🎙24: Two Weeks With iOS 13

Well, it turns out I’m a thrill seeker and I’ve downloaded iOS / iPadOS / watchOS on ALL THE THINGS.

Join me in this episode as I take a brief look at how the last two weeks on Apple’s latest beta software have been, along with my recommendations about whether or not you should also jump on the beta train. Choo-Choo!

You can find links to the show below:


You can also find a direct link on the podcast page, or listen via the inline player below.

Sherlocking in iOS 13

I mentioned that iOS updates always seem to kill off at least one app for me, as it’s built in functionality increases. iOS 13 is no exception, the Sherlocking knows no bounds. This time around, however, it feels like I’m replacing far more than usual. I’ve long preferred stock iOS apps and services where possible, and this update provides even more options. Here are a few apps that are being replaced, at least for now, in my workflow, thanks to iOS 13:

GoodTask

My relationship with todo apps / task managers on iOS has been a tumultuous one, where I’d switch around a fair bit, but GoodTask has been my go to for some time now. It may not have been a Things competitor in terms of looks, but GoodTask is an incredibly power app and is constantly being updated. One of its key features was that it sat on top of the Apple Reminders database, essentially allowing me to keep the stock service whilst gaining some increased functionality.

Now, however, in iOS 13, the stock Reminders app has had a complete overhaul. It’s gained both a new look, and some vastly improved functionality with new Smart lists, nested ‘projects’ and folders quick actions (as seen below) and more.

Reminders

I can now enjoy the stock Reminders service and the app itself and all the benefits that entails.

Scanner Pro

Scanner Pro, by Readdle, is a relatively niche product. The byline on its website reads ‘a scanner in your pocket’ and that’s exactly what it is. I’ve been using iCloud Drive as my cloud storage solution for some time and Scanner Pro works excellently to analyse a document, crop to a perfect scan and save directly to iCloud Drive in seconds. While this isn’t something I do everyday, I do find myself doing it fairly often to store important documents for reference later.

Even this fairly niche task is going to be achievable without the need for a third party app on my device. There is an option to do this, built right into the stock Files app.

FilesScanner

Scanner Pro still does a far nicer job of organising and presenting your scans, but for quick tasks this option will do the job perfectly. It’s not the easiest option to find within the Files app, however, which won’t aid its adoption.

Documents by Readdle

Poor Readdle isn’t having a good time of it in iOS 13, at least in my world. Another casualty is their really quite good Documents app. What this app offers over just using Files isn’t immediately clear to some, but it provided me with some important functionality missing elsewhere in iOS, until now. This included things like unzipping files and the it acted as a download manager. These are now things, again, built into Files and the newly improved Safari.

There’s a new sub-menu found in many places across iOS 13, such as the below example in Files, which adds the option to unzip.

Files

Safari has also gained a downloads manager that you can use to download files anywhere you want in the cloud, or locally, which brings me onto my next example.

Local Storage

The Files app has always had a local storage location available, but it’s functionality was weirdly limited. This did indeed store files locally, as you’d imagine, but it was just a location that certain apps would use by creating their own folder. You couldn’t just create a folder here yourself and drop stuff in you wanted to keep just on this device. This lead to another very niche product, literally called Local Storage. This app essentially creates its own Location in Files which allows you to save whatever files you want into it, which are kept locally and not synced back to the cloud. You could always achieve this by just dropping your file into the folder of another app1, but Local Storage provides a far better solution allowing you to see how much storage you were taking up etc.

This very niche functionality is now built into iOS 13, as it should have been from day one.

iCab Mobile

While iCab Mobile offers some very advanced features when compared to Safari, even in iOS 13, my main uses for it are also being replicated. I used iCab for two main tasks. iCab allows you to force a specific user-agent on a website, so it thinks your iPad is actually using a desktop browser, for example. This then, at least tried) to display the desktop version of a site whereas before it would usually get the mobile version. The other use case was when I needed a download manager.

As you may have guessed, there are also both now possible with stock options in iOS 13. Safari now contains a built in downloads manager, which you can setup to download to true local storage, iCloud Drive or any other cloud storage you have setup as a Provider in Files.

Downloads

Safari, on iPadOS at least, is now desktop class which, among other things, means it appears as a desktop browser by default, allowing for desktop versions of pages to load. The previously mentioned long-press sub menu returns here too, giving you quicker access to change between mobile and desktop view if needed.

SubMenu

YouTube

Okay, I’m not really replacing YouTube here, but the added functionality to Safari does mean I can happily ditch the terrible YouTube app on iPadOS and just use the site directly instead. This not only looks lot better, but videos now work with picture in picture finally. What more can I say here?

While, for me personally, I love the fact I can do even more with my devices in iOS / iPadOS 13, using less apps, it’s also a little bittersweet. I like not having to jump around between 100 different apps to achieve some relatively simple task, I also really like third party apps and I don’t like to arbitrarily harm, or see harm come, to the income of hard working independent developers that are working on apps with very specific uses.

These apps come into being in the first place to plug gaps that Apple hasn’t gotten around to yet, so it’s understandable that as the OS’ functionality grows, the need for these specific apps will diminish. There will always be more gaps to fill, however. Plenty more opportunities and plenty more talented developers to fill them.

I’m glad that iOS / iPadOS is giving me more options and opportunities to stay within the Apple ecosystem, which I trust with my documents and the like above others, but is also giving the all important independent developers community a huge amount of new APIs and functionality to embrace in their own apps.


  1. it had to be in the folder of another random app because you can’t create folders manually here, before iOS 13. [return]

Why Not Just Get A Mac?

You’ve probably seen far too many posts and microblogs about my affectation for the iPad recently. There’s some strange allure about the iPad for me, and many others. I can appreciate the incessant conversation about a simple device can be frustrating to some as well, but I’ve been enjoying experimenting with my iPad Pro recently to put it through its paces a little bit.

I’ve been experimenting using different input methods, external displays, mice, keyboards, all sorts of things. Whenever I do this I get the inevitable question of: “Why don’t you just get a Mac?” This is usually from people looking to pick a bit of a fight, but I’ve also heard from many people that were genuinely interested in why someone would prefer an iPad to a MacBook or similar. One such person wrote:

… okay. I’m going to go there. If you use mouse support and a fixed keyboard all the time…what’s better about using an iPad ove a MacBook with iOS apps and a touchscreen? I ask this as I suspect some people would prefer that, although there are no MacBooks with touchscreen…although those people don’t really seem to touch their screen either so 🤷‍♂️

There are a myriad of reasons why I use an iPad to do what I do versus a MacBook or iMac. It goes without saying that these reasons apply to me and I’m not trying to make the point that the iPad is better than desktop / laptop Macs. I’m just trying to explain why it is better for me and why I enjoy using them.

Flexibility

Chris opens his question, as others do when they see a photo of a very specific iPad setup I share a picture of / am experimenting with by assuming this is the way I always use the device. Generally speaking, across a week, I use my iPad across a plethora of different configurations and setups, all dependent on the task at hand.

configs

Since upgrading my iPad Pro to the first beta of iPadOS just some of the ways I’ve used my iPad include:

  • iPad and Smart Folio Keyboard on a desk, and sitting on the sofa
  • iPad and Smart Folio Keyboard with mouse
  • iPad connected to 4K monitor with Magic Keyboard and mouse (with the iPad off to the side / not touched)
  • iPad and Brydge Pro Keyboard with and without mouse
  • iPad with nothing connected at all, whilst reading / browsing

While there are certain flexibility options afforded to you with something like a MacBook you still have a fixed form factor to deal with which is too limiting to me. I can use the iPad as I would a MacBook if I choose, especially if I use the Brydge keyboard and a mouse, but I can also remove everything and just use it like a tablet whilst reading or relaxing on the sofa at night, and many configurations in between.

The addition of true game controller support is also pretty huge in this respect, as yet another possible option for what my iPad can transform into. With  Arcade just around the corner, my tablet / laptop / desktop computer device will then also be a pretty compelling games console.1

gaming on the ipad

App Ecosystem

I won’t go too in depth in this one, but the very fact that Apple is putting so much effort into giving developers options to port their iOS apps to the Mac speaks volumes. Apple knows what most of us also know, that a lot of iOS apps are incredibly good, compelling pieces of software. I really like the App Store and the multitude of great apps, and games, that are available within it, and I could never give that up for pure Mac apps.

Ease of use

What a lot of non-iPad users seem to not understand / appreciate2 is that those hoops they think we jump through to shoehorn an iPad into our workflow are not hoops at all. Just as switching from DOS to a GUI interface back in the day would have required you to complete your tasks in a different way, so to does using an iPad. It’s a paradigm shift, there’s no question about it, but once you’ve learnt how to do task X, Y and Z in this new world it’s then just as easy to do as it would have been for you before. It may even be simpler, if you just make the effort to learn and break old habits.

I’ve not used a Mac in any meaningful way for years now so I have no doubt in my mind I would be able to do any given task far, far quicker and effectively on an iPad than I could if I was forced to use a Mac. Again, this isn’t about me saying iPads are better for everyone. I am saying it’s better for me and I am better at using it.

🎉

This is a bit of a silly one, but for me using an iPad / iPadOS / iOS is just more fun than using a desktop or laptop. I don’t know if it’s because those things have always been associated with work to me, and the iPad was traditionally about consumption / entertainment, but there’s a weird feeling I get when I use my iPad. It’s not just me, I’ve heard a lot of people express a similar pleasure. I’d love to see some kind of research into what makes it so enjoyable to use, but there it is regardless.

At the end of the day, as it always has, it not only comes down to preference it comes to what you need to actual do on your device. For many, a simple iPad is definitely not capable enough to do what you do. If you require specialist software, for example, like I do with my day job, it just can’t replace your real computer however much you try to shoehorn it in. For many, however, I think it’s more capable than they know, but I think the message is starting to get across now.

You do you, and be happy while you do it. It’s the best any of us can do, and hope for. Thanks for attending my TED Talk.


  1. Okay, this may be a bit of a stretch / exaggeration, but some of the  Arcade games shown off so far do look very interesting. [return]
  2. I’m looking at you The Verge staff! [return]

🎙️ Appearance: iPad Pros Episode 54 - iPad OS

If you think I love the iPad, wait until you get a load of the excellent Tim Chaten and his equally great iPad Pros podcast. I featured on episode 31 of Tim’s podcast, and was lucky enough to be invited back on1 to discuss my early impressions of iPadOS during the beta phase.

iPadProHomescreen_062019

If you’ve read any of my recent posts recently you will know I’m a big fan of it so far, and it was great fun to dig into some of the specifics of what’s changed since iOS 12. Apple doesn’t recommend anyone installs the first beta of iPadOS, so if you’ve been wanting to try it but aren’t brave2 enough to jump in quite yet, this episode is for you!

You can find details about the episode on the iPad Pros website along with links to get the episode in Apple Podcasts or Overcast.

You can also watch the podcast, via YouTube, below:


  1. I’ve joined an illustrious list of guests that have appeared on iPad Pros more than once. [return]
  2. Or stupid [return]

🔗 Initial Thoughts on iPadOS: A New Path Forward

Federico Viticci:

What truly matters, however, is that the message Apple is sending with iPadOS is the kind of trajectory I wanted to see for the future of iPad. There are functionalities such as multiwindow and file management that the Mac figured out decades ago; in bringing them to iPadOS, however, Apple isn’t simply copying and pasting the same features from one platform to another: instead, they’ve taken those features’ underlying concepts and fundamentally rethought them for the iPad’s touch nature and iOS foundation.

It goes without saying that Federico Viticci’s latest ode to the iPad is a must read, especially for fans of the iPad. The excitement Federico has for the platform is palpable throughout and it’s something I can completely appreciate. While the current iOS 13 beta is extremely buggy, it adds so many huge, yet subtle enhancements to iOS / iPadOS that I can’t help but enjoy every moment I’m using it. The debut iPadOS release doesn’t revolutionise iOS on the iPad, but it truly is tackling so many niggling little problems many people have had over the years. These niggles are suffering from a death by a thousand cuts, small yet important updates that set iPadOS up for some very powerful and exciting changes to come over the next few years. I, for one, can’t wait to see where Apple take iPadOS next.

iOS 13 titbit: Remind Me When Messaging

There’re a lot of nice improvement in the redesigned Reminders app in iOS 13, but one really nice touch is the option to Remind me when messaging. With this option on, you can receive a notification about a particular reminder each time you send a message to the selected person.

This is a really good idea and works very well. I’ve tried quite a lot of Todo apps over the years and I don’t recall seeing that particular feature before. Great stuff from Apple on this one.

This short article was supposed to just be a microblog post 1, but while I have you here it’s a good time for a short PSA. If you upgrade to iOS 13 and try to use the new Reminders app, please be aware that it will upgrade the database your Reminders backend works on and you will no longer be able to see your current tasks in older versions of Reminders on your devices or on iCloud.com.


  1. As in the short, tweet like posts that are not shown in the main feed for my blog. [return]

🔗 Being Honest With Myself

Jeff Perry:

It is much more satisfying for me to comment on the smaller things that I’m comfortable speaking on instead of trying to get my share of the pie with what the rest of the big Apple blogs are commenting on. There are times where I may add my feelings and opinions on something but only when it is something that I am comfortable with.

Jeff’s sentiment above, and pretty much everything else he writes in this article struck a cord with me, and it’s exactly where I’m coming from with what I want to achieve with The Dent and the writing I do. I’m under no illusions that my blogging will make me some kind of Internet personality, in fact I couldn’t think of anything worse. I write about things that interest me because I enjoy occasionally writing about them and that’s it. Nothing more or less.

Much like Jeff I’ve settled into a very laid back form of Apple / Tech / general interest blogging and I’m very happy with that.

Jeff’s more casual and personal blogging style is exactly what attracts me to his work, and other similar bloggers such as Matt Birchler who writes at The Birchtree and Lee Peterson are further examples of people who’s work I enjoy reading not because they necessarily know everything about what they blog about, but they share stories about their passions and what drives them. That is far more interesting, and appealing to me than someone that feels the need to blog constantly about nothing at all in particular just to keep clicks up.

Much like Jeff, I’ve also embraced the Micro.Blog community and the blogging style this service allows for. By it’s very nature it invites you to share things in a more informal way and I feel much more comfortable doing so there than I did with a Wordpress blog. My blog is not only a home for my posts and a place to share podcast episodes it’s also now my own personal, IndieWeb Instagram alternative and replacement Twitter feed, plus so much more, in one neat package where I own all of my content. The lack of any kind of analysis, such as reader counts etc. is also a very important factor in feeling far more liberated to write what Iwant to write, not what I think other people would like me to write.

🎙️ Appearance: The Outpost Show WWDC 2019 Special

I was kindly invited onto Daryl Baxter’s now annual (well, it’s the second one, so that counts!) WWDC round up show. The show, The Outpost Show WWDC 2019 Special is now available in the Apple Podcasts App and also in Overcast or your favourite podcast app.

It’s always a pleasure to chat with Daryl, and this episode was no exception. We mainly focus on iPadOS, as you’d imagine, but we also touch on WatchOS 6 and even the Mac Pro. There are also segments from the excellent Chris Lawley and Dave Wood so I’d definitely recommend you check it out.

iOS 13 Reminders FAQ

Since publishing my quick look at the new Reminders in iOS 13 article a few days ago I’ve actually received a couple of emails from some readers asking for more details about how the new app works.

I replied to the first one, but once I received the second it struck me that there may be others reading that also had queries, but didn’t want to ask, for whatever reason. To that end, I thought I’d share some of the queries I’d received and answer them here for everyone to access. If you’re interested in learning more about Reminders in iOS 13, read on. Please bear in mind again this is an early beta build, so much of the below can, and likely will, change as the summer goes on.

Here are the questions I received:

I’ve seen folders. How does that work?

As far as I can see, you can’t add any folders per sey. The app includes the Lists that the old version had only, so I assume this is what the reader was referring to. You can add and manage these much as you did before. The 4 blocks at the top of the app, seen below, can’t be amended.

How do you add sub tasks?

This, also, is handled much in the same way it was done previously, but it might be easier to explain this by simply showing you:

Does completing a parent task complete the sub task?

Strangely, no, it doesn’t. At the moment at least, in developer beta 1, completing the parent task leaves the sub tasks uncompleted. I’ve raised a radar for this, because it doesn’t sound like it’s intentional, so I’ll keep an eye on if that changes as the betas go on.

Is there still a Notes field on the task?

There is indeed. This hasn’t changed since the old version of Reminders, however. It’s still a basic text box with no formatting or multi-line support etc.

Is there just one level of subtasks or can you go deeper (like add a subtask to a subtask?

No, I’m afraid you can’t do that. You can only create a sub-task, not a sub-task to a sub-task.

And can subtasks contain deeplinks?

From what I can see, no. When you trigger Siri and ask it to remind you about something you create a task at the top level only. I don’t have my iPad with me at work today, but I will test if you can create a deep link reminder and then drag it into a sub-task manually.

Can you only add one attachment or more?

Yes you can add multiple photos (that you take whilst in the app or from the Photos app, or scan a document to add it). From what I can see, right now at least, you can’t add files from Files.

What kind of attachments can you add to a reminder? Only images or files as well? Is there a file picker menu?

As mentioned above, you can only take a photo, add a photo (from Photos, not Files) or Scan a document but again you need to scan it there and then, you can’t add a pre-scanned item.

Can you create a deeplink from the Files App/iCloud file? (This was not possible before)

No, it doesn’t appear to let you do this still / currently. You can create a public link and add it there in the notes of the Reminder, potentially, however.

If you have any more queries, please feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to get back to you ASAP.

Quality of Life Changes in iOS 13: iCloud Drive Downloads

Whilst digging around in the iPadOS beta, I noticed a small little feature in iCloud Drive that I’ve been hoping for for a long time …

I’ve long replaced the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive with iCloud Drive, but a big annoyance with doing this for me was that if you store a file there that you want to download, use, then remove from your device, such as a video or audio file, there was no way to actually remove it! The only option you had was, weirdly, to remove it from iCloud Drive / Files completely. Not only this, but the reverse could happen. You could download a file, but if iOS needed the space in the future it would simply remove it, without your knowledge. All in all, it was a frustrating experience.

This looks to have finally been fixed in iOS 13, however. A long press on a file or folder presents the following interesting menu:

As you can see from the highlighted line, you can now simply remove the download when you’ve finished with it, leaving the original on iCloud Drive. While this is, obviously, an extremely basic feature, it’s also an important one and one that’s been missing since iCloud Drive and Files. This, along with some of the other options enabled here, such as Quick View, make moving all of your cloud storage to iCloud Drive more viable than ever. I’m certainly pleased I bided my time on this and didn’t move back to Dropbox.

I’ll continue to dig around in the iOS beta and share any new little gems I come across.