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Apps Links

Transit’s Apple Watch app returns after two-year hiatus 🔗

Jon Fingas, writing for Endgaget about Transit for iOS releasing a new version of their Apple Watch app:

The popular public transportation tool is now a native app, of course, but it also gives you considerably more detail than just arrival times, including future arrivals and a map indicating where to go. 

I’m glad to see more apps slowly returning to the Apple Watch (or adopting it for the first time). Will be trying this out over the weekend 🤓.

Read the full article.

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Apps

New DuetCam app shoots video with both cameras at once

Today, as first noticed by 9to5Mac, developer Marcel Schmitz launched a brand new app called DuetCam for $2.99 that takes advantage of iOS 13’s ability to record video with both the front-facing camera and one of the back cameras at the same time.

Schmitz’ app basically lets you film what’s in front of you while also recording yourself in a smaller picture-in-picture box, creating an immersive experience where you can talk to the camera while showing what you’re looking at.

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Apps Links Tips & Tricks

Audible update lets you use credits to buy books in iOS app

In the latest app update on iOS, Audible now lets users actually buy audiobooks inside the app using existing credits.

According to a tweet from Chris Fralic of First Round (originally sourced by Joshua Topolosky of The Outline), the “Add to Library” button in Audible will show the message “You can now use credits without leaving the app!”:

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Apps Links Tips & Tricks

“Make your Mac dance” with MacSparky’s Keyboard Maestro Field Guide

Yesterday, David Sparks released the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide, the seventh paid course offered through his Learn MacSparky site1. This 4-hour block of videos covers 76 different screencasts about Keyboard Maestro, the Mac automation application that provides significantly deep capabilities and makes them available to use across your Apple desktop or laptop.

As usual, David’s course is well-paced, insightful, and makes it easy to learn complex topics like Keyboard Maestro’s slightly esoteric design language.

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Apps

Reeder is back and better than ever (my new favorite RSS app)

Want to read this in iBooks? Get an ePub of this article here and use this shortcut to extract from the .zip.

iPad users who have been holding out hope for an update to Reeder for iOS can relax – a new version was released today with full support for all devices on all platforms and some interesting new features.

See, previously, Reeder 3 wasn’t updated for the new iPad Pro models – after 7 months without proper support in sight, many iOS power users like me sought out new RSS readers. And while apparently Reeder 3 had resolved layout issues a month ago, I had honestly already deleted it since it didn’t work on half my devices.

But that all changes today with the latest release of Reeder 4.

Reeder 4 for iPad Pro 12.9″ in both Light and Dark modes.

Available as a new purchase costing $4.99 on the App Store and $9.99 on the Mac App Store, bringing with it a refreshed design, some unique reading features, and a unified code base across iOS and Mac that will make it easier to update in the future.

I bought the app as soon as I heard about it this morning – here’s why I think my money was well-spent.

Table of contents

  • Why I like Reeder
    • The Many Views of Reeder
    • Styling
    • Customization and control
  • New features
    • Redesigned
    • Bionic Reading
    • Instapaper Tags
    • Read Later
  • Small changes
  • Keyboard shortcuts adjustments
  • Ideas for expansion
  • Conclusion
Categories
Apps

Apple News has a notification spam problem

Lately, I’ve been diving deeper into Apple News – thanks to the recent addition of Apple News+ magazines, along with the recently-added “Open In Apple News” share sheet extension, it’s been my go-to source for a quick news digest, some longer reads, and now feature stories as well.

Plus, I’ve been using my old iPad Mini 2 to consume the news as a more focused and intentional usage of my devices, almost only ever using it for News and Books.

About three weeks ago I read Digital Minimalism, but then hadn’t touched the iPad Mini since (I just read News on my other devices). But when I picked up the device again to read How To Bored over this last weekend, I was met with this on the screen:

Page after page of Apple News notifications, all from sources I barely actually read and who were attempting to grab my attention every 15-30 minutes – my Apple News account was spamming me.

Categories
Apps

CalZones is the only scheduling app you need to plan across timezones

Developer David Smith has released a new app today called CalZones that is a combination calendar and timezone converter.

Available for $4.99 via the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, the app makes it as easy as possible to see what time it is where somebody else lives and arrange a meeting at the correct time across timezones and work schedules.

I’ve never found a calendar app that lets me have timezones presets visualized so easily, giving me the correct the information of what time it is across the world, and packing an impressive amount of utility into multiple small spaces.

Here’s how Calzone accomplishes all that.

Categories
Apps Tips & Tricks

How to make a full-page screenshot of an app or website with StitchPics

With the sharing feature that was in Workflow not being available in Shortcuts1, many people are resorting to sharing screenshots to show people how their shortcuts work.

Oddly, this has had a great benefit for the fledgling community – shortcuts are very visual, and a bunch of hyperlinks links on Twitter might not have had the same effect as a good photoset2:

But longer shortcuts with more than a handful of actions can’t fit onto one screen, so users have to resort to more creative options.

StitchPics

My recommendation is StitchPics, a simple but very functional app to combine photos that’s free with a $1.99 in-app purchase to add more than 8 images3.

Made by a Chinese developer, the app isn’t fully translated, the logo is somewhat inexplicably an L, and on iPad it only works in portrait orientation.

That being said, I’m definitely glad I bought it. That’s because, beyond basic auto-stitching, StitchPics has a fantastic pinch-based method of combing images that’s super reliable for getting things exactly right.

Here’s a quick example:

Once it takes a guess at how to put your images together, you can slide either image up or down behind the crossover point and collapse parts you want to be hidden.

Especially with longer shortcuts where you may need to take many screenshots, it makes aligning the different actions much easier.

StitchPics is also great for getting images of complete webpages on mobile – just take screenshots as you scroll and stitch them together in the app.

Tailor

A popular alternative is Tailor, but historically I’ve found it is unreliable at parsing multiple screenshots from Workflow (and the same is true for Shortcuts). The actions just look too similar across many images and it doesn’t know how to handle it.

Tailor is also free (but with a watermark removable by in-app purchase) and should work fine for simpler shortcuts. However, it is only available for iPhone.

That’s why I’ve been using StitchPics – it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done, and a bit better, on both my devices.

Get StitchPics on the App Store.

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  1. I don’t know if it’s temporarily removed or gone for good, but boy am I hoping for the former not the latter. 
  2. Awesome work Ben! And also wow, almost 7,000 people liked a good automation joke (even if it’s mostly for the Harry Potter). 
  3. Plus you can add your own watermarks, change it to a custom size, cut off the top or bottom, leave blank spaces, or change the color of the fonts in the app. 
Categories
Apps Shortcuts

Keeping a better film watchlist in Letterboxd

Lately, when I’m ready to sit down and enjoy something for the evening, I’ve struggled to find the right movie to watch.

It’s way too easy to quickly pick whatever’s available on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, but really all you’re shown is what they’ve purchased movie rights for. The TV app and iTunes on Apple TV are somewhat helpful, but you can’t go very deep into the catalog of films available when you’re just browsing.

So I’ve been trying to use Letterboxd to keep track of movies and build up a better list to pick from when it’s time to watch. The iOS app is designed for finding films, saving them for later, and logging reviews, wrapped up in a mini social network.1

Letterboxd is nice enough for a dedicated app just for movies – the features you’d want here are different from a TV-tracking app like Couchy, which is more designed for keeping up (because you don’t usually review episodes).

Thankfully, Letterboxd added automation support last year along with the release of their iPad version. They have documentation for their URL scheme available, so I took a look and put together a workflow to help me get started tracking movies to watch.

I built Add to Letterboxd Watchlist, a workflow that takes a list of movie titles and opens them one-by-one in Letterboxd to their Add to Watchlist search page and back into Workflow to move on to the next.

With this workflow, you can save a list of movie titles separated onto new lines. You can add them in the prompt while the workflow is running, or by inputting them via the Action Extension or from the widget with the list of movies saved to your clipboard.

The way Letterboxd’s URL scheme works requires you confirm the result in its app each time (to make sure you’ve got the right movie), but then it kicks you back to Workflow temporarily. Here the next item is passed along the repeat loop, then you’re opened into Letterboxd for the next result.

Once you get to the end of your list and have iterative back & forth between Letterboxd and Workflow, I added a silly little prompt at the end to count the number of items successfully added and list the movies once more for good measure.

Ideally, an app like this would be able to accept a whole list of titles at once and iterate through the results from within the app. But for now, the URL scheme automation makes it possible to batch the results in one go – even though the app doesn’t officially support it.

This is just one example of how iOS automation can make a repetitive task much quicker, and in some cases even faster than you’d be able to do from a computer or on the web. I’m looking forward to collecting movie ideas a bit easier and having a great list to choose from too.2

If you want to see more of what I’ve written about iOS automation, check out my workflows category (I’ll be changing this to shortcuts soon enough) or subscribe to my blog posts via RSS.


Links for Letterboxd


  1. The only person I follow on there is Jonathan Poritsky, who is a self-professed member of #FilmTwitter. 
  2. I’ll be setting this workflow up as a custom shortcut to launch it with Siri too – I’ll just have to copy the list to my clipboard and say “Watchlist”. 
Categories
Apps Shortcuts

How I Lost My iPad

This last week, I published two posts – one post on The Sweet Setup and one on my website.

Over on The Sweet Setup, I shared “Losing my iPad Pro: what I missed (and love) about Apple’s tablet experience” where I talked about replacing my iPad after it was stolen and how it clarified the space in my experience the device fills for me:

The iPad has been my main computing device since the Pro line came out. Being without it for a few weeks has really highlighted why I prefer the iPad, and in many cases, has shown me how I can do more than on any other device.

Without an iPad, the joy of using a device doesn’t exist to the same extent. I still have an iMac, but since I lost the iPad and have had to use the iMac full-time again, I’m starting to feel the desktop’s limitations.

I had some good conversation on Twitter and a bit of discussion on Reddit – the conversation was positive, with many people sharing how they also prefer to use an iPad as their main device.

I’m seeing this more and more – it makes sense to me 🙂


 
On my website, I only shared one post this week1”Workflows and shortcuts for saving your clipboard to Copied”. In it, I wrote about 7 workflows I create for Copied, helping me utilize the clipboard manager beyond what’s already possible with their action extension:

To start taking advantage of Copied’s deeper features, I turned to the URL scheme and set up three workflows to show my clipboard, open a list, and add a clipping with a custom title.

Plus I made one specific workflow for saving Highlights out of Instapaper, and my favorite out of the bunch saves tweets into Copied so I can reference them for later projects.

At the end, there was two more example workflows – one for searching Copied, and another for grabbing a specific clipping from a list.

The tweet I shared had a screenshot of all seven workflows – see the piece to add them.

 
I was also thankful when I saw Federico Viticci linked to my Copied piece in the Interesting Links section of the weekly newsletter that members of Club MacStories receive. If you have the means and are interested in more about workflows & other great ways to use iOS, I suggest paying for the subscription and reading through the archives (here’s a sample from November).


 
Since this is my first weekly recap, I also wanted to share something from the week prior: I was grateful to appear on Rene Ritchie’s podcast VECTOR for episode 125 to talk about Siri, Shortcuts, and Workflow, marking one of my debut appearances on a podcast.

We had a great conversation and talked about what some of the changes coming in iOS 12 mean for workflows, getting things done, and some ways I could see Shortcuts being useful for everyone.

Unfortunately I screwed up the audio recording on my end and my microphone input didn’t get properly saved, so we had to default to the Skype call for my end. It doesn’t sound great, but hopefully the conversation topic made it still worth the time for listeners.

During the conversation, I also talked about my Log Water workflow – add it to your library if you want to try it out and examine it. I got really excessive with the logic and honestly confused myself many times while setting up the different messages that differ depending on how close you are to the daily goal, but it’s a fun look at the ways you can take a simple version of an automation and beef it up to be more dynamic.

I really enjoyed recording the episode and it gave me a lot of energy – I’m going to try this more often.


 
That’s it for this week.

I’ve spent an ungodly amount of time on Twitter (thanks for the data, Screen Time!) so I’ll be spending less time this next week refreshing my feed and more writing. That being said, it’s still worth following me there because I’m sharing there often too.

If you’re interested in receiving my upcoming newsletter, here’s the sign up form.

I’ll be publishing these recaps on Saturdays (unlike this time on Sunday) to play along with the calendar weeks – mostly because it’ll make my date workflows easier. 🤖


  1. Self-shaming myself with “only” because I want to be sharing here much more often.