Sunrise: A Beautiful and Fast Calendar App for iOS

I’m a sucker for a beautiful calendar app. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a little difficult to find one that balances form with the right functionality. Enter Sunrise.

I’ve had this app nestled in the “Update Watch” folder of my iPhone and have been following all of the little design and functionality tweaks along the way. I have never cared  much for the native Calendar app, and especially did not like the changes that came with iOS7. There are some great alternatives, and I have tested most of them, but after spending about 5 minutes on Sunrise after their last update, the app went straight to my front page. Sunrise works with Google and iCloud calendars, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, and Producteev (really hoping more project/task management apps are added down the road).
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Some features that I love:

  1. Weather – Sunrise shows you today’s and tomorrow’s morning, afternoon, and evening weather forecasts. Nice to get that information when checking my day’s schedule in the morning.
  2. Foursquare Sync – I like being able to browse back through my calendar and see what I was doing on that one Saturday last month.
  3. Open address directions in Google Maps or Apple Maps. Options, folks.
  4. Assignable icons for different types of events, most of which are automatic. Coffee mug icon for coffee meetings, telephone icon for scheduled calls, etc.
  5. Write on Facebook friends’ wall on their birthday without leaving app. Efficiency.
  6. It’s so dang beautiful, sleek, and fast.

So here’s the thing. Sunrise is FREE. So you have no reason to NOT try it out. Download the app here.

Are you using Sunrise? How do you like it? What made you switch to Sunrise over other apps on the market?

I Joined the Dollar Shave Club

If there’s one thing I love, it’s discovering a way to make something in my life just a little more convenient and simple. Add to that a way to save a little bit of money, and I’m sold!

I recently started a subscription with the Dollar Shave Club, and I love it. If you are looking for a way to save money on blades and never having to run out, this is a great option. You choose which level of subscription you want based on what of blade you want and how frequently you need them, and let them handle the rest from there. The blades are priced right and having them shipped straight to your mailbox is super convenient.

I currently use the Humble Twin blade. I don’t really need anything more than that since the only shaving I do is a weekly trimming beneath my beard. And for that, these blades are perfect. Quality wise, they are your standard twin blade razors, nothing fancy. They seem to last as long as any other name brand twin blade razor that I’ve used.

Because of my limited need for shaving, I only pay $1 plus $2 shipping every two months and I get 5 blades in my mailbox every two months. So for $18 per year, I stay readily stocked with razors and never have to worry about buying new blades or running out. Super easy. I love super easy. I also love their clever video, featured below.

Check them out at http://dollarshaveclub.com.

 

3 Apps to Help You Read More and Share More

If you are looking to spend more time this year reading about things that you love or discovering new interests and sharing more with your social networks, here are three great apps to help you do so. Each of these apps have become part of my daily routine of sifting through articles, finding ones of interest or educational value, and then sharing many of those with my followers.

Feedly

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When Google announced that it was pulling the plug on Google Reader, a certain level of panic ensued. I was using Reeder for iOS and Mac at the time, and was quickly looking for another option, even though Reeder had plans to ride out the transition (they now integrate with Feedly).

Feedly quickly jumped in to the rescue, providing a replacement for Google Reader. The apps were already pretty slick and only got better and better with new updates. Now I can’t remember how I ever operated without Feedly before all of this. From form to function, they have really put together one stellar experience for efficiently plowing through hundreds of blogs or thousands of headlines.

Feedly integrates with Buffer and enables you to easily add new links and updates to your Buffer. This comes in handy when browsing through a ton of interesting articles and allows you to space out sharing those articles on Twitter or elsewhere, instead of bombarding your followers with a flood of links in a short period of time.

Feedly is FREE on all available platforms. Click here to sign up, or if you already use Feedly, click here to add this blog to your reading list.

Pocket

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Previously known as Read It Later, Pocket serves as a place for you to save and tag any interesting website, article, video and more for you to revisit at a later time.

I use Pocket closely with Feedly. I subscribe to hundreds of blogs and in no way have time to read every article posted. Instead, I simply scan through article titles and if I come across one that looks like something I want to read but not right that second, I use the “Add to Pocket” feature. The article is then saved and I continue scrolling.

At some point later, I go to Pocket and browse through my articles. Pocket provides a great reading experience as it strips away all of the website’s clutter and provides you with just the content. If there is something I want to share, I just add it to my Buffer, an option that is built in to each of Pocket’s apps.

Pocket is FREE on all available platforms. Click here to sign up.

Buffer

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I have loved using Buffer for some time now. Buffer started as a simple way to load up tweets or updates and it would take care of spacing those out throughout the day. You simply set a particular posting schedule for each social network or use the default schedule and just start adding posts. Buffer has since added the option for users to schedule particular posts for a specific date and time, instead of just adding them to your regular schedule.

I use Buffer most when reading articles in either Feedly or Pocket. When I find one I want to share, I add it to Buffer and select which networks I want it to send to. Buffer can currently sync to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, App.net, and Google+ Pages. I’m really looking forward to the day when I can use it to post to my personal Google+ page.

So if you are wanting to start sharing more to your social networks and need an easy way to schedule them out throughout the day, Buffer is the best option.

Buffer is FREE for personal use on all available platforms, and they also feature upgraded plans that allow for more Buffer space, more networks, and collaboration with other social media managers. Click here to sign up.


Do you currently use Feedly, Pocket, or Buffer? If so, how do you use them? What do you love about them?

Wake Up with Clocky or Tocky

If you are anything like me, getting out of bed early in the morning can be a struggle. For mornings that I MUST get up early, I usually set my phone somewhere that requires me to get out of bed to turn the alarm off. Otherwise, I will continue to just hit snooze.

Nanda Home has created some really cool alarm clocks, the Clocky and the Tocky, that force you to get out of bed in order to turn them off. When it’s time for you to wake up, these clocks sound the alarm and then take off rolling, off of your side table and somewhere away from you. The perfect gadget for folks like me!

I like the simple design of the Tocky, myself. Check out the video below and visit Nanda Home’s website to see more.

Omnifocus 2 – Beautifully Functional

One of my biggest obstacles to really being able to use Omnifocus regularly was the app’s design and interface. Omnifocus has always been a pretty robust GTD app, and until now the complexity of the app never felt totally fluid and intuitive for me to fit into my workflow. It also felt very dated aesthetically.

Omnifocus 2 changes all of that. It’s beautifully designed and still has the full feature set that it did before, but the user experience has been crafted in such a way as to make the app feel clean, simple, and somewhat minimalistic.

I can’t wait to see what the Mac app will look like next year.

One of the things I love most about iOS7 is the app redesigns. I’m also looking forward to what Cultured Code does with Things.

Add Tasks to Your Wunderlist Inbox via Siri and SMS

I have been a long-time fan of Wunderlist. It has become my go-to app for task management, and I’ve tested just about every task management / gtd app out there. I’m also very picky about what sort of functionality I want out of an app. For me, Wunderlist has come to implement just about everything I want; sharing, recurring tasks, cloud sync, webapp, native reminders for each device, email tasks to Wunderlist inbox, and the ability to view tasks by Today, Week, All, or by task list. Oh and it’s beautifully designed and is FREE!

However, with all of this, there has been one feature that I have been wanting to see for some time: integration with Apple’s Reminders app and therefore the ability to add tasks to my Wunderlist inbox via Siri. This was one feature that I loved so much when I used Things and Omnifocus. Any task / reminder added to my Reminders app would sync to my inbox in Things. Omnifocus would even sync the date and time of the reminder. This was a great workaround for using Siri to add new tasks.

Now, thanks to the new IFTTT (If This Then That) app for iPhone, this is now possible. IFTTT does exactly what its name says. You connect it with one of many various applications and create recipes, which consist of triggers that take an action of one app and do something in another app. For example, I use Box.net for all of my personal and family photo storage. I have a recipe that automatically pulls any photo I post to Instagram and saves it in a folder on Box.net. Pretty cool, but not what this article is about…

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If you would like the convenience of being able to use Siri to add tasks to your Wunderlist inbox, you can add this recipe here. If you want to build the recipe manually, here is all you have to do. (*note: you will need a Gmail address associated with your Wunderlist account.)

  1. Open the IFTTT iPhone app or log in on the web.
  2. Go to the create a new recipe page. For the first trigger (This), find the SMS channel. If you have never activated this channel, IFTTT will guide you through the steps of setting up your phone number with this channel. Follow the steps, enter your pin, and click activate.
  3. Next, find the Gmail channel for the second trigger (That). The Gmail account that you use for this channel should be the same as the one associated with your Wunderlist account. The email address that you will be sending to is me@wunderlist.com.
  4. Once the recipe is created, find it in your recipe list, open it and click “Edit recipe.” Click in the Subject box and add {{}} around the word “Message” if it is not already set up this way. It should read {{Message}}. You don’t need anything in the Body box. Click Update.

Now, go to your contacts and create a Wunderlist contact if you don’t already have one. Add the phone number that IFTTT gave you for your SMS channel. You can also add me@wunderlist.com to the email address section. Now, just fire up Siri and tell her to “Text Wunderlist.” The message should be the task that you are adding. Siri will then text the IFTTT number, which will then send an email to Wunderlist with the message as the subject, which will then create a task in your Wunderlist inbox with that message as the task title. Voila!

A cool added benefit of using this method is that you can share the Wunderlist contact card from your phone with family, friends, or coworkers, who can then send tasks to your Wunderlist inbox just by texting a task to that contact. They don’t even need to be Wunderlist users themselves, and they don’t ever have to touch an IFTTT recipe to do so. So I can now essentially create a way for anyone to send me tasks.

Add Tasks to Your Wunderlist Inbox via Siri and Apple Reminders

I have been a long-time fan of Wunderlist. It has become my go-to app for task management, and I’ve tested just about every task management / gtd app out there. I’m also very picky about what sort of functionality I want out of an app. For me, Wunderlist has come to implement just about everything I want; sharing, recurring tasks, cloud sync, webapp, native reminders for each device, email tasks to Wunderlist inbox, and the ability to view tasks by Today, Week, All, or by task list. Oh and it’s beautifully designed and is FREE!

However, with all of this, there has been one feature that I have been wanting to see for some time: integration with Apple’s Reminders app and therefore the ability to add tasks to my Wunderlist inbox via Siri. This was one feature that I loved so much when I used Things. Any task / reminder added to my Reminders app would sync to my inbox in Things. This was a workaround for using Siri to add new tasks. Now, thanks to the new IFTTT (If This Then That) app for iPhone, this is now possible.

IFTTT does exactly what its name says. You connect it with one of many various applications and create recipes, which consist of triggers that take an action of one app and do something in another app. For example, I use Box.net for all of my personal and family photo storage. I have a recipe that automatically pulls any photo I post to Instagram and saves it in a folder on Box.net. Pretty cool, but not what this article is about…

If you would like the convenience of being able to use Siri to add tasks to you Wunderlist inbox, here is all you have to do. You just need a Gmail account that is associated with your Wunderlist account and the IFTTT iPhone app. This recipe utilizes the “Mail to Wunderlist” feature, which you can read more about here, if need be.

Let’s get started…

1. Open the IFTTT app and click the Recipe icon in the upper right corner.
Photo Jul 14, 2 54 03 PM2. Click the + in the upper right corner to add new recipe.
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3. Click the Blue + to create first trigger in the recipe; your “If” action.
Photo Jul 14, 2 46 43 PM4. Slide the apps over until you find the iOS Reminders app.
Photo Jul 14, 2 46 19 PM5. Click the Blue + next to “Any new reminder.” Unless you want to use a specific list within your Reminders app. If so, just enter the name of the list on the next screen. You can still use Siri to add tasks to a specific list in Reminders. When she asks you “Shall I create it?”, just tell her to “Add it to my ‘______’ list.” I just set this option to “Any new reminder.”
Photo Jul 14, 2 46 52 PM6. Next, click the Red + for your “That” action. Find the Gmail app. If you haven’t connected your account with IFTTT yet, you will be directed through the steps to do so at this point. You must use the Gmail address that is associated with your Wunderlist account for this recipe to work.
Photo Jul 14, 2 47 07 PM7. Click the Red + next to “Send an email.” On the next screen, you will be asked to enter an email address. Enter me@wunderlist.com and click “Continue.”

8. Now, review your recipe. It should say. “If any new reminder, then send an email from ________@gmail.com.” If so, click “Finish.” We’re almost there!

9. Once, you click finish, you will be taken to your lists of recipes. Click the one you just made (It should be the one at the top).
Photo Jul 14, 2 54 09 PM10. Next, click “Edit Recipe“.
Photo Jul 14, 2 54 18 PM11. Go to the “Subject” section and remove everything except {{Title}} (delete the quotation marks as well). This will ensure that the Subject line, which is what the name of your task will be, remains nice and clean. You can then choose what you want to keep or remove from the “Body” section. Everything there will be added as a Note in the task.
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12. Once you are finished, click “Update.”

13. Now, launch Siri and add a task. I find it easier if you use particular language with Siri. I want to add a task to my Wunderlist inbox, but I don’t want Siri to be the one reminding me about the task. Once I move the task from my inbox to a particular list, I will then add any applicable reminders within Wunderlist. So instead of telling Siri to “Remind me” to do something. I tell it, “Add __________ to my reminders list.” By doing this, Siri will skip the step where she asks you when you want to be reminded. She simply adds it to the list.
Photo Jul 14, 3 01 53 PMPhoto Jul 14, 3 02 01 PM

14. Tell Siri to create it or click confirm and you’re done! You can now go to your Wunderlist inbox and refresh it. Remember, this method uses a series a triggers. You create a Reminder, which triggers IFTTT to send an email to Wunderlist, which then syncs the contents of that email with your Wunderlist app. So you might not see the new task in your inbox the second you add the reminder, but it also doesn’t take several minutes.
Photo Jul 14, 2 53 39 PM

And that’s it! Now, when you have those quick tasks that you need to throw into your Wunderlist inbox, you can just feed them to Siri and deal with them later. Easy peasy!

A cool added benefit of using this method is that you can create shared lists within Reminders with friends, family, or coworkers who can then send tasks to your Wunderlist inbox. They don’t even need to be Wunderlist users themselves, and they don’t ever have to touch an IFTTT recipe to do so. They just add a reminder or task to that shared list. For example, I have created a “Mike” list in Reminders that I have shared with my wife. She can then use Siri on her phone to add tasks to that shared list, and because I have the recipe setup to pull any new reminders, those tasks will then show up in my Wunderlist inbox. So I can now essentially create a way for anyone to send me tasks.