Text Is Dead; Long/ Live/ Text

Maybe one day we will talk to our computers and have them send messages to other humans on behalf of us. But for now we can text our friends ourselves or talk to computers via text.

For all the nonsense out there about people not reading any more and how our culture is increasingly led by visuals, there is still an awful lot of text-based innovations going on.

Sure you can use post an image in Twitter, but that platform was built on text and it’s still the most used medium. That’s a guess but it’s probably right.

This cool article, Futures of Text, was making the rounds on Twitter a couple weeks back. The author, Jonathan Libov, talks about text-based services like Bus Time as an antidote to the there’s-an-app-for-everything-I-have-too-many-apps thing.

It’s also where I heard about this cool text-based health app, Lark. He calls it “GUI-aided chat:”

Lark for iPhone is a virtual health coach that interfaces with HealthKit on the iPhone. They do an excellent job at weaving free-form chat with GUI.

Lark is also excellent at message design. The tone is natural and the tempo is fast but not so fast as to make you feel like your responses are perfunctory.

I find myself checking in with Lark a lot during the day. It makes me feel good about all the activity I get, even though I don’t think it would motivate me to get my butt outside if the weather’s crappy.

I’d attach a screen shot of Lark talking to me but the app has been crashing lately.

Here’s the video they have on their site:

App Tells You How Many Times You Check Your Phone

It’s called Moment, and it’s:

an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.

I’m not going that far. But it’s interesting to see how many times I check my phone. (For the record: less than the average but still a lot.)

Apparently boredom is actually good for creativity, which makes sense—I rarely come up with a novel solution to a problem while actively thinking about it. It all happens in the magic of the subconscious.

And the research backs this up:

“You come up with really great stuff when you don’t have that easy lazy junk food diet of the phone to scroll all the time,” says Sandi Mann.

Mann’s research finds that idle minds lead to reflective, often creative thoughts (we discuss her projects in depth in this week’s show). Minds need to wander to reach their full potential.

Heard about it from the New Tech City podcast, which cites the following statistics:

58% of American adults have a smartphone today. The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67% of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated. 44% of Americans have slept with their phone next to their beds.

Listen to the episode to find out more about the research, including a really cool experiment that had its subjects read the phone book.

Awesome New iOS Podcast App

I’ve never been fully satisfied with a podcast app for my iPhone. Downcast was good, but lacked fine-tuned details and control.

Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper) has a new app out and it’s great. It has a cool feature that shortens silence breaks to speed up listening time without making Ira Glass sound like a chipmunk. A beautiful interface. Podcast-by-podcast settings. More.

Try out Overcast—it’s $free ($4.99 to unlock all features).

Via {daring fireball}.

Friday Link List

1. Speak Up! Advertisers Want You To Talk With New Apps {npr}.

This ain’t creepy…

When I opened it, the app asked me a question: What’s your favorite type of liquor? That’s a little forward, but it’s Esquire so I played along and told the app that I’m more of a beer drinker…

Before I knew it, I found myself engrossed in a chat about booze. I was talking to recordings of Wondrich, and he, or really the app, was listening to what I said and answering me back.

2. The Empty Air: mobile app offers sound tour through Rittenhouse Square {technically philly}.

This seems neat but I may be too self conscious to actually give it a whirl.

Called “The Empty Air” and successfully crowdfunded last fall, the app uses GPS to control what you hear as you walk through the park. Kiley created the original musical piece using sounds he recorded in the park.

3. Vast ‘Digital Public Library Of America’ Opens Today {npr}.

The Digital Public Library of America, intended to provide free open access to materials from libraries, museums, universities and archives across the country, launches at noon ET on Thursday… Robert Darnton, Harvard University librarian and history professor, writes in The New York Review of Books that “at first, the DPLA’s offering will be limited to a rich variety of collections — books, manuscripts, and works of art — that have already been digitized in cultural institutions throughout the country. Around this core it will grow, gradually accumulating material of all kinds until it will function as a national digital library.”

Interactive Animal Illustrations for the iPhone

Cool new iPhone app, Petting Zoo, from one of my favorite illustrators, Christoph Niemann.

In a post on The New Yorker Culture Desk, Niemann describes the process of making the app, and of the creative process at large:

That’s the hardest part: letting go of an idea that, having spent a number of passionate nights with, you have fallen in love with. Even with a certain amount of routine, this letting go sadly doesn’t become easier. The natural instinct then is to rely on what you know is working. It’s unfair, but this is the surest path to boring and predictable results.

Via {daring fireball}.

Read more Christoph Niemann on this blog here.