Google Productivity Pad: April 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Todo List Quest: life without a list

Sorry for my absence, I was busily graduating and visiting family over the past weekend and consequently have had a lot to catch up on.

But I have learned something from this time away, and that is that life without a list is no good. The number of todo list apps on my phone currently sits at 15. But none of them have been functioning as my list over the past week. It is very hard to know what to do and when to do it without my lists.

Fortunately at work I have been using todoist and it seems to be working well there. At work we are all google apps and todoist's gmail intergration and chrome extension are great. But personally I haven't yet hit on a solution that I just love. I also want to make sure that my quest is comprehensive for all of you following. The spreadsheet which will allow easy comparison is in the works.

The problem is that I need to have something now because I am constantly finding my self not knowing what to do. I found that some list is better than no list, and that one place is better than fifteen places.

So, temporarily, I have returned IQTELL to my dock and will be using it for now (as of this writing they have not forced payment, but I'm not sure if that is because it hasn't been implemented or if I am still in the "trial" period).

In other news, today the google fiber truck will be coming to out house, so we should be restored to the internet soon after 9 months without it.

That's all for now, but remember, live better.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The ToDo List Quest: Is there an update in the house?

Since I have mostly pulled myself off the todo list market since I started actively using IQTELL, I have not seen much of the others on iOS 7 which came out several months after that. Of course now that I have started the quest and one of my criteria is nice UI I have become aware that a lot of apps have been left behind.

Now I know this is going to seem nit-picky on the surface, but remember that your task management app is one that you use everyday, multiple times a day. When you open it up you don't want to feel like you are taking a step backwards and using a clunky tool. That is how I feel when I open an app and the old iOS 6 keyboard pops up.

My thought immediately upon seeing an app that has not been updated is: "well I guess I won't be getting any help from this developer, they haven't even taken time to change their keyboard, this app must be on the way out." That is why I was so surprised when some widely used and highly recommended apps were not up to date.

Remember The Milk

Both "Remember The Milk" and "Wunderlist" have been given some great reviews in the past and are used by some people that I highly respect. So you can imagine my surprise at encountering a clunky design from them. But there it was plain as life.

So imagine my surprise when I sent out a tweet asking for information on these two apps and I quickly got responses from both of them. In fact Remember the Milk responded in just a few minutes. The developers of these apps may be slow, but whoever is running their communications is on top of it (always a big plus with me).

Both apps assure me that they have new versions in development and that they hoping they will go live "soon." I guess we will just have to wait and see on these. Hopefully they get them done before the quest is over.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The ToDo List Quest: The Criteria

When you set out to do something it is best to have a plan to get it done. Since I have set out on the todo list quest and started looking at various different programs I decided I need a list of criteria to judge them against, and "ideal" if you will.

Now it is always good to have your ideal in mind when you set out to find something, but you cannot expect your ideal to exist unless you make it yourself. Since I am not a software programer I cannot make my ideal todo list program, but I want to find something that is as close to a match as possible.
Here are the important factors I have come up with so far:

iPhone app:
This probably goes with out being said, but whatever program I use must have an iPhone app, that is how I handle most of my todo list management.

Works offline:
I mentioned this as one of the killers before, I can't have a list that won't work without internet because I spend a good chunk of time without internet and still have to be able to add things to my list and check them off.

Email Integration:
One of the best features of IQTELL was the ability to manage email from the same system that managed your tasks. That type of close integration is rare in todo list apps, but I would like to find it if I could. The next best alternative is to find an app that I can add to via email. Then I can at least forward from which ever client I am using straight into the todo list.

Recurring tasks:
There is a lot that happens in life that is routine, so it is helpful to be able to make tasks that recur at given intervals.

GTD Ready:
I try to follow David Allen's "Getting Things Done" methodology even though I am not great at it. It really helps to have a system that is already ready for that. Perhaps I was spoiled while using IQTELL but it was great to have a system that already had concepts like the "tickler" and the "someday/maybe" list built int.

Nice UI
This is being picky, but it is important. When you have an app that you are going to be using a lot everyday it is very helpful to like how it looks and be able to navigate it easily. If the UI is bad you are less likely to actually use the system.

Multi tagging
This goes along with being GTD ready, in order to do the system you need to be able to tag a todo with multiple criteria such as context, time needed, energy required, etc. Along with being able to use multiple tags on a task I also would like to be able to search on multiple tags with both AND and OR functionality so I can bring up exactly the set of tasks I need at that moment.

I work on several different machines and I like to have my tasks available on all of them, so I need syncing between devices. Obviously along with that I need a system that has apps on all devices as well.

And here is the kicker, I would like something that works really well with all the features that I want, but I don't really want to pay for it. Well, that is not quite true, what I don't want to do is pay for a service I find that annoying and beyond my budget (remember I don't even have internet at my home or on my phone). I would be willing to pay a one time upfront price, but paying month by month to write down my tasks is a little more than I want to do.

So there you have it, the (current) criteria for my quest. I don't ask for much, just perfection. In all reality I know I will not find the perfect app, but I like to know what it looks like so I can aim for it. These are the items I am listing across the top of my spreadsheet. They are the functions that I think will help me to remember to live better.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The ToDo List Quest: Part 1

I have recently embarked on a quest of sorts. It is a quest to find the perfect todo list. When a person like me decides to, or has to, change their entire task management structure it is a bit of a big deal, which is why I am calling it a quest!

What Happened
As most readers probably know I have been happily using the IQTELL platform for some time now, particularly since the added their email integration to the mobile app. I have had my problems with it, which I have discussed on this blog, but overall it was a good system. Particularly it worked well because it was made with David Allen's GTD system in mind.

However the IQTELL team just recently announced their new pricing model, which I am currently unable to afford (my twitter followers will know how I feel about budgeting). This is sad because I really did feel that it was a good system and it may actually be worth the money, I just take an issue with SaaS generally though.

Can't Go Back
My thought upon needing to leave IQTELL was that I wound just return to my previous system with Producteev. However, after redownloading the app I encountered a problem: It No Longer Works Offline! Now this would be a problem for anyone because even in this era there are still times when we have no connection or want to be off the grid but still need to get things done. It is though a particular problem for someone like me that has no internet connection at home. So going back doesn't seem feasible.

The Quest
So I have started a quest to find the right todo list. I am going to be testing apps until I find the right one. You can follow my adventures here on this blog, or in real time on twitter, I will be using the #todolistquest on all tweets involving this topic.
You can let me know which apps you have liked by leaving them in the comments below or by tweeting @halduauthor and using #todolistquest. My next post will be on the criteria that I am looking for.
We will see what happens on this quest and if I can find a way to live better.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Sword that Saves: an Easter Message

As on most Easter Sundays I find myself reflective today. Particularly I have found myself thinking of the symbol of the Sword that Saves. This is in part because Apple's app of the week this week is a game called Horn. I don't download a lot of games onto my iOS devices as that would be likely to make me less productive on them. But reviews for Horn claimed it to be a cross of two of my favorite games: The Legend of Zelda and Infinity Blade. 

All three of these games have something in common beyond their gameplay elements which the reviewers were mainly refering to. That commonality is in their story lines and is the literary symbol I call, the sword that saves.

The sword that saves is a highly ubiquitous symbol in literature if you start looking for it. It is oxymoronical in nature because it takes an instrument of death and turns it into the means of salvation. You can probably see where I am going with this today, but let me give you a few examples to illustrate.

Horn: In Horn the symbol emerges very early, I have only passed to stages of the game and it is already there. In the story all of the people who were once happy villagers have been turned into strange android like titans called Pygon, this is refered to as the "Pygon curse". Fortunately Horn discovers a crystal that can destroy the titan form and free the people inside. From this crystal he fashions a special sword that will free people from the "curse".

nfinity blade: The name of this game gives away the fact that a sword is going to be an important symbol throughout it. The world of infinty blade is ruled by a group of tyrants known as the Deathless. It is the goal of the game to gain possesion a special sword, the infinity blade, that is the only thing that can kill the "deathless" and thus redeem the world.

The Legend of Zelda: In the game the world is taken over by an evil dark lord known as Ganondorf. Link, the hero, must find and wield the Master Sword, the only weapon that can kill the dark lord, in order to free the world.

I think if you are a Christian the symbolism here is pretty clear even if you have never thought of it before. There is a reason that medieval swords were shaped like a cross: the instrument of death, turned into the means of salvation. I think this so important, Christ died but His death was turned to our salvation because He lived again! The cross went from being the sign of torture and the horiffic demise of criminals to being the hope of nations.

The medieval sword, when turned upside down becomes the cross

Lest you should think that this symbol occurs only in video games I have a few more examples from literature.

King Arthur: One of the best known legends of all time is the story of King Arthur. At a time when England was broken a fractioned, a time rightly called the Dark Ages, there is legend of a miracle that appeared in the form of a sword, The sword in the stone. This sword was a representation of the redemption of England which was to come through Arthur. The sword in the stone makes the boy king by miracle not by force, and he redeems the nation.

The Lord of the Rings: Has a lot of swords, one in particular is important to this discussion of the Sword that Saves. That is Anduril the flame of the west. It is the blade reforged which redeems the line of the king, Aragorn, who in turn redeems the people. This is highly relevant to Easter because if Isildur is a representation of the fall of man than Aragon represents redemption. The sword Narsil was broken, but in its reforged form of Anduril it saves. 

Harry Potter: This is a story frought with symbolism, but the blade in particular is important and one of the best examples. The sword of Godric Gryffindor is a blade that actually becomes endued with the substance of death itself, basilisk venom, which can break horcruxes. This in particular leads well into our easter theme. Because it is the very instrument of Satan's victory, death, that is used to his ultimate demise.

There is so much more that I would love to say on this topic if I had the time and space. There are many, many, more examples that could be brought up that illustrate the Sword that Saves, and I would love for you to put any that you think of in the comments below. 

This has been just a brief discussion, and I know it is off somewhat from the normal topic of this blog. But, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the only reason any of us can truly live better is because of Easter and what Christ did that day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

App Review: Grid Diary

Name: Grid Diary
Price: 2.99
Stars: 3.5
Type: Journaling

This year I really wanted to bump up my journal writing. 2013 was the first year that I had written in my journal every single day of the year (in 2012 I had missed one day). But even though I had developed the habit of daily writing I did not feel like the quality of my entries was very high. It is often hard for me, at the end of a long day to think of anything meaningful to write down and my journal was more a list of events than anything else.

So I determined at the end of last year that I wanted to start using some kind of journaling app, particularly I wanted one that would sync with Evernote. That is when I discovered grid diary.

The Concept
The idea behind Grid Diary is simple yet elegant. Each day you are presented with a grid of squares that contain questions that serve as writing prompts. There are many questions so that if you don't feel like answering any one of them you can just switch it out for another. You can even put in your own prompt if you so desire.

For me it is nice to have some questions to get my thinking primed since by the end of the day I am often so tired I don't even remember what happened, let alone how it was meaningful to my life.

The diary also asks you for the weather that day and for a emoticon meter on how the day was as a whole. Those are nice little things to know when you go back and read them later. If you use the app moves to track your activity you can import data from that to know how active you were that day. I have never used that feature though so I can't speak to how well it works.

I normally answer 3 to 4 question prompts in the Grid Diary each night. Then once a month I export them to Evernote so that I have another backup of them. You can also export them to Dropbox if you want; it also has iCloud backup for between devices.

A few problems

I have many, many apps. Grid Diary is one of just a handful that, because of its purpose, I use everyday. To use it everyday I have to like it a lot, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have its problems.

One of the glaring issues is that they have not created the app native to the iPad. If you want to run it on the iPad you have use the iPhone app magnified. Fortunately since the introduction of iOS 7 magnified apps have looked and worked leaps and bounds better than they use to. Still, I always journal on my iPad and never on my iPhone so it would be nice and it would look a little better if it was native or universal.

I have not really liked a lot of the changes from the most recent major update. Thankfully after some complaining on the part of the users they did bring back the randomize questions option. Unfortunately they only offer this for all questions. It would be much better if you also had the option to do it for individual questions as well. Sometimes you don't want to get rid of every question on the screen.

Sometimes when exporting to Evernote there will be a few files that don't make the jump for some reason. It would be nice when this happened if it at least told you which files those were.

I would also like to see them put in an option for multiple weather types on a single, living in Utah there can some days be quite the variety of weather and it would be nice to be able to record it.

Well those are just a few things that I hope will get better, overall as I said, it is a great app. I use it daily and have found that it has improved my journaling immensely. If you are looking for a way to be a better journal writer I highly recommend it.

If you have a favorite journal app would you please let us know about it in the comments below. Journaling, and especially thoughtful journaling, is a great help in remembering to live better.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Technology quotes form April 2014 LDS General Conference

April 5th and 6th the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of which I am a member, held their semiannual general conference. It was a most excellent conference, the Lord's prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the church spoke to give us council and warning. Since technology is a big part of how the world is changing there are always references to it in the conference and I always like to compile these together here on the blog (Oct 2013 and April 2013).

Here are the ones I found, if you know others please let me know in the comments.

Sister Reeves: Pornography is more vile, evil, and graphic than ever before. As we counsel with our children, together we can create a family plan with standards and boundaries, being proactive to protect our homes with filters on electronic devices. Parents, are we aware that mobile devices with Internet capacity, not computers, are the biggest culprit? (Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home)

Youth, take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being. Turn off your phone if necessary... (Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home)

Elder Andersen: Recently, I spoke with a Laurel from the United States. I quote from her email:
“This past year some of my friends on Facebook began posting their position on marriage. Many favored same-sex marriage, and several LDS youth indicated they ‘liked’ the postings. I made no comment.
“I decided to declare my belief in traditional marriage in a thoughtful way.
“With my profile picture, I added the caption ‘I believe in marriage between a man and a woman.’ Almost instantly I started receiving messages. ‘You are selfish.’ ‘You are judgmental.’ One compared me to a slave owner. And I received this post from a great friend who is a strong member of the Church: ‘You need to catch up with the times. Things are changing and so should you.’
“I did not fight back,” she said, “but I did not take my statement down.”
She concludes: “Sometimes, as President Monson said, ‘You have to stand alone.’ Hopefully as youth, we will stand together in being true to God and to the teachings of His living prophets.”11
 (Spiritual Whirlwinds)

Elder Cook: Family history technology has also advanced dramatically. President Howard W. Hunter declared in November 1994: “We have begun using information technology to hasten the sacred work of providing ordinances for the deceased. The role of technology … has been accelerated by the Lord himself. … However, we stand only on the threshold of what we can do with these tools.”22
In the 19 years since this prophetic statement, the acceleration of technology is almost unbelievable. A 36-year-old mother of young children recently exclaimed to me, “Just think--we have gone from microfilm readers in dedicated family history centers to sitting at my kitchen table with my computer doing family history after my children are finally asleep.” Brothers and sisters, family history centers are now in our homes...
The leadership of the Church has issued a clarion call to the rising generation to lead the way in the use of technology to experience the spirit of Elijah, to search out their ancestors, and to perform temple ordinances for them.26 Much of the heavy lifting in hastening the work of salvation for both the living and the dead will be done by you young people.27
If the youth in each ward will not only go to the temple and do baptisms for their dead but also work with their families and other ward members to provide the family names for the ordinance work they perform, both they and the Church will be greatly blessed. Don’t underestimate the influence of the deceased in assisting your efforts and the joy of ultimately meeting those you serve. The eternally significant blessing of uniting our own families is almost beyond comprehension.28
 (Roots and Branches)

We finally have the doctrine, the temples, and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation. (Roots and Branches)

They love the stories and photos, and they have the technological expertise to scan and upload these stories and photos to Family Tree and connect source documents with ancestors to preserve these for all time. (Roots and Branches)

Brother Ridd: During the priesthood session Brother Ridd's entire talk was on the internet and technology. I won't transcribe the entire talk here, but it is well worth going back and reading the whole thing. Here I will just put a few of the quotes.

In 1974, President Spencer W. Kimball said, “I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse” (The Choice Generation)
You are growing up with one of the greatest tools for good in the history of man: the Internet. (The Choice Generation)
With the click of a button, you can access whatever your heart desires. That’s the key--what does your heart desire? (The Choice Generation)
As you surf the Internet, you leave tracks--what you communicate, where you have been, how long you have been there, and the kinds of things that interest you. In this way, the Internet creates a cyber profile for you--in a sense, your “cyber book of life.” As in life, the Internet will give you more and more of what you seek. If your desires are pure, the Internet can magnify them, making it ever easier to engage in worthy pursuits. But the opposite is also true. (The Choice Generation)
Right in the palm of your hand you have the wisdom of the ages--more importantly, the words of the prophets, from Old Testament days to President Thomas S. Monson. But if you don’t regularly recharge your cell phone, it is useless, and you feel lost and out of touch. You wouldn’t think of going a single day without charging your battery. (The Choice Generation)
Young men, don’t do dumb things with your smartphone. You all know what I mean (see Mosiah 4:29). There are countless ways technology can distract you from what is most important. Follow the adage “Be where you are when you are there.” When you are driving, drive. When you are in class, focus on the lesson. When you are with your friends, give them the gift of your attention. Your brain cannot concentrate on two things at once. Multitasking amounts to quickly shifting your focus from one thing to another. An old proverb says, “If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one.” (The Choice Generation)
The divine purpose of technology is to hasten the work of salvation. (The Choice Generation)
Where generations past influenced their neighbors and their town, you have the power through the Internet and social media to reach beyond borders and influence the whole world. (The Choice Generation)

Pres. Uchtdorf: Past generations had their struggle with variations of egotism and narcissism, but I think today we are giving them serious competition. Is it any coincidence that the Oxford Dictionary recently proclaimed “selfie” as the word of the year? (Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?)
These binding chains of addiction can have many forms, like pornography, alcohol, sex, drugs, tobacco, gambling, food, work, the Internet, or virtual reality. Satan, our common enemy, has many favorite tools he uses to rob us of our divine potential to accomplish our mission in the Lord’s kingdom. (Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?)

Elder Ballard: One returned missionary, for example, specifically prayed to be led to “the one” he could reach. The name of a former college classmate came into his mind. He reached out to her over Facebook, and he learned that she had been praying for purpose and meaning in her life. He followed up just at the time she was searching for the truth, and in December she was baptized. (Following Up)
I invite all members, regardless of your current calling or level of activity in the Church, to obtain a copy of Preach My Gospel. It is available through our distribution centers and also online. The online version can be read or downloaded at no cost. (Following Up)

Elder Aidukaitis:  We like the Internet. At home we communicate with family and friends through social media, by e-mail, and in other ways. My children do much of their schoolwork through the Internet.
Whatever the question is, if we need more information, we search it online. In seconds we have a lot of material. This is marvelous.
The Internet provides many opportunities for learning. However, Satan wants us to be miserable, and he distorts the real purpose of things. He uses this great tool to promote doubt and fear and to destroy faith and hope.
With so much available on the Internet, we must carefully consider where to apply our efforts. Satan can keep us busy, distracted, and infected by sifting through information, much of which can be pure garbage.
One should not roam through garbage.
 (If Ye Lack Wisdom)

Those are all of the instructions on technology that I could find this year. It was one of the most amazing conferences that I have ever attended. I would encourage everyone, whether they are LDS or not to read through some of these talks and learn something from them. It is one of the best ways that I know of to remember to live better.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Microsoft Office for iPad

This is not a review. As those who have read my blog in the past may know I gave my reasoning for why you did not need office for the iPad long before it came out. So, I am not here to review office for iPad because I have not even downloaded it, nor do I intended to. I am just here to make my observations about the fact that it has launched.

Why am I doing this so late when every other tech blogger was talking about it the day it happened? I am a busy man, talking about Microsft is not on the top of my priority list. Besides, I am sure most of my readers already know how I feel about Microsoft and I did share my initial feelings on twitter when the announcement was made.

The Facts
Microsoft released its core Office Suite for iPad as three apps: Word, Excel, and Power Point. They made all these apps freemium, which means you can download them for free but they offer in app purchases. Here's the deal, the in app purchase is a $99 subscription to Office 365, what that allows you to do is edit documents in the three apps.

That's right folks if you download these apps you cannot even edit documents unless you buy a subscription! Never mind that editing documents is the whole purpose of having these apps. You can use the free "view only" mode to look at documents. It will be like an eternity of that same safe mode microsoft put in a while ago, only there won't be any "enable editing" button unless you pay $99 dollars, and that doesn't even buy it, that is just a subscription. Typical Microsft, typical.

Way too little, way way to late
The iPad just had it's 4th birthday. It has been here for four years... That is a long time. After knowing the runaway success the iPhone was microsoft should have had a version of office ready for the iPad when it launched, and they should have had those priced competitively with iWork suite. They could have easily kept millions and millions of customers this way. Especially since neither they nor any of their hardware partners had ever made a tablet worth anything (still haven't actually), Microsoft should have jumped at the chance to put Office in the hands of people constantly.

But instead of doing that Microsoft decided that it would just keep doing what it had always done, making bloated software to run on PCs, and predicting the iPad's demise. Well that was foolish because one CEO later the iPad is the one that is still here.

Even after Microsoft had to admit that the world had entered a post PC era, they did not acknowledge that they could just move their cash cow, office, over the existing iPad. No, they decided they had to build some hardware. Why was that a bad decision? One word: Zune. Microsoft can't do hardware. They have only succeeded one time at that was simply by essentially making a powerful PC and calling it a gaming console.

But, heedless of their own history they decided that in order to sell Office they would create a tablet, but not just any tablet, one that was slower and more expensive than the iPad. One that ran the worst opperating system they had ever created. They made a bet: that people were so starved for their precious office suite that they would flock to the surface. They bet wrong.

How can we be sure that they bet wrong? Just got to a public place some time and count the number of surface tablets you see. Unless its a Microsoft store you won't need more than one hand. The other way we can know is that now, four years late, Office has finally come to the iPad. Clearly their first plan was a flop.

Here's the deal
Microsoft thinks that everybody has been sitting around on iPads for 4 years playing angry birds and watching netflix. They are so conceited that they think nobody can dance at the party till they get there. But that simply is not the case. Microsoft does not get to decide whether we are productive or not. We get to decide that, and a lot of people have been dancing for years, doing serious work on the iPad without a bloated over priced piece of software.

Now I know that a lot of people are still probably going to bite at this. That's ok, a lot of fish eat worms with hooks in them, and most of the corprate world ate the Office worm a long, long time ago. But I for one will not be. I've given a lot of reasons why, here and in the past.

But I have one main reason: because I choose to live better.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

LDS Share Expo Recap

This past Monday I was involved with the LDS Share Expo at BYU. The event was really awesome and I think every body had a great time. The expo was put on by the More Good Foundation (which is where I work doing social media) with the BYU Communications department, and the LDS online missionaries.

This was the first event of its kind and it basically consisted of three different parts:

  1. Booths on social media platforms where people could do gospel sharing activities
  2. Mini classes on each of those platforms
  3. Talks on different online projects for sharing the gospel
My role at the expo had to do with the mini classes. I helped the teachers prepare their presentations and I was the teacher of the twitter class. 

The night was a lot of fun and I hope everybody was able to learn something. What does it all have to do with iOS? Well I used Prezi for iPad to prepare my presentation, and many people were using iPhones and iPads to do the activities.

The best part of the night though was that I was made into a Meme, which I think is a big moment in anyone's life. Somebody who came to my class made this of me: 

It is in reference to a statement I made that people don't like twitter, not because twitter is bad, but because they did twitter wrong.

I thought some of you might like to see my prezi:

Remember I spent to years of my life teaching about the gospel on house to house. So you can tell, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is really important to me, and being able to share it through the internet is such a blessing! Christ said to take the gospel to all the world and now we can :)

That's all for now, just remember, live better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

App Review: Ninja Fitness

Name: Ninja Fitness
Price: Free or 99¢
Stars: 4
Type: Workout game

Some people will remember that I reviewed the Gorilla Workout app a while ago and really liked it. Well this app is from the same people over at Heckr. It is a really great app for those who are looking for workouts they can do quickly at home.

The Concept
The idea is to gamify your workout. You are a young ninja in training by an ancient and often comedic sensei, Master Old Beard. You have to buy new workouts and gear with "ninja stars" which you earn by completing workouts. You also get stat points in four different areas of training. You must achieve certain numbers of stats to get new colors of belts.

Four Areas
Where this app really surpasses Gorilla Workout is by having four areas of development which you can choose to work on. These are Strength, Agility, Endurance, and Zen.

These areas must each reach certain levels of skill points before you can advance to the next belt, and certain belts are required to purchase better gear. This encourages you to take a balanced approach to your training instead of focusing on just one area that you are good at or that you enjoy.

The strength and agility workouts cover most of the same exercises that the gorilla workout did, but the endurance and zen areas have new workouts focusing on cardio and stretching. Each workout is timed depending on its difficulty and the ninja star reward for completing it.

Your Ninja
Basically the whole point of the game is to customize your 3D ninja self with weapons and armor. You can choose whether or not you are a boy or a girl when you start as well as giving yourself a ninja name. Then you can choose the hair style, hair color, and facial structure that are most your style.

While I like the app a lot, and it seems to be very stable, there are a few things I wish would be improved.

The first is that there is no audio playback during workouts, I alway like to listen to music or podcasts while I do cardio, but I can't do that and have the ninja workout run at the same time because if you leave the app the workout will pause. This seems like a major oversight and a gap in market research since many people listen to audio while working out. Audio playback in other apps is totally possible in iOS so I do not know what the excuse for this is.

My second complaint is that while it is fun to level up my ninja, the ninja doesn't actually do anything and the store selection is small for ninja gear. I think there should have at least been some type of mini game that the ninjas could engage in so that their armor, weapons, and stats actually matter. This would give greater motivation to completing balanced workouts.

My last problem with the app is that unlike gorilla workout there is no offline instruction on how to do the exercises. Gorilla had written instructions in the app and video instruction online, but Ninja Fitness has only the online videos and the app freezes if you click on one of these without an internet connection, making it impossible to complete any exercises you are unfamiar with.

Well other than those few problems the app is very good and well put together. It makes it fun to workout (well as fun as a workout can be anyway) so I encourage you to check it out. Their is a limited free version, but I would suggest using this to check it out and not to spend too much time on it because your stats, gear, and ninja stars will not transfer to the full version.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts on this or other workout apps below and also let me know any questions you might have. Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.