Got my Beats X replaced under warranty. The headphones died on the third day of my vacation, roughly ten month after purchase.

Instapaper saved

For the record, after a downtime of over two months, Instapaper finally became accessible to European users again1. Just when everyone was (rightfully) giving up hope for a happy ending, word came out that Pinterest is transferring ownership of the app to the developers who worked on the app during the Betaworks years.

In order to refinance work invested into the app by the new owners, Instapaper Premium makes its return in exchange for the same amount of money that the service charged before the acquisition by Pinterest.

Although I’m still a bit grumpy about the extended downtime I think I will become an Instapaper user again. Regrettably, the app hasn’t got much attention during the Pinterest years. I’d love to be convinced of the prospect of a brighter future by the advent of new features going forward.

  1. As a “token of apology” each user located in the EU gets six months of premium status for free. ↩︎

Newton to be discontinued

Out of the blue, Rohit Nadhani (CEO of CloudMagic) shared the sad news that Newton will be shut down on September 25th:

It was a tough business decision. We explored various business models but couldn’t successfully figure out profitability & growth over the long term. It was hard; the market for premium consumer mail apps is not big enough, and it faces stiff competition from high quality free apps from Google, Microsoft, and Apple. We put up a hard and honest fight, but it was not enough to overcome the bundling & platform default advantages enjoyed by the large tech companies.

For me, this is really a blow. In March, I’ve bitten the bullet and subscribed to Newton as a no-bullshit, straight-forward, and mostly stable1 e-mail client that delivered a significantly sized subset of my requirements towards an e-mail client.

And I liked it. It is (or soon will have been) the best e-mail client on iOS that I ever used.

I was hoping that the user base of (according to CloudMagic) 40000 subscribers was giving the developers a solid financial basis for working on the app going forward. But it’s not going to happen.

It’s sad to see this app disappear.

  1. The fact that this needs to be emphasized says everything about the state of iOS e-mail clients. 

Keep It

I’m not exactly busy searching for a replacement of DEVONthink (To Go) on my devices. Sure, I’ve been through some unpleasant issues with DEVONthink’s iCloud sync, ending up with the conclusion that I should stick to the older and more proven sync mechanisms for the moment. But still.

When I became aware of Keep It I wasn’t immediately thrilled, to say the least. Many years ago, I have been using Keep It’s predecessor, Together. At that time, Together was an OK Mac app which never got an even halfway decent iOS companion. Even back then, an app of this category was not acceptable for me without an iOS companion.

Fast forward to today: at some point, I decided to give Keep It a try in the most literal sense of the word: by activating the two-weeks trial period of the subscription required to use Keep It.

I have to say I like the design of the app and how well it integrates with the design language currently favored by Apple. However, the app is not as polished as you’d wish. For example, scrolling through a list of entries is not exactly smooth, even on contemporary hardware.

In contrast to DEVONthink, Keep It does not support different databases or different sync stores. It can only sync between devices using iCloud.

Before diving deeper into features that may distinguish Keep It from e.g. DEVONthink To Go, my primary goal during the trial period was to see how Keep It would hold up in very elementary ways (e.g. store, search, organize) in comparison to DEVONthink To Go and whether it could, in theory, replace DEVONthink for me.

Thankfully, Keep It supports the creation of folders inside the database which was an important feature for me in mirroring my current content of DEVONthink databases in an organized way to Keep It.

On top of moving stuff over, I used Keep It in parallel to DEVONthink, i.e. everything that I’d add to DEVONthink was also added to Keep It in order to compare the friction of working with one or the other app.

To make a long story short, the overall experience of putting my stuff into Keep It wasn’t exactly encouraging:

  • Files that had an extension in DEVONthink were given an additional extension on top of the existing one. For example, a file named file.pdf ended up as file.pdf.pdf.
  • File that did not have an extension were not properly recognized but just declared as having the type “data”.
  • The share sheet was unable to store imports in any other folder than the default import location. Files shared to a different folder simply never appeared in that folder.
  • Sometimes individual files would not sync between devices.
  • After sharing a file to the default import location it was not possible to move the file to a specific folder because the target folder inexplicably did not appear in the list of folders offered by the move action. Outside the move action, the target folder was perfectly visible and had all the expected content.

To summarize, I think I’ll pass and maybe have a look again after a couple of updates down the road.