My 7 most used iCloud enabled apps

iCloud is one of the much helpful Apple features that many people don’t know and can be a timing saver when using multiple devices. Not only iCloud can be used to save iOS device backups automatically, it is widely used by Apple apps such as Pages, Numbers, iMovies, Books among others. You can start a document anywhere, let’s say your home Mac, make most of changes on other device, maybe an iPhone during commute, continue during the day and wrap up at home. It all works automatically most of the times. For example, I keep résumés versions on Pages on few languages and I can quickly edit on the iPhone and export a PDF customised for a specific role. In Numbers, I use a mileage spreadsheet where I keep fuel consumption when filling up, and I can easily review at home in my Mac for reports.

So, apart of Apple apps, there are 7 excellent iCloud enabled apps I use frequently in my Mac, iPhone and iPad. All of them use iCloud to sync information and some allows other services such as DropBox (it allows integration with Windows versions where available).

MindNode

MindNode is mind map application where you can draw and link ideas, turn them into tasks and track them, use an infinity canvas, set different colour layouts and finally, export into Markup language and import in other applications. I usually layout ideas for writing in MindNode before moving them into Ulysses for writing. It allows focusing on main items first, develop few subitems before starting writing and getting details.

Project managers benefit of mind map when developing WBS (Work Breakdown Structures). While it does not expand for collaboration in MindNode it can be used in minor to medium projects to start up WBS and dependencies.

As for iCloud use, it does support Continuity so if you start a project on a Mac and open your iPad within same iCloud account, you should be prompted to continue working on the iPad. MindNode support iPhone as well and while not practical to use in a small screen, it can be helpful for quick edits. Once it is done, you can pick it up back on the Mac or in the iPad.

MindNode showing an example of mind map project
MindNode showing an example of mind map project

Ulysses

Ulysses is also one the veteran apps used a lot for writing, blogging, essays and notes, using iCloud mainly for storage. Having versions for iOS and macOS it is super useful for writing most type of documents anywhere. You can organise your writing in a single sheet or multiple ones into groups. Groups can be main chapters and sheets subtopics, and sheets and groups can be reordered.

Ulysses focus is on writing so you won’t be presented regular word processor tools that takes space on your screen and cause distraction. You mainly use Markup language to do few formatting such as starting headers, item lists or make text bold or italic. All of them can be accessed using the mouse or track pad, but the intention is to get out the writer’s way by the use of keyboard shortcuts and preferable, the markup codes. It gets sometime to learn them but once memorised, those are time-savers.

You can write a lot on Mac and move to iPad or iPhone on commute, again, with different usability levels and continue working normally on the project. iCloud will keep all synchronised across the devices. I like using dark theme and sometime type write mode so screen space is dedicated to writing instead of tools fighting for attention. Often, I will have main ideas drew on MindNode and split the screen on the Mac with Ulysses or export and import as markdown. If I have some idea, I can quickly add on the go via the iPhone version.

Last, when document is ready, you can preview it formatted as a web page and export it to DOCX, ePub, among others and a few blogging platforms (WordPress and Medium). Ulysses website has an extensive tutorials and tips on how to use if you are a frequent writer or student.

Money Pro

Money Pro is a personal finance organiser where you can quickly create accounts such as banking, credit card, savings and assets and start tracking them. Being an iCloud enable app, all your financial data is synch’d via Apple servers, so be aware of privacy issues. Having said that, I use it a lot on the iPhone to record transactions on the go, categorise spending by type and merchants and hopefully know where and how my money goes. It allows me generate reports by categories where I can trim down expenses I can cut or help me prepare a budget (I do this one or twice a year).

Both macOS and iOS versions are kept with same data quickly and you can import and export data from both versions. If your bank provides you QIF or OFX files, it can make easier to bulk upload them once a month. Since I use Money Pro on the iPhone, I usually don’t import anything but the option is there. Also, via in-app subscription you can enable automatic transaction import if you bank and card issuer supports it. Another advanced feature by subscription is inter-profiles synchronisation, so a family can have its data synch’d to one main account. As an example, could join their spending as most likely they will be using different iCloud accounts. As a bonus, it offers Apple Watch app which you can use for quick reports and entries.

While Money Pro does not track advanced accounts like investment ones, it is most useful to keep tracks on spending.

Tyme 2

Tyme 2 is another awesome iCloud tool to help you keep track of spent time in work, in study, as a contractor, and many others. Both macOS and iOS versions are similar, and synchronise projects, activities/tasks and generate beautiful reports. You can start a project in any device, including the watch, and finish on other. Particularly I find quicker to create projects on the Mac but it can be done easily on iOS devices, and use them on the road to track projects.

Mac version allows import and export as CSV, so you can reuse data on different apps and it has integration with GrandTotal (for expense report and invoicing).

All tasks and projects can be colour coded and have different billing rates applied so it is easier to bill customers.

There is a team feature paid by subscription where you can share projects and track their times among your peers.

Lifecraft

Lifecraft is a journal app which also uses iCloud to transfer data between devices. It allows multiple journals and mood selectors (in-app subscription), multiple photo insertion, word tagging and location setting. If you want to keep a personal log or journal, maybe one for work or travel, it is easy to separate them in the same interface.

PDF Expert

PDF Expert is one of the most powerful PDF managers of macOS and iOS. It supports using iCloud File feature and Continuity and among many features, it can do annotations, drawings, merge file operations, reordering, signatures and forms. I use it mainly on organising PDFs in iCloud File/Drive when reading on the Mac or on the iPad (it works also on the iPhone). I don’t have an iPad Pro nor an Apple Pencil but those count as pros for PDF Expert on iOS if you need to use annotation a lot, draw over texts or make changes.

1Password

1Password is also a veteran in Mac world, having many advancements in last few years and iCloud integration with its mobile sibling. The main use of 1Password is to save your site credentials into its vaults (credential repositories, you can have many of them) and kept those in synch with iPad and iPhones. It all happens automatically with no issues, but it does not stops with site credentials feature. 1Password also allows software license categories, so if you have purchases along the years outside Mac App Store, this is a super helpful feature. You can also register your credit card information, documents, identities and logins, and finally both macOS and iOS support One Time Passwords (OTP) for sites requiring multiple factor authentication (MFA). So if your needs go beyond Safari and Keychain password management, 1Password should be very helpful.

So those are my most used iCloud apps besides stock Apple ones, but there are many others such as Fantastical for quick calendar entries and management, Spark email client from Readdle (PDF Expert), both the amazing Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo (Mac and iPad but not iPhone), Pixelmator and MacFamily Tree 8. Hope some of them can be useful for you.

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Tracking time in projects with Tyme 2

Tracking project time, personal or professional ones, expenses, transportation and reporting can be made easier with iOS and macOS app Tyme 2. Tyme 2 runs on both main Apple platforms making good use of iCloud synchronisation services which makes it practical to start some project on the road, make some quick entries or use stop-watch per project activity and update in more details back on the Mac or view project tasks information in a larger screen. Mac version is not required but is a good complement to iOS version. Newest iOS version also works with Apple Watch which I haven’t tried but could be useful on quick starting and ending some projects over stop-watch.

Project entry and classification

As you add new projects to Tyme, you can describe what they are, categorise them by type and choose different banner colours to highlight them. Projects can have a name and hourly rates and planned budgets, but not a long description. Once you have main projects listed and organised, you can add multiple tasks to the projects, add different bill rates and define time rounding and due date.

Sample iPhone project list

Entering tasks and activities information

Registering task usage can be done by the use of a stop-watch timer like feature or by manually entering information. Again, iCloud comes handy here as you can start the timer in a device and stop it on another and it is possible to run multiple timers if needed.

Sample timer

It is possible to create sub-tasks if it makes sense splitting them into more detail. Both tasks and sub-tasks support adding time entries which will help making the report later on. Once tasks are complete they can be marked as so and moved below in the list. The active tasks appear on the first rows. Once a project has all tasks complete, you can mark it as complete as well and projects can be archived as well moved away from the main project list.

Getting some reports

Once there are few project entries, around a week or month of time, a report can be generated in macOS or iOS devices showing time spent on each activity or task, total in projects and categories. Each entry can be marked as billed or as paid. The report can show either time incurred or revenue.

The reports on macOS can be customised to show revenue on graphics and breaks, less or more detail. Last you can review archived projects, unarchive them and delete them.

Besides reporting on iOS and macOS which are very helpful, all the information can be exported (on both platforms) in several formats, PDF, CSV, JSON, HTML, and database backup in case you need to move data to another profile or device, and several options about summaries, revenue, billed or not hours and notes. I find them very well organised for self-employed professionals bringing good-looking and honest reporting on activities.

Other features

I haven’t tested it but macOS version will integrate with third party plugins to transfer information to other apps such as Grand Central 4 which helps with more advanced invoicing.

Tyme 2 can also integrate with Mac and iPhone/iPad calendars showing a view of activities and display alarms for due tasks. It complements the Record view and it is optional as some people will prefer a cleaner calendar view. Personally I found it shows too much information in weekly and monthly once I had tracked too many activities, but still it can be useful in some workflows and with alarms.

Both macOS and iOS versions look very smooth and pleasant to work with, no slowness at all even in devices with 3 years old. I’ll continue to use Tyme to help me track project time for the weekly time-sheet reporting period and I hope might be useful for some of you.