All posts by 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.

Reflecting On The Past Year of Apple Pencil Ownership

When I first bought the Apple Pencil in late 2015, I thought I’d bring it everywhere. It was one of the coolest iPad accessories I’d ever seen, and the low latency and high accuracy for drawing and handwriting was just unbelievable. I’d used a lot of third party stylii — including the Pencil by Fifty Three — before the Apple Pencil’s release, but none of the competitors even came close to Apple’s product.

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Quick Look: Evernote 8.0 for iPhone

Evernote 8.0 hit the App Store this past week, and it’s probably one of my favourite app updates in recent memory. I’ve tried a few other note-taking apps — namely the Apple Notes app, Microsoft OneNote, and Bear — but none of them fit the way I think or want to recall my notes. For the longest time, Evernote felt like it was ailing in terms of its formatting and iOS interface, but Evernote 8.0 seems to solve both of those issues with one big update.

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Reflecting On My iPads Thus Far

I have to admit to feeling a bit like Goldilocks while writing this. I skipped the very first iPad in 2010, but since then I’ve tried iPads of all sizes in an attempt to find the right fit for me.

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My Instagram Workflow

When I started using Instagram a few years ago, I treated it like a spontaneous space for sharing pictures with friends. However, it took a while for my own group of friends to start using the service, and this changed the way I chose to post over time. Instagram may be owned by Facebook now, but I treat my Instagram account more like a photography platform, and leave more personal posts and candid shots for Facebook.

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My Take On Evernote in 2017

Evernote has had a rockier time in the public eye in the past year. Last June they increased their pricing and put some harder limits on the free accounts. This opened the service up to a lot of criticism from free users, who were actually getting a very good deal from the service. Previous to that price change, you could use Evernote across as many devices as you wanted, as long as you stayed within the monthly upload limit. That was pretty generous for a company whose income comes from a subset of paying users.

However, I do also understand the backlash to Evernote’s pricing change: it wasn’t announced alongside any significant new features, so it just looked like a price increase on both paid plans, and a sudden limitation of the free plan that so many people were enjoying. I think this move challenged Evernote’s user base, many of whom were suddenly looking at other note apps that they could use for free. Apple Notes had made some big changes to its feature set with iOS 9, and OneNote introduced an Evernote to OneNote importerto make it easier to move large note libraries to Microsoft’s free note-taking service. Late in 2016 also saw the launch of Bear, which featured its own Evernote import (in the Mac app) and its own set of tagging, attachment, and in-line picture support.

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My Home Screen in 2017: Based on Activities (Not Categories)

Just like Rob, I’ve been doing some thinking about how often I’ll take my iPhone out and idly flick and tap through my apps and Home screens. Especially with TouchID, it has become effortless to take my iPhone out of my pocket and just check it — without really knowing what I’m checking it for.

It’s happening often enough that it is hampering my ability to focus, and I think part of this has to do with the number of icons I’m seeing on my Home screen. There are times when I’ll exit Safari to do something else, but once I’ve gotten to the Home screen, I’ll already have forgotten what that was, because a red badge will catch my eye. Something new on Instagram or Slack is waiting for me, and I have to know what it is.

So I’m taking this change in year as a chance to shake things up.

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Quick Look: ProTube for iPad

I don’t tend to spend very much time on YouTube unless I’m doing some in-depth research on a product. When I’m researching, I’ll voraciously consume all the hands-on and review videos I can get to, in order to see my next <insert lust-worthy object here> from all available angles. One of the things that I find most frustrating about this are the long, unskippable pre-roll ads that will sometimes air before a video. Most of these ads are repeats of something I’ve seen just minutes ago, and they feel like a waste of my time. I don’t mind a five second skippable pre-roll ad that tries to attract my attention, but it’s obnoxious to force someone to watch through 30 seconds of sub-par content.

It’s for this reason that I bought ProTube many moons ago. I’m not sure how the developer does it, but the app features a completely ad-free viewing experience. That’s something that’s difficult to accomplish even on the desktop. With ProTube, what you tap on is what you’re going to be watching, and that’s already a very big reason to pony up $4 for the purchase.

But wait, there’s more!

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My Two Favourite RSS Apps for iPhone

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I tried an experiment a few years ago where I used Twitter in lieu of RSS. The idea was to try and get my news and online interactions in a single platform. I kept the number of people I followed to a minimum, but I focused on creating different lists to suit different types of interests (long reads, tech news, photography, etc.). I deemed the experiment a failure after a few weeks because using Twitter like that made me feel like I could never make any progress in my news feed. That’s one of the addicting things about RSS for me: it’s an inbox that I can actually conquer.

I’ve tried quite a number of different RSS apps over the years, and the ones I’ve stuck with the longest have been Unread and Reeder for iPhone. I tend to use Reeder more often, but I’ll download Unread every few months just for a change of pace.

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Cloud Storage on iOS: iCloud, OneDrive, and Dropbox

Cloud storage services have been an incredibly useful way of working around 128 and 266 GB storage limits on modern iPads, but I’m still feeling torn about which solution is best for me. I know of Google Drive, but I’ve spent most of my testing period jumping between iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive. I haven’t come to a solid conclusion about which solution is perfect for me, but I now have enough to talk about the pros and cons of each service.

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Quick Look: Day One 2 for iPhone

I can get stuck in a lot of thought loops where I’ll run a scenario or purchase over and over again in my head. My way of working around this form of anxiety is to write things out: sometimes in the form of articles, but more often in little journal entries just for me. The act of writing helps me to feel things out and suss out little details that I’d overlook if all the variables are just kept in my head.

I have chosen Day One 2 as my journaling app because it works very well across my iPhone, iPad and Mac. I like the idea of a digital journal because it’s always available for quick capture, even in situations where a paper journal would be impractical or impossible to write on (like on a crowded subway train), but Day One also brings a host of other great features to enhance the journaling experience.

Most of my entries contain just text, but there’s a lot of metadata that you can choose to add to your journal entries. I can add what music I’ve been listening to, the number of steps taken in a day, and even the weather (although I’ve never cared about recording the temperature of a day). The most interesting attachments for me are photos, but I find it cumbersome to attach them because I keep the bulk of my shots in Lightroom, and they need to be exported before I can add them to Day One.

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iPad Pro After My MacBook Pro Acquisition

It seems like a year doesn’t go by that my workflow sees some sort of major disruption, caused by a new device. Last year’s big shakeup was the iPad Pro, which was large enough that I could finally comfortably write on a tablet for hours at a time. It also held the promise of becoming a full-time computer given the storage space. But given what I’d like to accomplish with a mobile computer — mobile photo editing, writing, browsing, and video editing — the iPad Pro isn’t there yet. I’ve written that word quite a lot over the years: yet.

Touchscreen devices are seeing the fastest growth in terms of innovation and performance improvements, but they still feel inferior to the L-shaped laptops we’ve been using for years. There’s something about resting my hands on the keyboard, looking forward at the screen, and keeping my hands in place as I manipulate content. It is more enjoyable to surf while touching the content on screen, but when it comes to multitasking or batch-processing of tasks and files, the Mac still feels faster to me.

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