Tag Archives | iOS

iOS App equivalents for Mac Apps I use

I regularly use 70 different Apps on my Mac. With the advent of iPad Pro there has been a lot of talk about using one as a Mac replacement. It’s also possible that I may have to use a Windows PC in work at some point. Could an iPad Pro give me the apps I really like, if I can’t use the Mac versions in that scenario?

The table blow shows the 70 Apps I use and what iOS equivalents I have, to could get. Not to bad actually. Nearly a 1:1 ratio of Mac app to the same iOS App. I could survive on iOS if I had to. Luckily I don’t, and can choose OSX or iOS depending on circumstance.

Mac AppiOS AppNotes
1Password 61Password
Airmail 2Spark
Audio Hijack
Citrix ReceiverCitrix Receiver
Day One ClassicDay One
DVD PlayerVideos
Fantastical 2Fantastical
Google ChromeSafari
iA WriteriA Writer
iTunesApple Music
Logic Pro XGarageBand
MailStewardLiteCan archive mail on Mac periodically
Marked 2
Microsoft ExcelMicrosoft Excel
Microsoft OutlookMicrosoft Outlook
Microsoft PowerPointMicrosoft PowerPoint
Microsoft WordMicrosoft Word
OmniGraffleOmniGraffleDifferent. The Mac version is better
OmniPlanOmniPlanDifferent. The Mac version is better
OmniPresenceOmniSync Server
Papers 3.4.3Papers
Parallels DesktopRemote Desktop to VM could be used. Azure Maybe
PDF ExpertPDF Expert
PopClipBuilt into iOS
ScrivenerScrivener for iOS is in beta
Toolbox for KeynoteExists for iOS if I want it
TransmitExists for iOS if I want it
Xojo 2016

Windows 8 Launch day is here

Just watched the New York Windows 8 launch event video. It does look like a great stride forward for Microsoft. I think iOS is better choice for consumers, but it’d be hard to be really annoyed about using Windows 8 if forced via work or for other reasons. With the new UI of course. The Windows 7 style desktop is a daft idea for mobile devices. They should have split the OS UI across devices, with core technology on both and had the ability to run new UI apps on desktops/laptops in another Windows 7 style window.

Who’s planning on going all in on Windows 8? Let me know on Twitter or App.Net I’m happy in the Apple ecosystem myself. Will use Windows 8 VM when in office (cant ditch Windows 7 until remote access VPN and Anti-virus supports Windows 8) with Office 2013 apps.

Typed and posted from my iPad 🙂

Seven is the new black

So Google have announced the Nexus 7 Android tablet. Available to pre-order now from the Google play store and shipping in a few weeks. It’s priced very aggressively at £159 in UK ($199 US) and will be running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It actually looks pretty good. No carrier stuff stuck on top of the base Android. Consensus seems to be that the main competitor to this is the Amazon Kindle Fire.

I think that this new Nexus 7 will also have an impact on the iPad tablet market. The cheapest iPad in the UK is £329. That’s for the iPad 2 that is still for sale. The 3rd Generation iPad, with its simply stunning screen, starts at £399. That means that the Nexus is well under half the price of the cheapest iPad. It’s true that the iPad, with its higher resolution screen, can be used for different types of tablet apps than are possible on a 7 inch screen. But I think that the low entry price of the Nexus will cause people to stop and think about what to buy. Especially in schools. Getting two Nexus tablets for each iPad will help schools deliver on a 1:1 device programme.

So what should Apple do? I think that they should do a 7 inch tablet device. But I don’t think it should be an iPad 7. They should use the iPod brand to fill this space. It’s clear that over the last few years that the iPhone has cannibalised some of the iPod sales. The iPod touch with the 3.5 retina display still sells well. It’s like an iPhone without the mobile radio, which is useful in a lot of situations. I think that Apple should target the 7-inch touch device market with an iPod touch 7. It would give people the option of using the iOS platform, at a lower price point than the £329 and higher cost for iPad. This would leave the iPad name for the premium tablet space (which Apple owns). An iPod touch 7 could run current iPhone and iPod touch apps doubled up. On a 7 inch retina screen this would be okay. Developers would need design new apps targeted at the 7 inch screen as well.

I wonder if we’ll see an iPod touch 7 at this years September iPod event.

National App Development Month – NaAppDevMo

I’m deep into NaNoWriMo for the 2nd year at present. It’s designed to get you to forget about reasons why you can’t write a novel length piece of fiction (well 50,000 words anyway, a short novel!) and just get you writing with abandon for the month of November. It’s great fun, and it works. Seeing that relentless slope add 1667 words to where you should be every day is a great motivator. No one expects the 50,000, or more, words that you will have in Scrivener on the 1st December will be something that can be published. No, what you will have will be a chunk of a story that you can add to, edit like blazes, and maybe at some point in the future, have something good. NaNoWriMo is a kick-starter.

I was thinking recently that it would be useful to have a month to focus on doing an app from start to finish. I’ve dabbled with development for ages, without knuckling down and getting something done. I’ve decided to do it in December. Take 31 days and use my spare time to do an iPhone app that I want for myself. I floated the idea on Twitter and a few people seemed interested in doing something themselves. Of course I’m doing an iPhone app, but there is no reason that any other sort of app couldn’t be done. A Macintosh app, a Windows Phone 7 app, an Android app, a web app, or an app for whatever platform you like.

I know what my App will be. I want it for when I’m travelling. None of the iPhone travel apps do this one task the way I want it to work. Or if they do, they link to web services where you need to have an account etc. And all the other features of the web service and app, that I just don’t want, get in the way. Keep it simple! So the goal of NaAppDevMo for me is to provide a rigid timeframe and a structure within which I can get this basic app done.

Like in NaNoWriMo you are not going to produce an app that will make you a fortune, or maybe even make it to the App Store. But what it might give you is the confidence that you can take a concept for an App from design, through to running on your device (or in a simulator). This will hopefully show you that it is possible for you to do App development. Even if it’s just as a hobby and for fun. And if your App is useful you can spend time over the next few months maybe refining it and releasing it for others to use.

To do NaNoWriMo successfully most people need to do some planning up front, so that they have scenes and ideas ready to write about at the start of November. The same would be true for NaAppDevMo. Some planning would be useful. Outlining what the App you are going to design and produce should do would be a good start. I’d say keep it simple and do an app that performs one task really well. I’d make it a real task though. One that you would find useful yourself.

There is a Twitter hashtag #NaAppDevMo that you can use to post status updates if you are going to participate, or just follow it to see how others are getting on. There won’t be a website like the one there is for NaNoWriMo. Post blog posts on your own site, updates on Twitter, or on FaceBook about your progress.

Here are some pointers to resources for iOS development that you may find useful if just starting out. These are just a small sample of the resources out on the web for new iOS programmers. Post others you think would be useful on Twitter using the #NaAppDevMo tag. Post any you think would be useful for other platforms as well if you are targeting them.

Beginner iOS Development Tutorials

There are some great looking new iOS 5 development tutorials on the iOS Apprentice site. These are epic length tutorials that take you from start to a finished app. So a great resource if you are just starting out with iOS development. The 1st tutorial in the series is free. It’d be well worth doing the 3 that are available now before doing your own app in December. The tutorials cover the new iOS 5 additions that you will want to use. Like ARC, so you don’t have to do manual memory management, and Storyboards to allow you to design the workflow of your app.

Stanford University have a complete series of lectures on iTunesU for their course CS 193P iPhone Application Development. The current series of lectures is being posted as they are available. They cover iOS 5.

App Design

For iPhone app design the book Tapworthy by Josh Clark is a very good resource. Apple have some great user interface design sessions available on iTunesU. You have to be a member of the Apple Developer Program to access these. I’m not sure if they are available to people with the free membership. If you are doing iOS dev then the paid option is useful if you want to run your apps on physical devices to test. It’s $99 (£69 in UK). You can run your apps in the Xcode simulator if you are not a paid member of the iOS developer program.

Some essential videos to watch:

WWDC 2009 Session 100 – iPhone Interface Design – Basic iPhone design. Might be a bit dated now, but good foundation.

WWDC 2010 Session 103 – iPad and iPhone User Interface Design – The 6 stage app design process outlined in this session is great.

WWDC 2011 Session 110 – Designing User Interfaces for iOS and Mac OS X Apps – The latest update on how to design apps. Based on last few years of actual use and experience of Apps out in the world.


There are lots of good beginner level books out there for iOS development. For NaAppDevMo I’d go with the iOS Apprentice tutorials as a start. You might want a book on Objective-C so here are 2 very new ones. One is a new edition that covers ARC etc. and is due on 15th December.

Programming in Objective-C: Updated for iOS 5 and Automatic Reference Counting

Objective-C Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide



My favourite iPad apps

Lots of people are buying iPads. Many of them ask me what my favourite iPad apps are. This Soapbox post is my response. I’ll point people to here when they ask me about good apps. It’s also worthwhile following the #goodiPadApps hashtag on Twitter.

I’ll add more explanation as to why I like these apps over time. But I’ll start with a list and links to the App Store.

Productivity Apps

Apple Pages – Word processing and page layout application. Reads and writes Pages for Macintosh files and also Microsoft Word files.

Apple Keynote – Word processing and page layout application. Reads and writes Pages for Macintosh files and also Microsoft PowerPoint files.

Apple Numbers – Word processing and page layout application. Reads and writes Pages for Macintosh files and also Microsoft Excel files.

MindJet – Mind mapping application. Just out. Seems very good.

OmniGraffle – Diagramming app. For doing network and organisational chart type diagrams.

Apple iMovie – For editing video.

OmniOutliner – For taking notes in an outliner form.

OmniFocus – The best Getting Things Done® app. Syncs with Macintosh and iPhone versions. I like OmniFocus a lot!

OmniGraphSketcher – If you need an app to visualise data and produce graphs, including logarithmic ones, then this is great.

Reading Apps

Apple iBooks – eBook reader. Used for books from the Apple iBooks store. Also reads standard ePub and PDF files. I use this for most of my book and PDF reading. I do most of my reading on iPad now. Only buy paper when I can’t get a book as an eBook.

Amazon Kindle – eBook reading app for iPad that allows you to read Kindle books on iPad. I use this when I can’t get an ebook I want from iBook Store. Kindle store has a much better selection of books than iBook Store. Kindle app isn’t as nice as iBooks, but it’s fine.

Reeder – This is a great RSS news feed reading app. Sync with Google Reader. There are also Macintosh and iPhone versions that stay in sync across devices. Any app that uses Google Reader will stay in sync with Reeder.


Science Apps

Redshift – Astronomy – Another great astronomy app. I use this as well as Pocket Universe. I like the way Redshift allows you to virtually fly from Earth to distant stars 🙂

Solar System for iPad – An interactive eBook app that gives lots of information about the Solar System.

Exoplanet – Great app that alerts you when new extra-solar planets are discovered. Also has visual charts showing how far the new planets orbit from their stars. Plus other great data visualisations.

The Elements – An interactive Periodic Table of the Elements. From Theodore Gray of Wolfram Research. They also did Solar System for iPad above. The Elements is visually stunning. I love it 🙂



iPassword – Great secure locker for passwords. Get the Pro version if you have an iPhone as well. It runs on both devices. I had the separate iPhone version already.

Soulver – Natural language calculator. Understands commands like “$70 in £” and “38% of 237”. A brilliant app.

PCalc – The best traditional calculator app. Use the Twilight theme. Its ace.


More to follow…