Resisting the temptation of a new M1 Mac

I’m starting my 7th month of being iPad only. It is working out amazingly well. But with all the new M1 Macs, I’m being severally tempted to trade in my 2015 MacBook Pro for one of the new M1 Macs of undetermined configuration. If I do this, I’ll want to switch back to a Mac as my main computing device.

Not helping this situation is all the Apple influencers talking about their M1 Macs on their podcasts over the last several months. Especially when you hear some die hard iPad folks getting them.

Of course, the right thing to do is to wait for the rumored 2022 MacBook Air refresh, since a MacBook Air is what I would likely get. As I wrote the other day, the Pros are to damned expensive for my use case.

2022 MacBook Air Rumors: Non-Tapered Design With Notched Mini-LED Display, MagSafe, ‘M2’ Chip, and More – MacRumors

2022 MacBook Air: Specs, colors, design, price | Macworld

Most importantly I shouldn’t forget why I left a Mac for an iPad in the first place.

Where the hell is the Escape key on the iPad Magic Keyboard?

Change the behavior of the modifier keys on iPad

If, like me, you rarely use the caps lock key, you might be interested to learn that you can remap it on a hardware keyboard in iPadOS. I mapped mine to Escape.

How to Remap Modifier Keys on iPad When Using a Keyboard

  • Launch the Settings app on your ‌iPad‌
  • Select General -> Keyboard
  • Select Hardware Keyboard
  • Select Modifier Keys
  • Select the key that you’d like to modify …
  • Select the action that you’d like to perform when tapping the chosen key

That’s it.

iPadOS 15 multitasking and keyboard shortcuts

If you are a regular reader, then you are aware that I switched my entire workflow to my 11” iPad Air. It does everything I need to do from writing, handling email, texting, messaging, reading, watching videos and more. I still have my 2015 13” MacBook Pro because I use it to run Hazel rules, which is something that I can’t do on my iPad.

iPadOS 15 has made the iPad even better. The new multitasking features and Globe key keyboard shortcuts have made working on the iPad even more Mac like. It’s fucking wonderful!

If, like me, you use an iPad as your main computing device, check out Chris Lawley’s video for getting your arms around all the new features in iPadOS 15.

iPadOS 15 Walkthrough: EVERYTHING You Need To Know! – YouTube

What will happen to PDFpen after the Nitro purchase?

PDFpen has been a part of my paperless workflow since I started it in 2017. Yesterday after reading about Nitro acquiring PDFpen on 9to5Mac I decided that it’s time to move on to a different app.

June 28, 2021 – Nitro to acquire PDFpen, expanding productivity to Mac, iPhone, and iPad users

Nitro Software Limited (ASX: NTO) (‘Nitro’ or the ‘Company’), a global document productivity software company driving digital transformation in organisations around the world, is pleased to announce the acquisition of PDFpen, a market-leading suite of PDF productivity applications for Mac, iPhone® and iPad®.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Nitro will acquire the PDFpen technology from US- based Smile, Inc. for $6 million in cash. The acquisition will be funded from the Company’s existing cash reserves.

According to the announcement, Nitro purchased the PDFpen technology (see the paragraph above). That brings up the question of what does that mean for the app? Does this mean Nitro will use the PDFpen technology to develop Nitro apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad and PDFpen will eventually disappear from the app landscape?

In light of this announcement and not being happy with PDFpen’s incredible confusing interface on the iPhone and iPad, I’m now using PDFViewer, which has a free version which is perfect for limited needs.

iPad

Jack Baty writing at Coping Mechanism:

Trying to live on the iPad for a while

I’m drawn to the idea of being forced to do only thing at a time. iOS does that. I’d probably do more than one thing at once if I could, but “multi-tasking” on iOS remains an unusable mystery, so I’m better off leaving it alone. Anyway, you get the idea.

Basically, I’d like a break from tinkering with my system(s) on macOS (hi Emacs!), so I’m going to spend some time living on this 12.9″ (aka “Thirteen-inch”?) iPad with Magic Keyboard.

Challenges:

I’ll be forced to use the baby version of Lightroom. How will I handle exports, sharing, resizing, etc? And I hate that I don’t have control over where files go and what they’re named, but here we are.

Where does one take notes if there’s no Emacs and Org mode? Notes app? Drafts? Craft? Ulysses? Do I really want to venture into that rabbit hole again?

How do I get things from one place to another without easy access to multiple clipboards and my Mac’s desktop? How do I save things for later without Zotero? How do I do nearly anything without Alfred?

And so on.

But, iOS is calmer than macOS, and right now I need a little calm.

Greg Morris at GR36 writing in response to Jack Baty’s post.

Greg Morris – Force Some iPad Into My Life

To use the word that tech commentators hate to hear — when I am ‘working’ on an iPad (e.g. writing a blog post or editing a photo), it feels different. As Jack puts it, using iPad OS is calmer, it never feels like work. Granted sometimes it’s a full time job trying to work out how you do somethings that are simple on a Mac but the simplicity is so refreshing. The iPad feels computerish without feeling like the rest of my waking life.

So, here’s the ‘forcing’ part. I am going all in again. Apart from my work day, which I can do nothing about, I am using an iPad for everything else. I haven’t spent anything, it’s a 2018 12.9” iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard I have had for a long time so I have nothing much to lose. I am actually quite excited.

I enjoyed reading these two posts because they reminded me of my recent transition from a Mac to an iPad. My iPad is a 2021 11″ iPad Air 4th Generation with 256 GB SSD, Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil 2, and Magic Mouse 2. It has been my computing device for the last several months.

For the record, rebuilding my workflows has been a time-consuming pain in the ass. That said, the time spent doing that resulted in my learning about the many great features of the iPad. For my use case, the iPad is all In need. I do miss not having apps like Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Hazel on the iPad but I’m getting over it.

RSS reader NetNewsWire 6 is out for iPhone and iPad with iCloud sync

NetNewsWire 6 for iOS is now available on the App Store! This release brings new features — iCloud sync; sync with BazQux, Inoreader, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, and FreshRSS; home screen widgets; special support for Twitter and Reddit feeds; and more.”

If you’re not using RSS now is a perfect time to give it a try. NetNewsWire is free and with version 6, you can now use iCloud for syncing, saving the cost of a paid syncing service.

The one thing Apple Notes is missing

Quick note and tags are coming to Apple Notes in iPadOS 15. Even though these are nice additions, I doubt that Notes will become my everyday note-taking app, and here’s why.

Many of the notes that I take throughout the day are notes that I will want to do something with later. A note may become a task in Things, a reminder, or event in Fantastical, a new draft for this blog in Ulysses, or a journal entry in Day One. Missing from Notes is the lack of export options or actions to get notes out of Notes. This is a dealbreaker for making Notes my everyday note’s app. That’s why I use Drafts. Ya know, the old saying “text starts here”. Any text starts in Drafts, including stuff that may eventually end up in Notes.

That said, I do use Notes as cold storage for notes that I seldom reference. I have several hundred of these notes and Notes is the perfect place for them.

🔗 Link Post: Think Globally: The iPad’s new universal keyboard shortcuts

Jason Snell writing for sixcolors.com:

I’ve seen the future of the iPad, and it’s hidden under a key.

The future of an entire platform is a lot to pile on a single plastic square, but here we are. Down in the bottom left corner of Apple’s keyboards is a new key labeled with the picture of a globe. Initially intended for supporting multiple languages, in iPadOS 15 the Globe key has become something much bigger: it’s a symbol for global keyboard shortcuts.

In iPadOS 14, if you hold down the Command key, you can see a list of app-specific features and their key equivalents. It’s like a quick-reference card for keyboard shortcuts. In iPadOS 15, Apple has expanded this feature to make it more like the iPad equivalent of the Mac menu bar—not only does it list keyboard shortcuts, but it can list every command in the app, and you can click any of them to execute them. iPad apps that build out the Mac menu bar for their Catalyst version can pick this feature up for free. It’s another way that the Mac and iPad are increasingly complementing one another.

Then there’s the Globe key. Hold it down in any app in iPadOS 15, and you’ll see a different set of commands, all of which can be applied globally. (Get it?) These menus are full of shortcuts to switch to the home screen (Globe-H), open a Quick Note (Globe-Q), activate Control Center (Globe-C), and pretty much any other system-level area.

The Globe menu also contains loads of keyboard shortcuts to control multitasking. You can put apps into Split View and Slide Over, pop them back into full screen, and cycle between apps, all via Globe key shortcuts.

[…]

Clearly, there’s a lot more work to be done, but I’m excited that Apple is staking out space for keyboard shortcuts that can work across different apps. This Globe-key kid has potential. We should keep them around and see what happens next.

I agree with Jason. I’m excited for iPadOS 15 to get here so that I can start using these keyboard shortcuts.

🔗 Link Post: An Apt Analogy

Tim Nahumck, writing for nahumck.me:

When people start to complain about computing devices, they often turn to their favorite car analogy. But most of them get the wrong vehicle type when it comes to the iPad Pro. It’s not a V8 sports car. It’s not a motorcycle. It’s not a bike. It’s a modular computer which can do a lot of things well, makes trade-offs in certain areas to maintain flexibility and portability anywhere you want to go. So if you are going to target the iPad in this way, use an apt vehicle analogy:

The iPad is a Wrangler.

It does a lot of things well. It has different configurations to give you different experiences. It’s not the smoothest on-road vehicle, but it’s unmatched in the places you can take it anywhere in the world. The iPad Pro is not a powerful laptop, but it’s a powerful, capable modular computer. It can be more than a laptop, but there are also trade-offs that Apple is currently making to keep it modular. A great example on a Wrangler is that they don’t have power seats. There’s an assessment of trade-offs as to why this isn’t done, but I’m sure it’s something assessed for future incorporation. It’s not as easy as people would think: the Wrangler has other requirements to keep, and every change made requires an assessment of what it takes to implement the change. The engineers are forced to think differently when approaching these problems.

What a great analogy of the iPad. Since March, I’ve been using an iPad I exclusively. In May, I purchased a new 2021 11” iPad Air 4th generation with 256 GB SSD, Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil, and Magic Mouse 2, and I’m loving it. The new multitasking features coming in iPadOS 15 are going to make the iPad even better.

Reeder 5 iCloud feeds sync revisited

I’m a long-time Reeder user for RSS. Not long after Reeder 5 was introduced I tried out the new iCloud feed sync feature. At the time I wrote that I wasn’t impressed.

I wanted to try iCloud feed sync thinking I could cancel my free Feedly account. I’ll share a couple of issues that I experienced and ultimately sent me back to using the free version of Feedly. First off I found iCloud feed sync to be much slower than Feedly. In addition to being much slower, often times feeds timed out and didn’t sync.

A few weeks ago I was having some sync issues with Feedly and while I was waiting for Feedly to fix them I decided to give iCloud feeds another go. And you know what? It’s now rock solid! It is so good that I’m leaving Feedly behind. I have had no issues with time-outs and in my opinion sync is just as fast as Feedly.

As a side note, David Sparks recently wrote about switching to Reeder 5 and using iCloud feeds for managing his RSS.

Looking at my toolset for managing RSS, it’s getting expensive. I currently use a Feed Wrangler account ($19 per year) to manage my feeds, Unread ($20 per year) to view my threads, and Instapaper ($30 per year) for read-it-later. In addition to being expensive, there is a certain amount of mental overhead that comes with managing data between three services that I would prefer to avoid.

[…]

This newest version of Reeder does a good job of managing your feeds, displaying your articles, and giving you the ability to set them aside to read later. It does all of this in one application, and in addition to the iPhone and iPad apps, there is also a Mac app. A nice bonus is that Reeder is a one-time purchase. There is no subscription involved. Instead, the developer releases a new version every few years that you buy over, but it is still far less expensive than what I paid for subscriptions. Reeder for iPhone and iPad is $5. On the Mac, it is $10.