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Using keyboard shortcuts on iOS allows you to fly through the tedious tasks of editing, formatting, and moving items to where you want them to be.

Since I use the Smart Keyboard with my iPad a vast majority of the time I am working on it, keyboard shortcuts have been my bread and butter. To not use them means I have to tap on the screen to modify what it is I am working on. It adds friction to my work. Not being able to use the most efficient way of doing things on my devices can drive me up a wall, and I know I am not alone in this.

Which is why keyboard shortcuts can be so useful. Shortcuts isn’t a word that is arbitrary on this scenario, it really is a literal shortcut to get to your destination faster, and who doesn’t want that? But not all apps are created equal when it comes to shortcuts.

Who Does Keyboard Shortcuts Right

Before I start to go over the things that needs work, I have to give credit where credit is due. That credit goes to the 3rd party developers that embrace those that are using a keyboard with their iPads and making it a staple in their workflows. I have two specific apps in mind, but they are by no means the only ones doing great work for the keyboard users on iOS.

Ferrite

The quintessential example of getting keyboard shortcuts right on iOS is that of Ferrite which I adore. Not only can do everything from a keyboard, but you can even assign each action to the key binding of your choosing.

In fact, Ferrite offers a lot of great presets for popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) for those that are familiar with them. For me, I have a custom key binding as I use an app that does not have presets built into Ferrite called Hindenburg.

Things 3

Cultured Code came out with Things 3 a while back, and I wasn’t happy with the space keyboard shortcuts when it shipped, but that all changed when they released version 3.6 in May. That update offered what they consider “Desktop-Class Productivity”. Nearly everything can be on with just the keyboard on the iPad app of Things.

This was when I finally felt like Things 3 was now ready to ship, and I began to use it as my task manager of choice from there on. One thing I want to note though is that Things only shows the keyboard actions you can do in the current situation you are in so you won’t see the plethora of keyboard shortcuts in the pop up box when you hold the Command key. If you want to see all of the shortcuts available Cultured Code has a great list on their blog.

Problems With iOS Keyboard Shortcuts

Some apps provide a vast array of commands and shortcuts to allow iPad users to use their keyboard 100% of the time. Others though, they don’t think much of the keyboard users. Which brings me to the first speed bump in iOS for keyboard users: you are at the mercy of developers to provide the shortcuts you need.

Developers Have to Do All The Heavy Lifting

This is not to condemn developers for this problem, many developers often have plans to integrate shortcuts in their apps in the future. The only problem is time and resources. Many of my favorite apps. like Drafts 5 for example, are developed solely by one person and they can’t always get to secondary things like shortcuts immediately after launch. They have other things to worry about like making sure the app doesn’t crash regularly and the features that people want the most is what goes to the topi of the to-do list. Which makes things like keyboard shortcuts fall lower and lower on the list of priorities.

But this isn’t just a developer issue, this is also an issue that Apple can help in with their iOS operating system as a whole.

Lack of Apple Subtleties

For instance, it can be hard to tell which app is currently connected to the keyboard.

When you work in split view it can be hard to tell which app has the keyboard connected to it, there is no kind of indication outside of a blinking cursor if you are using a text editor that supports that.

One thing I have noticed that helps is if you quickly tap on the app you want to use the keyboard with. This isn’t ideal, but it is the best option I have found that works with iOS 11 as of now (and the iOS 12 beta as well).

A simple indication of what app is currently active could solve this problem easily, and I think iOS needs this in their software.

Final Thoughts

The keyboard for iOS isn’t perfect, but if you implement more keyboard shortcuts it can help you do your work even a little bit better. One thing I tell all of the people I know who are using an iPad with a keyboard is to press and hold the Command key in the apps they use, because it will show all of the keyboard shortcuts you can do.

In the future I would love Apple to really make it clear that you can do all of the things you want from a MacBook in an iPad, including keyboard shortcuts. If Apple embraces the fact that this touch device is also a true laptop replacement, they need to start with they keyboard and the software behind it.

In a perfect world Apple would make everything possible on an iPad also an option on the keyboard. Until then though, I will just have to contact the developers, who work so hard on these apps, and ask them politely to embrace the keyboard like so many of us have.

If you are looking for other keyboard shortcuts, check out Apple’s documentation online and see some of the things you can do on iOS with a keyboard.

Bradley Chambers writing for 9To5Mac:

June 28th, 2005 might go down as one of the biggest days in the history of media. It was the day Apple announced they were taking podcasting mainstream by including support for Podcasts in iTunes 4.9 and with syncing to the iPod. As rumors continue to swirl of iTunes being dismantled on macOS (in favor of dedicated apps), I thought it might be fun to take a look back at this important decision.

Apple® today announced it is taking Podcasting mainstream by building everything users need to discover, subscribe, manage and listen to Podcasts right into iTunes® 4.9, the latest version of its award winning digital music software and online music store. iTunes users can now easily subscribe to over 3,000 free Podcasts and have each new episode automatically delivered over the Internet to their computer and iPod®.

“Apple is taking Podcasting mainstream by building it right into iTunes,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Podcasting is the next generation of radio, and users can now subscribe to over 3,000 free Podcasts and have each new episode automatically delivered over the Internet to their computer and iPod.”

The new Podcast Directory in iTunes 4.9 features over 3,000 free audio programs, making it one of the largest Podcast directories in the world, with favorites such as ABC News, Adam Curry, BBC, Clear Channel, The Dawn and Drew Show, Disney, Engadget, ESPN, Newsweek and NPR member stations such as KCRW in Los Angeles and WGBH in Boston.

For podcast fans that have only ever used iPhone apps to download podcasts, you have no idea the lengths we used to go to get our shows. This was also at a time when only a small percentage of homes in the US had broadband (so downloading shows could be time-consuming).

Podcasting wasn't in my life until 2007, but I don't think it would have ever been a part of my life if not for Apple doing this. It has become a staple to every aspect of my interests. News, technology, politics, comedy, and everything in between comes from podcasts first and elsewhere a distant second. It is the first thing I listen to after waking up, the only thing I listen to when in the car, and what I listen to when I am in the mood of taking a break from work I am doing (even sometimes during work).

I care deeply about this medium and have for over a decade. I want it to thrive, I want it to continue to be a means for people to express themselves online without having gatekeepers. Apple has made that a possibility because they didn't make it a place to host podcasts but rather a means to distribute. I still think this was the best call for Apple. Allowing people to own their content in what ever way they want and to then hook it into this directory allows for people to not have to worry about playing in someone else's backyard.

Apple gave podcasting a platform 13 years ago and kick-started its growth, and for that I couldn't be more grateful.

The First Update to Text Case – Chris Hannah:

It hasn’t been long since the release of Text Case, but I’ve already had some great suggestions, so I decided to add them in!

So here it goes.

Five extra formats: – URL Decoded – Capitalise All Words – Camel Case – Snake Case – Hashtags

One format has been “fixed”, and that is Capitalise. It now does the obvious and also capitalises the first letter after a period.

You can now choose which formats you want to enable, by navigating to the Settings page, and flipping the switches. This will obviously allow for a more customised interface, as I imagine some people won’t want all 12 formats to show if there aren’t needed.

I still have two things I want to work on. One is the ability for the action extension to be able to replace the original selected text with the new converted value. The other is a pretty great idea that I can’t share until I figure out how exactly I’m going to implement it. But it will be an advanced feature.

Chris has been working really hard on Text Case and while it might sound like a simple app, this utility can be quite useful when you are on-the-go and writing out things quickly. I know have had times where I wanted to change the format of the text quickly but not know what to do about it. I have tried building clunky workflows that worked for some things but having this app around is just a delight.

Give Chris’ app a download and see what you think of it. If you want to make a suggestion, clearly he is listening!

Microsoft’s Surface Go: iPad Killer? – BirchTree

Too often, people view products as dollar signs first, and products second. Yes, price is a factor when making any purchase, but I don’t think that Microsoft is going to move the needle much by releasing this product. Yes, with it’s similar size, build, and price tag, it absolutely is a direct competitor to the iPad, but I don’t see how this solves problems for real people. At least, not in a way that a multitude of other Windows machines are already doing. I see 2 major problems with the Surface Go.

(Via birchtree.me)

The Microsoft Surface Go never seemed to be an “iPad Killer” to me. It always seemed to be a way for Microsoft to try to compete with Apple and the iPad. Honestly I can’t see many people comparing these two devices evenly, and Matt goes into detail on both software and hardware on this in his post.

My biggest takeaway with Microsoft doing this at all is that they continue to play around with their devices to try and make things for all kind of consumers. Which is a good thing in the long run, but the Microsoft Surface Go seems to be a swing and a miss if I ever saw one.

With Tablet Habit now going daily, I have found myself wanting to post more link posts. Doing this on my Mac is easy with MarsEdit 4, but it isn’t as easy with iOS, until I created a workflow that is a hybrid between Evan Kline of 40Tech and Christopher Lawley at The Untitled Site.

What it Does

For those who aren’t familiar with link posts, it is a very handy way to post articles from elsewhere and add your own input after quoting a selection of the article. You can find an example of one I used recently to get an idea of what I am talking about.

How it Works

So with Workflow, you can use the Share Sheet as a means to run a Workflow and take things like a URL from Safari, your clipboard, and selected text into the workflow to use within it. All three of these examples are used with the Workflow I have created after taking a look at what both Evan and Christopher have done.

LinkPostWorkflow1

First, you need to find the post you want to link in Safari on your iPhone or iPad. From there you select the text you want to use in the post as a quote. With that text selected, open up the share sheet and run the Link Post Workflow.

Workflow Link Post Prompt

As the Workflow Opens up there will be two questions that it will ask you. The first question being what the publication is. In this case it is 40tech. After that it will ask for the author’s name, which is Evan Kline.

Once both the publication and the author is determined the workflow will then take the URL of the website you shared and the selected text you highlighted to make it into a Markdown ready post.

LinkPostWorkflow result

Once all of the text formatting is done a new Ulysses sheet will be made with the entire link post formatted and linked properly. All that is left now is to write your own response to the link post!

You can download the workflow here and make any changes you need to it. Happy posting!