In episode 25 of Automators David and I sat down together in person, with the help of his suitcase and some shoes, we were able to record a full episode in person! Continue reading
In the latest episode of Automators David and I went crazy over AirTable – we use it to plan Automators which makes our life so much easier, that combined with the automations you can attach to this meant it was the perfect topic for an episode of Automators! Continue reading
What’s impressive about this app, is that I rarely launch it, but I’m pretty sure my workflow would feel broken without it. Timery has excellent integrations with Shortcuts, letting me start and stop timers as part of my automations without thinking. Whenever I run Shortcuts to put myself into certain modes (such as podcasting, or writing for my blog), as well as launching the correct applications, I also start logging my time. I also build in checks to let me know how long I’ve already worked on projects today when I end my timers – this is a not so gentle nudge that if I want to achieve my goals, I should invest an appropriate amount of time in them!
The main screen in Timers is your saved timers which serve three purposes, letting you start tracking a project, with tags and a description if you so choose, with just a tap. These timers are also donated to Siri (and therefore Shortcuts), and also display how long you’ve worked on those timers today. I find this screen great for both a quick overview as well as starting timers.
The next screen is Time Entries where you can see log of your most recent time entries. There are swipe options for these entries allowing you to delete or edit them, as well as play button which lets you start a new time tracking entry with the same parameters.
The developer behind Timery, Joe Hribar, has worked extremely hard to make sure this app rivals the Toggl app – it has all the core functionality covered, as well as genuinely excellent shortcuts support. This means there’s full support for Workspaces, the premium Toggl feature which lets you helps you carve up your life further with tags and projects belonging to Workspaces.
The way I use Timery most, is through Shortcuts. I use Launch Center Pro and Pushcuts to send me notifications which I use to launch Shortcuts, and these shortcuts tell Timery to track my time for me. As all the saved timers can be used to both start timers as well as check the time logged so far on each of them this alone becomes helpful for tracking time. The Shortcuts support allows you to toggle “show when run” (this is the only setting on all donated shortcuts within the Shortcuts app right now) – this is used to show you the details of your time tracking, and it’s done in a minimalist way which makes sure I see the information I need and can dismiss the notification within a second or two at most.
As well as the saved timers in the app, you can also just start time tracking and add the details you want or need – which makes it easy to get going and then you can give it a title, project, or tags later before you finish (or after the fact with the Timery club).
The Timery app in its free state is excellent, but if you join the Timery Club, an optional in app subscription of $9.99/year, as well as supporting development of the app you get extra functionality:
- Unlimited saved timers, the free version allows you to have 4 saved timers (which in my opinion is a generous number).
- Edit all the elements of time entries from the last week as well as delete and duplicate them.
- Add historical time entries.
- Add, edit, and delete Toggl projects, tasks, and tags.
- Show your tag names in the saved timers (otherwise the tag icon is displayed)
- Custom themes, app icons, and dark mode. Dark mode can be toggled based on the screen brightness, sunrise, and sunset, or manually.
If you have no interest in tracking your time then this app is not for you, but if you’re curious about it, or have been struggling with it – or even if you already track every second and want to make your life easier, I highly recommend downloading Timery. It has made it much easier for me to track my time, because it is very simple to use – and in my case, it builds right into my shortcuts that I already use to launch a significant number of actions.
Timery feels like a much better-designed app than the Toggl app, there’s more data on the screen, and I can choose what data goes on what screen – as well as the Shortcuts that should be donated (instead of doing the action and letting it show up and then having lots of unnecessary actions in my Shortcuts app. Plus the developer is active and open to feedback and suggestions for improvement!
Timery is available on the App Store today, it’s a free download with an optional in app purchase for the Timery Club which is $0.99/month or $9.99/year.
As I’ve talked about on Automators before, I have used Zapier to send notifications to my iPhone which trigger Shortcuts – this means that I can have a series of automated actions happen and follow it up with something I need to manually do. I’ve been using PushBullet and Pushover to do this – I’ve tried both and they’re both good, but they’re designed for notifications and the URLs triggering automations is not something it was designed to do. Additionally PushBullet still hasn’t been updated for the iPhone X(s) screen format. Pushover has been updated more recently, but it still doesn’t quite match up with what Pushcut can do as a dedicated app.
Let’s start by looking at a few use cases for this:
- MacSparky and I take it in turns to post the Automators episodes, that means every second episode when it releases I need to be prompted to put up my blog post about the episode. That post is prepared, and is in Drafts, so once the episode is up I get a notification that triggers a Shortcut to help me find the right Draft and post it.
- When an article of mine goes up on The Sweet Setup I like to go and clean it out of my Dropbox (where the drafts sit), which I do through a Shortcut, and then post about it on my site.
Those are just two of the many use cases I have for this sort of thing, in each case there can be multiple steps I would like to execute on my device – some of these I’ve combined into a single Shortcut which runs those other shortcuts, but others I’m still trying to rely on my memory (which has more holes in it than a sieve!). Also if I want or need to change these I need to log into Zapier and change the URL scheme that’s in the URL part of the notification action step (whether that’s through Pushover or Pushbullet).
Pushcut is a free app with two subscription levels, I’ll give you a quick overview of those:
- Free: Create three notifications, which can each trigger one action (opening a URL or running a Shortcut).
- Basic: Create as many notifications as you want, with as many actions as you want on each notification. Plus you can sync these between your devices.
- Pro: Dynamic notifications – based on JSON you use to trigger the notification which can give you: inputs for Shortcuts and dynamic title and text in notifications. You can also target individual devices.
I immediately decided I wanted the Pro – I’ve been passing variables to Shortcuts as parameters through Zapier, and I’ve been building my own workarounds for branching to give me different information. Most people should start out with the free level and then try basic though to get to grips with the system.
The first thing to do is to create a notification in the Pushcut app, and give it a name. The name of the in the app is separate to what appears as the title of the notification which is very useful allowing you to have useful internal descriptions, but have an action based title. The title gets URL encoded and becomes part of the URL you POST to in order to trigger the notification. Tapping this URL will copy it to your clipboard – and I’ll come back to what to do with that near the end!
Secondly you want to set the Notification Title and Description. These are what will show up on your device when you get the notification, I like mine to tell me what to do, and why I’m doing it – this way I won’t just ignore the notifications because the seem irrelevant. After this you should set a default action, and you probably want to add this as action as well. The default action is what happens if you just tap on the notification, or swipe on it from the lock screen, and the actions are what you (can) trigger after force touching the notification – you can add multiple actions to a notification here, giving you a choice in which action to execute.
Now we have the basics set up we can trigger the notification! Depending on your needs you could use this with something like IFTTT or Zapier’s web hooks, or even build it into a script somewhere.
Now whenever this is triggered you will get a notification sent to your device which when opened will trigger a Shortcut.
In addition to what I’ve outlined above you can enhance this with the Pro options – allowing you to specify custom notification titles and content, and also pass input to your shortcuts. You can also run URL schemes allowing you to something like add a task to Due – without having to go via Shortcuts.
I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to the developer of Pushcut over the last few weeks and he’s been adding enhancements right and left! While the app and service are already a step up from existing solutions just because of the ease of use, the fact that this is a dedicated service for triggering automations on iOS means it really is well thought out.
In episode 21 of Automators, David and I were joined by the lovely Dr Drang! You may have heard him on a few other podcasts, including Mac Power Users. Continue reading