Things 3.6 Reimagines External Keyboard Control on iPad
I’ve been able to play around with Things 3.6 on my iPad Pro for the past couple of weeks. This isn’t another “keyboard-centric” update that only adds a handful of shortcuts to trigger specific commands. Instead, the developers at Cultured Code have focused on an all-encompassing keyboard control framework for the whole app, from task lists to popovers and multiple selections. With version 3.6, Things has the best implementation of external keyboard support I’ve ever seen in an iPad app.
I don’t use Things but love how their revamp redid their external keyboard support. I would love to see other app developers and Apple especially to embrace and implement something similar.
Sadly the WWDC keynote mentioned nothing about enhanced keyboard support.
Here’s the problem we all face: you use an app and pay for it and every so often you drop some more cash on a major upgrade. Then the developer decides to go the subscription model and what they want per month exceeds the value and utility you get from the app. Yet there is no good replacement for the utility you glean.
Let’s be clear: unless the developer of the app delivers more value and utility quickly under the subscription model (where subscribers are paying more) and keeps up a reasonable pace, the model only benefits the developer. It might benefit the platform, like Apple and Google (I don’t know much about that bit.)
Now the app developer moved from selling a piece of software to providing a service. The service is fixed and finite in the scope and capability of the software, but that is the very service being sold.
I like the idea of a staged subscription model. It might be cumbersome for the developer, but I think it works out best for the user.
- Version n-1 is free, full featured for that version and unlimited until version n+1 is released. Users can only expect security related patches as best effort.
- Version n is paid one time, let’s say for $10. When version n+1 is released this becomes the free version. This gets bug and security fixes.
- Version n subscription is $1.99 per month or $20 annual. This gets everything in the one time paid version plus new features that will be part of version n+1.
The idea is that n-1’s development is already paid for, so use it as a way to introduce people to your product. Version n should be paying for its upkeep and maybe some small piece of future development where the subscription option is very much about the next version.
Release timing is important. In this model I would expect a new release every 12 to 18 months. The subscription model always moves to the next release, the flat fee pays to move to the new release (maybe at a discount for a limited time) or else goes to the free release. Free folks always upgrade to the free release.
All of this is predicated on the developer having a solid business plan and that the Apple App Store can accommodate all of this in a useful way. Please feel free to adjust and fine tune or point out where I am wrong.
Among my other optimistic outcomes of Apple’s upcoming event, I want Apple to acknowledge and embrace Escape.
I, of course, mean the ‘esc’ key on everyones’ keyboard – except for some recent Apple keyboards. But ‘esc’ is part of the TouchBar for some. But it’s not really a key and the Smart Keyboard for iPad doesn’t include it and … ugh.
Apple needs to get a clear vision about keyboards & pointers, what we used to call Human Interface Devices (HID).
If Apple doesn’t deal with this … well … someone at Apple can expect a stern note.
iOS 12: Geeky features iOS needs (Macworld):
Get smarter with files
Commit to automation
App and interface updates
But wait, there’s more
This is not the end! The geeky-feature road goes ever on. So before I go, ponder:
- Support for real developer tools, including Xcode and shell scripting (perhaps in a special “developer mode”).
- Robust support for audio devices and routing and so that apps can record audio simultaneously, ideally so that a tool like Audio Hijack might actually be feasible on iOS.
- Complete support for webRTC within Safari to enable video- and audioconferencing web apps.
- Handoff for Music, so that I can switch from my iPhone to iPad to Mac and my playlists just keep picking up where they left off.
- Support for multiple user accounts on iPad.
- Sharing of full-resolution photos with family members in the Photos app, including shared libraries.
- Multi-person FaceTime.
Do I expect Apple to fulfill all my dreams? No—I don’t really expect them to fulfill any of them.
(Via Six Colors)
Obviously I truncated the list. Read the article to see it in its full glory.
My big ask is still for better bluetooth and USB keyboard support. I would not mind some trackpad capabilities, too, but that seems a long shot.
In Japan we have need for better maps. I wish Apple would license Yahoo! Japan’s data here. We also need an update to the rendering engine.
Some other thoughts I can get behind:
iOS 12 Wishlist:
Keyboard Shortcuts for Share and Action Extensions: Application extensions are such a vital part of the platform. They give users the ability to process and move data between applications mitigating the downsides of a sandboxed operating system. But activating these extensions through the touch interface can be tedious at times — especially if you’re used to having some applications’ keyboard shortcuts available system-wide, as they are on macOS. Giving users the ability to setup custom keyboard shortcuts for their most-used extensions would greatly improve the speed and fluidity with which power users navigate their devices.
Clipboard History API: Clipboard managers are severely hindered on iOS by their inability to monitor clipboard changes in the background. This leads to clunky solutions that rely on the app’s Today View widget, action extension, or drag and drop. iOS should keep a clipboard history of a dozen items or so and let applications access it through a new API. Users would have to explicitly allow access to this data through a modal dialog in the same way they give access to their location. This would prevent nefarious developers from accessing your data without your knowledge while empowering an application category that has been limping along for the past decade.
(Via Feature – Initial Charge)
What else would you like to see?
watchOS 5 wishlist: enable a Watch-first mentality:
With the introduction of Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular, Apple enabled its Music and new Radio app to function purely off the device’s LTE radio. Many of us thought they would follow suit with their Podcasts app, but that sadly hasn’t been the case. I think the stars may finally be aligning for this to happen in watchOS 5. This has been a long-time coming. Delaying this any further will be incredibly confusing as more people are consuming podcasts than ever before.
Related to my point above about enabling developers to build better apps: Apple should also explicitly give developers the tools to build their own podcast and music apps on Apple Watch.
Apple has consistently improved the UI on Apple Watch ever since its introduction. I expect this trend to continue as time passes and Apple further understands how people use the device. Here are a few areas I’d like to see improvement in.
(Via One-Tech Mind)
The article lists other things, but nothing I care about. My big uses are Apple Pay Suica, Fantasical, Overcast, and the health aspects. My biggest pain point is performance, but I have a Series 1 device. Maybe I will drop some ¥ on a newer model without LTE.
What are you looking for?
HomePod and the Apple Music Japanese Metadata Mess:
Japan is one of most profitable music markets after the US market. If Apple wants to sell HomePod in Japan at some point, they’ll have to get their Apple Music Japanese metadata problem sorted out first.
(Via Ata Distance)
Read the whole article for examples of how Apple Music/iCloud Music/iTunes Match is a “hot mess”.
The Apple Pay Japan One Year Mark:
Apple Pay in Japan is all about Apple Pay Suica which we already knew. In the Suica home base area, the Kanto region, contactless payments grew from 20% of total transactions to more than 40% in the year that Apple Pay Suica has been available. My analysis is that Apple Pay Suica is responsible for driving that change. What used to be ‘some people some of the time’ is quickly transitioning to ‘most people most of the time’.
One 7-Eleven store owner summed it up nicely: “e-money (Suica) purchases have really taken off this past year.”
(Via Ata Distance)
I will not stop talking about how great Apple Pay Suica is for transit and purchasing. The rest of the world needs this.
Apple to Deprecate Many macOS Server Services:
Apple will be removing the deprecated services in a future release of macOS Server, so the writing is on the wall — it’s time to start researching alternatives.
(Via TidBITS: Apple News for the Rest of Us)
I would be more upset if the Server App was better – either more intuitive or more configurable. As it is it’s a middling neither mess. I’m a networking and security professional – getting a VPN running this this thing is absurd.
Apple is clearly getting out of the network business. It’s odd they are punting this critical technology.
Japanese Apple Pay Suica users and iPhone X users are tweeting and blogging about the Apple Pay Suica performance improvements in the iOS 11.2.5 update. So far the reports are very good. But how good is good and can it be even better?
Read the article for the dazzling details. My anecdotal experience is that watchOS/iOS is working well with Suica. None of the momentary failures and seems more spritely in paying.
What’s interesting is that Global FeliCa support in iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch 3 lets anybody visiting Japan with those devices add Suica to Apple Pay and instantly enjoy the benefits of Japanese FeliCa contactless payments. Apple Pay in Japan is the only place in the world where you can mix and match FeliCa and EMV payments side by side with the same device. That’s astonishing, and lots of fun. I always like Joel’s take on Apple & payments in Japan.