworthy for its depth.

Source: Pok Pok.

Source: Pok Pok.

It’s not surprising that the town toy is among kids’ favorites. The town’s wide variety of buildings, people, animals, and other elements provided a rich environment for exploration and imagination. Today’s update grows the town into a thriving, diverse metropolis. The original parts are still there, but kids will also find more occupations, green spaces, new means of transportation, a farm, and even a movie set complete with a dinosaur.

Pok Pok's revamped town has a movie set.

Pok Pok’s revamped town has a movie set.

The all-new town was developed in collaboration with Sarah Kaufman, an urban planner from New York City, who helped the Pok Pok team incorporate the cultural, design, and community elements of modern cities. The results are fantastic. There’s a wealth of new areas available that I expect kids will find engaging and fun.

If you have kids and haven’t tried Pok Pok yet, now is a great time to do so. You can learn more on the Pok Pok website and donwload the app on the App Store. Also, if you want to hear from the Pok Pok team themselves, listen to the interview we did with them on AppStories when they won an Apple Design Award.


ActiveTab Safari Extension Launched on iPad

Last week, I wrote about ActiveTab, a Safari extension that draws a colorful line beneath the active tab in Safari for Mac, which makes it far easier to identify the tab you’re viewing. However, the Mac isn’t the only platform where Safari’s tabs are problematic. As Federico explained in his iOS and iPadOS 15 review, it’s every bit as difficult to decypher which tab is active on the iPad.

Fortunately, ActiveTab is now available on the iPad too. The extension has the exact same features as the Mac version, making the active tab stand out by drawing a line across the top of the content view underneath the tab. If you haven’t installed a Safari extension on the iPhone or iPad yet, be sure to check out my story on iOS and iPadOS 15 Safari extensions for details on how to set them up.

ActiveTab has added new Blend Modes and custom colors to the app too.

ActiveTab has added new Blend Modes and custom colors to the app too.

Since I first wrote about ActiveTab, the app has been updated to allow you to add a custom color using RGBA values, in addition to the set of pre-defined options. The extension has added a Blend Mode option on both platforms too, which can help set the extension’s colored bar apart from its background in some circumstances.

If you haven’t checked out ActiveTab yet, it’s available on the App Store for $1.99.


How iPadOS 15 Ruined Chris Welch’s iPad Home Screen

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge, covers an aspect of iPadOS 15 I also pointed out in my review: iPadOS 15 no longer keeps the same icon grid layout in portrait and landscape orientations, and, if you place widgets on the Home Screen, its density is reduced.

Welch concludes:

Some will see this as a very minor inconvenience and carry on with updating to iPadOS 15 for all of the other benefits. Since the App Library is now there, you can even go in the complete opposite direction and load your homescreens up with widgets everywhere and only a few app icons. If that’s you, don’t let me stop you. On the whole, it’s a very good release.

But I’m really hoping in a future software update, Apple will add a setting to restore the old layout that kept everything more consistent. It’d be even better if the company made the grid more customizable on the whole. If we’re letting people choose between new and old Safari designs, why not offer a choice between having more things on-screen or a less dense grid that’s better optimized for widgets? There’s already a “Home Screen and Dock” section in settings, after all. Letting you adjust the grid to your liking is something that Android phones and tablets already get right. It’s not a huge ask.

I think the point about customization is exactly right, and also why I’m not complaining about the ability to choose a layout in Safari. As iPads are used by a variety of less tech-savvy and more experienced pro users, it’s now increasingly challenging for Apple to cover the platform’s full spectrum of workflows with non-customizable features. Welch makes a great point about the Home Screen grid’s rigidity and lack of control; I hope Apple provides more options for this in the future, along with a denser grid if you have widgets placed on the iPad Home Screen.

Permalink