Posted in App, Commentary

Airtable Update


Airtable 3 icon

Airtable is a flexible cloud based database that you can use to organize simple to complex tasks and information. It was recently updated with the following features:

* Use the scroll handle to quickly scroll through all of your records! Gone are the days when it took hours to scroll to the bottom.
* Squashed some bugs.
REDESIGNED GRID VIEW
* See all of your fields without expanding a record via a completely redesigned layout, and take advantage of those big screens with a brand new look for iPad.
* Re-order and add fields directly from the grid view.
SUMMARY BAR
* Pull down to reveal the summary bar and view summary functions for each field.
* Tap on a field header to update the summary function.

The Airtable app can be used on your iOS device or you can simply use a browser to access your various tables. The power of this platform is its simplicity and ability to collaborate. You can create checklists, organize collections of documents, manage customers or contacts and so much more.

sortable collaborate

Screencastslonline has a good screencast on using the app. If you are not a member of Screencastsonline, it is worth joining if you want to see someone walk through and explain using various apps each week.

 

 

Posted in App, Commentary, Opinion

How to Scan from Your iPad or iOS device – The Basics


Scanner Pro 7 icon Evernote icon onenote-icon-ios acrobat-reader icon

There are times when you are out and want to capture images of documents to use later. These documents could be receipts, tests, business cards, brochures, handwritten notes, etc. This is not an app specific post. Instead, the basics of how to scan are discussed. Also, different options to consider when choosing a scanning app are briefly mention.

There are many apps that help you with the task of capturing images to use later. These apps include: Evernote, Adobe Acrobat, Scanner Pro (a personal favorite for capturing multipage documents), ScanSnap, and OneNote, which can also capture whiteboards you may have created or seen in class.

Here are the basic steps of capturing documents using apps on your iOS device:

  1. Open app and give it access to your iOS camera
  2. Take a picture of the document (take another if more than one page)
  3. Edit it for clarity and perform optional steps like OCR, image correction, rotation, etc.
  4. Name it
  5. Store it on the device, in the cloud, or in another app or share it.

You need to select an app that will be capturing the document. As to which app to select, think to yourself, how do you want to access that document later on? Will you want to access if from the cloud, from your device, from a different app on a different device or computer, etc. There are many different apps and opinions on which apps do those tasks the best, you should find one that you feel works for your workflow.

Theoretically, you can just use your Camera app, take a picture and then share the image using various methods like email or send it to a cloud service or another app.

Below is an image of a receipt captured using just the Camera of my iPhone.

camera-receipt

You will notice several things. First, it is always better to have the document you are attempting to capture against a contrasting background or surface. That makes it easier for apps like Scanner Pro, Evernote, etc. to attempt to automatically distinguish the document from the background and capture only document as is seen below. There are apps that actively try to distinguish and find the document or receipt and capture only the document instead of everything in the camera’s eye.  Basically, it attempts to find the borders by comparing the document to the background it is against.

Also, the app may use the flash from your iPhone or other methods to try to eliminate shadows or crumple marks from the document or receipt. To get the best results, it is always best to try to use wrinkle free documents and good lighting when capturing the document.

When that is not possible, different apps use various methods to try to boost the image quality and readibility. Be careful using the flash, because it cam throw too much light and cause the text of the document to become unreadable. Experiment and try to find the right combination of natural light and try to avoid creating shadows when you hold your camera over the document.

Below, Scanner Pro shows you the edge border it has detected and allows you to wait to take the picture or adjust the camera angle until the border is properly detected.

scanner-pro-receipt-with-image-finder

Once the app has captured the image, you may be presented with what the app believes is a good version of the capture. If you like it, you can keep it. If not, you can edit it by moving the little dots to a different place to have the app capture all of the document’s details and edges that you may want. This is shown below.

Find Borders

After you have adjusted the image or modified the color to make it look its sharpest and cleanest, the next step is to save the document. Once the document is saved, you can then store it in the cloud with services like Dropbox, iCloud, Box, etc.

Some apps have additional features that are very handy like OCR (optical character recognition). The app will perform OCR from the information in the document or receipt itself to make searching and retrieval easier later.

The purpose of this post was to walk you through the basics of capturing documents using your iOS device. Hopefully, this information can help you better understand the process so you can make a good decision as to which app works best for you.

 

Posted in App, Commentary

iAnnotate – How to Adjust Settings for Better Experience


iAnnotate 4 icon

iAnnotate is a great app to read and mark up PDFs. One of the best ways to use this app more efficiently is to adjust the settings to your way of working.

The settings can be accessed from a couple of different ways. First, from within the app by tapping the gear icon or tap the Settings icon from your home page. Then, scroll down to the iAnnotate icon and tap it. You will see several different settings specific for that app.

iAnnotate Settings

These settings control various ways the app behaves when you use it.

For example, if you have an Apple Pencil, you can have the app automatically recognize when you are using the Pencil to mark up the PDF.

Tap on Annotation and you will see several items to turn on or off. Slide the Apple Pencil Always Inks to on and when you use your Apple Pencil, it will automatically mark up your PDF.

iAnnotate Settings Annotation

There are other settings that you can use to make for a better experience. You can read the developers article on this here.

In short, no matter which app you may be using, try adjusting some of the settings to increase your productivity.

Posted in App

2Do Update – Now Free Download


2Do icon

2Do, an iOS productivity app has been updated. This app also works with your Apple watch so you can access your lists and tasks from your wrist. You can even add new ones with voice dictation. You can learn more about working with your Apple Watch and 2do from this page.

2Do Create Tasks

This award winning app is a great way to organize your tasks and keep your projects moving towards completion.

According to the developer:

  • 2Do is now FREE to download and use / try. Your existing purchases have not gone to waste – please carry on reading, you get upgraded to Pro automatically. After a 14-day trial for sync, backups and alerts, users can optionally go “Pro” with a one-off in-app purchase. All other features of the app are fully usable.No adverts, no subscriptions and no spam. The only desktop class task manager that keeps giving more. To learn more about this change, please visit: 2doapp.com/blog

    IMPORTANT: Users that have already purchased a copy of 2Do will get upgraded to “Pro” automatically. To redeem your free upgrade, simply open 2Do > Settings > Upgrade to Pro and tap Restore.

    * New and improved notification handling in iOS 10
    * Today widget updated to support iOS 10. Widget is backward compatible with iOS 8 and sports a new compact look, all while retaining the much-loved usability.
    * Performance improvements in loading data and overall responsiveness

    Patch update:
    * Fixed a bug where completed tasks display setting would not be honored
    * Fixed a bug where attaching voice notes on iOS 10 would cause the app to crash
    * Fixed a bug where the app won’t automatically recognize Pro status of users who purchased the app around the 3rd of November (+/- 12 hours)

The below video, although over a year old, gives you an idea of using the app on your Mac and iOS device.

Posted in Commentary

iOS 10.1 Released


iOS 10

Apple has released iOS 10.1 that includes updates, security and other fixes. The new features include portrait mode for iPhone 7 plus. The security fixes are described here.

Below is the list of improvement and bug fixes from Apple’s information page:

This update includes Portrait Camera for iPhone 7 Plus (beta), transit directions for Japan, stability improvements and bug fixes.

Camera and Photos

  • Introduces Portrait Camera for iPhone 7 Plus that creates a depth effect that keeps your subject sharp while creating a beautifully blurred background (beta)
  • People names in the Photos app are saved in iCloud backups
  • Improved the display of wide color gamut photos in the grid views of the Photos app
  • Fixes an issue where opening the Camera app would show a blurred or flashing screen for some users
  • Fixes an issue that caused Photos to quit for some users when turning on iCloud Photo Library

Maps

  • Transit support for every major train, subway, ferry, and national bus line, as well as local bus systems for Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya
  • Sign-based transit navigation including layouts of all underground structures and walkways that connect large transit stations
  • Transit fare comparison when viewing alternative transit routes

Messages

  • New option to replay bubble and full screen effects
  • Messages effects can play with Reduce Motion enabled
  • Fixes an issue that could lead to contact names appearing incorrectly in Messages
  • Addresses an issue where Messages could open to a white screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent the report junk option from displaying with unknown senders
  • Fixes an issue where videos captured and sent in the Messages app could be missing audio

Apple Watch

  • Adds distance and average pace to workout summaries in the Activity app for outdoor wheelchair run pace and outdoor wheelchair walk pace
  • Fixes issues that may have prevented Music playlists from syncing to Apple Watch
  • Addresses an issue that was preventing invitations and data to appear in Activity Sharing
  • Fixes an issue that was allowing Activity Sharing to update over cellular when manually disabled
  • Resolves an issue that was causing some third-party apps to crash when inputting text

Other improvements and fixes

  • Improves Bluetooth connectivity with 3rd party accessories
  • Improves AirPlay Mirroring performance when waking a device from sleep
  • Fixes an issue where playback would not work for iTunes purchased content when the “Show iTunes Purchases” setting is turned off
  • Fixes an issue where certain selfie apps and face filters used with the FaceTime HD Camera on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus did not display a live preview
  • Fixes an issue in Health where individual strokes are converted to separate characters when using the Chinese handwriting keyboard
  • Improves performance of sharing websites from Safari to Messages
  • Fixes an issue in Safari that caused web previews in tab view to not display correctly
  • Fixes an issue that caused certain Mail messages to be reformatted with very small text
  • Fixes an issue that caused some HTML email to be formatted incorrectly
  • Fixes an issue that in some cases caused the search field to disappear in Mail
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent Today View Widgets from updating when launched
  • Fixes an issue where Weather widget sometimes failed to load data
  • Fixes an issue on iPhone 7 where Home Button click settings would not appear in search results
  • Fixes an issue that prevented spam alert extensions from blocking calls
  • Resolves an issue that could prevent alarm sounds from going off
  • Fixes an issue where audio playback via Bluetooth would cause the Taptic engine to stop providing feedback for some users
  • Resolves an issue preventing some users from restoring from iCloud Backup

As usual, it is best to back up your iOS device before updating. To update, connect to Wi-Fi and on your iOS device, tap Settings > General > About >Software Update. Then, tap to install.

Posted in App, Commentary

Lawyer’s Guide to iPad – Review of Notes Plus


TL Research iPad

Recently, I published an article in The Lawyer’s Guide to a Well-Appointed iPad (3rd Edition). I’m one of 7 co-authors, all of whom are lawyers and iPad experts. Download your free PDF copy here. The excerpt of my contribution appears below.

Notes Plus icon update

Notes Plus helps you create, keep, and organize your digital notes on your iPad. In fact, you can even search all your handwritten notes.

What Makes It Great

Among the most powerful features is the ability to search your handwritten and typed notes across multiple notebooks, not just the notebook you’re currently using. This is especially important when you don’t remember which notebook contains the notes you want. You may need to run the built in text convertor for best results. Notes Plus can also recognize your handwritten notes and export them as editable text. You can review the conversion and correct any errors before you finish the export.

Notes Plus lets you tweak almost every aspect of your note-taking experience. You can choose different colors and styles of paper, pen characteristics, and even the thickness of the pen stroke. Shape detection technology enables you to add perfect circles, squares, etc. To erase, tap and choose the eraser tool or better yet scratch through what you want to delete and then confirm.

You can export in PDF format and email your notes to someone. Notes Plus offers integration with Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive. Of course, you can print notes too.

Drawbacks

The good and bad of the app is there is so much you can do. Learning all the features and where to go to access them can seem overwhelming.

Competing Apps I’ve Tried

Apple Notes – A simpler notes app that doesn’t recognize handwritten notes but does allow you to sync across iOS devices and your Mac.

GoodNotes – This app cannot search across notebooks and doesn’t match Notes Plus’ ability to tweak pages and notebooks.

OneNote – Microsoft’s popular notes app offers a web clipper but it’s not as good for handwritten notes as a dedicated app like Notes Plus.

Posted in App

LiquidText PDF Reader Color Update


LiquidText PDF icon

LiquidText PDF Reader is a unique app free app that lets you read and annotate PDFs actively and visually. The latest updated improves the color palette choices available for highlighting text and commenting.

LiquidText Locate

Not only can you highlight, but, once the text is highlighted, you can press and slide the highlighted text to the side and organize your selected text pieces.

You can pay for an in-app purchase for $3.99 that will allow you to work with multiple documents simultaneously.

If you are looking for an great app to annotate and read your PDFs, check out LiquidText PDF Reader.