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Posts tagged with "iPadOS"

Runestone: A Streamlined Text and Code Editor for iPhone and iPad

Runestone is the latest app from Simon Støvring, the developer behind Scriptable, Jayson, and Data Jar. Støvring’s apps tend to be focused on developer or automation use cases, filling holes in the iOS and iPadOS ecosystem to aid power users. Runestone mostly falls into the same category, although it also has some wider potential appeal for general purpose writing.

The new app functions as an excellent plain text editor for anyone who needs to write on their iPhone or iPad. It’s simple and thoughtfully designed, and includes a variety of excellent themes to improve your writing experience. Runestone’s marquee feature, however, is its syntax highlighting. For Markdown writers, the app will use simple color schemes (which can be altered to your liking using the theme settings) and subtle style changes to highlight your links, bold and italic words, footnotes, and more. The result is a very simple, essentially plain-text approach which still makes it easy to see your markup at a glance.

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Knotwords: A New Word Game From Zach Gage and Jack Schlesinger

Knotwords is a deceptively simple new game from Zach Gage and Jack Schlessinger that combines elements of multiple word and logic puzzles into a unique, fun experience.

Each puzzle is composed of a set of squares that are divided into sections. Letters in the corner of a section establish which letters can be placed in that section of the puzzle. The goal is to arrange the letters, so they spell words vertically and horizontally throughout the puzzle. If that sounds simple, it is, but like any good game, just because the rules are easy to grasp doesn’t mean the game itself is easy.

As you explore and test solutions in Knotwords, the available letters are highlighted on a keyboard at the bottom of the screen, making it easy to tell which letters remain available to play. Once a row has been filled with letters horizontally or vertically, Knotwords will let you know if your letters are out of place by scratching out the letters in pink.

Like Sudoku, solving words makes each puzzle progressively easier by eliminating the number of possible letters that can be placed in open squares. It’s a dynamic that helps ease the frustration of getting stuck on one part of a puzzle because focusing your efforts elsewhere often leads to a breakthrough in an area where you were having trouble. There’s also a built-in hint system featuring the game’s rabbit mascot, who dispenses hints in the form of definitions of words instead of the answers themselves. Also, on iOS, the game includes an upbeat soundtrack with a jazzy lounge music vibe and generous use of haptic feedback, both of which add to the overall experience.

I’m a big fan of logic puzzles like Knotwords. They’re an excellent way to unwind by concentrating on something that isn’t your work or something else that might be on your mind. Knotwords fits that role perfectly by being easy to learn and play but challenging to solve and unique. The experience is a little like doing a crossword puzzle without the clues. It’s a combination that I love, so I plan to make Knotwords a regular part of my downtime this summer.

In addition to iOS and iPadOS, Knotwords is available on Android, the Mac, and PC. The game is free to download on the App Store and includes a core set of puzzles, but for $4.99/year or a one-time payment of $11.99, you can unlock more puzzlebook puzzles each month, a daily Twist puzzle, additional hints, statistics, and color themes.


Automation April: Processing Tot Dots with Shortcuts

I’ve used Tot by The Iconfactory on and off since it was released in 2020 and reviewed by Federico, but it never stuck. I never came up with a system for using the app that fits well with how I work. Instead, I would simply dump text and URLs copied from the web or jot notes to myself haphazardly in any of the app’s seven colorful dots. The trouble was that when I went back to the app to find something, I often found myself clicking and scrolling around a lot to find what I wanted.

With the introduction of Tot’s Shortcuts support, I immediately saw an opportunity to process Tot’s dots in ways that would make the app fit better with the way I use it. I still don’t have a system for the app’s seven dots. Instead, I’ve got a shortcut called Tot Dot Review that lets me parse and process Tot’s dots in several different ways that shows off Tot’s shortcuts actions along with a handful of built-in Shortcuts actions for extracting different types of data from text.

Tot Dot Review lets me quickly pull URLs, Apple Maps URLs, addresses, phone numbers, and dates from my Tot notes without skimming through each of the app’s seven notes. I can also copy Tot’s notes into Markdown-formatted text that I can copy and paste into another app for processing and delete the content of all seven Tot notes, so I can start fresh. The combination of options has made it easier to find and manage things in Tot, which has led me to use the app more too.

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Sofa 3.3 Adds Extensive Customization Options

Sofa 3.3, the media organizer app for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, is out, and the update is all about customization. If you haven’t tried Sofa before, check out our recent coverage of the app, which was a runner-up for the MacStories Selects awards in the Best App Update category last year. The update includes a long list of ways to personalize Sofa, which are best shown off by showing you what’s possible, so let’s update the list of books I’ve got in Sofa.

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CARROT Weather 5.6 Adds Locations Lists, New Layout Sections, and More

CARROT Weather 5.6 is out today with a handful of excellent new features that pick up where previous updates have left off, with more ways to customize the app and make it your own.

My favorite new feature is Locations Lists. From CARROT Weather’s Locations tab, you can search for the weather in any city you like. That works well for one-off checks of conditions somewhere else, and CARROT saves your most recent searches at the bottom of the Locations tab making it easy to rerun a search. Locations can also be saved as favorites.

Setting up forecasts for multiple locations.

Setting up forecasts for multiple locations.

Location Lists extend CARROT Weather’s location-based functionality further by letting you go beyond a simple list of favorite locations. Tap the Info button next to a place you’ve marked as a favorite, and you can choose to ‘Show Forecast in Locations List.’ Doing so opens up additional options, including an hourly or daily forecast, a chart or stack layout, and a choice from among many data points to highlight alongside the forecast. Once a location has been set up the way you want, you’ll see a card-like UI for each city you’ve added with the data you’ve chosen. Whether you’re keeping tabs on a destination for an upcoming trip or just want to know if the weather is nice where a friend or family member lives, the new Locations List provides an excellent overview without requiring you to tap into the details of each city. In the future, I’d love to see Location List forecasts added to CARROT Weather’s set of Home Screen widgets.

CARROT's tab bar is fully-customizable.

CARROT’s tab bar is fully-customizable.

I used to hide CARROT Weather’s tab bar, but the new Locations List has given me a reason to keep it visible, making it easier to access my favorite locations and features like the app’s weather maps. The tab bar is now customizable, so you only need to display the tabs you use in the order you prefer. Just visit the Layout settings and choose Arrange Tab Bar to customize it.

CARROT Weather 5.6 introduces new Solar, Moon, Air Quality, Pollen, and Tide sections.

CARROT Weather 5.6 introduces new Solar, Moon, Air Quality, Pollen, and Tide sections.

CARROT Weather’s Layout sections continue to expand with version 5.6 too. The latest update includes Solar, Moon, Air Quality, Pollen, and Tide sections. CARROT Weather already offered ways to surface the information in these new sections as data points. However, with the new Layout sections, you get more detailed and glanceable information than before.

When the weather is bad in Chicago, I look north to feel better.

When the weather is bad in Chicago, I look north to feel better.

The maps and radar functionality have also been expanded. Maps now show when a wintery mix of precipitation is falling. Fortunately, we’re nearing the end of that kind of weather in the Chicago area, so I haven’t seen a wintery mix in CARROT’s weather map here. However, the good people of Wisconsin and Michigan are enjoying a bright pink wintery mix this morning, so you can see what that looks like in the screenshot above. The radar feature also reports hail and debris from tornados that are detected, which I’d prefer not to see any time soon, but I’m also glad it’s available.

With the latest update, I’ve added daily forecasts to my Locations List for the cities where my kids live. I’ve also added Pollen and Air Quality sections to my weather layout, which will be handy as the weather warms up and I head outside more. I’ve also simplified my tab bar to mirror how I use the app, which makes one-handed use easier.

It’s remarkable how much customization is now available in CARROT Weather. Version 5.0 was a big leap forward, but Brian Mueller has continued to refine the app and add new and interesting options that have taken the app’s personalization to a new level that I love.

CARROT Weather is available as a free update on the App Store. The app offers multiple subscription tiers, with different features at each level, which you can read more about in the app’s Settings.


Overcast Redesign Enhances Podcast Navigation with an Emphasis on Playlists and Recent Episodes

I’ve used a lot of different podcast apps over the years, but the one I return to most often and have used the most is Overcast by Marco Arment. The app’s customizability, Smart Speed and Voice Boost audio enhancement technologies, and Shortcuts support are unrivaled among podcast players. I also appreciate that when episodes of the shows I love are published, they usually appear in Overcast first.

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WaterMinder 5.1 Delivers a Ground-Up Redesign of Its Apple Watch App and More

Today, there are a lot of apps that track hydration, but for me, the standard-bearer for the category has always been and remains WaterMinder by Funn Media. The app has evolved a lot since we first covered it in 2016, but what hasn’t changed is its emphasis on fast data entry, a clear, easy-to-use interface, and the adoption of the latest Apple technologies. With version 5.1, the WaterMinder watchOS app has been rebuilt from the ground up using SwiftUI. A handful of other nice additions have found their way into the iPhone and iPad apps too.

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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.

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Tripsy 2.10 Adds Web-Based Itineraries and Expanded Travel Email Forwarding

Tripsy is my favorite travel app because it’s not just about getting from Point A to Point B. To me, the app defines the difference between trips and travel. Lots of apps can track travel information about your flights or show you where your hotel is on a map. Tripsy can do those things too, and it’s good at them. However, where Tripsy shines brightest and sets itself apart from other apps is by going beyond those nuts and bolts essentials and focusing the things you want to do and see on your trip.

I'm a big fan of Tripsy's modern design.

I’m a big fan of Tripsy’s modern design.

We’ve covered Tripsy before, so if you’re brand new to the app, be sure to check out that review, which covered the app’s 2.0 release. That update featured a beautiful modern card-style design, loads of trip inspiration and planning tools to organize travel, lodging, activities, dining, and more in one neatly organized app that works on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and more recently, the Mac.

Unfortunately, that update was also released in the fall of 2019, so I only got a chance to use it once before COVID ended my travel plans for a while. However, the travel outlook is brighter in many corners of the world today, and pent-up demand has people revisiting deferred trips, me included. If you’re in a similar situation and have a trip in your future, I encourage you to give today’s Tripsy update a look because, with version 2.10, Tripsy makes it easier to organize a trip than ever before.

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