Hubapps in the Mac App Store

The long-awaited Mac App Store went live this morning, and we’re very pleased to announce that we have three incredible apps available at launch.

The Mac experience differs in at least two major ways from iOS (beyond the obvious UI divergence): first, it allows for true multitasking, meaning that the context in which any app operates is significantly more nuanced with the implications of other apps’ presences.  Second, the platform (and user expectations) have a significant history of co-evolving towards full-featured apps, rather than simple, single-function utilities.

This is not to say that there is no opposite force towards simplicity.  These competing needs – the need to be easy to use, and the need to be use-worthy – drive innovative tools on any platform.  The best apps therefore represent a promise, a promise to form a well-struck balance between purity of purpose and thorough fulfillment of that purpose.  Apps like “Mail” limit their scope, but do everything the average user could want within that scope.

All of Apple’s apps are crafted in this way, such that their names are simple, obvious descriptors of those promises: iMovie, iPhoto, Pages, Numbers… etc.  We took this lesson to heart for all of our Mac Apps (and more as yet to be released).

Our first Mac app, Screenshots, not only turns Grab’s arcane cmd-shift-alt-3 key-combos-to-take-screenshots method into simple point-and-click buttons, it also piles on lots of useful sharing options.  Capture windows, the whole screen, or just a pinpoint portion of the screen with our innovative frame, and then copy, save, print, email, upload to the cloud, and more.  Everything ends up in your screenshot history where you can use an image you took before, again.  Screenshots is a great way to capture great images from your Mac.

Then there is Attachments (beginning to notice a trend in the names?).  We all receive files in email, and everyone knows the agonizing experience of trying to find “that one file” someone emailed you with no luck.  Attachments makes this easy, by keeping tabs on the arcane folder where Apple Mail keeps files and providing a very intuitive, iPhoto-like thumbnail view of these attachments.  Get a Quicklook, re-email, make a zip archive, show the original email, open the file to view or edit, and much more.  Not only does Attachments make all your email files present and searchable, it also puts most actions you would want at your fingertips.

Our final launch-day contribution is Downloads.  Like Attachments, Downloads keeps tabs of all the files in your downloads folder, with live updating, search, and a host of sharing and file-management actions just a click away. It’s especially perfect for webmail users, who in addition to regular downloads also end up downloading their email attachments to this folder.  For these users, Downloads is basically a complete file system.

These apps represent a promise between us and our customers.  Take care of one problem, and do it well.  Need to get a screenshot?  We’ve got a simple, complete tool to do just that.  Use Apple Mail?  We’ve got the perfect companion, which helps complete the file-management side of email.  Download files?  We’ve got you covered, with an app that makes finding and using downloaded files a snap.  When you don’t need all the extra power of the Finder, these apps will let you do more in less time.  And they’re fun, to boot.  Thanks and enjoy!

Screenshots

Screenshots

Attachments

Attachments

Downloads

Downloads

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Nightstand – The Professional Alarm Clock

After 4 months of care, dedication, toil, and angst, Nightstand is now available in the app store.

Nightstand is unlike any app in the store.  Lots of quality apps boast an alarm clock radio with weather; however, none throw iTunes AND a best-of-class web browser in the mix.  What makes Nightstand so unique and great isn’t its “infinite tabs” browser, simplified unique ” radio pre-sets” bookmark system, music visualizer, or its custom weather graphics – no, it’s the simplicity and attention to detail that can only come from a team which uses their product every day and listens to feedback.

So I’d like to thank the many people who helped trial and refine Nightstand, at home, at large, and at Apple.  Your effort multiplies my effort.

Let’s have a look at the fruit of those labors.  Here is the screen as I submitted it to the app store:

NightstandScreenshots

An overview of Nightstand

Of course there’s a lot more to be seen if you follow the link.

Nightstand is intriguing for me personally because it demonstrates the kind of innovative product only made possible on the iPad.  Moreover, it shows the kind of lifestyle-enhancing ideas that can be successfully applied on the platform.  Like so many others, it came to my attention that there was no built-in alarm clock on iPad (unlike iPhone).  Perhaps unlike others, I started my creative process by asking “What would I want to do right before or after using an alarm clock?”.  The answers I found are embodied in the final product: check the weather, listen to some music or my favorite radio station (SoCal NPR), and browse my first-read websites – without all the hassle of doing these things separately.

Nightstand uniquely makes that possible.  Well, if you do check out the app let us all know what you think!

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Keeper HD

We here at hubapps have had iPad on the brain for some time.  Allowing an unprecedented combination of mobility and utility in a single device is one revolution, but the iPad’s real innovation lies one step further.  Though the iPhone OS was introduced years ago, only now can we see how the touch interface manifests on large surfaces, and the difference is so great it promises to shatter 25 years of hegemony brought on by “the mouse” — a term my kids will – thanks to Apple’s touch interface – never know.

Rather than as an addition of user interface metaphors, the correct way to think about the touch interface is as the removal of antiquated habits and conventions.  The subtraction of this layer is a modern, profoundly irrefutable example of the application of one of the classic templates of innovation, not coincidentally called Subtraction (the other 4 are Task Unification, Multiplication, Division, and Attribute DependencyRead more).

This is significant not because it’s so fun, though touchscreens are certainly that.  It’s significant because every movement downwards on a complexity scale shifts a product’s appeal to a broader market, and enables greater applicability of the product in its ecosystem.

Just as Apple took an industry so saturated with arcane incantations one had to be a veritable sorcerer (see emacs or the short version) just to approach a computer and brought it the mouse, with see-it-click-it purity of action, so now are they bringing us again into a new age of purity of intention, of want-it-touch-it.  And the corresponding diaspora of the concept we saw with the explosion of PCs will be repeated with tablets, only this time, the iPad will enjoy a lead at least as long as its patents.  I think that preserving this lead is at the heart of Apple’s strategic intention, especially regarding Flash and cross-compilers, as John Gruber so concisely put it:

Apple is betting its entire mobile future that their developer platform is better than everyone else’s.

Exactly.  The developer platform, and what’s being developed.

At any rate, “Purity of intention” brings me to the topic of this post, which is, ostensibly, Keeper HD: our first app for the iPad.  Like its Mac counterpart, Keeper HD lets you easily put your thoughts in storage for quick reference.  However, Keeper HD is taking this concept beyond words and into the realm of arbitrary ideas.  In this way, Keeper HD continues to work towards empowering users to create entries for whatever kind of idea they intend to document.  The unique capabilities of the iPad make this possible for the first time in history.

Before we get too far ahead, let me say that Keeper HD, as of today, supports only text notes, though the 1.1 release (already submitted to Apple) will add to this webpages.  But what Keeper HD truly does, on its deepest level, is permit any kind of “canvas” to be displayed and acted upon in the app.  Several are under development, and we are about to release a Keeper SDK which will allow for easy development of such canvases.  But that will be the subject of the next post…

In the meantime, here’s a quick screenshot of the Keeper HD interface:

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Keeper – Innovative Mac notetaking

Some years ago, we released our first commercial application – Keeper.  It had a different name then, but it was even at that time one of the most innovative note apps available.  Now Keeper boasts menubar access, it monitors your clipboard and keeps temporary records (unless you make them permanent), it can paste directly into other apps, in-app encryption, and a host of nice UI features that make it the easiest, most pleasing experience there is for this sort of thing.

Keeper - innovative notetaking

Keeper - innovative notetaking

You can check out Keeper for free (or buy it for our usual $1) from http://hubapps.com/keeper.

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Clerk goes out into the world!

Clerk is now live for download!  Clerk is a document manager which uses Spotlight to help you keep tabs on all your PDFs, live.  You can browse, view, filter, open, and print anything in your collection.  The app is deliberately minimal, giving you exactly what you need in a slick, clean package.  Enjoy!

Clerk.app is a mac PDF document manager

Clerk.app is a mac PDF document manager

At the end of the day, there are lots of choices for document aides similar to Clerk.  But what you uniquely get here is an intuitive, no-hassle interface, lifetime upgrades as the app matures, and the incredible iphone-level price of $1.  That’s a pretty insane price for a full-featured desktop app!  Keep your eyes on this blog to see our updates as they come, or follow us on Twitter!

You can get Clerk at http://hubapps.com/clerk, and of course, like all our apps, Clerk is only $1, making it an insane value at this price!

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Cuadro released!

Ok, so this is a little after the fact, but we wanted to tell you that our first app, Cuadro, has gone live at hubapps.com/cuadro.  Cuadro is a mac screenshot utility, of which there are dozens.  But what makes Cuadro special and unique is its minimalist approach and super-clean interface.

Cuadro Screenshot

Cuadro about to capture part of a Numbers document

Cuadro is a wonderful faux-wood frame that sits in your Dock; when you select it, you can adjust the size and position of the frame and then print or copy the interior of the frame as in any screengrab.  Though we’ll be adding features in the future, we got tired of seeing so many apps overload the user with complicated interfaces while not fixing the one problem most screenshots share: precision.   What invariably happens to me when I take a screenshot is that I then have to crop the image because I’m always off by a pixel on one side.  With Cuadro, because of the precise framing, this never happens.

Anyway, like all our apps, Cuadro is only $1.  So not only is it an incredibly easy and fun app, it’s also iPhone-app cheap!  Grab it while it’s hot, and enjoy!

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The hubapps.com blog goes live!

Welcome!  At hubapps.com, we seek to build tools which simplify your workflow and provide for an enjoyable experience along the way.  As of this posting, we’ve got about a dozen apps under development across a range of core areas which most people face every day.  Please keep tabs on this blog or our Twitter or Facebook pages so you can know when we release these apps and their updates.

Good times ahead, world!

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