Curious iApp Discoveries

my iPhone home page

I started this post because I found some unusual iPhone apps recently but then I got to thinking about it and decided maybe folks would like to see some of the apps I use regularly as well. So, here are the highlights of the apps I use almost daily as well as some funky little tidbits I’ve found recently. (The screenshot is my home page as of this morning, truth.)

  • Dots: Dots is a beautiful time-waster game in chunks of 30 seconds. Its free and its addictive. You’ve been warned.
  • Device 6: This looks like a game made for me. Its a thriller/puzzle/mystery game wrapped in beautiful design and a mysterious man in a hat. I just got an iTunes gift card so I’ll be downloading this ASAP. $3.99
  • Connor: Connor NYC is a high-end bespoke stationery company that produced an iPad app to create e-stationery
  • Squarespace apps: I’m familiar with Squarespace as a blog/commerce/website venue but did not know that they offer several apps to create on-the-go notes, portfolio viewer from content on their Squarespace site and a sleek site controller. Squarespace Note app does not require an account and its free.
  • Dictionary.com: I love the Word of The Day feature and being able to look up words on the go. Free.
  • Gmail: I have tried lots of email apps for the iPhone including Sparrow and the default Apple Mail app and I am stuck on Gmail. The new divided tabs that separate updates from social from pormotions and your actual email is genius. It saves me tons of time and lets me see my mail from all the spam, newsletters and miscellany. Genius.
  • Cardstar: This app has the ugliest icon ever and it makes me cringe when I look at it but it is the wallet-lightening joy of an app. It will scan the bar codes off all those frequent shopper cards, hotel/airline points accounts, etc and store them in your iPhone complete with the scanner-readable bar code. Other apps have better icons but THIS one works. And its FREE.
  • Fantastical: Why do I need another calendar app? Because Fantastical lets me type “Meet with Stephanie at 3pm today” and voila! It places a meeting in the right time without having to remember that today is the 15th. I thought it would be more cumbersome to type out a whole sentence to schedule a meeting but its not. I like it so much, I just paid $2.99 to upgrade to the new iOS 7 version.

Other apps I use all the time are Tweetbot, WordPress, IFTTT, USPS Mobile, Delivery Status, Wake, Riposte and Evernote. I’ve tried lots of photo editing apps and use AfterLight most often. What are your favorites?

Link Love: Overdue Again

Japanese pencils
Pencil acquisitions from Kinokuniya (via Paper Pastries)

Inks:

Kaweco_ArtSport

Pens and Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

Misc:

small_PO_poster

Tiny Post Offices Print (via Power and Light Press , shoutout to Paper Pastries)

Plugging the Firm: Soundpic

I’ve been implying to folks that I’ve been working on a “secret project” at work. Well, its not so secret anymore. Its a little app called Soundpic that turns your video into a still image and a sound clip in one neat package.

Not only was I actively involved in the design of the user interface, I designed the logo, art directed the promo video and even let them use my largely-unused Facebook page for the video! I am amazed what we could do with just a handful of people and some wishful thinking.

We’ve been running around looking for cool sounds to capture with our images: from rustling leaves to steaks on the grill. I’m still on the hunt for one of those old school sprinklers to add to my “summer sounds” collection.

Soundpic is available on the Apple iTunes store for iPhone. And its free. If you like the app, please let me know or leave feedback on the app store. Thanks!

Still Searching for a Google Reader Replacement

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 7.28.56 AM

There’s only a couple of weeks left before Google turns off Reader for good and I’ve yet to make a decision about what service I will use as a replacement. There is a site listing the most popular alternatives as mentioned by hashtag on Twitter called ReplaceReader.

Feedly is topping the list at present but I am still on the fence about it. I set it up but I found the interface a little too “jazzy”. I don’t want my RSS to recommend other content, allow my “friends” to see what I’m reading or any other social integration. Am I the only one who is a total curmudgeon about this?

Feedbin seems popular but because its a paid service entirely, I don’t think very many people have experimented with it yet. I love Reeder for Mac and iPad so I’m leaning towards Feedbin as they are promising integration but, at present, they have only updated the iPhone app which is the one place I don’t usually attempt to read RSS.

I’ve also tried The Old Reader and Blog Lovin’ but did not favor either. While The Old Reader is free, I suspect there will not be a lot of mobile app support for it. And Blog Lovin’… let’s just say I feel a little old to be hanging out in that crowd.

Have you found a replacement for Reader or have you moved away from RSS altogether and found another system for keeping up with your favorite sites?

Oh, Wunderful Wunderlist!

Wunderlist

I was slow to launch with the digital to-do list. As fellow pen and paper lovers, I’m sure you can understand my hesitation.However, I am working on a large project at work and my team decided to try out Basecamp for group organization and I fell in love. Basecamp is a great place for task and project management for a group or team. It can store text documents, files, to-do lists and even a calendar. We are all madly in love with its capabilities. It made me realize how much a task manager might help me in my personal life, for blog planning, shopping lists, and all those little life to-dos that get jotted on this sheet of paper or in that notebook and then I can never find the right list at the right time. I didn’t want to invest in Basecamp for my personal management ($20/month to start) so I set off in search of a more budget-minded alternative for the miscellany floating around in my head and on various scraps of paper.

My requirements:

  • mobile app
  • desktop app
  • web interface
  • multiple to-do lists: work, home, blog, etc.
  • notifications via text message or notifications
  • nice to look at

And then in walks Wunderlist and went, “Check, check, check… CHECK!” Seriously. Its available for iOS or Android, works on my iPhone or iPad, there’s a desktop app (Mac and Windows) for my home computer and a web interface for accessing while at work, making it easy to input text on a full-sized keyboard as well as making updates or checking things off on the fly. Its nice to look at with a choice of pleasing backgrounds and a clean, clear user interface. Lists can be organized into projects and individual to-dos can include sub-tasks, notes, reminders and due dates. Each to-do can be viewed in the original project list or in the day, week or all views. I feel almost organized!

If you discover that Wunderlist is your new lifesaver too, you can upgrade to the pro version and get a lot of the features that make Basecamp so nifty like team to-dos, delegating tasks, file uploads and more starting at $4.99/mo. Check and check!

App Love: PicFrame

PicFrame for iOS

I thought I would share a favorite app today. I discovered PicFrame for iOS awhile back which is a great way to do a grid of photos to post on Instagram, Flickr or Facebook. The app costs $0.99 and works on iPhone or iPad. Its quite flexible with an assortment of grids to choose from and then you can pull the frames to reshape them as needed. You can round corners, add filters and change the width and color or pattern of the borders too. The iOS app also includes the ability to add labels — there are default looks or you can get in there and choose font, font color and label color. Its a pretty powerful app for under a $1.

PicFrame for Mac

What I like even better is the Mac version of the app that let’s you drag a photo from iPhoto, right into a frame and then export at various sizes for blogs, Flickr, Facebook, etc. The Mac app is also $0.99. There are no image editing options or labels in the desktop version of the app. Since you can import photos from iPhoto or other image editing software, you won’t need the image editing features but I do wish they’d add the labels to the Mac version.

tompkins haul

This is a PicFrame collage I made with the desktop version of the app. I used the default borders and the photos were straight from my iPhone via iPhoto. The images are some of the goodies my friends bought while traveling in Japan. I must go office supply foraging there SOON!

Damn You, Art School and Procreate (it’ll make sense when you read the whole article)

Damn You Art School

Damn You, Art School is a web site organized by art school disciplines like architecture, fashion, illustration and others that will give you a list of recommended digital tools for a given discipline. The recommendations range from note-taking and sketching apps to business management tools like faxing and time accounting (in the Illustration tab). There are lots of good recommendations for people in all sorts of professional fields or to help you plan out your next creative project. Snoop around, you may find a tool or app you didn’t know you’d need. I do notice a notable absence of the best tools for all creatives: paper and pencil.

Procreate screenshot

Oh, and on the topic of digital tools you didn’t know you needed, I wholeheartedly endorse a drawing app for the iPad called Procreate ($4.99 from the iTunes app store). Even if you do not consider yourself artistically inclined, this app may change your mind. The brush tools are the most realistic I’ve used since the Mac app Painter and there are additional brush sets available for purchase ($0.99 per set and most are totally worth the upgrade). This app is incredibly powerful and includes layers which can have different blending modes and transparency, easy to use undo options, you can rotate the canvas and so much more. There is a whole community of users that share new brushes and techniques. File can be exported to a PSD file and the layers remain intact. I’ve been using the app to create original wallpaper for my iPad. I’ve been watching a lot of Dr. Who lately so I painted a personal nebula. Not as awe-inspiring as the sample images included with the app but I made them with my finger and a few spare minutes. I’m so proud of my wallpaper, you can download it and use it too on your favorite mobile device.

Procreate download file

Click image to access attachment. Then save it to you computer.

Link Love: Vintage Pens and Pen Addict Love

The big news this week is that Moleskine launched their IPO. Several of the links below are as a result of all the attention Moleskine is getting this week.

There is an assortment of goodies from Brad Dowdy over at Pen Addict including his Tools and Toys Guide to Fountain Pens which I’m willing to debate with him. There’s also a mix of new and vintage fountain pen reviews. Finishing up the Link Love this week are a couple ink reviews, some digital goodies and tips on writing a good thank you note. Enjoy!

Pens and Ink

Paper

Digital

(image from Casa Brutus, via Present + Correct)

(image from Casa Brutus, via Present + Correct)

Link Love: Unicorn Ink and More About Google Reader

A collection of clips from Present & Correct. (via Twitter @PresentCorrect)

A collection of clips from Present & Correct. (via Twitter @PresentCorrect)

Pens and Pencils:

Paper:

Misc:

DeAtramentis Unicorn Brown ink with scent. Wonder what it smells like? (via Gourmet Pens on Instagram)

DeAtramentis Unicorn Brown ink with Unicorn scent. Wonder what unicorns smells like? (via Gourmet Pens on Instagram)

Digitial:

Link Love: Lifehacking

original

There are two excellent websites for lifehacks: Lifehack and Lifehacker. In amongst general information on how to get fit, eat better and be more productive are recommendations for work-related topics, zero-ing out your email inbox and app recommendations.

This week I decided to cherry pick a few of my favorite recent articles from these sites and share them here.

Workspaces:

Mobile apps:

Productivity:

Misc: