Friday, March 28, 2014

✔ The phone is just an app I sometimes use on my iPhone

When the iPhone got introduced for the first time 7 years ago, what Apple really showed was an "app phone", a pocket computer with a bunch of apps. One of the apps was "phone app" that enabled us to call someone. That's the theoretical story, but the real one is different. Because the iPhone had the "phone" in the name, the cellular component and was introduced as a mobile phone, we still treated it as a phone. And so was I. Only recently I realized the future is there, my iPhone is my first portable computer (second being the iPad) to such an extent, that I removed the phone app from the dock on my trip to Japan:

The phone is just an app I sometimes use on my iPhone

Removing phone from the iPhone's dock

As you know from my Twitter feed or Instagram, I'm traveling with my wife in Japan now. Because of high roaming charges and pretty available wifi (hotel, Starbucks, Apple stores), I don't call anyone. We communicate through messaging and other apps. I also have a bunch of offline apps (metro, map, etc) on my iPhone that help me move around. Now, as I use these apps more than my phone now, I removed the phone app from the dock (the place it has always been) and replaced it with my "Japan" folder with my Japanese apps. This is when it struck me that the "phone" was just an app. Even at home I don't use it as much:

Friday, November 22, 2013

✔ I, NO robot. Android or iPhone or iPad? It's beyond specs, let's talk privacy.

There's this movie with Will Smith: "I, Robot". Well, I just got rid of my Nexus S and Nexus 7 devices (gave them to my team - they'll do the testing of Nozbe) and I can safely say: "I, NO robot." I'm not using any Android device anymore and I won't be doing it in the future. And not just because I'm #iPadOnly and I use my iPhone as both the wallet and phone. It's beyond the technology, my Apple-fanboy status or specs. It's about my lack of trust in Google as far as my personal information is concerned. It's about my right to privacy:

Android vs iPhone vs iPad

Recently I had a few conversations with some of my friends about how Android OS improved over the years and in many ways matches iOS and how the Android phones and tablets are better spec'd in many ways than their iOS counterparts. Apart from my personal conviction that the iPhone is a better phone (Aluminum vs plastic, touch-ID vs pin codes) and iPad is a better tablet (screen, weight, aluminum... design... and apps), what I realized is that when comparing the two platforms, we only talk about specs and design... what we don't talk about are the underlying differences between the two companies that power our devices: Google vs Apple. Here goes:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

✔ How my iPhone became my minimalist wallet and why I'm loving it

Women have this inexplicable affinity for shoes and purses... and wallets, and jewelry, and other accessories. I'm a guy. Guys have gadgets. Typically guys carry three things with them: a wallet, a watch and a phone. While I wear my watch on occasion (not as often as I used to), I needed to carry my phone and wallet at all times. Now I finally managed to merge these two things into one - a minimalist iPhone wallet.

How my iPhone became my minimalist wallet and why I'm loving it

I've had several wallets over the last few years. The GTD-Notetaker wallet from David Allen, several nice leather wallets... but I never found a wallet I really liked. Moreover when leaving the house I'd have to remember where I'd put the wallet... and unlike your phone - you cannot call your wallet in order to find it.

I also live in a city where temperatures are usually around 20-30 C (50-70 F) where due to the type of clothing I wear I have limited "pocket" space and I always hated stuffing my pockets with a phone on one side and a wallet in the other. That's why when I saw an article on TUAW about Quirky Crossover iPhone5 wallet I decided to give it a try and get rid of the wallet altogether. After a month of using it every day, I'm totally sold on the concept. Here's why:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Syncing family in the cloud - two ways to set up iCloud with your spouse

Ever since I started working mostly on my iPad I tried to take advantage of all the goodies that iCloud brings with it. Especially I wanted to improve "collaboration" with my wife - to share calendars and contacts together while still having our unique devices. Although we're true geeks over here and I have an iPad, my wife has an iPad mini and we both have iPhones and both have Macbook Airs and a Mac Mini, we are not THAT unique. Many couples and marriages have both iOS devices and Macs so this article might be very useful for you. It took me quite a while to get this setup right. Here goes:


Why I wanted to share calendars and contacts with my wife

I've been a fan of syncing calendars and contacts already in the age of Nokia phones and infrared (do you remember what it was?). I remember putting my phone next to my laptop and hoping for the best. I didn't have to insert the contacts manually whenever I'd change a phone to a newer model. With iPhone we had the cable sync and later a MobileMe account (yes, I actually was paying for it). It worked great on a personal level.

However, when you're in a marriage, things get scheduled, you have more obligations (now with two kids, even more!) and because I work from home, my wife would assume I'd always be available for our family stuff. It was annoying to have her schedule a doctor's appointment in the middle of my conference call. Another problem were contacts. Questions like "Honey, do you have the number to that friend of..." were not uncommon. It had to stop.

I trust my wife. She trusts me. Let's have the same contacts and calendar information on all of our devices. As these are all iOS devices, let's do it via iCloud. This is how we did it.

iCloud ID, Apple ID and the works - how many you need and how many you can have?

Apparently you need an Apple ID (iCloud ID) for:

  • iCloud storage (data, photo stream)
  • Contacts, Calendar, Bookmarks and other settings
  • iMessage and Facetime
  • Apps and Music purchases

The thing is, you can have several Apple accounts for each of these things separately. You don't need to have "one iCloud/Apple account to rule them all". You can, but you don't have to. And that's the clue to more flexibility here.

A device needs to have one "mother" iCloud account

Each device (iPhone/iPad/iPod/Mac) needs to have one "mother" account - the main iCloud account that supports its data, photo stream, backups and such. And then you can set up additional accounts for calendars, contacts, iMessage, Facetime and purchases... if you like. Here's how it looks like on the iPad:


There are two ways to set up family iCloud accounts

There are no "family iCloud" accounts per se, but you can mimic them in two ways:

  • Version 1 - you can set up your personal iCloud account as the "mother account" on your device and add a common iCloud account for additional syncing of contacts and calendars.
  • Version 2 - you can set up the same "mother" iCloud account on all family devices and personalize them with additional iCloud accounts on each of them (for iMessage and FaceTime).

Each version has its PROs and CONs. I initially set up my family's iCloud accounts as per version 1 and we had them like this for a few months. Last week we decided with my wife to change the setup to version 2. Here are some details:

Version 1 - Personal "mother" accounts with additional central account

We have three iCloud accounts - my wife's, mine and the "central" account. We use the central account (my old MobileMe account) as the account with our Address Book and Calendars. That's the basic setup.

Now, on each device that belongs to my wife I set up her iCloud account as the main account and mark that this device should sync everything with the iCloud except for Calendars and Contacts. I do the same for my devices.

Now, in each devices' section of "Mail, Calendars and Contacts" I add an additional iCloud account - our "common" iCloud account and tell the device to sync only Contacts and Calendars (and Reminders) there.

That's it. Now me and my wife see the same calendars and contacts but have separate iCloud accounts.

We also have a separate Apple account for Apps and Music purchases and I set this up on all of our devices, too (no need to buy music or apps twice, right?)

Benefits of this setup: You have separate bookmarks, separate data and separate photo streams. Sounds good, right?

Disadvantages of this setup: If you sync and backup to iCloud (and we do) and are running out of free 5GB space, you need to upgrade each account separately. It's more difficult to share photos (although now it's possible through shared photo streams)

Version 2 - central "mother" account with additional personal accounts

This is the other way round and this is something we switched to last week. First off, we wanted to share the same iCloud account for backups now that we have an additional iPad mini backing up to the iCloud and both of our iPhones. Second thing is that we wanted to have the same photo stream. My wife said she wouldn't mind seeing in the photo stream occasional screenshot of one of our apps or my other work-related stuff.

The thing is, that from now on we don't have to worry who's taking pictures of our family - if it's me or my wife with her iPhone. The photos go to the same stream (and they are also streamed to the iPhoto on our home Mac mini).

The same applies to "documents in the Cloud". I'm more of an iWork guy (and I use AI Writer for text files) and my wife is more of an MS Office kind of girl. We don't use the same apps so there is no problem with documents overlap.

I understand with this setup we give up a little more "privacy" but how much privacy do you really need in a marriage? We trust each other and the convenience of synced contacts, calendars and photo streams is enormous. We're loving it.

Apart from that I set up our personal iCloud accounts as accounts for iMessage and Facetime. This way my wife has the same unique and personal iCloud account on her iPhone and iPad mini and MacBook Air and I have my personal iCloud account set up on all of my devices.

Recently my wife complained a little about the amount of contacts I accumulated over the years (especially business-wise) so I decided to move these to the address book on my personal iCloud account. This way our "common" Address book is slimmer and consists of mostly people we frequently talk to.

Benefits of this setup: More integration, common photo stream and backing up all of the devices to the same iCloud account - if we need more space, we can upgrade just one "mother" account.

Disadvantages of this setup: Less privacy as you share photo streams and documents.

You can set up the iCloud accounts for family usage - and there are two ways to do it - choice is yours

We tried both versions and we decided to stick with version 2 for more convenience and better "family collaboration". We're loving the setup so far. With iCloud it's so great that everything just works and our devices are in sync. The benefits of not having to ask your spouse about "that phone number" or scheduling conflicts in the calendar are great and make our lives more convenient.

Do you sync calendars or contacts with your spouse? How do you set up your iDevices or Android phones so that you can be more "in sync"? Any tips? Something I missed?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To buy or not to buy an iPhone 5? My video...

A few weeks ago I wrote about my doubts about the iPhone 5 and I'm still not decided so I went to an Apple store near my town to see how an iPhone 5 feels like.

This is what I found out:

watch on YouTube

What do you think? Are you getting one? Black or white?

Friday, September 21, 2012

iPhone 5 - why I love it but won't take it just yet

Whenever an Apple event takes place, I prefer to stay out of the Apple-related blogs. I always wait to see the keynote myself and get surprised and dazzled by Apple magic. When the keynote went up on Apple web site I watched it and I must say I was amazed by the new iPhone 5... but I decided NOT to buy it yet (so I wasn't standing in a line today as well). Here's why:


Apple still has the mojo and I believe it's still the best iPhone yet

Just like MG Siegler posted on Techcrunch, I agree that Apple still has the magic and iPhone is like Porsche 911, with each iteration it's the same great device... just a little better. The new iPhone 5 features a better (and longer!) screen, it's thinner, lighter, and twice as fast... it's just better than any iPhone before... so why I'm NOT lining up to get one?

Reason 1. iPhone 4s is still an amazing phone and portable computer

There's nothing wrong with my iPhone 4s. It's fast (and definitely not sluggish), it looks great, works great and syncs well with my iPad to help me get my job done. I trust Gruber when he says the new iPhone is the nicest one ever but my iPhone 4s is also very nice and simply put, works. And I still love it.

Reason 2. The "amazing" Lightning connector

Yep, the connector. I know Apple had to do it, I know they needed to finally take the plunge and go the new connector route. It's 2012 right? Well, I understand it... but I couldn't care less for now. I own the first iPad, the newest iPad (which I use for my iPad only way, 3 iPod nanos and me and my wife own two iPhone 4s.

Lot's of docks

We have three docks for music on each level of our house, we have lots of old iPod/iPhone cables we use for charging our devices, and I own lots of retractable cables (which I love and are great when I travel) to charge my iDevices. I just don't want to use non-retractable cables anymore. I don't want to walk around with a $29 "converter". It's bulky, ugly and expensive. And I'd need at least three of those ($100 bucks? seriously?) I don't want to add more cables to my travel bag.

And did I say I really love retractable cables and I'm not using the original Apple cables at all?

I'm not saying Apple made a mistake with the new connector. It's the moment to change it, for them, but not for me. Once I decide to switch to iPad 4 with new connector and buy my wife and myself new iPhones (5s?) I'll take the plunge. For now, it's too much of a hassle for me.

Reason 3. Minimalism and "hiring tools for the job to get done"

Sometimes it's just good to get back to minimalism and use the tools we have at our disposal. My iPhone and iPad work great with the old connector and they work great overall. I'm very tempted to change but I it would be just for the sake of owning the latest thing.

I also know it'll just add hassle to my life with the new dock connector, converters and all. And the speed bump might be noticable but it won't increase my productivity much. I like my setup and my iPhone 4S and iPad which work together in harmony. And both will receive the latest iOS6 goodies (uhm, and the "improved" Maps app).

Maybe I'll change my mind when the (rumored) iPad mini shows up. Or the new new new iPad next year. I don't know. For now my setup works and my iPadonly crusade is on the right track. I'm not buying, at least until next year/month/week... :-)

I'm not buying an iPhone 5 definitely... maybe :-)

Are you switching to iPhone 5? What phone have you been using before?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Part 15 - why iPhone matters - iPad as my main computer

Last week I watched the keynote where Apple showed off their newest generation of iPhone, the iPhone 5. Before unveiling their "new baby" they reminded us of some great statistics concerning the adaption of iOS and "iDevices" in general... and this prompted me to write this blog post - to highlight to you how going iPad-only is easy when you are an iPhone user. Here's why:


My iPhone 4s and the new iPad are made for each other

First off, both the iPhone and the iPad use the same operating system - iOS, which in many cases means the same (or very similar apps), the same file system (or lack thereof), the same cloud services and practically the same workflows. It's very easy to set up the iPhone the same way you set up your iPad - with very similar home screens with apps.

Now, thanks to iCloud, Dropbox and other syncing mechanisms, most of these apps can "talk to each other" and stay in sync. This way, you can very easily start your work on the iPad and finish it off on the iPhone. And the other way round. This happens to me all of the time.

Some apps I use on both the iPhone and the iPad:

I've got the same email accounts set up on both iPhone and iPad's Mail app. I use Reeder to read RSS news and Pocket to read the articles I saved for later; I use Evernote to store and access my notes, I use Nozbe on both devices (duh!), Dropbox and apps that sync using Dropbox (like 1Password for passwords and Nebulous writer for my texts), I access Facebook, Twitter (using Tweetbot for iPhone and iPad), Pinterest, Socialcast and other social apps as well. And Skype too (making my iPad a giant telephone :-) And these are just a few examples that come to my mind. There are a lot more apps that I use on both platforms.

Why it makes sense to work on both the iPad apps and the iPhone

  1. I don't need to take my iPad everywhere... and still can be productive. As I mentioned on one of my Productive! Show episodes it makes perfect sense to forget a laptop or even iPad and just take a smartphone on a business trip and still be productive. Although my "iPad only" bag is pretty small I'm very often surprised how much I can get done on my iPhone only. Just because it has the similar apps as my iPad.

  2. I'm used to working with constraints... when you go iPad only - so working on an iPhone is no more a problem. Before I started my iPad only experiment I was already getting some stuff done on my iPhone... but now that I'm mostly iOS-based as I work on my iPad most of the time, working on the iPhone is not a big deal so again, I can just leave home with my iPhone in my pocket and still get a lot stuff done if I need to just on this small device. I have the same flows defined on my iPad as the iPhone, after all.

  3. iPhone has some "other apps" that are very useful at times. Still, there are more iPhone apps than the iPad apps out there - and sometimes I even get to the point that I install an iPhone-only app on my iPad to use it infrequently there "scaled", because I need it so badly, but most of the time I just keep those on the iPhone only. Again, that's a great thing about the iOS - you can install iPhone apps on the iPad... they just look very weird. But they are there if I need them.

The last argument - the look-and-feel is the same

That's the thing. I can't imagine working on the iPad and using and Android or Windows phone. I do have both of these phones for testing purposes and I do need to use my Android phone from time to time, but my main phone is the iPhone. And its look-and-feel is almost exactly the same as the iPad's - and this boosts my productivity as well. I don't need to adjust to a different menu, set of apps, anything else... when I'm on the iPhone. The only thing I have to adjust to is the small screen. And nothing else.

How do you like your iPhone/iPad combo? Would you give up one of these or do you think they're made for each other?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

One iPhone to rule them all

Nokia, the world's leader in mobile phones... is leader no more. For the first time ever Apple phone revenue tops Nokia in the last quarter: Apple's revenue from the iPhone rose to $11.9 billion in the last quarter, while Nokia's phone revenue slipped to $9.4 billion. Apple has just one phone - the iPhone (ok, in two versions: 3GS and 4 - which now comes in white!) and Nokia has hundreds of phone models... Apple beat Nokia in their own game with just one phone:
Something great vs a lot of "anythings".

Apple has this philosophy of cutting the amount of products they manufacture. They just focus on a few products and make them really great. They have just one phone which they update every year. That's it. Nokia used to have a few great phone headsets as well... but no more. They have hundreds!

My Nokia story

My first mobile phone wasn't a Nokia. It was a Sony. And it had a cool navi-wheel and vibration. Then Nokia 3210 showed up and I wanted it badly. I got it. It was a very simple phone with great navi-dial button. Easy to use, cool. Nokia later upgraded it to 3310 which had vibration, too :-)

In that time Nokia had a consumer phone: 3310, a business phone: 6210 and a high-end phone: 8810 (I guess). It wasn't hard to keep up. But because there can be so many combination of 4 digits they went ahead and started producing lots of phones. With different colors, screens, etc. I was lost.

Luckily Nokia had only one real smartphone - Nokia Communicator. So when I grew older I got myself one of these. Nokia Communicator 9500 - it was big, bulky but great. It had a browser, copy/paste, real keyboard... the works. It was big and my wife would laugh at me, so I decided to change it for a slimmer: Nokia 9300 Communicator. Again, cool phone (only there was no camera on board, oh well...).

I got my first iPhone

I did get my first iPhone when I went to the USA for the Office 2.0 Conference and was a speaker there. It was in September 2007 and the phone was great... but the software wasn't. I preferred my Nokia Communicator and my wife gladly took the iPhone. Later when I realized my mistake, she wouldn't want to give it back to me. A year passed and I started feeling iPhone-envy again so I finally took the plunge and bought iPhone 3G.

After 1.5 years I got the 3GS and gave the 3G to my wife... and half-year later I couldn't resist and opted for the iPhone 4 and my wife gladly accepted my 3GS (and a friend of mine gladly bought 3G from me). The rest is history (no, I'm not getting the white iPhone).

From consumer to business device - how iPhone ruled them all

It's amazing how the software on the iPhone changed it from a pure phone+iPod bundle to a fully-fledged business device. It's my small computer and I use it every day for business purposes: emailin', tweetin', facebookin', news-readin', audio-readin', etc.

This is why Nokia and other phone kings underestimated the iPhone - they thought it was going to be an expensive toy... and now this toy is setting the pace in the mobile phone market. And the best part? The first year the iPhone was only available in the USA... so Nokia could have anticipated what is coming and act accordingly... but they just thought that N95 specs are enough to kill the iPhone. They weren't. Because the Symbian OS wasn't. And it's never about the specs anyway.

It's all about the execution.

That's it - iPhone is a proof that you can dominate a market with one, excellent offering. That you can have one thing that rules them all.... congrats Apple - what you accomplished with this one small headset is indeed amazing.

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Recording Voice memos while Reading Audiobooks

When I'm listening to audiobooks (also when skiing) I'm also making notes using the iPhone's built-in voice memo application. It's a fantastic way to make sure no thought gets away and it hardly requires touching the iPhone thanks to the versatility of the iPhone's headphones and their built-in microphone switch. Here's how I do it:
First prepare the iPhone - move the Voice Memos app to separate screen

To make sure I don't click accidentally on a different app than the Voice memos app, I've moved it to a separate screen, it's really hard to miss it right now and click something else (see screenshot). Also if you're in the car and want to take notes, go to Settings and disable automatic lock of the iPhone screen.

Now, the entire note-taking process while listening to an audiobook

Step 1 - click on the remote - to pause listening.

When I'm listening to the audiobook and want to pause to take a note, I click on the remote button to stop the audio-reading process.

Step 2 - click on the Voice Memos app to launch it

This is the one time you'll have to tap on the iPhone's screen - to launch the Voice Memos app.

Step 3 - click on the remote - to start and stop recording the note

Yes, you can use the remote button to record a note... and click on the remote again to stop the recording. Easy-cheesy.

Step 4 - click on the home button to leave the Voice Memos app

Now you'll have to click on the iPhone's Home button to quit the note-taking app. Hard to miss that button, too.

Step 5 - click on the remote - to resume audio-reading

Again our trusty microphone-remote button can be used to resume listening to the audiobook. What would we have done without it?

Real-time usage - in a car while driving.

I listen to the audiobooks while driving and I put the right headphone into my right ear and thus have also my headphone microphone button handy right below my right ear. When I drive, I can listen to the audiobook, pause playback, record note and resume playback hardly looking at the iPhone's screen thanks to the extensive usage of the iPhone's microphone button. It's brilliant and very practical.

This way I've read the "Switch" book by Dan and Chip Heath on my way back from Ski holidays while on a 1000 mile drive home. The drive would have been a boring one... but with my audiobook it was really great.

How do you take notes when reading audiobooks?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Apple Store "Waiting in line for iPhone 4" experience

Recently while traveling through Switzerland I decided to check if I can get a fresh, unlocked iPhone 4 from the local Apple Store in Zurich so I went there and to my amazement, there was a long line in front of the store to get the brand new phone from Steve Jobs:
After 3 hours of standing in line... I got my iPhone 4 - so I was a happy camper... but the experience wasn't as exciting as the ones I heard from my friends from the USA on the days of the iPhone launch there.

What's more - it wasn't an "iPhone 4 launch" kind of line... iPhone was already on the Swiss market - it was more of an "iPhone is in stock now" kind of line (because Apple can't keep up with the demand).

Here's my experience - the good, the bad and the ugly:

The good - there was hope

Apple can hardly keep up with the demand to get the iPhones out and it was a good thing that we knew the iPhones were there in stock on that day. An Apple Store manager even walked out to us to ask which iPhones we wanted and assured us there are enough to serve us all.

And of course - we were not standing there for no reason - we were supposed to buy the best smartphone ever on this planet... and we all wanted it very badly... so we stood there :-)

The bad - long processing time

The good thing with buying an iPhone in Switzerland is the fact, that you can get it unlocked and without any contract. And for a good price at that. This is why I was standing in this line in the first place. However the bad thing was (and I didn't expect it) that in the same line there were people who wanted to just buy the iPhone unlocked (that's me!) and who wanted to sign a contract with Swisscom... and signing a contract took lots of time.

I was surprised seeing a guy signing a contract a whole hour and then asking about the iPhone and its features.... why didn't they just sign the contract with him and moved him over to Genius bar about the questions about his iPhone? And why didn't they just have two lines - one for the buyers and one for the contract'ers (for the lack of better word)?

The ugly - no feedback from the store

Waiting was OK, but because the line took so long to move even an inch... and because next person sometimes had to wait 30 minutes to be allowed to get the iPhone... was frustrating. We just felt the Apple store employees are just taking their time and taking it slow why we stand in this line in front of the store and serve as their marketing tool like: "hey, these are the guys waiting in line here, let's see why they're doing that!"

I felt used - I felt that because when I wanted the iPhone I needed to pay the price of being a marketing toy for Apple and his Steveness.

Bottom line:

"Waiting in line experience designed by Apple in California" - BAD
"iPhone 4 smartphone designed by Apple in California" - GREAT

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thoughts on iPhone 4 - Apple simply ships

As every Apple fanboy, I was watching Monday's Apple WWDC10 keynote by Steve Jobs where he was unavailing the new iPhone 4. Of course we have seen it before on Gizmodo, but this time Steve presented it with more details on the device. They call it the biggest leap since the original iPhone:

Some people like the new device, some don't. Some laugh at FaceTime (the new face-to-face video calling) and others praise it... but...
The point is - Apple ships something that works. Every time.
Remember the original iPhone back in 2007? The mobile Internet just worked!
The thing is - there were mobile browsers long before the iPhone. Most new phones even had 3G connection already... but because the Internet worked beautifully on the iPhone, finally people started actually browsing the web on a phone!
And guess what? iPhone now owns 60% of the mobile browsing traffic in the US.
Remember the iPhone 3G and the launch of the Appstore? Folks finally started installing apps!
When the original iPhone launched, people were bashing Apple for not letting folks install apps there. Apple waited a year to make sure they've nailed the UI of installing apps on the phone... and boy they did!
Roght now they have more than 200,000 apps on the Appstore and even my mum has an iPhone and is installing apps! Apple took the time to make the experience just right.
Now people are laughing that Apple re-invents video calling with FaceTime? People will be video calling finally!
I am a gadget freak. I've had lots of phones and I've heard times and times again that we can do video calling now... yet I've never done it. I've never even seen it done. Apple, introducing FaceTime and making it an Open Standard will re-invent video-calling. My mum will be able to video-call me from her iPhone and watch my daughter (and her granddaughter) play in the park. This will finally be possible.
The bottom line - don't ship too many features - make sure the core features work.
This is what Apple is doing. They are not shipping anything, unless it just works. For everyone. Even the grandmas. We should be following Apple's example.
me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Productive Magazine looks really great on the iPad and iPhone

We’ve always wanted the Productive Magazine to look really stunning on your computer screens and we’ve been praised for the professional looks of our free PDF magazine. However, we’ve recently found out that the fonts we used in the magazine are somehow (for reasons we don’t understand) not readable on the Apple’s iPhone and the newly launched iPad. Maciek "Mediafun" Budzich, our technical editor, worked hard on this and now Productive Magazine #4 on your iPad looks like this:

If you do have an iPad get your own free copy of PDF Productive Magazine with lots of cool productivity tips and tricks and an interview I did with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. And if you have an iPhone, our magazine looks great there, too:
Yesterday I sent email to our Productive Magazine Newsletter subscribers about this and I've been overwhelmed with great response:
Great job getting this prepped for the ipad!  I was initially disappointed when I download all 4 editions to my goodreader only to find the text jumbled.  I was just reading the 4th edition on my ipad during my commute this morning - great job! - Bill
- If there ever was a magazine that fits me perfectly is yours - Mark
- Many thanks for the tips and keep up the great work. - Bob
My fellow Twitter friend Marcus Platt tweeted his photo of the magazine "in his hands", saying: "iPad version of productive magazine now looks great on iPad. :)"
... and the feedback goes on and on. If you want to read Productive Magazine horizontally on the iPad, it also looks cool:
Anyway, did you like the new magazine? Any suggestions/ideas for the next one? I'm aiming at getting it done mid-June, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

IMDB - how Apple's iPhone or iPad interface makes ugly web site beautiful

I live in Europe and I spent this Easter holidays with my family... and it was fantastic... but as a tech-geek my Easter celebration wasn't complete... because I couldn't buy an iPad :-(

However I've been following the news and stories around the iPad and along the way I discovered some iPhone apps that I didn't know ever existed. One of them is the IMDB iPhone app... and they just showed the iPad app:
I love movies and IMDB on the iPhone looks just great!

The thing is, I used to love the IMDB web site. Yes, the design of it is so-so, but it's very functional and packed with great information and I can find out pretty quickly if a movie I'm about to see is worth my time (OK, other than the Quentin Tarantino movies - these have lots of raving fans on IMDB and his movies are in fact a waste of time and I don't watch them by default).

The iPhone app I didn't know about - IMDB app - makes the crappy IMDB website look cool

Really, if you start using their iPhone app, you won't go back to their web site ever again. Seriously. It's just better in every sense. Great interface, Movie descriptions feel just right, you can even watch a trailer right there via YouTube. Great usability.

Apple, thanks to their guidelines, forced beautiful interfaces on us. And that's just good.

It's all Apple's fault. It's really hard to build an ugly iPhone app if you're following the Apple's guidelines. And that's what happened with the IMDB and many other web sites that have their apps - thanks to Apple, their content looks and feels just a lot better on an iPhone.

Constraints of a device play a significant role, too. Embracing constraints is what we all should do.

Another factor is the size of an iPhone or an iPad - the app developers know it and realize, that their content will look great on any iPhone and any iPad... as they are all the same and share the same resolution. Thanks to this fact, the engineers have to figure out a way to display their content on these tiny (iPhone) and not so tiny (iPad) screens. Forces them to make good decisions and build great apps.

Now, as we're building a new app alongside Nozbe (and rolling out its iPad app), I'll be thinking about these constraints and these "limited" UI elements all along to make sure we build something not only usable, but also beautiful.

Question: Did you enjoy your Easter without the iPad? Or did you get one? What's your take on that?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Reading" Audiobooks while doing sports -

Last week we went skiing with my wife, my brother and his fiancée. Great times. I love skiing - it's a great mixture of speed, fresh Alpine air, beautiful views, etc... and this time I added something else to the mix - I bought two audiobooks: Rework and Swtich and installed them on my iPhone... wondering if I manage to "read" them while skiing. The results surprised me:


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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Power of e-readers and audiobooks - productivity for the impatient

The Productive Magazine is almost ready, we'll be compiling it this week, and we'll be working on an iPhone friendly version too. When talking about the magazine, someone asked me about my take on Productivity and e-readers (kindle, ebooks, audio) and my usage of those. Here goes:
My iPhone is my ultimate "reading" device and I love it

I don't have a Kindle, I don't have an iPad (yet :-) but I have an iPhone... and here's why it's boosting my productivity and readership:

1) I can read anywhere, anytime

I'm an impatient person and when I'm on the move, in the car, I still try to be productive and get stuff done. I hate waiting in the lines and I need to get anything done when I can. Now that I have my iPhone connected to a 3G network with me, I can do several things:

- I read news and blogs with Google Reader
- I can read ebooks in PDF format (and Kindle if I want)
- I can read books online (I read the Count of Monte Cristo recently... and it's a very big one - all on the iPhone!)

2) I can listen to stuff when I'm doing something else

When I drive, I get a lot stuff done, while I have my iPhone plugged into car audio system:

- I call people in my @Phone context in Nozbe
- I listen to podcasts
- I listen to audiobooks

Digitalization of content is great, I'm loving it.

I know that the book is meant to be read in a quiet environment, on a comfortable armchair, near a fireplace, etc... but guess what? While I still try to get this kind of environment, having all the content in a digital form helps me read a lot, helps me consume a lot more and learn a lot faster.

I have the content with me in this one small device

Another thing is the fact that it's all in one device - my iPhone - my phone - so I don't have to carry anything extra to read or listen to. I have it all in this device... all of the time.

Considering audio content even more

Since I'm going to gym more often now, travel a lot more by car and by subway, the audio content becomes my main way of consuming content now. That's why I recently blogged about it and that's why Productive Show is now available in a form of a video podcast.

Currently I have an extensive list of books I want to purchase from Amazon... and I may choose the audio route instead and by them from Audible. Still struggling but the audio content makes it more probable that I'll eventually consume these books...

Still reading old-school books, but not that many anymore...

Yes, I'm still reading books in a traditional way... but the barrier of entry is getting bigger and bigger for me there... I prefer to just grab my iPhone and read something there when I have a spare minute... rather than searching for a book, schlepping it with me and reading it when I can... 

Question: How do you consume books and content? Do you use mobile devices? Will you buy Kindle or iPad? Or do you still die-hard prefer old-school book reading?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.