Tag Archive for ‘Safari’

Safari Technology Preview 58 ➝

This release includes new features that will be shipping in Safari 12 later this year, including icons in tabs and automatic strong passwords.

One thing of note for web designers is that, after enabling icon tabs in the app’s settings, it looks like the browser defaults to using the website’s “mask-icon” for this feature. These icons were previously only used for pinned tabs and are limited to a single color.

But if you remove your website’s mask-icon entirely, Safari will fallback to displaying the site’s full color favicon instead. And there doesn’t appear to be any downside to removing a site’s mask-icon because this new version of Safari will display favicons for pinned tabs as well.

Downloading Files With iCab Mobile

One aspect of the iOS-first lifestyle that has been a bit of an issue, for many users, is dealing with files. Apple has done a lot to try and fix that with the Files app in iOS 11, but it isn’t fool-proof. One common pain-point for me has been trying to download MP3 files that exist behind a paywall. Luckily, a few must-have iOS apps are available to smooth out the rough edges.

Download in iCab Workflow

I subscribe to Wrestling Observer to gain access to their premium podcast content — because I’m a nerd who likes pro wrestling. I prefer to listen to these shows in Overcast so I can use the app’s Smart Speed feature and play it back at about 1.2x, but Overcast doesn’t have support for password protected RSS feeds. I’m holding out hope that this will be added in the future, but until then, I’ve been using iCab Mobile to download the audio files, which I can then upload to Overcast’s servers with my Premium subscription. And of course, Workflow is there to facility the process.

When a new episode of Wrestling Observer Radio appears in my RSS reader, I follow the link to the episode’s webpage. From there I long press on the download link, tap the “Share…” button, choose “Run Workflow”, and tap on Download In iCab.

The workflow takes the URL passed into it and makes use of iCab’s x-callback-url support to initiate a download of the linked file. In a few short seconds, the MP3 file is available for me to upload to Overcast’s servers for listening in the app — thankfully, iCab works well with the Files app as a document provider.

Downloaded in iCab and Uploaded to Overcast in Sidefari

This workflow is great on the iPhone, but it really shines on the iPad where I have Sidefari setup in split view alongside iCab Mobile. iCab downloads the file while Sidefari is configured to automatically load the Overcast Uploads webpage. Once the download is completed, I can start uploading to Overcast immediately. And when I’m done, I can use the system back button in the upper left to get back into my RSS feeds.

This workflow has been immensely useful for me over the past several months. The podcast I use it for is updated several times each week and I follow the steps outlined above for nearly every episode. It might not seem like all the tapping through various menus is worth the trouble, but I can assure you that the alternative methods for performing the same task are much more time consuming and frustrating to use.

I originally built this workflow in order to download audio files from the web, but I’m sure there are all kinds of oddball tasks that it could be useful for. I’d love to see iCab introduce an action extension that initiates a download, but until that happens, this workflow is the next best thing.

Why I’m Not Crazy for Making Safari My Default Browser ➝

Matt Birchler:

I don’t think that Safari is the best browser for everyone, and I don’t think Chrome is the only other game in town either. Some people love Opera, while others are getting excited for Vivaldi, and Firefox still has its supporters. But there is a mass of people who scoff at those who use anything besides Chrome, and I wanted to explain why some of us use it over the Goliath in the room. Chrome is great, but so is Safari.

Matt makes some great points in this piece, but I think he missed one of the biggest reasons for using Safari instead of Chrome — significantly better battery life. I can understand why it was omitted from his list, though, his primary home computer is a Mac mini.

Split View Safari in iOS 10 ➝

One feature that isn’t going to make the cut in my piece on iOS 10 is the ability to view two Safari tabs in Split View. The biggest reason is, I just don’t have much to say about it other than, I want it now.

Safari 10 Will No Longer Load Legacy Plug-Ins by Default ➝

Ricky Mondello, writing on the WebKit weblog:

By default, Safari no longer tells websites that common plug-ins are installed. It does this by not including information about Flash, Java, Silverlight, and QuickTime in navigator.plugins and navigator.mimeTypes. This convinces websites with both plug-in and HTML5-based media implementations to use their HTML5 implementation.

This is a step in the right direction towards a Flash-free web. If you’d like to experience it now, I suggest uninstalling Flash altogether and using John Gruber’s workaround if you come across any stubborn websites.

Rethinking Workflows and Setups

Matt Gemmell recently rethought his use of OmniFocus and OmniOutliner. He decided to seek more lightweight equivalents that better suited his needs and ended up landing on TaskPaper, which he preferred because it has a simple feature set and saves in plain text.

This bit in the opening paragraph stood out to me, though.

Taking productivity seriously means always being willing to refine your setup, I think. Sometimes you have to live with something for a while before you can see the areas where it doesn’t quite suit you.

It seems as though us tech enthusiasts are often tweaking and reworking our setups and workflows. Whether it’s in an effort to find something that increases our efficiency or we’re just looking for a way to keep our workflows from seeming stale, we all go through this process periodically. And I agree with Matt, this is an important thing to do if you take productivity seriously.

I went through a similar process last week — albeit on a smaller scale. I reorganized my bookmarks in Safari. I hadn’t done a major overhaul like this in many years and my bookmarks were still setup for my pre-iOS-centric workflows.

What drove me to reworking my bookmarks was the realization that I just don’t use them like I used to. When the original iPhone was released in 2007, I created a folder in my bookmarks menu named “iPhone” that housed all of the web apps and bookmarklets that helped me stay productive in a world without native applications. I didn’t want to clutter the root level of my bookmarks menu with a bunch sites that I never visited on my Mac, so I kept them separate.

Over time the iPhone folder was renamed to “iOS” and its contents began looking more and more similar to the bookmarks that I used on my Mac. Native applications came and took over many of the tasks that had previously been performed by web apps and recently the OS became capable of using application extensions which have replaced many of the bookmarklets that I used to use. And on top of all that, Apple began displaying your favorites bar and frequently visited sites rather then your bookmarks menu when you launched Safari without a webpage open.

The favorites bar had always been an especially Mac-centric bookmarks location for me. I’ve always had it visible in Safari on OS X, but never even looked at it on iOS — including iPad. That is, until a few years ago when Apple gave it more prominent placement in Mobile Safari.

Many of the bookmarks saved in my favorites bar started feeling silly. Why did I have a link to Netflix, Tumblr, or an Instapaper boorkmarklet staring me in the face every time I launched Safari on my iPad or iPhone? There are applications for interacting with those services and there’s no need for them to continue cluttering my browser.

Early last week, I grabbed a pen and a spiral notebook and began listing every single bookmark I had saved. Then, I moved all of them into a temporary folder where they would be held until I decided whether to keep them and, if so, where they’d be placed.

The process didn’t take too long. As it turns out, many of the bookmarks I had inside of my iOS folder already existed in my root level bookmarks menu. This meant I was able to delete one or two dozen duplicate bookmarks which helped to simplify the organization process.

What I ended up with was four bookmarks in my favorites bar — the site’s Mint dashboard, WordPress dashboard, and Press This bookmarklet and Transmission’s remote interface. In the bookmarks menu I now have seven bookmarks — some for iOS and some for OS X — alongside three folders which contain several Initial Charge-related administration sites and a few bookmarklets that I haven’t found application analogs for.

This will undoubtedly impact how I use my Mac. But that’s not much of a concern to me. I use my iPad Air 2 the vast majority of the time and only login to my MacBook Air when I know I’ll be spending a lot of time in Transmit or interacting with a large number of photos. Both of which are becoming less frequent and I’m starting to find ways of performing these tasks on iOS instead. The bottom line is, any slowdowns I experience when I use my Mac are more than made up for by the increases in productivity that I’ll see on my iPad and iPhone from having bookmarks organized with an iOS-first mentality.

Introducing Safari Technology Preview ➝

Ricky Mondello, from Apple’s Safari team:

Starting today, there’s a new, convenient way to see what features and improvements are coming to Safari and other applications that use WebKit. Safari Technology Preview is a version of Safari for OS X, distributed by Apple, that includes a cutting-edge, in-development version of the WebKit browser engine. It’s a great way to test upcoming WebKit features and give feedback to the people building them when it’s most useful — early in development.

Installing this doesn’t affect your existing copy of Safari and they can be run side by side to compare behaviors between them. I’ll be installing this on my MacBook later tonight. Though, given how infrequently I use the machine, I don’t expect I’ll launch it very often.

The New Favicon ➝

Craig Hockenberry, writing on Iconfactory’s weblog:

The recent release of Safari 9.0 brought a great new feature: pinned tabs. These tabs are locked to the lefthand side of your tab bar and stay in place, even when you open a new window or relaunch the browser.

The default behavior is to display the first letter of the site’s name on a color from the site’s theme. If you work on a site with a strong branding element, you’ll want to customize the icon on the pinned tab. Anthony Piraino and I have been working on one for the Iconfactory and would like to share some of the things we learned.

This is something I’ve tried to implement on Initial Charge in the past, but I hit a brick wall when trying to build the final vector image. I’m not too adept at working with graphics and what I have now is a PNG file that, obviously, doesn’t display in Safari’s pinned tabs.

I had found a few ways to convert my image files to SVG, but none of them resulted in actual vector images — just an SVG file with my bitmap image embedded in it. This time around, though, I might have found a solution. I came across this thread on StackOverflow where a few users have suggested using Potrace. When I get a chance sometime next week, I’ll give it a try.