Home Screens – Thomas Borowski


This week I’m featuring my friend Thomas Borowski (Twitter). Tom lives in Bavaria where he makes and sells the GroovBoard and, appropriately, produces the ThinkMakeSell podcast. So Tom, show us your home screen.

Tom home screen.jpg

What are some of your favorite apps?


I switched to Feedly back when Google Reader was shut down and I originally used the official Feedly app. But it had the habit of always forgetting my reading position when I switched back to it, so when the new version of Reeder came out, I switched. I actually like the Feedly app’s UI better, but Reeder is more stable.


No-brainer. Looking forward to the iOS7ified version for the iPad. The old UI looks really stale now.


The number of features in Drafts is almost insane. I use it almost exclusively for sending myself reminder emails. I used to use Captio for that, but Drafts looked so interesting I had to give it a try. I still mean to explore its features more, but for now I’m happy with just the ability to send out a quick email to myself.


Another no-brainer. It took Agile Bits a while to get everything lined up, but now there’s 1Password on the iPhone, iPad and Mac and it’s all syncing through iCloud flawlessly.


Editorial has more or less replaced Nebulous Notes for me. I haven’t even gotten into the workflow features yet, but I love Editorial’s look and feel and the keyboard swipe cursor is genius.


Still the best iOS code editor out there. It’s no TextMate or Sublime Text, but as iOS editors go, it’s very powerful.


An apparently not so well-known calendar app. Very clean design, natural language input, great week view, multiple fonts and themes, … It’s weird that this app isn’t mentioned more. I think it blows a lot of calendar apps that are reviewed everywhere out of the water.

This one’s new to me too. I’m going to try it. -David


I used to be an OmniFocus user but I realized that my task management needs are actually very simple and that the GTD methodology doesn’t really work for me. So I switched to TaskPaper: One simple list per project, plain text format (very Markdown-like syntax), notes and links, has versions for iPhone, iPad and OS X and syncs through Dropbox.


Great tool for automating text manipulation. Auto-capitalize or -camelcase, trim, wrap, sort etc. Nothing else like it. Supports x-callback-url too, so you can send text from another app to TextTool, let it do its magic and then send the converted text back to the source app. Stuff like this (and apps like Editorial) are what makes me completely giddy about the future of iOS.


Best SSH client out there. I use this to log into my web server and, with an external keyboard, I can use tmux, vim, etc. on my Linode just like at home on my desktop Mac.


I don’t use mindmapping all that much (I usually go straight to a list or outline), but when I do I use Mindnode. iThoughts is great too, but I prefer the lightweight UI of Mindnode. Very minimal, let’s me focus on the mindmap instead of fiddling with buttons.

CarbonFin Outliner

Again, I prefer this to OmniOutliner (which I also own) because it’s simpler. OmniOutliner is certainly more powerful, but it’s overkill for what I need. Plus I prefer to use Dropbox rather than OmniPresence. I don’t want to have a dedicated cloud account for every app I use.


When I deleted Apple’s Podcasts app this is what I switched to. I think it’s the iOS podcatcher with the cleanest and most well thought-out UI (they also featured my podcast, Think, Make, Sell, in the app; gotta love that). It syncs playback positions and subscriptions via iCloud too. Sadly, there’s no Mac client, but I’m moving my podcast listening away from iTunes anyway, so I just use PocketCasts on my iPhone or iPad and send it to my stereo via AirPlay or to a Bluetooth speaker.


Great sketching and doodling app. NoteShelf is also great and allows you to add real text by typing, but I prefer the simplicity of Penultimate and it syncs to Evernote.


I wasn’t an Evernote user until just recently. My Anything Bucket of choice used to be Yojimbo. But Yojimbo still only has a read-only app for iOS and the (yet another) proprietary sync solution currently only works between Macs and you need to pay for a subscription. So I’m currently in the process of moving my stuff from Yojimbo to Evernote. I’m still not 100% happy with this solution. But the only other serious option would be DEVONthink To Go, but that currently only supports Wifi sync to the desktop app (Dropbox sync is apparently in the works though).


I’m a math dunce and regular calculators creep me out. Calca is like an app version of back-of-the-envelope calculations (it’s actually called a “symbolic calculator”). You can mix natural language with variables and operators and have Calca do all the complicated number mangling. Soulver is another great tool that works in a similar fashion, but Calca let’s you use Markdown to format your calculations, which is a nice bonus.


Dropbox should buy Boxie and throw their own app in the trash. Can’t wait for the iPad version, so I’m actually using the iPhone version in 2x mode on my iPad. Not pretty, still beats the official Dropbox app which can’t even rename files.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

In general, any kind of board game. CarcassonneCatanTicket To Ride…the iPad is just perfect for those types of games. I love Time Management games like Airport ManiaBurger Shop and the like. I still occasionally play Flight Control HD and if I want to get really hectic, Boost 2 and Super Hexagon. Also, Letterpress. But I could quit anytime if I wanted to.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m really looking forward to Scrivener for the iPad. Writing in a Markdown editor like Editorial is fine, but for more complex writing projects (even longer blog posts) I want to be able to organize my writing, add metadata, research, attachments, etc.

I’d also love to see iPad versions of Pages and Numbers that are as powerful as those in iWork ’09 on the desktop. The 2013 versions are toys by comparison.

How many times a day do you use your iPad?

I’ve had days where I got by using the iPad exclusively. I used it for email, research, writing a blog post and even tweaking the design of one of my blogs. When I’m at my desk, I don’t use the iPad as much during the day. In the evening I’ll almost always do some reading, play a game or watch a movie.

What is your favorite feature of the iPad?

I think what I like most about the iPad is that it has rekindled my passion for computers in general. I’ve been using desktop computers since 1991 (Macs since 2002) and while I still like my Mac and can appreciate the power of a full-fledged computer, the whole desktop computing thing has become a bit stale for me. Despite all its flaws and limitations, the iPad has me excited again, especially when I try to imagine what iOS and apps will look like 5 or 10 years from now.

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

There are several things, but I’ll pick two. Allow me to geek out for a minute.

I’d add more RAM to the iPad, at least 2 GB. The iPad Air has so much raw computing power, yet its true performance potential is hampered by that one or two seconds it sometimes takes for an app I’m switching to to be ready for input. When you’re switching to an app and that app was previously kicked out of RAM because it was in the background, iOS is effectively showing you a screenshot of that app’s last state while it loads the app back into memory. The user thinks the app is there, taps, but nothing happens. It’s a frustrating experience. Doubling the RAM probably wouldn’t completely eliminate the problem, but it would surely make it happen a lot less.

The second thing I would change is to let third-party developers use Nitro, the accelerated JavaScript engine Mobile Safari uses. Because alternative browsers like Chrome and iCab or the browser built into 1Password have great feature sets, but they have to use a UIWebView and that can’t use the Nitro engine. So these apps are noticably (up to five times) slower than Safari, especially on JavaScript-heavy sites.

Anything else you’d like to share?

One of the reasons I still love using Apple stuff is that I really enjoy being part of the Apple community. I love the care indie developers put into their apps and I love exploring new ways to get stuff done on the iPad. I use Windows and Linux too, and I’m not religious about operating systems or brands; they all have their place. But the people who use Macs and iOS devices are, by and large, the friendliest bunch of geeks and regular people I have ever met.

Thanks Tom.