Organising the Nexus 6P

The adjustment from iOS to Android isn’t as significant as it used to be. As I said previously, Android is now a lot more polished as an OS and there are so many more cross-platform apps available.

One of the big differences that still exists between the two platforms is the flexibility of the Android interface. You can choose your own launcher, layout, colours, default apps and a ton of other settings that iOS keeps firmly under lock and key.

You could spend far too much time on setting all this up, but I’ve just had a look at the apps I use the most and organised them into some on-screen folders under what I think is a logical categorisation.

(If you have no interest in reading about other people’s mobile phone settings, you may as well stop reading at this point. And frankly, what sane person would blame you.)  Continue reading “Organising the Nexus 6P”

The Android Experiment: one week in

Okay, so strictly speaking I’m not a full week in to my “new life” with Android rather than iOS, but I started using a Nexus 7 this day last week and my new Nexus 6P arrived last Tuesday.

I fully intend to do a full comparison between Android and iOS – a very subjective and incomplete comparison, if I’m honest – but for now, my main take-aways are the following:

Continue reading “The Android Experiment: one week in”

A mini return

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Since I got my iPad Pro 9.7″, my iPad Mini3 has been relatively unused. As in, completely unused. The Pro has replaced it in all things, to the point where when I picked it up yesterday, the little red notification illustrating app updates from the App Store was in triple figures.

A sure sign that I haven’t been using it.

Sure, it’s regularly been placed on the charger to keep it full of juice, but that’s it. I almost felt guilty for abandoning this little, previously-loved, iPad. So I decided to do something about it.

Continue reading “A mini return”

Considering notes on iOS

The guys over at the Mac Power Users podcast spent a while reviewing the various options we iOS users have when it comes to Notes apps. The podcast covers the pros and cons of the popular apps, including: Apple Notes, Evernote, OneNote and just using plain text files (!!).

You can listen to the notes episode here.

As might be obvious from this blog, I’m an Evernote user and, while I don’t think it’s perfect, it’s the best option I’ve found in years. It needs tightening up and speeding up, but for me, it’s light years ahead of OneNote. And I don’t have the discipline to simply use plain text notes.

The podcast got me thinking about how to take notes and how to make them more useful. I think it’s helpful not just to consider how you’re going to record the information, but to make it easy to find again in future (otherwise, why record it in the first place?). Evernote allows me to put notes in ‘notebooks’, add tags to each note and has a very powerful search that also leverages OCR – optical character recognition.

This is a magic-like technology that can take scanned information and recognise the words on the page. It’s pretty good at understanding my handwriting, via scanned notes, and superb at parsing PDFs I’ve put into Evernote. As a result, I never have to take more than a few seconds to find anything I’ve put in Evernote.

Yes, it’s a bit bloated now and can take a while to sync – but I’m hopeful the new leadership at Evernote are now more focused on their core product and want to make the kinds of improvements that will stem the flow of people abandoning the platform for Apple Notes.

The podcast is definitely worth a listen – I’m a subscriber – especially if you’re thinking about organising your key information in an app.

What counts as a podcast?

You can look at all the hi-tech recording equipment you like, but if you can’t bear the sound of your own voice, it’s not an idea to try to make a podcast.

Right?

Well, I put my sandwich down over lunch and spoke a few words into my iPhone to test a theory. The blather is over on SoundCloud and pasted in below:

I actually just created an audio note in Evernote on the phone, then synced it with the desktop app, dragged the resulting MPEG4 file into the SoundCloud browser and…there you have it. A podcast!

No. Not really. It’s about a minute of nonsense. But I frequently wonder if it would be easier to share the “very important thoughts” that exist in my brain with a wider audience by simply speaking them into a microphone.

But there’s the rub. I hate the sound of my own voice. A flurry of unexpected media appearances on the BBC and elsewhere in January did nothing to take away the deep, deep bowel-disturbing shudders I feel when I hear my own voice once it’s been recorded.

Maybe I’ll get used to it.

Or maybe this is the last time I put a sound file featuring my voice on the internet.

A question for anyone else who uses SoundCloud this way – is there a better app to use on your iPhone? Looks like you can’t upload from SoundCloud on iOS, just via the browser. Not very helpful when you’re away from a desktop computer.

Is everyone leaving Evernote?

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Is everyone leaving Evernote? Seriously. I have to ask.

I’ve noticed a slightly disturbing trend in the tech news: the growing number of destinations available for exported Evernote content.

First, there was Apple – you can import Evernote content into the Apple Notes app. Next came Microsoft, with a (PC-only) importer for their OneNote app. And this morning, I read on Twitter that DayOne are considering an importer too!

Continue reading “Is everyone leaving Evernote?”

Back in the OmniFocus club

It’s been a while now, but I’ve finally moved on from ToDoist and gone back to using OmniFocus. Well, I say ‘gone back’, but the app has evolved so much since I last used it, it’s almost unrecognisable.

My move from ToDoist isn’t a slight against that app – I still stand by everything I’ve said about it in the past. It’s easy to use, speedy, multi-platform and superb value. But in the last couple of months, I realised I was spending too much time working around its various limitations and it was beginning to grate.

So I had a peep at the various alternatives and eventually made my way back to checking out OmniFocus. I’ve previously described it as the nuclear option of task management apps, purely because it can do so much. Yep, you could just use it to store a list of things you want to buy at Waitrose, or a list of films you want to see… but this is a little like using a Ferrari to drive to the end of your driveway and back.

It’s really not just about managing tasks, but can handle tasks, projects, entire areas of your life. All via an easy to use interface. It’s only available for iOS and Mac OS and is far from cheap. You need to buy it separately for Mac OS and iOS. But I’m glad I invested in it – even in the last two weeks, it’s been worth every penny.

Since I last used OmniFocus, it’s developed into an app that much more flexible, has an interface you actually want to interact with and even appears on my Apple Watch. Yes, you can speak into your Apple Watch and dictate tasks, which then appear in the in-box of OmniFocus on all your other iOS and Mac OS devices through the magic of background sync.

In no particular order, the things I love about OmniFocus now are:

  • The weekly review, which guides you on a walk-through of all your various projects, keeping you up to date and ensuring nothing falls between the cracks.
  • Being able to multi-task with OmniFocus on my iPad Air 2 – I can keep it open on one side of the screen, while looking at something else (e.g. Evernote) on the other side.
  • Being able to create custom perspectives, so that only what I want to see is on-screen at any one time. Right now, I have 59 projects in OmniFocus, so it’s important I can focus on what’s most important at any given time.
  • Getting notifications from OmniFocus on my wrist, courtesy of my Apple Watch, and being able to see what needs doing via the notifications screen on my iPad and iPhone. It means my projects and tasks are always just a click or a swipe away.
  • Emailing content direct to OmniFocus, which turns each email into an action in my inbox. This saves a lot of typing and ensures I get to inbox zero every day.

It definitely takes some getting used to, but there are so many online resources with great articles and videos to lead the way. I had to adjust how I do things after being so reliant on ToDoist, but it only took me a couple of days of solid OmniFocus use to get back into the swing of things.

This probably shouldn’t be your first task management app. That’s likely to just scare you away! But if you’ve felt the limitations of the other apps out there, I’d seriously recommend giving OmniFocus a try. And you can even try it for free for 14 days, courtesy of Omnigroup.

They have a great selection of short videos – check this out for a start.

Evernote and IFTTT: boom!

Great news if you’re an Evernote user (check!) who also relies on IFTTT (check!):

Evernote just got a whole lot better“.

You can now, for example, post to Tumblr simply by adding a note to a pre-determined Evernote notebook. This makes offline Tumblr post writing much easier, especially when using and iPhone. Or, post to WordPress by using an Evernote tag.

This has such potential. And basically does away with the need for the likes of Postach.io. Especially when they charge for this exact same service.

Time to get my thinking cap on. This could be super useful.

Big Japan countdown

A week from now, I’ll be in Heathrow’s Terminal 5, attempting to simultaneously wake up and take advantage of the hospitality of the British Airways Galleries lounge. And coffee. Mostly coffee. At the start of this year’s trip to Japan!

London to Tokyo, then straight on a flight to Kyoto. Four days there, including a trip to Hiroshima and then back up to Tokyo for a further six days. Despite this being our third visit, I’m as excited as I was before the first. Trips to Japan have been my best ever, most enjoyable holidays.

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//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsAnd, despite having booked this all so long ago, I’m still slightly unprepared. My mind will be eased by the creation of a packing list (thank you, Evernote) and some sort of an agenda for the trip. We’ve learnt our lessons from previous visits and won’t attempt to pack too much in this time. I have a short list of things to see and do, but aside from that, it’ll be walking, exploring and eating.

I’m particularly looking forward to some trips on Shinkansen ‘bullet’ trains, as we got a week-long pass for unlimited train journeys to take us from place to place. And the calm of Kyoto will be welcome after a particularly hectic couple of weeks here, work-wise. And as we’re visiting in October, I hope we can stumble across some of the crazy Japanese enthusiasm for Halloween – we saw a Halloween parade on our last trip to Tokyo and it was superb. The Japanese really don’t seem to do anything by halves… 

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As per usual, I’ll be photographing everything that moves and hoping I can prune down my camera roll to something worth sharing online. No matter where you look, there’s something interesting and/or beautiful to take a snap of.  I’ll try to get a few updates on here and I’ve already hired a mobile wifi hotspot for the duration of our stay (unlimited 4G data for 10 days for a steal!) to ensure we can stay in touch. Having wifi calling on the new iPhones means we’re still contactable even with data roaming switched off. 

So brace yourself for incoming photos and comments about Japan for about a week!

Normal service (moaning about how short the trip to Japan was) will resume shortly after.  I also have to admit that one aspect of the trip I’m really looking forward to has nothing to do with Japan – it’s the flights to and from Japan with BA. Our previous Japan journeys have been fantastic and definitely represented an excellent start and finish to the holidays. Being able to sleep on a proper flat bed during the epic journey definitely makes for a less psychotic me upon arrival. 

All that’s left to do is complete about a month’s worth of work in five days, pack for all eventualities and switch off from work completely. Easy. //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js