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Omnifocus Field Guide by David Sparks →

David Sparks has come out with an extensive Omnifocus Field guide in preparation for the new Omnifocus 3 release for macOS coming today. Here’s a trailer!

David Sparks has been one of those people I buy pretty much anything he comes out with because his courses and field guides are incomparable, and this Field Guide takes the cake.

I remember watching his first Field Guide for Omnifocus several years back and having my mind blown with what you can do with Omnifocus. With this new and improved Omnifocus, Sparks has spared no attention to detail in showing you what Omnifocus 3 is, how you can use it, and where you can go after you get the fundamentals. He’s been working on this thing since March, and it shows with over 5 hours of content bundled in this!

Right now you can get the course for $24 but come October that price goes up to $29. So if you have wanted to learn Omnifocus, look no further than this Field Guide to help you kickstart your life into something more organized.

Old App Versions with Siri Shortcuts

  • September 20, 2018
  • Blog

When Siri Shortcuts came out I was extactic to get my hands on it and see what it can do, but I ran into a problem that I think needs to be addressed by Apple and the Siri Shortcuts team. The problem is that some applications that have since moved on to a new version are not working properly in Siri Shortcuts.

For example, I had a Ulysses Workflow that was imported into Siri Shortcuts after updating the app but when I opened it up I saw this:

I thought it was odd seeing this as I had the latest version of Ulysses installed on my device. After some troubleshooting and testing I have found a temporary solution.

For Ulysses, and possibly other apps, you need to install the older version of the application—in this case Ulysses Classic—and once you do that the error of the application not being installed will go away. In fact when you run the Shortcut it opens the new version of Ulysses, not the older version.

From there you have both the current version of Ulysses and Ulysses Classic installed, which is not ideal. I found that you can actually uninstall Ulysses Classic once you run a Shortcut with Ulysses in it. Once you have tested a shortcut after installing the older version, you can then uninstall the older version and see if adding actions for that application still works. For Ulysses it worked fine for me, but not so much for Tweetbot.

Tweetbot has gone through 4 version of the application and each new version has their own application, which was done to allow the developers over at Tapbots to continue to gain revenue as they add more and more features and support to their app. The problem with this when it comes to Siri Shortcuts is that for some reason the version it is trying to use is Tweetbot 3, not Tweetbot 4, the latest version of the application.

So, I did some testing and found out that installing Tweetbot 3 made the shortcut work and it indeed did open Tweetbot 4 instead of 3 when running the action. However, when I tried it uninstall version 3 the shortcuts I built and new ones I tried to build all came back with the error of the application not being installed.

In this case the solution isn’t a simple install and uninstall of the older version of the app. Instead you need to keep the older version of the application to allow the shortcut to work properly. My suggestion is just put it in the back of a folder on your home screen so it isn’t taking up precious real estate on your screen built still allows you to run shortcuts for Tweetbot.

Why I Think This is Happening

The reasoning for this error saying the application is not installed, I think, has to do with Siri Shortcuts requiring a specific app be installed, in this case older versions of the app when Workflow was in its heyday.

Now, as far as why it is opening the newer version of the apps when both are installed, I think, has to do with the newer version having the same x-callback-url and those newer version of the app taking priority whenever those urls are opened.

So, if you see this problem with certain apps and you know that you have the older versions in your purchase history try and install it and see if that fixes your problem.

As for a permanent fix, I think Apple is aware of this problem as they have seemed to be working with some of the developers on this and are making server-some changes to the application to prevent this issue going forward.

If you notice any apps doing this and want to spread the work let me know on Twitter or feel free to email me.

The New Workflow

  • September 19, 2018
  • Blog

When I first started using the iPad full time the automation app Workflow was an up and coming app that allowed power users of iOS make some serious changes in how they did their work. Creating and finding Workflows to meet my needs were worth their weight in gold, and sometimes allowed you to make using your iPad more favorable than the Mac.

I, for one, felt that Workflow was so good at bringing together apps that don’t normally talk to each other. Seamlessly moving items from one app to another all while maintaining the integrity of the file was a game changer. Workflow was the singular app that made me want to pull out my iPad over my Mac. That is until Apple acquired it.

When Apple announced the acquisition of Workflow my heart immediately sank, I felt that Apple was trying to squash Workflow and other automation applications for iOS. Instead, a new iteration of Workflow was created with some advanced features that control first party applications and settings.

Honestly, this news still hasn’t sunk in that an app that is a unicorn in the iOS platform has gained so much capability. While I only have been using is for a few days, it is clear that Siri Shortcuts has revitalized my excitement and delight in working with iOS.

Siri Shortcuts hasn’t changed much from its Workflow origins as far as how the app works and the things you can do with it, but something about this makes me more excited than ever to automate and simplify the complex things I do with my iPhone and iPad. Working in this app has allowed me to see the true potential of the iPad again and has made me leave my Mac unopened on my desk. I believe the reason I am so infatuated with this app is because the worry I had when Workflow was acquired has subsided. Between the announcement of the acquisition and the announcement of Siri Shortcuts I felt I was in between a rock and a hard place where I wanted to use Workflow’s powerful tool but I also didn’t want to sink time into an app that seemingly had a likely demise. I didn’t want to use Workflow as a crutch to do my work on iOS because if Apple decided it would “sunset” Workflow my entire computing workflow would be null.

As we now know that was far from the case, and having that subconscious mental block leave me I have been using Siri Shortcuts every moment I can to build and play with the things that it can do. It reminded me of when I started Tablet Habit a year ago and had delight and excitement every time I would open my iPad, I finally felt that again with the iPad thanks to the revitalization of using powerful automation tools to make the tedious work on an iOS device as simple as a single tap.

I plan to share a lot of the Siri Shortcuts I have built over time, and if you have any questions or requests from me feel free to contact me on Twitter or email me and send any and all questions my way!

The Trail Mix of iOS Keyboards

  • August 22, 2018
  • Blog

With my iPad only lifestyle, there has been a pain point that’s been present with a lot of iPad Pro users: keyboards.

There never seems to be a perfect keyboard for the iPad that is agreed upon with everyone. In fact there are a number of choices that seem to have some sort of drawback no matter how you look at it.

I like to to think of iOS keyboards like that of trail mix. By that I mean there are lots of options, but you are never satisfied with what you get.

The Peanut

The Magic Keyboard is the peanut, simple yet reliable and gets you where you are going. However, it is missing the sweetness and delight that you want. With no backlighting and a Bluetooth only connection, you often have to wake it from its all too frequent sleep mode just to get the keys to work with the iPad. Sure you can simply tap an arrow key when you want to use it, but when it is such a prevalent and repetitive thing to do it becomes tedious and tiring.

The Sunflower Seed

The Smart Keyboard is the sunflower seed. Small and plentiful, but doesn’t provide enough sustenance in its own. The Smart Keyboard is the most frequently recommended keyboard for an iPad Pro, but it doesn’t check all the boxes. Again, with no backlighting working on the keyboard in a dark room just doesn’t work. Now as a step up from the Magic Keyboard it does have a Smart Connector, but with that comes sacrifice in keyboard size. Especially in the 10.5 iPad. The key size is small, space between keys takes some getting used to, and even some less used keys are squished to fit the footprint necessary to be used as a Smart Cover.

The Raisin

The Logitech Keyboard is the raisin of the bunch where some people like and is “healthy” competition in theory. In reality it sucks and nearly everyone hates them. Honestly the bulky keyboard ironically named Slim Combo seems to be a slap in the  face to the people who decided to buy it. It has a Microsoft Surface knockoff okickstand in the case making the footprint of this keyboard when in use take up more space than any other keyboard I have used. It does have backlighting, but the keys are even more cramped than that of the Smart Keyboard. This is the one keyboard I tell almost everyone to steer clear from because the cons outweighs the pros ten to one.

The M&M

Finally, the Brydge Keyboard is a lot like the cheap M&M knockoff in trail mix. It seems like the best option but it still tastes awful once you bite into it. I had high hopes for the Brydge Keyboard when it was first announced. It’s only issue for me was that it had a Bluetooth connection, but I was willing to let that go for what it offered. The backlit keyboards and comfortable keyboard layout alongside a detachable clamshell design looks both functional and beautiful. Sadly, much like trail mix, the execution was lacking and it ended with a hunk of aluminum that barely worked properly. The keys were mushy and unresponsive in all 3 models I received when I order this keyboard. I have heard from people that you need to expect to send your keyboard back a few times before getting one that works properly, but to me that isn’t acceptable in this ecosystem where a product that costs over $100 needs to be checked for quality and most likely sent back several times before a customer is satisfied. With that said, if you are willing to deal with that kind of hassle the Brydge Keyboard is worth a shot, the support team there is very nice and responsive, but you have been warned.

My Pick

I am not sure what the answer to this is, but as of right now I am sticking with the Smart Keyboard because portability and connectivity are my two biggest needs in a keyboard for my iPad and nothing compares to the Smart Keyboard in these areas. I also am a fan of the butterfly key switches in the Smart Keyboard as I have gotten akin to the MacBrook Pro keyboard when I was using it. I am able to write without much incidents of mistakes and I have zero latency and missed keys when writing on it. So for now this is what I am using.

With that said if a new keyboard came into play for my 10.5″ iPad that executed on these areas and other things like a backlit keyboard and a better key layout I would happily spend my money on it. Sadly, I am not sure we will see anything new come to these iPads with the shadow of new iPads on the horizon, so I won’t be holding my breath.

I Made a Mistake

  • August 21, 2018
  • Blog

Yesterday I made the decision to post something without really thinking about it first. I have since removed the post and am replacing it with this one. Long story short I said I am a Mac person and that my iPad hasn’t gotten much love since that purchase.

This was a mistake.

Honestly I am still having a bit of trouble choosing the iPad or the Mac as my main device.

I love the iPad and I love writing and I feel that I am thinking too much about whether the device matters or if the content matters.

Obviously the content is more important than the device, but when I made my writing about a specific device the idea of stepping away from it can seem like I am turning my back to what got me started in the first place. This is where my crossroads are and I’m still unsure which way I will end up.

Right now the Mac still seems to have what I want in a device but working on my iPad right now as I write this just feels good. I am focused on the task at hand without distraction, something that is easy to neglect when on the Mac. I am sure many people reading this think I am making a bold claim, but when I am using an iPad I am deciding on an application to take over the entirety of my screen. If I decide to move on to another app it feels like I am going to an entire different workflow.

I am sure I could do the same thing on the Mac with the Desktop Spaces feature, but even that is a quick swipe away from going to YouTube or browsing my RSS subscriptions. The ease of bouncing between multiple things on the Mac feels more fluid and attainable than on the iPad.

This isn’t to say the iPad can’t multitask, I often have two apps in split screen when I am working on something, but even that is a deliberate action that takes a clear and concise decision. Doing it on the Mac is just second nature to me, which breaks a lot of the attention and focus I need when writing. That said, it isn’t just the distraction-free environment that I like about the iPad, it is also the software.

I have said before that the software on a Mac is one of the big reasons I chose to make the switch, but even now I am not so sure that statement is true. I don’t need MarsEdit, I am using a calendar more than anything else when it comes to deciding what to do day-to-day. If I do need a task manager Things 3 is a wonderful app for iOS as it is one of the few apps that is just perfect for those who use a keyboard with their iPad.

My point is this: I haven’t used the iPad full time since I got my Mac and I think that is a mistake. I can’t know what is better until I really give both options a run for their money. It is like choosing my favorite ice cream before trying all the options.

So, I plan to work solely from my iPad from now until the beginning of September. Which gives me 10 days to come to a conclusion of whether to use the Mac or the iPad as my main device, and if I am actually going to use the other device at all.

I plan to write about some things during my time with the iPad again over the next week and a half to share my thoughts and to help me figure out what is important to me in a device.

Until then though I am off to re-learn how to work on the iPad only.

Getting Caught Up #19: Doing the Internet →

Mike and I talk briefly about our favorite podcast apps, but then dive into our main topic of how we browse the internet and what we spend our time on. Afterwards Mike talks about his recent sporting event he watched live. Next episode’s topic you can take part in, so don’t miss out!

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