About Thomas

My name is probably Thomas (yes, it is). I'll be able to help you figure out why Evernote isn't syncing, or recommend your favourite new RSS reader to you. That's partly because I am enamoured with the iOS ecosystem and hardware, but mostly because I'm Canadian.

WordPress 4.8 for iPad: The WYSIWYG Editor Saves The Day!

After suffering through years and years of an incredibly shoddy interface, I’m really happy to announce that the iOS WordPress app is now fun to use. Not only does the app now have a great what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) post editor, but image uploads and previews are now usable as well!

Previous versions of the app required you to enter text in raw HTML. There were a few shortcut buttons to add things like links or rich text tags, but for the most part, I’d write posts in Markdown using other apps (like iA Writer Pro) and paste the raw HTML into WordPress. I’ll actually probably still do that because I like keeping my writing drafts elsewhere, but the new WordPress WYSIWYG editor really just works. For bloggers who prefer to just write and have software take care of formatting, this is awesome.

Another killer part of the update is that images now upload in-line. Every version before this one would append images to the butt end of the post, which meant that I’d have to repeatedly scroll to the bottom of the page when I wanted to attach multiple images. Adding images in-line as I edit my posts just makes sense — and is a much more enjoyable experience.

Finally, I’d like to add that the preview functionality now works properly for me. Instead of seeing a borderless, formless, double-spaced version of the article I’d just written, I can now preview posts just as you readers will see them. 

I’ve enjoyed writing on the iPad for a number of years now, but posting from iOS has always been a pain with the first-party WordPress app. As of two days ago and the release WordPress 4.8, writing and blogging on the iPad just got a whole lot better.

Here’s an App Store link for WordPress; it’s FREE to download and use, so if you’re a blogger, you’ll want to pick this up immediately.

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Soulver for iPad: The Notepad I Wish I’d Had In Math Class

I can’t believe I haven’t actually written about Soulver for iPad yet, seeing as I’ve been using it on a daily basis for the past four or five months. Soulver is a great little calculations notebook for the iPad. At first glance it can look like a plain text editor, but do not be fooled — it’s got delicious math geekiness embedded between its lines.

Soulver makes it easy to handle calculations like:

  • 5 + 5
  • 10 x 2
  • 30 * (550/132)

You enter the numbers on the left side, answers appear on the right.

You can also use more natural language to calculate solutions. So instead of calculating a tip by typing “85 x 1.15”, you can also type “15% of 85” to reach the same conclusion. Or you can use Soulver to convert things like “8 oz in lbs”.

My favourite use case harnesses Soulver’s ability to refer to previous calculations and use them as variables. For example, if the first row in Soulver is “47 x 13”, I could refer to its product (611) on any other line in any other equation I create. I can also name particular lines, so I can refer to Line 1 simply as “Warehouses”. From that point onwards, any time I type out “warehouses”, Soulver substitutes that word for the number 611.

If that sounds confusing, here’s what it looks like within the app:

I use Soulver as an everday calculator, but also as a daily budget calculator. I use Next to track everyday expenses, so that app provides me a total of how much I’ve spent this month. I then plug my regular bills and income as different lines into Soulver, which ultimately provides me with a snapshot of my current budget for the month.

Of course, there are many other ways you could take advantage of the app. That’s the really fantastic thing about Soulver, and why it feels like such an easy recommendation for anyone who regularly deals with numbers on a daily basis.

Here’s an App Store link for Soulver; it’s priced at $4.99 for the Universal app, and there’s also a Mac version available.

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Calcbot 2.0 for iPad

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Calcbot used to be my favourite calculator app before I discovered other innovative calculator alternatives like Soulver and Tydlig. However, when I saw on Twitter that Calcbot 2.0 had been released, I did have to give the app another look.

One of the easiest changes to spot in Calcbot 2.0 is its iOS 8 compatible design. Textures are much more abstract now, but the colour scheme is still delightful and brighter than ever before. The buttons are still as gigantic as before, which makes them very easy to tap if you like to use your iPad in lieu of one of those enormous physical calculators for quick calculations. I also really like the live history that’s displayed along the top of the screen, which makes it very easy to recall previous calculations, or summon the product of an earlier calculation and use it in your current one.

The visual update makes a lot of sense, and in truth, it’s been quite a while coming. However, the other change to Calcbot is that it now encapsulates one of Tapbots’ other apps, Convertbot, as an in-app purchase. Swiping left within Calcbot reveals the Convertbot interface, which makes it easy to quickly conduct various imperial, metric, and currency conversions in real time.

The $2 in-app purchase also adds an extra theme and an unlimited calculation history, but the integrated conversion feature is really the main draw.

Here’s an App Store link for Calcbot ; it’s a free download with an In-App purchase option to add another theme, unlimited calculation history, and the extra Convertbot features for another $1.99.

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Dropbox for iPad Gets A Share Extension

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Dropbox for iOS was updated today with one killer new feature: a native share extension. This means that any app that brings up the iOS 8 share dialogue can save files directly to Dropbox, without any extra sign-ins or app permissions.

I tried a quick test from the Photos app earlier and I’m quite impressed by how powerful the extension is. Not only can you choose where to save a file, but you can also rename the file before you upload it to Dropbox. The only caveat is the extension doesn’t seem to work for batch uploading, so you’ll still have to enter the Dropbox app to upload more than one photo at a time. That’s not a big deal to me, though, and this update already makes it a lot easier to share files from Mail or Evernote and send them straight into Dropbox for long term storage. It’s taking a little while, but the iOS 8 share APIs are slowly bearing fruit!

My big wish at this point is easier access to the files I choose to store in iCloud. The document handler is an OK start, but I want to select multiple files and download them to my iPad all at once — and that just isn’t possible yet.

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Review: OmniFocus 2 for iPad

OmniFocus 2 for iPad Review6

After concluding that Evernote wasn’t the task management solution for me, I decided to check out OmniFocus 2 for task and project management. I’d heard a lot about OmniFocus as a productivity suite from other Apple die-hards. In fact, our very own Patrick Jordan used to swear by OmniFocus a few years ago.

I’ve tried a number of systems over the years, including Things, TeuxDeux, 2Do (previewed here), Clear, Wunderlist, Todoist, and even Evernote. These apps are all wonderful, but because I’ve gone from freelance writing to exec assistant work, and now into digital marketing, my needs have changed quite drastically in the past three years, and so the systems have changed with them.

One of the very first barriers to using OmniFocus is its price: it’s positioned as a premium solution for productivity needs. The OmniFocus 2 iPhone app is $20, the iPad app is $30 (with a $20 optional in-app purchase), and the Mac app is $40 (with an optional $40 in-app purchase). If you’re just looking to add grocery items to a list alongside household chores, then you’ll want to something like Clear. However, anything more than that and OmniFocus 2 can become a legitimate candidate for your task-management needs.

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Using Drafts for iPad As An Action Inbox

Using Drafts for iPad As An Action Inbox Drafts 4 is great for keeping notes and sending them elsewhere, but without the proper settings in place, it can be very easy to compile a very large list of notes that haven’t been processed. I’m currently trying a different way of organizing my tasks in a […]

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iPad App of the Week: Duet Display

Who doesn’t like great iPad apps? At iPad Insight we definitely do. With that in mind, we offer up a quick review of an excellent iPad app, or a few great iPad apps, here each week. Our weekly picks for Best iPad App of the Week are published here every Saturday. Check out all out […]

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I Removed My ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass From My iPad

Remember that ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass protector I wrote about in December? Well, I finally decided to take it off my iPad Air 2 yesterday. I initially bought the shield for the extra scratch protection it could provide — the idea being that ZAGG’s tempered glass might be harder than the glass that Apple uses. This […]

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Review: Sky Force 2014 for iPad

I don’t tend to play iPad games for very long unless I’ve volunteered to review them. I tend to feel compelled to play just so my coverage is more comprehensive. Sky Force 2014 is one of those rare cases where “business as usual” has been flipped on its head. This game is so good that […]

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Review: Belkin QODE Slim Style for iPad Air 2

I’ve previously reviewed the QODE Ultimate and the QODE ThinType, and although I still had a few issues with each of those designs, there were some great stand-out features like the pressure sensor on the ThinType, and the magnetic auto-disconnect on the QODE Ultimate. In contrast, the QODE Slim Style for iPad Air 2, which […]

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