Date Archives November 2014

Slack for iOS/Mac Review

Every once in a while I find an app that absolutely changes how I work. Slack is one of those apps.

I was introduced to Slack by a co-worker at my office who was invited into the private beta. Initially I must admit I was skeptical Slack would fit into our workflow considering the numerous other messaging services which have tried and failed. As time went on however, Slack proved to be indispensable to our team. Let me explain.

There are two ways an app can get into my workflow:

  1. It does something no other app has ever done.
  2. It does something other apps have done, but it does it better.

Slack falls into the second category. If you’re unfamiliar, Slack (from their own description) is a “platform for team communication: everything in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go.”

You may think that sounds like numerous other apps and you’re right. Services like Basecamp and Zapier have long tried to offer a service which makes business communication seamless and accessible. Who can blame them for trying? One of the most common complaints of any employer is internal communication (or lack there of).

The difference between Slack and those aforementioned apps is Slack does it better in several ways:

Integrations

Slack integrates with virtually every web service imaginable. Everything including: Dropbox, Asana, IFTTT, Twitter and Mailchimp can be integrated into your team chat further enhancing the usefulness of Slack.

For example, you can integrate Mailchimp into a chat channel so everytime you send a campaign your entire team will be notified. Or you can integrate Dropbox to easily send files to the rest of your team.

Integrating Slack with these (and numerous other) web services has made it a way better alternative for our team than email notifications.

I’ve barely scratched the surface on available integrations. Check out the full list here.

Search

Anyone whose tried to find an old iMessage knows how much of a pain it is to find past conversations without scrolling infinitely for hours on end.

That’s not the case with Slack.

Slack features (what I consider) to be the best search available in any third-party application. I’m serious – I’ve never seen search implemented as well as it has been inside Slack.

What makes the search functionality so good is how well it indexes file names and messages to find exactly what you’re looking for. As said by Slack: “Slack searches whole conversations, not just individual messages, so you can find what you’re looking for no matter who said what or when they said it.”

A sign of a good search function is the time spent (or not spent) trying to find something – and with Slack, I’ve never had an issue finding old messages.

Multi-Platform Support

Slack works on virtually all platforms including web and native apps for iPhone, iPad and Mac. They all feature beautifully designed user interfaces that blend well with the flat design cues of iOS 8 & Yosemite.

Be Less Busy

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what Slack is capable of doing and how it can improve communication in your business or group of friends. Speaking from experience, it has changed the way our team communicates and has become an indispensable tool in our workflow. I couldn’t imagine working without the assistance of Slack – and hopefully I’ll never have to.

Slack isn’t a sponsor of The H&F, but I strongly suggest signing up online. It’s free and may end up being the best decision you make all year.


“Put on your big boy pants and accept the agreement”

Even if you’re uninterested in GT Advanced Technologies, there are a number of details about how much power Apple exercises over its suppliers.

Squiller says that Apple did not ever really enter into negotiations, warning that GTAT’s managers should “not waste their time” negotiating because Apple does not negotiate with its suppliers. According to GTAT, after the company balked, Apple told GTAT that its terms are standard for other Apple suppliers and that GTAT should “put on your big boy pants and accept the agreement.”

Day One for iOS/Mac Review

I’ve always admired people who maintain a physical journal. I admired them so much I spent hundreds of dollars on fancy notebooks begging to have their pages full of my deep thoughts and observations. And yet, I fell in love with the notebooks so much I vowed to save them from my endless drivel and placed them in my desk drawer never to see the light of day.

A few years ago after I had gone through this notebook fiasco, I stumbled upon an old Text Edit document entitled ‘MyThoughts.txt’ which I had written 5 years prior. At the time I was going through all the typical things a teenager goes through – and I had a bunch of dramatic things to say about them. Despite my brutal grammar and hopeless vision of what the world was supposed to be, I fell in love with reliving these feelings I once had. 

After that moment, I couldn’t look back. I searched high and low for a better journaling solution. My first attempt was a private Twitter account with no followers. I’m not kidding. I wrote diary entries as tweets no one would ever see (or so I hoped). I then stumbled across an app called Momento (which I still use today) that pulled all of my tweets as diary entries and made them easy to read & archive. It didn’t take me long to come to realize there must be a better way. 

That’s when I downloaded Day One.

I downloaded it first on my iPhone, then on my iPad and finally I downloaded it on my Mac. I figured the only way to fully commit to keeping a diary was to ensure I could access it as readily as possible.

Almost immediately upon opening Day One I knew I had found my solution. 

There isn’t much I don’t like about Day One. First off, I love the UI. If there is a better looking application available on any platform, I haven’t found it. Secondly, I love how easy it is to write, add media and tag entries for future viewing. Lastly, I love the security. Having Touch ID secure my deepest, darkest secrets is much easier on the nerves than a private Twitter account (trust me on this).

Since I downloaded Day One, I have created 476 entries and uploaded 337 pictures. Day One has consistently reminded me to keep every thought journaled – and has therefore provided me with years of priceless memories. 

For that reason alone, Day One has reserved a spot on the homescreen of all my devices and remains one of my favourite apps today. 

Day One isn’t a sponsor of The H&F, but if you have ever considered keeping a journal I highly recommend you download Day One.


Expectations for WatchKit

Keep this in mind when Apple provides more information on the launch of the Apple Watch:

It will only be later next year that full apps will be possible (on the Apple Watch). It is not a stretch to think that later next year is code for WWDC next June. Likely along with WatchOS (or whatever they call it) version 2.0. There is a delightful symmetry with the history of iPhone OS, where we didn’t get a full SDK until 2.0 (though I’m sure people will similarly jailbreak to get a head-start). 

This two phase rollout of capabilities makes a lot of sense. Building a fully native app for a device that you’ve never touched, with a radically new form-factor would be a perilous proposition. Doing that for the iPad was bad enough and that was ‘just a big iPod touch’.

This way you won’t be surprised. 

Pixelmator Updated For Yosemite

One of the best (and most affordable) photo-editing programs on Mac received a huge update today with support for Yosemite.

It’s a great alternative to Photoshop, especially if you want to save some cash.

Surface Pro 3 Used As iPad Stand by CNN Commentators

Tweets started cropping up with screenshots showing the commentators using iPads, in some instances propping them up on the Surface Pros as convenient stands. This wasn’t universal — some commentators were using the Microsoft devices — but the presence of multiple iPads can’t be unseen.

This is why you can’t force people to use a device through product placement. Brands like Samsung and Microsoft still fail to understand that people won’t use a device they don’t want to use.