That means the three new actions for Shortcuts (that I originally shared about two weeks ago) are now available: Set Voice & Data Mode, Set Orientation Lock, and Take Screenshot.
I’ve got new pieces out explaining how to use them all, so read on for everything new this week:
🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK
My video and article on iOS 14.5, plus I’m streaming this morning – maybe even right now!
My YouTube video on iOS 14.5
I published my latest video on the new actions in iOS 14.5 and showed some new shortcuts for you to try out – check out the shortcuts in the description and try out the actions yourself if you’re updated.
My iMore article on iOS 14.5
I also published a write up on iMore of the new actions – I include step-by-step instructions showing you how to set up per-app automations for Orientation Lock if you want to do it yourself.
Em Lazer-Walker, Cloud Advocate at Microsoft, on what she’s calling the “audio version of ARKit” in iOS 14:
They talked about this largely in context of playing movies with multi-channel surround sound, but that’s probably the least interesting application of spatial audio.
As someone who’s been working in the field for a long time — my research at the MIT Media Lab in 2015 and 2016 focused on location-based storytelling in public spaces using spatial audio — I wanted to try to give some context around why this is interesting and what it might enable.
Fascinating summary of Apple’s new Spatial Audio feature and its potential – this covers what it is, how it differs from surround sound, and goes into detailed applications for this like wayfinding, vocal content, and real-world play/gaming experiences.
Every year, it’s a staple in the Apple community to read Federico Viticci’s in-depth review of the latest version of iOS.
Federico has been running MacStories for years and always spends the summer drafting massive, book-length guides to the new changes that come to Apple’s iPhone and iPad software, quickly becoming the go-to place to pay attention when the new release drops.
This time, it’s very much the same, with Viticci publishing his entire review with 16 individual sections as pages (and 1 page for credits). Here’s the subhead introduction:
After years of unabated visual and functional changes, iOS 12 is Apple’s opportunity to regroup and reassess the foundation before the next big step – with one notable exception.
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.
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.
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.