A flaw and solution for iMessage group conversations

Group iMessage conversations can get pretty notification-y, what with all the GIFs and LOLs and thumbs ups. It may be tempting to shut off notifications altogether, but then you might miss actually important messages, including those meant for you.

I think a strong solution to this problem is part technical, part cultural.

The technical part

Apple has a partial feature solution in place. But it isn’t applied evenly across macOS and iOS, and I would argue it isn’t very discoverable.

In short: Messages on macOS has a feature in Preferences > General awkwardly called Notify me when my name is mentioned. This means that, if you’re in a busy group conversation, you can click Details in the upper right, then turn on Do Not Disturb and ask people to include your first name in any messages you really need to see.

It’s like @ mentions in Slack or Discord, except you don’t need the @ in Messages. In the screenshots with this post, my brother’s message triggered the alert.

The ‘uneven’ problem comes in with iOS. While you can enable Do Not Disturb on your iPhone and iPad (although it’s strangely called ‘Hide Alerts,’ which is a separate problem), there is no “Notify me when my name is mentioned” feature. All messages, even those including your name, will arrive silently on iOS.

To me, the obvious technical solution is for Apple to bring feature parity to iOS and, ideally, pick one name.

The cultural part

I’m making an assumption, but I don’t think there is a strong culture in group messaging of “mention my name to alert me for something important.” In most apps I’ve used (Messages, Telegram, Wire, Line, Skype, etc.), you either get alerts for every message, or you don’t.

But if Apple could bring feature parity, and/or if you work mostly on a Mac, it might be worth trying to bring this idea to the table with your regular chatting friends. Group conversations could become more flexible, and we may not have to draw such a hard line between joining, staying in, or Do Not Disturb-ing them.

AMPLetter.org – A letter about Google AMP

We are a community of individuals who have a significant interest in the development and health of the World Wide Web (“the Web”), and we are deeply concerned about Accelerated Mobile Pages (“AMP”), a Google project that purportedly seeks to improve the user experience of the Web.

In fact, AMP keeps users within Google’s domain and diverts traffic away from other websites for the benefit of Google. At a scale of billions of users, this has the effect of further reinforcing Google’s dominance of the Web.

A letter about Google AMP

In with a new MacBook

In with a new MacBook

In 2015, I switched from a 13-inch MacBook Pro to a first-gen, 12-inch MacBook. In my enthusiasm for iPad and all things thin and light, I figured I could get by with the tiniest retina MacBook yet, running what was basically a netbook CPU.

For a couple years, I did get by. But it can’t keep up anymore, especially since a growing amount of my client work requires more intensive tasks. Thanks to AppleInsider, I found a killer deal on a 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Space Gray), on which I typed this post.

This thing is amazing. I know the first gen redesign in 2016 had some keyboard problems, but I hear the 2017 model much improved on that issue. Overall, I really like what Apple did here. The 13-inch Pro body dropped at least a full pound with this form factor, which makes it nearly the same weight as a 13-inch Air.

I think I’ll need time to understand the Touch Bar. Coming from an iPad, I’m certainly interested in the potential of a section of my keyboard that can adapt to the task at hand. Already, in a couple apps, I found shortcuts in the Touch Bar for which I didn’t know the keyboard shortcut; that was quite useful.

But then, just now, I wanted to use one of my favorite shortcuts—Command + Mission Control—to shove all windows aside and get something on the desktop. But the Mission Control button wasn’t there, it was a typing suggestion bar. Yes, I can tap the keyboard control on the right side to unfurl that ‘section’ of the Touch Bar to get the Mission Control button and trigger my shortcut. And yes, it’s still faster than manually minimizing or moving everything. But it is a bit of new friction that wasn’t previously there for this somewhat infrequently used shortcut.


Update: Toph Allen on Twitter pointed out that a 4-finger pinch outward can also invoke this command. After a little practice, I’m getting that down pretty well. This might be a good solution for me.


We’ll see how this plays out. I know there are a few ways to customize the Touch Bar’s behavior, so I’ll have to explore those in the coming weeks.

I’m a day into using this, but so far I’m really happy. This new MacBook has the screen space and horsepower I need to work, and I didn’t have to sacrifice too much in size or weight to get it.

👍🏻 👍🏻 for the 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar so far.

📱 Play with app mockup ideas with ProtoSketch for iPad and iPhone

📱 Play with app mockup ideas with ProtoSketch for iPad and iPhone

[Note: This tip was originally published in my newsletter]

If you’ve ever wanted to tinker with that Great App Idea with something more than doodling tools, check out ProtoSketch for iPad and iPhone. It’s a design app for everything from sketching to logos, but it also has templates with typical interface tools. It’s pretty easy to build a few example screens to visualize your idea and share it with others. There is also a free Lite version, with a max of five documents and other restrictions.

📱 Apple Maps: Use 3D Touch on recent search results to call, open homepage, share

Apple Maps keeps a running list of your recent searches and locations below the search box. If you swipe to expand that list, you can 3D Touch on locations for a shortcut menu that includes options to call, open homepage, share, and get directions.

For the recent non-specific markers you’ve dropped (with a red pin icon), you can get directions, share, and delete them.

📱 Quick skip between Spotlight result groups on iPad

[Note: This tip was originally published in my newsletter]

If you use a keyboard with your iPad, you can use ⌘+Space to trigger Spotlight, just like on a Mac. You can also quickly navigate between groups of Spotlight results (contacts, apps, emails, etc.) with ⌘+Down/Up Arrow. This will skip between the first result in each group. Use Down/Up arrows to navigate between results within each group.

⌚️ Apple Watch is a great remote trigger, viewfinder for your iPhone’s camera

[Note: This tip was originally published in my newsletter]

Your Apple Watch can be a remote shutter and viewfinder for your iPhone’s camera. Simply open the default camera app on your iPhone, then open the Camera app on your Watch (it has a similar, gray icon). After a second, a live feed of your iPhone’s camera will appear on your Watch, and you can tap to take the shot. This pairs great if you put your iPhone on a stand like the Benro Handheld Tripod and Selfie Stick or Gorillapod Magnetic (I own and like both).

Bonus Tip: If you tap your Watch’s camera app first, it’ll tell your iPhone to launch its Camera app and start the process. This way, you can just set your phone up on a stand, get your subjects in place, then start the process from your Watch.

Bonus Tip 2: Tap the (3) button in the lower right on your Watch to take a shot with a three-second timer.

Bonus Tip 3: 3D Touch on your Watch’s camera to adjust settings like HDR, flash, and whether Live Photos is active.

Thanks to The Mac Mommy for reminding me about this one

📱💻 Using a Commonplace Book to catalog your life’s journey, influences, and more

📱💻 Using a Commonplace Book to catalog your life’s journey, influences, and more

I’ve used Day One for years as a straightforward, personal journal. More recently, I started cataloging my work milestones and failures in a secondary Day One journal, and my internet likes in a third.

But this idea and short series from The Sweet Setup is quite interesting:

A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits.

The idea of expanding Day One (or insert your journal of choice) into these broader realms, especially things that influence me and sheer observations, is really interesting. I think I’ll give it a shot by putting it in the Dock on all my devices and see how it goes.

📱 Anti-reminders can help build healthy habits, stick to your values

📱 Anti-reminders can help build healthy habits, stick to your values

For a little while now, I’ve been focusing on building healthier habits. I’ve used a combination of creating a morning routine and the habit-tracker Streaks to regularly remind me of things I want to do. More recently, though, I’ve started tinkering with what I call ‘anti-reminders.’

The idea is to create a task or reminder in whatever app to nudge you to not do something. Don’t have your regular morning coffee before that doctor appointment. Don’t have more than two drinks at next month’s family gathering. Don’t play games next Wednesday when you really want to work on that side project. Set the reminder to ping you shortly before or during an event, and it could help keep you on track.

It isn’t about being negative. I think of it as the other side of the habit coin–there are good habits to build, and bad habits to break. Or sometimes there are just healthy or neutral routines to… sigh, ‘disrupt’ when it matters.

Siri + Reminders are my vehicles for anti-reminders right now. “Hey Siri, remind me to not have coffee next Thursday at 7:30am.” I also want to tinker with a Streaks feature called ‘Negative Tasks’–don’t smoke, don’t bite nails, don’t eat bad food, and you can make your own. These actually start each day as complete, and you only mark them if you miss your target and partake in the thing you want to avoid.

Anti-reminders have been helpful for me so far. If the idea sounds interesting, give them a try and let me know what you think here or on Tumblr or Twitter.

Enlight has great video tutorials for turning your photos into art

Enlight has great video tutorials for turning your photos into art

Enlight for iPhone and iPad is one of my go-to photo editing apps. It has a strong set of tools for both basic edits and getting more creative with double exposures, collages, unique effects, adding objects, manipulating text, and more.

Enlight gives us couple great ways to learn these tools and techniques. The first is in-app video tutorials and step-by-step tutorials, both of which are under the Enlight menu at the top of the app.

The second option is Enlight’s YouTube channel. Many video tutorials are there, as are archives of the Photofox Live events the company does on Facebook—useful to those of us who don’t (or no longer) have Facebook accounts.