Archives

Written by Romain Dillet

Todoist releases major update to simplify task management

Bootstrapped tech company Doist, the company behind popular task management Todoist, is releasing a major update called Todoist Foundations — the update should be rolled out over the next 24 hours. As the name suggests, it lays foundations for many new features down the road.

But there are already some interesting improvements. Task lists in Todoist don’t have to be an endless list of checkboxes anymore. You can now create sections in your projects. You can then move tasks from one section to another, collapse sections when you don’t need to see them.

image preview

Down the road, those sections could play a bigger role. For instance, a project could have sections representing multiple steps to achieve a task. You could imagine other views that let you move a task from one step to another.

When it comes to labels, they are now sorted in two categories — your personal labels and shared labels with other coworkers.

Todoist has also added a new task view on desktop and mobile that centralizes everything you can do related to a task. You can modify the due date, the priority level, see comments, add labels and more. Even better, you can see all the subtasks associated with a specific task in this new view.

image preview 3

When it comes to mobile-specific improvements, the quick add bar has been overhauled. Quick add has always been one of my favorite features in Todoist. For instance, you can type “Send contract tomorrow at 9am @bestclient #work” to create a “Send contract” task in the “work” project, with a due date and the label “bestclient”.

Todoist first added buttons on mobile to surface those features and make them more intuitive. The company is simplifying the bar as it got really busy. It now displays existing due dates, projects and assignees in buttons directly. There are now fewer icons for less important features.

Todoist also borrowed a feature from Things 3 with the plus button. You can now drag and drop the plus button anywhere in a list to add a new task in the middle of the list. That feature is incredibly useful.

Behind the scene, everything should be faster as well. Finally, Todoist updated icons and its color palette.

image preview 4

Moon’s browser extension lets you pay with bitcoin on Amazon

Meet Moon, a three-person startup that lets you pay for stuff on Amazon using bitcoin via the Lightning Network, bitcoin, Litecoin or Ether. The company has released a desktop browser extension for Google Chrome, Brave and Opera.

While some e-commerce retailers let you pay with cryptocurrencies, the biggest e-commerce platforms have yet to accept cryptocurrencies. Moon doesn’t want to wait and wants to make it possible to pay with cryptocurrencies using current payment methods.

After installing the extension, Moon automatically recognizes when you’re on an Amazon checkout page and inserts the company’s own payment widget. You can see how much you’re going to pay in cryptocurrencies before accepting the transaction.

Right now, Moon lets you pay using two different ways. You can pay with any bitcoin wallet that works on top of the Lightning Network. Normal bitcoin transactions can take minutes to be confirmed on the bitcoin blockchain. The Lightning Network lets you open a payment channel between Lightning nodes to enable fast transactions.

Moon also lets you pay with your crypto balance on your Coinbase account. This way, if you hold bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, etc. on your Coinbase account, you can also pay in seconds by leveraging Coinbase’s API.

Behind the scene, Moon uses prepaid value on Amazon. When you pay with Moon, the service automatically converts your cryptocurrencies, tops up your Amazon account and pays with your Amazon balance. Moon doesn’t charge additional fees.

In the future, Moon plans to expand beyond the U.S. and Canada and let customers in Europe use the browser extension. Similarly, Moon wants to expand to other e-commerce websites. Moon participated in the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator.

Apple’s control over the App Store is no longer sustainable

Last week, Apple caved to the Chinese government and pulled an app called HKmap.live that was being used by Hong Kong protestors to crowdsource the location of police forces.

While Apple CEO Tim Cook defended Apple’s stance, the move is a reminder that Apple is the only judge and jury regarding what’s acceptable in the App Store — but as mobile devices are integrated into more aspects of our lives, it’s getting harder to justify such tight control over their software.

The current state of the App Store is a great example of the risks of running a marketplace that becomes too big. It also shows that we can expect wide-ranging marketplace regulation in the near future.

The App Store as video game console

Before Apple introduced the App Store in 2008, companies could distribute third-party apps and web services without oversight; consumers could buy floppy disks, download software from the internet or connect to any website.

But with the App Store, Apple decided to control the user experience from approval to distribution. And it has been a massive economic success. There are more than 2.2 million apps in the App Store that have generated over 130 billion downloads.

In many ways, the iOS app ecosystem works more like a video game console than a computer — developers submit games and apps to the maker of the platform, which starts a review process to see if third-party content complies with guidelines. If so, developers may list their game or app on the platform.

The PlayStation 4 has been around for six years and Sony has approved 2,294 games in total, around 380 games per year. Due to the sheer size of the App Store, Apple has faced challenges that console manufacturers have never faced.

Review guidelines are poorly enforced

Apple has written the App Store Review Guidelines, a lengthy document intended to answer all questions about what’s acceptable — but those rules are not enforced consistently, and the App Store isn’t a level playing field, discrepancies I’ve pointed out in the past.

As an example: rule 4.3, titled “Spam:”

Don’t create multiple Bundle IDs of the same app. If your app has different versions for specific locations, sports teams, universities, etc., consider submitting a single app and provide the variations using in-app purchase. Also avoid piling on to a category that is already saturated; the App Store has enough fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra apps already. Spamming the store may lead to your removal from the Developer Program.

And yet, customers can find plenty of categories with app duplicates and companies trying to game the App Store. For example, I found 13 different VoIP apps released by four companies. Each company had multiple versions of the same app in order to pick different names, keywords and categories to optimize search results.

When I pointed this out to Apple, they removed most of the duplicates in less than 24 hours, but it can’t remain the single source of truth if it doesn’t enforce its own rules properly.

Similarly, as Under the Radar recently pointed out, some developers will always find ways to abuse the App Store. For instance, shady developers acquire apps with a lot of positive ratings, transfer those apps to their own developer account, push updates with expensive weekly recurring subscriptions and take advantage of Apple’s obscure process to cancel subscriptions.

Economic interests first

In its most recent earnings release, Apple reported that Greater China represented 17% of the company’s revenue. The company also manufactures the vast majority of its products in Chinese factories. Apple has a lot to lose in China.

That’s why Apple’s actions in China don’t reflect the company’s principles. Cupertino claims to care deeply about privacy, but it uploads iCloud user data to a state-owned mobile operator in China.

The company says that it cares deeply about privacy but uploads iCloud user data to a state-owned mobile operator in China

Apple first removed HKmap.live from the App Store, then authorized the app again before removing it one more time. The only thing that changed between the first second removal is that the Chinese government started openly criticizing Apple about that specific case.