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March 23 2017

Apple's iPhone, Samsung phones nearly equal in J.D. Power satisfaction survey

1Blocker Adds Easy Page Element Hiding

1Blocker is one of our favorite content blockers on iOS and macOS. The app has been continuously updated and refined on both platforms, syncs between the two, and has an extensive list of blocking rules.

On iOS, 1Blocker made Federico’s list of ‘Must Have’ apps for 2015 in part because he could create custom rules with CSS overrides to hide individual elements on a webpage. That’s a powerful feature, but the developer of 1Blocker found that too many people didn’t want to be bothered inspecting webpages on a Mac and typing in a blocking rule manually. Other users simply weren’t comfortable with using Safari’s inspector.


1Blocker 1.3 for iOS solves this problem with an extension. From a webpage, all you have to do is tap the share button, pick the 1Blocker action extension, and then ‘Hide Page Element.’ 1Blocker reloads the page in the extension with toolbars on the top and bottom of the screen. Find something you want to hide and tap it. The element is outlined with a red dashed line and glows to indicate what you selected. Tapping the ‘Save’ button gives you a chance to hide another element or return to Safari. If you decide to go back to Safari, the extension is dismissed, and the page reloads with the element you picked hidden. Picking ‘hide another’ lets you keep choosing parts of the page to hide until you are satisfied with how it looks. 1Blocker for Mac has added the same feature, which is accessed by right-clicking on a webpage element in Safari and choosing ‘Hide an element with 1Blocker,’ though I only tested the iOS version.

Sometimes it can be tough to pick the precise element you want to hide by tapping because parts of the page overlap. To address this, 1Blocker includes ‘Expand’ and ‘Narrow’ buttons in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen that broaden or limit what has been selected.

I am impressed with how well 1Blocker’s new feature works. It didn’t work every single time, but it worked well enough and is so simple to use that I expect to keep using it a lot to hide things like sidebars, chat boxes, and social sharing buttons. 1Blocker’s update is an excellent example of how the value of a power-user feature can be unlocked by making it quick and painless for everyone to use, which is a big win, even if you know how to wade through a site’s CSS.

The update is free for all current 1Blocker users. New users can find 1Blocker for iOS on the App Store and the macOS version, which is currently available for 50% off, on the Mac App Store.

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iPad Diaries: Working with Zip Archives

iPad Diaries is a regular series about using the iPad as a primary computer. You can find more installments here and subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.

Compressing files into archives and extracting them into a specific location is one of the most common desktop tasks that is still surprisingly tricky to adapt to the iPad.

Unlike macOS, the iPad doesn't come with a built-in Archive Utility app that takes care of decompressing archives, nor does iOS include a native 'Compress Files' system action to create and share archives. I'd wager that anyone who works from an iPad deals with file archives on a regular basis, whether they come from email clients, Dropbox links shared by colleagues, or uploads in a Slack channel.

Archives – and the popular .zip format – are a staple of document-based workflows and file management, but the iPad isn't well-equipped to handle them. Working with .zip files on iOS is among the most frequent questions I receive from iPad-first users every week; effectively, Apple only offers basic integration with iOS' Quick Look when it comes to file archives. Fortunately, just like advanced file management, we have some solid third-party options and automation to help us.


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The Basic Approach: Documents and Quick Look

Readdle's Documents is the file manager I recommend to the majority of readers who ask me for a lightweight Finder-like iPad file manager with .zip capabilities.

As I outlined in last year's iPad Pro story, Documents has become the iPad's missing file manager thanks to its elegant UI and functionalities that Apple still hasn't brought to iCloud Drive. Among those, Documents can extract archives in the current folder as well as create .zip archives from multiple-file selections.1

If you receive a .zip file over email, or if you've been sent one with a shared Dropbox link, you can use the 'Import with…' menu to send the archive to Documents. In the app, extracting an archive is a matter of tapping the file once. Documents always extracts archives in the directory you're currently in, but, unlike Apple's Archive Utility, there are no preferences to set the original file to be automatically deleted after extraction. Despite the lack of options, sending a .zip to Documents and extracting it in the app already solves most of the archive-related problems on the iPad.

Documents also supports creating new .zip archives based on files you've selected. This is another feature that isn't available in Apple's own apps. Archives created by Documents are named 'Archive.zip' by default, but you can rename them from the 'Edit' menu. I wish Documents supported more archive formats (such as creating password-protected .rar archives), but .zip is good enough.

As far as basic options go, I should also mention Quick Look's ability to preview the contents of file archives. In any app that supports tapping on a .zip file to preview it (such as Apple Mail), you'll find a blue 'Preview Content' button that lets you navigate into an archive to preview files compressed inside it.

You can swipe between individual files rendered by Quick Look, see the complete file structure of a .zip archive by tapping the list button in the top left, and also share individual files through the share sheet in the top right. Quick Look is no replacement for Documents' .zip archive features, but at least it's integrated in a lot of apps and it can preview .zip contents without extracting an archive (thus creating a copy of the extracted file).

Dedicated App: Bundler

I recently discovered Bundler (which is available on the iPhone as well), and I think it's an interesting option if you find yourself often sharing the same .zip archives with people or adding new files to an existing archive.

Bundler represents .zip archives as "bundles" – collections of files that are stored in the app without any sort of cloud integration or online service. In practice, bundles are glorified folders displayed with colorful thumbnail previews for files you've sent to the app. Bundles can be shared as .zip files with other apps using the share sheet – and this is pretty much everything Bundler can do.

Bundler's main UI. Bundles are shared as .zip files.

Bundler's main UI. Bundles are shared as .zip files.

I think the way Bundler deals with files and .zip archives is clever. First, the app takes advantage of Quick Look's archive preview to let you explore the contents of a bundle. More importantly, though, Bundler's developers have ingeniously come up with a share extension to add files to an existing bundle (or create a new one) just like you'd share something on Twitter or Apple Notes.

Adding a file to a .zip archive looks like sharing media to a social network with the Bundler extension.

Adding a file to a .zip archive looks like sharing media to a social network with the Bundler extension.

Anywhere on the iPad, you can share a file with the Bundler extension, which will ask you to "post it" into a bundle. Back in the app, the file will be added to a bundle so you can share it as a complete .zip archive.

I find this method of dealing with a persistent, local collection of archives to be a nice alternative to Documents' more traditional approach, especially if you tend to share the same files with friends or colleagues. I can't think of other apps that let you "append files" to existing archives without creating duplicates, which makes Bundler a unique option on the iPad.

Automation and Workflow: Create and Extract Zip Archives

As is often the case with native iOS functionalities and app integrations, we can speed up the creation and extraction of .zip archives using Workflow.

To demonstrate the app's .zip archive features, I've created two workflows to generate archives and decompress files from an archive; a more advanced workflow with .zip support will be released exclusively for Club MacStories members tomorrow (Issue 72 of MacStories Weekly).

Zip Files

If you're a Dropbox user on the Mac, it's easy to collect multiple files in the Finder and compress them in an individual .zip archive. But if you use Dropbox on iOS, creating an archive from a multiple-file selection isn't a native option in the app.

Workflow, on the other hand, has offered a built-in 'Make Archive' action for a while now. This action takes items passed as input and puts them into an archive.2

Workflow's 'Make Archive' action turns multiple files into an archive.

Workflow's 'Make Archive' action turns multiple files into an archive.

To make it easier to turn multiple Dropbox files into an archive, I created a workflow that takes advantage of the app's improved file actions (launched last week) to let you easily pick multiple files at once from Dropbox.

Multiple Dropbox files are compressed in a single .zip archive by Workflow.

Multiple Dropbox files are compressed in a single .zip archive by Workflow.

After choosing multiple files, you can enter a name for the .zip archive that Workflow will generate. Finally, the archive can be shared with other apps using the 'Open In' menu.

If Dropbox is your primary file storage service, this is an effective way to simplify sharing multiple files with other people by converting them to a .zip archive you can send to any extension you want.

You can get the workflow here.

Extract Files from Zip Archive

Sometimes you have the opposite problem: you've received a .zip archive and you want an easy way to deal with individual files inside it. This can also be automated with Workflow using the 'Extract Archive' action and the app's support for repeat loops.

In any app that can share a .zip file with extensions (and even Quick Look itself), you can summon this workflow and make it extract an archive, which will result in a list of files contained inside it. Workflow can then perform some actions on each file from the archive.

Each file (or folder) from an archive can be saved to a different document storage location on iOS 10 using Workflow.

Each file (or folder) from an archive can be saved to a different document storage location on iOS 10 using Workflow.

For the purpose of this story, I used a 'Save File' action to re-save each file from an archive in a different location, but you can swap that action and make Workflow do other things, such as sharing each file with extensions or checking what types of files an archive contains. Extracting .zip archives on iOS can be customized to great extent if you're willing to let Workflow help you in the process.

You can get the workflow here.

If we go beyond Apple's built-in tools, there are some solid options for .zip archive creation and extraction on the iPad. Most of the problems I mentioned above would be obviated by a more serious Finder-like interface on iOS, but it's good to have app and automation alternatives for now.

  1. Surprisingly, DEVONthink – the more advanced option for file management on the iPad – doesn't sport built-in .zip extraction and creation features. ↩︎
  2. Workflow supports more formats beyond .zip, including .tar, .gz, and .iso. ↩︎

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How to implement Apple's two-factor authentication for security on Mac, iPhone, or iPad
Latest leaked CIA hack focuses on Apple's macOS, utilizes patched Thunderbolt EFI exploit
Wells Fargo to open up iPhone-based ATM withdrawals next week, no Apple Pay yet
The tech inside: San Francisco's Electroluxx art & dance party

The Week in iOS accessories: These stabilizers produce better videos

No more shaky video week in ios accessories

Image by Rob Schultz/Macworld

Two new stabilizers are in this week’s roundup—one for GoPro cameras, another for your iPhone. Read on!

GoPro go pro karma grip

Image by GoPro

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


Facebook starts warning U.S. users when they're sharing fake news

In a few months, you may no longer have to write “FAKE” below your friends’ Facebook posts. Fake news warning alerts appear to be rolling out to Facebook users in the United States after first appearing in Germany in January.

The new alerts, flagged with help from independent fact-checkers, are designed to prevent users from sharing fake news stories unwittingly, but they will not prevent people from sharing the story if they still choose.

When you try to share a story that has been flagged as phony, Facebook will insert an alert at the bottom of the post creation window (pictured at top). The alert will include a red triangle with an exclamation point, and a message such as “Disputed by Snopes.com and Associated Press.”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

4-year-old saves mother's life by asking Apple's Siri to call emergency services

53% off Jaybird X2 Sport Wireless Bluetooth Headphones - Deal Alert

With a regular list price of $149.99, the current discount makes the Jaybird X2 Sport is now available with a 53% discount for this deal. Features include:

  • Premium Bluetooth Audio For Skip-Free Music Outdoors
  • 8 Hours of Music + Calls With Complete Remote Controls
  • Secure Over/Under-Ear Fit Options
  • Lifetime Sweat proof Warranty
  • Includes Comply Premium Sport Memory Foam Ear Tips, Patented Secure-Fit Ear Fins, Friction-Fit Silicone Sport Carrying Case, Silicone Ear Tips, Charging Cable & Cord Management Clips.

Jump to Amazon now for additional details, and to explore buying options.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

US Attorney General claims a 'few weeks' needed to harvest data from rioters' locked iPhones
Apple to start Indian iPhone manufacturing within next two months

Apple acquires Workflow automation app, offers it free

Apple has acquired the Workflow automation app, which allows iOS users to trigger a sequence of tasks across apps with a single tap.

A spokesman for Apple confirmed on Wednesday the company’s acquisition of DeskConnect, the developer of the app, and the Workflow app, but did not provide further details.

Workflow, developed for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, allows users to drag and drop combinations of actions to create workflows that interact with the apps and content on the device. It won an Apple design award in 2015 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Some of the examples of tasks for which Workflow can be used are making animated GIFs, adding a home screen icon to call a loved one and tweeting a song the user has been listening to, according to a description of the app.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


Is Comcast’s Xfinity swapping your settings? No, but it can seem that way

Joseph Rosmann wrote in with a concern about Xfinity, Comcast’s cable TV and internet brand, to which his family subscribes. Starting in November, he and his family’s iPhones and Macs seemed to shift preferentially to Xfinity’s Wi-Fi network and email return address (plus mail server) without them having made any configuration changes of which they’re aware, and even while at home on their own Wi-Fi network.

Joseph wondered if Comcast had developed a technique to inject code or hijack settings that could have carried this out. I don’t believe so in this case, but Comcast does violate the integrity of user’s webpage requests, so it’s not a stretch to suspect it does worse.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


Apple's strategy hasn't changed—and neither have pundits' takes

Punditry 101 lesson time: If you want to write about Apple, it’s a lot easier if you just ignore some stuff.

Writing for The Guardian, Alex Hern says “Apple is tired of making Coca-Cola and now wants to sell champagne.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Christopher Cowan and Jason Davies.)

Yes, Apple, the company that has been routinely pilloried as elitist for selling device that are too expensive, is now retroactively the device-maker for everyone. The Macalope wanted to make a reference to The Lathe of Heaven here as he is wont to do when tackling reality-challenged pieces, but he sees he did that already when writing about a different piece by Hern and he has a strict “one The Lathe of Heaven reference per customer” policy.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


The $329 iPad could be just the thing for the education market

This winter has been packed with speculation about the future directions of the iPad product line, but nobody guessed that 2017’s first iPad announcement would be what we saw on Tuesday: An unexpected return of the original iPad line and the discontinuation of the iPad Air. The move was hardly exciting in terms of technology, but it could prove to be a smart and strategic one for the iPad as a whole.

The curious case of the fifth-gen iPad

Lately Apple’s been keeping old products on its price list, at reduced prices, in order to reach customers who don’t want (or can’t afford) to pay top dollar for cutting-edge tech. An exception was last year’s iPhone SE, which rolled a bunch of modern tech into a new, low-priced iPhone.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


It wasn't the money: Wozniak on robots, design, and Apple's origins

More than 40 years after founding Apple Computer, Steve Wozniak has a lot to say about the early days of the world’s richest company—and about technology, learning, and being a born engineer.

On stage at the IEEE TechIgnite conference in Burlingame, California, on Wednesday, he gave a glimpse into how a tech legend thinks.

On open source

In the early 1970s, Wozniak read about phone phreaking, in which “phreakers” made free phone calls by using electronics to mimic the tones used for dialing each number. To learn how to do it, he went to the only place he knew that had books and magazines about computers: The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He went on a Sunday and walked right in. “The smartest people in the world don’t lock doors,” Wozniak said.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


Super Mario Run 2.0 Arrives

On the heels of Super Mario Run’s debut on Android, Nintendo released a big update to the iOS version of the game that adds new features and refines gameplay.

Parts of Super Mario Run are free to play. Unlocking the remaining levels requires a one-time In-App Purchase. Nintendo has been criticized by some for making too few levels available for free. Version 2.0 addresses that criticism by letting players unlock courses 1-4 after completing one of Bowser’s challenges. Clear courses 1-4, and new Toad Rally courses are unlocked too.

You can now play Toad Rally with different colors of Yoshi, which will unlock Toads of that same color. Also, Nintendo’s release notes say that new buildings will be available in an upcoming event. The remainder of the updates to the game consist of tweaks to gameplay such as an expansion of the availability of Easy Mode and changes that make it easier to earn Rally Tickets for Toad’s Rally.

The update to Super Mario Run is free and available on the App Store.

Support MacStories Directly

Club MacStories offers exclusive access to extra MacStories content, delivered every week; it’s also a way to support us directly.

Club MacStories will help you discover the best apps for your devices and get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Plus, it’s made in Italy.

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Apple investigating accessory that turns iPhone, iPad into full-fledged touchscreen laptop
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