iOS is growing up

As I was recently writing something on my iPad using a Bluetooth keyboard, I realized that I am actually starting to feel right at home using it as a real computer. The tipping point was the cmd+tab app switcher, which feels like the most natural thing in the world1, and finally makes app switching effortless and almost to the point of being joyful. Continue reading

The future of (iOS) gaming

Extending the functionality of the iPad using external hardware has been done for a long time, and the most popular addon is probably a real bluetooth keyboard. By adding this piece of hardware, the iPad is immediately transformed from a simple entertainment device to a real productivity tool1.

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  1. The iPad is arguably an excellent productivity tools sans keyboard. It does however heighten the use of the many writing tools currently available. 

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone manual available for free

The Omni group have just released a manual for OmniFocus 2 for iPhone for free in the iBooks Store. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I have a feeling that any seasoned OmniFocus user will not find it especially enlightening.

I do however like the fact that they decided to publish it in the iBooks Store. This means that I will always have it available if needed, without having to resort to keeping it in Dropbox or have a link bookmarked somewhere.

Using Flickr as an iCloud Photo Stream replacement

When Apple first released Photo Stream as part of their iCloud service, I was excited to finally have all my photos automatically transferred between my devices. They were in addition automatically backed up to my Mac, which meant that the need to sync my iPhone to iTunes would be a thing of the past.

What I failed to realize at the time was that although automatically backing up all photos to my Mac was a breeze, there was no convenient way to view older photos the way they were meant to be viewed – on the crisp Retina Display on my iPad.

There are services which have tried to achieve ubiquitous access to all photos, and Everpix was just that kind of service. Once configured, it was basically a set-and-forget solution where all photos were automatically uploaded to their servers. If you followed the above link, you will notice that they are no longer in service since they apparently ran out of money.

I found another solution to my problem, and I think you have heard of this service before. It comes from Yahoo and is called Flickr.

In a recent Flickr for iOS update, the ability to automatically upload captured photos to a private set was added. This gives you the same set-and-forget setup that Everpix once brought, and with 1 TB for free you will undoubtably last a very long time without running out of space.

The problem with the Flickr iOS app is still the viewing part however, which is why I bought Flickring for iPhone and iPad. It connects to your Flickr account and shows your sets and photo stream in a beautiful way.

Since both Aperture and Lightroom support publishing to Flickr, you will always have access to all your photos taken with your traditional camera as well, as long as you have internet access or have synced the photos for offline viewing using Flickring.

Spotlight in iOS 7

One of the least used features on my iPhone has traditionally been Spotlight search, located on the left most home screen. You know the one you accidentally swipe to when you are really looking for something else.

Things have changed considerably for iOS 7. There is no longer a specific screen for Spotlight search; it is in fact part of all home screens, and can be activated by swiping down with one finger anywhere on the screen, except the top and obviously the bottom edges.

Spotlight is used to find things, fast. It will find anything in your calendar, contacts and even in email and notes. It has another feature as well; you can type in the name of any installed app, and it will find it for you. With one single tap, it can subsequently be launched.

Why even bother with this?

The brilliance behind this approach to launching apps lies in the fact that you can only fit a limited number of apps on the first page of your home screen. If you are like me, the first page contains the most used apps, while the rest are tucked away neatly (or perhaps more at random) in some folder where you will never find it again.

What this all means is that instead of swiping to the correct screen and opening the correct folder to find the application you are looking for, just casually swipe down and type in the first few characters of the app’s name and then launch it. Spotlight will even learn which applications you most often search for and display them on top.

Launching apps have never been easier. I would however, like Apple to take this to the next level and have a dedicated home screen far left, which will automatically populate with the most used apps, and perhaps frequently used contacts.