Google Productivity Pad: February 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

App Review: IQTELL (with email integration)

Note: I have previously reviewed this app here, in that review I talked about how I wished that the email integration from the web service would come to the iOS app, well it finally has and that is why I am doing an updated review of the updated portions. 

Price: Free
Stars: 4
Type: Productivity

IQTELL has been my todo list manager for quite a while now, and I feel like this update has been long in coming since representatives from the company have been assuring me that it was on its way since the app first came out. I am happy to say though that it has not disappointed now that it is here.

Email Integration
The powerful concept here is to integrate email and your todo list into one app that you have with you everywhere. It is not to make email your todo list but rather to closely integrate them so that the information from emails that should become todo items or resources can do so easily and go into the proper form to get them out of your inbox and off your mind when you don't need them. 

How does this help you get the tasks off your mind? By putting them into a system that you know will surface at the proper time and place. That way you no longer need to try and keep track of them mentally. For a full explanation of this you should read David Allen's book "Getting Things Done"

Swipe Controls
There have been a lot of todo systems that have used email as a way to add items. In fact IQTELL has offered this for a long time through their email gateway option. So, what is special and different about this new option? The answer is the ease with which it can be done now by using swipe controls.

I have written before about the usefulness of managing email from your phone, partially because of the swipe controls built into iOS directly by Apple. Last year the app Mail Box pioneered a more complete set of swipe controls for better email management. Much of that philosophy has made it into this IQTELL email app with, in my opinion, better execution.
You have two options:
  • Swipe to the left: receive a set of email tools. Delete, archive, move, and reply/forward. I lave having all these options available without ever opening the email itself. Even if this were just an email app it would make reaching inbox zero much easier.
  • Swipe to the right: receive a set of "macros" that will take various actions on that email, such as turn it into a action on you todo list or into a project. 
Another nice addition is that a menu hand gesture has been added when you swipe from the left edge of the screen it will pull out the menu allowing you to quickly change the area of the app that you are in.

Still Waiting
Not everything in the world of IQTELL is perfect, I am still waiting on several of the features I noted were missing in my last post, such as calendar and contacts integration which would help to really get everything in one place. I would also like to see full functionality of the web app brought to iOS, for example I still can't do things like make a repeating task or a custom macro in the app and it is annoying to have to go to my computer for these things. Of course I may just be missing how to do these, in which case I am sure someone will let me know in the comments. 

All in all this is a great app at the right price. If you need a way to integrate email and todo list I suggest you look at it. That's all for now. Remember, live better.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gospel Library 3.4.0, new look, new features

Last week the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member, updated their app Gospel Library to version 3.4.0. It was a rather big change for a .x update so I was a little surprised.

Here is what changed (the list is straight out of the update text) and what I think about it:
• Implemented new iOS 7 design
It looks really nice. As a social media person I am especially happy about the new more prevalently placed share button. I wish you could change the color scheme though.

• Improved navigation (tap the title to go where you want)
Yes, drop down menu works much better then the 3.0 side bar. I like being able to see the "layers" you have drilled down through.

• Simplified search feature (group results by collections and sort by book order)
This has been a long time in coming and I am glad they have finally made search work better. What I still find annoying though is that you cannot specify parameters for the search. Normally when I am searching I know the general area where what I am searching for is located, I don't need to search the whole cosmos of church publications on my device. An advanced search option would go a long way to making this better. In addition a "search this page" function would be really helpful, particularly if you miss a reference in Sunday school. This feature should mimic using control f on a computer similar to how Safari and Evernote do it.

• Redesigned bookmarks
I don't really use the bookmark feature (I just highlight things) so this is not bag deal to me, but it does look nice. If you use this feature please let us know what you think of it in the comments below.

• Enabled unlimited screens
I actually did not realize this one was missing, I don't know what the cap was before but I never hit it. If you did would you please let me know in the comments below.

• Added 'favorites' custom collection
This is nice, not really different then what you could do before with a custom collection. I like to be able to keep the manuals I use at church in a place together.
• Integrated with LDS Music app for access to sheet music
I already use the LDS Music app in lieu of a hymnal in many meetings, integration will probably make it easier.

• Improved accessibility
I don't  use any of the accessibility features so I can't say what these improvements are like especially since they were not specific in what the improvements were. If anyone reading this who uses accessibility features please let us know what/if you have seen anything improved by using the comments section below.

• Moved language content and grid/list view selections into settings
This one is self explanatory, just the simple change listed.

• Moved history under bookmarks
Nooooo! This is one change I do not appreciate. The history feature has long been one of my favorite features of gospel library because it was so easy to use, it was easy during a lesson to get back to something you had been discussing previously. Now instead of having its own button it is buried under the bookmarks button.
It is actually ok because if you switch it to history it will remain on history until you switch it back to bookmarks. It just won't change the icon to a little clock like it use to. It is much more accessible now then it use to be though, you just have to know that it is there.

• Simplified settings
These seem fine, I have noticed anything drastic here.
• Fixed bugs and improved performance
We shall see as time goes on how this is, so far so good.

Well I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of the updated app. I really think they have made some nice changes. I hope you let me know what you think in the comments below. Have fun, and remember, live better.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

1 Year of Productivity, My blogiversary!

It has now been one year since I started the productivity pad blog. It has been a great year. Sometimes I have been more consistent than others, and sometime my advice has been better than others as well. There are a few points in it worth highlighting.

Most views
My most successful post of all time in terms of views has been Ctrl F on an iPad, clearly I was not the only person looking for this information because people are searching Google for it every day. Interestingly enough its companion post Control-Z on the iPad has not done as well, there must not be as many people making mistakes as I thought.

Most comments
My post that has received the most comments is Gospel Library 3.0 new features. People had more questions and comments on this app than any other I have reviewed. Glad it was helpful. Version 3.4 was just released last week and I will be reviewing it shortly.

A slogan
Early on in the blog I started ending most of my posts with the slogan "remember, live better" the first time I used it was in my post on setting up email, contacts, and calendar, I then explained the concept more in a post titled after the slogan Remember, Live Better.

A trial
As I explained in my post The Internet the Black Hole of Time, I lost internet at my home back in August through an unfortunate series of events. As you might emagine being a Social Media professional and hobby bloger is a struggle without internet. This particular trial has been responsible for some of my incosistancy in blogging over the last six months, but I have learned a lot from it and I think I when I do get internet again (hopefully in March) I will be more productive with it because of this time.

All in all its been a great year of blogging and I think this next one will be even better, so long as we remember to live better.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to take a screenshot on your iPad or iPhone

This tip is very simple, it is a basic iOS skill but I am still often surprised by how many people don't know how to do it. If you already know how to do it please share with others what you use screenshots for on your iOS device.

Here is how to take a screenshot:

I use the iPad mini as an example, but it works the same on all iOS devices. Simply press the home and sleep buttons at the same time. When you hit both buttons you will see the screen flash and hear a shutter noise (if your sound is on) then you will know that the screenshot has been taken.

This trick will capture your entire screen, everything that is on the screen, including the time, battery%, and other status indicators. You can crop it later in the photo app to show only the portion you want. The screen shot is automatically saved to your camera roll in the photo app.

Why would you want to?
There are many reasons you might want to capture what is on your screen at a certain moment.
For example I always use screenshots when I am teaching you how to do something on your iPad or reviewing and app. If you want to explain something to someone it is often easier to show them than to tell them.
You also might use a screenshot to save information from a website or app, particularly if you want to access that information offline.
People also like to use screenshots to show what has happened to their friends on social media, such as victory in a game, or a funny text message.

Essentially screenshots are the fastest way to capture and save anything that happens on an iPad or iPhone. Use the comments to share how you use screenshots, and remember, live better.

Monday, February 10, 2014

App Review: 2014 Results

Name: Sochi 2014 Results
Price: Free
Stars: 2
Type: Sports/News

The Olympics are now in full swing over in Sochi Russia. I love the Olympics a lot, I am not a big sports guy, but I find the Olympics to be one of my favorite events. The world coming together to participate together in (mostly) nonviolent activities is very reassuring to me. So of course I was excited to download the official app, I great experience using the app to keep up on the game in London two years ago.

The Good
The app allows you to keep track of lots of Olympic information. You can sort by event, country, or athlete. You can make favorites in any of these categories.  It gives you a nice schedule of all events that will take place each day. All the metadata is linked together well so clicking on an athlete or an event anywhere in the app will actually take you to the page for that, which is helpful.

The Bad
The app is unstable, perhaps this was intentional to give me the full Sochi experience without being in Sochi, but I would be perfectly happy not to have that experience. I hate trying to find something only to have the app crash right before I get to it.

On top of crashing the push notifications do not work. I have it set up to notify me whenever something happens to a favorite country, team, or athlete, and also with a Medal Count each day, so far none of these have ever happened.

The Ugly
Besides the American Team's Christmas sweaters? Well the app has the potential to look nice, but the fact that event though I have my language settings to English all the event information is still displayed in Russian as well is really annoying. It just looks awful and makes it hard to find the information that I actually want.

There is a section for video under each event, but so far I have not seen any put up.

Well, that is it for my thoughts. Have you tried this or any of the other Sochi apps? Let me know which ones you like or don't like and why in the comments below. And remember, live better.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Podcast Review: Beyond the To-Do List with Erik Fisher

Stars: 4
Type: Productivity
Runtime: approx. 30 to 45 minutes
Release Schedule: weekly

I love podcasts, as most of you know, and Beyond the To-Do List is one of my favorites. I have been listening to it since episode 00 and I haven't missed an episode yet. The podcast is hosted by Erik Fisher whose day job, like my own, is in social media. Erik moonlights as what I would call a productivity/entrepreneurial curator.

The podcast takes the form of interviews between Erik and the "people behind the productivity" as he calls them. There have been a lot of big names on the show (at least big in my world) including Michael Hyatt, Andy Andrews, and David Allen to name just a few. The interviews go into how the principles the teach are actually applied in their lives and gives you a personal look into who they are as individuals.

In the podcast you learn tips, tricks, and tools that can help you be more productive as well as regular reality checks on principles like saying no and sharpening the saw. This is one of my go to podcasts and I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to get more out of life.

Erik Fisher is also the author of a book on goal setting, so of course I also have to plug that, you can find it here.

That's all for now, check out the podcast and remember, live better.

Monday, February 3, 2014

How to Use Dvorak Keyboard Layout in iOS

Update 10/6/14: Yesterday the Fleksy keyboard app released an update that contained a Dvorak layout that can be used system wide. Over the last month there have also been a few other attempts to do this, none of which have been very successful yet.

Note: This post was written before the release of iOS 8. In iOS 8 Apple allows developers to create 3rd party keyboards that work system wide. Because of this it is likely that someone will soon create a keyboard with a Dvorak layout. If you find one please let me know.

The simple answer:
The simple answer is that you can't, but there is more. There is no option to turn the iPad or iPhone touch screen keyboard to the Dvorak layout. If there was it would be under Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard > Dvorak. Unfortunately there is no option to choos Dvorak in that list. It skips straight from Dutch to Estonian. Of course it could be under English (Dvorak) since it is an English layout, but no, it is not there either (English keyboards are at the top of the list). There are three options for English layouts besides the default American (UK, Austraila, and Canada) all of which are QWERTY layouts. So don't ask me why they need three of them that are exactly the same, and they can't have one Dvorak.

A different spot:
But, then we find out that is not actually where it should be at all, because if instead of clicking on "Add New Keyboard" we click on "English" we find the keyboard layout menu. This is really where the Dvorak option should be since it is an English keyboard layout. You see two menus, Software keyboard layout and hardware keyboard layout. Under software you can see that you have three options, none of which are Dvorak.

Finally after much searching we find that Dvorak is listed under hardware keyboard layout amidst a strange and non-alphabetical list. Turning on this option will make any hardware keyboards connected to the iPad Dvorak layout, regardless of what the letters on the keyboard actually say.

Your only option:
So there you have it the only option to use the Dvorak layout is to use and external keyboard. This is what I do when I am typing a lot, like for this blog post for example. But when I don't have a keyboard with me I am stuck just using QWERTY.

What is ridiculous about the whole thing is that there is no reason that Apple could not have made it an option to have Dvorak be the on screen keyboard. Clearly iOS knows the layout because it can have the hardware option. It would not have hurt anything to make it an option. I mean there are 9 Chinese options so I don't think it would have hurt them to put in another English one.

For now use an external keyboard if you do a lot of typing, and hope that iOS 8 brings an on screen Dvorak. And remember, live better.