One Less App

Removing an App a Week

This one was kind of embarassing to begin with. I honestly don't even remember what gift card I wanted to load into Apple Wallet; I just remember that I had a card I wanted to see on my iPhone's double-tap-from-lock screen.

I wonder what kind of data they got from me in the time I had this app on my phone.

The Solitarica Icon

Solitarica is the first interesting twist on Solitaire I've seen in a long while. It starts as a simple twist on Klondike solitaire but adds some deckbuilding components. Except you can't add cards, so instead it adds powers to the cards in your deck.

I've put a lot of hours into this game, but at this point, I've seen all of it that I need to see, I've beaten the boss a number of times and unlocked all the power-ups I want, and it's time to move on. Still, if you're looking for an interesting time filler, this is an excellent phone game. Give it a shot. #games

Sublime Text was an excellent stepping stone for me, some years ago. Through Sublime's “Vintage” mode, I was able to dip my toes into the world of vim-style keybindings, slowly getting more comfortable with that way of moving though a document. Through Sublime's very open plug-in system I learned more Python and wrote a couple of plugins that saw surprisingly wide adoption, for as simple as they were. Sublime took all the promises of TextMate and made them cross platform. In Sublime we have a fully customizable editor that does exactly what you need it to do, because you're fully in control of what it does.

Of course, this led me deeper down the rabbit hole, to actual Vim.

In the intervening years, as Sublime Text has moved fairly slowly, other editors have picked up the banner, like GitHub's Atom and, somewhat surprisingly, Microsoft's Visual Studio Code. We now have a plethora of good, simple, intelligent, and most importantly configurable text editors at our disposal, and Sublime has fallen behind. But I will always be grateful for how it led me into a wider, better world of editors.

Not much to say about this one. I don't use it much, never really have. I liked the Yahoo/Google duopoly back when it existed; the contrast and contest between the two was interesting and ultimately good for us as end users. But Yahoo's failing health makes it a much less interesting service, and I trust them less and less as they sink into a morass of hazy corporate ownership. So Flickr can go now. Sadly.

I like to keep my options open most of the time. I like to explore all the alternatives, just see what's out there, you know?

But this is one where, when I realized there was a built-in solution, I got rid of all the alternatives. QR reading should be part of the OS on a mobile device. So when I discovered that there's a little app that can be added to the control panel that scans QR Codes I got rid of all the 3rd party ones. I don't use QR codes all that often and I hadn't really found a 3rd party app that provided any utility other than “hey here's the text that was in that code!” so away they all go!

P.S. while writing this I discovered yet another feature of DuckDuckGo: if you search for QR or similar, it will create a QR code for you.

Not a lot to say about this one. I installed it when it first came out, played it for a few minutes and rapidly lost interest. I had been playing Pokemon Moon on my 3DS before that and enjoyed that game, but in a mild, pass-the-time sort of way.

I started playing Pokemon Go a second time a few months ago with my kids, but all of us lost interest fairly rapidly as we realized our little suburban neighborhood only had so many things to see and do, and it wasn't really worth our time to get in the car and drive somewhere else to get different computer monsters for our phone game.

I really like the this game in theory. I like the idea of a game that gets people outside, into groups, talking and excited. These are all good things. I hope people keep finding happiness playing this game!

Drafts is an excellent app. On an iPad.

Back when I had an iPad Drafts was probably one of my most used apps, but when my iPad died my usage of Drafts died with it. There may be people out there who are good at taking useful notes on an iPhone. I, sadly, am not one of them.

The beauty of Drafts is its “write first decide later” nature. Drafts isn't trying to be Evernote, or Scrivener, or Bear, or Twitter. Drafts is a place to capture a quick thought or idea before it disappears. Once you've captured an idea you can decide it's a new blog post and send it to Wordpress, or decide it's part of a story and send it to Scrivener. Or it's a note for work and send it to Evernote, or it's a note for work that should be on Slack.

The problem is that my iPhone is the center of all distractions. It's hard for me to grab an idea without getting distracted by all the little red circles on apps that want me to know that there's something for me to think about right now. And if I can make it past the thicket of notifications then I have to contend with the fact that I suck at phone typing. the iPhone's predictive text is pretty good, but I'm still slow enough that by the time I've written the first few sentences of an idea I've forgotten the last few.

So I've found an idea catcher that works for me:

A Field Notes memo book in my back pocket, and a Fisher “bullet” pen in my front pocket. I find I have a much higher rate of success capturing fleeting ideas on paper than in any app.

So in this case, Drafts, it really isn't you, it's me.

Layout might have been the easiest app to remove so far. I used it once. If I did more with Instagram I might use it again.

I like apps like this, on a conceptual level. One of my favorite things about the progress of technology is how many creative tools are being made available to everyone.

Looking at the history of this app, it appears its in maintenance mode; no new features, just bug fixes. Which isn't a bad thing per se, sometimes what you have does everything you need.

Prompt 2 Logo

This one is difficult.

I really love this app. Panic Makes some of the best apps around, and Prompt 2 is no exception. It does one thing, very well. It's an SSH app. Fire it up, connect to an SSH server, and keep your *nix boxes running. It's got all the right features; little shortcuts to do common tasks without having to type them out, excellent layout, session recovery, the works. Prompt is good stuff.

The problem is: I don't do much of that right now, and especially not from my phone. There was a time where I was genuinely running admin duties on a bunch of servers and I used this app all the time on my iPad. These days my duties at work have shifted, I'm a dev lead instead of sysadmin. In my personal life I've shut down a lot of my side projects so I can focus on school.

Prompt speaks to a version of myself that is no longer relevant, or at least, isn't relevant right now. When and if I buy another iPad I can guarantee I will install this app on there almost instantly, but I have to admit that I haven't used it on my phone in more than a year. So Prompt leaves my phone. Gone, but not forgotten.

Frost is one of those games that feels good. The controls are simple, unexplained, and intuitive. You're guiding a bunch of autonomous little spots of light to a globe where they can be happy. That's the goal of each level.

The way you do that in each level changes, sometimes in little nuanced ways, sometimes in novel and surprising ways. In each level you discover the rules for that level by playing around with it. Sometimes a screen tap does this, but on this level it does that. Some particles react this way, other particles don't react at all.

The flow of the game is dreamlike, simple and easygoing. You can't really lose; you can just keep trying to beat a level over and over until you do. I was totally enraptured with this game for a couple of weeks and played every level at least twice. Many levels have multiple valid solutions, letting you play and see if you can trick the particles in this way or that. This game is a pleasant and effective little stress reducer.