iOS 11 Features & Changes

9to5Mac posted a really nice twenty-seven minute video illustrating over one hundred new features and changes found in the first beta of iOS 11. I didn’t count them all, but there are a ton. There’s no fluff in these twenty-seven minutes; they’re filled with illustration after illustration of new features.

So if you missed WWDC or just want to see iOS 11 in action, check this out:

Keeping up with Technology

I want to share a few of my favorite people and places on the internet. If you are looking for a way to keep up with technology news and reviews, these are great places to start.

Each heading links to a Twitter account.

Brian Renshaw

for tech and productivity

Brian is a good friend, and he is at the top of this list because he introduced me to everyone listed here except for MKBHD and Ben Mayo. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog. (By the way, he says Jason Snell should be on this list.)

The Brooks Review

Apple & “the best” of everything

This might be my favorite site on the internet. Ben Brooks writes clear, incisive reviews, often laced with the perfectly placed, hilarious expletive. I read everything he writes — definitely a writing role model. He writes a weekly iPad Productivity Report, which is a highlight of every Monday. Several features of the site are only for members, including the Productivity Report. Membership is $4/month and absolutely worth it.

Federico Viticci

for all things iOS

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Mac Stories and dubbed iPad Sensei by the peeps at Mac Power Users. He is also a cohost of the new podcast AppStories, which is super sweet. I first discovered Federico when Brian Renshaw sent me a link to this legendary iOS 10 review.

MKBHD

YouTube Channel for tech products more broadly

Marques Brownlee reviews Apple and Android phones and tablets, headphones, cameras, drones, and all the rest. His reviews are to the point, balanced, and really well produced. His YouTube channel is one of only two that I regularly watch (the other is Casey Neistat’s).

Mac Power Users

Podcast for all things Apple

I listened to several tech podcasts during a recent 13 hour drive and was made keenly aware of just how good these guys are. There are a lot of tech podcasts out there, but most of them are horrid. David and Katie are just a pleasure to listen to. They have been doing this show since 2009(!) and are such pros. Their dynamic is as relaxing and delightful as the content is informative. The shows are super long but definitely worth the time investment.

Daring Fireball

First came across John Gruber via his markdown syntax page. His tweets are great, and his blog is sage.

Benjamin Mayo

I’ve just started following Ben Mayo. He writes for 9to5Mac, and I find his tweets interesting.

iOS 11 Wishlist

Here’s the best podcast I’ve heard on this topic.

My top three wishes:

  • Dark mode
  • A better way to find the app you want in split view
  • Markdown support for Apple Notes

If we get all three, I’m doing an end zone dance on Monday. The last one is the least likely, dark mode seems 50/50, but if selecting apps in split view isn’t greatly improved, the internet will spontaneously combust.

Several more:

  • Split view from either side of the screen, not just from the right
  • A unified, customizable control panel
  • 3D Touch on the iPad Pros
  • Improved UI for iMessage apps
  • Improved UI for Apple Music
  • Federico made drag and drop look pretty cool.
  • Apple Pencil support for the iPhone.
  • A more intelligent Siri — for example, she is a little slow and tells me the same joke a couple times a week. I’ll be getting ready for work and wonder what time it is. “Hey, Siri.” … wait for the ding … “What time is it.” She’ll say, “6:30am, time to go back to sleep” almost every day.
  • An enhanced Spotlight search so that one can use it to type to Siri — you can do this to an extent now, but I’d like it enhanced and promoted as the way to text Siri.
  • Improved iBooks app (I’m dreaming here, I know)
  • Significantly enhanced Mail app
  • Make Reminders an actual task manager.
  • Rename the Shared Links feature in Safari and make it a full blown RSS feed reader.

Zoom & GoodNotes for Online Teaching

This is a season of lasts. The last Greek 3 class has come and gone, today is the last day of exams, this afternoon will be my last private Greek lesson with two particularly amazing students, and yesterday was the last online lesson with a student I have been teaching Classical Greek.

Two apps have helped make this a successful year of online teaching — GoodNotes and Zoom. Zoom is simply the best online classroom environment I can imagine, and GoodNotes is my favorite digital writing platform.

Zoom

Neither you nor the student nor the student’s family have to be tech savvy. It is as simple as sharing a link and following the instructions. If you meet with a student at a set time every week, Zoom allows you to schedule individual online meeting rooms. If, however, you meet at different times every week, you can just use the personal room you are given when you sign up.

My favorite feature of Zoom is how easily I can use it with my iPad Pro as a digital whiteboard. I normally run the meeting through the Zoom app on my MacBook. When I need a whiteboard, I click a share screen button, choose share iPad screen, and then connect my iPad to the MacBook via AirPlay. It has worked seamlessly throughout the entire school year.

At times I have been without my laptop, and I simply ran my meetings via the Zoom iPad app. This worked smoothly, as well.

GoodNotes

GoodNotes is the digital hub that connects me, the student, and any writing or assessments that are transferred between us. For whiteboard purposes I created a notebook called Greek Scribbles. This is where all our in-class, random notes go. I also have a notebook to keep up with assessments. The assessment workflow goes like this:

  • Quizzes and tests are sent to me as PDFs.
  • I drop them into our GoodNotes assessment notebook.
  • I grade the assessments with an Apple Pencil in GoodNotes.
  • GoodNotes automatically backs up the notebooks as PDFs to Google Drive (or Dropbox or others).
  • I share the assessments notebook PDF via a Google Drive link.

Now the student and the student’s family always have digital access to all of their assessments as soon as I finish grading them.

This is the method I have used all year for three weekly online lessons, and I recommend these apps without hesitation. More on GoodNotes later, but for now, back to wrapping up what is left of this year’s lasts.

Dock Preferences

I think it is important, if you you do have the Dock showing at all times, to have this box checked in the Dock system preferences:

Checking this box will help keep your workflow streamlined, even in the middle of the day when you are running from task to task with 5-10 apps open.

You don’t want to see this:

You could see this with the same number of apps open and windows minimized:

The Dock: For Apps You Love

I’m still thinking about the reasoning behind Michael Williams’ TED talk and the idea of “Calm by Design.”

What about our laptops? Sure, we could use a calming picture as our desktop background, and of course we all keep our laptop homescreen free of files and folders because it’s 2017 and no rational human being would keep files and folders on their homescreen anymore. But there’s also the Dock.

To determine what apps go in the Dock, I normally ask the question “What apps do I use everyday?” But some of the apps I use everyday, or at least a few times a week, are apps that I do not love — a couple of them I don’t even like. So why would I want to have these apps staring at me every time I look at the comupter screen? It’s not hard to open Spotlight with a keyboard shortcut, type a couple letters, and hit enter to open any app you want.

So these are the two questions I’m now asking to determine what goes in my macOS Dock:

  1. Do I use the app everyday?
  2. Do I love the app?

I actually enjoy standard Apple apps, and besides those there are only three: Ulysses, PDF Expert, and Accordance.

“Calm by Design”

Over the weekend Renshaw tweeted a TED talk that caused me to rearrange my iPhone home screen.

Mike Williams’ talk goes something like this:

  • Problem: You are distracted by design. You are constantly pulled towards your phone, and this hampers your abilty to enjoy life.
  • Comfort: You aren’t alone. We are all in this together.
  • Cause: Tricksters (programmers and designers) daily work to pull you towards their apps as often as possible.
  • Solution: Calm by design.
    1. Clear your homescreen and set your background pic to something you find calming.
    2. Put your most used apps one swipe to the right on a second home screen.
    3. Turn off all notifications except the ones you need.

Now when you turn on your phone you are greeted by a calming image. You now have some space between you and “the jungle” of distraction.

My homescreen now looks like this:

One swipe to the right looks like this:

We’ll see how this goes.

Give it a listen yourself:

Favorite Albums

If I’m listenin to music these days, chances are it’s one of these albums, which I’ve downloaded from Apple Music:

Avett, City and Colour, and Isbell are definitely the artists I listen to most, but for the past couple days it’s been all 22, A Million.

I’m looking for some new music so if you have any suggestions, please share.

Apple Music

My wife and I have subscribed to Apple Music since the service released, and we love it.

Here are a few ways I would like to see it improve:

  1. I wish it were a little better at helping me find new releases and particularly new releases that I’ll enjoy.
  2. I would like to see the user interface improve, but I don’t have specific suggestions other than the fact that it seems cluttered. It’s not bad, but at times I find myself clicking more frequently than I would like or wanting to get somewhere in the app and having to hunt for how to do so. It’s just so filled with stuff. Also, I don’t totally understand the distinction between the “For You” and “Browse” tabs.
  3. Getting the family membership set up wasn’t as straightforward as I would have liked because it happens through iCloud family sharing. My family doesn’t want to share anything besides a music subscription so jumping through the iCloud family sharing hoops was a confusing start.
  4. There is a nice 50% student discount, but again signing up for it is not as straightforward as it should be. They make you sign up for and verify a UNiDAYS account, and UNiDAYS is so gross. I’m not even linking to it because it’s basically spam.
  5. If you are part of a family membership, the student discount doesn’t help you and applying for it can lead to this confusing chain of events (quote taken from the next to last section of the student discount page):
  6. If you’re the organizer of a Family Sharing group, and you change to a Student Membership, the rest of your group will lose access to Apple Music. The next time they sign in to Apple Music, each family member will see an option to join as an individual member. If you remain the family organizer, you’ll continue to be billed for your Family Sharing group’s iTunes purchases, including memberships and subscriptions.

Love Apple Music, but these are some things I would like to see change.