Introducing the 1Password App Extension for iOS 8 apps

Anyone who has ever used 1Password on an iPhone or iPad has wished that it could integrate with Safari the way it does on the Mac. The great news is that the upcoming iOS 8 has extensions, and 1Password is going to be there on the forefront.

And if that isn't awesome enough for you, it's even going to work in apps that integrate 1Password's extension! If you are an iOS developer, please take a look at the GitHub page and add some 1Password love to your app.

This fall is going to be awesome for 1Password and for you. Check out the video below from Dave Teare showing off the extension inside an app.

On Hacking

Ben Brooks:

Hacking away at stuff I don’t understand is how I got the skills and knowledge I have today. […]

The point of all this is that you should never be afraid to hack away at things. I still hack away at the CSS on this site, and while the site is live I save the change and see what happens. Maybe the entire site dies because of that, or maybe it doesn’t — I don’t care. I don’t care because I am working at learning and those few minutes of a broken site won’t really matter to anyone in the long run, but it will help me immensely.

When I first started this site, it was on Squarespace 5. I remember having to do a lot of hacking to get the site to look the way I wanted it to. I gained my first foothold in how to manipulate CSS during that time.

I didn't need to hack nearly as much on this site under Squarespace 6, and to be honest, I feel rough around the edges with what I'd be able to do in CSS these days.

But hacking doesn't have to be just on a website's code. I became a homeowner a little over a year ago, and that has been the ultimate hack. With each small or large issue that comes up with my home, I find myself doing a little research, and then trial and error.

We learn by hacking. Let's make mistakes.

¶ Hopes & Dreams for WWDC 2014

I've been meaning to write up my usual WWDC predictions but have thus far been uninspired to do so. I mean, any self-respecting Apple nerd with a website is supposed to write up their prediction list, right? It's written right there on the membership card.

I've just been distracted lately. My free time has been taken up by kiddo activities, church stuff, homeownership stuff, husband stuff, daddy stuff, stuff stuff, and more stuff.

And let's not forget that I have had a terrible track record for previous prediction lists. So call me a little jaded.

So here I am on eve before the keynote not wanting to write about predictions that will likely be regurgitation of all the rumor blogs, or dead wrong. Or both.

Instead, I am just going to share the hopes of what I'd like to see announced. After all, S stands for hope. So let's go pick some low-hanging fruit from the Apple tree.

iOS 8

Everyone's favorite mobile operating system is due for its annual upgrade. Last year was a big change, at least visually, for iOS. This year I hope to see a lot of refinement to the design and existing feature set.

  • Bake the code before shipping. Let's not repeat the fiasco of constant crashing between 7.0 and 7.1.
  • While I love the overall design direction in iOS 7, there are some areas it could stand to be dialed back a bit.
    • Making navigation buttons just text was a mistake. In iOS 7.1, the Accessibility part of settings added Button Shapes. Unfortunately they are hideous. Apple should take a cue from the the blue outline of the price/open/update button in the App Store. Use that thin blue outline for the button shapes.
    • Flatten that silly, glossy Game Center icon. Or better yet, get rid of the standalone Game Center app. Who actually opens that thing?
    • The "missed" tab in Notification Center makes zero sense. Get rid of that.
  • I really want Apple to bring its A-Game for modernizing its already-existing features.

    • Maps needs an adrenaline shot to the heart. The data is just terrible. A few things (very few) that I have reported issues on have been fixed in my city, but there are entire city blocks and neighborhoods that are mislabeled or even missing. And for some reason, if Apple isn't sure what a street name is, they just label it as O Ave. Now, there is a main road named O St, but there sure seem to be a lot of residential streets in Apple Maps named O Ave.
    • I'd also love to see Siri gets a lot smarter and useful. Google is downright shaming Apple with Google Now inside their iOS apps (and even more on Android phones). I shouldn't need to hold down a button to activate Siri in 2014. I should be able to use a phrase like "Hey Siri" to her it to listen up. Much like "Okay Google" for Google Now or "Xbox" for the Xbox One.

      A friend was telling me today how his Moto X knows he is driving and puts everything into a handsfree mode automatically. When he received a text message, it automatically piped up and told him a new text had come in, and asked if he wanted to listen to it. He didn't have to prompt his phone first.

      Siri has constantly felt like the failed promise of the almost conversational Star Trek computer. Google is getting this right on making the assistant part actually, you know, assist you.

    • Hail Mary Hope: A Siri voice store. I'd gladly pay to have Siri sound like Jarvis from the Iron Man movies.

    • An end to the multitude of modal dialogs asking for permission for everything on the first launch of a new app. I like what iMore came up with in their Privacy Sheet mockup.
    • I'd like Calendar on iOS to get the Travel Time integration that the Mac has. It is incredibly useful information, but not so much on my Mac. This is needed on my iPhone more than anything.

OS X

If the rumor mill is to be believed, OS X is now up for the major interface overhaul like iOS received last year. While I really like OS X as is right now, I am entirely open to change. No matter what happens visually, there are a couple things I want OS X to get this year.

  • I adore AirDrop on iOS. It is simple and fantastic and just plain works. OS X's AirDrop has always been…complicated. And the fact that it is not compatible with iOS' AirDrop in any sense is maddening. I'd like to see OS X's AirDrop mimic the simplicity of iOS, and become compatibly with its mobile sibling.
  • Since I went on about Siri ad nauseum earlier, I won't do so again, other than to say why do we not have Siri on OS X yet?
  • Kill Dashboard. It's a relic and hasn't changed much since OS X 10.4 Tiger.
  • But keep things like weather integration, but just toss it in Notification Center for easy access.
  • Break iTunes into smaller apps. Have a Music app that does handles music playback and purchasing. Merge the iOS App Store into the Mac App Store (especially since the MAS is already named App Store). Bring back the iSync name for an app for iOS device management. Make a Videos app to purchase and play your iTunes videos.

iCloud

Ah, iCloud. So much promise, so many headaches. This list could easily get carried away, but I'm going to keep it to just a few points.

  • More free storage. In 2014, 5GB is paltry. The competition gives a lot more away for free. At the very least give us 5GB per device on our account, instead of 5GB for all of them to share. And give us more bang for the buck on the extra storage options.
  • Fix Photo Stream. I don't know how to do it, but do it. It is one of the most confusing aspects of iCloud as a service today.
  • Help me to trust iCloud sync by making it easier for developers to support it. Right now it is a black box to developers that they are supposed to trust. That's fine and dandy until it breaks and my data ends up hosed, and developers don't know what happened. Transparency is key here.

Whew, that really did feel like an airing of grievances, but it isn't without merit. Apple's hardware has remained top notch, but there are many aspects of their software and services where things have languished. I think a lot of this is the rigidity of the once-a-year updates. That is an incredibly long time for software, but even longer for services like iCloud.

In a dozen hours we'll see what Apple's engineers have been laboring over. I'm super excited, and can't wait to see if some of the above items come true.

10 South Dakota Stereotypes That Are Completely Accurate

As someone who grew up in South Dakota, I can say that this list is pretty spot on. The one thing that had me go "What the heck?" Was the part in 8 about a hot bar. Hot dish, totally. One of my favorite meals of all time is Pizza Hot Dish. But a hot bar? I have never heard a dessert referred to as that.

Must be some weird West River thing.

¶ iPad Second

In the early days of iOS app development, there was one screen size to worry about. A simple 3.5-inch screen at 320x240 pixels. The retina display in the iPhone 4 was the first added complexity to designing iOS apps, as the resolution doubled to 640x480 pixels, but stayed at that 3.5-inch screen.

The original iPad is what really shook things up. A much larger screen at 9.7-inches, and a different aspect ratio with 1024x768 pixels. While an existing iPhone app could be run on it, it wasn't pretty. Apple's solution was to have either apps that ran only on the iPad, or to have what they called universal apps, where the iPhone and iPad interfaces were bundled into a single app.

This was a great opportunity for app makers to reimagine their apps for a new class of device, however, those who wanted to be first to the iPad only had weeks to completely redesign their apps for a device they had not yet held.

Everything was experimental.

Naturally, this was a little risky for app makers. I recall many of my favorite apps coming to iPad as separate apps from their iPhone counterparts. It made sense, as no one knew whether the iPad would be a runaway success1, or if would be derided as "just a giant iPhone."2

As time has gone on and the iPad has found its place in the world, many apps that had separate releases for iPhone and iPad released major updates as universal apps.

There were inevitably some apps which targeted the iPad first. There is even a site dedicated to celebrating apps that ship for iPad first, though it doesn't appear to have been updated recently. One app that comes to the forefront of my mind is iA Writer. The iPad app shipped first, and an iPhone interface was added later.

These days I can't say I see too many apps debuting as iPad first. Most are universal at launch, or start out on the iPhone first.

What is more interesting to me is not the initial launch, but rather the order in which features are added. For the rest of this article, I want to focus on universal apps.

I prefer universal apps. I switch between my iPhone and iPad constantly, however the mood or situation strikes me. One thing I enjoy is that when an app is universal, it is simply there for me no matter which of the two devices I pick up. This leaves me with a certain expectation that the feature set between the iPad version and iPhone version of a universal app should be pretty on par.

Unfortunately that rarely seems to be the case. Too often these days I see universal apps gain new features and designs and layouts on the iPhone first, and the iPad side of it just lags behind.

Let's call out some apps that do this. Twitter is one of the biggest offenders. They consistently roll out new features to the iPhone first, and maybe someday bring them to the iPad side. I've seen Twitter drastically overhaul the interface of the iPhone before, and leave the iPad interface to languish for months.

Facebook is another one. They usually roll out design and feature updates to iPhone first, and iPad sometime later.

Even some apps I love dearly do this. Day One, as much as it pains me to say, has done this. They will roll out a feature on iPhone, then bring it to iPad. Thankfully, they are usually quick to bring things back into feature parity, but sometimes I'd rather just wait a couple extra weeks for a truly complete update to a universal app, rather than a staggered rollout.

I don't think this practice would bother me so much if the app in question were not universal. To me, universal does not just convey that I pay once to install on both device types. It conveys that the two interfaces should be maintained in parity.

Apps that have done this right the past couple years have been Twitterrific, Paprika, Byword, 1Password 3, and others. These apps continually release feature parity as universal apps across the two interfaces, without feeling like the iPad version is "just a bigger version of the iPhone".

I am delighted that many smaller development companies sweat the details to make sure their universal apps always feel universal in every way. My fear, though, is that some of the bigger companies like Twitter and Facebook are setting a trend where the iPad is an afterthought for universal apps, and that the iPad will become a second class citizen in app development, instead of a joint-heir with the iPhone.


  1. Spoiler alert: It was.

  2. That happened, too.

  3. Disclosure: I work for AgileBits.