hjertnes.blog

A call for a spring cleaning in the iOS App Store

15.06.2014 02:00

I wish Apple would do something radical about all the ageing apps in the App Store.

There have been a few evolutions that call for either a complete redesign or some minor updating since the store launched.

First we had the retina screens; a minor update in the developer & designer side. All you had to do was to provide graphics in 2x. And I don’t think it took long for most geeks to find an temporary or permanent replacement for the apps that wasn’t retina ready.

Then we had the iPhone 5. I haven’t been a victim for the letter boxing issue for a long time. But there are still apps, that I can’t find replacements for, that haven’t been updated. And it’s close to two years since the iPhone 5 shipped.

I have updated some iPhone apps to support both the old and the new size. It’s some work, but not a lot.

Then we had iOS 7. This was a golden opportunity for everyone to get up to speed. Most apps needed either minor or major updates. And a lot of apps have came out of the grave since iOS 7 hit the market.

While others haven’t.

I don’t think Apple will do anything about this. But I think they should. The best thing would have been to remove all “dead” apps. Especially if they don’t work at all on newer OS releases.

David Smith talked about one very intriguing idea on episode 52 of The Prompt. And that was that the Apple review team shouldn’t just review new apps. But also existing apps. Ongoing review.

Some of the big problems with the current model is:

  1. There are so many apps, and most of them sucks.

  2. It would be so much easier to find the good ones if the old & terrible apps disappeared.

  3. Apple contacting a company about pulling their app from the store, might push them into updating it.

The whole idea of removing old and crappy apps is tempting. But it’s harsh.

There are two others ways Apple could attack it.

Shaming. I think Apple should punish all the companies that don’t follow up on updates. Just put a “Out of date” tag on all apps that haven’t been compiled against the iOS 7 SDK.

But the thing I think would be a lot better is to just hide them. Hide all the apps that haven’t been compiled against, well the iOS 7 SDK would be too much. But the iOS 6 SDK should work.

And just provide a filter setting for viewing “outdated” apps. Not unlike the option for viewing iPhone apps in the iPad App Store.

It’s about time for a real spring cleaning in the App Store.

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Drafts for iOS is awesome.

11.06.2014 02:00

Okay. So I love Drafts. I have been using it since the first version came out. Well, not all time time, but I’ve had it installed.

And then I got into it again when I got a iPhone 5S. There are a number of reasons for getting into it again. First of all, a lot of my workflow have been refocused around plain text again.

Here is the thing, you should get it. I love the fact that I have one place where I start 90% of everything I type into my iPhone. It might be a blog post, it might be a tweet or DayOne entry, or a text to my girlfriend. I even use it to write stuff I need to send to my YNAB “temp-file”. I’ll get into that in a moment.

The reason I left Draft, or left it in a state where I didn’t use it, is the fact that it became hard to manage all of my actions. This was solved when the developer re-designed the whole interface into tabs with actions.

So, I have all the stuff I use every day in tab “I”, and the stuff I use most days on tab “II” and the rest spread accross “III” and “IIII”.

So, I have a YNAB temp file. This is the place where I quickly add all of the stuff I spend money on. It’s just a text file with lines like “Food $10” or “Beer $5” etc. And then I go through it once a week and add it to YNAB; my budgeting app of choice.

Anyways. Draft is an awesome app if you just want a single place to start everything before moving on to the place they belong. You can even make your own actions.

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Post WWDC Journalism.

09.06.2014 02:00

The typical post WWDC journalism is here. And I’m already sick of it.

Every year at this time, when all the journalists and reporters are getting down from the “Everything Apple annonced”-high. Then they start talking about all of the major and minor things that Apple didn’t improve.

Here is the thing. Apple can’t do everything. And I prefer an Apple that gives us a handfull of solid improvements, or something in that ballpark. To an Apple that gives us a boatload of buggy, and far from perfect stuff.

This is Apple, not Google. Deal with it.

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Inspiration

07.06.2014 02:00

Great writers read a lot, is a famous quote. And it’s also one of the greatest lessons for any aspiring writer. But. That’s not everything.

One of my sources of inspiration during the last year and a half have been podcasts.

I think one of my strengths as a writer and creative is to pick up simple ideas and write about them.

I’m not the kind of writer that sit and stare at a empty document. I just get an idea, and then I write. Like Ernest Hemingway once said:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

All I need is a simple idea and something to write on; a phone, tablet, computer, notebook or even a napkin. And then I just write what’s inside my head. Often just my inner monologue. Edited for the public. Mainly to make it understandable for other people than me. But I never edit the content.

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iCloud 2014

05.06.2014 02:00

iCloud is a huge collection of different services; and it’s growing.

I think most power users have a far from perfect experience with parts of the iCloud infrastructure. My personal experience is that parts of it works great. Like Calendar, Contacts, Reminders and Backup.

And then you have stuff like the document sync, that works more or less as it should.

The thing that most of us had huge problems with was the CoreData sync. My personal opinion as a developer is that this was a bad idea. And a typical Steve Jobs era “Apple Magic” concept.

My biggest problem with iCloud happened last year, in August. I don’t know what I did, but I had to spend quite a few hours on the phone with Apple support to get it fixed. The problem was that my whole iCloud account was in some kind of state that made any file or piece of data stored by any app in iCloud was unaccessible. I couldn’t download or upload files, or sync anything. Except for Reminders, Calendars and Tasks.

Let’s move on.

The new features added to iCloud is interesting – very interesting.

iCloud drive is more or less like Dropbox, only by Apple. I think it will be great, and I don’t see any reason for Apple fucking it up.

Photos, I haven’t had any problems with the photo part of iCloud, my only problem with it is that it’s confusing.

CloudKit isn’t anything I would ever use. But that’s because I like to have control over the web service. I have written many of them – and I don’t have any problem with managing servers. CloudKit isn’t something for everyone, but it seems like a great soultions for syncing states and simple data between apps. You can’t build the next Instagram on it, but I think it could be a great soultion for everyone that just need to sync small amounts of data.

The problems with iCloud in the past was that Apple tried to be “smart” about stuff that is really hard – if not impossible to do. This generation of iCloud seems like a nice collection of sensible technology. And I actually think they will manage to pull it off this time.

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Reflections after the WWDC14 Keynote.

04.06.2014 02:00

I never watch the keynote live, or the same night. And I didn’t this year either.

The thing I always do is to listen to a few podcasts, read a few blogposts about it. And then I watch the damn thing the day after.

This will be an amazing fall – if Apple manages to pull all of this off. There are however a few of the new things that I’m really excited about.

OS X Design refresh.

The new look and feel of OS X is amazing. Tiger was the last release where I felt the same.

I was playing around with the first Developer Preview last night, and it’s amazing. OS X have been evolving around more or less the same design since I came to the platform for the first time in Panther, and then as a daily user during Tiger.

This is the first time I really love the design.

Actionable notifications.

This is a feature that I have been craving for a long time. I can’t count how many times I have to leave an app, or unlock my phone just to reply to some iMessage or Facebook message.

It’s particularly annoying when you can’t leave the app you are using because you are uploading some file, or moving some pictures in Dropbox.

Swift.

Swift is Apple’s new programming language for developing OS X and iOS software. And I really like it.

I think Objective-C is superior to both C# and Java; I’m way more productive in Objective-C than any of them. But I also love Python and Ruby.

Swift will without doubt make it easier for a lot of people to get into iOS or OS X development, which is great. And I will write some app in it pretty soon.

This might also lead to better software. C and Objective-C is great, but it can be hard for people that are new to them.

The WWDC keynote gave us an insane amount of stuff we have been asking for, since like forever. And I can’t wait for it to ship.

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App

02.06.2014 02:00

Finally, Editorial for iPhone launched a few days ago. There are a number of reasons that I’m really excited about this. First of all, I loved the iPad app, but I didn’t use it much. Because I don’t use my iPad that much. Secondly, the app includes native TaskPaper support. Which is awesome.

But the thing I love the most about Editorial is that I can extend it to my needs using python and the built in workflow engine.

Editorial have replaced a number of apps on my phone during the last few days. First it replaced Notesy as my go to notes app. And of course it replaced Byword as my go to app for writing drafts for blog posts(I still use Byword on OS X, though). Then I realised that I could get rid of Pythonista, and just use Editorial for all of the stuff I did there. And finally, it also replaced Taskmator as my TaskPaper client.

I think this is the first time one single app manages to replace four apps, in a way that makes the whole experience way better.

Go and get Editorial if you want, what I think is the best text editor for iOS.

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OmniFocus 2 or TaskPaper + GoodTask

28.05.2014 02:00

OmniGroup released OmniFocus 2 for mac a few days ago; or something. I started to write this at the day. But then I got busy, and wasn’t able to complete it.

You might know this already, but I have been “on and off” OmniFocus quite a few times during the last six to eight months.

Let me start at the beginning. I have been using the OF 2 betas during both of the beta phases. And I liked it. But I’m not going to buy OF 2 for mac, right now.

One of the reasons for this is that OF is a overkill for what I look for and need in a task manager.

I have been doing one thing every time a new major version of an app comes out. And that is to look into if I need to update, and if the app is the best fit for me anymore. OF isn’t the perfect fit for me anymore.

My workflow during the majority of the last eight months have been either TaskPaper + Reminders or OmniFocus. My Taskpaper and Reminders workflow have been to use Reminders for repeating tasks or anything with a due date. And TaskPaper for everything else.

The thing I love about TaskPaper is that I can add 100 task in the same time as I can add 25 in OF. The other thing is that it just gives me a list, that I can add tags to, group in projects. And the powerful filtering syntax gives me what I need.

I use Reminders for everything else. It just works. One of my problems with Reminders have always been that the built in Apple apps are terrible. But then I found GoodTask. It’s a great set of apps for both iOS and OS X. You should check it out, if you are using Reminders.

The thing I love the most about GoodTask for OS X is the awesome forecast view.

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DayOne

25.05.2014 02:00

I got this idea while fundraising today: what is my all time favourite iPhone app?

My all time favourite app is DayOne. The thing about DayOne is that it is a pleasure to add pictures, write a few words or write many of them. But it’s also a pleasure to just browse through your journal and discover moments and thoughts you didn’t remember.

Everyone out there that want to get into journaling need to get DayOne. My personal preference is to have it on my phone. But the Mac app is also great for when you want to write something longer.

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My new iPhone.

22.05.2014 02:00

What model, and why?

I have been thinking about updating my old black iPhone 4S(32GB) for a while now. And today was the day when I finally went down to do it. I went with the 32GB, space grey 5S.

The reason I go for the 32GB model is that there are a few times a year when I need that kind of space. I know that I would constantly hit the limit if I went for the 16GB. Remind me, why haven’t Apple killed the 16GB models?

So, why the 5S and not the 5C. There are four reasons here. I prefer the look of the 5S. I prefer the feel of it. And the other two are the M7 chip and a better camera. Everybody that know me, also know that I don’t take any serious photos with my phone. But it’s nice to have a little bit better pictures from my phone.

I’m going to have this phone for 2-3 year, like I’ve had my current one. And I think that’s a good enough reason to spend enough on it to make it a as good as possible device for those years.

Why I upgraded

My current policy for everything I own is that I don’t buy anything new before it’s broken, or is a major hassle. And my 4S was a hassle. The battery time wasn’t what it used to be, and it wasn’t as fast as it used to be.

The short answer, I wanted to have a phone again that lasted more or less the whole day, that also was a joy to use. My 4S wasn’t.

Why now?

This might sound like a odd time for some of my follow geeks to buy a new phone. But I think it’s the perfect time.

First of all, I don’t need to get it on day one. I prefer to get it after Apple fixes any “new hardware”-related bugs. The best thing to get it now, is that I could get the phone from the store down on the corner, without ordering it in advance.

I could have waited for the new device – probably september or october. And then waiting for it to launch in Europe. And limited supplies etc. That would mean more like November. And my 4S and my (relative) sanity wouldn’t survive until November.

What I think about it?

I think the 5S is a great upgrade. It’s a great phone, and I don’t regret buying it. The first thing I noticed was how light it is, I still prefer the weight of the 4S; but the 5S isn’t bad.

While the size they introduced with the 5, felt right, from the beginning. I have never liked the larger smart phones. But this isn’t a large phone. Now my old 4S just looks tall, chubby and weird.

I don’t complain, but it will be a major pain in the ass to replace all my old pin connector cables with the new ones. The new connector is without doubt much better; and user friendly. But I still hate to replace cables.

The one thing about it that I don’t like is the new location of the headphone jack. I liked to have it on the top; and not it’s on the bottom. I get why they are doing it. But that is something that will take some time to get used to.

What about accessories or cases?

No. I don’t buy that much accessories for my phone. And I don’t use any cases.

I did play around with a few of them on my old 4S, when I got it. But I just ended up not using them for a long time.

The reasons are simple, I want to get it out of my pocket – fast. And most cases are slowing down that process. And most cases don’t work for me when I’m doing some real writing on my phone. Sometime I do almost every day.

By the way. I was thinking about getting a BookBook from TwelveSouth, but I decided not to, of the exact same reasons.

My process of setting up a new phone.

I do the same dance every time I get a new iOS device; or when a new major release of iOS is out.

I start from scratch. Move out all my files and content, before I restore it.

Then I set up, to get the “new user” experience.

The first thing I do after that is to download all the apps I need. And also a lot of the apps that I used to use, or feel like I haven’t given a real chance in a while. And then I just spend a few hours settings stuff up and playing with apps.

And then I just delete all the stuff I don’t need or want, and often end up with more or less what I had, with a few replacements.

This time I replaced Instacast with Castro.

Conclusion

I’m happy with my new phone. It seems like the perfect upgrade cycle to switch phone every 2-3 years. I don’t think it’s worth it do to it every year. It’s amazing to see the new hardware stuff, like the M7 & the camera. And how fast everything is. But the most amazing thing is to be able to use all the apps designed for the iPhone 5 screen size as they intended them.

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