Launch 3rd Party Apps with LifeTopix’s “My Apps”

In the true spirit of LightArrow’s mission to build software products that dramatically improve our customers’ everyday lives and to help our customers be more productive, we’ve introduced an exciting new feature in LifeTopix 5 — My Apps. Continuing with our quest to help you easily find your apps on your iOS device, you can now launch many popular apps all from one place — within LifeTopix — which makes entering important data even easier. For example, perhaps you’re logging calories and you’re entering the number of calories for foods and drinks from a different app. This is a quick way to access this 3rd party app.

And it gets even better — not only can you launch other iPhone or iPad apps from LifeTopix, you can also access common views or functions of those apps in a single tap by including custom shortcuts (URL Schemes). For example, you can instantly see your Twitter mentions or Facebook news feed in one tap from LifeTopix.

Using iOS folders is one way to easily find your apps on your device; however, My Apps can hold so many more Apps than an iOS folder and also include shortcuts, so it results in a super-powerful tool to fuel your productivity engine. Also, keep in mind that Team LightArrow will be continuously improving My Apps based on your feedback so please share your ideas and thoughts.

The LightArrow team is collecting a list of shortcuts for your favorite apps and publishing the list at Launch URLS for Popular Apps; feel free to submit your favorite apps through the comments on this page.

The App Launcher

My Apps is one of the main views of LifeTopix. Just tap on it from the View Selector in the left panel. Facebook and Twitter are automatically included in the App Launcher. Below is an example:

My Apps - App Launcher

To add more apps, simply tap Plus Sign and then add an App Name, Launch URL, and App Id. You can find more information about how this is done in your LifeTopix 5.0 Online Help.

Here’s one of my own shortcuts, which allows me to see Twitter mentions of LifeTopix. Go to the App Detail in My Apps, and type information such as the following (with your own Twitter handle) to see your own mentions:

In this example, in one tap, you can view all mentions of your Twitter handle from the Tweetbot app. Hint: You can find many of these types of shortcuts by performing a Google Search. You can also find URL schemes at handleopenurl.

Do you have favorite shortcuts / URL schemes that you commonly use? Please comment to let us know your favorite shortcuts, or websites that include great lists of shortcuts.

A Sneak Peek at LifeTopix 5.0

Team LightArrow is very excited about some of the improvements we are making in the 5.0 update (free for all existing users) of LifeTopix. It’s already been submitted to the app store for review, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that it’ll be available to our users in the next few days.

5.0 looks very different. We took a lot of feedback from our users on usability and a more powerful way to navigate between views.

The new features in 5.0 are listed in Our Roadmap page, but we wanted to share some of the screens here for our users for a sneak peek. We hope you like the way 5.0 looks and works. We are hopeful that no changes are required to be made for the approval of this update.

Here are a few more screenshots!

My Topics on the iPad

My Topics on the iPad

 

Home view - What's Next on the iPad

Home view – What’s Next on the iPad

 

My Calendar on the iPad

My Calendar on the iPad

 

Quick Menu for easy access to frequent actions

Quick Menu for easy access to frequent actions

 

Near Me view on the iPad

Near Me view on the iPad

 

My Apps view on the iPhone and iPod touch

My Apps view on the iPhone and iPod touch

 

Note Detail with Slide In Panel on the iPhone

Note Detail with Slide In Panel on the iPhone

 

Hot List view on the iPhone

Hot List view on the iPhone

 

My Topics on the iPhone

My Topics on the iPhone

 

Tasks + Projects topic on the iPhone

Tasks + Projects topic on the iPhone

 

We cannot wait until our users get their hands on LifeTopix 5! As always, we’ll continue to improve the app and have some amazing things in store over the next few months. Thank you for taking the time to view these screenshots.

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.