Thanks to Gas Cubby from App Cubby

gcBig thanks to Gas Cubby for being this week’s sponsor. This handy app records milage for you, which is fantastic if you’re often taking business trips. I used to use a notebook for this, but I’d either misplace it or forget to transfer a certain trip to my spreadsheet. Not any more, as Gas Cubby lets me export directly to an Excel-friendly format via email.

The app also records your service history and even offers service reminders reminders, which is great. You know those plastic clings that the mechanic puts on your windshield? The ones that always fall off? Forget about them. I won’t forget to get that 7,500 mile checkup done when Gas Cubby reminds me.

The app’s search feature is also well-implemented and there’s ample support for international units, like MPG (Canada), MPG (UK), MPG (Imperial), L/100km, gal/100mi (US), gal/100mi (Imperial), km/L, km/gal (US), km/gal (Imperial), and mi/L, for all of you folks who drive on the wrong side of the road.

Do you like charts and graphs? I know you do. Tilt your iPhone to the landscape orientation and view data on your vehicle’s average MPG, typical gas price you pay, automotive expenses and service expenses. Nice!

Gas Cubby has been in my travel folder for years. It’s fast, good-looking and, most importantly, useful. Go and grab Gas Cubby now.

Gas Cubby from App Cubby

gcHuge thanks to Gas Cubby for being this week’s sponsorDavid Barnard and his crew build iOS apps that I’ve been using for years, including Gas Cubby.

Gas Cubby is a fantastic companion to anyone who often travels by car. It records milage for you, which is fantastic if you’re often taking business trips. I used to use a notebook for this, but I’d either misplace it or forget to transfer a certain trip to my spreadsheet. Not any more, as Gas Cubby lets me export directly to an Excel-friendly format via email.

The app also records your service history and even offers service reminders reminders, which is great. You know those plastic clings that the mechanic puts on your windshield? The ones that always fall off? Forget about them. I won’t forget to get that 7,500 mile checkup done when Gas Cubby reminds me.

The app’s search feature is also well-implemented and there’s ample support for international units, like MPG (Canada), MPG (UK), MPG (Imperial), L/100km, gal/100mi (US), gal/100mi (Imperial), km/L, km/gal (US), km/gal (Imperial), and mi/L, for all of you folks who drive on the wrong side of the road.

Do you like charts and graphs? I know you do. Tilt your iPhone to the landscape orientation and view data on your vehicle’s average MPG, typical gas price you pay, automotive expenses and service expenses. Nice!

Gas Cubby has been in my travel folder for years. It’s fast, good-looking and, most importantly, useful. Go and grab Gas Cubby now.

Timer is a useful utility for iPhone

Timer from App Cubby ($0.99) is a handy utility for the iPhone. It lets you create several color-coded timers that can be launched, paused and customized with a tap. It’s faster than using Apple’s Clock app and has earned a permanent home on my iPhone. Here’s my look at Timer.

Looks

Timer presents a 3 x 4 grid of buttons. Each represents a given duration. An active timer “lights up” as the numbers count down for easy reference. It’s clear and legible and the color coding keeps things organized. Timers with a preset duration display their value while those without show a clock icon.

Use

I use timers a lot. Specifically, when I’m cooking, steeping tea and taking a nap. I’ve always used Apple’s Clock app for this and it’s fine. To create a timer with Clock, simply launch the app, dial in your preferred duration, select an alert sound and tap Start. There’s nothing wrong with it, but Timer does so much more.

First and foremost, you can run several timers at once. This is huge in the kitchen. Let’s say the potatoes au gratin need 45 minutes, the broccoli 10 and the turkey 3 hours. Each can have its own timer and they can all run at the same time.

To keep yourself organized, you can assign a color to each of those items and even a unique alarm. That way, you can tell what’s done just by listening. To edit a timer, tap and hold on its icon to produce the editor, where you’ll find several options:

1. Preset – Assign a default duration to this timer
2. Time – Duration
3. Alert – Choose the alert sound
4. Color – Assign a color to that timer button

It’s useful to create timers for frequently-used durations. For instance, I steep my tea for 3 minutes and take 20 minute naps. Now each is a single tap away. When a timer is complete, your alert sounds, a message appears on the screen and the corresponding button flashes. Also, the timer continues to count, but this time, forward. That way  you can see how much time has elapsed since your timer expired.

Why not just use Siri?

That’s a good question. Telling Siri, “Set a timer for three minutes” is faster than launching Timer and tapping the appropriate button (depending on how fast you speak, that is). But Timer has several advantages over Siri. First, it can run several timers simultaneously, as I mentioned. It’s also easier to view a timer’s progress with Timer. Siri will show you a timer’s progress if you ask, “Let me see my timer,” though you still have to look at the screen. It won’t read the time remaining to you. Also, Siri can’t set a timer that’s less than a minute long. “I can’t set a timer with seconds. Sorry about that” is the response you’ll get.

Conclusion

Timer solved a few problems for me, like speed and simultaneous timers. It looks good and is only $0.99. I recommend it.

Extend Launch Center even further (Update)

Last week I fell in love with Launch Center ($0.99) from App Cubby, an iPhone app that lets you create one-tap shortcuts for frequently performed tasks like composing an email, launching an app, updating Twitter and more. Yesterday I described how you can create “profiles” in the app, arranging tasks in a way that supports your profession or interest(s).

Today, reader Andrew Burgess pointed out that Launch Center can be used to create shortcuts to iOS system preferences, too. This saves time but also fulfills some of my wishes for Apple’s Notification Center.

Here’s how.

Launch Center opens an app via its unique URL. For example, “tweetbot://” will open Tweetbot. David at AppCubby has conveniently posted a list of app URLs.1 That’s great, but as Andrew points out at Shaky Takes, there are also URLs for iOS system preference screens. Best of all, they work with Launch Center.

To create a Launch Center task that opens the Bluetooth system preference, for example, follow these steps:
1. Create a new app shortcut
2. Enter “Bluetooth” as the title
3. Enter “prefs:root=General&path=Bluetooth” in the URL field
4. Tap Done

Now, tapping that task brings you right to the Bluetooth preference screen. It doesn’t stop there. All of these iOS preference screens are available via URLs. Now you can have one-tap access to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Airplane Mode…you name it. All from within Launch Center. Here’s a list of app URLs compiled by Lifehacker Australia:

  • About – prefs:root=General&path=About
  • Accessibility – prefs:root=General&path=ACCESSIBILITY
  • 
Airplane Mode On – prefs:root=AIRPLANE_MODE
  • 
Auto-Lock – prefs:root=General&path=AUTOLOCK
  • Brightness – prefs:root=Brightness
  • Bluetooth – prefs:root=General&path=Bluetooth
  • Date & Time – prefs:root=General&path=DATE_AND_TIME
  • FaceTime – prefs:root=FACETIME
  • General – prefs:root=General
  • 
Keyboard – prefs:root=General&path=Keyboard
  • 
iCloud – prefs:root=CASTLE
  • 
iCloud Storage & Backup – prefs:root=CASTLE&path=STORAGE_AND_BACKUP
  • International – prefs:root=General&path=INTERNATIONAL
  • Location Services – prefs:root=LOCATION_SERVICES
  • 
Music – prefs:root=MUSIC
  • Music Equalizer – prefs:root=MUSIC&path=EQ
  • Music Volume Limit – prefs:root=MUSIC&path=VolumeLimit
  • 
Network – prefs:root=General&path=Network
  • 
Nike + iPod – prefs:root=NIKE_PLUS_IPOD
  • 
Notes – prefs:root=NOTES
  • Notification – prefs:root=NOTIFICATIONS_ID
  • 
Phone – prefs:root=Phone
  • Photos – prefs:root=Photos
  • 
Profile – prefs:root=General&path=ManagedConfigurationList
  • 
Reset – prefs:root=General&path=Reset
  • Safari – prefs:root=Safari
  • Siri – prefs:root=General&path=Assistant
  • Sounds – prefs:root=Sounds
  • Software Update – prefs:root=General&path=SOFTWARE_UPDATE_LINK
  • Store – prefs:root=STORE
  • 
Twitter – prefs:root=TWITTER
  • 
Usage – prefs:root=General&path=USAGE
  • VPN – prefs:root=General&path=Network/VPN
  • 
Wallpaper – prefs:root=Wallpaper
  • Wi-Fi – prefs:root=WIFI

In this way, Launch Center has delivered something Notification Center hasn’t: one-tap access to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings (among many others). Fantastic.

Launch Center is a 99¢ utility that keeps getting better. If you don’t own it, you’re nuts.

Update: Reader Aaron wrote with good and bad news. First the good. You can get to personal hotspot with “prefs:root=INTERNET_TETHERING.” The bad news is, “…in the current iOS beta, none on these system pref URL’s work anymore.” Drat.

Also, Dean notes that you can access the personal hotspot preference with “prefs:root=Personal_Hotspot”.

Creating Launch Center profiles

I’ve been enjoying App Cubby’s Launch Center for a couple of weeks. It’s an iPhone app that lets you create one-tap shortcuts to common actions like launching a website, posting to Twitter or sending text messages. It even creates alerts to remind you when a certain action should be completed. It’s a real time-saver and a worthy addition to my iPhone’s home screen.

Last weekend I realized that I set it up to suit my needs at work and home, subconsciously dividing the two. At the top of the app’s screen I’ve got shortcuts for sending email and text messages to my wife, placing phone calls to my wife and parents and posting to Facebook. Below that I’ve got shortcuts to my web stats, 1Password, OmniFocus and an email to the team at TUAW.

This got me thinking of “profiles” for the app, or how individuals might set the app up, based on occupation or interest. Launch Center does not offer a profiles feature, but it doesn’t really have to. Instead, a person’s interests or occupation naturally creates a certain collections of tasks.

For example, a writer’s Launch Center profile could look like this:

  • Open online web stats.
  • Launch iOS blogging app of choice.
  • Launch iOS text editor.
  • Email to a post-by-email account like those for Posterous and WordPress.

Likewise, a parent’s could set it up to include:

  • A camera app.
  • Facebook launcher.
  • Text to other parent/partner.
  • Phone shortcuts to pediatrician, school, etc.
  • Flashlight for late-night checks before bed or finding the myriad of things kids inevitably lose.

I can think of other setups for the social media addict, shutterbug, etc. So, how have you got Launch Center setup?

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 →

Thanks to App Cubby

Huge thanks to App Cubby for being this week’s sponsorDavid Barnard and his crew build iOS apps that I’ve been using for years. Apps the I depend on, like Trip Cubby.

Trip Cubby

My job requires me to accurately track mileage across two vehicles. Before the iPhone descended upon us, I tried to use a notepad and paper. It was invariably in the wrong car or missing entirely.

At last, David released Trip Cubby. This super little app lives on my iPhone, which never leaves my side. I use it to record mileage, sorted by vehicle, gig, vendor and so on. Everything is backed up wirelessly via sync and can be exported via email as an Excel-friendly .CSV file. You know who really likes that? My accountant.

It also features beautiful charts and graphs, IRS compliance, customizable rates, stats on paid/unpaid milage, etc. But it’s more than pretty. Trip Cubby is, as I said, a tool that I absolutely depend on.

Gas Cubby

Gas Cubby records milage and adds service history and even reminders, which is great. Those plastic clings that the mechanic puts on your windshield always fall off. At least mine do. Yet, I won’t forget about that 7,500 mile checkup when Gas Cubby reminds me. The search feature is also well-implemented and there’s ample support for international units, like MPG (Canada), MPG (UK), MPG (Imperial), L/100km, gal/100mi (US), gal/100mi (Imperial), km/L, km/gal (US), km/gal (Imperial), and mi/L, for all of you folks who drive on the wrong side of the road.

Go get them!

Trip Cubby and Gas Cubby are both available from the App Store for $4.99.

 

David Barnard closes App Cubby forums

A disappointing bit of news from David Barnard:

“Josh (the App Cubby tech support guru) now has a full time day job and just welcomed his second child into the world. And in November, I’ll be welcoming my second child. We’re both absolutely swamped at the moment and just don’t have time to properly manage the forums. And even if we did have time, I’m more and more convinced that forums aren’t the best way to interact with a community of users.”

David notes that the forums, which he hoped would host a vibrant community of App Cubby customers, had become a place for users to seek tech support.

I understand his frustration regarding time (I’m father of 2 myself) and am glad he pulled the plug rather than let the project exist in a manner that he didn’t intend. I hope he finds a future solution that he’s happy with, as David’s a nice guy and I love his apps.