Simple In/Out APIv3 and Web Hooks: It’s a Brave New World

Happy holidays from everyone here at Simply Made Apps!  Just in time for the end of 2015, we’re proud to announce a couple of major new features for our flagship product Simple In/Out.  These two major new features will enable Simple In/Out to be the base of many new and exciting possibilities.

The first is our new API, APIv3.  While APIv3 offers a lot of great new features, the biggest is that it allows 3rd party developers to add status updates to Simple In/Out!  Our previous public API, APIv2, only allows for read access.  With APIv3, we’re officially deprecating APIv2, which will be deactivated sometime in 2016.

We’ve been hard at work since September to build APIv3, written from the ground up, to support some exciting new features we plan to roll out in the next couple of weeks.  Secretly, we’ve already converted many of our own apps over to APIv3.  For the first time, 3rd party developers will have the opportunity to use the same API we do.

To get access to APIv3, just contact us and we’ll issue you some API keys.

The second announcement is Web Hooks.  Web Hooks allow you to be notified at a URL of your choosing any time a significant event happens within Simple In/Out.  This opens up a new world of potential 3rd party integrations and another exciting platform upon which developers can build things that weren’t possible before.  Our Web Hooks provide a JSON payload that describes what has just happened and do so without the need for OAuth2 (authentication that can be daunting to new developers).  The payload itself is pretty simple to parse, it’s also Slack compatible right out of the gate.

For now, Web Hooks are focused on status changes only.  But, we’ve engineered them in such a way that we can expand them in the future to do a great many additional things depending on developer need.

We can’t wait to see the exciting things that will be built in 2016 by our customers and 3rd parties.  If you’re a Simple In/Out customer or looking to become one, 2016 is shaping up to be quite the year.

Simply Made Apps Hits a Milestone: No More Contract Work

As we near the end of the year, we at Simply Made Apps have been discussing our future.  2015 was a landmark year for us as a company.  We completed a bunch of apps for clients and Simple In/Out has been growing at an incredible rate.

It’s no secret that Simply Made Apps has been bootstrapped from Day 1.  We’ve taken no money to start our company, and we’ve paid the bills by doing contract work for businesses helping them realize their dreams.  It’s been rewarding work, but the tradeoff has been less time then we’d like to focus on our products.

That is about to change.

We’re happy to announce that Simply Made Apps is officially exiting the contract-for-hire business.  From this point forward, we will be solely dedicated to our passion for building powerful yet easy to use software.  We now join the list of organizations (like my personal heroes Basecamp) that began as consultants and transitioned to 100% product companies.

What does this means for our existing Simple In/Out customers?  This means we’ll be spending even more time adding new features and perfecting Simple In/Out.  We have a wonderful roadmap ahead with some exciting new features.  We even have a few surprises in store for this month.  The future of Simple In/Out is bright!

Thanks to all our Simple In/Out customers for making this day possible.  We hope to continue to exceed your expectations in the coming year.

Photo Uploads, Reports, and More

Last weekend and this morning, we’ve added some much-requested new features to Simple In/Out.

Photo Uploading

Last week we shipped photo uploading for user photos.  This works great for organizations that already have staff photos.  It also allows users to use images that don’t come from their social networking profile pages.  Simple In/Out will still support Gravatar as a default for those that might use that service, but photo uploading provides an easier option for those that don’t have a Gravatar.

Starting today, we’re also sharing the photo uploading love with the company by allowing the company to upload a logo for presenting on the Full Screen Mode board.  This has been a request we heard every once and a while over the years and we’re happy to get this done.  In the future, we’ll allow this company logo to also work with Simple In/Out TV.

Full Screen Mode Improvements

Our changes this weekend also bring some improvements to our Full Screen Mode on the web.  While companies can now add their logo and can already change the text and background color, we now allow the user profile images to appear.  It’s optional, available underneath the Settings menu (the gear in the upper-right).  We’ve also allowed for more font sizes if you’re adding custom parameters to the URL.

New Weekly Timeline and Daily Activity Reports

Today we’ve also added two brand new reports to Simple In/Out.

The first, the Weekly Timeline report, is similar to our existing Daily Timeline report.  The difference is that the Weekly Timeline report can only be run for a single user and it displays that user’s timeline chart over the course of a week instead of a single day.  This is incredibly helpful when trying to get the bigger picture on a user’s activity over the course of time.

The second is our new Daily Activity report.  This report displays all the status changes across an entire organization/group for a given day.  These statuses are listed for the day in chronological order, serving almost as an activity feed or a sign in/out sheet.

Both of these reports are fully exportable, like all our reports, so you can take this data to your favorite spreadsheet if you wish.


 

We hope you enjoy these changes.  We have some big new features coming soon with our next release, which we’re targeting before the end of the year.  Watch this space 🙂

Simple In/Out for Apple TV

Apple TV

When Apple announced the new Apple TV, we were straight-up giddy here at Simply Made Apps.  Both Bill and I have spent years hoping to develop apps for televisions.  There are so many uses, from information display, video, games, etc.  The next few years will be very exciting for consumers the world over.  A massive disruption of television as we know it is coming.

For Simple In/Out, we’ve had Simple In/Out TV available for Android TV for a while now and it’s a great product.  It fits a perfect need, to display your availability to others in common areas.  Today, we’re announcing Simple In/Out TV for Apple TV, which will be available on Apple TV launch day this Friday.

Simple In/Out TV is a companion app for the Simple In/Out family.  Display all your Simple In/Out users, statuses, and groups via your television.  Simple In/Out TV automatically updates, scrolls if necessary, and provides many presentation options to look amazing in your office.  And, like all of our other Simple In/Out apps, Simple In/Out TV is free to download and use with your existing Simple In/Out account.  Or, if you haven’t yet tried Simple In/Out, you can start a 45 day free trial (no credit card required).

You can download Simple In/Out TV via the Apple TV App Store this Friday.

Simple In/Out Help Videos

When we launched Simple In/Out 8, we also shipped the Simple In/Out Help Center.  While we’ve always prided ourselves in our top notch email support, we wanted to offer more.  Today, we’ve added the first series of help videos to explain how to use some of the advanced features of Simple In/Out.  We’ll be adding more, as well as some PDFs in the coming weeks.

If you have any suggestions for videos you’d like to see, shoot us an email at help [at] simplymadeapps [dot] com.

Simple In/Out 8: New Look and New Features

Simple In/Out 8

Today, we here at Simply Made Apps are proud to announce the next big upgrade to Simple In/Out.  Simple In/Out, now at version 8, brings a brand new look and a few new features we’re sure will make our users quite happy.  This new upgrade affects all our apps, across all our supported platforms.

A New Look

The first thing to notice is Simple In/Out’s new look.  We’ve strived to simplify Simple In/Out even further by creating a more compact look.  We’ve increased the size of the user’s profile image to make profiles and the board more recognizable.  We’re also introducing a new “in” indicator, a solid blue bar.  This has the benefit of looking nice, improving board readability, and improving our accessibility for our color blind users.  When a user is in, the blue bar appears.  When a user is now out, the blue bar vanishes.  We also fade out the row to convey this further, something we had already been doing in Simple In/Out TV.

Company Quick Picks

A popular request, we’ve added support for company-wide Quick Picks.  Similar to a user’s Quick Picks, company Quick Pick are 10 configurable Quick Picks that are shared and accessible by everyone within the organization.  Once added by an admin user, these company Quick Picks appear for users on the website, the phone apps, the Windows app, and within FrontDesk.  These are useful for common actions like “At Lunch”, but can also be used in conjunction with Simple In/Out’s reports to generate accurate numbers of hours worked on a particular project (for example, “Working on Project X”).

TimeClock Badges within Phone Apps

For our customers using TimeClock for time keeping, Simple In/Out 8 adds the badges for your users right inside our apps for iOS and Android.  Now those users can scan their device and avoid carrying their badges if they wish.

Default In/Out Messages for FrontDesk & TimeClock

FrontDesk and TimeClock admins can now establish default in and out messages that apply to swipes (FrontDesk) or badge scans (TimeClock).  If you have more than one device running these apps, this is a great way to tell which station the user was at when they changed their status.

Improved Help

We’re working hard to improve our help and starting with Simple In/Out 8 we’re including an improved version of our FAQ within our phone apps.  For the first time, we are also including the Help Center right on our website.  This will get better and better over time as we continually add and update our help.  We also plan to add more resources like PDFs and video in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned.

Geofences with In or Out Updates Only

Geofences can now be created by admin users to only trigger entry or exit status updates.  This has relatively limited use cases, but are important for several of our customers.  This works great for situations where you’d like to mix some automatic updates with some manual ones.  This also works well in concert with our Beacons.

 

 

We hope everyone likes these new additions to Simple In/Out!

Providing Great Support

Over and over again here at Simply Made Apps we are complimented for our great support.  It’s a point of pride for us.  Users are most impressed by our response time, which is generally measured in minutes or hours.

This past week, our Keurig machine overheated here at HQ.  Besides dumping boiling water everywhere and melting a K Cup, the thermostat burnt out and rendered the machine hopelessly broken.  After we discovered what happened, we went to their website and requested support through the official channel.  Nearly a week later, no response.  We then tweeted at them and had an immediate reaction, then a follow up call, and now they’re replacing our unit.

A great result, but the impression they left us could have been so much better without the big delay that was only rectified by publicly calling them out.  When you as a user are placed in limbo-land it can be confusing or even downright infuriating.

So, as a public service, here is how Simply Made Apps provides support.  Our three rules to live by:

  1. Do your own support, don’t farm it out to people who don’t care about your product or your customers.
  2. Respond just as fast as you can.
  3. Be honest.

Here at Simply Made Apps, Bill and I do all our own support.  On top of being the only co-founders and most of our software developers, we answer all the emails personally.  This keeps us in touch with our ever-evolving user base.  It’s also a great way to prioritize new features, but that’s an entire new blog post all together.

We respond just as soon as we can.  Sometimes that’s within 5 minutes.  Sometimes when we sleep (or golf) that’s a few hours.  It’s never measured in days, and that’s critically important.  Don’t leave users confused about whether you’re ever going to respond at all.

Finally, we’re always honest.  Honesty, while sometimes difficult, is without doubt the most underrated support tool.  When we receive requests from users that we don’t wish to do, or questions with “no” answers, it’s always tempting to sugar-coat the response.  This only creates misunderstandings and potentially more support issues down the line.  It also creates expectations, and setting false expectations is like placing a ticking time bomb under your reputation.

That’s it, three simple rules.

TimeClock Ships for Android 4

In the middle of April, we shipped TimeClock for iOS.  The response has been amazing.  For companies, this offers the hope of a time clock system that isn’t restricted to paper punch cards.  Based on our Simple In/Out ecosystem of apps and the website, managers now have tools like our Push Notifications, reports, and more to have visibility into their work force.  Companies can manage their on-site staff in this very traditional way while simultaneously using Simple In/Out to handle other users the way we always have, with remote check in/outs, Geofences, Beacons, and more.  The sky is really the limit.

Today, we’re proud to announce TimeClock’s arrival on the Android platform.  Now, TimeClock is available for the vast majority of devices on the market today.

We’re supporting Android 4.x only.  We’re not currently supporting Android 5, as we discovered a horrible bug with its camera API (we’re hoping for a fix, but we didn’t wish to delay until one arrives).

Enjoy!

Simple In/Out announces TimeClock, an app for your users to punch in via company badge

 

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We are happy to announce that Simple In/Out has a new companion app, TimeClock. Customers have been using Simple In/Out as a makeshift timekeeping service for years. They have had to live with a few shortcoming and sacrifices to make it work this way, but has performed pretty well given that it was never really intended for this. Over the years we have added reports and the ability to edit past statuses, recently we added all new permissions to control who can update their status, and today we released TimeClock.

TimeClock works like any other timekeeping app or hardware. Every user gets a badge with a barcode (printable from simpleinout.com or directly from the app via AirPrint enabled printer) and can scan to clock in. Admin users can customize user permissions so they can only change their status (or clock in) on the TimeClock app or allow users to continue to use Simple In/Out as they have before. We have given the power to every customer to decide which way works best for them. Simple In/Out is a flexible and easy as ever.

TimeClock is a Universal app that runs on any iOS 8 device. Need to have people clock in on the road, use your phone. Want to have a central place to clock in at the office, install an iPad with TimeClock on it and you are good to go.

For those that have followed our blog and website, TimeClock was codenamed Project Augusta. All of our big projects get codenames named after famous golf courses. We were happy to coincide our release with the kick off to the Masters Tournament this year, which is reflected in our app screenshots. Note the time and date for our screenshots was the inaugural tee time for this years tournament. We are big golf nuts here and thought it was fitting that our project was finally completed and in time to make the tournament.

We hope you will enjoy the new app. If you have any questions or feature requests, we’d love to hear from you. Tell us what you think. We are already thinking up new code names for new projects. We are already up to the letter D. Doral maybe? Guess we’ll see.

Simple In/Out Ships for Windows Phone

We Windows Phonereceive a lot of requests here at Simply Made Apps for our flagship product, Simple In/Out.  Over the years, one of our most requested features has been bringing Simple In/Out to other platforms.

We’ve had a Windows 8 Desktop app for some time now.  With the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has allowed for the first time ever built-in OS support for Geofences, our signature feature.  With that, we went to work to test if it worked well enough for our purposes.  Today, we’re happy to announce we’re releasing the first version of Simple In/Out for Windows Phone.

While this version of Simple In/Out doesn’t supporting everything currently in our iOS/Android apps, we believe this is a solid start.  With more demand, we’ll add features over the coming year.  We don’t yet support Push Notifications or Beacons, but with Geofences supported, this app will be incredibly useful to the majority of our users.

For our Windows Phone folks, we say “Welcome to Simple In/Out”!