Overcast 4.0 Brings UI Optimizations for iOS 11 and iPhone X, Drag and Drop, and New Advanced Settings – MacStories

The combination of iOS 11 and iPhone X is pushing developers to reconsider many of their interaction paradigms and interface affordances that predated the Super Retina display and drag and drop. In a span of two months, iOS 11 made custom implementations of multiple item selection and reordering effectively obsolete, while the iPhone X now requires apps to embrace its display and novel status bar design.

Overcast 4.0 is a good example of how Apple’s biggest releases of the year impacted apps that needed a lot of work to be updated for the iPhone X and iOS 11. Released today on the App Store, Overcast 4.0 bears no groundbreaking additions to the experience; instead, developer Marco Arment focused on design refinements and simplifying the app’s navigation, modernizing Overcast’s appearance and flow while bringing smaller enhancements to the listening and browsing experience.

There are some notable changes in this version – drag and drop is present, albeit in a limited fashion – but Overcast 4.0 is primarily aimed at foundational improvements and laying the groundwork for the future. Despite this “Snow Leopard approach”, however, heavy Overcast users should still find the many optimizations as well as the “by popular demand” tweaks more than welcome.

The most visible departure from Overcast 3.0 is the replacement of the “stacked card” visual metaphor (of which I was a fan) with a more traditional horizontal navigation. Show pages and episode details are now always pushed into view from the side of the app; the Now Playing screen has gone back to the Overcast 2.0 style, abandoning the Apple Music-inspired card design of version 3.0.

According to Arment, these were necessary changes to take advantage of the iPhone X’s screen and increase the reachability of all navigation controls throughout the app. It’s hard to tell without an iPhone X in my hands, but I assume that “embracing the notch” with a unified title bar should look better than blocking out the device’s status bar with a black background, which Overcast’s old stacked card UI (pictured in the image above) would have done.

There are plenty of design tweaks in Overcast 4.0 that are relatively small in isolation, but add to the experience over time. An episode’s description page now features a play button in the center of the title bar, which makes it easy to start listening without navigating back to the episode list. The Now Playing widget at the bottom of the screen has been slightly redesigned with the inclusion of a chevron that suggests the UI element can be swiped or tapped to open vertically. Swipe gestures on individual episodes use the new full-swipe iOS 11 API to play a subtle tap via the Taptic Engine when you swipe all the way across the cell to delete or download an episode.

There are dozens of other small optimizations in Overcast, but there are also a couple of new features worth pointing out. In the Nitpicky Details screen in Settings, those who don’t like Overcast’s “episode bar” can turn on a One-Tap Play option that immediately plays an episode in a list when tapped, instead of expanding it to reveal contextual actions. When this setting is enabled, the bar can be opened by tapping a downward-facing arrow on the right side of an episode.

I don’t use One-Tap Play (I listen to podcasts in Overcast by adding them to a catch-all Queue playlist, so having easier access to the bar is more convenient for me), but I know that thousands of users prefer this behavior. It makes sense to make it a Nitpicky Detail in the app for those who want it.

The biggest feature addition to Overcast 4.0 is drag and drop to reorder episodes in a playlist. Thanks to iOS 11’s drag and drop framework, Arment has been able to replace his old custom implementation of episode reordering and adopt a system-wide behavior that is consistent with other iOS 11 apps. On both the iPhone and iPad, you can hold down on an episode in a playlist to lift it up and drop it elsewhere in the current playlist or in another playlist altogether. Native drag and drop means Overcast benefits from all the options Apple baked into the framework: you can pick up multiple episodes at once with multi-select; dragging doesn’t block interactions with the rest of the interface (so you can tap around and open other playlists as you’re holding an episode); and, on the iPad, you can even drag an episode out of Overcast and drop it in another app (this will export the episode title and URL).

As someone who likes Castro’s triage-based system but prefers Overcast’s audio experience, I find drag and drop support in Overcast particularly effective. In my Queue playlist, I can quickly reorder episodes based on what I want to play next, and I can also pick up multiple episodes at once from the All Episodes list and drop them into the Queue without having to tap the ‘Add’ button multiple times in a row.

Unfortunately, as also mentioned in Overcast’s release notes, support for drag and drop is extremely basic at this point, especially when compared to a rich implementation of the technology such as Supertop’s. There’s no haptic feedback when reordering episodes, and no custom item previews for in-progress drags; Overcast doesn’t visually communicate drop areas with UI highlights (something that Castro does well with its queue), and the app doesn’t support spring-loading either. And more importantly, you cannot pick up episodes from every screen in Overcast: right now, only episodes inside playlists support drag and drop. However, Arment is promising “more coming later” for drag and drop in Overcast, which suggests the app’s new foundation should unlock more advanced uses of the feature in the months ahead.

Speaking of drag and drop, Overcast 4.0 turns off 3D Touch by default to avoid possible interference with the long-tap gesture to start dragging episodes. Personally, I never had this kind of problem, but I understand why the difference between a normal long-tap and a 3D Touch press requires fine motor skills that can be an issue for many. There’s a Nitpicky Detail to re-enable 3D Touch to open an episode’s info; I’ve kept it disabled for now as Overcast prominently features an info button to quickly open show notes next to an episode’s title.


Overcast 4.0 may not have a splashy new design or major feature changes, but I believe Arment made a good call in rewriting the app’s UI for iOS 11 and the iPhone X and focusing on refinements and overall polish for now. I’d rather have Overcast look great on my iPhone X this weekend than wait for months and use it in letterboxed mode.

Overcast’s audio experience continues to be unparalleled (I’ve tried other clients’ versions of Smart Speed; they don’t sound nearly as good as Overcast’s) and it feels like, after months of work, Arment has a better foundation to build upon. As I suspected, after my annual stint with Apple’s Podcasts app, Overcast is back on my Home screen, and I’m excited to see where Arment will take it next.

Overcast 4.0 is available on the App Store.

How to use drag and drop in iOS 11: Three tips for improving your workflow

Apple offers lots of new features in iOS 11, and one of the biggest changes is the addition of drag and drop—a feature that is typically reserved for desktop OSes.

There are various ways that iPad users can use drag and drop. iPhone users gain the ability to drag and drop inside of apps, but iOS 11 does not allow for dragging and dropping between apps; any drag and drop action started in an app on iPhone is canceled when the user taps the home button. This is not the case on an iPad, as you’ll see in this how-to article. We’ll cover three iOS 11 tips:

  • How to drag apps onto an iPad screen;
  • How to drag files to apps using an iPad; and
  • How to easily rearrange the home screen on an iPhone or an iPad.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

How to drag apps onto an iPad screen

Previously, Apple introduced a method to run two apps side-by-side in a process called Split Screening. This process has been somewhat removed in place of new functionality in iOS 11.

With iOS 11 you can drag and drop apps to create a split screen mode with two apps, or throw a third app into the mix for a total of three apps simultaneously displayed on the screen and running at the same time.

To use split screen mode with two apps in iOS 11, perform these steps.

  1. Open an app.
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the Dock.
  3. Drag and drop an app from the Dock onto the left or right-most side of the screen (Figure A).

Figure A

dragdropfigurea.png

The Dock serves as the main hub for multitasking in iOS 11, allowing multiple tasks to be performed with it.

When you do this, the second app you dragged and dropped will display alongside the first app that was running.

To run a third app alongside the split screen mode, you will need to drag and drop another app from the Dock in the same manner. It will appear to float above the split screen and can be dragged to either side of the screen, or flicked off the side of the screen to dismiss it.

SEE: Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to drag files to apps using an iPad

One big change in iOS 11 is the ability to drag and drop files onto the app icons in the Dock to launch the file in that app, just as you would on a desktop operating system.

For example, this is great for opening files in apps that would normally not open those files. Let’s say you have PowerPoint and Keynote installed on your iPad, but you want to open a PowerPoint document from the Files app in Keynote—just drag and drop the file onto the Keynote icon in the Dock, and voila!

This functionality is available in the Files app on iOS 11 and requires following these steps.

  1. Open the Files app and navigate to the file you want to open.
  2. Drag the file and flick up from the bottom of the iPad screen with your other hand to show the Dock.
  3. Drag the file onto the icon in the Dock for the app that you’d like to open the file (Figure B) and continue to hold until the app is launched, and then drop the file.

Figure B

dragdropfigureb.pngdragdropfigureb.png

Some third-party apps are gaining the functionality to perform this action; many Apple apps have had the functionality since iOS 11 was released.

How to easily rearrange the home screen on an iPhone or an iPad

With iOS 11, Apple has made the chore of rearranging apps into folders and screens easier by allowing multiple apps to be dragged and dropped on the home screen.

To drag and drop multiple apps into a folder on the home screen, perform these steps.

  1. Press and hold on the icons until they start to jiggle (it’s the same as with previous iOS releases).
  2. Drag one app, then with another hand, tap other apps. Each app tapped will be placed in the drag stack.
  3. Complete the drag and drop into a folder, and all of the apps that were tapped will be moved.

This process makes rearranging apps into folders much easier than previously in which users had to drag and drop each app individually instead of bulk dragging and dropping multiple apps.

Also see

Ulysses and Chrome updated with Drag and Drop, other iOS 11 enhancements

A month after the public release of iOS 11, apps continue to be updated with support for the new features in Apple’s latest operating system. Today, popular writing app Ulysses and Google Chrome were both updated with support for new iOS 11 functionality…

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Ulysses has added a host of new capabilities, including optimization for iOS 11. The app’s interface has been “revamped” to better support the iOS 11 design, while there’s also support for Drag and Drop both within the app and from outside applications. Drag and Drop allows you to reorder sheets and move them between groups, rearrange images and text, move text from Ulysses to other apps like Pages, and much more.

Version 12 also introduces a new Unified Library functionality. With this, you can view all of your documents directly from the library and quickly switch between iCloud, local, and Dropbox.

The update also brings iPad enhancements, a few new user-requested features, and more. See the full change log below:

Fully Optimized for iOS 11

  • Revamped interface to fit iOS 11 look & feel
  • Support for Drag and Drop throughout the app
  • Support for Drag and Drop into and out of Ulysses
  • Updated the way Ulysses behaves in various split view scenarios on iPad
  • Added sheet list swipe actions for keywords and favorites

Drag and Drop

  • Reorder sheets
  • Move sheets between groups
  • Drop images and text into the editor
  • Move text around the editor
  • Drag text from Ulysses to Pages etc.
  • Drag links from Safari into Ulysses
  • And. So. On.

Unified Library

  • All sections are now available in the library
  • Quickly switch between iCloud, On My iPhone/iPad and Dropbox
  • Sections can be collapsed and/or hidden
  • Focus on single/nested groups in the library

Reworked interaction between all views on iPad

  • You can now keep attachments open while writing in the editor
  • You can now keep the sheet list open while writing in the editor
  • You can now keep both the library and sheet list open while writing on iPad Pro 12.9″

User Requests

  • Added support for inline image previews in editor
  • Added shortcuts to move lines up or down (currently requires external keyboard, sorry)
  • Added ability to filter sheets for “any keyword” or “no keyword”

Misc.

  • Login passwords for WordPress can now be auto-filled from the system keychain
  • Marked tags are now correctly exported to HTML or ePub
  • VoiceOver: Added custom accessibility rotor to navigate between headings and misspelled words
  • Fixed bugs and improved overall stability of the app

Google Chrome has added two new Today widgets for quickly accessing information directly from the homepage. For iOS 11 on the iPad, there’s also support for Drag and Drop, allowing you to drag a URL from another app directly into the address bar or tab strip, and vice versa.

Here’s the full change log for today’s Chrome update:

  • Check out Chrome’s two new Today widgets. You will need to add them by tapping the Edit button at the bottom of the iOS Search screen
  • On iOS 11 iPads, you can now drag a URL from another app and drop it into Chrome’s omnibox or the tab strip, or from Chrome’s content area to another app

Google Chrome is available for free on the App Store, as is Ulysses. Ulysses, however, requires a subscription of $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year.


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Pixelmator 2.4 for iOS brings full iOS 11 compatibility, including HEIF and Drag and Drop support


 

The iOS version of the image editing tool Pixelmator received an update on Tuesday, with version 2.4 “Cobalt” making the app fully compatible with iOS 11, including support for the HEIF format for images and the ability to Drag and Drop files into Pixelmator projects.

A useful addition for iPad users and part of the productivity additions introduced with iOS 11, the ability to use Drag and Drop makes it easier for users to incorporate other media into their Pixelmator compositions. Files can be moved individually or as a group into Pixelmator, including from Split View and the recent files pop-up window from apps located in the Dock.

The addition of High Efficiency Image File (HEIF) support means that Pixelmator is able to use photographs taken on an iPad or an iPhone using the format, instead of JPEG images. Apple introduced HEIF in iOS 11 to improve the compression of images, reducing the amount of an iPhone or iPad’s storage that photographs consume without losing quality, though apps also have to be updated to support images using it.

The Cobalt update also incorporates a number of bug fixes and other improvements, with the developers highlighting four of the main changes in its release notes. One fix related to the app unexpectedly quitting when “zooming in after starting a selection,” while another solves a problem where Pixelmator would occasionally stop responding after the user immediately tries reopening an image after closing it.

The development team also fixed an error where the composition would randomly disappear when layers are added or removed. Lastly, an issue where buttons in the Color and Format popovers would not respond to touches by the user has been cleared up.

Pixelmator for iOS is available in the iOS App Store for $4.99. It is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS 9.1 or later, and takes up 138 megabytes of storage.

The update to the iOS version of Pixelmator echoes similar changes made to the macOS edition earlier in October. Version 3.7 “Mount Whitney” updated the image editor to be fully compatible with macOS High Sierra and added support for HEIF photographs, as well as a number of other integration and performance improvements.

OmniGraffle gains drag and drop for iOS 11 on iPad and iPhone

A refresh of the long-time Mac drawing app from the Omni Group now pulls in images and text from other apps.

Like its fellow Omni Group apps OmniFocus and OmniPlan, the drawing and charting software OmniGraffle 3.2 has been updated for iOS 11. All three now take advantage of the new operating system’s drag and drop features to change and improve how you work with the apps.

If you’re an AppleInsider reader, you’re already aware that The Omni Group’s software dates back to the dawn of the PowerPC era. More than 20 years later, the company is still updating its suite of software, with OmniGraffle getting a new iOS version for iOS 11.

It’s a drawing application but not for art or sketching. Rather, it’s for making illustrations specifically to explain things. So OmniGraffle is often used for organization charts or for floor plans. You can get very elaborate and detailed, so much so that app designers can mock up in OmniGraffle how their software will look.

OmniGraffle is also meant for just explaining things quickly so it has tools and features to make drawing fast. It’s also got an extremely dedicated following among its users who share and sell collections of templates called Stencils.

If you’ve used MacDraw II, or LucidChart, you’ve got a pretty good handle on what OmniGraffle can do for you. What it can do for you now with iOS 11 is speed up how you can compile a drawing from other people’s Stencils or your own previous documents.

This is done by iOS 11’s drag and drop. It’s the same new drag and drop that has been added to the OmniFocus To Do app where it’s made a significant improvement. It’s the same feature that’s been added to OmniPlan and fixed an issue there that’s been dogging that project management software from the start.

Drag and drop doesn’t make as big a change to OmniGraffle, though. It’s a nice addition and one that when you’ve tried it, you won’t want to go back yet it doesn’t dramatically transform the app.

There are three aspects to how OmniGraffle exploits this new feature. You can now drag items in to your drawing, for instance, and you can drag elements between your drawings. Say you’ve got a floor plan for your house and are now doing one for your office: that sofa shape you spent ages drawing would work fine as a couch in the office plan so you just drag it over.

Similarly, if you’re planning out a bigger office with lots of cubicles then you can just draw one and duplicate it.

In theory you can also drag cubicles or pot plants in your drawings out of OmniGraffle and into other apps but currently that’s limited by how many other apps support this feature. This has long been an issue with OmniGraffle and really all such drawing apps like Lucidchart and Microsoft Visio: the way they play with other apps. You can get drawings from any of them into the rest but typically with some difficulty and actually OmniGraffle’s drag and drop may ultimately improve that. Once other apps are also updated to accept dragged and dropped items.

These most common uses for OmniGraffle —the floor plans, charts and app design —all tend to be jobs where you will reuse elements over and over again. So while everyone will be different, the odds are that you’re most likely to drag elements from one OmniGraffle drawing to another and we can see you building up a library of often-used elements.

Dragging these around is quick and handy, but only once you know how. You could spend the next week stabbing wildly at buttons and options without discovering how to drag an item across multiple documents. That’s really an aspect of iOS 11, however: OmniGraffle uses the same multi-finger approach that the system does.

Press and hold on an item you want to drag and then with a different finger, tap at the button to take you out of the current OmniGraffle document. That’s a Library icon which needs finding: rather than to the top left of the screen, OmniGraffle places it in the middle and just to the left the document title.

When you’re back in the Document Picker, as the Omni Group calls it, you can tap to open any other drawing. So long as you’re still holding that element you’ve dragged from the first document, you can now drop it anywhere in the new.

Once it’s in that new drawing, though, you can use exactly the same technique to drag it between different layers of the document.

We keep saying that you’re dragging elements of a drawing around but those elements can be text as well as shapes or re-used templates. You can drag text in from OmniFocus or OmniPlan, for instance. That’s not going to save you a lot of time unless you’re dragging a lot of text but it could be a way to make sure you’re consistent across many documents.

It’s the same process for dragging text or graphics out of OmniGraffle into other apps. We had most success doing it with the app’s stablemates OmniPlan and OmniFocus but even that success was limited.

When we drag to OmniPlan, any text in the item we’re dragging goes into that project management app’s list of tasks and a bar appears representing it in the Gantt chart. When we dragged the same item into OmniFocus, it was entered as a new task called “PDF document.pdf” with an attachment of that name which has the graphic item in it.

You’re not going to do that. Maybe you’d drag the elements from an org chart over to OmniPlan so that you had every member of staff listed but that’s a stretch. Project plans tend to start with what needs to be done rather than who you’ve got to give work to. So really the dragging out of OmniGraffle won’t become hugely useful until other drawing apps adopt iOS 11’s new features too.

OmniGraffle aims to be a complete drawing package. It also aims to make it quick for you to create detailed and technical drawings. So the ability to quickly re-use elements fits in perfectly with that.

It’s not the kind of update that you go wow at or that you know you will rush to use. What is, though, is the kind of update you’ll become so accustomed to that previous versions will seem slow. OmniGraffle is all about making clear, professional drawings with speed and without fuss, however. So this is an update that makes good use of the new iOS 11 features.

OmniGraffle 3.2 for iOS has a free trial version on the App Store and then costs $49.99 for the Standard version. A Pro version is a further $4.99 upgrade or you can go straight from the trial to Pro for $99.99.