Simple App Development with Swift Playgrounds Guides

I have created a series of videos introducing app development using Swift Playgrounds on either iPadOS or macOS. Each video steps through the process of creating a very simple app and I envision this as a great starter to using SwiftUI. I hope you enjoy this basic starter series.

You can jump straight to a YouTube Playlist

Create Apps and Stacks

Adding Colour

Adding Gradients

Adding Images

Adding SF Symbols

Adding Views and Tabs

Happy to see Fantastical update with some new widget choices and options today. The Big Sur update is great. Also Teams integration is a good bonus.

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

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.