Home Screens - Keith Blount

This week’s home screen post features one of my favorite Mac developers, Keith Blount, who very quietly revolutionized word processing with his outstanding application, Scrivener (also, see Scrivener on twitter). In addition to being a top notch Mac developer, I can report with first hand knowledge that Keith is very patient, especially when dealing with nerdy zealots who pepper him with requests to sync Scrivener text files to the iPad.

So Keith, show us your iPad home screen.

What are your most interesting home screen apps?

Everything there is fairly well-known, but Kineo is one of the apps I had the most fun with when I first got my iPad. It’s a really simple concept but stupidly fun. It’s just a flip-book app - you draw a stick man or whatever with your finger, then create a new page, and your last image is still faintly visible so that you can draw the next one over it, moving it slightly, and so doing gradually build up an animation. It’s full of blood and violence since my kids got at it, but it provides a great wind-down activity while you’re waiting for something.

In terms of my day job, there are several apps there that are interesting. Simplenote, Notebooks and PlainText are all great note-taking tools and Index Card provides a really nice corkboard similar to the one in Scrivener, so they are all there in part because I spent a lot of time implementing sync features in Scrivener 2.0 that works with these programs, enabling users to sync text between Scrivener and any one of these apps. So they are there partly for testing purposes and partly because I use them for note-taking occasionally myself. Likewise iBooks and Kindle - these are there for testing Scrivener’s .epub and .mobi export, but I don’t use them much beyond that, to be honest, as I prefer my actual Kindle (or a real, analogue book of course) for extended reading.

What is your favorite app?

Probably IMDb, simply because I’m addicted to it. I can’t remember the last time I watched a TV program or movie without pausing it to look up an actor. I still tend to reach for my MacBook Air and look up things on there for speed of typing, but IMDb on the iPad is beautifully designed and a perfect coffee-table app.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

At the moment it’s Angry Birds. I finally cracked and downloaded it for the first time the other day, and since then the house has been full of the sound of grunting, whooping, kamikaze birds. You know you’ve been playing it too much when you start calculating the angle of your hand when you go to throw something to somebody and then wonder why there’s nothing to tap to make it go faster when it’s in midair. Before that I was addicted for a short while to Bed Bugs - I got my mother addicted to that, too; I probably won’t hear from her for months after I introduce her to Angry Birds.

What is the app you are still missing?

I don’t think I’m missing anything - there are a gazillion apps already out there and I don’t use my iPad enough to feel it wanting anything, really. The obvious answer, of course, would be Scrivener, as we do get a good few requests for an iPad version, but I still much prefer writing on my MacBook Air or other Macs so I can’t get as excited about the prospect as I probably should.

How many times a day do you use your iPad?

My current addiction to Angry Birds notwithstanding, in general I have to admit I don’t use my iPad very much at all. By day I do my development work on a Mac Pro and in the evenings I have my MacBook Air at hand, so I haven’t found an obvious place for the iPad in my daily life as many people have. My kids, on the other hand - I can’t keep them off the thing.

What is your favorite feature of the Pad?

It keeps the kids quiet. (Actually that’s not even true; they fight over it.)

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

That one’s easy - I’d add a rich text system that developers could utilize, an equivalent of the NSText system on the Mac. At the moment most writing apps on the iPad are plain text only, and this is because there is no easy way to create rich text editing apps (Apple rolled their own text system with Pages that isn’t available to third-party developers). I have seen some apps roll their own basic rich text systems - Docs2Go for instance - but if there was a standard one as there is on the Mac, there would be a lot more powerful writing tools on there - and, from a completely biased point of view, it would make it easier to sync Scrivener with apps on the iPad. It would also make it a little easier for us to design a stripped-down version of Scrivener for the iPad off in one potential future, too, of course. But that’s my day-job speaking again, as I’m probably unlikely to use the iPad for writing much myself; I just know a lot of our customers use it for note-taking and that this would be useful to them.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Just a thank you for inviting me to share my home screen.

Thanks Keith!