i(Pad)OS apps: unsung heroes and new discoveries

Figured I’d share some love for some apps I don’t see mentioned often here, and also flag a few apps that are new to me that others might appreciate. Happy for queries, responses, alternative suggestions…

Timeview: I use my (Google) calendar not just as a way to schedule future appointments but also as a way to log what I’ve done— I track time using shortcuts that write directly to my calendar, rather than using apps like Toggl. Timeview has a somewhat retro design language, but it’s the easiest way I’ve found to visually analyse my time. I got into habit of tracking time like this relatively early on, but was happy to know other people did similar things when I got into the Quantified Self movement (see: Jared Chung on time tracking). Would love to see this updated for iOS14. I might also experiment with Charty for this in the future.

Speaking of self-tracking, I don’t see Nomie mentioned much around these parts. Grapefruit is also really useful in this arena.

WordBoard is a solid snippet keyboard with dynamic dates and cursor placement. Numboard is pretty useful for inline calculations. Oh, and Calca lives (updated for iOS 14).

I’ve seen it mentioned by a few others, but I’m new to Notebooks 10. It’s proving to be a really solid reference and active archive tool for images, documents and whatever else I’ve thrown at it. It supports deep-linking with easily accessible local URLs for items, so integrates well with tools I already use for tasks/projects and note-taking. Offers OCR and in-document searching, and syncs with Dropbox so I don’t have to choose between using it and Readdle Documents.

I don’t game much on iOS. There are a few standouts that have held a special place in my heart over the years (X-COM, Shadowrun, Banner Saga, Streetfighter IV…) but most recent games I’ve tried have failed to pull me in. Word Unknown is good for exercising the mind between tasks.

Widgets: I don’t feel like I’ve discovered the best use for widgets yet. Hoping that Widgy (as yet unreleased) or Widgetpack can help me make something I can actually derive value from.

Bonus hack: best thing I’ve done to improve my iOS setup recently has been to turn on assistive touch, drop it down to 20% idle opacity and map that button to Spotlight search (single tap). I didn’t realise exactly how much I’ve missed Alfred on iOS until I did this. On the iPhone, I’ve set this up through a double back-tap rather than assistive touch— I’m actually not overly fond of that floating button, but on the iPad the functionality far outweighs the inconvenience.


I’d love to see what you do here!

1 Like

Always glad to hear about new apps that people use and enjoy, especially ones that I am not already familiar with!

1 Like

Do you find this easier than swiping down on the screen, which seems to bring up Spotlight faster for me and is a much bigger target than the button?


Easier? No… but that’s only possible from the home screen. I should have been clearer about the benefit. :wink:

It’s a workaround, for sure, but being able to invoke Spotlight with a single tap while in an any app is so ridiculously useful.

In brief: I have two shortcuts for this: “Now” and “Stop”.

“Now” accepts text input or prompts for a title, then creates an event in my calendar with “#runningtimer” attached. It also offers a few default event durations (20m for a pomodoro, 1hr, 2hrs…) and sets an alert for the end of the event. This is important for me because I always forget to stop a running timer!

“Stop” accepts text input (to match event title) or prompts to select from any events in the past day that have “#runningtimer” in their title. To be tidy, the shortcut removes the text tag from the selected title, and edits the end time to match the time at which the shortcut was run (deals with running over or under anticipated time). “Stop” also tests for the presence of a few other possible text tags in the title (e.g. “#reading”) and, if any are present, logs the time to an appropriate Nomie tracker.

If a time-tracked session is related to a project, I’ll include a project code in the event title. That way I can easily visualise time spent on any project in Timeview, or run another shortcut to list all records related to a specific project in Drafts (and so produce a basic timesheet, although the work I do doesn’t formally require that kind of reporting). Of course, the same is true for any specific activity I might want to tally/analyse time for— all I need is a sensible identifier for whatever I want to pay attention to.

Good point! That makes sense.

1 Like