Monthly Archives: January 2020

Fantastical Version 3, Watch App Edition

Previously: Fantastical Version 3

I’ve finally had a chance to play a bit more with Fantastical version 3, and I’m really disappointed to learn that the new version of their Apple Watch app is useless without a free Flexibits account.

In version 2, the watch app synced data directly from the iOS app via WatchConnectivity. Version 3 syncs event data from the iPhone up to their servers, then back down to the watch. This was done to allow the watch to sync without a direct connection to the iPhone.

I’d prefer not to expose my event data to their server, even if it is end-to-end encrypted. Event data in my calendars doesn’t change without my direct input (or approval), so there really isn’t any benefit to me from enabling independence of the watchOS app.

While I was looking into their encryption, I found that Flexibit’s new privacy policy is internally inconsistent with regard to the syncing of event data. In the summary (“Give me the short version”), it says:

Account passwords, events, tasks, and contacts are stored only on your device and are not sent to servers.

In the section titled “Where are my events, tasks, and contacts stored?”, this is contradicted:

Event and task data synced to your Apple Watch is stored on Flexibits servers. This data is end-to-end encrypted and we are unable to access it.

The summary claim (that event data is stored only on device) is reiterated in the section titled “When does an app send data to Flexibits?”:

Fantastical for iOS:

  • […]
  • When making changes to your calendar or dismissing alerts. No event data is ever sent to Flexibits, our servers only receive a notification that changes were made on your account. This notification is then relayed to Fantastical on your other devices.

This may seem like nitpicking, but if the only way to use the version 2 functionality within version 3 is by syncing my data to their servers, the least Flexibits can do is provide clear, accurate information in their privacy policy.

For now, I’ve switched back to using the native Calendar watch app. In watchOS 6, it seems to offer everything that the version 2 Fantastical app did (with direct sync!). I’m still using Fantastical on iOS, but I’m going to give the native app another test run in the upcoming weeks.

Fantastical Version 3

I was just checking out the new Fantastical version 3. While I don’t mind a subscription, the massive price increase over version 2 is a deal breaker for me. The only thing the subscription unlocks that I would use are calendar sets on iOS, but that’s not worth $40/yr (to me).

Looking back two and a half years to my last thoughts on this topic, my opinion is still the same. The switch to subscriptions is often coupled with a significant price increase, and that’s the cause of most backlash. The old TextExpander versions are still working just fine for me. I did finally subscribe to Day One Premium earlier this year, though I can’t recall what feature finally tipped the cost/value relationship for me.

Maybe I’ll eventually reconsider with Fantastical 3, but for now, I’ll just continue with the version 2 feature set.

Homebridge SoundTouch Platform

I’ve been testing out the homebridge-soundtouch-platform Homebridge plugin as a replacement for homebridge-soundtouch plugin (see my earlier notes about configuring this plugin). The main advantage I is that it exposes the 6 Soundtouch Presets as switches in HomeKit, whereas the older plugin exposes them as a ‘custom’ HomeKit parameter. The custom parameter is visible in the Home+ app, but not in the native Home app.

It was simple to install on my Raspberry Pi Zero W via the command sudo npm install -g homebridge-soundtouch-platform. Then I just added the following to my config.json in the platforms array to define my two speakers (the speakers have fixed IPs on my network, and I’ve disabled the China-only QPlay service, as well as the AUX inputs):

{
  "platform": "SoundTouchPlatform",
  "name": "SoundTouch",
  "accessories": [
    {
      "name": "Master Bedroom Speaker",
      "room": "Master Bedroom",
      "ip": "10.0.1.210",
      "volume": {
        "mode": "lightbulb",
        "onValue": 35,
        "unmuteValue": 35,
        "maxValue": 100
      },
      "presets": [
        {
          "index": 1,
          "name": "MB1",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 2,
          "name": "MB2",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 3,
          "name": "MB3",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 4,
          "name": "MB4",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 5,
          "name": "MB5",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 6,
          "name": "MB6",
          "enabled": true
        }
      ],
      "sources": [
      ]
    },
    {
      "name": "Living Room Speaker",
      "room": "Living Room",
      "ip": "10.0.1.211",
      "volume": {
        "mode": "lightbulb",
        "onValue": 35,
        "unmuteValue": 35,
        "maxValue": 100
      },
      "presets": [
        {
          "index": 1,
          "name": "LR1",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 2,
          "name": "LR2",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 3,
          "name": "LR3",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 4,
          "name": "LR4",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 5,
          "name": "LR5",
          "enabled": true
        },
        {
          "index": 6,
          "name": "LR6",
          "enabled": true
        }
      ],
      "sources": [
      ]
    }
  ],
  "global": {
    "sources": [
      {
        "source": "QPLAY",
        "enabled": false
      },
      {
        "source": "AUX",
        "enabled": false
      }
    ]
  }
}

Despite explicitly defining the presets for the speakers, on one of the speakers only Preset 4 appears in HomeKit. For this reason, I’m sticking with the older platform for now.

Is it really the case that the only way to export multiple notes from Apple Books is by email? Copy/paste or text sharing via the share sheet aren’t options?

Finished reading: The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning, ISBN: 9780470919019