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Shahaf Levi’s sweet iOS setup

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.

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Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Shahaf Levi, otherwise known as Sl. I’m a developer and writer, and I aim to make apps that can make people’s lives better using Apple hardware and software.

To fulfill this goal, I founded my company, Sl’s Repository Ltd, two and a half years ago on January 2012. It’s my place on the web, it’s the place where all the things I make, discover, like, and think are posted. I also work as a Network Technician in an underground location most of the week where my iPhone and iPad don’t have reception most the time, so I usually develop/write over the weekends.

What iPhone do you have?

I have a 32GB Space Grey iPhone 5s.

Shahaf Levi's iPhone

I upgrade my devices every 2 years, but my previous iPhone was an iPhone 4 that I had for 2.5 years before upgrading in November 2013. The difference between the iPhone 4 and 5s is huge. Touch ID is the most significant and it really changed the way I use my iPhone. I come to different iPhones, place my finger and wonder why nothing is happening. The better camera, much better battery life, increased screen size, and Siri are also huge changes, but not as life changing as Touch ID.

I sort my apps in a similar fashion in both my iPhone and iPad – a page for stock Apple apps, a page for downloadable Apple apps and partner’s apps (like Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr), a games page, and the most used one, the apps page. I have 2 apps pages – one for work and one for leisure.

After the release of the iPhone 5, people started using a few different methods for sorting their apps with the extra row (mostly either leave it empty or fill it). I went with the empty row method, but I place just one app on the empty row. When it’s not there it feels like something is missing and the three empty spaces kind of invite you to swipe away to the next page.

I use the default iOS 7 wallpaper. I love the blue color it gives the entire interface (Dock, Folders, Spotlight, etc.), and I don’t like putting a photo on the home screen because the apps cover it. So, the default one is a perfect fit.

What iPhone apps do you use the most, and why?

My iPhone is the device that is always with me. It’s my command center and where I manage everything about my life. Calling, texting, reading, listening, managing my to dos and calendar, checking the weather, calculating things, taking photos – all done on my iPhone. I can even do a little writing on my iPhone, but when it’s time to get serious, I take it to the iPad, which is my main work device.

It’s not that the iPhone is incapable (in fact, I think the opposite is true) for work, it’s just that the iPad’s bigger screen makes for a more flexible and enjoyable workspace. With that said, I’m not in favor of bigger iPhones, I think the current screen size of 4″ is just perfect.

All the apps I use can be found on my site, but the apps I use the most are listed below.

The app I use the most is the Phone app. The reasons are obvious as it’s called an iPhone for a reason.

I use Drafts, Launch Center Pro, and Pythonista for automating everything on my iPhone.

My second most used app is Drafts because I use it all of the time to send to different apps and people (I don’t use the Messages app for my SMS messages…every iMessage/SMS is sent from Drafts). It’s simple and powerful. Just type and send it forward. The forward place is mostly Launch Center Pro where most of the automation is done. I also use Pythonista and the scripts in it on my iPhone for automation, but I use it more on the iPad.

I use Unread by Jared Sinclair for catching up on all of my favorite sites and for most of my reading needs (the rest is filled with Tweetbot or Pocket).

It’s an app that changed the way I read and also affected the way I write. It has everything I could ask for from a RSS reader with a soothing and delightful experience that is unique and can’t be found elsewhere. I shared my thoughts about it on my site. I also have it on my iPad, but prefer it on the iPhone.

For checking my Twitter timeline and reading responses to what I posted, what I read, or thoughts by other people, I use Tweetbot. It’s just the best Twitter client out there and I have been using it for more than 2 years now. I don’t think there’s going to be a better alternative. The only thing I’m missing is Tweetbot 3 for iPad. I have Tweetbot 2 on my iPad, but Tweetbot 3 is just better.

Clear by Realmac, Vesper by Q Branch and Agenda Calendar 4 by Savvy apps help me keep my todos and calendar events in order.

I love Clear’s simple and intuitive interface, and it’s great with syncing my to dos between my iPhone and iPad. Clear is a perfect fit for the way I think and I don’t need all of those more feature-heavy apps like OmniFocus or Things have, so it’s the best app for me to get stuff done.

Vesper is where I keep all of my ideas and thoughts before they get to Drafts/Editorial/Clear. Seeing all the work Brent Simmons put into it makes it a joy to use. I just love the way Agenda Calendar displays my events and that I can send things to Drafts/Clear. It’s a great app.

Picturelife is the home for all of my photos and videos. It’s such an amazing app, especially with the new offline mode that allows me to manage all of my photos underground where I’m out of reception. I especially love the Memories feature that reminds me what I did years ago on this date.

The stock Mail app and Boxer are what I use for my emails. My personal Gmail email is on Mail and my work email is on Boxer (which is tend to use more on the iPad). I tried a few mail apps like Dispatch and Triage through the years, but Mail is the one that stuck. I don’t archive messages and I rarely delete them, so a nice interface to just view my emails is what I need.

Media – all of my Photos, Videos and Music are synced with Plex, which is really amazing. I listen to my podcasts on Instacast and check out lyrics on MusiXmatch.

To listen to music I mostly use my own Dropit app (coming out soon). To stream music I use Grooveshark and either Rdio/Spotify (I constantly switch between them) and my idea to create Dropit came when I found I’m missing a feature on Rdio – uploading my own songs, a feature both Grooveshark and Spotify have.

If Rdio accessed a folder of music in my Dropbox and allowed me to play them with songs on my collection, It would be perfect.

I started by creating the Dropit Python script to create a RSS podcast feed from songs in my Public Dropbox folder and then started working on the app. The script (and app) progressed since then and now the script works anywhere (any cloud service you choose) and runs constantly (so I can upload a song from Documents on my iPad and it will be automatically in my Dropit). The app has some features that really bring out my vision for “all of your music, anywhere, in your way.”

I often need to make calculations. And for that I use PCalc. It’s such a great app with its gestures, custom unit conversions, themes, modes, and so much more. When it comes to numbers, you can’t do better than PCalc.

To transfer text between my iPhone and iPad, and to maintain a clipboard history, I use Command-C, which is great. Whenever I need to transfer a bit of text, or want to check something on my iPad instead of iPhone, I open Command-C and watch as it almost automatically reaches the iPad.

Which iPhone app could you not live without?

It’s hard to pick one app I can’t live without, but I’ll say that app is Drafts. Giving up the place where text starts on my iPhone would be impossible for me, being a text-oriented person.

What iPad do you have?

I have a 32GB White iPad 2.

Shahaf Levi's iPad

I’ve had it since October 2011 and I plan to upgrade to the next 9″ iPad when it’s released. I have tried the iPad mini after buying one for my mom, and I certainly enjoy the full sized iPad more. I think the iPad mini shines when you use it in portrait mode, but I live using my iPad in landscape and using a mini in landscape feels a little weird to me. I had the original iPad before this one, and it was a major leap forward, especially in size and width.

I use an iOS 4 system wallpaper on my iPad for all the reasons I mentioned for my iPhone wallpaper, and plus it also feels a little nostalgic.

How are you using your iPad on a daily basis?

My iPad is my main work device. For developing apps I still need my Mac and Xcode, but everything else can be done, and is done, on my iPad. I always keep it nearby.

Everything I do, I do from my iPad. And besides being my work device, it’s also great for entertainment. Whenever I have some free time and my iPad is nearby, I use it for either work or play. I mostly use the iPad for work, but it’s just that I find some things (like listening to music) more suitable for the iPhone and other things (like writing, or watching movies) more suitable for the iPad. I also think that focusing most of my non-work-related activities centered on the iPhone makes for a more distraction free iPad experience – whether it’s for work or for entertainment.

What iPad apps do you use the most, and why?

I have written about most of the apps I use on the iPhone section of the interview, but there are more apps I love and use all of the time on my iPad, and they are listed below.

The app I use the most on my iPad is Editorial. There are not enough words to describe how I am amazed by this app. It has changed everything about my writing workflow, and largely affected my developer’s perspective. I use it as my text editor, browser, research tool, and even as a playground for UIs for apps. I also have it on my iPhone, but I use it almost exclusively on my iPad.

Pythonista by Ole Zorn is the twin app of Editorial. I use it all of the time to manipulate photos or my own scripts to work and automate everything on iOS.

My weather web app, SOS Weather, was born inside Pythonista. It (alongside Editorial) surprises me every time with how powerful an iOS app can be.

A service I couldn’t live without is Dropbox since it powers and serves as the backend for pretty much everything I use. It’s my file system and my backup system. All of my markdown files, photos, documents, app backups, and projects are there. I don’t know what I would do without it.

Boxer is a really great app for managing all my work-related emails. With gravatars, Dropbox attachments, quick actions, quick replies, and a todo system with due dates and priorities, it’s simply the best. I would have used it for my personal email as well, but I like to keep my personal and work emails separate, and the Mail app is nice enough.

All my passwords are kept in 1Password. All my passwords are generated with it and stored in it, and although I remember most of them, it’s great to have a look at all of the services that I have an account on. It’s one of my most used apps.

For dealing with all sorts of files, downloading, and accessing my FTP and WebDAV files in iOS, I use Documents by Readdle. When I need to upload a file to my site or want to download a file, Documents is there, and there is nothing better for these tasks.

While all my media is on Plex, I choose what to watch next using Jinni. Jinni is a service like Pandora for movies and tV shows. It’s been quite a trip down memory lane to collect all of the things I have watched (and I am always sure I missed something), but after having it all in Jinni, it really knows my taste and offers me the best of the best. It’s just great.

Which iPad app you could you not live without?

Without a doubt, Editorial. It’s such a huge part of my workflow that it’s just irreplaceable.


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