Category Archives: Productivity

Popular iOS app Todolist to receive major makeover with v.10 later this year

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Todolist the popular universal iOS task-manager app is slated to receive a major update that is described on their Blog site as a Completely new version for iOS.  I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to productivity apps.  I touched upon some of my feelings when highlighting a major update to Wunderlist earlier this month. Updates are good–hell, they’re needed to keep the user base loyal and happy.  Todolist hasn’t received any updates to their app this year.  I suspect they have been focusing their efforts into this new overhaul, and I for one, am excited to see what they have planned.  Their goal was to make Todolist iOS app faster, easier to use, and more beautiful–sounds like a good start!

Notable changes include…

  • Completely revamped task interactions will make it easier and faster to get your ideas out of your head and onto your to-do list, no matter where you are.
  • New organizational features will give you more control over how you view and prioritize your tasks and projects.
  • And much, much more– you may even see a few pops of color incorporated into our characteristically minimalistic design…

Via their Blog they go on to say that the update is coming up fast–which could mean anything, I guess.  Perhaps in the next few weeks?  If you want to hear about the release as soon as it happens you can sign up to have the news delivered to your inbox.  Once the iOS version is released the same features will also be available on the Web, and on your Mac or PC.

While this all sounds great, three bullet points are enough to get my attention, but that’s about it right now. Here’s to hoping we get some additional teaser updates before the final release.

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Quick Look: Vesper for iPad

Patrick already picked Vesper as last week’s iPad App of the Week, but call me greedy: I wanted to write about it as well. If you look at Vesper bullet point by pullet point, it’s hard to see why you’d use it as an alternative to apps like Drafts or Evernote. Evernote has apps on every platform and its notes can take files, images, and text. Drafts has had is iOS only, but it has all the tools you need to automate your text workflow on an iPad.

In comparison, Vesper was designed to excel as a classier version of the built-in Notes app, with an option to add a single picture to each note.

I spent the past few days playing with Vesper to see whether it would stick for me, and I found all sorts of really delightful details embedded in the UI. If you show Vesper to someone who has never seen it before, they’ll likely comment on how nice the font is. In my experience, even people who aren’t into fonts tend to see the difference. Then there are the animations. Tapping on a note in the list view will cross-fade you into that note, swiping to see the tag list uses a subtle parallax effect, and leaving a note zooms smoothly back out into the list view.

The thing is, as an iPad app, Vesper isn’t really there yet. It’s really just an adapted iPhone version that happens to work on the iPad. This means there can be a lot of blank space on the screen, as most iPhone apps show a single pane of information at a time. There aren’t any obvious modifications to the iPhone design to take advantage of the different ways that people use and hold an iPad, or to take advantage of the extra space on the iPad’s screen. I’m not too nervous about this though. Q Branch is working on the Mac version of Vesper, but I’m pretty sure they’ll circle back to re-imagine the iPad app afterwards.

I really want to integrate Vesper into my everyday workflow, in large part because it’s just so incredibly satisfying to use. It has a better and faster sync engine than Drafts does, so notes are more consistently updated across my iPhone and iPad during the day. However, that custom sync engine is also what keeps me from committing to Vesper. I’m worried about not being able to access notes on my work PC, or having my data stuck in Vesper should I choose to try another app six months from now. You can of course use the iOS 8 share sheet to send notes out of Vesper, but only on an individual basis.

That isn’t a condemnation of Vesper, simply an admission that this magnificent app isn’t for me. As simple as Vesper is to use, keeping it around would actually complicate my setup, so I’ll be sticking with Drafts and Evernote for now.

Here’s an App Store link for Vesper ; it’s priced at a very sustainable $10 with no in-app purchases. You will definitely get what you pay for.

–>

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Wunderlist for iPad receiving big overhaul in 2015

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I love To-Do lists and Productivity apps in general.  Some may say I love them to a fault.  See if this sounds familiar–you want to find the perfect To-Do / Productivity list app.  You try so hard, and you invest so much time in researching your needs against what is available that you never can decide on just the right one.  This has been a problem form me for years–and I’m sure part of the problem is me and my indecisiveness with regard to this issue.  However, there has to come a time when you decide to either sh@t or get off the pot.

I always enjoyed using Wunderlist, but it never quite fit my needs with regard to how I _wanted_ to use it, and the support and integration it had with other apps was lacking for me.  So, a few month ago I started using Evernote as a task manager/To-Do list/repository of all things important from my work, my writing and my personal life.  Thomas has already written extensively on the merits of such a move.

Now, again, I’m reconsidering my choice.  Wunderlist CEO Christian Reber announced major changes coming to the Wunderlist platform this year–and they all sound great!

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Review: OmniFocus 2 for iPad

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After concluding that Evernote wasn’t the task management solution for me, I decided to check out OmniFocus 2 for task and project management. I’d heard a lot about OmniFocus as a productivity suite from other Apple die-hards. In fact, our very own Patrick Jordan used to swear by OmniFocus a few years ago.

I’ve tried a number of systems over the years, including Things, TeuxDeux, 2Do (previewed here), Clear, Wunderlist, Todoist, and even Evernote. These apps are all wonderful, but because I’ve gone from freelance writing to exec assistant work, and now into digital marketing, my needs have changed quite drastically in the past three years, and so the systems have changed with them.

One of the very first barriers to using OmniFocus is its price: it’s positioned as a premium solution for productivity needs. The OmniFocus 2 iPhone app is $20, the iPad app is $30 (with a $20 optional in-app purchase), and the Mac app is $40 (with an optional $40 in-app purchase). If you’re just looking to add grocery items to a list alongside household chores, then you’ll want to something like Clear. However, anything more than that and OmniFocus 2 can become a legitimate candidate for your task-management needs.

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Koder for iPad: Take the Hell out of HTML

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One of the computing classes that I teach at school is HTML, and being a 1:1 iPad school I wanted to refresh my scheme of work to take advantage of using the iPad. Now, let’s get one thing out of the way, coding on the iPad may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, the fact that I can work on it in class and get the students to take the same software home and continue working is a real bonus for me. I had a good look around for an app which would fit my needs and zeroed in on Koder. My reasons for choosing this were mainly because it offered a browser preview of your code and it also wasn’t rated 17+ (Apple rates pretty much any app with a browser 17+ for unrestricted web access unfortunately). It is worth noting that it offers other coding languages, but for the purposes of this review I’m going to concentrate on HTML. Continue reading

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Review: Due 2.0 for iPad

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In the world of increasingly cross-platform services, there are very few apps that really tether me to iOS. If I left for Android land (or perhaps Windows 10? Hah!), I know that my 2000+ Evernote notes would follow me. My photos and videos could go into Dropbox and my calendar and contacts would sync through Google. However, if I left iOS, I’d be leaving Due behind, and that would really suck. A lot.

If you aren’t already familiar with Due, here’s the elevator pitch: it’s a gorgeous system designed to bug the crap out of you until you finish what you said you’d do. One of the awesome things about Due is that it usually gives you a few ways to manipulate its UI.

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Quick Look: Evernote’s Scannable App

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As much as I love using Evernote, I’m often a little wary when I try out one of their new apps. Penultimate has never worked well for me, and other apps like Evernote Food and Evernote Hello are good concepts, but their data formats aren’t easily editable, and so I find they run counter to what I love so much about the core Evernote service. That said, Scannable seems like a breath of fresh air.

It just so happens that I had an expense report to do at work, and so I downloaded Scannable to my iPad to try it out. The moment the app was installed, it was pretty much ready to go, without having to enter any logins. The UI in this app is really well optimized. There isn’t any button to enter a “scanning” mode, it just starts that way, and so all you need to do is point it at pieces of paper that you want to scan.

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Handwriting Recognition on the iPad: 3 Way Shootout

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One of my friends has just become a head teacher for the first time and she asked me if there were any decent handwriting recognition apps on the iPad which would enable her to turn her handwriting into text to save typing up notes after her meetings. I thought carefully about this and nothing sprung to mind, certainly nothing which would beat the performance of her Galaxy Note and S-pen. Handwritten note taking is really the one weak link that the iPad has and although styluses have come a long way recently, I wasn’t so sure about handwriting recognition. After a search online, I found three contenders for the iPad crown; Notes Plus, WritePad Pro and MetaMojiNote. Here they are, in order of greatness. Continue reading

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Back to School with an iPad? 5 ways to go paperless this term.

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Back to School. The phrase that strikes horror into students (and teachers) of all ages up and down the land. Back in the day, there was the excitement of writing neatly on the first page of your new exercise book, and then slightly less so on the second page which was not quite so nicely padded on all those leaves of fresh paper. Now, many students are just as likely to walk into the classroom with a piece of tech as they are with a pencil case. Here are the top 5 cost effective, paper busting productivity apps for a student going back to school in 2014 armed with an iPad, in no particular order. Continue reading

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Graduation time from your favourite notes app? Notes Plus iPad Review

IMG_1074As some of you may know if you have read my articles before (thanks Mum!), I love productivity apps and the app which constantly does the business for me is Notability. Ginger Labs, the creators of Notability have designed their app in such a way that it appeals to power users and beginners alike. The school I work in has a lot of iPad users of varying experience, but Notability is a favourite amongst many of them. It is with this staunch Notability love that I review Notes Plus. Continue reading

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Explain Everything for iPad Review: The 21st Century way to present

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We’ve all done it before. Sitting in a classroom on a hot, hazy afternoon, the teacher explaining something to the class in great depth, only for your mind to wander to the latest cricket score, what you’re going to have for dinner or what time you’re meeting your mates for an after school kick around. Suddenly, it’s work time and the teacher asks you to apply this knowledge they have so painstakingly imparted and you haven’t listened to a thing they have just said. So, the teacher will either have to patiently explain it to you again, or say “weren’t you listening to anything I just said?” and you have to desperately ask your mates for an explanation. Either way it’s not an effective use of either student or teacher’s time. As a teacher and student, I’ve been there on both sides of this situation and if Explain Everything was around in the 90s, I wouldn’t have had to worry about my mind wandering during lesson time. Continue reading

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