GoogleTv apps suck.

Looking at the current offering of GoogleTv apps I think we need to have a discussion about how GoogleTv is different from mobile and what the experience should be like.

The TV is a media browser so put your pictures, movies, statuses, etc. front, center, and full screen. Don’t waste space with large and useless UI elements (I’m looking at you Twitter). The Tv is also multi-user, don’t focus on single user experience; always ask how will your app interact with one to five people in the room.

Apps need to be thought about in terms of “watching” them instead of the normal high level of interaction. This being said, I think apps generally fall in to an active or passive mode.

Passive apps should have emphasis on Visualization (e.g. Think awesome dashboards of Foursquare + Twitter + GoogleReader headlines. Think iTunes music visualizers (Pandora you are really boring on my Tv). Think art and how to bring the museums of the world to your living room!

Active apps need to remember that you are sitting on a couch, take hints from how the Wii channels make their interfaces. Furthermore active apps need to get me to their media ASAP (Netflix does an okay job here). Unlike tablets or phones, Tv apps will frequently service the whole room. How do you make an app social for the room? I’d like to see social DJ apps like on my Tv for my party.

Another way for active apps to exist is in an “overlay” experience. How can I order that pizza without interrupting the re-run of Seinfeld I’m watching?

Currently my favorite passive app is the Classy Fireplace. It starts up full screen with its media front and center. And it is just so damn classy.

Apps I actually use on my iPhone

I was sick of reading useless app lists of “top 100 must have apps” of apps I really didn’t need to have. So here are the apps that I actually use. Most of them on a daily basis. Leave a comment if you have a better suggestion for an app in any of the categories I mention.

Productivity Apps

Find iPhone - This is a Free feature of mobile-me/iCloud, this app has instructions on how to set it up, but ultimately is just a ‘radar’ app. Set this up and hope you never have to use it.

Plain Text - Note taking app with dead simple interface and Dropbox sync. The Dropbox sync seals the deal for me.

Instapaper - For reading stuff later. Partners with a bookmarklet on your computer. Click to save the page to the app in a stripped down version (no formatting or ads, like news print).

RedLaser - Scan ALL the barcodes! Also does internet lookups when the barcode is identified as a product. Oh QR Codes too.


Alien Blue - For your fix. Hands down the best mobile reddit browser. Disappointing that its not a unified iPhone/iPad app.

Beluga - Group messaging, but it requires a Facebook account. That being said, its my favorite way to do groups on the go.

Twitter or TweetDeck - Two excellent twitter clients, currently I’m using the official Twitter client, but depending on how you use it TweetDeck may be better for you.

Foursquare - So you know where I am!

Photo and Video

Instagram - Dead simple photo sharing. Pro Tip: if you add a location to the photo it will check you in on foursquare too.

DerManDar - Panoramas made easy and most importantly doesn’t require a plugin like flash or silverlight to view the result (e.g. microsoft’s photosynth)

Postage - Turn pictures into digital postcards for email/twitter/fb. I use this to share moments with my family who don’t use twitter or instagram.

Eye-Fi - Uploads pictures straight to iPhoto like its magic. (May be replaced with iCloud)


RunKeeper or Nike+ GPS - I use RunKeeper because it also tracks lots of other sports (I bike), Nike+ is geared only at running. Both give great maps and have cool social features.

Vivino - Wine catalog made easy. Snap a picture of a wine label and some image recognition will id the wine. Love it for trips to Napa/Sonoma.


Spotify, TuneIn Radio or TuneIn Radio Pro - Music on the go. Just started with Spotify, before that TuneIn Radio was great, but Spotify is better on the “music discovery” side of things.

NYTimes or

NYTimes for iPad - I prefer the iPad app for my news fix, all but the Front Page and Videos sections are behind a paywall.

Netflix - Watch ALL the movies!

CrunchyRoll - Netflix for anime.

HBO GO - If you get HBO you can use this app to get unlimited access to all their past premium offerings.

Google Tv - Way better for every day use than the Logitech keyboard.


FlightTrack Pro - Flight updates and notifications. Hands down the best tool to have while flying.

iCaltrain 2011 - Schedule for the SF bay-area train schedule.

iBART Live - Schedule for the SF subway.


Google - Quick access to google’s mobile products and, of course, search. - Since I bike everywhere I tend to use for purchases if I don’t need it now. Amazon has a great mobile product and that helps make the next day shipping deadline in emergencies.

WootWatch - Need to check on the go. I’m a graphic-t addict!

The best games

Carcassonne - My go-to multiplayer game, way classier than words with friends official website +video.

Swords and Sworcery - New-age 8-bit RPG. video for a better explanation.

Fruit Ninja - Super fun when you have some time to kill. official website +video.

More games

(I’m not going to go into detail for each one, just go check them out)

Red Alert - RTS

Critter Crunch - puzzle: Stop the slowly lowering wall of bugs by eating them.

Bubble Bust! - puzzle: Bubble Bobble clone

World of Goo or World of Goo HD - puzzle: build structures to get your goo from point A to B

Harbor Master or HarborMaster HD - RTS: dock ALL the boats!

Rolando and Rolando 2 puzzle/arcade

Topple and Topple 2 - arcade: Stack blocks, don’t let them fall.

Tiny Wings - arcade: happy birds!

Sounddrop - music game

de Blob - arcade: paint the world!

Aki Mahjong - puzzle: mahjong

Apps I use less frequently

Numbers, Keynote, & Pages - Apple’s trifecta of productivity apps to compliment their desktop offerings. Much more useful on the iPad than the iPhone.

Prompt - SSH for the masses. Not uses frequently, but has saved my butt a few times when the server was down.

Remote - iTunes remote. As I switch to my AppleTv for music this app has less use for me

Qik - Live video streaming to YouTube or Facebook. I use this to share my meetup that I host.

Wordpress - For quick blogging on the go.

This American Life - Once a week, the best hour of the week. I started doing this via podcasts+AppleTv. The app is still great for road trips.

TripIt or TripDeck - Trip itinerary visualization. For when you are Flying, then renting a car, then going to a hotel, then a different hotel, then on a boat, then renting another car, then flying back. These apps will make your life easier.

Git config that doesn't suck.

name = Adam Hitchcock
email =

status = auto
branch = auto
diff = auto
ui = auto

[color "branch"]
current = yellow reverse
local = yellow
remote = green

[color "diff"]
meta = yellow bold
frag = magenta bold
old = red bold
new = green bold
whitespace = red reverse

[color "status"]
added = yellow
changed = green
untracked = cyan

tool = opendiff

excludesfile = /Users/north/.gitignore
autocrlf = input
safecrlf = warn
#editor = mate -w

log = log --graph
logp = log -p --graph
logs = log --stat --graph
what = whatchanged
mom = merge origin/master
stat = status
st = status
ci = commit
co = checkout
br = branch
ft = svn fetch
up = svn rebase
dco = svn dcommit
df = diff
lg = log --pretty=oneline --all --graph --abbrev-commit --decorate
ll = log --raw
lo = log --pretty=oneline --graph
fa = fetch --all
rl = rev-list --pretty=oneline --all --graph --abbrev-commit -n 100
#open a github url for the current git repo
hub = !git remote -v|sed "'s|.*git
[:@]\\(.*\\).git.*|http://\\1|;s|m:|m/|'"|uniq|xargs open
chop = !zsh -c "CB=$(git branch | grep '\\*') && CB=${CB
[3,-1]} && [ $CB != \"(no branch)\" ] && git checkout --detach ${1:-\"HEAD\"} && git branch -d ${CB}"

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