Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

Fantastical 2 for iPad Now Available

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

fantastical-2-ipad-iconFlexibits has released a version of its gorgeous and highly functional calendar app for iPad. Fantastical 2 for iPad debuted in the App Store this morning and offers the same natural language event creation feature that debuted in the Mac version plus the ability to display a month, list, and “day ticker” view all at once on the tablet’s larger screen.

Compared to the iPad’s stock Calendar app, Fantastical lets you see so much more at once in portrait or landscape mode. It even offers Reminders integration so you can create and edit Reminders and and see Reminders with due dates in any of the available views.

Here’s a promo video showing Fantastical 2 for iPad in action:

As shown in the promo video, scrolling through any of the elements in the Dashboard advances the other views as well, so you can quickly get a snapshot of an entire week when you select a specific day or list item. To create events, you can simply type (or dictate, if you have a dictation-compatible iPad) something like “Lunch with mom on Saturday” and Fantastical will create an event titled “Lunch with mom” at noon on the upcoming Saturday.

The Mac version of Fantastical first debuted in 2011 and it quickly became my preferred way to create and view events on my Mac. The iPhone version was released in late 2012 and it prompted me to move the stock Calendar app to a folder buried on a seldom-visited home page on every iPhone I’ve owned since it became available. Since then, Fantastical for iPhone and Mac has only gotten better and I’m thrilled to have it on my iPad now. If you’re looking for a highly functional and easy-to-use app to manage your calendar and reminders on your iPad, I highly recommend Fantastical. It’s on sale now at a special introductory price of $9.99 and will go up to its regular price of $14.99 soon, so go get it now before the price goes up!

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Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for iPad Now Available

Friday, March 28th, 2014

microsoft-word-ipadMicrosoft released its staple office applications – Word, PowerPoint, and Excel – in Apple’s App Store yesterday. The apps are free to download and use to view existing documents though document creation and editing require an Office 365 subscription, which costs $99 per year and allows use of the apps on up to five iPads.

Microsoft created this promo video to highlight the features of the new apps:

If you’ve been waiting for Microsoft Office to come to the iPad, this should make you one happy camper. I’m personally disappointed that a subscription is needed to create and edit documents and would much rather pay a one-time fee to get full use of the apps. However, Microsoft did make full use of the Office Mobile app for iPhone free with the release of the iPad apps, so that’s a bit of a consolation. You can download Microsoft Office Mobile for free and while you still need a free Microsoft account to use it, you won’t be spending any of your hard-earned cash to create and edit documents with it.

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‘Clear’ Makes Its Way to iPad

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Clear for iOS 7 IconRealmac Software has released a universal version of Clear, its lists app that first debuted for iPhone in early 2012, followed by a Mac version six months later. The new universal version of Clear has been redesigned for i0S 7 and includes some unique features for the iPad’s larger screen.

Clear features an icon, fonts, and interface aligned with iOS 7’s flatter style while still keeping the gestural navigation goodness it’s had from day one. On the iPad, the larger screen allows list names and their contents to be shown at the same time and you can drag and drop items from one list to another or even peek at the contents of another list by pulling down on the list name with two fingers.

Clear remains one of my favorite apps for shopping and to do lists and holds prime, front page real estate on my iPhone (and now on my iPad). If you’re looking for a full-on tasks lists with reminders, the ability to tag list items, sort them automatically, or other fancy stuff, you should look elsewhere. Clear is all about simplicity and straightforwardness in letting you create and edit lists quickly through a gorgeous interface.

Click to enlarge

The iPhone-only version of Clear is still in the App Store and costs $.99 so if you don’t have an iPad and don’t see one in your immediate future, it should do you just fine. If you have an iPad, I recommend you pony up the $2.99 for the new version since Clear handily uses iCloud to synchronize everything between all of your devices and it’s so nice to access your lists no matter what device you’re using at the moment. If you purchased Clear for iPhone previously, you may be feeling a little betrayed by the appearance of this separate app that you have to buy again but Realmac put a lot of work into it and it’s worth it (and probably less than your morning coffee, to boot).

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‘Chatology’ for Mac Lets You Search Your Messaging History Easily

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

If you’ve ever tried to search Messages or iChat on your Mac to look for a link or picture a friend shared with you, you’ve probably ended up empty-handed and frustrated. Fortunately, there’s now an alternative to the nearly-useless search feature within Apple’s Messages app. Flexibitis, the developer of the excellent Fantastical for iPhone and Mac, has just released Chatology, a Mac app explicitly for searching your messaging history quickly and easily.

Chatology accesses the saved chat logs on your Mac so you can search for specific words or look for images and links. You can search your entire chat history or narrow the search timeframe down to today, or the last week, month, or year. Chatology can even be set to open automatically when you press ⌘F to initiate a search within Messages.

We made Chatology because we were so frustrated searching for our messages,” said Michael Simmons, Co-Founder of Flexibits. “There were no solutions to fix this so we created one, and we think all Messages and iChat users are going to love Chatology as much as we do.

Here’s a video showing how Chatology works:

Chatology isn’t available in the Mac App Store and can only be downloaded directly from the Flexibits Store here. A free download is available that lets you use Chatology without restrictions for 14 days. If you want to buy it outright or after the trial period is over, it will cost you $19.99. You’ll need Mac OS X 10.7 or higher to use Chatology.

If you’re not already familiar with the other apps made by Flexibits, check out Fantastical for iPhone (my review) or the Mac version. I use both versions of Fantastical every single day and I’ve found that Flexibits makes great software.

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Microsoft Releases ‘Office Mobile’ for iPhone for Office 365 Subscribers

Friday, June 14th, 2013

If you’ve had a hankering for an official Microsoft Office app, today is your day to celebrate. Microsoft released Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers for iPhone today in the App Store. It’s a free download but requires a paid subscription to Microsoft’s cloud storage and software service.

Office 365 debuted in 2011 and offers several subscription levels for home and business users. The least expensive subscription costs $9.99 per month or $99 per year and allows the use of its software and service on up to five computers and five mobile devices.

I don’t have an Office 365 subscription so can’t tell you whether or not it’s worth the money. But if you’re considering subscribing and this new iPhone app will be critical for you, Engadget took it for a test spin and included lots of screenshots for you to feast your eyes on. According to Engadget, Office Mobile offers basic editing capabilities only, lacking the ability to add rows or columns within Excel or add slide transitions in Powerpoint though it’s possible Microsoft will add features to the app in the future.

If you don’t  want or need a subscription to be able to create and edit Microsoft Office files on your iPhone, I recommend Daviz’s Documents to Go which will also work on the iPad, unlike Office Mobile in this current iteration.

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‘Mailbox’ for iPhone Loses the Wait

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Orchestra’s mail management app, Mailbox, debuted in the App Store in February and while it impressed many, there was a long virtual line before most people could actually use it. Yesterday, Orchestra announced that the virtual line to use the app has been eliminated.

Good news! Mailbox is now available without having to wait in line. After 10 weeks of around-the-clock hard work, our engineering team has scaled the Mailbox service to deliver over 100 million messages per day (and growing). We believe we can now confidently handle new users as they sign up, so we’ve pulled down the reservation system.

If you missed the hubbub around Mailbox, the app lets you manage your email inbox with gestures to re-order, delete, archive, and even snooze your emails for later handling. Here’s the promo video so you can see it in action:

It works only with Gmail accounts at the moment and the app is free to download and use. I was able to start using Mailbox a couple of weeks or so after it was released and while I like the concept, it doesn’t help me be more productive for work though if it gets the ability to handle IMAP accounts outside of Gmail, I’d definitely use it for my personal email.

If you’ve been waiting patiently to give Mailbox a whirl or are just hearing about it for the first time, now is the time to get it. If you’re already using Mailbox, you’ll be happy to know that it got some smarter snooze options, interface improvements, and bug fixes in version 1.2.0 that was released earlier this week.

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‘Reeder’ for iPad and Mac Now Free

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Last month, Google announced that it will shut down its Google Reader RSS service on July 1, 2013, citing a decline in the usage of the service. With hundreds of apps in the App Store relying on Google Reader, this shutdown puts a lot of developers in a tough place, forcing them to find an alternative or retire an app entirely.

In response to the uncertainty, Silvio Rizzi, the developer of popular RSS app Reeder announced via Twitter this afternoon that the iPad and Mac versions of the app are now free. In a blog post explaining the change, Rizzi states that development of Reeder to work around the Google Reader shutdown is in process. While the iPhone version of Reeder already offers support for other RSS services (with support for Feedbin on the way), the iPad and Mac versions will be getting the same treatment in version 2.0 and they will be free until then.

Reeder has been my preferred RSS app for a while now and I have confidence that Rizzi will adapt and keep Reeder as useful as it’s always been. If you’ve had Reeder on your Wish List or are just getting into the RSS game, now is a great time to get the Mac and iPad versions to take advantage of the temporary price reduction.

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‘Launch Center Pro’ Gets In-App Actions, Goes on Sale

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

App Cubby’s Launch Center Pro, which is one of my most-used apps, got a major update late last week and it’s now on sale for 40% off for a limited time, bringing its price down to $2.99 from $4.99.

Launch Center Pro is a productivity app that can help you complete common tasks you do with your iPhone more quickly. For example, you can set up Launch Center Pro to open Instagram and go right to the camera tab so you can quickly capture an image. Or, you can define an action to call or text message your spouse with a single tap.

Launch Center Pro works using URL schemes to interact with other apps. Think of URL schemes as a way for Launch Center Pro to open another app and go to a specific action, like a browser bookmark to your favorite page within a website. Not all apps work with Launch Center Pro out of the gate, though – an app’s developer must incorporate URL schemes into their app so that Launch Center Pro can use these “hooks” to open the app and carry out actions within it. For a bit more on how Launch Center Pro works and how I have it set up on my iPhone, see this article.

In version 1.1, which hit the App Store late last week, several actions can now be completed right within the app. For example, you can now draft a text message right within Launch Center Pro and it will be sent without switching you over to the Messages app. The same goes for emails as well.

The full list of what’s new in 1.1 is as follows:

  • In-app messaging actions — group messaging and preset text
  • In-app email actions — attach last photo taken or attach photo from the clipboard
  • Clipboard actions — place text on clipboard, place last photo on clipboard, convert text on clipboard, and x-callback-url support
  • Expanded Text Expander support — snippets can now be expanded automatically while launching an action
  • New Tweet action — tweet last photo taken
  • Reorganized Action Composer
  • Bug fixes and other enhancements

I use Launch Center Pro multiple times every single day and highly recommend it to automate common tasks you do regularly. Buy it now while it’s on sale. If you already have it, now is also a good time to gift it to someone else to save yourself a little scratch and share a bit of app joy at the same time.

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‘Fantastical’ for iPhone Gets App Icon Date Badge Option and More

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Fantastical, the calendar utility developed by Flexibits that debuted in the App Store in November, has received a major update. Fantastical 1.1 offers time zone support, multiple alerts for events, improved calendar navigation, and my favorite feature ever – the ability to enable a badge on the app’s icon to display the current date.

The full list of what’s new is as follows:

  • Multiple alerts when creating events
  • Time zone support
  • Duplicate or move events (tap and hold an event in the event list)
  • Go to a specific date (tap and hold the red title bar)
  • Event list is now scrollable when using the calendar
  • Today’s timed events dim after the event has ended
  • Copied text containing event info can automatically be made into an event
  • Added setting to highlight weekends
  • Added setting to show empty days on the DayTicker
  • Added setting to display the number of today’s remaining events or date on the app icon badge
  • State restoration (iOS 6 only)
  • A staggering number of other improvements, parser enhancements, and bug fixes

To recap a bit, Fantastical lets you use natural language to create calendar events. So if you type (or speak if you have a dictation-capable iPhone) “Lunch with Mom at 1 on Saturday,” Fantastical will parse this accordingly to create an event named “Lunch with Mom” at 1:00 pm on Saturday. It’s very easy to use and far simpler than navigating through the several screens required to create an event like this in the stock Calendar app.

In my review of Fantastical, I mentioned my reliance on the iPhone’s stock Calendar app with its display of the current date on the icon. Apple doesn’t allow third-party developers to do this and I’d mentioned that a work-around would be to use a push notification badge on the icon to show the current date. I must not have been alone in that request and Flexibits heard it enough that they implemented it in this update. This feature is optional if you don’t need or want it, or you could instead choose to use the icon badge to show the number of remaining events for the current day.

Fantastical for iPhone is on sale in celebration of this update, down to $3.99 from its regular price of $4.99. Fantastical has remained on my iPhone’s home screen ever since it was released and this update only makes it more useful.

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‘Mailbox’ for iPhone Promises a Better Email Inbox Experience (But You’ll Have to Wait to Use It)

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Orchestra released its heavily hyped and anticipated mail management app, Mailbox, to the App Store yesterday. The free app lets you access your Gmail account and turns email chains into chat-like conversations. Like Clear, you use gestures instead of virtual buttons to navigate, with swipes letting you delete messages or “snooze” emails to get them out of your inbox temporarily to reappear later when you can deal with them.

Here’s a teaser video showing how Mailbox works:

Orchestra first teased Mailbox for iPhone in December and it impressed TechCrunch enough to call it “the best email management app you’ll ever use” and prompted The Verge to declare it to be “nothing short of spectacular”.

The free app debuted in the App Store yesterday but there’s a significant snag you should be aware of. The parsing and formatting of your emails to show the chat-like conversation view and snooze your emails is handled by Orchestra’s servers and in order to avoid overloading their systems, the company is limiting access to the app’s functionality. So when you download Mailbox you’ll get in a virtual line and a countdown will show you how many people are ahead of you to get access and how many are behind you.

Orchestra offered the ability to register in advance for Mailbox in late January, sending you a text message with a couple of codes to use when the app became available in the App Store. I’d done this pre-registration on the day it was made available but forgot about it when Mailbox came out yesterday and at first the app told me there were about 170,000 people ahead of me to get access to actually use it. I found my pre-registration codes later and entered them (hold down the mailbox symbol in the app to display the code entry screen if you skipped entering them the first time you opened the app like I did). When I’d checked my status yesterday, there were 17,701 people ahead of me and as I write this post today, there are about 18,680 people ahead of me and over 580,000 people in line behind me. At this rate, I should have access to use Mailbox in about 17 days if the approval rate holds steady.

Holding back access to use Mailbox has had a negative effect on its App Store rating. Right now, there are over 300 1-star reviews for it and the overall average rating is just two stars. Clearly, many users are not taking the need to wait well at all. While I understand the need to make sure their systems can scale and work for all users, I have to think that there could have been a better way to release the app and avoid preventing most people from being able to even use it right away.

At any rate, if what’s shown in the teaser video intrigues you at all, download Mailbox today and be prepared to be patient and wait. It’s free, so you’ve got not nothing to lose in terms of money and only a little to lose in terms of time to take a few seconds to open the app and get in line.

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