What are some of your favorite apps?
Looking at my home screen, I realize that there are few apps that I really love, but the ones I do are absolutely vital to my ability to continue to operate as a functional human being. There’s a group of five apps without which I would be particularly lost:
Transit: finds nearby bus routes and gives the next few arrival times for each, all updated in real-time with the buses’ location data. Since I don’t care for owning a car, I rely on the bus (and, by extension, this app) to get everywhere. I just wish it would prevent me from waiting until 2 minutes before the bus arrives to start getting ready but, alas, the solutions to some problems lay outside the realm of technology.
Instacast: I need my podcast-y goodness to get through those aforementioned bus rides, and Instacast delivers better than any other app I’ve used.
Scratch: I like the multitude of options in Drafts, but Scratch wins the spot on my dock precisely because of its more limited feature set. I love how quick and painless it makes my key text-related activities: appending text to a file in Dropbox and sending OmniFocus items via the Mail Drop service.
1Password: even if I weren’t relying on 1Password to generate and store strong and unique passwords, I would need it just to compensate for my pathetic ability to remember such mundane information. Passwords suck, but 1Password makes them bearable.
Dropbox: I use this app constantly. When you have everything scanned and stored in Dropbox, you can create some real “wow” moments for your coworkers by quickly pulling up some document you needed in the moment. If I remember to put things in Dropbox, I don’t have to remember anything else, which is exactly the kind of help I need from my phone.
One key app missing from that list: OmniFocus. I love OmniFocus and have dedicated a substantial portion of mydevelopment and writing to helping people use it better, but the iPhone app is, in my opinion, the weakest of the three versions by a long shot. I love getting notifications when out-and-about or when something becomes overdue, but I think there is still a lot of design and feature potential to be squeezed out of the iPhone version.
Which app is your guilty pleasure?
I don’t know that I feel particularly guilty about it, but I love opening up Reeder and seeing what’s new from my nerd family around the interwebs. It’s tough to find folks with similar interests to mine, so I really lean on those relationships, real or imagined, we can create with those online.
What is the app you are still missing?
I do a lot of visual design projects and have a pile of images of websites, apps, and print work that help get the wheels turning when I need inspiration. On my Mac, I use Pixa to manage these images, which lets you sort by color and automatically adds the unmodified images to Dropbox folders. Something similar on iOS would be fantastic. I’d also love a text editor with similar features to Folding Text on the Mac, and a better way to manage and explore code snippets (to learn about a new language, for example) would be a welcome addition to my iPhone.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?
I love how restricted to core iOS experience is. The Mac is a playground to which I venture far too often when I am frustrated with, or afraid of, tackling the problems with the next thing I’m trying to build. I can (and have) spent hours fiddling with the unending customizability of OS X. iOS, on the other hand, forces you to get to work: there’s only so many times you can change your wallpaper or rearrange your app icons, and that’s an incredibly good thing when you’ve got a mind with a penchant for getting dangerously off track.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
Everyone enjoys voicing their pet peeves/ hopes and dreams for Apple, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t share in that pastime. However, if I were in charge at Apple, the only thing I would do is make sure that the company stays true to what makes so many of us love it. I’d make sure the company continued to sweat the little things, even if that means pushing out fewer announcements than competitors. I’d make sure that they continue to shame their peers in making their products accessible those traditionally marginalized by technology: the young and the old, the visually and hearing impaired users, and so on. I’d make sure that every bit of hardware and software stays opinionated and true to itself.
The best thing about Apple is that they are strongly idealistic: I believe that they let out the doors of Cupertino only those things that they consider beautiful, that they would be proud to use themselves, that they believe, deeply and honestly, make the lives of their users better. The worst thing about Apple is that, in the end, it’s just another company. So if I were in charge of Apple, I would try to make sure that the business junk stays in the background where it belongs, and that the creators continue to be empowered to built more beautiful things.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you, David, for all that you have given back to the Apple community. I wish everyone were as passionate and dedicated as you to building amazing things.