Watchscreen: Conrad Kramer, developer of Workflow

Each week, I ask someone to share their watchscreen, examining how they’re using Apple Watch, what apps are useful, and tips or tricks they have. This week, I’ve asked Conrad Kramer (Twitter) to share his screen.

Kramer-head

Conrad is one of the young and brilliant developers behind Workflow, winner of a 2015 Apple Design Award, as well as the excellent (but less well-known) DeskConnect. Workflow is the most powerful iOS app I’ve ever used as it has the power to automate repetitive tasks and link tasks together to do things that simply wouldn’t be possible otherwise. He and the Workflow team have been hard at work prepping their upcoming update for iOS 9 and watchOS 2, but he was kind enough to take time to answer some questions for me.

So, Conrad, show us your watchscreen!

What watch/band combination(s) do you use and why?

ss42blacksportI have the 38mm Black Sport watch. I found the 38mm to fit my wrist well, and I like the model because it is light and I like how it looks.

How is Apple Watch fitting into your life?

To be honest, I’ve been forgetting to wear my Apple Watch lately. Checking the time takes a bit too long because I need to raise my wrist first, and it is hard to see in the sun. I don’t really get the chance to use many apps, because none of them are faster than using my phone.

[I find this an interesting dynamic; since Apple Watch requires an iPhone, it guarantees that it will always be in proximity and because it can “do more” than Apple Watch, I find myself going to it quicker than Apple Watch as well, something I noted in my interview on The Apple Fancast. It will be interesting to see this change with watchOS 2.0]

What watch faces & complications are you using and why?

Kramer-faces

I use the Astronomy watch face. I really like the live view of Earth and the Moon. I’ll sometimes also use the Utility watch face with the timer, temperature, and calendar event complications. I also like the Solar watch face.

What Glances do you use and why?

I use the music glance to control my music when I am working out at the gym. I use the Fantastical glance to view my calendar, and I use the Workflow glance to quickly launch one of my go-to workflows.

[Both Fantastical and Workflow‘s glances are really good; as I also wrote at the Apple Fancast, these prove to me that glances are a well-designed element of the watch, even if most glances right now are poorly designed]

What notifications do you receive on Apple Watch and why?

I receive every notification except for Tweetbot notifications and Apple’s fitness notifications. Sometimes I disable Spark email notifications because they become too frequent. Most useful, of course, are the Messages and Facebook Messenger notifications.

How are you using Apple Watch’s health and fitness features?

Besides the automatic heart rate tracking and step counting, sometimes I use the workouts app to track my runs and when I bike. It’s a really simple and easy to use experience, but is lacking in features compared to apps like Runkeeper and Strava. I don’t like that my health data isn’t backed up, either. I lost all of my heart rate and step count data when I restored my phone to iOS 8.4, for example.

How are you using Apple Watch’s communication features?

I love the ability to take a phone call from the watch when I am biking and to be able to quick reply to messages. It’s very handy. I don’t use any of the drawing/tapping/heartbeat/GIFs to communicate. Receiving multiple notifications for an app like Messenger is frustrating, it tells me I “have 2 new notifications” and nothing more. Hopefully this is fixed in watchOS 2.

How do you organize your apps and why?

Kramer-apps

I used to have important apps in the center, and the rest off in a different cloud, but I soon gave up. Now I just delete the app from my Apple Watch if I don’t see an immediate use, and keep the apps in an unorganized cluster. My glance order is important, though. I have the native (built in) glances to the left, and the third party glances on the right. Workflow is all the way on the right so it is easy to find.

[If you’re OCD like me, don’t look too closely at that screen…you’re killing me, Conrad]

What Apple Watch apps are you using most and why?

Timer, Messages, Phone, Music and Workflow are the only apps I really use anymore. I use Workflow because I have workflows to charge the Workflow team for food, and to add quick reminders. I use the Music app as a remote, the Timer app to set timers for cooking, and Messages/Phone apps to quickly communicate.

[Other apps that have made the cut onto Conrad’s screen are: Email Assistant, CityMapper, Mint money manager, Power iPhone battery monitor, Overcast podcast player (a former recommended app), and DarkSky weather]

What apps do you think best leverage the uniqueness of Apple Watch? Why?

Workflow allows you to do really powerful things from your Apple Watch that a lot of people don’t realize. Composing emails, capturing quick dictations, creating calendar events, requesting an Uber, sharing to Twitter/Facebook/Slack, etc. A lot of these time-saving things are really convenient from Apple Watch.

Besides Workflow, I think that any app which has a dynamic notification interface takes advantage of Apple Watch the best. The only two good ones I know of are Uber and Spark, which both have rich notifications with actionable buttons. I hope that more applications adopt these notification screens – apps like Snapchat, Messenger, etc.

What app would you like that you don’t have yet?

Facebook Messenger

If you could change only one thing about Apple Watch, what would you change?

Give developers access to UIKit, the underlying UI framework from iOS that exists on the watch.

What are some tips or tricks that you’ve picked up that others may not know about?

I was surprised to learn that people don’t know about the palm gesture, where you can turn the screen off by tapping the watch with your palm, and if you hold that position after you get a notification it silences future notifications. Also, I didn’t know for the longest time that you can double tap on the home button to go back to the watch face from any point. That is also convenient.

[Technically, it goes back to the last screen, which usually is the watch face, but not necessarily. So if you opened one app and then immediately another, without going back to the watch screen in between, then a double tap would take you back to the first app, not the watch face]

If you want to watch a video clip or TV show on your Apple Watch, Messages.app is capable of playing video. You could theoretically encode a video for the Apple Watch screen size and send it over iMessage to yourself to watch videos on your watch.

What are your thoughts about Apple Watch informed by your background/perspective as a young developer?

Developers and users alike had a lot of issues with watchOS 1.0. Apple put a lot of effort into getting apps written for the platform. I am hoping that Apple can get all of the same developers (and more!) on board for watchOS 2 to hopefully fix the user experience.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I can’t find a screenshot anywhere, but I got an NES emulator running on the Apple Watch (the Workflow team figured out how to get actual native apps running on the device). It could only run at 1/4th the speed, though!

Thanks Conrad (Twitter)! If you enjoyed this, check out his app, Workflow.

Check back next week for another watchscreen or look now at previous watchscreens. You can subscribe to this site via RSSTumblr or by following MarkDMill on Twitter.

If you enjoyed this, you might also want to check out some of my top-rated weekly reviews of Apple Watch:


Recommended Apps: Terrific Deals

Rather than follow my typical pattern, in which I recommend one specific app, I want to make you aware of some tremendous deals on top-notch, highly recommended apps.

Drafts is currently 30% off and it is, hands down, the best note taking app I’ve ever used–but not because it’s a good note taking app. Rather, it’s kind of like Grand Central Station for text; you put text in super fast and easy and then can send that text wherever you want–to an email, calendar, iMessage groups, Facebook, Twitter, Workflow, Evernote, Fantastical, your favorite to-do app (Things, OmniFocus, ToDoist) and more.

I love Drafts because it allows me to brain dump ideas and thoughts without worrying about where they go, then send those thoughts off to the right place so my brain stays clear but my thoughts stay organized. It is one of my favorite apps and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Get Drafts today for $6.99 (normally $9.99)–the sale ends VERY soon, so be fast.

DayOne is, without question, the best journaling app for iOS and the Mac. It is absolutely delightful to use and does everything that a good journaling app should do: it has beautiful typography, a clean design that gets out of the way so you can focus on journaling, tags for your entries, TextExpander support, rock-solid cross-device syncing, share sheets to quickly get items into it, and one of the best Apple Watch apps I’ve seen.

I love DayOne because of how easy it makes it to journal my life. For example, I have it set to remind me to journal each day; when it puts the notification on my Apple Watch I can, with one tap, tell it to add the latest picture to my journal. While it’s putting in the picture, it also adds my location, the weather, my fitness levels that day, and it can even add a song that I’m listening to–all with one tap. If you’ve been wanting to journal but found it too much work, this is a great way to get a great record of your life with as little as one tap. Get DayOne today (iPhone/iPad for $1.99 [normally $4.99], Mac for $4.99 [normally $9.99])

Monument Valley is a absolutely delightful and thought-provoking game. I’m not much of a gamer, but I love puzzle games and this is one of the best, if not the best, puzzler I’ve ever played. What makes it so fun is the way that it forces you to think creatively and abstractly in order to move your character through the mazes. As you manipulate the pieces of the maze for your character, you can enable the maze to do things in 2D that are simply impossible in three dimensions–and that is what makes this game stand so far apart from any other game I’ve played. It’s creative, fun, and a delightful challenge. Get Monument Valley today for $1.99 (normally $3.99).

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