Dropmark is my new service for bookmarks and collecting, sharing neat stuff

Like many nerds, I started using Pinboard for a bookmarking service quite a while ago. Being an app person, I’ve shuffled through a handful of iOS and Mac apps as my actual interface for it. I’ve also bounced between Droplr and CloudApp for sharing files from time to time. But a few months ago I found Dropmark and its still-in-beta but excellent iOS app, and it’s become my replacement for all of this.

Pinboard is a fine enough service, but I have two big complaints about it. First, I find its design lacking and difficult to navigate and use. While apps are a decent enough workaround most (but not all) of the time, my second and more important complaint is that Pinboard refuses to support multi-word tags. They’re really important to the way I think and work.

Plus, I’m able to use multi-word tags on nearly every other service that matters to me—Tumblr, WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace (for client work), Pocket, Evernote, the list goes on. If you ask me, multi-word tags are basically synonymous with internet content, and have been for nearly two decades.

Dropmark calls itself “a smart way to organize all your links, files, and notes into visual collections” (collections = folders). I use it for two main purposes: bookmarks and sharing files or collections. For example, my main bookmarks are private (and I actually edited out a couple private collections in my post screenshot for unannounced projects), but here are my public collections of:

I’ve created a couple Dropmark collections of example links and videos to share with clients for new projects. It went pretty well. I also have a “Scratch” collection for when I need to quickly share a file with someone when email or MailDrop aren’t a good fit.

Dropmark has a great browser extension and Mac menubar app. For the past few months, it’s also been beta test a really good iPhone and iPad app that has a strong app extension. Even though it’s only in beta, the iOS app was really what got me to buy in, being a mostly-mobile person these days.

Dropmark has a few free and paid plans. Theres a trial for testing out all the features, a free plan if you don’t need much, then paid plans for individuals and teams. I’m on the Individual Pro plan at around $50/year, which unlocks features like:

  • tags
  • unlimited collections
  • private collaboration (you can add people to a collection so they can add things with you)
  • a custom domain (you can see all my public collections at share.chartier.land)
  • quite a bit more

I’ve been pretty happy with Dropmark and now consider myself to be switched over full-time. I still use similar services like Evernote and Pinterest for specific purposes, but I like Dropmark for what I need it to do. I also like that it’s a paid service, and even its free options seems refreshingly reasonable to me. You get a free trial of all its features, but the ongoing free plan restricts a good amount of stuff. If you need more, you can pay to support the service. Seems fair.

📱💻 How to close all Safari tabs at once

Safari for iOS and Mac has a quick shortcut for clearing out all your tabs, except the current one you’re viewing, and starting fresh.

📱 – Tap and hold on the tabs button (the two overlaid squares), a “Close [X] Tabs” option will appear

💻 – Command-Option-W, or hold the Option key and go to File > Close Other Tabs

Photos can search for people, places, and things

Photos for iOS and Mac can seem deceptively simple, but it hides a fair amount of search (and editing) power. For example, you can search on any of your devices for something like “water” or “California,” and it will return results for that thing or that place.

If you’ve trained Photos to recognize some of the people in your photos, you can search for them too.

You can learn more about how this works on iOS and on your Mac. Note that, when it comes to identifying people, the faces you identify unfortunately don’t sync between devices.

[via OS X Daily]

Some thoughts after upgrading to an Apple Watch series 2

I’m a fan of the Apple Watch and I’ve worn my original (series 0) nearly every day since it arrived in May 2015. While watchOS 2 and 3 have been a big help in making the Watch more useful, mine started feeling more sluggish as I used more features and newly native apps more regularly. A little while ago I decided it was time to upgrade, and last week I jumped.

I went from a stainless steel, 42mm, series 0 Watch to a Sport space gray, 42mm, series 2. The stainless steel was just a tad too flashy for me, but somewhere down the road, I’d like to pick up another Watch or two in other colors.

For context, I’ll break out how I use my Watch and what I’ve noticed with the upgrade.

My Watch uses

This is a good place to note that two of my goals for wearing an Apple Watch are to carry my iPhone less and be more present. I get notifications on my iPhone (and iPad) for a variety of things, but I treat my Watch as a sort of “VIP notification safe place,” where only the most important get through. I try to put my iPhone in a bag or coat pocket more often to reduce distractions and be more present around people.

With this in mind, I use my Watch for:

  • Siri – I use Siri quite a bit for many of the typical things, but also some niche stuff: creating reminders and timers, messaging, asking basic information (“how many ounces in a cup” – don’t judge me), starting directions, and controlling our gradually expanding set of Hue lights.
  • Dictation – I dictate a lot of stuff, like new ideas in Drafts, new tasks in Todoist, and replying to messages. Pro tip: some messaging services, like Wire (which offers cross-platform E2E encryption, by the way) allow you to reply to messages from a Watch notification, even if they they don’t have a dedicated Watch app. If you’re concerned about privacy with non-Apple friends, Wire and Signal are much better options than SMS.
  • Notifications – I am continually evolving my strategy here, especially as Watch apps and notifications become more useful. But as stated above, in this context, I think of my Watch as an always-present notification widget for a handful of must-see alerts. It’s with me more than my iPhone is (or ever was), so it works great for my needs here.
  • Location tracking – I check into places with Day One and Swarm, generally. But I also do a fair amount of maps directions, and since I’m a transit or foot commuter, I mostly use my Watch and its wrist-tapping directions.
  • Workout tracking – I’m not a huge runner, but I generally do cardio and weightlifting with Gymatic at the gym 1-3 times a week. On the weekends I also love to take my rollerblades down to Chicago’s lakefront and explore the loop area. I usually do anywhere from 4-8 miles in a session and track the route with RunKeeper.

What’s different with series 2?

Apple did a pretty good job of advertising what’s new in series 2. But if your uses overlap with any of mine, it’s hard to overstate just how significant of an impact those changes can have.

Speed

Seriously. Seriously. I recently wrote a piece for Mac Observer about how the new app Dock in watchOS 3 is a huge improvement for Watch app users. But the dual core CPU in series 2 takes it to another level.

Most apps start up very quickly, even if the aren’t in the Dock, and everything feels much snappier. You know that feeling when an old Mac or iPad tips over from being sluggish to annoyingly sluggish, and its replacement feels like a refreshing new world? That, but on your wrist.

Battery

Battery life so far has been fantastic. Most days when I put my series 0 on my bedside charging stand, I can have anywhere from 20-40 percent left. Over the last few days, my series 2 has been consistently in the 60 percent range, sometimes more.

Sleep tracking

There is a handful of generally well-regarded sleep tracking apps for Apple Watch. But thanks to the battery life improvements, series 2 is the first time I feel like I consistently have enough juice at the end of the day to properly try one. Upon Federico’s glowing recommendation, I picked up AutoSleep this weekend. We’ll see how it goes.

Water resistance

I know series 0 is supposed to be ok in the rain and shower, and even Tim Cook is on record as saying he wears his in the shower. But the fact that it isn’t officially water resistant always gave me pause.

It could just be my paranoia, but my series 0 seemed to act a little funny after some showers, and I enjoy swimming more often these days. Of course, I don’t need to wear my Watch in the shower or pool, but I’ve found it surprisingly useful. Like a lot of folks, I feel like I have some of my best ideas in the shower, so being able to fire off a transcription into Drafts for parsing later has been really useful.

It feels good to have official word that I can wear my Watch in every water-related setting I care about—not to mention warranty and AppleCare coverage. Performance has been great, and that occasional post-water behavior wonkiness is gone.

I’m glad I spent the money

In case it isn’t obvious, I’m happy I spent the money on a series 2 (though, for the record, I’m going to eBay my series 0 to recover some of the funds). I use mine a lot and the new features have made it well worth it to me. I’m not too worried about a series 3 arriving this year; if I had to guess, that feels like a 2018 thing to me.

But even if a series 3 shows up this year, I’m still planning to eventually pick up one or two more Apple Watches somewhere down the road (probably an aluminum and/or gold, possibly even a rose gold). I like watches as a fashion statement, and I was already in the middle of picking up a second old school watch when Apple released one.

If you’re curious about the series 2, I hope this piece helped. But you can always ask me questions on Tumblr and Twitter, and I’ll answer as best I can.

Here's a sample of the Finer Things in Tech Newsletter

If you haven’t seen it yet, I started a weekly Finer Things in Tech Newsletter. For a while, I’ve wondered whether email would be a great format for the kind of bite-sized tips I like to publish here, and so far it’s doing pretty well. 

However, since it’s a newsletter, I’m not publishing it online yet. I’m not sure I will, I’m still new to all of this. But I can give you a sample of issue 2 that went out this week.

If you like the cut of this newsletter’s jib, you can subscribe here. I aim to get it in your inbox on Mondays by 5:30am US central time. I’m also working on a few occasional goodies for future issues, but there will be more to say about that later.

As always, thanks for reading.

iMessage apps have become pretty interesting and useful

Not stickers, apps. I’ve been a sticker proponent for quite a while, as stickers have been a massive (and profitable) hit in other countries for years. They also just make people happy, and in a world like this one, we need more of that. But some apps like Line attribute most (if not all) of their attraction and impressive revenue to stickers. Apple and iMessage basically just closed a five-year gap there.

iMessage apps are different. They appropriate functionality, which lives elsewhere outside of iMessage, and place it right in the conversation with you. For a while, I figured “why not just open that app and tap a share or copy link?” But tinkering with two iMessage apps helped things click for me: Pocket and Fandango.

They remove friction from switching apps to grab content, a link, or even functionality, and keep that stuff right there with me and my friends. There’s something useful about not having to break away from a conversation to go get this stuff.

In the case of Pocket, I save a lot of links there to either read or share with the Pocket community. Now, when I’m chatting with friends in iMessage, those links are just a couple taps away with the Pocket iMessage app, complete with rich media previews.

Fandango for iMessage gets even more interesting. You can go through the entire process right there in an iMessage—pick a movie, a day, choose from your favorite theaters you’ve marked in the app, buy tickets with Apple Pay, pick seats (at theaters that do reserved seating), and send a rich media preview to your friends, all right within the app (I think it can share the Apple Wallet ticket pass to the chat, too. But I’m not buying tickets just to verify for this post 😄).

Besides covering the big tasks of finding a showtime and buying tickets, Fandango’s iMessage app makes many of the little details of organizing an outing like this much more convenient—telling people which theater, offering directions, and sharing a link to find out more info.

Now that these two apps clicked for me, I flipped the switch on a bunch more iMessage apps to see if they’re a good fit as well. Copied and GIFwrapped are good candidates for sticking around, so is Citymapper and its list of recent, shareable locations you’ve saved or searched. There are a few others that I deliberately added to my first or second page of iMessage apps for testing. It’s a big help for me in making them convenient enough to use on any kind of regular basis. We’ll see if they stick, too.

If you haven’t bothered much with iMessage apps, now might be a good time to give them a look. Like Watch apps (especially after watchOS 3), I think developers (and us!) just needed some time to understand the platform and put it to good use.

Some of the apps are getting pretty polished, fast, and useful. I may have my gripes about iMessage, but at least it finally started to compete with the industry in becoming much more useful beyond sharing text and photos. I think iMessage apps have become one of the many little ways that iOS is moving beyond the Mac in not just interestingness, but genuine utility for regular folks.

My favorite early Apple Watch moment

Apple Watch I finally got to my first WWDC in 2015. I took the opportunity to scratch my train itch and took an Amtrak out there from Chicago. It was a two-day trip, so I split a roomette with my friend Dan Peterson and it was amazing.

Verizon had decent-to-good 4G nearly the whole way. We hung out in the snack and observation cars a lot, splitting time between working, sightseeing, reading, and striking up conversations with our fellow cross-country strangers.

The original Apple Watch landed just a couple months before WWDC that year, slowly trickling out to people who preordered. Like a good chunk of attendees, I had mine and was busy exploring what it was all about, how its features worked, and how it would fit into my life.

Not being a developer, I was out there for the community and to make new friends. By day I attended AltConf, an excellent new indie conference that runs in parallel and just so happened to be streaming the keynote in the Metreon theater across the street from Moscone West.

My memory wants to say AltConf attendees filled up probably three quarters of the theater. People streamed in, found their seats, silenced their phones, and the show began.

It was a good keynote, but my favorite part happened in the Metreon theater. About 50 minutes in, a cacophony of Apple Watches all beeped nearly at once—according to the Activity features, it was time for us to stand.

We remembered to silence our phones, but it sounded like most of us were not yet in the habit with our Watches. I’m pretty sure no one actually stood, but we all sprung into action to ensure the rest of the keynote went uninterrupted.

The new Finer Things in Tech Newsletter debuts Monday, March 20

I realized I can't keep floating ideas or pouring over details or second-guessing myself over the newsletter, I need to just get it out there and see what happens!

So fine, we're doing this.

On Monday, March 20, I will publish the first issue of the all-new, never-before-seen, 100% shiny and chrome Finer Things in Tech Newsletter. Each weekly issue will be a handful of bite-sized, quick-to-read, yet supremely useful tips on how to get more out of your tech and apps, how to work smarter, occasional links to some great non-news tech musing around the web, and some surprise goodies I'm working on rounding up for you.

I've had this idea for a couple years now, as I started wondering if a newsletter would be the perfect format for the type and style of tips that launched Finer Things in Tech in the first place. Let's find out, shall we?

Subscribe to the newsletter here and share this link with all your friends and clients. Maybe your boss, too. Heck, try working it into a Reply All at work, see what happens.

I'm really excited about this, and I can't wait to hear what you think. As always, thanks for reading.

The Finer Things in AirPods

Apple’s new AirPods have quickly become my favorite headphones I’ve ever owned. They have their shortcomings, but their excellent array of features greatly outweigh the cons for me.

I received mine just before Christmas, and there’s barely a day I leave the house now when they aren’t with me. In that time I’ve found AirPods to have some unexpected advantages and perks, so I’d like to dig into some of the details of what makes AirPods a great set of headphones.

They stay in through many kinds of physical activity

I’ve run and lifted with them at the gym. I also live and commute with them in Chicago, which means I’ve occasionally whipped my head around to check traffic or avoid someone rushing down the street. To my surprise, they stay in great.

You can opt to use just one AirPod like a ‘traditional’ Bluetooth headset

It’s really useful for phone conversations, podcasts, or listening to Anchor stations. It’s also discreet for when you’re at a social or other function and just want to quickly and quietly listen to or watch something.

If your pants have a ‘watch pocket,’ AirPods probably fit in it

I wear guy’s pants, and they all have had that tiny little pocket just above the right pocket (apparently, it was originally for pocket watches and dates back to at least 1879). These days I wear my Watch and, as it turns out, the AirPods case fits just fine in my watch pocket. Hence, they almost always leave the house with me now, just in case, as I usually keep them by my wallet and keys.

You probably don’t need to make space for them

I think it’s worth noting separately that AirPods don’t take up much space. You don’t need a separate bag to bring them with you in most cases, and they barely need any room in most bags and tech ensembles. I have a pair of Jabra Revo Wireless and similarly designed Beats Solo3s (which I’m eBaying soon). They certainly have their perks, but even folded up, they practically took up half my backpack.

Space is important. The fact that AirPods barely take up any is refreshing.

Total battery life is insane

A lot of the initial coverage focused on the ‘5 hours on a charge’ bit for the AirPods themselves. But in practice, I don’t use mine for nearly that long in a sitting. I use them for a phone call, then some music while I work, then put them back in the case to charge. I take them back out to take a break and play a round of Vainglory, or maybe a podcast or two while I commute somewhere. Put them back in the case.

There’s a cadence to my usage, which means my personal, total perceived battery life easily hits that 24 hour mark (so far I’ve only goften them in the red at 11 percent once). I’ve owned a few wireless earbud-style headphones over the years, but none of them can touch that. Not even Apple’s other brand new wireless earbud-style headphones, the BeatsX at 12 hours.

If you’re iOS only, you can reach the Charger Singularity

When I leave the house to work in a field office or co-op, I usually bring my iPhone, AirPods, and iPad (I use my Mac much less these days). This allowed me to achieved Charger Singularity—all I carry is a Lightning charger now (the 29-watt block charger with Apple’s longer cable for fast charging). It’s pretty nice.

Not for everyone, but they’re great for me

The AirPods certainly aren’t perfect for everyone; what is? But they fit my needs very, very well, and I’m an extremely happy owner. I hope these tips and perks help if you have a pair or decide to pick one up.

How to bypass Google AMP links with Opener for iOS

I don’t like Google AMP’s “accelerated mobile pages.” It feels like yet another land grab to take over yet more of the web, eVern more tracking our activity without our permission, and they’ve never even felt faster to me than the original (mobile) webpage. Google AMP also interferes with or flat-out breaks some apps or features, like Safari Reader.

There may be other ways to disable or work around AMP. But thanks to Joe Ortiz, I learned that one of my favorite iOS utilities, Opener, has the option built right in.

At its core, Opener allows you to open links in the apps of your choice. It quickly became a must-have for me.

For example. Say you want to open a Twitter link from a blog post, or a YouTube link someone shared with you. If you tap those links, they’ll open in either their respective native apps (if installed) or a tab in Safari. Opener allows you to quickly open that Twitter link in Tweetbot (or Twitterrific, or many other supported Twitter apps), or that YouTube link in ProTube, a much better YouTube client that adopted things like Split View and Picture in Picture on iPad virtually on day one.

Opener even allows you to set a default browser, of sorts. If you choose a browser other than Safari in Opener’s settings, you can use Opener’s sharing extension to open every link in that other browser.

As for Google AMP, Opener is aware of these links and, by default, will bypass AMP and take you to the original, true URL. Just trigger its app extension on a link, choose to open it in your browser preference, and AMP is kicked to the curb.

This makes me happy, and I thank its developer, Tijo, Inc., for making this such an easy process.