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Design trends arise for many reasons.

They can be driven by popular culture, emerging technologies, new business models or just the random whims of fashion. 

Much of the time we don't even notice trends exist, so subtle can their influence be. In fact, we like to think we forge our own path and don't follow trends at all. 

But the truth is that trends form a vital part of the ecosystem in which our design work is created, so it's good to at least recognize what they are, even if you then ignore them.

Here we bring you 9 of the biggest design trends of 2016. Inspired by pop culture, current affairs and the latest technologies, these design trends make up the zeitgeist of 2016, and will most likely carry into early 2017.

This post originally appeared on Creative Bloq, written by Tom May

1. Color Overlays

Creative Bloq's own site, Generate conference, featured this design trend in the early months of 2016. More notorious, however, is Spotify's trend of featuring this design.

We’re talking, of course, about color overlays, that handy technique for changing the mood of a photograph (bright neon for extra impact; sepia tones for hipster vintage), or just livening up an otherwise less-than-striking image.

The trend has been everywhere on the web this year, from travel agency Outlines, to New York’s Pride 2016, to Birmingham design studio We Are Adaptable.

There’s also been a trend-within-a-trend for duotone colour schemes, as showcased by the likes of New Deal Design, MailChimp’s Year in Review and Louis Jeans. You can learn how to use color overlays in your own designs in this article.

2. Neo-Memphis Design

The Memphis Group was an Italian design and architecture group in the 1980s celebrated for its kitsch, knowingly ironic use of geometric shapes, plastic materials and bright neons. (The group actually had nothing to do with Memphis itself; their name was inspired by a Bob Dylan song). 

In the 2010s, we’ve seen a resurgence in what the Wall Street Journal has dubbed the “neo-Memphis design aesthetic”. The trend began in product, furniture, interior and fashion design, and it’s now spreading across web, graphic and print design too. 

Characterized by the use of flat vectors, geometric patterns, bright pastels, bold blocks of colour, and quirky elements like zig-zags, conftetti and squiggles, the influence of neo-Memphis design can be clearly seen in the work of A-2-O, Muokkaao, Adi Goodrich, Carmen Nacher and others. 

With 2016 having been in many ways a depressing year, we expect this bright and upbeat design trend to continue through to 2017. You can see more examples of neo-Memphis design here.

3. More Minimalism 

If we’re honest, we’re starting to miss skeuomorphism a little.

But the day when it makes a comeback still appears to be a long way off, as 2016 saw minimalism and flat design continue to extend their dominance over the creative landscape. 

One big driver of this trend has been Google’s Material Design principles which (to oversimplify hugely) promote minimalist, flat design patterns as a way of streamlining the experience of consumers using digital devices. In 2016 the company ramped up its promotion of these guidelines, redesigning its own Google Play icons along Material Design principles, and launching a new Material Design toolkit to get more designers on board.

The near-ubiquity of minimalism has been most obvious in the sphere of logo design, with seemingly every big brand redesign focusing around simplifying their existing identity.

Check out the new logos from BT, Subway, Mastercard, Instagram, HP, Bing and Gumtree, and you’ll see what we mean. And this love for minimalism isn’t just influencing logos, but the whole of branding design, with even McDonalds jumping on the minimalist bandwagon.

4. Progressive Web Apps

For web designers, 2016 was the year when progressive web apps truly entered the mainstream. So what are they? 

Definitions vary, but essentially they’re mobile web apps that perform functions previously limited to native mobile apps. So not only do they do sexy things like send push notifications, work offline and load on the homescreen, but they also offer the cool things web apps can do, being linkable, responsive and progressive (in the sense of progressive enhancement for different device capabilities). 

Examples of progressive web apps include Flipboard, Washington Post and Google I/O (you can see a longer list here). In short, everyone working in web and app design needs to know about progressive web apps, and there’s an excellent introduction to the subject by Chris Mills here.

5. VR in Branding

Virtual reality (VR) technology has been around for a while now—with 2016 being the year it finally entered the branding mainstream, and became something every design studio has to at least consider offering its clients. 

A typical project was UNIT9 and BBDO Dusseldorf’s VR installation for Wrigley, which combined the Oculus Rift, the Kinect, 3D graphics, custom sound design, two types of scented air, a harness, and a shipping container to enable users to experience the sensation of flight. 

But it’s not just about big-budget, physical VR installations. With the widespread availability of headsets, consumers in 2016 are increasingly enjoying VR experiences in their own homes, and agencies have been responding in kind. 

Absolut Labs offered its customers the chance to join musician Deadmaus in virtual reality on an ‘epic night out’; Saatchi & Saatchi created a 35-person VR team to developing VR showrooms for its client Toyota; and make-up brand Charlotte Tilbury let us float around with Kate Moss in outer space to promote its debut fragrance, Scent of a Dream.

Because not everyone wants to spend their money on VR viewers, brands are now giving them away for free.

The New York Times shipped Google Cardboard viewers to its print subscribers to promote its new VR app; McDonald's in Sweden gave away its own ‘Happy Googles’ viewers to customers; and charity collectors offered passers-by the chance to experience the life of a Syrian refugee in virtual reality.

Right now, everyone who works in design needs to get on board with at least the basic principles of VR. So check out our guide to VR, tips for using VR in branding; UX designers’ guide to VR; game artists' guide to VR and tips for getting started in VR.

6. Back to The Future

Nostalgia has always been an essential element of design.

Yet in 2016 it’s seemed like designers have been digging into the past like never before. 

Bringing back classic logos and branding became a design trend in itself, with the Co Op reviving their four leaf clover, NatWest restoring a logo found in their design archives and Kodak’s new logo reviving its classic 1970s camera shutter emblem. 

In our opinion, there are plenty of other classic logos that should never have been changed, so we hope this trend continues into 2017.

7. Digital Drawing Gets Physical

There’s long been a divide between digital and physical art. But in 2016, new technologies have continued to bring them closer and closer together. 

The iPad Pro, launched at the end of 2015 with the innovative Apple Pen, was the company’s first serious attempt to provide a digital drawing experience that’s resembles drawing on paper.

And it was quickly followed by a flurry of apps to enhance the drawing experience, most recently Duet Pro, which offers to make your iPad Pro experience similar to that provided by a high-end Wacom tablet.

Wacom has, of course, taken none of this lying down, and has been energised into making its own drawing tablets and styluses better than ever. Released this October, its powerful new MobileStudio Pro tablets comes with the new Pro Pen 2, which is claimed to be four times more accurate and pressure-sensitive than its predecessor.

With Adobe working with Tuur Stuyck to create Corel Painter-style, real-time oil painting tools for tablets, and Microsoft openly targeting artists and creatives with its new Surface Studio, it seems everyone wants a slice of the digital drawing space; and that can only benefit creatives going forward. 

8. Design Software Gets Super Competitive

Once upon a time, professional design software meant the Adobe suite, and nothing more. Over recent years, that’s all changed, most noticeably with the rise of Sketch, and Illustrator and Photoshop rivals Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. 

This year the race to provide creatives with new, improved tools hotted up like never before. Affinity Designer got a powerful new upgrade and the previous Mac-only tool also launched on Windows. Affinity Photo will follow soon, along with iPad versions of both tools. 

Adobe launched Adobe XD launched to take on Sketch, which responded with a series of updates that made the UX tool more powerful than ever. Elsewhere Sketch plugins provider Invision expanded its own repertoire, buying up prototyping app Silver Flows, while powerful new free vector graphics tools like Vectr and Bez had everyone buzzing. 

Suffice it to say, design software companies are competing for your attention like never before, so keep an eye on Creative Bloq, where we’ll continue to keep you abreast of developments. 

9. AI Starts Taking Over Design

In the tech world this year, there was one thing everyone was talking about: artificial intelligence or AI.

It’s not just about driverless cars and automated warehouses; even the work of designers may soon be under threat from this intelligent form of software that can learn for itself and think more like a human.

During his talk at SXSW this March (right in Code&Quill's backyard!), Wired founder Kevin Kelly predicted that AI would become a utility that can be produced and distributed. "It's going to become a service,” he said. “It's going to be generated in a generating plant that's far from you and sent over the wires to wherever you want, just like electricity."

Kelly predicted the next 10,000 start-ups will use some form of AI, and indeed companies are already using it automate the intelligent and creative tasks traditionally done by web designers (in the case of website building services The Grid and a newly AI-powered Wix) and image retouchers (in the case of the Neural Photo Editor). 

So should all creatives be scared for their livelihoods? In this article Jordan Fisher argues that there’s no reason we should be replaced, as long as we rise to the challenge posed by AI and adapt our skills accordingly.

What did you all think? Any trends you've spotted that weren't named here? Leave them in the comments!

One final note...the better the tools, the better the creative. Arm yourself with the best tools to bring your ideas into the world. Check out the Code&Quill notebooks now.

 

This post was originally published on Creative Bloq on November 7, 2016.

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We've had A LOT happening here at Code&Quill—maybe you've noticed?

For one thing...

We're working to create more content all our creatives will love.

Recently we sent out a feedback form to all our subscribers and asked what exactly they all love about Code&Quill, how they're using their notebooks, and what they'd love to see in the future.

The feedback was AMAZING.

Knowing how our notebooks are being used told us more about our creatives (that means you)—allowing us to create content that suits them. You can check out some of the content that's resulted from all of the feedback now:

Then, we launched the Monolith...

Code&Quill's first large-formatted notebook for creative professionals everywhere. 

From what we've heard, you guys love it—and we couldn't be happier!

Now, to the some of the newest (and best) stuff...

You can now subscribe to your favorite notebooks!

...and SAVE when you do!

We went through our data and figured out that our buyers put their notebooks to work, and then come back for more. We love that—your notebook is meant to serve you every day! 

We wanted to make this even easier for our creatives, so we enabled subscriptions; now you can subscribe to the notebooks you use most and have them show up in your mailbox without having to remember to come back and purchase before you run out.

The best part? You can set up your delivery rate so your notebooks arrive at your pace.

Check it out on any product page before you add to cart.

Get notebooks for every occasion with bundles!

...and SAVE when you do!

Yes, we're giving you another way to save. 

Now you can put together your favorite notebook combinations (for you or for everyone you know desperately in need of a Code&Quill), and get a 5% discount in the process.

Last, but certainly not least...

Give us your feedback...on our site!

This one has been a long time coming. 

We're always getting the best comments, suggestions, and feedback from our customers, but have never shown it off.

(Yes, we've acknowledged what a mistake we were making.)

But, no more! Now you can leave your comments about your favorite notebook right on our site.

The best part of this is that now we can give credit and feature the best part of Code&Quill...YOU!

As always, we wouldn't be able to do any of these things without you, the creative professional, the subscriber, the customer—so we thank you!

One final note...the better the tools, the better the creative. Arm yourself with the best tools to bring your ideas into the world. Check out the Code&Quill notebooks now.

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There's nothing we love more than content we can identify with—and laugh at.

And that's exactly what we got when we stumbled onto this great piece of content from Tech In Asia

They've round up 11 (of many) types of programmers you're bound to run into in your life. Whether you're nodding and silently saying to yourself, "Yep, that's me," or laughing as you think of someone you know, this piece is a winner.

Check out all 11 and let us know which you are!

 One final note... the better the tools, the better the creative. Arm yourself with the best tools to bring your ideas into the world. Check out the Code&Quill notebooks now.)

code&quill

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Code&Quill caters to A LOT of creatives.

That's the easy part to say. But what do we mean by that? Who do we mean by that? 

Well, some of our best customers are...

  • Designers (web & graphic)
  • Developers
  • Artists
  • Writers
  • Travelers
  • Photographers
  • Nomads

And so many more. 

Today, we're featuring 7 ways those creatives are utilizing their Code&Quill notebooks and how you can use yours as well.

Take a look.

What are you doing today?

Why not crack open your Code&Quill and start a sketch like @anna.rastorgueva?

We bet you’ve heard of #NoShaveNovember, but did you partake in #Inktober?

@Jessicaseacrest busted out her colored pencils and used her notebook for some sweet drawing.

fuzzy heart, coffee filled, and goal crushing wednesday! 👊🤖☕️ •• i'm not going to lie, insta + social média has been a great part of this journey. i have met SO many of you, and have been so happy to help + get shit done together! 💓 •• today, i am being featured on Stay Curious Darling Site (@staycuriousdarling) #WCW edition 😻 • i have been inspired by Brittany for years, and i can't wait to travel + work with this #girlboss 👯🤓💻 - i am humbled, and happy today! hugs to you all! 🤗🤗💕 •• keep kicking ass, and owning it! Ps. Brittany is the most badass, remote worker, digital nomad, and programmer! 🌏 if you have any questions regarding that lifestyle, i'm sure she's the one to ask! 🤓✨ link in bio! PSS. pizza hunting is my hobbie! 🍕😉 •• #happy #staycuriousdarling #blogger #girlboss #feature #happy #humble #workhardstayhumble #entrepreneur #womenintech #programmer #heygirlfriend #youcandoit #codethangz #code #webdeveloper #startuplife #codeandquill #devstickers #motivation #femaleentrepreneur #digitalnomad #travel #freelance #remotework #workhardanywhere

A photo posted by @codegirlcode on

We’ll be honest—@codegirlcode has a special place in our heart. She’s always been supportive of the C&Q brand and team, and loves showing off her notebooks!

However, this post is great because it’s all about goal crushing and growth, which are two of our favorite things.

Keep it up!

We’re not entirely sure what’s happening here, but it involves pizza, so it’s a-ok in our (note)book. See what we did there?

IG user @mbeero uses his creative genius to get the people to vote… on pizza preference, that is!

Ah… organization. Not going to lie, this warmed our hearts a little.

We’ve been tossing around the idea of coming up with a guide for using your Code&Quill for journaling and organization (think Bullet journaling and agendas).

What do you think? Something you all would want to hear about? Shout out to @hickorysoul for the sweet inspiration! 

If you need to pack for survival, we’ll agree with @campingguyinny and say your Code&Quill is a must.

Need another use idea for your C&Q? Head out into the great outdoors and sketch what you see. 

Everything about this video and caption is great.

1. Fresh starts, who needs them? Only everyone.

2. A clean slate to spill ink on? Not much better than that.

Cheers to @sofabedsophia for her positive moves in the right direction and using Code&Quill on her journey.

Want to see your Code&Quill photos featured on our site? Tag your photos with #codeandquill and we’ll be sure to share the love!

Happy creating!

(Psssst... Our Cyber Monday sale is still open! Use code CYBER15 to save 15% on ANY order for the next few hours! Don't forget to check out our 15% off Bundles while you're here—you can combine offers for a total of 30% off! Start shopping now!)

 

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We're more than excited to announce...

The newest tool for creatives has arrived: the Monolith.

Whether you're pulling together a wireframe for a new app, developing new products, drafting material for your book, or taking notes in a classroom, the Monolith is the perfect notebook for making your most demanding creative work a little easier.

Back in May, we launched our second Kickstarter to launch this amazing initiative—a beautifully crafted, large-format notebook for creative professionals everywhere.

With almost 400 backers, we successfully reached funding and were once again amazed at the support we received from the very same people we aim to serve! If you haven't watched the Kickstarter video that explains exactly what's so special about the Monolith.

After months of waiting, the Monoliths showed up in the fine state of Texas last week and we spent the last 4 days packing and shipping over 600 Kickstarter orders out to find new homes. What does that mean for you?

All four options of the Monolith are now open for business!

The Monolith’s pages incorporate our unique Dot Grid/Indentation Rule dual-page layout—meaning all left-side pages have a dot grid for sketches and drawings, while the right pages have narrow-ruled lines with vertical hash marks every 5mm for properly structuring notes, lists, paragraphs, and even code.

For those of you who don’t need the dual layout—or who want writing space more than drawing space—we’ve also created a version of the Monolith with only the Indentation Rule! There’s tons of room for writing here.

We hope you're just as excited as we are, we can't wait to get Monoliths into your hands!

Oh, and we have one more equally exciting—although smaller—update for you guys...

Recently we sent out a campaign to our customers to find out we can be enabling creatives with the best tools possible. We received some awesome (and honest) responses, but this one made us laugh...

With the Monoliths arrival also came a fresh stock of Gray TravelersWe're well-stocked and ready to fulfill your traveler orders, so, if you're like our friend from above, your dream product has arrived!

A huge thank you to everyone that has supported us in our original and second Kickstarter. You make all this possible and we quite literally wouldn't be here without you.

Stay tuned... we have cool things happening everyday around here and we'll be sharing them with you soon!

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If you've never started your own business—but you want to—maybe one thing stopping you is what's unfamiliar about the idea. 

Simply put, you have no clue what it'd be like to employ yourself. 

If you've always had a boss, co-workers, and standard working hours, it's difficult to imagine suddenly having NONE of those. The transition can be tough in ways you never expected, even while it's fun.

If you're considering that path, it pays to think ahead. So today we're sharing 4 specific questions you'll ask yourself along the way—which we've asked (and in some cases answered) for ourselves on our own entrepreneurial journey.

"How much is my time worth?"

Whether you want to sell goods or services, it's the same question. Either way: if someone wants to buy something, it will cost you a certain amount of time to provide it to them. So what should your time cost?

Pricing is a delicate game. Anyone starting a business learns that. But eventually, an entrepreneur realizes that setting your prices is kind of like choosing the price tag to put on yourself.
And you thought picking a good outfit was hard.
But you also realize that everyone's prices, at some level, are completely made up. For this reason, you can charge whatever you want—as long as you have enough people who will buy. Supply and demand figures out the rest.
Remember also: among the fair and consenting, there is no price too high. If someone agrees to pay your price, and they like what you sell, everyone has already won. No need to be insecure about it. 

"Why can't I use any of this money?"

Oh, cash flows. It's the bane of any business—yet most people don't know what it is or how it works. Therefore, most brand-new business owners don't know how it'll affect their paycheck.

 To make a scary accounting concept seem simple: cash flow just refers to how money is moving in and out of someone's account. You have to make sure there's enough money coming in to pay for everything going out.

Suppose, for example, you'll need expensive AV equipment soon. Maybe you'll be able to afford it—but if you need it sooner than your next big paycheck, that's a cash flow problem. To solve the problem, you can (A) buy the equipment later, (B) find a way to get paid sooner, or (C) take out a small loan.

Why will this all matter to you? Because your paycheck is just ONE of the things that has to compete for your business's cash. 

In a way, all money you make is yours—but if you're smart, you won't think that way. The money belongs to your business, and it goes to what the business needs—including to pay you, its mastermind, but only to the extent you need personal funds to keep working well. 

Sometimes, you'll be sitting on mountains of cash—yet you won't feel like you can touch a penny. It's a weird feeling.  

"When will I be able to take a vacation?"

HA! Ohhh—ahem. Sorry. Didn't mean to let that slip out. 

But all right, let's be blunt: you won't get to take a vacation for a while. If you're starting from the beginning, you don't get a vacation until you catch a break. (And sorry, poor people, but... if you're starting with thin resources, that last sentence goes double for you. It's just true; we've been there.)

Seems weird, right? I thought entrepreneurs were permanently on vacation. 

Only in the loosest sense. Entrepreneurs have an unusual freedom, yes—and there's no one to limit their vacation time. But just as they're "never" at work, they're always at work. If you're an entrepreneur, your mind is your office—and it's kind of hard to leave your mind (completely). 

Here's the truth: you can take a vacation whenever you want. But the point is that you probably won't want to take a long break until you've feel secure enough to do so. 

Vacation right before you launch a business. That's when it'll be most useful. 

"Can I ever go back?"

Like a lot of "bugs," entrepreneurship might only bite once—but it never completely leaves your system. In the best possible way, you're infected for life. Even if you choose to re-enter the job market, you won't see the world the same way ever again.

Some of this—if we may—is just you getting smarter. You learn how things work by running them yourself. Entrepreneurs learn by doing, and by rights that becomes a lifelong habit. 

But there's another, bigger part of this. In a phrase: entrepreneurs see the world's opportunities in a way they never did before. They gain the freedom and self-reliance to "see around" most jobs, certainly to understand them better.

With full freedom to choose what you do, the ways you spend your time become all the more significant—to you and to the rest of the world. 

So—to answer the question Can I ever go back?—sure you can. Much the same way the prisoners of Plato's Cave could walk back in. Much the same way Neo and Morpheus can re-enter the Matrix. As they would say, sure, you can go back—but the better question is, why do you want to?

We started Code&Quill with $500, a good idea, and a lot of questions. We wanted to know if that idea could come to life—so we started answering questions to make it happen. These were the four questions we didn't expect to be asking—and that needed some time for us to enunciate our answers.

We've had other ventures along the way, and each one has taught us a lot. More than anything, though, they've shown us that community and brainstorming and passion matter every day. That's how you keep digging up answers to your questions.

(Want the perfect notebook for keeping your answers while you get started? Check out our notebooks here or by clicking the image below!)

And whether you're writing down the questions, the answers, or anything in between, always write it down. That's how you share; that's how you keep a record; that's how you understand something better than you ever could in your own head. We're here to help people answer their own creative questions—the way everyone has to do for themselves. 

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There are few things as big a danger to a creative that's self-employed as... themselves.

Yep, you are your own worst enemy.

Make no mistake, it's great not having a manager. Or formal hours. Or a dress code. And let's not lie, it's a little fun to abuse those privileges whenever you have time. 

But small business stops feeling like "freedom" when another 80-hour week wraps and you're still not ahead. Worse, you're out of ideas and you're starting to fray at the ends.

You can never catch your breath. 

I'm only one person, you think. How could I possibly be smarter about my resources?

Boom—our respectable friends at Make It Cheaper put together these seven lessons in efficiency with advice from seven highly successful business owners: 

 

We notice that their advice tends to follow three basic themes: attitude, moderation, and value. 

Given our own experience as small business owners, we'll add three more pieces of advice—one of each type. 

Attitude

You can win and do with a can-do attitude. But you can't and won't if your attitude is can't or don'tPick a winning attitude; it's billions of years of evolution that got you here, so act like it. 

Moderation

Small business owners have many different roles ("hats"). But they have to share their resources fairly among those roles—and they have to make proper use of each tool at their disposal.

When in doubt, be smart and play to your available strengths. Self-management is often a game of psychological strategy. 

Value

Smart people can tell what matters from what doesn't.

Family, relationships, and quality of life all matter. But—as Mr. Morken points out in #6—carving out your cherished personal time can mean better focus at work.

7 lessons in efficiency

Sharp values make decisions—and a decision is, quite literally, the choice to cut your less valuable options out. 

Finally, just remember that time is money—and if you can respect one of them the way an entrepreneur might, you already respect the other. 
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One final note... the better the tools, the better the creative. Arm yourself with the best tools to bring your ideas into the world. Check out the Code&Quill notebooks now.)

 

code&quill

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Tons of creatives have iPhones—and for good reason. They pull together everything in your life… and they (usually) get smarter with each new update.

iOS 10 is the latest big update from Apple. Unlike some updates before, there are TONS of noticeable changes—and some are bigger (or just niftier) than you might have realized.

In this post we’re showing you our 13 favorite iOS features, as updated (or created) in iOS 10. Pull out your phone and follow along!

 

1. Faster open and unlock

From the beginning, iPhone users have swiped right to unlock. Not anymore—now you tap the home button again. It’s small, but you do it 500 times a day—so you notice the change right away (and you might not like it at first). But this actually really smart! For one thing, Touch ID works “in rhythm” with the second press—meaning it opens (a bit) faster than before.

Think about this, too: if you’re carrying your phone with one hand, when are you most likely to drop it? Probably when you’re swiping your thumb across, right? So eliminating the swipe might mean fewer shattered screens. =]

 

2. Raise to Wake

Another thing when opening the phone: you can enable Raise to Wake so the screen automatically “turns on” when you pick it up. Then, it’s just one press and the phone opens. Small, but it’s intuitive and it adds polish to the user experience.

3. Expanded Text-Messaging Options

Apple is starting to stretch its muscles with iMessage—its alternative to traditional SMS messages (between people who have Apple IDs). Now, aside from near-bottomless text and Emojis, you can send 3D-touch-sensitive sketches, complete with fireworks and broken hearts and other frimfram. It’s also easier to include pictures—or take quick pics in response WITHIN the Messages app, instead of switching completely over to Camera.

 

4. Siri Gets Serious

Apple recently opened the Siri API for developers—which is a MUCH bigger deal than people realize. When you picture the future, where everything can be done hands-free, these are the specific kinds of improvements that get us there. (Quick techie note: Siri is one area where iOS has been lacking, esp. versus their Android/Windows “Cortana” counterparts.)

For example: you can now call an Uber or Lyft through Siri. We’re living in the future, guys—you can say a few words to your phone and a car shows up for you. Thanks iOS 10!

5. Improved Mail App

Frankly, Apple’s Mail game has never been strong. Their native apps are okay, but blasé and sometimes even buggy. There can always be new bugs—but Mail’s stronger than ever.

 

 

Aside from faster sorting and allowing you to see messages in conversation view—thanks for catching up, Apple—they’ve added an Unsubscribe button. Because so many people use Apple’s Mail app(s), and this is now a feature, Apple just lashed email and marketing lists everywhere.

6. Improved Apple Maps

From what we can tell—around Austin, at least—Siri still provides somewhat spastic direction. (Frankly, a lot of us prefer the Google Maps app.) But little work-ups still count, and they’ve done a couple here—aside from a more intuitive UI with bigger buttons, there are some passive perks. For example, Maps now remembers where you park—so no more wandering the lot after that festival or big meeting.

7. Auto-Transcribed Voicemails

Voicemail is annoying. We might leave them, but we never like listening to them. And now we don’t have to.

If you can’t hear/listen to your phone and you NEED the transcription—or if you’re just lazy and want to skim—Apple writes it out for you. Not perfectly, mind you, but enough for you to get the idea.

 

8. Apple Pay in Safari

For those of you who haven’t set up Apple Pay, we encourage it—it’s fast, futuristic, and useful whenever you’ve left your wallet in the car. Now, whenever you’re browsing in Safari and make a purchase, you don’t have to stop and pull out your credit card; you can pay straight from the info saved to your phone. (Don’t worry; you have to enter your Touch ID or password before it goes through.)

 

9. Unlimited Safari Tabs

If you’re like us and you always have tabs open to read—but especially on your phone, where you don’t think to close them—they pile up. Eventually, you run out… then you have to do maintenance. Not anymore. Keep as many tabs open as you want.

Just use this feature at your own peril. Remember, you probably won’t read them all—and unless you’ve got an iPhone 7 with the new chip, you might start to wear the processing or battery this way.

 

10. Ability to Remove Stock Apps

We get it, Apple—you’ve got an app for literally everything. That’s cool. But that’s a problem when we don’t have Apple Watches, when we don’t read the news through your app, when we don’t follow stocks, and when we don’t care about our daily step count. Those functions all have apps that get in our way—until now. Once you’ve got the icons shaking their little dance, you can eliminate even the ones most precious to Apple. After all, it’s your phone (in theory).

 

11. The new Bedtime alarms

For the sleep-conscious (as we all should be), you can tell your iPhone when you’d like to go to bed and wake up each day. Just go to the Bedtime tab in Clock, next to Alarms—once you answer a few questions, it’ll remind you towards bedtime and have a recurring alarm wake you each morning. Yet another way technology can help us help ourselves—and like a lot of things, it’s a small and simple addition.

 

12. 3D-Touch Timers

Now, whenever you use the Timer button on the quick menu at the bottom, you can 3D-touch to pick from a handful of quick options. We use timers a lot—to keep us focused, to keep track of things, to play games—so being able to start them without opening an app is handy.

 

13. Storage Optimization

Say you’ve got a lot of music and a small iPhone hard drive—which is common. But we don’t listen to all music, all the time. So now, if you need your iPhone to help manage its space smartly, you can specify how much space to allocate for music. Then, it automatically removes songs you don’t listen to and frees up space for other things you need. Set it once—but as generously as you can—and you’ll be good until your next phone.

 

Technology—we're always happy about it, but we're rarely happy with it. Sure, iOS isn't perfect, the iPhone isn't perfect, and Apple isn't perfect. But they keep improving—and one step at a time, we get closer to "futuristic" for the present day. 

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XKCD 457 Frustration

 

Ever gotten frustrated fumbling with a bra clasp?

 
Stop what you’re doing for 5 minutes—you need to check out XKCD. It’s the web’s best comic for creatives, brainiacs, and other people with big questions—and in this post, we’ll preview more than 40 of the clever, often-hilarious entries that author Randall Munroe has posted each week. 
Click an image to see the original comic—with mouseover text if you view them on XKCD.com.

 

Everyday Thinking with
Graphs and Data

XKCD 453 Upcoming Hurricanes

XKCD 388 Fuck Grapefruit

XKCD 540 Base System 

XKCD 1698 Theft Quadrants

 

XKCD 526 Converting to Metric

Honorable Mentions

Nerdy Pop Culture References

XKCD 670 Spinal Tap Amps
XKCD 290 Fucking Blue Shells

 

XKCD 703 Honor Societies

Honorable Mentions

Comics That Made Us Lose Our S#!t

XKCD 612 Estimation
XKCD 414 Mistranslations
XKCD 790 Control
XKCD 604 Qwertial Aphasia

Honorable Mentions

Loops and Mind-Benders

XKCD 1683 Digital Data
XKCD 518 Flow Charts
XKCD 716 Time Machine
XKCD 338 Future

Honorable Mentions

Real Life, Real Talk

XKCD 308 Interesting Life
XKCD 214 The Problem with Wikipedia
XKCD 907 Ages

 Honorable Mentions

How We Felt Putting Together This Post

XKCD 512 Alternate Currency

 
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Want to get started drawing and writing some of your own? Click below to get the perfect notebook for the purpose(Randall/Mr. Munroe, you're invited to do the same!)
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Every day, it gets harder and harder to find truly valuable information on the Internet.

We send emails into a silent unknown—
Important people disappear behind firewalls, never to be contacted by the public—
Most websites don't freely disclose how well they're performing—

And so on.

At Code&Quill, we know how important the Internet is to creatives and professionals. The Internet is where we find inspiration—and if we're sharp, it's where we root out genuine opportunities. 

It pays to be equipped with the best, so this week we're giving you 5 super apps and extensions—all yours for free in the next 5 minutes.

 

Send Messages That Let You
Read Recipients’ Minds*

*or allow you to make informed inferences about what they're thinking

Emails sometimes feel hopeless. They’re like shots in the dark—usually you have no way to know if you hit the mark. Unless you "get lucky" and they respond.

With ContactMonkey, tracking is built into Gmail’s outgoing messages—just tick a box before you send and you’ll be notified whenever someone opens your email. Whenever you want, you can see information like open count, link click-throughs, and the last time your message was read.

Instead of sitting and waiting (and getting paranoid), you’ll know if your email has been opened. And if you’re REALLY good, you can use it to send a follow-up whenever you know someone’s at their keyboard.

Click here to check out the ContactMonkey extension (track 100 emails per month for free). 


Find Email Addresses That
Other People Can't Find*

*or written somewhere in the code, where 99% of people wouldn't find it

Ever have trouble tracking down someone’s email address (or the right email address)? If it’s someone important, they’ve probably hidden their direct email. (Because who wants to get ANY more spam from strangers?)

Email Hunter scans the website in view for email addresses—but it doesn’t just Ctrl-F for you. It extends the search deeper, into the code running behind the web page. Then, once it has results, it tells you how likely each address is to match the one you want.

No guarantees even if you find the right address, but that’s still 98% closer than most people get. Click here to check out the Email Hunter Chrome extension (free signup required). 

 

See the Cards Behind 
Any Website You're Visiting*

*or, at least, get essential traffic data about nearly anyone in a single click

Most people have NO idea how many people visit certain websites, even if they know certain sites get lots of traffic. Knowing numbers, with some degree of reliability, is a HUGE boost for anyone doing web or market research.

SimilarWeb allows you to learn about a website’s traffic at a glance—one click and a bunch of handy stats pop up. Super simple stuff, nowhere near Google Analytics’ level of intimidation. If you just need to peek at someone’s traffic data, it’s perfect.

Download the SimilarWeb Chrome extension here. 

Remember Everything
You've Read Online*

*as long as you highlight selections while you read

Bookmarking links SEEMS like a nice habit, but it’s tiresome; it’s a chore to dig up bookmarks, even if you filed them all neatly. And if you really just liked a photo or a few sentences, why keep the whole webpage?

Evernote’s Web Clipper changes the way you see bookmarking. Not only do you have the ability to highlight and save specific parts, but it saves them directly into Evernote. This way, you can drop outside materials into your work with ease—and put your most memorable snippets wherever they make most sense.

We’ve mentioned before that we’re Evernote fans — so if you’re not on the bandwagon yet, consider checking ‘em out. You get a ton for free — and by “a ton,” we mean “way more than just a notes app.”

Download the Evernote Web Clipper here — and if you haven't already, check out Evernote here

 

 

Fly Around the World While You Work*

*sensation of flight not guaranteed, but beautiful aerials still highly likely

This one is more of a bonus—just something pretty to round out your Chrome experience. Still, if you'd like something 1000% better than plain gray and white when you open a new tab, here it is. 

Momentum is a customizable new-tab interface. Aside from the pretty rotating photos, you can choose whether (and how) to display options like the time, weather, and your main action items for the day. The free version is great, but if you really like it, it has a paid option (for $2/month or $20/year) with extra features and some sync functionality.

Download the extension here to add Momentum to your Chrome tabs. (A good alternative is Earth View, which has a rotating slideshow of Google Earth aerials.) 

If apps and extensions like this illustrate one thing, it's this: sometimes, simple tools like these can make you feel powerful. So many awesome apps are available for free . . . you just have to know about them. That kind of knowledge is powerful, especially once you put it into use.
If you want to make life easier for people like you, be sure to share the love 
using the social bar to your left (below if you're on mobile).
 
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One final note... the better the tools, the better the creative, the better the productivity. Arm yourself with the best tools to bring your ideas into the world. Check out the Code&Quill notebooks now.)

 

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