4 Reasons to Love the New Due 2.0

A couple of days ago, Lin Junjie released the new version of Due. I’d recommend you to read Federico Viticci’s review at MacStories and Sean Korzdorfer’s tips on how he use Due, if you haven’t already.

Compared to other apps on my home screen, I open Due more frequently on a daily basis. Other than the obvious visual changes, these are a few things I love about the new version.

Due 2.0 supports 12 configurable quick-access timings, including the new relative timings.Due 2.0 supports 12 configurable quick-access timings, including the new relative timings.

1. More Quick-Access Timings

One of the great features in Due 1.x is its excellent natural language parser. Combined with four quick-access timings, it allows me to quickly (and often times, programmatically) create a new reminder.

The new 2.0 version keeps the natural language parser and adds a set of eight quick-access timings. You can configure these timings to fit your needs. The new timings allow you to create a relative timing (such as +1 hour and -1 day) in addition to the fixed timings (such as 6 AM and 7 PM). For example, I created six fixed timings based on my daily milestones and another six relative timings to easily move a reminder to a different date/time.

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8 Reasons to Love Drafts 4

In less than 48 hours ago, Drafts 4 was released. It's a major update released as a separate app. I'd suggest you read Alex Guyot's excellent review in MacStories. He covered many things that highlight why Drafts 4 is such a great update.

To keep my review brief, I'd also suggest you to read the official release notes. It should give you an overview of all the new things in Drafts 4. I will briefly mention some of my favorite additions that I won't cover in details here:

  • Markdown syntax highlighting
  • New Markdown processor tag: %%...%%
  • Access to all iOS fonts, including the user-installed ones
  • Arrange mode a la Phraseology
  • Version history for modifications that allows you to rollback to a particular version
  • Location tracking for notes creation and modification - which is also accessible via the new tags: [[longitude]], [[latitude]], [[created_longitude]], [[created_latitude]], [[modified_longitude]], and [[modified_latitude]]
  • iCloud/CloudKit sync covering both drafts and actions
  • Sort notes by last accessed date, created date, or modified date
  • Track the geo-locations for each note
  • Deeper integration with Evernote by generating raw ENML markup
  • The new dark theme
  • iOS 8 Today's View widget
  • iOS 8 Document Picker which allows you to pick documents from Dropbox, iCloud, and other providers (e.g. Box)

With those out of the way, I will now focus on the ones that I will cover in more details.

Watch video showing how to migrate to Drafts 4 on Vimeo

1. Easy Migration Path from Drafts 3

Because Drafts 4 is released as a separate app, it can co-exist with Drafts 3.5. And, I believe this arrangement makes it easy for existing users to migrate their notes and custom actions to the new version.

First, you need to have both apps installed on your device. Then, you can export all or some of your notes. Because Drafts 4 uses Flagged instead of Pinned to keep things more akin to typical email clients, all your pinned notes in Drafts 3 will be exported as flagged notes in Drafts 4.

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Mingle Lets You Launch Actions From Your Contacts List

By now, I'm sure you're already familiar with Launch Center Pro and Drafts. These apps make a lot of iOS automations possible through their custom actions. Yesterday, Samir Ghobril released Mingle, an app that allows you to create custom actions and launch them based on your Contacts list.

Mingle lets you launch actions from your Contacts list.

How It Works

Mingle uses a custom Contacts list view that lets you to drag a contact's avatar to the right to switch the focus to any of the four actions. It allows you to setup exactly four contact-based actions that you can trigger by dragging the contact's avatar. As you drag to the right, Mingle will reveal the first action's icon. Then, as you hold and drag farther, you can see all the other icons too (one at a time).

If you arrive on the action that you want to launch, simply release your finger. Mingle will execute the URL schemes stored for that action.

Mingle supports the standard iOS URL schemes that you may already comfortable with. For example, you can attach a Tweetbot URL that lets you send a quick DM based on the contact's Twitter username.

What makes Mingle special is its ability to pull contact information into tags and allows you to craft your own actions using them. For example, you can use [phoneNumber] and [email] tags to extract the first phone number and email address for the selected contact. Other tags include [displayName], [twitter], and [url].

Mingle also includes many built-in actions that can give you hints on how you can create your own actions. For example, the WhatsApp message action looks like this:

whatsapp://send?text=[prompt:Message]&abid=[ABID]

As shown on that action, Mingle also supports [prompt:Title] tag - similar to Launch Center Pro's [prompt] tag. And, you can even work with more specific contact-based tags such as [ABID] (used by WhatsApp to uniquely identify its users), [social:], and [IM:].

Mingle has three custom URL schemes of its own, mingle-message://?recipient=, mingle-email://?recipient=, and mingle-tweet://?username=. Because these are contact-based URL schemes, they're useful only for in-app usages.

After beta-testing the app for a couple of weeks, here are a few custom actions that I use.

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8 Reasons to Love Launch Center Pro 2.1

Two months have passed since we saw the release of Launch Center Pro 2.0. That was a major update that brought the ability to share and import custom actions, new Dropbox actions and tags, photo attachments, prompt labels and externally launch actions.

Today, the team at Contrast releases another big update to the app. The new update contains a lot of refactoring in terms of URL scheme syntax, refinements to the photo attachment features, several new tags, and integration with Fleksy.

After spending a few days using the beta version, here are eight completely new reasons why I love the new update.

1. URL Scheme Normalization

If you remember what kinds of URL Schemes are supported by Launch Center Pro 2.0, you'd probably need a cheat sheet to figure out each of them. Despite of their raw powers, the URL Schemes could definitely use some refactoring. The new update tries to normalise the different URLs into the same base URL, i.e. launch://.

Here are a few examples comparing the old URL Scheme and the new normalised ones.

As you can see from the examples above, it's now easier to figure out and remember how one URL Scheme differs from the others. And, since most of these URL Schemes support x-callback-url, it's now quite rewarding for you to create TextExpander snippets that can help you write launch://x-callback-url/ easily.

If you have written a lot of actions that use the old URL Schemes, there's no need to worry because they're still supported in Launch Center Pro 2.1. For someone like me, it's going to be a while before I completely upgrade all my Launch Center Pro actions into the new URL Schemes. By the end of this post, you will see the benefits of moving to the new URL Schemes that should motivate you enough to upgrade your actions to the new syntax.

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8 Reasons to Love Launch Center Pro 2.0

It's been a while since the team at Contrast, formerly known as AppCubby, released an update to its flagship app, Launch Center Pro. Today, they finally release the long-awaited 2.0 version of Launch Center Pro with plenty of great features and a complete iOS 7 redesign.

I was lucky to be a part of the beta tester team. It gave me enough time to play around with the new features and improve my existing actions. In this post, I'd like to highlight eight things that I love about the new Launch Center Pro 2.0.

Launch Center Pro 2.0 allows you to easily share your custom actions.

1. Easy to Share and Import Custom Actions

Previously, any custom actions that you create in Launch Center Pro are private to your iPhone. If you want to share the action, you need to paste the URL in an iMessage, an email, or somewhere in your blog post. Today, it's easy to share actions with others.

Simply tap on the Share Action button at the bottom of the Action Composer window. It will take you to the Launch Center Pro 2.0 share page in Safari. The web form will automatically be filled with the action URL, alongside the action's name. You can add a brief description of what the action is trying to do.

Once published, you will get a unique URL that you can linked to in your iMessage, email, or blog post. The readers/recipients can load the URL from their iPhone's browser, and tap the Install Action button to have the new action be automatically installed on their iPhones.

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