iOS 11

Microsoft Office for iPad now supports opening files from the Files app more directly

Microsoft Office and the Files App Finally Play Nice Together:

Today Microsoft updated its Office suite for iOS, with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all reaching version 2.12. Office updates rarely receive detailed release notes, and today was no exception, but user Teddy Svoronos discovered that the updates brought 'Open In' capabilities to the share sheet, which previously only enabled making a copy of an Office document. The 'Copy to' option has now been removed, replaced by the more convenient 'Open in.'

After seeing Teddy's tweet, I did a little playing around in the Files app and discovered that, while Excel and PowerPoint documents accessed in Files will load Quick Look previews and require tapping 'Open in' from the share sheet, the experience is even better with .docx files. Those Word-associated documents open directly in the Word app with just a single tap from the Files interface – no need to open the share sheet first.

It is really nice to see proper use of the Files app user interface being adopted into apps by third party developers. The more time passes, hopefully we will see this adoption so wide that opening documents using the native file browser will feel no different on an iPad than it does on a Mac. It always feels jarring on Mac when the “Open” option doesn’t show the Finder. On iPad, custom “open” UIs have been standard since its beginning. Hopefully the Files app introduced this past fall with iOS 11 will continue to change that. 

What I really thought was interesting about this article was something I have been wondering about the Files app since the summer. 

Update: One of the developers working on Office has confirmed my suspicions: the reason Word files open for me with a single tap while Excel and PowerPoint files do not is that I haven't opened those files enough for iOS to know that I would prefer to bypass the share sheet.

I had noticed that tapping on files in the Files app could open them within third party apps but I never understood how iOS knew which apps to use. (For example, standard text files were opening in Byword on my iPhone and 1Writed on my iPad for a time.) It seems that the user can to some extent control these apps by using the “Open In…” option from the Files app and choosing the desired app frequently. Still though, I would love the option to set default apps on iOS. I can tell my Mac which app I want to open PDFs. Why not on my iPad Pro?

First weeks with iPhone X

Well I’m a few weeks in with the iPhone X and so far I’m loving it.


Some quick thoughts in praise of the phone...


Touch gestures make the home button feel like something that never needed to exist (though the swipe down for control center is garbage).


It is arguably one of the best looking iPhones of all time (I got the silver model).


The entire phone is lightning fast (though some of the transition animations have frame rate issues, likely due to the buggy behavior of iOS 11).


Did I mention touch gestures? Swiping the bottom of the screen left and right to multitask is a dream.


Animoji are fun.


Have not spent a ton of time with the camera yet, unfortunately. But the new portrait mode lighting is really special.



Some quick concerns...

Reviews spoke highly of Face ID. I think it’s great. But it’s very much where Touch ID was upon first release. Kind of slow and unnatural. Face ID is not as flexible about how my face is positioned to it as I would like it to be. And it is not very fast.


I thought I would hate the Notch on the top of the screen. I do. But it is not even one percent as intrusive as I thought it would be. I rarely notice it. It is worse in landscape mode, but I just don’t ever find myself my phone that way.

MMEA Session Notes - Working With Digital Scores

Tomorrow I will be presenting at the Maryland Music Educators Association's Fall Conference. The session I am presenting is all about Working with Digital Scores. I will be covering file management, scanning, and score reading software such as forScore. I am also going to be digging in to some of the new iPad productivity features that shipped with iOS 11 last month. If you are going to be at the conference, come say hi!

Here are the session notes for the session...

Click here to view the session notes in Evernote!


Working with Digital Scores Session Notes - Robby Burns - MMEA In Service, October 20, 2017

Apps for Scanning:

Apple Notes App

Evernote Scannable 

Scanner Pro

Tiny Scanner


Sheet Music Scanner


Apps for Managing Files:

Files App


Google Drive




Apps for Working with Scores:


unReal Book





Notes on forScore:

Link to my blog post on creating indexes with forScore


My Book:

Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Oxford University Press

View the video trailer


About Me:

Robby Burns

Twitter | Blog | Podcast | Email

Using the iOS 11 Files app makes working with Dropbox and Google Drive on an iPad smoother than ever before

As of Thursday, Google Drive Now Supports iOS 11’s Files app. Now that Google Drive and Dropbox support the new iOS 11 Files app, you can view all of your documents under one roof. This integration means that using third party cloud drives feels native to the iPad, something we have been able to experience with the Finder on macOS for years. You don’t ever even need to launch the Google or Dropbox apps again. I made a shoe video demonstrating the utility of this integration. 

New podcast episode! - Working with PDFs, featuring guest, Paul Shimmons

In this weeks episode, I am joined by Paul Shimmons (band director, music tech in education blogger, and podcaster). We have a great time talking about our various workflows for reading, editing, annotating, and organizing our PDFs. This episode was recorded shortly after the announcement of iOS 11 which will bring a lot of new productivity features to the iPad. Naturally, we had to discuss these announcements and how they might reshape our PDF workflows next fall.

You can listen to the episode here.

iOS 11: The MacStories Overview

The best news from WWDC 2017 (in my opinion) was improvements to iOS 11, particularly the iPad productivity features. MacStories has a really good overview of all the primary features that are coming with iOS 11 in the fall. 

iOS 11: The MacStories Overview:

Alongside the storm of iPad-specific features, the next version of iOS will also bring advancements to the Lock screen and Control Center interfaces. Built-in apps and services such as Maps, App Store, Notes, Messages, Podcasts, Music, Siri, and more received individual updates — some more comprehensive than others. The new ARKit and Core ML frameworks were announced as well, giving us our first tangible examples of Apple's investments in AR and developer-friendly machine learning.

Despite a decade in the wild, in many ways iOS is still a young operating system. It's good to see Apple not resting on its laurels, but instead continuing to reevaluate and redesign the areas of the OS that need it — such as iPad productivity features and the App Store. The ground-breaking potential for iPad users in iOS 11 shows just how much that aspect of the system has been neglected, but many of the other changes show how Apple's slow refinements over years are paying off.

Below you'll find a detailed look at what Apple is unabashedly calling "turning iOS up to 11."


iOS 11 Tidbits from Mac Rumors

iOS 11 Tidbits: Customizable Control Center, One-Handed Keyboard, Type to Siri and More - Mac Rumors:

iOS 11 introduces a huge number of major changes to the operating system, ranging from a redesigned Control Center experience to a host of new features specific to the iPad, but along with all of these major changes, outlined in our iOS 11 announcement post, there are also dozens of smaller changes that have been added to the beta. 

Below, we've outlined some of the smaller but still significant tweaks that went unmentioned during Apple's whirlwind keynote announcement. 

I love articles like this. In the coming weeks, people who are running the iOS 11 beta will likely be discovering all of the nice little features that there wasn’t time in the keynote to address. Every once in a while, I find that there is one little minor change that is going to solve a daily frustration for me. A few from this that really resonate with me are…

  • Type to Siri (an accessibility setting allowing you to type Siri inquires rather than saying them)
  • Customizable Control Center 
  • Offload Unused Apps (auto delete apps that haven’t been opened in a while)
  • Drag and Drop for iPhone (does not work across apps though)
  • AirPod settings (now, double tapping the right side can perform a different ask than tapping the left side)
  • Screen recording (will be awesome for making how-to videos and recording Snapchat videos