My purpose in life is to spread happiness. Every app I use is in some way fulfilling that purpose. For me, successful apps are single-purpose nuggets of delight that make a small part of my life easier, more effective, and more enjoyable.
Pivotal Tracker is a tool that helps you manage software projects. It helps your team keep track of issues, set priorities, and define milestones. Albert Einstein said, “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,” and Pivotal Tracker is the perfect example of that.
Slack is another great collaboration app. On the surface it’s just a combination of unlimited private chat rooms, file storage, and a lightning fast search engine. When you go deeper, you’ll discover a magic mix that helps you collaborate at a much faster pace than email. Everything is organized, instantaneous, and easy to find.
DropBox is my favorite way to keep track of files. There are lots of alternatives, and some may even be better or cheaper, but for me DropBox has the right mix of “it just works” and ubiquity.
Although I’ve tried many different mail and calendar options, I still fall back to Apple Mail and Calendar. I use Mail Act-On as an add-on to create rules that make mail much more efficient. I also use Fantastical on my Mac to quickly create new appointments and glance at my day.
Evernote keeps track of my thoughts. It gets out of the way when I’m thinking or paying attention, and it makes it easy to organize and search my notes. Although I’m not a paperless fanatic, I often need to scan something and I usually end up using Scanner Pro from ACT | The App Association member Readdle. Using this iPhone app is so much faster and more convenient than old-fashioned, bulky scanning equipment!
I love books and I use both iBooks and the Kindle app to read them. While I prefer reading books on my Kindle Voyage, I’ve found that my iPhone 6 Plus has just enough screen real estate to make reading comfortable when I have an unexpected 15 minutes.
Security & Backup
When it comes to security and backup, only the paranoid survive! I couldn’t live without 1Password, which keeps track of all my desktop and mobile passwords. For backup, I use a combination of Time Machine and Backblaze.
When using WiFi hotspots, I use VyperVPN to keep my connection encrypted and prevent people from examining my unencrypted web and app traffic. It’s also nice to be able to watch Netflix movies when traveling abroad.
I love Ruby On Rails for server apps — it’s still the most efficient and joyful way for me to build web applications and web APIs. The Ruby language is a joy to use and the Rails framework takes the philosophy of the Ruby language to the next level. Heroku makes apps easy to deploy and instantly scalable (as long as I follow a few simple principles).
For iOS apps, I love Xcode and the Swift programming language. They’re both made by Apple, so they are both elegant and quirky in their own way, often yielding unexpected moments of joy. Because of my love of the Ruby language, I am also a huge fan of RubyMotion, which lets you use Ruby to build iOS, Mac, and Android apps.
I’m not much of a gamer, but one game I love is Threes. Like the game of Poker, it takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to perfect.
I use the Apple Health app to track my number of steps (automatically) and weight (about once a week). Getting my heart rate up a few times a day is a health goal, and I look forward to tracking this automatically when the Apple Watch is released. Although I like to eat healthy, I don’t track calories or any other food-related metrics. Too much work, too little value.
For meditation, I use a meditation timer that I created for myself. I looked at many meditation apps in the App Store but found them maddeningly complicated and inelegant, so I built my own. It’ll soon be in the App Store with some surprise, never-seen-before, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously useful features and a level of grace that will quiet your mind like nobody’s business. Stay tuned!