Categories
Gear Guest Offsite Tips & Tricks

Using Apple Pencil to edit audio with Ferrite 📺

Last Monday night, I streamed on Twitch for about a half hour on the topic of Ferrite for iPad with my friend Alec Pulianas, a computer engineer and podcast editor at AMP Creative Studios.

Watch How to edit podcasts with Apple Pencil in Ferrite (ft. Alec Pulianas) from matthewcassinelli on www.twitch.tv

We both edit podcasts and audio using Ferrite, a purpose-built audio editing app designed primarily for spoken word content (as opposed to Logic Pro or Garage Band which were built for music). It works on both iPhone and iPad, enabling a very natural touch input paradigm for editing your audio that both Alec and I prefer to use.

In our stream, we talked about the additional benefits when you edit on the iPad, including how using the Apple Pencil in this app feels like a remote control and which custom settings we use to edit.

We also covered details like Ferrite templates, the keyboard shortcuts, and a few of the downsides as well – it doesn’t have the same speed-changing capabilities as Logic, for example.

I really enjoyed talking with Alec—he’s a great guy—about this tool we both enjoy, especially because it’s changed how I edit audio and opened up where I can do my work.

Check out the clip on Twitch and follow my channel if you want to see future streams like this.1


  1. I’ve saved the entire stream as a “highlight” so it lasts past Twitch’s normal 30-days, but doing so unfortunately removes the live view count and chat comments. 
Categories
Gear Links Offsite Podcasts

STT 14: Loads of Smart Tech at CES 2020 🎙

On episode 14 of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about what I saw at CES 2020.

But before I get to what we covered in the show, I have exciting news – Smart Tech Today is now available as a video show in addition to our regular podcast feed!

We’ve always had the cameras on for our livestream, but the show’s been doing well enough to add in video production as well.

So, make sure to subscribe on YouTube if you want to watch along afterwards, or add the video podcast feed to get them delivered directly in Apple Podcasts.

The show will still be a podcast first, and we’ll be making sure you’re not missing out on anything if you’re a listener. But if you want to see us talk through the topics and see occasional on-screen views of the stories/websites we’re referencing, there’s bonus material in the video feed!

Plus, I’ll be posting each YouTube video inside these blog posts, here’s the latest:

Here’s what we talked about in the episode:

We are off for Monday, January 20 for Martin Luther King Jr Day, but we’ll be live next Monday at our usual 4pm PST – thanks for listening!

Links for the show:

Categories
Gear Shortcuts

4 types of NFC tags to buy for your Siri Shortcuts automations

In iOS 13.1, the Shortcuts app added Automations, a feature that lets you use contextual triggers to show notifications for shortcuts you want to run or, for a subset of the option, run a shortcut entirely in the background. I’ll be covering those updates in the future, but I wanted to share links to NFC tags that I’ve bought and tested.

See, one of the Automation triggers lets you use “Near-Field Communication” tags that look like little wires printed onto stickers or stashed in cards like your credit cards, transit cards, or even in the Apple Watch or payment terminals for things like Apple Pay.

Thankfully, the new NFC tag automation trigger is one of the Automations that lets shortcut run “without asking” – they can fire off immediately when the trigger is detected, performing its operations in the background instead of requiring you to confirm via a notification first.

In iOS 13.1, this lets you run almost any shortcut just by tapping your iPhone to a small tag you’ve set up with Shortcuts, bringing the power of your apps and smartphone into the physical world with simple, cheap NFC tags.

So naturally, I bought a bunch, stuck them all over my house, and started testing them:

The options

I went on Amazon and bought a variety of types to try out, and below is a list of what I came up with (prices as of 9/23)1.

This set I ordered and they did not work out of the box:

Edit: Since publishing this, the following tags were updated from 30 pieces to 15 pieces, and someone has reported the new ones didn’t work for them. I’ve removed them from being recommended:

My recommendations

If you’re a person with an iPhone, it’s probably a good idea to buy some NFC tags. I’ll have a bunch of examples coming in another post, but for now, one-day shipping with Amazon Prime should have you ready for iOS 13.1 tomorrow with a few of these options.

I suggest buying1 40 pieces for ~$15 to get started or 80 pieces for ~$29 to go all-in, for a per-tag price of ~$0.38 either way. If you’re not sure you’ll use them or you’re limited by budget, 10 pieces for ~$7 is still a lot of coverage and it won’t break the bank.

Plus, if you want to put any tags on your fridge, desk cabinets, or any other metallic/magnetic surface (like an iMac or TV), a pack of metal tags might be good to have on hand for only ~$7 too.

The keychain option is also good to keep with your house or car keys as an option, but I don’t recommend setting up your Automation with “Ask When Run” turned off or else you might end up running it unintentionally if you put your phone in your pocket or purse next to them. I also saw more uniform colors from similar brands, but I wanted the visual distinction of a variety pack.

The NFC card deck is another fun choice, which I’m primarily using for testing and trying to develop unique ideas. I’ve placed some cards in places around my home where an NFC tag can’t fit underneath a convenient surface, but I still want to automate a process without speaking to Siri or finding the right shortcut to run.

Fun ideas

My imagination has gone to entire catalog-like deck sets of NFC cards2 that play my different podcasts or start the same albums in my collection of vinyl records (sorry if that makes your head explode) but there’s some cool potential there.3

Regardless, selling an NFC option for podcast or app stickers is a killer idea I hope everyone adopts – I will cherish the limited set of Shortcuts NFC stickers I have as long as possible.

There’s a tag for that

This physical interaction with your Siri Shortcuts is going to open a whole new world of possibilities for iPhone users, and I’m excited to share more when iOS 13.1 drops tomorrow.

I’ll be sure to cover which Automations work in the background, how to set up NFC tags for you and others in your life, and ways to optimize your Automations/the shortcuts they run.

For now, I’ll keep playing around and just keep teasing it all:


  1. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase any products after clicking on my links, I’ll receive a small commission for sending the traffic to the buyer. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. 
  2. I could see designers coming up with cool print-outs that people could apply to their NFC cards, or fully custom-printed decks becoming a thing. 
  3. Max Temkin, if you’re reading this, these are the ones for you. 
Categories
Gear

Playing around with the 2x Zoom on iPhone

Even though I've had the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone X, I haven't nearly taken advantage of the 2x zoom lenses on both. I default to using the wider iPhone's lens since that's what I've always had before, plus years of training against using digital zooms makes it feel unnatural to zoom in with a phone.

Instead, I've been trying to switch to the 2x camera lens right away each time so I could get better use of it and see if there were any places I hadn't realized it would be helpful beyond Portrait Mode.

Here are a few spots the iPhones with the double lens hardware makes getting the right shot easier:

  • Taking pictures of tiny text: getting into tight spaces is easier when you zoom in, plus you don't lose quality – for example, taking a photo of the lid of my AirPods in order to capture the serial number (which inspired this post 1).
  • Capturing documents: instead of leaning over and getting the phone up close to frame up the paper, zooming in and just pointing the phone down can help you get through a lot of pages without breaking your back
  • Getting shots that are out of your reach: if your arms are fully extended and you're trying to get a photo that's above your head or on top of something, the 2x lens can help you get that additional bit of perspective that you might otherwise miss. I've found it can be super handy to stick your arm up and get a zoomed in photo of what's just out of view.
  • Taking photos that match your eye's perspective: the default 28mm lens on the iPhone is much wider than the way you see things normally – the 2x zoom's 56mm lens is closer to the perspective we see ourselves (albeit more cropped in).

    The wider lens can also distort vertical lines, especially if they're up close. Shooting with the longer lens also helps prevent as much warping, although you may need to stand further back. That being said, it doesn't work very well in low light.

  • Taking sample photos for a bigger shoot later: when I was preparing to make the photography for my HomePod review, I went around first with my iPhone X to scope out how I wanted my photos to look without needing to lug around my full camera.

    The 2x lens more closely matched the "in your home" perspective I was trying to achieve, plus I could zoom in and out further to mimic the full range of my 12-60mm lens. I got sample shots so I could properly integrate the imagery into how I wrote the piece, then later did a proper photoshoot with lights and my camera to get the highest quality photography.

Some of these aren't particularly innovative ways to use a camera, but if you hadn't thought of one before it might be helpful2.

Many of the shots won't be up to par for crisp, clear focus or high quality levels of photography, but for quick memories and productive use cases it does the job well.

Next time you open up the camera app on an iPhone X/Plus, try switching to 2x and just looking through the viewfinder for a while – it may help you see things in a different way.

  1. No, that's not the complete serial number of my AirPods. ↩︎
  2. If you have any other suggestions, let me know on Twitter and I'll add them here & credit you. ↩︎
Categories
Apps Gear Shortcuts

Writing about Workflow (and HomePod) on the Web

I’ve had the privilege to write for The Sweet Setup the last few months and now iMore, so I wanted to share some of the links here.

Primarily I’ve been writing about Workflow, trying to get some of the ideas in my head out and into the world so other people can take better of the app – especially now that it’s free. But I’m also dabbling in product reviews & photography, a new challenge that’s proving lots of fun and hard work.

Things for task management

I started writing about three workflows for Things templates, meant to act as quick ways to copy items into the task management app. They’re also good examples of using Split Text,

I followed it up with a deep dive into Things for iOS’s new URL scheme, which enables a huge set of automation capabilities for optimizing the capture and review processes for my productivity system. I tried to write about it in a way that people new to deep linking and automation might be able to learn as they go, partly echoing the way I wrote the documentation for Workflow.

HomePod in the house

After that I did my first product review, trying to capture the experience of what it’s like to own a HomePod and use it with Siri in the house. I also produced 30 photos for the review, taking way too much time but leaning into my other side business of product photography.

I really enjoyed taking the time to think about how the new product category fits into a consumer’s life, and I’m hoping HomePod gets better soon because I want to push it further. I’ve got a few articles in production about how I use HomePod beyond the practical parts of using the smart speaker, and I’m eagerly waiting for AirPlay 2.

How-To’s for Workflow

Since that I published two more articles for The Sweet Setup, starting by explaining how to set up your workflows to operate across both the widget and the share extension. I explained a bit about my “input check” method using the If action, which follows nicely into the second article about Using device details with Workflow.

In there I shared a cool Brightness by Battery workflow1 that dims your screen according to your power level, and a few others for tweaking your system settings programmatically. These are great for using with Run Workflow in the middle of other workflows, like little mid-automation widgets you can reuse across your different workflows.

Finally, today I published my first post for iMore detailing step-by-step instructions for 5 different workflows related to the Reminders app. I show you where to find the actions, explain how to place the actions & tweak the parameters to get it right, and include links to each of mine so you can get them yourself and follow along.

It’s interesting listing out steps this way, and the documentation probably could have used some similar formatting to make it easier to scan.

In that spirit, here are the articles mentioned above (links will open in a new window):

If you’d like to see me cover more or different topics, let me know on Twitter at @mattcassinelli and I’ll add it to my notes.


  1. I honestly may have gotten this idea from somewhere else, so if you know more don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll credit the originator. 
Categories
Gear

Getting a better angle on my iPad Pro

I’m a huge fan of the 10.5” iPad Pro and have been using it every day since I bought it.

Categories
Gear

Getting in gear with new gear

Now that I’m wading into video a bit more, I quickly realized that I’d need more storage and a better way to transfer files.