I want to talk about two features in Safari for OS X and iOS that I’ve been using more and more lately: iCloud Tabs and Reading List. These are becoming more and more critical to me as a blogger. First a little digression on how I use my Mac and my iPad:
In 2010, Steve Jobs gave his famous “trucks” analogy at D8. Here’s John Paczkowski with the quote:
“When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm,” Jobs said at our D8 conference in 2010. “But as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars. … PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people.”
People have debated this analogy and picked it apart in the years since, but for me in my home life it rings true. I use my iPad for 95% of my casual computing (reading, surfing, Twitter, etc.), and use my Mac for the 5% of things I do that require heavy lifting (writing at length, photo and video management, document storage, etc.). Since I read on my iPad and blog on my Mac, I often have the problem of getting an article I want to quote over to my Mac. There are a lot of ways to do this, but none more seamless than iCloud Tabs and Reading List.
I used to use Instapaper for this task. In fact, when Reading List was introduced in Safari 5.1 I gave it a yawn. Instapaper already met my needs for a “read it later” service. What I’ve found though is that I have two very different uses for such a service. I’ve come to use Instapaper for articles and blog posts that I really want to sit down and read at a later time, and Reading List as a quick way to save an article or blog post that I want to link to and comment on here at johnsherrod.net. Sure, I might read an article on Instapaper and decide to blog about it, but I don’t usually want to Instapaper articles that I know in advance I want to blog about.
Using Reading List is simple. In Safari on your Mac, tap on the “Share” button in the upper left corner of the window. (It looks like an arrow leaping off the page.) The top most option in that menu has an icon that looks like a pair of eye glasses and says “Add to Reading List”. When you’re ready to read the article later, simply tap on the open book icon under the “back” button in Safari’s toolbar. In Mavericks you’ll have three buttons in the sidebar that appears: Bookmarks, Reading List, and Shared Links. It’s that simple. The process is very similar in iOS 7: tap the share button (looks similar to the Mac version, but is vertical arrow rising out of a box. Along the bottom of the share sheet that pops up, the second button from the left says “Add to Reading List”. To retrieve your Reading List later in iOS, tap the open book icon in the upper right corner of Safari and tap on the eye glasses icon in the center of the top of the overlay.
All of that is great, but doesn’t solve the problem of getting the contents of your Reading List over to your Mac or vice versa. That’s where iCloud comes in. If you use iCloud, when you add an article or blog post to Reading List on one device, it automatically shows up in Reading List on the other device. That’s great for me because I can add an article to Reading List on my iPad from the couch, and by the time I walk over to the desk where my iMac sits it’s already in Reading List there too. Seamless.
As a bonus, Twitterific (my iOS Twitter client of choice) has Reading List support built in. For apps that don’t natively support Reading List, I just pop the article over to Safari and then add it to Reading List.
What if you forget to add the article to Reading List before heading to your Mac? That’s where another great Safari/iCloud feature comes in: iCloud Tabs. In Safari for Mac and iOS there’s a cloud icon in the toolbar. Click it and you’ll see all of the tabs that are open in Safari on your other device. This has really come in handy for me.