Workflow app

Workflow for iOS

iOS devices are not made to be customizable as OS X desktop due to its sandwich environments for reliability purpose. Apps are run single purposely one at a time and there is no real multitasking tailored for efficiency.

iOS 8 changes all by providing app frameworks that allow apps to interact with each other. Developers can now build app extensions to provide Today’s widgets, Photos extensions, custom keyboard, share options and custom actions. These opens greatly the possibility of customization in iOS.

Now there is an app aptly named Workflow that takes advantage of iOS 8’s new extension frameworks. It is the first true automation app on iOS. If Apple were to build Automator for iOS, it would be similar to this app.

Workflow App

Workflow provides a quick tutorial to walk you though building steps to create a GIF. The interaction is largely drag and drop by selecting the steps/actions to create the workflow that you like. Workflow includes over 150 actions for favourite apps. For example, Add New Event to add event to Calendar app, Send Mail to send a mail, Save to Dropbox to save to Dropbox etc.

In case you’ve run out of idea what workflow is possible, there is a Gallery of prebuilt workflows which serve as templates to get you started to copy and customize as your own. In addition, you can save a workflow as bookmark on your iOS home screen. This is called Workflow app. Tapping on the app icon will launch and start the workflow.

Workflow has a simple and intuitive interface. After a day’s heavy usage, we’ve barely scratched what is possible with this app. Workflow is now at a 40% off for a limited time as part of launch special. Highly recommended.

Voice Text message in iOS 8

In case you’re not aware that iMessage in iOS 8 is capable of voice messaging, Apple has created a new “Voice Text” commercial to illustrate.

The commercial features Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, following the same theme as previous iPhone 6 ads. Voice text feature is not exclusive to iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. It is available for any iPhone model that is running iOS 8.

 

Format text and insert picture in Notes for iOS 8

Notes for Mac has supported basic text formatting and image insertion for a while. After eight version of iOS, we finally get the same functionalities in Notes for iOS. It is a welcomed relief if you use Notes app to iCloud sync between iOS and Mac regularly. 

Text Formatting

To apply formatting, first select the text to format in your note. To select text, double-tap on a word, then move the selection handles to include the range of text you want to format.

Format text and insert picture in Notes for iOS 8

On the popup edit menu, tap on the “BIU” button which stands for Bold, Italics, Underline.

Formatting Text in Notes for iOS 8

Tap on the desired Bold, Italics or Underline button to apply the formatting.

Picture Insertion

To insert a picture, on the insertion location in your note, tap and hold and then release the tap.

Inserting picture in Notes app for iOS 8

On the popup edit menu, select “Insert Photo” button. You will then be prompted to select a photo from your Photos library. Choose “Paste” from the menu if you want to insert picture or text in your iOS clipboard.

Things for iPhone and iPad goes free for a week

Get Things free for iPhone and iPad

Things for iPhone and iPad are now free till November 28 as part of Apple’s App of The Week. It is considered a great deal as the iPhone version is normally $9.99 and for the iPad version $19.99. Things is one of the few apps that were making headlines in the early years of iPhone. Not as popular now, but you might want to give Things a try if you’re not satisfied with the stock Reminder app or competitors such as Wunderlist or Any.do.

As part of the promotion, Things for Mac is now at a 30% discount at $34.99 from the Mac App Store.

Get Things for iPhone free on the App Store

Get Things for iPad free on the App Store

Access and remove open Safari tabs on your other iCloud devices in OS X Yosemite

Safari in OS X Yosemite comes with a brand new Tab View to help you manage open tabs in Safari. You can toggle the Tab View using Shift-Command-\ keyboard shortcut, from menu View > Show All Tabs, pinching on the trackpad or click on the tab view button located on right top corner of Safari window.

Safari OS X Yosemite Tab View Icon

Tab View displays all your open tabs in grid of thumbnails. Each thumbnail is a preview of the content of the website. This gives you a visual clue to easily switch to a particular site by clicking on the thumbnail. To close a tab, mouse over the thumbnail and click on the X icon on the upper left corner.

New Tab View in OS X Yosemite Safari

Just below the thumbnails is a list of open tabs on your other iCloud enabled devices. Thus tab view in essence replaces the old iCloud Tabs button. The ability to access open tabs on other devices is one convenient feature to allow you to continue viewing a site on your Mac. When you mouse over a link, you can click on the X button at the end of the tab title to close the tab. If you find closing Safari tabs on small iPhone screen cumbersome, you can now close them on a Mac. 

Switch off iMessage when you’re moving to a non-Apple phone

If you’re switching to use the same SIM card on your iPhone to a non-Apple phone such as Android, remember to turn off iMessage before the switch. If you don’t switch the iMessage service off, you might not receive SMS or text messages someone sends you from an iPhone.

To turn off iMessage, on the iPhone that has the SIM card, go to Settings > Messages and turn off the “iMessage” switch. 

Switch off iMessage when you're moving to a non-Apple phone

If you no longer have your iPhone with you, Apple has created a “Deregister iMessage” website that allows you to resolve this issue. 

Deregister iMessage

Visit the site and enter your phone number and click the “Send Code” link. Apple will then send you a 6-digit confirmation code via SMS to your new phone. Enter the confirmation code into the form and click “Submit” to deregister your phone number with iMessage.

How to activate the iTunes mini player in OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite brings a refresh look with a flatter and more translucent design. Bundled Apple OS X apps are updated to keep up with the new look. iTunes is no exception, with changes that might take some adjustment to get used to.

The mini player icon is gone from the top left corner of iTunes window. To switch iTunes to mini player mode in OS X Yosemite, you click on the album artwork.

How to activate iTunes mini player 1

By default, the mini player displays a not-so-mini album artwork. The size is acceptable if you have a 27 inch screen. To make iTunes player truly small, click on the double-arrow icon.

iTunes mini player in OS X Yosemite artwork mode

iTunes mini player will now shrink to the size and look that we’re familiar with.

iTunes mini player in OS X Yosemite

Click on the same double-arrow icon to toggle back to the album artwork look.

To switch off mini player mode and return to full window, click on the x button. 

How does FireChat work without an Internet connection

How does FireChat work without an Internet connection Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protestors

FireChat is a messaging app that lets iOS and Android smartphone users chat without a cellular or Internet connection. Th app once again was in the limelight as Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors were using the app fearing the government would shut down cellphone networks in the protest area. 

How does FireChat work without an Internet connection

Developed by San Francisco based company called Open Garden, FireChat in its default “Everyone” mode works just like any other messaging apps with chatting over the Internet. When in the “Nearby” mode, the app uses Bluetooth to connect nearby phones to form a wireless mesh network that enables chat messages to pass from phone to phone without going through the Internet.

The ability to work off-the-grid makes FireChat particularly useful in areas where the Internet is restricted. It is also harder for government to monitor the chat messages by nature of the app’s peer-to-peer connectivity. FireChat had previously been used during the Internet blackouts in Iran and Iraq earlier this year.

How to request the desktop version of a website in iOS 8

Many websites come with a mobile-optimized version which would be automatically served to you when it is detected that you’re using a mobile device. These mobile version of webpages are usually easier to view and navigate on smaller screens, but can occasionally offer fewer functionality compared to the desktop version.

Some sites offer link (normally at site’s footer) to allow you to switch between mobile and desktop version, but this practice is not consistently adopted by every sites. Safari in iOS 8 now comes with a new “Request Desktop Site” feature to allow you to view the desktop version of a mobile site. 

When you’re viewing a site with a mobile layout in Safari, tap on Safari’s address bar. This by default will display the list of bookmarks in your Favorites Bar.

How to request the desktop version of a website in iOS 8

Swipe down the list to reveal two new options: “Add to Favorites” and “Request Desktop Site”.

How to request the desktop version of a website in Safari

Simply tap on “Request Desktop Site” option and Safari will reload the site with a desktop layout.

Think twice before you upgrade to iCloud Drive

icloud-drive-ios8

iCloud Drive is a brand new feature in iOS 8 that changes iCloud from an invisible storage system into something similar to Dropbox or Google Drive. When you upgrade to iOS 8, you’re asked if you want to activate iCloud Drive. You might want to think twice before tapping the “Upgrade to iCloud Drive” button.

Before iCloud Drive, apps are using the “Documents & Data” framework for documents in iCloud.  When you upgrade to iCloud Drive, documents managed under “Documents & Data” will be migrated to use iCloud Drive, and it is not backward compatible.

iCloud Drive is available only in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. In order for documents to sync under iCloud Drive, all your iDevices and Macs needs to be running iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

If you’re using only one device, if all you devices have been upgraded to iOS 8 and you do not have a Mac, it is safe to pull the trigger to upgrade to iCloud Drive. For Mac users, hold off a few weeks until the release of OS X Yosemite which is expected end October.