Automatic Updates from WIFI and Linked Companies

February is going to be a huge month for Simple In/Out, and it all starts today with two brand new game-changing features: Automatic Updates via connection to WIFI and Linked Companies.

Automatic Updates from Connection to WIFI

One of Simple In/Out’s pioneering features in 2011 was Geofences, allowing users to automatically sign in and out just by carrying their device.  It’s still among our most popular features.  In 2013 we added support for Beacons, which allow for much smaller areas of automatically check in/out coverage while still being incredibly soft on the user’s phone battery.

Today, we’re proud to launch our third automatic updating feature for Android and Windows Phone.  We call it Networks.  Like Geofences and Beacons, an admin user within the Simple In/Out company adds a WIFI hotspot to the company.  Just like Geofences/Beacons, users can then monitor this Network.  When their phone connects to the Network for internet access, Simple In/Out will check the user in.  When they leave the Network and their phone detects it has disconnected, Simple In/Out will check the user out.  This offers all the advantages of hardware Beacons, but with larger coverage areas and using existing hardware you’re likely to already own and have setup.

We only support Networks within Simple In/Out on Android and Windows Phone.  This also supports automatic updates via the Amazon Fire Phones and BlackBerry via their Android runtimes.  We do NOT support Networks on iOS unfortunately.  This is due to the fact that Apple does not give us the necessary APIs to do so.  We hope that Apple changes this and you better believe if they do, we’ll be among the first to support it.

We believe Networks are a great way to improve the automatic update accuracy for many of our users without needing to purchase Beacon hardware.  We firmly believe that in/out boards should be as automatic as possible, keeping them always up to date.

Linked Companies

The second major announcement is Linked Companies, a great way for large organizations to split their workforce apart for privacy and manageability.  With Linked Companies, organizations can establish a master company that can manage companies underneath it.  The sub-companies behave like stand-alone companies, with all their own users, settings, history, Geofences/Beacons/Networks/Groups etc.  The users in these companies cannot see any of the data in the other companies, yet the master company can view all the companies underneath, manage their users and settings, run reports, etc.

When would Linked Companies make sense?  There are a number of examples:

  1. Franchises that wish to restrict users in one location from seeing users in another location, yet can be managed by one master company.  Think of multiple Starbucks, each with their own sub-company.
  2. Organizations with distinct divisions that require privacy so users can’t see those in the other division while still receiving one bill a month.  Think of municipalities with city auditors, parks district, waste department, vector control, etc.
  3. Large enterprises that wish to hide the oversight personal (like vice presidents) from the rest of the organization while still allowing them to see what’s happening everywhere else.
  4. Companies that want to restrict some users to using TimeClock and hiding history (for punching in) while allowing others to see the history and use Geofences.

Linked Companies receive one monthly bill to the master organization for it and all the sub-companies, and all of the companies below can use whatever plan is necessary to fit their users.  If some companies need Push Notifications and some don’t, you can absolutely do that.

We think Linked Companies open up a lot of great possibilities and more unique use cases for Simple In/Out.

We’re just getting started with an exciting February for Simple In/Out.  We can’t wait to reveal more of the great things we’re working on.

Simple In/Out: Multiple Groups, Phones, and More

Happy New Year from everyone at Simply Made Apps!  We’re going to start 2016 with a new release of Simple In/Out.  Simple In/Out 8.1 brings a couple of big new features we’ve been working on for a while.  Why a while, you may ask?  All these new features needed our brand new API, APIv3, which we use internally as well as offer to the public.

Users can now belong to multiple groups.  This was a big request from many of our large organizations.  This permits slicing and dicing your organization in many different ways at the same time.  Many of our customers use groups for departments, but also for physical locations/branches, special report groups, or board sorting preferences.  Now you can have any/all of these options and more without having to choose just one.  Check out our help video to see the new multiple group editor in action.

Users can have multiple phone numbers.  For our customers using Simple In/Out as a directory, this is awesome.  No more having to sort through your contacts app on your phone when you need a user’s home number because it’s not listed inside Simple In/Out.

Additional user details.  We’ve added a Details field to users as well for extra information.  This can include anything, from job titles, shift information, etc.  For a few of our customers, this additional information is vital to running their business.

Users can upload profile photos right from the apps.  While we added profile photo uploading to a while ago, we only announced our intention to add this to our phone apps.  Consider that promise kept with this new release.

We’ve also added some improvements for the latest mobile operating systems.  We’ve added support for Force Touch in iOS 9 that came with the iPhone 6s.  We’ve also added support for the new permissions model in Android Marshmallow, so Simple In/Out will only ask for some permissions when you use them, versus the old way of asking for everything we may need when downloading our app from the Play Store.

This is only the beginning, we have a lot in store for the first few months of 2016.  Stay tuned!


Free Software Isn’t Free

I was a big booster of Mailbox app. I was on their waiting list almost immediately and Mailbox didn’t disappoint. The ideas of snoozing email and Inbox Zero always matched my mental model for how email should work. When they came out with their Mac app I was elated, though annoyed by the ‘beta’ label.

Then Dropbox purchased them.  Dropbox is itself a great company, so users like me didn’t worry. However, the product languished.  Trouble wasn’t far behind. 

In the wake of the Mailbox app shutdown announced 2 weeks ago, I’m reminded that software that makes our lives easier really should be purchased

We’ve seen this before.  Google Reader’s shutdown left many of us scrambling for alternatives.  Many of those RSS alternatives were long since dead, as it’s hard to compete with free and even harder to compete with a company that can spend you out of business with the money in their couch cushions. 

This has even happened in email clients before. Remember Sparrow?

When you play the free game, your revenue opportunities are limited to advertising or acquisition. Both have high probabilities of bad outcomes for consumers.

When you charge for your app/service, you have every incentive to improve it and make it better. You also have a disincentive to sell your property to someone that may not be interested in maintaining it. 

Want more revenue?  Get more customers. 

Want more customers?  Build a better product. 

It’s really that easy.  Simple In/Out is a great product and we charge for it. Our wonderful customers provide us all the incentive in the world to wake up every day and make Simple In/Out better. They don’t have to fear us turning out the lights to keep ourselves fed. 

Perhaps if we paid for email clients like Mailbox, things would have gone differently. Sure, they’d have had less users.  But, the users they did have would have been better, more passionate users that would have paid them for the service they provided. I know I sure would have.

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.