Not so smart app defaults

I loved reading Michal’s take on tools, and how so much of it tends toward the defaults offered by Apple. 

I’ve talked about this at length with my friend, Saadi recently, and again appreciate his desire to focus on default system apps first. 

My take is a little different. 

There’s a spectrum of following the flow of what an app offers, the decisions it makes for you, and finding an app you can bend to your own preferences. Picking a default app leans in the direction of following the flow of the app. That’s a good thing I think! So often we have decision overload in our lives. Picking up an app, getting your stuff done, and moving on, is perfect for most of what we do.


I can’t quite make it work for some of my apps. I spend most of my waking hours on a screen of some sort or another. I’m not necessarily a power user, but I do spend a lot of time with various productivity apps. If something doesn’t work how I expect it’s hard for me to just accept the app’s limitation.

I’ll pick the standout examples.

Google Calendar versus Apple’s Calendar app

I’ve tried to switch to Apple Calendar numerous times. I want to use it so badly, if for no other reason than to have events show up in a timely fashion on my Apple Watch. But on the phone I think in week views, and Apple’s solution to it just doesn’t cut it for me. On the Mac it’s a little better, but then I run into sync issues. I have a work calendar running on a Gmail account, my personal gmail, my personal domain email, and all my Apple devices. The best way I’ve found to setup all that is through Google Calendar. 

Mail vs HEY

I can’t use Apple’s mail app. 

I tried years ago and it just did not work with the way my brain functions. For one, search is horrendous, and for another I don’t like the way it sorts mail. I used Gmail for years, going all the way back to 2004 with a beta account. I loved how it worked. Search was perfect, and archiving matched my brain’s desire for inbox zero. When came out I gave it a chance and have loved it ever since. Filtering emails away from the inbox toward other areas, and screening out unwanted emails is a killer feature. 

If other email providers adopt this I could be compelled to switch; but I love the calmness of my inbox being a place I have control over. 

With that said, HEY’s search feature is pretty bad. So bad in fact that I set aside emails I think I’ll need later. 

Things 3 vs Reminders

Apple’s Reminders app has come a long way. It is a decent app that helps keep track of lists. But it’s not a great app for planning out my day.

While I use calendar events for anything that connects me to another person, I use Things 3 as a cheat sheet for what I need to get done today, tonight, and tomorrow. Reminders doesn’t have an elegant way for me to easily shift between those two ways of thinking.

That, along with the fantastic integration on iPhone widgets and Apple Watch, make this an app I just can’t go without. 

Bear vs Notes

This is one area where I’m not so sure anymore. A year ago I wouldn’t have considered Apple Notes. Bear Notes has been my app of choice for all note taking for 5+ years. But with their recent update they’ve changed a lot of the features I’m used to, and made the experience worse (for me at least). I started testing Apple Notes again and was surprised at how great it is. Other than missing markdown, it’s a solid app. I might actually switch to this for all my notes going forward.