Mini-reviews of some non-photography iPhone apps

November 28, 2010

Simplenote ($Free)

Simplenote is a free notepad app with cloud syncing (supported by a relatively unobtrusive ad). You can remove the ad by paying a one-time fee of $5 or by buying a premium subscription for $12 per year.

Your notes are editable on the web. But the big advantage to me is that they're also editable on the free, open-source, and elegantly minimal OS X desktop app Notational Velocity. There are also Windows clients. Seamless cloud sync is very nice to have.

Calvetica ($2.99)

Apple's calendar app is constrained by the requirement that it must be immediately obvious how to use it. If someone picked up an iPhone, went to the calendar, and then didn't know what to do to create an appointment, their experience of the iPhone would be spoiled almost before it began. The disadvantage of that is that creating an appointment requires several steps.

You have to learn to use Calvetica. The advantage of that is that once you have learned to use it (and it's not hard), using it is very quick and painless. If you're looking at a day view and want to create an appointment, you touch the correct hour and start typing.

Calvetica gets and saves its data through iOS’s calendar APIs so you can use both it and the built-in calendar as it suits you.

There are some user-interface decisions that I'd have made differently and I expect that the app will be refined a bit over time. But if I want to create an appointment when I'm out, I'll use Calvetica.

Dialvetica ($1.99)

Dialvetica is from the same folks who created Calvetica. It is, basically, a really smart "Recents" list. Start it and it will show you a list of people it thinks you might want to contact. Touching a name dials that number and there are also icons for email and SMS. Start typing and it will filter the list intelligently. You can type initials or type a stretch of characters from a name or some combination of the two. As you use it, it gets smarter about whom it should put at the top, both by default and as you type.

As with Calvetica, I can see why Apple didn't do this by default. Apple's Contacts list is immediately understandable. Dialvetica requires at least a slightly sophisticated mental model to understand what it's doing. I rarely go through the contacts list now.