February 19, 2020

Snippet: Microsoft’s New Office App for iPhone ☍

Tom Warren for The Verge:

Microsoft is releasing its new unified Office app for iOS and Android today, which combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into a single application. The software maker first started beta-testing this new Office app as a hub for all things Office mobile back in November, and now, anyone can download and install it. Microsoft has focused on surfacing some of the more mobile-friendly parts of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into quick actions that let you get stuff done on the go.

All of the main apps are combined, meaning you can switch between documents quickly, scan PDFs, and even capture whiteboards, text, and tables into digital versions. Microsoft is also adding support for third-party cloud storage like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. Today’s release will also be available on Android tablets with “limited support,” and a fully optimized tablet experience will be available on both iPadOS and Android soon.

I use Microsoft Office on iOS quite a bit and it’s my favorite version of Office, even if it lacks every feature imaginable. When I had heard that Microsoft was toying with an optional all-in-one version that would simplify things a bit, I was curious to check it out. In some instances, this will be a really appreciated version and can grow and develop in a mobile-first way, while the traditional Office apps that are separate can act more like their desktop counterparts.

Even though Microsoft may have lost out on mobile operating systems to Apple and Google, they certainly are doing some interesting work and adding value to both platforms.

February 6, 2020

Snippet: A Fix for iPad Multitasking ☍

Ryan Christoffel for MacStories:

My proposal for a new multitasking system employs a UI mechanic that already exists across both iPhone and iPad. Without losing any of iPadOS 13’s current functionality, it brings the iPad closer to its iPhone roots again and makes multitasking accessible for the masses.

Context menus are the key to a better multitasking system.

When you long-press an app icon in iOS and iPadOS 13, a context menu appears and provides various options. These menus, I believe, are the perfect home for multitasking controls.

My initial thought when iPad multitasking complaints started appearing was something using a contextual menu from the Dock, but didn’t give it much more of a passing thought. Christoffel really thought through every angle of this and the explanations are well-detailed (complete with excellent mockups by Silvia Gatta).

February 5, 2020

Snippet: Wacom Drawing Tablets Track the Name of Every Application That You Open ☍

Robert Heaton (via John Gruber):

Last week I set up my tablet on my new laptop. As part of installing its drivers I was asked to accept Wacom’s privacy policy.

Being a mostly-normal person I never usually read privacy policies. Instead I vigorously hammer the “yes” button in an effort to reach the game, machine, or medical advice on the other side of the agreement as fast as possible. But Wacom’s request made me pause. Why does a device that is essentially a mouse need a privacy policy? I wondered. Sensing skullduggery, I decided to make an exception to my anti-privacy-policy-policy and give this one a read.

While I understand people need tools like this for their jobs, perhaps we should start a wholesale rejection of behavior like this.

Update: Wacom has issued a statement on the matter, complete with opt-out instructions.

Snippet: Bundling Apple News+ ☍

Nick Heer has compiled a few posts regarding the state of Apple News+, and added his own take:

It’s very hard to make the case for Apple News Plus as a standalone service. In fact, I think it’s hard to make the case for many of Apple’s services to be so independent of each other. It feels very strange that Apple bills me multiple times every month, each time for a different service.

I’ve tried Apple News+ and it’s a firehose of content—some great, some dumb, and some tiring. With everything else I read throughout the day and keep a very small sliver of attention on local, national, and world news, it’s a bit tough to feel like I’m justifying the monthly cost of another subscription.

There isn’t exactly anything wrong with the design and breadth of content, it just isn’t something I find myself using. Bundled with other services may make it a no-brainer, but by itself, the few bits of “free” content are good enough (and I firmly believe in paying for quality journalism).

February 3, 2020

Snippet: We’ve Changed ☍

Joe Cieplinski adds to the conversation about Apple Malaise:

I think it’s time we face the fact that sure, Apple has changed. It’s gotten bigger. More corporate. More mistakes are falling through the cracks. But also, we’ve changed as a community. We’ve become ridiculously jaded. I can’t post anything remotely positive about Apple anymore without getting called a fanboy behind my back. Rene Ritchie can’t set the record straight with his patented brand of fighting FUD with a laundry list of reality without getting labeled a shill. We reward people for complaining, and we shame anyone who says anything positive.

But here’s the thing. I keep doing it anyway. Because every time I post an opinion that goes against the accepted conventional wisdom, along with the haters come two or three people who say “Hey thanks. I thought I was nuts for thinking Touch Bar is actually pretty cool.” Or, “I agree Apple Maps is actually better than Google Maps for my purposes.”

I’m not expecting other Apple writers and podcasters to be cheerleaders about everything, but there are some common themes that come up as generally “bad.” People like Cieplinski who are ignoring all of this and writing about their experiences inspires me.

I’ve got a few things that may not be large enough for their own posts, but they’ve been bouncing around in my head, so I’ll share. Apple Maps has been fine for everything I do, and I haven’t had Google Maps on my phone for years. The Apple Card could use a few more features, but has been pretty good (and let’s face it, many companies have co-branded credit cards, so Apple hasn’t somehow turned heel and is trying to screw over everyone with debt). I’ve gotten used to the Apple TV remote and still like the Apple TV in general. While the iPad has some awkward moments, it’s been my favorite computer for a good stretch of the last decade.

I feel a bit better, how about you?