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Issue 30 - Friday, April 24
In this issue: Do Note, IFTTT Recipes, Home Screens from Jason Snell and Rene Ritchie, the first #AskMSWeekly, plus the usual Tip, Links, Media Picks and recap of MacStories articles.

MacStories Favorite  

Every week we highlight one app that is truly great and deserves to be on everyone's iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
 


Free - Download 
Universal iOS App

Do Note

 

IFTTT’s Do Note is a notepad for the service’s rich collection of recipes, enabling you to trigger automations between channels with just a line of text.

For years, IFTTT was based on recipes that would be activated when certain conditions were met. You could – and you still can – backup any new Instagram picture to your Dropbox account, or append tweets to a note in Evernote. The “if” part of IFTTT’s premise was entirely automated as it was based on passively checking specific conditions in the background.

The Do apps, and particularly Do Note, make the “If” about you and the text your type. Do Note lets you enter text that will be sent to a connected service to do something with it. Once configured (with up to three recipes), the app launches to a blank text field where you can start typing immediately; enter some text, tap the recipe’s button, and your text will be saved elsewhere.

Do Note’s impressive simplicity opens up amazing possibilities for web automation with native iOS input. You can create tasks in Todoist and new events in Google Calendar just by typing; you can change the color of your Hue lights by typing the color’s name; you can even use Do Note as a quick scratchpad to append notes to Dropbox or Evernote.

IFTTT has long needed an easier way to trigger recipes from an iOS device, and Do Note is a great debut, packed with features thanks to IFTTT’s existing recipe catalogue, but still easy to use and fast. The app is also available on iPad and Apple Watch, where it uses dictation for input.

 MACSTORIES WEEKLY SPONSOR 

WALTR

Sync MKV, AVI, FLAC, MP3 to iPhone & iPad without iTunes or Conversion

WALTR is the first Mac app in the world that lets users upload MKV & FLAC to iPhone/iPad without converting. Everything is copied to the device without using iTunes via drag & drop – allowing all media to be played back natively. 

Just like the very first version of WALTR, there are no settings and no preferences, just a window onto which you drag files. After WALTR copies the files, you don’t need to use a third-party app to play them – you can access them from the native Music & Videos apps, which are optimised to save battery life. The best feature is the ability to easily upload ANY Video or Audio files without worrying if your iPad or iPhone supports that format.

Users can download WALTR for free with unlimited trial for 14-days. A special discount is available just for MacStories readers: enter the coupon code listed in this blog post at checkout, and you'll get 33% off. 

MacStories Collections

IFTTT Recipes

Apple Press Releases and YouTube Videos to Pushover

I need to stay on top of Apple news, and IFTTT greatly helps when it comes to turning new items from RSS feeds into notifications. For that, I use high-priority alerts with Pushover: this excellent app can be connected to a variety of services, including IFTTT, and it can send notifications with associated URLs. Whenever Apple publishes a new press release or YouTube video, I get a notification with a special sound that opens a link to the press release/video in my default browser.

Link to Apple PR recipe

Link to YouTube Videos recipe

Save YouTube Watch Later to Pocket

YouTube has a native Watch Later feature, but I prefer to keep everything together in Pocket. With this simple but effective recipe, every time I tap on Watch Later in YouTube, the video gets automatically added to my Pocket queue.

Link to recipe

Manage Team Tasks

With a set of two recipes (which I explained earlier this week), I can turn email pitches I receive into Todoist tasks in a team project; then, I can broadcast new tasks to a Slack channel so my teammates know they exist. It sounds a bit fiddly, and it probably is, but it works well with Gmail and the Todoist integration is top notch.

Link to first recipe

Link to second recipe

Read the MacStories article

Save Tagged Facebook Photos to Dropbox

If I'm tagged in any Facebook photo, IFTTT will automatically save it to my Dropbox. It's a good way to automatically have a backup of all the photos you're in.
 
Download IFTTT Recipe

Do Note: New Todoist Task

My most used recipe of the new Do apps by IFTTT, this allows me to create a new task in my Todoist inbox quickly. Because Do Note doesn’t support natural language parsing with Todoist, I have edited the recipe to always create a task that is due on the current day. This lets me type a task and forget about it, knowing that it’ll be saved to the Today view of Todoist.

Link to recipe

Do Note: New Google Calendar Event

Similar to the Todoist recipe, this one lets me create a new event in Google Calendar just by typing in Do Note. Unlike Todoist, Google’s quick add syntax is supported, which makes the process even faster and perfect for the short interaction on an iPhone.

Link to recipe

Do Button: Toggle WeMo Switch

My WeMo switch is connected to my espresso machine, and of course I want to turn it on and off from the comfort of my couch or when I’m driving home. A good espresso is key to a productive day; an associated IFTTT recipe is just as important. With Do Button, I can do this in two taps and also from Notification Center with a widget.

Link to recipe

Do Button: Toggle Philips Hue Lights

While Philips’ Hue app for iOS has a convenient widget that you can configure to show specific scenes for your lights, I like the remote, system-wide on/off toggle of Do Button. If I want all my lights to be turned off, I can just open the app, tap, and I’m done.

Link to recipe

There's also an identical recipe for LIFX bulbs

Do Button: Send Timestamp via Email

Each night when I go to sleep, I need to send the current time to my girlfriend (who will see when I stopped working/reading in the morning). This is extremely simple with Do Button: I created a recipe that uses Gmail to send a message to a contact with the current time, and I can run that with one tap by tapping a button in the Do widget.

Link to recipe

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Relax, it's the Weekend!  

It's the weekend (or almost is) so Federico and Graham recommend something they enjoyed watching, playing, reading, or listening.  

Déjà vu

Giorgio Morodor (feat. Sia)


$1.29 - Purchase Song

Listen on YouTube
Federico: The third track from Giorgio Moroder’s upcoming studio album is Déjà Vu, a collaboration with Australian singer Sia that sees Moroder return to a disco-pop, Chic-inspired tune that is catchy and fun to dance to. If you’re familiar with Daft Punk’s R.A.M. (where Moroder was featured in the fantastic Giorgio by Moroder), you’ll find striking similarities between Nile Rodgers’s work on Give Life Back to Music & Get Lucky and the underlying tone of Déjà Vu, harking back to an era of minimalist disco sounds. A good single, and further confirmation that Moroder’s still got it.

Orphan Black

TV Show


$25.99 - Purchase Season 1
$25.99 - Purchase Season 2
$25.99 - Purchase Season 3

Watch on Amazon Instant Video
Graham: Orphan Black is a Canadian sci-fi series that is critically acclaimed by a number of TV critics. The show features some incredible acting from Tatiana Maslany who plays as several of the main characters. No, that wasn't a typo, because the show is centered around the story of human clones. You would think it would be jarring to notice that one actor plays all the clones, but in fact Tatiana and the rest of the show's creative team have done an incredible job of giving each clone their own distinct personality. So well crafted are the clones, that I frequently forget that Tatiana is playing them all. Events in the Orphan Black universe have ramped up significantly since the show started and it has just begun airing its third season, where things are bound to get even more interesting.

#AskMSWeekly  

This week we asked people to tweet questions with #AskMSWeekly, here are some answers. 

Question from Shahaf Levi (@devsl)

 
Question: Since you used Picturelife and moved to iCloud Photos Library, How did you move all your photos and handle duplicates?

Federico: As I wrote last year, I took a very primitive and slow approach. I put all my photos together after downloading backups from various sources, I manually double-checked all of them, then I transferred them in small batches to Stash for iOS via USB with iTunes. From there, I saved them all to the iOS Photos app, which then took a few days to upload everything to iCloud Photo Library.

Question from Kevin (@_kevincrain)

 
Question: What's the best email client supporting extensions from standard share sheet in iOS?!

Federico: Unfortunately, the situation is pretty grim here. The only good email client with iOS 8 share sheet integration that I know of is Dispatch, but it’s only on the iPhone. CloudMagic has some sharing services built in, (such as Todoist and Evernote) but they’re custom integrations that don’t use the system share sheet. If there’s any other client with support for share sheets on iOS, I’d love to know about it.
Question: How do you guys jot down quick notes? Do you use an app or do you go old school with pen and paper?

Federico: I don’t use pen and paper. If a quick note is meant to be just that – text that isn’t going anywhere and I just need for future reference – I use Drafts. If a quick note is going to become a task or a calendar event – which is often the case – I’ve been using IFTTT’s Do Note a lot. Its experience is slimmed down to the basics, but text is turned into something else.

Question from Zaid Syed (@syedzq)
Question: How long does one fairly-sized (5000 words) article take for you? 

Federico: It depends. Some articles (usually app reviews) come together relatively quickly for me because I’ve been testing an app for a long time and I already have the article’s overall tone and structure in mind. Other articles within the same range – such as my 6 Plus story – can take weeks because I start having doubts and tweaking and double-checking everything. Sometimes I sit on an article for six months because I’m not sure whether the story is too personal to be shared.

My writing process would probably be considered messy by traditional journalistic standards. I don’t write many drafts, and I let ideas simmer for weeks before I turn them into words. I don’t like the constraints of a written draft as I prefer the free exploration of thoughts and connections between ideas in the brain. This allows me to ponder an article’s structure before I let the convenience of a written draft fool me into thinking what I have is good enough.

I don’t have a full answer for you, Zaid. App reviews take less time to write but they require weeks of testing and regular usage. Other articles don’t involve testing software but can still take me several weeks. What I know is that I never rush an article or consider the word count a definitive metric of quality. I just want to be thorough and balanced in what I write.

Tips with Ticci  

Tips and tricks to master your apps, by Federico.  

I often share links in the same Slack channel (the #general one we use for MacStories), and I recently wondered if I could make the process a bit faster. I came up with a simple workflow using, well, Workflow that takes a URL and posts it to a Slack channel without any additional confirmation steps.

I want to be able to share the webpage I’m viewing in the browser or a link I’ve copied in the clipboard to a pre-defined Slack channel. Workflow has native Slack integration, which allows you to pass any type of content and post it to a channel. My workflow, set up as an action extension, first tries to find a URL passed by the extension in apps like Safari, Chrome, RSS readers, or Twitter clients; alternatively, it attempts to get a link from the iOS clipboard. Once it has a link, if pushes it natively to Slack, and that’s it.

The benefit of this workflow is that it’s fast and always works with the same Slack channel – effectively, Workflow lets you create your own custom Slack extensions. There’s no need to pick channels manually and it can be conveniently launched from apps like Launcher or Drafts for easier access. I’m using it every day.

Download the workflow.

Interesting Links  

Great reads and links from around the web.  

John Gruber on custom watch faces for Apple Watch. Meanwhile, it seems like third-party complications may come to the Watch in the future.

An in-depth guide to icon design for Apple Watch.

Dropbox is working on a collaborative Notes app. You can apply for a beta here.

Speaking of Dropbox, they’re dropping their Sync and Datastore APIs. Big news for developers.

Things for Apple Watch. Nice design work by Cultured Code and great promo video.

The Apple Watch apps Underscore David Smith has been working on.

Syndicate is a Safari extension that brings back the RSS button in the toolbar.

Marcato lets you set up site-specific web views on the iPhone. $4.99 on the App Store.

U.S. Gamer rounds up the best Mac games on Steam.

More details on Day One for Apple Watch. Two taps to create rich entries with photos, location, text, weather information, and more.

Jason Snell on the new role of WWDC as a social event in the Apple community.

The making of Todoist 10 for iOS. Also, why Todoist won’t be available on Apple Watch on day one.

Behind the scenes of Big Bucket’s excellent Space Age for iOS.

Big Bucket has also posted the first early footage of their next game. Interestingly enough, Frank from The Incident will make a comeback in a platformer where you’ll control the platforms themselves.

Home Screens  

We ask interesting people to share their Home Screen and briefly explain why it is the way that it is.

Jason Snell

Twitter: @jsnell. Editor in Chief of Six Colors, podcaster for The Incomparable and Relay FM.

My most used iPhone apps are the four in the dock.

I've embraced non-Apple apps for mail, calendar, and weather. I've been using Mailbox for a while because I like its quick triage features, though I'm intrigued by Inbox.

I find my wife and daughter often with Find My Friends. And while I keep meaning to test drive other (probably better) shared grocery list apps, for now Grocery IQ remains the common way for my wife and I to collaborate on a shopping list.

Rene Ritchie

Twitter: @reneritchie. Editor in Chief of iMore.

I keep my Apple device Home screens, including my iPhone Home screen, as close to default as possible. I install beta software, I reset, and I switch devices often enough that it’s the only real way for me to know, predictably, where things are going to be. If Apple let iCloud sync and restore Home screen layouts, I’d probably set up something custom. Absent that, it’s too much work for something that gets blitzed too often.

Since I’ve been using an iPhone 6 Plus pretty much steadily since launch, I do take advantage of the extra space to sneak some extra apps onto the first screen. Facebook, Tweetbot, and Instagram are all there. Also, I have a folder for the apps I use for iMore — Slack for virtual office, Trello for editorial planning, Buffer for social, the iMore app, Chartbeat, Google Drive, Google Sheets, and Google Analytics (the only Google apps currently on my iPhone), and Reeder.

I have two other screens and a bunch of other folders for everything from 1Password, Vesper, Fantastical, Tripit, Overcast, Storehouse, Editorial, Screens, Dropbox, and more.

Previously, on MacStories  

Our top stories from the past week.
Apple Debuts New Apple Watch Ads: ‘Rise’, ‘Up’, and ‘Us’

TextBar Puts Your Text into the Menu Bar

Chrome for iOS Gets Widget, New Gestures, 1Password Support

iOS 8.3 and Desktop File Managers

Managing Team Tasks with IFTTT, Slack, and Todoist

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