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Ulysses for iPad

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Ulysses for iPad is a great tool for getting text down so you can get your thoughts, ideas, or paper done. The writing app is by the The Soulmen who have been writing apps for the Mac for some time. This app and its Mac sister Ulysses are designed to work together and help you draft and create a brief, story, memo, and more. This post reviews the iPad version of the app.

Organization of Documents

Ulysses approaches document creation differently than most typical word processors. The idea of the app is simple. Focus on getting words and thoughts down even if it means doing so in discrete separate sections that can be combined later.

Ulysses Library

The Library consists of a series of “groups” which is further broken down into individual “sheets.” A sheet can represent a paragraph, a page, or even an entire chapter. However, the power of this app is that it allows you to break your document into bite size pieces to help you better organize and create without so much focus on the ultimate way the document will look in terms of formatting, page numbering, etc.

You can “nest” your groups by tapping on the + on the library panel. Then, add the name of your new group and identify the parent group that it should be nested under. To make the process easier, tap on the group you wish to create a subgroup under first. You can name the group and even assign a unique icon to help identify it.

Keyboard Plus

The keyboard features the standard iOS keys. However, just above that is a row of commonly used and needed shortcut buttons.

Ulysses Keyboard

These allow you to quickly accomplish tasks related to Markup, list making, indenting and more. If you tap and hold down on the buttons, more options become available.

Sync via iCloud

One of the most surprising features was the ease and speed at which the app syncs with the Mac version via iCloud. The set up is straight forward when you initially install and open the app. The changes made on the Mac app rapidly appear on the iPad version and vice-versa.

Personalize Themes

You can modify the default theme with others that are built in. Just tap on the gear icon. Then, tap Theme and select one of the other themes. You can also download others by scrolling down and visiting Ulysses Style Exchange within the app. Then, download a new theme and install it.

Ulysses Themes

The theme above is a built in theme iOS with Dark Mode turned on to assist in writing in darker environments.

Exporting Final Versions

After you have created your document, there are several ways to export it. You can choose from Plain Text, HTML, ePub, PDF and RTF.  You can also share your material via mail, message or simply copy it for passing into another app.

The app even allows you to edit text files created in other apps that are stored on iCloud drive or 3rd party services including Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Features Galore

This app allows you to perform tasks like search, find and replace, adding images, tagging, write notes and write in full screen mode. The ability to write in portrait and landscape mode is available too.

Conclusion

There are very few apps that allow you to organize and write down ideas on your Mac, pick them up on your iPad on the go and provide so much flexibility in terms of output. Ulysses for iPad is one such app. If you are constantly writing or want to write better, Ulysses is a great tool for providing you with the ability to do so.

The Mac version of Ulysses allows for some additional flexibility. You can download a trial version for the Mac from the developer’s website.

Fantastical 2 for Mac Released

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Flexibits has introduced a brand new version of Fantastical. This calendar and reminder app has been known for the ease of typing in plain english and watching the app convert it into the desired event or reminder. There are many improvements in this latest version, including the big screen calendar and reminder list. No longer is the mini calendar locked to the tool bar.

For those not familiar, there are really two main categories of entries: Reminders and Calendar events. Think of an event as an appointment and a reminder as a task to be performed. This app allows you to enter this information in no time using plain text and even your voice as shown and explained below. The app also works with and syncs with your iCloud and CalDav calendars. Minimal set up is required to get the app fully loaded with existing calendar events and reminders.

As in the past, this app can sit in the toolbar ready for easy entry.

fantastical2-mac-screenshot-dark

New is the full size calendar to allow easy reference to upcoming events and reminders.

Built in Integration with Existing Calendars

There is built in integration with LaunchBar and other similar apps. To create an entry using Launchbar, enter an event by invoking your LaunchBar, tapping space and then entering your event or reminder. Press return and its automatically added to Fantastical.

One of the nice new time saving features is the ability to create a default reminder set for every time event or all day event. In the preference panel of Fantastical, add as many alerts as you may want before each event so when you create an event, more than one alarm will automatically be added if you want. Apple’s iCal app limits you to a default of one alarm. Many times it is helpful to have more than one alarm. For example the day before the event and 1 hour before. In iCal, after creating an event, you have to add the additional alarms each time you enter a new event. This takes time and you may forget.

In Fantastical, go to the preferences pane and set the defaults in the Alerts section.

Fantastical Alarms

Entering Events With Your Voice

About 54 seconds into the below video, you can see what appears to be a Siri like method for entering a reminder into Fantastical with your voice on your Mac.

In order to achieve this functionality and dictate into this and other apps, follow the instructions from Apple found here. This dictation feature is part of Yosemite and can be found in the System Preferences. Note, if you choose Use Enhanced Dictation, additional files will be downloaded from Apple so an internet connection will not be required in the future to interpret your voice.

Dictation Preference Pane

There is a full collection of videos showing the app in use at the developer’s web site. Make sure to watch these to see the app in action and understand the full power and potential available.

Of course, the app works with the iPad and iPhone version of Fantastical. If you have Yosemite, the handoff feature is also available.

If you have any questions with using the app, check out the FAQ page.

Conclusion

This app costs $49 and is on sale for the introductory price of $39. There have been some who have commented on the price. You need to consider how much of your life depends on a reliable calendar and reminder system that is easy to use and speeds up the process of entering this information. If you save just a few minutes a day, this app will pay for itself in no time. The developer provides a download for a free 14 day trial from its website. Try it out first and see how much easier it is to get your calendar events entered and more organized you can be.

How to Add Keyboards to your iPad

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It is possible to use keyboards other than the built in Apple iOS keyboard. There are several options for other keyboards. What is not usually clear is what to do after you buy the keyboard to make it work.

This will walk you through the process.

  1. Download / Buy the Keyboard you wish to add from the App Store.
  2. Tap Settings > General > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard…
  3. Tap on the New Keyboard you wish to add and choose the language.
  4. Open an app that uses a keyboard, e.g. Notes.
    • Keyboard Chooser
  5. Tap and hold on the globe icon.
  6. Choose which keyboard you wish to use and then type away. To get the Apple keyboard back, tap and hold on the globe and choose your language keyboard.

Textexpander Keyboard

 

Easy Annotate – Side by Side PDF Annotation

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Easy Annotate icon

Easy Annotate Dual PDF Editor is a PDF mark up tool and more. It solves a problem that many have when reviewing PDFs for a project – the ability to see, side by side, two different PDFs.

With this app, you can read, annotate, compare and link PDFs side by side. The app offers students, business professionals and researchers the tools to read, annotate and compare PDFs side by side easily and efficiently.

 

Easy Annotate Screen Shot

The app also allows you to create links between PDFs.

 

Easy Annotate Link

 

You can also export and share your PDFs to DropBox, Google Drive or a WebDAV account.

You can learn more about the app from the developer’s website. Right now…it’s Free.

Drafts 4 – One Stop Text Entry

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Drafts 4 icon

Drafts has been  updated to version 4. This iOS universal app is a one stop shop for entering text and sending it to where you want it to be used.

The idea is simple. Open one app to enter your text and send it to the app or place where you want that text to be. This app saves you from having to open and switch between different apps to enter text.

Capture your thoughts and ideas in Drafts now then decide where you want to send them later.

The text you enter can be something you want to post on Facebook, Tweet, send to reminders, email, make a note, and more. There is even integration with Dropbox, Evernote and many other third party apps. Learn more about Evernote integration here.

You can create or use actions via the action directory to allow integration with apps like OmniFocus, Day One and Fantastical.

Conclusion

If you want one app to capture your text, ideas, tweets, email, calendar events AND save time, you need to get this app. It will take a few tries to wrap your head around the usefulness of the app. But, once you do, you won’t look back.

Fantastical 2 for iPad

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Fantastical iPad icon

Fantastical 2 for iPad has been updated and is on sale for the holidays for a limited time for $7.99. This iOS 8 app gives you the ability to help manage tasks, appointments and more in one app.

Calendar task view

 

One of the many reasons to get this app is the ease of entering events and information in plain English and have the app translate that into the task or event entry for you.

Screenshot event entry

Like its cousin Fantastical for the Mac, Fantastical for iPad makes entering events into your calendar simple. There are many built in short cuts and ways to make entering or searching information easier. When you add information, you can toggle whether that is a task or calendar event by tapping the icon to the left of the entry. If you click on details, you can enter the location, alerts and other notes as well.

Other shortcuts are available. For example, swipe from the right edge of the screen and a search window appears. Swipe from the left edge of the screen and reminders appear.

If you want further tips and tricks, go to the Flexbits support page here.

Fantastical Today Widget View

Don’t forget the Today widget that allows you to view today’s events and information from Fantastical by simply swiping down from the top of your iPad from any home screen or app. You may have to add Fantastical to the today widget.

Conclusion

With the inevitable new years resolution to be more organized next year, buy this app now and begin your path to better time management and organization.

Day One – Capture Ideas and More

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Day One icon

Whether you are simply looking to get your thoughts, ideas or journaling done painlessly or planning on keeping better track of your time as a New Years resolution, you should get Day One on your Mac and iOS devices. The iOS version of Day One is on sale through Dec. 26 for 99¢.

The app was also a 2014 Design Award Winner from Apple.

Day One

This app makes journaling and capturing ideas relatively painless. It has the ability to automatically capture GPS information, weather information, date and time, photos, etc. all at the same time you enter your note or thought.

The Mac version is shown below. Note, the ability to enter a quick entry from the menu bar to capture that thought or idea no matter which app you may be using.

Day One Mac View

Importantly, no matter what device you are using (iOS or Mac), it can sync quickly and seamlessly to your other devices with Day One installed using iCloud or Dropbox. This means, when you enter information on one device, it will appear on the others.

Day One iOS images

iOS views of Day One

Features

The app is packed with simple to use and powerful features. Some of the features include the ability to:

  • sync (via iCloud, Dropbox)
  • capture photos
  • automatically add weather and temperature
  • automatically add GPS location
  • automatically add date and time
  • publish and share (via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • look at your notes from different views
  • search
  • use Markdown
  • reminder to enter
  • tag

The video below is from Day One that discusses Publish and social media options.

 

Privacy

If privacy is a concern, you can read about that here. The policy is the company does not have access to the data unless you give it to them. You can use a passcode to log into the app or on iOS devices with Touch ID, your finger. You can even encrypt the data on your iOS device with a passcode.

Sync – Painless (and Issue Resolution)

Once all of your devices are using the same iCloud account and have internet access, the syncing is quick and painless.

The only issue noticed was my iPad Air 2 did not seem to sync the notes from my iPhone 6 and Mac via iCloud as expected. This is probably not an issue with the app but rather the way iCloud handles syncing. The problem was solved by turning off iCloud on the iPad in Day One’s settings. Then, powering down the iPad. After restarting the iPad, open Day One and turn on the iCloud sync feature. After performing this, the app immediately synced all the notes and entries from my Mac and iPhone 6. Have Wi-Fi access for faster syncing, especially if you capture photos.

Search

The search feature allows you to The app does not appear to allow you to search Tags within the general search feature of the app. You have to tap on the tags and then search for your tags.

Conclusion

Run, don’t walk to get this app to capture and share your ideas, thoughts and events. Don’t forget, the Mac app is a separate purchase than the iOS app. Get both and begin journaling your life.

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