Mini App Reviews


I play with new apps a lot trying to learn about them and find things that can improve my productivity and happiness. I review the ones I put on my home screen pretty often as well because otherwise they’d end up cluttering things up (I have lots more than this but they’re filed in folders on Screen 2). So I thought I’d write up what I think of the current crop. Let me know if you think I’m missing out on better ones.

  • Calendar — still haven’t found a better one than the standard Apple app, although I would like something easier to use
  • Clock — usually as an alarm clock but occasionally as a timer (for boiling eggs)
  • Camera — for taking photos I don’t want to share
  • Settings — to manage wifi mainly
  • WhatsApp — texting friends in other countries
  • Skype — occasionally for international calls although I usually use a laptop for those
  • Kindle — doing a bit of reading on the tube but prefer iPad or kindle for proper reading
  • Chrome — looking things up to settle pub arguments
  • Google Maps — getting around
  • iPlayer Radio — listening to live BBC radio and iplayering comedies
  • Flickr — uploading iphone photos to flickr. It’s annoyingly buggy though and often crashes
  • Basecamp — checking what I have to do. I used to use Things but we’ve got much better at using Basecamp at BGV, so now I just use that
  • Feedly — Much improved RSS reader that really does work on the small screen and syncs across platforms
  • 1Password — More important on a desktop but I also use it for important but secret notes
  • Twitter — for time wasting
  • Lift — for (good) habit forming. I’m a recent convert so we’ll see how that one goes

In the dock:

  • Messages — for texting
  • Phone — not used that often to be honest
  • Gmail — pretty phenomenal and much better than the Apple app in my opinion. I use it for managing email much more than I do for writing it though

Contact management for small teams

We’ve been testing a few CRM platforms at Bethnal Green Ventures over the past couple of weeks and I thought it was worth writing up what we found because when I had a bit of a search around I couldn’t find any particularly relevant reviews. Because it’s a couple of years since I last looked at what’s available, things have moved on a lot — mainly because of APIs which let them integrate with Gmail and all the social media platforms.

We’re a team of 3/4 people who are usually in the same office but travel quite a lot. Our basic requirement is to be able to see who’s contacted who but it also:

  • Needs to work out of the box. We’d prefer not to have to spend ages configuring it.
  • Needs to have custom tags
  • Good social media integration a plus
  • Shouldn’t cost more than £50 a month for 4 users and 10,000 contacts.

After a quick look at the really big systems (Salesforce, SugarCRM etc) which we decided just needed too much configuration, we decided to give these ones a go:

We’ve actually tried Insightly and Highrise before but never really stuck with them. Having said that we’re big fans of what 37signals have done with Basecamp, it seems like an all together better product than it was a few years ago so, so we were willing to give it another go.

First impressions:

Insightly: not particularly slick and the layout was a bit confusing (2/5)
Solve360: looks a lot like Google Apps but actually a bit confusing (3/5)
Nimble: good looking and easy to navigate (4/5)
Highrise: simple and intuitive (4/5)

Adding contacts in bulk:

Insightly: took a few minutes to work out that it uses your gmail address book (3/5)
Solve360: couldn’t immediately see how to do this at all (2/5)
Nimble: so easy, added Gmail, Linkedin, Twitter contacts within minutes (5/5)
Highrise: not quite so straightforward, struggled adding exported address book from Gmail (3/5)


All of them pretty good to be honest if you know what you’re looking for (all 4/5).


You have to be an admin in Solve360 to create tags which confused us for a while (2/5). Highrise is let down by not having a simple way to see a list of companies (3/5). Nimble and Insightly pretty good (4/5).

Fun to use?

Insightly: not particularly fun, but not bad (3/5)
Solve360: we got frustrated pretty quickly, definitely not fun (1/5)
Nimble: it sounds daft but both Lily and I found ourselves a bit addicted to adding and updating people (5/5)
Highrise: pretty good but nowhere near as fun as Nimble because there’s less social media integration (4/5)

Cost (4 users, 10,000 contacts):

Insightly: $29 per month
Solve360: $49 per month
Nimble: $60 per month
Highrise: $49 per month

So overall we liked Nimble the best. Yes, it’s the most expensive but still reasonable I think and it’s genuinely amazing how much of the work it does for you.