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Apps News

Apple adds Shortcuts for Mac support to Pages, Numbers, Keynote

Today, Apple released updates to their iWork suite of apps that adds actions in Shortcuts for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote on macOS, bringing powerful first-party actions that Mac users can take advantage to automate their work:

New First-Party Actions

Across all three iWork apps, there are now actions for “Open” and “Create” – plus Numbers has added “Add Row to Top or Bottom of Table” and Keynote has added “Open in Rehearsal Mode” and “Open in Show Mode.”

The Create actions all also include the templates/themes available in the iWork apps, which makes it quick to generate 40+ samples from Pages, Numbers, and Keynote each for a total of over 120+ templates.

Here’s the full list of actions:

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Apps Links Video Offsite

Walking through the Home app (with Joey Banks)

On Thursday March 25, I streamed with my designer friend Joey Banks and walked him through some of the oddities of the Home app, working on scenes, grouping devices, and HomeKit automations:

Catch the replay on YouTube – and add my livestream calendar to tune into future streams.

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Apps Links

Transit’s Apple Watch app returns after two-year hiatus

Jon Fingas, writing for Endgaget about Transit for iOS releasing a new version of their Apple Watch app:

The popular public transportation tool is now a native app, of course, but it also gives you considerably more detail than just arrival times, including future arrivals and a map indicating where to go. 

I’m glad to see more apps slowly returning to the Apple Watch (or adopting it for the first time). Will be trying this out over the weekend ?.

Read the full article.

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Apps

New DuetCam app shoots video with both cameras at once

Today, as first noticed by 9to5Mac, developer Marcel Schmitz launched a brand new app called DuetCam for $2.99 that takes advantage of iOS 13’s ability to record video with both the front-facing camera and one of the back cameras at the same time.

Schmitz’ app basically lets you film what’s in front of you while also recording yourself in a smaller picture-in-picture box, creating an immersive experience where you can talk to the camera while showing what you’re looking at.

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Apps Links Tips & Tricks

Audible update lets you use credits to buy books in iOS app

In the latest app update on iOS, Audible now lets users actually buy audiobooks inside the app using existing credits.

According to a tweet from Chris Fralic of First Round (originally sourced by Joshua Topolosky of The Outline), the “Add to Library” button in Audible will show the message “You can now use credits without leaving the app!”:

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Apps Links Tips & Tricks

“Make your Mac dance” with MacSparky’s Keyboard Maestro Field Guide

Yesterday, David Sparks released the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide, the seventh paid course offered through his Learn MacSparky site1. This 4-hour block of videos covers 76 different screencasts about Keyboard Maestro, the Mac automation application that provides significantly deep capabilities and makes them available to use across your Apple desktop or laptop.

As usual, David’s course is well-paced, insightful, and makes it easy to learn complex topics like Keyboard Maestro’s slightly esoteric design language.

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Apps

Reeder is back and better than ever (my new favorite RSS app)

Want to read this in iBooks? Get an ePub of this article here and use this shortcut to extract from the .zip.

iPad users who have been holding out hope for an update to Reeder for iOS can relax – a new version was released today with full support for all devices on all platforms and some interesting new features.

See, previously, Reeder 3 wasn’t updated for the new iPad Pro models – after 7 months without proper support in sight, many iOS power users like me sought out new RSS readers. And while apparently Reeder 3 had resolved layout issues a month ago, I had honestly already deleted it since it didn’t work on half my devices.

But that all changes today with the latest release of Reeder 4.

Reeder 4 for iPad Pro 12.9″ in both Light and Dark modes.

Available as a new purchase costing $4.99 on the App Store and $9.99 on the Mac App Store, bringing with it a refreshed design, some unique reading features, and a unified code base across iOS and Mac that will make it easier to update in the future.

I bought the app as soon as I heard about it this morning – here’s why I think my money was well-spent.

Table of contents

  • Why I like Reeder
    • The Many Views of Reeder
    • Styling
    • Customization and control
  • New features
    • Redesigned
    • Bionic Reading
    • Instapaper Tags
    • Read Later
  • Small changes
  • Keyboard shortcuts adjustments
  • Ideas for expansion
  • Conclusion
Categories
Apps

Apple News has a notification spam problem

Lately, I’ve been diving deeper into Apple News – thanks to the recent addition of Apple News+ magazines, along with the recently-added “Open In Apple News” share sheet extension, it’s been my go-to source for a quick news digest, some longer reads, and now feature stories as well.

Plus, I’ve been using my old iPad Mini 2 to consume the news as a more focused and intentional usage of my devices, almost only ever using it for News and Books.

About three weeks ago I read Digital Minimalism, but then hadn’t touched the iPad Mini since (I just read News on my other devices). But when I picked up the device again to read How To Bored over this last weekend, I was met with this on the screen:

Page after page of Apple News notifications, all from sources I barely actually read and who were attempting to grab my attention every 15-30 minutes – my Apple News account was spamming me.

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Apps

CalZones is the only scheduling app you need to plan across timezones

Developer David Smith has released a new app today called CalZones that is a combination calendar and timezone converter.

Available for $4.99 via the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, the app makes it as easy as possible to see what time it is where somebody else lives and arrange a meeting at the correct time across timezones and work schedules.

I’ve never found a calendar app that lets me have timezones presets visualized so easily, giving me the correct the information of what time it is across the world, and packing an impressive amount of utility into multiple small spaces.

Here’s how Calzone accomplishes all that.

Categories
Apps Tips & Tricks

How to make a full-page screenshot of an app or website with StitchPics

With the sharing feature that was in Workflow not being available in Shortcuts1, many people are resorting to sharing screenshots to show people how their shortcuts work.

Oddly, this has had a great benefit for the fledgling community – shortcuts are very visual, and a bunch of hyperlinks links on Twitter might not have had the same effect as a good photoset2:

But longer shortcuts with more than a handful of actions can’t fit onto one screen, so users have to resort to more creative options.

StitchPics

My recommendation is StitchPics, a simple but very functional app to combine photos that’s free with a $1.99 in-app purchase to add more than 8 images3.

Made by a Chinese developer, the app isn’t fully translated, the logo is somewhat inexplicably an L, and on iPad it only works in portrait orientation.

That being said, I’m definitely glad I bought it. That’s because, beyond basic auto-stitching, StitchPics has a fantastic pinch-based method of combing images that’s super reliable for getting things exactly right.

Here’s a quick example:

[videopress 6TEyzPrb]

Once it takes a guess at how to put your images together, you can slide either image up or down behind the crossover point and collapse parts you want to be hidden.

Especially with longer shortcuts where you may need to take many screenshots, it makes aligning the different actions much easier.

StitchPics is also great for getting images of complete webpages on mobile – just take screenshots as you scroll and stitch them together in the app.

Tailor

A popular alternative is Tailor, but historically I’ve found it is unreliable at parsing multiple screenshots from Workflow (and the same is true for Shortcuts). The actions just look too similar across many images and it doesn’t know how to handle it.

Tailor is also free (but with a watermark removable by in-app purchase) and should work fine for simpler shortcuts. However, it is only available for iPhone.

That’s why I’ve been using StitchPics – it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done, and a bit better, on both my devices.

Get StitchPics on the App Store.

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  1. I don’t know if it’s temporarily removed or gone for good, but boy am I hoping for the former not the latter. 
  2. Awesome work Ben! And also wow, almost 7,000 people liked a good automation joke (even if it’s mostly for the Harry Potter). 
  3. Plus you can add your own watermarks, change it to a custom size, cut off the top or bottom, leave blank spaces, or change the color of the fonts in the app. 
Categories
Siri Shortcuts Apps

Keeping a better film watchlist in Letterboxd

Lately, when I’m ready to sit down and enjoy something for the evening, I’ve struggled to find the right movie to watch.

It’s way too easy to quickly pick whatever’s available on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, but really all you’re shown is what they’ve purchased movie rights for. The TV app and iTunes on Apple TV are somewhat helpful, but you can’t go very deep into the catalog of films available when you’re just browsing.

So I’ve been trying to use Letterboxd to keep track of movies and build up a better list to pick from when it’s time to watch. The iOS app is designed for finding films, saving them for later, and logging reviews, wrapped up in a mini social network.1

Letterboxd is nice enough for a dedicated app just for movies – the features you’d want here are different from a TV-tracking app like Couchy, which is more designed for keeping up (because you don’t usually review episodes).

Thankfully, Letterboxd added automation support last year along with the release of their iPad version. They have documentation for their URL scheme available, so I took a look and put together a shortcut to help me get started tracking movies to watch.

Categories
Siri Shortcuts Apps

How I Lost My iPad

This last week, I published two posts – one post on The Sweet Setup and one on my website.

Over on The Sweet Setup, I shared “Losing my iPad Pro: what I missed (and love) about Apple’s tablet experience” where I talked about replacing my iPad after it was stolen and how it clarified the space in my experience the device fills for me:

The iPad has been my main computing device since the Pro line came out. Being without it for a few weeks has really highlighted why I prefer the iPad, and in many cases, has shown me how I can do more than on any other device.

Without an iPad, the joy of using a device doesn’t exist to the same extent. I still have an iMac, but since I lost the iPad and have had to use the iMac full-time again, I’m starting to feel the desktop’s limitations.

Categories
Siri Shortcuts Apps

Saving your clipboard to Copied with Shortcuts

One type of apps that make the Mac more useful than iPad for many are clipboard managers.

Instead of copying & pasting one thing at a time, tools like Alfred, Pastebot, and Copied let Mac users copy lots of information in batches and then use it later (often with special formatting or inserting with keyboard shortcuts).

On iOS, the problem isn’t nearly as solved – since apps don’t have the same access to your clipboard at all times, they can’t capture everything you’re cutting & pasting on your iPhone or iPad.

However, Copied does provide a solution that works across the Apple device line, letting you save things to their database, sync it across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and share it elsewhere.

And, with support for URL scheme actions on iOS, it’s possible to use Copied in conjunction with an app like Shortcuts. You can create shortcuts that clip the contents of your clipboard, share sheet & save it into your Copied lists for organization, and much more.

Categories
Siri Shortcuts Apps Gear

Writing about Shortcuts/Workflow (and HomePod) on the Web

I’ve had the privilege to write for The Sweet Setup the last few months and now iMore, so I wanted to share some of the links here.

Primarily I’ve been writing about Shortcuts/Workflow, trying to get some of the ideas in my head out and into the world so other people can take better of the app – especially now that it’s free. But I’m also dabbling in product reviews & photography, a new challenge that’s proving lots of fun and hard work.

Categories
Apps

Controlling your HomePod volume with iTunes and a simple Mac app

If you’ve picked up Apple’s HomePod in the past few weeks and tried to use iTunes on your Mac to Airplay something to the speaker, you probably got blasted with the music playing at full volume.

This occurs since HomePod uses iTunes’ in-app volume slider to adjust its levels rather than your Mac volume, and iTunes is usually at 100% because the hardware keys are used control my computer’s overall sound instead1. Plus, if I want to change the volume on HomePod after the music starts, I have to go into iTunes and drag the slider – you can’t turn it down that quickly.

Screenshot of iTunes Volume Control running in a Mac menu bar

To get around this, I installed a Mac app called iTunes Volume Control that’s available on GitHub. Created by Andrea Alberti, it’s an app that lives entirely in your menu bar and changes the Mac’s hardware volume keys to control iTunes instead. When it’s running, it can entirely take over mute, volume up, and volume down – or, you can set it so you have to hold a modifier key like Command before hitting the keys. I use the latter option, so I can control my Mac volume with the keys normally and then use ⌘ + or ⌘ – to adjust iTunes when I need to.

Once you’ve installed the app, you’ll find it’s much better experience playing music from iTunes with HomePod as your speaker. I set iTunes Volume Control to launch at login, so it’s basically always running when I use my computer and I never have to turn it on when I need it2. I’ll usually open iTunes, use ⌘ – to turn down the volume, then pick my song and AirPlay to my HomePod.

iTunes Volume Control also provides an option to change the step size for each press, so the volume can be changed in more specific intervals – you can set it go up 3% each time, for example, rather than the default 10% at a time. This gives you fine-grained control of the HomePod volume, right from your keyboard.3

I could see improving this setup using iTunes and AppleScript – you could set up a command to launch iTunes already set to 30% and set to AirPlay to the HomePod, avoiding the setup process each time I want to listen from my Mac on my HomePod. However, I have no experience there and that’s a project for another day.

The best part of this setup is that iTunes Volume Control is entirely free to download and use. Check out the documentation first, but use this link to get the app and start controlling your HomePod from your Mac.

SaveSave

SaveSave


  1. Instead of adjusting the levels in iTunes and on your Mac separately, it’s much more common to leave iTunes at 100% and change the volume on the whole computer instead. 
  2. I normally hide it in the menu bar using Bartender, so I can click on the Bartender icon to reveal it but keep it away from view otherwise. 
  3. I do the same thing with HomePod normally by using my Apple Watch. Once you change the source in Control Center on your iPhone to the HomePod, the Now Playing controls show up on Apple Watch and let you control the smart speaker from your wrist.