Instapaper finally gets a badly needed update

I have been super critical of Instapaper lately. I wrote on Medium about how over the past year it has gone to shit. Not only that but I along with others thought that it was abandoned which prompted me to write an Open Letter to the developer asking them to fix or sell the app. Then a few days ago I wrote about the app that I was going to use in place of Instapaper.

Yesterday, Instapaper was brought back from the dead with version 8.1. I immediately subscribed to Premium again.

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

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.

I didn’t get my one wish for iPadOS 15

I had only one wish for iPadOS 15, and it was that I wanted the Files app to become a true Finder equivalent and that didn’t happen. What we did get were some big improvements to multitasking that I’m looking forward to. Jason Snell and Myke Hurley in Episode 356 of the Upgrade podcast give a good review of how the new multitasking features will work.

Here’s something else that I’m excited about. Apple announced some major new privacy features that will make using iPhone, iPad, and Mac more private.

Sara Morrison writing for Vox

Apple announced on Monday at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that its upcoming iOS 15 update will give iPhone users even more insight and control over their own data. Among other updates, you’ll soon be able to see who your apps are sharing your data with; you’ll be able to stop trackers from detecting if and when you open emails; and you’ll be able to keep your internet activity more private.

🔗 Link Post: iOS 14.6 Battery Life Draining Issues? 8 Tips to Help

Paul Horowitz writing for OSXDaily.com:

Some iPhone and iPad users have reported that battery life is suffering after updating to iOS 14.6 on their device.

My normal practice is to wait a few days before installing OS updates. I want to see if the update is presenting any new issues. I was alerted to a possible battery issue with iOS 14.6 in a May 26th blog post by Lee Peterson. Therefore, I did a some research and found that several folks were having problems with rapid battery drain. I’m going to hold off installing 14.6 and wait for a fix.

As a side note Apple has stopped signing iOS 14.5.1, blocking downgrades from iOS 14.6 according to 9to5Mac, so this is no longer a possible workaround.

An update on Goodlinks my read-it-later app

Last July I wrote the following about Goodlinks.

In my opinion, GoodLinks is one of the best read-it-later apps out there. The reading experience is excellent. Articles and reading position sync between devices via iCloud. And best of all it’s a one-time purchase for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Since it’s a relatively new app it’s missing a few features. One big one for me is that there is no way to import saved bookmarks from other apps. I would like to use GoodLinks as my bookmark manager as well as read-it-later but until import is available that will have to wait.

Since then, the developer has been busy improving Goodlinks, and it has become my go to read-it-later and bookmark manager app of choice.

In version 1.1.1 the ability to import links from Instapaper, Pinboard, and Pocket was added. Version 1.2 added support for iOS and iPadOS 14 and widgets. And version 1.2.1 added the ability to export links.

At this time, the only thing that’s missing from Goodlinks is highlighting, but I can work around that by clipping excerpts to Drafts instead.

Give Goodlinks a try. I highly recommend it. Oh! And by the way, it’s a universal purchase, so it’s a one-time purchase that includes the Mac, iOS, and iPadOS apps. And it syncs via iCloud, so there’s no subscription.

My one wish for iPadOS 15

WWDC is just around the corner. With the 2021 iPad Pro having a M1 chip there has been a lot of speculation about what might be coming to the iPad with iPadOS 15.

I’m not a pro user so a lot of what’s being speculated is lost on me. But I do have one wish. I would like to see the Files app become a true Finder equivalent. Files needs an Open In option so that I know which app is going to open when I tap a file. And I want the ability to view a file’s extension and to be able to change it.

iMessage BlastDoor security

Over the past three years, security researchers and real-world attackers have found iMessage remote code execution (RCE) bugs and abused them to develop exploits that allowed them to take control over an iPhone just by sending a simple text, photo, or video to someone’s device.

As reported January 28, 2021 by ZDNet “With the release of iOS 14 last fall, Apple has added a new security system to iPhones and iPads to protect users against attacks carried out via the iMessage instant messaging client.”

“Named BlastDoor, this new iOS security feature was discovered by Samuel Groß, a security researcher with Project Zero, a Google security team tasked with finding vulnerabilities in commonly-used software.”

“Groß said the new BlastDoor service is a basic sandbox, a type of security service that executes code separately from the rest of the operating system.”

“While iOS ships with multiple sandbox mechanisms, BlastDoor is a new addition that operates only at the level of the iMessage app.”

“Its role is to take incoming messages and unpack and process their content inside a secure and isolated environment, where any malicious code hidden inside a message can’t interact or harm the underlying operating system or retrieve with user data.”

iOS and iPadOS 13.6 silently opted me into Automatic OS Updates

Michael Tasi in a blog post today pointed out a change in the toggle for iOS and iPadOS Automatic Updates that I was unaware of. Before 13.6, there was a single toggle to turn Automatic Updates on or off. I always have it turned off.

In 13.6 there are new toggles for Customizing Automatic Updates

Julie Clover

You can now decide whether or not your iPhone or iPad can automatically download iOS updates when connected to WiFi, and when those updates are installed. There’s a Download iOS Updates toggle for turning on automatic downloads over WiFi and an Install iOS Updates toggle for installing software updates overnight as an ‌iPhone‌ charges.

As I mentioned, above I always have automatic OS updates off on all my devices. I like to wait for a few days to make sure there are no issues with the update before I install it. And yes, we all know issues do happen.

Unfortunately for me, I ran into the same problem as Jeff Johnson:

PSA: If you previously had iOS and iPadOS Automatic Updates turned off you’ll want to take a minute and review your Automatic Update setting and adjust it accordingly.

Three finger swipe to undo

I had been writing an article in Ulysses for the last couple of days and was just about done with it. Last evening while lying in bed I was reviewing it on my iPhone and I noticed something that I wanted to change. So I selected the change and deleted it. Unknowingly I had somehow selected the text of the entire article and everything I had written was gone. Ah Shit!

I couldn’t figure out a way to get what I’d written back. I checked for a Ulysses backup but to my surprise, Ulysses doesn’t backup external files and folders and the article was in a Dropbox folder. Next, I tried a google search for a Ulysses undo action and again no luck. So at this point, everything that I’d written was gone.

This morning I was listening to an episode of Accidental Tech Podcast and Casey Liss happened to mention three-finger swipe for undo. I don’t remember in what context he mentioned it but it sure got my attention. I immediately thought I wish I had known this yesterday. It would have saved my ass.

Here’s how it works. Swipe left with three fingers on the active app to undo your last actions. To redo your last action, swipe right with three fingers. This works on iOS and iPadOS.

The Sweet Setup has a good article on text formatting gestures that you can find it here.

Going iPad first

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using my iPad as my main computing device. This has been possible thanks to iPadOS 13.4 advanced mouse and trackpad support. I’m using my 9.7” 5th generation iPad, Magic Trackpad 2, and Logi Slim Folio keyboard. For the most part, this setup has worked out great.

I like the way M.G. Siegler wrote about using the iPad in a recent post on 500ish. It describes exactly how I’m feeling about the iPad now.

For some people, depending on their workflows, they will absolutely need a desktop OS to be as productive as possible. I am not one of those people. For me, it’s more just getting used to doing everything that I used to do on macOS on iOS. And with the new keyboard + trackpad, I think I can now get there. Again, it will just take some time and retraining my brain on certain things. If I can do that, I actually think the iPad will be far preferable for me to do everything I do right now on a Mac.

With that in mind, I’m looking forward to getting a new iPad. Interestingly, a few days ago, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple will introduce a new cheaper iPad at the end of the year with a 10.8-inch screen, larger than the 10.2-inch iPad and 10.5-inch iPad Air we know today. I’m guessing that this iPad would work out nicely for me.

Quick thoughts on using a Trackpad with iPadOS 13.4

Yesterday Apple released iPadOS 13.4 with advanced cursor support. I immediately downloaded 13.4 to my iPad and paired my Magic Keyboard, Trackpad and Mouse.

I’ve been using my iPad with the Trackpad for a few hours now and can say this will change how I use my iPad. One thing I will mention is that my original Magic Mouse didn’t scroll. A Magic Mouse 2 is required for full mouse support.

Now I can see an iPad replacing my MacBook Pro as my main computing device. That said, I’ll be considering a new iPad. I’m not sure which one at this point but I’ll decide after I’ve used my existing iPad with the Trackpad for awhile.

All that said, I’m going to have to make some adjustments to my workflows since a lot of what I do on my MacBook Pro involves using Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Hazel. A lot of what I do with those apps can’t be replicated on the iPad. I’m sure I’ll find ways to work around it though.

To get started, I found this 9to5 Mac YouTube video very helpful.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, iPadOS 13.4 will be released. Why am I so looking forward to this? Well, 13.4 will have advanced cursor support which means a mouse and trackpad will now work with my iPad. I’ll be trying this out and that will be a welcome diversion from worrying about COVID-19.

We have seen that with iPadOS 13, which was the first version to introduce mouse support to the iPad, but the implementation was extremely limited. This will change with iPadOS 13.4, which brings a new way to use a mouse or trackpad on the iPad.

The cursor will be a small semi-transparent circle instead of a regular pointer, which will come up only when you need it. That means once the user stops moving the cursor, it will disappear from the screen so that the focus continues on the content.

It also disappears when it is over certain interface elements, such as buttons and icons of the Dock. These elements will be highlighted with a different shape so you know the cursor is there, and you can just slide to access other options.

I think that at some point I would like to be iOS only? This may get one step closer to doing it.

An iPad with a mouse and trackpad?

9to5 Mac is reporting that sophisticated mouse cursor support is coming to iOS 14 and that new iPad Smart Keyboard models will have a trackpad.

According to code seen by 9to5Mac, Apple is set to roll out rich system-wide support for mouse cursors with iOS 14. Apple added rudimentary compatibility with external mice in iOS 13 Accessibility settings, but iOS 14 (iPadOS 14) will make it mainstream.

The iOS 14 build also referenced two new Smart Keyboard models in development.

The changes coming to the software will bring most of the cursor features you recognize from a Mac desktop experience to iOS.

I love it and I’m looking forward to it. This seems like something that could get me closer to making an iPad my main computing device.

I’m done with Apples Notes

I have never liked Apple Notes because I have found it to be unreliable in several ways. But a few months ago I thought I would give it a try because I kept reading and hearing good things about it. So I copied all my notes from Bear to Apple Notes. After doing so everything was running along smoothly. As a fall back I kept my notes up in Bear and I’m glad I did.

So, here we are with iOS 13 and iPadOS and Notes is having sync issues. After reading a few support forums I found this to be a common problem among Apple Notes users. Notes fail to sync, or at best, some notes randomly sync hours later. I don’t have the patience for this.

I’m back to Bear for notes and short-form writing. I have over 500 notes and never had a sync issue. Another great thing about Bear is that I can backup my notes just in case. I also missed the ability to export a note if I wanted to.

Goodbye Apple Notes never again.

iOS 13, iPadOS, and watchOS 6

A couple of days ago I installed iOS 13 on my iPhone and iPadOS on my iPad. I’ve taken some time to review the new features in both OS’s. I did that by watching the below videos by 9to5 Mac and found them to be very informative.

With iOS 13 I don’t see much that will change how I use my iPhone. On the other hand, I see quite a bit in iPadOS that will change how I use my iPad. Particularly the multitasking features.

The upgrade on my Apple Watch didn’t go smoothly. I’m not sure how to explain this but my Watch update was stuck on an old update 5.3.2 that never finished downloading and installing. My Watch was actually on 5.3.1. I got a message that the install was paused because I needed to connect the Watch to WiFi. So I did that but it was still stalled. As a last resort, I rebooted my iPhone and Watch and went back into the Watch software update and the stall cleared its self out and then the 6.1 update appeared. After that, the install completed with no problems. Bye the way, I like the new California watch faces in watchOS 6. Very cool!

As for macOS Catalina on my MacBook Pro? Well, that’s going to have to wait. It is riddled with problems that I don’t want to deal with. I might not Catalina and just wait for next years macOS update in hopes that it will be a stability update.