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Show HN: Habit List - my first iOS app (habitlistapp.com)
282 points by ggualberto on May 20, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments

I have been using https://chains.cc/ which is as far as I know the best web UI for "Don't break the chain" idea. However the lack of mobile app makes it harder to use and therefore I'm giving Habit List a try. Looks great!

btw. for me, week starts on Monday.

It slightly terrifies me that all the most popular groups are variants of "No fap"

They seem to have a mobile app, as per the screenshot on their homepage. Besides a certificate error, it seems to work fine.


Good call on week start dates. I'd agree with you there

Pity. I get a "This connection is untrusted" message: http://imgur.com/aBV32

You've done an awesome job with this. The UI is gorgeous and it looks like you didn't lose any functionality with it. I really can't think of anything to critique you on. It seems like most of the criticism on this thread is very minor nitpick-y things. Especially this business about the battery percentage and the alarm icon and not having a favicon for your website... Seriously guys, he's asking for some comments on the app, not the way that it's mocked up on the website. Keep on hacking kid.

I didn't actually mean kid, it was just colloquial

This is very nearly exactly what I was looking for, couple of things:

Small UI crit:

When adding a Habit, the cancel button is in the top left position on the Add a Habit screen - everywhere else in the app this position is a non-destructive navigation button so I accidentally cancelled events I was in the middle of creating a couple of times.

It would probably be better to make this navigate back to the Today screen & auto-create the event and put the cancel button somewhere else.

Couple of feature requests:

* ability to make the reminder an modal alert view rather than a message - too easy to miss a non-intrusive alert

* ability to snooze a reminder - if I'm busy sometimes I can't do the thing I'm being reminded right now but don't want to forget to do it, if I could 'snooze' the reminder in the alert view that would make me more likely to remember to do it

I've actually been using this for several days now. I tried several similar apps before it and think this is by far the most usable. I like it a lot, but have one suggestion: there should be a way to go to a previous day's list view. I often don't get into the app until I'm in bed, which is sometimes after midnight, meaning I've now lost the current day's list and am actually looking at "tomorrow's" list instead. It's then a bit of a pain to go to the calendar view for each item I wanted to cross off an put an x for the previous day.

I completely agree with this. This is essential for us night owls who consider 2AM today! I think the easiest way to fix this would be to give the ability to set the te when the day begins. For me, it's not 12 midnight, it's 10AM.

Thanks! That's something we've been discussing doing for some time.

The visual design looks great. I'm a fan of such "streak" based tracking (aka Seinfeld Calendar). Looking at it can mentally transport you back to the last time things went wrong and remind you that it wasn't worth it (because you went back on track).

Do you have a way to export the recorded data? That's something that bothers me about this kind of iOS app: the data might still be useful after you eventually stop using the app or even iOS. It could be as simple as sending XML or CSV via the on-device email.

This! Offering data export functionality (API or otherwise) is what allows data portability nuts like me to use things like Read It later/Evernote/whatever without cringing a bit in fear of losing the data for any number of reasons. The probability of needing it doesn't factor into my gut feelings, just the (miniscule?) risk of it. ;o) Have already started using your app though, it looks very nice!

That's a good idea. I'm going to add that to the road map.

There are enough comment on here, so I'm going to give some critiques.

I think you should change the calendar mockup.

From the Xs on the calendar, I was reminded of Jerry Seinfeld's: "Don't break the chain"[0], an anecedote about how making a chain of Xs on a calendar is the best way to form a productive habit. Someone else mentioned it in the comments as well.

However, the chain on the calendar is broken! Those users with the impression that this app will help them form a habit will be confused. If I'm making a big change in my life, I want to do something every day, not a piddling three times a week.

The calendar mockup should change to at least one week with a full chain of Xs, so users won't get the subconscious impression that this app is incapable of helping them build a habit.

Besides repairing the subliminal messages of failure, adding a full chain of Xs opens another avenue for 'gamification'. What if when you completed a full week of an unbroken chain, you received some type of bonus points or prize? Of course, these prizes would be in the form of a cool UI animation.

Also, it's 2012: have you ever heard of a favicon?

[0]: http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-se...

I wrote an app called Commit (http://thinklegend.com/commit) that is based around the "don't break the chain idea". It only allows you to do things on a daily basis (rather than M W F or something similar). This is probably the most common request I get from users, though in keeping with the original methodology I don't plan to add the feature.

Now I think this Habit List looks fantastic and could be a great alternative for users that want that functionality. Well done!

Habit changes can be big or small - they don't all have to huge life changing things. There are some things you might not want to do every day like going to the gym where rest period is as important as the actual training.

The application seems to fit my use cases perfectly.

Your note about using a cool UI animation as incentive is fascinating. Just. Fascinating.

I know it would work on me.

Great app! There's far too many to do list apps that I've used for something like this and Streaks was just okay. This is what I've been wanting. Great job on a great 1.0!

My only question or suggestion, the reminder setup seems odd. If I choose every 3-5 days with a reminder at 6pm, does it remind me randomly, on the 5th day, on the 3rd? Making that a bit clearer or giving the option for choosing which day the reminder will be on would help there.

Other than that, I hope others see the value in building habits like this as I think it's a well implemented way of helping people like me who are quite forgetful.

If a habit shows up on your today list, it will send a reminder. So for a 3-5 frequency, it will send it on the third day (and fourth/fifth if you don't complete it). I think that's the most intuitive approach, but maybe we'll find a spot on the website to make it more apparent.

Appreciate the the kind words!

Very useful (and beautiful) app!

One thing I've noticed is that it shows me an alert/reminder even if I've already crossed off that habit for the day - would be nice if it detected that a reminder is no longer needed.

+1, I have a daily habit that I do in the morning, and the alarm is set for later than I usually finish it incase I forget, however after complete for the day I still get the alarm.

* really liking the app so-far.

Beautiful. May I ask what resources you used to learn iOS hacking?

Also: What's that font?

For learning iOS I'd definitely recommend the free Stanford lectures on iTunes U: http://itunes.apple.com/itunes-u/ipad-iphone-application-dev...

As someone pointed out elsewhere, I've hacking for a while. I was just new to iOS. The big hurdle was getting up to speed with Cocoa. Apple's documentation was the best resource for that.

DroidSerif Italic. You can check it with your browser.

Really like the app, when i searched in the app store i noticed there was another similar - "Habits pro" i think? Luckily for you that one is pretty ugly and more expensive!

Feature suggestion: It would be nice to be able to keep track of things that need doing multiple times per day - the example featured on your website of "drink 8 glasses of water" would be more useful if i could come back into the app and log each one so i don't lose count throughout the day!

Also love the streak tracking, I have my habits logged and look forward to using it :)

Well ok maybe that was a bad example (taken from the product site), but i still think there could be a use for "do this thing X times per day"

  > but i still think there could be a use for
  > "do this thing X times per day"
Absolutely. I am not arguing with this point.

There's an app called "Water" which does that, btw.

Bought. Love the interface! It fixes most of the issues I had with Wonderful Day App (Review: http://woikr.com/iphone/wonderful-day-for-iphone-stay-motiva...).

Question: What happens if I go through a day without opening the app. Is the activity marked not done automatically?


Tiny suggestion: Allow swiping in both directions. After using Sparrow I'm used to swipe left for most actions. Doesn't work here though.

Genius. I've been looking for something like this so will buy shortly! Make it universal so that I can use it on my iPad, the device that I use for apps like this.

Just bought the app and I really like it. The interface is gorgeous, it's as plain and minimal as you could hope for, but with enough style to make it enjoyable to use.

I think that you really nailed the "Frequency" settings, especially the "x times per week" section. It makes it so flexible.

I've tried, but I can't think of anything I'd like added or changed. It's also very refreshing to use an app that doesn't have a "Settings" section.

Looking forward to starting to use it!

Liking it a lot so far - but one suggestion: frequency options are good, but there is nothing available for >daily. Workaround is multiple items, I guess.

Love the app, congrats! I will start using it this week and see how it goes.

My only gripe with it is related with responsiveness to touch: if I tap on '+' or on 'View all habits', the button doesn't highlight. This can feel frustrating if the next screen takes a while to load and you don't know if your touch was valid or not. This problem happens with almost every button in the app.

Hey I bought the app and I really like it. One suggestion would be some way to track daily partials of a habit. For example the drink 8 glasses of water a day. I would like to be able to click somewhere on the app each time i drink a glass of water and have it increase so I can track that and see that on tuesday i met 75% of the particular goal.

Wish it were on Android! This is a great idea that I already use on my physical calendar (a la Seinfeld). I can only see screenshots, but it looks like the font you chose wasn't meant to show statistics, evident in the "Completion Rate" percentage. The relative heights of the numbers and % sign don't parse very well, just a nitpick on my part.

I just began using this today and I really enjoy. I wonder if you've considered the negation of a habit? i.e. I love eating donuts but need to cut back on them so I would only like to eat one a week. I've set this up as "Didn't eat a donut today" with this repeating 6 times a week. What about keeping track of "bad habits" and set maximums?

Very similar to the first app I released for iOS called ChainCal ( http://chaincalapp.com ). That said, competition is healthy and important to keeping an ecosystem moving.

Well done execution on Habit List.

ChainCal has a new version pending review right now for those interested in comparing the two approaches.

I've been using ChainCal for a few weeks and it's great. Beautiful and intuitive interface.

Congrats! I have been using this Streaks (iOS) for a while since I like the functionality of this and it has options where you can skip weekends: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/streaks-motivational-calendar...

I will try this app now!

Lots of gold in this thread. The Chain app I use is not worth mentioning, but for habits I use this:


I actually prefer its cheerful design and it has an iPad version. But the integrated Chain counting might convince me.

Here's an Android app that looks kind of similar (but not half as pretty): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.amimetic.ha...

Very nice looking app dude. One question, what sets this apart from the Reminders app that comes with iOS already? Not trying to put you out, genuinely interested to see the advantage of your app so that maybe I can switch.

I've used streaks before, but I never liked how the interface didn't tell me what I had to do /today/ to maintain my streaks. Your app seems to solve this, so you've got a customer.

Also, great design! Are you tracking conversions?

The app seems to have lost my data, all my streaks reset to zero. Now that's a bit of motivational catastrophe - something I don't think you EVER want to have happen. Anybody else experience something similar?

Not quite, just negative numbers when the task is set to 3 or 5 days as week.

Bought it, use it, enjoy it.

Wishlist - some habits may require several tasks during the day. For example "Drink 5 glasses of water" - would be great to schedule 5 micro-events during the day with possibility to cross those.

Beautiful interface design - how do you go about designing and implementing a look like that?

When I make iOS apps they all use the default controls suppled in XCode. I'd like to learn to make nice looking interfaces.


Did you by any chance post this comment in the wrong story?

Bought. Looking forward to using it.

Edit: Some thoughts:

- Reminder probably doesn't need minute-by-minute granularity... 10 minute increments are probably fine and easier to scroll through.

- How about a "random time during the day" reminder?

> How about a "random time during the day" reminder?

I'd really like that. In the past, I've set up manual recurring reminders to go off at the same time during the day. When I got used to the reminder schedule, I started ignoring them.

I'd also like it to start giving stronger and more annoying reminders the longer I've ignored a "habit".

I was searching for something like this app.

So far I like everything about it except the font, which makes it harder to read the tasks.

As I use it I'll give you feedback, but for now, I like to be able to color code tasks.

Also my week starts at Saturday. I don't like it this way with no options.

Loving the app, but all of a sudden today one of my streaks went to -4 and another -2 even though I've only been using it for 48 hours... I'll send in an email with details.

Does Habit List use iCloud to sync it's data across my devices?

Not yet, but we're looking into that.

Very nice.. Well done. Any tips on the best ways to get into the market? For example could you discuss your design and development process

Slick. Been using http://bud.ge/ a lot lately and this looks like a nice complement. Purchased!

Very nice start, I might start using this over my Streaks calendar app. One suggestion would be to add a passcode lock like Streaks has.

A similar app iDoneThis (https://idonethis.com/).

Requires a paid subscription though. -_-

No subscription needed for personal use:


Bought. This is something I've been wanting since electronic personal organizers became a product category. Thank you!

I wish I could enter a value along with a tick.. to record how much I did something (say to track how much I slept).

I think there's a free app called GoalMaster that will let you enter a value. It's pretty slick too.

I second that request.

Love the website design. Who designed it?

Looks like this fella designed the app: http://dribbble.com/scottdunlap

No idea if he did the website though.

Scott and I worked on all of this together. He designed the site too.

What sort of agreement did you have with him? Did you pay him or are you guys sharing profits?

We are partners in crime. You could say he handles code and I handle design, but that's simplifying things. We worked closely throughout the whole process.

You guys are lucky. I wish I could be working with an entrepreneurial designer. It would step up the quality of my apps (ex: http://weekplan.net).

Where did you guys meet? Online? Offline?

Great job! I typically use JoesGoals.com, but it doesn't have an iPhone app. Your app looks perfect for this.

Android next? I'd love an app like this.

Very nice! I have a similar app for the iPhone and your UX/UI is much nicer and more intuitive.

Brilliant. Thanks for making this app. Downloading now and I will tell my friends about it.

I can't try it, 'cause I'm on Android but it's a really nice idea! Good work and good luck!

This looks great. I'd buy it if I weren't so already tied to workflowy though.

I love the design factor and simplicity to get 1 thing done right. Good job!

Congrats! Very sleek design and intuitive interface. However, I do think that $2 is a bit on the expensive side for a simple app like this. I would suggest that you find some way to figure out where the ideal price point would be for your customers.

(price * sales) - (cost * sales)

I like your website and pictures of your app but I have Android.

This is a great idea. Would love to see it on Android.

I made something similar for android for my needs - although it is not as pretty :)


Looks great. I was seeking for something like this

the icon looks a lot like visual studio's if fact I thought it was a link to the windows phone marketplace or something :-p

Great concept and execution. Love the icon!

Nice work. Very cool Product

Love the logo/app icon.

Congrats! Building this has long been on my list of "rainy day projects". You've done a much better job of it, though, than I intended.

One suggestion- I'd make a setting for letting you change the "Today" font from the handwriting one to a sans-serif one, like the rest of the app uses. I think the handwriting is very pretty and adds good production value, and so I'd keep it in the app, and certainly in the screenshots, etc, but for day to day use, wanting to turn that off would be an irritant every time I opened the app.

You're kinda mixing skeuomorphism with modernism in your design, which is a natural result of making real world analogs on iPhones, but the one place it hasn't seemed to blend well is that font.

Great looking app, and especially the icon is really well done.

Good luck!

I'd love to know what is this handwriting font. Anyone knows ?

Thx :)

I really like the handwriting font. In my mind, it sets this app apart from the drudgery of the email and to-do list apps on my phone.

We made a decision to go with a handwritten font for that reason. It is gratifying to cross items off a list, putting pen to paper, so we tried to mimic that with the font and swipe action. That said, we totally understand wanting to use a sans serif. Helvetica and other options may be in a future release.

I think the suggestion was to use the sans-serif for the heading. This makes sense because you're not writing "Today" — that's part of the interface. Same as you're not writing "May 2012" on the calendar.

I agree; it's also very distracting to me.

The large, handwriting typeface works well for the list items as it makes you focus on it, but the "Today" heading should be different if only to clearly separate the middle section as your "list". Overall terrific design though.

Minor thing: The iPhone on the site with the app shown on the screen - the low battery percentage, the alarm icon, the odd time and the AT&T icon are all kind of distracting to me. I know it has nothing to do with the actual app, but 11:53 is not a pretty number to look at, nor is 23%. The battery icon is over 3/4 empty which instantly causes me a little bit of anxiety - I'm worried that my phone is dying, not looking at the pretty app interface.

Everything else seems really polished, but those were the first things I noticed, and they distracted me enough to post something here.

Other than that, the app and the features look great.

It's funny how things like this that has nothing to do with the actual app has an effect on your overall impression of the app.

Absolutely. My favourite is still watch ads - when I realised the watch hands are always (99% of the time) at 10 and 2 - it looks smiley - seeing a watch ad with hands in a different position was very jarring. Odd, isn't it?

Serious question..do those factors affect your buying decision?

Have you ever noticed when you buy a new analog clock or are walking down an aisle that sells clocks, that the hands point to 10 and 2? It's because the clock is smiling at you.

Yes, this affects a lot of people.

Most clocks I've seen anywhere just show the current time.

In fact it's very disturbing to come to an aisle of clocks and not have them all showing exactly the same [current] time. It feels wrong.

And who'd buy a stopped clock anyway? Even though you know it just needs batteries, it feels somehow dead/broken. Your subconscious tells you not to buy.

I like 25th frame theories as any other geek, but this is absurd.

The hands are at 10 and 2 because it looks aesthetically pleasing and visually balances the clock face. Calling it a smile is a heck of a stretch. It's more of an OK/checkmark then that a smile (and this is also a stretch).

Actually, it's because it shows the logo effectively.


The clocks hands are at 10 and 2 because it "frames" the manufacturer logo, which is just below the 12 on analog clocks.

In all of Apple's iPhone promotional images the time is always set to around 9:40 (sometimes I've seen 9:41/42). I'm not sure the reason behind it, but obviously in this case it doesn't look like it's smiling. Does anyone know the explanation for this?

The explanation I've heard is that they were trying to hit the time the iPhone was introduced on the Keynote screenshots. Not sure if they still do that or if it's mostly tradition now.

Thanks, that's right. I did a bit of searching a found an explanation from Scott Forstall.

Why the iPhone is 9:42:

"We design the (product launch) keynotes so that the big reveal of the product happens around 40 minutes into the presentation. When the big image of the product appears on screen, we want the time shown to be close to the actual time on the audience’s watches. But we know we won’t hit 40 minutes exactly."

And the iPad is 9:41:

Yeah! And for the iPhone, we made it 42 minutes. It turned out we were pretty accurate with that estimate, so for the iPad, we made it 41 minutes. And there you are – the secret of the magic time.

Source: http://cydiahelp.com/heres-why-apples-iphone-ads-always-show...

I felt the same way. I still bought the app because I've really wanted something like this. But, weirdly enough, I did look at the iPhone stats first and felt the same way. Other than that, great app!

It is more of a sub conscious thing, over a large sample it might well cost you a few sales.

Something that rubs me the wrong way as a language perfectionist ... "Work out" should be two words to match the others ("Post", "Drink", etc.).

Love the handwriting font, calendar view, and streak badges!

Serious answer: Yes. These factors indicate a lack of attention to detail in the very first thing a potential buyer sees.

And I thought I was the only one, regarding the battery percentage. It gave me a slight panic feeling. Better change that to 100% for that nice fuzzy warm feeling that this application doesn't suck your battery reserves dry.

The status bar is literally 4.16% of these screenshots. Ignore it and give this fellow dev some relevant feedback.

I would count this is as relevant feedback. sgt provides one reason why.

To me, seeing something like this gives me the impression that the screenshot is not polished, that this detail was not paid attention to, and makes me wonder what else might have been missed.

I thought the same thing. I even had to turn off the percentage showing on mine so I would stop obsessing over it.

With a jailbroken phone, you can make the status bar look exactly like those of the iPhones on Apple's website.

Probably easier with photoshop

As a broad observation about everyone on this thread, I'd say* a small percentage of the population (me included) naturally notices and thinks through details like these. Most other people (users and developers) don't give a crap and function just fine in their lives.

*no scientific evidence

Looks really nice, the website looks awesome, and the App also does. Though, I can't try it because I'm an Android guy.

Just two things:

1) 1.99$ ? Are you sure a "free app" isn't best ? 2) Post to blog is bad ? Uh ? :P

I have the impression that the Android platform itself is less commercial, but I fail to grasp the reason for that. I also have an Android phone and not an iPhone and while I probably would have spend a couple bucks on apps on the iPhone, I actually never paid for an app in the Android store.

So I just make the claim that "free on the App Store" is != "free on Google Play".

Part of that might be simple fact that buying stuff on Google Play is different from buying things on the App Store.

1. You need to set up another account (Google checkout)

2. Biggest one: You can only pay via credit card with Google checkout. This plays a major role in European countries where credit cards are less common. I read reviews in Android apps saying "I'd love to buy, but I don't have a credit card". There's no gift card, no coupon code, no wire transfer or anything like that.

Just my little unproven theory.

So, people using the App Store have less problems on spending money on Apps than people on Android. And not only in terms of a more "financial thinking" but accessibility problems of doing the purchase.

Edit: added last sentence.

Oh, that clarifies quite a lot: then they are different markets.

And I think I gave the impression of "Apple hater", while I don't own any Apple products, I respect Apple and I think their products are great, but I just prefer Linux PCs and Android phones.

Also, I don't have the money :P

How would he make money from a free app?

Volume, man! Volume!

0 * 1,000,000,000 is still 0

I think he knows that.

I'm sure many would agree with me; I'd rather pay for an app rather than seeing tons of ads on it.

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