Now Reading: How to Break Up With Your Phone

3d+Book+Cover+HTBUWYP+jpgYes, the book you’ve always wanted to read (and that I was starting to write!) is now available: How to Break Up With Your Phone, by Catherine Price.

Despite the book’s title, Price teaches us not how to break up with our phones per se, but how to renegotiate the relationship–which requires a break of sorts, at least at the outset.

I’ve just finished the first part, where she builds a compelling (and alarming) case for limiting screen use. Part Two is the “how-to,” which I’ll share more about later.

I learned about the book from a New York Times piece of hers. It’s relatable from the very beginning:

The moment I realized I needed to break up with my phone came just over two years ago. I had recently had a baby and was feeding her in a darkened room as she cuddled on my lap. It was an intimate, tender moment — except for one detail. She was gazing at me … and I was on eBay, scrolling through listings for Victorian-era doorknobs.

We all have our “Victorian-era doorknobs.” And, until users rightly started jumping ship this last week, Facebook.

Many of us will nod our way through the book’s description:

Is your phone the first thing you reach for in the morning and the last thing you touch before bed? Do you frequently pick it up “just to check,” only to look up forty-five minutes later wondering where the time has gone? Do you say you want to spend less time on your phone—but have no idea how to do so without giving it up completely? If so, this book is your solution.

Check out the book here. Ten Speed Press has been kind to send me a review copy, so I’ll write more about it when I’m done, but I already know this is the rare book I’ll re-read once a year.

App Review: Tempo Training Log for Runners

Tempo is an iOS training log for runners. It’s simpler than apps like Runtastic and Runkeeper, but it more than makes up for its fewer features with an excellent visual layout—the best of any running app I’ve seen.

Tempo doesn’t track runs in real time, but it pulls data from the iOS Health app. It’s explicitly designed to be a companion to the Apple Watch Workout app, but I’ve been testing it with my Health app, which receives workout data from both Runkeeper and Garmin Connect. In other words, Apple Watch or not, your running app or fitness watch can help you access at least 90% of Tempo’s features.

Here’s what the Dashboard looks like:

 

 

This is all the data I want in a running log, all in one place. You get year-to-date mileage, monthly mileage, and weekly mileage. You also can see “Last 365” (days), “Last 30,” and “Last 7.”

Underneath those top two rows is your “Intensity Trend,” which is the best way I’ve seen in any app to quickly scan through training patterns.

If you upgrade to Premium (easily the cheapest annual subscription I’ve seen in the App Store—$6.99/year), you get an Intensity Log that shows you data well before the most recent month:

 

 

A “Cumulative Graph” gives you another way to compare mileage (and pace!), week over week or month over month:

 

 

 

(My pace was thrown off by tracking some walks I didn’t intend to track. Oops!)

Here’s a sequence of weeks with pace above it—a great combination:

 

 

Also unique to the Premium version is “Trending Averages,” which look like this:

 

 

You can see all your runs as a list (“Runlog”—available to free users, too):

 

 

That button in the top right allows you to filter your runs. You can add notes to each activity, as well as tag it with your own tags (a Premium feature), even multiple ones (“Trail,” “Long run,” etc.).

 

 

 

Each individual run displays more activity if you click it:

 

 

If you have an Apple Watch (again—the assumption behind this app) you’ll get splits. If you’re connected to a device with a heart rate monitor, you’ll see that info, too. You can add any of your own notes, as well.

The Today widget is also really great, although seeing it next to Strava’s reinforces that the font is smaller than ideal. All the same, the widget gives you your last run, your weekly milage, and your monthly mileage—more data than other apps’ widgets provide.

 

 

There are two things Tempo lacks compared to other apps like Runkeeper or Strava:

  1. Social components
  2. Real-time run tracking

More and more, however, I see these as a strength. The app is focused—it’s a graphical training log, a digital version of what you might otherwise keep in a pocket notebook to track all your runs. Only this looks way better, and automatically imports your runs, as long as you have a watch or phone app that can feed data to Health. If you do run with a watch, you can run phoneless and still have all your data in a great-looking display.

The lack of social interaction on the app (you can’t connect via Tempo to friends) could also be a strong point, especially since Tempo seems intent on guarding user privacy. That’s not always the case with other similar apps.

Here’s some copy from the developer on privacy and lack of ads:

Tempo is built with privacy as a core principle. Your data is yours; we will never claim it, sell it, or share it with anyone. Tempo is for focussing on running and recovery without ad distractions, so it only has a paid model. You can download and try it for free, but your running will significantly benefit from pro features available with Tempo Premium.

It’s worth nothing that Runtastic Premium (advertised as ad-free) now regularly has Adidas clothing ads in my activity feed. I can’t remove them, and support acknowledges that they are there, but won’t admit that the ads are… well… ads. Which show up in ad-free Premium. No such detritus with Tempo.

The developer of Tempo is also a runner, and I think he’s succeeded in his aim to give you “your running visualized to delight you, motivate you, inspire you, and help you achieve your running goals.” Knowing mid-month that I’ve covered 50 miles is nice, but it’s even more motivating to know what I’ve done in the last 30 days, which Tempo shows you.

By the way (if I may sound off for a moment), the Health app on iOS has the worst layout of any Apple app. It’s as bloated and hard to navigate as iTunes is on a laptop. So if you do run with an Apple Watch, Tempo will relieve you from having to review data via the Health app—a continual exercise in frustration.

Tempo is free and available here. The Premium version is cheap and helps support further development. You can even try all the Premium features with a 14-day free trial.

If you want to read more of Tempo’s story, go here.

 


 

Thanks to the developer for the upgrade to Premium so I could review the app. I’ll be re-subscribing, for sure.

MindNode is Free on iOS This Week

 

MindNode

 

 

One of my favorite and most-used apps–MindNode–is free in the iOS App Store this week. After thinking mind mapping wasn’t for me, I tried it just over a year ago and loved it. Now it’s a regular part of my brainstorming and writing workflow.

Here‘s the link–download it while you can, for iPhone and iPad. (Regular price is something like $10.)

 

Alfred 3 (for Would-Be Mac Power Users) Just Released

Alfred Logo

 

Alfred can be an intimidating Mac app, but its capabilities are pretty unparalleled when it comes to automating workflows. They’ve just announced the release of Alfred 3:

After months of intense development, polishing and testing, Alfred 3 is here and ready for you!

It’s been a thrill to add new features to Alfred, and improve existing ones. We already can’t live without these new features, which add so much to our workday productivity; Amazingly flexible workflows, snippet expansion, multimedia clipboard and more.

You can download Alfred 3 to get started right away.

We’ve highlighted a few of the new features below. We also published a post answering some of the commonly asked questions for Alfred 3; upgrading your Powerpack, migrating your preferences and more, so take a look for details.

The download of the app itself is free, and then you can pay for an upgrade to get the full set of features.

The snippet expansion is perhaps the most exciting feature to me. Much as I and others owe TextExpander a dept of gratitude, its new monthly subscription model suffered from a hasty (and probably overpriced) roll-out. Alfred, at any rate, can expand keyboard shortcuts and much more.

Find out more here.

Done with Threes? Sworn off 2048? Try Diced

Agile Tortoise (Greg Pierce) is probably the best iOS developer there is. I use his Drafts 4 app all the time–an amazing combination of text editor simplicity and power user export options.

He’s just made a $0.99 game called Diced.

 

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From Agile Tortoise’s blog announcement:

Diced is a simple puzzle game. Place dice on a grid to make five of a kind or five in a row (straight) combinations to score points and clear the die. Score as many points as you can before the grid fills up and the game ends. Some game play features:

  • Quick launch and game restore. Easy to leave and come back where you left off.
  • Wild die.
  • Bombs.
  • Random blocks to add difficulty as the game progresses.
  • Game Center support with leaderboards and achievements

There are no ads, no in-app purchases, and it works perfectly. It’s universal, so you can play on iPhone and iPad, where Split View is also supported. (This guy thinks of everything.)

It’s not quite like poker–a full house combination won’t clear a row for you. But between the five of a kind and five straight goals, you’ve got enough ways to clear the board (the bombs help, too). Also cool is the dark mode, which you can toggle off and on.

Check out the app here.