Software: Drafts

If you haven’t guessed by now, you’re probably new to this site, and if so, welcome! If not, you’ll undoubtedly know that I am an iOS text editor enthusiast to the umpteenth degree! I really love what developers out there have done to create such robust and fun ways to create words and text on such tiny screens and devices!

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One that I’ve been playing around with for a good amount of time is Drafts. Drafts, on it’s own, is a very elegant and clean text editor that’s UI is completely spartan by design. It main function is for you to launch it, jot a note or idea down and close it. The app saves your work in a plain text format and the next time you open the app? It starts a new note. This wash, rinse, repeat philosophy is what got me to first buy and try the app. But, it’s only when you open up Drafts and use it for a bit, that you realize that this text editor quite unique and powerful.

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Aside from the impressive collection of fonts that the kind folks at Agile Tortoisebaked in, you also get the requisite font size selector and two other themes to mix things up a bit (white text on black and a “Sepia” toned dark brown text on tan based theme). There is also a new view in the latest version of the app that is quite handy called “Link” mode which makes all the links that you type in to a note, tap-able! URLs would be easy but this view also includes phone numbers and even addresses! Think about it, you get a phone number from someone, put it in Drafts, and instead of holding down on the text, making sure it’s selected, opening the phone app, copying it into the dial field and tapping dial, now all you have to do is tap the “Link” mode in the note, tap the number, then dial. It’s that easy!

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It also has sync but the folks at Agile Tortoise didn’t want to jump through the myriad of hoops that Apple makes you go through to hook your app up to iCloud so they went with the well-thought-of sync project “Symperium“. In my using of both Drafts apps for iPhone and iPad, I’ve found the sync to be almost instantaneous and, most importantly, reliable. Which has been a little bit of a sticking point for me with the somewhat recent implementation of iCloud sync in apps. The only catch though with going with Symperium is that it doesn’t allow you to sync with your Mac (or PC, yet…). Presumably, going with the more “open” Symperium service, would afford the opportunity sync cross platform/device, but that hasn’t happened yet, so the only way you’d be able to get your notes out of your respective iOS device is through the sharing options provided to you.

The good news? This is definitely where Drafts shines! When you use Drafts you could almost overlook the sharing button in the toolbar of your notes, but after you tap it… man… there are a ton of options!

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Here’s a rundown of the current list of services that Drafts hooks into, most of which I use (some of which I’ve reviewed on this very site):

  • Post to Facebook or Twitter
  • Email your notes anywhere
  • SMS
  • Save and append to Dropbox
  • Send to iCal (Calendar)
  • Create a Reminder in iOS “Reminders” app
  • copy it to the clipboard in iOS
  • Print
  • Save to Evernote (can also save as Markdown)
  • Send to Tweetbot (twitter client)
  • Send to Day One (journaling client that I love)
  • And last but not least you can choose “Open in…” which allows you to open the note in any other text editor that you have on your device.

That’s quite a list! And they keep adding more with each version that drops!

With these sharing options, Drafts has become a my springboard for whenever I even have a whimsy about sharing a piece of text in more than one place. They’ve made it too damn easy to not see it as your default app for that. If I wasn’t such an iOS text editor junky, I’d probably have this as my sole go-to editor.

Add in it’s full support of Markdown and it’s really a no brainer.

To date I’ve used it for quick notes (movie names, phone numbers, etc…), calendar events, to do lists, entire chapters of the novel I am writing, Tweets, Facebook posts (when I actually am on FB), blog posts (though not this one), and the list could go on and on but you get the point, this app is a tiny juggernaut.

So go get it! Highly recommended!

Where to get it:

  1. iPhone – $1.99
  2. iPad – $2.99

What about the guys that made it?

All images in this post were linked from Agile Tortoise’s own website.

Software: Day One Journal Gets A BIG Update!

Day One Update from the site dayoneapp.com

Hey all! As you you’ve already read here on this site I am a HUGE Day One journaling fan!

Well, they’ve just come out with a new version of their all of their apps and it’s a hugeone! Integration of photos, weather, locale, better mark down support, sharing options, social integration, better Dropbox and iCloud sync, seriously… it’s huge.

They even updated their site! So if you don’t have it already, definitely check it out. It’s taking daily journaling to a whole new level. I absolutely love it and this update makes an already great experience even better!

Collect them all!

  1. Day One Journal Site
  2. Day One Journal Mac App Store
  3. Day One Journal iOS

Design: WTHR – A Simpler, More Beautiful Weather App

Hey guys,

This popped up on the ole radar this week and I thought I would share. If you know the intricate inner workings of my mind (poor, poor you…), you will know that I have an amazing soft spot for weather and, by proxy, weather apps.

WTHR iPhone APP

Well, a new one dropped this week called WTHR and it’s design is just too good not to share with you all. What I love the best? The screenshot above pretty much tells you everything that the app does! It gives you the weather of where you are at in a simple, clean and beautiful way. No radars, not barometers, no ten day forecasts… just the vitals.

Love the style. Love the delivery. Love the app.

One important note: It does have some issues with its first release. It leaves the GPS search running even AFTER you’ve closed the app. Pretty big bug, as that can lay waste to your battery life, but I am more than confident that they will fix that in the next release (a lot of weather apps have delivered with this bug). So, wait for the next release or snag it now for 99 cents (?! – link above).

If you love good app design and aesthetic, this a bit of a no brainer.

UPDATE 07/11/12

The developer for WTHR released an update to iOS app store, just yesterday (tookWAY longer that I would’ve thought) that fixes the issue above. You do have to reset your locations services though which can be found in:

Settings>General>Reset (bottom of the list) >Reset Location Warnings.

If you are just buying it now, you don’t have to reset a thing. Just use it an enjoy!

It’s a shame this bug slipped through the testing process. Oh well, it works great now!

Software: Day One Journal

I’ve always been a huge fan of journaling. It’s you taking time out of your schedule, stepping out of the constant stream of everything that barrages us every second of every day, to simply acknowledge what you’ve seen and experienced. It’s an activity worthy of anyone’s energy and time.

This all said, I haven’t been able to stick to journaling at all in the past. My mind forms pages of prose WAY faster than my pen can race across any given page. So as much as I love the concept of it, I am not disciplined enough at doing it. There was always the option of opening up a text editor on a computer and creating entries that way, but that is disorganized, aesthetically lacking and it feels like any other activity you’d do in front of a computer. Not you taking time out for yourself.

But what if someone decided to create an application dedicated strictly to capturing the spirit of pen and paper journaling? Furthermore, what would be your stipulations for such an app? Here are mine:

  1. Like a notebook, it would have to be readily accessible. In my pocket and on my desk (on portable devices AND stationery computers).
  2. Because of the above, it would have to sync between said devices. Updating multiple instances of the same journal would get frustrating and old quite quickly.
  3. It would have to supply a user experience that somehow takes you out of the day to day work you do on a computer. So that when you opened it, you would think “it’s time to write in my journal!” not, “it’s time to journal, oh, let me check my Twitter feed first! Oh yeah, look, I’ve got new email. Should look at that now…”
  4. It should be simple to use and get out of the way of the user’s need to write, yet have powerful features that are there if you need them.

The good news? There is an app that supplies these things for me and it’s the new reason I journal and have been journalling (sometimes multiple entries a day!) every single day for the last year. So what’s this magical unicorn of an app? Enter “Day One Journal“!

Day One icon

From the outset, this app is no-nonsense! You open it for the first time and with a little initial one-time configuration, you can be writing your first entry in under five minutes. The app is available on OSX and iOS (universal), so it’s available on every tech device I have (Mac mini, iPhone and iPad) and because it syncs with iCloud (or Dropbox if you prefer and have an account) all of my entries are constantly in sync no matter what screen I am looking at.

Day One everywhere

The UI is quite elegant on all platforms, organizing your entries in a variety of ways (in a daily “stream-based” view, a in a calendar view, or in a section listing entries that you’ve favorited). You can even set up alarms to remind you to write in your journal (you can turn them off as well!).

Day One views

When you open a new entry, you are greeted with some inspiration in the form of famous quotes from people present and in the past (A nice touch, but thankfully you can disable these as well). The date and time is filled out for you and you are left with this wonderful white space to type in! Once you get your thoughts and memories down you click/tap the “Done” button and that’s it! It syncs instantaneously in the background, backing up our words as well as making them available anywhere that you have Day One installed. If you don’t wan’t your words in the cloud and just want them stored locally on your computer, you can do that as well (though you lose the syncing capability). Don’t want other people reading your words? No problem? You can password protect your entries!

Have you written something you’d like to share? That’s easy too! By clicking the share button on the entry you can get social in many different ways, email, Twitter (built in iOS integration), you can even export your entry if you feel the need.

Day One options

It sounds like a lot of options and it is, but I can’t express enough how much the developers of Day One made them all secondary and unobtrusive to the simple of act of writing in your journal. I haven’t even touched upon the quick entry window in OSX that’s nestled in your menu bar at the top of your screen, allowing you to add an entry without opening the app itself, or the different fonts you can use, or that it supports the highly readable markdown code… there’s a lot! But here’s the thing: it’s not overwhelming. Which is the point right? Writing in your journal should be easy! It should be a joy and not a chore!

That’s why it was crucial and wonderful that the developers of Day One nailed this experience.

When I am not writing lengthy entries, I actually use it to write Twitter-like observations in my day to day (leaving my actual Twitter stream more lean and curated). Little memories, anecdotes, ruminations or whimsies, all the little stuff that gets lost typically, is documented in my digital journal now! Also, I have to admit, once you’ve started, it’s amazing to go back and read what you were doing the same day last year.

It reminds you that you’ve lived and to me? That’s pretty damn precious!

Day One collage

There are a few improvements that could be made to the app (a lack of a search function, you can’t embed pictures into entries, iCloud sync is new and thus is a little buggy at times…) but they don’t detract from the experience and, in the case of the ones I listed above, they are all being addressed in future releases of Day One (which are free by the way). It’s also Mac only. Sorry Windows/Linux users.

So, to bring it all home, if you’ve been on the fence about keeping a journal or maybe you’ve been thinking of getting back into it but want a more modern twist on the act of keeping one, I can’t recommend the Day One Journal app enough. I’ve loved it immensely!

~Tad

Helpful links:

  1. Day One Journal Site
  2. Day One Journal Mac App Store
  3. Day One Journal iOS

PS: ALL pics in this post were snagged from Day One’s press kit found here on their site