Every week we post a new interview with someone about what software they use on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. We do these interviews because not only are they fun, but a glimpse into what tools someone uses and how they use those tools can spark our imagination and give us an idea or insight into how we can do things better.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Ryan Cash, the founder of Snowman. We’re a tiny software studio based in Toronto, Canada. We started off building productivity apps for iOS back in 2012, and are now primarily focused on making games. Our biggest release to date has been Alto’s Adventure, an endless snowboarding odyssey for iPhone and iPad.
What is your current setup?
My primary machine is a MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2011). It has the 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 with 4 GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 RAM and Intel HD Graphics 3000 384 MB graphics card. I opted for the 256 GB SSD, which was the largest Apple offered at the time.
My Air is almost always plugged into my Cinema Display when I’m at home. I have Bose Companion 2 Series II speakers on my desk and a pair of SHURE SRH75ODJ headphones as well. I use Apple’s Magic Mouse along with jitouch2 (a multi-touch extension).
When I’m traveling, I just take my MacBook Air with me. If it’s a longer trip I’ll bring my Magic Mouse with me.
Where can we find your OS X wallpaper?
I’m using the “Yosemite 4” wallpaper, included in OS X for my first space wallpaper. I use a bunch of other ones, but I spend the most time in my first space, so that’s my primary wallpaper.
What software do you use and for what do you use it?
I use a variety of software for work, and a little bit for pleasure.
For work email, I primarily use Apple Mail, although I also use Sparrow for our customer support email. We use Slack for communication, so I have their Mac app on my dock. We also use Basecamp for project management, but it’s just a web app that I run in Safari. I recently purchased SpamSieve to help me keep my inbox in Apple Mail clean – it was getting out of control, and Apple’s junk filters don’t seem to work as well. It was totally worth the purchase.
Speaking of browsers, I actually use all three of the major browsers. Safari is my primary “work” browser, whereas Firefox is my primary “personal” browser. I use Chrome for a bit of this and that as well. It comes in handy when you need to be logged into multiple web accounts for a mix of business/pleasure. I have to say though, Chrome is probably the fastest performer – I just love the way Safari syncs everything with all of my devices very seamlessly. Despite Apple always touting it as outperforming the other two, I’ve never found that to be the case.
I use Numbers to keep track of some boring business stuff, but it’s on my dock because I do use it quite a bit.
TextEdit comes in handy when I’m jotting down quick notes – although, perhaps this’ll change once I dive into El Capitan with Notes.
Photography is becoming a pretty big hobby of mine, and I use Photoshop CC to edit my photos. I’ve tried Lightroom and Aperture (back when it was a thing), but I’ve been using Photoshop for almost 15 years and am just more comfortable (and efficient) with it. Sometimes I need it for work stuff as well.
I only recently became a heavy calendar user, so I only got on the Fantastical train recently. I’m using Fantastical 2 on my Mac, and it’s great.
For Twitter, I use Tweetbot 3 for Mac, although I occasionally browse through tweets in Firefox as well.
I’ve done a little bit of consulting over the last 3 years or so, and to keep track of time and invoicing I use Billings – a great piece of software made by Marketcircle (the company I used to work for).
I use DaisyDisk once in a while when I’m running out of disk space and can’t seem to figure out what’s hogging my space.
Skype for Mac is one of my most-used apps, as I tend to have a lot of online meetings, conference calls, discussions, etc. The app is pretty terrible, but it’s just what everybody uses.
How would your ideal setup look and function?
Good question. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, mainly because my Air is beginning to be a little too slow (and running out of hard drive space) for my current needs.
I’m pretty torn between getting a Retina iMac (and keeping my Air for travel), or just getting a maxed out 15” MacBook Pro. I have a fair bit of travel lined up for the next year or so, so it’s a tough call.
If Apple releases a Retina Cinema Display, I’d think about getting a Mac Pro + Retina Cinema Display, and keeping my Air for travel (if money was no object I’d also get a newer Air with a larger HD and more RAM).
What iPhone do you have?
I have an iPhone 6 in Space Grey. I went for the 128 GB version because I take a lot of photos and have a lot of music (yes I know, there’s the cloud). My iPhone 5 was a 64 GB and I was constantly running out of space. I think I’d get a 256 GB if they sold one. I just like the peace of mind of having extra space.
I also have a black 38mm Apple Watch Sport. I’ve written an interesting experience-based review of it on my blog.
What apps do you use the most, and why?
My iPhone is my most important device. I say that because it’s the one device I feel like I couldn’t live without. That’s not entirely accurate because at the end of the day, I need my Mac to do my job, but, my iPhone feels more important. It’s what I have with me at all times – no matter where I am.
I’ve been using an iPhone since the original one came out in 2007 and have always kept as many of the default icon locations intact – which is why you’ll see them in their respective places. I’m also very big on the aesthetics and colour balance of the icons, which can become tricky!
I use quite a few apps on a regular basis. I’ll start with the top left, and go through them all.
Messages – I use iMessage to communicate with a lot of people – friends, family, co-workers, etc. I use it on my iPhone and my Mac. I just wish it was a little more reliable. Messages are often missing, or my Mac will inexplicably not receive notifications sometimes. Still, having access to it on my Mac and iPhone is great.
Fantastical – As I mentioned before, I’ve only recently become the kind of person that uses a calendar all the time. I’ve been hearing tremendous things about Fantastical ever since the first version launched, but never really had much need for a calendar. That’s changed since the launch of Alto’s Adventure, and now I couldn’t live without it. Fantastical is the best calendar app for iPhone.
Photos – I’m heavily into photography, so I spend a lot of time here. I usually edit all of my iPhone photos inside the Photos app, using Afterlight (I just wish they supported the IAP I bought inside the extension).
Camera – Although I generally access this from the Lock Screen, it can be handy to have quick access to it to capture something when you weren’t expecting to take a photo.
YouTube – Until I got an Apple TV, I rarely used the YouTube app on my iPhone. With Apple TV though, I use it all the time. I’m subscribed to a bunch of channels that interest me, ranging from automotive channels like MotorTrend and Chris Harris on Cars, to news channels like Vice and Vice News, to funny comedy channels and interesting channels like TED.
Settings – I find myself in the Settings app more often than I’d probably like to be, but it’s handy to keep it here for quick access.
Maps – Although Google Maps is MUCH, much better for mapping, if I’m driving or walking (and using my Apple Watch), I’ll try to use Apple’s Maps app. This is a constant irritation for me because Google’s Maps app almost always works much better for finding things.
Weather – Even though I’ll look at this on my Watch or Lock Screen, it’s still quite handy to have here.
NYT Now – I’ve only recently started using this app, and still not 100% sure I’ll keep it on my home screen. It replaced Circa, which unfortunately shut down recently.
App Store – I’m here a lot – as a consumer — but also to check in on work-related things (Thursday feature refreshes, ranking, search, etc.).
I figured It’d be interesting to breakdown the two main folders of apps I have on my home screen.
I keep all of my games in a folder on my home screen. I’ll keep games that I either play a lot, or games I’ve been meaning to try on page one. I have four pages full of games, but, to be honest, I haven’t had much time to play games lately.
Leo’s Fortune – I highly recommend checking this game out. For some reason, the icon was never too appealing to me, but I had heard great things. I’m glad I checked it out. I’m still very early on in the game, but it’ll be something I play when I’m on my next flight for sure!
Crossy Road – This has been my go-to game when I had a few minutes to kill for a long time, ever since it came out. I haven’t been playing as much lately, but it’s one of my favourite mobile games.
Two Dots – Have been playing this since it came out. Up until recently I’ve always been caught up with all of the new levels, so I’d wait until the new ones came out to dive back into it. Right now I’m a little behind though – I just got to level 300.
Letterpress – This is probably the longest-standing game I’ve had on my iPhone. Admittedly, I’ve fallen behind on a few turns and don’t play it as much as I used to, but it’s a pretty timeless game I’ll probably always have installed on my iOS devices.
Smash Hit – Played this a lot at launch. Took a break from it, but got back into it on a recent flight. Incredible game.
Threes – Another game I played a TON at launch. Not as much anymore, but definitely another one of those timeless games I’ll always have on my iOS device, just like Letterpress.
LIMBO – I mostly play this on my iPad, but I have it here to remind me that I still need to finish the game!
Alto’s Adventure – I generally have a beta of the game installed on my iPhone, testing new things ;)
BADLAND – One of my favourite mobile games of all time.
Google Maps – I keep this here for quick access, when Apple’s Maps can’t seem to find what I’m looking for. Google’s Maps are far ahead of Apple’s, but — for obvious reasons – they’ve had a huge head start.
Afterlight – My favourite photo editing app. I generally just use the Extension inside Photos, but occasionally I’ll jump into the app (to take advantage of a filter pack I bought as an IAP that won’t show in the Extension).
Flixster – This has always been my go-to showtimes app for movies.
Skype – Sometimes I have to hop on business calls while I’m out and about, and again, they’re usually done on Skype.
Nikon’s Wi-Fi app – I recently bought a Nikon D750, which has wireless capabilities. This app (and icon) are incredibly ugly and clumsy, but it lets me instantly transfer photos taken with my SLR to my iPhone.
Hyperlapse – My go-to app for shooting time lapses. Its Cinema Stabilization (as Instagram calls it) is really good. You can actually use it to record video as well (as outlined in this great Verge story.
App Annie – I use App Annie to keep track of our iOS app downloads/revenue. Their mobile app is actually quite lacking – you can’t even select a custom date range! But alas, I use App Annie, so I use their mobile app.
Basecamp – We use Basecamp to manage projects at Snowman, so I use their mobile app to access it on-the-go.
Spotify – I generally don’t use their mobile app too much, but I like to be able to access it quickly when I do.
Rise – The best alarm clock app for iPhone.
Notes – I use this to jot down personal notes, probably as you do too.
Facebook – Doesn’t need much explanation, does it?
Tweetbot – The best Twitter client for iPhone. I’ve been using it since it first launched.
Shazam – Something you always want to be able to access as quickly as possible.
Uber – I’ve had Uber since it launched in Canada, but have recently started using it a lot – especially with UberX.
Checkmark – A Snowman app, I use this to keep track of simple to-dos. While I originally designed the app for myself to improve location-based reminders, with working from home, I tend to use the When section the most now.
Messenger – Facebook’s Messenger app is quickly becoming my primary messaging tool. It’s more reliable than iMessage (nothing ever slips through between mobile and desktop), and everyone has it. It gives me a nice seamless experience no matter who I’m messaging and what device they have. A lot of my friends have Android phones, and now I can get the same experience no matter who I’m messaging. Stickers are fun too.
Slack – Used for internal work communication. Not entirely happy with the mobile UX (particularly image sharing), but, what can you do.
WhatsApp – I mostly use this to chat with a few family members that I don’t have on Facebook or iOS devices.
Podcasts – I only recently really started listening to podcasts often (primarily while driving), so I haven’t yet felt the need to switch to a third-party podcast app.
Instagram – I signed up for Instagram the day it launched, but only started using it about a month ago. I finally caved.
Phone – Rarely used, but like to keep it in the default spot.
Mail – One of my most used apps. Needs no explanation.
Safari – Also doesn’t need much explanation. I do like that it syncs with my Mac though!
Music – Use this app all the time. Really like the newly designed app – especially the UX while listening to playlists and selecting new songs.
Which app could you not live without?
If I had to pick one for work, it would be Mail. If I had to pick one for personal, believe it or not, it’d be Messenger.
Which iPad do you have?
I have a third-generation iPad, 32 GB. I have Apple’s Smart Cover in green as well.
How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?
When I travel I’ll use it on flights, but other than that, it doesn’t get a lot of use.
My iPad is also my most “public” device, in the sense that I have no problem handing it over to a friend or guest and having them play around with it. I don’t really have any work stuff on it except for some email (which comes in handy for meetings).
I don’t have any social networks installed on it (except for photo sharing), or any messaging services.
If I’m testing out a new serious game and there’s an iPad version, I’ll generally use my iPad to play it.
There are some games that are just so much better on iPad, like Monument Valley or LIMBO. I recently purchased Hitman GO, but haven’t had the chance to play it yet. It’s on my home screen so I remember to try it out – likely the next time I’m on an airplane.
What apps do you use the most, and why?
There are three apps I use the most:
YouTube: To watch things while I’m eating, at my kitchen table.
Tweetbot: To read Twitter, while I’m eating.
Which app could you not live without?
On my iPad, I’d say YouTube. But I have to say, I could probably live without the iPad altogether.
With that being said, my iPad 3 is starting to finally feel a bit too slow for me. I haven’t replaced it because I don’t use it very often.
When the next generation comes out, I’ll probably pick one up. I’ll potentially consider getting an iPad mini and seeing how that fits into my life since I already have a full-size iPad. Or, if there’s a larger iPad Pro, I may try that. Who knows. We’ll see.
There are more Sweet Setup interviews right here.