WWDC 2016 is done and gone and finally a week after its been done I’ve been able to pick through all the relevant info and get a good feel on what we need to do to move forward. Some of the more exciting things for me were the new Siri API (though I can’t use it yet), the complete revamp of Notifications, and the fact that I can concentrate mostly on Informant 5 being a better app, not just getting it upgraded for iOS 10. What I mean by that is Apple didn’t introduce ground-breaking new changes for me that forces me to spend 3-4 months working on upgrading our app for iOS 10 and very little on user-focused features.
Informant for iOS
So what should we expect to see? Informant 5 will add a WatchOS 3 app which obviously brings about complications. Why haven’t we done complications yet? Because to do a complication we have to make a WatchOS 2 app and while a native Watch app sounds great – in reality with an app like ours, it actually doesn’t behave better, but worse. However WatchOS 3 fixes that for us and so I now have an incentive to do it. We will of course also support the new notifications and widgets and iOS 10 also adds native speech recognition that fits right into the new UI design. Unfortunately Siri won’t support calendar/task apps for iOS 10, so we won’t be able to offer Siri support yet, but I’m sure that will come soon.
Now you may say: you’ve talked about Informant 5 since last year…where is it? Late last year I decided to wait on Informant 5 until Informant for macOS was done. Much of the Informant 5 base code is shared with Informant for macOS, so its not like nothing was being done. Then early this year, my friends at Apple suggested we wait until the summer (after WWDC) so that Informant 5 could be released and take advantage of all that was to be announced. With Informant for macOS almost at 1.0 and WWDC over, my time to work on Informant 5 is now.
Informant for macOS
We are closing in on our Milestone 8 release for Informant on macOS. This release adds the Notes view, Evernote sync, and many major improvements throughout the app. While we have yet to call Informant for macOS 1.0 in reality its way past that. Our regular 1.0 releases only cover the basic calendar/task features and then we move on from there. With that definition, Informant for macOS “hit 1.0” late last year.
Here are the improvements you can see in M8:
- Notes are now part of Informant Desktop – including Audio Notes, Evernote Sync, Pinned Notes, Notes Quick Entry, Note Search and an optional notes section in Focus View
- You can now create and edit Task Smart Filters
- Added Manage Calendars and Manage Tags windows
- Contents of each day in the Stacked Week view are now scrollable
- Stacked Week View now offers new display options
- Stacked Week view now shows location information for events
- Several visual improvements to Stacked Week view to make it visually more consistent with other calendar views (no more shadows, days are edge-to-edge, thinner font for headers, etc)
- Added week numbers to Year View and mini-months (when ISO Week Numbers are turned on in preferences)
- Alarms for Apple Calendar/Reminders are now handled by Informant (there will be a setting to turn this off in the future)
- Focus View now allows Drag and Drop to the mini month
- You can now drag events, tasks and notes out of the Focus View Sidebar onto a calendar view
- Sidebar mini months now show you the currently visible date range in the current calendar view
- Added separate “first day of week” settings between Days and Stacked Week view
- Changed the “all day” style for Stacked week view to no longer use a bubble (multi day all day events are repeated on each day they occur)
- Month View now uses “past event” styling for events on “today” if their end time is in the past
- Added Rich Text Editing for Events/Tasks
- Added support for HTTP Realm Authentication for Subscribed Calendars
- Show End Time as you drag-resize in Days View
- New Start/End Date pickers available in the contextual menu for a task
- Added option for starting the Informant Help at login
- Added Weather Detail by clicking on any weather icon (or double clicking the Focus View)
- Double clicking on the Days View Title opens the Focus View
- Added option for font size of the Focus, Task, Note rows
- Informant Today now has a heat map enabled (right click on the month to turn it off)
Wow that’s a LOT of improvements! The next release will be M9 and will finish printing and wrap up a few other things – and then we will call it 1.0 (even though its equal to what Informant in the past has been 2.0 or 3.0).
Long term future
This is a difficult bit to write because I don’t know how much I want to say publicly and how much I shouldn’t. When you tell people things publicly about your plans and either they take much longer than planned, or the path changes – people rightfully get upset.
I’ll tell you guys this much: we have been working very closely with some capital funding firms because we have a very solid, detailed, and powerful plan to take Informant to a completely new market. Calendaring/Tasks are fun – but its also a fairly saturated market. Its a direction that we feel will excite the majority of our customers, and bring new customers in from all over. We believe that our strength is in the customers that we have now – and those who want to see more and move up to the mid-size business. For us to be able to provide a solution that scales from the consumer to business I think is an incredible opportunity.
The future of Informant is bright. We are in a big transition period right now with Informant for macOS moving to 1.0 sooner than later, Informant 5 development, and our work to add a major new market with an investment or acquisition partner. Transition periods can sometimes feel like they drag on or that nothing is happening – there is nothing further from the truth. We’ve just been quiet, heads-down, getting things done!