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Entries in iPhone (7)


Hello OmniFocus!

OmniFocus Flurry Icon

OMNIFOCUS has been on my mind lately, as I've been looking for a better way to keep myself on track with the complex load of projects in my life.

I'd been using Things on the Mac, iPhone and iPad, but for various reasons, wasn't satisfied with how it was working for me.

I'd been hearing good things about OmniFocus from Kevin Farner, Shawn Blanc, Merlin Mann and others I follow. Last weekend, I decided to jump in and pick up the Mac and iPhone versions of OmniFocus.

It's been less than a week, but already I'm happy I've made the switch to OmniFocus. It's powerful, but I especially appreciate the multiple ways I can view the same tasks: by project, by context, by due date or even in a custom view.

While I'm still very much an OmniFocus newbie, I wanted to share some resources for others who might be considering OmniFocus or seeking more information about how to work best with OmniFocus.

Web Articles

Shawn Blanc: A Sledgehammer Called OmniFocus
Jonathan Christopher: How I Use OmniFocus to Help Get Things Done
David Sparks: Review - OmniFocus and also Planning to Plan
OFThemes: OmniFocus Themes
Asian Efficiency: Using OmniFocus


The Omni Group: OmniFocus, GTD and You
Kourosh Dini: Creating flow with Omnifocus


David Sparks: OmniFocus Ninja Tricks
The Omni Group: Mastering Workflow: using OmniFocus for iPad

Hopefully these resources will help those interested in OmniFocus to make the jump or provide good reference for current users of the tools.

If you have additional resources I can add here, please leave a comment.

Icon by Damien Huze

iPhone 4S Impressions

Compare hero iphone4s

TWO WEEKS AGO my new iPhone 4S arrived and I'm loving it. Here are some general impressions of the 4S hardware and iOS 5 software.


I'm in love with the physical hardware of the iPhone 4S. The blend of glass and metal are stylish, solid and feel great in my hand. I like the organic shape of my iPhone 3GS, but the hardware feels cheaper.

The iPhone's weight and heft feels substantial and luxurious, its metal buttons and switches are firm and work crisply. I've heard the iPhone 4/4S described as something Braun's Dieter Rams' would design — an apt description.

However, the glass front and back of the 4S seems more breakable and a little slippery, so I've kept the iPhone in a case since opening the box. With a curious 2 year old in my life, a protective case truly is a necessity.

I've chosen the Griffin Elan Form Graphite case, which I quite like the look and feel of, not to mention the 'curious 2 year old' protection features.

Retina Display

Coming from a standard 320x480 resolution screen, the Retina Display is simply beautiful. I can't imagine going back to a standard screen.


Again, compared to the iPhone 3GS, which was released in 2009, the iPhone 4S' A5 chip just flies. This might be less of a speed gain for an iPhone 4 user, but seems to confirm that the iPhone 4S is aimed squarely at people upgrading from old phones of all sorts — both smartphones and dumbphones.

Battery Life

I found the battery life great on the 4S, especially compared to the life of my old 3GS. While not as amazing as the iPad's 10 hours under heavy strain, going a complete day with battery life left in the tank is great for a device like this.

Some iPhone 4S owners are reporting terrible battery life. I found an article at Macworld by Christopher Breen that may help if you're having battery issues.


Apple's iOS 5 update has worked well on the iPhone 4S and worked well on the iPhone 3GS as well — though the speed is of course much better on the 4S.

Generally speaking, the update is subtle, with added features and new details added in a way that feels like a very natural improvement.

I'm making limited use of iCloud right now, choosing to sync and backup the iPhone to my Mac, while having preferences and other standard details synced up to iCloud. I'll need to review this as time goes on.

Graham Spencer wrote a very helpful article for MacStories on migrating/managing an iCloud account if you had been sharing a single .Mac account with a family before updating to iCloud and iOS 5.

Siri and Text Dictation

I was most skeptical about Siri when the 4S arrived, but I'm becoming a believer in this feature after 2 weeks of use. I have a 20-30 minute commute from home to work 3 days per week in which I won't text or make calls on the road.

Siri has allowed me to check my schedule on the way down to the office and then dictate texts to my wife before leaving work in the evenings — to pick up groceries or food on my way home.

I've just bought a Plantronics Marque M155 Bluetooth headset this week, and I'm excited to start using it to make full use of Siri during my commute time.

Text dictation overall seems stunningly accurate, which encourages me to make use of it when it makes sense.


The camera is amazing. Compared to the 3GS, well there is no comparison. While my Canon S95 shoots incredible photos, the lens in the 4S is quite close for a point and shoot. I'm most amazed at how bright the lens in the 4S is.

Harley toy

The video camera is also similarly amazing. I've only explored it briefly this past weekend, shooting some experimental HD footage at DrawCamp Milwaukee:

Video this good has me thinking about a little tripod and maybe a steady cam rig to start shooting more video with the iPhone 4S.

Here are a few more samples of iPhone 4S video — first a comparison of footage from a Canon 5D Mk II and iPhone 4S by Robine Films and second, is Framed, an artistic short story from Mael Sevestre shot completely on a 4S:

iPhone 4S / Canon 5d MKII Side by Side Comparison:


Overall Impressions

The iPhone 4S is a very solid, elegant device. The integration of software and hardware make it a wonderful machine that suits my needs perfectly.


iPhone Photography

THE BEST CAMERA is the one you have with you. For me, that's my iPhone 3GS. I love having a decent camera with me at all times — and lately I've been especially enjoying Camera+ the $2 iPhone app.

Photos are captured in a lightbox, allowing me to shoot almost continuously. The app has convenient post-exposure controls and a variety of cool filters. I love posting images to Flickr, Twitter and Facebook immediately after they're shot.

Here are a few favorite photos captured with my iPhone:

Earth to Linnea! Do You Copy?
Summer SwingTV Time With Dad
Wet Cement 2
Railbridge at NoonRadiating Circle Grid iPhone Wallpaper

Because my photos turn out so well, I find myself shooting and experimenting with levels and filters all the time. Here's a full set of images captured on the iPhone.


iPhone Sketchnote Wallpapers

Had some fun this month, taking my sketchnotes and creating 4 iPhone wallpapers:

Blog Portada 010
Photo: Raul Reynoso

“Drawing is How I Think” iPhone Wallpaper

Die IE6 DIE! iPhone Wallpaper

Mr T iPhone Wallpaper

Buffalo Bill iPhone Wallpaper

Check out the Sketchnote Wallpapers set on Flickr. Select "All Sizes" and grab a copy of the full-size 320 x 480 pixel version for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

I've also created the "Die IE6 DIE!" wallpaper for the Motorola Droid.



Bullfrog Touch Logo & iPhone UI Design

outer-level-logo100.pngIn May 2008, Jon Trainer of Outer Level software came to me with a then confidential project — designing an icon and a UI screen for a top secret iPhone native application called Bullfrog Touch.

I've worked with Jon for years — designing the Outer Level logo, and creating an icon for LicenseKeeper, so I was happy to help translate his popular Mac OS X app Bullfrog to the iPhone.

Bullfrog Touch Logo Design

The first challenge was creating a new logo for the Bullfrog Touch application. I needed to incorporate the existing Mac OS X Bullfrog cartoon icon, created by Jordan Langille and adapt it to the iPhone. With the bullfrog icon on the left I chose Arial Rounded Bold for the Bullfrog font, applying a bright green glow in Fireworks.

Bullfrog Touch Logo

In the open space to the top-right of the Bullfrog text, TOUCH fit perfectly. I stayed with Arial Rounded Bold in all caps, adding jumbled alignments to visually suggest a bullfrog's jumping action and for a bit of contrast.

Bullfrog Touch Score Screen UI Design

Next challenge Jon needed help with visually was the scores screen. Jon had a rough idea of what he wanted, provided in a mockup screenshot I could use for reference:


Using Jon's sample as a rough starting point, I began researching screens on my iPod touch and online, to see how Apple and other developers had dealt with UI elements, fonts, colors, sizing and so on. After the research phase, I built a mockup in Fireworks, right on top of Jon's original sample screenshot:

Bullfrog Touch Scores UI Design

My goal was to make the scores screen clear, easy to read and use, while maintaining look and feel of the new logo into the UI design.

Jon was happy with the results, using the mockup and exported files as a reference for the final application UI. The colors and button styles and some of the elements were changed, resized and tweaked, but are still pretty close to my mockup.

Here's my original mockup next to the the final Bullfrog Touch scores screen:


Conclusion? That was fun, I want to do it again!

It was an interesting and enjoyable challenge working with Jon on this iPhone UI design project. I look forward to helping others on future iPhone app projects to keep exploring this fascinating new UI design space.

Bullfrog Touch was chosen as one of the best iPhone/iPod touch games to give as a gift, in the TidBITS Gift Guide 2008

Jon Trainer has a post about the design process on his company blog.

Thanks Jon!