Where Orchestra is Headed
About a year and a half ago we started Orchestra with the mission of taking the friction out of working together: we figured that if you make collaboration easier, you increase the rate at which the world is cultivated (even if ever-so-slightly).Last September we launched Orchestra To-do, our first attempt at carrying that mission through to a product. The vision was simple: everyone uses email as a (terrible) to-do list because that’s how they actually communicate with others to get stuff done. What if we made a better to-do list with communication built right in?
The result was a product that was very well-received. Lifehacker calls Orchestra the best to-do app for iPhone. Apple named it the 2011 Productivity App of the Year. And perhaps more importantly, user reviews have been nothing short of amazing. In short, the response has been more positive than we could have possibly imagined.So that’s the good news. But as we analyzed how people used Orchestra, we discovered two challenging facts. First, most people (even the very excited ones) stop using Orchestra over time, in a pattern similar to other to-do lists. And second, no matter how much people use the app, almost everyone still has tasks trapped in their email. At best what you get is a two-tool world: two systems that you have to stay on top of, with one of them (Orchestra) getting used less and less over time. Back in December we started exploring ways to fix these two issues. Why do to-do lists become less useful over time, we wondered. And what do we do about the fact that we aren’t solving the tasks-trapped-in-email problem? We have always believed that the best way to build a great product is through copious amounts of iteration: you take your best shot at solving a problem, see what works and what doesn’t, refine your approach and try again. And again. And again.
Somewhere along that path of iteration we asked ourselves a question: what if we turned our approach on its head? Rather than trying to create a to-do list with email-like functionality, what if we transformed the inbox in which people already collaborate? At first the idea seemed crazy. Email felt like this massive thing that startups don’t mess with. “This path is paved with corpses,” one friend told us. To be really blunt, we were scared. But as we explored the idea and the capacity of our team to tackle it, we felt emboldened. We realized we could apply everything we had learned about building fast, friendly, mobile collaboration tools to the inbox. We can’t replace email, but we can change how we interact with it.We’re currently living in one of those special times in history where everything is being made anew. Smartphones are changing the world, like the Internet before them and PCs before that. These little computers in our pockets are transforming our expectations about what is possible, and in this new world our email inboxes, particularly on our phones, look more tired than ever.
Our relationship with email is broken. The tools we use to process it are clunky, slow, and disorganized. Email makes us feel overwhelmed and out of control, and we believe we can change that. We can create a better inbox, one specifically designed for the mobile world in which we now live. We think we’ve figured out a way to make “doing” email fast and delightful based on all we’ve learned from Orchestra, and we’re building an app right now for just that. We’re calling it Mailbox, and while design, development, and testing are well-underway, we’re not yet ready to reveal it publicly. Please stay tuned if you’re interested — we’ll be sending out information about how to participate soon. What does this mean for Orchestra To-do? Someday Mailbox may offer all the functionality of our current app, but initially it will focus on making email fast and delightful. So for the foreseeable future, we’re going to keep supporting Orchestra To-do. We use it everyday to run our office and build Mailbox — we rely on it, and we know many of you do too. Startups focus or die, though, so we don’t plan to add new features to Orchestra To-do.
Based on everything we’ve learned from Orchestra and its users, we believe that the best way to carry out our mission — the best way to take the friction out of working together — is to transform the inbox. With Mailbox we hope to do just that, and we hope you’ll continue to join us on the journey ahead.
0.9.92 is here
We know it’s been a while since we last posted - our team has been hard at work on a number of things: some big, and some bigger. Today we released 0.9.92 - full of bug fixes and speed improvements to make your Orchestra experience even faster and more reliable.
On that note of reliability, don’t forget Orchestra has a strong offline mode that lets you continue working even when you don’t have a network connection. Whether you’re in the sticks or your internet has a tendency to drop right in the middle of something important (that is Murphy’s law, after all) Orchestra’s got your back. The tasks you add during these network down-times save locally and sync as soon as a connection is made.
As always, please drop a note to support team if you have questions or feedback. And watch out for news about exciting releases ahead. Loyal users, you’ll be the first to hear what we’ve got up our sleeves…
Welcome version 0.9.91!! Orchestra just got zippier.
Hopefully you’ve all updated to version 0.9.91 by now. There are a few bug fixes, but best of all, MASSIVE speed improvements throughout the app. You’ll notice that everything from load-time to sync to task creation and real-time updates is significantly faster. We believe speed is a very important part of the overall orchestra experience and have been spending a lot of time and energy trying to make the app as fast as it can be.
Also, for those of you who were having trouble with future-dated tasks appearing as past-due and tasks miscategorized under Today, you won’t be experiencing that any longer.
Please enjoy the latest from the Orchestra team and let us know if you have feedback!
Repeating tasks have arrived! Repeating tasks have arrived!
Sometimes something is so important it begs repeating. We heard clearly from you, our customers, that important tasks in life often need to repeat as well.
So our team gave it some thought…
We looked around at how other software tackles repeating.
Then we thought about it some more…
And the more we thought about it, the more we realized that tasks don’t need to simply repeat, they need to reoccur again and again at specific times in your life. Because of this, simply adding options to repeat “Daily, Weekly, Monthly or Yearly” wouldn’t cut it. There had to be a better way.
This update to Orchestra includes what we believe is the most robust Repeating Task feature that exists on the iPhone.
Say you need to remember to run take out the trash every Sunday, that’s easy:
How about remembering to pay rent by the last day of every month? Well, see, that’s more difficult, cause the last day switches around each month. But, no worries, just select “Monthly, then “Last” and “Day” and your check will be in each month without a worry.
The power of these options goes on and on, but we’ll let you explore those on your own.
We have also made it possible to delete a contact from your Orchestra. Just select My Contacts within Settings (the lower right button of the home screen) and then Edit in the upper right to make each contact deletable. But make sure not to remove the people you depend on every day!
And finally, because it’s almost Spring, a time for refresh and renewal, you’ll notice that we’ve touched up the visual look and feel of Orchestra. These visual updates don’t change the functionality, but our hope is that they brighten up your day one task at a time.
Cheers to updates!
The Orchestra team
Our night at the Crunchies (and the power of redesign)
We were honored to be nominated for a Crunchie in the category of Best Design. Attending was an inspiring experience.
First of all, to be discussed in the same context as applications such as Quora, Pinterest (!), Gojee and Path was humbling. The individuals and companies represented on stage as winners are people we admire and tools we use everyday at Orchestra.
Our awards for highlights of the evening:
Jack Dorsey has been in the spotlight a lot lately, and it shows, because owns it. Receiving two Crunchies, for Biggest Social Impact for Twitter and Best Founder he kept his speeches short, to the point and meaningful.
Concise Acceptance Speech
The man accepting the award from Andreesen Horowitz for VC of The Year sauntered on stage, received his Crunchie and, while barely stopping at the mic, belted out “Peace to all the founders and the struggle!” and with that he was off stage. A truer statement wasn’t uttered all night.
Most Humble Speech
Ben Silberman from Pinterest accepted the Crunchie for Best Startup of 2011 nearly apologetically, admitting that “having made a lot of products that no one used, it’s exciting to make something so many people enjoy.” Quite the understatement for a product that is to women in 2012 as the Beatles were in 1964.
(Re)Design of the year
An Orchestra friend, Dave Morin, accepted the award for Best Design for Path 2.0 and gave a nod to the audience for bearing with them as Path went through a major redesign in 2011. It was humble acknowledgement of something every designer knows - that design is never finished. Things can always be improved, and it’s important to iterate quickly in order to survive in the marketplace.
Being nominated along with Path was an honor, particularly because Orchestra is still in its infancy. We shipped version 0.9.82 this week, named such because we are adamant that a 1.0 product should be feature rich and effortlessly enjoyable.
And, as soon as 1.0 is done we’ll be working on V2.
To 2012 - a year our team aims to live with the same level of drive, humble nature and perseverance in attendance at the Crunchies on Tuesday night.
Cheers to building,
The Orchestra team
This Just In! 2.1.12
With Orchestra 0.9.82 we’re bringing you several exciting features, things that we heard (from you, our customers) would be greatly appreciated for Orchestra.
1. Timing has arrived
There are times when you needto remember something, not today, not tomorrow, but at an exact time, a deadline. In today’s Orchestra update you will find the ability to set a specific time within the “Date…” menu. You’ll receive a notification at that time, and won’t forget what needs doing!
2. Delete any task
We’ve created the ability to delete any task, even shared tasks. And don’t worry, the other person will receive a notification that they don’t need worry about the task, which will have disappeared from their list.
3. Hold to delete
Now completing and deleting a task are in the same spot - touch to check completed, hold down on the box and a pop up will ask you to confirm deleting the task. It’s simpler, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
4. Editing shared lists
We’ve also improved shared lists! Since sometimes the members of a team change, now it’s possible to remove someone from a shared list. On the phone, just go into the “Lists” view of the Settings page and a simple swipe next to the person’s name will reveal a delete button. On the web click on the gray “Edit” link next to lists (in the upper left corner) and a click to the minus sign next to a person’s name will free them from further responsibility! Lucky them.
5. Yellow CAUTION no more
We heard repeatedly that the little yellow bar that loads to indicate that your Orchestra app is syncing wasn’t the most…how shall we say… welcoming? Now you’ll notice that, it’s gone!
Instead, if you look closely when you first open Orchestra, the very top of the screen subtly fades to black and marks “Sync” while loading. Your account is ready to use the moment it’s open, no need to wait till it’s synced. Hopefully the more subtle sync bar better indicates this.
6. UPDATED: Sharing
In an effort to continue to make Orchestra simpler we moved the Share button within each task inside the main screen, instead of being a red button up above. If you want to share a task with someone, touch the task, and swipe to the left to reveal the timing tab and share button.
+ Better, Faster, Smoother
And as usual here at Orchestra, the application is faster, better and smoother in a handful of subtle, nearly imperceptible ways. We’re working constantly to make sure your experience keeps getting better. As you know, some things you don’t notice until they’re broken or annoying, and it’s our job to make sure you never do.
PLEASE, as always, be in touch over email or Twitter if you have thoughts, questions or suggestions.
Cheers to getting things done!
Orchestra is Productivity App of 2011 in the App Store Rewind!
To our delight the App Store has selected Orchestra as the Top Productivity App of 2011! This confirms something all Orchestra users already knew: getting things done is better when everyone plays a part.
We want to thank you, our early users, who’ve signed up and started sharing tasks and chatting together in our first few months. Thank you as well for upgrading along the way as we have worked furiously to improve the product quickly while maintaining the “works like magic” standard.
We are flattered and humbled to be mentioned in the same Rewind as other category winners like Flipboard, Airbnb, and App of the Year, Instagram. Thank you Instagram, in particular for your filters, which made us all look better than we actually were in 2011.
We’re still in the early days of Orchestra, so while you’re sharing Tasks with your friends and family please feel free to assign us a task with your thoughts and suggestions at email@example.com. It’ll come straight into our Orchestra!
Cheers to 2011, we can’t wait for what’s coming in 2012!
Due dates on the web app!
Orchestra: now with due dates!You asked (and asked), we listened: now you can create a task for you or someone else that’s due on a specific date:
Orchestra will handle moving it between today, soon, and someday for you, and will alert you at 9AM on the day your task is due.
This feature comes directly from user feedback and we’re really excited to roll it out. Let us know what you think (and if you love it, please review!!!)