Tips for Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Apps for New Year's ResolutionsTo achieve your wishes and dreams, setting goals is an important step. Goals fuel your motivation and as you make progress, seeing the results boosts your self esteem and encourages you to work even harder. The key to success is to make a plan and take action, and eventually you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Great news. Whether you want to get fit, lose 10 pounds, improve your health or help others in 2014, the Life­Topix personal organization app includes what you need to set goals, make plans and track your progress. It’s simple. Below you’ll find a slideshow that provides tips for achieving your New Year’s resolutions.

Good Luck!

Please comment and let us know how your goals are progressing!

LifeTopix 6.0 Guided Tour

Team LightArrow is very excited about our new 6.0 update of LifeTopix, which includes several new features, usability improvements, and defect fixes. LifeTopix 6.0 is available from the Apple App Store as a free update for anyone with previous LifeTopix versions. If you’re new to LifeTopix, it’s available for a limited time at a special price of 99 cents. As a universal app, a single purchase entitles you to use it on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

New Sync Options

We’re happy to introduce Dropbox sync to keep your data in sync across your multiple iOS devices. We’ve also introduced a technology preview of Google Drive sync/backup and restore. You’re welcome to preview it, but we recommend that you utilize Dropbox sync at this time. We’ve made several improvements to iCloud Sync, and we’re working with Apple to resolve issues that affect reliability. However, we’re continuing to consider iCloud Sync a “Technology Preview.” When you update to LifeTopix 6.0, iCloud sync will be disabled. We highly recommend that you switch to Dropbox sync after updating your devices.

To access sync options, tap Settings and then tap Cloud Sync to access the new view shown in the following screenshot. Tap Manage to get started with your device sync setup.

LifeTopix cloud sync

Freehand Drawing & Note Taking

In the 6.0 update, we’ve given freehand drawing and written note taking a complete makeover. Writing and drawing is now easier and provides a richer experience. We’ve added pinch zoom and expand; undo and redo; and the ability to email your drawings directly from the drawing view. Drawing/writing includes an eraser; 40 color choices; alpha capabilities; six shapes including circles and squares; and line width adjustment.

You can create freehand drawing and take notes by choosing Notes + Files from the My Topics view. The screenshot below shows an example of the drawing view with the variety of shapes that you can create.

LifeTopix Freehand Drawing

New Colors in My Topics View

When you open the the My Topics view, you’ll see that we’ve given it a new look. The changes were made to give you easier identification of the 12 topics through varying colors, as shown in the following screenshot.

LifeTopix My Topics View

Configurable Dashboard Navigation

You can now reorder the navigational items in the Dashboard on the left side. Simply tap the i icon, which is identified in the following screenshot, and then drag the items to the position you prefer.

LifeTopix Configure Dashboard

New Themes

You now have the ability to change the main and accent colors that LifeTopix displays throughout the app. Choices include Azure, Beige, Black, Charcoal, Classic Blue, Classic Green, Dark Blue, Dark Red, Deep Ocean, Forest Green, Gold, Hot Orange, Lime Green, Magenta, Mocha, Plum, Scarlet, Slate, and Violet. Themes are not synced across devices, which allows you to create a unique theme for each of your devices.

You can change colors in the My Settings view as shown in the screenshot below.

LifeTopix Themes

New Engage View

As collaboration and support are among our highest priorities, we’ve made it easier for you to locate information about LifeTopix, contact us, and share LifeTopix with your friends, family, and colleagues through the Engage view. We welcome your questions and comments via social media, our website, or directly through email.

By tapping the Smile in the navigation panel of LifeTopix, you can view the central location for sharing via social media, contacting LightArrow, and finding information, as shown in the following screenshot.

Engage View

Support of All Day or Date and Time in Appointments

You now have the ability to view all-day appointments, tasks, projects, trips, and visits at the top of each day, above the list of times. This allows you to easily view other appointments that might be scheduled during the day. The following screenshot shows how all-day items display.

All Day

Person Detail Tap Through To Associated Items

In your Person view, you will now be able to see associated items with a person, and tap the associated items to view the details. For example, in the screenshot below, you’ll see that you can tap [Personal Trainer]: Johnny to view this service provider’s details and any associated appointments, tasks, checklists, reminders, bookmarks, files, audio, photos, video, notes, or services.

Person Tap

Repeat Schedule Improvements

We’ve improved recurring appointments, bills, and tasks. Previously, the maximum number of these items was 72. This number is increased to 150, and performance is improved when this large number of items is created. However, if you’re using an older device, a large number of items may take a few seconds. The following screenshot shows the options for the maximum number of appointments in the My Settings view.

LifeTopix

Photo, Video, and Drawing Thumbnails

In list views, such as the Recently Updated view, thumbnails for photos, videos, and drawings are displayed in place of an icon, as shown in the following screenshot.

LifeTopix Thumbnail

Improved Agenda View

The Agenda view now includes a streamlined Alerts section with overdue and undated items. In addition, you’re now able to open these items directly from this view.

LifeTopix Agenda Alerts

People + Services Usability Enhancement

Groups are now available directly from the People + Services view, which provides easier access to Groups, as shown in the following example.

LifeTopix Groups

Autoscrolling to First Item in Day in Month Views

In My Calendar, when viewing the Day and Month views, LifeTopix will automatically scroll to the first item, which makes it easier for you to view your schedule. For example, when viewing the Day view, if you have a 9:00 am appointment and a 10:00 pm appointment, LifeTopix will automatically scroll so the 9:00 am appointment will be the first item that you see.

Calendar View Performance Enhancements

In this update, you will notice general speed improvements in the My Calendar and Agenda views.

We hope this helps you under­stand how to lever­age the new fea­tures in 6.0. Enjoy!

LifeTopix 5.2 Guided Tour

Team LightAr­row is very excited about our new 5.2 update of Life­Topix, which includes several new features and usability improvements. Life­Topix 5.2 is available immediately from the Apple App Store as a free update for anyone with previous Life­Topix versons. If you’re new to Life­Topix, it’s avail­able for a lim­ited time at a spe­cial price of 99 cents. As a uni­ver­sal app, a sin­gle pur­chase enti­tles you to use it on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

We’re happy to give you a quick tour of the exiting new Life­Topix features, and help you to understand how to take full advantage of the significant changes.

Asana Integration

LifeTopix now syncs Asana projects and tasks across LifeTopix and Asana, which enables you to manage your work-related or personal Asana projects and tasks directly in LifeTopix. The integration allows you to see and manage dated and undated tasks from Asana directly in your LifeTopix Agenda view, LifeTopix Calendar, and LifeTopix Projects + Tasks topic on your  device.

To set up your Asana integration, first find your Asana API key in the Account Settings from the Asana web application, as shown in the following screenshot:

In Online Tasks in your Tasks + Projects topic, you will see that Asana is now included. Tapping Login and entering you API key will allow you to sync your projects and tasks to and from LifeTopix and Asana.

Freehand Handwriting and Drawing

LifeTopix now includes enhanced note-taking. You can draw or write with freehand strokes, view and reorder notes, record audio, add video, or add photos. The new handwriting and drawing feature replicates the experience of freehand writing and sketching, much like using a real pen and paper. Taking handwritten digital notes or drawing sketches directly on the device’s screen makes it easier for you to record notes in class or meetings, save brainstorming sessions, or quickly jot down important to-dos. With 40 colors, adjustable line width, clearing option, and an eraser, you can creatively express your thoughts with a variety of options. The new, streamlined note-taking screen organizes notes by automatically adding the date the note was added, and by sorting each note. You can also arrange items in notes by using drag to reorder. You’ll see the new options in the following screenshot.

Appointment Status

For those who schedule appointments, it is handy to know if the appointment has been confirmed, stayed unconfirmed, or has been completed, or canceled. This is especially helpful for those who schedule appointments with others such as hair stylists, therapists, or others. It is also helpful to set status of your own appointments as confirmed or unconfirmed — making sure that you follow up with your service providers or colleagues. You’ll see the new options in the following screenshot.

LifeTopix New Appointment

Email or Call Contacts Displayed Via Search Results

For your convenience, we’ve added the ability to call or email your contacts directly from your LifeTopix search results. You’ll see the new options in the following screenshot.

 

All Day Calendar Events in Day and Week views

Previously, all-day calendar events from your device calendars blocked out the entire day, which made it difficult to see your other items. Now, all-day events do not obscure your calendar in Day and Week views. You’ll see how all-day events appear in the following screenshot.

Enhanced Calendar Filters

You now have the ability to modify filters on each calendar individually and also for the Agenda view, and to see inactive items (such as previous trips). Previously the main calendar filters applied to all calendars and you could not view inactive items on your individual Task Calendar, Trip Calendar, Expense Calendar, Visitor Calendar, Payment Calendar, Agenda view, and Main calendar. This gives you better control over what you see on each calendar and on the Agenda view. You’ll see the new filter control in the following screenshot.

LifeTopix Calendar Filters

Pull to Refresh

You can now pull to refresh on the touchscreen in multiple views. For example, you can now refresh by dragging  your finger to get recent updates while in the app. This is especially useful if you are using LifeTopix’s integrations, such as Asana, Toodledo, Google Tasks, or Evernote. You’ll see an example of Pull to Refresh in the following screenshot.

LifeTopix Pull to Refresh

Open Items in Agenda View

Undated items are now shown in the Agenda view so items such as Reminders, Shopping, and Tasks don’t through the cracks. You’ll see how undated items appear in the following screenshot.

LifeTopix Agenda View, Undated Items

We hope this helps you under­stand how to lever­age the new fea­tures in 5.2. Enjoy!

Getting Organized After Your Travels — Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of our three part series that covers man­ag­ing your trips and travel with the Life­Topix app. In this series, we’ve been fol­low­ing Polly on her bird­ing trip on the coast of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Polly has returned from her travels, and a brand new year is underway. It’s important for her to get back to her regular routine, and to get acclimated to her work and personal obligations.

Enjoy the fol­low­ing slideshow to get an understanding of how Life­Topix can help Polly combat post-vacation blues, organize her life quickly and simply, and settle back into her normal life and routine.

[This SlideShare was cre­ated using Life­Topix 5.2, which is com­ing soon.]

Create post-vacation to-do lists

Like Polly, most people have a multitude of chores and tasks that pile up while they’re on vacation. Keeping everything you do in one place will make sure that you don’t forget anything important — like picking up Mr. Jinxy from the vet!

Stock the kitchen

After return­ing from a vaca­tion, the refrig­er­a­tor and cup­boards might be bare. Prepa­ra­tion is key. Make sure you have frozen meals stocked before­hand so you have some­thing to eat as soon as you arrive home. Next, cre­ate a shop­ping list and sched­ule time to pur­chase gro­ceries. After eat­ing at restau­rants for an extended period of time, your bud­get might be low and your waist­line might be expand­ing. Home-cooked meals will help solve both issues.

Re-establish a routine

Sometimes it’s an adjustment after travel and holidays to re-establish your normal routine. You’re accustomed to the freedom and enjoyment of doing what you want to do and when you do it. When you return to reality, using software  to schedule your appointments, create your post-vacation to-do lists, monitor your energy level and nutrition, and delegate tasks will help you feel in control of your life.

Keep your energy level up

Taking care of yourself is important after travel because, like Polly, you might be feeling a little deflated. Taking vitamins, drinking water, avoiding highly-processed foods, and re-establishing your exercise routine will help you stay energized. With LifeTopix you can log and track these items and monitor any trends.

Share your experience with friends and reminisce about the good times

LifeTopix makes sharing your travel experience with your friends easy. Your journal, favorite destinations, photos, websites, and people you met are all kept in one place. And with the social media and email sharing of LifeTopix, you can share experiences in just a few taps.

Tweet Us!

We honestly hope this helps you combat post-vacation disorganization and blues. We welcome your questions and comments!

Or even better, send us a tweet @LightArrowInc

Why Most To-do List Apps Are Doomed to Fail

As the iOS, Android, and Windows mobile platforms mature, the devices themselves are becoming more and more useful directly out of the box. The makers are building more features into the OS so users aren’t required to download several apps before finding their devices useful. Of course, the success of 3rd party apps is a key part of the strategy of success for the platforms, but over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the devices include more and more features and apps of their own to raise the Day-One-Experience bar. The continuing commoditization of basic functionality will only increase, sometimes blurring the line between the platform and 3rd party apps. As a consequence, the overly simplistic, one-trick pony apps will continue to lose the most — especially in the categories of productivity and social networking, unless your software is a platform like Evernote, Toodledo, Dropbox, Google, Facebook, or Twitter — and not just an app.

Various interconnected factors lead to commoditization risk for these one-trick ponies.

The Novelty Factor

The latest to-do list and simple notes apps are cool — and clever. Hats off to Clear as being one of the latest examples of “coolness.” The novelty of an app that is different and fun brings in many users in the app world, and sustained success – for a few weeks. Then another even cooler list app comes out and the current cool king is dethroned. The cycle continues. They inspire new usage paradigms, and copycats emerge — a little too late to the game with no new innovation, and get lost in the crowd. With new innovation, the cool kings also raise the bar on simplicity of use, the fun factor, and user delight. Once the bar is raised, the user wins. However, novelty is a just feature and it cannot sustain an app forever because it eventually wears off.

The Task Factor

Tasks are mostly transient, meaningless after they are done and checked off. Sure, in business, metrics enthusiasts want to historically analyze completed tasks to understand a team’s performance across types of tasks, across skills, across teams, and across long lasting projects. The typical person, using to-dos to track things they don’t want to forget to do, could not care less. The simpler the task or to-do app, the less interesting the completed tasks become. Some cleverly designed to-do list apps simply get rid of the completed tasks for that reason, leaving the user with less clutter and a happy sense of a clean plate. But ultimately, tasks are a feature, not an app.

The Note Factor

Notes are a different beast. Notes are forever. Evernote gets that (the elephant never forgets). So they chose to be a service/platform for notes, allowing browsers and other apps to easily get information into Evernote, making the information available from anywhere. The act of note-taking is also made fun in apps like Paper and Penultimate. For people who make a lot of free-flowing notes (classrooms, meeting rooms, and boardrooms), those are the killer apps since they make free-style note-scribbling and picture-doodling fun — and useful. For capturing simple text notes, there are 1000s of overly simplistic apps. Message to them — text notes and checklists are a feature, not an app.

The Completeness Factor — Features versus Apps

Users tell us that they want more from their apps — one or two features doesn’t satisfy their needs. They also tell us that they want “simple” apps. Keep in mind that “simple” should not be confused with “simplistic.” Simplicity should not be accomplished by sacrificing power. Simplicity is the user experience. With a clutter of apps on their device that just do one or two things, users constantly switch between them — which is counter-productive. In fact, users tell us that they can’t even remember what information is in which app. The users are demanding more simplicity and completeness in their apps, and these two concepts should not negate one another. In addition, due to the nature of simplistic apps, they don’t have stickiness with users and are constantly replaced.

As devices such as Smartphones and Tablets become more popular, users will expect more from their apps — apps that do one thing will no longer cut it. According to ZDNet in an article about mobile madness, the amount of time people spend on their mobile devices has significantly gone up. In fact, half of workers take their phones to bed with them. The desire for more powerful apps has only gotten stronger. Tablets will become the “preferred, primary device for millions of people around the world” by 2016, as not only consumers, but businesses gravitate towards convenience over computing power, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Unlike desktops, people use mobile devices throughout the day in short bursts, making the loss of context even more of an issue when there is significant app clutter on their device. Nothing is in context when each app does just one thing, and the user is constantly replacing each one with the next cool thing.

The Apple Factor

Apple introduced the very simple, but very precise Reminders app in iOS 5.0. If I was a simple to-do list app user, my search for an app would be done upon finding an app that includes built-in reminders, iCloud sync across devices, and location aware assistance. I’m not, but if I were, this app would be it. For others who seek simplistic list apps and to-do list apps, when they find Apple’s Reminders app, where does that leave Clear, Any.DO, or the 1000s of other to-do list apps?

For simple note-taking, assisted by dictation and Siri, the built-in Notes app is good enough for folks with simple needs. Heck, many people I know manage their to-dos and checklists in it as well. So unless it is an actual notes service (platform) like Evernote, or an amazing new way to capture notes like Penultimate or Paper, what differentiates it from the 1000s of simple note-taking apps?

Game On

The app explosion has barely begun. Apps have not yet matured, but I expect to see users demand more usefulness and completeness over time. Consider the desktop software of the 80s and 90s. It was simplistic and incomplete — as adoption increased so did the usefulness of the software. The super app era should be fun for the next few years — the platforms surely have been doing their part. We’re looking forward to see how app developers balance usefulness, completeness, usability, and simplicity as the bar is raised. This is the time for app developers to raise their game.

-Adi Mishra, CEO, LightArrow, Inc.

5 Challenges for App Developers Implementing iCloud Sync

We are proud to say that LifeTopix is among the first and very few apps that support automated device-to-device sync (files, data changes, everything) utilizing Apple’s exciting and brand new iCloud technology. The challenges were many, but as a bold app development team that tries its hardest to deliver what our users want, we plowed through it, and our 4.0 update is now in the hands of our delighted users! Get LifeTopix 4.0 with iCloud support from the App Store to iCloud Sync in action – and dramatically organize your life!

iCloud became available fairly recently with iOS 5.0. Kudos to Apple for bringing forth a great new technology with so much potential for users and app developers alike. However, as I mentioned, there were also many challenges for developers. Feel free to contact me if you wish to learn more about how we overcame them to make sure our app remains rock solid. I cannot reveal any information that is confidential under the iOS development program, but share the general approach we took. It is truly a powerful and exciting technology that does so much of the heavy lifting for the developers.

I’ve listed some of those challenges here:

  1. Few full-fledged working examples due to the newness forced us to experiment a lot to:
    • learn the bits and pieces so we could gain a clear overall picture
    • determine sequences to follow for turning iCloud Sync on or off
    • develop a way to allow users to reset iCloud Sync for our app if/when things seem wrong
  2. Somewhat limited direction as to the optimized logic for sharing files contained within the app across devices led us to discover a few things on our own:
    • when to download files, thumbnails
    • when to upload new files, photos, voice notes, videos
    • how to deal with existing files on both devices
  3. Guidance on app data sync (using Core Data) solidly across devices – we determined:
    • the best usage model of core data relevant iCloud APIs
    • how to deal with and migrate existing data in app
    • what to expect in terms of timeliness of core data sync
  4. Applicability of the key-value feature in iCloud and its relation to:
    • expected lag time for inter-device communication
    • a solid device-to-device communication approach
  5. Submission of an iCloud-enabled app to the App Store:
    • proper iCloud related entitlements
It would have been a lot of development effort to implement device-to-device sync on our own – we are truly thankful that iCloud came along and made that powerful feature so much easier for us to implement. The Apple developer forums were extremely helpful, but ultimately it was our perseverance that enabled us to string everything together in a way that works. Our best wishes to fellow app developers and our users who ultimately are the biggest beneficiaries of this exciting technology. iOS just keeps getting better!

 

Note: App Store, iOS, iCloud and Apple are copyrighted terms and trademarks of Apple Inc.