App


ON: BY: Chris Hannah

A lot of people would like Safari to show favicons in the tab bar, just like Chrome does. And it’s been the subject on various blog posts, and podcasts. But it was a post by John Gruber, that got Timing developer Daniel Alm interested.

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He then went on and made an app called Faviconographer, that doesn’t exactly add that feature to Safari, but instead analyses Safari and the current tabs, and overlays the relevant favicon where it should be.

It’s not perfect, but it does make Safari much better. I just can’t believe it’s still not an official feature.

You can download Faviconographer, and also read more about how it works, the current limitations, and also some other information on the app on the Faviconographer website.

ON: BY: Chris Hannah

I’ve been wanting (not exactly looking for) a better way to quickly deal with screenshots on macOS for a while, and while looking over Product Hunt today, there was an app called ShotBox climbing the ranks.

It was free, and it looked interesting, so I gave it a shot. I was very pleased with what I found, and it’s such a simple utility, but it’s exactly what I need.

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It’s similar to the new screenshot feature in iOS, in that when it detects a new screenshot, it opens up a small window in the bottom-left corner, so you can quickly edit and share.

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There are actually only two things you can do in that window, and they are preview and edit. And of course when you close the window, you get the option to quickly delete the screenshot, or to save it.

I initially didn’t think it would work properly on my Mac, as I have Hazel move my screenshots into a separate folder, which I then have rules on archiving. So therefore they don’t just sit on my desktop. However, ShotBox lets you select a folder to watch, so this wasn’t an issue!

You can find out more information on ShotBox, and also download it for free using these links:

ON: BY: Chris Hannah

I’ve been working on a new app for a while now, and I’ve been meaning to write about it here on my blog, but I just keep putting it off. But as the beta process has been going for a while, and I think the development has progressed to a more stable (I mean slow) development cycle. Probably not good for most of my projects, but I’m treating this as a more long-term project. More specifically, I want to do each step well, so that in the end it’s a product that I want to use myself, and potentially a lot of other people too.


So, a slight break here, so I can explain what this project actually is.

In the simplest terms - it’s a water intake tracker for iOS. Being slightly more descriptive - it’s an app where you can manage your water intake, get a quick glance on how you are doing compared to your daily goal, and also look back and see how hydrated you were in the past.

That’s not the final description however, as I have many things I want to add to the application (which I will describe below), and I’m probably also missing out features that I’ve already implemented.

Oh and it’s called Hydrate. Original, I know.


There was no big reason for the app, except that I wanted to start tracking my water intake, and as an app developer, I thought I’d put the two together. I was actually asked on Twitter about the difference between Hydrate and other “competing” apps, my answer was what I just said - I’m making it for myself. If other people enjoy it, then that’s even better!

The layout and overall design is aimed to be as simple as possible, and therefore is designed around having “Quick Add” buttons, which you can set up with default quantities, making it even easier to add water intake. Mainly because, it’s not fun entering data as boring as this, so if I can make it quick, I will.

At the moment, the current features are:

  • View daily intake.
  • Add predefined quantities via Quick Add buttons.
  • Add custom amounts.
  • Set a daily goal - Which is the basis for the main ring.
  • Support for ml and fl oz (US).
  • Dark/Light mode - I just have to have a dark mode, and the other one is for “normals”.
  • View your past water intake (last 21 days).
  • Today widget with Quick Add buttons, to do it even faster.

Of course that’s not all the features I want to add, therefore I have a basic list of future main features:

  • Watch App
  • Make the ring animate.
  • Possible reward for hitting the daily goal.
  • A way to share your progress.
  • A maybefeature - Some way to add a drink when you start drinking it, which you can then tap to add to the actual data when it’s finished.

I’m most likely going to add more to this list, but that’s what I want to definitely (apart from the last one) add before I release.

If you want to try out Hydrate, then the beta process has already started, just enter your email on the Hydrate website, and I’ll add you to the TestFlight group!

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

My friend Cesare Forelli has just released his fourth app, and it’s a pedometer to help keep track of how far you’ve walked.

It’s a simple application, in that it’s primarily a way to view your walking data, but that’s not all it does.

It tracks your steps, the distance you actually walked, and if you’re on an iPhone 6 or newer it also shows you how many stairs have climbed.

This data is combined with a set goal, which is an amount of steps you want to hit every day. This is all presented in main ring, but if you swipe to the left you will also get to see the Stats view. Here you can find your past steps and distance walked, but also other data points such as the most steps walked, longest distance, and most floors in a single day.

There’s also a today widget, that let’s you keep on top of your walking at a glance.

I’m a big fan of the interface, and how it shows everything I need to see, and in a beautiful way.

Walk More is free to download on the App Store, but there’s also a few tip options in the settings, just in case you want to help keep the app going!

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

With iOS 11 days from being announced, you wouldn't expect a great deal of big updates to apps. But Readdle have implemented a feature, that most iOS users have been waiting for - Drag and Drop.

So on their iPad apps - Documents, PDF Expert, Scanner Pro and Spark, you will be able to drag items from one app to another when using Split View.

I don't want to write thousands of words explaining this new feature, because it just wouldn't do it justice. Instead, you can watch Readdles's demo video.

It's truly impressive, and it's what I expect a native drag and drop feature on iOS would look like. Their own implementation would of took a huge amount of work, and they've really made it look seamless. One point I have to make though, is that if Drag and Drop is announced for iOS 11, would this custom implementation be the best way to do it?

But leaving the pessimistic thoughts alone, this is an incredible feature, and makes me want to try out even more of Readdle's apps.

You can read Readdle's announcement on their blog, but if you want to know more details on these updates, and see some more examples, then Federico Viticci has written a great piece at MacStories.

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

Apple released Clips yesterday, which is their new app for creating fun videos, with various filters, music, and more. I covered this app before, but as I hadn’t played around with the app at that point, it was literally just explaining the features.

But now I’ve had over a day with the app, and I must say I’m really loving it. It’s even earned it’s place on my Home screen!

The design of the app itself is quite nice, but I’m not sure I feel the same way about the icon. And it just feels easy to use, which I guess is the main focus.

I didn’t think I’d say this, but I also like the filters! The comic book one is by far my favourite, everything looks good in it!

There’s a lot of talk about the usage of private APIs, and how the app itself doesn’t ask for permission to use things like the camera or microphone, but seeing as this is an Apple app, I’m not too worried.

Another thing I like about Clips, is the exporting options. I had wondered how Apple would select social networks that would be included, but using a (completely custom) share sheet, is a good way to avoid any issues. Because this means any app can enable support for Clips, by adding video importing. One option I’m very thankful of, is YouTube, because it’s really fast (and super easy) to upload a Clip, and have it available near instantly.

I had some interesting mail today, and this gave me the opportunity to make use of Clips title features and music. Which I think turned out pretty well!

Finally, there’s something else I must say about Clips, and the type of app/service it could be enabling. And although the app is purely a way to capture, and edit videos, I think the content that people will create in Clips could change the way people watch videos.

We all know the issues with YouTube, there’s advertisement problems, the creators seem to always be annoyed about something, and it generally lacks competition. But one thing we can take from YouTube, is that people love Vlogs. Which are essentially a video version of a blog post, it’s a visual way to understand someone else’s life.

Blogs used to be huge, and while I still really enjoy writing my own, and reading other’s blog posts. But since then, microblogging services have taken over, with Twitter being the main service.

What I’m thinking is, if Twitter took blogging and made it micro, so then more people could take part, and share more content, more often. What if Clips could make vlogging micro? It would need another service of course, but it could just make use of whatever social network they’re on. I personally think that this app, along with competing apps that will no doubt turn up soon, will be the catalyst for upgrading the type of content that is shared.

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

f you’ve ever been to an arcade, then you’ll know that there are a few classics that you always go back to. In Pocket Arcade, you get to experience the four main ones. They are even managed by coins, so there’s a chance to run out of money just like in real life.

You’ve got UFO Catcher, which is a grabbing style game. It’s not as weak as the ones in real life, but it can still become equally as irritating when you just miss a prize. Then there is Mayan Coin Pusher, which is the coin machine we all have probably left too much money on. Alien Whacker is the class Whack-a-mole game, and this is really fun. And lastly, there is Hoop Hero, which is a mini version of the basketball shooting game, which I find to be really suited to the iPhone.

All the prizes you collect are stored in the Gallery, and there are over 200 different prizes to collect at the moment.

I’ve seen similar games on the iPhone already, but this little collection of games are very well designed, and there’s also chances of more getting added in the future.

You can download Pocket Arcade for iOS for free on the App Store.

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

If you like to travel, then it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’d be interested in mapping out where you’ve actually been. This is because I’m exactly the same. I’ve come across a few apps in the past that are complex travelling journal type applications, but they never seem to stick with me, because they’re just too much.

Well today I’ve found another app for iOS called “been”, which does the job in a near-perfect way.

With been, you add all the places you’ve travelled to, and it then colours in these on a map. The only choices you have are to add a whole country, or an individual U.S. state. In a perfect world I’d like to specify each city I’ve travelled to, but this is a minor issue.

But once you’ve added your travels, then you get to check the maps out. You can choose to either view a 2D map, or a 3D globe, which can be exported as an image or video respectively. If you want to make your map a bit more specific, then while viewing the 2D map you can select a continent which will show you just that on a map.

Maps

After adding all of my travels, apparently I’ve only been to 4% of the world, which I certainly need to improve on! But I’ve generated both the 2D World map image, and the 3D globe video, which you can check out below as an example.

2D World Map

3D Globe Video

If you want to mark up your travels on a map like I did, then you can download “been” for iOS from the App Store for free! It works on both the iPhone and iPad. 🌍

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

I’ve been a user of many different task managers over the years, but one I’ve tried before, and what I’ve finally settled on is Todoist.

My main philosophies regarding task managers are that they should be stable, and by that I mean it should be something you can rely on, you should be able to view your upcoming tasks everywhere possible, and the syncing should be very fast. With all of these requirements, Todoist is the choice that makes the most sense, because at a fundamental level it is a web service, not just a collection of apps, which makes it a super stable platform.

Projects

The main way to organise tasks in Todoist is by assigning them to projects, which you can also further organise with sub-projects. I have split my tasks into context relevant projects, so for example I have a University project, and inside this I split up any coursework or big chunks of work into a sub-project. This structure makes it much easier to visualise your tasks, especially when you input a load of small tasks like I do.

As you can see in the screenshot above, I also use emoji in my project names. This is just so I can find the right section at a quick glance. There’s also the added benefit of using an emoji first in the project name, which is that it always puts these at the top of the list. This is because an emoji character will always come before the usual alphabetical characters. Luckily I only have a few top-level projects, so this doesn’t affect my list.

Labels and Filters

Another away to organise and view your tasks is by using labels and filters. Labels offer a separate way to collect tasks together, which can of course be used in conjunction with projects. A common use of this is to have labels such as “admin” or “writing”, or even time-based names such as “quick” so that when you only have a specific amount of time available to get some work done, you can find suitable tasks can be completed.

Filters are ways to view your tasks, by applying some criteria to fine-tune your results. If working in a team, viewing tasks assigned to different users would be quite helpful, but I don’t personally make use of them.

Adding Tasks

The three main ways you can add a task is by using the “Quick Add Task” method, which is accessed pressing the “+” button, or by hitting the “q” key while in Todoist, by pressing the “+” button or by pressing the “A” or “a” key to add a task to the top or bottom of the current list, and also by using the “Quick Add Task” method outside of the app.

With apps such as Fantastical, inputting data has become much easier with the support of real language entry. So if I want to to add a task for university I can simply open up the Add Task view by pressing CMD + SHIFT + A, and then by typing “Finish Lecture Notes #University”, this will add a task with the entered name, and subsequently organise it into the University project. You can take this even further by adding dates and labels, so when I decide I want to write about an app, I can add a task like “Write about App X today #TheAppLife @Writing”. It’s a feature that once you learn how to make use of all the little tricks, you will really love to use.

Overdue Tasks

Something I haven’t seen before in other task managers is a ways to quickly reorganise overdue tasks. It is a feature that Todoist has, and one I have found to be very useful, especially when I plan way too much work for one day and end up leaving a few incomplete.

Todoist’s “Smart Schedule” is an AI powered feature that uses your habits, the urgency of tasks, your upcoming tasks, and even uses learned patterns from the other Todoist users, to help find the the best suited day to fit them in. So far the suggestions have been pretty spot on for me.

Your Productivity

This is a feature that it’s use continues to elude me, by competing tasks, and keeping up streaks, Todoist grants you “Karma”. These are all calculated by configurable goals, and I guess gives you a glance on how well you’ve been performing.

Fortunately for me, it doesn’t affect the usability of the app, because I don’t see myself making use of this in the future.


What I’ve found Todoist to be, is a fully featured, easy to use, and stable task manager to can really adapt to my own needs. I would recommend this to all users that are wanting to start using a task manager, and see if it fits them.

You can download Todoist from the Mac App Store, and find out about the other platforms on the Todoist website.

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

My regular expressions app for iOS and macOS, has now been released into the wild!

It features a dark/light theme, various options to fine tune your Regex pattern, and also ways to visually see what text is matching!

Anyway, it's just $0.99/£0.99 to buy on either platform!

Links