You might’ve seen a few weekly recaps that I started up on this blog – in order to avoid as much weekend work as well as the monotony of similar posts, I’m combining those into this new monthly recap.
At the end of each month, I’ll be sharing things that I’ve published across the web, whether it be a post here, an article on The Sweet Setup or iMore, an appearance on a podcast, or anything else I might be up to.
I’m also sharing great work I find elsewhere (plus a few things of my own) in my new newsletter. I’ll be sharing it twice a month, but I’m not setting specific dates – once near the beginning and another near the end — so look for the first near the end of August!
Inside, I’ll be curating articles, tweets, videos, podcasts, and music, plus new shortcuts that I’m building. These shortcuts will be exclusive in the newsletter for 10 days, then I’ll be sharing them elsewhere online so everyone can get them even if they don’t want to sign up.
The main theme will be technology, but it won’t just be about Apple stuff – subjects will change over time but I’m also into topics like philosophy, data visualization, marketing, video games, and more, plus I want to expand as time goes on.
I also want to hear from you if you’re on the mailing list. Please reply if you have anything to say and I’ll read your emails (I may even feature some with responses in the future, if you’re open it).
Anyway, here’s what I wrote in July (and here’s the workflow/shortcut I used to generate this list):
The coffee shop below where I used to work, and where I first met the RelayFM team during RelayCon just weeks before I started at Workflow. (Source)
During week 29 of the year, I wrote one piece here and one for The Sweet Setup.
On Monday, I saw YouTuber Peter McKinnon1 tweeting about accidental screenshots and remembered my old workflow for cleaning them out of Photos, so I updated it for Shortcuts and shared it as the post “How to delete unplanned screenshots with Shortcuts”. I really enjoy the handiness of shortcuts like this that solve a small problem well, even though that’s only one of the many ways I use the app.
On Thursday, the first out of a batch of posts I wrote for The Sweet Setup was published – How to group smart accessories in the Home app – and the rest will be coming out across the next few Thursdays. I know a ton of quick tips around Apple devices beyond shortcuts too, so I’m sharing them there regularly as well here on my site (alongside tons more Shortcuts coverage too, that is).
As for the photo at the top of this post, I’m shooting an original photo each week to use as the header for these recaps. It’ll be an exercise in using my camera more and capturing random moments as stock-like photography, plus I want to push the overall visual quality of my blog.
Shortcuts tweets of the week
Trying something new this week – curating different tweets I’ve come across about Shortcuts, since seeing how other people use it will be most of the fun for me:
I had a great back & forth with Jason Snell and Federico on Twitter after reading a post from his site and realizing it could be done with Shortcuts. I’m in the process of writing up how it works, but he updated his post with our joint solution2:
Here’s a selection of good links I came across this week – I’m a bit behind on my normal reading so there’s a few tweets in here that got me thinking as well:
Instapaper is going independent: I’m super happy to see Instapaper break out of Pinterest and get a renewed life under the Instant Paper company4. Let’s hope it continues to get pushed forward – I’ll have to write up my ideas and share them with the team.
Pretty sure this is new (and not documented yet), but in iOS 12 Safari you can use ⌘1…9 to navigate to tabs with an external iPad keyboard. You can also do ⌘⌃1/2 to open Bookmarks and Reading List, respectively 👍
Farewell Serenity Caldwell, hello (again) Lory Gil!: Serenity Caldwell of iMore has made an awesome leap to Apple on the communications team. I’ll definitely miss hearing her on podcasts and wish I had more chances to work with her, but I’m positive Apple is better off with her on their team. I’m also super excited to work more with Lory Gil and keep up with the Shortcuts pieces I have been writing for iMore so far. Serenity was kind enough to give me a quick shoutout in her thread of goodbyes even though I’ve been with them for just a few months:
Using your iPad as a digital contact sheet: My friend Drew Coffman came up with a clever way to add back physicality to your photography process when you’re doing it on the iPad – take a screenshot of your recent import and use Markup to draw on it like a contact sheet.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all down for building shortcuts together in public with anyone who wants help. Tweeting out the progression of shortcuts along the way is also a great demonstration of the process I go through building many shortcuts – it takes some trial and error to get it right. ↩︎
This week I only had time to publish one post – here on my website.
Stitching pics with StitchPics
On Monday, I shared about creating all-in-one screenshots using StitchPics to combine multiple together. I’ll probably be using this app a ton, because it’s perfect for sharing Shortcuts in a highly visual way.
I hope Apple restores the ability to share by link as was possible in Workflow, but for now the limitation is actually helping me clean my library up and save anything I don’t need as .shortcuts files.
I also enjoyed some of the follow-up to my TechCrunch piece – because it happened on Sunday, many people saw it on Monday morning.
I was super pumped when I went to go copy the link and found my piece right at the top of their site – later I found out it was in the Stocks app too!1
This was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek tweet, but I am fascinated to think another 10 years from now what it’ll be like to interact with Apple’s platform as something like Shortcuts becomes prevalent exactly 10 years in.
Otherwise I’ve been staying busy with consulting (only so much time before Shortcuts launches!), writing ahead for future posts, and continuing forward on my secret project.
I didn’t get a chance to share much about Shortcuts (though following my Twitter feed may not seem like it) so there’s more coming soon.
I’m also planning on sharing my Launch Center Pro setup soon since I’ve been recommending it to people as a trigger mechanism for shortcuts – just need to update it a bit first.
Links from the week
Bradley Chambers’ homescreen criticism: After tweeting about his special powers for criticizing his coworkers’ homescreen, a ton of people sent him theirs and he quoted them with advice. I sent mine in for fun and I’ve seen others changing things up since then – fun to take a look through his feed at others.
Austin Mann reviews the new MacBook Pro: Now that Apple pushed the MacBook Pro line into the space users have wanted, and seemingly addressed some dust issues, it seems like the MacBook Pro is a great buy again. I lost mine in a theft last year and don’t have the $7,000 to max one out, but I’m likely getting a laptop and monitor to replace my iMac when the time comes.
Throwbacks – the start of Workflow, and the REAL start of Workflow: now that the change from Workflow to Shortcuts is underway, there’s two great videos to watch. The first is the demo video that Ari gave after first building Workflow, quickly showing how to create a workflow in the app – this proof of concept wowed the community and lead to the first version of the app. But a much earlier video shows that Ari has been at this his whole life – he’s probably embarrassed, but there is a fantastic video of him as a 15-year-old talking about jailbreaking on the news. You can see the passion even at a young age, and today he’s even more able to execute on his vision. I jokingly tweeted about it, but I really am excited to see what he will build one day because I’m sure him (and the team) are just getting started.
Sock recommendations: I tweeted asking people about help finding a good pair of socks and got 10 replies – will have to buy some and report back.
If you’re an app developer and you’re integrating Shortcuts into your app, please send me a TestFlight invite at firstname.lastname@example.org and message me if you want specific feedback.
For larger integrations or consulting for your brand, I have some limited time available if you want to work together before the release of iOS 12.
In case you can’t tell from my crack headline writing, swiping on the popover that appears when you go to copy and paste menu makes it easier to access the Share button.
I had fun making a simple GIF to show the interaction, and I think that went a long way in making the post useful for people – just reading about it is nice, but seeing it in action makes a difference.
This is mostly useful since I use that menu all the time with Workflow – now it’s going to be even handier to use with Shortcuts. It’s great to select text, share it into a shortcut, and act on it with the features like Make Rich Text From Markdown or Change Case.
Getting Started with Shortcuts
But the big fun came later in the week, when the beta for Shortcuts dropped and everyone started playing around what’s essentially Workflow 2.01.
All the new features were discovered right away:
More highlights from Shortcuts beta:
– Scriptable Do Not Disturb (!!) and other device settings
– Third-party URL schemes fully supported
– Show Result for Siri with Magic Variables
– New payment actions based on SiriKit pic.twitter.com/qwyiBFM7eb
Eventually, I was able to stop jumping up and down, sit down, and write up an introduction to the Shortcuts app for iMore2 – this went into the very basics of installing the app, what happens to your old workflows if you used Workflow, and where to start looking for more ideas for custom shortcuts.
I have lots of other pieces coming about Shortcuts on both iMore, The Sweet Setup, and here on my own website (plus some scheduled podcast appearances!).
But until then I’ve started a Twitter thread where I’m sharing some of the bigger concepts or examples of shortcuts I’ve made over time in one place. Click on it, scroll through, add it to your Twitter bookmarks when you’re done, and come back again later:
Friends, I am fully available to help with Shortcuts.
I’m not working full time so that I can do this for all of you. Do not ever hesitate to reach out, I would be happy to be drowning in requests.
My goal joining Workflow was to tell people about this – nothing has changed 📱
In my piece, I talked about some of my vision for where I see Shortcuts taking Siri in the future. It’s not about the nitty gritty of building shortcuts, but instead about the end result of adding useful shortcuts into your routine with Siri – actually getting things done.
I’ve been reading TechCrunch for years and it’s one of the earliest technology website I remember devouring when I first got into the scene – I am extremely honored to see my name there after I was invited to write at WWDC.3
Links from the week
In case you noticed, I’m moving this weekly recap to Sunday instead.4
So Sundays it is – it doesn’t technically fit the calendar week as nicely for this to go out the day after, but also I can recap the entire week if I do happen to publish something else on Saturday.
Otherwise, here’s a few links from elsewhere around the web to check out – this week I’m focusing on Shortcuts because of the launch, but I’ll keep it to a wider range of topics in the future:
Automators #1: Automating Calendar Events: The Automators podcast from Relay.FM just launched their first episode on Friday and it dives into different ways to use your calendar. I’ve never subscribed to a podcast so fast – they have a great forum, they’re making blog posts and videos for each episode. I’m sure it will be a great resource for the Shortcuts app and a bunch of other types of automation for iOS, Mac, and the web too.
Initial observations of Shortcuts: Jordan Merrick has a good quick reaction to the new features Shortcuts gained over Workflow and how they affect usage. I agree that it’s slightly odd that the action groups are hidden within the search field – I hope people aren’t confused and think there’s a limited set of options.
r/shortcuts: There’s a new subreddit for Shortcuts that popped up over the weekend – I joined as moderator to help with the transition from r/workflow, guide the community as best I can, and try to establish a positive tone for the submissions.5
I’m trying to set up my cellular plan on my iPad Pro after my last one was stolen, but T-Mobile is being difficult and says “Your account is not set up for logging in.” What?! Anyone go through this and have suggestions?
I’m saving a bunch of my shortcuts as files and cleaning up my library – funny how the fact that sharing by link isn’t available is prompting me to do this now, when it would have been helpful to do all along.
I’m still hard at work on a few new projects, which are slow but steady. I’m getting super excited and hope to launch sometime soon!
Despite calling it a weekly newsletter and accepting names for the list months ago, I haven’t yet published a single issue.
I’m still taking sign-ups though and waiting for the right moment to launch it, so add your email here and you’ll get it in your inbox when the time comes.
I was waiting for a friend and just said hi to the person closest to me – it was Sarah Perez, and after we talked she grabbed the editor Matthew Panzarino, I mentioned I worked at Workflow, and he said I should write something up. ↩
That’s partially because that’s when my TechCrunch piece was going out, but also anyone who’s run a website probably knows it sucks to try and write on the first day of your weekend. ↩
I saw some people in the Workflow subreddit who could be too critical of new users or repeated questions, so I’m going to push things towards an air of openness and learning – this app is damn confusing and we’ll all be better off in the long run by lifting one another up. ↩
This week I published four articles – three on my website and one for The Sweet Setup.
I started out the week with a Tips & Tricks post explaining the basics of cancelling tasks in Things. I didn’t discover this feature for a while after using things, so I figured a quick write-up on it couldn’t hurt anyone.
On Tuesday I posted a recap on what I’ve shared around Shortcuts and Siri so far. I talked a little bit about working at Workflow, shared about my iMore link and Vector appearance, and talked about future plans for Shortcuts posts here – looking forward to sharing more next week.
On Wednesday I also published an article explaining a handy workflow for adding movies to your watchlist in Letterboxd. I’d been meaning to take advantage of this film-tracking app and found this was helpful for getting lots of ideas in to save for later.
On Thursday, my article for The Sweet Setup went out covering “How to add individual time limits to Screen Time” since that feature is slightly buried too. If you’re on the iOS beta you can test this out now for limiting specific apps instead of the entire app category – I’m already finding it easier to avoid problem apps when I know they’re not available. I’ll be doing a deeper dive into Screen Time for the fall, which should be an interesting experiment and fun to research.
On Friday, I didn’t publish anything. Instead I was prepping more stories for The Sweet Setup, iMore, and a contributor post at a special publication I’m very excited about. Plus, I’m trying to get ahead of myself for this website so I can share my thoughts with you all regularly and not be rushing to finish each time.
I’ve been enjoying writing more and am already finding it easier to get into the flow & pump things out – turns out when you’ve been listening to podcasts for years and steeping yourself in the community for years, you build up a lot of material to write about.