Monday, July 17, 2017

iOS Needs Automation More

Justin Searls:

Reflecting on this experience, I realized that I don’t bother automating much on my Mac, because I know I can brute-force most activities without encountering too much pain. If I can accomplish a task in 5 seconds by mashing ⌘-C ⌘-Tab ⌘-L ⌘-V to copy a URL and open it in my browser, I’ll (apparently) gladly repeat it dozens of times per day for 14 years without thinking to stop and find a way to reduce that friction further.

My experience trying to do work on iPad has been much different. If I’m trying to do something ordinary (like opening a URL), iOS tends to be even lower-friction than macOS out-of-the-box, which I appreciate. But where working on the iPad really shines, ironically, is in how terrifically painful it is to perform out-of-the-ordinary actions.

For example, let’s say I need something a bit unusual, like saving web sites as PDFs into a specific folder and annotating them in a Markdown file. The dozens of taps demanded by such a task introduce so much friction that I was compelled to automate it. It rarely occurs to me to automate anything in macOS, both because AppleScript/Automator pale in comparison to Workflow, but also because the macOS interface is just good enough that no one instance of that action warrants investing the time into automating the whole process.

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