iOS Wishlist

I think I‘d be fine if there was only one new feature in the next major iOS version an this feature is that they finally fix the way how icons are moved, especially across home screens.

Please, Apple, just this.

Email on iOS – revisited

In stark contrast to my conclusion of the state of e-mail on iOS from nearly a year ago, I have switched to Newton as my preferred client app on iOS.

It seems that a lot of under-the-hood work has happened between my dismissal of the app one year ago and today. The look of Newton didn’t change at all, but the app is much snappier and none of the bugs I have experienced last time is visible any longer.

For background, I stopped using the other contestants from my piece of last year — Spark and Airmail — mostly out of frustration about bugs and usability issues.

I also had an easier time to embrace the visual minimalism in Newton. I was using Spark before the switch and was getting tired of the pronounced design language embedded into Spark.

To be sure, Newton is far from being the app that does everything I want from an e-mail app. But the features that are supported are — so far — rock-solid. That alone makes the app a joy to work with.


I‘m pretty sure this is new in iOS 11.3: if you tap on „more“ in the description of an app‘s release notes in the iOS App Store the updated version of the app as well as the download size is listed at the bottom of the release notes.

This seems like a minor detail but for me this is a nice improvement over the previous status, a flashback of the proverbial „attention to detail“.

Beats X – Four Months after

After using the Beats X for hours every day for the last four months:

  • Sound quality improved dramatically after I started using earpieces made from memory foam. Highly recommended. The only downside of this setup is that phone calls sometimes become uncomfortable because the ears are tightly sealed and (at least for me) pressure inside my ears gets out of balance and blurs the audio. What is clearly a boon for listening to music can be a bane for making phone calls.
  • Bluetooth range is still outstanding. I’ve read reviews of Bluetooth headphones that dropped connection if you put your phone into the jeans pocket. The Beats X easily tolerates several meters1 without dropping the connection.
  • Pairing with iOS devices keeps being unbeatably fast and comfortable, best I’ve ever experienced in any Bluetooth peripheral so far.
  • No visible wear of cables or buttons. I originally didn’t have much confidence in the cables. They seemed very frail and, after all, my last two pairs to headphones had died primarily because of failing cables.
  • Battery life is stable, no perceptible degradation so far. There was this one anecdote where the Beats X died after just five minutes out of the house. But that could easily be explained by the temperatures (less than -10 degrees Celsius) and the fact that the part of the cable that houses the batteries was directly exposed to the cold. After I put the cable into my jacket the headphones came back to life.
  • The cable is a bit too long. It’d be good if Apple had shortened the cable by a couple of cm.
  • While traveling, I’ve been increasingly happy to carry a pair of headphones that can be charged by a Lightning connector. I’d hate to carry an extra micro-USB cable solely for this one purpose.

  1. I never really felt the need to find out at which distance exactly the connection would break. Let’s say: it’s generous. 

App Store Gripes

Alto’s Odyssey is out today.

As a big fan of the predecessor game, I pre-ordered Alto’s Odyssey the moment pre-orders went up.

Today, I got a notification that the game is out and it even appeared magically on my iPhone1.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to play the game on my iPhone. I never play games on my iPhone. If I play a game at all I play it on the iPad.

But the App Store app on my iPad insists that there is no download available and just indicates the “pre-ordered” status.

There are reviews available, and the game seems to have made it to number 5 in the “sports”2 download charts already. So it must be available for download, right?

And yet, it’s not available to me. Because I pre-ordered. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t pre-order I could just go ahead and download the game.

I guess I should take a moment to think twice before I ever pre-order anything again from the App Store.

Update: courtesy of @AppleSupport, it helps to sign out of iCloud, restart the device, and sign back into iCloud. Don’t ask.

  1. It got downloaded over LTE, without asking, although I have deactivated automatic downloads. 
  2. WTF? 

Accidental App Store Ratings

Today marks the third time in less than a week where I have accidentally submitted a rating for an app while idly browsing the iOS App Store on my iPad.

I just takes – while scrolling vertically in an app’s description – an accidental tap on the outlined stars located somewhere mid of page and then a rating is submitted to the App Store without any further confirmation.

Well, you get this semi-translucent pop-up that offers a “thank you” after the fact. Without it, I would probably not even take notice of the inadvertent feedback caused by my own carelessness.

Sure, it is possible to correct this mishap1, but I wonder how many people actually take the trouble to correct their mistakes.

I understand that Apple wants to make it easy for people to submit their feedback. Maybe I’m just clumsy, but should it really be that easy?

  1. Go to the “updates” tab and tap on your account’s avatar in the upper right corner. In the pop-up, tap your avatar again, and in the next pop-up scroll down to “ratings and reviews”. Give it a tap and you’re ready to undo potential accidents in rating. 

Share Sheet is hard

I wonder why share sheets aren’t mentioned in that famous quote about naming and cache invalidation. Share sheets are hard, apparently.

Hey, just kidding. I’m fine, just a bit grumpy.

Share sheets were a godsend when introduced in iOS 8, IIRC. I use share sheets constantly, for all possible purposes.

For obvious reasons, there are many cases where I want to use a share sheet to capture something and feed a new task into my to-do manager app.

For example, let’s assume I stumble upon an interesting app in the iOS app store and want to put it on the list of apps I store for future reference. Then, this happens:

Text is captured from the App Store app into the share sheet. There is little doubt that the first line of the body text is an obvious candidate for becoming the title of the task, right?

And yet, this text is appearing in the body, where I have to cut it from and paste it into its rightful place manually. Every. Single. Time.

I have provided feedback to Cultured Code and kindly asked for changing the behavior of the share sheet accordingly. And I’m pretty sure that one day an update will roll in where this issue is fixed.

I know the fix is feasible because I already went through the same procedure before. About a year ago, I think. With OmniFocus. Originally, its share sheet behaved exactly the same way as Things‘ currently does.

I (and doubtlessly many others) used the possibility to contact the Omni Group and, guess what, after some time an update was released where the share sheet changed its behavior and started to fill in meaningful content into the title of the new task. It’s pretty good at that.

I can’t help it, I tend to switch back and forth between using Things and OmniFocus as my task manager of choice. It’s a very close call between the two.

This little detail makes me stick with OmniFocus for the time being. That, and the lack of a dark theme in Things.

R.I.P. John Watts Young

Ars Technica:

The first chief of the astronaut office, Deke Slayton, had high praise for Young in his autobiography Deke! “John was one of the unsung heroes of the Astronaut Office, a real hardworking guy who did whatever you asked him to, no problems. The only thing that held him back was that he was not comfortable with public speaking; he tended to freeze up and give one-word answers.”

Amazing career, amazing achievements. Somehow, this paragraph resonated the most with me.