Tech Talk: iPadOS / iOS 13.1 First Impressions

This is just from playing with iOS 13.1 for about an hour on my iPad 5th Generation and iPhone X. You can find lots of articles online with in-depth details. So these are just my own first impressions. I hope you find them useful.

The best update for me – video editing!

First what I think is the the best new feature in iPadOS and iOS 13, and what makes it worthwhile updating right away for. Photo and video editing has been incredibly improved! Now you can crop and rotate videos directly! And you can edit video brightness, etc., directly from within the Photos app. Finally! This is a huge convenience. Think about it.

Photos Gallery

The Photos view itself is also greatly improved. If you are scrolling through your photos, you can do it by day, months, years, and all photos. The cool thing is that photos are scaled nicely, and you can see the live photos and videos move as you are scrolling through. It brings your photos more “to life” as you are looking through them. 

Some iPadOS Notes

From 13 onward, iOS is for iPhones and iPadOS is for iPads. I only touch on some of the new features here. There are apparently some cool things you can do between your iPad and Mac as well.

Handoff

I’ve always like the fact that you can copy on one device (iPhone, iPad, Mac) and paste to another. I use that all the time, and it’s one thing that keeps me in the Apple ecosystem.

Handoff is quite cool too. For example, after updating my iPad to iPadOS13, I noticed right away that if I have a Chrome window open on my Mac, there’s a little icon at the bottom right on my iPad which lets me open that same page in Safari. Interesting. Similarly, if you are composing an email, or writing a memo on one device, you can just switch to another device and continue.

Widgets on the Home Screen

The iPad now allows widgets on the home screen, which makes better use of the home screen space. So I can, for example, see the weather and upcoming calendar appointments right there on the home screen to the left of app icons. That’s pretty cool.

Multitasking Enhancements

On the iPad, you can now have multiple versions of the same app open at the same time and other multitasking features. For example, you can have Files open twice in split view and drag files around to different folders that way. It works great, but the UI takes some getting used to. I suspect unless you are using your iPad every day for school or actual work you probably won’t be doing this much. Maybe I’ll feel different about that once I get the hang of the UI better. It does work as advertised though.

Desktop-like Safari on the iPad

In iPadOS the Safari browser is more like the desktop browser now, with tabs and other desktop-like experiences. You can even drag browser tabs to the side and have two pages open at once in split view mode (see multitasking, above). That’s pretty cool. Apple are clearly trying to make iPad more useful as a computer substitute for certain people.

Dark Mode

Another thing I noticed right away is that I don’t really care for dark mode. It clashes in ordinary Mail, because the bodies of a mail are not dark and yet the listings themselves are dark, so it looks weird. Instead of being easy on the eyes, it becomes confusing. I’m sticking with regular window colors.

Slide to Type – and the small keyboard on the iPad

The new slide-to-type, where you run your fingers over the keys instead of typing each letter separately, works flawlessly on my iPhone. In a situation where you can’t dictate I can see this being a big time saver.

Meanwhile on the iPad you can shrink the gigantic on-screen keyboard to iPhone size now. Just pinch in on the keyboard (like you’re shrinking a photo) and you have a much less intrusive keyboard which you can use with one hand. When you do this, slide-to-type also works on the iPad.

Some Mail UI improvements

When you touch the reply icon in Mail, you see lots of options at once: reply all, forward, trash, flag, mark as unread, move to a suggested mailbox, or move to another mailbox – all right there. Also archive, junk, mute, notify me and more are right there. Interesting!

Message Searching 

Searching in Messages is greatly improved, and you can instantly find photos and attachments. Also, some attachments that didn’t open previously now do open, like a sound attachment of birdsongs a friend sent me recently.

Memo Improvements

The Memo app, which I use every day (I no longer use Evernote) gets new features too, like a gallery view (easy to find images and sketches. Another big improvement in Memo is shared folders for collaboration (before you could only share individual notes).

Long Screenshots Doesn’t Work

A feature that looks convenient, but doesn’t work for me right now is long screenshots. In Safari, Mail and other Apple Maps you supposedly can now take a long screenshot without doing it in parts and then using an app like Stitch-It to piece it back together again. It’s supposed to save it as a PDF in Files. I tried this, and it saves it as a PDF in Files, but it’s just the selection as before. I’m checking into this.

iOS 13 / iPadOS 13 are also noticeably faster. I recommend updating if your device supports it.

Review – MsgFiler for Apple Mail

This app for Apple Mail in Mac OS X (available from the Apple App store) lets you quickly file emails in mailboxes with keyboard shortcuts. I have a large hierarchy of mailboxes in 7 email accounts (Gmail and generic IMAP) so for me, this is a huge time saver. I’ve used it to file 374 messages in just the last few days.

It also does other things like let you open mailboxes with shortcuts, and create new mailboxes on the fly. Nice added bonuses. The developer is also very responsive and friendly.

While I’m giving it a 5-star rating I hope the developer fixes two bugs: (1) the “recents” feature doesn’t work when restricting mailboxes to the current account. Still, in actual use, I don’t notice that not working so much. (2) The other bug is more annoying – an error message that pops up when creating a nested mailbox. That one I really hope he fixes!

Basically finding and filing in mailboxes works very well, and is extremely fast.

I had been a Mail Act-On user, but it stopped working with Yosemite for the case where you have a Japanese keyboard installed. I love Indev too. They are really nice and responsive. But they indicated they cannot fix that bug and refunded my money. If you are not using foreign language keyboards their software is also great. More expensive, but very nice and more features unrelated to filing messages.

However, I had been using Mail Act-On just for the filing shortcuts and it was no longer working. MsgFiler has no problems in finding English and Japanese mailboxes.

One note: Some people might think $10 is a high price for an app which “just files.” That was my original reaction too, and I was hesitant about trying it. But I contacted the developer, asked a few questions, he responded quickly and pointed me to a deprecated plugin version I could test with first. I was hooked and purchased right away. If you haven’t tried filing mails with a couple of keystrokes you probably don’t yet appreciate how much of a time-saver this is over drag-and-drop, or going through the hierarchical menu (as we must in iOS), or even using the clumsy CMD+Shift+? keyboard shortcut available in Mail for moving messages.

If you have a large hierarchy of mailboxes, and/or multiple email accounts,  this is definitely a huge time saver.

So for heavy Mail users I would say it is worth it. And I hope the developer updates it soon with those couple of needed fixes.

OS X 10.10.3, the new Photos app and iCloud

I just installed OS 10.10.3. Download of the 2+ GB upgrade took about 10 seconds. Installation was very quick.

Now I’m upgrading my iPhoto library with 100+ GB of decades of photos to the new Photos app. It’s 64% done as I’m writing this and I wonder what it will be like.

The new Photos feature with iCloud seems very intriguing. They keep all the full res photos in the cloud thus freeing up space on your computer, iPhone and iPad – which retain cached versions and the high res versions are automatically visible on demand.

But… Apple’s iCloud storage costs are crazy high compared with other services these days. For example, Amazon just dropped their unlimited photo storage to $12 a year. Apple is $4/month for 200 GB.

However, if you have less than 5 GB of data it’s free, and 20 GB is just $1/month. Still, compared with Amazon it’s very high.

And then there is OneDrive by Microsoft. 30 GB is free. And if you subscribe to Office 365 it’s only about $70/year and comes with 1 TB of cloud storage plus all the latest Office apps.

I think Apple – never the big price competitor – is going to have to lower their cloud storage prices. Unless enough people with low storage capacity i-devices decide they want to see all their photos everywhere and think the high cloud storage cost is worth it.

Well, as I’m finishing this post Photos has finished migrating my photos and I see a picture of my mother standing at a counter chatting with somebody with the date July 5, 2020. Not a promising first sign…

Yosemite – already used to it

I must be very submissive to Apple’s will. I am already used to Yosemite. There are a few UI elements I’m not particularly fond of (e.g. the flat window close/minimize/maximize buttons), but I find myself actually liking the dock better. It’s easier to see which apps are open or not. Apple Mail also looks much nicer, though without plugins it is still harder to use than Gmail for finding and filing things.

It also feels faster than Mavericks.

Anyway, here is a nice article summarizing some interesting new features:

http://www.lifehacker.co.uk/2014/08/18/25-os-x-yosemite-tips

doug@resistance is futile