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If you look closely, you’ll rarely find a sharp corner in any Apple product. From the HomePod, to keyboard buttons, to elements in Apple’s own apps, the shapes are so smoothly-rounded that it’s not apparent where the straight lines end and the rounding of the corners begin.

The Squircle

There’s a term for this. It’s called a squircle, a cross between a circle and square. Unlike more typically rounded rectangles where the corner exhibits a perfect semi-circle, squircles have a more squished shape. …

I remember looking at an Apple interface, comparing it to the things I was creating, and feeling a bit miffed that Apple’s designs were even rounder and warmer than mine. Once I learned about this shape called a squircle and figured out just what was going on, I knew I had to integrate this ultra-round shape into the products I build.

I started with Minimal | Notes — our notes app that is designed to evoke the experience of a real notebook. It’s a perfect candidate for the squircle, and I found the process of incorporating this shape surprisingly easy.

Making Minimal accessible + beautiful in more languages.

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Minimal has a strong community of beta testers. There are hundreds of notetakers around the world, some writing in Minimal for more than an hour every day. I’m confident that together, we can help Minimal feel beautiful and accessible in more languages.

While a large portion of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac userbase speak English, most do not. Even for those who do speak English, many would prefer to write (and think) in their native language.

Minimal is all about language. It’s a writing app. It needs to be internationalized and localized so that everyone feels at home.

But how we translate matters too. We’re taking a novel approach to translating our app so we can foster community while improving the experience of writing in Minimal.

Community-Based Translations

The typical approach to translating an app is to hire a service. We’d send them our…

My journey as an indie developer crafting my favorite notes app

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I’m a software developer, and yet I delight in coarse technology. I love a comfortable pair of pants, paper that prevents ink bleed, a table that doesn’t wobble, and a sharp knife for cutting vegetables and fish. Maybe I love this coarse technology because I learn the lesson firsthand, over and over again as I write code: simple is powerful. Simplicity allows us to focus on the most important features while making things so, so easy to use.

When I Iooked at the existing notes apps, I realized that nothing felt like a notebook. Apple Notes, Simple Notes, Evernote, Bear…

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As humans, we are surprisingly simple in how we discover and respond to motivation. Our goals are all different, but the basic mechanics of getting excited, doing the work, and then reaping the rewards are generally consistent across individuals and cultures.

I’m not a psychologist, nor am I by any stretch of the word an expert on motivation. But I am human, and I have put thought and effort into how I respond to motivation. …

I compulsively work hard. Too hard. I’d like to get better at doing nothing. And so I built a company that helps me do nothing. I’m its first customer.

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That’s me. Drinking tea and doing nothing.

Ironically, I worked hard building this company because — as a customer — it makes me really good at doing nothing. I just sit there, drink tea, and appreciate the thoughts that arise and pass away, looking out the window, and deeply recuperating from the distractions that are everywhere.

The company is called Sencha, and it just launched today on the App Store. It’s all about facilitating wonderful experiences with tea…

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Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash

Civilization evolves. Technology changes. Languages shift, merge, and diverge. New mediums arrive, old mediums disappear. This is life: constant change.

Skills we once possessed need to be augmented, adapted, and refreshed as our cultures change. I noticed — over the last year, as an adult with a smartphone — that I had to re-learn how to read.

These are the tips I came across in that process. The focus is on medium-length prose in the age of the iPhone. My goal is for these tips to enhance your reading experience, as they have mine.

Be Deliberate. Be Aspirational.

Instead of reading a story on…

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The author warming up on Cactus Rasta.

I am often nervous when entering a new stage in life. The fear comes from the impending unknown, the same unknown that inspired me to venture out in the first place. This was at the forefront of my mind as I took my van across the border into Northern Mexico. This time, however, I had tangible things to latch my fear on to, for I was entering one of the most dangerous environments on earth — a place where drug cartel and gangsters are as legitimate as local and federal police — and I was taking this step alone.


I’m beginning to think that just a handful of people could take over the world. Which makes me think that surely it has already happened — a few times.

Vancouver is an incredible city. Inredible. I have heard more languages today than in the last year combined. The city has a really interesting phenomenon taking place: nature is everywhere. I believe it is because 1) the climate makes it just easy and natural to grow plants all over the place 2) The power of the forests nearby infuses each observer with an appreciation for trees and plants. This is my…

Arthur Van Siclen

Designer. Meditator. Rock climber. 🌲

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