Designing Apps in Keynote

I have created 2 videos to show how to use Keynote for App design. The first video explains how to download and install the Keynote templates and the SF-Symbols app via Apple’s Developer Portal. The second video details how to use the template and app with Keynote to design your own app. It is a little tricky but the end results can look just like a real app.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Unread 2 for RSS

Article List View | Article View | Article Options

I have been using Unread 2 for a couple of weeks as my RSS reader and it has become my favourite RSS reader.

Unread is beautifully designed. It looks great and it is a joy to use. One handed on my iPhone XS Max everything is reachable. I can swipe back and forward all day.

Unread’s article list view cleverly adapts the summary text to provide one or two full sentences, depending on the length. It’s a simple feature but makes a huge difference when deciding on reading the whole article or not.

Unread provides a variety of themes and app icons. I really like dark themes with a tint of colour like dark greys or a good blue. Think the blue “dim” dark mode on the iOS twitter app. I am using the Panic theme in Unread and it looks great.

As a bonus, I have figured how to use Unread as a “read it later” app too. By installing the Feedly app (which is the RSS service I use) I can save articles to the “Read Later” board via the iOS share sheet, this then syncs to the “Saved” area in Unread.

Unread is a great app and though it took me a while to commit to the subscription (AU$29 per year) I am very happy with my purchase. If you use RSS daily, I could not recommend it more. There is a 50 article free trial, which does give a good feel for the app except its great background syncing

Unexpected side effect of the Magic Keyboard

It has only been 2 days since I received a Magic Keyboard for my iPad Pro and it has already changed how I am using my device, one unexpectedly.

The obvious improvements are nicer typing with real keys and having a backlight. I am also enjoying more flexibility in getting the screen angle just right, unlike my Smart Cover keyboard which I only had 2 positions. I am also typing this on my lap and it feels great, albeit a little narrow, but this ain’t no 16″ laptop!

The unexpected improvement is that I now feel more like grabbing my iPad and using it with no case at all. By “limiting” the Magic Keyboard so that the cover does flip around to the back, I now just pull the iPad off the magnetic “stand” and it feels great. This morning I sat in bed and did my morning reading with my iPad rather than my phone and it felt really nice. I never did this before as the Smart Cover was just too bulky, the device did not tell me to use them separately. Isn’t it funny how the design of the device talks to how it should be used.

The only negative I have so far is third party app support for the trackpad, the worst offender currently is Microsoft Word. The toolbar is not reliable in detecting the click, if I have a selection of text it works but otherwise I have to tap with my finger – super weird. As apps update, which I am sure they will, it will be great. Right now I find that I either forget I have a trackpad (unlearn what you have learned) or apps don’t respond correctly – so I use my finger, which is a great way to use an iPad 😁

Petzl Swift RL Head Torch

Recently I picked up a new head torch to help with the dark early morning runs. Some paths that I use have no lighting and can be dangerous, like this week when I avoided a 30cm dugite. I had been using a Petzl head torch for about 6 years and had been very happy with it but it was not holding a charge and was pretty dirty, so I picked up the equivalent model as a bit of a treat.

It is super bright, with its maximum 900 lumen led and auto adjust brightness based on ambient light. I find that I use the lowest setting mostly and sometimes the middle one. I could imagine if I was trail running the high setting would be very helpful.

It is very easy to use, there is one button that rotates through low, medium, high and off. You can switch between auto adjusted to fixed brightness by holding the same button down for a few seconds. I like auto adjust because it means that if a car is coming the other way, I know I’m not affecting the driver.

The battery is great, especially on the low setting.

It is really comfortable to wear, which is important when heading out for hour long runs.

The Swift RL is highly recommended.

Come Back Marathon on Hold

As with the many things in life at the moment, I received news that the Bunbury Marathon had been cancelled for 2020. At first I felt like I would finish my training, run the 42km on the same day and be happy with completing my recovery. After sleeping on it, I realised that I really wanted my come back to happen at an event, I wanted my family to cheer me on and hold up the medal to signify my recovery was complete.

So my plan now is to focus on some strength training over the coming weeks and follow Hal Higdon’s Base Training programme. That will lead pretty perfectly into training for the Perth Marathon, which will be held on the 26th of September. I am hopeful that this is far enough away that the event will go ahead.

It’s funny that I thought this would bother me more than it has, but there really is more important things in life. I have recovered amazingly well from my back surgery and I don’t need a marathon to prove it, but it will be the icing on the cake.

Apple Mail markup is so good

iOS 13.3.1 solved all of the bugs I was experiencing with Apple Mail and I am most happy about this because I love using the markup features.

It’s easy to markup an inserted image. Just tap the image and tap the Markup option.

You then have access to all of the drawing tools.

There is also a feature to markup a PDF file or image received in an email and then send the the markup changes as a reply or add to a new email.

When opening a PDF file or image received in an email, use the markup icon to begin the process.

Make the changes and then choose the done button. Mail will then ask to attach the markup document in a reply or a new email.

This is great.

To access all of Mails tools choose the arrow above the keyboard.

The tool bar will open.

From here it’s easy to change the font, insert a photo, take a photo, insert a document from Files, scan and insert a document and finally write a note.

All these features are available on the Mac too so it’s great jumping between the two.

I run marathons and lose Apple Watch Competions

It shouldn’t bother me but I am training for a marathon which includes running 70km+ per week and 32km single runs but I still loose Apple Watch competitions to people who walk and do pilates. 🤔

Apple Watch Podcast Apps for Runners

One of my joys of running is churning through my podcast queue. It’s great for just zoning out and enjoying the run.

When I upgraded to the Apple Watch Series 4, I chose the cellular version so I could leave my iPhone at home but still be reachable and call for rescue if needed (which has happened). I had a hope that I could listen to podcasts by syncing or streaming directly to my watch. As far as a I know the only apps that work independently from the watch (and still have an iPhone app) are Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Castro.

Overcast is what I currently use, it’s not perfect and has bugs but they are not show stoppers. It offers local sync which is good once the sync is done. Without streaming though, I have to be super organised and make sure there is enough synced episodes. Bugs – the app ignores the tap gestures set for my AirPods so I still need to skip via the watch directly. It also doesn’t always sync played episodes back to the iPhone, so I have to do that later myself.

Apple Podcasts is a strange beast. The app itself just doesn’t fit my workflow. I also tried it on a run and it played episodes that had synced (I think) but could not stream other episodes. I’m not sure if it can stream, it doesn’t give any indication either way.

On paper Castro is my perfect podcast app offering both playback via sync or streaming directly on the Apple Watch. The killer bug is that once one episode completes and starts playing the next it seems to skip random amounts of time. This can actually be to the end of the next show. I find myself running along tapping the “back 30 seconds” until it hits the start – not fun.

I have contacted the developer(s) of both Overcast and Castro pointing out the bugs and Castro devs said they will investigate.

Hopefully in the future I can live the dream and to be honest Castro is close. I have to wonder if this is more of an Apple issue not providing developers the tools they need. I really wish developers of podcast apps would show us (me) runners some love.

Four week wait for AirPod Pros

So I finally took the splurge and ordered AirPod Pros. I have a 4 week wait, which makes me reflect I should have ordered them 2 weeks ago when my old AirPods battery ran out during my long run. Let’s hope they stay in my ears while running or I’ll be utilising the Apple 14 day return policy.

Distance Running Programmes

I have been running for around 6 years now and whenever I plan on running a marathon I follow one of Hal Higdon’s programmes. I find them easy to follow and with nothing too complicated.

Currently I am following Marathon Advanced 2 but I have previously used his other programmes. There are options to pay for extra guidance but there is no requirement. He provides programmes for all distances and I recommend checking them out

If you are up for running more km’s per week than what the plan suggests, Hal has said that you can run double up days to add more. For example 5km in the morning and 5km in the afternoon. As long as you follow the base programme he is happy. I was hitting 100km per using this technique and it really felt ok – until my back needed fusing (unrelated). Hopefully I should be back doing this next year.