Drafts 5: New features, New Pricing

Drafts is one of those little apps that shouldn’t be a big deal, but it really is a huge deal. It might seem like a simple text writing app with a few cool features but it can fundamentally change how you use iOS. Here’s how and why the latest version, Drafts 5, is a great step forward.

Why Drafts matters

Drafts is the place where text starts for me (with a few exceptions). If there is a specific writing task I need to do in a specific place (such as an assignment for work) then i’ll start there, but if I want to tell someone something, fill in a website form or just take a quick note, I open drafts.

It’s much better to write (and edit) in than using the web field on a site.

The second key aspect of drafts is that it allows you to do some powerful actions upon that text. It could be turning several comments into a task, sending it as an email, add a comment or similar. This means that the text doesn’t just stay in drafts but is put to work.

What’s new in Drafts 5

Drafts 5 has a brand new editor that takes some different steps from the previous version. You still have the shelf with your different drafts and the action directory but now there are multiple keyboard menus. This means you can set up a separate markdown and taskpaper menus with different shortcuts. Or you can have different actions for different situations.

In addition to the changes in layout, you can also customize the theme and app icon more than before (these are premium features, more on that later). I particularly like the grey theme though I bet the black is great on the iPhone X.

If you had issues finding notes in the past and wished you had a good tagging system, well now you can. Tags can be accessed from a cmd + T shortcut

One of the unique features of drafts is the way that it will open on a black screen when you open the app. This means you can start writing right away and not have to carry out unnecessary taps to get into a blank slate. Of course there can be disadvantages with this, if you have to go back and forth to check information, then you constantly have to tap to reopen the draft which you were on. Well, no more. There is now focus mode which will keep the draft you are working on open. Focus mode can be activated by either pressing the “eye” in the bottom left hand corner or by going into settings and adjusting the setting there. It can be deactivating in similar fashion and there is a further setting to adjust how quickly a new draft is created. I wondered if there was a way to set up a keyboard shortcut to toggle focus mode and @wonk71 had created an action which you can attach to a keyboard short cut.

There are new scripting option and integrations (alluded to before) which allow you to do some really powerful things. This includes JavaScript scripting (the tool used in the afore mentioned focus mode actions).

However, the good and bad news is that this is now a subscription app rather than a single paid up front app.

Uh Oh, another subscription app!

The advantage of this is that you can try drafts for free and if you want the basic features only, then you don’t have to pay. However, there are some extremely useful features which are held behind the paywall as well as some nice to haves.

Thanks to the action directory I suspect many people could get by using the free version but if you really like making custom actions (or just want to say thanks for such a great app) then you might want to consider giving donations to Greg (the developer).

Buy/Don’t buy?

Overall, Drafts 5 is a good update. Ignoring the pricing model I don’t see why anyone would stick with the last version (there are some actions which aren’t supported anymore like Google+ so that maybe a reason) however the pricing model will no doubt annoy some people. Greg is keeping Drafts 4 around and the free version will work for most people but moving from a $4.99 one time app that was update for two years to a $19.99 a year subscription is a huge increase in price. If you use drafts all the time and love making custom actions, maybe that isn’t too much for you. If you’ve never used drafts or understood it, then maybe you should try the free version.

How to sync your weight between Nokia/Withings scales and Fitbit

The Apple health app is a great tool for syncing your health data between different services and makes using separate companies devices useful on iOS. However, some apps don’t link in to the Apple health app for anything or all of the data they produce. One of these is the Fitbit app which will use the iPhone to monitor movements but will not tie into the apple health app. This can cause issues if you want to share data from other health apps. Admittedly, Fitbit supports many third party apps (some of which will tie into the health app themselves), but one of the sources of data which Fitbit doesn’t share naturally is weight.

This is presumably to encourage you to buy one of their own smart scales rather than buying one from a third party. Having previously bought into the Withings (now Nokia) system with an activite and a smart body scale, I wanted to sync my weight data with Fitbit (which ties into some activity tracking I do, especially with the Fitbit coach app previously fitstar). Luckily, there is a fiddle way to do that.

Syncing weight data with IFTTT

Fitbit may not support Apple health, but it does support IFTTT. This is useful as if your other health service (like Nokia health mate, the app that log the Nokia/withings scale) supports IFTTT to, you can sync your weight data that way. Here’s how.

Get your health apps installed and set up

I’m going to assume you’ve done this step already.

Install IFTTT

Go to the App Store and download IFTTT if you haven’t already

Set up a new applet

Click on my applets in the bottom right hand corner and then the big plus in the top left hand corner.

Use Withings as your trigger

In your new Applet, click on IF and type in withings (it’s still called withings not nokia for some reason in the app, Nokia has two other services) and select new body measurement.

Use Fitbit as your action

Now click on Fitbit as your action and you should have one option, create new measurement.

Warning: Be careful over units

This was a mistake that I made I set up my trigger at first. I accidentally set pounds as my unit to send and kilograms as the unit to record. As such my weight was logged as practically double what it actually was.

Sit back and relax

It’s a real shame that Fitbit didnt open up more of their data sources to make it easier to sync health data between services but at least there is a an easy to set up workaround.

David Sparks’ IPhone Field Guide Now Out

iPhone Field Guide
David Sparks is back with a new mega field guide. His Markdown field guide really helped me get my head round writing in Markdown when I first moved to the mac and iOS and I now use it everyday for writing. I’ve also found his email and presentation field guides to be really useful too. I picked up a copy because his past ones have been so good, and I’ve got so much value from Mac power users.