Ins & Outs

* This isn't an app I personally use per se, but it is used by two of the closest people in my life – My wife, Rebecca and my daughter, Sol.

By my standards, there are two types of app categories that overarches all the other categories : One is daily use apps that reminds you with things and keeps a list of to-do items for your chores or even an instant messaging app, which could simply be used for keeping in touch with friends and family for the rest of your life (If they remain in the same platform, that is). The others are one-use apps, which an event (whether it be life or casual) could trigger you to download it on the spur of the moment. Those events could include concerts, annual corporate events, trending topics or, with an extreme polarity of examples, a baby.

Before Sol was born last March, I constantly thought about how Rebecca and I could take care of our first child in an organized manner. From stories told by my parents, it seemed like there weren't many ways of being organised back when I was a baby, and I'm guessing this is the main reason why the immediate image of parenthood is portrayed as "chaotic". (Don't get me wrong, they are great parents)

As I researched for ways for organising chaos, the most popular way I found, was to simply keep a journal and keep track of the baby's feed, bowel movements and sleep times. After further reading the two most biggest reasons mothers give up on the journal was because : 1. They forget to carry it out with them and 2. They can't be bothered. I don't blame them for reason #2. Writing down your baby's every activity does sound like a tedious task. Shortly after, an obvious question popped in my head : "Is there an app for that?" 

Ins & Outs has been (and still is) a great tool for keeping track of how our little Sol coped with her daily routines. The app keeps track of feeding times (breastfeeding/bottle), nappy changes (dirty/wet) and sleep hours and summarizes it in a simple bar graph so the parents can get an overview of the baby's daily and weekly activities. I was impressed at how naturally Rebecca referred back to the app when Sol started crying, to check out when her last feeding time was. She would also check to see her sleeping patterns to guess when she would wake up from her nap, and most of the times, it was spot on. And when it came to nappies, we were just awed by the increasing number of counts on Sol's, you know, "business". Initially I was worried where Rebecca would find her time to enter those data every time Sol does, well, everything she can do at this stage. Thankfully, the app supports mutiple logins, so both parents can share the same data and enter as they wish (Although it did have some sync issues time to time), so Rebecca would simply ask me to enter a certain data while her hands are occupied with the little bubs.

The app obviously requires due diligence of a mother or father, but by utilizing the tool, there are so many advantages for keeping your little one happy, healthy and (smelling) fresh. It could even go further and help plan things out financially by looking at how many diapers the little one goes through every week or month. There's also an option to add multiple babies (sounds odd), but I'm going to go ahead and assume that option is only for daycare centers and for Superman and Wonder Woman's children.

Finally, the design. I really couldn't find anything I didn't like because it's so nice and simple. The colour schemes work well with "babies" and visual cues are spot on.

+ Simple & elegant
+ Parents can login with single user account
+ Nice iconography
+ Great colour scheme

- Graph only shows counts and hours (No timestamps)
- UI becomes sluggish with extensive amount of data (Which easily is entered)
- Sync issues when multiple users are logged in at the same time

Thinglist

There are so many things we want to do in life, but we also have so many things we forget about. Most "to-do list" apps are really for chores whether it be for work or personal. Thinglist remembers the things that you want to watch, eat, buy, listen, read, drink and go, and the people you want to meet in life. It keeps a holistic view around the things you want to do in life – Not in a day. 

How do I use it? Whenever I notice something I want to try, say, a product, I immediately add it to the list, so I can always check back when I ask myself, "What was that thing I wanted?". I had Thinglist installed close to a year now and have well over 50 items added to it. Thinglist has helped me enjoy films, products, music and places at the time I wanted. It also stamps a date on every entry, so you instantly get the immense feeling of achievement, realizing that the wait was worth it all.

+ Super simple (I like that)
+ Fun transitions
+ Colourful icons
+ 100% appropriate font
+ No-brainer filter options

iOS 7 (Beta 1)

After having a good play around with iOS 7 (beta 1), here's what I told my boss :

"... It's a big change. Definitely feels hollow comparing to the previous, but you get used to it quite quickly. UI is just stripped out to the basics - Which is good, they can build on it from there. It has some issues to be looked at graphically, but the UX is wonderful. It feels like they threw out two-decade worth of garbage to give everyone (designers) a chance for a fresh start. You will hate it :) "

Verbs

I regularly use Google Talk services for keeping in touch with friends to banter about a random subjects in interest. There are many reasons why I choose Google's IM service over any others, but I will leave that for later. 

I had to hack through a lot of useless and over-priced IM apps with support for Google Talk (with an added "cringe factor") to dig out this little piece of gem. Verbs has a nice clean UI that keeps to the point : Chat. You simply enter your Google login details and it's done - You're on Google Talk and push messages follow once you start receiving messages. Although there are some features I have not yet used (such as attaching a file via cloud storage), but it really focuses on the user's main task and gets it right.

What I truly like about Verbs, is that the message recipient isn't just a list item. People who you were already chatting with are given their own window, which you can swipe through to read their past messages. I didn't think this was a big deal at first, but turns out it's handier than reading one-liners in a long list of reciepients like what iMessages does.

For $1.29, it's a decent little app that gets the job done with (minimalistic) style.

+ Minimalistic UI
+ Easy to setup
- Pro version with push message extension costs $5.29
- Some of the gesture target areas are not sufficient enough