Category Archives: iOS apps

iPhone Automation Scripts Get The Job Done

What apps do you need to be efficient and productive?

Let’s look at iPhone automation scripts. Which apps should you buy for your iOS devices? Seems easy to spend money when buying applications for the iPhone and iPad. It’s not like spending real money. You click a button and you have the software you bought and no cash is actually moved one place to another. You only notice it later when you look through your bank account and see how much of software you’ve bought. Sometimes you will look at software a week later and wonder why on earth you bought it in the first place. There are some other pieces of software are bought which have been remarkable and well worth having. Applications like Day One which I use all of the time. Day One can be automated and other applications like Ulysses have iPhone automation scripts.

Automate Day One

Working on the muscle memory

I do have software that I like to use and they are fantastic pieces of software such as Omnifocus. Even though the software is very good I somehow forget to actually remember that I need to use the software and I do other things instead. The simple app called Due does most of what I need to organise myself. it keeps on telling me to do what needs to be done until it gets done. So sometimes it is because other applications are easier to use and other times it is just out of muscle memory that I use something else to do the job instead. Sometimes it’s the case I just forget what I need to be using and I haven’t got myself into the habit of using a newly bought software. Not the case with Ulysses application which I’m using to write this article. There have been recent updates to put this app on the iPhone and also iPhone automation scripts have been added.  Major improvements to x-callback support in Ulysses for iOS allows for automation.

Checking things off on a list when done

Omnifocus to which you can add iPhone automation scripts. It would be very good for me to organise myself during the day. Lately I have found using Editorial for a checklist application has been a really good thing to do. It is a textbased checklist using TaskPaper syntax. You put a hyphen at the beginning of sentence followed by a space and that gives you a box that you can put a tick into. Ticking the box when the task has been done and it inserts a @done to confirm the job has been done. It’s pretty easy to use Editorial and also what’s great about it is that there are snippets which make things easy to automate. Then there are workflows which are even better for automation in iOS. What it would be good to do is to create a workflow that I could put onto the home screen. Even better if I put it onto the home row of the iPhone so I always have it in front of me with one press of a button I’d be able to do a task such as putting in details very very quickly. I would like to see better integration with Editorial in the application Workflow. With Workflow I can make my own workflow apps to run an action in the most efficient way possible.

iPhone Automation Scripts

The height of laziness and genius

I have been working out how to use various applications for automation. Interesting to explore iPhone automation scripts to get things done. I started off with using Workflow and Launch Centre Pro. More recently I’ve moved into using Editorial because of the python based automation available within the application. It would be nice if I could achieve the automation Nirvana such as that man who had a job where he automated just about everything. For example, he had an automation where if he was still at work and logged into the system at a specific time it would automatically send a message to his wife saying “Honey I’m going to be late home.” His script chose from a few excuse at random. It’s quite reasonable he would rather use automation than doing the tasks for himself. He had so many different automations setup he probably could sleep while on the job and let the automation do all of the work for him. Okay when you consider that the company who was employing him were really paying him for his brain and what he could do with it. It beats spending an amount of time doing certain things just to fill a specified number of hours.

More details of iPhone automation scripts

Do have a look at the previous blog post about iOS automation tools. I go into detail on how I made an automation to use at my summer time job in a campsite. I have to remember to do a certain number of things when checking guests in. So I don’t miss anything I have made a script which asks me for the customer identification number. I can then choose things from a list to have a note of what I have done. Nothing gets forgotton in the process. That’s the beauty of iPhone automation scripts.

Posted in iOS apps.

Voice Dream iOS text to speech

 

I have to say that I am really pleased with the application called Voice Dream. I got this application because I wanted to have something to listen to when I’d run out of downloaded podcasts. VoiceDream is a useful tool to have when I am out of podcasts in my podcast listing application Overcast. What I do is to load up some PDF documents or I can load up a webpage and have a really nice voice talking to me. I can bring documents in from Dropbox and one or two other places as well. I am still testing out all the different ways I can use this application and I love what I see and hear so far. I also got this application so that I could have it read my writing to me so that I could listen for where I have made mistakes and I can perhaps change things.

Voice Dream

The application comes with some default voices which are okay and I bought one for two €2.99 to see if it was any better. In the trial in the app it sounded a little bit better. I bought another voice for €4.99 which is even better again.

 

Voicedream

There are a few different voices you can choose from based on different places in the world. So you can use an American voice or British English voice or Australian voice even. I have chosen a voice which goes by the name of Amy and is sounds very good indeed. I also bought a male voice called Hugh. I also like the voice called Rachel which sounds a little more soothing.

Tried using Voice Dream reading a longer piece of text, a public document domain book as I want to be able to listen to stories while I am working. It is much better than listening to music because I can’t plug any headphones in and music is better in stereo.

It did take me a little while to work out how to get the text from the webpage into the document for it to start reading. I had to choose a button to do some sort of smart save. Then the app was able to do a good job of bringing in just the part I wanted to listen to from the webpage. It brought in just the main body of text and didn’t bring in the extra bits you find around the edges in the sidebars et cetera.

There is an editor so I can put my own words into the application. I can also bring in words through iTunes. I see there is an option to bring in books from the Guttenberg project. These are full-length books which are in the public domain.

So can I recommend Voice Dream to use for generating voice from text? Absolutely, it is well worth getting the free version to try out. It only reads a short piece and stops in the free version. The standard voices are useable but sound a little robotic compared to the extras available as in-app purchases.

Posted in iOS apps.

How to have email privacy on iOS

So you have spent some time in setting up Open PGP on your Mac. You are happy now you can send secure emails from your desktop or laptop computer. The only trouble is, sometimes you are away from your OS X computer and you receive an email that has been sent to you encrypted. Or maybe you would like to send an encrypted email from your iPad or your iPhone. You’re left wondering whether it is possible and if it is possible, is it going to be annoying to do. In any case, if you have decided it is worthwhile encrypting your emails for your own personal privacy you are going to have to set up something or other. You’ll need to read messages that come in to your iPad or iPhone. The good news is, it’s not too difficult to set up and to use applications with OpenPGP on your iOS devices. Find out more in the Good and Geeky Email Privacy Book.

Another way to deal with encryption on iOS and Mac

It is a good idea to have something set up so you can read incoming emails encrypted with PGP on your iPad and iPhone. It is still going to be necessary even if you have set up encryption certificates that you’ve got from either StartSSL or Commodo. The certificate-based security works well for decrypting those encrypted emails coming into your iOS devices. This system doesn’t work so well if you need to send an encrypted email. It also will be true that some people will want to send you PGP encrypted emails and others will prefer to use S/Mime protected emails. So if you are serious about having email privacy on iOS, I suggest you set up both encryption systems.

Suggested applications for iOS Pretty Good Privacy

I have tried two applications that work well and I keep both of them available on my iPad and iPhone. I use iPGMail and oPenGPG Lite. If you are using oPenGPG Lite, you will need to use a desktop Pretty Good Privacy application to create your key pairs. It is easy to do this and to export from GPG Tools Keychain to create a file, you can import and use on your iPad and iPhone. All you have to do is to select the key and use the context sensitive menu to export. Choose to export the private key as well as the public key and move the .ASC file to your iOS device. It is recommended you use iTunes file sharing if you are sending your secret key. You could send it by Dropbox, although it is not recommended. It would be okay so long as you remembered to securely delete the file after you had imported it into your iOS application. I suggest you choose the route for maximum security and only use a different way of doing it if you have to. If you have already collected public keys from other people, you can move all these keys in one export and import process.

Openpgp lite

iPGMail or oPenGPG Lite

The application iPGMail has the ability to create a PGP key pair and this is useful if you are just working from your iOS devices. You could export the key pair you create in this application to use in GPG tools. The key you create within the application is just as good as a key you create on your desktop computer in terms of security. You do get a few more options in the desktop application. It is easier to send your key to the public keyserver in GPG Tools OSX Keychain. You also can create your revocation certificate at the same time as creating the key, when using GPG Tools on OS X.

Encrypt your emails on iOS with oPenGPG Lite

Even if you haven’t used either of the applications before, you will find it easy to use them to send your secure emails. In oPenGPG Lite you write your text or paste it into the application. You tap on the button to encrypt the text, which it does the encryption quickly. You are then given the option to copy the PGP message to the clipboard and use wherever you like. You can choose to send as email or send as message. You may upload the encryption to dropbox or Store in My Files. When you choose send as email, it opens up an email message with it already populated with the addresses connected to the public keys you have chosen belonging to your recipients. All you have to do is to add a subject title and tap on send.

Ready to send

Encrypt with iPGMail

When you are using iPGMail you choose the Compose icon from the menu bar at the bottom of screen. From there you have all the choices you need to create an encrypted email on iOS. You can sign, encrypt, or sign and encrypt. You choose the signing key and the public key of the recipient, add the subject for the email and you have a space to write your message. If you choose to send an attachment you get access to your photos and also to local files connected to the application. If you choose to sign the email you will be asked to provide the password/pass phrase for the key you are going to use. You will of course, have that password available to you in the application 1Password.

Decrypt an encrypted email in iOS

In the encrypted email, select all the PGP message. Open up the PGP application and both of the apps I have tried recognise the encrypted text on the clipboard. Choose the option to decrypt and hey presto you can see your decrypted message. It is as easy as that!

You can get all the juicy details in a book about using encryption. Get Good and Geeky Email Security and Privacy available now on Amazon. It is an easy book to read and to follow the step-by-step guides to set up on both your Mac and also on iOS.

Posted in iOS apps.

This week with my iOS device – Automation

What have I been doing with my iPad and iPhone?

This week has been a week of trying out automation on my iOS devices using the new application called Workflow. I have been downloading workflows created by other people and I have made small attempts at making my own workflows within the app. I haven’t had an awful lot of success so far, but I haven’t given up yet. I love all this stuff when you have the computer working for you. It is especially good when you can get things happening by talking to the computer as I demonstrated in the last Mac 20 Questions podcast. I start my day by talking to Siri on my iPad before I have even opened my eyes to the world. How’s that for iPad Productivity?

I was quite excited to get my hands on the Workflow app so that I could do some automation on my iPad. It takes a little while to get your head around how it works. You can run the workflows from within the application, which is what you do when you want to test them. You can also make these workflows work as an extension. Then the other thing you might do is to create an application by having it run from an Icon that you have on your home screen. My favourite thing with this so far as to put the workflows into Launch Centre Pro. Up until now, I haven’t been using Launch Centre Pro as much as I would have liked. Now I have Workflow to use on my iOS devices I have the perfect opportunity to get more use out of it.

Workflow app pic

Making My Own Workflow

A workflow that would be useful for me would be to have a screenshot that I make on the iPad or iPhone be immediately sent into DeskConnect. So I would have that picture moved magically over to my Mac or another iOS device. There is a bug in the software though because the application Workflow doesn’t seem to recognise the application DeskConnect is actually available on my devices. This is an extra big surprise because both of these applications are made by the same company and you would think that they would definitely not have any problems working together. All I can do is to wait for an updated version of either one of these applications and maybe then they will start working together. I will contact the company and send in a support request. I don’t expect that this support will come back very quickly because it seems they are a small company and this new application Workflow has been very popular over the last couple of days on the Internet. It seems that every man and his dog has got their hands on this application to try out using on their iPads and iPhones.

Workflow creation

Popular Post – Blogging on the move with iOS

Downloading Ready-made Workflows

The developers made available a number of workflows ready to be downloaded and installed. Some of these look like they could be useful to me and I have downloaded them to try out. It would be nice if somebody had created the workflow that I wanted to use so that I could install it without any messing about.

So you can use this new Workflow application even if you don’t know anything about iOS coding or automation. It is a simple process of dragging and dropping in actions which are building blocks for making a complete workflow. In the future versions of the application, there will be more actions that will be ready for us to use.

Posted in iOS apps.

A wealth of applications on iOS – Part Two

In part one of the post you can find out about the Note taking strategies I have for creating and grabbing text on iOS

Read part one of this article

Drafts and keyboard

Saved notes – Not written

These sorts of notes are the notes where are you select some text on a webpage or in another application. It could also be a selection which is rich text including a picture or pictures. This type of note will go into Evernote. Then I will know that if I’m looking for something that I have selected and captured from wherever, I need to open up the Evernote application.

Capturing a complete webpage

On iOS it is possible to capture a complete web page and I will send that webpage to Pocket. Then what I have to do is to make a point of opening up the Pocket application on my Mac at some point in time during the week and review those captured websites. Sometimes I do forget and only go to look at Pocket after a week or two, but that’s okay.

Pocket

Other interesting notetaking applications

I have the application called ThinkBook and I would love to use it because it has such an interesting interface. I like to keep it there because of the fact that it would be great for juggling around parts of text to organise it. Truth is, I use it hardly at all. It is just nice to know that it is there if I need it. The same goes for the application Daedalus. I have a pair of applications called Terminology and Phraseology. Terminology is a dictionary type of application which works well with Drafts. Phraseology is a writer’s application which also has this thing where you can reorganise your work by paragraph or by sentence. It could be used in a similar sort of way to an outliner application. It also allows you to analyse your writing by colouring in nouns in blue, verbs in green, adjectives in red and so on. It also has detailed analysis of your writing that you can use on the inspection page. It gives you various scores on the writing as to how readable it is. You also get statistics which go right down to the average words per sentence and even average syllables per word. For that sort of analysis of writing I prefer to use the application Hemingway on my Mac. Have a look at Good and Geeky Books

IOS Camera Applications

On both the iPad and also on my iPhone I have put a number of camera applications. There are just so many of them to choose from. I have the Sony application which allows me to control my Sony camera over a Wi-Fi connection. There is the Photosphere application which I quite like to use from time to time. Then we have the applications which do specific types of photography such as HDR, Slow Shutter, Pencil camera and Hyperlapse. What I really need to do with these is to decide on a particular day to go on a photo trip and just use one or maybe two different camera apps during the day to really get into what they can do.

An application that I downloaded most recently is called VSCOcam and this is quite interesting. It is a sharing application in the same way as you have an application that works specifically with Instagram. What you do with this application is to create photo stories and you can then share your pictures out to the various social networks. Intriguing looking application and I’m still working out how to use it.

Camera Plus

Camera Plus Air SnapCamera plus is another useful application that you can use for both photos and for shooting video. It has a handy little slider at the bottom of the screen that you can use for choosing where you want the focus to be. You can also choose to have the camera autofocus for you. There is another button which you can get at, which will let you choose from macro, normal or far. Then there is the slider on the left-hand side which is your zoom and another slider to the right of the button to start the video or to take a picture which is for setting the level of the light. There is also a mode which is to stabilise your photos. If you do a tap and hold then you can lock in the part of the photo where you want to set the focus.

Another interesting facility with this application is that you can use AirSnap. You launch the Camera Plus application on two devices connected with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. I just tried this for the first time using the iPad as the camera and my iPhone 6 as the trigger. It was really easy to set up and I seem to have most of the same facilities for controlling the camera. I can get it to shoot video as well is take photos with AirSnap. I have access to the zoom, I can choose the amount of light for the image, turn the flash on or off. I can even choose whether I want to use the front or the rear camera.

Creative Audio Applications

I am delighted to be back using iOS for recording audio as it works so much better than it did when I tried recording audio with Android. An application that I recently got for the iPad is called Auria and this is a multitrack audio recording application. I had heard good reports about this application and I got it because it was available at half price and I wanted to see if it was going to work out better than using DAW Multi-Track. Either of these two applications would be very good for making podcasts and you have extra tracks to use to insert bumpers, stingers and jingles creatively. There is of course GarageBand but I find that is better suited for creating music that is for making podcasts.

If I am going to record audio with iOS and it is a single track then the application I will use is TwistedWave. This application has a good number of tools and gives a very good audio reproduction of my voice when I connect up my Giant Squid clip on microphone. At some point in time I wouldn’t mind trying out a microphone which connects through the lightning port, but for the moment this is working great. I also have the iRig microphone which is a large microphone that you have to handhold. It does have a connection that allows you to plug in some headphones so that you can monitor what you are recording. I have just ordered a splitter cable that will allow me to do similar with the Giant Squid microphone.

Making a podcast with BossJock

BossJock creating podcasts
This application works like a soundboard. You tap on one of the carts into which you have already loaded sounds and that sound will play. So you can load it up with your sound effects for your podcast and also any other pre-recorded sections. You could have an intro section for your podcast that you play straight through and then when it is finished you could just start talking to your audience by pressing on the microphone button. You can also use sound bed audio tracks to give you a background audio that will duck out of the way each time you press the microphone button. Using BossJock you can create and record a podcast performance. Have a look at the two videos that I created showing you how to create audio as backing tracks and also how to use BossJock to create an intro track for your podcast.

Utility audio applications

I just got an application called AudioCopy for moving around selections of audio from one app to another. I also have the application Audiobus and this is for routing audio from one application through another and finally to land in another app for recording. This would be an application to use if you needed to create audio with sound effects and you wanted to hear those sound effects as you recorded them. You can also send from more than one app through Audiobus towards the recording app it is directed at. Interesting app, but I haven’t been able to make a lot of use out of it yet.

Audiobus

Audio applications for listening

I have Stitcher which I don’t use an awful lot because I tend to use the application Overcast for listing to podcasts. I also have SoundCloud and AudioBoom that I can use for both creating or publishing sounds as well is listening to what other people have created.

Applications to Entertain and Inform

I have an application called iFooty which I use for getting the football scores. I have set up some favourites so that I can go quickly in to see what is happening with the Premier League Football, Championship League and the Spanish La Liga. This way I can see what’s going on with my favourite football team Barcelona and my non-favourite football team Birmingham City.

IFooty
I have two applications which are good for looking at the universe and our solar system. One is called Solar Walk and the other is Star Walk 2. Lots of interesting information about what is happening up in the sky at night. Finally, due to this app I might be able to name one or two of the constellations. Not only does it offer information about the stars, but you can get upgrades so that you can see what is happening with comets and satellites. It is not too pricey at only €1.79 to get the all in one bundle. Very educational indeed.

Solar Walk educational app
Just got my hands on another application called Text Grabber. What you do with this is to point it at some text, capture it with your camera and then do things with that text. You can edit it, have it translated or just paste it into other applications such as into a Facebook status or send it into Evernote. I just tested it and it did a half good job with some Catalan to English translation. It was very quick to do the translation and if you didn’t know any of the language, then what you got would be helpful. I will have to give it a few more tries and see how it is with Spanish translation.

I have a couple applications which are used for getting into sites that you can learn things from, such as TED Talks and Udemy. It could also be argued that applications such as YouTube fall in the same scope as education. See the Wizardgold Channel for Mac Tutorial videos. That really depends upon the type of videos that you watch. Other applications of this type could include apps such as the Guardian newspaper and also the BBC. Most of the news seems to be bad news designed to keep you depressed and unhappy. So maybe it is a better idea not to spend too much time keeping up with the bad things happening around the world. I also have a couple of mathematics applications which are quite interesting, especially Mathemagics and also Algebra Touch.

IOS applications for Life Casting

I have applications which I am trying out for life logging such as Memento, Heyday, Chronos and Saga. What these applications do is to track your movements and you can then go back into them and add more information. To a large extent, I prefer to use the application DayOne which is a journalling application. It gives me prompts to add journal posts and I keep up to date. Without bugging me too much it gives me the impetus to create new posts about what I am doing. I can add photographs and give it information such as where I am. I can choose whether I want to show my location at the time of making the journal post. Depending upon the sort of life logging you want to do and how public you want to make them, some of these applications do look quite interesting. I will be going into depth about all of these applications in the book I am writing about life logging.

Posted in iOS apps.