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
Podcasts Shortcuts Tips & Tricks Video

“Show me this clip” for video podcasts with this Overcast to YouTube shortcut

If you didn’t already know, my podcast Smart Tech Today comes with a video feed now – you can download a full video feed in Podcasts, or subscribe to the YouTube channel to get the episodes every week, or watch live on Twitch every Monday at 4pm PST.

While the show is designed as an audio podcast, our network This Week in Tech produces the video so anyone can watch too – I have lots of fun being on camera with Mikah.

Being a podcast that’s also “video capable,” I’ve always thought it’s a shame that it’s not easier to listen when you want to, or watch when you want to, with a way to switch between both on the fly.

If you’re on Overcast user, you’re in luck – I’ve solved the problem in one direction, taking Overcast’s “Share URL with timestamp” Siri Shortcut and combining it with YouTube’s timestamps feature to let you jump into the video feed at a moment’s notice.1

The result is my shortcut “Show me this clip” that works well on your Home screen, in the Shortcuts widget, or in Siri. When you run the shortcut, the link from the current podcast in Overcast is converted to a link to our latest YouTube video, with a special parameter to open to just the right time (in seconds).

Sometimes it may be a bit off, but it’s pretty cool to move from the podcast to the video quickly with a simple Siri command.

Other video podcasts that upload their files to YouTube should be able to recreate the same shortcut as well by adding in their own channel’s URL.

Unfortunately, for now, this is limited to people who use Overcast as their podcast player – it’s the only podcast app I’ve found that includes a literal timecode in the shared link. Plus, there’s no easy way to go from YouTube back into the podcast – YouTube also doesn’t support sharing links with timestamps at all, much less provide Siri Shortcuts for sharing the current video2.

But if you’re a smart home nerd who uses Overcast, I hope you’ll listen to our show and enjoy using this shortcut.

Get my shortcut “Show me this clip.”


  1. I originally built this for my old podcast, Supercomputer, when we ran an experiment with a video version of the show for a few weeks. 
  2. I wish they did – I would use the heck out of a set from YouTube. 
Categories
Tips & Tricks

Automating how loud Siri replies on the HomePod

I’m a huge fan of the HomePod – after bearing the investment cost, it’s improved my daily interactions with music and opened access to controlling my smart home gear, plus provides a new medium for everything I’ve built in the Shortcuts app.

But one of the nagging problems with HomePod is the way Siri, regardless of the current time of day, will respond loudly at whatever volume you’ve previously set.

Whether it’s the middle of the night or super early in the morning, it’s all too common to ask Siri something and the answer shouted backed at you, only because you listened to music loudly sometime yesterday. Hopefully nobody wakes up, you curse at how dumb your supposedly “smart” speaker can be, and frantically try to turn it down.

Thankfully, iOS 13.2 provides a route to a solution by adding HomePods and AppleTV to scenes and automations – the HomePod didn’t fix this on its own, but, with a Home Automation, you can make it “smart” enough yourself.1

Categories
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!”:

Categories
Links Offsite Shortcuts Tips & Tricks

iPad keyboard shortcuts for the Shortcuts app 🔗

From my piece iPad keyboard shortcuts for the Shortcuts app on iMore:

While the Shortcuts app is primarily a touch-based system—where are you drag and drop actions around to create your scripts—there are a few keyboard shortcuts for iPad users that can speed up the experience of creating and managing their Siri Shortcuts.

Whether you’re opening the Gallery to view suggested shortcuts, searching for a shortcut in your list, or quickly controlling parts of the shortcuts editor, these simple keyboard shortcuts are worth learning.

Screenshot of the Shortcuts app showing the two keyboard shortcuts from the My Shortcuts view – Command F for Find and Command N for new.

Hopefully anyone building shortcuts checks out this piece for iMore and sees what’s possible in Shortcuts via the keyboard now. I try to use them as much as possible to help with ergonomics, plus it does speed tings up a bit.

Near the end, I also listed some keyboard shortcuts I’d like Shortcuts to adopt in the future. Full keyboard control of the app would be a massive boon to productivity, especially when these iPad screens sit propped up at such steep angles.

(Note: some of these are only for iOS 13).

Read the full article on iMore.

Categories
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
Tips & Tricks

How to buy Disney/Marvel/Star Wars movies to watch on Apple TV in 4K

When you’re trying to buy any of the latest 4K Disney films like Star Wars and the Marvel movies, you’ll quickly find they’re not available in iTunes. For some reason the partnership hasn’t shaken out properly, which I’m hoping changes soon, but for now if you buy one in iTunes Movies it will only be 1080p for $19.99.

You might think that Movies Anywhere would handle this, because it makes movies you’ve bought on iTunes, Prime Video, VUDU, Google Play, or Fandango Now available to watch on each of the other services. But, it’s not that easy.

All of these Disney movies are available in 1080p on iTunes for $19.99 and on VUDU the 4K version (called UHD on their site) costs $24.99. However, even if you’ve unlocked the HD version by buying it in iTunes, you can’t just split the difference and pay $5 to upgrade to 4K within VUDU.

Instead, you’re stuck buying a second version of the same movie for full price, like I had to do for The Last Jedi.

But, if you buy through VUDU first in 4K, you can watch it in full resolution using their own Apple TV app1 instead of iTunes.

Note: When you’re trying to Own the movie instead of Rent, make sure to hit the dropdown and select UHD for 4K instead of HDX for 1080p quality.

And if you want watch it on a smaller screen in HD or add it offline on one of your devices, the movie purchase will still automatically sync to your iTunes account via Movies Anywhere in the background.

I just bought Avengers: Infinity War on VUDU’s website, and when I opened it in the TV app moments later I could already hit Play and start watching.


For me, this is a pretty solid solution, because now I can watch the same thing on my TV or iPhone or iPad—in the best quality available for the device—without paying for it twice.


  1. If you get the regular app and you have automatic downloads turned on for your Apple TV, the app should just appear once you’ve “purchased” it. 
Categories
Shortcuts Tips & Tricks

How to delete unplanned screenshots with Shortcuts

If you’re an iPhone X or Apple Watch user, you may have a bunch of screenshots you’ve unintentionally taken recently filling up your camera roll:

Maybe you’re accidentally gripping the volume up button as you also press power to turn off your iPhone, or you’re pressing the Digital Crown and side button at the same time to pause an Apple Watch workout1 – either way, you probably don’t want most of the screenshots that are filling up your library.

With the Shortcuts app in the iOS 12 beta (or using Workflow if you’re not on the beta), you can set up a three-action script to get your latest screenshots, pick which ones to delete, and delete them all in one go.

Add the actions by searching in the action drawer or browsing through the Content Types categories, then dragging them into the following order:

  • Get Latest Screenshots
  • Choose From List
  • Delete Photos

I’ve increased the number of screenshots to 30 so there’s a full screen to choose from, toggled Select All Initially, and set it up with a Siri command as well.

This shortcut is useful since you don’t have to sort out regular photos you want to keep, all the images are already selected by default so you only have to unselect the ones you want to save, and it will confirm the deletion in case you make a mistake.

If you use the Add To Siri function available in the shortcut’s settings, you can set up your own custom voice trigger and later ask Siri to “delete my screenshots” (for example) when you want to kick off this flow.

One thing to note: the shortcut won’t operate entirely in the Siri interface because it requires the menu UI and delete confirmation, so currently it’s expected behavior that using Siri will just open the app and run the shortcut.2

Additionally, you could switch up this shortcut for new purposes with a few tweaks – if you’re not using any of your screenshots anymore, just bump up the number further or run this a couple of times to clean them all out; or, maybe swap out the first two actions with Select Photos to pick from your entire library instead of choosing only from screenshots.

See more of my Tips & Tricks posts, shared every Monday.


  1. Apple assigns the trigger of pressing the buttons to both pause your Apple Watch workout and take a screenshot, so if you want to keep the screenshot function on you’ll have a library full of mid-workout screencaps. 
  2. I hope this type of functionality can be displayed within Siri in the future so shortcuts can operate entirely without opening the app. Admittedly, however, that’d likely be a hard user interface to make look natural from within the Siri overlay. 
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.

Click here to check out more Tips & Tricks posts

Links in this post


  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
Tips & Tricks

Swipe on the Copy & Paste menu in iOS to see more actions

If you’re like me, you may have been on iOS for years before you learned that when you select text and want to navigate the copy & paste menu, you don’t have to tap the arrows to navigate – you can just swipe to the next page.

Normally I’d select text, try to accurately hit the tiny little next arrow, and usually missed and paste something instead of closing the menu. But when I was at WWDC, I saw someone go to share a bit of text and he… just…swiped on the list of actions.1

For anyone who uses the Workflow action extension often and likes to run workflows on text using the text selection share menu, this is extremely handy. And for Drafts users, this also provides quicker access to the Dictate and Arrange actions available in that second page of the copy & paste menu.

This is a super small thing and may seem obvious, but if you don’t know about it, you might not ever really figure it out. Hope this helps – check out more of my new Tips & Tricks archives here and coming every Monday on my site.


  1. I’ve… worked on iOS for years and he… justswiped on the menu.