Using Siri Better to Write Posts and Messages

It’s not convenient to explain punctuation to Siri, but if it’s just occasional, or you don’t have your hands free, these commands can save some time in the editing process.

I think it’s best if you use Siri inside a text editing app like Drafts…It’s easier to edit things there, and sometimes Siri botches things so using the service by pressing and holding the home button still feels a bit risky.

Jordan Shirkman does a fantastic job explaining the best way to use Siri on your iPhone/iPad. He also has the best list I’ve ever seen of punctuation commands for Siri.

Personally, I go back and forth between his method of speaking text into Drafts and just making an audio note in Evernote. I generally try to keep my documents as text, if possible to make sure they’re searchable, but when I need to get an idea out quickly or it’s technical in nature, I find it works better to make them an audio note in Evernote and transcribe later.

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Two Map Photos Workflows on iOS

A few weeks ago I thought I’d be clever (too clever it turns out) and try to integrate Dr. Drang’s map-photos.py Pythonista Script with Workflow so I could map photo locations directly from Photos.app. I was hoping to use Workflow to create an action extension that could grab a photo, put it to the clipboard and then run map-photos.py to display the location of the photo on a map without having to launch the script through Launch Center Pro or, slower still, opening up Pythonista, navigating to the script, and then tapping run. Unfortunately that project turned out to be a miserable failure because clipboard.get_image() in Pythonista doesn’t allow you to get the metadata of the image on the clipboard. Out of sheer laziness I left the useless workflow on my phone, taunting me every time I opened the app.

With the advent of general stability in Workflow 1.11, I decided to spend some time thinking about how I could better use the app. Tonight, for some reason, inspiration struck when I saw the Map Photos workflow looking me in the eyes. So I decided to take on the challenge.

The initial workflow idea was to create an action extension that could select multiple photos and display them all as separate pins on the map. While I think this is possible, I didn’t want to get derailed with that. I just wanted a reliable way to serially display multiple images on a map on iOS. The easiest way I could figure out how to do this was by using an X-Callback-URL. The problem is that there isn’t a reliable way to return to the source app when using an X-Callback-URL from an action extension on iOS. Also, Apple Maps doesn’t support the callback function of the X-Callback spec, obviously.

So I looked online and it turns out that Google Maps on iOS does support the X-Callback-URL spec, making the choice a no-brainer. So I built two different workflows:

  • one that would be able to run as an action extension to map photos directly from Photos.app as well as other apps, and
  • one that could take a series of images, display them in Google Maps, then return to Workflow to load up the location of the next image and send that one to Google Maps.

The what I like better about the Dr.’s method is that it actually grabs the Latitude and Longitude from the image file, whereas my workflows grab the address. I typically prefer Lat/Long because, especially in rural or newly developed areas, using the address can be highly inaccurate. This is another reason why I’m using Google Maps on iOS for this project. Three years into Apple Maps I still trust Google’s data more.


  1. probably because now I know that the steps of my workflows won’t just randomly be erased when running the workflow 

Dustin Kensrue on The Reformed Pubcast

I’m really bored with the whole beer scene, so I just rolled my eyes when I saw that there is something called The Reformed Pubcast. However, I did see that they had Dustin Kensrue on the show recently so I decided to check out that episode.

Aside from the boring beer talk at the beginning and the seemingly endless “Would you rather” game at the end, it was a pretty good show. Some things I enjoyed learning about:

  • Dustin wasn’t reformed until sometime in The Alchemy Index or possibly Beggars
  • Dustin pointed to Tim Keller helpful view on the Doctrines of Grace – it’s like a jawbreaker. The outer shell is so hard, but the inside is so sweet once you get through the tough stuff
  • From Dustin’s view, Thrice is an introverted band.

Go check it out if you’ve got 90 minutes or so to spare.

Using Drafts and Launch Center Pro/Workflow to Open Evernote Notes Directly

This past summer I stumbled across Jeffrey Kishner’s helpful post about using Pythonista, Drafts, and Launch Center Pro to create a direct link to any Evernote note on iOS. I have been using that workflow quite a bit to easily launch Evernote notes directly on my iPhone. Some of the notes I want to have quick access to are my Bible Verses to Remember and Prayer Requests notes.

There were a few things about the script that seemed like they could be optimized:

  1. There’s no need to get the link to the note from your Mac, you can get it directly from the iOS Evernote app.
  2. The manual of your six-digit string and the s.. in the Evernote URL could easily be automated.
  3. There workflow overall didn’t seem to be automated enough.

So I decided to try my hand at eliminating Pythonista from the workflow by using the new JavaScript actions in Drafts 4. To someone who knows JavaScript, or programming in general, I’m sure the script I hacked together is hideous, but it works, and to me that’s all that matters.

To check it out look for the Create Direct Link to Evernote Notes link on my projects page.

Fixing the BibleDraft Text Verse Action To Send Multiple Verses

The other day I needed to send my wife a series of Bible verses. This is one of the reasons I wanted a tool for quickly getting Bible verses on iOS. Well, as I went to text her, I realized that I'd made a sloppy error when building BibleDraft 1.1 – I had not built the multiple-verse functionality to group references and passages. So I took 15 minutes last night to fix that.

If you use BibleDraft to get Bible verses on your iPhone or iPad, please update to 1.1.1. Let me know if you have other issues.