Andrew, the developer behind the fantastic Alfred productivity app on the Mac, posted a small peek at a new feature coming in v1.2.1: tapping shift to preview an item. The idea there is that it’s easy to navigate Alfred with the up and down arrow keys by using the index and middle fingers, whilst the […]
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My Favorite Little Features in Mac and iOS Apps

Andrew, the developer behind the fantastic Alfred productivity app on the Mac, posted a small peek at a new feature coming in v1.2.1: tapping shift to preview an item. The idea there is that it’s easy to navigate Alfred with the up and down arrow keys by using the index and middle fingers, whilst the ring finger can quickly tap shift to preview files as needed. The feature is dead simple and I admire how transparent Andrew is about how he makes Alfred both comfortable and easy to use.

Andrew’s post also got me thinking about a few other examples of apps that win some major usability points:

  • Instapaper and its newly updated pagination gestures. Pagination saves so much time when compared to scrolling, and I love how a single tap moves me forward, and a tap-and-drag along the bottom will let me teleport through an article.
  • Due (shown in the screenshot) will let you use natural language to describe a task, and writing “Post on iSource 4 PM” will change a button along the top of the screen. Tapping on that button once will set the alarm to ring at 4 PM, and tapping on it a second time will remove the “4 PM” from the task description. Beautiful.
  • Drafts and Reeder can both share text and links with a host of other apps, but they also recognize that you might not use every single service that they support, so there are also dialogues to hide unused services. Drafts is a little accessible overall, and the latest update even goes the extra mile and allows you to add an “OK/Cancel” dialogue to certain actions (like tweeting) – because accidents can and do happen. A major usability win.
  • Day One features a two-tiered take on the now- standard “pull to refresh” mechanic that was introduced by Tweetie. Pull down a little bit while viewing an entry and you’ll see an option to move to the next entry, but if you pull just a little more and you’ll have an option to create a new entry. Clear for iPhone features a similar mechanic for navigating lists and accessing settings.

I simply meant for this post to be a quick thumbs-up to Andrew on the excellent Alfred development we’ve been seeing, but there are so many great little touches in my favourite Mac and iOS apps that I couldn’t just stop there. If you’ve got any favourite little touches of your own, share them in the comments.

 

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