Nice addition to Apple Maps: search for bike sharing and the app will show you nearby bike sharing stations in supported cities, like my hometown, Antwerp.
Yesterday I got a notification for a memory from three years ago called Kris's Birthday. iCloud Photos had somehow found out that it was Kris's birthday yesterday, and that he and I were at the same event on his birthday a few years ago.
I really like these kind of memories and alerts. They're timely, often bring back events I had forgotten about, and the photo selection is quite good.
Only, this time, the event itself had nothing to do with the fact that it was my friend's birthday. And I couldn't find a way to change the memory's title within iOS Photos.
Thanks to @joshducharme, that's now been solved:
How to change a Memory
We’re moving next week, so naturally we’ve started packing our stuff already.
Last night, my wife made the most thought provoking remark about our current stack of boxes that kept me thinking:
“Basically, all those boxes we packed a week in advance is stuff we don’t need to live.”
We pretend, or we like to believe, we’re both minimalists in our approach to live. We don’t have a lot of little stuff around, only have a dozen physical books, with all media being digital.
Even so, when packing boxes you discover that you still have too much stuff. Who needs 4 bottle openers. Do we even read those 12 books often enough to warrant shelve space? Why do we keep moving that set of dinner plates we never use?
We’re currently cooking and eating with a reduced set of items. A few glasses, cups and plates. And we manage.
Our living room is empty. All shelves have been packed and all framed items safely stored. Even so. We still relax in the sofas and enjoy our evenings.
It’s also telling what we didn’t pack yet. Sonos. WiFi. Coffee. Basically, what you pack last is what you really need to live. The rest? Joys of life, extra’s, just stuff.
Moving. It makes you think.
Next week we’re moving apartments. The new place is a bit smaller than our current one, but has an extra room for #thelittleone and this time: a working hot water installation.
To my surprise the new apartment (we’re renting) has CAT 6E Ethernet installed in the living room and both bedrooms. I know it’s 2018 and wireless is basically the default for any home installation these days, but some decent wired endpoints across the house make placing WiFi access points that cover every spot of the house a breeze.
One problem: even though cables were installed in the apartment and every room has some nice patch ports next to the power plugs, in the utility room all Ethernet cables were unfinished and just hanging there. (the owner didn’t even know what they were)
So today I spent part of the morning terminating all cables, connecting them to a switch and checking cable stability afterwards.
I used to do this at the office on a regular basis but it’s been a while now since I touched a cable so —with a bit of shame— I had to resort to a schematic on Google to remember the color code. And.. have a 50% chance I choose the same schema as the electrician.
Luckily all went well and I terminated all cables without any issues.
I hope this post provides some useful insight into how I approach looking for unreleased features in iOS sofware, if you like what I do and would like to see more content like this, you can support me on Patreon. Make sure to follow my posts on 9to5mac as well. - Guilherme Rambo
Pretty insightful breakdown on how to disassemble and peak into an iOS app.
Recently I started listening to the 9to5Daily Podcast while starting my day. It’s a fun short overview of Apple related news. Yesterday, Relay.fm launched Subnet, a show hosted by Stephen Hackett with a similar premise.
Two great shows to start your day which I’ve added to a Morning News playlist.
Hey Siri, play my (name of podcast playlist) podcast station.
In my case, I named the playlist Morning News and when summoned via Siri, my iPhone starts telling me the current news. Pretty cool!
Similarly Alexa also has a Flash Briefing feature, which plays a queue of selected news sources.
Subnet is also available on Alexa thanks to the latest Anchor.fm integration, as are a list of other news related sources.
Hey Alexa, play my Flash Briefing.
This results in Alexa starting with Subnet, followed by local news and a few other short stations.
Last night, I almost convinced my wife we should trade two Sonos Play:1 for a HomePod in our new living room.
That is, until realized it only has Apple Music and as such will not support any radio streams either. And since our Sonos play local radio basically 90% of the time via TuneIn Radio, it would mean losing most of the audio that comes through our Sonos.
No HomePod for me ::sadface
(Yes, technically I could stream radio from an iOS device via AirPlay but there’s no Siri support for that)
The folks at 1Password highlighted their Family feature today. if you haven’t tried it out yet, go have a look!
I’ve been a 1Password use for years now and it’s one of those apps that gets installed almost immediately on any new device, being it a personal one or one at the office. Kinda logical since it contains every password, license key or ssh key I’ve ever generated, so without those I can’t really work. But also because it’s just an awesome set of apps.
When creating accounts online there are a few best practices that everyone knows and no one follows:
- A password should be complex. The longer the better and preferable mixed case.
- A password should be unique. Having the same password on multiple sites means if someone discovers one, they can open all your online doors.
- A password should be stored somewhere save and never be written down where someone can find it.
(And yes, this list is not complete and way to basic)
Remembering all those passwords is next to impossible. Storing them on your desktop in password.txt or in the Notes app is a terrible idea. And using variations of the same password is like wearing a fake moustache and hope no-one recognizes you.
1Password is a password manager: it takes away most of the issues mentioned in the previous paragraph.
- It allows you to store passwords for all your online services in one secure place.
- It can generate complex passwords for every website you visit.
- It can alert you when you’ve used the same password on a different site already.
Since it saves them in all in a vault, you can allow yourself to forget all those passwords once you’ve setup your web accounts. You just need to remember the one password that unlocks the application (pun intended). You open the app, unlock it with your password/fingerprint/face, and you can copy your login information into the login field of the website you want to open. And thanks to some nice integrations, more often than not 1Password does that for you automagically.
Is it secure? You betcha. Although most of their blog articles go way over my head, they manage to explain the basic gist of their security in layman’s terms. And as the saying goes: if you can explain something complex with basic words, it proofs you really understand the matter. Anyone can throw around technical terms. But explaining what they mean, that’s something different.
I currently have two subscriptions running: a Family account and a Teams account.
The Family account contains four vaults: One for my wife, containing her personal passwords (and no I can’t access it) and one for myself.
A third one is shared between the two of us. Perfect for sharing logins for Netflix, Amazon, banking stuff, utilities, ...
The fourth one I use to store passwords for clients I work for: their Wordpress accounts, Squarespace login, Twitter password + 2FA keys etc. They know I have those passwords, and saving them encrypted is the correct way to handle these. Beats a spreadsheet in Google Drive any day of the week.
The Teams account is for Switch.be, the company whose IT I currently manage.
Most backoffice users have an account that stores a vault shared with their department, and a personal vault for their own workrelated accounts.
Most internal services at Switch run on OneLogin which allows people to use Single Sign On, alleviating the need for multiple accounts and passwords. But every department needs to work with external partners, portals and tools that are not integrated with our SSO solution, so using complex passwords and saving/sharing them with 1Password allows us to safely manage that part of our online activities. And thanks to some nice on-and offboarding tools, people get and lose access to their vaults with a few clicks. As an IT Manager I love it.
What’s stored in my account
I currently have around 1200 passwords spread across both accounts, with most also containing the 2 factor codes and recovery keys for those apps.
Yes, 1Password also generates multi-factor authentication codes: you can replace those irritating SMS codes and Google Authenticator logins with codes stored in the same app that saves your passwords.
Aside from passwords it also contains all my software license keys, scans of my passports and licenses, banking account numbers, a copy of the birth certificate of my son,... all safe and secure in the app.
Backing it up
1Password syncs across devices so if I lose my iPhone I can still find all my passwords on my iPad. If all devices are gone, they have a web interface. And if I lose all devices there’s a solution too!
When setting up 1Password the app creates a PDF for you that contains all the data you need to connect to your account. I have saved a copy of that PDF in my wife’s Personal 1Password vault (and vice versa). So in a worse case scenario where I lose all devices, I can get access to my data again by using the PDF stored on my wife’s devices + my personal one password.
Optionally, 1Password on the Mac also allows you to create backups of your data on a regular interval. Once every few months or so I copy that backup file to iCloud Drive. iCloud is protected with 2FA, so I know it’s not easily accessible to external parties. The backup itself is encrypted. It’s a secure and safe way to make sure that the vaults are backed up. Is it necessary? No. But it only takes a few minutes.
(If you don’t currently use 1Password this part can be skipped)
Every app has its shortcomings. In the case of 1assword that list is short.
- I’d like to see WatchTower, their service that alerts you when a web service has been recently hacked, to be available on iOS.
- Similarly, iOS currently doesn’t allow you to add icons to websites or import Keychain items.
- Adding 2FA codes on iOS to vault items requires you to have access to two devices. One that loads the site and shows the QR code, and one that actually scans the code. Being able to use the sharing extension to add a 2FA code to a password entry would be nice.
1Password is one of those tools that you didn’t know you’d need until you start using it. And when your used to having it available, you can’t live without it.
Give it a try.
You know that game where you sit in a circle and the first person says a phrase to the next person and so on until it reaches the original person again in a butchered form?
I have to say, the way they implemented this is nicely done. I’ve been thinking of another way to trigger this loop but I’ve come up short. Maybe reading messages aloud?
Done properly parenting is a heroic act. Done properly.
It’s been a while since I posted a Homescreen overview. So today, I’m starting with my iPhone.
As you’ll see 50% of the apps on my iPhone’s homescreen are the native iOS apps for certain services. I used to look the best third party app for any service, but I find myself going back to the default solution more often than not. The reason? Convenience. Apple’s first party apps sync natively with iCloud, which makes setting up an iPhone a breeze + it’s free, which lowers monthly recurring fees.
I tend to organize my homescreen by type.
Notably I do not have the Phone app on my homescreen. I see my iPhone as a computer and don’t like phone calls. I consider it an iPod Touch with cellular more than a phone with apps.
The first two rows are what I call my productivity rows. They contains task related apps.
Calendar: I use the default app because it shows today’s date on the homescreen. I tend to add locations to most of my events, so I use the Up Next widget to see where I need to go and get timely “time to leave” alerts.
Todoist : Task Managers are my weak point. I tend to move from Omnifocus to Things to Reminders to ... multiple times a year. I prefer Reminders for its native Siri integration, which makes dumping thoughts into an Inbox by voice quick and convenient. But Reminders has a terrible interface.
Thanks to Alexa (more on that later) I can now use Todoist as a task manager. I use Alexa to quickly input thoughts, get a daily update every morning and manage my shopping list. Which reminds me: “Alexa, add ‘Ask my wifi to start using Todoist for our groceries’ to my todo list”.
All tasks end up in Todoist. It is a rather utilitarian interface but it does it’s job nicely. I’m a big fan of the comment feature to add extra notes or adding attachments and its Share Extension is awesome.
1Password : Safety first. And when it comes to password management there’s only one choice. 1Password offers 2FA support, syncs across devices and allows me to share a vault with my wife via the Family Accounts feature.
Files, Photos and Notes: I prefer the first party solutions for these three because they just work. Although I do use Google Photos as an extra backup for my photos and backup my files via Backblaze just in case. All three are rather basic in their functionality, especially when it comes to sharing, but when it comes to integrating with other apps they still win when compared to Dropbox, Google or other Cloud Storage Services.
Screens: I work on iOS mainly, but when I do need a Mac, I often resort to Screens to quickly connect to my Mac mini at home. Thanks to its Connect service you can connect from anywhere. Lovely app, although I hope they soon at MFA security to the Screens Connect account.
The second big block is the social block. These are the apps that connect to the world.
Mail: Similar to task managers, mail is an app where there and back again is often applied. I used Spark, Inbox, Mailbox, ... but always see myself go back to the default Mail app. I’m not a big fan of the defer to later mailbox approach (I use a task manager for this) so most third party apps are to complex for my needs.
Messages: I detest Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger is a necessary evil. So when I can, I go to iMessage to message friends and family.
Alexa: I’ve only started using Amazon Echo devices since last fall so I regularly use the Alexa app to add or change some skills. The announced Alexa voice integration within the app allows it to stay on the homescreen.
Safari: doesn’t need an explanation.
Tweetbot: Timelines should be chronological. That’s why they’re called timelines.
Instagram: Guilty pleasure.
Unread: I still use RSS feeds to follow blogs, no matter what Kottke says. Feedwrangler is my current backend service although I like what Feedbin is doing with their new Twitter integration. Frontend I use Unread for its beautiful reading experience.
Pocket: Feedreaders and read it later apps are two sides of the same coin. I’ve used Pocket since forever and love the way it allows you to save both text and media in a convenient way. I inject some sites like Daring Fireball and MacStories automatically via IFTTT, and use its sharing extension a lot.
The last rows are dedicated to Media apps. Music, Video, Reading.
Squarespace Blog: I’m trying to blog more again and since Squarespace is the platform I’ve chosen I’m stuck with their iOS apps. I say stuck because the apps are basic. They allow you to enter text and media, but that’s about it. No sharing extensions, no Files integration, no API’s. For longer form text I use Ulysses and copy-paste though. (Yes I know, the app is in the wrong row and is technically a productivy app, but those rows where filled aready ;-) )
iBooks: I buy my media on Apple’s platforms. It’s a lock in and I can never read these books in Kindle but since I’m all in on Apple hardware it doesn’t really bother me. Why iBooks? One word: layout. The way iBooks displays text is way nicer than the Kindle app. I also use its PDF syncing feature a lot, and I hope they soon expose those files via a Files integration too.
Swarm: another guilty pleasure. I love to track where I’ve been and often use the app (and the full Foursquare counterpart) to check places I’ve been or refer restaurants to friends who go on holiday.
Music : “Hey Siri, Play Metallica” while walking around with AirPods is magic. Although I do have a Spotify account for Alexa.
Podcasts: “Hey Siri, Play Connected” while walking around with AirPods is magic.
Youtube: doesn’t need an explanation
Camera: I never use this shortcut and always launch the app from the lockscreen. That is, until I’m on the homescreen and look for the Camera app. I’ve removed the app so many times from my homescreen and found myself looking for it, it’s now a permanent ficture on the homescreen.
The dock is filled with four folders. I love the way they replace the homescreen when you open them. It’s a nice mode-shift when going from homescreen to Wallet or Connected.
- Office: all other productivity apps
- Connected: smart home and activity apps
- Media: all other media apps
- Wallet: online banking, web shops, ...
Siri unlocks HomeKit. Activity and Health are tracked via the Watch. Alarms are managed via Siri, so is the timer (Seriously Apple, add support for multiple timers!). They do not need a place on my homecreen but I use them daily.
Deploying Enterprise Apps
When deploying apps within a company there’s the good, the bad ad the ugly way of doing it.
- The ugly: buy the app once and allow all users to install it with a shared Apple ID. Or, in other words, welcome to 2010.
- The bad: have users buy and install apps with their own AppleID, refund via iTunes Credits or use Vouchers from Apple’s Volume Purchase Program do deploy the apps.
- The good: buy apps via the Volume Purchase Program and distribute them via device based assignment with an Mobile Device Management tool.
Why is the good, the good? Mobile Device Management platforms like Jamf allow you to assign apps to devices without the use of an AppleID. This way you control who has which apps, users can install and update the apps without passwords and, as a company, you retain control of your licenses making it both easier to revoke access when someone leaves the company, and easier to proof that all software used in the office is legally purchased.
You can buy licenses to distribute App Store apps to devices via Apple’s Volume Purchase Program. This portal is linked to your company, you buy x amount of apps via a central AppleID/Credit card, and the apps show up in your management system of choice.
Once the license shows up in your MDM system you can assign the app to a device or group of devices (e.g. the new OmniOutliner 3 to all IT Support engineers) and they can immediately use the app.
Recently a couple of big Productivity apps made the switch from pay up front to get the app for free and unlock it completely via IAP. One of the bigger examples is The Omni Group, who made all their apps free, and allow you to unlock e.g. OmniGraffle fully via an In App Purchase. (They even allow you to get a discount if you’ve got a prior version installed).
Similarly, apps like Ferrite or Notability allow you to unlock extra features like new paper types or longer track duration via an IAP. There’s also apps like Ulysses, that are only useable when you have a subscription.
But currently there is no way to distribute these IAP to users. You can install Notability, or OmniGraffle but you can’t unlock the app for your users. Worse, when users try to unlock the IAP themselves, they can’t, since there is no AppleID involved.
Regular users face a similar issue when sharing apps via Family Sharing. If one family member unlocks all levels of Civilization, no one else can get that level unless they unlock, and pay, for the level themselves. It’s understable since most IAP are consumables for games and you can’t spend the same item twice. But when IAP are feature unlocks, or worse, ways to get the full app, the lack of IAP sharing across family members is a limiting, and often frustrating fact.
At least, within a family you can pay up twice (or trice) and get your IAP. But for enterprise users this is not possible. If you want someone in your company to use an app that unlocks via IAP you have to resort to the bad and ugly installation methods.
A Terrible solution or two
- Developers could create specific enterprise SKUs in the App Store that allow you to pay fully up front. But this results in duplicate apps, user confusion and a lot of support tickets from users buying the wrong SKU. Plus it means they need to maintain two different versions of the same app.
- Some developers allow you to buy the Mac app directly from their own store with seperate licenses. They can easily be installed via JAMF Pro but lacks the convenience of VPP distribution + it’s yet another serial key to track. Plus, you can’t use this on iOS.
- You could go the way of Office365, 1Password, Dropbox,... and link the apps’ features to a user account that’s licensed. Downside of this approach: it’s yet another username and password for your users to remember, it’s yet another thing to manage seperately for your IT department. And not every app has need for a username.
A Better solution
With the launch of the new App Store, Apple also launched a better way to Promoting in-app purchases within the store. You can sometimes even buy an IAP directly from the App Store. Why can’t they expose that IAP within the IAP portal and allow us to distribute both the app and the IAP via the known VPP distribution methods within an MDM server?
You buy an app via the VPP Portal, and also buy the related IAP. On your MDM server you then assign both the app and the IAP to your user and voila, problem solved.
With macOS server focused more heavily on Device Management, and Apple promoting IAP and subscriptions as a way to provide upgrades for apps and give developers a means to get money for their work, it’s time for Apple to take these features to an Enterprise level.
So put this on my WWDC 2018 wishlist: Apple, please allow us to distribute IAP via VPP.
If you want this too, please create a radar and reference #37531416, which contains a copy of this post.
Anyone can build a website thanks to great resources like Squarespace. And, if the website is responsive and written with any decent framework, it'll behave nicely on macOS and iOS. Safari will use the Title and Favicon tag to create a nice bookmark, it'll pickup on the specified RSS feed and, if the site has any article content, it'll show the Reader View option.
But, with a few extra additions to your site's <Head>, it can become a first class iOS and macOS citizen.
Way before native iOS apps, Apple allowed you to add web apps, or regular websites to the Homescreen of iOS. Via a specific meta tag you can add a custom icon to your site. The easiest way is one simple 512px image, but you can add specific sizes for every screen size if you want to. Sadly, vector images are not supported.
And, if your site has a very long title you can add a shorter custom title for WebClips. The maximum amount of characters shown on the iOS Homescreen without being shortened with ellipsis is around 11 characters.
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="apple-touch-icon.png"> <meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-title" content="Verschoren">
Newly added in El Capitan, you can pin a site in Safari to the left of the Tab bar, making it easily accessible all the time. These pinned sites get a custom icon that's highlight when active and is specified with a specific tag.
There's a few rules:
- The icon has to be an svg with a single layer and a <0,0,16,16> viewport.
- The icon should be #000 black filled with no other styles.
- The icon is always displayed in one color specified in the tag.
There's also this great article by Iconfactory describing their flow.
<link rel="mask-icon" href="favicon-pinned.svg" color="#0898F4">
By default the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar displays the default favicon for Bookmarked websites. But, as a free bonus, every site that has the pinned tab icon defined, gets a nice icon in the Touch Bar consisted of their icon in white surrounded by the specified color.
<link rel="mask-icon" href="favicon-pinned.svg" color="#0898F4">
Testing and developing the icon is a bit difficult since Safari caches this icons rather strongly. You can however clear the cache by quitting Safari and executing these two Terminal commands:
rm -rf ~/Library/Safari/Template\ Icons rm -rf ~/Library/Safari/Touch\ Icons\ Cache
I’m an iPad user, although I have a Mac mini at home for backup, caching and media purposes but I prefer to use iOS for my daily entertainment.
My project for today was activating my Raspberry Pi again and trying to run Homebridge on it. And aside from dumping the Raspberry OS on a micro SD card via my Mac mini, I did all configuration on my iPad, using Panic’s lovely Prompt 2 app. It’s a great Terminal app that gives you a rock solid connection and has a great interface for doing command line work.
Since installing and testing Homebridge involved a lot of reusing the same code again and again until it works (rebooting the Raspberry, stopping and restarting Homebridge,..) I especially love the Clips feature. Clips allows you to store often used commands and have them available via a single tap. A bit like TextExpander, but you know, for code.
Panic’s apps also sync across your devices. So those same configurations are available on your iPad, iPhone and Mac. Pretty useful.
We've got Alexa running at home to control our Sonos devices. Alexa, play Metallica. Alexa, play VRT Studio Brussels. Alexa, lower the volume. Alexa, stop the music.. Once you're used to controlling music by voice, anything else feels antiquated and clumsy.
Before Alexa, I had already installed HomeBridge on my Mac mini to integrate Sonos into HomeKit. Nothing fancy, it just enabled Play/Pause via the homebridge-sonos plugin. This allowed us to say Hey Siri, Stop Music in the Dining Room. Or, combined with a Hue Tap next to our front door, enabled me to tap one button when exiting the house and having all lights and music turn off with a single action.
But Homebridge on my Mac mini wasn't the most stable of installations. Updating the Mac often resulted in a broken node.js or npm installation. A recent series of tweets from Federico Vittico about installing Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi made me remember I had one somewhere in the house.
So, an afternoon later I now have a Raspberry Pi running HomeBridge with the Sonos plugin active.
Put some good headphones on and enjoy.
112, our version of 911, just released an App that allows you to contact emergency services and immediately send them your location, name and contact information. Pretty useful in case of an emergency.
Older version of this post: Would be awesome if this could somehow be integrated with iOS 11’s Emergency SOS.
The iPhone X supports wireless charging via the QI standard, and the Apple Watch has its own proprietary charging system that's kinda similar to QI but not really. After a few months of using wireless charging, I have to say, it’s pretty awesome. Charging an iPhone is nothing more than putting it on my desk/nightstand/kitchentop. Never expected not needing to grab a Lightning cable could be so convenient. I even tried adding QI to my iPad Pro with a third party Lightning to QI sticker, which works, and charging an iPad with a bit more than 5W is possible but takes ages. So for now, it’s good old usb for the iPad.
Sometime in 2018 Apple will release its AirPower standard that wirelessly charges iPhone, Apple Watch Series 3 and AirPods on a single charging mat. (AirPods will require a new case though). Since I’ve got a Series 2 Watch I can’t really use it to its fullest, but the idea seems pretty neat.
In the meanwhile I created my own wireless charging solution that's not that different from an AirPower mat.
I recently bought an Ikea Nørdmarke Wireless Charger, which can charge up to three QI devices and has an extra USB port on the side. Add an Apple Watch charger with some double sides tape and voila, homemade AirPower solution.
(This made me look for a way to charge my AirPods too, but the solution is kinda ugly and kinda prone to wear and tear.)
Wireless charging. Love the convenience.