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Posts tagged with "safari"

Exporting Links from Safari Reading List via Shortcuts for Mac

Reading List Exporter.

Reading List Exporter.

A few weeks ago in the second lesson of the Automation Academy for Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members, I wrote about how I’ve been using Reminders as a read-later app in addition to traditional task management. The full details are in the story, but to sum up: using a combination of shortcuts based on Apple’s native actions, I can use Reminders to choose between long and short stories whenever I’m in the mood to read something. I love this setup, and I’ve been using it for nearly three months now.

Earlier this week, however, I realized I still hadn’t re-imported old articles from Safari Reading List – my previous read-later tool – into Reminders. That immediately posed an interesting challenge. Sure, I could manually re-save each article from Safari Reading List to Reminders, but that sounded like a chore. Other read-later apps such as Reeder and GoodLinks have long offered Shortcuts actions to fetch links from their databases and process them in Shortcuts however you see fit; Reading List, like other Apple apps, doesn’t support any actions to get the URLs you previously saved. And that’s when I had an idea.

Now that it’s available on macOS, Shortcuts can get access to application support files that are kept private and hidden from users on iOS and iPadOS. More specifically, I remembered that Safari for Mac has long stored its bookmarks and Reading List items in a file called Bookmarks.plist, which folks have been able to read via AppleScript for years. Under the hood, a .plist file is nothing but a fancy dictionary, and we know that Shortcuts has excellent support for parsing dictionaries and extracting data from them.

The plan was simple, and I knew what to do.

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Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 15.1 with SharePlay, Safari for iPad Fixes, Shortcuts Improvements, and More

Screen sharing in FaceTime with SharePlay (left) and the updated Safari for iPad.

Screen sharing in FaceTime with SharePlay (left) and the updated Safari for iPad.

Alongside macOS Monterey, Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 15.1 – the first major updates to the operating systems introduced last month. Don’t expect a large collection of changes from this release, though: 15.1 mostly focuses on enabling SharePlay (which was announced at WWDC, then postponed to a later release a few months ago), rolling Safari back to a reasonable design, and bringing a few tweaks for the Camera app and spatial audio. Let’s take a look.

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Mapper Safari Extension Automatically Redirects Google Maps Links to Apple Maps

All of these place links get redirected to Apple Maps with Mapper.

All of these place links get redirected to Apple Maps with Mapper.

Ever since Apple rolled out the redesigned and improved Apple Maps in Italy last month, I’ve been increasingly switching my usage of maps for exploration and turn-by-turn directions from Google to Apple Maps. I prefer Apple’s overall design sensibilities, I find Look Around drastically superior to Google Street View, and the integration with Apple Maps and the Lock Screen for turn-by-turn navigation is excellent.

However, I still have to keep Google Maps installed on my iPhone for all those times when a particular point of interest (usually a shop or restaurant) isn’t showing up in Apple Maps’ search results. And because the Google Maps app is still installed on my iPhone, every time I tap a search result with an address from Google search, it automatically redirects to Google Maps. I’ve always found this annoying, but now even more so since I consider Apple Maps my primary navigation app here in Rome.1 Now, thanks to a Safari extension, that Google Maps redirect nightmare is finally over.

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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.


Google Appears to Have Stopped Serving AMP Search Results to Safari Users on iOS and iPadOS 15

Update: Although Google has not commented on the lack of AMP links in its search results, Danny Sullivan has tweeted that their disappearance from iOS and iPadOS 15 is a bug that Google is working to fix.


Earlier today, developer Jeff Johnson published a story, noting that AMP links have seemingly vanished from Safari on iOS and iPadOS 15. AMP is Google’s cached URL system that’s designed to speed up the mobile web but often ruins website functionality and junks up URLs. I’ve never been a fan of AMP and neither has Federico.

Google search results for an article that returns AMP results on iOS 14 but not iOS 15.

Google search results for an article that returns AMP results on iOS 14 but not iOS 15.

iOS and iPadOS 15 introduced extensions to Safari, and one of the most popular categories has been extensions that redirect AMP links to the canonical version of the URL. I covered two of our favorites, Amplosion by Christian Selig and Overamped, both of which continue to be among the top paid Safari extensions on the App Store.

Safari extensions that redirect AMP URLs have proven popular on the App Store.

Safari extensions that redirect AMP URLs have proven popular on the App Store.

Jeff Johnson, the maker of Stop the Madness, another Safari extension that redirects AMP links, noticed, while updating his extension, that AMP links had disappeared from Google search results.

Johnson ran some tests:

With this User-Agent [iOS 15’s], there are no AMP links in Google search results, but if I simply change Version/15.0 to Version/14.0 and keep the rest the same, Google search results suddenly have AMP links again! This is reproducible on my iPhone, in the Xcode iPhone simulator, and also in desktop Safari Mac with its User-Agent spoofed as iPhone.

Google search results still return AMP URLs on iOS 14.

Google search results still return AMP URLs on iOS 14.

I’ve done some digging myself, as has Federico, and we have been able to reproduce the same results. I searched Google for an article published today on The Verge. Sure enough, on iOS 14, I get AMP results, but not on iOS 15, where the links point to theverge.com. I ran the same test using Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft’s Edge browser on iOS 15, and all returned Google search results with AMP links. Safari for iOS and iPadOS 15 stands alone among these four browsers and is the only one that doesn’t return AMP links in Google search results.

I wondered what might be going on, so I contacted Google PR to see if they could explain it. I haven’t heard back yet but will update this story if I do.

Meanwhile, Johnson has a theory that seems plausible to me:

So, is it possible that Google has given up on AMP in Safari on iOS 15 because of the popularity of AMP blocking extensions? Who can say, but it’s certainly an interesting coincidence. I can say that it’s a very recent change. I know from my own testing that Google search results still included AMP links for the first week after iOS 15 was released on September 20.

The timing certainly lines up. I know there were AMP links to redirect when I was testing Amplosion and Overamped on the iOS 15 betas and shortly after its launch, but sometime in the past two weeks or so, they have completely vanished from Google search results in Safari for iOS and iPadOS 15. I hope the change sticks.


ActiveTab: A Simple Extension to Tell Which Safari 15 Tab is Active

Safari 15, which is already available for macOS Catalina and Big Sur, will be part of macOS Monterey too. One of the design changes to the updated browser is the separation of tab indicators from its web content. Apple has inexplicably interposed the Favorites bar in between the two, and even if you hide the bar, figuring out which tab is the active one can be difficult.

ActiveTab is a new Safari extension inspired by The Tragedy of Safari 15 for Mac’s ‘Tabs’ a story John Gruber wrote on Daring Fireball recently that you should read if you haven’t already. To make it easier to distinguish the active tab, ActiveTab draws a line underneath it along the top of the tab’s web content. There are eight colors to choose from, and the line can be anywhere from 1 to 7 pixels wide. Note that a page needs to be open for the line to appear because it’s being drawn on top of the content. As a result, you won’t see the line if a tab is empty.

I wish ActiveTab offered different colors for light and dark mode browsing.

I wish ActiveTab offered different colors for light and dark mode browsing.

The extension, which Stephen Hackett shared with me earlier today, undeniably makes it easier to spot the active tab in Safari. However, I found myself wishing almost immediately for light and dark mode versions of the color options that could switch between light and dark mode in sync with my system settings because the colors don’t all work equally well in both modes. The colors of the site you visit can affect the visibility of ActiveTab’s indicator too.

Of course, I’d prefer if Apple fixed the design of its tabs, but if you find yourself being tripped up by the new design, ActiveTab is worth considering.

ActiveTab is available on the Mac App Store for $1.99.


Safari Extensions for iOS and iPadOS 15: A Roundup of Our Favorites

With the introduction of iOS and iPadOS 15, Apple has created an entirely new class of utility app on the App Store: Safari web extensions. Mac users have enjoyed extensions for years. However, for iPhone and iPad users, they’re brand new and promise to make Safari more useful than ever by opening up new power-user functionality that extends Safari in ways that Apple hasn’t. Judging from the initial crop of extensions available, I think Safari users are going to be very happy.

Managing extensions from Settings (left) and Safari (right).

Managing extensions from Settings (left) and Safari (right).

There are a couple of ways to install Safari extensions for iOS and iPadOS 15. First, you can go to the Settings app, select Safari, and inside the Extensions section, turn on any extensions you’ve installed and give them permission to interact with webpages. Second, you can enable or disable extensions by tapping on the puzzle piece icon in the address bar and then choosing ‘Manage Extensions.’ The same popover that appears when you tap the puzzle piece icon also lets you ‘Edit Actions,’ picking favorite extensions that will appear at the top of your extensions list in whatever order you drag them into, similar to the way picking favorite share and action extensions and rearranging them works.

Okay, let’s dig into some of the best extensions already available.

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Craig Federighi Provides Deeper Insight Into iCloud Private Relay

Fast Company’s Michael Grothaus interviewed Craig Federighi this week regarding the suite of new privacy features which Apple unveiled at WWDC. The article includes some notable technical details on how iCloud Private Relay works under the hood. One of the most interesting — and somewhat unfortunate — revelations is that iCloud Private Relay will only work from Safari. Users of other browsers are out of luck here.

The reason for this restriction has to do with Apple’s commitment to unassailable privacy, which happens by ensuring that no party can ever access both your IP address and your destination URL. From what I can gauge, this is actually a three-step process which looks something like this:

  • From Safari, you navigate to a particular URL. Safari encrypts this destination URL locally and then forwards your request to Apple’s iCloud Private Relay servers.
  • Apple’s servers anonymize your IP address so that it can’t be traced back to you, then forward the request to a trusted third-party’s servers.
  • The third-party decrypts the destination URL, then forwards the final request (decrypted URL plus anonymized IP address) to the destination.

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Apple Releases macOS 11.3 Beta with New Safari Features, Reminders Sorting, Music Updates, and Improvements to iOS and iPadOS Apps Running on M1 Macs

Start page items can be reordered.

Start page items can be reordered.

Apple has released the first beta for macOS 11.3 Big Sur, which includes new Safari features, changes that parallel yesterday’s updates to iOS and iPadOS, and more.

Some of the most interesting features of the latest Big Sur beta are in Safari. As I wrote in my Big Sur review, I like most of the changes made to Safari’s start page but wished I could reorder the default sections. That’s now possible, which is terrific, but there’s also a new third-party extension point for developers to build start page integrations, which is very interesting. We’ll have to see what developers do with the new feature, but I expect it will allow RSS clients to list recent articles on the start page that could be opened directly in Safari, for example. There’s a new Web Speech API that allows speech recognition functionality to be built into a webpage too.

Music's new Made for You tab

Music’s new Made for You tab

Similar to iOS and iPadOS, Reminders is gaining the option to print lists. Music adds a dedicated ‘Made For You’ section in the sidebar that includes your annual Replay playlists and Apple’s personalized algorithmic playlists. The Listen Now tab will also suggest upcoming live events tuned to your music tastes. There’s an enhanced News+ tab in Apple News designed to make it easier to access magazines and newspapers and manage downloaded issues. Sony PS5 DualSense and Xbox Series X/S controllers are supported too.

The News+ tab has been redesigned.

The News+ tab has been redesigned.

Finally, the experience of using iOS and iPadOS apps on the Mac got a boost too. There’s a brand new Preference pane in iPhone and iPads running on an M1 Mac that provides more keyboard control over touch commands. Apps can also be opened in larger windows.

The new iOS and iPadOS app Preferences window.

The new iOS and iPadOS app Preferences window.