Siri Shortcuts Questions – WorkFlow Wednesday:

Siri Shortcuts isn’t even on the iOS 12 beta as of now. But I have a list of questions I want answered before I can ease off on my apprehensive attitude on this new addition to iOS.

1.) Is this app going to replace Workflow, or will it just be an addition?

2.) If this is replacing Workflow, will I be able to import my current workflows without sacrifice?

3.) How powerful will this app be for automation?

4.) Can I trigger this without Siri? For instance, as an action in the Share Sheet?

5.) Is there a limitation on how many actions happen in a single workflow?

6.) There seems to be some kind of scripting possible with Siri Shortcuts, but what kinds of scripting is available?

(Via Tablet Habit)

My questions exactly. The sparsity of details around how Siri Shortcuts will work made me wonder why so many Apple bloggers expressed such uncritical openness. My biggest issue is, of course, the fact that I don’t use Siri at all and have no desire to do so. To be fair, I have no desire to use any other “assistant”. What interest I may have had evaporated.

How to Use Suica with Apple Pay when Traveling to Japan – Mason Simon

Suica is one of the main transit payment cards in Japan. It has a cute and fun design and works in lots of places aside from train stations. Apple supports using your Suica via Apple Pay, and has a great support article on how to set that up. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me.

I live in USA and traveled to Tokyo recently. I used an iPhone X (supported) and followed all the steps in the support article, including setting my device region to Japan. But when I went to add a new card to Apple Pay, I never received the prompt to add a Suica.

After a couple of pleasant calls with Apple support, it sounded like the problem was that I had an Apple Music subscription, which locked my iTunes account to USA. I tried canceling that, but you have to wait for the thing to expire, and my trip would be over by then.

Luckily, there is another way.

(Via Mason Simon)

Read on for the scoop. This is one of the best write-ups I’ve seen & the one I wish was around when I moved here.

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.

(Via MacStories)

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.

Agenda for iOS Review

Agenda … is one of the most interesting note-taking apps I’ve used. The app is simultaneously structured around projects, like a task manager, and dates, like a calendar app.

What makes Agenda a little bewildering at first is its use of dates and projects, which sometimes makes it feel like a calendar app and other times like a task manager, even though it’s neither. The app doesn’t try to force you into a predefined system. Instead, Agenda gives you multiple ways to organize and view your notes through tagging, filtering, sorting, and searching. The upside is flexibility that should accommodate almost anyone’s workflow. The downside is that it can take time and experimentation to discover how it can work for you.

(Via Mac Stories)

The parallels with Orgmode are, at least to me, obvious and surprising in a good way. I played with Agenda on iOS. The metaphor was a visual analog to how I use (or, more correctly, strive to use) Orgmode for Getting Shit Done.

Hmmm … I wonder how long until there’s a way to integrate the two …

Google Pay bellyflops in Japan:

That didn’t take long. No sooner had Google Pay landed in Japan when Android users without JP carrier locked Osaifu-Keitai phones noticed they weren’t invited to the FeliCa party and lost their shit. Then local Japanese tech journalists filed reviews and they were not kind: “zannen” which means “too bad” as in “too bad Google Pay is a weak imitation of a real FeliCa Osaifu-Keitai that any user could add and use on any Android phone.” Too bad it’s not a Global FeliCa iPhone.

I called it a few weeks ago:

If and when Google Pay Suica arrives it will likely be on Osaifu-Keitai /Mobile FeliCa enabled locked Android devices from Japanese carriers. Global FeliCa iPhone-like out-of-the-box Mobile Suica on ‘global FeliCa’ Android devices from anywhere looks to be a long way off.

FeliCa Dude called it earlier: “Android Pay is smoke and mirrors”

Google Pay Japan is smoke and mirrors.

(Via atadistance.com)

Not that my US-purchased Google Nexus 6P would have been included in this due to age if not build, but I would have liked a truly viable option to the Apple Pay & Suica combo. I’m not looking to switch but competition could be good for innovation.

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.

Using Request to Download Financial Data | Irreal:

Sebastian Schweer has a nice post on using the request package to query an online financial service and download current stock quotes. That data is placed in an Org table along with certain historical data (such as purchase date and original cost) and used to calculate the current value of his stock holdings. The table can, of course, be exported to produce a nicely formatted report.

This post is similar to the one by Charl Botha that I wrote about previously. If you need to programmatically retrieve data from a restful website, you should carefully study these two posts. They show how to use the request package and then parse out the data. Sadly, I haven’t had a need to use these techniques but I’m really looking forward to when I do. Request, let-list, and the rest are tools that I’m dying to try out.

(Via irreal.org)

This is pretty cool. I can see using this in my iOS workflows & automation as well.

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?

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The Trouble With OneNote and Evernote

My solution for replacing these proprietary and, in the end, dangerous-to-use services is the same as Voit’s: switch to Org mode. Unlike OneNote and Evernote, Org runs on your own machine, is open source so it will always be there for you, and, most importantly, stores its data as plain text [In this context, “we” means the community of Emacs users, of course., ed]. The data is readable by any application that knows about text.

Voit makes the case for Org mode in his post but by now we [In this context, “we” means the community of Emacs users, of course., ed] should all be familiar with it. For most of us, what’s required is to import any data we care about into Org so we no longer have to worry about what third parties are planning to do with their products.

(Via Irreal.org)

Karl Voit has a great site for Emacs and Org-mode users, but also things generally open-source. I came to the same conclusion he did, just sooner.

I was an Evernote user and subscriber back in the day, but their increased fees with lesser functionality and the difficulty getting data out of their semi-walled garden was too much. Evernote also had platform inconsistencies I can’t recall specifically but I think there were some features only available on Mac.

I moved to OneNote, which clearly reached its pinnacle w/ 2016. The Metro/UWP/Win10 version paled in comparison as did the Mac version. When it became clear the Mac version would remain feature incomplete, especially the inability to have a local OneNote notebook I moved off.

Org is my primary exocortex now. The only major things I can’t do right now are:

  • Capture hand-written text or drawings

  • iOS version

I’m overcoming the latter using Drafts 5: Capture ‣‣ Act on iOS with some scripting and maybe some Pythonista 3 & Workflow stuff. Some Drafts 4 (Legacy Version) may still be needed. It relies right now on Dropbox as the sync engine but I hope to move to git/GitHub/Working Copy soon. I hope to publish my work and workflows this week (Golden Week 2018).

丸曽ビル, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

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