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Posts tagged with "iPadOS 14"



Book Track 2 Review: Widgets, Sidebar for iPad, Shortcuts, and More

I’ve been on a book reading binge this year like never before. That’s partly owing to the pandemic, I’m sure, but it’s also tied to reduced time spent reading articles and social media. In a normal year I read about a dozen books, and this year I’m on pace for five times that. As a result, it’s no surprise that one of my favorite app debuts of the year has been Book Track, from developer Simone Montalto.

Book Track launched at the beginning of the year as a promising 1.0, then followed with a big update mid-year that addressed my initial problems with the app and expanded its functionality in key ways. That update was a great setup for the launch of today’s version 2.0, which introduces support for some of the top features of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14: widgets and a new sidebar design. By getting the low-hanging fruit out of the way in previous updates, Montalto was able to keep Book Track current with all the latest OS technologies right from launch day. Not stopping there, however, he’s thrown in support for Shortcuts (the app) and keyboard shortcuts in today’s update too.

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CARROT Weather Gains Flexibility with iOS 14 Widgets, Watch Complications, and Watch Face Sharing

The weather can vary a lot day-to-day in Chicago, so I’ve always had a weather app on my iPhone’s Home screen. For the past few years, I’ve used CARROT Weather, one of the most comprehensive such apps available on the App Store. CARROT’s Today widget and Watch complications are among the best of any app category, but with the release of iOS 14 and watchOS 7, developer Brian Mueller has taken CARROT Weather’s widgets and Watch complications to a new level.

iOS 14 widgets and watchOS 7’s more flexible complications and watch face sharing feel like they were tailor-made for an app like CARROT. The variety of data available in weather apps makes them perfect for creative widget and watch face implementations, which is precisely what you get with CARROT Weather. Let’s dig into what’s new.

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Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14

Today Apple has released the latest major versions of many of its most popular operating systems: iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14. There’s no macOS update just yet, as Big Sur will be coming later this year.

iOS and iPadOS 14 bring a new assortment of widgets, which can now be added to the iPhone’s Home screen for the first time. iPhones now support Picture in Picture when watching videos or making FaceTime calls. Built-in apps are receiving a host of other upgrades too, including new sidebar designs on iPad. For more details on the releases, check out our overview from earlier this summer, and be on the lookout for Federico’s big review of the updates arriving in the coming weeks.

watchOS 7 introduces sleep tracking, a ton of new watch face options, the ability to share watch faces with others and download them directly from third-party apps, a Shortcuts app, and more. Our overview of the update is available here, and we’ll have a full review coming soon.

tvOS 14 enables audio sharing for playback through multiple pairs of AirPods, HomeKit integration, 4K YouTube playback, and other quality of life improvements. For everything that’s new, check out our overview.

These OS releases weren’t expected to release so soon, since a delayed WWDC in June meant the first betas arrived three weeks later than usual, but Apple is nonetheless following its annual pattern of a mid-September release. Stay tuned as we’ll have lots of coverage on MacStories of the various third-party apps updating to support the latest features of these releases, especially those supporting widgets and iPad sidebars.


Apple Announces iOS 14, watchOS 7, and More Available September 16

Today Apple announced that the latest versions of most of its major OS platforms will be shipping tomorrow, September 16. This includes:

  • iOS 14
  • iPadOS 14
  • watchOS 7
  • tvOS 14

macOS Big Sur was not mentioned, and it’s expected to release later this year alongside Apple Silicon Macs.

I can’t recall there ever having been such a short turnaround time from the announcement of OS release dates to those OS versions shipping. Normally following a September event, Apple releases GM versions of its OS updates and the public versions a week or two later. This year, there’s no such delay.

Until now developers haven’t yet been able to submit their app updates to App Review, so when iOS 14 introduces widgets for the Home screen, for example, there won’t be third-party widgets available to try just yet. It’s a very unusual release strategy for Apple, but in a year like this, it seems anything can happen.


You can follow all of our September event coverage through our September 2020 event hub, or subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.


iOS and iPadOS 14 Users Can Now Set Google Chrome as the Default Browser

Apple is hosting its first fall event in a matter of days, and a public release for all the company’s latest OS updates is expected to follow not long after. However, today anyone using the beta versions of those updates can benefit from a new feature ahead of time: setting Google Chrome as the default browser on iPhone and iPad.

iOS and iPadOS 14 both include the ability to set a third-party browser or email app as the system default, replacing Safari and Mail. Up until now, however, beta users couldn’t yet try the feature because it’s usually not possible for third-party apps to support new OS features until after the beta cycle is complete. That’s not the case with Chrome, though, which as of its latest update can now be configured as the default iOS and iPadOS browser. You have to be running the iOS or iPadOS 14 beta for this to work, but if you are, all you have to do is visit Settings ⇾ Chrome ⇾ Default Browser App to make the change.

Once Chrome is set as your default, any link you tap systemwide will open in Chrome rather than Safari. It’s that simple. Whether you’re opening a link in an app like Messages or even from inside Siri results, the OS will always launch links directly in Chrome. The one point of friction that remains is apps that use Safari View Controller as an in-app browser rather than sending you to a separate app when you tap a link. Slack, for example, behaves this way. Fortunately, all you have to do is hit the Safari-inspired icon inside Safari View Controller that sits next to the share icon and the page will open in Chrome.

Now that Chrome supports this new iOS and iPadOS 14 feature, we may start seeing other browser apps and even email clients debut updated versions that can be set as defaults. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gmail follow Chrome’s lead before long.


External Keyboards, iPadOS 14, and Obscuring Tab Bars

iPadOS 14 apps use sidebars, but only in certain size classes, so tab bars still get hidden behind the keyboard row.

iPadOS 14 apps use sidebars, but only in certain size classes, so tab bars still get hidden behind the keyboard row.

I love using the iPad as my primary computer, but a long-standing frustration I’ve had involves the keyboard row that lines the bottom of the screen when an external keyboard is attached. I like the row itself, as it usually offers valuable utility such as in Apple Notes, where a text formatting menu is available in the keyboard row. The problem is that iPadOS doesn’t adapt apps’ UI to account for the keyboard row, rather it simply hides the bottom portion of an app – which in many cases means hiding the app’s tab bar or other important controls.

This is mainly an issue when using Split View or Slide Over, not full-screen apps. But most of my iPad use does involve Split View and Slide Over, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to manually hide the keyboard row so I could access an app’s tab bar. This is a regular occurrence when writing articles, for example, as I’ll keep Ulysses and Photos in Split View, and the keyboard row that appears when working in Ulysses obscures Photos’ tab bar so I can’t switch tabs in Photos without manually hiding the keyboard row. The row also hides the share icon when viewing a photo, which is what I press many times when writing an article so I can run shortcuts via the share sheet. So as a workaround I have to manually hide the row, a short-lived fix because it then reappears after typing a single keystroke in Ulysses.

In iPadOS 14, Apple is halfway solving this problem. Because apps are being encouraged to switch from a tab bar-based design to one that involves a sidebar, there are fewer occasions when tab bars will be visible. In the iPadOS 14 beta, if I have Ulysses and Photos in a 50/50 Split View, there’s no longer a tab bar for the keyboard row to obscure, because Photos uses a sidebar instead where I can easily navigate to the view I need.

Unfortunately, this is only a partial solution because iPadOS 14 apps still revert to using a tab bar in a compact size class (i.e. when they’re an iPhone-like size). So all Slide Over apps retain tab bars for navigation as before, meaning those important tabs will be hidden any time you’re also working in an app that uses text and thus presents a keyboard row. The same is true for Split View when an app is the smaller app in your multitasking setup. If the app you’re writing in is the larger app in your Split View, the smaller app will have its tab bar obscured by a keyboard row. This is especially problematic for writers, who live in a text editor all day, but it also applies to anyone working in a note-taking app, messaging app, or anything else involving text. iPadOS 14 improves things via sidebars in certain situations, but in many multitasking contexts the years-old problem remains.

But there’s a happy ending of sorts, at least for me. My inspiration for writing about this issue was the discovery of a feature in Ulysses that fixes the problem for me. The app’s View Options inside its Settings panel contains a toggle that has been there for quite a while, I simply never thought to activate it: Hide Shortcut Bar. What this does is perpetually hide the keyboard row whenever a hardware keyboard is attached to your iPad. No keyboard row means no hiding tab bars in other apps while I write.

Ulysses does place some important shortcuts in the keyboard row, but most if not all of them can be triggered via keyboard shortcuts instead, making the keyboard row unnecessary (for my uses at least).

After making this discovery, I dug around in a few other apps’ settings to see how common this feature is. iA Writer offers it, as does Drafts, and possibly many other apps I haven’t tried. It seems more common in text editors than note-taking apps. It’s a shame that the whole keyboard row needs to be hidden just to account for an iPadOS design flaw, but I’m thankful that third-party developers have stepped in to address the issue themselves.

Ulysses is the app I multitask in most frequently, so the ability to keep its keyboard row hidden forever has truly made my day. I tried explaining to my wife why I got so happy all of a sudden, and she didn’t really get it. I don’t blame her.


Widgets and the App Library: A First Look at Bringing Personality and Customization to Your Home Screens

No single feature of the iOS 14 betas has had as immediate an impact on my daily iPhone use as Home screen widgets. Together with the App Library, the features can radically change the way apps are organized and accessed by everyone. Users don’t have to use widgets or the App Library, but they’ve been designed to feel familiar and inviting, echoing the iPhone’s grid layout, folders, and search systems. The result is a deft balancing act that gently introduces the iPhone Home screen’s most significant makeover since it was launched, which I think will be a big hit with users and developers alike.

Widgets’ impact is less pronounced on the iPad, where their placement is less flexible, and there is no App Library. Widgets can’t do quite as much in iOS and iPadOS 14 betas as they can under iOS 13 either. Those are fairly significant caveats depending on how you currently use widgets and should be kept in mind, but it’s also worth remembering that this is the first public beta release. There are still many weeks before iOS and iPadOS 14 will be released, and users’ feedback could influence what the final implementation of widgets looks like.

Despite the current limitations, widgets have profoundly changed the way I use my iPhone and have the potential to do the same on the iPad. The impact surprised me because, after two and half weeks on the developer betas, the only widgets I’ve tried so far are based on Apple’s system apps. As a result, I wanted to share my first impressions and thoughts on widgets, the App Library, and how I’m using both on the iPhone and iPad. I also thought it would be fun to show off some of the ideas being explored by third-party developers, which I’m excited to try soon.

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