September Apple Updates

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September is quickly becoming a contender for my favorite month of the year – not only because it’s my birthday month, but because it seems like Christmas comes early for Apple users. This has been a big release month for Apple, so I wanted to take a bit of time to talk about the good and bad.

iPhone XS

Last year I upgraded to the iPhone X, so I really didn’t NEED to upgrade to the XS. The keynote sold the iPhone XS as a minor “S” release. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great phone, but it is admittedly a hard sell for most early X adopters like. That being said, I’m on the upgrade program, so upgrading was still on the table since I could either keep paying for my X or pay the same price to switch to the XS.

I opted to switch to the Gold XS (which is really more rose gold) and couldn’t be happier. I had considered going with the XR but the larger phone was a no-go for me. Like all the reviews say, the camera on the Xs really is better. Face ID seems snappier as well (maybe even as snappy as Touch ID), and can we just talk about the gold color? I smile every time I pick up the phone (5 times an hour according to Screentime). It is a beautiful phone.

Side Note: I absolutely hate the naming scheme of the new X line. I am forever correcting myself from calling it the “ex S” and not the “ten S”. Apple missed a great opportunity to keep the X but switch to numbers. X2 would have been such a cool name.

Apple Watch Series 4

I was getting increasingly annoyed with my Series 2 watch. There were days when seeing “I’ll tap you when I’m ready” for the 5th time in one day or waiting for the Workout app to catch back made me want to throw it across the room, and I also found myself waking up to a nearly dead watch more and more frequently. As far as I was concerned, Apple could have released a watch with only minor spec bumps and I’d have bought one.

Thankfully the Series 4 Apple watch is no minor spec bump. I got a 40mm Gold Aluminum (sans LTE) model. Again, I don’t know who at Apple is deciding the gold finishes, but like the iPhone XS, the gold on this one is a more rose gold – which I prefer. The extra 2mm are barely noticeable on the wrist (and I have tiny wrists), but boy do you notice them when you’re using the watch. All of the touch targets seem massive (and way easier to hit) compared to the Series 2. I also appreciate the speed jump. No more waiting for the Workout app to catch up before I can begin a workout.

iOS 12

iOS 12 seems like it was a release made just for me. I’m always trying to reduce the time I have to spend using my phone. (Note the use of ‘have’ there. I’m fine with wanting to use it, but I don’t like having to be tied to my phone.) iOS 12 brings revamped notifications meaning my phone bugs me even less often. It brings Screentime and Downtime offering insights into how I use my phone, which apps are pestering me most, and the ability to dim apps I don’t want bothering me (and their badges) during certain hours. And of course who can forget Siri Shortcuts. I’ve already made a handful for seemingly mundane tasks I do on a regular basis (checking the boyfriend’s hockey schedule, starting a Headspace meditation, launching my shopping list, or viewing my the day’s office schedule). One of my favorites is a shortcut for creating appointments in my calendar, which creates two events (one for the actual appointment on my personal calendar and another to block off the time in my work calendar).

MacOS Mojave

Mojave is a smaller update, but there are still worthwhile changes. Let’s just get the elephant out of the room and say Apple’s key feature, Dark Mode, is terrible. Just turn it on, open a website, and you’ll see why. (If anyone tries this, I apologize for burning your retinas.) Quick actions in the Finder are nice, but I’ve admittedly not had much of a chance to use them yet. I do appreciate being able to mark up an image quickly though. The one feature I can’t wait to use is the ability to scan or snap a photo directly to your Mac. Airdrop and the scanning feature in Notes on my iPad were already saving me from having to walk a few steps to the office scanner, but now I can cut out another step and scan from my iPad directly to my computer.

 

Photo by Michał Kubalczyk on Unsplash

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Omnifocus 3 and Multiple Tags

IMG_3E109ED9355A-1Omnifocus plays such a major role in my life, so with Omnifocus 3 for iOS being released today, it only seemed fitting to write about it. I’ve only had a short amount of time to play with it, but I’m already envisioning new ways to improve my workflow.

Arguably one of the most sought-after features of version 3 is multiple tags. One of the first new tags I added was a “Today” tag. I foresee this Today tag replacing flags in my workflows, but until multiple tags are ready in the Mac version, I’m stuck using them to maintain my custom perspectives on the Mac.

I knew the lack of feature parity between version 2 on the Mac and version 3 on iOS would limit how much I got out of this release, so, for now, a lot of the benefits I’ll get out of the new features will have to wait.

So far, I’ve just started playing around with reorganizing contexts to fit within the new tag scheme. So far my list is broken up into the following:

  • Location (note this section is my existing context breakdown)
    • Campus
    • Home
    • Anywhere
    • Errands
  • Status
    • Today
    • Routine
    • Waiting for
    • Someday/Maybe
  • People
    • Coworkers, family members, etc. will be listed here as needed
  • Energy
    • High Energy
    • Low Energy
  • Activity
    • Read
    • Email
    • Call

This list will likely change and evolve as I get my hands on it more, but I can already tell how powerful tagging will be over contexts.

Omnifocus 3 brings with it many other major changes but tagging is on my mind most right now.  I can’t wait to get my hands on the Mac version so I can really take advantage of them fully.

What’s on My iPhone 6 (December 2014 Edition)

It’s been over a year since I posted my first “What’s on my iPhone?” post, and that means I’m due for an update.

I still use the same general organization – frequently used apps on the first page with the last row empty, folders on the second. Moving to an iPhone 6 also gave me an additional row for apps on each screen.

I’m actually shocked to say that many of my “frequently used” apps from last year have lost their spots on my home screen. Calendar, Yahoo Weather, Things, and Fitbit have all been retired for other alternatives. Clock, Calculator, Camera+, and Light have all been replaced by swiping up to reveal the Control Center introduced with iOS 7. My dock however has remained the same.

Onto my new (and improved) home screen.

As you can see, Calendar has been replaced with Fantastical. Although I prefer how Apple’s Calendar icon shows the date, I prefer Fantastical’s quick entry and Today widget. Yahoo Weather has been replaced by the default Weather app (having stock apps replace third party apps doesn’t happen too often). Things has been replaced by Omnifocus (No surprise there.), and Fitbit has been replaced by Jawbone (after switching from the recalled Fitbit Force to the Jawbone Up24). The apps in this row are are the main apps I check throughout the day to know how my day’s going.

The next row of apps is entirely new. Day One, a journal app, is a recent addition (I recently switched from Momento.) Habit List tracks my daily routines. Waterlogged tracks my water intake, and Mint tracks my spending. In a general sense, these are my “tracking” apps that keep me on track.

The next row of apps is media-related. Keeping their places on the home screen are Reeder and Pocket. Downcast, my podcast app of choice, and iTV Shows, for tracking my favorite shows earn the 3rd and 4th spots.

The third row of apps is sort of a grab bag of miscellaneous apps that includes the only game on my phone, Threes, an app I can’t live without, 1Password, my favorite GPS app, Waze, and a folder of remote apps (Nest, Smart Glass for the Xbox One, Wemo, and Screens, a VNC client.

The final row includes the phone app, the App Store, and Settings.

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On the second page you’ll find a similar collection of folders before.

The Apple folder still exists but includes more apps now that Apple keeps forcing me to keep more of their apps on my phone. This is really just a folder to hide all their apps I don’t use.

The Files app contains a few different apps now, and truthfully Files isn’t much of a representative name anymore, but I haven’t found a better name. This folder holds Google Drive and Paprika (my absolutely favorite recipe manager), Blackboard Mobile Learn (for my classes). The other three apps, Scanbot (which I got for free), Momento, and Diptic, are likely on their way off my phone because I just don’t use them.

The health folder primarily contains guided meditation apps I’m trying out to help me fall asleep. If you have any suggestions, feel free to pass them along.

Media is a combination of my former Watch and Read folders and now contains Fliks for managing my Netflix DVD queue (Netflix if your listening, I’m still angry you removed that from your own app.), HBO Go, IMDb, Kindle, Netflix, SwagbucksTV for earning quick Swagbucks, SportsCenter for updates on my favorite teams, and WatchABC for streaming to my new Chromecast.

The next three folders could realistically be combined in some form, but I haven’t worked it out yet. My $ folder contains all my financial apps, and Save contains apps like Checkout51 and Ibotta. Shop contains Starbucks, Amazon, and cPro for Craigslist.

Social contains all my social media apps: Alien Blue for Reddit, ESPN’s Fantasy Football app, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, Paper by Facebook (this app lets me keep Messages and Facebook in one app rather than two), Tweetbot, and Yammer (for work notifications).

And last but not least, my Utilities folder which holds more miscellaneous apps: Deliveries (for tracking packages), Drafts, DUO Mobile (2-factor authentication), #Homescreen for posting to homescreen.is, IFTTT, Launch Center Pro, QRReader (on it’s way off my phone), Swype (a third party keyboard that makes up for how badly I type on my phone) and TextExpander.

I’m always curious about how people organize their home screens, and to my surprise I find a lot of people end up with similar set ups to mine – mainly the first page of actual apps with a second page of folders. Leaving an empty row at the bottom of the page is also common.

So how do you organize your home screen?

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September 2013 Favorites

September’s almost over, and the last time I even did a Favorites post was back in April. I really am a terrible blogger. I hope no one was waiting for my next Favorites post. If you were, I’m so sorry.

{Disclaimer: I purchased all of these products on my own and was not paid or asked to review any of these items.}

So what have I been loving this month {and over the past 5 months…}

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#1: iOS 7

Of course as an Apple fan, I feel almost obligated to say something about iOS 7. To be completely honest, I was prepared to hate it. The colors, the icons, all of it made me want to go, “What was Apple thinking?!” Parts of the new OS like the new look for Messages are still a bit too much for my tastes, but overall, I’m surprised at how much I love it.

Control Center has to be my favorite new addition by far. Thanks to quick access to a flashlight, clock, calculator, and camera, I’ve knocked 4 icons off my home screen. I also use Do Not Disturb mode a lot more know that I can access it easier. Another welcome addition is the ability to create folders with more than 12 apps. All my Apple apps I don’t want, including Newstand, can fit in one folder!

It really is like I’ve gotten a new phone. I find myself using my phone more, and I’m anxiously waiting for new apps to update their designs every day.

#2: The Gnarly Whale Beach Waves Spray

A lot of people comment on how I’m blessed to have straight hair. I actually find it to be a bit more of a curse.  When it’s short, I might as well be a frizzy poodle, hence why I keep it long, but when it’s long, it just falls flat no matter what. Whenever I had to get my hair done for dances, you could bet, I used a whole can of hair spray before I even left the salon, and another 2 cans at home before the dance even started, and my curls still fell out. To keep the frizz at bay, my only option up until now has been to blow dry it every single day. {My hair’s too fine to be one of those people that can get away with washing their hair a few times a week.} It’s not healthy for my hair, and it’s a pain to have to blow dry my hair every day too!

That leads me to the Gnarly Whale’s Beach Waves Spray. I had read a review on a blog {I apologize for not remembering which one} and the writer mentioned that this added a bit of waves to her hair which never held a curl. I adore the beach wave look, so I knew I had to try it. When I went on vacation over the summer, I didn’t even pull out my blow dryer. I just sprayed some of this on after the shower and jumped on our scooter or headed to the boardwalk. Easy.

When I got back, I actually started using it more and more. It’s a perfect way to be lazy when I’m going to the store. It is fantastic when I’m moving a bit slowly in the morning before work too. But I’ve even been using it on days when I do blow dry my hair straight. I spray it on the lower half of my hair and it gives my hair just enough weight so that it doesn’t turn into a flyaway mess.

I’ve tried other sprays and they leave my hair greasy looking, or feeling coated in salt. I’ve been using the Thai Coconut scent, but I can’t smell many things, this being one of them. With that being said, no one has complained about it yet. I ordered another 3 bottles of this stuff, and I hope they keep making it. I highly recommend it. {By the way, I’m sorry I don’t have a picture at the moment. I’ll try to get one in to show how it actually works with my hair.}

#3: Sim City 2013

Nerd alert here. I’m addicted to Sim City. I’m not really sure why, but it’s one of those games you can really get lost in. BUT… it runs like absolute crap on my Retina Macbook Pro {as with all Sims games…}. This one is a bit worse than the others though. If you play it for too long, it actually stops reporting stats and replaces them with an unknown value error. Another issue I’ve had is that the cursor disappears after a while. In any event, I’m still addicted to it, and I usually just take the glitches as a sign that it’s time to stop playing.

#4: Face Masks

At some point in the last few months, I got in the habit of applying a face mask on Sunday evenings. For some reason Sundays are like the only day a routine has ever really stuck. So once all my laundry is done and put away and my clothes are picked out for the week, I usually put on a face mask and watch some TV. Lately I’ve been using up some of the samples I’ve gotten in previous Ipsy bags and Birchboxes, but I also use one of my standby faves, Origins Out of Trouble mask on days when my skin is particularly bad.

#5: Netflix Originals

I finally sat down and watched House of Cards and actually paid attention this time, and liked it a lot more than before. Once that was over I switched to Orange is the New Black, which I absolutely adored. I loved the cast, and also loved that Regina Spektor did the theme song. I also watched Netflix’s latest series Derek which was a bit quirky. It kind of reminded me of the Office with the way it was shot, but also had a bit of an IT Crowd feel to it as well with the characters. Overall I enjoyed it, but the last episode was a bit of a downer honestly.

So that’s what I’ve been loving this past month {or months…}. What have you been enjoying in this lovely month of September?

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What’s on my iPhone?

I’ve got a bit of a tech theme going on here lately, so why not continue it with a post about what’s on my iPhone?  And why not on the day Apple announced the newest iPhone models?

It takes about 5 seconds of knowing me to know I’m an Apple girl. I’ve been using Macs since I was 2, and while there were a couple years that I used PCs, in high school, I went back to Mac and never looked back.

I’m now on my 3rd iPhone, so I’ve tried my fair share of apps over the years. I had originally planned to go over all the apps on my phone, but despite being pretty strict about what apps stay on my phone, I still have over 90 apps – much too many to review each and every one, so I figure I’ll give you an overview of how I organize the apps on my phone, and then I’ll go over some of my most used apps.

Let’s start with the home screen. These are apps I like to have quick access to or be able to glance at quickly.


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  • Across the top row you’ll find Calendar, Weather, Things, and Fitbit. These are all apps I like to check in the morning when I’m getting ready.
  • Next is Clock, Calculator, Phone, and 1Password. These are all tool/utility type apps I like to have quick access to.
  • The next two rows don’t exactly have a specific category. They are just apps I use frequently or like to have on my home screen. So here, you have Pocket and Reeder. Camera+, Light, and Waze.
  • And of course you’ll find the App Store and Settings.
  • In my dock, I try to keep apps I use most frequently or need quick access to in the car like Spotify.

Now onto the rest of the apps. I only have one page of apps aside from my home screen. Any more than one page, and I start freaking out. I also like to keep them all in folders mostly organized by activity.

iPhoneFolders

  • First up we have the Apple folder for all those apps Apple insists on putting on the phone and won’t let you remove.
  • The next folder is Files. This is where I keep all my cloud storage apps.
  • I’m not really into playing games on my phone much any more, but I do have a folder where I keep a few should I for some reason actually have nothing to do.
  • I keep any fitness apps in the Health folder.
  • Misc. is my folder for anything that doesn’t really fit in the other folders. When this folder starts getting full, it’s usually time to consider adding a folder or getting rid of some apps.
  • Any apps related to books or audiobooks are stored in my Read folder.
  • The $ folder has any shopping, bank, or credit card related apps.
  • Social is of course for social networking apps.
  • And last but not least Watch holds my video related apps like Netflix.

So which apps are my favorites? {By the way, I’m limiting this to non-Apple apps. If you use an iPhone you already know Apple’s apps.}

  • Spotify without a doubt gets used the most. I use it to listen to music in the car. I also use it stream music to my stereo when I’m at home.
  • Mailbox has revolutionized the way I deal with email. It’s also finally given me a way to take a break from work emails when I’m out of the office.
  • I’ve bragged about Things in the past. I’ve used this app for years on my phone, iPad, and Mac, and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. It’s my favorite task management app, and I’ve tried quite a bunch.
  • 1Password is by far the best password management app I’ve ever used. In fact, I love it soo much, it was first piece of software I ever paid for on my Mac. When the latest iPhone version was released, I even stayed up late to get it when it came out. {Not even embarrassed about it…}
  • I’ve posted about how Pocket has changed the way I read content on the internet. Spotify
  • Reeder is by far my favorite RSS reader for iOS, and I’ve tried quite a few.
  • My go-to navigation app is Waze. In fact, my car has a nav system built in and I still use this one. I also love trying to figure out who around me is using Waze when one of the little Wazer icons pass mine.
  • Health-wise, my favorite app is the recently released Blogilates app. It’s well worth the $.99/month to get the calendar. Every day you get a list of video workouts and you can check them off as you go. Super simple.
  • and last but not least, I’m a big reader, so I use GoodReads to update my reading progress and keep track of what I’m reading.

Well that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed my quick tour of my iPhone.

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