Cool iOS 15 and MacOS Monterey Tips Focus and Tab Groups and Zoom video backgrounds

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First of all hat tip to Sam on this one. With the new iOS 15 you get both widgets and an App Library so you don’t get endless pages of icons anymore. But the question is how to use all this effectively.

Getting it right with Focus, Home Pages and Notifications

Right now, I have an incredible 200 applications on my phone and it is a hot mess, so here are some tips:

  1. Search is my default. The truth is most of the time I find my applications by doing searches because I don’t remember what page or what folder it is in.
  2. Using App Library more. I just spent an hour literally arranging all my applications in my categories like Travel and so forth. But I just realized that the App Library does a pretty good job of this. So what is the point of curating pages anymore.
  3. Well, one good reason is that with the new Focus system, you can actually have for you. So for instance, if you select the Work focus and have your work applications all there, then you can just put your work applications there. So things like Superhuman for instance or Slides can just be right there. You set up a Home Screen in the Settings > Focus and then select a focus like Travel and then Home Screen > Custom Pages. It’s nice to use one for Fitness for instance. So in the end, you leave everything in the App Library but create a new page for every focus. You can select as many pages as you like which is great, so it makes dedicated screens like travel apps just work.
  4. Switching focus is really easy. On the Lock Screen, long press the focus icon or drag down the Control Center and long press the Focus icon there. It’s really handy if a zillion hours to setup.
  5. Widgets. There are zillion of these things and I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to use them. Well, it struck me that a widget is a good visual way of showing what the page is about since here is no title page. So I stick say the Tesla Stats page when we on traveling on the road.
  6. OK now for Sam’s trick, with this method, you essentially delete all the icons and when you switch focus, you get a blank Home Screen. So if you want an application there, drag down from the top to get search. Find the icon. Here’s the trick, you can now long press the icon and then drag it to the right Home Screen. Pretty cool right.
  7. The big reason to have a Home Screen isn’t to find applications, use search for that, it’s to get status. The main thing is that you can see the badges to know if something happens. So I don’t just put every random icon there, I put the ones that I use a lot or which give notications like say the number of unread messages.
  8. OK, the last thing which is a huge pain is dealing with notifications. This is kind of a mess when you have a lot of applications but for each Focus, you want to select which users can send notifications and which applications can too. I found that I was missing quite a few messages without it.
  9. Creating custom focus’es I’ve found is a great way to switch screens. For instance, if you have an office, then you can put the Park and Pay application there. Of if you are in a particular country

Safari Tab Group Tips

OK last thing is that tab groups are incredibly useful. You can now have a tab group and it is shared across all your Apple devices:

  1. So for instance, if you have a particular work project like a bunch of slides, you open a tab and then long press the double show more tabs (it is four squares on iPadOS and overlapping squares on iOS). Then you can more tabs to a different tab group.
  2. Now for me, there is a bug where these tab groups were not being shared across devices after an upgrade. The fix is to go to Settings > (Your Name) > iCloud > Safari and toggle this. This starts the sync correctly. Really useful
  3. One massive pain is that I haven’t found an easy way just to merge two tab groups or select multiple tabs and drag them to a single tab group so if you have duplicates then it is very manual to fix.

Split Pane Views and App Library

Well, the pane system is really confusing with iPadOS, but basically, if you pull up on the application menu, then you can drag an icon (for applications that support it) to either edge and it will appear side-by-side with the active application. Or if you hover on top, it will drop it down as a pop over window.

This is really useful for things like this WordPress blog, I can see Safari and type in the WordPress app at the same time. With iPadOS 15, you can now also see the App Library in the application bar click and search for any application. The trick then is that when you find it, if you just click on it, it will start it full screen.

But, if you long press, you can drag the icon down and then make it side by side or whatever. A bit easier if tricky. Not real windowing yet, but it’s pretty useful on a 12.9” iPad for instance.

Another good use of this is if you feature images with WordPress, in that case, when you set featured image, it will open the Photo Library, so if you run Pexels application next to WordPress, you can find a nice stock photo, then on download, you can select the size so it isn’t too big and click Download, then it just appears in the Photo Library, so it makes it way more integrated since copy and paste is not supported in WordPress.

Zoom Video Backgrounds from iPhone Videos

One incredible pain with Zoom is that it does not recognize the iPhone video format which is H.265 and high resolution. You have to run Handbrake or some video transformer to get it into 1920×1080 and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t like H.265 encoding, so use H.264.

Also these backgrounds are not shared across your Zoom sessions, so create a share iCloud folder so you can just copy a new video. It does require that you then add it to every device that you use. Sigh. This works only works for the Mac. The iOS and iPadOS clients are different.

Zoom Calendar sync choose Local

By default, Zoom only syncs with what it alls the integrated calendar for your login. But at least on iDevices, you can go to the Settings > Calender and select local Calendar and then all calendars that you have (for instance if you have multiple home and business accounts) will show up. That’s really nice for notifications.

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