Last week, Steven Owens explained why Fantastical 2 is the best calendar app out there for your iPhone. If you haven't tried out Fantastical 2 (or the equally as good Fantastical for Mac), then you should give it a look.
The Sweet Setup exists because I wanted a site that highlights the software that has proven to be the best, not necessarily the newest.
Here we will be recommending only the apps which are proven to be the best rather than new.
There is never a lack of new apps and shiny objects for my Apple devices. Websites and blogs that write about these new apps are a dime a dozen as well. I really like the idea of a site dedicated to identifying the best. That's really what I'm interested in—the best, not the newest.
I definitely plan to follow The Sweet Setup. If you use a Mac, iPad or iPhone, you might consider doing the same.
My list of bookmarklets is always growing. I have bookmarklets to save to Instapaper for later reading, send articles to my Kindle, create tasks in Omnifocus, save links to Pinboard, and shorten links using Bitly. The list goes on and on.
The problem with bookmarklets is that, the more you use, the more difficult it is to keep them all straight and easily accessible. You can only fit so many onto your browser’s bookmark toolbar and clicking them with the mouse can be clumsy and inconvenient.
Backtick works much like one of my favorite and most-used apps, Alfred. Spotlight works similarly as well. Simply press the backtick on your keyboard ( ` ) and start typing the name of the bookmarklet you're looking for. It’s that easy.
Backtick is available for Chrome only and comes with a predefined list of commands, though you can create your own commands as well.
Brett Kelly, Evernote genius and author of Evernote Essentials, wrote about 5 Apps That Make Evernote Even Better yesterday. You should definitely check out this list if you’re an Evernote user.
Drafts is the only app on the list that I currently use. I was most interested in Powerbot, however. Brett highlighted Powerbot for Gmail specifically, but their service also integrates with Google Calendar—a combo that could prove to be extremely useful for organizing and maintaining meeting notes and support materials. I’m planning to give it a test drive over the next couple of weeks and follow up here with my conclusions.
If you write using Markdown, then you should consider picking up Brett Terpstra's Marked 2. This latest release includes a number of improvements upon his original Marked app, including Scrivener support.
Anthony Bradley challenges Christians to think about the nature of the gospel and our role in stewarding God’s desire for creation. Dr. Bradley:
In the end, the Gen 1 and 2 framework sees the missionary mandate and the commission to create and steward cultures that glorify God as a “both/and” while the Gen 3 framework tends to see the missionary disciple-making mandate exclusively as the Christian’s main concern. For Gen 3ers, the cultural emphasis is merely an implication or application of the gospel as opposed to the restoration of creation as something to which the gospel directly points.
Shawn Blanc offers some great tips for using Pinboard, which has been my preferred bookmarking service for some time now. The title of the post says "Beginners Guide," but there's some good stuff here for more advanced users as well.
The clock is ticking on the MacHeist nanoBundle 3—you've got one day left to pick it up. At $9.99, this bundle is a great value. Here's are the highlights:
Path Finder ($40) – This app has been on my wish list for a long time now. Path Finder is a powerful file manager and Finder replacement for your Mac. It was unlocked as a part of the bundle after 30,000 had been sold. I expect to use this app daily.
Fantastical ($20) – I already own Fantastical. It's my go–to calendar application 95% of the time. It allows you to create meetings and appointments using natural language.
Clarify ($30) – This app makes quick work of creating how–tos, instructions, and tutorials using screenshots, annotations, and text. I'm really excited about putting this app to work.
AirServer ($15) – This is another app I've had my eye on for some time now. AirServer allows your Mac to receive AirPlay feeds, similar to Apple TV. Slick.
xScope ($30) – A set of measuring tools for designers and developers. I'm not a designer or developer, but I can see this app coming in handy every now and again.
iStopMotion ($50) – Create your own stop motion animation. I doubt I'll use this app often, but I'm definitely looking forward to playing around with it.
I dig Launch Center Pro by App Cubby. Recently, I’ve been singing its praises to any of my iPhone-packing friends who are willing to listen. If you haven’t already given it a look, I suggest you do so. To say that Launch Center Pro is an app launcher doesn’t quite do it justice. The App Cubby website describes it this way:
It’s like speed dial, but for more than just phone calls! Launch Center Pro creates lightning quick shortcuts to specific features buried deep within apps.
You see, it doesn’t just launch applications (though it does, in fact, launch applications). It provides direct, one-touch access to many of the functions performed by applications. For example, if I want to create a Day One journal entry every day with the day’s weather, I can set a shortcut within Launch Center Pro to create a journal entry entitled, “Today’s Weather Forecast.”
With Launch Center Pro’s long and growing list of supported apps, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Below I’ve included screenshots of my Launch Center Pro setup. Admittedly, it’s still relatively basic. I’m hoping to spend more time in the next week or two customizing it and making better use of its access to features within my apps.
When I open Launch Center Pro, you see my home screen, which includes twelve buttons: four action buttons and eight group buttons.
The Photography group is fairly straightforward and includes icons for all photography apps I use that integrate with Launch Center Pro.
The Instagram icon, for example, launches directly to the Instagram camera.
You will notice that the native iPhone camera is not represented among the icons. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Launch Center Pro. I take a lot of pictures with my phone, so it sits in my dock for quick access.
Flashlight is a stock action button which turns on the LED flash on the back of your iPhone. It seems like I use my iPhone as a flashlight almost every day, so I chose to keep it on my home screen.
The brightness action button toggles your screen brightness between two customizable levels. This is useful, especially when I’m using my phone in low light settings.
The Capture group contains action icons that allow me to capture text and information quickly. I have action buttons for Byword, Simplenote and Day One that create new notes or entries with one swipe of my finger.
Drafts and Sparrow
I use both of these applications heavily, so they own real estate on my homescreen. Sparrow is my email client of choice for the iPhone. Drafts allows me to create a plain text notes quickly and then send them to a long list of destinations, including Evernote, Dropbox, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
The productivity group contains many of the tools I use to get work done. You will see icons for some of my favorite productivity apps including Agenda Calendar, Due, Evernote, OmniFocus, and Dropbox. It also includes action buttons to create a new calendar entry, create a new email, and create a new reminder in Due.
I’ve post about OmniFocus and Launch Center Pro previously. Launch Center Pro’s deep integration with OmniFocus makes it worth the price of purchase alone. It’s a perfect example of the power and time-saving potential of this application.
If you use OmniFocus to manage your tasks, then pick up Launch Center Pro today.
The name pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? I use this group most often to access Instapaper, Reeder, and my Bible app.
I can compose a new tweet, check my Facebook News Feed, or launch Google+ via my Social group. I would love to add Tumblr to the mix. Unfortunately, however, Tumblr doesn’t offer Launch Center Pro integration at this time.
The Call/Text group includes direct dial and direct text message actions for a few select contacts (my wife, etc.). It also includes Google Voice and a dial-by-contact action button which simply pulls up a search field. Enter a few letters from any contact’s name, select the phone number you want to dial (work, mobile, etc.), and it makes the call. Pretty snappy.
Google Voice integration is a bit of a disappointment. I use my Google Voice phone number to communicate with 90% of my contacts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow Launch Center Pro to access any of its buried features. This means no direct dial options and no action button to compose a text message to a specific contact. The simple ability to open the Google Voice app directly to the dialer or my text message inbox would be helpful, but no dice.
This isn’t a Launch Center Pro issue, it’s a Google issue. Perhaps the Google Voice developers will consider opening up their app and allowing deeper integration in the future? I won’t hold my breath.
Finally, the Listen group offers access to Spotify, Pandora, the native Music app, and others. The Apple Podcasts app does not support Launch Center Pro.
As I said previously, my setup is relatively basic and still evolving. I’ll continue to tweak it over time in order to better suite my needs and maximize the amount of time savings I can squeeze from it.
Action buttons perform actions such as launching an app or performing a function within an app, while group buttons open another 3 by 4 menu for action buttons. To access actions within a group, tap and hold the group icon. Then slide your finger to the desired action and release. ↩
Currently, I only have two icons in my iPhone dock: Launch Center Pro and Camera. ↩
If you want to keep the software and services around that you enjoy, do what you can to make their businesses successful enough that it’s more attractive to keep running them than to be hired by a big tech company.
A good reason to support developers by paying for the apps and services you enjoy.
My favorite email client for Mac and iOS has been acquired by Google. From Dom Leca, CEO of Sparrow:
We’re excited to announce that Sparrow has been acquired by Google!
We care a lot about how people communicate, and we did our best to provide you with the most intuitive and pleasurable mailing experience.
Now we’re joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision — one that we think we can better achieve with Google.
First, It’s appropriate to say congratulations to the Sparrow team. They’ve created an outstanding product—one I use regularly on my Mac and iPhone. This pay-off is well deserved.
I am concerned, however, about the email I received from Sparrow regarding their acquisition. In it Leca explains:
We will continue to make available our existing products, and we will provide support and critical updates to our users. However, as we’ll be busy with new projects at Google, we do not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps.
Bummer. It looks like Sparrow will remain as-is indefinitely. As a user, I can’t say that I’m too excited to hear that.
That said, I look forward to seeing the fruit that comes from the Sparrow team’s new home with Google.