A Chore Chart and Allowance Tracker–on Your Phone

 

iAllowance Logo

 

Sure, there’s a chance that over-reliance on a monetized chore chart can have negative effects on children. But we parents also want to teach our kids about the importance of work, responsibility, and the basics of financial management.

There’s still not an iPhone app for making you a better parent. In fact, probably less time on apps in general makes better parents. However, a number of us moms and dads already spend time each day managing tasks, finances, and other activities on a phone… so why not a chore chart?

Enter iAllowance.

 

Home Screen

 

Those are my sweet kids (names blurred out–you see their names on the app).

They’ve got their own corner of the app where we track their stars (earned or docked for behavior) and money (allowance, and stars converted to money).

The app has a bunch of pre-set chores you can select to track for each kid–at a frequency of your choosing.

 

Chores
(The spotting by the time is not from the app–that’s where the child’s name goes)

 

And you can add your own. (We added, “Make the bus on time”–everyone gets a star when that happens!)

 

Choose Your Own Chores

 

You can set how many stars equate to a monetary amount, and then have the app make the transfer for you. We were paying our kids 10 cents a star, but we were doling out a lot of money! So we changed it to 5 cents a star.

You can also set up different accounts for each child. We have one for Church, one for Savings, and one for Spending. The Totals screen shows you all that, as well as Stars and Time (one of the few features I haven’t used in the app):

 

Bank Totals

 

iAllowance is a really a great (and fun) app. It syncs via Dropbox or iCloud with an iPad. As a universal app, if you buy it, you can use it (and sync it) on any iOS device.

The kids love it, too. It’s been an effective motivator, and really fun for them to tap their stars at the end of the day–or tap on “Bad Behavior” and see a frowny face. 😦

Any time you tap next to a chore (which you can do in the Day view or Week view) you get an accompanying sound effect, too. And the allowance deposits happen automatically, in the amounts and to the accounts that you specify.

The app runs smoothly, and the developer is one of the most responsive (if not the most responsive) developers I’ve ever been in touch with.

I can’t say whether a incentive-based program will work for you and–if it will–whether you should run it from a mobile device. But I can say that both the overall setup of stars and allowance, as well as this particular app, have really helped perk up some listening ears around here!

Now… I’ve got to go give myself a star for posting another Apptastic Tuesday review, Blizzard 2015 notwithstanding.

 

Thanks to the developer of iAllowance for giving me a download for the review. Check out the app’s site here. You can find the full (paid) version here, and try the free version here.

AppTastic Tuesday: Captio

Captio iconLast week on AppTastic Tuesday: Rules! This week: Captio.

The goal of Captio is a simple one: to very quickly pull up a screen into which you can type text or stick a photograph, and then email it to yourself.

It works in iPhone in both portrait and landscape mode. Here’s the New Note screen, which lets you (a) enter text, (b) select a photo from your phone, or (c) take a new photo:

 

New Note

 

You might quickly pull up Captio to jot down a reminder or bit of information you want to access later. Then you tap Send, and your text or image is sent to your email address.

You can adjust some settings–for example, have a prefix of “Captio” or “Remember” or anything else in the subject of the email that Captio sends:

 

Formatting Options

 

And, what is best, you can send it to any email address. This is especially helpful if you have a to-do system (like Evernote or OmniFocus) that allows you to email items directly into those apps.

 

Email to Send to

 

This is where I’ve found Captio most useful. It can take Evernote and (especially) OmniFocus a few seconds to load and sync–Captio, by contrast, gives you a text entry screen as soon as you tap it.

Captio is also available within other apps via the Share Extensions:

 

Share Icon

 

Share icon 2

 

I’ve not personally seen a need to use the Share Extension–it works great, but if I’m saving a Web article to read later, I’ll just use the Evernote Share Extension anyway. Or the OmniFocus Share Extension to create a task from a photo. But for folks who primarily rely on email to keep reminders (not a good idea, but a widespread practice), Captio can help from just about anywhere on your phone or iPad.

Captio also stores all the notes you send, right on your device, so you can use it with or without Internet/data connections.

And, though all the shots above are from an iPhone, Captio is a universal app. So for $1.99 (at the time of this post), you can use it on both iPhone and iPad.

Thanks to the makers of Captio for giving me a download for the review. Check out the app’s site here.

AppTastic Tuesday: Rules!

Today begins what will be a mainstay of Words on the Word in 2015: AppTastic Tuesdays. First up: the iOS app Rules!

 

Rules Pile of Animals

 

Rules! is part zone-out tapping, part memory-training app. The gameplay itself is fast-paced, fun, easy, and aesthetically pleasing. Watch this short trailer to get caught up:

 

 

The actual tapping of icons is easy–the game is quite touch-responsive and fast. And the rules are clear enough:

 

Tap Odd Numbers

 

When you complete what rule 1 calls for, you move up to rule 2. Having completed rule 2 on the screen, you then apply rule 1 to the remaining icons. There are 100 levels of rules, though I have barely made it past 15.

When the game introduces a new rule, you get a screen like this:

 

Rule 13 Icon

 

But then after completing rule 13, it tells you simply, “Now follow rule 12,” “Now follow rule 11,” “Now follow rule 9,” and so on.

So it’s more than about the gameplay itself–you’ve got to memorize the rules as you go; you’ve got to know them by number.

This makes it a less-than-ideal zone-out game. Threes is by no means boring but mindless enough that you can come home to it at the end of a long day. Rules! is not so. It demands more of your mind.

You will probably find yourself, as I did, using some mnemonic device to remember 8-10 rules at once, so you can perform the appropriate actions on the screen in front of you.

There are three game modes: Beginner, Expert, Timeless (i.e., no countdown clock). The scoring rewards you for speed and accuracy:

 

New High Score

 

The need to memorize a host of rules in order to do well caused me to lose interest more quickly with Rules! than I have with other iOS games.

But Rules! especially excels in two areas: (1) its accompanying music is pretty, well-written, and good for focusing, and (2) its layout and design is gorgeous. Even the fail screen looks good:

 

Time Is Up

 

So, for $1.99 in the App Store, if you’re up for a mental challenge with good music and beautiful design, check it out and see if you can–as one player on Twitter recently did–get through all 100 levels.

 

Thanks to the makers of Rules! for giving me a download for the review. Check out the app’s site here.

Threes: New Addictive iPad/iPhone App to Play

Threes IconI never did get the 2048 tile. I’ve beaten the last boss on Sky Force, but there are still parts of the game I haven’t unlocked.

While I’ve found lots of ways to use the mobile iOS device productively (I’m looking especially at you, OmniFocus), I have also been on the lookout for good diversions.

Enter Threes.

The obvious comparison is to 2048, but this game has more character. The numbers, for example, have names:

 

Say Hello to Threejay
Say Hello to Threejay

 

If you look closely at the 6 and the 3 on the bottom row, you can see they’ve got little faces, too. And–the best part of the game–they make sounds and talk to you when you move them around to add them together: “Hi!”, “Hello!”, “Hey, guys!”, “Okay,” “Sup?”, etc. Sometimes a tile might even growl at you. (Right now my three kids are laughing at the sound effects and repeating them while my wife plays. I need to finish this post and get back to the game!)

There’s also a great music soundtrack you can toggle on or off when you play.

Threes has two basic rules:

  1. The 1 tile can only be added to the 2 tile, and vice versa.
  2. Tiles with numbers 3 and up each combine with the same number (3 with 3, 6 with 6, 12 with 12, etc.).

The game offers a really simple, quick tutorial to get you started.

Here’s what a board-in-progress looks like:

 

Threes Board

 

Being able to see the next tile (by color–at the top of the screen) is a nice advantage.

There’s a good sense of humor throughout the game (already noted above). Even the “Clear Scores” option says, “This will clear the data but not the memories.”

And you get confetti when it tallies up your final score, after you are out of moves:

 

4_Final Score

 

It’s fun for the whole family, kids to adults. 2048 was free, but this is easily worth the $1.99, which gets you the app both on iPhone and iPad. Find it here.

 

Thanks to the maker of Threes for giving me a download for the review.

5 iPad Apps I Use Every Day

Here are 5 iPad apps I use every* day:
 

Calendars 5 icon1. Calendars 5

Readdle‘s Calendars 5 seamlessly integrates both tasks and appointments into an aesthetically pleasing display. Moving things around and making new entries is really simple, too–just drag and drop or tap. Most of the time when I’m creating a task, setting an appointment, or checking something off, I want to do it quickly and with as few taps as possible. Calendars 5 makes that possible. View options on iPad are Tasks, Day, Week, Month, and Year. See my full review of the app here.

Calendars 5 has widgets in the iOS 8 “Today” view, so you can look at your day with a single swipe down on your iPad.
 

OmniFocus-for-iPad-10242. OmniFocus 2

This is the only app to make both this list and my 351 Words on 4 Mac Apps I Use Every Day. The integration of OmniFocus 2 on iPad and OmniFocus on Mac is tight. There’s a slight delay in the sync function (which uses Omni servers), but otherwise what I update in one place updates in the other. And, because I can link it to Apple’s Calendar and Reminders, which both sync with Readdle’s Calendars 5, the latter (see above) syncs quite nicely with OmniFocus. You can keep it updated easily via Siri voice commands, too.

OmniFocus 2 allows for more complex project management. Projects and Contexts are a great way to break a bigger endeavor down into its component steps (Projects), or organize them according to the environs in which you do them (Contexts): Office, iPad, Computer, Errands, etc. The Forecast view shows you both appointment and tasks in one place. Or you can just make a quick entry in the Inbox, and then decide how to categorize it later.

Read more about OmniFocus 2 for iPad here.
 

3. BlogPad Pro

It still needs to be updated to work more smoothly in iOS 8, but BlogPad Pro is a far easier app to write a blog post on than WordPress’s own app. (Words on the Word is a WordPress blog.) You can start new posts, edit existing posts that you started on a computer, moderate comments, and check blog stats. The layout looks like the app belongs in iOS 6, but I actually sort of like that heavier look. Here are a few screenshots from their app page:

 

BlogPadPro 1

 

BlogPadPro 2

 

4. Mail

I haven’t really explored options for good third-party mail clients, but I like Apple’s native Mail app. There’s nothing flashy to it, but it is functional and easy to navigate.
 

5. Sky Force 2014

I’m not all productivity apps. The one iPad game I play is Sky Force 2014. It’s fun, challenging, and a great way to zone out. And… it’s free!

 

Time drain of choice....
Time drain of choice….

 

You might also like to read 351 Words on 4 Mac Apps I Use Every Day. Next I’ll post about the iPhone apps I use most.

 

*Disclaimer: Some days I don’t use the iPad mini at all, but when I do, the above are the first ones I tap on. Thanks to Readdle, Omni Group, and BlogPadPro for the review downloads of Calendars 5, OmniFocus 2, and BlogPadPro, respectively.