Streaming Voice Dictation in iOS 8

Apple announced streaming voice dictation in Siri, which shows you your words as you speak them, at WWDC. This feature has existed on Android for awhile and it is something I'd very much like to see on iOS. However, Apple was mum on adding the feature beyond Siri to normal voice dictation. If they've got the ability to do it in Siri, why not everywhere else too? As confirmed by 9to5 Mac, you can now stream dictation anywhere on iOS. This is a big deal for dictators, such as myself. iOS 8 just keeps getting better and better. 


 

Sponsor: Hoban Cards

Hoban Press is sponsoring MacSparky.com this week. I’ve heard from many readers that love their new Hoban Cards pressed out of Hoban’s 1902 letterpress machine. I sure love mine. 

HOBAN CARDS

Hoban Cards specializes in in minimal calling cards. This is a less expensive way to get into letterpress printing. Evan has been adding new designs and he is now up to 18 beautiful, typographic calling card templates. These are perfect for individuals or businesses looking for a unique and classy alternative to conventional, mass produced, soulless business cards. For a limited time, he has a nice discount on some of the new templates.

HOBAN PRESS

Hoban Press specializes in custom letterpress printed items like business cards, stationery, and wedding invitations. This is the best choice if you need to use your own logo or artwork. They also provide design and layout services.

MPU 204: Presentations

Episode 204 of the Mac Power Users is now available. In it Katie and I talk about some of our favorite tips for giving good presentations and I talk a little bit about behind-the-scenes with the new book at the end.

Marked2 is Now in the Mac App Store

Brett Terpstra is kind of legendary in nerd circles. He makes wonderful tools that makes our lives easier. I bought Marked 2 when he first released it outside of the App Store and use it all the time. Now Brett has the app for sale in the Mac App Store. It's more customizable than ever before with themes and advanced writing and proofreading tools. 

For a limited time, Marked 2 will be available for $9.99. The regular price will be $13.99. This will serve as both "introductory" pricing for new users and "upgrade" pricing for existing users of Marked 1.4.

The Presentations Field Guide is Now Shipping

I'm pleased to announce the Presentations Field Guide on is now shipping. The initial response has been fantastic and the book is currently at the top of the charts in the iBooks Store.

I spent a lot of time on the design and this book looks fantastic. Readers already are reporting they love the new design and layout. The content also came out great walking you through planning and giving a presentation in addition to all the parts you'll be doing on your Mac and iPad.

The book is available in the iBooks and PDF formats. If you've been waiting, now is the time to go get it. I've got screenshots, the promo video, and a full description right here. 

TextExpander for Quick Defer+Due Dates in OmniFocus

Max Masnick is using Text Expander to quickly enter defer and due dates in OmniFocus. Max primarily uses this for events that have the same defer and due dates. For example if you want a task to disappear but show up as due on Monday at 9am. I don't have much cause for that style task because I so rarely use due dates but there is no reason you couldn't also use this to defer with later relative due dates, for example two weeks from Friday, which in OmniFocus speak would be 2w Fri. Moreover, Max figured out how to combine defer dates and TextExpander so of course he gets a link.

 

Apple Opens Up iTunes Pass in the US

I've always felt that Apple's Passbook was a good idea that never really took off. I use it for boarding passes but have found very few other uses. (I know the poster child for Passbook retail use is Starbucks but I don't drink coffee and don't like their tea.) Either way, I've felt that Passbook has been in limbo lately. I'm sure the whole "pay with your phone" idea is important to Apple but it seemed like Passbook may be one of those things that just lingers until Apple unveils the next initiative to replace it.

That may still be the case but it appears Apple isn't entirely ignoring Passbook. Today they added a new feature that lets you charge up your iTunes credit with Passbook in an Apple retail store. This makes a lot of sense with the upcoming Family Sharing feature. I would like to see Passbook (or something like it) take off. I'm tired of carrying bits of plastic around when I've got a really smart phone.

Josh Centers at TidBITS walks you through how to use Passbook in the Apple Store.

IBM and Apple Sitting in a Tree …

Today Apple and IBM announced a partnership to use IBM’s enterprise expertise and Apple’s products to tackle enterprise sales. It seems like a good fit. There are a lot of moving pieces and, as usual, Macworld covers it well.

For years now, Apple has been building this retail/consumer battleship and largely ignoring enterprise sales. While Apple has lavished significant attention on enterprise support in iOS, they’ve never appeared to care much about selling to and supporting the enterprise. As a result, we’ve all wondered if they had some sort of plan or just didn’t care. With today’s move, it appears the plan is to offload enterprise sales and support to IBM. It makes sense. I hope it goes well for both companies.

Spreadsheet Tricks

I am a business lawyer but did my undergraduate degree in political science, which makes me a bit of a faker among some of the business types I spend time with. However, the one thing that always gives me credibility is the way I can make a spreadsheet application dance. I've written in the past how, for certain problems, a spreadsheet application can double as a simple application development platform. Here is the Settlement "App" I've built in Numbers.

If you are looking at getting better at spreadsheets, Rob Griffiths wrote up a nice summary at Macworld of nine things you should know how to do with a spreadsheet.

 

Sponsor: Beloved Robot

This week MacSparky.com is sponsored by Beloved Robot, a group of app developers that get it. 

Got At Idea?

Do you have an idea that will take your business to the next level? Want enable your employees to be more productive and efficient? Solving these types of problems is their specialty. They can offer you the design and development that will solve problems, not create more.

Got An App?

Do you already have an app that needs a little love? Not happy with the look and feel? Let Beloved Robots developers take a look. They pride ourselves in creating beautiful apps that will stand out in a ever more crowded App Store.

Don’t Hesitate

The ever growing need for mobile solutions is not going away. Don’t stand aside and let the competition beat you to the punch. Engage your customers with a stunning mobile app and let the pros at Beloved Robot help you do that. They provide strategy, design and development services to clients that is a cut above the rest.

Beloved Robot has got you covered. 

Natural Scrolling in LaunchBar

launchbar-512.png

Apple has me so well trained on natural scrolling that when LaunchBar scrolls the old way through its lists, I panic a little. "Why is it going the wrong direction?" The LaunchBar gang has a post explaining their design decision. They also have a terminal commands for people like me that want a naturally scrolling LaunchBar. If you want natural scrolling in your LaunchBar, go into your terminal and type the below command. Then quit and relaunch LaunchBar and you'll be all fixed up.

defaults write at.obdev.LaunchBar NaturalScrolling YES


Jazz Friday: John Coltrane, A Love Supreme

John Coltrane is one of the most well-regarded saxophonists ever to pick up the instrument. He was a vital band member with Miles Davis and a force of his own as a solo artist. I used his Ballads album to serenade my children when they were babies and I still find myself playing it when I need a bit of serenity.

John was also quite spiritual. He recorded several albums that were spiritually inspired. In one of his seminal works, A Love Supreme, he wrote a Psalm and then, in the studio, put the words on his music stand and played them I first heard about this when I was 15 and playing the sax several hours a day. I couldn’t fathom someone playing words instead of music. However, I did read John’s Psalm and listen to the music and I did hear it.

Just a few weeks ago, Dan Colman made a video at OpenCulture, that shows you John’s original words overlaid with the music. I found it mesmerizing to watch as I could put myself in the head of this musical genius and look at the words float by as the notes come out.

My thanks to David in Cincinnati for pointing me at the OpenCulture post.



About that Sapphire Crystal Video

I'm going to declare the release of the below video demonstrating an alleged Sappphire crystal display from the next iPhone the official opening of iPhone rumor silly season. Every year about this time, the parts leaks start up giving us increased information about the next iPhone, which Apple will probably announce in September or October. While the video is impressive, I'm not sure how relevant the tests were. I've been using iPhones without cases since the first iPhone. Granted I'm pretty careful about it (the left pocket is for iPhone only) but I have never had a scratch on the glass of any of my iPhones.

Shattered glass is another story. The real test I would like to see with this Sapphire crystal (if this is Sapphire crystal), is shatter resistance. If Apple is incorporating this new material and it can dramatically decrease the amount of shattered screens, then we are talking.

Either way, I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more links and stories in the coming months leading up to Apple's announcement. Moreover, if the new material is used and is more shatter resistant, I'm certain that Tim and gang will be shouting that from the rooftops at the eventual announcement.

Home Screens - Hardik Pandya

This week’s home screen features Hardik Pandya from the Netherlands. Hardik was featured here once before when he was still a student. Now he runs a company. Okay Hardik, show us your home screen.

Who are you? What do you do?

I’m Hardik Pandya, I am a developer, hobby photographer and a writer. I run a company with a friend of mine at Octal which is a automation systems and product design studio. I write most of my articles at my own website, connect with people on Twitter and share photos on my VSCO Grid.

I use an iPhone 5S 16GB model in Gold color. That awesome wallpaper is here.

What apps do you use the most and why?

Not a lot has changed from when I showed my homescreen the previous time. Currently I have a few of the basic Apple stock apps and a few of the best replacements I could find out from our good folks on the Internet.

Calendars 5: I love and prefer this over Fantastical because of its better Week, Day and Month views. I use calendar on my iPhone mostly to check sports schedule and plan my travels. I do not prefer using it to schedule appointments and meetings because that’s what I use another app I will discuss in a while.

Instagram / Over / Vine / VSCO Cam: I am a photographer at heart. I edit photos I take on my phone and for that I use VSCO Cam and its large array of filters. It’s a great great app. Over is an app that I use to put typography on my photos that looks great sometimes (not always, but a good app to have). Vine is an app I mostly use to share some visual bugs that we encounter while product development with my colleagues. It’s a great use-case but of course not much useful with the social nuance of Vine.

Pocket Casts: The Sweet Setup guys called it! I was using it since even before their iOS 7 redesign and I loved it even back then. Just the best podcatcher out there before you finally try Marco’s Overcast.

Simplenote: I have always loved a simple text catching app that is always handy and just a click away. Its speed and reliability in sync has always prevented me to look at other options. I long-ditched Evernote for its bulky and overblown premises. I use Simplenote for starting blogpost ideas and at times building lists.

Day One: The most used and the most priced possession on my phone. It contains so many life-long memories I could just pay Paul Mayne a yearly fees just as a mark of appreciation for building this gem.

Telegram (www.telegram.org): WhatsApp got acquired and I decided to move on for Instant Messaging needs. Telegram is cross-platform, free (will always be) and even has desktop/Mac apps and web-apps. Perfect for chatting from the laptop whenever you feel typing on the phone makes you mad.

Reeder / Interesting / Pushpin / Zite: My news-reading begins in Reeder and Interesting (from Mike Rundle) and good and long articles end up in Pinboard (the best bookmarking service that recently completed 5 years of existence). Pinboard is link-saving nirvana.

1Password & Tweetbot: Well, no surprises here.

LiveScore: A free and awesome app for following your favorite sport. Football World Cup is going on and I use this app to stay up-to-date with all the matches and schedules. It supports Football, Cricket and a lot of other sports. I really cannot live without it for the sake of the FOMO.

Todoist: Todoist is my task-manager of choice. I love OmniFocus too. But OmniFocus is not exactly for teams nor does it have a web component. I have my own company and we have a team. We use Todoist and it’s great for sharing projects and tasks and delegating tasks without much of a deep hierarchy or a learning curve. It’s pretty straight-forward and easy to get up and running with.

Slack: Our tool of choice for inter-company communication. It’s great for chatting with colleagues, sharing files and troubleshooting with code snippets. It has web, native and mobile components and is even free to start with.

So these are the tools I use to get my daily work, social communication and entertainment done. There’s been a lot that evolved since my last iOS 6 screen covered here on MacSparky but that’s the nature of this industry!

What’s your favorite feature of the iPhone?

Control Center. I can’t imagine going to the Photography folder to pull out the camera without missing a moment. Control Center makes switching to Camera, Torch and Music much faster. Indispensable.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

ThreesRuzzle and Monster Dash too. But mostly Threes. I even played 2 games in the middle of writing this article. It’s so addictive I need psychological help.

Thanks Hardik.