Back when I got a Pixel 6 to try out, I was pleasantly surprised with the initial Android set up process. Especially as there was a way to transfer WhatsApp data (chats, history, media, etc.) from an existing iPhone.
However, when I decided to switch back to my iPhone being my primary device, I discovered that the reverse process just wasn’t possible. Which wasn’t exactly the end of the world, but as I’d only switched for a few weeks, but would certainly be a much bigger friction point if there was a lot more data involved.
This process will sign you out on your old device. Until you delete the app, of course. But it sure would be nice if WhatsApp allowed you to be signed in on multiple devices at the same time. It would make transferring between platforms even easier.
I started thinking about what my hopes were for iOS 16, and the ways I think iOS could be improved. Mostly with the intention to end up with one of the stereotypical wish list posts that most bloggers write about this time of year. Nevertheless, I could only think of six things. All of them inspired by my recent use of the Google Pixel 6 and Android 12.
That isn’t to say that these are the only things that will excite me about iOS 16, they’re just the only ways I can see iOS 16 improving. I’m sure there are various ways in which Apple could innovate, and bring something new to the OS. However, the OS has, without doubt, matured, and every year there’s a lot less low-hanging-fruit. Which is probably why innovation seems to have slowed (for both iOS and Android), and changes seem to be either iterative or being adaptations of existing capabilities of another OS.
With that in mind, here are the six things that are inspired by Android 12, that I think Apple should bring to iOS 16:
Some form of universal messaging support. Whether it is iMessage for Android (which I think is unlikely), or the adoption of RCS as a fallback instead of SMS. It’s clear that communication between iOS and Android devices shouldn’t be via SMS.
Freeform Home Screen layouts. There are many things that made me give the Pixel 6 a try, but a main one was the same old Home Screen. There’s been the addition of widgets, but everything still needs to follow the same grid structure. And for some reason, you can’t just put an icon where you want. Which seems stupid to me, since the size of phones nowadays are pretty large.
Multiple audio channels. This isn’t something that I’m desperate for, but it’s certainly irritating for me when you go to a website and a video/ad starts playing automatically and your song stops. Imagine going to a website on your Mac and an autoplaying video, stopping the song you’re listening to. Also, you should be able to alter the volume of specific apps/channels.
New widget sizes. Widgets are cool, but I don’t think the information density warrants them such a big place on the Home Screen. Why does the weather forecast need to take up the space of 4 app icons? A 2×1 and 1×1 size option would be very much appreciated by me. And I’ve also greatly appreciate resizable widgets, rather than fixed sizes that you have to replace manually.
Better notification grouping. For me, Android has always had better notification support than iOS. But something I find very useful when I use my Pixel is the grouping of notifications. As in, a certain app can have have multiple categories of notifications, which the user can control individually. Which means you can turn off some of the more marketing style notifications, and keep the important ones.
Auto-unlock in safe locations. This is a feature of Android that I love. The Pixel 6 that I use has a fingerprint sensor in the screen, and while it’s pretty fast, it’s not instant. However, there’s a “Smart Unlock” feature, that allows you to add trusted places, where your phone will always stay unlocked. I know Apple like to tie a lot of this auto-unlock stuff to the Apple Watch, but I don’t wear one of those. I’d like just like to have my phone unlocked whenever I’m at home.
Those are the improvements that I can think of, but I’m sure there are a ton of others. So fingers-crossed they announce something exciting at WWDC!
I wrote a tweet a few hours ago, explaining what I think Apple should do with Safari:
With the amount of tampering that Apple have done with the new Safari design in the betas, I think it would be wise for the whole redesign to be postponed for a later point release.That way they can spend more time getting feedback instead of rushing small tweaks.Tweet
However, since Twitter isn’t exactly the best place for anything except quick opinions and hot takes, I thought I’d go into a bit more detail here on my blog.
My thinking is that because the changes to Safari on all platforms have received such widespread criticism (with varying degrees) and that Apple has been constantly tweaking (mildly) Safari during the beta process, then it should be clear that it is not going to be widely appreciated when released to the public.
Sure, enthusiasts will always care that bit more than the average user, but the complaints that I have and that I have seen, aren’t about insignificant details, but about the fundamental usability. And you’d expect with the number of users that will eventually be using the next version of iPadOS, and iOS, and macOS, then that has the potential to cause a lot of negativity and frustration simply because Apple wanted to redesign the built-in browser.
I’m somewhat of the opinion that Apple should take a tad more risk in their designs and try some new things now and then. But then again, making the built-in web browser less usable for potentially hundreds of millions of users isn’t a good move. No matter how much “courage” you have.
I think it’s only fair to include here that at the start of the beta, I was open to a new Safari design. I think the tab groups are a good idea, the tab bar looked a bit fresher on iPadOS and macOS, and the address bar was moved to the bottom of the screen on the iPhone, making it easier to reach.
But as I used it more on all platforms, I started to spot the weaknesses. The (initial) tab design on macOS and iPadOS didn’t work well with more than 5/6 tabs (although this has been slightly improved), the address bar on the iPhone regularly got in the way of content, and there’s been the apparent massacre of buttons within Safari on all platforms. In the latest round of betas, a few buttons have returned, but overall I believe that this version of Safari is not fit for purpose.
So in my opinion, I believe the wisest thing for Apple to do would be to either revert the major design changes or at least have it as an opt-in setting for people to choose. That way, they can receive more constructive feedback, spend some real time rethinking the design, and delivering a better version of Safari in a point release.
My ideal solution would be for Safari to keep some of the new features, like the tab groups, Quick Notes, the tab overview, and possibly even the new address bar on macOS. But the new floating address bar in iOS, the tab bar in iPadOS and macOS, and the sparseness of buttons should be at most an alternative and not the default option for all users.
I’m not saying that Safari should never be changed, but it shouldn’t be changed for the sake of it. This design has been proved to already be a bad move, and I don’t believe that mailing small tweaks here and there are going to fix the major flaws.
Memories is a new app that lets you view photos from years gone by on your iOS devices, either inside of the app, or with its widgets.
Memories supports all three widget sizes, and they will each show a single photo from previous years. It won't just show the one photo for the whole day though, as it cycles through multiple photos throughout the day.
A lot of these types of apps exist, where you can go back in time and experience old memories. But personally, I know I'd never actually ever use them. That's why I like these widgets, since I can put a widget on one of my home screens, and my phone can remind me of various memories as I use it.
Apple has now added a fifth default Search engine option to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. And that new addition is Ecosia.
Ecosia is a search engine that has been produced to plant trees. Not literally, but the profit from the search ads are used to plant trees, and therefore to help the environment.
I heard about Ecosia quite a few years ago, but it didn't seem to work that well for me. I've tried it again recently, and it seems to have improved a lot. So I'm going to be setting it as default on all of my devices to really try it out. For the simple reason that if I can get reasonable search results, then there really isn't a negative, only a positive effect of trees being planted.
To be honest, although Apple added DuckDuckGo to the list of default search engines, I didn't really expect them to add any more. DuckDuckGo just seemed like a privacy-focussed alternative to Google.
I wonder how many people will switch to Ecosia, and if Apple will add even more options in the future? Maybe they will make their own?
Apple in iOS 14.3 is streamlining the Home Screen customization process by simplifying the way that app shortcuts work. With the launch of iOS 14, users quickly discovered that Shortcuts could be used to replace traditional app icons to create an entirely customized Home Screen look.
Unfortunately, while these Home Screens created with Shortcuts looked fantastic, the experience was less than ideal because launching an app through shortcuts required the Shortcuts app to open briefly, slowing the app opening process. In iOS 14.3 beta 2, that’s no longer the case because shortcuts no longer have to route through the Shortcuts app.
Such a small change, but yet this is going to make a massive difference. Custom home screens are the thing now, and major component of that is using Shortcuts to create custom app launchers. And until 14.3, they require Shortcuts to open before running the shortcut. But with this change, they’ll start to look and feel like real apps.
I like how Apple have been slowly integrating Shortcuts into the system. Bit by bit, iOS is becoming more customisable, allowing users to really make their devices their own.
Remember my theory that Google has grown bored with Android and doesn’t really care about it? That’s me talking about phones, which, in general, Google does care about insofar as they know that billions of people spend hours per day every day using them. With wearables Google never even cared in the first place, except for making goofy demo concepts like Google Glass. The customers who bought Wear OS devices care about them; the company that designed them clearly does not. If they cared, how could it be that you can’t listen to Google’s music platform on Google’s wearable platform?
He goes on to mention that it’s actually bad for the Apple ecosystem, since there’s no real competition. And even as someone who has stopped wearing an Apple Watch, I still agree that there is no real other worthy alternative.
I don’t think it’s just smartwatch market where Apple seems to be miles ahead of the competition as well. You just need to have a think about what the real options are for a tablet computer. Nothing else even comes close to iPad.
Furthermore, I think the problem is even bigger than just the smartwatch and tablet market. Because when you think about smartphones, there’s only two major players. Which means there’s no real need for innovation anymore, all you need to do is match and/or slightly out do the other player. I really want a third player to join the smartphone game, and have a real go at it. But then again, I can see why they wouldn’t. Apple and Google have both got massive head starts, and ecosystems already exist for both platforms. Sure, Android is bigger than just Google, and there are loads of companies creating their own Android phone. But that still doesn’t provide any real competition.
I’m a big fan of the new widgets in iOS/iPadOS 14, but there are a few ways in which I think it can be improved. They’re obviously still in beta in beta, and things can be tweaked before the official release. But I thought I’d at least get my early impressions out.
First of all, one of the best things I like about widgets now is that they can be placed alongside apps on the Home Screen on iOS. Which therefore makes the fact that this isn’t the same on iPadOS one of my biggest disappointments. Sure, you can place widgets on the Today View on iPad OS, and you can have this pinned to the left of the Home Screen. But in my opinion, having them alongside the apps in the iPad OS Home Screen would be much more suitable. I think the fact that it’s like that on the iPhone is simply down to the screen size. But I think you could also apply the same idea to the iPad. I think because the iPad has a larger screen, that it should have widgets integrated into the Home Screen. And instead of having the Today View to the left of the Home Screen, the grid size should be increased. Which might even allow for more sizes of widgets.
Another thing I like, which is specific to iPadOS, is how you can add widgets to the Today View. Admittedly it’s a bit of a consolation in my eyes, as the reason it works well is that the widgets are limited to the Today View, and it can make use of the rest of the space on the screen.
If there’s one aspect of the new widgets I don’t like, it’s the level of customisation. Although I’m not sure how much of this is the system itself, or just the built-in widgets that are currently available. It’s mainly the Reminders and the Shortcuts widget that have me feeling like this, so I hope it’s something that can be improved over time. And possibly even during the beta stage.
For the Reminders widget, the first thing that bugged me is that you can’t have it show all tasks. Because to be honest, while I do use various lists in Reminders to keep things organised, when I’m actually viewing tasks, it’s normally via the “All” section. But after a while, I realised that I only need the tasks assigned to today, and possibly a few more lists.
Therefore, I decided to combine three Reminders widgets into one using a Stack. Which means, if I want to switch between the three different lists I have set up, all I need to do is a vertical swipe on the widget. I would still prefer to have a more configurable widget, but I suppose a Stack will work fine for now.
As for the Shortcuts widget, I haven’t yet worked out how I’m going to make use of it. It’s partly due to me working out what Shortcuts I think would be most beneficial on the Home Screen, but also due to the widget itself. In my opinion, the buttons in the widget are far too big. The huge size makes it look a bit childish too me. I would prefer them to be half the size they are now. Maybe the best solution is more widgets or better configuration?
Coincidentally, the level of configuration is also the other part about this widget that annoys me. Since the only configuration that is possible right now is to either select a specific folder or all shortcuts to appear. It means that, at least for me, there’s no nice way to have specific shortcuts appear ƒin the widget. Because now you can have folders in the Shortcuts app, I’ve been using them to organise shortcuts in groups like “Writing”, or “Utilities”. But I think I’m going to have to create a separate folder to control what will appear in the widget. One option I’m thinking about is to have my shortcuts organised how they are currently, but have “wrapper” shortcuts in a separate widget folder. That way it doesn’t mess with my structure.
All in all, a lot of these opinions are based on my experience so far with iOS/iPadOS 14, and therefore will most likely change as I use it more. There could also be changes to these widgets before the end of the beta, which I’m hopeful for, but I can’t say I’m expecting biog changes before the official release. However, I do hope that any improvements are released during iOS 14 in minor releases. Because I think it’s going to take everyone a while to adjust to the new system, and to work out the best solution for their needs.
I haven’t had time to go through a lot of WWDC content just yet (I’m currently spending most of my time laying a new floor in my house), but I did install iOS 14 and macOS 11 to my devices essentially as soon as they were available. I’m really impressed with all the updates this year, and I’ll end up writing about the things I really enjoy. But for now, the feature I love the most is Back Tap.
It’s an accessibility feature at the moment, found in Settings → Accessibility → Touch → Back Tap. And it lets you assign actions to a double or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone. For example, you could double-tap the back of your iPhone to lock it, or you could take a screenshot. There are quite a lot of possibilities. There are currently 14 general actions, 7 accessibility actions, and 2 scroll gestures to choose from. That’s not including the fact that you can also choose a custom shortcut to run as an action.
What intrigues me is how it actually works. I imagine it’s detecting the shake, and not necessarily a “tap”. But it’s still interesting that a new feature was added that simply makes use of current hardware in a different way.
When I was trying to work out what actions I wanted to assign to my iPhone, I was trying to think of things I want to perform quickly, or without a delay.
The first was obvious, opening the camera. There are tons of times where I just want to quickly take a photo of something, usually, it’s my cat being weird, so that’s definitely going to be useful. There’s no standard open app action, but as you can run a Shortcut as an action, I made a simple one that just launches the camera app.
The second one took a bit more time to think of, but I settled on creating a tweet. This had to be a shortcut as well, but it was just as simple. One action that creates a new tweet in the Twitter app.
So I can double-tap the back of my phone to open the camera and triple-tap it to start writing a tweet. Who would have thought that would be possible with just a software update?
Although it’s currently hidden as an accessibility feature, I can imagine this being pretty popular. Certainly, enough for it to make its way to becoming a “real” feature.
Ever since you could open the multitasking interface on iOS, you’ve able to “force” quit apps. And not long after that, there’s always been people telling you that you shouldn’t, and that it was bad practice.
Most of the time these people will use the reasoning that having an app running in the background, doesn’t actually use up your memory or battery, and that that’s clearly why people are doing it. Others will say that resuming an app from the background is less CPU intensive than launching it from scratch. And there’s even the argument that it’s a waste of your time.
Even in Apple’s guide how to close an app has the prefix “How to force an app to close”, and in the guide, it tells you to do that “You should force an app to close only if it’s unresponsive”. So it’s not something they really endorse doing
So that’s why I’m going to explain the main reasons why I do quit apps on my iPhone and iPad.
It’s the same as why I like to have a tidy desktop on my Mac and organised home screens on my iPhone and iPad. I don’t want clutter on my devices. And I find it irritating when I see apps that I’m not using when I open the app switcher.
It Helps To Signify the End of a Task
Similar to my disgust about the clutter, it helps to signify when I’ve stopped using an app.
For example, if I’ve been writing on my iPad, I’ve probably got iA Writer open, maybe Safari for research, Agenda for my overall planner, and even Reeder where I’m reading articles I want to write about. When I then finish writing, I’ll close all of these apps at once, and I no longer have to think about writing, until I actually want to start writing again.
What Does the Opposite Look Like?
Fine, let’s look at the opposite. What’s going to happen if you never quit apps on your devices? Well, one thing’s for sure, you’re going to have a lot of apps open.
I have 97 apps installed on my phone. So if I was to never quit an app, then by the end of a week, I’d expect to have quite a large number of them open. And eventually, surely the expectation is that every single application will be running?
Maybe there’s not much difference in battery level of memory usage when you’ve got a few apps in standby. But surely there’s got to be a difference at some point?
Either way, there’s certainly one place where you’ll see a difference. The app switcher. Imagine having 50 apps open, and you’re trying to find an app that just happens to be at the beginning of the list. That’s bound to be irritating.
Maybe the answer to that, is that if you do have 50 apps open at once, then the app switcher isn’t the place where you’d actually launch them from. Since having every installed app running and visible in the app switcher is essentially a giant home screen. In which case the app switcher becomes pointless.
What’s the Alternative?
Finally, the last reason why I “force” quit my apps, is because there is no alternative.
No matter what the system does in the background to running apps, they are still open. They are not closed.
Therefore, seeing as there’s no “nice way” to quit apps, I force quit them.
I’m aware that this topic might be unpopular, and there’s a good chance that you might think that quitting apps is plain stupid.
I’ll just leave you with one question:
If it’s a task that shouldn’t be done frequently, then why is it so easy and accessible to do?
When writing about apps, it’s very common that you’ll need to combine screenshots together if you’re trying to capture a rather long page. One common case of this is when you’re trying to capture a screenshot of a Shortcut, which is why I looked for an app like Picsew, when I was getting screenshots for my recent article about how I’m using Data Jar to help writing link posts.
I’ve used apps like Tailor or LongScreen before, but I found LongScreen to be hard to deal with, and Tailor only support the iPhone. So I explored the App Store trying to find a solution for the iPad, and luckily I found Picsew.
Similar to the previously mentioned apps, Picsew has the ability to automatically combine multiple pictures together. But it didn’t seem to work well with the screenshots I took of some shortcuts. This is where the more “manual” option comes in. And I think that option is actually much more impressive than the automatic feature.
So after you select the photos you want to combine (in the correct order), and choose either vertical or horizontal, you use a pretty cool editor to adjust the position of each screenshot where you wish it to join the next one.
It’s quite intuitive actually, and was much easier than I thought it would be. You just tap on the join you wish to exit, and “push” the content towards the join until you’re happy.
You can also crop the entire photo inside the app as well, which is pretty handy as when you get a pretty large photo, it’s hard to do fine adjustments in the Photos app.
Anyway, I found it to be a very handy utility. So if you’re looking for an app that can join various photos together, or if you’ve used another one previously, I’d recommend checking out Picsew.
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 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!
Update: 18th December 2019
It turns out that Apple have now rejected Rewound, and it’s no longer available to download. (via Michael Tsai)
After four short years, Twitter have added support for Live Photos. A feature that was announced alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, in 2015.
Give the gift of GIFs. You can now upload your iOS Live Photos as GIFs anywhere you upload photos on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/D8TIfsBwyd
— Twitter (@Twitter) 11 December 2019
If you ignore the strangely huge delay, I do think that it’s a very welcome addition. A lot of people including myself take Live Photos all the time. So I can see this being quite popular.
It doesn’t literally keep them as Live Photos though, they are converted to GIF format. That’s not exactly a bad thing though, as I’m sure there’s quite a few benefits of storing them as a GIF rather than the raw video from the Live Photo.
One thing I didn’t like about the video alongside their very brief announcement, was the attitude towards the newly added support. They talk about how millions of Live Photos are taken every day, but how they go unshared and forgotten about. But “Today is a new day”. Sure, today is a new day and it’s a pretty cool feature, but I think it easily could have been done a number of years ago. The only blocker for adding this support earlier was Twitter themselves.
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.
You can download Outlanders as part of Apple Arcade, and I would recommend it as not only one of the best games from the subscription, but of the many games that I’ve played on iOS over the years.
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.
Ever since the iOS/iPadOS 13 betas have been available, I’ve been running them on my main devices. That’s down to multiple reasons, but one of the main ones was the new Dark Mode that’s now available system wide.
Before this global setting, I’ve been a big fan of dark themes for everything I use. Whether it’s a Twitter client, text editor, or Xcode.
However, recently I’ve noticed myself purposefully switching back to the Light theme. And I think it’s been down to two things.
Firstly, it’s been rather sunny here in England recently, and having a dark interface just isn’t clear enough. I’ve noticed this the most when I’m outside and catching up on Twitter. Thankfully I’m using Tweetbot as my client, so I can quickly two-finger swipe between themes, until I find a light theme where I can actually read the content.
The other reason is simple because sometimes a light interface just makes content a lot clearer. Especially because I’ve noticed a trend with some dark themes where the text is light grey with a dark grey background. Whereas the light mode alternative would feature black text on a white background. So the level of contrast suffers simply because of colour choices.
This won’t exactly be a surprising realisation for some people, but ever since I’ve had the ability to have a system wide dark mode, I’ve started to actually value the light mode more.
I wrote recently about how I’m automating my daily journal, and it mainly focussed around how I started the writing, as the publishing was quite a manual process.
However, I’ve now managed to automate the publishing part of my writing process. Which I’ve been using for every blog post since, not just my daily journal.
I started off with Federico Viticci’s Publish to WordPress shortcut1, which he posted on his incredible Behind the Tablet article. But I had to make a few changes to make it work with the way I’ve configured my blog.
Here’s Federico’s description of his shortcut:
Publish a Markdown post to WordPress via the Shortcuts action extension. The shortcut can extract the h1 Markdown header from a post and use it as title. Optionally, you can publish both standard and “linked list” post types by adding a custom field supported by your WordPress installation.
The changes I made were:
- Changing the
Formatparameter of the ‘Post to WordPress’ action to
Ask When Run. This way I can alter between standard and link type posts. The shortcut already handled linked posts so it could extract a URL and add that as a custom field on a post. But my theme styles linked posts slightly differently, and it depends on the post format to do that.
- I also changed the
Publish Dateparameter to
Ask When Runas sometimes I like to schedule posts. Or if I’m publishing my journal, and I’ve slightly run into the next day, I like to make sure it’s published on the correct date.
- One section I removed was the file saving, as I don’t particularly need another copy of the final results. I like to think of my blog as the place for canonical copies.
- The last action was to open MacStories in the browser, so of course, I changed that to the url of this blog. So I can quickly check out the live version.
In essence, it’s a relatively simple shortcut, in that it takes text and publishes it here on my blog. However it takes care of so much of the annoying parts of the publishing process, such as setting the categories, tags, post types, extracting links for sources, and still more. I guess that’s the perfect case for automation.
One last thing I have to call out, is the natural language parsing when entering a publish date for a post. When using the web interface for WordPress, I found it really irritating to use the date/time picker. But now I can write something like “tomorrow at noon” or “yesterday at 23:00”, and it just understands it perfectly.
I’m not sure if this will directly benefit anyone, but I hope it at least shows some benefits of using automation when publishing to a blog. And also, that it’s very beneficial to keep checking out the many Shortcuts that people like Federico are sharing.
I was going to try and write a big long post about my wishes for iOS 13, but my list sadly never passed 6 items. So seeing as WWDC is just around the corner, I’ll publish what I’ve got.
I’ve wanted this for quite some time, and it looks like we’re going to be getting it. So I think this is a near-guaranteed part of iOS 13.
I want apps to have a much deeper integration with Shortcuts. Mainly the ability to add native actions into the Shortcuts app. But also parameter support, so apps like my Text Case won’t need to interact solely with the clipboard.
Home Screen Widgets
We’ve been waiting for a refresh of the home screen for a while, and I think the ability to add “widgets” would be a good fit.
Picture-in-Picture on iPhone
This is a feature that I don’t hold much hope of being implemented. However, there are scenarios where I want to watch a video while quickly doing something else on my iPhone. So Picture-in-Picture would
Be very handy. Although sporadically used.
More Widgets on the iPad
I’m not sure why this ever changed. But on the iPad you used to be able to see two columns of widgets, and now it’s restricted to just one. I want the whole screen to be filled with them!
Do Not Disturb while Using a Device
One last annoyance that has turned into a feature request, a Do Not Disturb setting that still applies when you’re using the device. If I’m watching a video with my girlfriend during dinner, I really don’t need to see notifications. Especially as it usually pushes what we’re watching momentarily.
So, there’s been a ton of new information shared about the upcoming Harry Potter AR game, Wizards Unite. And it’s certainly shaping up to be an incredible game!
Here’s the back story:
A calamity has befallen the wizarding world, causing artefacts, creatures, people, and even memories to mysteriously appear in the Muggle world. Witches and wizards from across the globe must come together to solve the mystery of The Calamity, overcome the confounding chaotic magic that surrounds these “Foundables,” and return them to their rightful place, keeping them safe from Muggle eyes.
Your journey begins as a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, established by the Ministry of Magic and the International Confederation of Wizards for the purpose of investigating and containing The Calamity.
From the story alone, there’s a massive scope for what the game could turn out to be. On one side of the scale, it could have been a simple rip-off of Pokémon GO, but essentially a hide-and-seek game with a Harry Potter theme. But instead, what we’re getting is a much more all-rounded role-playing game!
Of course, at it’s an AR game, one of the key mechanics will be exploring the world, finding some of the “Foundables”, casting spells, and also Portkeys that offer a full 360 AR experience out in the real wold. That already feels to me a more immersive experience than Pokémon GO (And I’m a big Pokémon GO player!).
Where I think the richness of the game will come from, is the things like potion making, challenging other wizards and foes in Wizarding Challenges, and developing your Wizarding skills while specialising in certain professions.
It sounds like a game with many ways to play. You can simply explore the world, while finding “Foundables”, Portkeys, potion ingredients, etc. You can compete with other players by battling with them at Fortresses, but you can also team up with them and compete Wizard Challenges together. And at the same time as all of that, you’re developing your own character, gaining new skills, and just taking your own route through the game.
One thing I’m unsure about though, is the “Spell Energy”. I’ve never found a mobile game that has some kind of perishable energy source to be that great. As there’s usually long waits to refill, mostly with the aim for players to spend money on in-app purchases. You can find food and drinks at “Inns”, which will be in certain places around the world, and will replenish your Spell Energy. Hopefully there’s enough of them so it doesn’t inhibit gameplay.
My other worry is that the game will be too rich. Sure, I wrote earlier that it’s one of the reasons why I like the sound of this game, but maybe other people won’t appreciate it. As not everyone is as well versed in the Harry Potter universe as others (me), and a steep learning curve for a mobile game may not work out well.
But despite how anyone else finds it, I can already tell I’m going to be really addicted to this game.