Using your iPhone is easier with these great apps

A new feature isn’t necessarily a great feature

Apple introduced 3D Touch with the iPhone 6 in September, 2014. The feature offers two new gestures, “Peek” and “Pop,” which are triggered by the amount of pressure applied to an iPhone’s screen. You can see 3D Touch in action here. It’s pretty neat and can save time, if used properly.

The usefulness of new features like 3D Touch is variable. There are plenty of “Me, too” implementations in the App Store that don’t make your iPhone easier to use, which is the ultimate goal. In the following examples, 3D Touch makes an app significantly better.

Best implementation: Workflow

workflow_3dtouchHands down, Workflow for iPhone and iPad ($2.99) features the best implementation of Apple’s 3D Touch that I’ve seen. It lets you choose what appears in the resulting pop-up menu (up to four items), ensuring that it’s as useful for you as possible. Here’s how to set it up.

  1. Tap My Workflows on the app’s main screen.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and tap Settings.
  3. Tap 3D Touch Shortcuts

From there you’ll see a list of your workflows. Now, just tap the four you’d like to appear in the 3D Touch menu.

Workflow lets you create, download and share automated, multi-step tasks for your iPhone to perform. Have your phone do anything from order a pizza to move files to services like Dropbox. The 3D Touch implementation here is so helpful that it puts an already useful app way over the top. Save serious amounts of time each day with Workflow and 3D Touch.



sparkWhile Workflow is my top pick for useful 3D Touch, it’s not the only app that’s making good use of Apple’s fun tech. Readdle’s Spark (, a recent “Best of the App Store” selection, does a stellar job by featuring the app’s most common functions: calendar, attachments, search and compose a new message. Simply select any one to jump right to it.

The iconography here is nice and clear as well, and each task is blazing fast. Browsing attachment is especially useful, as they’re presented as a nice list, which is significantly faster than scrolling through a bursting inbox. Spark is a great app and is use of 3D Touch makes it even better.


As we saw with Spark, Instagram for iPhone (free) put the most useful tasks front-and-center. I use Search and Post several times per day. But there’s much more here.

Nearly every link in the app offers Peek and Pop. Press-and-hold on a hashtag to see relevant photos. Do the same to a username for a preview of their latest posts. While holding that preview, swipe up for options like unfollow, enable notifications or share as a message. As with the other apps in this list, Instagram is made easier to use via 3D Touch. Very well done.


cmraplsOne last selection: Camera+ ($2.99). The long-standing camera app by Tap Tap Tap lets you jump right to taking a photo, as well as the proper setting for getting a selfie or a macro shot. This saves so much time previously spend fiddling around with exposure and focus, especially when taking a macro shot.

All of these apps use Apple’s 3D Touch to make using your iPhone faster and easier. That’s just what technology like this should do. Try them out and see for yourself.

Instagram needs to move the Send button


I love Instagram as much as they next guy, but its iPhone developers need to move the Send button that appears when writing a comment. I often press it accidentally, which publishes a nonsensical incomplete sentence. An early version of Facebook for iPhone had the Send button down by the keyboard, too, but fortunately they’ve moved it.

Instagram alters wording on terms of service

instagramStand down, everybody. Instagram announced in a blog post that it will revert the language in its terms of service to the original wording:

“The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos. There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.

Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010. You can see the updated terms here…I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.”

“Original version” refers to the terms that have been in place since the service launched in October, 2010.

You may now resume posting photos of your dinner without fear.

Instagram Lux, Camera Plus Clarity and Camera HDR

Last week Instagram released version 2.1 of its popular photography app for the iPhone. The marquee feature is Lux, which fixes underexposed or low-contrast photos with a tap. Professional photographers know how to handle sharp shadows and other tricky lighting scenarios, but the rest of us need help, especially when using a point-and-shoot camera like the iPhone. That’s what Instagram hopes to provide with Lux.

Of course, other developers offer similar functionality. Camera+ from Tap Tap Tap features Clarity. Apple’s own app, Camera, features HDR mode. How do they compare? I shot several photos to find out. Here’s a comparison of Instagram Lux, Camera + Clarity and Camera HDR.

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Instagram re-design mockup is gorgeous

Instagram is one of my favorite photo apps for the iPhone. It’s fun and simple. The folks at Tapmates felt that they could improve Instagram’s look, and they were right.

They’ve posted a mockup of a potential re-design,[1. Met with understandable dismay from some fellow designers. Thanks to Ian P. Hines for the head’s up.] and it’s stunning. I especially like the stitching and scalloped edge to the “paper.” Well done, Tapmates.

[Via MacStories]