iOS users must now give explicit permission for apps to track their behavior and sell their personal data, such as age, location, spending habits and health information, to advertisers. While many apps have allowed people to manage or opt-out of this for years, it's typically buried deep in user settings and wordy privacy policies.

Turn ebooks into audiobooks

I'm a big fan of using the iOS accessibility speech features to read books—mostly while I'm driving. It's also great when I've been reading on my iPhone for a while and need to do something else but I'm also really curious about what's going to happen next in the book. It's easy to turn on:

Open iPhone Settings -> Accessibility -> Spoken Content. Or search for Spoken Content. Turn on the Speak Screen feature:

screenshot of Speak Screen control

Once this is on you can swipe down with two fingers inside the Books app and you'll have an instant audiobook that looks and sounds something like this:

I've found that it works a little better if you disable Scrolling View in the Books app under the font/brightness controls, here:

screenshot of Scrolling View turned off

Once started it will read page after page without any intervention. The controls appear for a few seconds and then move behind an arrow on the left side of the screen that you can tap if you need them.

The downside is that the synthesized voice is robotic and has annoying robotic tics. (One example: it reads years like 1850 as "one thousand eight hundred fifty", annoying in history books that can be date heavy.) iOS has several voices available though and it's worth going through to see if one works better for you than others. Just click Voices on the Spoken Content settings page to see the options. I like one called Ava (Enhanced). It's not a real audiobook as read and interpreted by a real human, but it does work for switching from reading to listening.

Need something to read? I love the books from Standard Ebooks. They're a massive improvement over the varied quality you find somewhere like Project Gutenberg. The book in the video clip above is the Standard Ebook version of Wired Love by Ella Cheever Thayer.
PCalc PCalc
I’ve been having fun with this 3D animated dice-rolling app. Seems like it’ll be good for all of my RPG needs especially those rare times I need to roll a bunch like 10d6 or 12d8. (This is a picture of a roll with advantage—a nice built in feature.)

simplenote.com simplenote.com
image from simplenote.com
Simplenote is yet another cross platform note-taking app and I'm ready to say I like this one. For years I've used the Apple Notes app as my primary place for notes but I spend a good chunk of time on Windows these days. The browser-based iCloud version of Notes is fine but their login process is a complicated pain. The time from need-to-take-note to getting logged in at iCloud was too much. To fix that I've tried a bunch of note-taking options like Bear, Notion, Evernote, Google Keep, Microsoft's OneNote and who knows how many others. Simplenote works well with no cruft. It's made by Automattic—the company behind WordPress—so I'm hoping that means they'll be offering this for the forseeable future.

Security update: Nelson let me know that Simplenote does not store notes encrypted on their servers. It does encrypt the notes in transit between your devices and their servers, but that doesn't provide a spectacular level of security. He recommended I take a look at Standard Notes which does store them securely. And be sure to look at Nelson's summary of Standard Notes.
Better Humans Medium | Better Humans
image from Better Humans
I'm a habitual iPhone settings-changer and I still found settings to tweak in this article. The central premise of this article is that your phone should be a tool that helps you not a director that tells you how to spend your time and attention. It's a good companion piece to Cal Newport's Deep Work—a book-length why behind changing your relationship with your phone.
ifixit.org ifixit.org
image from ifixit.org
This is such a great mystery and investigation that I don't want to spoil it with too many details. We try to keep our phones out of water but we should also try to keep them away from "large concentrations of small-molecule gas".
The New York Times
image from
The screen struggle is real. I'm trying to find this line with my kids and with myself and this article is more fuel for the less-is-more fire.

What dark magic is this? Manual for iOS 10 just added the ability to shoot RAW photos.
  • oooh, neat. William Wilkinson (who takes great photos) made an iPhone App for taking great photos.
  • Wired's take on the best gadgets. Just in time for gadget season.
  • Application recommendations for iOS and OSX. Just in time for app season.
  • Beautiful giant photo essays. Like Medium for pictures.
  • lia put together this record of a Twitter conversation about the current state of Flickr and photo-sharing in general. Depressing: "...nobody cares about lasting value anymore. it's all about what's going on right this second."
  • Sharing music one track at a time. This is a fun site.
  • This app is a good replacement for the cumbersome iTunes podcast manager. It downloads podcasts directly, no syncing required.
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