Evernote 8.0 hit the App Store this past week, and itâ€™s probably one of my favourite app updates in recent memory. Iâ€™ve tried a few other note-taking apps â€” namely the Apple Notes app, Microsoft OneNote, and Bear â€” but none of them fit the way I think or want to recall my notes. For the longest time, Evernote felt like it was ailing in terms of its formatting and iOS interface, but Evernote 8.0 seems to solve both of those issues with one big update.
When I started using Instagram a few years ago, I treated it like a spontaneous space for sharing pictures with friends. However, it took a while for my own group of friends to start using the service, and this changed the way I chose to post over time. Instagram may be owned by Facebook now, but I treat my Instagram account more like a photography platform, and leave more personal posts and candid shots for Facebook.
Just like Rob, Iâ€™ve been doing some thinking about how often Iâ€™ll take my iPhone out and idly flick and tap through my apps and Home screens. Especially with TouchID, it has become effortless to take my iPhone out of my pocket and just check it â€” without really knowing what Iâ€™m checking it for.
Itâ€™s happening often enough that it is hampering my ability to focus, and I think part of this has to do with the number of icons Iâ€™m seeing on my Home screen. There are times when Iâ€™ll exit Safari to do something else, but once Iâ€™ve gotten to the Home screen, Iâ€™ll already have forgotten what that was, because a red badge will catch my eye. Something new on Instagram or Slack is waiting for me, and I have to know what it is.
So Iâ€™m taking this change in year as a chance to shake things up.
I tried an experiment a few years ago where I used Twitter in lieu of RSS. The idea was to try and get my news and online interactions in a single platform. I kept the number of people I followed to a minimum, but I focused on creating different lists to suit different types of interests (long reads, tech news, photography, etc.). I deemed the experiment a failure after a few weeks because using Twitter like that made me feel like I could never make any progress in my news feed. Thatâ€™s one of the addicting things about RSS for me: itâ€™s an inbox that I can actually conquer.
Iâ€™ve tried quite a number of different RSS apps over the years, and the ones Iâ€™ve stuck with the longest have been Unread and Reeder for iPhone. I tend to use Reeder more often, but Iâ€™ll download Unread every few months just for a change of pace.
I can get stuck in a lot of thought loops where I’ll run a scenario or purchase over and over again in my head. My way of working around this form of anxiety is to write things out: sometimes in the form of articles, but more often in little journal entries just for me. The act of writing helps me to feel things out and suss out little details that I’d overlook if all the variables are just kept in my head.
I have chosen Day One 2 as my journaling app because it works very well across my iPhone, iPad and Mac. I like the idea of a digital journal because it’s always available for quick capture, even in situations where a paper journal would be impractical or impossible to write on (like on a crowded subway train), but Day One also brings a host of other great features to enhance the journaling experience.
Most of my entries contain just text, but there’s a lot of metadata that you can choose to add to your journal entries. I can add what music I’ve been listening to, the number of steps taken in a day, and even the weather (although I’ve never cared about recording the temperature of a day). The most interesting attachments for me are photos, but I find it cumbersome to attach them because I keep the bulk of my shots in Lightroom, and they need to be exported before I can add them to Day One.
Iâ€™m a full-time Lightroom user on iOS and the Mac, but if someone were to ask me today which iOS photo editor I recommended, Iâ€™d be torn between Darkroom and Polarr. Iâ€™ll be up front and say that I like Darkroomâ€™s speed and UI a lot more, but it really bugs me that exporting with Darkroom maxes out at 12 Megapixels. That isnâ€™t a big deal if youâ€™re an iPhone-only shooter, but all of my cameras shoot at 24 Megapixel, and itâ€™s important to me to preserve that extra detail.
Polarr isnâ€™t quite as attractive or simple as Darkroom, but it outputs shots at full resolution, and has a number of really cool time-saving features up its sleeve.
Iâ€™ve had a few days with this newest Lightroom Mobile update, and Iâ€™m still on the fence about whether itâ€™s a net improvement. The previous UI wasn’t scaling well for new editing features, so you had to do a lot of scrolling before you could go from basic exposure controls to something more advanced, like Dehaze. This v2.6 update to Lightroom has re-designed the editing interface from the ground up, making for much faster, tiered access.
One definite plus to this new design is that editing, on the whole, feels much faster. Thereâ€™s a horizontal for Light, Color, Effects, and Optics controls. Thatâ€™s just four categories for controls, as opposed to the seven different sections available in the previous version of Lightroom.
Widgets feel pretty dead on macOS, but theyâ€™re finding new life on iOS 10. Weâ€™ve had widgets on our iPhones for a little while now, but it was iOS 10 that empowered them to become mini versions of my favourite apps. Their evolution has been so gradual that Iâ€™ve forgotten to talk about them, until now. It always takes a few months after a major release to see how developers embrace new features, but here are a few widgets that Iâ€™ve really been enjoying.
I didnâ€™t pick up an iPhone 7 after its announcement, but I was still quite excited by the announcement of the W1 chip thatâ€™s going into the AirPods and other Beats products. Bluetooth devices with the W1 chip have a few interesting features:
- theyâ€™re more power efficient
- they fast-charge, a few minutes can get you hours of battery life
- you can pair them with an iPhone by just holding them near it and tapping on a prompt
- once paired with an iPhone, W1-equipped headphones will auto-pair with all Apple devices via iCloud
This last point really got me excited, and that was the bit of Apple Magic Iâ€™d been hoping to see. Iâ€™ve been using wireless headphones for about two or three years now (first with the Sony MDR-10rBT and then the Jaybird Bluebuds X), and I really canâ€™t go back to using wired headphones on-the-go. Iâ€™ll use them at home, but Iâ€™ve become spoiled enough that the wires are insufferably inconvenient when I step outside of my house.
I know that wireless still costs in terms of sound quality, and Iâ€™m very willing to make that tradeoff, but thereâ€™s a limit to that. I bought the Beats Solo3 soon after they came out. They were hilariously expensive at $380 CAD (including tax), but I really wanted the convenience that Apple was touting with the W1.
iA Writer 4Â (currently just $5.50), the fourth iteration of iA’s excellent plain text writing app, hit the App Store a few days ago. The two big new features here are file embedding and in-app image support. As usual, they’ve got a video, and have once again managed to make plain text look really exciting and dynamic.