Choosing Apple Carplay

I’ve just come back from a long trip in my car. I’ve decided I have good reasons for choosing Apple Carplay. I went to Les Angles which is on the French side of the Pyrenees. It was about 300 km and was basically a drive to Perpignan and turn left on the road towards Andorra. An interesting drive up the mountain to get to the camping site by the lake to rent a lovely wood cabin. It’s like a home from home where the dog gets lots of freedom walks in the forest and we all get plenty of fresh mountain air. During the journey I was able to use my iPhone for the GPS navigation. The last time we went on this trip I wasn’t able to because of the cost of roaming with the phone in France. Since June of this year there are no roaming charges so I could use my phone just as if I was still in Spain. This was also useful because the GPS unit in the car doesn’t have the maps for France. This is a bit of a surprise since we are so close to the border and the car is a French made car, a Renault Clio. So it was really useful to have my iPhone technology to help me while driving. Today I’ve gone one step further and I’ve ordered a Pioneer Carplay head unit.

Installing a Pioneer Apple Carplay in a Renault Clio

In the box for the Pioneer SPH–DA120 apart from the unit and the cradle it fits into, there is a GPS antenna and a couple of other bits and pieces. For the connection to the car it’s necessary to get the wires to connect up the steering wheel controls. Pioneer make a cable specifically for this purpose which you have to pay extra for. It’s another €100, but while searching for this cable I found a company selling the same thing for a little bit cheaper. So I ordered that and hopefully it won’t take too long to arrive after the Pioneer Apple Carplay radio unit arrives this Friday. It will also take an input from a rear view camera so I ordered one of those as well. The rear window of the Renault Clio is a little bit small and so useful to have a good view out of the back with video. Another good reason for choosing Apple Carplay.

Choosing Apple CarPlay

Why get Apple Carplay?

With the standard radio that comes with the Renault Clio I’m able to connect my iPhone using Bluetooth or with the cable. The problem is that it doesn’t really work if I want to use Siri commands to do things. This is why I’m choosing Apple Carplay. Last week, for example I was driving into the city and I wanted to let my wife know I was nearly at the destination to pick her up. I don’t want to pick up the phone and make messages while driving because that’s dangerous. So I should be able to start Siri and do what I need to do. Basically, it just does not work. On the screen of the Renault head unit which comes with a car it shows the screen as if I was trying to make a phone call. I don’t want to make a phone call, I want to send a text message. If I want to make a phone call with the iPhone connected, once again Siri doesn’t work for me with this device.

A Better View of the Maps

A larger view of the maps will be possible with the Pioneer Apple Carplay unit. It isn’t too bad on a iPhone 7+ with a larger screen if I want to see the maps while driving. It will be better though if I have the even larger screen in the dash. I’ll also be able to use Siri to find places and set up the navigation. The only problem I run into will be the ability of Siri to understand the Spanish names of places. We often laugh ourselves silly listening to the English version of Siri pronouncing the Spanish names badly. I suppose at some point in time on have to change to the Spanish version of Siri and speak only Spanish to my Apple AI device. Then it will depend upon whether my Spanish pronunciation is good enough. It probably won’t be considering the difficulty Siri has in understanding my Spanish wife speaking English to it.

Apple CarPlay Maps

Another advantage of having the larger screen with the Apple Carplay device in the car will be the ability to zoom in with a pinch. The device I have in the car presently doesn’t allow zooming in using the pinch gesture. Neither does it allow me to scroll by swiping across the screen. To scroll through anything on the standard Renault radio it’s necessary to press buttons to make it happen.

Listening to Podcasts in the Car

I’ll have to find out if it’s possible to use my preferred podcasting application or if I will have to go with the Apple Podcasts app. I see that Overcast works with Carplay and it used to be my favourite podcasting app before I changed to Pocket Casts. So I just checked on the website for Pocket Casts and I’m in luck it does support Carplay. In the support area of the website it says “if you’re getting a shiny new car, or stereo for your old rust bucket, rest assured you can plug in and go. When you do you’ll be able to browse your podcasts and filters for episode to play as well as control playback at all without touching your phone.” Well that’s good news!

Pocket Casts for Podcasts

A Good Decision – Choosing Apple Carplay

All keep my hands in the original unit to put back in the car if I ever want to sell it. It is a good car and it’s costing very little to run. I would prefer to buy myself an electric car. The new Nissan Leaf looks very nice indeed but too expensive for the amount of driving I do. It wouldn’t save me any money to be using the much cheaper electricity due to the relatively small number of kilometres I drive. Ever since I bought my Renault Clio I have kept a log of all of the petrol put into the car. The cost per month is less than €50 even when I’m using the car more during the summertime when I’m working. For that reason I can see myself keeping the car for many more years and so choosing Apple Carplay as my entertainment/navigation technology makes good sense. At least there’s a possibility of us getting an electric car because my wife’s car is badly in need of upgrading and for the long-term and electric vehicle is the way to go.

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Let’s chat. Tell me about your experience with car play.

Art Photo in Topaz Studio

Messing about with photos in Topaz Studio

I couldn’t resist working with some of the photos I took while away in France in Topaz Studio. The last time I was using Topaz I spent most of the time just working with Topaz impression because I am used to the effects I can get from it. I thought I should spend some time with Topaz Studio to try and get used to it. I found a lot of functionality I didn’t know was there. I’m quite impressed with the masking possibilities available. I can mask each effect separately and it can get quite complicated. There are spot masks, gradient masks and I can also use a brush to get down to the dirty details. On my nice new iMac, Topaz is working fast and the images are working extremely well. I definitely need to spend more time with the application to see what I can come up with. I’d like to send some of the images back to the iPad and work with them in Procreate, Metabrush and iColorama. I wouldn’t mind getting some of the images printed onto canvas and put up around the house. I also have half a thought that I’d like to get some acrylic paints and go analogue painting some of the images onto canvas.

It’s not just about adding filters

Due to there being a range of controls I can delve into the pre-made filter artistic creations. Some of the filters are subtle and some are completely wild. It’s possible to create images based upon a HDR style and get really gnarly detail along with highly saturated colour. There are filters which remove all of the colour and turn into a line drawing. Other filters completely change all of the colours and go more into with artistic creation with a combination of settings and how the filters are applied. It’s like when you have layers and you can choose whether to use normal, multiply, colour Burn, lighten, glow, subtract and various other filter settings. It’s not just a bunch of boring filters you can’t do anything with. You can combine a huge variety of settings to come up with something totally unique. When you have something you like you can save the settings and use it again on other images. Every image is different and it’s safe to say that you’re more likely to use a saved or premade filter as a starting point rather than throwing it as whatever picture you come across next.

What is creativity?

Creativity is all about making choices and decisions. You don’t have to be stuck with whatever application gives you. Use one application to give a certain sort of effect, move into a different application in which you could manipulate by painting and drawing on the iPad with Apple Pencil. Then there’s no reason at all why you could move it into a completely different application to do some finishing off. During the last couple days I have been working with Affinity Photo, Procreate, iColorama, Metabrush and Topaz Studio moving images in between them to get my artwork just the way I want it.

Steel Etching

Black and White Drawing Style

Art in Topaz Studio

Hazy Dream World

Get the iPad Art Book on Amazon

Get the iPad Art Book on Apple Book Store

Flic Button Switches Part Two

Flic button switches Troubles

Not so happy with the Flic button switches this morning. I moved the office Flic Switch to the Mac App (It was connected to the iPad) and it’s giving me problems. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The bluetooth connection seems to be flakey, or it could be some other problem. I just pressed one of the switches and it took half a second or a whole second before it operated. Long enough for me to think I needed to press it again or to think it wasn’t going to work at all. The light did operate eventually, perhaps it was just too early in the morning. This is with a new 2017 iMac. It’s not as if it’s an old machine I’m working with! There shouldn’t be a problem.

Next is the Hub

The company who makes the Flic switches are working on a hub. With this hub you can connect all the buttons to it and don’t have to have them connected to one of your computers. They are also making an extra infrared connection to plug-in. With that you can set it so it will work with infrared television remotes and infrared for air-conditioning et cetera. This hub will cost around about €80 and isn’t ready yet. It is still a Kick Starter product at the moment. So who knows when that’s going to be ready. So my next trick for today is to verify whether my Flic button switches are the old version all the new version. I’ll send an email to the manufacturers. It’ll be interesting to see how restponsive they are with customer queries.

On a Brighter Note

The Flic button I have connected to the iPhone has been working a treat today. I have the button in my pocket even though I added the included clip to the back of it so I could clip it onto my clothes. With a single click I have it set to turn off or turn on Playing Now sounds coming from the iPhone. This is good when I’m working and I want to listen to something without any background noise. Easy to turn it off quickly. I have the double click button set to do a jump forward by the specified amount in the podcast application. The podcast application I use is called Pocketcasts. I like to set the jump forward by 45 seconds which will easily take me past any annoying adverts in a podcast. The click and hold I have set so that it does a volume control in case I want to have the podcast still playing but at a lower volume. It’s also possible to have a second action to each of the click options, or more, and so I’ve also set this up to be a native camera trigger. For that to work I need to have the camera app open.

Sort of good – Sort of disappointing

When these Bluetooth Flic button switches work they are extremely useful. A few more days later and I’m still testing and trying out how the switches work. When the Bluetooth connection is up and running they work perfectly. Sometimes the Bluetooth connection gets lost and I’m not sure of the best way to reconnect. Now and then pressing the button will make the connection again. Other times I need to press and hold on the button. Or I have to disconnect the Bluetooth by telling it to forget the item, then do a reconnect. Which is tedious because I have to reset up the actions for the switch. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend these to other people as it stands. I do think all be okay once the hub is available, so long as you don’t mind spending the extra money. The button I use for roaming, as in I have it in my pocket to turn on and off the audio from my iPhone, is pretty useful. I just used the search tool within the application to look for Siri and it did the job. So I do have the later version of the switch. I’m pleased to be able to confirm that and I don’t need to make contact with manufacturers now. I have just upgraded the iPhone to iOS 11. I did get a message from Flic to say that it might not work well with the new operating system and perhaps I should wait. Fingers crossed there will be an update within the next few days.

Logitech Pop

Flic button switches

I have just seen this Logitech Pop product on the Apple Store. It comes with a hub. The hub is connected through Wi-Fi and is HomeKit compatible. The kit rwith the hub and one button is an okay price. The price of the buttons by themselves is a little bit too expensive but if they work better than these Flic Switches then I’ll be happy to change. I’m thinking of getting one to try out. These Pop buttons also have the single click, double-click and A click and hold so you can program more than one automation into the button.

iPhone X Upgrading to the Newest from Apple

Apple iPhone X hype starting to die down

It was a good Apple event with the new Apple iPhones making their debut. I enjoyed watching the whole of the event on the day on my Apple TV. I got caught up in the marketing bubble and believed that I really needed a new Apple iPhone X. A couple of days later and it really didn’t take that long either, I have a realisation that I won’t be getting a new iPhone this year. I’ll be keeping my bitcoin safely where it is for the moment. The value of bitcoin has just taken a dive and it’s not a good time to sell any anyway. I’m sure next year will be the time for getting a new phone and I will prepare myself by saving money on a monthly basis so I can choose whichever phone I want. There will certainly be improvements to the iPhone X which was released just the other day. The other thing stopping me from biting the bullet and buying a new phone this year is because I’d rather save up for an electric car. This is something that is expanding horizons out into our future more so than a new iPhone. If money wasn’t an object then I would happily buy the latest iPhone X. Having a larger screen in a smaller body is appealing and the new cameras are also interesting. On the other hand, I am still extremely happy with my iPhone 7 as it does just about all I want from my pocket computer.

iPhone X

What about the Apple Watch?

I have series 0 of the Apple Watch and once again I’m happy with the way it works and what it gives me in terms of facilities. On the last upgrade to the Apple Watch I had no interest in getting the new version. I kind of feel the same with this one although it would be nice to have the GPS as well as the new mobile data connection. The mobile data connection is not yet available here in Spain. It seems it has to be working on the same phone number as you work with your iPhone. It’s not like you can buy an extra Sim card for a minimal amount per month. It’s something the mobile data providers have to set up otherwise it would be just kind of nice to share the data you’re already paying for on the iPhone.

Animated Emoticons – Talking Shit or maybe a chatty Unicorn

When you have a phone with facial recognition built in it seems the obvious answer is to create an application so you can have animated talking characters. It’s always good to have a bit of fun! It is often the silly but fun things which drive sales in high technology. It’s going to be pretty cool to send a message where the animated cartoon character you choose is delivering it with expression.

Facial recognition on the iPhone X

Apple have done away with the fingerprint recognition on the iPhone X. Apple claimed its more secure than fingerprints to have the biometric security of facial recognition. It’s able to recognise your face even if you are making changes by wearing or not wearing glasses. It can learn your face has changed because you’re now wearing a beard or a handlebar moustache. It seems it’s not going to have any problem either if you change your hairstyle. All this remains to be seen when it’s tested by by the millions of iPhone X users. Personally, I prefer the fingerprint recognition because she can do it with fingers from multiple people. This is useful if you want your wife to be able to open up your phone in an emergency. As it stands the facial recognition is just for one face. Whether it’s pretty or not!

Getting an iPhone X

I don’t think so, at least not for some time. In a years time when I have saved up sufficient money I might bite the bullet and get the latest and greatest. If I was to get myself a new phone then I’d want to pass my iPhone 7 onto my wife which is a good thing to do. The only thing is that selling her iPhone 6 will not bring me back much cash to put towards the new iPhone. This year would have been a good time to upgrade my wife’s phone because of the age of it. My own phone, the iPhone 7 is working well and in perfect condition and I was expecting to keep it for two years anyway. At least I will be getting plenty of benefit from the update to iOS 11 even if I don’t have the latest Apple mobile hardware. It would be lovely if the new photo lighting effects could be available in the iPhone 7. Maybe it needs the face recognition hardware to make it possible?

Would you believe it?

I’ve already heard podcasters speculating on what will come next year. Well I suppose there is the question as to whether there will be an iPhone 9??

Ready for the iPhone X Apple event

This latest Apple event is going to be streamed live from the Steve jobs Theatre in California. I’ve just worked out how to get the event streamed live through my Apple TV. I had to go into the Apple TV App Store and find the app for Apple events. It didn’t take much looking for it, it was there ready for me to click on and within a minute it was downloaded and ready to go. It’s still 20 minutes before the event is due to start and so the app is not allow me to start yet. We will finally find out all of the juicy details about the new Apple iPhone. Up until the last couple of days it’s been called the Apple iPhone 8 and possibly a couple of versions being called the Apple iPhone 7S. There’s been a leak over the last couple of days which people seem to think is correct where the premium version of the new iPhone is going to be called the iPhone X. It’ll be called the X because X is the Roman Numeral for 10 and it is ten years since the iPhone was introduced.

What can we expect in the new iPhone for 2017

There is bound to be a new processor. All the leaks seem to suggest that this is going to be less than bezel and the same amount of screen making the phone smaller all round. It’s probable that there’ll be no home button and so there’s going to be new ways of making the iPhone work. If you can’t press on a button at the bottom of the phone they’ll need to be a different way to get the fun started. Some of the rumours reckon there’s going to be face recognition. So as soon as you show your ugly mug to the phone it will open up. I don’t think there’s also going to be for print recognition still because otherwise there will be security considerations coming into play. Somebody could take your phone from you and what your still knocked out lying on the ground open your phone and steal your data as well as your wallet.

It’s going to be expensive and it will be available soon

A lot of the commentators seem to think the iPhone is going to cost more than $1000. The OLED screens are more expensive and possibly in short supply. Apple will be able to charge what they want, don’t they do that anyway! There will probably be larger amounts of memory and on top of all that all the new and sexy technology has to be paid for through the nose when you are jumping in as a first adopter. The Apple Store online has been closed for the last couple of hours and will open up as soon as the announcements have been made.

What else will be available?

IOS 11 is probably answers being ready for the general public. I’ve been running the public beta on my iPad for few weeks and it’s been working fine without any problem. I got as far as using iOS eleven beta 9 and those expecting the gold master version to be available before this event. Maybe because of the leak of the gold master version over the last couple days they decided not to bother until the actual announcements have been made.

It would be nice if there was new Mac mini. That handy little computer is always the last one to be updated. The iMac Pro could now be ready following the initial announcement at WWDC

Flic Switches

I really like having the Philips Hue light bulbs in the house. It’s cool to have the lights set so that when I wake up in the morning they are on already for me to have my breakfast and get ready for work. It’s also cool that they will switch off automatically when I’m finished and tell me when it’s time to leave the house and get in the car. It’s lovely when I’m sitting on the sofa and I want to switch off the lights in the office, I just tell Alexa to do that for me. I have the motion detector to go with the kitchen lights. When I walk into the kitchen the lights will turn on for me. I haven’t set so that if there is no more movement they will switch off after three minutes. I need some Flic Switches.

Getting Notified by Lighting

I use the lights as notifier. When I arrive back home in the car and I’m waiting for the gate to open I can’t always tell if the garage door is opening. So I set up the garage door with an Elgato eve switch which is used to automatically switch on the light at the front door. Naturally, I also use automation to turn that turn the light off when the garage door has closed. I can see from where I’m sitting in the car that they garage door has open. I cannot I get notifications on my phone every time the garage door opens and closes but I don’t really need that to happen when I’m away from home. It is good as a security feature when I’m away on holiday though! If any of the doors or windows open and I get a notification I can then use the cameras over the Internet to see if there are people in the house who shouldn’t be there.

I could do more automation

I’d like to do more automations with the lights. I would like to have it so that all the lights turn off when I leave the house. There is the possibility of setting controls based on location and it does work. I’ve tested it. At the moment I can’t use that because if there is someone still in the house then they would be left sitting in the dark. The automation controls need to have a little bit more intelligence built into them so I can set the automatic controls with more precision. Not a good idea to annoy the wife this way. Happy wife , happy life!

Alexa or Siri

Most times I use Alexa to control of the lights. This is because she is always listening and I only have to say her name and then the command. With Siri I need to press a home button to have Siri listen to me. That is unless I have a device plugged in with the lightning cable so she might hear and then do my bidding. My preference at night time and is to say “Good night” to Siri and know that all of the hue lights in the house will be turned off.

It’s not a perfect in this automatic household

Like I mentioned, there is still room for the controls to get more intelligent. The other problem in the house is the semi automatic humans. My wife has this thing where she likes to have the lights turned off and over many years has developed the habit of switching the lights off as she leaves the room. Trouble is, when the lights are turned off at the switch it’s not then possible to control them using the automation. So I’ve been looking at switches to add to my Hue lighting system. Phillips to make switches which will work with your Hue lighting, but so far I haven’t bought any because I don’t like the price.

Bluetooth Flic Switches

Flic switches

Yesterday I decided to place an order for some Flic switches these look like they could do the job. I ordered a set of 44 $99. I will stick these onto the switch or near to the switch on the wall. I will then add a small piece of tape to stop the switch from being used. Please switches work over Bluetooth. The battery lasts up to 18 months. It’s not just for controlling lights, they can also be used using IFTTT. There’s a whole range of items to use with including speakers, automated locks and cameras. It’s even possible to set it so that more than one action takes place at the same time.

Click, Click and Hold nd double click

Three Switches in one

Easy to order and soon to arrive

The day after I placed the order I got a message to say they had been sent out. Following day I will have the new switches in my house. I expect a delivery from UPS this afternoon. I’m really looking forward to having a play with these new devices. Look out for a new blog post or an addition to this post to see how I get on with them. I will keep it simple to begin with. I’ll use the single click on the Flic to switch the light on or off. I may use the click and hold to turn off all the lights in the house. I will still have double-click I can use for something else. Also be testing these Flic switches to see how they work inside my car. They also show it as possible to use the switch clipped to your clothing and used to control your mobile device.

iPhone Blogging Tips

There are huge advantages to blogging on iOS. The mobility you get from having the iPhone or the iPad with you and being able to write whatever you want and when do you want to. It’s easy to do something else quickly where ever you are. You don’t have to be tied to a desk with a desktop computer. What is the process actually like using the application is available.?

What are you going to use?

This depends on where you are doing your blogging. Whether you have a Blogger, WordPress or other type of blog. There are applications specifically made for blogging to Medium, WordPress and Blogger. Or is it better to use a blogging application like Blogo. Then there are writing applications such as Ulysses and Byword. These have publishing export possibilities to a number of different blogging platforms.

It’s all about the experience

While working on the desktop is a known experience and easy to deal with text and pictures. It’s not so defined when using something different like a an iPhone or an iPad. It’s not that it’s more difficult, it’s just that is different and you have to work out your workflows for dealing with text and pictures. Working on a small screen might seem like what it would be like opening your Christmas presents from outside the house through the letterbox on the front door. Fiddly and unsatisfying or is it the ultimate freedom for blogging?

Important questions for bloggers

How are easy it is to get the words onto the page. Can you do the dictation route for getting the words into your document? How easy is it to do the editing necessary to make sure your text reads properly. Will it be easy to get the pictures set the right size for your blog? Can you crop and size the pictures within the blogging software or does it have to be done beforehand? How are easy is it to add links and work with the meta data for the post? Can you work with the editor to set headlines and other page elements or do you need to work with HTML? Lots of questions to be looked at when it comes down to on your mobile device.

Using Blogo

Making Links

The text editor of choice

It’s may be you have a text editor you prefer using. I like using Ulysses for most writing but also have a number of other text that it is available. I will often write things in Drafts when I’m not sure where the writing is going to go eventually. You have some good ideas and start writing and later you think that will be good in a blog post. That is how this blog post started. I began in Drafts. I then downloaded blow go again. For some reason or other I had stopped using it previously. I think it was because I was able to make a blog posts in Ulysses. It’s very handy to have all of you are writing in one place. Ulysses is also very good for working with markdown which I prefer. It’s also easy to add images. I have had some difficulties in getting blog post to get published to WordPress. I’m not sure if that was a problem with Ulysses or if it was a problem with the WordPress set up.

Setting a header in Blogo

Blogging from a web browser

I have tried blogging in a Safari browser window. It is unsatisfactory unless you have an external keyboard attached. It is awkward to add links to your text if you have a long post. Specially if you are working on the iPhone with a smaller screen and you can’t see the buttons at the top of the post in order to click on them after you’ve selected some text for making a link. If you do have an external keyboard attached then you can use the keyboard shortcuts to get the job done nice and easily.

Creating links

Having internal links within your blog is a good idea and doing this within the linking facilities of the web browser experience is extremely easy. If you are using another application you need to get your links first and then paste them into the other blogging application. Working in split screen on the iPad it’s a simple job to do that. If you’re working on the small screen of the iPhone then it does get a little bit awkward at times. Having to switch applications quickly is not quite as easy. You do get used to it though. Quick double tap on the home button swipe across to get to Safari and copy the link from there. When you get back in to Blogo it asks you if you want to create a link from the URL it has detected. This just puts a link in without a proper link text, so it’s usually best to say no. Then all you need to do is to select the text you want to use for the link and paste your URL.

Official date for the Apple event

No more unconfirmed rumours about when the Apple iPhone event will take place. Apple have something on the web site to say it is 12th September. This means two weeks of speculation of what will be in the announcements on the day. Take everything with a pinch of salt because so many pundits make stuff up for link bait. Can I suggest you take a chill pill and see what comes on the day. It will be nice to have the surprise. I’m going to stop listening to any of the Mac news podcasts or I will get annoyed by all the hot air coming from the presenters.

It’s in my calendar

Love the Safari trick which lets me click on a link and add the event to my calendar. I then see it in Central European Time and I don’t have to use any app to convert to my time zone.

Probably no new phone for me this year

I could still be tempted. It depends on how compelling the announcements are. I’m still loving my iPhone 7 Plus and my wife could go longer for a new phone too. It’s always nice to have the newest and shiniest though.

One more thing!

Apple are holding the event in the Steve Jobs Theater. First time to see the new Apple Park facilities being used like this. Will be extra interesting for those of us watching on the Apple TV and more so for the attendees.

Own both Scrivener and Ulysses

The Case for Owning Both Scrivener and Ulysses

If you’re a writer, you want the best software to do your writing. You’ve had enough of Microsoft Word, so the first two applications that come to mind should be Scrivener and Ulysses. There are writers and authors who will swear by either one of those applications. Both of the applications will do the job of helping you to write anything from a blog post to a massive novel. Ulysses and Scrivener each have their strong points and if you’re only going to buy one of them you have to work out which one is just going to suit you the best. I think there is a case to be made for owning both Scrivener and Ulysses and have the best of all worlds.

Writing in Ulysses
Writing in Ulysses

I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be a good idea to send the data in between the two apps constantly. There would be work involved in getting the data transferred in between the two to make sure you didn’t lose any background meta data. The actual words of your document will move between the two without any real difficulties. The extra bits and pieces you might add within either of the applications to help you organise the words could make things a little bit messy. The solution to this would be to have a workflow which had you starting within one application and moving to another to finish off. You might be a fan of using the cork board metaphor within Scrivener and use this application for the outlining process. Then move to Ulysses for the writing. Scrivener also has a view which looks a bit like a spreadsheet which can also help you organise where parts of your document should be. On the other hand using Ulysses you have drag-and-drop outlining features which are pretty easy. It’s just a different way of looking at it. Or just use one or the other depending on the task.

Writing in Scrivener
Writing in Scrivener iOS

Differences between Scrivener and Ulysses

The money end of things

For some people the cost of using the software is important and with Ulysses you have to deal with a subscription model. It’s not a huge amount of money especially if you got the discount for having bought the previous version before subscription came in. It is a professional application for writers and authors and well worth the cost. Scrivener is going with the one-off payment for the software for the moment. It doesn’t get the requirement for a paid upgrade too often at all. I think there’s been five years or more between buying Scrivener version 2 and the imminent paid upgrades to Scrivener version 3. If you keep up with the upgrades it’s like a subscription model to a certain extent, so check the different prices and see which works out the best for you.

Synchronisation of documents in both Scrivener and Ulysses

Scrivener does have a lot of extra tools and if you make use of them it’s well worth to go with the application that gives you the most. You have the corkboard, the name generator, highly configurable compile options and a useful split view. On the downside it only will synchronise through Dropbox and I don’t find that works half as well as Ulysses synchronises through iCloud. I never get any synchronisation problems with iCloud when I’m working in a document both in iOS and on the Mac. When using Scrivener, especially on the iPad I find I need to be careful to wait for synchronisation to take place before doing anything. If you’re not careful you can easily end up with numerous duplicate files.

Sync with Scrivener

Sync with Scrivener

Sync via Dropbox

Sync failed in Scrivener

Read about Scrivener 3 for the Mac.

Concentrate on the words

The other thing with Ulysses as it has a very clean interface and the argument that writing is all about the words is spot on. Scrivener does also have views in which the software gets out of the way which lets you concentrate on the words. So you could say there’s not much in between the two on this point.

The user experience of the authors writing tools

Both Scrivener and Ulysses have a really good user experience and which one suits you best depends upon how you work. I absolutely love the clean interface of Ulysses and the use of simple keyboard shortcuts. The simple interface makes it look like a simple application to the point where you are surprised with the power hidden within. Scrivener has a load of menus which is not a problem because it does more things. You don’t even have to look in all of the menus when you are writing. It might take longer to remember where to find what you want in the menu to get done the task in hand. Loads of options in Scrivener for all sorts of writers.

Control export of documents

Using Ulysses on iOS is particularly handy for getting the preview of what your e-book is going to look like. You get quick views either to a page or to the whole document. It’s particularly useful when you’re working with images and you want to see what it looks like on the page. Instead of having a multitude of compile possibilities you work with stylesheet templates. Grab the stylesheet template which is guaranteed to make your book look great on Kindle and you don’t really have to think about it at all. It is possible to make changes to the CSS which powers the formatting for your book or whatever in the stylesheet. Most times you’re going to find a template which does pretty much what you want without you having to do any changes. There is a library of stylesheets available to download and you can also download themes which determine the look of the application while you’re using it.

Stylesheets in Ulysses

The use of colour in Scrivener

Some of us work in a more visual way and it’s nice to have the use of colours within Scrivener to help you with the organisation of a document. Set up colours for labels to visually show you where you have your notes, research, chapters subsections and so on. You can also set up colours in a novel based upon the point of view of the chapter. This would be particularly handy for seeing how the flow of the story is going across points of view. You would easily notice a lack of chapters from the point of view of an important character just because there will be fewer parts showing that colour. These colours show up in the binder, the cork board mode and also the outline mode.

Colour in Scrivener

In terms of organising the progress with the work you can use colours to signify the state of play have any part of the document. You could have yellow as your colour for the first draft, Orange could be the colour for the first edit and the final draft would be green. It’s only going to take a quick look at the documents in Scrivener to see which sections need more work and which sections are finished.

Word counts and targets in Both scrivener and Ulysses

In both of both scrivener and Ulysses you can easily set up targets for the whole document and for separate sections. In Scrivener you get the added benefit of being able to set daily targets. This is especially useful if you’re doing something like Nanowrimo. If you’re working to a deadline put in the date the writing has to be finished and specify which days you want to work. Scrivener tells you words per day needed to hit the target on time. Lots of lovely settings you can choose from to make this a writers tool you don’t want to be without.

Setting Target for the Manuscript

Setting Target for the Manuscript

Loads of settings in Scrivener

Loads of settings in Scrivener

The word count facilities and targets are more rudimentary in Ulysses but perfectly functional.

Information and word counts Ulysses

Information and word counts Ulysses

Taking snapshots

A particularly useful function within Scrivener is the Snapshots. If you like to make a lot of changes to your work and keep previous versions intact then you just take a snapshot. You can go back to a previous snapshot or you can compare one snapshot with another. You could use something like this if you were sending your document to somebody else for editing. When you get the edited file back you could easily compare what you have with what was edited. The only thing close in Ulysses is the automatic backup and restore available. You need to use something else to compare texts.

Scrivener Snapshots

Comments and footnotes

Using markdown XL it’s easy to make comments within a sheet in Ulysses. Within Scrivener you can select something and create a comment or a footnote. The comments and footnotes appear in the inspector which resides on the right-hand side of the screen. This is the same area where you’ll also find the snapshots, the synopsis, keywords, links to document references as well as being able to set custom meta data. With Ulysses you have a way to make notes in the text and they don’t get counted in the word count or make it to the exported document. In the information area add more notes, keywords and pictures.

Export options

In Ulysses it’s great to export directly to EPUB, especially so when using the iOS version. This is an added extra on top of being able to get quick previews so and see what the pages in the book. The iOS export options in Scrivener are much more limited. I love how easy this is in Ulysses.

Export options in Ulysses iOS

Export options in Ulysses iOS

Export out of Scrivener iOS

Export out of Scrivener iOS

Both applications Scrivener and Ulysses have their advantages

The application I enjoy using the most is Ulysses because of the writing experience. It is the application I find gets out of the way more so allowing writers to just get on with the job of writing. There’s plenty of enjoyment in Scrivener too. This is because of the huge amount of functionality giving you a way to customise and control how you work. For me it’s made a lot of sense to have both of those applications dividable for me to use. Ulysses is particularly good for blogging. There are enough tools within Ulysses for you to write a whole novel. With a particularly complicated story you could be better to work with Scrivener. I’m sure you can see why I am conflicted about which of these applications is the best. I really like using both of them and I plan to keep both on the Mac and iOS. There is a case for both Scrivener and Ulysses.

Should you update to the latest version of Scrivener?

Downloading iOS 11 Public Beta 7

Yet another update to iOS 11 public beta

The latest version of the iOS 11 public beta has been working pretty well. I only had to do one reboot to sort out a problem with the keyboard not showing up with the public beta version 6. I’m so pleased to be using iOS 11 rather than iOS 10 on the iPad. The dock at the bottom of the screen is magnificent. The split screening and the drag-and-drop between two split screens is pretty good too. I just got my hands on beta version of an application called Shelf this allows you to put items of data onto the shelf to save for later. It’s like a visual version of the application Copied. I’d be able to get back to previously copied items which are kept within the application and use them again. With the application Shelf it’s a case of dragging items in and being able to put them in other places at will later.

iOS 11 beta 7

This iOS 11 public beta seven was only download of 54 MB, so it was pretty small. It seemed to be taking longer to do the preparation of the update than it took to download. I’m getting the feeling we must be getting pretty close to the release date for the GM version. We could be getting close enough to a final version of iOS 11 I could even consider putting it on to my iPhone. I’ve also been thinking about whether I should put the High Sierra onto the Mac. I probably won’t do that because I want to do a full clean install of the new operating system and that’s going to take me some time to get everything just right. It’s going to involve having numerous backups so I don’t lose any data. I especially need to be careful of taking care of my crypto currencies. I wouldn’t like to lose any of that money. I could send it off to a different wallet away from my computer and bring it back again. There would be a small cost involved in moving the money from one place to another but it could be worth having the peace of mind. The last time I did a clean install I should have made a note of where I ran into small problems. Like making sure I had a full copy of TextExpander snippets as well as all the data from one password and utilities like Hazel. The system I work with at the moment is quite well customised after being used for a couple of years.

As I’m writing this the update to iOS 11 public beta 7 was verified and it’s going through the process now of installing. The version 5 of the public beta wasn’t particularly good and I’m hoping that he doesn’t go a bit funny seeing as I’m working with another odd number. I haven’t heard any reports from other people who have been testing iOS 11 on their iPad devices during the last couple of operating system updates.

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