Publishing on iOS has never been a terribly smooth process for me. The closest I got was the Blogsy app, which had a WYSYWIG editor and support for multiple blogs. Unfortunately it had an interface made for iOS 6 and just couldn’t afford to keep up with subsequent iOS updates.
The next best thing has been the official WordPress app, which can handle the three self-hosted WordPress sites that I post to. I write in Markdown in another app like iA Writer or Ulysses, and then post the draft as HTML into the WordPress app, and then add extras like categories, tags, and pictures. It doesn’t take very long, and it mimics what I’d do on the desktop, but the WordPress app feels pretty uninspired to me. It works, but lacks the polish of the web app. It’s not fun to use.
My latest workflow has been using Ulysses 2.6 and its new publishing features, which can take my Markdown-formatted post, and then add images, categories, tags, and even featured images and excerpts. All before I ever even see the WordPress interface.
This doesn’t sound like a huge deal but for the fact that Ulysses doesn’t seem like a full-fledged online writing app. I expect it to handle text well, but I’m surprised at how smooth they’ve managed to make the publishing and previewing processes.
The NFL regular season is right around the corner. Autumn is in the air (well not here in Florida, but you know what I mean) and that means football! No, I’m not talking about soccer either–I mean FOOTBALL! The only sport that really matters until February. With Football season comes Fantasy Football, and with Fantasy Football comes Draft parties. So grab a bunch of your friends, throw some over-sized meat on the grill, pop open an adult beverage of your choice, and get ready to take over the world. Hopefully, you’ve already been evaluating the newest rookie prospects, and deciding which players are highest on your depth charts. However, if you need a little help
cheating preparing for you draft so you can dominate your friends once again, these are the (3) best apps for doing just that, in no particular order.
The last time I wrote about Apple Notes was in early July. I wrote that post to try and balance out all of the very strongly-worded posts about dumping Evernote and jumping to Apple Notes, the newest free note-taking solution that synced across all Apple devices.
I can see why most people don’t want to have to pay for a Notes solution, so moving from Evernote to Apple Notes seems like a very easy switch. However, I was wary of fully committing to Apple’s service because there doesn’t seem to be any easy way of getting your data out of the service in a meaningful way. You can get plain text notes to export from Apple Notes…but that’s about it. All the pictures, rich URLs, media, and any files you’ve attached to your notes…those can’t be exported en masse or imported into any other service at this time.
Despite all of that, I decided to give Apple Notes another solid try for the past month and a half.
I can’t believe they’re calling Ulysses 2.6 a dot update. Adding WordPress publishing, Dropbox sync, and universal search feel like much more than that. And, they even had the nerve to add Typewriter scrolling, which was my #1 feature request ever since Ulysses made it to the iPad. Am I happy with this Ulysses update? No. I’m ecstatic.
Here, let’s talk about why.
Tell me if this sounds familiar to you–you’re working on your laptop and you wish you had just a little more real-estate on your screen. Having another window open can go a long way unmaking you more productive. Maybe it’s your email–maybe you are a heavy Twitter user, and you like to keep the app open and active, or perhaps you want the extra screen for a FaceTime or Skype call. Whatever the reason, there aren’t too many functional and affordable options out there to choose from.
While searching for options, I came accross the Mountie from the folks at Ten 1 design. Not only was it pretty much exactly what I was looking for, but the minimalistic design and affordable price tag were icing on the cake. Available in both green and blue, the Mountie offers a convenient and easy way to add an additional monitor to your MacBook or PC without adding unwanted bulk to your set-up.
Lightroom 2.4 for iOS came out last week, and I’ve been using it quite a lot over the past few days. The big breakout features are RAW edits and local adjustments, so let’s dive right into those.
RAW files are big and harder to process than JPEGs, but they provide a lot more room to edit colours, highlights, and shadows. Until this update, there really hasn’t been any elegant way to manage and edit them on the iPad. So the simple fact that Lightroom can now handle RAW files — on iOS 9 no less — is awesome. I would have really enjoyed having this capability during my Japan trip (although it probably would have meant staying up later processing photos).
My 128 GB iPad still lacks the storage space to keep everything on board, but it definitely has enough room to download my shots after a few days of shooting. This matches the way I approch RAWs very well, since I tend to keep just the JPEGs, and only bring a RAW file out when I’ve messed up exposure and need more leeway for editing.
Email clients come and go with great regularity these days. There’s always someone working hard to come up with the next big thing. In an already crowded category, it’s increasingly hard to stand out. We all use email–it’s a necessary task that we all partake in until someone comes up with a better system. Unfortunately, the biggest sticking point for many new email clients is that, to get the best experience out of them you have to fully invest in the platform. This “all in” mentality can become frustrating when even some of the most popular email clients haven’t stood the test of time. I’m looking at you Sparrow & Mailbox.
My newest favorite email client is non-specifically called Email–which seems a little weird. It’s already hard to stand out in this crowded category. A strong name could go a long way in setting it apart form other apps. Having said that, it’s also referenced as EasilyDo Mail, incorporating the developer’s name that also designed EasilyDo Assistant.
I’m back on the OneNote boat. Again. I’m still not in love, but I am trying to give it a real go and shake off all of the Evernote-specific habits I’ve made over the last six years.
OneNote is quite powerful, but I still think Evernote is leagues ahead in terms of how notes are displayed, sorted, and searched for on the iPad and iPhone. The good news is that I had a peek at OneNote’s release notes from the last six months or so, and it looks like the Microsoft team aims to release new features or improvements at least once a month.
That’s a pretty amazing pace of development, and I like that they seem to really listen to their users.
I forget how I heard about iFontMaker, but now that I have an iPad Pro and Pencil, this seemed like a great opportunity to try something completely different. I really don’t know much about fonts or typography, but I am intrigued by all of the different factors that come into play with modern typefaces and fonts. As a quick primer: typefaces describe a family tree of fonts (like Avenir) and fonts are specific blocks and weights of text within that tree (like Avenir Light).
I have only spent a few hours with iFontMaker but its interface is so straightforward that it was very easy to pick up. Once I’ve chosen to create new font, I can see the entire alphabet at the top of the screen. The bottom half is dedicated solely to the creation of the typeface, with markers for x-height, ascenders, and descenders. These guidelines help to make sure your letters and glyphs are all about the same size.
Another guide that iFontMaker provides by default is the outline of that particular letter or glyph as it pertains to a specific font (which I can change in settings). This was extremely helpful in providing a baseline for me to see how high my letters should actually go, or how much space in the margin I really had to play with.
Actually drawing the different letters in my custom font was a lot like using a vector app like Graphic. I used a calligraphy type of stroke to generate the capitalized letters, and it was a pretty smooth process. However, I did find that certain strokes — especially curved ones — could often be interpreted as separated, overlapping strokes.
Adobe’s Photoshop Fix is a great, specialized app for quick touch-ups and spot healing. These tools are built right into Lightroom on the desktop, but they’re absent from Lightroom Mobile, so for now we require separate apps like Photoshop Fix and Photoshop Mix to achieve what would normally be possible in one app on the desktop. However, thanks to the sharing capabilities of apps in iOS 9, it’s pretty easy to send a picture from Lightroom into Photoshop Fix for touch-ups, and then send it right back.
The problem, until very recently, was that Photoshop Fix (and Mix) had some major issues with resolution. The app could import files at full resolution, but it would only save them at a maximum of 2000×2000 pixels. That’s far less than the 6000×4000 resolution that I was importing that. However, as of version 1.3, Photoshop Fix and Mix are able to export in full resolution. I took a little time earlier today to test this new functionality out.
While you can import files from Lightroom or the Camera Roll right into Photoshop Fix, the best workflow I’ve found so far is to start in Lightroom Mobile. I like to go through pictures in my catalog there and then use the Share Menu -> Edit In -> Healing in Photoshop Fix. I don’t do that much selective brightening (I usually use a tone curve for that), but I do like the Healing Tool in Photoshop Fix. This workflow works out especially nicely if I have Split View open. With Lightroom open on the left side of the screen, I can start to make selective edits to my shots in Photoshop Fix.
It’s been a little less than a year since I last wrote about Screens. The purpose of the app hasn’t changed: it’s still a VNC app for remotely connecting to a Mac or PC from an iOS device. But there are a few specific features released in Screens 4, which is a free update to all existing users, that are so tasty that I just have to talk about them.
Curtains for you (well, for anyone really)
One of the coolest new features is Curtain mode. I really like this idea for providing a little bit of extra privacy when I’m remotely connecting to my own machine. I haven’t had the need for this feature very often, but I’m really impressed with the implementation. Sometimes you want to connect remotely to a machine, but have that session remain private. If you want to grab some files from your machine quickly without providing access to anyone who might be near the actual computer, Curtain mode is a great way to go about this. When activated, this pulls a curtain over the screen of the machine you’re connecting to, disabling all of the local controls and also blocking view of the monitor with a gigantic padlock. You can set specific remote sessions to always launch right into Curtain mode, so if you frequently need to VNC into a computer that’s in a very public location, this is a great way to go about it.