Stop organising your iOS 13 apps

I’ve been switching between iOS 13 and iOS 14 almost weekly whilst testing and one thing that’s struck me is I don’t want to organise my apps anymore. Since discovering the App Library in iOS 14 I can’t be bothered to do anything about my iOS 13 setup.

I think if you’re on iOS 13 don’t bother doing anything further until you’ve experienced using iOS 14 and the App Library. It organises my apps better than I can and looking at iOS 13 now feels pretty stale.

Getting your devices ready for WWDC

It’s that time of year when those early adopters amongst us trash our data and devices with beta software for a few months. Every year I tell myself I’m not doing it and always end up enrolling in the developer program again. I’m preparing for this year I’ve gone all in and installed iOS, iPadOS and macOS betas across all of my devices.

I’m embracing it this year and planning to write up more of my thoughts on the new software versions and its impact on my workflows.

Almost all of my apps use data in the cloud so I never even back my devices up. This makes restoring non stressful knowing all my data is either in iCloud or a third party. If you’re new to the beta train then make sure you have an iCloud backup before doing anything! And if you can also do it make sure you’re photos are exported out somewhere separately.

Using automatic light mode on iOS

I’d always wanted dark mode in iOS but since using my Mac more I found it quite oppressive to have on all of the time so I switched it to automatic based on time of day.

On going back to my iPhone I suddenly felt the same and it’s been so long since I used it in light mode I did the same switch.

I’m actually enjoying the two different contrasts. Being in light mode most of the day and dark mode at night now seems to have become my go to setup. It’s strange that for years I wanted it all to go dark but now I’ve made this switch I appreciate being able to make that choice whenever I want.

What do you use?

Working from an iPhone

Don’t worry I’m not going to do many more “I don’t currently have an iPad” posts but I wanted to share an experiment I’ve been doing. I do have an iPad Mini 2 but I’ve lost my patience with 1 minute app load times and it’s going to be traded in with Apple (£50 isn’t bad for a 7 year old device).

I cleared down the iPad for trade and decided to work completely off my iPhone. In terms of performance and apps it’s perfect, I’m on an 11 Pro and everything runs just great.

I’m using apps for writing, banking, photography, music and even the odd bit of recording.

The only downside of this workflow is screen size. I haven’t gone as far as plugging in a keyboard but could use a Bluetooth if I wanted to.

I love iOS and for me the only stopper is that bigger screen but I’ll be ok for now. I can still update the blog and do my creative projects from the iPhone.

Setting up Apple Reminders

Switching back to the MAC also had me thinking about the core apps I’m using to manage my day, I’ve now settled into a little routine using Apple Reminders. The iCloud sync seems solid now and using across iOS and macOS I’m starting to find the benefits of using Apple’s own apps. I keep it fairly simple in terms of creating lists and haven’t overwhelmed myself by dumping everything into it.

I have

  • INBOX, everything goes in here to start with if it’s an idea when I’m out or if it doesn’t belong to a list it also goes here
  • HOME, anything related to home (like putting out the bins) goes in here
  • WELLBEING, anything health related goes in here
  • FINANCES, money stuff goes in here
  • CREATIVE (as a group)
    • Podcast, anything related to podcasting
    • Writing, anything related to blog post ideas or admin on the site
    • Ambient Album, a little project to get me back into writing music
  • Travel, anything holiday related

I then have the widget on iOS Today view to show me what’s due, I don’t bother with this on my MAC.

Keeping it simple has really helped me just focus on a few things and not be overwhelmed by a complicated TO DO app.

Coming back to macOS

I trashed my beloved iPad Pro 10.5″ and my iPad mini 2 is proving frustrating trying to do production work so I’ve switched back to the 12″ MacBook that’s been sat unloved mostly for the last few years. It’s a base model and comes with that original (badly thought of) keyboard. Here’s my experience of switching from iOS full time back to the macOS.

Specs:

  • Early 2016 MacBook 12″
  • 1.1 GHz Dual Core M3
  • 8GB Ram
  • 250GB SSD

I picked up this MacBook refurbished from Apple back in early 2017 and although it’s only just over 3 years this processor is showing it’s age worse than my 3 year old iPad Pro was, it’s mostly ok for what I do though to be honest. The storage space is a step up from the base model and as I don’t store pictures or music on it I’m finding space to not be a problem at all. I’m out of Apple Care+ now but in the time I’ve had it I haven’t had any problems, not even with the keyboard. I guess now is the time to test that theory as I’ll be using as my daily machine for now.

My workflows:

  • Recording my podcast and editing in GarageBand
  • Editing images using Photos
  • Writing on the blog
  • Browsing the internet
  • Listening to music with the Music app
  • Apple Notes, Calendar and Reminders

Performance is varied, very much depends on the activity that I’m doing. For recording my podcast (even when I tested with Logic Pro) and editing the performance holds up for me. Editing images in Photos isn’t amazing, if you go full screen with thumbnails scrolling isn’t too smooth and there is lag on opening up the image to edit. Anything browser based is fine as you’d expect and also Notes etc. all run fine too. Overall for my use it’s ‘fine’ as I’d expect from a few year old machine, macOS holds up well and it’s only really the Photos app that I can’t believe is so slow compared to what I can do on an iPad.

Getting back using macOS has both it’s positives and negatives as I’m learning each day I get back used to using it.

Pros:

  • File management beats Files on iOS hands down, here’s an example. I recorded a voice memo on the iPhone and moved it onto the files app on iOS. I found that managing this file was a lot slower. I couldn’t rename the file and move it into the Music App. I ended up going to iCloud on my Mac, pulling them onto the desktop, renaming and then importing into Music all on my Mac. I could then see it show up on my Music app on the iPhone
  • A trackpad built in, yes I know it’s a silly one given iPad cursor support but having a trackpad under my keyboard is great
  • Screen adjustment, I forgot how nice it is to be able to adjust the angle rather than the Smart Keyboard being fixed
  • Pro apps, I know it keeps coming up but where are the pro apps on iOS? Even an app like GarageBand is better on macOS, it’s not like for like between the platforms. There’s no doubting the hardware and iOS as a professional platform but I’d like to see Logic Pro moving over to iOS with as close functionality to the Mac as possible
  • USB-C, it’s nice to be able to share a power cable between my laptop, Nintendo Switch and work phone

Cons:

  • Less flexible than an iPad in terms of helping with posture and RSI. I like the flexibility of my iPad in that I can use it as a tablet or laptop style with a keyboard. I do miss the touchscreen a lot when trying to sit and relax so tending to use my iPhone when I’m not in my office
  • I miss the Apple Pencil…
  • I’m not a huge fan of the keyboard on the MacBook (it’s very flat) and I prefer the Smart Keyboard cover
  • I miss the speed of iOS, I mean (for me) I get work done quicker on an iPad and used to flying around apps and functionality of the apps
  • I don’t get my iOS apps I’m used to so falling back on Apple apps, which most are fine but I still find them a little limiting in places e.g. Reminders tagging but both Calendar and Notes work great on both platforms
  • Battery life isn’t as good as my iPad was although I’m still testing this one. As I mentioned above though as I mostly have my Switch plugged in (thanks, Animal Crossing) I can easily reach over and plug my MacBook in
  • Missing TouchID

This isn’t meant to be an iOS vs macOS post but just my experience on coming back to the Mac after being on iOS for so long. I think I’ll be ok for now and want to give it a go.

How to fix iCloud Keychain sync issues

I’ve been restoring all of my devices and noticed that iCloud Keychain was out of sync between my devices, through some testing I came across what looks to have kicked it back in sync.

  1. Check your iOS devices and turn off iCloud Keychain on all of them apart from the one where the Keychain is correct (see Settings –> Passwords & Accounts –> Website & App Passwords), I’d go with the device with the higher number
  2. Wait for around 20 minutes (vague I know but this seems to depend on how quick Apple’s servers are working)
  3. Turn iCloud Keychain back on one device at a time

You want to be looking at the count within Settings -> Passwords & Accounts –> Website & App Passwords. The number should be in sync across all of your devices.

Fixing iCloud sync problems

Since setting up my iPad Pro and Mini again I think I might have a fix for my iCloud sync issues. Notes seems to have sorted itself out now across all of my devices but Reminders is still acting weird on my iPhone and I’m also getting some strange Calendar Ui glitches. This seems fine on my iPad so I think the answer is to reset my iPhone.

I’ve not done this since getting it out of the box back in September so it might be time to do a full iTunes reset (DFU mode) on the iPhone and see if it fixes my issues.

I’m going to take this opportunity to reset a little mentally and try not to install social media or podcasting apps. Time to get a little headspace back on my devices and take a step back for a bit.

Finally giving up on Apple Reminders

I bet you’re sick of hearing me write about productivity apps, especially Reminders but fear not I’m done.

I’ve been trying a few different apps but still not settled but that’s a post for another day, back to Reminders.

I reinstalled the app on my iPhone and it was immediately broken.

Here’s my app badge telling me I have 6 reminders overdue.

Here’s the app.

As you can see it’s completely empty, this knocks your confidence in trusting the app, especially when it only gets updated maybe once a year if we’re lucky.

My experience with setting up family sharing on iOS

I finally decided to eat that frog and stop putting off the worst thing I could imagine setting up iOS – Family Sharing. With us all using Apple Music in the household (with different accounts mainly) and the fact I’m paying for 2TB of iCloud it was time.

It took a couple of hours and now it’s mostly setup up but wow the experience isn’t the best or least buggy I’ve seen on iOS.

If like me you are adding a child under 13 you’ll need to create an AppleID for them which included creating their email and the mostly useless in these days security questions. This part of the process was ok and logging into the account on my daughters device with her new AppleID was also ok.

Where the experience falls down is granting access to your family members.

You grant access on an individual application level.

iCloud storage was pretty straightforward but Music and Purchases are a bit of a nightmare.

For Apple Music I upgraded to the family account but whenever I tried to use the interface above to add family members it just took me to the Music app with a dialogue saying I had already purchased Apple Music. I restarted both of our devices several times but nothing worked. In the end all it took was time, after a couple of hours this workflow changed and I could see I was sharing music. Seemed like a time delay where something in the backend needed to tell the Apple servers I had upgraded. Once this happened I could go into Music on my daughters device and it knew she was part of the family plan. I still have a bug though where the ‘For You’ tab just says error retry later and a start your free 3 month trial message but everything else works.

The most annoying though is sharing content you’ve purchased via iTunes. I want the TV app to know what I’ve purchased so can be watched but it seemed to link my wrong AppleID, defaulting to iCloud. I have to wait 90 days to be able to change this to my actual iTunes account email address. Not a huge deal but still something that could be checked on entry rather than defaulting to iCloud.

You’ll need to redo content and restrictions for your child if you were using this previously. This has to be done on the family owners device. One thing that doesn’t work though is allowed apps. You need to do this on the device of your child. If you want to hide Safari you’ll need to do this via screen time on the device of your child. Doing this on your device doesn’t sync the app removal on your child’s device, I’m raising a ticket for this one.

Overall the experience is unintuitive but eventually mostly works so far.

If I experience any showstoppers I’ll let you know.