Category Archives: Lifestyle

Elegant and powerful journaling app: Day One for iPad

IMG_0563I’ve been keeping a journal since 1990, all digital, all stored in date-named .txt or .rtf files, one file per date. Much has been written about the benefits of journaling, in many places, over many years. Because this is an iPad-centric blog I’ll only say a couple of words about journaling as a life practice, then get to the app review. When you write about what you’ve been doing, and how you’re feeling, revelations appear on the page that never would have surfaced in a year of ruminating. Some people say it’s like free therapy. And really, who do you know that couldn’t do with a good dose of therapy? It’s also fun and informative to go back several years and see what you were doing on today’s day, say, 10 years ago. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve grown in some cases, and how much you haven’t in others. For most folks, the benefits of journaling are pretty clear. Finding the motivation to do so, however, is just really hard sometimes. When you add up the hours for working, sleeping, exercising, interacting with loved ones, and the day’s mundane chores, being motivated to spend a few minutes in your journal as opposed to playing the latest cool iPad game or watching the new episode of Mad Men can be a tough sell.

So how does Day One help? It reduces the behavioral friction from journaling. Using a text or pen-and-paper techniques, you’re presented each day with a blank page, and start filling it up. Sure, you can say where you happen to be, like vacation in Rome. Or you could write about the weather. In a digital journal you could paste in a photo. In a hardcopy journal you can make a little drawing. But you have to do all entry manually. You also have to have your paper journal with you when the inspiration hits, or for us .txt-journal types, you need to be by your computer. This all adds to the effort of making a journal entry, and therefore the behavior friction, or what those of us with a psychology background call response cost. To reduce this friction you need to make journaling as effortless as possible, and this is where Day One shines.

 

Day One works beautifully on your iPad, as if it was made for it. There are also Mac and iPhone versions of the software, so they all sync, but Day One really looks best on the iPad. If you’re like me you almost always have your iPad with you (and probably an iPhone as a backup), so when the inspiration to write something in your journal hits, you can just tap once and Day One is ready. I’ll cover the basics of using Day One below, but the interface is very well thought out specifically to reduce the response cost I described above. When you open Day One, the first thing you see is a prominent plus sign (+). Tap it and the day entry pane opens, labeled with today’s date. Your iPad fills in your location and the weather automatically. If you use healthkit, Day One can also automatically import your activity data. If you’re listening to iTunes, Day One can import the info and add it to your entry. You can override this info if you want, but I never have. You can add a photo from your iPhoto library or take one from within the app. This level of automation makes journaling basics so easy: all you have to do is open an entry pane, wait a second or two for the automatic information to populate, and save the entry, and you’ve got a lot of info about your day.

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Pixels.com – iPad Art and Photography app

pixel

Pixels.com is an app for viewing and purchasing artwork that uses the iPad’s camera to allow you to see how the artwork will look on your own wall.  The app is based on the pixels.com website for artists, photographers and art collectors.  Artists and photographers upload their images and pixels.com sells them to art enthusiasts in various formats.  The iPad is a good venue for displaying artwork.  This app takes it a step further by allowing consumers to visualize the artwork in their own homes.

The app contains a large amount of artwork and photography by living artists. When you open the app for the first time, it may take a while to populate the screen with artwork.  You can scroll through the  thumbnails or do a search.  When you find something you like, touch the thumbnail and the art will open in full screen.

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You see the name of the artwork and the name of the creator. Continue reading

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Review – Yummly Recipes & Recipe Box for iPad

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Do you like to look for new recipes?

Yummly is an iPad app that allows you to browse through photographs of suggested recipes.  If you are looking for something specific, you can search for recipes by ingredients, dietary considerations, recipe course, etc.  When you find a recipe you like, you can save it and/or “Yum” it.  Share the recipes with your friends.

When you open the app, you are asked to sign in via Facebook or Google +.  You can skip this step, but you need to sign in to save the recipes.  In addition, you need to sign in to use the Yum button.  This is akin to a “Like” button on Facebook.  The Yum button tells the app what kind of recipes you are interested in to learn what types of recipes to show you.

I elected to sign in using Google +.  When you give it your Google password, you can set options as to whether or not you want the app to reach people in your circles.  I opted out of that.

The app has a very nice interface.  You are presented with photographs of suggested recipes.  Touch one of the photographs and you will be able to view the recipe.

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You can look at Ingredients, Nutrition information and Directions.  The tabs for these contain useful information on the headings themselves.  The ingredients tab shows the count of the ingredients.  The Nutrition tab shows the calories.  The Directions tab shows the time it takes to create the recipe.  This is a nice feature that allows you to quickly determine if the recipe is worth looking further at.  Touch the Ingredients tab and you scroll through the ingredients.  Touch the Nutrition tab and view the nutrition information.

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Savor: Flipboard-Like Shopping Deals App for iPad

Savor iPad app

Savor is a Flipboard like Shopping Deals app for the iPad.

Being a fan of both the Flipboard app and getting a good deal, I was eager to try out the app.

The initial screen of the app shows thumbnails of the “catalogs” available and a search box to search for Stores and Brands.  There are currently 16 catalogs shown.  Under the catalogs are the Featured Offers.

Touch one of the catalogs and you will get a magazine style view with the offers found for that category.

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Flip through the “book” and you will see the current offers in that category.

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Touch one of the offers and you will be taken to the website via the Safari app.   If the offer has a coupon code, you will first see a window with a button to press to copy the coupon code and another button to go to the website.

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Quick Look: I Heart Etsy iPad App

I Heart Epsy iPad app

I Heart Etsy is a new iPad app that promises to make your Etsy shopping experience on the iPad fun, easy, and addicting. Etsy is the popular online marketplace for a wide array of creative and handcrafted products – including lots of fun and unique iPad accessories.

I’m a fan of Etsy and like to take a regular browse through it for cool iPad and Mac related items – so I’ve been giving this app a look this evening to see if it lives up to its App Store promises.

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iF Poems – The First Great Poetry App for the iPad I’ve Seen

iF Poems for iPad

iF Poems is new poetry app for the iPad, described as ‘a poetry app for school-age children and for adults of any age’. It’s the first great poetry app I’ve seen for the iPad – apologies for the spoiler but I needed to mention that right off the bat.

The app includes 270 classic poems which have been carefully selected as works that the publishers feel are ‘a joy to pass down the generations, to share, to educate and enjoy’.

Many of the included poems have audio clips. These are read by the actors Helena Bonham Carter, Bill Nighy, Harry Enfield and Tom Hiddleston.

Here are some of its other key features:

You can record yourself reading a poem.
You can email a poem and email your recording of a poem.
You can tap on any word for a dictionary definition.
You can save poems to a Favourites page.
You can search by title, author, first line or by any word.
You can get a dictionary definition of any word.

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Trey Ratcliff’s Wallpaper Menagerie App – Awesome Photos for iPad Wallpapers

Trey Ratcliff's Wallpaper Menagerie

If you’re after some truly stunning and unique images to use as iPad wallpapers, then you’re going to want to take a look at Trey Ratcliff’s Wallpaper Menagerie.

Ratclif is a world-renowned travel photographer. He runs the immensely popular travel photography blog, stuckinicustoms.com, and one of his photos is the first ever HDR photo to hang in the Smithstonian. He’s famous not just for his incredible photography but also for his tutorials and knowledge sharing.

And his Wallpaper Menagerie app is full of amazing photos for use as iPad wallpapers. This is definitely an iPad wallpapers app that is all about quality not quantity. You get 17 images free with the app, 10 of them in the Starter Pack and 7 more in a pack called Beautiful Landscapes. The starter pack is included in the app and the Beautiful Landscapes pack can be downloaded for free within the app.

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Quick Look: Etsy for iPad

EtsyforiPad

Etsy.com is described as ‘the world’s most vibrant handmade marketplace’ – and Etsy for iPad is a relatively new, unofficial app that offers to let you discover the wonderful world of handmade and vintage products from Etsy.com.

I’ve often spotted fun and unique stuff for iOS devices on Etsy, and I know there’s a ton of items for iPad 2 on there, so I thought I’d give this new app a look as a potentially slicker way to browse for cool Etsy items right on the iPad.

Sadly, the app really doesn’t have much to offer, or to recommend it over just visiting Etsy in the Safari browser.

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Quick Look: Technode Magazine on the iPad

Technode

Technode is a new magazine title that came to the iPad (and iPhone) a few weeks ago. Here’s a slice of its App Store intro:

Technode is an ace new quarterly technology magazine from the team behind ShinyShiny.tv and TechDigest.tv

In issue 1 we pick the summer’s 20 top gadgets, look at how 4G Mobile will change, look at the impact of coding on digital art and discover why Facebook has turned us all into liars.

I’m a fan of tech magazines and, of course, a big fan of iPad editions – so I was keen to give this title a look. Sadly, it was only worth a very brief look and I never really delved into it, as it just isn’t a real iPad edition. Here’s why:

— The app works in portrait mode only. For me, this is a very poor starting point for most iPad apps, but even more so for a magazine title. With any reading app, whether it’s an eBook, newspaper, or magazine I want to be able to read it in whatever mode I’m most comfortable in, and switch between modes as I shift where I’m reading, and so on. Being stuck in portrait mode makes for a lousy reading experience right off the bat.

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WikiNodes for iPad – Making Wikipedia Fun to Explore

WikiNodes for iPad

WikiNodes is a new iPad app that offers a lively new approach to working with Wikipedia. As the name might suggest, it uses nodes to represent articles and to show how articles and subjects are related.

I’ve tried a handful of Wikipedia apps for iOS and would not generally be enthusiastic about looking at another one; but this app’s distinctly different interface interested me enough to give it a go.

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Quick Look: 3D Wallpaper Pro for iPad

3D Wallpaper Pro for iPad

3D Wallpaper Pro is a brand new app for the iPad featuring a collection of  stunning 3D images for use as iPad wallpapers. 

I’m always on the lookout for great iPad wallpapers, so of course this app caught my eye when it was released earlier this week. I made a not of it when I got an email about it from its developer and got a chance to install it today. Hit the jump for quite a few screencaps from the app and my quick review of it …

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