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One Today At A Time

Can you imagine compacting The Hit List into a brief interaction of just a few seconds long? Certainly, you can imagine how the Apple Watch would be used in shorter bursts than iPads or iPhones.

But in bringing you The Hit List for Apple Watch, our design process really had to involve careful consideration — of what you want on your wrist, which gestures get you there fastest, which functions you want, and what you want in a Glance.

Clearly, to us, moving everything over to the smaller device was simply not the answer. We wanted to take advantage of its location on your wrist, to provide timely information that can be viewed at a glance and interacted with easily. We wanted to create a unique experience designed for the wrist.

Once we really understood that the Apple Watch is about immediacy, about “now” and about “today,” we centered the design around the Today list.

Using The Hit List on an Apple Watch requires pairing an Apple Watch with an iPhone. They go together. So, today, we released The Hit List for iPhone version 2.3 that introduces a Today widget for Notifications Center, in addition to The Hit List for Apple Watch, which provides timely information about your Today list, viewed at a glance.

thl23 today@2x

Not only does the Today approach eliminate extra taps, but the simplicity is more elegant and immediately useful. The Hit List glance provides an overview from your own Today list about how much you’ve done and how much is left to do.

When you open The Hit List on Apple Watch, you’re immediately presented with the Today list. Tap on a task for applicable actions and details.

A press lets you add a task using dictation. When you tap “done,” the task is added and syncs with your iPhone and your Mac immediately.

What was our biggest challenge? The iPhone app, the Apple Watch app and the Today widget all read and write to the same place, so keeping it coordinated along with The Hit List Sync Service meant re-engineering quite a bit of our underlying code.

The technical challenges led to a decision to resist pushing something out the door before we had a chance to actually test on an actual shipping devices. This proved to be a smart decision.

So, while many other companies just ported everything and released the day the device shipped, we took a different approach. Every decision founded on the quick-burst customer experience. We approached the design differently, and carefully. We took time to test on real devices. We paid extra attention so you could get the most out of the quick burst of your attention.

We think investing this extra effort and time produced a higher quality app for the Apple Watch. As always, The Hit List strikes the perfect balance of app power and ease of use. We’re pretty excited about it and proud to bring The Hit List for Apple Watch and The Hit List for iPhone 2.3 update to you today.

Sandvox 2.10 adds Sandvox Hosting

Sandvox started with the idea that anyone should be able to build a great website, without needing to know how to code.

Sandvox has delivered on that promise for an enormous number of people, far beyond our expectations. People tell us that Sandvox has been “just right” for them — easy to use, with a very familiar feeling that’s comfortable to work in, simple yet powerful.

At the same time, however, we watched too many people get extremely frustrated when trying to set up web hosting. Which protocol to use? Is this the right URL? Which hostname do I put in? A long list of questions, the answers to which vary radically depending on which hosting company is used.

So, we found ourselves thinking that web hosting should just be simpler than it is. That you shouldn’t have to learn how to administer a web server or play guessing games with endless settings. That hosting should “just work” and so we set out to do just that.

Today we’re unveiling Sandvox 2.10 with a new hosting choice — integrated into Sandvox itself — Sandvox Hosting. It is exclusively available only for use with Sandvox and Sandvox-built websites.

To get started, just choose ‘Setup Host’ from within Sandvox and create a trial Sandvox Hosting account. Sandvox will even suggest a password for you.

signup-anim

Then, when you’re ready, just publish your site. That’s all there is to it.

If you need to check on, or change your plan, just head over to www.sandvoxhosting.com and sign in to your account.

We think Sandvox customers will love Sandvox Hosting. We’re really proud of it and we’re excited to bring it to you in Sandvox 2.10.

Want to take it for a spin? Just download the latest Sandvox demo, create a free trial hosting account using Setup Host, and publish your new site.

Enjoy!

Share to The Hit List for iPhone

If you’ve ever wanted to take a URL or text from another app, and make it into a new task in The Hit List, now you can.

We’ve added a Share extension to The Hit List for iPhone 2.2, which makes it easy and quick for you.

For example, say you’re browsing in Safari and come across a web page that’s relevant to a project you’re working on. Tap the share button and you can conveniently add that page to one of your lists, for later reference. Here’s a quick demo of it in action:

This is a great boost to the power The Hit List gives you on iOS, and we hope it will save you valuable time during the day.

A wide range of apps support sharing, and The Hit List tries to handle that in as useful a fashion as possible. If there are any apps though that you use this feature in, and feel we could do more with handling the incoming data, were interested to hear about it, so please let us know.

Try Launch Center Pro with The Hit List for iPhone to make custom actions

launch-center

If you’re like us, you keep an ear to the ground for good tools. One we use is Launch Center Pro — and we think followers of The Hit List may appreciate it too.

Launch Center Pro is an app that has long done a great job of supporting The Hit List. It provides a handy launching point for custom actions that best suit what you want from the apps you use.

What does this mean? Here's an example: You could create a shortcut for adding tasks to a list you use regularly in The Hit List. You can take that further and pre-fill in just about any property, such as priority, notes or dates. There are even powerful input tags to provide interaction if you wish!

Launch Center Pro has recently been updated to provide greater compatibility with The Hit List for iPhone 2. You can find us when creating a new action under:

    Action Composer > Installed Apps > The Hit List

We hope you find it useful and powerful too!

P.S. If you've been a longtime customer of The Hit List and Launch Center Pro, you might find it still displays the old icon. If so, you can nudge it into updating the icon if you like.

Happy Lunar New Year -- especially if you use The Hit List in China!

It’s my pleasure to announce that The Hit List for Mac version 1.1.11 and The Hit List for iPhone version 2.1.1 are released. They are both minor updates with the usual bug fixes and small improvements, but if you happen to live in China, these releases will change the way you use The Hit List in a big way:  you can now access our Sync Service without having to go through a VPN or proxy server.

If you’d like to know the gory details, please continue reading, but otherwise, that was it. Thank you!

To jump right into the cause of the problem, the Chinese government, using what people call The Great Firewall of China (GFW) blocks access to many Google services. One such service is App Engine, where we host The Hit List Sync Service. As such, access to ‘appspot.com’ servers is blocked, including our own ‘the-hit-list.appspot.com’.

I read some reports about people having better luck connecting to custom domains that point to App Engine’s servers. So I prepared a test build that connects to ‘sync.thehitlistapp.com’ instead and tested it throughly from within China.

Many people don’t realize what it is like to access the Western Internet from China. You don’t realize how much you rely on Google until you can no longer access it, and not just for searching. Gmail? Not a chance. Did somebody post an answer to a question you’d really like the answer to in a Google Group? Too bad. And good luck loading websites that load Google-hosted content like JQuery or Google Fonts or Google Analytics too early in the page-loading sequence!

Anyhow, accessing the new ‘sync.thehitlistapp.com’ address was proving hit and miss. After further investigation, I found that the GFW blocks some of the IP addresses that App Engine uses. If something unacceptable is discovered, the GFW bans its IP address. Later on, if that address happens to be re-used by other App Engine sites—such as our Sync Service—the block will still be in place. Thus, access to our new sync server URL would work for about an hour and then not for the next hour, depending on the IP address that happened to be assigned at the time.

I had hoped that simply using a new URL would  be enough, but faced with this extra obstacle, the only thing left to do was to set up our own reverse proxy service. Inside these latest app versions there is code to try connecting through our new reverse proxy service if the real service cannot be reached. The upshot being sync should now work reliably in China.

This was a lot more work than I initially thought was needed, but in the end, I’m happy to say that it’s all done now. The timing worked out great with the Lunar New Year holiday. To our Chinese customers out there, happy New Year of the Sheep, and safe journeys to and from your home town. We hope you’ll use the sync capabilities in great ways in the new year.

— Andy Kim

P.S. Our Mac developer community colleague Craig Hockenberry experienced something odd with the GFW. I personally experienced the same thing—namely, being redirected to random sites, some of a rather “adult” nature!—when trying to access Facebook or Twitter from China. If you’re interested, be sure to read his posts about China and The Grass Mud Horse.