Remembary 2.0.3 is now out and it includes updated 'tall' and 'wide' iPhone5 graphics for all twelve of the included themes. Like on the iPad and other iPhones, these use every available pixel to give a rich writing and reading experience, including paper textures and sometimes even watermarks. Here's a quick overview of each of the themes:
  • Codex: Gives the impression of an antique tome with old weathered paper. This works nicely with fonts like "Tycho's Recipe" and "Jane Austen". The original version was designed by Nick Bolger, but has been reworked from scratch by Andrew Burke for the new version.
  • Daybook: This is descended from the original theme for Remembary, which used to be called "Planner". If you look closely at the pages in this theme, you can even see a watermark. The original was designed by Carol Clapham, but has been reworked from scratch by Andrew Burke for the new version.
  • Notebook: Carol Clapham designed the original version, but this has been thoroughly updated for the retina display with paper pulp, aging effects, and a photorealistic background. It now feels a bit like an old school notebook found in someone's attic.
  • Platinum: This is based on another Carol Clapham design. It's closely related to "Daybook" but has a more hard-driving "Executive" feel. The black leather and stitching were actually taken from a scan of a Targus iPad case.
  • Kids: This was designed by Brittney McIsaac, a Halifax-based graphic designer who has worked on a number of iOS apps over the years. Since Remembary is text-based, the margin doodles have to be built into the theme! The octopus in the top right corner might become Remembary's new mascot.
  • Lights Out!: Another Brittney McIsaac production, this is designed to be used at night if you're catching up on your diary after the lights have gone out and you don't want to disturb anybody.
  • Fathom: The original version was designed by Nick Bolger, but this has been thorougly updated for retina displays. The background wood pattern is actually from a wooden pier in Gros Morne, Newfoundland.
  • Heart: This uses the same basic ingredients as "Platinum" but reverses the aesthetic appeal. If "Platinum" was for the Corporate Raider in all of us, "Heart" is for the teenage girl in there too.
  • Paper: The original version was a quick stock photo adaptation from Lance Hancock (who also designed the cover page) which turned out to be an appealing favourite. It works surprisingly well with the "Andrew" and "Jane Austen" fonts.
  • Zodiac: Another Carol Clapham design, heavily updated with retina-grade stars and nebulae for a mystic spacy feel.
  • Parchment: An original Carol Clapham design that only required small adjustments to work in the new Remembary. It looks vintage and like a stylized watercolour at the same time.
  • Circles: Another Carol Clapham design that didn't need many changes for Remembary 2. It strikes a nice balance between seriousness and whimsy.
Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

A small update to Remembary has just been approved to the App Store. I had actually submitted 2.0.1  a while ago, but while it was waiting for approval some other problems came up, so I canceled it and worked on 2.0.2 instead. It fixes some problems that came up with Remembary 2.0 and adds a few small features:

Fixes

- Some users didn't want to allow Remembary to access their Twitter accounts, but if they had a password on their diary they would get stuck in an endless loop of Twitter access requests that would just pop back to the password page again. It doesn't do this anymore. Also, there's now a switch in the "Auto-Fetch" box specifically to turn off Twitter.

- Exporting in 'Data' format would sometimes crash, especially if sending the export to an email or DropBox. It doesn't now.

- It's always been tricky to get the cell heights right for the feed items tableview, but the new logic for that is much better than it's been before. Big long Facebook posts should now fit just as well as single-word tweets, and nothing should be truncated anymore.

- The "Facebook" link in the help section now goes to the correct page (Like us!)

Updates

- If you're looking at a picture full-screen, tapping on it now hides the top bar, letting you see more of the picture. Tapping again or going to another picture shows the bar again.

- The 'copy feed item to diary' button icon isn't a grainy MS-Office-style 'copy' icon anymore, but is now a high-res arrow that should be more meaningful.

- The Facebook/Twitter/RSS icons in the feeditems listing are now all retina-enhanced.

Next Up

I'm already at work on Remembary 2.1. Software is always trickier than expected and schedules are difficult, so I can't say exactly when this will be out, but I'm hoping before the end of 2012, and I hope it will include:

  • Support for iOS6's built-in Facebook authentication.
  • Support for the new longer iPhone5 screen (and whatever new device they might announce later this week).
  • In-App purchase for new themes.
  • Thumbnails for Facebook and maybe Twitter pictures directly in the feeds.
  • 'Recently Played Songs' as an (in-app purchase?) option in the feeds list, for people who make music their life.
  • FourSquare and perhaps App.net support.
  • Export to HTML, eBook, and perhaps PDF formats.
Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Samuel Pepys was a smart and perceptive man who was lucky enough to have a prime vantage point during very interesting times. He kept a private diary for ten years, which happened to coincide with the restoration of the British monarchy, the Fire of London, the Great Plague of London, a war against the Dutch, and the rebirth of public theatre - not to mention his own rising fortunes from lowly clerk to senior naval administrator, speaking in Parliament, and being personally known to the King and other powerful aristocrats.

Pepys' diary was turned into a very popular daily blog, which turns out to have been an ideal way to read it. In fact, it was this blog that inspired me to start keeping my own daily diary (although my life is a whole lot less interesting than Pepys'). Keeping my own diary of course inspired me to make Remembary, so Pepys could be considered the grandfather of the app. 

I built Remembary as a way to help me remember what I did because I haven't been very good at writing in my diary every day. I always had the impression that Pepys found time at the end of every day to write in his diary, and that my inability to do so was a sign that I was less organized than him, or a statement on our perhaps busier times. However, in one of the last entries in the diary, he writes:

So home, and by night home, and so to my office, and there set down my journal, with the help of my left eye through my tube, for fourteen days' past; which is so much, as, I hope, I shall not run in arrear again, but the badness of my eyes do force me to it.

A few months earlier, several days of diary entries just consist of short jot notes and some itemized spending.

So iIt looks like Pepys frequently took short notes while he was out and about during the day, and then fleshed them out into full diary entries when he had the time later on - sometimes a week or two later. This, it turns out, is exactly how Remembary works. Your tweets and status updates and pictures are all like Pepys' notes, which you can then use later on when you have the time to write up full diary entries.

So everything has come full circle: the app I built to help my own shortcomings in diary-writing turns out to reflect how Samuel Pepys actually wrote his diary. I'm sure Pepys would have loved to have an iPad - and with his active lifestyle you can be sure that he would have really enjoyed having an iPhone and a Twitter account. 

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Until recently, Remembary was an iPad-only app, so I didn't think it would be very useful out in the wilderness where wifi is scarce and plug-in power is scarcer. Earlier this year, I drove from Edmonton to Halifax, camping and hiking along the way. A few weeks later, I spent a week in Newfoundland's spectacular Gros Morne area. I had an early test version of Remembary for iPhone on both of these trips - and even in prototype form, Remembary totally changed the experience.

Whether I was walking among the hoodoos of Writing-On-Stone Park in Alberta, or scrambling up the scree face of Gros Morne Mountain in Newfoundland, I took a lot more pictures knowing that they would automatically become parts of my diary and would also show up on my map of the day. Every picture becomes a jog to my memory, and a point on a map to show my progress.

Writing in my diary in the tent at the end of the day was made much easier with the "Lights Out" theme, which was specifically designed to not dazzle you or anyone nearby in low light situations.

But I also found Remembary really useful while on the trail itself. The picture list and map view showed me where I had gone and when. By taking a picture of each wayfinding sign, I could see how long it had taken me to go measured distances, and so get a sense of how fast I was walking. Seeing the picture points over the satellite view gave me an instant birds-eye view of my progress and how much further I had to go. 

Out in Gros Morne, I was often out of cellular data range, but I got around this by checking the maps where we were going to hike when I was in town and had wifi access. The iPad caches the map tiles, so they were available later on when I was on the trail. 

I've made sure to keep the photo albums from my trips in my iPad's photo collection, so the picture are always available to Remembary. If I want to show people where I went on my trip, I often just hop over to the appropriate day in my diary and show them the map of where I went, tapping on the good pictures to show them in zoomable full screen.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Here's what the chat it looked like in Remembary on my iPhone.

I had a fun Twitter-based interview/chat on Sunday about Remembary, hosted by @OurManInMTL. We discussed my history of diary-writing, the difference between writing on paper and on a device, and how Remembary can be used for travel. 

The audience made some great contributions - and two of them even won promo codes for a free copy of the app!

@OurManInMTL has put the entire conversation into Storify, including embedded pictures and everything. You can see the results below, or simply follow this link to see the related data.

He also put together a related List.ly page about "What About Your Favourite Fonts?" - based on the big list of fonts in Remembary.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

(Part 2 of a series of posts about how to travel with Remembary).

Paris, New York, Istanbul, San Francisco, Tokyo, Montreal, Rome, Rio, Sydney - there are few things better in life than having an open schedule and a whole new city to explore. Discovering history, checking out the monuments, appreciating the architecture, sampling the cuisine, and meeting the people - a new place can give you a wealth of new experiences, and can end up teaching you a lot about yourself as well.

If you like to write a lot in your diary, you'll probably prefer to use the iPad version of Remembary. However, you might not want to bring the large device with you as you walk around town all day. Stick an iPhone in your pocket or handbag, though, and you're good to go. The pictures and tweets and Facebook updates are all synced through the cloud and will already be waiting for you when you get back to your hotel at the end of the day and you write up your day's activities on your iPad.

Find some time at a café to get some writing done? You can still use Remembary's iPhone version for notes, or if you don't like typing (and nobody is nearby to get annoyed) you can use the voice dictation functionality. You can then export your day's entry out of your iPhone and import it into your iPad using DropBox. If you like that café and want to remember it for later, take a picture of it or check in to the location on Facebook - and it will show up with a timestamp on today's map.

Having Remembary has totally changed how I see a city. Knowing that my pictures and my tweets are going to show up in my diary makes me a lot more snap-happy than I already was before. Before Remembary, I would take a dozen or so pictures a day of a place. Now a big day in a new city can mean over a hundred pictures and map points. But it's all worth it when I can just tap on a button and see everywhere I've been.

Months or years after you've been to a place, you can quickly revisit the experience by simply going back to that day in Remembary. Not only is your diary entry there, but also all of the raw Tweets and Facebook updates that you made while you were experiencing it. All the pictures and videos you took are there too, available in full screen with just a few taps. If you want to see where something was taken, another tap shows it to you on a full-screen zoomable map.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

The first time I ever kept a diary was on a cross-continent road trip I took in 1999. I started keeping a diary full-time a few years later, when I was flying between Toronto and California on a sometimes weekly basis. I felt like my life was changing so much that I needed to write it down before I lost track of everything. Many of the great diarists have also been great travellers, and one could argue that diaries are descended from or at least strongly influenced by ship's logs.

With its automatic picture and map support - and especially with the new extra-portable iPhone version - Remembary is an ideal travel companion. The next few blog posts will cover some of the different ways that people travel, and how Remembary fits in:

Road Trip

Eat up the miles and see it all from ground level. From winding back roads to superhighways, from rugged wilderness to tacky tourist traps - driving is a great way to see the world. 

Keep your iPad or iPhone in the glove compartment and take quick notes whenever you make a stop. 

When you're writing in today's entry in Remembary, you can tap on the clock icon in the right margin to add a timestamp. This lets you easily keep a 'log' of your day's travel while you're actually on the road. If you're using a recent model device, you can even use voice dictation to leave a quick note without having to type anything.

Transient

Want to remember that you were at a place? Take a quick snapshot with your GPS-enabled iPad or iPhone, and it will automatically show on today's map for you, complete with a timestamp. I've often found myself just taking a photo of the road just so I have an extra point for tracking my progress later on.

A good road trip can leave a really great map at the end of the day. Here is an automatic map from a recent visit I did to California - through the Redwood Empire and down some spectacular coastline along Highway 1.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

This Sunday September 9th at 10am Eastern Time, follow #remembarychat on Twitter to join a conversation between @remembary and "Social Journeyman" and long-time friend @OurManInMTL. We'll be talking about the ideas behind the app, the benefits of the diary-writing habit, social media, epic road trips, and more.

The conversation will happen entirely on Twitter, and feel free to join in simply by tweeting at either of us and/or using the #remembarychat. Here are some of the questions we'll be covering - feel free to contribute your own. 

  • When did you first start documenting your day to day experiences?
  • What are the barriers to being consistent with the diary experience?
  • Are there differences in writing on paper vs digital?
  • Tell us about the imputus to develop the Remembary App.
  • What are some fun moments or important moments you have in your Remembary diary?

Looking forward to the chat - and I hope people can join in. I know Sunday morning doesn't work for everybody, but if you miss the talk live just search Twitter for #remembarychat and you can see everything that was said.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

The Remembary 2 launch has gone pretty smoothly - especially considering that the app has been almost entirely rewritten and the upgrade process does a lot of data changes under the hood.

First, a big thank you to all of the people who have submitted such enthusiastic reviews to the App Store. After all the hard work that went into this latest version, it's heartening to see that people are enjoying it.

Also, a big thank you to everyone who has written in, either to say nice things or to point out problems they've been having (or both!) - in the last few days I've managed to identify two annoying bugs:

Twitter access request / password loop

If you are upgrading from an earlier version of Remembary and have a password on your diary, but you tell the app that you *don't* want to give it Twitter access when it starts, you'll end up stuck in an endless loop of entering your password and then being asked to allow Twitter access over and over again.

I've confirmed that this is genuine problem, and a fix for this will be coming soon, but in the meantime please note that:

  1. Remembary only uses the Twitter accounts for *receiving* Twitter - it doesn't send anything, and certainly won't spam your followers or anything like that
  2. You can turn off your Twitter accounts (and all feed fetches for that matter) from inside the app from the Feeds popup (the top bar button with all the inward-pointing arrows); and finally
  3. You can turn off Twitter access at the OS level using the "Settings" app.

So, if you're finding yourself in this situation, just say yes to the Twitter account access for now so you can get into Remembary and then you can immediately turn off all Twitter access from the feeds popover if you don't want to be bothered with it.

Data Export to Mail Crash

If you try to send a "data" export of your diary in an email, the application will crash when it tries to pop up the mail interface. This doesn't happen with plain text exports, and also doesn't happen if saving the data export locally or to DropBox - just data exports going to email.

A fix for this is also on the way, but in the meantime you can save your data exports to DropBox or locally to your device, from which they can be copied to your computer the next time you plug it in.

Also note that Remembary saves a copy of the data export on your device before trying to send it in email - so your export hasn't been lost, you just have to plug your device into your computer and get the file out of iTunes.

I should have Remembary 2.0.1 ready to go early next week and it will hopefully be live in the App Store before Labour Day (depending on the approval process).

Thanks again to everyone for making this such a great upgrade and launch. Stay tuned - exciting things are coming soon!

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Here are some notes about each of the fonts. Several of the fonts are licensed from the the excellent (not to mention erudite) collection at Pia Frauss.

  • Bradley Hand: The original default font for Remembary. Looks like handwriting while maintaining legibility.
  • Jane Austen: is from Pia Frauss and is exactly what it sounds like: it's based on the actual handwriting of the famous author herself. It looks especially good on the "Paper" and "Codex" themes
  • Tycho's Recipe: Another Pia Frauss production - it isn't the most legible font, but it's quite striking, especially with all of the flourishes. It's based on an actual recipe by 16th century scientist Tycho Brahe, copied as a gift to the queen of Denmark - a recipe for a medicine "against Plague, and all Morbos Epidemicos". It looks great with the stylized antiquity of the "Parchment" theme.
  • Mitre Square: is also from Pia Frauss and is a fine example of late Victorian steel-tipped pen handwriting. The name comes from the part of London where Jack the Ripper used to lurk - the original version of this font comes from a police report about the murders. I like to use it with the "Codex" theme:
  • Snell Roundhand: An old-fashioned cursive font that emphasises "restraint and proportionality".
  • Andrew: is a cheerful-looking free font from Andrew Vardeman. I don't have much information about him or his font - but it's cheerful and a bit child-like. It looks great on "Notebook" or "Kids".
  • Noteworthy: is a newer 'handwriting' font built into iOS. It looks like it will be the font for the iOS6 version of the "Notes" app, which has some font snobs already calling it the new "Comic Sans". It looks nice in "Heart" and "Notebook".
  • Hoefler Text: is an old favourite. It has a distinctive, slightly old fashioned look, while actually being very technically sophisticated in its use of ligatures and such. It looks quite nice at a large size on the "Platinum" or "Daybook" themes.
  • Times New Roman Italic: One of the original six fonts that came with Remembary 1.0, there's really not much to say about Times New Roman Italic. It's handsome but stays out of the way.
  • Didot: An elegant serif font that Wikipedia describes as "neoclassical" and "evocative of the Age of Enlightenment". Several people had asked about having more straight serif fonts in Remembary, and I hope this and Hoefler Text give them what they want.
  • American Typewriter: iOS' clean built-in typewriter font. If you think it's too clean, try...
  • Underwood Champion: A licensed font based on actual old typewriter text, with a much more realistic, gritty feel. It looks really great on top of "Platinum" or "Daybook" pages.
  • Marker Felt: A fun font built into iOS - notable as the "Notes" app font.
  • Helvetica: The only font here with its own documentary.
Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke