Apple Keynote 2018

Pretty cool overview of what Apple announced this week. If you ask me, the Apple Watch was the star of the show, and the Xr was the product I enjoyed the most.

If people ask me what iPhone I’d advice them to buy it’s the Xr, no doubt about that

For me personally, if history implies patterns, you’d expect me to buy a 256GB iPhone Xs Max in black.

But the iPhone X was next years phone today when they released it, so it’s still awesome.

And although the Apple Watch Series 4 sounds awesome, if you consider the realities in Belgium it paints another picture:

  • No cellular option
  • No Apple Pay
  • Like everyone outside of the US no new heart monitor features

Which makes my Series 3 not that different. And, based in the photos, the 44m model seems a bit too big for me, and I’m not going to a 40mm. That would mean throwing out a lot of watch bands.

So.. did their new products impress me?

Sure.

Will I buy any?

 

iCloud Messages and a 5GB limit

The following tweet for Greg Pierce made me think about something I wrote last year.

I know a couple of friends who have disabled iMessage in their iCloud backups because they don’t fit in that pesky 5GB limit.

Since users who have iCloud Backup enabled and have a 2FA iCloud account get automatically enrolled into iCloud Messages, surely Apple has foreseen the fact that tens of thousands of users’ iCloud Storage limits will cry out in terror and backups will be suddenly silenced?

So now I wonder.. what if Apple releases Messages in iCloud at WWDC18 combined with an increased storage limit for iCloud? 50GB instead of 5GB should do nicely and is a nice way of showing off iCloud Messages during WWDC18 without making it a rehash of last years backup by reframing it within an iCloud upgrade:

“iCloud now has a 50GB limit. BOOM. Perfect to store all your messages, photos and documents in the cloud and synced across devices.’

One can hope.

Change the title of iCloud Photo Library Memories

Yesterday I got a notification for a memory from three years ago called Kris’s Birthday. iCloud Photos had somehow found out that it was Kris’s birthday yesterday, and that he and I were at the same event on his birthday a few years ago.

I really like these kind of memories and alerts. They’re timely, often bring back events I had forgotten about, and the photo selection is quite good.

Only, this time, the event itself had nothing to do with the fact that it was my friend’s birthday. And I couldn’t find a way to change the memory’s title within iOS Photos.

Thanks to @joshducharme, that’s now been solved:

How to change a Memory

Making your website a first class Safari citizen

Anyone can build a website thanks to great resources like Squarespace. And, if the website is responsive and written with any decent framework, it’ll behave nicely on macOS and iOS. Safari will use the Title and Favicon tag to create a nice bookmark, it’ll pickup on the specified RSS feed and, if the site has any article content, it’ll show the Reader View option.

But, with a few extra additions to your site’s <Head>, it can become a first class iOS and macOS citizen.

iOS WebClip

Way before native iOS apps, Apple allowed you to add web apps, or regular websites to the Homescreen of iOS. Via a specific meta tag you can add a custom icon to your site. The easiest way is one simple 512px image, but you can add specific sizes for every screen size if you want to. Sadly, vector images are not supported.

And, if your site has a very long title you can add a shorter custom title for WebClips. The maximum amount of characters shown on the iOS Homescreen without being shortened with ellipsis is around 11 characters.

<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="apple-touch-icon.png">
<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-title" content="Verschoren">

Pinned Tab

Newly added in El Capitan, you can pin a site in Safari to the left of the Tab bar, making it easily accessible all the time. These pinned sites get a custom icon that’s highlight when active and is specified with a specific tag.

There’s a few rules:

  • The icon has to be an svg with a single layer and a <0,0,16,16> viewport.
  • The icon should be #000 black filled with no other styles.
  • The icon is always displayed in one color specified in the tag.

There’s also this great article by Iconfactory describing their flow.

<link rel="mask-icon" href="favicon-pinned.svg" color="#0898F4">

Touch Bar

By default the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar displays the default favicon for Bookmarked websites. But, as a free bonus, every site that has the pinned tab icon defined, gets a nice icon in the Touch Bar consisted of their icon in white surrounded by the specified color.

<link rel="mask-icon" href="favicon-pinned.svg" color="#0898F4">

Testing and developing the icon is a bit difficult since Safari caches this icons rather strongly. You can however clear the cache by quitting Safari and executing these two Terminal commands:

rm -rf ~/Library/Safari/Template\ Icons
rm -rf ~/Library/Safari/Touch\ Icons\ Cache

HomeBridge on a Raspberry Pi

We’ve got Alexa running at home to control our Sonos devices. Alexa, play Metallica. Alexa, play VRT Studio Brussels. Alexa, lower the volume. Alexa, stop the music.. Once you’re used to controlling music by voice, anything else feels antiquated and clumsy.

Before Alexa, I had already installed HomeBridge on my Mac mini to integrate Sonos into HomeKit. Nothing fancy, it just enabled Play/Pause via the homebridge-sonos plugin. This allowed us to say Hey Siri, Stop Music in the Dining Room. Or, combined with a Hue Tap next to our front door, enabled me to tap one button when exiting the house and having all lights and music turn off with a single action. 

But Homebridge on my Mac mini wasn’t the most stable of installations. Updating the Mac often resulted in a broken node.js or npm installation. A recent series of tweets from Federico Vittico about installing Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi made me remember I had one somewhere in the house.

So, an afternoon later I now have a Raspberry Pi running HomeBridge with the Sonos plugin active.

 

 

Fallen

A friend messaged me yesterday: do you know an app that can log ‘times fallen’ in Health? His lovely girlfriend needs a wheelshare to get around, and has to log these kind of medical events.
I didn’t find one with a search in the App Store (then again, no surprise there), I didn’t want to tell him she can just log it manually in Health and being lazy as I am, writing one myself wasn’t really an option.

Or could I? Thanks to Workflow’s Health integration, writing an app that logs a fall with a touch of a button is easy.

Five minutes later his girlfriend now has a Workflow complication on her Apple Watch. Pressing it runs the ‘Fallen’ workflow and logs a fall with the time and date in Health. You can find the workflow here.

If you wonder why Apple bought Workflow? In the words of Gusteau:

Anyone can code.

iPhone 6s

I finally got my hands on the new iPhone 6s plus today. Since Belgium wasn’t in the first release wave, I had two options: wait until the next wave hits (next friday), or go to France and buy an iPhone via in-store reservations. I’ve been checking Apple’s preorder page and iStockNow every morning at 6 AM —I’m not very patient when it comes to buying new toys (hello Lego WALL-E on my desk), so— hoping to see the iPhone 6s Plus in stock. And I finally managed to get a reservation today.

A two hour train ride, 15 minutes in the Apple Store and a three hour trainride later, my new iPhone sits next to my Mac, and it will probably remain there for the rest of the night.

Why? Because after you unwrap a new iPhone you have two options: start from scratch and say goodbye to your Health Data, or go through the restore-process and retain that data.

If you check Apple’s support page they describe the process in these short steps:

Transfer your iCloud backup to your new device

  1. Turn on your new device. (..)
  2. Swipe left to right on the “Hello” screen. (..)
  3. Tap a Wi-Fi network to join.
  4. Tap Restore from iCloud Backup > Next.
  5. Enter your Apple ID and password.
  6. Choose a backup. (..)
  7. Stay connected and wait for the process to complete. (..)

It just works right? That is.. until you use it in real live in combination with an Apple Watch and don’t get your device on day one.

Transfer your iCloud backup to your new device (Extended Version)

  1. Within a week after Apple released iOS 9 and the new iPhone they already pushed two small bug fixes. Which means your old iPhone probably runs a newer iOS than your new iPhone will.
  2. Optionally: Update all apps on the old device to make sure they work on the new hardware.
  3. Verify that everything has uploaded and synced. Especially Photos and iCloud Drive documents.
  4. Unpair your Apple Watch and wait for the syncing process to finish. Takes about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Make an iCloud Backup, which now contains a recent backup for your Apple Watch. Hope nothing errors out, or goes wrong. Takes about 15 minutes.
  6. Unwrap your new iPhone. Enjoy that new Apple product smell. If you try restoring your backup now, it will fail because the backup you just made is made on a more recent iOS version.
  7. Configure your new iPhone as a new device.
  8. Upgrade to the latest iOS. (Takes, yet again 10-15 minutes)
  9. Wipe your new iPhone. (Feels so wrong).
  10. Finally you can follow Apple’s steps and restore your iCloud backup. Naturally, only confirming that your Apple ID belongs to you via two-factor authentication on another device.
  11. Wait until restore finishes. Takes ages.. unless your running a Caching Server on El Capitan with your iCloud backup locally seeded.
  12. Wait until apps are downloaded, Photos and iCloud are cached.
  13. Enter dozens of passwords and reauthenticate most services. Move from 1Password to Dropbox and back again and hope nothing goes wrong.
  14. Re-pair the Apple Watch again and select its latest backup.
  15. Wait until your Watch restore finishes, which takes… a long long time.
  16. Finally enjoy your new iPhone.
  17. Enter some more passwords in password prompts that didn’t occur upon first boot
  18. Repeat in a year, or earlier if you break your device.

Steps 8 and 9 should be part of the initial wizard. If the iPhone detects its not running the latest OS, just update it. It may frustrate some users, but it makes the process so much easier for less-technical-inclined people.

And the Apple Watch really needs either independent iCloud backups, or an easier way to re-pair it to your new iPhone. How about:

  1. You don’t need to unpair your Apple Watch
  2. After restoring your backup to your new iPhone, show an alert that asks you if you want to move your Watch to the new iPhone.
  3. If yes: show that awesome QR code thingie again and voila, re-paired.

But even though the process is frustrating at times, in the end the process does work, and takes way less time than manually redownloading all your apps and configuring all the little settings.