iPhone Field Guide, Version 1.1

The iPhone Field Guide, version 1.1 is now in the wild. The update fixes a few typos, fixed a weird problem with the audio on a few of the screencasts, and added some new content. If you bought the book in the iBookstore, you'll see it listed as an update. Just press the download button and you're good. If you've been waiting for the PDF version, that's also now available.

I'm going to continue to update this book for a few years. The next big update will most likely be September with the release of the new iOS operating system. I'm also about to bump up the price so if you wanted to get it at the introductory price, now's the time.

Gemini Photos for iPhone

For a long time, Gemini has been one of the best Mac apps for finding and removing duplicate photos on your Mac. Version two added the ability to analyze photos in your Apple Photos library and not only find duplicates but also similar photos and make recommendations about which ones to keep.

When the MacPaw team told me they were bringing this feature to the iPhone, I have to admit I was a bit surprised. In my mind, I always felt something as powerful as a Gemini would need a Mac. Turns out I was wrong.

Gemini Photos for iPhone, released this week, is an iPhone app that helps you clean your photo library using machine learning. With Gemini for iPhone, you get that same impressive photo sorting and recommendation tool Gemini brings to the Mac. When you open the app, it shows you potential photos for deletion categorized into "similar" and "clutter". Similar images are not just duplicates but instead similar images, like when you take a picture of your niece and fire off ten shots in hopes that she'll look at the camera and smile in one of them. Gemini even looks at those ten photos and makes it's best guess as to which one you'll want to keep.

Similar to Gemini for Mac, Gemini Photos for iOS specializes in finding similar images and even photos that it believes may be notes so you can slim down your photo library to just the images you want to keep. I've been using this app through the beta and it's really helping me slim down my photos library. This is MacPaw's first iOS app and I hope there's more.

Tinderbox, The Tool for Notes – Sponsor

This week MacSparky is sponsored by Tinderbox, the tool for notes. Tinderbox is a Mac App that lets you collect, organize, and consider your thoughts in so many ways. With Tinderbox you can make a mind map, a check list, make timelines, charts, outlines, and more. Just put your data in and start moving it around. You'll be surprised how much it can help and how deep you can go.

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Tinderbox also works with iOS. Tinderbox can look at your ideas from Notes, Evernote, Dropbox and more on iPhone and iPad. The latest version also has quick links to connect notes instantly and composites to build big ideas from small notes. You can display your data using these different formats and make it as complex or as simple as you need. You can even use Tinderbox to display your data to others with tools like timelines and flow charts.

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People use Tinderbox for project planning, outlining, writing, managing their business, project management and just about anything else where you can benefit from having your own digital personal information assistant.

Go check out the latest version of Tinderbox today. You can download the free trial and see this fantastic app for yourself.

1Password 7 for Mac

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Yesterday, Agile Bits released 1Password for Mac, version 7. Having used the application since version one, it's hard to believe they've already got to version 7. Moreover, it's hard to believe that a password manager can get to version 7 and continue to add new and delightful features. Nevertheless, they did.

With the new version, 1Password mini, that menubar tool from which I usually access 1Password data, gets a new design. It looks better, is more functional, and contains more information concerning your passwords and logins. One thing I like about the new version is that it doesn't just limit itself to website logins. If you're trying to sign into an application that requires a password, the latest version of 1Password will suggest a password for that as well.

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The 1Password application window now includes a sidebar that provides for a dark theme and gives you easy access to all of the 1Password tools and features. There are a lot of good things about 1Password, including Watchtower, which keeps an eye out for any services you use that have been compromised. However, traditionally those features were not always that easy to uncover. With the new sidebar. You have quick access to them and, hopefully, you will use them more often.

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With the new version, you can use markdown in the formatted text field of individual password entries. (Hooray!) Also, the overall design and typography are better. They even had a font created to make the display of passwords easier to read and understand. For instance, you will never confuse a capital "I" and the number "1" again.

I have often considered the notes field in 1Password one of its hidden treasures. All of us have little bits of data that we want to keep on all of our devices and yet maintain security. As an example, I want access to my kids' Social Security numbers, but I don't want to put that information in something as ubiquitous as an Apple Note. Putting that information in a 1Password secure note allows me to lock it behind the 1Password vault. This adds a level of security for this information and keeps the information safe from anyone that otherwise has my unlocked phone in their hands.

I hear increasingly from readers and listeners that do the same thing, and 1Password makes that easier with the new version, adding the ability to place tags on your secure notes. As your list of notes increases, tags can be a big help keeping them organized.

For some time now 1Password has made it easier to share passwords securely with vaults and their cloud family and work accounts. This latest version turns the dial up on all of those features making them more discoverable and easier to use. There is a whole lot more thatyou can read about at the 1Password blog. The new version is free to everyone with a 1Password membership. You can buy a standalone license, and there is an introductory price on that so get on that now.

In short, I’m digging 1Password 7.

Finally, a bit of disclosure. 1Password has sponsored my podcast, the Mac Power Users, for years. If that makes you think I'm a paid endorser, you'd be wrong, but there you go.

The Sweet Setup Day One Course

I've written so often that I don't have a single unpublished thought that now it's become a bit. Well, that sentiment isn't actually true.

For some time I've kept a journal and this year I've really tried to ratchet it up. In January I purchased a year subscription to Day One's cloud service and while some days I do better than others at it, I'm regularly adding entries to my own private diary. I've found the practice beneficial, even knowing I'll never share any of the contents with anyone else. If you are interested in this, I think Day One is the obvious choice for a digital diary. It's a powerful app but also accessible and fun to use. And it's also not just for personal diaries. People are finding all sorts of ways to use it.

Shawn Blanc has a new video product that shows you how to get the most from Day One. It just releasd today and has an introductory discount so if you're interested, check it out.

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Mac Power Users 431: Mac Maintenance

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Join us this week as Katie and I discuss best practices for keeping your Mac healthy, including Mac maintenance tips, diagnosing common problems, getting rid of unnecessary files, maintenance utilities, and care tips.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • PDFpen from Smile: With powerful PDF editing tools, available for Mac, iPad, and iPhone, PDFpen from Smile makes you a Mac Power User.
  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.
  • The Omni Group: We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad. 
  • Sanebox: Stop drowning in email!

Free Agents 47: Personal Floating Holiday

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There's a lot to think about on this week's Free Agents. I need to deal with some clients who aren't paying me. Jason thinks about "taking a personal day" and how that's different from going on vacation or taking a few hours off. I ponder creating a mission statement for myself. And Jason questions whether he's unable to give himself credit for doing certain kinds of work.

This episode of Free Agents is sponsored by:

  • Freshbooks: Online invoicing made easy.
  • Warby Parker: Quality eyewear at a fraction of the usual price. Order your FREE Home Try-On kit today.

Mac Power Users 430: Catching Up with Marco Arment

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Marco Arment returns on this week's MPU+ episode to discuss the state of the Mac, the iMac Pro, Apple's laptops, Overcast, privacy, digital cameras, and more.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • Away: Travel smarter with the suitcase that charges your phone. Get $20 off with the code ‘mpu’.
  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.
  • The Omni Group: We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Marked 2.5

My pal Brett Terpstra recently released Marked, version 2.5. If you're not familiar with Marked, it's a native macOS app for previewing Markdown and other text markup languages, as well as HTML and OPML files. With Marked, you can see rendered, styled versions before publishing. Marked 2 updates with changes whenever you save using the text editor of your choice. In combination with your favorite Markdown editor (or any text editor), Marked 2 is an excellent writing tool, particularly if you write in Markdown.

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There's a bunch of new features with the new version including support for a pile of new applications (including Scrivener 3). Spelling and grammar check is also now included for all users. (It no longer requires an in-app purchase.)

Marked's New "Ink" Preview Style. Click to enlarge.

My favorite feature, however, is the Edward Tufte inspired preview style: Ink. Of course, Brett would include a Tufte-inspired theme and of course it is gorgeous.

You can buy Marked directly from Brett or, if you are a SetApp subscriber, you already have access to it.

Home Screens - Darren Carr

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This week’s home screen features Darren Carr (Twitter). Darren blogs at The Mac Quad and podcasts at the Mac Quadcast. Darren writes, podcasts, and does Mac troubleshooting. He’s also a graduate of the London School of Economics. Darren pulls all of this off while being paralyzed from the neck down. So Darren, show us your home screen.

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What are Some of Your Favorite Apps?

My homescreen changes on a regular basis but there are some apps that have established themselves as mainstays. For my personal life Spark and BusyCal are the two that stand out, for many years I just used the Mail app but several bugs (such as notifications being extremely flaky) sent me on a quest which ended in Spark which I find extremely stable and easy to use. BusyCal is my calendar of choice on the Mac therefore it seemed natural to use the iOS app. My task management app of choice at the moment is Todoist, I seem to go between Todoist and OmniFocus, however, Todoist has suck for the last few months as I found OmniFocus had features that I just didn't make use of.

My notes app is one that has caused much head scratching, I think I've been through every new/popular one on the market but have ended up back with Evernote, it has the feature set I require and on the Mac I feel the Web Clipper is unrivalled. Other apps that I access on a daily basis are Day One not so much for a journal but enables me to easily keep a medical diary (essential in my situation) and also Ulysses for blog post ideas etc.

WHICH APP IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?

I wouldn't describe any of the apps I use as a Guilty Pleasure but I love audiobooks, being paralysed it is much easier to listen to audio than access a physical book or continuously be looking at a screen to use an ebook so I would say Audible and iBooks. Many people would include their Social Media apps here but I seem to have a hate/hate relationship with current social media.

WHAT APP MAKES YOU MOST PRODUCTIVE?

Probably Todoist, having a convenient list of tasks to tick off and therefore seeing that badge count come down is always a great feeling. Todoist is so simple that you don't get trapped in there once it is launched thus you spend more time being productive.

WHAT APP DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE UNDERUTILISING

I know I should be using Drafts more, it has been on my homescreen for an eternity but I always find myself going into the appropriate app for the writing that I'm going to do eg. Messages, Spark or Ulysses. I realise using Drafts will save me time but going to the individual app is a habit that is difficult to break.

HOW MANY TIMES A DAY DO YOU USE YOUR IPHONE/IPAD?

My iPad is mainly a consumption device so I don't use it everyday, as a motor impaired user I find it much easier to get things done on my Mac which I spend most of the day on. The iPhone is used about 5 or 6 times a day the main times are in the morning before I get up and then in the evening for either an audiobook or to catch up on podcasts.

WHAT TODAY VIEW WIDGETS ARE YOU USING AND WHY?

My today view widgets are Todoist Today for obvious reasons. The Apple News widget, the BBC Sport widget and the BBC Weather widget just for a quick overview of what's happening in the world and what the local weather is likely to be (it's London, obviously it's raining). Doing this homescreen exercise has made me put Drafts into the Today widget list to try to utilise it more.

IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE AT APPLE, WHAT WOULD YOU ADD OR CHANGE?

A feature that I've wanted for ages is Siri added to iBooks on iOS so that it is possible to say: 'Hey, Siri“ ”Turn Page Forward", surely this is really easy to add and would be a very useful accessibility feature.

DO YOU HAVE AN APPLE WATCH? SHOW US YOUR WATCH FACE TELL US ABOUT IT.

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I have an Apple Watch series zero with the Utility watch face. My complications are Messages, Spark, Date and Calendar. I primarily have my Apple Watch for the time (who'd have thought) and for and easy way to check for notifications. Being paralysed from the neck down the activity features are not a major selling point, however, the Heart Rate app is a great feature. It would be a bonus if a blood pressure sensor could be added.

WHAT'S YOUR WALLPAPER AND WHY?

I like to keep my iPhone and iPad wallpaper set at the solid back one provided by Apple, I think it looks much more sophisticated than a photograph and makes it easier to distinguish between apps.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

I'm using an iPhone 8 +, I really enjoy the large screen as it makes the iPhone useable for most applications. I'm able to watch something comfortably, read ebooks or PDFs and typing is much easier than smaller screens. I chose the 8 + over the X mainly due to the facial recognition on the X, the facial recognition only allows for one face to be recognised at present and being paralysed from the neck down there are several people I have to trust with access to my iPhone, the Touch ID sensor enables this while facial recognition does not.

Thanks Darren.

 

Apple Continues to Lock Down the iPhone

9 to 5 Mac is reporting that in the latest iOS 11.4 beta, Apple's added a feature that turns off lightning cable access to an iPhone that hasn't been unlocked in a week. There are several rumors of black-box style security devices that can break open an iPhone through the lightning cable. This appears to be Apple's response. I like that Apple continues to attempt to protect user data. I understand the law and order crowd's desire to have a back door into the iPhone for the good guys but I agree with Apple that you can't make a back door that the bad guys can't also ultimately use. 

I'm curious how long this will go before governments start trying to compel Apple to open the iPhone up more for official snooping. This isn't just a thing in the United States. I'm sure China and several other countries would like their own back door. 

It seems that Apple's approach isn't to say much publicly but instead continue to take little steps to keep the iPhone locked down. I don't think it's a mistake that this feature will release as a part of a small 11.4 update instead of being a banner feature with iOS 12, that gets announced next month.

Mac Power Users 429: iWork Deep Dive

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With the recent updates to iWork, we're going to take a deep dive into iWork on this week's MPU+ episode. We share the best uses for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. We discuss the pros and cons of the apps, collaboration, and try to tackle the question: Can you get by with iWork alone?

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Freshbooks: Online invoicing made easy.
  • Casper: The Internet’s favorite mattress. Get $50 off select mattresses with the code ‘MPU’.
  • TextExpander from Smile: Type more with less effort! Expand short abbreviations into longer bits of text, even fill-ins, with TextExpander from Smile.
  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.

Cardhop Version 1.1

Flexibits released version 1.1 of Cardhop, their clever contact management app. There are lots of new features in the new version:

• Support for French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese (including full text parsing and localized address and phone formats)

• Smart groups: create dynamic smart groups that automatically update based on specific search criteria

• Template preferences to customize fields and labels for new contacts

• Printing support: print customized envelopes, labels, and lists of contacts

• Quick Action for printing: type “print” or use a Quick Action button to quickly print a contact or group

• “Add Notes with Timestamp” option to quickly insert the current date and time into the notes of a contact

• Typing into a related name field now suggests other names in your contacts

My favorite feature continues to be how fast the app is. I can access or add to my contact data with just a few keystrokes. This makes Apple’s Contacts app feel very old and fidgety. Best of all, I made a video for them of the new features.

Free Agents 46: Being Comfortable Is Not an Option, with Jaimee Newberry

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Longtime web developer, tech executive, start-up co-founder, inspirational speaker, and coach Jaimee Newberry joins us on this week's episode to discuss her own journey, when to go out on your own, when to walk way from projects, and how to deal with unexpected success.

This episode of Free Agents is sponsored by:

  • Timing: The automatic time-tracking app for macOS. Use this link to save 10% on your purchase.
  • Freshbooks: Online invoicing made easy.

The Overdue Demise of the Apple Airport

I have a complicated history with the Apple Airport. For years I'd buy whatever Netgear router was on sale and bumble my way through their web interface to get it set up and semi-configured. Those routers had a unique combination of ugliness, cryptic user interface, and spotty performance to make them a product I'd love to hate. I had notes on how to nuke the router settings and start from scratch, which you needed to do every month. I even had installed a cable hook in the router closet that you could hang the power cord on when you did the obligatory power cycle a few times a week to keep it running.

Then about ten years ago I'd had enough and decided to buy an Airport. It was more expensive, but better in every way. It looked attractive and was easy to configure. Best of all, it worked. For years the Airport and I got along swell, but as my kids grew up and we started putting even more demand on the wireless network, the Airport had trouble keeping up. Apple didn't seem too interested in updating the device, and I discovered my kids were burning through our cellular data because the WiFi wasn't getting to their bedrooms.

Then two years ago, we had Clayton Morris on MPU, and he started singing the praises of his mesh network EERO system. I ordered mine a few minutes after we finished recording the show.

For me, the mesh networking EERO was the same caliber upgrade as when we went from Netgear to Airport. EERO's user interface leapfrogged Apple, and the mesh networked WiFi works way better in my house. (EERO later became an occasional MPU sponsor.)

For the last year, every time I went into an Apple store and saw the Airport on the shelf, I couldn't help but feel bad for the person who was going to buy that without knowing they could get a much better network with a non-Apple product. I figured Apple was either working on their own mesh solution or they were going to abandon the product entirely. It turns out the latter was true. Last week Apple officially pulled the plug on the Airport. I think they made the right choice. The Airport was a great product in its time, but unless Apple is willing to spend a bunch of time and money, the existing Airport feels antiquated. Moreover, a lot of the mesh network vendors got the memo about making their products reliable, attractive, and easy to use so Apple would no longer be the unique snowflake even if they went all in on a mesh-based Airport.

So what does that mean for you? If you've got an Airport and it's working, you're fine. No need to upgrade. I'm sure Apple will continue to support the Airport for years. However, if you are looking for a new WiFi network, I recommend getting a mesh network system from a reputable vendor. Jason Snell wrote up several good alternatives. If you are upgrading to mesh, I think you're in for a nice surprise.