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Apps News

Apple adds Shortcuts for Mac support to Pages, Numbers, Keynote

Today, Apple released updates to their iWork suite of apps that adds actions in Shortcuts for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote on macOS, bringing powerful first-party actions that Mac users can take advantage to automate their work:

New First-Party Actions

Across all three iWork apps, there are now actions for “Open” and “Create” – plus Numbers has added “Add Row to Top or Bottom of Table” and Keynote has added “Open in Rehearsal Mode” and “Open in Show Mode.”

The Create actions all also include the templates/themes available in the iWork apps, which makes it quick to generate 40+ samples from Pages, Numbers, and Keynote each for a total of over 120+ templates.

Here’s the full list of actions:

  • Pages
  • “Open Document”
  • “Create Document”
  • Numbers
  • “Open Spreadsheet”
  • “Create Spreadsheet”
  • “Add Row to Top or Bottom of Table”
  • Keynote
  • “Open Presentation”
  • “Create Presentation”
  • “Open Presentation in Rehearsal Mode”
  • “Open Presentation in Show Mode”

One Weird Things

One oddity worth mentioning is that the “Add Row” action requires Numbers to physically open the spreadsheet and insert the data, just like it does on iOS – Apple should make this action work in the background without opening the app, otherwise it creates an inconsistent experience with every other action in Shortcuts that doesn’t require opening the app to insert data.

Shortcuts was specifically designed to create a smooth user experience and avoid opening apps to insert data in the foreground (as it did in the previous iteration as Workflow) – this seems like a step back for Shortcuts and users should be able to append data to the spreadsheet via the filesystem.

What This Means for Shortcuts

These new actions are incredibly important to Shortcuts for Mac and the automation ecosystem on Apple’s desktop computing platform – these actions were sorely missing from the release of macOS Monterey and are representative of how Apple thinks about first-party actions for Shortcuts.

Without them, one of the core tools Apple offered simply didn’t integrate with its new automation platform – now, Apple users (and third-party developers) have an excellent set of actions to use as an example for how to integrate with Shortcuts; I want to see more of this from Apple.

More Please

I hope we see more actions like this set from all of Apple’s first-party apps, plus an extension of these actions to go even deeper – I’d love actions for pro apps like Final Cut Pro and Logic, plus Apple should add actions for more utility apps like System Preferences.

We’ve also seen existing iOS actions come to the Mac, but many for apps like Safari don’t work the same or actions aren’t taking much advantage of Mac-specific features. Making all these actions work in the background, adding in support for things like appending/prepending to your documents/inserting pages into your presentation would be great, and adding truly powerful functions like pulling data out of spreadsheets are the ultimate goal – I should be able to automate every aspect of these apps, not only be able to perform these simple (but welcome) actions.


I’ll be releasing a full set of shortcuts to take advantage of these actions soon, so look out for those on my Shortcuts Catalog or sign up for my newsletter to get updates when I release any new shortcuts.

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Apps Links Video Offsite

Walking through the Home app (with Joey Banks)

On Thursday March 25, I streamed with my designer friend Joey Banks and walked him through some of the oddities of the Home app, working on scenes, grouping devices, and HomeKit automations:

Catch the replay on YouTube – and add my livestream calendar to tune into future streams.

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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.

Categories
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:

[videopress 6TEyzPrb]

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.