It’s time for Text Case to receive its first update for 2020. Only a relatively small one this time, but it brings with it two new formats, and some work under the hood that should go unnoticed.
The new formats are quite straight forward:
Straight Quotes. This does the opposite of the “Smart Quotes” format, and converts all curvy quotation marks to the simple straight versions.
Slug. A bit of a weird one if you’re not already aware of what a slug is, but essentially it’s the more human-readable part of a URL that identifies what the page is. For example, a blog post will have a slug usually based on the title of the article. So this format will strip out all non-alphanumeric characters, and separate each word with a hyphen.
This update also contains a few extra things that shouldn’t be noticed, for example the way the UI is managed, and rounding corners, etc. It looks the same, except it’s done in a much more reliable way.
There is another less-than-tiny update to the UI that you may notice, and that is the gradients at the top of each format in the list view. These are now slightly more prominent.
I’m guessing you would have noticed the 2020.1 version number, this is something I’m adopting from now on with all of my apps. The format will simply be YEAR.INCREMENT, where this is the first update to Text Case in 2020.
The updates to Text Case have been quite small and more incremental updates recently, and that I think is down to the maturity of the app. There’s not that many text transformations that people do regularly enough to need it in an app such as Text Case, and there’s only a limited amount of ways you can interact with the app.
So until there’s an advancement in iOS/iPadOS/macOS I can take advantage of, I would expect the updates to continue being small tweaks, and the occasional new format.
In the mean time I should really be working out what app I’m going to be building next!
I can’t say I’ve purchased many iMessage Sticker packs since they were added way back in iOS 10, but Timothy Buck let me know about Decline, a sticker pack made in partnership with his wife, Alyssa Guerrero, and it’s pretty great.
With it, comes 25 different ways to say ‘No’.
A simple ‘Nah’ or ‘Pass’ may sometimes suffice, but maybe you want to show your disgust with ‘Ugh no’, or the mysterious ‘I must decline for secret reasons’. Either way, they’re pretty funny!
There’s yet another update to Text Case, and it brings with it three new formats, theme syncing, and an action extension for the macOS version!
Smart Quotes – This changes any straight single of double quotation marks, into their curly equivalents, all based on your localisation.
Small Caps – ᴛᴜʀɴ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴛᴇxᴛ ɪɴᴛᴏ sᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴛʜɪs!
Upside Down – Just another fun one, this attempts to flip the characters upside down.
These new formats are available on all versions of Text Case, iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.
Automatic Theme Syncing
Text Case has support for themes, but previously you would have to manually switch between them. With this version, you can select “Automatic” to have the Text Case theme sync with the light/dark mode of your system. This works on both iOS, iPadOS, and macOS!
Format Text Action Extension for macOS
On the iOS/iPadOS version of Text Case, there’s an Action Extension that lets you select text anywhere, and then get direct access to the different formats in Text Case. This is now coming to the macOS version, with essentially the same behaviour.
Now you can select a portion of text anywhere in macOS, right-click, and under “Share”, there should be a “Convert Text” action. (If it doesn’t appear, you will have to go to System Preferences, Extensions, Actions, etc enable it.)
That will bring up the Text Case UI, and selecting a format will result in the formatted text being copied to your clipboard!
I’ve been slowly working on this for quite a few months now, but I think it’s finally time to release Text Case for Mac.
With it comes all 32 formats that are currently supported in the iOS app, and the same customisation options (except custom app icons).
To recap all of those:
Title Case (AP, APA, CMOS, MLA)
Markdown Code Block
Markdown Ordered/Unordered List
Markdown to HTML
In fact the macOS version is 2.4.4, and the iOS version is sitting at just 2.4.3. The only differences being some improvements to the Emoji format, where some localisations could cause the format to not work at all (it now defaults to English if it doesn’t support the language). And also some macOS specific changes, which are mainly to remove parts of the app that won’t work such as Siri Shortcuts support, and also fine tuning the macOS experience.
There are things that I’m already planning on adding the Mac version, such as an Extension so you can format text from outside the app, similar to how the Action Extension works in IOS, and also other automation support such as URL schemes. However, I feel that it’s much more beneficial for people to have Text Case for Mac now, rather than waiting even longer to get it into peoples hands. Because just like the iOS app, I really like to adapt the app to users feedback, and I already have a few extra formats (such as small caps) that I plan on adding soon. I also want to see what I can do with the Touch Bar!
I came across a fun app recently on Twitter, called Rewound. It’s a Music app that simply acts as an interface to your music library, but it comes with a rather interesting quirk, it looks like an old iPod. And you can even go back to a click wheel.
The control layout can be changed within the app, however to apply a matching skin you have to download them from Twitter/Weibo (You can find them with the #rewoundskins hashtag) or add custom photos from your device.
Depending on the skin you add, it automatically assigns a layout based on the size. And if you use one with a click wheel, you will actually be able to use the circular gestures to navigate through your music collection.
It’s a bit of fun, and I’m sure some nostalgic people will love to see it. I can’t quite say I see this as a long term product though!
I don’t know how to blame here, Twitter or Apple, but the Twitter app for Mac is really rough in its current form. Text editing specifically is really hard to justify and is not what I would expect from any app on the Mac.
I’ve been using the official Twitter app for macOS ever since it was available, and I’ve found it to be pretty reasonable. But just like Matt shows in this video, it still doesn’t feel completely at home on the Mac.
Hopefully improvements can be made to make it fit in with the macOS ecosystem. But I’m worried that this relies on changes to Catalyst, and potentially iOS, because this is essentially the iOS Twitter app. So I won’t be holding my breath. Maybe I’ll have to switch back to Tweetbot.
If there’s one game that I’ve been enjoying as part of Apple Arcade, it’s Outlanders. I have been mildly obsessed with it ever since I gave it a try, very soon after it was available.
In essence, Outlanders is a game where you control a town of people, have them build out the town, whether it’s a farm to create a sustainable food source, or a tavern which they can go to at night that increases their happiness.
It’s very fun, and it’s based around scenarios that have a primary and secondary goal that you aim towards. For example, the level I’m on right now (6, which is currently the last) has an overall target to build 7 Windmills (which are used to convert wheat to flour, in order for a Bakery to make food), and 5 Taverns. All within 120 days. The optional secondary goal is to have a population of at least 70 by the type you finish.
At the start it’s relatively simple. You have some people forage for foot, while others focus on getting wood, and building houses for a growing population. But eventually you have a big population, that requires a lot of focus on what needs to be prioritised next. The maps are also finite, so the amount of resources (wood and food) will eventually dwindle down, leading you to build farms, windmills, and bakery’s to sustain the food for the population.
The first five levels I managed all within a few attempts, however this last one is proving to be quite difficult. Which is actually one reason why I’m enjoying it. It’s a fun game, which requires attention, and a general plan on how you are going to build out the town and population.
I really hope that the developer adds in more levels soon, as it’s only a matter of time before I’m finished with this one.
Whenever I want to add a table to a blog post, I always wonder if an app can do it for me. As I find writing Markdown tables to be rather tedious. The only problem is, I never actually looked. However, I’ve now been using an aptly named app “Markdown Tables” and it’s just perfect.
It features a really clean interface, that lets you focus solely on the table content. You have all the necessary tools at the top, there’s one to create a new table with a certain size or from the clipboard, inserting and deleting rows/columns, alignment, whether to include the header row, and the export button! It looks simple, however, it has all the functionality that you’ll need. It handles large tables quite well, as you can scroll around the content, and then simply tap on the field you want to edit, and it snaps it into place.
Exporting is maybe the most important feature of the app, and it couldn’t get any easier. All you need to do is tap the export button above the table, and the formatted table will be copied. Markdown Tables actually supports Markdown and HTML exporting, each with their own options for customising the format. Such as compact mode for Markdown, and also whether to pretty print the HTML.
It’s a fantastic utility, and I recommend it to anyone writing Markdown on iOS.
About a week ago, the popular mail app for iOS and Mac, Airmail, switching from being a paid upfront app to one based around a subscription. Understandably, this brought a lot of conversation online (mainly on Twitter), about the ethics of it, the App Store rules that may be broken by the switch, and general complaining. I’m obviously “late to the party” on this one, but I would like to think of this being about an app moving to subscription in general, rather than solely Airmail. Although, it has a few specific mentions.
The major issue that I’ve seen around the Internet about Airmail’s business model switch, is that it has been to a degree, forced upon users that have already purchased the app. Because when they purchased the app, it was a paid upfront app, with no notice about needing to pay for a subscription in the future. So they’ve essentially had their purchase taken back, and been told to pay a monthly ransom to keep using it.
There’s certainly the argument that if developers are constantly updating and providing support to apps, that they should be able to charge for it. But when you purchase an app, you’re more than likely not thinking about a scenario where features will suddenly be put behind another paywall. This is not to say that it’s the developers fault for providing quality updates, but instead, maybe a fault of the way app updates are handled. For example, there still isn’t a proper way to do upgrade pricing. And I think that alone would provide a better experience for everyone. Developers could have a more clearly defined line between major updates, and it would give users a real chance to evaluate an update, and even say no to them. Especially if they feel like they’d rather not get any more updates if it means not paying a subscription for features they’ve already paid for.
The two features that are being put behind a paywall with this switch, are multiple account support and push notifications. Two notable features of an email app, and for the majority of people, I would imagine these being deal-breakers.
That being said, the first feature, is still free if you had already purchased the app. So this is only no longer available for free, for future users. That’s a bit better, however, it certainly seems strange to me that such a common feature would be behind a paywall. Especially with one that costs either ~$3 a month, or ~$10 a year.
As for the latter, this also seems like such a fundamental part to an email client. Sure, there’s the possibility that this was the reason it was put behind a subscription fee, but I don’t feel like that feature alone is worth the fee. I know that there are server costs for push notifications, but is it honestly $10 a year worth?
I also think it’s worthwhile to note that if you are a paying customer already, while you still maintain access to multiple account support for free (well, free after the initial purchase), the subscription price for the remaining one feature, is the same as what new customers would pay for both features.
There are also a few sections of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, that also create a few questions about whether the switch also follows the rules or not.
The first one is that if you switch to being subscription-based, then you’re not allowed to force users to pay for features that they have already paid for:
If you are changing your existing app to a subscription-based business model, you should not take away the primary functionality existing users have already paid for. For example, let customers who have already purchased a “full game unlock” continue to access the full game after you introduce a subscription model for new customers.
I’m guessing they’ve handled this by maintaining multiple account support, but there’s an argument to be made that this should also apply to push notifications.
There is also a rule regarding push notifications:
Monetizing built-in capabilities provided by the hardware or operating system, such as Push Notifications, the camera, or the gyroscope; or Apple services, such as Apple Music access or iCloud storage.
However, with a response to MacRumors, Airmail state that they are “not using system push notifications of CloudKit or other operating system features, but its own server infrastructure.”. I guess they are claiming to show that this rule should not apply to their implementation.
However, regardless of any guidelines, and the ethics in general of making the switch from a paid app to a subscription-based app, it’s surely best to let customers know about the switch as soon as possible. As most complaints, I found online, seemed to come from a place where this is a surprise, and they feel that they’ve been asked for money with no reward being offered to them. Rather than functionality that they have already paid for.
The switch to a subscription app is always going to be hard, especially for an app like Airmail that has existed for so long already as a paid upfront app. As you have to make the subscription seem appealing for new users, and at the same time making existing users feel like there is also something to gain for them too.
In my opinion, this specific case seems a bit rushed. And I think a bit more care could have gone into ensuring new and existing customers had a good experience. Either it should have been coupled with a bigger update, that actually added new features to a subscription, or simply had a longer grace period for existing customers. Four months feels a bit short.
What’s worse for Airmail, is that there are other great email apps available for iOS. Including the stock Mail app that comes with iOS, which is what I use myself.
Linky is a tiny utility for iOS that I love. The app serves as an easy way to share to Twitter or Mastodon from the iOS share extension, and I use it every day to tweet MacStories articles or new episodes of Adapt. Used from Safari, the Linky share extension can automatically populate a tweet compose field with information from the site you’re viewing, such as its title, URL, and featured images. Linky’s ease of use makes it my favorite way to share content via tweets.
Earlier this week, Linky was updated with two new enhancements to its text shot feature. For years now the app has enabled easy creation of text shots for sharing portions of an article, or personal thoughts that exceed Twitter’s character limit. That text shot feature is now better than ever though thanks to the addition of highlighting and visual customization options.
I’ve been looking for a good quality “text shot” app for a while, and I was even thinking about making my own one. However, I already use Linky for sharing links, so it’s great that it’s now incorporated this feature.
You can expect me to be sharing more text shots on Twitter from now on.