New tech is not always better just because it is new. Over the last year while rumors of FaceID becoming reality on the next phone were out there, we also heard how Apple was working on getting TouchID working on the screen. Well they didn’t, and now it’s FaceID only on the iPhone X. Judging by the first reviews this move will be a tad controversial. I have two worries.
Checking the phone discreetly is now impossible. If you are in a meeting, out for a meal, or just walking down the street a great feature of the iPhone was unlocking it while taking it out of your pocket and just peeking down at the screen. The phone never had to get a few inches outside your pocket and you had the ability to respond quickly to message, read a note, etc. Now if you want to unlock it, the phone has to see your face.
The other worry is Apple Pay. I know there is a new gesture (double tap power button) to launch Apple Pay, but again your face to authorize? This is where the previous home button was perfect.
Both of these issues can be resolved if you use an Apple Watch with your phone. I wonder if Apple starts pushing the Watch as the “needed” accessory to get the everything working as it did before. I know it would not be Apple like, but I wish they just put a fingerprint sensor on the back like Google did and let you unlock with your finger or your face. We will all find out in just a few days if my worries are founded.
So much news, so many sources, so much to read, so where does one start? If you are a news junkie as I am this is the ultimate question of our times (tad exaggeration).
My system for trying to keep up is not complicated, but it works for me and something similar might work for you. First I have 3 “old media” sources that I subscribe to so I read those as you would have in 1950 at the kitchen table. Those would be The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. These three are also the only news apps that I allow to send me notifications on my phone, breaking news only of course!
The next bit is how I take in the rest. It pretty much works like this. I see a link in a number of places and save it to Pocket. There are a few services that allow you to save items to read later, but Pocket works everywhere and has the best tools. Then a few times a day I go into Pocket on my phone or PC and read away.
I have two primary ways to find stuff I want to send to Pocket. That would be my RSS app (RSS explainer) and Twitter. Since the death of Google Reader I have used Feedly as my RSS service. I do however use third party apps to use Feedly though they provide more than adequate first party apps. On the MAC and iOS I use Reeder, and on Windows I like Nextgen Reader. Both apps do a great job of syncing with the Feedly service and most importantly make it easy to save to Pocket. For Android I still have not found anything better than Feedly for Android.
Those that know me understand I like and use Twitter a lot. While the social stuff is fun, I have found it be a useful place to see what news is breaking in the now. With the right Twitter app you can save anything that looks interesting with one quick click. On the Mac and iOS I use Tweetbot, on Android I like Talon, and on Windows I like Tweetium.
While a setup like this can take time to curate it is quick and easy to use. During the day or when I am busy I just quickly scan my Twitter and RSS feeds. If I see a headline or lede that draws my attention, I just click save to Pocket. Then when I have a few minutes I open Pocket and read!
Like anything the news is only as good as the sources you choose to follow and read. Don’t just read the sites and authors who you know you will agree with. Push your boundaries, remember there is a world outside of the borders you live within, and become an informed citizen.
The streaming firm clocked 40 million ‘Premium’ subscribers in September 2016, having hit the 30 million mark in March, so the growth rate has continued to be fairly consistent. Aside from its $9.99 paid plan, Spotify also offers a more limited free option that it monetizes via ads. Back in June last year, the company disclosed that it had reached 100 million registered users — including paying and non-paying users — but we haven’t had a newer figure since then.
There’s plenty of competition in the market, and Spotify’s nearest rival is Apple Music, which reached the 20 million paid user mark in December. Tidal, the service owned by rapper (and soon-to-be-VC) Jay-Z, reached three million last March which was its last update.
These numbers made me think of the famous quote that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. The only difference being that in this case it might be only two boats. Since Apple Music has launched Spotify has done more than hold its own. While there are other players out there like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Tidal it does seem that it’s a two horse race right now. Has Spotify become the go to for Android? The irony is that Google has by far the best deal out there right now as you get Google Play Music with a YouTube Red subscription for the same monthly price as the others. The libraries are all pretty similar as of now, so it should not be hard for people to jump around.
Spotify yesterday also announced they will be adding a lossless audio plan similar to what Tidal offers. This is interesting, and I still think Apple will add something like this with the purchase of Tidal. It seems Tidal was created as something to be purchased.
Of the 12.6 million mobile devices shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States in 2016, Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent of the market, up from 50 percent in 2015, according to the report. School shipments of iPads and Mac laptops fell to 19 percent, from about 25 percent, over the same period. Microsoft Windows laptops and tablets remained relatively stable at about 22 percent, Futuresource said.
The next generation is being taught that the default is Google. It’s pretty incredible that an OS that is just a few years old is getting close to a 60% market share in the US. Now with new Chromebooks running Android apps it will be interesting to see if they can start to grow in any meaningful way outside of the education market. They are offering something today that Microsoft is trying to promise in the future.
It has been over fifteen months since I began using 3D Touch, and I’m convinced that the true value of it only becomes evident through dedicated practice. If you just use 3D Touch now and then, you may find yourself frustrated by not knowing or remembering what all it can be used for. The lack of iPad support doesn’t help here.
If you have an iPhone 6S or later this is pretty good roundup on some 3D Touch.
I have never been a huge fan of many of the portable bluetooth keyboards being sold out there. Logitech and Microsoft both make some of the better ones, but even those felt small and crowded at times. I was just browsing on Amazon last week and a keyboard from Anker popped in my recommendations.
On sale for $19.99 I just went and ordered the Anker Ultraportable Keyboard. While it is a little heavier, and a little bigger than some of the competitors I love this thing. It feels and sounds like a true desktop keyboard. I have been using it with my iPad Air 2, but you should have no problem using it with any device. I have not used enough to test the battery claim since it says it can go 6 months on one charge. I obviously have not had to charge it yet!
Fantastical – iTunes StoreApp Website While I find the built in Calendar good enough for most things, there are a few features that bring me back to Fantastical. First it combines both my calendar and reminders. I like seeing reminders with dates on them show up on my calendar. It also just accesses the system setup for your calendars and reminders allowing you to still use Siri as you would with the stock apps. Lastly, you can use natural language to add events. You can type “lunch at 3:00PM with John at Union Square Cafe” and it will parse that and put the data in the right place. There is a separate iPad and MacOS app as well.
Notes I have been using the stock Notes app after being both an Evernote and OneNote user. All of these apps are fine, but Notes is simple and good enough for daily use. My favorite feature is that I can lock certain notes behind TouchID allowing me to put pretty much anything in there.
WorkflowiTunes StoreApp Website This app has become a go to for so many things. It allows you to combine multiple steps from multiple apps with just one click. You build your own “workflows” or select from the gallery. Just go read all the coverage of this app over at Mac Stories as I can’t do this app justice in a writeup.
Mail Yes I use the stock Mail app. I use both an exchange account and an iMap account that is hosted by Fastmail. I find the stock app still handles Exchange well, and Fastmail worked directly with Apple to get real push using iMap. If you are a gmail user I would recommend Outlook for iOS as it gives you push e-mail without having to use the awful GMAIL app. I am not a fan of one app housing my mail, calendar, and contacts so that is why Outlook is not my default.
Clock Yes a clock! I just like easy access to my alarms, Next!
SnapchatiTunes StoreApp Website I avoided this app for a while, but I find it kind of fun. I don’t use it much for messaging, but making and watching stories is cool! Give me a follow.
SlackiTunes StoreApp Website By now most people know what Slack is, and what it does. I have it on my phone for work purposes.
TweetbotiTunes StoreApp Website This is by far the best Twitter app on iOS. Just for the design itself it is worth using. If you use the product on the Mac or iPad it also does a great job of syncing your timeline via iCloud. I still keep the Twitter app installed for the few features that Twitter keeps for themselves.
Washington PostiTunes StoreApp Website The Washington Post is one of two newspapers I subscribe to. The app itself is great, and I have been a loyal reader for two decades. If you are an Amazon Prime user you get a nice discount starting with six months for free. You literally have nothing to lose.
New York TimesiTunes StoreApp Website The other paper I subscribe to is the sad and failing New York Times. While some may not like it, it is still the paper of record and employs some of the best writers in the world.
Apple MusicApp Website After using other music services I have come to settle on Apple Music. Most of the music services have similar catalogs at this point so the default service on iOS had some advantages. I did miss my Spotify playlists, but Apple has done a good job adding the feature over the last few months. Having Siri capabilities is what ultimately made this decision a no brainer.
OvercastiTunes StoreApp Website I subscribe and listen to a lot of podcasts, so this app choice is important. First, I need an app that allows streaming because I don’t listen to all the podcasts I subscribe to so I don’t want the app downloading what I don’t want to hear. Second, I like speeding up the podcasts. This is where Overcast excels, I have found the app has the best sound quality even when sped up. Third, I listen across devices so it has to sync. The app does a decent job of that, and even has a minimal web version that is usable. I also like Pocketcasts if Overcast is not your thing.
MyFitnessPaliTunes StoreApp Website This app is personal. I started using this app five years ago when I was over 300 pounds. I still use the app and weigh in around 190. I did not do anything special. I setup a profile, it told me how many calories I should eat, and I followed it. When you exercise it allows you to increase what you eat which is a nice bonus. While what you eat is the most important part of losing weight, exercise is needed to keep you healthy. I am still on my journey and hope soon to celebrate my ultimate goal of 165. Feel free to add me as a friend.
Dark SkyiTunes Store. This is one of those hyper local weather apps. It tells you when it is about to start raining or snowing down to the minute. The feature that gets this on my first page is the great widget.
1PasswordiTunes StoreApp Website Everyone should use a password manager these days. Use it on every system you have, and set crazy passwords that are only used in one place. I use 1Password as I find it does the best job on iOS. If you want another to look at try Last Pass, just use something! You should also use two factor authentication on every service for that. While it’s not on my first page I use Authy as it syncs across devices and has browser plug-ins for the desktop. P.S. Your browser saving your passwords is not smart, so stop and turn that off now. You’re welcome!
Wallet Yes Apple Wallet sits on page one. I love Apple Pay as it safer and easier than having to whip out your credit card. I also have my other cards from places like Starbucks and Duane Reed sitting in there so quick access is important. Most airlines also will throw your boarding passes in there which is handy.
Apple Maps This is a newcomer for me with iOS 10. Apple Maps was never good enough to be the default during it’s first few years of existence. I have found this has changed with the most recent version of iOS. Now to be clear this depends on where you live. The main reason I have gone to Apple Maps is that it now does a better job with mass transit in the New York City metropolitan area. They have directions down to which set of subway stairs to use. If Apple Maps is not good enough where you are, just go ahead and get Google Maps. For mass transit apps, both Transit and CityMapper are both great.
InstagramiTunes StoreApp Website The only product from Facebook that made the cut is Instagram. It is one of my favorite social networks as you can say a lot with just images. The latest updates were put in to compete with Snapchat, and they have done a good job with this. Hey follow me!
Photos and Camera I am lumping these two together for obvious reasons. The camera is well the camera. The default iOS camera is still the best in class when it comes to what ships with your device. If you want more professional options I have been a longtime fan of Camera+. Photos has been rebuilt from the ground up, and I like what they have done. As someone who does not want my life being part of Google’s learning alogorithm I am happy that Apple has managed to include some of those features without the privacy worries. I do backup my photos to OneDrive in case anything happens to my library. I get plenty of storage as part of my Office365 subscription, so might as well!
I keep everything else on Page 2 in folders. I rarely open these apps from here, but instead open them via Siri or Spotlight. I am still working on folder structure, but as long as the app is on the device it really does not make a difference.
Phone Yes it’s the phone app which I still have to use once in a while on a phone.
Messages This is the app which many argue has the most lock in of any service on iOS. While all your text messages sit in here, using iMessage to chat with other iPhone users is great. If you are an iPad and/or Mac user you can also chat from those devices with ease.
Safari While apps have killed many needs for the mobile web, it has not killed everything. I still use Safari for many things including Facebook since I don’t want to install their battery eating hellscape of an app.
DraftsiTunes StoreApp Website There is so much to say about this app. It is a blank canvas where I start most of my writing. It has what the app calls “actions” that lets you then decide what to do with the text. You can send to e-mail, send to Messages, etc. I use it as my default way to start every e-mail message. Then I have “actions” that apply the correct signature I want with that message. When you have multiple aliases this solves a big problem. I also use it to tweet when I have hashtags saved around something. You can easily setup an “action” that appends the hashtags after you type your tweet before it sends it out. Check out the Action Directory to see what else you can do with this app. Let me just point this out. This entire post was written on my phone in Markdown before sending it to WordPress via a Workflow from the app above. As someone once said, it’s “magical”.
The iPad Pro 9.7 has changed my work habits. When I wake up in the morning, I’ll take it from my nightstand and start the day sitting at my kitchen table, reading the news, drinking coffee, and cruising through Twitter. If there’s something big going on, I’ll write a story before I take my wife to the train. The rest of the day is spent on my Windows 10 PC in my office, for the most part, until the evening when I return to the iPad Pro. I’ll finish editing and scheduling posts for some of our west coast writers from the iPad Pro while doing the daily NYT Crossword, for example, an app that I found isn’t available on Android tablets.
I love the portability. If I decide to change my work habits, I’ll bring the iPad Pro with me in the car, ready to edit or write a story from a coffee shop or diner over lunch. It’s lighter than my other devices and offers exactly what I need. And while my Chromebook offered a similar experience in terms of productivity, the better display, comfortable keyboard (it’s really amazing) and larger selection of apps keep bringing me back to the iPad Pro.
As I don’t see myself being a pen user (yet), I have been using the Air 2 in the same manner. It is still a companion device, but a companion that has become a lot more useful in day to day work activities than I ever imagined.
Every few weeks I always look online at others posting what their phones look like. I have found this to be a great way to find new apps. With that in mind here is what mine looks like today.
On page one you will see the apps I use most, and on the second page I put the rest in folders. I never swipe over to that second page as I like using search to find the apps. Quick pull down from the middle of the screen, type a few letter, and open. Siri also does a good job of opening apps with a few words.
this post was originally posted by me on The Agnostic Tech Podcast Site
I devour a lot of news in a day, my RSS reader has a ton of feeds on every different topic you can think of. From politics in the US to the latest news in business in Africa. Shocking no one who knows me, there happens to be a lot of tech news mixed in there. One thing seems to be constant when discussing Apple and iOS, no matter your opinion on any number of issues, everyone agrees Siri is useless.
With that in mind when I switched to iOS I had zero hope for Siri. On my Android phone I really like Google now, and I find Cortana to be making great strides in Windows 10. Here is something you won’t read a lot, “I am using Siri, and liking it”.