Hill88 2.1 — Inbox, our biggest update yet

This post was originally published on Jan 23rd, 2014

Today marks a huge milestone in the development journey of Hill88 as we are releasing our most extensive and feature-packed upgrade to date. In our mission to create the absolute best Asana experience for iOS, we are incredibly proud to introduce you to version 2.1. So buckle up folks, this is going to be a long post.

Inbox

Let us start off with the most widely-requested and anticipated feature of all — the inbox. We got so many users saying ”I would absolutely love to use Hill88, but without inbox I would miss out on what’s going on with tasks I follow, so unfortunately I can’t use Hill88". So if you are one of those users, get the latest update as quick as possible and start to enjoy the best experience for Asana on your iOS device.

The new inbox feature is deeply integrated into the new menu as well as the task list itself. To open the inbox for the workspace you are currently in while working with a task list of your choice (either My Tasks or any project/tag related task list) just tap on the new inbox icon next to the menu button in the upper left corner of your task list. Doing so will switch from the task list to the inbox and tapping this button again (which will change the icon to a task list icon while you are showing the inbox) will bring you back to the task list. Yeah, it’s a toggle button, which let’s you efficiently toggle between your task list and the inbox for the workspace currently in.

Hill88 — Task List/Inbox Toggle

If you would like to see the inbox for any other workspace than you are currently working in, you can go to the root menu showing all workspaces and tap on the inbox button next to the workspace of your choice.

Hill88 — Workspaces Menu Inbox

Each of the inbox buttons shows also a badge with the current number of unread activities/comments. If you are one of the badge haters out there, we have you covered as well with new settings for the inbox that allow you to disable the in app inbox badges (Settings > Inbox > Inbox Badge) and if you don’t want to see the inbox button next to the menu button when being in your task list there is a new setting as well (Settings > Task List > Show Inbox Button).

Hill88 Settings — Inbox

Notifications

If you love notifications and you are not yet overwhelmed by your lock screen or notifications center, you will be thrilled about our new notifications that come along with the new inbox.
As there is no realtime push support in Asana’s current public API, we have build our own solution using Apples local notification feature. In order to make that work, you need to have the Background App Refresh in your general iOS settings activated.

Here a quick overview about Background App Refresh from Apple’s support site:

When Background App Refresh is on, apps that take advantage of this feature can refresh themselves in the background. For example, an app can check if new content is available and download the updates, or retrieve the updated content in the background when it receives a push notification, so the new content is ready for viewing when you launch the app. Apps can also schedule background refreshing based on your location. If you force an app to quit by dragging it up from the multitasking display, it won’t be able to do its background activities, such as tracking location or responding to VoIP calls, until you relaunch the app.

As a result of using this technology, the notifications won’t be delivered in real time yet. However our internal tests have shown quite stunning results in delivering the notifications often just minutes after the actual activity happened on Asana’s server. Apple is doing a damn good job in predicting, when to actually update the data and that’s what Apple’s support site says about this process:

iOS learns patterns based on your use of the device and tries to predict when an app should be updated in the background. It also learns when the device is typically inactive, such as during the night, to reduce update frequency when the device is not in use.

To make the notifications as useful as possible, you can customize the format of how they get delivered. The new settings under (Settings > Inbox > Notifications) allow you to get a summary Notification per Workspace, a Notification per Activity or if you are one of the notification haters out there, there is also an option None to turn them totally off.

Hill88 Settings — Notifications

New menu

The menu is the central hub to navigate between workspaces and various task lists like My Tasks and project/tag relates lists. Due to the excellent feedback that we receive daily from our users, we learned that many users battle through quite extensive project and tag lists. So a frequent feature request was to favor the most used projects and tags and to display them centrally to avoid scrolling through an endless list. We took all these kind of feedback and feature requests, went back to the drawing board and well, the new menu is the result. It’s beautiful, clean and so much more efficient for the use on a mobile device. The detail menu of a workspace is now divided into 4 sections (Favorites, Users, Projects, Tags) which makes the navigation between those areas just a single tap rather than scrolling and searching. The Favorite section shows just favored users, projects and tags which are organized in exactly that order. On top of each menu you can find the My tasks button that allows you to show your tasks, no matter on what menu section you currently are.

Hill88 — Menu Sections

Sync dashboard

Are you a frequent traveller? Someone who is always on the go, and wants to use the travel time to go through tasks, comment and prepare what’s next. Well, that’s just one use case for our massively improved offline feature and it was actually this use case that kicked off the idea about a Sync dashboard. You can access this new Sync dashboard via the sync button in the lower left corner of the workspaces menu. The Sync dashboard itself consists of a list of all projects, grouped to workspaces. Inside the Sync dashboard you can sync individual workspaces by tapping the Sync Workspace button at the bottom of each workspace, or if you just need individual projects up to date before you turn on your flight mode, then you can swipe individual projects and Hill88 will only force sync that particular item. From now on you can by 100% certain that you have got all the latest data when you take off to your next business trip.

Hill88 — Sync Dashboard

Settings (go there to follow us)

Another completely overhauled part of the new menu is the settings screen which is now cleaner and better structured to help you to customize Hill88 for your personal workflow.

If you are one of the countless users who was asking about the team behind Hill88, you will find the answer inside the new settings screen as well — please follow us :-)

At the bottom of the settings screen you will also find a link to review the app on iTunes and to contact us via email.

Left to right cell swipe

We also supercharged the swiping engine. You can edit, delete and sync items just by swiping away. Want to modify a workspace? Just swipe it left to right. Feel like that project title ain’t cutting it? Just swipe away. Some cells support multiple functions per swipe, simply perform a longer gesture from left to right to view all possible actions. Remember, if it’s a cell in a list, you can most likely swipe it. It’s simple, quick and incredibly satisfying. And there is coming more to swipe in the next version, so don’t be shy and keep swiping :-)

Hill88 — Cell Swipe

Show completed tasks option

We have added a dedicated section for completed tasks back in version 2.0.4, however lots of users (and I mean really a lot of them) just kept asking for a filter to not show completed tasks at all. We absolutely get the satisfaction of ticking of your tasks and not seeing them anymore and that’s why we have added a new option in the task list options to _Show completed tasks_ which can be switched off, resulting in a clean and hopefully shorter list of incomplete tasks. If you haven’t enjoyed the task list options yet, you can access them by tapping on the 3 dots next to the + button in the upper right corner of the screen.

Hill88 Task List Options — Show Completed Tasks

Priority sorting (grouping) in project and tag related task list

Speaking of the task list options, there is one more new behavior for the sorting of project and tag related task lists. The sorting option Priority is not longer ignored for project and tag related task lists (as you know from Asana’s web app) which allows you to see your project list grouped in priorities (New Tasks, Today, Upcoming, Later and Completed). This might sound weird to you at first as you can’t do that on Asana’s web app, but once you give it a try, you will suddenly see which team member actually works on which task today, so might be quite insightful if you have to manage a group of users and you want to get a quick overview by project.

Localized date and time formatting

This might be a small improvement in comparison to some of the features and improvements mentioned earlier, but as we have put a lot of time for polishing into this release, we thought it would be time to take care about localization of date and time format too.
As we know, 05/06/2014 might mean 5th of June 2014 if you live around us here in the UK or 6th of May 2014 if you are one of our users in the US. So to end any confusion and let you also enjoy either 12 or 24 hours a day, all the dates and times are now localized to the region settings of your device.

Performance

Speaking of polishing, the most significant difference you will experience with this new release beside the new menu design and other design tweaks here and there is performance. We have put a lot of effort into developing and optimizing our own data processing engine as well as optimizing the entire UI — Hill88 hasn’t felt snappier.

Other improvements & bug fixes

  • Showing iPad specific settings just on iPad
  • Updated localization to be consistent
  • Changed text size for user labels of task activities
  • Task edit showing subtasks and last 5 comments/activities
  • Task edit showing workspace just when creating new task
  • Organization/team support for task edit lists
  • Project/tag colors in task edit lists
  • User avatar in task edit lists
  • Menu lock (iPad only)
  • Support for the upcoming iOS 7.1
  • Fixed issue where orphaned users would not be removed
  • Fixed issue where non existing user name would be displayed as (null)
  • Fixed issue where Workspace would stays visible after having been removed from it
  • Fixed issue where separator line for task name would move when entering detailed task view for tasks with names containing two or more lines of text
  • Fixed issue where order of projects, users and tags in task edit lists could be different to the order in the menu
  • Fixed issue where assignee would not be added as task follower
  • Fixed issue where app would freeze when losing network connection
  • Fixed issue where app would freeze when syncing large amounts of data
  • Fixed issues which text input cursor not reacting on touch and not showing loupe
  • Fixed various sync related issues
  • Fixed various offline related issues
  • Fixed issue where cached teams would be cleared when background syncing
  • Fixed issue with background app refresh that caused the unified task list to be not sorted correctly
  • Fixed issue with height of project/tag description in task list
  • Various minor UI modifications
  • Various minor bug fixes
  • Various performance optimizations
  • Resetting of project/tag colors is still disabled due to a bug in Asana’s API