Peek, An Unconventional Calendar App

Peek-Photo7 edit There are so many calendar apps on the App Store, its no wonder people tend to just stick to the stock Calendar app. Some are swiss army knives of calendar editing with their variety of tools for management and input while some just look pretty. Finding a preference can be exhausting.

The new app Peek, from San Francisco/Tallinn-based Square Mountains, makes that process easier. It has nearly all the granularity a calendar nut asks for – while wrapped in a colorfully minimal, gesture-based design. And though it’s designed for a specifically mobile purpose, Peek might be as close as it gets to a well-rounded calendar app.

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January 31, 2014 / By

An Interview with Kai Brach of Offscreen Magazine

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Print-only publications are a rarity nowadays. And one guy running it? Unheard of. Yet that’s the story of Kai Brach and his self-described “old-fashioned” magazine, Offscreen. Exploring a more human side of tech, Offscreen is a beautifully designed publication with quality only possible in print.

The next issue is due out at the start of next year. And with Kai’s Christmas Wishlist giveaway having just begun, it’s a good time to check Offscreen out.

We spoke with Kai about what it means to run a print publication today: the challenges, process, and vision Kai has for what makes Offscreen different.

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December 11, 2013 / By

Tweetbot and Fantastical – iOS 7 Redesigns Done Right

Tapbots’ Tweetbot and Flexibits’ Fantastical both rose to the top as alternatives to their bland, dysfunctional counterparts. Tweetbot‘s cutesy-machine design characteristic fronted far more capable power features in comparison to Twitter’s official app. Similarly, Fantastical ditched the stock calendar’s leather-ridden look for a simpler aesthetic to enhance its also powerful features.

Both are similar in that they payed heavy attention to user experience, and were rewarded when they became hailed as better alternatives to the apps they set out to replace. Also, both held out on their iOS 7 redesigns to maintain exactly that: perfecting their indisputable designs rather than immediate aesthetic upgrades. And as of last week, both have finally hit the store.

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Tweetbot‘s redesign is everything fans had come to expect. The past look, though very to distinct, leaned heavily on the skeumorphic trend. In Tweetbot 3, Tapbots converted to a flattened scheme, but without sacrificing the charm. Gestures are still integral to its experience, as conversation views or Tweet data are available with basic swipes. Tapbots focused on the content with in-line image previews, great full-screen viewing that allows you to interact with the picture, and a Instragam-esque timeline that displays edge-to-edge the images attached to tweets.

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Fantastical also simplified their past look with their update. In adding a few new features – such as reminders – and beefing up their already wonderful natural-language input, the app’s more powerful, yet feels lighter. It’s almost as if Fantastical was meant for the thin typography and bright colors of iOS 7. Its redesign is a balance of power and beauty.

So why include both apps in one post? Functionally, they have nothing to do with each other. Because Tweetbot and Fantastical, with updates having come around the same time, are examples of how to do an iOS 7 redesign right. They didn’t show up on day one, but they did maintain the charm and usability people fell in love with. Now they’re just polished up for the shiny new environment in which they now live.

Both Tweetbot 3 and Fantastical 2 are on sale. Grab ‘em before the prices go up!

November 13, 2013 / By

Not a Game, Not a Book – it’s Device 6

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Swedish app company Simogo knows how to take iOS gaming seriously. Their past releases like Year Walk and Beat Sneak Bandit took the casual arcade style of mobile gaming and wrapped it in a uniquely illustrated look. And while neither of these two games – nor the others before them – played the same way, they both were certainly iOS games.

Their latest app, though, is much more difficult to think of as a game. You could say that you play through it, yes. But you also read it, watch it, and listen to it. You’re better off saying Device 6 one experiences rather than plays.

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October 21, 2013 / By

The UX Archive observes where design has been and where it’s going

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Try explaining UX design to someone who’s unfamiliar. It’s tough. Unlike the typography or colors that make up an application’s aesthetic, user experience is invisible when done well. That’s why for mobile app makers and designers good UX can be a tough thing to nail down. How do you implement design ideas when the best ones are fundamentally unnoticeable?

For designers Arthur Bodolec, Chris Polk, and Nathan Barraille, the answer is in observation. Observing how others have tackled user actions, and making note of what’s worked and what hasn’t. To do this, they created the UX Archive – a site meant for logging examples of popular apps and identifying how their design goes about certain challenges.

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October 16, 2013 / By

Callism Makes Your Phone a Phone Again

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It’s always great when a third-party app replaces a bad stock Apple app. Mailbox killed Mail, Drafts shamed Notes, Google destroyed Maps, et cetera, et cetera. And now there’s another one for the list – this time for the phone: Callism.

I know what you’re thinking. “I never call people anyway.” But that’s Callism’s point. It simplifies an already infrequent task. Most people find themselves calling only a handful of people, and the process of scrolling through a list of contacts feels redundant. Callism learns from your habits and puts that handful of people at the top of your list. That in itself should be enough to trump the first-party phone app.

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October 9, 2013 / By

Clear, the App with Timeless Design

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Back in the iOS 6 days (man, remember those days?, there were a few apps that might foreshadow what was to come in the fabled “flat” iOS 7 redesign. One of the most prevalent was a to-do list app called Clear. It was gorgeous – simple color gradients, bold typography, and dead obvious gestures that made the app a delight to use. In the context of the rest of the OS’s awkward linen textures and embossed buttons, Clear stood out as the indisputable way of the future.

So now that we’ve arrived at this less-skeumorphic landscape, how does Clear hold up? Better than ever. In fact, it didn’t take much to return the app to its lead among other iOS 7 redesigns. With the just released Clear+, the typography was lightened, a few UI elements were added, and iCloud syncing was introduced to support a new iPad version.

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September 30, 2013 / By

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