My 2013 in a flash

Oh yes, another [Insert best / worst or other appropriate adjective] of 2013 list for your reading pleasure.

If the first line of this post mocks a list of this nature then why create another of my own? A valid question, however my irreverent tone is only due to the sheer number of these lists currently circulating my Twitter timeline (many of which I have duly re-tweeted), RSS Feed and everything in between – the concept is one I have never really had an issue with. If anything, I find these types of lists to provide a reasonable summary of the year gone by, and often serve as a reminder to go back and check out those [again, insert appropriate item here] that were lost in everything else that occurred throughout the year.

The original draft of this post was in fact a very structured list format. In the end things became a little too regimented and lengthy. Hence, the end result is a much briefer, and hopefully less boring version of few things I enjoyed throughout the year. There is also a high likelihood I have left a few things out, though as I sit here and write, below are a few things that spring to mind from the past 12 months. All were not necessarily new in 2013 but are simply what I personally may have discovered in the past year, or used a lot more of over the same period.

A year of upgrades

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

A fairly major upgrade for the family in the latter half of the year was the purchase of a Mac Mini (Late 2012 Model; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5; 4GB RAM; 500 GB Hard Drive) as our home computer. I have particularly enjoyed the level of integration achievable with my iOS devices since firing up the Mac.

When Apple released the Retina display equipped iPad mini a little earlier than expected in November with somewhat limited supply, I managed to pick up my desired model (WiFi; 32GB; Space Gray) through the Apple on-line store.

Speaking of upgrades, I was quite impressed with the iOS 7 upgrade in September. OS X Mavericks was also released in October, though in itself had minimal impact for me personally, given I was learning OS X for the first time anyway.

What would a tech roundup be without a couple of accessories for the little space gray pocket rocket…

Hit the link and check out the fantastic piece of design and function that is the Twelve South Hi-Rise for iPad mini / iPhone 5s, which looks great and performs perfectly on my desk.

A surprising addition here comes courtesy of Aldi, with what is probably best described as a shameless rip-off of the Jawbone design, this Bauhn rechargeable bluetooth speaker (sorry, couldn’t find a link) is right on the money. For the princely sum of $29.99, this speaker is exactly what I have been searching for, without having to pay in excess of $80.00 plus for the established “brand” models. It pairs like a champion and sounds great.

I have also enjoyed writing much of this post with my new Logitech Ultrathin keyboard mini. Although some touch typists may find the keyboard a little cramped, I find my decidedly unrefined four finger typing well suited to this device.

Apps

Well, where to start. There are numerous best of and must have lists of apps floating around. Many of which I have saved in my Pocket queue for later reading.

Firstly, for what it aims to do and ultimately does, 1Password is without peer on both iOS and OS X. If you do not use this app to create and store robust passwords, go and buy it now.

The integration of Fantastical and Siri on iOS continues to amaze me. The fact that I can simply tell Siri “I have a meeting with X at 9:30 on Friday at the Y” and have the exact entry appear in my calendar is brilliant. As I have previously mentioned , I continue to write 90% of my posts in Editorial for iPad, simply because I find the workflows immensely useful and the added features make this an outstanding app, worthy of its inclusion in the App Store’s Best of 2013.

Many of my favourite apps such as Omnifocus 2 for iPhone and Tweetbot 3 for iPhone received ground up re-designs for iOS 7, and I cannot praise the developers highly enough for what they have achieved here.

Many apps have also become integral to various workflows I have now set up, which are by no means complicated, but certainly work well for what I need. I have begun to utilise Drafts to create lists which I then send to an Inbox list in the native Reminders app, which are then automatically pulled into Omnifocus (with a task automatically created from each line in the original Drafts list). Again, the use of URL Scheme automation in iOS for examples such as this is pretty amazing.

I have also used Pinboard as a bookmark repository on an ever-increasing basis. Articles I save in Pocket to read later are, upon archiving, automatically sent to Pinboard with tags preserved by an IFTTT recipe.

Finally, I have really enjoyed using beautiful interface of Flipboard to read articles of interest. It is also a great way to scroll through Instagram or Twitter, and of course I have created a couple of my own magazines with articles I intend to refer back to as well.

Out and About

Another great year for coffee in Brisbane.

Strauss
Strauss – Elizabeth St Brisbane CBD

The opening of Strauss in Elizabeth Street brought a new class of establishment serving great food and specialty coffee in this fine city. I highly recommend a visit in 2014 if you have not done so already. Another venue just over the bridge at South Brisbane is also worth your time and taste buds – Merriweather Cafe.

The common denominator of the above cafés being the coffee served originates from Cup Coffee Roasters, which began in West End and has expanded to a larger roastery at Woolloongabba. It was here I recently attended a Brew Class, on filter based brewing methods which was a fantastic experience and highlighted how much I don’t know about such things.

For great Italian espresso, Bar Linea continues to be my mid morning saviour for a quick 10 minutes of solitude and a brain recharge.

My home coffee roasting (as regular readers will note) continues unabated, and I have been pleased with my overall set-up, which provides a fairly efficient way to go from green to roasted bean. I am certainly beginning to refine my tastes and roast profiles and look forward to seeing what comes through Ministry Grounds in the new year.

Next Year

Although there will be no resolutions listed here, I do have some ideas about what I would like to make some progress on next year.

I plan on improving my home roasting skills and continuing to provide family and friends with some of the results – possibly recovering some costs along the way. I’d also like to visit a lot more of Brisbane’s great coffee hotspots, particularly those in the outer suburbs. I do not plan on reviewing these establishments, however will happily recommend visiting those that are of a high standard.

In the technology realm, I will continue to learn as much as I can to improve my iOS and Mac workflows, and in particular am keen to improve the organisation of my photo library. Probably the biggest achievement of 2013 was commencing this blog in May, and that is another area I plan to work further on. My initial aim was to sign up to WordPress, pick a theme and few widgets and focus on content, with the look of the site to be attended to later. Apart from registering a domain name, that is pretty much how things went, so it is probably time to put in a little more effort on the design front.

Most importantly, in 2014 I get to spend another year with my amazing wife and kids, of whom I am immensely proud of each and every day, and whatever I have (or think I have) achieved would not be possible without them.

My iOS Writing Apps

In this dept4 x 4 post we look at my four most used iOS writing Apps. Generally my four ‘most used’ in any series of Apps would be my favourites, though this is not quite the case here, in part because of the need for a certain app related to my job.

Working within a corporate office environment in my day job necessitates a significant amount of time is spent in Microsoft Word, and with the iPad being my primary device for working at home or commuting. Pages is handy for reviewing and modifying these documents, then sending them back to the office completed without requiring further modification (apart from minor formatting) once I am back at my desk.

The morning I commenced planning this post, a new episode of the Generational podcast[1] came through my feed titled “Tackling iOS Text Editors”, in which Gabe Weatherhead and Eric Hess gave an excellent summary of not only some of their favourite Apps, but a few criteria of how to select the most appropriate Apps for your own requirements. I will run through each of the four main Apps I use at the end of this post, however I think the following possibilities are worth considering when you are looking for an app in which to do your writing in iOS (thanks to Gabe and Eric for this line of thinking).

Capture and push or write and manipulate?

The question here is whether or not you intend to use the text editor as a means of capturing quick notes on the go, or using the application for longer form writing which may be redrafted or formatted in some way.

In my experience, although the above may be achievable in one app, there are certain Apps with features to differentiate their ease of use in each of the above situations. By far the most powerful app on the market for grabbing quick notes of text and using a multitude of sharing, URL schemes, ‘open in’ or ‘send to’ options is Drafts by Agile Tortoise. This is my preferred app for this purpose and lives in the dock on my iPhone home screen.

However in saying this, Drafts also handles longer from writing and has Markdown support, however in my individual use case, I prefer doing longer form writing in a different app, as I rarely require multiple options for sharing with my longer pieces of writing.

I think it is certainly worth considering (or indeed trialling) some Apps to see where most of your output ends up, as this may dictate which features better suit your requirements.

Text Editor or Markdown Editor?

This question ties in a little with the one above, in that, if you are looking to use your text editor to format Markdown, then this feature should be one of your first considerations. Generally, if you are looking to write in longer from, post to a blog or even if you prefer having an Evernote entry or email formatted in rich text, then the Markdown features are of primary importance. Whilst any text editor can be used to write in Markdown, previewing the output is a useful feature (in line preview even more so) for these Apps to have, as is an additional keyboard row containing the more common Markdown characters (some of which are three deep in the standard on-screen iOS keyboard).

Not familiar with Markdown? I would highly recommend familiarising yourself with this type of writing and formatting, as it is the single thing that finally convinced me to create this site. Prior to learning Markdown, I was at a loss to determine how I would write largely on my iPad and iPhone, yet still easily format and post the text to a blog. Now 66 posts in on this blog, it is the first thing I recommend learning to anyone considering writing on the web.

There are many sites all over the web outlining the use of Markdown, however the way I learned, and one that I would highly recommend, is the Macsparky Field Guide on Markdown, written by David Sparks and Eddie Smith. This book explains the whole purpose, process, and Apps that are part of the Markdown system.

Anyway, should you wish to format your text for the web, or in replica text, having a strong Markdown feature set in the your app of choice is essential.

Additional Features

These are the features (though many are standard these days) that ensure an app meets your requirements for function, design, or both. Some are non negotiable to many, such as Dropbox syncing, TextExpander support, and a decent sharing menu. Others are nice to have, with varying levels of importance to different users. Here we are talking of things such as overall design, extra keyboard rows, Markdown support, light/dark mode switching, font selection and the like. If you work on multiple devices, whether or not the app is universal (that is, available for both the iPad and iPhone; and also how these sync with the Mac), and if not, at least whether a dedicated version of the app exists for each device. If Dropbox syncing is used, most text editors will be able to pick up the file and allow you to work with it across both formats (iOS and OS X).

The more features required, generally the narrower the app selection will become, however with so many text editors on the market, there are still more than enough to choose from. The definitive iOS text editor comparison document can be found on Brett Terpstra’s site, written as a table and comparing pretty much every text editor (dozens upon dozens) out there and includes just about every feature they contain as well. You will also find prices, a short outline on each app and links to the App Store.

It is impossible to go through all of the particular ‘extra features’ you may find in various Apps here. Features I find most useful are strong Markdown support (including preview; preferably in-line), an additional keyboard row (preferably with customisable keys), TextExpander support, Dropbox syncing, and plain or rich text sharing options. Three of the four Apps below have these features, and my introductory paragraph above indicates why the fourth does not. On with the Apps.

The Apps

Editorial (iPad)

Though I set out to write about these Apps in no particular order, Editorial is my number one. Plain and simple. Though only released in August this year, Editorial (App store, Website) has been my sole writing app on the iPad since that time, in which I am writing this post. For in-depth reviews I refer you to the first two of the following articles, both of which include screenshots and videos of the various workflows that are included or can be created in Editorial:

For me personally, and why I consider Editorial to be number one, is that it satisfies every mandatory requirement I have in a text editor as noted above, however the additional features of this app are unsurpassed. To name just a few:
* Local or Dropbox file storage
* TextExpander support (in addition, customisable in app snippets)
* Light/dark theme; line spacing and text width adjustment
* Swiping left to right reveals a selection (see image below) of a preview view, console, help documentation or in-app browser (customisable to either Safari or Chrome)
* Extra keyboard row with typical markdown keys, including ‘extra’ extra characters on tap and hold
* Sliding across the extra keyboard row will also move and place the cursor (solving a constant annoyance of mine in iOS – the difficulty in accurately placing the cursor); whilst a 2 finger swipe on the same row will expand a text selection (brilliant).

IMG_0588

There is really no way to accurately describe this app without giving it a go. The integration of python scripting (currently beyond the scope of my abilities) makes this app a powerful automation system as much as it is a text editor. There are also numerous workflows available for use (by simple download straight into the app), and of course you are free to create your own.

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At the time of writing the app is available in the App Store for what I believe is an introductory price of $5.49 AUD, which, for the features included is an absolute steal. Definitely one to try out.

Drafts (iPad, iPhone)

Drafts (Website, App Store iPhone, App Store iPad) is my go to app on the iPhone as an entry point for grabbing text. It sits in the dock on my home screen, and upon opening, presents a blank note with a blinking cursor and keyboard at the ready. This is precisely why it is the perfect app for capturing an idea or small amount of information quickly, however what happens next is where the power of Drafts really lies.

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Included in the app is a large directory of actions, with many more downloadable directly from the developer’s website. Drafts, along with Launch Center Pro was one of the first Apps to embrace iOS URL schemes (shortcuts that allow automated communication between Apps for specific actions to occur, reducing the required manual tapping and app switching).

My main actions in Drafts:
* General sharing – messages, email, tweets
* Sending text to Evernote, and appending to a specific note for blog post ideas (which are also date stamped automatically through a customisable action)
* Sending text to Due (as reminders), Day One (my weights workout data), Byword (ideas that may expand into blog posts)
* Adding tasks to Omnifocus or Reminders
* General note taking which may or may not be sent to another app or simply deleted once no longer required
Drafts does have Markdown and TextExpander support, with files also able to be saved to Dropbox, though syncing between devices occurs through Simperium sync. Drafts really is a great app to capture all text when you may be unsure exactly where it is headed at the time you are writing it.

Again, more in-depth reviews at Macstories can be found for version 2.0, and also for version 3.0.

Byword (iPad, iPhone, Mac)

I have previously written about my use of Byword (Website, App Store iPad, App Store iPhone, Mac App Store) as a text editor, and it was initially the app in which I began writing in Markdown and publishing to this blog.

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In many respects, the strength of Byword lies in its simplicity and distraction-free writing environment. The main features I found useful are Dropbox syncing, TextExpander support, and an extra keyboard row for Markdown characters and inserting links. With version 2.0, Byword introduced direct publishing (via a one-off in app purchase of $5.49 AUD) to WordPress (along with other blogging platforms) and Evernote. A workflow I continue to use by opening documents (from Dropbox) in Byword that were originally written in Editorial, sending them to WordPress, and then archiving the post in Evernote.

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Rapid Dropbox syncing and version conflict controls ensure Byword is a very useful tool if you perform longer form writing on both the iPad and iPhone, providing the ability to preview version conflicts and select which to keep. Despite my recent shift to Editorial on the iPad, I can see Byword continuing to play a significant role in my iOS (and Mac) writing workflow.

For your reference, a Byword review on Macstories, and an earlier review by yours truly.

Pages (Universal iOS, Mac)

As I mentioned in the introduction to this post, Pages (iPad, iPhone) makes this list primarily due to being my means of editing work (read day-job) related documents on the iPad. The office environment I work in runs the typical Microsoft Office suite of applications, and though I can email and quickly preview documents in Apps such as Goodreader (which I commonly do as many are also PDF documents which I then annotate), for tracking changes and editing the word formatted documents, nothing beats Pages for ease of use.

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I have tried some other Apps for this purpose, such as CloudOn (a full MS office version running on a remote server), which does work very well, however I find because most of the work I do involves reviews and making edits to reports, the fully featured version is not really required, and as it is on a remote sever obviously requires an internet connection and runs a little slower. There are many mobile office suites out there, however for my limited use, Pages serves my needs.

Probably the features that are most useful include robust iCloud syncing, straightforward formatting options (those not carrying over from MS Word are so few, they are inconsequential – to me at least), change tracking, ease of inserting charts, media and the manipulation of text around such insertions. The sharing options for returning these documents back to the office are also adequate, however easy Dropbox syncing would be welcome. Also, the overall user interface is probably looking a little dated, though the recently announced iCloud web interface for the iWork suite of Apps looks interesting and is something that may come in handy.

In summary, after using Pages for around 10 months or so, I have never commenced writing a document in this app, only edited existing work documents, which probably sums up my use case for listing it here. However in saying that, there is no other iOS writing app I would have included instead, simply because the three listed above more than take care of everything else, which is not to say some other Apps may suit you better. However if you primarily prefer to write in rich text format, then Pages may be for you.

Conclusion

The first draft of this post was written a couple of months ago, and since that time we have seen the release of iOS 7, OS X Mavericks, along with new iPads and Macs. I have upgraded my old iPad 2 to a new iPad mini with Retina display, and also acquired a Mac mini for our home computing needs in that time. The delay in completing this post was due to thinking that some of these workflows (and hence the Apps I use) may alter in view of these changes. This has not happened, which is probably not surprising given how well the Apps suit my needs, and the cross platform integration achievable through Dropbox.

Probably the only alteration may come as a result of Google’s acquisition of the mobile office suite Quickoffice, and the integration of this with Google Drive. I can see a possible place for this in my “day-job” usage described above, in viewing and performing rudimentary editing of Microsoft Word documents.

I acknowledge the above Apps and workflows may not suit everyone, however I think they are a good example of how writing on the iPad has gone well and truly beyond tapping a few words into the native Notes App. Pair the iPad with an external keyboard, use the automation possible in Apps such as Editorial, and you have a pretty powerful way of getting words on a page and published to wherever they may need to go.


  1. The Generational Podcast in its original form has been discontinued, having morphed into a new show titled Technical Difficulties. Same guys, but newer!  ↩

Retiring my iPad 2

Well, this will be the last post tapped out my trusty iPad 2, with a new Retina iPad mini (Space Gray, 32 GB WiFi model) currently in transit. Although there has been a delay in my order, according to the shipment tracker, the much anticipated item has made its way from Shenzhen in China on Saturday (the day the order was placed) to Sydney, today, Wednesday 19 November. Surely it’s not such a stretch to think it might find its way to Brisbane in the next 24 hours.

In retrospect, this iPad 2 has served me well over the past 18 months, purchased after a rather disjointed initiation into the world of tablet computing through an Acer Android model I owned for approximately 6 months. Though it was some time ago now, I remember firing up my iPad for the first time and almost immediately noticing a more cohesive user experience, along with a seemingly endless supply of apps to choose from. Obviously things have changed on both counts since then, with the Android ecosystem having significantly improved, and the iOS App Store now actually having an endless supply of apps (well almost).

A lot has evolved with my workflows and information consumption over this time, with the iPad at the core of those changes. Probably the most significant was commencing this blog some seven months ago, in which every post is written on my iPad either in Byword or more recently Editorial, as iOS automation becomes more and more embedded in my writing workflow (more on my most used iOS writing apps coming soon). Prior to this, a key aspect of beginning this blog was learning to write in Markdown (achieved on this very iPad through an excellent iBook by David Sparks and Eddie Smith) , with the knowledge that much of my writing would be done on the iPad, and needing a time efficient way to write web content when not at my desktop.

These ‘creation’ workflows, along with my ‘consumption’ of information through RSS, Twitter, books, magazines and other multimedia, see the iPad at the centre of a good part of my non (day job) work time. I am expecting a smooth transition to the mini and am looking forward to the extra portability, improved performance, and of course the fabulous Retina display.

This iPad 2 has been an ever reliable companion, serving me well through a couple of major iOS software updates, always maintaining a level of performance commensurate with its fantastic design. I’m sure there are quite a few more years left in it for another user, however with fond memories, it is time for me to bid farewell to this old friend.

Was that a knock at the door?

iPads and Mavericks

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Earlier in the week yet another Apple event unfolded, this time unveiling the new model iPads, Macs and immediate availability to download (free) the latest desktop operating system, OS X Mavericks. Though an avid iOS user for the past couple of years, I have only recently (about a month ago) picked up a Mac mini as our home machine, transitioning from a windows PC in the process.

Obviously with much still to learn and get my head around as far as OS X is concerned, I was happy to close the loop and begin living full time in the Apple ecosystem. I envisage many apps and workflows will function more seamlessly for having done so. As you would expect, “closing the loop” means everything with the exception of my work office because, as I have touched on in previous posts, the large corporate Windows network is certainly not going anywhere.

As is usually the case, there are many great reviews on the announcements made at the 22 October event, and the video can be streamed if you are interested. My main reason for tuning in to the excellent TUAW Live Weblog early on the morning of the 23rd (Australian time) was firstly to hear about the refreshed iPad line up, and secondly for an update on the availability of Mavericks.

iPads

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Having mentioned in a post a few months ago of my plans to downsize my iPad 2 to an iPad mini when Apple next renewed the line up, I was particularly keen to see if what I was hoping for (and had split the rumour mill in the event lead up) came to fruition – an iPad mini with Retina display.

For me, that wish was granted, and I will be off to purchase a space grey, 32GB WiFi model once they hit the stores. The fact that the weight and thickness increased a little will not be a concern for me, as coming from an iPad 2 I will be improving on both counts anyway.

The features I am really excited about? Apart from the improved display, I am pleased Apple went with the A7 chip in the mini, as I had expected this for the full size iPad however thought the mini may have received an A6 instead. I am looking forward to a zippy experience with the latest processor and 64 bit architecture, which will scale well as developers begin to take advantage of this hardware in the future.

Was I tempted by the specs of the full size iPad Air? Most definitely, however the majority of my iPad use is comprised of reading, researching and some writing – much of which occurs on a bus (or a couch), along with watching TV shows when my brain requires a less intense commute. The iPad mini is a perfect fit, as I often do not have the space when sitting on the bus to easily (and privately) work on my iPad 2, and am looking forward to an easier time with the smaller form factor of the mini. There are also many times when I leave the office at lunch time to head for a cafe, and often think I should use the time to draft another post, however am often not keen to carry my iPad 2 with me. I am assuming the mini being easier to carry, will lower the resistance to picking it up as I leave the office.

I have long been eyeing the iPad mini as my next purchase, however in assuming Apple would refresh the line in the latter half of this year, preferred to wait for a new model. In thinking as to why, the improved performance was probably a bigger draw than the retina display, as it is something I will be using for at least another 18 months – a long time in an ever advancing tech marketplace where more and more processing power is required to effectively run these devices.

Although there are some who question Apple’s wisdom in maintaining the iPad 2 in the line up, I think overall it is a perfect fit, as there are now two clear entry level iPads (iPad 2, iPad mini) both with matching specs apart from physical size, and two top of the line devices (iPad Air, iPad mini with retina display), again with matching specs in differing sizes. It may also surprise some that the iPad 2 is still the most used iPad, more so than the 3rd and 4th generations combined. A full comparison of the final range can be seen on the Apple Store (Australian store link).

For a much more in depth look at what we have in store come release day for these devices check out a great review by Federico Viticci at Macstories.

Mavericks

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As I mentioned above, I am starting from square one with OS X as an operating system, let alone providing you with any sort of in depth analysis of the Mavericks upgrade (officially OS X 10.9).

Probably the thing that stood out for me about the upgrade was the immediate release and the free price tag, which is a great thing for all mac users. Whether or not this is because there weren’t many new features to justify a paid upgrade is probably not that relevant, as most who have upgraded would have also done so with a $20 price tag.

So, as I head off to learn more on OS X and Mavericks myself, I highly recommend the following to educate yourself on the new OS:

OS X Mavericks: The Review – Stephen Hackett at 512 Pixels
OS X 10.9 Mavericks: The Ars Technica Review – John Siracusa at Ars Technica
OS X Mavericks: Tips, Tricks, and Details – Federico Viticci at Macstories

In addition to these reviews, a couple of other pieces worth reading include Federico Viticci’s Working with Mavericks After A Year of iPad, which provides an interesting look at both aspects of the announcements, and from Jim Dalrymple at The Loop, in Thoughts on the Apple Event. If you prefer to listen rather than read, The Prompt podcast, featuring two authors from the reviews above, is always an entertaining and informative look at recent events in the world of Apple technology.

In conclusion, what does it all mean? That is for you to decide, as far as your needs and available budget are concerned. For myself, a little forward planning in budgeting for the upgrade, means that by the time I offload my iPad 2 on eBay, the upgrade to the retina iPad mini will be reasonably painless.

Roll on “later in November” – Apple were a little vague about the release date for the mini, though I’m sure it will arrive eventually.

Time for an iOS app spring clean?

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Post WWDC 2013, I wrote a little about the upcoming changes to iOS 7, including some of my expectations around the change.

As the public release of this next version of Apple’s mobile operating system looms closer, more and more information is coming to light on developer progress and approaches, including results from a survey by Twitteriffic developer Craig Hockenberry:

Of 575 valid responses, 545 developers indicated that they were working on an update for iOS 7. That’s an adoption rate of 95%!

In addition, from Macstories:

From what I’ve seen (and heard) so far, it looks like releasing new, paid, separate versions of apps for iOS 7 will be a common trend among developers.

In light of the above, it is probably an ideal time to do a spring clean of your apps, or at least consider what you are using and how. Will you be prepared to purchase a new, paid update for an iOS 7 optimised version of your favourite app?

For me, the answer is a resounding yes, particularly for any apps that are in heavy use in my workflow. Whilst at this point, the above is merely opinion on what may eventuate, those around and within the developer community would have a fairly good idea on what is to come.

Personally, I have no problem paying for an update to an app that takes full advantage of all that will be on offer in iOS 7, however I would have second thoughts with the apps I use less often. Remember, a paid upgrade will provide support to app developers for further enhancements, and may add to the likelihood your favourite app will stick around and see upgrades and added features in the future.

The second question then for me, is whether an upgrade to the operating system will bring me back to any of the native iOS apps. I am currently using third-party apps for email (Mailbox), calendar (Week Cal), notes (Drafts) and reminders (Due). Although it is unlikely we will see third-party apps able to be used as defaults, should there be a compelling reason for me to return to the native apps, I may do so. However the power of Drafts for example is unlikely to be surpassed by anything Apple would have to offer.

What drives me to change an app? Looks? Feel? Function? Primarily function, however I prefer not to use ugly or seemingly disjointed apps simply for one feature they may have above others. It probably comes down to a combination of each of these factors.

We’ll see in a month or two, however in the mean time, have a think about how your apps fit your workflow and consider what actions you may take once the iOS 7 upgrade reaches public release.