High Sierra and Hello iOS 11

Highlights has not seen any updates in the last year and many of you have been rightfully concerned about the future of this app. However, if you came here looking for bad news, I will have to disappoint you. Highlights is live and well with several exciting things on the horizon, none of them being a sunset.

Apple released macOS High Sierra (version 10.13) to the public on Monday and if you are one of the brave people who updated straight away, you will know that Highlights still works. However, there are some known bugs1 and a fix is on the way. In macOS Sierra (version 10.12) Apple changed a lot of the underlying PDFKit framework in macOS resulting in a lot of issues. Highlights has had its own share of problems under Sierra due to this2 and I have communicated poorly to you how these issues were being addressed.

While the changes to PDFKit gave me and other developers a headache, they were not the real reason Highlights did not see any updates in the last year. 2016 was a very busy, but rewarding year for me personally. We had a baby, got married and I handed in my PhD thesis. Doing all of those things in a single year meant something had to give. Being an indie developer on the side, that unfortunately meant Highlights had to give.

After defending my thesis this spring, I have finally had some development time back on my hands. I was suspecting that the changes to PDFKit meant that the framework was being ported to iOS, and surely enough, with the introduction of iOS 11 at WWDC in June, PDFKit became cross platform. As I am a heavy user of Highlights myself, but love annotating on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, this is something I have been hoping for for a long time.

Screenshot of Highlights running on iOS 11
Highlights is coming to both the iPad and the iPhone with iOS 11.

After countless hours of work, it is therefore my pleasure to announce Highlights for iOS. Highlights for iOS will be a universal app (iPhone and iPad) written from the ground up in Swift with the Apple Pencil in mind. It is not ready yet, but if you have read this far chances are you would like to have Highlights on your iOS devices today. I believe dedicated users make the best beta testers and would love for you to test it with me. If you are interested, please go to the beta signup page.

  1. New annotations are not always drawn correctly on High Sierra. This can result in highlighted selections obscuring the text and deleted annotations showing after being removed. While the annotations are correctly added and removed behind the scenes, the changes are not displayed correctly on the screen. You can force the page to redraw correctly by going to another page in the PDF and then back, but this is annoying and a permanent fix is on the way. 

  2. For example, macOS Sierra made it impossible to use the thumbnails in the sidebar to navigate the PDF. Apple fixed this bug in High Sierra.