Apps

Deliveries — Package Tracking on your Apple Devices by Adrian Galli

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Some of the best apps are apps that make every day things a little simpler. One of my favorite apps to help with little tasks is Deliveries. It does one thing and does it really well. It tracks packages.

From FedEx to USPS, Royal Mail and DHL, grab a tracking number and one will receive notifications on Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Deliveries shows locations, delivery estimates, days to arrival and more. Add a name to the delivery should there be more than one coming from the same courier.

Made by JuneCloud, they are a small developer out fo Detroit making only a few apps but all really well designed. Not only do they help one track their packages, they also make a simple and classy notes app called Notefile.

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Today Deliveries users received an update making this app even more useful: Siri Shortcuts. Simply say to Siri, “Show me my deliveries,” and a quick view of what deliveries are available show up.

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Some other nifty features of Deliveries are the ability for it to add the estimated delivery date to one’s calendar. It will show up as an all day even so even when one’s eyes aren’t on the app or Notification Center, Calendar will still keep one updated.

Deliveries is available on all iOS, macOS, and watchOS devices, tracking a package can be done from desktop to pocket to wrist and it syncs via iCloud.

It is one of my favorite things to see the Deliveries complication on my Apple Watch watchface with the days until a delivery—with a single tap, I get all the same information as on iPhone or iPad.

Additionally. If more information is needed, Deliveries is pulling data from the couriers’ website and one can quickly jump to the detailed information.

It is a five dollar app but totally worth it. The new Siri features really make it a quick and easy app to work with and the interface remains one of my favorite.

Tip: If one copies a tracking number from an e-mail or website, upon opening Deliveries on iOS, a “quick entry” notification pops up for speedy input.

Deliveries from JuneCloud

iOS: $5
macOS: $5

Chirp — Twitter, back on Apple Watch by Adrian Galli

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There has been some publicity that a lot of app developers are pulling their Apple Watch app. This has lead to a lot of hyperbole about the Apple Watch being a failure. I’m not going to get pulled into all that but I think it in worth mentioning that my opinion is most developers are still trying to figure out what their role is in the Apple Watch development arena. Some apps try really hard to be a full replacement to their iOS counterpart and that isn’t really the point. Apple Watch is really designed for quick interactions—ten seconds not ten minutes.

Twitter pulled their app from watchOS some times ago. It was disappointing to lose the watchOS app version for me personally because before as I would get Twitter notifications, I then need to pull out my iPhone. When Twitter had a watchOS app, I could read, favorite, retweet right from my watch. It was pretty slick. It is really what Apple Watch is all about: quick, unobtrusive, yet powerful interactions.

Funny thing is, Twitter is really designed for Apple Watch. With a maximum of 280 characters per tweet, it is perfect for quick reads and quick interactions. If there is more to the tweet, a link for example, then Handoff with another Apple device leads one into the meatier content.

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Will Bishop brought Twitter back to Apple Watch with his Apple Watch-only app. Quick and simple, he built in much of what a Twitter app can do to watchOS. One can view their Timeline, Trending items, Mentions, Messages, List, Likes, one’s profile, and search, with a final menu item for Settings. A Force Touch will bring up the option to tweet and it supports Scribble so hashtags and mentions are easily input. (One can of course use Dictation but imagine some of the more complicated handles may not be recognized well.)

That list makes for an unexpectedly powerful app on one’s wrist. However, Mr. Bishop did a great job of making sure it didn’t get complicated.Clean and simple interface, powerful tools, intuitive and expected user experience, and to give it some polish, haptic feedback and sounds.

It is worth mentioning that it is a free app, however, there is a ‘pro’ version which unlocks some of the features above. His pricing method is based on the honor system so one can give a little as $2 for the pro upgrade or up to $5. He includes a ‘tip jar’ for additional support. I’m a big fan of this because it encourages me to give more when I can and give more to the best apps that really deserve it. It is also worth mentioning that Will Bishop is a sixteen year old in Australia and clearly on his way as a great developer. I encourage everyone who downloads Chirp to pay for the 'pro' version because I strongly feel talented, young developers should have the support they need to build an outstanding career.

After using it for a couple week, the only thing on my wishlist is interactive notification support. That may be easier said than done but this app is v1.1 currently (6.25.2018) so who knows what will be coming down the pipeline.

Download: Chirp

Price: Free, $[2, 3, 5]

Acorns by Adrian Galli

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Saving money can be challenging. There is so much cool stuff to buy, vacations to take... bills to pay. I have a 401k, a savings account, and a change jar. I feel pretty good about my savings overall but years ago I wanted to have something a little more automatic and silent.

Great thing about a 401k, you can’t really touch the money until you retire. Bad thing about savings, you can pull from it whenever. Funny thing about the change jar, I rarely use cash so if there is ten dollars in that jar, it is a lot.

When Apple Watch launches in 2015, a lot of developers were showcasing their skill and ideas in what they could do making apps for watchOS. One that caught my eye was a very stylish app named Acorns—a digital version of a change jar but also a lot more.

The Basics:

Opening an account with Acorns, you link any debit or credit card(s) you’d like. Ever purchase you make using the registered cards will rounded up to the next dollar and that money is then deposited into you Acorn account. They call them 'Round-Ups.'

Like a change jar or piggy bank, that change adds up pretty quickly. You need not do anything other than pay for things as you would normally.

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After you hit a threshold, five dollars is the default, that money comes out of your checking account and is deposited into the your Acorns market.

Additionally, you can setup automatic deposits every week or month. You can open up the app on iPhone or Apple Watch and deposit a specific amount anytime. The Apple Watch version is exactly that an watchOS app should be—quick, simple, at-a-glance, functions.

The best part is that you’ll have the opportunity to pull money anytime, should you need it, without any penalty. I’m not an investment advisor but I’d vote on keeping it in the account longer than shorter.

When setting up the account, it will ask you how to manager the investments. Since this is a secondary investment opportunity for me, I have it set to aggressively invest the money. I don’t have tens of thousands in Acorns so it doesn’t bother me to see it fluctuate but over all it has made gains.

There are some other functions that are fun and helpful. Found Money is a feature linked to some of the biggest online retailers and brands like eBay, New Balance, Nike, Walgreens, and Apple.

When you purchase things from those companies through the Acorns app, a specific value or percentage of your purchase is gifted to your Acorns account. If you buy some Nike shoes, for example, the investment is currently 5% of you purchase. Not bad.

Over the years I’ve used it, I’ve literally saved months of rent worth of money. Because it is not something I access frequently, I’m not tempted to spend the money. Being a beautiful app, fun, easy to use, and nicely designed, Acorns adds a little incentive to saving money.

It ranks in as one of my favorite apps simply because of how it works and its design but it also is a favorite service. I definitely recommend it. Make it your digital piggy bank and save for a vacation, your future, or just have some backup money for an emergency.

Download and everyone who signs up gets $5.

Download Acorns

Price: Free

 

https://acorns.com/invite/NXTWY6

Polarr 2.0 for Mac by Adrian Galli

Polarr 2.0

Polarr 2.0

One of my favorite photo editing applications for both iOS and OS X recently received major upgrades. Today, Polarr 2.0 for Mac is available and ready to download. With a new interface, adjustments to filters, and extension support for Photos, it is one of my most recommended applications.

My review of Polarr 1.0 shared some of its power but new powerful and easy to use features are hear. Check it out on the App Store for Mac (and iOS).