I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Things 3.4 Brings Powerful New Automation Features and App Integrations ›

I’ve been using Things since ver­sion 3 came out and found it to be the best task app around, with one excep­tion, the abil­i­ty to auto­mate task cre­ation was a bit lim­it­ed. This new ver­sion fix­es that, and goes a lot fur­ther than I thought I needed.
Mac­Sto­ries have a great arti­cle that high­lights some of the pos­si­bil­i­ties using the new, and very com­pre­hen­sive, URL scheme found in Things 3.4. I’ve already spent some time this evening updat­ing a cou­ple of Work­flows that I use to cre­ate tasks, look­ing for­ward to see­ing what else I can do thanks to this update.

Adobe’s iOS App Failure ›

Over on Six Col­ors Jason Snell speaks of his dis­ap­point­ment with Adobe’s iOS offer­ing. I’ve long been dis­ap­point­ed with Adobe’s approach to the plat­form and I couldn’t agree more with his comments.

But it’s frus­trat­ing that Adobe has failed its core design cus­tomers to such a degree—and it’s also a big risk for Adobe. Pho­to­shop com­mands a lot of space in the brains of many cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als, but a lot of those peo­ple want to use iOS. If Adobe pro­vid­ed them with ful­fill­ing tools for iOS—ones that are as capa­ble as what’s avail­able on macOS and Windows—it could keep its cus­tomers loyal. 

As a design­er the iPad has always appealed to me as a means of cre­at­ing. It seems like it should be the most intu­itive way of lay­ing up designs and draw­ing out ideas. The iPad Pro and Apple Pen­cil only served to enhance this idea for me. Yet Adobe con­tin­u­al­ly fail to acknowl­edge that we could do seri­ous work in an iPad. They keep serv­ing up “mobile” apps instead of actu­al­ly con­sid­er­ing how an app like InDe­sign or Illus­tra­tor could function.
It took Microsoft years to bring Office to iOS, and in that time apps arrived to fill the gap they had left caus­ing Office to lose mind­share. That’s now start­ing to hap­pen to the Cre­ative Cloud apps, Affin­i­ty Pho­to is excel­lent, and more than capa­ble of grow­ing in to the gap left by a lack of a ful­ly fledged Pho­to­shop. My hope is that oth­er apps will rise up to fill the gaps left by a lack of full ver­sions of Illus­tra­tor and InDe­sign or that Adobe gets its fin­ger out and cre­ates them.

A Home Screen Update

I used to post a month­ly series that looked at the Home Screens of my iPhone and iPad. Over time though I realised it didn’t change as much as I expect­ed and so I lost inter­est in the process. Things have changed a lot recent­ly so I thought it was time to post anoth­er look at my iPhone.
A few of weeks ago I put in to the prac­tise the ideas in a post I linked to about set­ting up an iPhone home screen. I dropped all my apps into one fold­er and popped it in the dock. Then I pulled Tweet­bot, Mes­sages and Mail out along­side it in to the dock. My inten­tion was to try and use my iPhone less, and when I do use it, to use it pro­duc­tive­ly for com­mu­ni­cat­ing with my friends and family.
A cou­ple of weeks lat­er I found myself with five apps sit­ting on a sec­ond page of my home screen. I kept the first screen blank because I want­ed to keep as close to the idea as pos­si­ble, but I want­ed these apps avail­able with­out hav­ing to search for them. They all fell into one cat­e­go­ry. Enter­tain­ment, or more specif­i­cal­ly video ser­vices (iPlay­er, YouTube, etc) to stream con­tent to my Chome­cast or Apple TV.
I’ve now made anoth­er change and intro­duced 8 apps which I use so reg­u­lar­ly it’s worth bring­ing them back to the my home screen to make access­ing them more con­ve­nient. My iPhone still feels much calmer and focused than it did, but it’s not quite as a peace­ful as a blank home screen used to be.

You can see the dif­fer­ence, I’ve gone from three screens with lots of app and fold­ers on each, to two screens each with a clear use case.

The Dock

I’ve made a change to the three apps that sit in my dock. Tweet­bot remains, although I actu­al­ly do all my post­ing to the ser­vice through this site, I still inter­act on the ser­vice a lot and find some great con­tent to save and read.
Mes­sages is fair­ly self explana­to­ry, thank­ful­ly most of my friends and both my par­ents are iPhone users so I do a lot of com­mu­ni­ca­tion through iMes­sage. It’s been a main­stay of my iPhone dock since the day I got my iPhone 3G years ago.
The third app is Things. I’ve used a lot of to do apps over the years, for a long time I was a Things user, but it’s lack of OTA sync was a deal break­er and I moved to Omni­Fo­cus for many years. In the last year I’ve returned to Things via a stint with Todoist. In fact I was very hap­py with Todoist until the launch of Things 3. It’s just a plea­sure to use and over the last few weeks I’ve found myself using it a lot more than I realised. Most­ly to add things to my Inbox, but also when out shop­ping and run­ning errands.

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Anoth­er fair­ly self-explana­to­ry one, I wear a Fit­bit pret­ty much every­day and it’s com­pan­ion app keeps things in sync and helps me to keep an eye on how well I sleep and how much I’m mov­ing. One day I hope to replace this with the Health app and an Apple Watch, but that’s a ways off yet.
Being wise with my mon­ey is some­thing I am try­ing to be bet­ter at. I’m on a tight bud­get so mak­ing sure I’m sav­ing and keep­ing mon­ey for var­i­ous bills etc is real­ly impor­tant. Since I start­ed using YNAB I’ve found it to be real­ly help­ful and need it to check and add trans­ac­tions too while I’m out and about. It’s the first bud­get app that’s stuck for me since Cha-Ching many years ago.
Over­cast & Apple Music
I lis­ten to quite a few pod­casts on var­i­oius dif­fer­ent sub­jects both while out and about and at home. When I moved some apps back to my home screen it made a lot of sense to include it in the eight. Apple Music fol­lows sim­i­lar log­ic, I like lis­ten­ing to music both out and about as well as at home. Usu­al­ly it starts from my iPhone whether lis­ten­ing on head­phones or over Air­Play to my liv­ing room speakers.
My pho­to shar­ing app of choice. Inter­est­ing­ly as I type this I’m con­sid­er­ing mov­ing it back in to the apps fold­er and replac­ing it with some­thing else. It still sucks me in when I’m just futz­ing about with no real inten­tion which is what I’m try­ing to stop myself doing.
Micro.blog is a fair­ly new ser­vice, I backed the kick­starter and have been using it since the launch of the beta. Over the last cou­ple of weeks I’ve found myself using it more and more, to the extent that I’m con­sid­er­ing whether it’s worth replac­ing Tweet­bot with it in my dock. I don’t think it’s got quite enough activ­i­ty on it for that just yet, but maybe in the near future as more peo­ple are able to join the service.
Again self explana­to­ry, I search the web a lot. Far more than I realised and despite using Spot­light to start most search­es it became more annoy­ing than just open­ing the app and start­ing a search.
It’s email, I get too much of it, I need to be able to at least keep an eye on it for com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I don’t want to be sucked in to it too much so it doesn’t live in my dock anymore.

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This sec­ond page is pure­ly for the apps I use reg­u­lar­ly to watch con­tent on my TV. In the case of these apps my iPhone becomes my TV remote. Trig­ger­ing a cast from here turns my TV on and gets me straight in to the show or sport­ing event I want to watch. These apps are use­ful to be avail­able with­out hav­ing to search, and keep­ing them on a focused sec­ond screen means they stay out of way for my gen­er­al use dur­ing the day.
— BBC iPlayer
— Now TV
— Netflix
— YouTube
— BT Sport
Over­all this has been a real­ly inter­est­ing exer­cise that has helped me to real­ly focus and con­sid­er how I use my iPhone. I hope to con­tin­ue with it like this for a while. There’s just one thing I wish I could do, espe­cial­ly as I have small hands, and that is to be able to pin those eight apps to the two rows above the dock rather than at the top of the screen.

Beautility, My Ultimate iPhone Setup ›

For­give me for link­ing to a piece on Medi­um, espe­cial­ly one that requires you to log in to read. But this inter­est­ing approach to using an iPhone com­pelled me to do so.
I’ve been feel­ing a bit of “app fatigue” when it comes to my iPhone late­ly. So many things on it feel like a bit of a time suck, a way to eas­i­ly get lost in a world of social media and news. On reflec­tion, maybe I’ve start­ed to fall into too much habit­u­al check­ing of apps and not let­ting my mind wan­der with down time. It could be an inter­est­ing exper­i­ment to try and see what effect this kind of set­up might have on my iPhone use.

Big Screens, Even Bigger Lessons & Learning to Make Tough Calls ›

This is a real­ly insight­ful look into the process behind mak­ing an iPad app from an estab­lished iPhone app. As a design­er I have some knowl­edge of design­ing for dif­fer­ent screen sizes, but the behav­iour of an app is very dif­fer­ent to the behav­iour of a web­site, albeit with some sim­i­lar­i­ties. Before I begin any future web design projects I’ll def­i­nite­ly be giv­ing this piece anoth­er read or two.

This morn­ing I gave some­thing a try for the first time. I left my Mac­Book Pro at home and took my iPad and Blue­tooth key­board out to do a bit of work. Since the release of iOS 9 last Sep­tem­ber I’ve heard many peo­ple talk­ing about it has enabled them to use their iPad to do a lot of work. Being a design­er I just pushed them aside, no soft­ware is able to pro­duce art­work to the that the Cre­ative Cloud apps can on my Mac, and so I just marked it as not yet for me. I have noticed recent­ly that I’ve been nat­u­ral­ly reach­ing for my iPad to do cer­tain bits of work, large­ly emails and admin. I decid­ed it was time to give it a try. Inter­est­ing­ly I’ve real­ly enjoyed it and I think with a lit­tle think­ing through, I could switch some of my web site main­te­nance tasks to the iPad.

App Store 2.0 ›

News broke last night of some changes to the App Store. Chief among them was the avail­abil­i­ty of sub­scrip­tion pric­ing to all types of apps. Many peo­ple seem to see it as a pos­i­tive for devel­op­ers, and I agree to some extent, but it all depends how those sub­scrip­tions will be used.
This quote from The Verge’s cov­er­age of the news is exact­ly what I’m con­cerned about.

Tsid­don says his com­pa­ny makes around $10 mil­lion a year from its pre­mi­um apps, which are sold for a one-time pur­chase fee of $3.99 or $4.99. Lightricks has sold 8 mil­lion app down­loads to date. Tsid­don hasn’t ful­ly com­mit­ted to a sub­scrip­tion mod­el yet, only say­ing that he’s “excit­ed to exper­i­ment with the busi­ness mod­el,” but based on back-of-the-enve­lope math he believes if his com­pa­ny saw 4 mil­lion down­loads while charg­ing a $4 month­ly sub­scrip­tion fee, he could make 10 times his cur­rent annu­al revenue. 

If devel­op­ers start to shift to pric­ing like this, I and many oth­ers, will stop using their apps. I sim­ply can not afford, and even if I could I would not be able to jus­ti­fy, pay­ing $4 a month to use an app. Espe­cial­ly when it’s mul­ti­plied by the 12 inde­pen­dent apps on my iPhone home­screen. That’s not sustainable.

The Sweet Setups Best Bible App ›

The Sweet Set­up has spent some time look­ing for the best bible app on iOS. I’ve had a hot and cold rela­tion­ship with bible apps, some­times I find time incred­i­bly use­ful, oth­er times they seem cold and dis­con­nect­ing. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve tried s num­ber of the apps on this list and could­n’t agree more with the con­clu­sion, in fact the two apps that I have installed on my iPhone and iPad are the top two from this article.

Ulysses 2.5 for iPad and, Now, iPhone Review ›

A glow­ing review which I could­n’t agree with more. Ever since I down­loaded it for my iPad I’ve been using the app, now it’s on my iPhone as well every­thing I write for this site goes through the app. Paired with the Mac app, it’s great for writ­ing ser­mons in as well.