Hicks

Apps of the moment

There are a few apps that I’m particularly enjoying using at the moment, so I thought I’d share in case any of them are news to you:

Choosy

Choosy does a seemingly simple task, and does it very well. For a start, it provides a central preference pane to choose your default browser, but its main thrust is letting you choose which browser to open a link in. You can do this either manually via a chooser display (right), or automatically depending on order of preference.

My favourite feature is ‘behaviour rules’. For example, I get emails from Opera’s internal bug tracking system, and I always want to open these in Opera, no matter what my default browser is at the time. I can now do that with one simple rule set up in Choosy!

For someone like me who still uses several browsers (mainly, but not exclusively, Safari, Chrome and Opera) it doesn’t ‘arf make life easier.

Fantastical

Quite simply, the best calendar app I’ve ever used. Its always handy (sits in the menubar), doesn’t have the vulgar leather stitched interface of iCal (yes I know about Busycal) but is small, neat, and made for humans. Yes, it still has an element of skeumorphism, but in my view its done right – just enough to make it feel warm with the distracting superflous details. As well as the mix of traditional calendar and agenda views, it allows events to be added using human language, with the calendar view filtering live as you type, and adding people and locations. Its a joy to use, and I use it as my one and only desktop calendar app.

And then, two well known apps that I continue to enjoy…

Evernote

This is still my central collection source. I’ve tried all sorts of ways over the years, but the Evernote ecosystem of desktop-web-mobile is still the winner for me. Shared notebooks works brilliantly, and they are constantly evolving the UI (such as the recent subtle Notes redesign). It all goes in here – images, PDFs, notes, draft blog posts, anything I want to remember or keep for later. Its my travel diary, design scrapbook, UI library, recipe and notes book. It was invaluable in writing The Icon Handbook:

There’s still a few niggles with Evernote – for example you can now drag a thumbnail out of the app to export it, but it does so in a format that only Evernote can read. Not really export is it? Despite a few niggles like this, I remain a big fan.

Spotify

I’ve had a on-off relationship with Spotify. In general, I treat it as a way of previewing whole albums before deciding whether to buy them, creating collaborative playlists and getting access to a large music library on my iPhone without any syncing woes.

They’ve done a few wonky things recently (such as requiring Facebook to sign up, sharing everything with Facebook by default) and since joining iTunes match (a service that I’m greatly impressed with) the latter reason is less important. However I’m enjoying a great new Spotify feature: Apps. I love the last.fm and Guardian reviews apps particularly, making it an even better place to discover new music.