Drafts for iPhone is a quick, useful notepad

A couple of weeks ago I got a copy of Drafts for iPhone ($0.99) to play with from Agile Tortoise. Today it has earned a spot on my iPhone’s home screen and replaced once-favorite Birdhouse, which has been flaky lately. Drafts lets you quickly record text and then share it in several useful ways. Here’s why I’m loving Drafts.

I’ll preface this post by saying I don’t like typing lots of text on my iPhone. It’s time consuming and I make typing errors. When I first saw Drafts I thought, “Nice, but it’s a note-taking app. I don’t really use those.” However, when I realized it could replace Birdhouse, I became intrigued.

I like storing potential tweets as drafts. Yes, several Twitter apps offer drafts as a feature, but it’s often buried. Drafts lets me launch the app, type and close it again. The next time I open the app, I’m presented with a new note. The older one has been moved to the queue.

Of course, Drafts does more than store tweets. For one, it supports Markdown and converts Markdown notes to HTML, so good news if that’s your thing (plain text is supported too, of course). Notes can be as lengthy as you want, so type away.

To active a note in the queue, simply tap it. To create a note, hit the “+” button. The action button on the right offers several sharing options (above):

  • Tweet (using iOS 5’s built-in tweet function)
  • Send to Tweetbot (I have several Twitter apps installed, but Tweetbot is the only option that shows up here. I don’t know why.)
  • Email as text
  • Email as HTML (converted from Markdown)
  • Copy to clipboard as HTML (converted from Markdown)

That’s a darn useful list. Drafts also displays each note’s word count and character count, has a search function and several UI settings, including four themes and three font sizes (small, medium and large) across 13 fonts. Finally, any note can be edited, even after it’s been shared.

It won’t convert me into an iPhone typist (dictating notes to Siri is still quicker), but the fact that I can get notes out as easily as I put them in is huge. There’s no sync support, so abandon your Dropbox and iCloud dreams. But I don’t really care about that. Drafts is a win.

You’ll find more screenshots and a demo video after the break.

Continue reading →

Big thanks to Chicken Out! for iPhone

Big thanks to Chicken Out! for iPhone for sponsoring the site this week. This fun puzzle game from  Podotree is one of those “just one more try” titles that you can’t put down. You’re presented with a grid and two chickens, and your job is to eliminate all but one. The trick is that you must slide the chickens into each other. They can move horizontally and vertically only, and only once per chicken.

It sounds easy but gets challenging when more chickens appear. As you play, you unlock special chickens with unique moves and abilities plus other bonuses, like chicken-blasting bombs. I had fun playing it as did my kids. For the price of free, you can’t go wrong.

Give Chicken Out! a whirl today.

Here’s how you can become a sponsor.

At Bat 2012 now available baseball fans!

The first iOS app I ever fell in love with, Major League Baseball’s At Bat (free, universal) is now available for 2012. A new baseball season brings a new pricing structure. This year, the app is free to download with three tiers of functionality, available via in-app purchase.

Tier one  – $14.99 annually

  1. Pitch FX (the pitch-by-pitch calling)
  2. Game Day Audio (I love this feature – listen to your team’s home radio announcers, even when traveling)
  3. Stats
  4. Highlights
  5. Live Look-ins (video)
  6. Condensed Games and video library archive
  7. Free live game of the day

Tier two – $2.99 monthly

Same as the above, but available to iOS customers only.

Tier three – MLB.TV subscribers

All features are free for MLB.TV subscribers (just confirm your account details), plus live video broadcasts of select pre-season games.

I’ll opt for the one-time fee of $14.99. At Bat is a fantastic app. Go, Sox!

Phraseology is a compelling text editor for iPad (Update)

There are many text editors available for the iPad, and I feel compelled to try a lot of them. This week I’ve been using Phraseology  ($3.99) by Agile Tortoise, which I like a lot. Two features make it stand out: the Inspector and the Arrange Menu.

Phraseology also features several export options and a unique set of accessory keys on the keyboard. The more I dove into what this app could do, the more I liked it. Simple typing is only the beginning; this is one informative text editor. Here’s my look at Phraseology for iPad.

Continue reading →

Three reasons to use Tweetbot

Tapbots has released Tweetbot 2.0, a major update to its popular Twitter client for iPhone (and now for the iPad, too). There’s a lot to like about this update, but I’m going to focus on three reasons to use Tweetbot 2.0.

Readability integration. My love affair with low-distraction readers continues, thanks to Tweetbot. Much like its desktop browser counterpart, Readability in Tweetbot lets you read an article without ads, footer or header. A toggle switch appears once you’ve tapped an article linked in a tweet. Flip it to the right for the mobile view. From there, several layout customization options are available. First, the font can be re-sized. You’ll also find five themes to choose from: Newspaper, Novel, eBook, Inverse (pictured below) and Athelas. You can also adjust the width of the article and share it via Facebook, email or Twitter. The Readability view is so beautiful and useful, it’s almost reason enough to use the app.

Continue reading →

Launch Center 1.1 is a useful utility for iPhone

App Cubby’s Launch Center is one of those rare utilities that’s helpful in a very real way. It allows you to create one-tap shortcuts to common tasks and even schedule reminders for each one.

I love Launch Center so much that it lives in my iPhone’s prime location: home screen, second row, second from the right. That’s the spot my thumb reaches most easily. We all keep track of such things, right?

Here’s why it lives in the coveted spot.

Continue reading →

Realmac Software teases Clear to-do manager for iPhone [Update]

The folks at Realmac Software have teased Clear, an upcoming task manager for the iPhone. It uses the iPhone’s multi-touch in an interesting way, allowing you to “collapse” and “expand” group lists of tasks (to-do, shopping, movies to watch, etc.). Plus it’s just pretty in an “1980’s Nike ad” kind of way.

I’m looking forward to this one. Check out the video above.

Update: The teaser page and video have been taken down.

Update 2: Clear is actually the first app from a new studio, Impending, formed by  Phill Ryu and David LanhamFederico Viticci conducted a great interview with Phil at MacStories, in which they talk about the origin of their new venture and the thought process behind Clear:

“There are probably thousands of todo apps already on the App Store, but 99.9% of them all suck in the exact same way. They don’t get out of the way and just help me get things done, they ask this and they ask that, and if you want tags or if you want to schedule a reminder. They crowd the screen with buttons and switches and little decisions to make. I get how these things can be useful, sometimes, but most of the time all you really need is a pencil and notepad. So we started there.”

It’s a great interview and a compelling app. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.