iPad Productivity and Evernote iPad eBooks now only 99 cents!

ebook

My two iPad ebooks are now only $0.99! I am running this special promotion in advance of my upcoming edition of the iPad Productivity ebook coming this winter. The new version is over twice as long, contains content related to iOS8, Omnifocus, 1Password and much more.

In the meantime, enjoy my original ebooks for the low price of $0.99 each! The iPad Productivity ebook is over 10,000 words and contains lots of great iPad workflow ideas, app reviews and process suggestions. The Evernote eBook is focused on how to get the most out of Evernote in the iPad.

Check out the iPad Productivity eBook here and the Evernote ebook here.

 

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REVIEW: OmniFocus 2 for the iPad

I took the plunge, I invested in the new OmniFocus 2 for the iPad. I’ve written extensively about how I’m using Trello for my personal task manager and at work for project management. And I have also written extensively about how I’ve used OmniFocus as well. I originally stopped using OmniFocus mostly because I didn’t have the desktop version and therefore was not able to purge my database. With the new upgraded OmniFocus 2, I was very curious to see if improvements had been made with the purging issue and I was curious to check out some of the new functionality.

There are a lot of changes with the new OmniFocus 2 for the iPad. The first and most obvious change is that the new version has the same look and feel as Omnifocus 2 for the iPhone. The other big change is OmniFocus 2 for the iPad added the ability to edit and create Perspectives. This is one of the killer features of OmniFocus which allows you to set up customized lists that can further slice and dice your work. Here is a view of the Perspectives configuration screen accessible from the pro version of OmniFocus 2.

perspectivesetup

As you can see Perspectives is a way create custom lists that include one or multiple projects as well as one or multiple contexts. Perspectives can be as powerful or as simple depending on your particular needs as well as the complexity of your tasks.

In addition to Perspectives, Omnifocus 2 adds many other improvements. Here is an overview of the changes described in Omni’s free eBook.

changes

First impressions, I was disappointed to see that OmniFocus to did not have the ability to purge the database on the iPad. I did plenty of research before making the purchase and I found nothing about the ability to purge, but I did hold out some hope. However, the functionality wasn’t there so I started my test with a manual purging of my old completed tasks. Once done, I wanted to see how easy it is to upgrade to the pro version. The problem I discovered is that the old version must be installed for Omni to verify the original purchase. So, after reinstalling version 1.x, Omni immediately recognized that I was a verified user and enabled pro functionality, i.e. the ability to create and edit perspectives. As I mentioned above the look and feel of the new iPad version is extremely similar to the 2.0 version on the iPhone released earlier this year. Overall usability is very easy and the developers have done a good job masking the complexity and flexibility of the app with its well thought-out user-interface. You still control your lists using the GTD concepts of context and project and the center of operations is still the inbox. And the ability to review and track projects is also the same if not little better in this version.

The big thing I missed when I moved to Trello was OmniFocus’ Forecast View. This view shows you the tasks that are due or must start today according to task setup. Another key feature I missed in Trello is the defer-until date which is the date when a task must start vs. when the task is actually due. Omnifocus hides tasks not scheduled to start from the Forecast view and other views so that you are only presented with the tasks you have available to start or are due. This is a great way to limit the size of your lists.

defer

Setup for OmniFocus is easy, just like it is on OmniFocus 2 for the iPhone. One way OmniFocus hides complexity is through it’s hidden menus. From the main screen simply swipe down on the left side of the screen and the Settings menu is shown. From here you can define specific setup options.

Default View

nosettings

View after a swipe down

showsettings

Available settings

thesettings

Given I’m still using Trello for my projects, you may be wondering how I;m using both systems without getting confused. The answer to that is a product/service called Zapier. Using this service has allowed me a sync information between OmniFocus and Trello automatically. I will describe the setup and process in a future post.

Overall I am pleased with OmniFocus 2. For setup and workflow, most of the changes are cosmetic, but cosmetic is important on the iPad. I find apps that are fun to use and intuitive generally make me more productive. I find OmniFocus 2 very easy and very pleasing to use. I’m still happy with how Omni provides excellent control over my tasks including what I see and don’t see on my lists. OmniFocus definitely makes me more productive and gives me a greater sense of comfort that things are not falling through the cracks. Stay tuned for future posts on how I’m connecting OmniFocus andTrello together, as well as how my workflow evolves and changes over time.

Have you tried OmniFocus to put it iPad? If so what do you think?

DISCLOSURE: The links above are affiliate links. This means that I earn a few cents if you click the link and purchase the app. This costs you nothing but it helps me keep this site running.

 

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Using dictation to stay productive with Drafts and iOS8

My commute most days is about an hour…one way. I tend to use this time to listen to podcasts and e-books using Audible and Downcast with favorites that include Michael Hyatt, Mac Power Users, Ted Talks, and various HBR podcasts. However, there have been times when I wished I could be more productive by accomplishing a real task while driving. To this end, I have had varying success dictating over the years and up until iOS8 I have been limiting myself to podcasts, ebooks and conference calls for my commute given how awful Siri has been for me. But, since the upgrade to iOS8 I'm finding that Siri dictation has vastly improved. Read on to learn how to use Siri and Drafts to get productive on the go.

Dictating on the iPhone is a very easy process and it's one that really can improve your productivity anywhere you are. As I mentioned above, iOS 8 has improved the accuracy of Siri dictation. To date, I have had a love hate relationship with Siri; love being able to dictate when I can't type and hate the lack of stability and accuracy of prior versions of Siri. I come from radiology background and am familiar with radiologists using dictation for all of their reports. So, my expectations for Siri have always been very high given what I have seen radiologists doing day in and day out. My goal has been to dictate while driving given my long commutes, but I haven't been able to do it reliably until the iOS 8 upgrade. Since the upgrade I've dictated an entire speech and several blog posts using Siri and Drafts. My speech was over 2000 words and the posts themselves came in over 4000 words. The documents still need editing of course and this is where the iPad comes in. However, the main ideas and content were all dictated which saved me several hours in typing.

What are the steps to make this work? The key is the combination of Drafts on the iPhone and iPad connected together with a Drafts account. The iPad is used for editing while the iPhone is used for the dictation. I use Drafts because it is the app I use to document all of my notes specifically meeting minutes and the beginnings of blog posts and documents. The other reason for Drafts is that this app does a great job syncing documents across devices logged in with the same user id. Here are the steps to set up this workflow.

  1. Install Drafts on your iPhone and iPad
  2. Sign up for a Draft account and log into the account on both your iPad and iPhone
  3. Open Drafts on your iPhone and click the dictate button (microphone)
  4. Open Drafts on your iPad, edit and finalize the document

That's it, a very simple workflow to dictate ideas, documents, etc. while on the go. While I personally use this while driving I certainly don't recommend it as many would argue this is not safe. But for me I'm confident that it takes just as much focus to talk hands-free on the phone as it takes to dictate on Drafts.

Have you upgraded to iOS8? Have you found Siri more accurate?

DISCLOSURE: The links above are affiliate links. This means that I earn a few cents if you click the link and purchase the app. This costs you nothing but it helps me keep this site running.

DISCLAIMER: Texting while driving is illegal in many states and some have said that dictation while driving is just as dangerous as typing. However, the State of California does allow dictation while driving. Please do your own research about whether dictation while driving is safe.

 

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8 Reasons why Apple iOS8 increases my productivity!

iOS8 is a major leap in many respects. There are lots of great articles and reviews of this massive update and you could certainly spend days checking out all that has changed. However, this post is focused on eight (for iOS8 of course) updates that have increased my productivity on my iPad and iPhone. By no means is this an exhaustive list of iOS8 productivity-focused update, but each change is a major step forward in overall usability and efficiency of the iPad.

  1. Support for new keyboards and quick type. I have been a bluetooth keyboard guy since my old iPad 2 and Adonit keyboard and now with my new iPad Air and the Logitech Ultraslim Folio. I originally switched to bluetooth to speed up my relatively slow typing on the iPad screen. However, iOS's predictive text capability on both the iPad and iPhone make typing on the screen faster. Start typing and iOS shows several word options for everything you type. This does take some getting used to, but I have already gotten much faster typing on the screen, probably not faster than my Logitech, but certainly closer. Similarly, iOS8 supports other keyboards like the new iOS8 TextExpander extension. This finally brings TextExpander functionality to all apps throughout the iPad including Mail! Just install the latest version of TextExpander and then enable the app in Settings->General->Keyboards. Once enabled, click on the globe at the bottom of the screen and select the TextExpander keyboard. Now, all your snippets are available everywhere! The catch however is that this only works when using the screen keyboard, it does not work using a bluetooth keyboard. txtexpand
  2. Scanning a credit card instead of typing. Here is one I have not tested yet, but I am considering buying something for the sake of trying this functionality. I do hate typing credit card numbers and I am sure this functionality, if it works reliably; will make buying stuff even easier than it is now…just what I need!
  3. Ability to add widgets to the notification screen, Evernote in particular. The creation of widget functionality with integration on the home screen is a much needed upgrade. My favorite widget so far is Evernote's which allows you to add information to Evernote including Text, Camera/Scans, Photos, Reminders and Checklists right from the notification scree. This is definitely a quicker way to get information but it still is not as quick for information capture as Drafts. However the Evernote widget does allow quick access to the camera for document scanning that is not possible in Drafts. enwidget
  4. Finding battery hogging apps. One of the bigger problems I have with my iOS devices is the erratic draining of the battery that happens from time to time on both my iPad and my iPhone. This new functionality located in Settings->General->Usage->Battery Usage will show the percent of battery being drained by each app over 24 hour and 5 day periods. Remember killing an app does not mean that it will drop from the app list. The point however is you get a clearer picture of what is drawing the most juice over a 24 hours – 5 day period. However useful this is I would still like to see current usage draw for now vs. for a given time period. battery
  5. Automatically adding contacts from mail. This was a pleasant addition that just popped out at me before reading about the addition. In summary, every time you receive an email from a person not in your Contacts list iOS 8 gives you the option to add the person to your contacts with the press of a button. I wish it had the ability to select a block of text from the email signature to save some data entry, but I will take was has been added as it is certainly better than cutting and pasting from email and then opening Contacts every time a new contact needs to be added. contacts
  6. Making calls from iPad using iPhone. This is another cool, unexpected add with iOS8. With this functionality the iPad can become your phone. Where this is useful is when you are working on your iPad and a call comes in; if setup correctly the incoming call will appear both on the iPad and the iPhone. This eliminates having to pick up another device. Another benefit that I see is for people like me who work in the basement or in places with sketchy cell coverage. When enabled, the iPhone can be placed somewhere in your house with better coverage than where you are sitting allowing you to effectively mitigate dead spots. The setup is not really difficult if the iPhone and iPad are on the same network and you have enabled iPhone Cellular Calls within FaceTime setup on both the iPad and the iPhone. cellular
  7. Updated clipping functionality, eliminates the gymnastics required to clip directly to Evernote, Pocket and other apps! I love this addition as it dramatically makes clipping to Evernote and other apps like Pocket vastly easier. Many different apps and processes have been created over the years because getting information into Evernote was so difficult and dependent on creating shortcuts and cutting/pasting javascript! Once configured all you need to do is select the Sharing icon from within Safari and chose Evernote (or other app). The setup entails clicking the Share button, swiping to the right and then enabling Evernote (or other available app). You are limited in how many apps you can add to the list, but I will take what I can get at this point. enclipping
  8. More integration with 1Password, can now fill passwords from Safari directly rather than using 1Password's own browser. Finally just like in Windows and Mac OS there is direct integration from the Safari browser with 1Password. This means that you can navigate to one of your secure sites and have 1Password auto-fill usernames and password…right from Safari! This can be a big time saver and it certainly makes the process of using 1Password more available to the masses. Like clipping above, you do have to setup 1Password integration by again going to the share button within Safari and then swipe to the right on bookmarks to reveal the More button; click it and then enable 1Password. Once clicked you simply need to navigate to one of your secure sites, click the Share button in Safari and then click 1Password; the username and password will autofill as they do from within 1Password's own browser or like they do from a PC browser.

That's my top eight for now. I am sure there is more functionality I will discover over the coming weeks, but the above are making me more productive and definitely glad I went through the brain damage of clearing memory to make room for the big upgrade on both my iPhone and iPad.

Have you upgraded to iOS8 yet? Have you noticed additional functionality not mentioned above that is making you more productive?

DISCLOSURE: The links above are affiliate links. This means that I earn a few cents if you click the link and purchase the app. This costs you nothing but it helps me keep this site running.

 

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Combining Project Management with Task Management with Trello on the iPad

Trello has turned out to be one of the very few combined task management and project management systems that works equally well for the individual and for the small to medium sized team…all in the same app. Over the past several months I have transitioned all of my personal and business task management to Trello as well as transitioned my entire team. Combining both project management and task management in one system saves me duplicated effort required when tracking project/business tasks in different systems. Read on to learn how I am using Trello to manage all aspects of my productivity.

My company has historically used spreadsheets to track projects and tasks. The reason we have used Excel is because it is easy to use and approachable by all employees whereas real project management tools like Microsoft Project and others are lots more complex. Additionally, our projects have not been complex enough to warrant the extra capabilities of Microsoft Project. Historically I have struggled to move tasks between my Excel and my task manager because it is yet another task itself to synchronize the two systems. The tasks have to be tracked in both places and I never found a good way to efficiently connect the two systems without cutting and pasting.

Trello solves this problem by combing both a personal task manager and a light project manager all in one. I can have my own personal boards while also having work/project boards all in the same interface. This allows me to easily move tasks back and forth between the personal and the business boards. I still have not settled on the best way to connect the two systems, either via copying tasks between boards or by linking tasks between boards; Trello supports both. And, Trello supports a third method, querying for tasks assigned to me. This indecision is well supported by Trello because of the flexibility of the system and the interface. Additionally, following my automated task entry process as described in my recent post on DEGConsulting, I have the added benefit of linking my tasks directly to Evernote notes for even more documentation and context.

As I wrote in this post, Trello works just as well within a browser on my laptop, home computer and in a browser on my iPad. Additionally, the Trello app allows for most functionality necessary to fully manage my personal tasks and work projects. The iPad app just seems to lack the powerful searching functionality available on the web apps. I would also like to see some Evernote-like functionality in the iPad app where searches could be saved as folders for quick reference to imported workflow-based searches. Trello recently added saved searches in a recent update to the web version.

I have been using a combined personal and business project workflow with Trello now for several months with much success. I feel I am wasting a lot less time moving and tracking tasks across multiple platforms with Trello. I have even created boards for my blog as well as for the upcoming major update to my iPad Productivity eBook.

Have you found a system that combines project management for teams as well as personal task management? If so, what system are you using?

 

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REVIEW: Innovative Care Air Professional Case for iPad Air

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I have working my way through some of the newer case options available for the iPad starting with my TouchFire review a few weeks ago. The next review up is for the innovative care Air Professional Case. Having used the case for a few weeks I have been pleased with it overall and quite impressed with the quality of construction and usability. The case is extremely flexible and professional in appearance and provides a good bit of protection for your iPad. Read on for more details.

PROS:

  1. Professional appearance
  2. Durable construction
  3. Nice flexibility in viewing angles both for the lap top and on the desk top
  4. Interesting shoulder strap
  5. Cover that allows for picture taking even when folded back; eliminates the need to remove the iPad from the case to take pictures

CONS:

  1. I am not a fan of cases that cover the top of the iPad
  2. The case itself sometimes impedes access to to down swipes and left-right/right-left swipes.
  3. A bit heavy for a non-plastic case

The first impression I had when I un-boxed the case was the quality construction. The material the case is made from is a rubber-like canvas that feels durable and high-quality. Unlike the TouchFire and other similar cases, the Air Professional holds the iPad with a fabric enclosure and a flap that slides between the back of the iPad and the back of the case. This is definitely a secure design, but one that has the potential of obscuring swipes from top to bottom and side to side. This is because the case’s fabric is fairly thick, and cropped tight right up to the edge of the screen. However, after using the case for a few days I became accustomed to this issue and easily adapted.

case

An interesting feature of the case is the included shoulder strap which turns the case into a very small briefcase. Additionally, the strap provides a way to keep the iPad around your neck as you do other things. A potential use that comes to mind are for care givers or photographers that use their iPad while they move around on the go. Not being a person that uses my iPad while standing or walking, the strap does not seem as useful. However, I am confident that many people would find value in this unique feature. The strap is not really a surprise given that Innovative Care also sells some pretty cool tablet bags as well.

One of the coolest features has to be the cut out on the cover. I think of this feature as the “why didn’t someone think of this sooner” feature. The benefit is that you can take pictures without having to awkwardly hold the iPad with the cover hanging awkwardly, with the Professional can you simply flip the case back and snap away. In addition to the cover cutout, the Professional has the expected viewing angle options including for both lap and the table-top viewing. The method for both of these angles is a small flap on the back of the case, exactly like the original iPad 1. Not sophisticated or creative, but simple and effective.

cutout

Overall the Professional is a solid case with some unique features. At $59.99 the Professional is a bit pricey given that the TouchFire Case is $10 cheaper at $49.99. However, the Professional is a different animal with its professional appearance, shoulder strap and unique top cover cutout. Are these features worth the additional 10 bucks? It depends on what you value; the Professional will look great in the board room and provides plenty of useful features that make it a productive addition to your iPad. Take a look at their site and make the choice yourself.

Next, a review of some of the cool products offered on http://www.everythingtablet.com!

 

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Free eBook: Introduction to iPad Productivity

As a busy blogger and iPad "expert", I get asked all the time about the tools I use to be productive on the iPad. So I decided to write a small book explaining some of the basics, the things that will get you using your iPad for work rather than play. This eBook is not a replacement for my iPad Productivity eBook, but rather an introduction for those of you ready to leave the laptop at work.

You can’t buy this eBook. There’s only one way to get it—by subscribing to my FREE email newsletter. Don’t waste any more time lugging that laptop around. Sign up today!

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