iOS 8 Extensions

So iOS 8 is here and along with it comes a deluge of app updates. For me, the most notable updates were OmniFocus, TextExpander and 1Password. The promises of these apps’ extensions were pretty great. The OmniFocus extension was going to add a Today view and a share sheet function. The TextExpander extension was going to add a third-party keyboard that would let you use TextExpander snippets in any app. And finally, the 1Password extension would let you fill in 1Password login details from within Safari. The 1Password update also promised to bring Touch ID login.

So how did these apps’ extensions all fare? Let’s start with 1Password, which of the three, I think was the most successful.

1Password’s Touch ID integration is great. You will, however, need to tell it in its settings to not require the master password so often. I’m happy enough with my iPhone’s password that the Touch ID will suffice for periods up to a day. The extension for Safari isn’t easily discovered. To enable 1Password’s extension, go to the share menu in Safari, and instead of adding the extension from the options for apps, you need to go to the system actions’ extra menu to select 1Password. It’s a weird way of enabling it, but once you get it set up, 1Password’s extension is extremely handy. You’ll notice that the extension can’t auto-click the “Go/Send/Enter” buttons the way the browser built into 1Password can. You’ll still have to hit those buttons manually.

OmniFocus’ extensions were moderately successful. The Today and share extensions work well, but they have their shortcomings. The Today extension shows your due items on the Today screen. That’s awesome. The problem is, the extension doesn’t respect the times set on your defer dates. It respects the date, so things due tomorrow won’t show up, but let’s say it’s 6AM and you have a due item that’s deferred until 6PM, it’ll still show up on the Today screen at 6AM. This made me turn the damn thing off. I use defer times for the specific purpose of hiding things that can’t be acted on.

The other thing that OmniFocus’ extensions add is a share sheet action. This works well, you can add notes, a project and a context to new actions without the need to jump to the OmniFocus app. The one problem is that you can’t search through your projects or contexts here. You have to manually scroll through the lists to select them, and if you have a lot, like most OmniFocus users, I imagine — this can get quite tedious.

The last update I was excited for was the TextExpander 3 update. This update brings a TextExpander keyboard that iOS 8 makes available. Problem is, the keyboard is pretty awful. Sure, you now have access to your TextExpander snippets everywhere, but the touch areas feel smaller than the standard iOS keyboard, which leads to more difficulty typing words correctly. You also lose the helpful predictive text that the standard keyboard gives you. And lastly, there’s a bug (at least on my 5S) when you switch to the “#+=” keyboard, you can’t switch back to the “123” keyboard without typing a space and then hitting “123” again. Smile support acted like they’d never heard this problem though.

If I had to give the updates grades, I’d say:

1Password — A

OmniFocus — B

TextExpander — C

Published on September 18, 2014

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