Biggest Current iOS Gripe

The barrage of notifications for calendar invites that you’ve seen and dealt with on other devices when you unlock your phone for the first time in a while is so horribly annoying. It’s caused me to inadvertently decline invites when I’m trying to swipe the notification away.

The calendar knows I accepted the invite. Why is it giving me this blast of prompts? I think this started in iOS 10, but I hate it.

Stupid Siri Won’t Read Me Text Messages

In hindsight, this makes a ton of sense. For the last 3–4 months, however, it’s been infuriating.

I have a tendency to have Siri read me my text messages if I’m out walking or driving. It worked forever. In the old days, hold down the button, ask Siri to read the unread text messages, and then you could respond. Since I got my iPhone 6S, it was even easier—if I was in speaking distance, just say “Hey Siri, read me my text message” and she would.

Until a few months ago, when Siri said “I’m sorry, you’ll need to unlock your iPhone for that.”

Say what? Why you gotta be that way?

I googled and binged and duck-ducked for the last few months. I always assumed it was a bug. The only fix I ever saw was a factory reset, which I wasn’t going to do.

When iOS 9.3 came out yesterday and I got a new text message, I figured “Ah, maybe it’s fixed! Let’s give it a shot!”

“Hey, Siri, read me my text messages, please”

“I’m sorry, you’ll need to unlock your iPhone for that.”

Oh, Siri, it’s on.

I kept poking around the settings and turning things off and on to no avail. Finally, I noticed that I had turned off showing text messages on the lock screen (which was a result of a text barrage I was on the end of months ago and was sick of my phone lighting up every 2 seconds).

Hmm … I mean … if I didn’t want messages on my lock screen, it probably makes sense that Siri shouldn’t read them to someone who walks by.

Flip that switch, Siri is back to being my best friend.

So, again, in hindsight, this makes sense. The UI doesn’t make this obvious though. Somewhere in the UI it should say “This will also prevent Siri from reading you text messages on a locked phone”, or when you try to do it, Siri should say “I can’t do that. You can change that setting here.”

Or something.

Anyway, my phone outsmarted me and Siri and I are cool again.

Owning Your Own Social Media Content

I’ve been linking to Manton Reece a good bit lately, as he’s hitting on some topics that I’ve been thinking about. Namely how do you ensure that while you’re putting stuff into Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., you ensure that you own the canonical versions of your files (or at least make it so that when one of those businesses pivots, gets bought, whatever, you don’t lose everything).

“I rarely post photos here on my own site. I’ve stuck with using Instagram instead.
I need to change that. I do like the Instagram app, though, so I’m going to keep using it. I’ll just copy the photos over to my site as well, and I’ll use Workflow on iOS to help automate it.”

He made a nice workflow for the Workflow app for iOS. Workflow is really cool, and sometimes you just need a little kickstart to get going.

I loved the idea of making it easy to post photos to this here blog, so I adapted his workflow a bit to make one that’s a bit more generic. You can find that here.

With it, I can take any photo on my phone and post it over to my site in about 10 seconds. You can see an example with this post about the bottle of Pretty Things I opened up the other day (two more bottles of Jack D’Or hanging out in my fridge for a special occasion).

Full Screen Caller ID Photos on iOS

For whatever reason, it used to be very easy to have your contact photos show up full screen on the iPhone when a particular contact called. And then, a few versions back, it just seemed to stop working.

This iMore thread explains how to get it back. Basically, just make sure that the picture you choose for your contact fills up the whole screen, even as you pick the little circle version that show up around the OS.

It’s a small thing, but it’s really nice to have full screen photos on the big iPhone 6S screen.

iOS9 Makes the iPad Awesome(r)

I mentioned using my iPad as my “go” machine for weekends and vacations so I don’t have to bring a full laptop. An iPad, WINGStand, and keyboard have generally proven enough for me to get a couple of hours of work done (or a work emergency) without much fuss.

With iOS9, which came out last week, its even better.

iOS9 multitasking on the iPad makes it even better. I can pull up a chat application, or email, or Twitter, while I keep a terminal open and do my work. Rather than having to bounce back and forth between apps, or having to work some network mojo to get onto my corporate chat system using a client on a server somewhere, it’s all right there in the iPad window.

If I do need to switch apps, now I can use the same cmd+tab keyboard shortcut that I use on the desktop to pop between apps.

Oh, and then when I’m waiting on something to run, or just want a background distraction, I can watch a movie in the picture-in-picture mode.

iOS9, on the surface, might seem like a smaller update, but for the iPad, it’s a pretty significant update and makes me even more confident that I can take off for a week and get by just with my iPad.

Workflow App for iOS

The Workflow app for iOS is one of the coolest apps I’ve seen for iOS. It’s something that makes it that much easier to use iOS as a full time OS. There’s a bunch of little things that you can do on a full Mac that are hard to do on iOS.

Workflow takes advantage of iOS 8’s extensions to make it easy to ship data around, pass it through other apps or web services, munge it, and ship it off somewhere, or save it to Dropbox or Evernote. It’s pretty remarkable.

Federico Viticci’s lengthly review covers the app in detail, and gives a few examples of some handy workflows:

  • Save to PDF (take almost anything—web page, map, etc—and save out a PDF of it)
  • Search for the song lyrics of the current playing song
  • Tweet out the title and artwork of the song you’re listening to

There’s some handy workflows in the app’s gallery, as well as on the dedicated subreddit. Some of my favorites?

  • Send a URL into OmniFocus
  • View Source on a webpage
  • Get the current weather and news headlines and read them out loud

David Sparks has put together a video that I’ve just scratched the surface of covering the app. It’s an hour covering the ins and outs of the app.

It’s pretty infrequent that I find an iOS app that is interesting enough that I spend a bunch of time just playing around with it. Workflow is that sort of app.